Significance of Raigad fort
(GS-I: Indian art and culture)
President Ram Nath Kovind recently visited Raigad Fort and paid tribute to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Kingdoms and dynasties associated with the fort?
The fort, which was earlier called Rairi, was the seat of the Maratha clan Shirke in the 12th century.
The fort changed hands a number of times from the dynasty of Bahaminis to the Nizamshahis and then the Adilshahis.
In 1656, Chhatrapati Shivaji captured it from the More’s of Javli who were under the suzerainty of the Adilshahi Sultanate.
In 1662, Shivaji formally changed the fort’s name to Raigad and added a number of structures to it. By 1664, the fort had emerged as the seat of Shivaji’s government.
The fort not only helped Shivaji challenge the supremacy of the Adilshahi dynasty but also opened up the routes towards Konkan for the extension of his power.
Why is it significant?
The fort was known to early Europeans as the Gibraltar of the East. Its decisive feature is a mile and a half flat top which has adequate room for buildings. In its prime, the fort had 300 stone houses and a garrison of 2,000 men.
Importance of Raigad Fort in Maharashtra’s polity:
Chhatrapati Shivaji is the tallest and the most revered icon in Maharashtra and there is a constant attempt by political parties of all hues to appropriate his legacy. Due to the significance of Raigad in his life, many political leaders make it a point to visit the fort.
About Chhatrapati Shivaji– notable points:
He was born in 1639 to Shahaji Bhonsle, a Maratha general who held the jagirs of Pune and Supe under the Bijapur Sultanate and Jijabai, a pious woman whose religious qualities had a profound influence on him.
He displayed his military zeal for the first time in 1645 when as a teenager, he successfully got control of the Torna Fort which was under Bijapur. He also acquired the Kondana Fort. Both these forts were under Adil Shah of Bijapur.
He took on the titles of Chhatrapati, Shakakarta, Kshatriya Kulavantas and Haindava Dharmodhhaarak.
Important battles associated with him:
Treaty of Purandar:
In June 1665, the Treaty of Purandar was signed between Shivaji and Raja Jai Singh I (representing Aurangzeb).
As per this treaty, many forts were relinquished to the Mughals and it was agreed that Shivaji would meet Aurangzeb at Agra. Shivaji also agreed to send his son Sambhaji as well.
Kasturirangan Committee on Western Ghats
(GS-III: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment)
Recently, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai informed the Centre that the state is opposed to the Kasturirangan Committee report on Western Ghats.
He said that declaring Western Ghats as ecologically sensitive zone would adversely affect the livelihood of people in the region.
However, the experts called the state’s opposition disastrous for the ecologically fragile Western Ghats.
What did the Gadgil Committee say?
It defined the boundaries of the Western Ghats for the purposes of ecological management.
It proposed that this entire area be designated as ecologically sensitive area (ESA).
Within this area, smaller regions were to be identified as ecologically sensitive zones (ESZ) I, II or III based on their existing condition and nature of threat.
It proposed to divide the area into about 2,200 grids, of which 75 per cent would fall under ESZ I or II or under already existing protected areas such as wildlife sanctuaries or natural parks.
The committee proposed a Western Ghats Ecology Authority to regulate these activities in the area.
Why was Kasturirangan Committee setup?
None of the six concerned states agreed with the recommendations of the Gadgil Committee, which submitted its report in August 2011.
In August 2012, then Environment Minister constituted a High-Level Working Group on Western Ghats under Kasturirangan to “examine” the Gadgil Committee report in a “holistic and multidisciplinary fashion in the light of responses received” from states, central ministries and others.
The Kasturirangan report seeks to bring just 37% of the Western Ghats under the Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) zones — down from the 64% suggested by the Gadgil report.
Recommendations of Kasturirangan Committee:
Importance of western ghats:
The Western Ghats is an extensive region spanning over six States. It is the home of many endangered plants and animals. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It is one of the eight “hottest hot-spots” of biological diversity in the world.
According to UNESCO, the Western Ghats are older than the Himalayas. They influence Indian monsoon weather patterns by intercepting the rain-laden monsoon winds that sweep in from the south-west during late summer.
(GS-II: India and neighbourhood relations)
The United States, NATO and Ukrainian officials have been making statements for nearly two weeks, referring to what they say are unusual Russian troop movements in the proximity of Ukraine.
What is the conflict all about?
Tensions between Ukraine and Russia, both former Soviet states, escalated in late 2013 over a landmark political and trade deal with the European Union. After the pro-Russian then-President, Viktor Yanukovych, suspended the talks, weeks of protests in Kiev erupted into violence.
Then, in March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, an autonomous peninsula in southern Ukraine with strong Russian loyalties, on the pretext that it was defending its interests and those of Russian-speaking citizens.
Shortly afterwards, pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions declared their independence from Kiev, prompting months of heavy fighting. Despite Kiev and Moscow signing a peace deal in Minsk in 2015, brokered by France and Germany, there have been repeated ceasefire violations.
Need for international attention:
Fourteen thousand people have died in the battle between Kiev and pro-Russia rebels in the east of the country. Out of these, 3,393 deaths were of civilians, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’s October 2021 report.
The European Union and US have imposed a series of measures in response to Russia’s actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, including economic sanctions targeting individuals, entities and specific sectors of the Russian economy.
Moscow sees the growing support for Ukraine from NATO — in terms of weaponry, training and personnel — as a threat to its own security.
It has also accused Ukraine of boosting its own troop numbers in preparation for an attempt to retake the Donbas region, an allegation Ukraine has denied.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for specific legal agreements that would rule out any further NATO expansion eastwards towards Russia’s borders, saying the West has not lived up to its previous verbal assurances.
Minsk I: Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists agreed a 12-point ceasefire deal in the capital of Belarus in September 2014.
Its provisions included prisoner exchanges, deliveries of humanitarian aid and the withdrawal of heavy weapons.
The agreement quickly broke down, with violations by both sides.
Minsk II: In 2015, an open conflict was averted after the ‘Minsk II’ peace agreement was signed, under the mediation of France and Germany.
It was designed to end the fighting in the rebel regions and hand over the border to Ukraine’s national troops.