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India History

India - national flagIndia - national flag

The flag was officially hoisted for the first time in 1947 and is one of the first to be based on the flag of a political party (Congress Party). The current colors were introduced in 1933, and a spinning wheel in the center of the flag was replaced in 1947 by the so-called Ashoka wheel, the dharmachakra, an ancient Buddhist symbol. The colors of the flag stand for courage, peace and fidelity and also for sacrifice, truth and fertility.

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India (Prehistory)

Older and Middle Paleolithic, approximately 500,000-approx. 30,000 BC, is represented by numerous finds of hand wedges and other primitive stone tools. However, they are difficult to date accurately as they cannot be related to climate periods with the same certainty as in Europe. Late Paleolithic, approximately 30,000-12,000 BC, is known through more developed stone tools.

The transition from hunter-gatherer culture to cattle breeding and farming in the Neolithic took place relatively late, hardly much before the 3rd millennium BC. With the Indus culture, approximately 3000-1800 BC, a culture with cities and a written language was introduced. At the same time, animals and plants were domesticated. During the period, contacts were established to other areas, e.g. Mesopotamia. The earliest known finds from this period are large cattle herds, where meter-thick layers of ash from burnt manure indicate a local domestication of the now extinct wild Indian humpback cattle, Bos namadicus. In the South and Central Indian Highlands, numerous village settlements from the 2nd millennium BC. excavated, where was cultivated crops of Indian and even African origin, such as certain legumes and millet species. At the same time, in the North India, the Ganges Valley was colonized, where a rice-growing culture emerged that must have benefited from the annually recurring floods.

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The difference in development between North and South India became more pronounced in the 1st millennium BC. After the iron was used in the first half of the millennium, the so-called megalithic culture arose in the south, which is known for a number of different types of graves such as stone coffins under flat ground or in stone piles, stone piles without coffins, unburnt corpses in large clay vessels or clay sarcophagi with feet, etc. In the same millennium, the communities around the Ganges experienced a rapid development from being a village culture based on the annual floods to becoming a high culture with cultural flourishing.

India History

History of India

It can be difficult to look at the historical development of India from a unitary point of view. The Indian subcontinent has virtually never been ruled by just one state. A few great empires have tried to subjugate the whole area, but all have been severely limited in time: the Mauryian Empire (300-200 BC), the Delhi Sultanate (1200-1500-t.), The Mughal Empire (1500-1600-t.) And the British Empire (1800-1900-t.). Only the British for a time had real power over all of India.

Culturally, there has been a community based on Hinduism, which, however, as a religion is immensely varied and divided into many different sects and directions. Other religions, not least Islam, have also left their mark on Indian history. Languages ​​and ways of life differ from region to region and have formed the background for very different identities and historical development trends.

The caste system has created a highly fragmented society, although the casts have at the same time been linked together in mutual dependence.

Historical overview
ca. 30000-12000 BC Use of advanced stone tools.
approx. 3000 BC Transition from hunter-gatherer culture to cattle breeding and agriculture.
approx. 3000-2000 BC The Indus culture.
approx. 1700 BC Indoor immigration begins.
approx. 1000-500 BC The iron is introduced.
326 BC Alexander the Great's armies cross the Indus River.
200-tfKr. The heyday of the Maurya dynasty under King Ashoka. Colonizations to the east.
320-approx. 500 Guptadynastiet.
approx. 850-1278 The cholera kingdom dominates in southern India and at times parts of Sri Lanka.
1206-1526 Delhisultanate.
approx. 1340 The Vijayanagar kingdom in South India is being formed.
1498 The Portuguese Vasco da Gama arrives in Calicut in South India.
1526-1858 The moguls.
1556-1707 The heyday of the Mughal Empire.
1600-t. European trading companies establish themselves in India.
1620 The Danish trading post Tranquebar is set up south of Madras.
1757 The Battle of Plassey. Bengal is subject to the British East India Company.
1799 The British defeat Tipu Sultan at Mysore.
1857-58 Rebellion (traditionally known as the Sepoy Rebellion) in northern India, directed against the British.
1858 India becomes British Crown Colony.
1885 The Indian National Congress, INC., Is established.
1890's Growing demands for independence.
1906 The Muslim League is established.
1912 The capital is being moved from Calcutta to New Delhi.
1920 Gandhi launches the first non-cooperation campaign, and INC takes on the character of mass movement.
1930 Gandhi's salt march and civil disobedience campaign.
1942 The "Quit India" campaign is launched by Gandhi.
1947 Independence and sharing. The creation of Pakistan. Major massacres in both countries.
1948 Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.
1950 The secular republic of India is formed.
1962 War between China and India.
1965 Indo-Pakistani War.
1971 War between Pakistan and India leads to the creation of Bangladesh.
1975-77 State of emergency.
1984 The environmental disaster in Bhopal. The Golden Temple in Amritsar is stormed by government troops. Indira Gandhi was murdered.
1991 Reform period begins for Indian economy.
1993 The mosque in Ayodhya is destroyed by militant Hindus.
1998 India conducts nuclear tests.
1999 The Kargil conflict with Pakistan.
2003 Ceasefire agreement with Pakistan.

The Aryans

During the 2nd millennium BC. Indo-Aryan-speaking tribes probably penetrated several waves down from Central Asia and spread to various parts of the subcontinent. The main movement probably took place around 1700 BC. i.e. shortly before the transition to the Iron Age in the area. With bronze weapons and light tanks, they were technologically superior, and in the encounter with the resident population, the Indo-Aryans conquered both militarily and culturally in the northern part of India. Over time, South India was also strongly culturally influenced, but here the Dravidian language was preserved. The culture of the Aryan tribes is known primarily from the religious anthem collection Rigveda. The Aryans initially settled in the Indus area, but gradually spread east on the Ganges plain, where they burned the forests and established agriculture. Presumably the Aryans were quite few, but as the upper strata of society they controlled the indigenous people.

The first state formations

During the 1st millennium BC. the culture and religion of the Aryans slowly spread to the whole of India and were mixed with guarantor elements which, especially in the south, continued to be prominent.

In the first half of the millennium, a number of tribal territories in northern India developed into actual territorial kingdoms, and major urban formations emerged. During the same period, the tanks were replaced by war elephants as the dominant military technology, providing the opportunity to unite small states into larger political units. From 500-tfKr. the eastern part of the Ganges plain became a political and cultural center; here a new type of power state was established with the king as the dominant factor, primarily represented by the Magadar kingdom.

During the same period, the foundation was laid for a number of different disciplines. More systematic religious considerations took shape, gathered in the Upanishads, a group of religious texts which gained great importance for the later development of Hinduism. At the same time, the foundations were laid for Jainism and Buddhism by, respectively. Mahavira and Buddha.

Based on Bihar, the Magadar kingdom gradually gained control of large parts of the subcontinent. In northwestern India, the expansion was facilitated by the collapse of the state system when Alexander the Great in the mid-320's BC. was briefly penetrated into the Indus area. A few years later, Chandragupta I established himself as ruler of the Magadar kingdom and founded the Mauryad dynasty.

Ashokas rige

Ashoka, who ruled in 200 BC, became the great ruler of the dynasty, and his empire was the first real empire on the subcontinent. The kingdom extended to almost every corner except the southernmost part. However, it is doubtful how effective state control was off the main trade routes when coming south of the Vindhya Range mountain range, approximately 600 km south of Delhi.

The Ashoka Empire was not a centralized unitary state. The core area was delimited in size and subject to a centralized administration, and the upper classes of the more peripheral areas, such as governors and military leaders, were presumably under some form of central authority and were held together by loyalty to the king. On the other hand, the lower levels were under local authorities, be it sound kings, small princes, landowners or large landowners in the villages. The further one came from the core area, the more limited the state's monopoly of power became. In turn, the state had a considerable reach when it came to intervening or demonstrating its power by military means.

Depending on the distance to the center, the state's main interest was the collection of taxes from the peasants, tribute or simply looting during wars. The consequence was that the peripheral areas could change affiliations or even try to establish themselves as core areas in new state formations, and this can be seen as a model for the development of political power in India all the way up to British colonial rule. The progress of a state depended on the ability of the state structure to be financed, but means of communication as well as administrative and military resources were generally too weak to attempt to integrate the economies of the peripheral areas into a uniform pattern.

After Ashoka

When Ashoka died approximately 233 BC, the kingdom collapsed and the following period was marked by several waves of immigrants from the northwest. Various Greek dynasties established themselves and were later replaced by Indo-Scythians from Central Asia, Shakas, and by Cushans. Immigrants created states, and in a number of cases, rulers were able to attach local princes to themselves and create larger regional kingdoms that served as cultural and religious centers. The most important of the new rulers was the Kushan prince Kanishka, who probably ruled in 100-teKr. The political center of gravity remained North India, while central and southern India were still dominated by tribal states or loose confederations.

During the 300-t. a new great kingdom appeared in northern India. The Gupta Empire, which originated in the same area as the Mauryar Empire, came through conquests and marriage alliances to dominate the North Indian river plain. The empire had close contacts to central India and made war expeditions to the south. In the late 400-t. however, it collapsed under pressure from new invading tribes from Central Asia, including the females. I 600-t. King Harsha briefly succeeded in re-establishing a state over almost all of northern India, but thereafter the region was divided into smaller kingdoms.

The Gupta period has much later been perceived as India's classical time. The princes supported a flourishing cultural life, and religious institutions were supported with land allocations. The administrative structure of the Guptar Empire and the Hindu royal ideal gained great importance as a model in other parts of India.

In the first centuries AD. trade with other areas grew, not least in South India. There were many contacts both with Southeast Asia, to which there was also a large-scale cultural export, and with the Roman Empire. The cities grew due to the increased trade, and in connection with this there was a religious differentiation, as the major religions, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, found new expressions and split into several directions.

Regional cultures

During the first millennium AD. Central and South India developed into just as important political regions as Northeast India, which now constituted an area of ​​its own, and the rest of North India. The period 600-1200 was marked by many regional kingdoms and often quite short-lived dynasties. All major political processes took place in these regions, where there was usually only one main power; and no regional rulers were able to exercise control over other regions for extended periods of time. Military conflicts between the regions were mostly about controlling border areas or just winning war booty.

The regional empires arose in three stages: "Tribal chiefs" became small local Hindu princes; such a prince became king surrounded by samantaer, viz. forced tribute and loyalty to neighboring kings; Grand Dukes arose and came to control larger areas. They integrated the Samtans into the internal structure of the kingdom.

In this process, the clergy, the Brahmins, played a major role, as the states were largely religiously legitimized. The king was the protector of religion. He gave land to the guardians of the religion and built large royal temple complexes as a symbol of his power and the religious identity of the kingdom; it was not least the king's ritual supremacy that bound the kingdom together.

Often the king's great men wanted the same, more free status that the Samtaans had. Moreover, as there was a shortage of cash for the payment of officials, and as the prestige of the king depended on the number of tribute princes, there was a tendency for the circle of samtas to grow, while the inner circle became smaller. It undermined the king's power base, and if he became too weak, greater tribute princes stood ready to secede or to seize power themselves. The growing political importance of the regional kingdoms was especially followed in the period 1000-1300 by a cultural regionalization within language and literature. At the same time, an increasing popularization of Hinduism took place, as local deities became more important, and new religious centers emerged in connection with the major temple cities.

The Chola Kingdom (approximately 850-1278) in South India is an exception to the short-lived regional kingdoms. The kingdom developed from the 800-t. to a powerhouse that, through large merchant guilds, conducted international trade with both West and Southeast Asia.

Islam in India

Already in the 700-t. had Arabs conquered parts of Sindh in present-day Pakistan, and in the late 800-t. both here and in the Punjab there were independent Arab dynasties. In the early 1000-t. the state system in northern India was destabilized by a series of invasions from Afghanistan, carried out by Mahmud, one of the rulers of the Ghaznavid dynasty. It was one of the preconditions for the Delhi Sultanate, which was founded in 1206 by Muslims from Central Asia and over the course of 100 years developed into a great empire.

Delhisultanate

It was only with the Delhi Sultanate that Islam gained lasting influence in India. While formerly invaders from the northwest were rather quickly assimilated into Indian culture and embraced the Indian religions, the new Muslim conquerors maintained their faith and long maintained their contacts with Central Asia, from which new members of the ruling class were constantly recruited. A mixed culture arose with both Muslim and Indian elements, and in time the Delhi Sultans became Indian rulers, but of a different religion than the majority of the subjects.

In the beginning, Islam in India had almost the character of being the tribal cult of the new ruling class, and the Delhi sultanate was in religious affairs subordinate to the caliph of Baghdad. But after the collapse of the caliphate in 1258, the sultans themselves became a religious authority, and Islam gained status as a state religion. There was a great migration of Muslim soldiers, merchants and artisans in addition to scholars and holy men. They settled in the cities, but with time and especially during the Mughal Empire in the 1500-1600-t. however, there were also large groups in the rural areas who converted. This happened especially in the Northwest among groups leaving a nomadic existence to become settled peasants, and in Bengal, where Muslim pioneers cleared forests for agriculture and won the local residents over to Islam.

The new empire was based on a new military technology, a powerful cavalry, and the state was organized as a military feudal state. Army commanders and officials were given the land tax in certain areas and in turn had a duty to provide a certain number of troops. It was combined with a management which, in principle but hardly in practice, was centralized.

The legitimacy of the Hindu princes was largely rooted in the common religion. This, of course, was not possible for the Muslim princes who had to rely on the ability to wage war. The entire economy therefore became very dependent on warfare: the territory of the state had to be constantly expanded in order to provide financial coverage for the costs of e.g. the army commanders and the warfare. There was thus a close connection between state, economy and military, which made the state vulnerable to military failure, and there were limits to how large an area one could effectively control. In addition, the loyalty of the ruling class was closely linked to the sultan's person, which is why, for example, a change of throne could lead to rebellion and attempts at secession.

The sultanate differed from the Hindu states in that the Samtans were replaced by cavalry leaders, but in other respects it resembled the regional empires; Attempts at economic and administrative reforms to give the Sultan greater control over areas outside the core area failed almost all, although some of the tax systems that were introduced had far-reaching effects.

The Delhi Sultanate, whose state model eventually became the dominant one in India, culminated around 1330, and immediately thereafter it began to dissolve into regional states. approximately In 1340, the great Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar in southern India was founded. It existed until 1646 and created many of the power and economic structures in South India that Europeans later encountered. In central India on the Deccan Plateau, in Bengal and in Gujarat, a number of Muslim army commanders as self-proclaimed sultans filled the void left by the Delhi Sultanate.

Mogulriget

In the early 1500-t. the foundation for a new great kingdom was created. The starting point was again an invasion from Central Asia, and once again the success of the conquerors could be attributed to a new military technology, namely an effective field artillery combined with the mobile cavalry. The Mughal Empire was founded by Babur, who in 1526 defeated the last Delhisultan, and under his grandson Akbar, a large-scale conquest policy was launched, subjugating the other regional empires; in the late 1600's. under Aurangzeb, the Mughal Empire had control of the entire subcontinent except the southern tip.

The Mughal Empire, like the Delhi Sultanate, was based on military feudalism, but had greater central control over the officials, and the empire was more efficiently administered, not least in terms of tax collection. Like former great kings, the Mughals also had problems controlling the kingdom on the periphery and at the local level.

The narrow, loyal Muslim ruling class was gradually expanded with Hindus, but all the while subdued princes and nobles stood on the verge of liberating themselves if the opportunity presented itself. The state had difficulty in getting the often belligerent warrior aristocracy to function as officials and in getting local landlords, zamindars, and dominant groups in the villages to assist in collecting taxes and duties from the peasants. In addition, there were problems in getting kings and petty princes, who were not under direct control, to accept the supremacy of the Mughals.

The moguls supported the flourishing cultural life at court, which has left its mark on a large-scale power architecture with the Taj Mahal tomb in Agra and the building of the capital, present-day Old Delhi, as the most famous examples.

The collapse of the Mughal Empire

Economically, the Mughal Empire was largely based on the trade of European naval powers, which began in the early 1500's and which supplied India with large quantities of silver from the Spanish colonies in America. Silver served as an economic spur, and agriculture, which was a crucial prerequisite for the empire's exercise of power, was probably experiencing increasing productivity. However, the tax burden rested heavily on the peasants and often led to revolts that strained the kingdom's economy.

The constant policy of conquest also eroded the resources, to which was added that the loyalty of the military elite was partly tied to the person of the mogul, partly dependent on military success. The first relationship led to recurring succession wars, the second to attempts at secession and independence from governors and sound princes when the empire was weakened.

In the late 1600's. the resources of the kingdom under Aurangzeb were stretched to the limit, and from about 1690 it was in permanent crisis. The centralized empire began to disintegrate into regional kingdoms loosely linked by symbolic tribute to the Mughal emperor of Delhi. The process gained momentum in the first half of the 1700's, when a number of actual successor states emerged with viable regional centers. Most important was the Maratha Confederation with its center in Pune, but also the Mughal supreme official, Nizam al-Mulk, created his own principality in Hyderabad in Deccan, and so did several governors, including in Bengal and Oudh. At the same time, NW India was again exposed to invasions from Central Asia. Changes in military technology once again played a major role as the Mughal Empire disintegrated:

Many have considered the 1700's. to be a period of decay in India, but it was hardly so. Economically, it was a dynamic period, and the new states created new development opportunities. However, the followers of the Mughals were soon faced with a new threat.

The Europeans in India

The Europeans had traded in India since Vasco da Gama had sailed south of Africa in 1498 and had crossed the Indian Ocean. They acquired trading posts on the coast, sometimes surrounded by smaller rural areas, such as the Portuguese Goa and the Danish Tranquebar. The European interests were taken care of by trading companies, the most important of which were the British East India Company and the French Compagnie française des Indes. In the mid-1700's. the companies began to directly interfere in Indian affairs to secure their own economic interests.

In competition with the French, represented primarily by Joseph François Dupleix, the British secured control of rich Bengal after Robert Clive's victory at the Battle of Plassey in 1757. In 1765 after the Battle of Baksar, they were given the right to collect taxes in the area. Thus a new regional empire was established and the East India Company had an economic basis for the expansion of the following decades not only from Bengal but also from Madras (Chennai) in South India and from Bombay (Mumbai) in western India.

The expansion was not the result of a long-term plan. Rather, it was an unintended consequence of the company's efforts to secure its trading interests and the already conquered territories against the rival Indian princes. The British availed themselves of a well-funded and disciplined infantry consisting chiefly of Indian mercenaries, which in the long run proved superior to the feudal uprisings of the Indian princes. Mysore, as in the second half of the 1700's. under the Muslim ruler Hyder Ali and then his son Tipu Sultan developed into a regional superpower, was defeated by the British in 1799, and from around 1820 the British constituted the dominant power on the subcontinent. The last major empire, the Punjab, came under British control in the 1840's. After the defeat of the great North Indian uprising in 1857-58, the Sepoy uprising, the British were the only remaining power. A new empire was established, and in 1858 the British Crown took control of the East India Company.

The British Empire in India

The British rule differed from previous great empires by being able to establish itself over a much larger part of the subcontinent. In practice, the British controlled the entire area, although much of it remained in the hands of local princes. Another difference was that the conquerors did not become part of India. The main base remained outside.

British India became the central link in the British Empire. India became a raw material producer (including jute and cotton) for parts of the import-dependent British industry, and until World War II Britain had a trade surplus with India, which therefore played a central role in the worldwide British financial system. Furthermore, India's strategic location in the Indian Ocean and the ability to deploy Indian troops throughout this area were important to Britain's great power status. As in its other colonies, moreover, the British had an ideological desire to spread Western civilization.

The British company state initially had many similarities with, for example, the Mughal Empire and its successor states, whose administrative structures the British built on. But as the means of transportation and communication allowed, a modern state was created with a modern control apparatus and a more efficient tax collection. At the same time, however, the British, just as previous great empires had been, were largely dependent on the subjects' perception of them as legitimate rulers. Therefore, local aristocracies and high-status groups in the villages played a central role as intermediaries and tax collectors, and together with scribes they formed a network of Indian supporters who could carry out most of the practical work for the few Britons.

The colony was thus also vulnerable to the collapse of this network, and it can be argued that this was exactly what the nationalist movement the Indian National Congress and especially Mahatma Gandhi saw through.

The Nationalist Movement

In the late 1800's. there was increasing dissatisfaction among educated Indians with the poor opportunities for access to higher positions in the administration and with the lack of influence on political decisions. In 1885, the Indian National Congress, INC. Was formed, which became the center of the following 60 years of national struggle. In the beginning, INC had very moderate desires, but gradually, and especially after World War I, the claim became India's independence.

This called into question the prestige of the British and the legitimacy of their rule, and they were increasingly affected by the campaigns of non-cooperation and civil disobedience led by Gandhi in the first place. As economic relations, which had originally been the British's main argument for seizing power at all, changed at the same time, and India no longer played the same role in the British imperial system, they recognized that it was time to withdraw.

In this process, the Indians were divided according to religious guidelines, Hindus towards Muslims. It was partly related to cultural and social differences, partly and equally to a British part and ruling policy, which took advantage of the fact that Muslim separatists, organized in the Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, faced the Hindu-dominated INC. The result was a division at independence in August 1947 into a predominantly Hindu India and a two-part Muslim Pakistan consisting of NW India and East Bengal (West and East Pakistan).

The consequences of British rule

Under British colonial rule, many social structures were created that still characterize modern India. Sure, it is doubtful how far the colonial power could put its will through at the local level, but its more efficient administration and tax collection left its mark. In this process, the Indians themselves were active co-players, seeking to seize the opportunities offered by the British need for partners and lack of knowledge of Indian society.

The tax systems that the British took over from their predecessors were exploited more efficiently, and together with the introduction of private property according to the European pattern, it led to increased social differentiation in the countryside, the affluent became richer and the poor poorer; and it was in the better-off strata that the British built their network of supporters.

Trade was arranged according to British needs and concentrated in British centers, especially in the port cities. Former regional centers lost importance, and the population from here sought out agriculture. British trade interests, together with the economic demands of the modern state, led to an increased commercialization of agriculture. Indian industry had long been hampered by British interests and was at independence only weakly developed in a few regional centers.

There is much to suggest that under colonialism new forms of society were created, which have since been regarded as ancient, traditional systems. The caste system, understood as a rigid religious hierarchy, dominated by the Brahmins, is possibly in part a product of the colonial power's desire to understand and administer society in clear and manageable categories. The caste system that the British had originally encountered was, by all accounts, quite flexible and linked to political power. But as the new state power believed that society on a religious basis was divided into clearly separated groups, the Indians adapted to this situation because it could be advantageous when the state resources were to be distributed.

Independent India - from 1947

Indian nationalism, World War II, and the weakening of Britain forced the British to decolonize in 1947. The many hundreds of Indian princely states that had been subject to the British were incorporated into Pakistan and India. In 1956 the few remaining French territories were officially incorporated into India, and in 1961-62 the former Portuguese colonies followed, Goa. Although modern, independent India does not encompass the entire subcontinent, it can be described as a new subcontinental empire.

Congress Party under Jawaharlal Nehrusleadership sat from the beginning on the central power in Delhi. The secular democratic federal state, based on constitutional patriotism and social reform, was chosen as the form of state. India has had three main problems since independence: national integration, economic development and the safeguarding of national independence. "Unity in diversity" has been a slogan when it comes to national integration, but diversity has created several problems, including in the question of the distribution of power between central government and states. Since about 1970, political power has been significantly more volatile in the states than in Delhi. The individual regions have fought for their linguistic and cultural identity, and a number of places, including in Assam, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu and Punjab, separatist movements have emerged.Hindu nationalism). However, no group has been strong enough to dominate the rest of society, and this has so far prevented the state from collapsing. Furthermore, the members of the rapidly growing middle class, which in the late 1990's make up approximately 1/4 of the population, their main interest in terms. Education, jobs and security to support the state's continued existence.

In terms of economic development, the main strategy has been to manage itself with a minimum of imports and to create economic growth. It has sought to combine this with a social welfare policy with equalization of inequalities in society. However, when the two strategies have come into conflict with each other, growth considerations have usually weighed heaviest. This applies to agricultural policy, where the consideration of increased production has outweighed an ideology of land reforms.

In foreign policy, relations with Pakistan have been the main problem; the question of Kashmir's affiliation led to war in 1947-48 and 1965 (see Jammu and Kashmir). A war in 1971 was triggered by East Pakistan's desire for secession from the Pakistani state and led to the formation of Bangladesh. Also with the other big neighbor, China, there have been border disputes, which in 1962 turned into regular war in the northeastern border areas, where China did not recognize the McMahon Line as a border. Relations between the two neighbors have since been strained, but a rapprochement took place in the 1990's.

Internationally, from the beginning, India chose to stand outside the bloc of superpowers as an alliance-free state, taking a stand on a case-by-case basis. Aid was readily accepted from all sides, but when the United States, in military alliance with Pakistan, suspended its aid program to India after 1965, the country became more closely associated with the Soviet Union, and in 1971 an Indo-Soviet friendship treaty was signed.

Heads of State
Governors-General
1947-48 Louis Mountbatten
1948-50 Chakravarti Rajagopalachari
presidents
1950-62 Rajendra Prasad
1962-67 Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
1967-69 Zakir Husain
1969-74 Varahagiri Venkata Giri
1974-77 Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed
1977-82 Neelam Sanjiva Reddy
1982-87 Zail Singh
1987-92 Ramaswamy Venkataraman
1992-97 Shankar Dayal Sharma
1997-02 Kocheril Raman Narayanan
2002-07 Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam
2007-12 Pratibha Patil
2012- Pranap Mukherjee

Since 1985, India has been a member of the South Asian Regional Cooperation Organization (SAARC) (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation). seeks to resolve conflicts on the subcontinent by peaceful means.

Heads of government
1947-64 Jawaharlal Nehru
1964-66 Lal Bahadur Shastri
1966-77 Indira Gandhi
1977-79 Morarji Desai
1979-80 Charan Singh
1980-84 Indira Gandhi
1984-89 Rajiv Gandhi
1989-90 Vishwanath Pratap Singh
1990-91 Chandra Shekar
1991-96 Pamulaparti Venkata Narasimha Rao
1996 Atal Bihari Vajpayee
1996-97 Hardanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda
1997-98 Inder Kumar Gujral
1998-2004 Atal Bihari Vajpayee
2004-14 Manmohan Singh
2014- Narendra Modi

After Jawaharlal Nehru's death in 1964, Lal Bahadur Shastri became Prime Minister, but when he died in 1966, Nehru's daughter Indira Gandhi took office. She was elected as a compromise candidate, but soon came on a collision course with the old leaders of the Congress Party, which in 1969 led to a split of the party. However, Indira Gandhi retained power until the 1977 election, when she defeated Janata, a coalition of opposition parties, and was replaced as Prime Minister by Morarji Desai. The background to the election defeat was that in a political crisis situation in 1975, she had introduced a state of emergency, which lasted until 1977. In the 1980's, the Congress Party regained power in Delhi under Indira Gandhi; when she was assassinated by Sikh separatists in 1984, she was succeeded by her son Rajiv Gandhi,

Under the government of Narasimha Rao 1991-96, a gradual liberalization of the Indian economy was initiated, not least driven by Finance Minister Manmohan Singh. Up through the 1990's, tensions between Hindus and Muslims increased, which was expressed by the demolition of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya by extremist Hindu activists in 1992. In the 1996 elections, the Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP, became India's largest. From 1998, a BJP-led government continued under the AB Vajpayee liberalization policy. In 1998, India carried out a series of nuclear tests, which a few days later were countered by Pakistan. Relations with Pakistan reached new lows in 1999 and 2002 due to the Kashmir problem; in 1999 there were regular acts of war at the armistice line in the high mountains of Kargil.

In the BJP-led state of Gujarat, violent riots broke out between Hindus and Muslims in 2002 after a train carriage with Hindu activists was set on fire - at least 800 Muslims were killed in revenge killings. The tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004 cost approximately 12,000 Indians killed - worst affected by the state of Tamil Nadu and the Andaman archipelago.

As part of the 2004 election campaign, the BJP-led coalition government launched a campaign under the motto India Shining, which was to tell voters about the great progress India had made under the Hindu nationalists. Despite Vajpayee's great popularity, the campaign backfired, because much of the economic progress of recent years had not benefited the poor to any great extent. The winner of the election campaign was the leader of the Congress Party, the Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, widow of Rajiv Gandhi. She chose to leave the government leadership to Manmohan Singh, which continued the liberalization of the economy, albeit at a slower pace due to opposition from the Communists in the coalition government. Relations with Pakistan have been improving since a ceasefire agreement on Kashmir in 2003, symbolically marked by the establishment of direct bus and rail links. India is one of the world's fastest growing economies, and it has meant a closer relationship with the United States, just as relations with China have been in a favorable development. However, Manmohan Singh was unable to curb the widespread corruption that also took place within the Congress Party. Economic growth also declined. This led to the Congress Party in 2014 suffering a crushing defeat to the BJP and its leader, Narendra Modi. Modi, who had been prime minister of Gujarat, became the new prime minister. He's a controversial figure.

 

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