India-Afghanistan-Taliban Relations

India-Afghanistan-Taliban Relationship

With the US leaving Afghanistan after 20 years, the world wonders what will the fate of the country be, which is as unstable as ever.  Let’s understand what role can India play in maintaining regional peace.

Crux of the Matter

Before USA
Taliban is a militia insurgency group waging ‘jihad’ against the Afghan Government. Taliban in Pashto means Students.

  • 1992 – Mujahideen overthrew Najibullah’s communist regime and came to power. It formed the Islamic State of Afghanistan.
  • 1996 – Taliban took over Kabul and the country and imposed sharia law.
  • Mujahideen led Northern Alliance fought the in-power Taliban. With US support, they defeated the Taliban and formed a government in 2001.
  • This alliance was backed and aided by India. Till then, India had no contact with the Taliban and considered them to be a proxy of Pakistan.

India – Taliban
India hasn’t had any official relations with the Taliban because:

  • India didn’t want to anger the Afghan Government.
  • India didn’t know who to contact due to internal divisions in the Taliban.
  • India didn’t want to go against its idea of not talking to ‘terrorists’.

IC 814 Hijack
Indian Airline flight IC-814 was hijacked and forced to land in Kandahar, Afghanistan. India was forced to release 3 militants, including Masood Azhar in return. India as they had no contact whatsoever with the Taliban then.

Taliban’s Stance On India
In 2019, the Taliban said that it had no interest in Kashmir and that it is India’s internal matter. As per Al Jazeera, unofficial backchannels were opened with Taliban in 2021.

India has invested heavily in Afghanistan and has provided with ~$2 billion in aid and funded projects like the Afghan parliament.
India funded Chabahar port in Iran is connected to central Asia via Afghanistan. Thus, India needs to protect its investments in Afghanistan.

Experts have cited the need for India to have influence in the Afghan Govt to counter the regional influence of Pakistan and China after the US leaves. India is also the only regional country that has friendly relations with the US and other western countries, as well as Russia and Afghanistan.

Peace negotiations in earnest is the only answer. An acceptable compromise that reflects Doha process, Moscow format & Istanbul process is essential. The future of Afghanistan cannot be its past. A whole new generation has different expectations. We should not let them down.

S Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister, India

  • Hindu Kush means ‘Killer of Hindu‘ which might refer to the fact that slaves from the Indian Subcontinent would struggle to survive in the harsh Afghan mountains. It is the name of the 800 km long mountain range that stretches through Afghanistan mostly.

What Is E-RUPI? A Digital Payments Solutions To Directly Deliver Govt Benefits

What Is E-RUPI? A Digital Payments Solutions To Directly Deliver Govt Benefits

Launched on 2nd August, 2021, e-RUPI is India’s newest addition to the digital payment saga. Known for its small ticket size benefit transfer, e-RUPI is set to make the delivery of government welfare services efficient. Read the story to know more about the mechanism.

Crux of the Matter

What Is E-Rupi
It is a cashless and contactless digital payments solution, developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) on its UPI platform.

It delivers a QR code or message based digital voucher to beneficiary’s linked mobile number. The beneficiaries will then be able to redeem this voucher at the service provider’s end without any intermediary.

Voucher’s Pre-Conditions
The voucher is non transferable and can be used for a single transaction only. The maximum issue value size is fixed at ₹10,000.

Simplifying How It Works
3 categories of vouchers will be enlisted on e-RUPI: Banks, Payment Service Providers, amd Entities holding licences for pre-paid instruments.

A private firm or a government agency approaches a bank for issuing vouchers to beneficiaries. Upon payment of voucher amount, the beneficiaries are sent a digital voucher to a linked mobile number.

An application to scan the e-voucher will be required at the end of service provider. Finally, beneficiaries can scan the voucher and redeem it with OTP authentication.

Where Will It Be Used?
It will be used for Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) for multiple government welfare schemes and subsidies. I t will also be used for Covid vaccination process in which a company can issue vouchers to their employees.


  1. National Payments Corporation Of India governs systems like Rupay and Aadhar enabled payment systems. Founded in 2008, NPCI is currently governed by the Reserve Bank of India and the Ministry of Finance.

What Is UAPA Law?

What Is UAPA Law?

UAPA, one of India’s home-brewed Preventative Detention Law to curb unlawful activities, has been widely cited as a tool to silence dissent. In that light, let’s look at the origins of this law, various amendments in it and some unexpected numbers associated with it.

Crux of the Matter

Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)
It was enacted on 30th Dec 1967.
The political climate around it:

  • Indian army’s defeat in the 1962 Sino-Indian War.
  • DMK‘s secession promises in Tamil Nadu.
  • Emergence of Separatist elements in Nagaland.

2004 Amendment
After Prevention of Terrorist Activities (POTA) law was scrapped in 2004, its controversial provisions were inculcated in UAPA. The amendment included introduction of clauses related to terrorist activities and their broadened definition.

2008 Amendment
After 26/11 Terrorist attacks, stricter bail and detention provisions for those under suspicion of terrorist activities were added.
It expanded already ambiguous definition of terrorism and authorized warrantless, wide authority search and seizure.

2019 Amendment
This amendment authorized Govt to designate individuals as terrorists. It further established a Review Committee for appeals, where Review Board had no time-limit to decide and no compulsion to reveal its reasoning.

NIA, UPA Enforcer
Operating under the Ministry of Home Affairs, National Investigation Agency (NIA) is responsible for investigating all cases under UAPA. They have designation of Special Courts for NIA trial. The law also enables NIA agents to arrest and seize properties circumventing Police.

Popular Case-Bhima Koregoan
In 2018, NIA arrested late Fr Stan Swamy, Varavara Rao, Sudha Bhardwaj, etc. on accusation of inciting violence at a rally in Koregaon. By 2020, multiple charge sheets have been filed but no trial has started and those arrested continue to be detained.

Human Rights Violation
The vague framing of the act leaves scope for possible misuse and its time consuming judicial proceedings leads to long periods of detention.

In UAPA cases, the process itself is the punishment.

Justice Aftab Alam, former Supreme Court Judge

UAPA Cases & Conviction Rate

  • Indian Constitution is the largest constitution in the World. Every year, 26th November is celebrated as Constitution Day in India to commemorate its adoption in 1949.

Western Musicians That India Inspired

Western Musicians That India Inspired

We have seen foreign tourists in Rishikesh or Pushkar wearing mismatched clothes and living an anti-consumerist lifestyle in their pursuit of some mystic peace in India. Well, you’ll be surprised to know they are not the first ones. Some famous musicians and bands in the past have turned towards Indian spirituality and culture for inspiration. Let’s have a look at some of those major artists.

Crux of the Matter

The 1960s Counterculture
Counterculture is made up of those cultural values and norms which are notably different from the mainstream culture. In the 1960s, US saw rise of counter-culture movement fueled by anti-establishment and disregard of wars and consumerism.

Inclusivity And Inspiration
The all-inclusive nature of these movements ensured flow of ideas from all corners of the world, which inspired art and lifestyle. Recreational drug experimentation, civil rights movements, and support for leftwing politics became prevalent.

Bob Dylan And The Mystic Bards Of Bengal
These movements inspired many artists; one such was Bob Dylan, who got into Baul Music and could play dotara and the khomok. He was in close association with Purna Das, who is even featured on his 1967 Album cover.

Harrison’s Spiritual Journey
George Harrison of the Beatles was inspired by Indian spirituality and music, being associated with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Moreover, the Beatles’ stay in his meditation center in Rishikesh was highly productive as they wrote more than 40 songs there, with most of them featuring on their album The White Song.

As an ode to their presence there, the center is now popularly known as the ‘Beatles Ashram’. Harrison’s friendship with Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar manifested in Beatles’ songs such as Norwegian Wood (1965), which featured sitar music, while their song Across the Universe even had a phrase like Jay guru Dev om.

Sitar And The Rolling Stones
Following in the Beatles’ footsteps, the Rolling Stones also released Paint It Black, a Sitar-studded melody which captured the Hippy generation’s view towards war and materialism.

Led Zeppelin And The Oriental Sound
English rock band Led Zeppelin’s song Black Mountain Side was recorded with Tabla Instrumentalist Viram Jasani. Originally
a traditional English folk song, the oriental sound of this track was inspired by the band’s lead guitarist Jimmy Page’s visit to India.

  • ‘The Waste Land’, T. S. Eliot has taken elements from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. In the poem, Prajapati or the creator utters the syllable ‘Da’ thrice which means ‘Control yourselves, give, be compassionate’.

Trivia Thursday: The Story Behind National Symbols Of India

Trivia Thursday: The Story Behind National Symbols Of India

India has a lot of unique and interesting National Symbols which are derived from its rich cultural heritage. In this week’s Trivia Thursday, let’s have a look at the story behind them!

Crux of the Matter

In this week’s Trivia Thursday, let us have a look at the different National Symbols of India:

National Flag – Tiranga
Pingali Venkayya designed the tricolour flag with the Ashoka Chakra in the middle.

National Emblem – ‘Lion Capital of Ashoka’ Sculpture.
On 26th January 1950, the day India became a Republic, it became the National Emblem of India.

National Motto – Satyameva Jayate
It is a Sanskrit phrase taken from the Mundaka Upanishad which translates to “Truth Always Triumphs”.

National Anthem – Jana Gana Mana
It is the first stanza of the ‘Bharoto Bhagyo Bidhata’ hymn by Rabindranath Tagore.

National Song – Vande Mataram
Bankim Chandra Chatterjee wrote it as a Sanskrit poem for his novel Anandamath.

Oath Of Allegiance – National Pledge
It was written in Telugu by Pydimarri Venkata Subba Rao in 1962.

National currency – Indian Rupee (₹)
The Indian Rupee symbol (₹) is derived from the Devanagari letter “र” (ra) and the Latin letter “R”. Adopted in 2010, it was designed by Udaya Kumar, the head of the department of design at IIT Guwahati.

National Animal – Bengal Tiger
Panthera tigris tigris is a subspecies of tigers native to the Indian subcontinent. It is also the national animal of Bangladesh.

National Heritage Animal – Indian Elephant
The animal was declared as the National Heritage Animal on 22nd October 2010 by the Environment Ministry.

National River – Ganga
The river is considered sacred and worshipped as goddess Ganga in Hinduism.

National Aquatic Animal – South Asian River Dolphin (platanista gangetica)
The Ganges river dolphin is found in the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers and their tributaries in India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

National Reptile – King Cobra
It is the world’s largest venomous snake in the world. The snake is worshipped and considered sacred in certain Indian cultures.

National Bird – Indian Peacock
It was declared as the national bird of India on 1st February 1963.

National flower – Lotus
The flower is used in a lot of Indian rituals and also the national flower of Vietnam.

National Tree
Indian Banyan.

National Fruit

Take a look at our last week’s Trivia Thursday here: Trivia Thursday: Security Categories In India