Pre and early history
In the area of what is now India, there was already a highly developed culture in the third millennium BC, which is now called the Harappa or Indus culture. From around the middle of the second millennium BC, the Aryan nomadic people (“arya”, noble) invaded the country from the north and displaced the Dravids to the south. Here the foundation stone was laid for a different cultural development of the north and the south. For the year 1000 BC The four-stage caste system, which was probably developed by the Aryans, is documented for the first time. It was used, among other things, to prevent the light-skinned nomads from mixing with the subject peoples. One of the most important sources from this period is the Weda, a collection of scripts written in Sanskrit, which is the basis of the then Swedish religion and thus of today ‘
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In the following centuries numerous independent principalities and kingdoms emerged in northern India. Around 560 BC was born in the northeast of the Indian subcontinent Siddharta Gautama, who came from a noble family. As a Buddha (“the Enlightened One”), he became the founder of Buddhism, who rejects the caste system and preaches an ascetic life. Buddhism spread across much of today’s India, particularly through the ever-growing empire of King Bimbisaras of Magaltha (born around 540 BC), who was also a follower of this movement. The northwest of the subcontinent and the valley of the Indus were from the beginning of the 6th century BC. under the rule of the Persians (Achaemenid Empire). Around 330 BC Alexander the Great defeated the Persian troops, but had to stop his Indian campaign only a little later.
The first Indian Empire emerged from 320 BC, the so-called Maurya Empire. It flourished under Ashoka (268-232 BC) and extended almost across the entire Indian subcontinent (except for some areas in the south of the country). Numerous Buddhist monasteries were founded. According to AbbreviationFinder, after Ashoka’s death, the great empire fell back into numerous individual states. Brahmanism and thus Hinduism displaced Buddhism in large parts of the country.
It wasn’t until the fourth century AD. Under Chandragupta I a new empire was created in the north of the Indian subcontinent, but the rulers of the Gupta dynasty were unable to extend the empire to the southern part of the country. Towards the end of the 5th century, the empire fell apart under the onslaught of nomadic hepthalites from Central Asia, who were also called the “White Huns”. The rule of the Maukhari and Gudschara Pratihara dynasties, whose center was Kanauj, followed in the next centuries. The Chola Dynasty was important in the south of the Indian subcontinent from the middle of the 9th century.
As early as the 7th century, Islamic Arabs invaded the north repeatedly and could be repelled. It was only under Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni at the end of the 10th century that Islam reached northern India. The Sultanate of Delhi, founded around 1206, made Islam the dominant force in northern India for the next few centuries. From 1320 individual areas in the southern part of the country also belonged to it, in large parts here was the Hindu Chola dynasty, followed by the Pandja dynasty, the dominant power.
In 1498, the Portuguese seafarer Vasco da Gama landed in Calicut in southwest India. He was the first European to sail around Africa and cross the Indian Ocean. Over the next few decades, the Portuguese established several commercial branches on the south Indian coast and on the offshore islands, thereby laying the foundation for their role as the dominant trading power in the Indian Ocean.
In the mid-16th century, northern India was part of the Islamic Mughal Empire, which was founded by Babur von Kabul, a descendant of Timur-Leng. The Mughal Empire reached its greatest expansion in the 17th century under Emperor Aurangseb (1658-1707), including southern India. In contrast to his predecessor Akbar (1556-1605), who was very tolerant of the Hindu rulers, Aurangseb fought against Hinduism. In the following two centuries, more and more peoples, such as the Sikhs in Punjab, rebelled against the Mughal Empire.
Meanwhile, the influence of the European powers on the Indian subcontinent increased: Great Britain had replaced Portugal as the leading trading power in this region and had successfully repelled most of France’s and Denmark’s claims in India. In 1600 British merchants founded the “East India Company”, which in the following decades set up a wide network of commercial branches on the Indian subcontinent. British troops prevailed against the Indian rulers.
19th century until today
In the middle of the 19th century, India was officially declared a crown colony by the British government and was thus subject to the violence of the British monarch. A governor-general ruled over the 500 principalities, who held the title of viceroy.
Britain promoted the development of the country’s economy and infrastructure by building roads, introducing the telegraph, etc. The grand coronation ceremony of Queen Victoria as Empress of India in Delhi in January 1877 was designed to tie India even closer to the Empire. Because from 1885 (founding of the National Indian Congress Party, which is predominantly led by Hindus, Indian National Congress), more and more voices were heard that demanded political participation and social reforms in India. The Indian National Congress split into a moderate and a radical wing in 1907. As a counterpoint to the National Congress, Muslims founded the Muslim League (All Indian Muslim League) in 1906.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) became known worldwide as the leading figure in the Indian struggle for freedom. Mahatma Gandhi advocated non-violent and passive resistance to British rule and propagated peaceful coexistence between Hindus and Muslims. The mitigation or abolition of the caste system was also one of Gandhi’s goals. Like Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), Gandhi belonged to the National Congress Party, which won the first free elections in almost all parts of the country in 1937. Subsequently, the conflict between Hindus and Muslims intensified when Nehru, chairman of the INC, refused to work with the Muslim League. The leadership of the Muslim League then called for its own Islamic state, which should be called Pakistan. Already in 1935 part of British India was released from independence from the crown,
British India was given independence from Great Britain in 1947 and divided into the predominantly Hindu Republic of India and Islamic Pakistan. Pakistan in turn consisted of West Pakistan and East Pakistan (East Bengal, now Bangladesh), two parts of the country that were separated by around 1700 km. In the following years there was mass migration (an estimated 8 million) from Muslims from India to Pakistan and vice versa from Hindus from Pakistan to India. Bloody clashes repeatedly claimed thousands of lives. The First Indian-Pakistani War (until 1949), a continuation of the centuries-old struggle between Hindus and Muslims, was triggered by the entry of Muslim troops into the Principality of Kashmir China and Russia gave this region its own weight. Both India and Pakistan claimed this area for themselves, which led to an unresolved conflict (Kashmir conflict). The division of Kashmir into two areas did nothing to change that.
In 1950 a constitution entered into force in India that established a parliamentary-democratic system for the country. The Indian Union consisted of 27 states and 6 territories. The dominant party was the INC congress party, which won all elections until 1977. The country’s first head of government (prime minister) was Nehru (until 1964), first president Rajendra Prasad. Among other things, the constitution stipulated that Hindi should be introduced as the official language for the entire country by 1965 at the latest, which led to repeated bloody riots in southern India, as other languages dominated there. In terms of foreign policy, India tried under Nehru to remain neutral towards the superpowers.Relations with China were significantly impacted by the Kashmir conflict and the occupation of Tibet by China in 1950. After India granted asylum to the Tibetan Dalai Lama in 1959 and allowed the establishment of a Tibetan government-in-exile in northern India, tensions increased and escalated into a military conflict in 1962. The unresolved cashmere conflict led to the Second Indian-Pakistani War in 1965 (until 1966). In the same year, the daughter Nehrus, Indira Ghandi, became Prime Minister of the Indian Union. It continued to pursue a non-aligned course with a cautious rapprochement with the USSR.In the conflict between West and East Pakistan (which was striving for independence from West Pakistan), India sided with the Separatists (founded Bangladesh in 1972), leading to the Third Indian-Pakistani War (1971-72).
In 1975, India annexed the Kingdom of Sikkim on India’s northeastern border with China and made it a state of the Indian Union. Sikkim had been under Indian protectorate since 1950.
In terms of domestic politics, the country has always had to struggle with regional conflicts. The Sikhs in Punjab demanded their own independent state, in connection with which there were repeated clashes between Indian government troops and the insurgents. When Indira Ghandi was murdered by two Sikhs in 1984, her son Rajiv Ghandi became Indian Prime Minister after winning the election by a large majority. He was also the victim of an assassination attempt (1991). Neither Rajiv Ghandi nor his successor Narasimha Rao succeeded in resolving the ongoing conflict in Punjab, where Sikh revolts continued. There are also separatist tendencies in Assam, which involve detachment from the Indian Union. The country’s domestic political problems also include the skyrocketing population, which leads to increasing poverty. In 1998 around 50% of all Indians lived below the poverty line. There are also clashes between the different religions: in 2002 there were fighting in the west of India between Hindus and Muslims with numerous deaths, 2003 in Mumbai the worst attack in a decade: the terrorist attack by the extremist “Islamic Student Movement in India” (SIMI) demanded 52 dead and over 150 injured.Islamic Student Movement of India “(SIMI) claimed 52 dead and over 150 injured.Islamic Student Movement of India” (SIMI) claimed 52 dead and over 150 injured.
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The ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan (peace negotiations had failed repeatedly) took on a new dimension in 1998 when India demonstrated strength through a series of underground nuclear tests, which Pakistan responded to in the same month that same test. India has not signed the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or the 1996 Test Stop Agreement. There are repeated military clashes in the controversial border area between the two countries, as well as attacks by a Muslim terrorist organization that is fighting for the independence of the Indian part of Kashmir. Last but not least, the ongoing Kashmir conflict led to the Indian government increasing its military budget by almost 30% in 2000.After an attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001, the two countries moved medium-range missiles to the border, the situation deteriorated dramatically, but eased somewhat in June 2002 after the mediation of the United States. After both countries in the Kashmir region declared a ceasefire in November 2003, bilateral talks between the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and the Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. An agreement to end violence in the disputed Kashmir area was the result. However, the struggles between separatists and security forces continue and claim hundreds of lives each year, work with a downward trend.
A corruption scandal broke out in March 2001; numerous high-ranking officials, military officers and politicians have been convicted of taking bribes.
In the parliamentary elections in May 2004, opposition leader Sonia Gandhi surprisingly won with 217 seats against the government coalition of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who subsequently resigned. Ex-Finance Minister Manmohan Singh was succeeded by the Hindu nationalist. The state president has been APJ Abdul Kalam since 2002.
Pratibha Patil was elected as the first woman president in July 2007. The topics of her reign were the growing social disparities in the country and the extremely high prices for raw materials and basic foodstuffs. There have been repeated terrorist attacks, and no end to the attacks is yet in sight. At the end of November 2008 there was a three-day series of attacks by Islamists on several targets in Mumbai (including the luxury hotel “Taj Mahal”), which cost nearly 200 lives. Followers of the Naxalites also regained their influence. The Maoist activists named after the city of Naxalbari received a large influx, especially in the course of the expropriation of the indigenous rural population.Conflicts with the rebel force led to almost 1,000 deaths among security forces and the civilian population in 2009.
In August 2009, India signed a free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has been president since July 2012.