Considering that India has a history dating back more than 4000 years, it would be difficult to describe all of the significant events in this short treatise. India has had a varied history in culture, religion and the influence of foreign governments.
The British Crown
We will go back to 1858 when India became a colony of the British Crown. This was the result of a failed Indian Mutiny. As self-governance is the yearning of humans, 27 years later the Indian National Congress had its genesis because of developing nationalist desires and ambitions in India.
It was in this setting, some 35 years later that Mahatma Gandhi commences an anti-British campaign of civil disobedience. He was born in 1869, so a study of his life up to this point would be encouraged. Having assumed leadership of the Indian National Congress, he advocated a policy of non-violent non-cooperation to achieve his purpose of India home rule.
Having been arrested and convicted in 1922, his six-year imprisonment kept him on the sidelines. It was the Salt March on March 12, 1930, that brought him back to prominence. Gandhi’s defiant act created a domino effect that thousands participated in. It was a deciding moment in India’s independence from British rule. This had some far reaching effects even in America. The methodologies and teaching of Mahatma Gandhi are reported to have an influence on Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s.
India and Pakistan Tensions
By 1942, the “Quit India” movement was spawned and in 1947 British rule ended. The basic boundaries were the predominant Hindu faith became India and the most Muslim majority became Pakistan. However, this was not an easy transition as extensive bloodshed of hundreds of thousands ensued due to the parting of these into two countries. During this same time frame, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated and a war against Pakistan erupted over the territory known as Kashmir.
The area known as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) has been in dispute over who controls it since 1947. India and Pakistan have had more than one war over this area. The first was in 1948, the next was in 1965, the next in 1971 with the beginning of Bangladesh, previously named East Pakistan.
A very short war in 1999 around Kargil in Kashmir erupted. In 2001 the tension continues until about 2004 when India withdraws its military forces from Kashmir. Tensions between the two countries have improved including a compact agreement over helping to eliminate the risk of nuclear war signed in 2007. It would be beneficial to refer to the 17 lesser known facts about PoK
By the year 2000, India had reached a population of 1 Billion. This is significant because, by 2006, India sought to create a jobs program. It was targeted toward the rural areas and the stated goal was to move 60 million families out of poverty. Considering that the mean household size in India in 2001 was 5.3 individuals. That is approximately 318 Million people. This is about 30% of their population and more than the population of the United States at that time.
Politics and Technology
Some of the political and technological milestones of India that occurred since 2000 have helped propel India forward as a viable world power. In 2002 a retired scientist involved in India’s missile program, APJ Abdul Kalam was elected President. In 2007, India launched its first commercial space program with an Italian Satellite. In that same year the first woman, Pratibha Patil becomes president. In 2008 the unmanned lunar probe to the moon named Chandrayann-1 was successful.
Although India first developed a nuclear device underground in 1974, it was not until 2006 that they signed an agreement with the United States over nuclear technology. The United States will provide more access to this technology and India will provide a much needed and more advanced control over their nuclear program.
As with most countries, the issue of religion is always part of the discussion. The tension between Islam and Hindu has been part of the history of India and Pakistan. It is these tensions that predate even British rule. Hinduism is more of a philosophy and way of birth, life, death, and rebirth. Karma is a force guiding this religion. It is not a monotheistic religion and as such less structured and more inclusive of other religions. Islam is a monotheistic religion, dating back to Muhammad 570-632 A.D. A supreme being is part of the belief structure, somewhat incompatible with a guiding force mantra.
In attempting to bring to light some of the more notable incidences in India’s more recent history, relative to 4000 years, we know that some were missed. With that long of a history and over 1 Billion people creating human activity look forward to many more significant events in the history of India.