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Renaming districts | Ahilyabai Holkar

  • Context (IE | IE): Maharashtra Cabinet renames Ahmednagar as Ahilyanagar and Velha tehsil as Rajgad.
  • Ahmednagar will be renamed after Ahilyabai Holkar, a queen of the Maratha empire.
  • Velha, the first capital of the Maratha Empire under Shivaji, will be renamed Rajgad.
  • This decision follows the renaming of Aurangabad and Osmanabad as Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar and Dharashiv, respectively.
  • Ahmednagar took its name from Ahmad Nizam Shah I.
  • Ahmad Nizam Shah I founded the town in 1494.
  • The town was established on the site of a battlefield where he emerged victorious against superior Bahamani forces.

Process for Renaming a City

  • A request for renaming a city in the form of a resolution must be raised by any Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA).
  • The resolution will be deliberated upon in the State Assembly.
  • Then, the resolution will be put to vote, and the resolution must be passed by a simple majority.
  • The resolution as a proposal is submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The Ministry considers the proposal and consults with other state agencies.
    • The agencies from whom the approval is required are the Ministry of Railways, Intelligence Bureau, Department of Posts, Survey of India, and Registrar General of India.
    • A ‘No Objection’ certificate is issued by the Ministry if the proposal is approved by the Ministry and all the agencies.
  • After getting approval from the Ministry, the State Government can issue an official notification in the Gazette and the name of the city stands changed.

Ahilyabai Holkar

Ahilyabai Holkar - PMF IAS

Early Life

  • Ahilyabai Holkar was born on May 31, 1725, in the village of Chaundi (present-day Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra, India).
  • Her father, Mankoji Shinde, was a respected scion of a Dhangar (Gadariya) family and served as the Patil.
  • Despite the prevailing norms, her father taught her to read and write.

Marriage and Rise to Prominence

  • Ahilyabai gained prominence when Malhar Rao Holkar, a commander in the Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao’s army, visited Chaundi.
  • Impressed by her piety and character, Malhar’s son, Khande Rao Holkar, married Ahilyabai on the Peshwa’s advice in 1733.

Leadership and Administration

  • After her husband’s death in the 1754 Battle of Kumbher against the King of Bharatpur, Ahilyabai took control of Malwa.
  • She excelled at administrative and military strategies under the guidance of her father-in-law, who believed she should lead her people and not die by Sati.
  • After the death of her father-in-law and son a few years later, she petitioned the Peshwa to become the ruler, backed by the support of her army.
  • She defended the Malwa state against intruders and personally led armies into battle, with Tukoji Rao Holkar as her military commander.
  • Ahilyabai was known for her administrative acumen, breaking traditional gender norms in 18th century India.

Contributions

  • She established Maheshwar (in Madhya Pradesh) as the seat of the Holkar Dynasty.
  • Ahilyabai was a prolific builder, constructing Hindu temples and Dharmashalas across the Indian Subcontinent.
  • Benevolence, social reforms, and support for arts and culture marked her reign.

Legacy

  • Popularly known as Rajmata Ahilyadevi Holkar, she remains one of the most powerful women in pre-independent India.
  • Her legacy endures as a symbol of courage, leadership, and devotion to her people.
  • John Keay, the British historian, gave the queen the title of ‘The Philosopher Queen’.
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