The Indian peninsula has probably been continuously populated for a very long time; the presence of Homo erectus probably extends some 700,000-230,000 years back. However, a combination of relative poverty, dating difficulties and ongoing revisions of existing material has contributed to the fact that much of the older prehistory is still very incompletely known. Among the oldest finds in India are stone tools from the Middle or Late Paleolithic period, found across virtually the entire country. They are often included in the so-called soan culture, which got its name after one of the Indus tributaries in Punjab.
- Countryaah: Check to see the location of India on the world map. Also covers major mountains, rivers and lakes in India.
The Hunan and hunter-gatherer culture of the Zoan period was followed during the Mesolithic period (beginning about 10,000-8000 BC) by an incipient shepherd and agricultural culture. For areas in northern India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, claims have recently been made for the right of domicile to innovations such as livestock management and agriculture; In any case, it is possible that these areas already communicated with early cultures in the Ancient Orient (compare the Neolithic Revolution). During the Neolithic period (from about 4000 BC) and in the transition to the Bronze Age, which for India, usually dates to around 2500 BC, a variety of different cultures appeared in both the north and the south. Important places to find include Quetta and Kot Diji in present-day Pakistan and Kalibangan in the state of Rajasthan. (compare the Amri Nal culture).
Indus culture (c. 2500 – c. 1700 BC)
This India’s first urban culture developed its own writing system, which must, however, still be considered undifferentiated. To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder to learn more about climate, population, government, and economy for the country of India. Large local variations occurred, especially in the Ganges Valley. About 20 resorts have been excavated; the largest are Harappa and Mohenjodaro in present-day Pakistan as well as Kalibangan, all in and near the Indus Valley. Others are Sutkagendor in southwestern Pakistan, Alamgirpur northeast of Delhi and in south Lothal on northeast Kathiawar Peninsula. Indus culture also maintained extensive external relations. See further Indus culture.
India is a country with early written documentation. However, the sources are obscure and must be interpreted hypothetically until the time when Islamic historical writing won. For the prehistory and early history of India up to about 1000 AD there is an older Vedic and Buddhist literary material of mainly mythical and religious character. The Hindu folk literature also contains prejudiced historical features. To this is added a later Hindu court literature with some connection to royal activities. Of a more tangible and reliable character are archaeological finds, inscriptions and coins, as well as certain facts from ancient literature as well as testimonies of travelers from the Hellenistic states, Rome, Persia and China.
For all of India’s history, certain geographical conditions apply. In the early stages, the country was only exceptionally collected in a centralized kingdom; instead, there were a wide variety of state formation that lived in competition or cooperation with each other. The people of India have always lived in a small-scale community structure based on village culture. Furthermore, the Himalayas have separated the country from the rest of Asia. Time and again, however, groups of people have migrated, usually through the mountain passes in the northwest, to seek refuge in the fertile river valleys.
Vedic times (c. 1700 – c. 600 BC)
On the downfall of Indus culture, probably during the 18th century BC, a relatively poor period followed, in the Doab area between Ganges and Yamuna, characterized by a yellowish, later a painted gray pottery. At this stage, it is reasonable to assume that people who spoke Indian languages reached the Indian Peninsula.
The use of iron seems to have appeared first in a southern megalithic culture from about 1000 BC. The spread of the hardware trade was probably a prerequisite for the pervasive urbanization of northern India which began in the 600s and 500s BC. By this time, the so-called Indo-Indians were certainly resident in the Ganges basin, while the Dravids had already found their residence mainly in southern India. The fact that the Indians’ original immigration was at least partly aggressive in nature can be inferred from the oldest Vedic hymns, which mention local enemies and ethnic groups. From later texts, one can read out a change in social behavior, now based on agriculture and housing rather than nomadic life. The Vedic priests contributed to the general pacification; through them the legitimacy of the rulers was guaranteed.
The Magadha Period (ca. 600 BC – about 320 BC)
During the 500s and 400s BC larger state formations began to emerge; most significant was the North Indian Magadic Empire, whose ruling dynasties were also associated with the rise of Buddhism. This was a time of intellectual upheaval; new religious systems, the emergence of a classical philosophy and emerging new literary traditions, with epics, popular storytelling and Buddhist literature as the main currents. The Tamil literature during this time was probably also developed in the wake of three stable and long-lived kingdoms on the southern tip of the peninsula: Chola, Cera and Pandya.
Indus tributary Beas reached 326 BC of Alexander the Great’s armies. The incident left no traces in Indian sources but meant that the northernmost parts of India came to be dominated by Hellenistic states a few centuries ahead; Bactria and Punjab became meeting places for Greek and Indian culture. The so-called Indo-Greek states were overthrown during the century BC. by Iranian groups, which later established their own kingdom. Another development that followed Alexander’s thrust was the emergence of the hitherto most extensive and powerful kingdom in India during the Mauryan dynasty.
Maurya and Kushan empires (c. 320 BC – c. 400 AD)
The Magadian kingdom was overthrown about 320 BC. by Candragupta, which quickly expanded its territory. The empire reached its greatest extent under Candragupta’s grandson Ashoka, who among other things. pursued a pronounced Buddhist policy in order to keep his empire together. It was probably during this time that the political doctrine was developed that is reflected in the work Arthashastra. However, the kingdom collapsed quite soon after Ashoka’s death in 231 BC, and after 187 BC. dissolved the Mauryan dynasty.
As a result of concerns and migrations in Central Asia, in the coming centuries new people sought refuge in India. The Iranian peoples who had brought Indo-Greeks to ruin, commonly called shakas, were of mixed descent and established sometime during the decades around Kr.f. a kingdom in northwestern India that may have stretched all the way down to the Kathiawar Peninsula. This so-called Indo-Scythian kingdom got after Gondofares’ reign around the middle of the 100 century AD. give way to a new people from the northwest, the kushanas, who have left their former settlements in Central Asia (in Chinese sources they are called yuezhi). The Kushans established a vast empire in Central Asia and northern India under the powerful Kanishka, which opened the way for the Buddhist mission to China. The Kanishka government is difficult to date but can possibly be traced to the second century AD.
During this period, when intrusions from the northwest established new strong kingdoms, a number of smaller, indigenous kingdoms existed in both eastern and southern India. A new Tamil kingdom emerged on the east coast during the Palladian dynasty, where archaeological finds have established that there was also a Roman trading colony, Arikamedu. In the Deccan, the Andhra Empire may have held a long-standing power during the Satavahan dynasty as early as the 20th century BC.
The Gupta period (320-510 AD)
During the 20th century AD again, the northeastern parts of India became dominant. Around Pataliputra (Patna) emerged with Candragupta India’s throne entry 320 AD. the strong Hindu Gupta kingdom. This, the foremost kingdom of the classical era, culminated, after the conquests of the son Samudragupta, both territorial and cultural under the grandson Candragupta II Vikramaditya. At the far north there was a smaller, Cushan kingdom in the early 400s, but about 460 it was crushed by the Asian Heftalites, whose continued expansion was halted by King Skandagupta. However, when the Hephalites re-attacked under their leader Mihirakula the following century, the Gupta empire weakened and fell into disrepute, while some of northern India was dominated by the Huns, who had their centers of power in Central Asia.
The Harshavim and the minor pre-Islamic kingdoms (c. 500-1000 AD)
In central India, during the 500-600s, a kingdom emerged during the Pulakeshin of the Caluky dynasty, which came into conflict with the Pallav empire southeast of it. The fighting meant that the Caluky kingdom was divided. Northern India came once again to unite under a strong ruler: Harsha of the Guardian Dynasty, one of India’s last Buddhist rulers. His kingdom, with Kanauj as its capital, lasted during the first half of the 600s. In the 700s, there were several major centers of power: in Kanauj, King Yashovarman, who helped to ward off the new threat from the north, ruled the Arabs; in Rajputana there was the pratiharad dynasty. The Paladin dynasty ruled the Bengal, while the Rashtrakutas, who were heirs to the Western Calukyas, still remained in the 800s as a significantly stronger power than the others in the Deccan. In the south, the Cholar Empire dominated at the end of the 8th century.
By the 7th century, the Arabs had conquered Sind, the area around the southernmost part of Indus, but the actual Islamic conquest of India occurred from about 1000. The Turkish dynasty of the Ghaznaids ruled the mid-11th century Punjab but was driven by an Afghan prince family, the Ghurids. expanded the Islamic empire to include all of northern India, where Delhi became the capital. The army consisted largely of Turkish slaves from Central Asia. One slave general, Qutb al-Din Aybak, proclaimed 1206 to the Sultan and in 1211 took another, Iltutmish. Several Sultans of the Delhi Sultanate until the end of the 15th century were former slaves of a representative, and some of them became dynastic founders. During the Tughluq Sultans in the 1300s, the kingdom reached its greatest extent, almost all over India, but fell during the 15th century into several independent smaller kingdoms. Although the Delhi Sultanate was Islamic in character, the Muslims were never more than a small minority, and within the kingdom there were a large number of Hindu sound princes. The Hindus came to be regarded asdhimm貝, ‘protected’, who had the right to religious freedom. From the 1400s onwards, several syncretistic directions arose, which wanted to merge Islam and Hinduism. The most important became the one founded by Guru Nanak (dead 1539) and developed into the Sikh religion.
The young Babur, a descendant of Timur Lenk, had been expelled from his Central Asian kingdom but defeated from 1526 a number of Indian princes, both Muslims and Hindus, and within a few years created a North Indian kingdom with Delhi as its capital. He thus became the founder of what has been called the mogul kingdom. He was succeeded in 1530 by his son Humayun, who was, however, driven in 1540 by an Afghan great man, Sher Khan Sur. With Persian help, Humayun regained power shortly before his death in 1556. The son of Akbar, who ruled 1556-1605, may be considered the real creator and organizer of the mogul empire. Through conquests, wisely implemented religious tolerance policy and centralizing administrative measures, he achieved a unified state throughout northern and central India, whose position as a great power would remain until the early 18th century. To the stability contributed that the kingdom for 150 years was ruled by only four rulers, Akbar, Jahangir 1605-27, Shah Jahan 1627-58 and Aurangzeb 1658-1707. During the latter government, the kingdom was expanded to include the entire Indian peninsula, with the exception of the southernmost part. emperors, padishah, always kept a personal grip on the board and was considered to have his power directly by God. The so-called mansabdari system was the basis of both the army and the civil administration: in order to become an official, the emperor had to be assigned a rank (Arab and Persian mansab)), which determined one’s place in a strict hierarchical system, graded from 10 to 7,000. Among the higher-ranking male abbars, strangers, especially Persians, dominated. Incidentally, the culture of the Mogul empire was strongly Persian-influenced, and Persian was the official language. Native Muslims were only a minor part of the mansabdars, while the proportion of Hindus in the 17th century increased from 1/5 to 1/3. The mansabdars were paid with tax revenue from service benefits, a system that led to harsh exploitation of the peasants.
After Aurangzeb’s death in 1707, a long period of throne war took place between his sons and grandsons, and the kingdom split and weakened. Marath princes came to militarily rule almost all of central and central India. In 1738-39, Persian Nadir Shah invaded northwestern India as far as Delhi. Provincial governors made themselves independent rulers, such as the Nawab of Bengal and the Nizam of Hyderabad (Haidarabad). In this fragmented political environment, British and French in the small coastal trade factors could begin to assert themselves by playing the princes against each other.
While Muslim empires ruled northern India, Hinduism and traditional culture flourished in southern India. After the heyday of the Calukya and Pallavariken ca 600-1000 AD South India was dominated by the Cholar Empire, which in the 1000s included southern India, parts of central India and for a time also Sri Lanka. It was a highlight of Tamil culture, but also a time of military expansion. The Chola fleet ruled the Indian Ocean. Campaigns were made against Ganges in the north and east as far as the Malacca Peninsula and Sumatra. Of more lasting significance than the military expeditions was the cultural and religious influence that merchants and conquerors from Chola and other South Indian kingdoms exerted in Southeast Asia. The development is usually summarized in the designation “Great India”.
At this time, in the South Indian realms, there was no bureaucratically centrally controlled state apparatus as in Northern India. Water reservoirs, dams and canals were the basis of the economy, and they were built and managed locally by surrounding village communities.
Just as Chola had defeated the Palla kingdom, Chola was in turn defeated by the Vijayanagar kingdom, which dominated South India and constituted a campfire against the Muslim kingdoms in the north during the 1400s and 1500s. The Vijayanagar kingdom was held together by a strong central power. The taxes were heavy, the laws strict and the villages’ traditional self-government cut. Hindu culture was expressed, among other things, in grand temple buildings. The kingdom was threatened by the Muslim princely states of Bijapur and Golconda and collapsed in the early 17th century. A new power in India, Portugal, was at times in alliance with Vijayanagar.
India’s role in the world economy had grown gradually in the 16th and 16th centuries. Spices, silk fabrics, Indian cotton, opium and indigo were some of the products in demand in Europe. The Arab merchants monopoly on the Indian Ocean trade was broken around 1500 by Portuguese fleets. The Portuguese gained a foothold in, among other things, Goa and formed alliances with the South Indian kingdoms. A hundred years later they encountered Western competition in British, Dutch and later also French trading companies. Armed conflicts on land, borders and dominion were ongoing among the princely states and rulers in India, but the outcome was largely dependent on the cycles of the game over the leadership of the European great powers with the help of varying alliances and treaties.
South India was ruled by the Hindu people, most of northern India by the mogul kingdom. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the British East India Company (EIC) expanded its empire. The company mainly sought trading contacts and profitability, but also engaged in conquests and then also gained revenue through tax collection. The British gradually expanded their influence from their fortified trading stations Kolkata (Calcutta), Chennai (Madras) and Mumbai (Bombay). Robert Clive’s victories in the 1750s against French-friendly princes in the south and against the prince of Bengal made the EIC a great power in both southern and eastern India. The competing European colonial power France strengthened its position in a diplomatic way through alliances with Indian princes and through armed involvement in the mutual power struggles of the princely states.
Mysore, who until the 1760s was a Hindu state, became a great power under the Muslim ruler Haydar Ali and especially his son Tippu. Mysore offered strong opposition to the spread of British power in South India. After four wars against Mysore, the British prevailed in 1799, and under their supremacy reigned Hindu princes over Mysore.
The only Hindu superpower that was able to resist the mogul kingdom was the Marathas in western India. Prince Shivaji (died in 1680) built up a strong armed force and effective organization. Prolonged wars against the Mogul empire were followed by three wars against the British, and in 1818 the Marathas came under British rule in India.
The last great kingdom the British subjugated was the Sikh kingdom of Punjab. It had expanded under the prince Ranjit Singh, but split after his death in 1839. Ten years later, Punjab was annexed by the British. From the 1840s the British controlled the whole of India, directly or – in the princely states – indirectly. Railways were built, and the road network improved. From the 1850s, the British gradually founded the University of India as a recruitment base for the colonial administration. An official corps, Indian Civil Service, evolved, but all high records were reserved for British. Christian mission was encouraged. Land ownership was regulated, and land became a commodity in large parts of India that could be disposed of by the user and the village. Loans and indebtedness increased. The bailiffs and taxpayers of the Muslim era, the Zamindars, were regarded by the British as a kind of nobility who had been granted emoluments, and they were turned into landowners, loyal to the British empire. In Bengal, a permanent taxation of the land was used as the basis for the tax collection (The Permanent Settlement 1793). In western and southern India, however, the claimant had been recognized as the owner of the land. There, the British carried out tax collection directly from the peasants.
The British were convinced that commercialization and private ownership were prerequisites for development and willingness to progress. They overlooked that the tenants in northern India lacked motivation for modernizing agriculture as the profits from a production increase would accrue to the zamindars, as well as they ignored that small farmers in southern India lacked resources for investment in better tools, seeds and methods.
In order to increase agricultural production, the British built irrigation plants, which reduced their dependence on the monsoon rains. The cultivation of sought-after crops on the world market, such as jute, cotton and indigo, was encouraged, which increased Indian dependence on the British trade monopoly and world market prices. The British focused the Indian economy on commodity exports. This helped the import-dependent UK trade balance, and Indian labor was utilized in other parts of the British Empire, such as South Africa. Population growth resulted in accelerated fragmentation of ownership and indebtedness, land value rose, soil erosion and land speculation increased, but productivity rose little. Many unemployed craftsmen, whose goods were outstripped by imported British industrial goods, applied for agriculture. In the 1850s, the first cotton factory in Mumbai (Bombay) and the first jute factory in Kolkata (Calcutta) was opened, but with the current customs policy and trade monopoly the slow growing Indian industry could not compete with the British on the world market. Industrialization was not fast enough for cities to absorb the rural population surplus.
The North Indian Revolt of 1857-58, the so-called sepoy rebellion, was a soldier rebellion supported by princes who were deprived of their kingdoms by the British. The rise was fought after battles that were waged with great cruelty on both sides. In 1858, India was placed directly under the British crown, but beside the crown colony of British India there were hundreds of princely states.
The British racial prejudice and sense of superiority had previously been met by the Indians with submissiveness. However, during the 19th century, reform ideas emerged within the small Indian middle class, which was inspired, among other things, by the reform movement Brahmo Samaj. This was based on Rammohan Ray’s thoughts on monotheism and Christianity influenced by Christianity with Hinduism as the basis. Politically, Ray demanded an improved constitutional position for the Indians. Another reform movement, Arya Samaj, founded by Dayananda Sarasvati, regarded Hinduism as superior to other religions and was both anti-Christian and anti-Muslim. Arya Samaj was of great importance to Hindu nationalism. Similar thoughts were expressed from the 1910s by the great Hindu community, the Hindu Mahasabha.
Indian intellectuals were strongly influenced by the British higher education system, which was intended to create an elite class, “Indian to blood and color but British to taste, opinions, morals and intellect”. Western-educated Indians perceived British parliamentarism and liberal democracy as the culmination of a protracted struggle against oppression and minority power. In the Indian-owned press, this group found their means of expression, and their platform was social reform movements and political associations.
In 1885 came the association which gradually became a patriotic language pipe for the liberation efforts, the Indian National Congress (INC). The English language and improved communications – rail, telegraph, telephone – enabled INC to fulfill its ambition to become all-Indian. INC called for faster constitutional reforms. British economic policy caused greater dissatisfaction among the politically conscious Indians. They also criticized the British expansionist policies in Afghanistan and Burma, which increased already high Indian military spending. India’s liberation struggle became a model for other colonies in Asia and Africa.
A vague nationalist ideology, partly borrowed from Europe, partly based on Indian tradition, began to weld different religious groups. National unity was sought, while provincialism and sectarianism were condemned. Japan’s victory over Russia (1905) and the Boer struggle against the British in South Africa (1899-1902), among others, spurred nationalists in India. It revived the interest in ancient Hindu traditions, and older Indian history was reconstructed in the propaganda to match the notions of national solidarity and a free India.
Organizations also emerged among the Muslims, especially the Muslim League (Muslim League, 1906). A foreground figure was Sayyid Ahmad Khan, who claimed that the Muslims had more to gain on good relations with the British than with the Hindus and that a democratization of the country’s government would lead to Hindu oppression of the Muslim minority. The British welcomed the Muslim League, which they saw as a counterbalance to playing against INC. Orthodox Hindus founded Hindu organizations, and INC’s attempt to create a religious, secularized and unified national movement had burst.
The interweaving of nationalism and religion, which had already begun during a campaign against the division of the province of Bengal in 1905-11, meant that the message of freedom could reach even other than a well-educated population. It was Bal Gangadhar Tilak who initiated the INC’s transformation into mass movement and Mohanda’s Karamchand “Mahatma” Gandhi who completed it. Gandhi launched non-collaborative campaigns at intervals in the early 1920s, 30s and 40s, but his ideas and non-violence principles were questioned by some leaders, such as Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Constitutional reforms had been decided in 1919, but they did not satisfy the Indian nationalists, as little as the reforms of 1935, which introduced provincial self-government and elected provincial governments. After huge INC successes in the 1937 elections and the formation of congressional governments in several provinces, Jinnah breathed renewed life into the latent Muslim unrest for Hindu dominance in a democratized and eventually independent India. At the outbreak of World War II, the Congress working committee declared that it could not force Indian participation in an “imperialist war.” Congress politicians did not intend to support the British war effort, which led to the arrest of Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and many other politicians. Gandhi adhered to this line and in 1943 passively declared opposition to all forms of Indian participation in the war. The “Leave India Campaign” in 1942 was led by INC alone.
The Japanese threat to India contributed to the British proposing greater independence within the Empire of India, but the issue was complicated by mounting tensions between the Indian nationalists who sought an independent India and the representatives of the Muslim League, who demanded a partition of India in a Hindu and a Muslim part. It was only after the end of the war that an agreement was reached on this issue, and independence on August 15, 1947, also meant a division of British India; the predominantly Hindu India was surrounded by the Muslim West and East Pakistan. The over 550 princely states that occupied more than a third of the subcontinent’s surface were incorporated in India and Pakistan.
In connection with the independence of the two countries, bloody riots occurred, despite, among other things, Gandhi’s efforts to curb religious contradictions. A total of 12-14 million people fled, Hindus from areas that would become Pakistani, Muslims from Hindu-dominated areas. Reluctantly, the INC leaders had accepted the proposal for division in connection with independence. The Muslim League saw the divide as a triumph, although many millions of Muslims remained in India. The annexation of Hyderabad caused unrest, and the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir sparked a war between neighboring India and Pakistan. The provinces of Punjab and Bengal were divided between them. In Punjab, irreconcilable fighting broke out between Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs.
Politically conscious India is a product of the meeting of millennial Hindu and multi-hundred-year Muslim traditions as well as Western liberal and secular social theories, which have influenced India for 150 years. India became the first Commonwealth of the British Commonwealth and a democratic model for the colonies of Asia and Africa, while most of India’s population lived in over half a million villages characterized by traditional way of life, traditional values of values and tight local and sectarian loyalties. The villagers had vague notions of national unity and parliamentarism. The general right to vote led to a shift in power from the big cities to the countryside. Voting rights and parliamentarism, industrialization and agricultural rationalization have gradually taken root. Agricultural and industrial production has multiplied and the infrastructure has been developed. India is now one of the world’s twelve leading industrial nations, the seventh nation to participate in the race for outer space. At the same time, the majority of the population lives in poverty, and strong separatist efforts exist in several states, such as Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and Nagaland.
During Jawaharlal Nehru’s tenure as prime minister 1947-64, in practice one-party rule prevailed despite his respect for constitution and parliament. INC was transformed after the liberation to the Congress Party. It was so associated with the liberation struggle that for many people became equivocal with the country’s freedom and everyone’s expected welfare. Nehru was eager for planning economics and a strong central power. Despite his belief in peaceful coexistence, India happened in war with China in 1962.
Nehru was succeeded in 1964 by Lal Bahadur Shastri, who died half a year later. In 1966, Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi became prime minister in competition with the conservative Morarji Desai. Her popularity grew through the victory of the war against Pakistan in 1971, a war that led to the formation of Bangladesh. During the reign of Indira Gandhi, the central government gradually strengthened its power over the states. This caused greater dissatisfaction and contributed to the emergence of stronger regional political parties. Unlike Nehru and Shastri, Indira Gandhi maneuvered and manipulated both supporters and opponents, especially during a period of state of emergency 1975-77. The opposition parties formed an election alliance, the Janata Party, which defeated the Congress party in the election Indira Gandhi had proclaimed in 1977. Power struggles and contradictions in the government coalition helped the Congress Party regain power in 1980. After Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984, the party commissioned her son Rajiv to lead the government. Like the mother in the early 1970s, Rajiv Gandhi gave high hopes for the revitalization of politics, but the problems and contradictions of Indian reality both overcame them.
While the liberation struggle was dominated by the middle class of the big cities and supported by the rural landowners, more and more interest groups gradually moved into politics. Various classes, castes, religions, languages, regions and ideologies were represented within the Congress Party, which was the central political institution in 1947-67, more powerful than even parliament and bureaucracy. Important political conflicts in the country were resolved within the ruling party, where ideological issues were dimmed. The Congress Party distributed political and economic favors to its faithful and exerted pressure. Nehru was a father figure. The wounded continued to support the Congress Party. The price the party received for this support has been a slow pace of reform in terms of economic and social equalization. Despite this, millions of poor rural residents supported the Congress Party,
Competition for benefits and benefits increased, regional and local pressures intensified, the number and strength of interest groups increased. Different requirements collided with each other. The politicians could no longer satisfy everyone; a political contempt began to emerge, reinforced by increasing corruption in political circles. The Congress party’s organization fell apart and weakened in connection with the party divisions, and the party became increasingly controlled by New Delhi under Indira Gandhi. Regional demands increased, and regional opposition parties and opposition leaders became stronger. The many conflicts in society could no longer be resolved within the Congress Party or even by political means but increasingly escalated into acts of violence. Political campaigns became extra-parliamentary, for example at the time before the 1975-77 emergency. Political awareness grew. Many poor people felt let down by the politicians and discovered that they had received little of the goods of the marketplaces and the efforts of the development programs. Both right and left movements resorted to violence. The landlord interests wanted to scare the poor rural population’s spokesmen into silence, and orthodox fanatics stepped in against low-key people as they wished to assert their constitutional rights.
An intellectual middle class, with honorable participation in the struggle for independence and often characterized by a certain idealism, had mastered the country’s parliament during the first decade. It was gradually replaced in the following elections by deceased big farmers from the dominant castes, accustomed to dictating how the poor population should vote in the elections. Gradually, new groups emerged and gained political power, for example small farmers and low-key people.
Conflicts and outbreaks of violence increased rather than decreased during the 1990s. Regional conflicts as well as caste contradictions and religious conflicts increased. Hindu fanatics have in some parts of the country not only turned to the Muslim minority but also to the much smaller Christian minority. Politicians often ally themselves with criminal circles and corrupt police in order to financially shun themselves to remain in power. This results in repression of low-caste and landless farm workers. These repulsive features in politics, together with the purchase of votes in the elections, pose serious threats to a development in a more democratic direction and have strengthened the common man’s political contempt, which has not least been expressed in a relatively low turnout.
Party structure and political power have changed over the decades since independence in 1947. The one-party dominance that prevailed during the Nehru-Gandhi era was replaced in 1996 by coalition governments consisting of parties with different ideologies and goals. The United Front coalition government (United Front), a center-left alliance that formed government in 1996, consisted largely of low-key state politicians, many with rural roots and characterized by special interests. The emergence of strong regional parties means that contradictions and polarization have increased in national politics. Central governments have become more unstable. The untouchables (Dalits) have organized themselves into parties and thereby gained a political platform.
The 1998 election became a triumph for the Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (‘Indian People’s Party’, BJP), which became the largest party and could form a coalition. The government fell in 1999 after a vote of no confidence, but the BJP again became the largest party and formed a new coalition government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee after the election. Vajpayee’s government became the first without the Congress Party since independence, which managed to remain for a full term.
During the BJP, the shift from centralized planning economy to market economy was accentuated by the Congress Party at the end of the 1980s. Growth increased rapidly, and tens of millions of Indians took the step into a middle class with a standard of living at almost European level.
The BJP’s surprising loss in the 2004 elections was explained by the government staring blindly at the rapid development in the cities and forgetting the rural population, whose existence in some respects was made more difficult. The Congress party had in 1998 reconnected to the legendary Nehru-Gandhi dynasty by persuading Rajiv Gandhi’s Italian-born widow Sonia Gandhi to lead the party. However, strong reactions from the right-wing government towards India being led by a foreign-born person meant that after the election victory in 2004, she handed over government formation to former Finance Minister Manmohan Singh.
In the 2009 elections, the Congress Party went ahead strongly and Manmohan Singh was able to continue to govern. His first term in government was in many ways successful and he advanced India’s position internationally, mainly through rapid and stable economic growth. India has developed into a regional superpower and an important voice in the world, including the G20, the increasingly influential forum for the world’s 20 leading economies.
However, when India went into elections in 2014, the mood changed, partly as a result of economic growth slowing down. Manmohan Singh’s government was stained by corruption scandals and criticized for acts of paralysis. The election resulted in a big victory for the BJP, which gained its own majority in the Lok Sabha at the same time as the Congress party was severely disarmed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a controversial politician with a background as chief minister in the state of Gujarat. Modi’s main message in the electoral movement was that he would accelerate growth through economic reforms and his government was relatively successful in this area during his first term in office. At the same time, Modi and the BJP were criticized for contributing to increased intolerance against the country’s religious minorities.
Foreign policy issues rarely get any prominent role in Indian electoral movements. Nehru was a champion of freedom of alliance and peaceful coexistence in world politics, and India has played a prominent role in NAM, the alliance-free movement, as well as in, for example, the UN. Foreign policy has also been characterized by the opposition to Pakistan. US military support to Pakistan contributed to India’s approach to the Soviet Union. In recent years, relations with both the United States and China have improved. Due to the size of the country and the army, more than 1 million people, India is the dominant regional power in South Asia, by neighboring states often perceived as a political and economic threat. In 1998, the BJP government tested nuclear weapons charges, leading to Pakistani explosions with accompanying international protests aimed at both countries. Since India and Pakistan first approached each other, the neighboring countries in 1999 were again extremely close to war. Pakistan-backed Muslim guerrillas made headway in especially the Kargil area of Kashmir, but were defeated by Indian military forces, a major loss of prestige for Pakistan. CompareThe Kargil War.
The separatist uprising that erupted in Kashmir in 1989 was for many years India’s most difficult domestic political problem and has also characterized relations with Pakistan. Since the mid-1990s, the armed movements in Kashmir have been dominated by extreme Islamists with limited support in local opinion and a large body of religious warriors from Pakistan and other Muslim countries. Since the end of the first decade of the 2000s, however, the situation in Kashmir has to some extent stabilized. Instead, the armed uprising of the Naxalites (a Maoist guerrilla) in the deserted countryside of eastern India has been described as the single most serious threat to the nation.
A series of terrorist attacks during the first decade of the 21st century has usually been attributed to Islamist extremist movements with links to Pakistan. However, the peace dialogue with the neighboring country has continued, albeit with some interruptions. A number of concerted assaults in Mumbai’s metropolis in the fall of 2008, when about 170 people were killed, slowed the peace process for over a year.
|700,000-230,000 BC||Homo erectus in India.|
|250,000-20,000 BC||Paleo and Mesolithic hunter and gatherer cultures (including Soan).|
|10,000-8000 BC||Shepherd and agricultural cultures are beginning to emerge.|
|2500-1700 BC||Indus Valley Civilization.|
|about 1000 BC||The use of iron is introduced.|
|about 500 BC||The Magadic kingdom becomes the great power of Northern India.|
|The 320s BC||Candragupta founded the Maury kingdom, and thus for the first time unites most of India. Hellenistic-influenced small empires are emerging in northwestern India.|
|200 century BC||Ashoka expands the Maury kingdom and spreads Buddhism. The Andhri kingdom is expanding in southeastern Deccan’s highlands.|
|about 150-400 AD||Kushan Empire in Northern India and Central Asia.|
|about 320||Candragupta I founded the Gupta kingdom in northern India, where art, literature and science flourished.|
|400-500 centuries||The pallet kingdom dominates southern India.|
|606||Harsha, one of the last Buddhist rulers in India, founded a short-lived empire in northern India.|
|609-642||The Caluky dynasty, founded 543, underlies central India. Harsha’s kingdom is dissolved.|
|the 700s||The Arabs conquer Sind.|
|about 985||The Cholar Empire is gradually conquering South India and Sri Lanka.|
|1000-1027||Islamic conquest of northern India.|
|1206||The Muslim Delhi Sultanate is founded.|
|ca 1340||The Hindu Vijayanagar kingdom is founded in southern India.|
|about 1500||Guru Narak founded the religion of the Sikhs.|
|1526||Babur founded the mogul kingdom.|
|1556-1605||Akbar establishes the mogul empire as a great power and unites northern and central India.|
|1600s||European trading companies establish trading factors in India.|
|1707||After Aurangzeb’s death, the mogul empire weakened, and a power vacuum ensued.|
|1750||Robert Clive defeats the Nawab of Bengal and French-friendly princes, making the East India Company a great power in southern and eastern India.|
|1818||The Marathas are finally defeated by the British.|
|1857-58||Revolt in northern India against the British (sepoy uprising).|
|1858||India – except the princely states – becomes the British crown colony.|
|1885||INC is formed and advocates reform.|
|1905||The province of Bengal is divided, resulting in a nationalist opposition movement including boycott of British goods.|
|1906||The Muslim League is formed.|
|1920-22||Mahatma Gandhi’s first non-collaborative campaigns gradually make INC a mass movement.|
|1942||Gandhi launches “Leave India Campaign”.|
|1947||National independence. India’s division leads to bloody massacres in both India and Pakistan. Jawaharlal Nehru becomes prime minister.|
|1948||Mahatma Gandhi is murdered.|
|1962||War between India and China.|
|1971||India defeats Pakistan after a short war, which results in the formation of Bangladesh.|
|1975-77||Indira Gandhi’s state of emergency contributes to the Congress party’s first election defeat (1977).|
|1984||Indira Gandhi is murdered.|
|1991||Rajiv Gandhi is murdered.|
|1998||Explosion of nuclear weapons charges.|