India - 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.
What does the flag of India look like? Follow this link, then you will see
the image in PNG format and flag meaning description about this country.
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
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
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
The caste system has created a highly fragmented society, although the casts
have at the same time been linked together in mutual dependence.
|ca. 30000-12000 BC
||Use of advanced stone tools.
|approx. 3000 BC
||Transition from hunter-gatherer culture to cattle breeding and
|approx. 3000-2000 BC
||The Indus culture.
|approx. 1700 BC
||Indoor immigration begins.
|approx. 1000-500 BC
||The iron is introduced.
||Alexander the Great's armies cross the Indus River.
||The heyday of the Maurya dynasty under King Ashoka. Colonizations to
||The cholera kingdom dominates in southern India and at times parts
of Sri Lanka.
||The Vijayanagar kingdom in South India is being formed.
||The Portuguese Vasco da Gama arrives in Calicut in South India.
||The heyday of the Mughal Empire.
||European trading companies establish themselves in India.
||The Danish trading post Tranquebar is set up south of Madras.
||The Battle of Plassey. Bengal is subject to the British East India
||The British defeat Tipu Sultan at Mysore.
||Rebellion (traditionally known as the Sepoy Rebellion) in northern
India, directed against the British.
||India becomes British Crown Colony.
||The Indian National Congress, INC., Is established.
||Growing demands for independence.
||The Muslim League is established.
||The capital is being moved from Calcutta to New Delhi.
||Gandhi launches the first non-cooperation campaign, and INC takes on
the character of mass movement.
||Gandhi's salt march and civil disobedience campaign.
||The "Quit India" campaign is launched by Gandhi.
||Independence and sharing. The creation of Pakistan. Major massacres
in both countries.
||Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.
||The secular republic of India is formed.
||War between China and India.
||War between Pakistan and India leads to the creation of Bangladesh.
||State of emergency.
||The environmental disaster in Bhopal. The Golden Temple in Amritsar
is stormed by government troops. Indira Gandhi was murdered.
||Reform period begins for Indian economy.
||The mosque in Ayodhya is destroyed by militant Hindus.
||India conducts nuclear tests.
||The Kargil conflict with Pakistan.
||Ceasefire agreement with Pakistan.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
||Varahagiri Venkata Giri
||Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed
||Neelam Sanjiva Reddy
||Shankar Dayal Sharma
||Kocheril Raman Narayanan
||Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam
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
||Lal Bahadur Shastri
||Vishwanath Pratap Singh
||Pamulaparti Venkata Narasimha Rao
||Atal Bihari Vajpayee
||Hardanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda
||Inder Kumar Gujral
||Atal Bihari Vajpayee
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.