Demographic Theories

Demographic Theories

This article deals with ‘ Demographic Theories .’ This is part of our series on ‘Society’ which is an important pillar of GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

What is demography?

  • Demography is the statistical study of the human population. It includes the study of size, structure and distribution of population as well as changes in time and location in response to birth, migration, ageing and death.

Demographic Theories

Malthusian Theory

  • Humanity is condemned to live in poverty forever because Human population grow at a much faster rate than food resources. According to Malthusian Theory
    • Food production increases in Arithmetic Progression (AP) while
    • Population increases in Geometric Progression (GP).
  • Hence, to make a balance between population vs food supply nature uses positive checks
Positive checks by nature famine disease
Preventive checks by humans delayed marriage Family Planning
  • According to Malthus, famines and diseases were inevitable as they are nature’s way of dealing with the imbalance between food supply and increasing population.
Demographic Theories

Debate: Has the Malthusian theory lost its significance? 

  • Some experts opine that with the world surplus of food and advances in medical science, the theory of positive checks of nature of Malthus has become obsolete. 
  • Whereas other experts are of the view that we are observing the change in positive checks of nature. These include 
    1. With world temperature rising due to global warming, the ocean level is rising.
    1. Increase in frequency of natural disasters due to climate change
    2. Attack of new pests on crops. 
    3. The new type of pandemics caused by new pathogens like the Corona Virus. 

Demographic Transition Theory

Phase-1: Period of stagnant or stationary

  • The period from 1901-1921.
  • The growth rate during this phase was very low, even recording a negative growth rate during 1911-1921. 
  • Both the birth rate and death rate were high keeping the rate of increase stagnant.
  • Poor health and medical services, illiteracy of people at large and inefficient distribution system of food and other necessities were largely responsible for a high birth and death rates in this period.
Period of stagnant or stationary

Phase-2: Period of steady population growth

  • The period from 1921-51
  • An overall improvement in health and sanitation throughout the country brought down the mortality rate. At the same time, better transport and communication system improved food distribution system. But birth rate remained high in this period leading to a higher growth rate than the previous phase.

Phase-3: Period of Population Explosion

  • Period of 1951-1981.
  • This was caused by a rapid fall in the mortality rate due to control over famines and epidemics but a high fertility rate of population in the country. (It should be noted that death rates can be brought down relatively quickly through advanced methods of disease control, public health, and better nutrition. However, it takes longer for society to adjust to change and alter its reproductive behaviour.)
Period of Population Explosion

Phase-4: Period of Moderate Growth

  • Period post-1981 till present.
  • The growth rate of the country’s population though remained high, started slowing down gradually. This was due to a moderate decline in fertility due to the use of modern contraceptives. 
Period of Moderate Growth

Phase 5 : Period of Contraction

  • India has not entered this phase. Developed countries like Japan and western European nations are in this phase. 
  • During this phase, the population starts to contract due to low birth rate although the death rate is also very low.
Period of Contraction

  Birth rate Death Rate
Phase 2 High Medium
Phase 3 HIGH Low

Trade and Commerce from 200 BC to 300 AD

Trade and Commerce from 200 BC to 300 AD

This article deals with  Trade and Commerce from 200 BC to 300 AD . This is part of our series on ‘Ancient History’ which is an important pillar of GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

Silk Route

Trade and Commerce from 200 BC to 300 AD
  • Silk Route extended was 4,350 km long stretching from Lo-yang on Hwang – He in China to Cteisiphon on Tigris in West Asia.
  • There was flourishing long-distance trade during this period corroborated by
    • Texts: Jataka Stories has stories of trade with Suvarnadvipa (South East Asia) and Ratnadvipa (LANKA) , Sangam Poetry (Indo-Roman trade)  , Periplus Maris Erythraei etc.
    • Archaeology: Dwarka & Bet Dwarka in Gujarat, Kaveripattinam, Muziris etc.
  • A major stimulus to trade was due to
    • The demand for Chinese silk in the Mediterranean Region. Chinese silk was traded through India rather than being sent directly. The reason was the political situation. Parthians were powerful rulers along the North-Western boundary of the Indian subcontinent. There was constant hostility between them & the Roman Empire. Hence, trade routes between China & the Roman Empire were disturbed. (Route : China TO India via Silk Route => Indian Ports of Barbaricum (on Indus) & Baroach => Alexandria)
    • Existence of Kushana rule which provided stability  & safety to trade + reduction in tariffs.
    • Traders started to take advantage of Monsoon winds. Periplus speaks about Hippalus’s discovery of Monsoon winds.
  • Trade with China was disturbed at the end of the 3rd century because of certain reasons like Han Dynasty ended in 220 AD, the Byzantine Empire broke away from Rome and  Kushana Empire collapsed. However trade didn’t end altogether, there were some changes in routes. Trade shifted southward with the main emphasis on oceanic trade (i.e. earlier Silk to India was brought overland and then from India went to the Mediterranean world by Sea but now whole supply route shifted to Sea Route).

Trade with East & South-East Asia 

  • Earlier, the relation between India & South-East Asia seen as political & cultural colonisation of the latter. But that perception has changed now as there were reciprocal links between India & South  Asia.
  • Ancient Sanskrit & Pali Text refer to South Asia as  Suvarnadvipa & Suvarnabhumi i.e. land of gold and associated with riches.
  • Since coinage was absent in SE Asia – trade must have been Barter or with the use of cowrie shells .

Major imports & exports included

Export 1. Cotton Cloth
2. Sugar
3. Certain kind of pottery
Import 1. Gold 
2. Spices (cinnamon & cloves)
3. Aromatics   

Some of these items especially Spices were shipped to the western world. Trade in spices was an attempt to meet the great demand of spices from the Roman world. Indian production alone couldn’t satisfy their needs.

Indo – Roman Trade

Trade increased during this period  because 

  1. By the end of the last century BCE, Rome emerged as the superpower of the Mediterranean world, displacing the Greek kingdoms, and the republic became an empire in 27 BCE under Emperor Augustus. Rome was the largest and wealthiest city in the world and wealth of Rome greatly increased the demand for various products from India, especially the spices and textiles of the Tamil country, resulting in a great expansion of trade.
  2. Discovery of the pattern of monsoon winds in the Arabian Sea in the first century CE by Hippalus, an Egyptian sailor. Till then, only Arabs had the knowledge of these winds giving them monopoly of trade between India and Mediterranean world.
  3. Overland route between India and Roman Empire became vulnerable to attacks by Parthians in Iran due enmity between Romans and Parthians.

Items of Export

  1. Spices (especially Pepper) 
  2. Fragrant woods
  3. Silk came from China to India and from India send to Roman World
  4. Cotton fabric from Madurai
  5. Pearls

Items of Import

  1. Roman wine 
  2. Yavana lamp 
  3. Coins
  4. Coral
  5. wheat for the Graeco-Romans in the Tamil ports.

Roman Coins

  • Indians imported very few goods but were eager to get precious metal, so quest for Roman gold was driving force behind India’s International trade.
  • Large number of Roman coins have been discovered, especially in South India .
  • Roman Kings whose coins found
Maximum – Maximum coins belonged to the reign of Augustus (31 BC -14 AD) and Tiberius (14 AD – 37 AD) . \
Interestingly , their local imitations also found .
Post-Nero Post-Nero (64AD) due to debasement of Roman currency shortage of Roman Coins seen.
  • Issue of Drain of Gold from the Roman Empire
    • Roman Gold was the main item of demand in return for Indian Exports (especially spices) .
    • Periplus  & Sangam poems tell us about the ships of Yavannas coming with gold & returning with black pepper.
    • Romilla Thappar has called Black Pepper as Black Gold of India due to gold India was getting in return for pepper 
    • In fact drain of wealth was so much that Romans became anxious. Roman historian Pliny complained of the trade with the east being a serious drain on the income of Rome. 1/5th of gold used in trade was being sent to India for Spice Trade
Roman and Byzantine Coins

Impact of Trade on other fields

1 . Impact on Science

Two branches  of science were surely impacted

1.1 Astronomy

  • Deep-sea navigation required reliable study of stars. Hence, it received a mercantile patronage.
  • Astronomy also developed due to the exchange of ideas with West Asia where this field was already very much developed.

1.2 Medicine

  • Indian herbal knowledge reached the western world.
  • Greek botanist Theophrastus in ‘History of Plants’ tells about the medicinal use of various Indian plants and herbs  .

2. Impact on Culture

2.1 Western World

North India was very much impacted by Hellenistic ideas as

  • The emergence of Gandhara art.
  • Indian folk-tales and fables travelled westwards (Panchatantra)  .
  • Chaturanga –  chess using four traditional wings of army & played by 4 players reached Persia.   
  • Certain aspects of the life of Christ-like supernatural birth & temptation by Devil influenced by legends of life of Buddha .

2.2 Central Asia

  • Buddhism reached to Central Asia through Traders. 
  • Indian traders patronised Buddhist Monasteries at places like Kashgar, Kucha, Khotan etc.

2.3 China

  • Goods of Chinese origin started to be used in India. Bamboo, Chinese Patta etc. clearly show that they were Chinese. 
  • Buddhist missionaries arrived in China & established themselves at Famous White House Monastery at Lo Yang (starting point of Silk Route) .

2.4 South East Asia

  • Legends about the origin of kingdoms in south-east Asia trace the story back to Indian princes and merchants. Eg: Indian brahman, Kaundinya, is said to have married a Cambodian princess, & introduced Indian culture to Cambodia. 
  • Indian literature narrates the adventures of Indian travellers in these part .

Sangam Literature

Sangam Literature

This article deals with ‘ Sangam Literature ’. This is part of our series on ‘Ancient History’ which is an important pillar of GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

What is Sangam Literature?

  • Sangam literature is  oral bardic literature  belonging to time period 200 BC to 300 AD.

The legend associated with Sangam Poetry

History of the Sangam is clogged in legends.

  • Tradition says there were three Sangams patronised by Pandyas when Scholars assembled to publish their works . Work of only last one survives .
  • Word Sangam is of Indo Aryan Origin and is used nowhere in Sangam Literature. Scholars like Kamil Zvelebil argue that it should be called Classical Literature .
  • In reality, Poems were not the product of Sangam. Poems were much earlier composed in oral form by Bards between 200 BC to 300 CE. Word Sangam was associated with them when commentaries on it were written in 12-14th Century under Pandya patronage .
Sangam Place Chairman Kingdom Books
First Then-madurai Agasthya Pandya No book survived
Second Kapatapuram Agasthya Pandya No book survived
Third  Madurai Nakirrar Pandya Covers entire corpus of Sangam literature

These poems were written by 

  • Bards who roamed about singing in praise of their patron chiefs and heroes .
  • Some  were also composed by scholarly poets who followed the bardic tradition like Kapilar  and Gautamanar .

Two genre i.e. Akam and Puram

The whole text is presented in two genres

Akam – Love poems
Deal with the inner life of people  .
Love is expressed in separation & union ; before or after marriage & extramarital love  .
Puram Public or War Poems Deals with the outer life of people. Speak of  public celebration of the feats of the heroes even the death of heroes in wars .

Tinai Concept & Sangam Poems

According to the Tinai concept, Tamilaham was divided into five landscapes or eco-regions, Aintinai namely Kurinji, Palai Mullai, Marutam and Neital. Each region had distinct characteristics – a presiding deity, people and cultural life according to the environmental conditions .

Tinai Meaning  Akam Theme Puram Theme
Kurinji Hilly Zone Clandestine meeting of the hero and the heroine Cattle Raid
Palai Arid Zone  Separation of lovers Victory
Mullai Pastoral Tracts patient waiting on the part of wife for the return of her husband from a journey Invasions
Marutam Wet land /Riverine landscape Lover’s quarrel due to hero’s infidelity Seige of enemy fort
Neital Sea Coast Bemoaning the lover’s absence  Fierce Battle

Problem in Dating

There is problem in dating as  several periods are represented in Sangam Literature

  • Period of actual composition and oral transmission2nd century B.C. to A.D. 3rd century.
  • Period of the codification when written form was given : 6th and 9th centuries.
  • Period  of the commentaries : 12th – 14th centuries ( under Pandyan rulers of Madurai) – These commentaries infact give name Sangam to whole corpus 

it is hard to clearly sort out the earlier from the later as they are all mixed up

Other Points

  • Poet in Sangam Poetry doesn’t speak through his / her own persona but uses various characters such as heroine , her friend , her foster mother or hero as his mouthpiece .
  • Spanned over a few centuries, the poems reflect the gradual development of the Tamil language and literature
  • It is a great source of Socio-Economic life as well . Poets have taken real life situations for similes, metaphors etc .


Ettutokai Consist of 8 collections of Poems (out of 8, 6 belong to Sangam Period)  
Pattuppattu Ten songs
9 out of 10 songs belong to Sangam Age .  
Grammar Tolkappiyam (Author – Tolkapiyar) is a work of Tamil Grammar. Earliest parts of the first two books of Tolkappiyam belong to Sangam Period & rest  belong to later date  corresponding to 400-500 AD .  

Sangam Literature is not a homogenous corpus either in time or in style but spread over vast time of 5 centuries and later additions in main texts .

Sangam Poetry

These were quite spontaneous songs created by bards in praise of heroes & powerful chiefs.

Side Topic : Importance of these bards

  • Most important basis of legitimisation of political power in south India was eulogy of poets . Poet’s praise of  generosity & heroism of King that could attain lasting fame for him & conversely , poet’s anger could prove costly .
  • Sangam texts are secular in nature because unlike Vedic texts , they were composed by various poets in praise of heroes & heroines .

What Sangam Poems tell ?

1 . Sangam Poems are pervaded with a warrior ethic .

  • The goal of the hero of Puram poems was Pukal (glory , fame) and heroic death was greatly valued.
  • It was believed that the spirit of a warrior who died in battle dwelt in Paradise. A poem suggests that those who didn’t die in battle were cut with swords before funerary rights to simulate death in battle.

“If a child of my clan should die,

if it is born dead, a mere gob of flesh

not yet human,

They will put it to the sword, to give the thing a warrior’s death”

  • Losing one’s life in the battle, and that too with wounds on the chest was considered a great honour. On the contrary, wounds on the back were considered a sign of cowardice or disgrace. Numerous poems speak about the delight of brave mothers over the death of their sons in the battle with wounds on the chest.

“Her delight

When she heard that her son fell in battle Felling an elephant,

 Was greater than at his birth”

  • The practice of Vattakiruthal is also mentioned in which defeated king committed ritual suicide by starving himself to death.

2. Cult of Hero Worship

  • Chiefs needed strong warriors. To attract , warriors were rewarded with the booty or land, if they happened to be alive. But more important was their reward if they lose their life by making them on par with Gods through Sangam Poems .

3. Geography

  • In ancient Sangam poetry, Tamilaham is portrayed as a combination of five Tinais (Aintinai) or 5 Ecozones and bards tried to correlate the activities to ecological perceptions. (as explained above)

4. Polity

Three type of Chiefs were mentioned in Sangam poems 

Kizar Little Chiefs Headman of village(Ur)  Some were subjugated by bigger chiefs and they served them in campaigns  & awarded in return .  
Velir Bigger Chiefs Intermediate chiefs who were less powerful than Vendars . They were many in number and controlled the territories of varied geographical nature, mainly hilly and forest areas, that were in between the muvendar’s fertile territories.  
Vendar Biggest Chiefs These were the most powerful chiefdoms. There were three Vendars also known as Muvendars . These included Chera, Chola and Pandya . They controlled the fertile territories and thus had more resources at their disposal . They also patronised the bards and poets so that they glorified their name and fame. Main concern of Vendars was subordination of Velir chiefs who were next in importance. For this, they adopted following ways :- Subjugation through combats . Marriage alliances : Cholas, Cheras & Pandyas often took daughters of Velir as wife.

5. Interaction between south and north

  • Sangam poems also reflect emergence of new basis of legitimisation by performance of Brahmanical sacrifices , establishing links with northern epic traditions etc .
  • Certain chiefs were described in poems to have emerged from sacrificial fire pits of northern sages like Sage Agasthya.
  • Sangam poets were familiar with the Mahabharata and Ramayana legends and infact Chola, Chera and Pandya kings claim to have fed the warring armies on the eve of war.

6. Trade with Yavanas

  • Sangam Poems refers to Yavanas (Romans) coming by ships into ports of South India bringing Gold and wine and sailing away with cargoes of Pepper from Kaveripattanam and Muziris. 

7. Social Classification

  • The social classification of Varna was known to Sangam Poets. There is mention of Arashar (King) , Vaishiyar (traders) & Velalar (farmers) . Brahmins are also mentioned .  However, 4 fold varna classification had little application to ancient Tamil Society. More relevant basis of classification was Kuti which were clan based descent groups  . Although associated with lineage and hereditary occupation , there were no real restrictions on inter dining and social interactions among Kuti Groups.

8. Position of Women

  • Interestingly there were 30 women composers . 
  • In these poems, women appear to be regularly labouring in the production process along with the men in different contexts . 60% of the agricultural process were associated with the women. 
  • We also find that , women were engaged in rearing of sheep and cattle (in Pasture Zone) . In Coastal Zone , they were engaged in Salt manufacturing .
  • There are also references of kings employing women bodyguards.
  • Women also appear in Sangam texts as proud and glorified mothers of heroes
  • Sangam poems speak about various types of prostitutes and illicit and stealthy love is also a regular theme 

9. Deities

These poems also tell about the various deities worshipped by people of Tamilaham in Sangam period . These deities were also associated with different Ecological Zones or Tinais . Now  it is considered that  seeds of Bhakti in south India lies in Sangam age.

Region Deities
Kurinji Murukkam (later identified with Karttikeya)
Mullai Mayon (later identified with Vishnu)
Marutam Ventan
Neytal Varunan  (god of Sea)
Palai Korravai (Devi) 

Indian Dynasties during 200 BC to 300 AD

Indian Dynasties during 200 BC to 300 AD

This article deals with  Indian Dynasties during 200 BC to 300 AD ’ . This is part of our series on ‘Ancient History’ which is an important pillar of GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


  • Period between circa 200 B.C. and A.D. 300 in conventional historical writings is called dark period because of the absence of territorial large imperial dynasty   (with the exception of Kushanas).
  • But viewed differently, this period was important due to following developments
    • Development of extensive economic & cultural contacts within  country and with  West and Central Asia (through silk road , maritime etc.).
    • Evolution of new art forms at Mathura, Sarnath, Sanchi and Amravati.
    • Exalted notion of kingship developed with its pompous titles &  identification with divinity  .
    • State formation outside Northern India happened . Eg: Kalinga under Kharvela and  Satavahanas  in Deccan.
    • Centre of power moved North West (from Gangetic Plains)  due to various invasions  .
    • City life spread  ,  trade flourished and use of metallic money as medium of exchange became widespread.
    • Devotional worship of images in shrines started.

Sources of Information

1 . Jataka Stories

  • Jatakas were written during this period.
  • Jataka contains many stories of ordinary people, traders & travellers .

2 . Puranas

  • Puranas and Epics are rich source of information on Dynasties and emergence of early Hindu cults .

3. Dharmashastras

3.1 Manava Dharmasutra aka Manu Smriti  (Source for 200 BC to 200 AD)

  • Manu Smriti was written in 2-3rd Century BC. But the laws codified in it influenced the life from 200BC to 200AD.
  • Text vigorously defended Brahmanical privileges against enemies personified as Shudras & Mlechchhas & sought to strengthen the old alliance between Kings & Brahmanas  .

3.2 Yajnavalkya Smriti (100 AD to 300 AD)

  • Yajnavalkya Smriti  gives glimmers of society between circa 100 to 300 AD.

4 . Sanskrit Literature

Many Sanskrit works were written during this time. Eg :

Writer Work
Ashvaghosha Buddhacharita (Hagiography of Buddha)   
Kalidasa 1. Malvikagnimitram
2. Abhijanashakuntalam
3. Raghuvamsha
4. Meghdutta
Charaka & Shushruta Medical works

Later works of Mahayana thinkers such as Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu etc. are all in Sanskrit.

5 . Mahabhashya

  • Mahabhashya is a commentary on Panini’s Ashtadhayayi written  by Patanjali .
  • Patanjali was contemporary of Pushyamitra Shunga .

6 . Epics

This period witnessed composition of the greater portions of two epics , namely,

  • The Ramayana
  • The Mahabharata

7. Sangam Literature

  • Sangam Literature is the name given to Tamil literature which gives insight into the social, political, religious etc. life in the region known as Tamilaham.
  • It is the main source of knowledge about the polity and administration of early Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas .

8. Graeco – Roman Texts

Works of Arrian, Strabo, Ptolemy & Pliny the elder were written during this period.

Writer Text
Strabo Geographikon
Ptolemy Geography (c. AD 150)
Pliny Naturalis Historia (about 79 AD)

8.1 Periplus Maris Erythraei 

  • This book was authored by an unknown Egyptian Greek involved in the trade who travelled from the Red Sea to India (around 80 BC) & wrote a book based on his experience & observation.
  • He left a record of its ports, harbours and merchandise. This book gives us an idea of maritime activities.
  • ‘Periplus’ claims that Hippalus a mariner, was knowledgable about the monsoon winds that shortens the round-trip from India to the Red Sea and vice versa.

8.2 Vienna Papyrus

  • This document was written in the 2nd Century AD in Greek (language).
  • The document is presently preserved in the Vienna Museum and hence known as Vienna Papyrus.
  • It records terms of business deal & loan between two shippers of Alexandria & Muziri.
  • It also tells about the route, how commodities reached from Muziri to Alexandria.
Vienna Papyrus

9. Chinese Accounts

  • Chinese texts named Ch’ien Han-Shu & Hou Han-Shu gives us information on movement & migration of people in Central Asia.

10 . Archaeology

  • North IndiaLate NBPW & Post NBPW levels represent the period between 200 BC and 300 AD.
  • Deccan & South India: This period corresponds to the transition from later Megalithic Phase to Early Urban  Phase.

11. Inscriptions

Range & number of inscriptions increased dramatically.

  • North India –  Royal inscriptions reflect the transition from Prakrit towards Sanskrit.
  • South India – Earliest inscription made an appearance.
  • Royal inscriptions –  Provide details dynastic histories.
  • Ordinary inscriptions –  contain a record of pious donations made by ordinary men.

12. Coins

Expansion of state polities and the spread of urban centres led to the development of coinage.

  • Indo – Greeks: Almost all information about them comes from their coins.
  • Kushanas coins: dealt in the chapter.
  • Satavahana coins
  • Roman coins provide us with information about Indo-Roman trade interactions.
  • City coins issued by urban administration like  Ujjain  , Vidisha & Taxila etc.

1. North India Dynasties

1.1 Shungas 

  • Shungas were Brahmins from Ujjain & worked as an official under Maurayas.
  • This dynasty was founded by Pushymitra Shunga. 

Important rulers of Shungas

Pushyamitra Shunga

  • Pushyamitra assassinated the last Mauryan king Brihadratha in 180 BC (works of Banabhata corroborate this).
  • He was a Brahmin himself and supporter of Brahmanism. He performed Ashvameda Yajna after proclaiming the throne.
  • Buddhist sources like  ‘Divyavadana’ depicts that he persecuted Buddhists &  destroyed many Buddhist monasteries.
  • His kingdom extended only over Pataliputra (capital), Ayodhya & Vidisha
  • From Malvikagnimitrum (of Kalidasa), we come to know that he faced various incursions of Yavanas (Bactrian Greeks) in the North West but was able to defeat them with help of his grandson (Agnimitra Shunga).
  • According to Puranas, he reigned for 36 years & succeeded by his grandson Agnimitra Shunga.

Agnimitra  Shunga

  • Malvikagnimitram (of Kalidasa) presents a different picture of Shunga rule under  Agnimitra than that presented by Divyavadana.
  • There were frequent clashes with Bactrian Greeks during his reign as well. Patanjali (2nd century BC grammarian) states that Yavanas were able to come up to Saketa . 

Later kings

  • 10 Shunga kings are supposed to have ruled 112 years.
  • They too became a victim of a conspiracy masterminded by Brahmana minister Vasudeva Kanava who started Kanava Dynasty.

Side Topic: Besnagar Inscription of Heliodorus

  • Besnagar is situated near Vidisha.
  • Here  Heliodorus (ambassador of Greek king Antialkidas) constructed Pillar of Garuda (vehicle of Vishnu) with inscription in Prakrit.
  • This shows that Shungas continued the Mauryan tradition of entertaining greek ambassadors. 
  • In the inscription, Greek ambassador describes himself to be a worshipper of God Vasudeva Krishna.
  • This pillar is quite different from earlier Maurya pillars. (it was small, not polished and not monolithic) .
Besnagar Inscription of Heliodorus

1.2 Indo-Greeks

  • Indo-Greeks are known as  ‘Yavanas’ in Indian sources. 
  • They were originally Satraps (principalities) of Seleucid Empire of West Asia. Later, the Seleucid Empire started to weaken. As a result, around 250 BC, Governor of Bactria, Diodotus, revolted and started to rule as an independent ruler of Bactria with capital at Bactra (Majar-e-Sharif).
  • Most important Indo-Greek king was Menander who can be identified as King Milinda of book Milindapanha who poses a number of question to Buddhist Monk Nagasena and reigned between 165-130 BC. He is said to have ruled a large kingdom as his coins have been found over an extensive area ranging from the valleys of the Kabul and Indus rivers to as far as western Uttar Pradesh.   The incident shown in Milindapanha is claimed to have resulted in Menander’s conversion to Buddhism. This was a period when Greeks were interested in Buddhism, so such a manual is extremely useful to know about the propagation of religion.
Coins of King Menander
  • Another Indo-Greek king whose name is remembered is Antialcidas (or Antialkidas), (c. 110 BC). He is known to us primarily because his emissary, Heliodorus, was sent to the court of King Bhagabhadra and he erected a pillar with its capital adorned by a figure of Garuda, in honour of God Krishna (Vasudeva). Heliodorus had evidently become a follower of Vasudeva Krishna.

Coins of Indo-Greek Kings

  • Distinguishing feature of the reign of the Indo-Greek kings was their exquisite coinage. These coins carried the portrait of the reigning king on one side with his name and Greek or Indian deities on the other side
  • Most of these coins were bilingual with Greek Language-Greek Script & Prakrit Language-Kharosthi Script.
  • 34 out of 45 Indo Greek kings were known through the coins .
  • They also help us to date the rise of sects . Eg : Krishna Vasudeva and Balarama depicted on Indo-Greek coins shows that they were important deities. 
  • Coins of Sakas , Parthians & Kushanas followed basic features of Indo-Greek coins including bilingual & bi-script .
  • Indo-Greek coins introduced innovations in Indian numismatics, such as
    • die-striking
    • use of legends
    • portraits of rulers
    • representation of deities.
Coins of Indo-Greek Kings

Fall of Indo-Greeks

  • Attack from Scythian tribes: With the construction of the Chinese Wall, the Scythians could not move towards China and in turn attacked Greeks and Parthians.  Parthians in return also started to attack Greeks. Hence, by about 165 BCE, Bactria was lost to the Parthians and Sakas. After this, the Indo-Greeks continued to rule in central and southern Afghanistan and north-western India.
  • The Greeks continued to be beset with internal squabbles among many claimants to power, and the names of more than thirty kings can be identified from their coins. It is possible that they all ruled small pockets as autonomous rulers and issued their own coinage.

Significance of their rule

  • They introduced the Hellenistic art features in north-western India which culminated in the Gandhara art style.
  • Coinage of Indo-Greeks was far ahead of their time in quality and aesthetics which impacted the later coinage in India .

Side Topic: Movements of the Pastoralists & building of Empires

Greek kingdoms declined in north-west due to attack on Bactria by nomadic peoples from central Asia.

  • Scythians/ Sakas inhabited the region around Lake Issyk-Kul and the river Jaxartes. They were attacked by Yueh-Chih/Yuezhi forcing Scythians to migrate westward.
  • Yueh-Chih (original home – west China) attacked Scythians because they were attacked by Xiung Nu (Hunas).
  • Xiung Nu were impacted because their pastures dried up and Chinese Emperor Shi Huang Ti built THE GREAT WALL restricting their movement and raids toward China.

(Source : Hou Han Shu and Chien Han Shu )

Movements of the Pastoralists & building of Empires

1.3 Sakas

  • Sakas aka Scythians were originally the inhabitants of Central Asia (the region around Lake Issyk-Kul and river Jaxartes). 
  • Sources sometimes mention Scythians & Parthians together as Saka-Pahlawa.
  • Sakas destroyed the Greek suzerainty over Bactria with their continuous attacks. 
  • There were  many branches of Sakas ruling simultaneously like
1 Settled in Afghanistan
2 Settled in Punjab. Ruled with Taxila as their capital.
3 Ruled from Mathura. 
4 Established themselves in Western & Central India.  Their rule continued till the 4th century AD.
  • In India, the Sakas assimilated into the Hindu society. They began to adopt Hindu names and religious beliefs, so much so that their coins had representations of Hindu gods on one side.

Main rulers of Sakas

1 . Maues / Moga

  • He was the earliest Saka King in Gandhara with rule starting from circa 80 BCE.
  • We come to know about Maues from his coins & inscriptions.
  • He also established  Stupa during his period.

2. Azes I

  • Azes I succeeded Maues.
  • He successfully attacked and defeated the last Indo-Greek king in North India (Hippostratos) and extended Saka rule as far as Mathura.

Inscription of Azes I has led BN Mukherjee to conclude that it was Azes I who started an era around 57 BC known as Vikram Era. Hence, a ruler who started an era in 57 BC wasn’t Vikramaditya but Saka ruler Azes I.

3 . Azilises & Azes II

  • Azilises succeeded Azes 1 who was further succeeded by Azes II.
  • They were definitely controlling Taxila and their control extended tIll Ganga Yamuna Doab.
  • They are largely known from their inscriptions. 


  • He is one of the most famous Saka Kshatrapas who ruled between 130–150 CE.
  • His exploits are celebrated in the famous rock inscription of Junagadh (in Gujarat).
  • According to the inscription, he had even defeated the Satavahanas in battle.
  • His name indicates that the process of assimilation into Indian society was complete by that time.

Title of Saka Kings

  • Saka Kings used Iranian title King of Kings (Shahanu Shahi)   
    • This point towards the existence of lesser chieftains or smaller kings. 
    • There were Provincial Governors known as Kshatrapas & Mahakshatrapas who were appointed by the king.
  • => Hence, there was a confederation of chieftains headed by the Saka Kings
  • But Chieftains and Governors exercised a considerable degree of autonomy.

Satrap System

  • Sakas along with Parthians introduced Satrap system. It was similar to Achaemenid  & Seleucid systems in Iran in which
    • Kingdom was divided into Provinces.
    • Each Province was under a Provincial Governor called Mahakshatrapa (The Great Satrap).
    • Governors with lower status were called Kshatrapas (Satraps).
  • Governors enjoyed AUTONOMY. They issued their own inscriptions & minted their own coins
  • Later, these Kshatrapas asserted their independence.

1.4 Parthians aka Pahlawas

  • Rule of Sakas & Parthians was simultaneous in North  & North-West India.
  • Parthians originated in Iran & later moved to Indo- Iranian borderlands .


  • Aka Guduvhara.
  • Most prominent Parthian King.
  • Ruled in first century A.D.
  • Area: Kabul to Panjab 
  • St. Thomas travelled  to his court  for the propagation of Christianity

Other points

  • Their rule was marked by  scarcity of silver coins . It is possible that silver coins of  predecessors i.e. Sakas and Indo – Greeks served their needs .
  • Their rule ended with rise of the Kushanas  .
  • Gradually, Parthians  assimilated in the Indian society .

1.5 Kushanas


  • They are mentioned in Chinese Annals as Yueh Chi living around Lake Ysyk Kol. They were attacked & defeated by Xiung Nu  (Hunas)  and subsequently, Yueh Chi moved westwards.
  • There were 5 Yeuh- Chi principalities & one was Kuei – Shang (Kushanas) with capital (initial) at Bactra (Majar e Sharif).

Kushana rulers

1 . Kujula Kadphises

  • He is also known as Kadphises I. 
  • Kujula Kadphises amalgamated  5 Yueh Chih principalities.
  • He established control south of Hindu-Kush Mountains and issued coins suggesting association with Buddhism .

2. Vima Kadphises

  • He was the son of Kujula Kadphises.
  • He expanded the empire to Kabul, Indus Valley & Mathura region.
  • He was the first in Indian subcontinent to issue gold coins.
  • His coins suggest an association with Shiva.

3. Kanishka

  • Kushana rule reached its zenith during his reign.
  • His reign began in 78 AD which also marks the start of Shaka Era.
  • His central Asian identity with boots, coat etc. is imprinted on a statue, unfortunately headless, found near Mathura.
  • His empire consisted of
    • Afghanistan, 
    • Xinjiang (China)
    • Central Asia up to the north of Oxus river
    • Indian regions
Indian Dynasties during 200 BC to 300 AD
  • Towards the end of his reign, he led an unsuccessful military campaign against Chinese in which his forces were defeated & he was forced to pay tribute.
  • He is celebrated as the patron of Buddhism. Northern Buddhists claimed that Kanishka organised the Fourth Buddhist Council to clarify Buddhist doctrine ( parallel to Theravada (South) Buddhism claim that Ashoka organised 3rd Council). A most significant outcome of this council was (1) recognition to new Buddhist sects and (2) Missionaries were sent to Central Asia.
  • But given the territorial span, royal patronage was extended to Buddhism, Jainism, Bhagavata and Shaiva sects, Zoroastrianism and Hellenistic cults. Various deities like Shiva, Buddha, Nana & many other West-Asian divinities can be found on their coins.

4. Successors

  • His immediate successors were Vasishka, Huvishka, Kanishka 2 & Vasudeva I.
  • Empire started to decline from the time of Vasudeva I & Vasudeva 2 was last Kushana ruler. Their rule ended in 262 AD.

Kushana Coinage

  • Kushana coins were of the highest quality and conformed to the weight standards of Roman coins.
  • In the coins, Kushana rulers are referred to as “king of kings”, “Caesar”, “lord of all lands” and by other such titles. Unfortunately, the titles did not leave much room on the coins for the actual name of the ruler.
  • Kushana coins tell us that Kushanas were eclectic. Different divinities like  Shiva, Buddha, Nana etc. on their coins corroborate this fact.
  • Coins of Kushanas shows that Kushanas were appropriating Divine Status for the Kings because of features like a halo around the head, flames on shoulders etc.
  • Importance of the Kushana coins in international transactions is borne out by the discovery of Kushana coins in Ethiopia.
Kushana Coins

Art and Literature during Kushanas

  • During the reign of Kushanas, art and literature flourished. This was partly due to royal patronage and partly due to other factors, like the growing ascendancy of Mahayana Buddhism, which allowed the representation of the person of Buddha in human form.
  • Two separate schools of art developed during this period
    1. Gandhara School: It was influenced by Greeks and also known as Indo-Greek style of sculpture and art.
    2. Mathura School: It was red sandstone sculpture produced in areas around Mathura.
  • Buddhists began to carve out rock caves in the hills of western India, which served as religious centres with chaityas and viharas, stretching from the Ajanta caves to the Kanheri caves in Mumbai. Large statues of Buddha were sculpted in these caves as a part of the Mahayana tradition.
  • Kanishka was the patron of Buddhist philosophers such as Asvaghosha (writer of Buddhacharita and Sariputraprakarana), Parsva and Vasumitra, as well as the great Buddhist teacher Nagarjuna.  Among the Hindu treatises,  Manusmriti and Vatsyayana’s Kamasutra took final shape during this period.

2. South India

2.1 Mahameghavahanas

  • Mahameghavahanas were ruled Kalinga in Orissa (earlier Kalinga was conquered by Asoka from the local power).
  • During Post-Maurya period again came under the local line of rulers named Mahameghavahana who descended from an ancient line of the Chedis.


  • He was the third Mahameghavahana ruler.
  • Important Source:  Hathigumpha Cave Inscription (near Bhubaneswar) which provides the following information
    • It gives a year-wise account of his reign.
    • Tell his military victories in north, west and south India  .
    • Undertook many public works.
    • As practising Jaina excavated cave-shelters for Jaina monks on Udayagiri hills.
  • Agricultural Expansion: Kharavela refers to irrigation canals built by the Nandas, but proudly mentions his own efforts in this direction.
  • Kharavela did not issue coins. It is possible that the Kalingan economy was not yet ready for its own coinage.
  • Mahameghavahana Dynasty collapsed after his demise  .

2.2 Satavahanas

Satavahana Empire


  • Satavahanas are the Andhras of Puranas.  
  • Gatha Saptasati, a Prakrit text composed by the Satavahana king Hala.
  • Inscriptions like Naneghat & Nashik inscription.
  • Account of Pliny: Eg – Andhra country had 30 walled cities and a large army of 1 lakh infantry, 2000 cavalry & 1000 elephants.
  • Accounts of Periplus in Periplus Maris Erythraei.
  • Coins of Satavahanas. Eg –  Coins of Yajnashri Satkarni has ship on the coins showing the importance of Trade & Commerce.

Satavahana rulers

Although there is controversy about dates but a sequence of rulers is fairly clear.

1 . Initial rulers

  • Satavahana dynasty was founded by Simuka who was followed by Kanha (brother of Simuka)  followed by  Satakarni I.

2. Satkarni I

  • Naganika (wife of Satkarni I) in his Naneghat inscription describes him as Lord of Dakshinapatha who performed two Ashvamedha Yajanas.

3. Gautamiputra Satkarni

  • Gautamiputra Satakarni was the greatest of the Satavahana kings.
  • He defeated the Shaka ruler Nahapana and reissued the coins of Nahapana with his own royal insignia.
  • Achievements are engraved in Inscription of his mother (Gautami Balashri) in Nashik. He is described as the destroyer of Shakas, Pahlavas, & Yavanas.
  • He is also said to have performed the prestigious Vedic Asvamedha sacrifice.
  • Towards the end of his reign, he suffered defeats from Rudradaman I.

4 . Vasishthiputra Pulumayi

  • Vasishthiputra Pulumayi, the successor of Gautamiputra Satakarni, expanded the frontiers of the Satavahana Empire. The coins issued by him are found scattered in many parts of south India.

5. Yajnashri Satkarni

  • Yajnashri Satkarni was another famous ruler who issued coins with a ship motif, indicating the importance of the overseas trade during his reign.

Satavahana dynasty came to end in mid 3rd century CE . The breakup of empire paved way for the rise of

  1. Vakatakas in Deccan
  2. Kadambas in Mysore
  3. Abhiras in Maharashtra
  4. Ikshvakus in Andhra 

Descent of Satavahanas

  • They claimed Brahamana descent. 
  • Nashik Inscription states them to be Ekabamhana i.e. Peerless Brahamana and Khatiya dapa manamada i.e. who destroyed the pride of Kshatriyas.

Use of Matronyms

  • Satavahanas use name of their mother like Gautamiputra Satkarni, Vasishthiputra Pulumayi etc. This is significant, however, this doesn’t mean they followed the matriarchal system. Their succession was still Patrilineal.
  • They were followers of cross-cousin system of marriage, especially with father’s sister’s daughter. 

Land Grants

  • Offering land grants was an important development of the Satavahana times. The beneficiaries of these grants were mostly Buddhists and Brahmins. The Naneghat inscription refers to tax exemptions given to the lands granted to Buddhist monks. These land donations created a group of people who did not cultivate but owned land.

2.3 Muvendors: Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas

From Sangam poetry, we come to know that Muvendar, ‘the three crowned kings’, the Cheras, the Cholas and the Pandyas controlled major agrarian territories, trade routes and towns.

Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas


  • The area under their control included central and northern Tamil Nadu i.e. Kaveri delta also known as Cholamandalam.
  • Capital: Uraiyur
  • Main Port : Puhar or Kaviripattinam 
  • Emblem: Tiger 
  • Sangam literature point towards fact that Kaviripattinam attracted merchants from various regions of the Indian Ocean and Roman Empire.
  • Sangam poems portray Karikalan as the greatest Chola of the Sangam age. Karikalan’s foremost military achievement was the defeat of the Cheras and the Pandyas, supported by as many as eleven Velir chieftains at Venni. He is credited with converting forest into habitable regions and developing agriculture by providing irrigation through the embankment of the Kaveri and building reservoirs.
  • Perunarkilli performed the Vedic sacrifice Rajasuyam or Rajasuya Yajna.


  • The area under their control included central and northern parts of Kerala and Kongu region of Tamil Nadu.
  • Capital: Karur
  • Main Port: Muziris
  • Emblem: Bow and Arrow
  • Sangam poems speak about eight Chera kings, their territory and fame. 


  • Capital: Madurai
  • Main port: Korkai
  • Emblem: Fish
  • According to traditions, they patronized the Tamil Sangams and facilitated the compilation of the Sangam poems .



This article deals with ‘ Migration .’ This is part of our series on ‘Society’ which is important pillar of GS-1 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here .

What is Migration ?

  • Migration refers to  spatial mobility between one geographical unit and another , generally involving change of residence for a considerable period of time .
  • The Census defines a migrant as a person residing in a place other than his/her place of birth or one who has changed his/ her usual place of residence to another place .
  • Migration includes both additive (at place of destination)  as well as separative  (at place of origin) aspects.

Types of Migration in India

  • India has witnessed the waves of migrants coming to the country from Central and West Asia and also from Southeast Asia. In fact, the history of India is a history of waves of migrants coming and settling one after another in different parts of the country. Similarly, large numbers of people from India too have been migrating to places in search of better opportunities especially to the countries of the Middle East, Western Europe, America, Australia and East and South East Asia.
  • Migration can be divided into the following types on the basis of origin and destination:
    1. Rural to Rural R → R (mostly in cases of marriages only) 
    2. Rural to Urban R → U (also known as Urbanisation)  
    3. Urban to Urban U → U
    4. Urban to Rural U → R (very unlikely. It includes doctor or any govt employee going to village for job or reverse migration of the earlier migrant)
  • Other basis of division can be whether within country or outside country
    • Internal Migration – Within same country . Which can  further  be divided into
      • Intra- state : Within State
      • Inter-state  : Between States
    • International Migration – From one country to other country.
  • On the basis of duration
    • Permanent Migration
    • Semi-Permanent (when due to lack of economic resources, people are not able to sustain their living in the destination regions and are forced to migrate back) .
    • Seasonal / Circular ( because of rainfed nature of our agriculture along with the lack of employment opportunities, people migrate to other areas during lean season and come back to the source region once that period is over).

Trends of migration in India

According to Census 2011, 45.36 crore people i.e. 37% of the population or every third citizen of  India   is a migrant —now settled in a place different from their previous residence.  

1 . Intrastate Migration

  • About three-fourths of all intrastate migrants were females corroborating the fact that  marriage is the prime reason for such migration. Most people, 49%, migrate for marriage (while globally, migration is attempt by people to survive and prosper, in India, marriage appears to be the biggest reason why people migrate).
  • Other reasons
    • Rural to Urban in search of good job and educational facilities.
    • Urban to Urban : Due to job transfers etc.

2 . Interstate Migration

  • From underdeveloped states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar etc. to  comparatively developed regions like Maharashtra , Punjab, NCR Delhi, Chandigarh etc.
  • As per census 2001, Maharashtra occupied first place in the list with 2.3 million net in-migrants, followed by Delhi, Gujarat and Haryana. On the other hand, Uttar Pradesh (-2.6 million) and Bihar (-1.7 million) were the states, which had the largest number of net out-migrants from the state.

Interstate Migration is also of two types with different Destination

2.1 Rural as Destination

  • Mostly agricultural labourers from underdeveloped states coming to Punjab, Haryana etc.

2.2 Urban as Destination

  • These include groups of industrial labourers .
  • Post LPG reforms and ICT revolutions , Migration of skilled professionals in IT sectors  to Bangalore, NCR , Mysore, Hyderabad, Chandigarh etc. where BPOs are  situated .

3 . International Migration

  • Large scale international migration is seen from whole country but especially from Kerala & Punjab .
Kerala Mainly to Gulf Nations
Punjab Mainly to Canada, UK, Australia and to lesser extend to Gulf nations
  • Benefit that these regions are getting huge remittances . But it is an issue of worry because of high brain-drain.
International Migration

Side Topic : Curious Case of Mexican International Migrants

  • Mexico’s emigration problem is a unique one, with more than 98% of all Mexican migrants living in the U.S.A, the country with which Mexico shares a border that runs 3110 km in length.
  • The Mexican emigration rate increased substantially since the 1960s and, with more than 11% of Mexicans living abroad, Mexico is the country with the largest number of emigrants in the world.
Mexican Migration to USA

Side Topic : Brain Drain

  • Brain drain is related to selective migration of educated people . Some countries are losing the most educated segment of their population. It can be both a benefit for the receiving country and a problem to the country of origin.

Impact on receiving country

  • Receiving country gets highly qualified labour which contributes to the economy right away.
  • It promotes economic growth in strategic sectors especially science and technology.
  • Receiving country doesn’t have to pay education and health costs, for example, 30% of Mexicans with a PhD are in the US.

Country of origin

  • Education and health costs are not paid back to the country of origin. It is losing potential leaders and talent.
  • It has long term impact on economic growth. It has the possibility of getting remittances. Many brain drain migrants have skills which they can’t use at home. The resources and technology may not be available there. The specific labour market is not big enough.

Theories of Migration

1 . Ravenstein’s Gravity Model

  • Movement of population gravitates around the centres of socio-economic opportunities . 
  • Distance Decay Principle says that ‘As  distance increases , the tendency to migrate decreases’.

2. Pull-Push Hypothesis

Migration is the result of interplay between expulsive forces at  place of origin and attractive forces at  place of destination.

Push Factors 1. Famine & Floods
2. War
3. Huge Crime Rate
4. Low Jobs
5. Harsh Climate
Pull Factors 1. Better Jobs
2. Education
3. Cleanliness
4. Better Standard of living
5. Better Climate

3. Cost and Benefit Model

Difference between cost and benefits that will accrue after migration determines Migration.

Cost of Migration 1. Cost of travelling
2. Costs of searching job
3. Getting training
4. Psychic costs  etc.
Benefit 1. More earnings
2. Better living standard
3. Enhancement of prestige etc.

Causes of Migration

1 . Push Factors

Factors forcing person to leave his residence and move to some other place

1.1 Economic Causes

  • Lack of jobs
  • Rural Poverty
  • Low levels of Economic development .
  • Development led migration => building dam can force number of villages to be evacuated .
  • Pressure of population resulting in a high man to land ratio .

1.2 Socio-Cultural Causes

  • Caste System : Dalits feel suffocated in villages and hence migrate  .
  • Higher pressure on limited land in bigger families .
  • Marriage : Most people, 49%, migrate for marriage purposes.
  • Family conflicts also cause migration.

1.3 Political Causes

  • Targeted violence against community create fear among the survivors and force them to migrate => Eg: Large Sikh migration from Delhi to Punjab post 1984 riots and exodus of Kashmiri pandits from the valley.
  • Adoption of the jobs for ‘sons of the soil policy’ by the State governments . Eg : The rise of Shiv Sena in Bombay, with its hatred for the migrants and the occasional eruption of violence in the name of local parochial patriotism.

2. Pull Factors

Migrants are lured by the attractive conditions in the new place.

2.1 Economic Causes

  • Economic opportunities & Jobs in cities and abroad .
  • Better standard of living, health & educational facilities etc. 
  • In recent years, the high rate of movement of people from India to the USA, Canada & Middle-East is due to  better employment opportunities, higher wages & better amenities .

2.2 Socio-Cultural Causes

  • Caste don’t play much role in urban areas (due to urban anonymity).

2.3 Political Causes

  • Political freedom in western countries.

3. Pull Back Factors

  • This has been a recent phenomenon. With better opportunities for employment (due to MGNREGA and other schemes, agricultural revolutions) individuals are pulled back to their native places.

Side Topic :  Internal Migration due to disasters

  • India had the highest number of internally displaced people (IDP) due disasters  (five million) in the world in 2019 .
  • 5,90,000 people in India live are internally displaced due to disasters in India as a result of various cyclones like Fani, Vayu, Bulbul etc along with south west monsoon and droughts in various parts.
  • IDPs are different from refugees in that, having not crossed a border, they are not typically covered by international refugee protections. They remain subjected to national laws, and as such are afforded less protection .

Characteristics of the Migrants in India

  • Age selectivity : Most migrants, especially in developing countries are predominantly young adults. Also a major part of the female migration consequential to marriage occurs at the young adult ages.
  • Chain migration : Migrants have a tendency to move to those places where they have contacts and where the previous migrants serve as links for the new migrants and chain is thus formed in the process  .
  • Among women, as expected, marriage was the most important reason for migration, followed by associational migration.

Consequences of Migration

1 . On the destination

  • Creates pressure on urban infrastructure due to increased traffic, competition for housing facilities & water etc.
  • Create social and ethnic tensions due to clash of interests between  migrants and  locals due to rise in prejudice and xenophobia against migrants .
  • Mismanaged migration leads to formation of slums and ghettos and  act as source for outbreak of diseases .
  • It leads to skewed sex ratio in favour of males .

2. On the source

  • Separation of individual migrants from the origin areas & kinsmen .
  • Results in loss of human resource for the state, especially if the migration is of employable people.
  • Migrants acts as agent of social change. Internalised urban values are  transmitted to native place .
  • Impact on women : It leads to ‘Feminisation of labour & agriculture’  at source .   Because of the male migration from Kerala, wives suffer from neurosis, hysteria and depression.
  • Remittances sent by the migrants has the most important impact. Remittances are mainly used for food, repayment of debts, treatment, marriages, children’s education, agricultural inputs, construction of houses, etc. For thousands of the poor villages of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh etc. internal remittance works as life blood for their economy.
  • Migration leads to evolution of composite culture and broadening of the mental horizon of the people at large.
  • Migration has also changed the demographic profile of the rural areas corroborated by following facts
    • Reduced family size among the migrants as compared to non-migrants. The separation of the rural male migrants from their wives for long durations tends to reduce the birth rate.
    • Ageing of Villages as migrants are young leaving old age in villages .  
    • Increased Sex Ratio in villages as men usually migrate leaving females behind.

3. On migrants

  • Problem of document and identity which deprives them of social security benefits and government socio-economic programs.
  • Migration and slums are inextricably linked. Most slums are inhabited by the migrants. Such slums are deprived of basic healthcare and sanitation facilities. 
  • Limited access to Formal Financial Services results in them being exploited by their employers and they face risk of theft and personal injury in saving and transferring their earnings.
  • They face political exclusion because most of the times they don’t have voting rights at the destination. Further they are target of political rhetoric of local identity politics and  subjected to violence and abuse.
Consequences of Migration

Legal measures

  • Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979, required all establishments who hired inter-state migrants to be registered, as well as all contractors who recruited these workers to be licensed.
  • During Covid times (in 2020) and problems faced by the migrants during that time, need was felt to create a database to map migrant workers scattered across the country. Hence, Government has  decided to create a database of migrant workers using existing  databases of government schemes such as MGNREGA, and the one nation-one ration card .

Way forward

  • There is a legislation i.e. Interstate Migrant Workmen Act, 1979 which aims to safeguard migrants . However , it is obsolete and hardly enforced . Need of the hour is the judicial implementation of the act in letter and spirit .
  • Rather than treating migration as problem, destination states should aim to accommodate them into the economy of the state. There is ample evidence to support the fact that migrants generally take up those jobs and businesses which are not done by the locals.
  • The planning of cities should keep in mind the needs of the migrants.
  • Political class, civil society and NGOs should conduct inter group interactions to ward off mistrust between natives and migrants.

Women Safety in India

Women Safety in India

This article deals with ‘ Women Safety in India .’ This is part of our series on ‘Society’ which is important pillar of GS-1 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here .


  • Women safety includes various dimensions like sexual harassment at workplace, rape, marital rape, dowry, acid attack etc.   
  • India is the 4th most dangerous country in the world for woman (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Congo are ahead of India) .

Factors aggravating & affecting women safety

1 . Socio-Economic-Cultural Factors

  • Institutionalisation of Patriarchal System  .
  • Objectification / Commodification  of women  .
  • Influence of “Western culture”.

2 . Institutional Failures

  • Poor enforcement of laws and present laws have various lacunae .
  • Poor conviction rate in crimes against women .
  • Slow criminal justice system .
  • Poor gender sensitization of law enforcing agencies like police, judiciary etc.

3 . Lack of Reporting

  • Women don’t complain due to various reasons like social stigma or fear of retaliation. 

4. Infra Gaps

  • Poorly lit urban spaces coupled with inadequate police patrolling .
  • Note – Not only physical spaces but women is not safe in India even on digital space (Internet)

Justice Verma Committee

It was formed after the horrific event of Nirbhaya death .   

Women Safety in India

Recommendations of the committee

  • It rules out death sentence for rape convicts .
  • Life Imprisonment in case of Rape means imprisonment for entire natural life of convict .
  • Stalking to be viewed as serious offence .
  • Law Enforcement Agencies are Gender Insensitive .
  • Marital Rape should be made offence under IPC  .
  • An officer who doesn’t report a FIR or delays it for a rape case should be punished.

Government schemes in this regard

1 . Acts and legal measures

  • Sexual Harassment of Women at workplace Act 2013 .
  • Various provisions under IPC .
  • States also have specific laws. Some states like Maharashtra have amended their laws making their provisions more stringent. Under the new Shakti Act, 2020, provisions include death penalty for rape, fine up to Rs 10 lakh on perpetrators of violence, investigation  to be completed within 15 days after an FIR is filed , trial has to be completed within 30 days after the chargesheet is filed against an accused.

2 . Surakshit Nari , Sashakt Nari

Following things have been done under this scheme

  • Panic Button has been introduced  in the Mobiles   .
  • 181 – Universal Women Helpline number has been started  .
  • Himmat App : To raise SOS alert has been started . 
  • CCTV Surveillance cameras have been installed in trains  .

3. Sakhi- One Stop Centre Scheme

  • It provides support women affected from violence .
  • Scheme offers Medical Aid , Police Assistance, Legal Aid , Counselling and shelters .

4 . Transportation Schemes

  • Pink Auto initiative of  Odisha: pink autos drivers have undergone psychological test and training.
  • Delhi : Women compartment in Metro .

Side Topic : Sex Offenders Registry 

In 2018 , India has joined the 8 countries that maintain Sex Offenders Registry

  • It will be maintained by NCRB
  • It will contain Residential Address,  Fingerprints, DNA Sample, PAN & Aadhar Number of convicted sexual offenders .
  • Database will not be available to public (unlike US) .


  • Instil  fear in the minds of repeat sexual offenders 
  • It will be very beneficial and handy for the law enforcement agencies also.


  • This could prove counterproductive . Reason = Out of the 39,000 cases of rape , in nearly 95% cases, the accused was known to the victim and was close family member. In such a scenario when there is already pressure on the victim to not report the crime from within the family, this will make the victim more vulnerable to pressure given the prospect that once the name comes in the registry , person will have limited access to jobs .
  • Issue of Technical Rape : Registry will also contain name of persons accused of TECHNICAL RAPE – a term used by law enforcement to describe consensual sexual activity involving a girl under 18.
  • Studies on similar initiatives in US and UK shows that such registries have virtually no effect on reducing crime .

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

This article deals with ‘ Domestic Violence .’ This is part of our series on ‘Society’ which is important pillar of GS-1 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here .


  • Domestic Violence is also known as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) .
  • Domestic violence in India is endemic. Around 70% of women in India are victims  .

Forms of Domestic Violence

Physical Injury Includes slapping, kicking,  hitting, beating etc.
It is the most visible form .
Emotional Abuse Includes harassment; threats, verbal abuse , blaming and isolation etc. 
It erodes woman’s sense of self-worth .
Sexual Assault – Includes touching, or fondling; sexual coercion ; wife swapping etc.

Domestic Violence

Causes of Domestic Violence

  • Dowry Demands :  It can lead to physical & emotional abuse and even dowry death and bride burning. 
  • Patriarchal structure of household  .
  • Cultural acceptance of Domestic Violence.  
  • Alcoholic husband.
  • Not having a male child.
  • Violence against young widows esp. in rural areas as they are cursed for their husband’s death  .
  • Under Reporting :  Under reporting & non reporting encourage partner to indulge more into this .

Effects of Domestic Violence

  • Emotional distress & suicidal tendencies in women suffering from Domestic Violence.
  • Infringement of Fundamental Rights of women including Right to Life .
  • Serious health problems :  Injury,  Unwanted Pregnancy etc.
  • Negative Impact on Children : Children of such parents also face psychological problems and they live in atmosphere of fear .

Act : Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

  • Definition of Domestic Violence has been modified recently – it includes actual abuse or the threat of abuse that is physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic and further harassment by way of unlawful dowry demands to the woman or her relatives.
  • It has widened the scope of the term WOMEN :  Act now covers “live- in partners”, wives, sisters, widows, mothers, single women, divorced women  .
  • Right to Secure Housing i.e. right to reside in the matrimonial or shared household, whether or not she has any title or rights in the household. 
  • Principal of Locus Standi doesn’t apply .
  • For women who prefer not to stay in the shared household, state needs to create shelter homes.
  • To fast-track the verdict , first hearing should happen within 3 days after receiving application and case should be disposed  in 60 days.
  • Protection Officers to provide assistance to woman for medical examination, legal aid  etc.
  • Act has a provision of upto 1 year imprisonment  .

Lacunae in the Act

  • Madras High Court Bench observed that it can be misused by the women to file frivolous cases .
  • A man can be booked under the Domestic Violence act even if women feel that she has been mentally harassed and verbally abused. But these terms are subjective .
  • Conviction rate is very low (just 3%) .
  • Marital rape is not included in the definition of Domestic Violence.
  • There is no provision of online filing of cases .
  • Number of protection officers appointed in state are inadequate .
  • Act singles out men as perpetrators of domestic violence and assumes that only women are victims. A man, who is a victim of domestic violence, has no rights under this law. In the western world, the domestic violence laws  provide protection to  both men and women.

Hence, the law in its current form is grossly inadequate to tackle the problem of domestic violence. It imposes a lot  of responsibility on men, without giving them rights. On the other hand, it gives lots of rights to women without requiring them to be responsible.

Recent Judgement making it Gender Neutral

Supreme Court has laid down that a woman can also file a complaint against another woman, accusing her of domestic violence.

Reasoning of Court

  • Since the perpetrators and abettors of domestic violence can also be women, insulating them would frustrate the objectives of the Act. Under this immunity, females and minors can continue to commit domestic violence. 
  • It discriminates between persons similarly situated and, thus, violates Article 14 of the Constitution. 

Significance of the Change

  • It makes Domestic Violence gender neutral .  
  • However, there are concerns that it would encourage husbands to file counter cases against their wives through their mothers or sisters

Honour Killing

Honour Killing

This article deals with ‘ Honour Killing (UPSC) .’ This is part of our series on ‘Society’ which is important pillar of GS-1 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here .


According to Britannica , Honour Killing is the murder of a woman or girl by male family members. The killers justify their actions by claiming that the victim has brought dishonour upon the family name . 


Problem of Honour killing is quite complex & reasons vary in different areas.

  • Feudal Mindset  :  woman marrying outside her community brings dishonour to the family and it is better to kill them and set example for others .
  • Strike against Dalit Assertion  especially when women is from OBC caste & boy from Dalit caste .
  • Inter religious marriages : Politicisation of matter  especially in  UP  and ‘Love Jihad’ campaign by Hindutva ultra right wing.
  • Same Gotra Issue in Haryana : In Haryana, marriages between couples belonging to the same gotra  are not recognised leading to incidents of honour killing.
  • Law Commission of India observed that one of the reasons of honour killing is change in economic status of women and taking a stand against the male-dominated culture.

Law regarding this

But, inspite of the increase in the number of crimes in the name of honour there is

  • no definition of the crime
  • no protections legally afforded to  couple

Special law like Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe Prevention of Atrocities Act could render some justice to the victims of honour killings.

Judgements wrt Honour Killing

1 . Shakti Vahini Case (2018)

  • NGO Shakti Vahini filed PIL in Supreme Court.
  • Supreme Court gave various guidelines to end honour killings like
    1. State Government should identify districts where honour killing happened in last 5 years .
    2. Khaps  should not act as they are conscience-keepers .
    3. Police should help couples . 
    4. Safe Houses for couples (1 month to 1 year) .
    1. Fast Track Courts should be made to decide case within 6 months .

Earlier Judgements regarding Honour Killings

2. Supreme Court Judgement on Khap Panchayats (2011)

In 2011, Supreme Court termed

  • Khaps were termed as “kangaroo courts” .
  • They were declared them illegal .
  • Court wanted them to be stamped out ruthlessly. 

3. Lata Singh v. State of U.P.

  • Inter-caste marriages are in fact in the national interest as they will result in destroying the caste system.

4. Bhagwan Das v. Delhi  (2011)

  • Supreme Court deemed honour killings in the “rarest of rare” category of crimes that deserve the death penalty.

Triple Talaq

Triple Talaq

This article deals with ‘ Triple Talaq .’ This is part of our series on ‘Society’ which is important pillar of GS-1 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here .


  • In Shayara Bano v. Union of India (‘Triple Talaq case’) , Supreme Court declared Triple Talaq as un-Islamic and “arbitrary”  .
  • Triple Talaq (also known as Talaq-e-Bidat) is a practice in which  a man pronounces ‘talaq’ thrice in a sitting, or through phone, or writes in a talaqnama or a text message and the divorce is considered immediate and irrevocable, even if the man later wishes to reconciliate.
  • The only way for the couple to go back to living together is through a Nikah Halala, and then return to her husband. Nikah Halala refers to practice under which a divorced Muslim woman has to marry another man and consummate the marriage and get a divorce. Only then can she be eligible to remarry her former husband.

Why Triple Talaq should be banned ?

  • Triple Talaq is not Essential Practice of Islam : It is not an Islamic Practice but  social practice of Arab Society which has gradually crept into Islam .  
  • Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco,  Philippines, Sudan, Syria,  UAE and Yemen have made concept of Triple Talaq unconstitutional & India must follow the suit .
  • It infringes Right to Equality and Right to Life of women.
  • 2012 Committee on the Status of Women  recommended  to ban Triple Talaq and polygamy.

Arguments against Supreme Court’s interference in Triple Talaq

  • In Narasu Appa Mali (1952) CaseSupreme Court held that,  personal laws are not Laws for purpose of Article 13 . Hence, they can’t be scrutinised for violation of fundamental rights violations .
  • Religious practices are safeguarded under Article 25 of the Constitution .

Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act


Triple Talaq
1986 : Shah Bano Case Shah Bano Case  was to decide whether the relief extended to divorced women under CrPC, 1973, applied to Muslims too. Constitution bench decided that it extended to Muslim women as well.  
1986   Shah Bano Act /  Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act was enacted by the Rajiv Gandhi government to overturned  Supreme Court order  . It held that divorced women was entitled to maintenance for period of iddat (3 lunar cycles / menstruations) only .  
2001 Daniel Latifi Case – Maintenance for  period of (only) iddat was challenged for violating Article 14 & 21 . Supreme Court held that this doesn’t violate Article 14 & 21 as intelligible difference can be made in this case.  
2017 Shyara Bano Case : Declared Triple Talaq to be unconstitutional .  
2019 Government  introduced Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act .

Provisions of Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage)  Act

  • Triple Talaq will not nullify the marriage .
  • Act makes Triple Talaq a criminal offence with imprisonment of upto 3 years .
  • Act shall be cognisable and non-bailable (i.e. police officer can arrest  without a warrant.)
  • Principle of Locus Standii don’t apply : Complainant can be any body – not just wife.
  • Act also provides provision of reconciliation without undergoing the process of Nikah Halala if the two sides agree to stop legal proceedings and settle the dispute.
  • Muslim woman, against whom Talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek subsistence allowance from her husband for herself and for her dependent children. The amount of the allowance will be determined by the Magistrate.

Main issues with bill

  • Act converts a civil wrong into a criminal wrong as marriage is a civil contract .
  • Against Doctrine of Proportionality and hence infringes Right to Equality . Under IPC, 3 year jail term is for   crimes like  rioting.   
  • Against principles of natural justice :  Triple Talaq don’t nullify marriage . Hence, when Crime is not committed , how can person be punished for act of crime .
  • Issue of implementation: The is difficult to implement, especially in cases of oral triple divorce given by husbands when no one other than the couple was present
  • Rise in divorces and abandonment: Issues remain as no husband on his return from jail is likely to retain the wife on whose complaint he had gone to prison.

Points in favour of Criminalisation of Triple Talaq

  • Triple Talaq has never been sanctioned even in Islamic scripture . In Pakistan and Bangladesh too , which are Islamic countries, Triple Talaq is criminal offence (with imprisonment upto 1 year ) .
  • Government Intent is not to punish . Government argues that if nobody gives Triple Talaq, nobody gets punished.
  • SC judgment of 2017 had recognised the discriminatory nature of Triple Talaq. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act 2019 offers Muslim women recourse and access to protection of the law from the practice of arbitrary instant divorce.

Women in Combat Forces

Women in Combat Forces

This article deals with ‘ Women in Combat Forces .’ This is part of our series on ‘Society’ which is important pillar of GS-1 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here .

In news because

  • 2018 : India announced that women will be allowed to occupy combat roles in all sections of  army, navy and air force  .
  • 2019 : Sainik Schools opened for girls  (Earlier only boys could take admission)
  • 2020 : Women allowed Permanent Commission by Supreme Court. So far, women officers are recruited mostly on short service commission for 14 years  , which means they are not eligible to get pension.

Current position

Despite being inducted in the armed forces since 1990s women officers form a meagre number in the total armed forces of the country. Currently, %age of women in Indian Forces

  1. Army :  3.80%
  2. Air Force : 13% 
  3. Navy : 6%

Earlier, Women officers were mostly inducted under the Short service commission (SCC) where they can serve maximum of 14 years .  Women were directly permanently commissioned only in the education, legal branches, medical, dental and nursing services.

In other countries as well, this issue is contentious.  Countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States have been conservative about women in their respective combat arms, while others like the Israeli Defense Forces have achieved widespread integration of women.

Case study of Gunjan Saxena

Women in Combat Forces


  • Issue of acceptability of women as officer by men  .
  • Concerns over women’s vulnerability on capture and maternity women are not allowed in combat roles
  • The combat roles are  physically demanding  .
  • It should not be a political gimmick  .
  • On name of Gender Equality, security of nation shouldn’t be put at risk . 

Rationale for the decision to include women in forces

  • Infringement of
    • Right to Equality 
    • Right to freedom of profession (Article 19(1)(g)).
  • Qualities required for a good soldier are taking responsibility for fellow soldiers , moral and mental toughness; expert in the use of weapon ,  commitment etc and women score better in these .
  • Best and fittest people should be taken and   resource pool should not be limited to half by putting a blanket ban on women.
  • Landscape of modern warfare itself has changed with more sophisticated weapons, focus on intelligence gathering and emergence of cyberspace as arenas of combat.
  • Granting Permanent Commission to women officers will make them eligible to full pension post their retirement, thereby securing their futures.