India History and Politics
The Indus culture
India’s history goes back a long way. As early as 3000 BC There was a culture in India that is one of the oldest cultures in the world, the Indus culture, which is sometimes also called Harappa culture. Before this culture emerged, the people of what is now India first lived as hunters and gatherers and then as farmers who grew barley and wheat. They have also kept goats, sheep and cattle. In the time around 1500 BC A people immigrated to India from the northwest and found remnants of the Indus culture here.
The Vedic Age
These tribes were not yet settled and they called themselves “Aryas”, which means “the noble ones”. Their language was Vedic, from which Sanskrit developed. By the way, the Vedas are the sacred writings of the Aryas and Veda means “knowledge”. The aryas settled on the rivers.
The people who already lived there gradually adopted their customs and traditions. Hinduism emerged from the Vedic religion and still has a strong influence on life in India today. The Hindu caste system also dates from this time. It developed out of a hierarchy that existed between higher-ranking persons such as priests and scholars as well as the people. This caste system divides the population into four different levels.
After the Vedic period, which lasted until about 500 BC. A few great empires emerged in India. The Nanda Empire only existed for a short time, followed by the Maurya Empire and the Gupta Empire.
An important event that would shape not only India, but the entire history of the world, was the birth of Siddharta Gautama around 500 BC. Chr., Who was later called Buddha, which means something like “the enlightened one”. Buddha is the founder of Buddhism, which is one of the world religions. After his death, his teaching spread.
King Ashoka and Buddhism
Buddhism came to India with King Ashoka, a king of the Marya Empire. This king ruled for 30 years and fought many wars. One day he changed his behavior and converted to Buddhism. There is a legend about his decision to live according to the teachings of the Buddha. At the same time he wanted to devote himself to peace. So this religion spread throughout his country.
The Gupta dynasty
After his reign, Ashoka’s empire broke up and India was alternately ruled by foreign powers, some of which came from Asia or from what is now Afghanistan. A new great empire came into being with the Gupta dynasty. Under the Gupta, the fragmented small empires in India were reunited into one great empire. At that time there was peace in the country. After that, the country was repeatedly exposed to external attacks and different dynasties took turns.
Islam in India
But as early as the 7th century, Islamic Arabs came to the north and at the end of the 10th century they also brought Islam to India. This time was marked by violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims. In 1206 the Delhi Sultanate was established. Islam was of great importance for several centuries, initially only for northern India, later also for southern regions.
The British East India Company
In 1498, the Portuguese Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to India and Portugal established the first trading bases in India. At the same time missionaries came into the country who now wanted to spread another world religion, Christianity, in India. The British East India Company was founded around 1600. But the French also made a claim and wanted India’s precious goods for themselves.
In 1690 the English conquered Calcutta. Fierce fighting broke out between the French and the English. The English finally won the dispute and thus established the British Empire. In 1857 the Indians rose and resisted British colonial rule in India, which was bloodily suppressed by the British. In 1858 the British Queen Victoria became Empress of India and India was part of the British Empire. The then Empire of India consisted of the countries India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
One man became important for the further history of India: Mahatma Gandhi. This led India to independence from Great Britain by means of non-violent resistance. India gained independence in 1947.
But with this independence the country was divided at the same time: into the state of India, mainly inhabited by Hindus, and the state of Pakistan, inhabited by Muslims. Gandhi, who had always striven for the unity of the entire country, could not prevent the division.
Shortly after India’s independence, Gandhi was shot by a fanatical Hindu and could no longer follow the further development of his country. Gandhi had always resisted the caste system and wanted to live together in peace with the Muslims and all other religions. But radical representatives of Hinduism opposed this.
The Kashmiri and Indo-Pakistani War
As a country located in Asia according to oxfordastronomy, India became a republic in 1950 and Jawahalal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi’s former companion, had been Prime Minister of India since 1947. Although the country was now divided into India and Pakistan, the conflicts did not stop. There was a dispute over a region in the north called Kashmir. As early as 1948 there was another war between India and Pakistan, which was only ended with an armistice in 1965.
But the conflict was still not over. In 1971 another war broke out, the Third Indo-Pakistani War. The result of this war was the independence of a third state that was originally in eastern Pakistan, namely Bangladesh.
Once again, the name Gandhi should become significant for India in the person of Indira Gandhi. However, she was not related to Mahatma Gandhi, but the daughter of the first Prime Minister Jawahalal Nehru. She came to power twice, the first time in 1966. She was re-elected, but it was doubted that she had rigged the elections. She continued to rule until 1977, but was not re-elected.
It was not until 1980 that she returned to government for the second time. In a dispute between Hindus and Sikhs, she used force against the insurgent Sikhs. Her bodyguards – also Sikhs – killed her on October 31, 1984. Her son Rajiv Gandhi was her successor until 1989. In 1991 he was also assassinated.
In 1997, the first time a president came to power who did not belong to any particular caste. His name was KR Narayanan. But again there was increased hostility and tension between the individual religious groups. In 1998 a more stable government was formed again. But the situation was soon to become full of tensions again, as another war threatened to break out between India and Pakistan between 2002 and 2003. In 2004 the wife of Rajiv Gandhi, who was murdered in 1991, came to power, but she resigned from office.
In 2007, Pratibha Patil was the first woman to be elected president. During her reign, there were repeated attacks by Islamists. In 2014, Narendra Modi was elected Prime Minister.
In the spring of 2019 (April and May) parliamentary elections were held again in India. By the way, nearly 900 million people were eligible to vote, which would be the case if everyone in Europe, the United States and Japan had voted.
The ruling party under Prime Minister Narendra Modi was reconfirmed. The President of India since 2017 is Ram Nath Kovind.
Incidentally, India has officially been a nuclear power since 1998. India never joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in which states pledged not to manufacture nuclear weapons.