One of history's earliest high cultures, the Indus
culture, developed on the banks of the river Indus and
gave the country India its name. Indo-European invasion
from the 21st century BC and several centuries ahead led
to the downfall of Indus culture. In the 1100s, several
Muslim kingdoms were founded in the north, including the
Mogul empire. In the 19th century, India became a
British colony. The independence of the British was
achieved in 1947 through a peaceful struggle led by,
among others, Mahatma Gandhi.
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of India, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
The area that today constitutes India has been home
to a variety of peoples and cultures. In the deserted
areas adjacent to the Indus River, which flow mostly
through present-day Pakistan, archaeologists have found
remains of a multi-thousand-year-old, advanced city
culture with well-lit buildings in burnt brick. It is
believed that Dravids may have lived there. The Indus
people used a hieroglyphic writing, which they had so
far been difficult to interpret.
That the Indus culture went under was probably linked
to the invasion of Indo-Europeans (Aryans) that began in
the 21st century BC and lasted for a long time. With the
help of horse drawn tanks, Indo-Europeans spread across
India from the northwest. From around the 8th century BC
they dominated northern and central India, and they also
had influence in the south.
Guptariket - a cultural golden age
The religion of the Indo-Europeans, the Vedar
religion - so-called after its sacred writings, the
Vedas - came to dominate religious life until around the
6th century BC, when a lot of reforming and rebellious
sects and movements arose. Among these were Buddhism,
which had its heyday under the rule of Maurya ruler
Ashoka (200 AD). During his reign, Buddhism spread to
Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.
In India, however, Buddhism then almost disappeared.
Emperor Ashoka's kingdom covered almost all of India,
except the southernmost part, and not until modern times
have large parts of the Indian subcontinent been ruled
centrally as then. During the North Indian Gupta kingdom
(300-500 AD), Hindu culture experienced a literary and
artistic golden age.
In the 7th century, Muslim rulers appeared in the
north-west, but only in the 11th century did the real
India be subjected to invasion attempts. In 1175, a
Muslim empire, the Delhi Sultanate, was founded,
followed by the Lodi dynasty and the Mogul empire, among
others. The Muslims brought with them new impulses in
art, literature and architecture. They treated their
Hindu subjects differently: some were tolerant, others
shattered temples and made sure that the "unfaithful"
had to pay the penalty. Nor did they ever succeed in
subjugating the southernmost part of India.
After Vasco da Gama found the sea route to India in
1498, the Portuguese began to set up trading stations on
the Indian west coast. Others followed and after the
17th century there was fierce competition between the
French and British East India companies, which received
strong - if necessary military - support from their
governments. By the middle of the 18th century, thanks
to superior military strength and business technology,
the British managed to drive away most of the French and
thus secure their empire in India.
Colonialism and the struggle for freedom
Following the disintegration of the Mogul empire, the
British East India Company had begun a harsh
exploitation of the Indian population, but by the end of
the 18th century the British state had limited its
extensive powers. After the bloody sepoy uprising, which
began as a rising among native soldiers in English
service, in 1858 the British government took over. Under
pressure, they signed agreements with the local princes
(maharajahs), who still ruled around a
third of India.
Soon, in practice, the British had subjugated all of
India, from 1877 called the empire, and economically and
culturally linked India closer to Britain. With the
support of the large landowners as tax collectors, the
British laid the groundwork for the uneven distribution
of land still prevailing in the Indian countryside.
In 1885, the Indian National Congress (later the
Congress Party) was formed, which came to lead the
freedom struggle against the English. The foremost
Indian nationalist was Mohanda's Karamchand Gandhi, a
Western educated lawyer. Gandhi came from a well-to-do
family and had a life-style based on Hindu tradition. He
could speak to the English, while mobilizing the poor
masses in the countryside. Gandhi led poor peasants and
workers in peaceful (usually) mass protests against high
taxes and discrimination. He became known for his
non-violent principle (satyagraha) in
the fight against the supremacy of the British. He
fought for equality and equality, a ban on the caste
system and for India's independence from foreign powers
(Swaraj). Gandhi became widely known asmahatma
Another central independence leader was Jawaharlal
Nehru. He also came from the Indian upper class and
trained as a lawyer in Cambridge, England. Politically,
Nehru stood to the left of Gandhi and advocated
planning, rapid industrialization and social reform.
India's Muslim minority feared Hindu domination in a
future independent state and in 1906 formed the Indian
Muslim League as a counterweight to the National
After World War II, the road was open to Indian
independence, but as the Muslim League refused to join a
Hindu dominated state, in August 1947 two independent
states were proclaimed instead: the predominantly Hindu,
but secular, Indian Union and Muslim Pakistan.
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Five are sentenced to death for explosion
An Indian court sentenced two Indian mujahedin leaders and three others to
death for two blast attacks in February 2013. The assault claimed 18 people's
Facilitating the decision on valid banknotes
The government is forced to make a few exceptions to the decision to abolish
high-value banknotes, including for those planning a wedding (often a very
expensive deal in India) and for some farmers.
High denomination banknotes are withdrawn
The government decides that all banknotes of denomination 1000 and 500 rupees
are invalid. This is done in an attempt to correct corruption and illegal money
management. Residents have 50 days to exchange their banknotes for new 2000 and
500 banknotes. The measure spreads concern and anger among many Indians who rush
to the bank to exchange their banknotes. The measure leads to a shortage of
cash, as 85 percent of banknotes in circulation disappear from the market.
Diplomatic conflict with Pakistan deepens
India accuses six Pakistani diplomats of joining a spy network, forcing the
Islamabad government to call home the accused from Delhi. A few days later,
Pakistan contradicts indicting eight Indian embassy officials in Islamabad for
involvement in espionage and terrorist crimes, but the eight are not expelled.
Diplomatic quarrel with Pakistan
India detains a Pakistani official in the consular department of the Pakistan
Embassy in Delhi. The official is accused of espionage, declared persona non
grata and expelled from the country. Later that day, Pakistan does the same with
an Indian embassy official in Islamabad.
Claws at the funeral of a boy
Thousands of people clash with police in Srinagar in Kashmir in connection
with the funeral of a twelve-year-old boy, who was shot dead the day before.
Police say he was shot while participating in a protest operation, but neighbors
say police opened fire on the yard to the boy's home. More than 50 people are
injured in the rattlesnakes.
Three opponents are shot to death
The army states that three men who attacked an Indian army base in Kashmir
have been shot dead. The men must have belonged to one of the militant groups
fighting the Indian government in Jammu and Kashmir.
"Uplifting" newspaper in Kashmir closes
The Kashmir authorities are ordering the local English-language newspaper
Kashmir Reader to be closed. The newspaper is accused of publishing texts
that "have been able to stir up violence and disrupt the general order of the
state". The charges are not specified in more detail and Amnesty International
describes the publication ban as "a setback for free speech." The human rights
organization calls on the authorities to revoke the decision.
Indian border villages are evacuated
Thousands of people in villages in Punjab near the Pakistan border are being
evacuated for security reasons as a result of the escalated conflict with the
neighboring country. All villages up to a mile away from the border are emptied
Indian raids into Pakistan
The Indian army states that it has made "surgical intervention" a few
kilometers into Pakistani soil to "neutralize terrorists" who have attacked
targets in Indian Kashmir "and those who are trying to protect them". Pakistan
condemns "the naked violence" but denies that there has been anything other than
shooting across the border with light weapons. Two Pakistani army soldiers have
been killed and nine wounded.
Regional summit in danger
The government announces that it does not intend to participate in the Saarc
regional cooperation summit in Pakistan in November. A government spokesman
justifies the departure of "more and more border violations of terrorists and a
certain country's increased involvement in other countries' internal affairs",
which refers to Pakistan without mentioning the neighboring country by name.
Shortly thereafter, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka also announce
that they will be absent from the Saarc meeting.
The Indians are happy with Modi
Two years after the big election victory in 2014, Prime Minister Modi is
still popular with the majority of Indians. As many as 81 percent of those
polled in a poll conducted by the US-based Pew Research Center say they are
happy with Modi as prime minister. More than half of those surveyed say he does
a good job in the fight against poverty and 62 percent are satisfied with his
efforts to combat unemployment. 61 percent are satisfied with the fight against
terrorists and 59 percent are corruption. 49 percent think Modi is a unifying
force, while 29 percent see him as divisive. 65 percent of those surveyed think
India is heading in the right direction. Modi gets the lowest rating in politics
against Pakistan, where only 22 percent are satisfied. Congress leader Rahul
Gandhi receives positive response from 63 percent of those polled.
Attack on army headquarters in Kashmir
Eighteen Indian soldiers are killed when armed men attack an army
headquarters in Uri, ten miles west of Srinagar. Four attackers are killed in
the army's counter-attack, according to a military spokesman. Indian ministers
blamed Pakistan-based militant groups for the attack. The interior minister says
Pakistan should be "identified and isolated as a terrorist state". No group
takes on the attack.
Well-known activist arrested in Kashmir
Indian Kashmir police arrest activist Khurram Parvez, a day after he was
banned by the authorities from traveling to Switzerland to speak at a UN meeting
The violence is escalating in Kashmir
Continued violence between protesters and security forces in combination with
armed attacks on the military and police has claimed at least 80 civilians'
lives and injured thousands in the worst outbreak of violence in the state since
2010. The unrest has now been going on for over two months.
Eight dead in Kashmir violence
In the middle of the month, two Indian border guards and a suspected rebel
are killed during a firefight in Indian Kashmir. Just over a week later, five
civilians are killed when police open fire to stone-throwing protesters. A
policeman is killed in an exchange of gunfire with protesters. The death toll
since the violence erupted in July now exceeds 50.
Important tax reform adopted
Parliament's House of Commons votes for a new nationwide and comprehensive
system for taxing goods and services. The system is called GST (Goods and
Services Tax) and replaces a patchwork of state taxes, which often meant double
taxation. The government describes the law as the largest tax reform since the
country's independence. The change is intended to make the country a large
common market, and the government expects the new uniform laws to give business
and industry a boost and contribute to increased growth. The reform must also be
dealt with in the lower house and must then be approved by at least half of the
country's 29 states before it can be implemented.
New riots in Kashmir
When Burham Wani, young leader of the Kashmiri resistance group
Hezb-ul-Mujahedin, is shot dead in a clash with security police, the riots in
Kashmir erupt. A policeman drowns when a mob pushes his car down a river. Dozens
of protesters are killed in the violence.
The government is getting even bigger
Prime Minister Modi expands his government with 19 new members, while five
ministers resign. Thus, the Indian government has 78 ministers, even though one
of Modi's election promises was a small, effective government. None of the
central ministerial posts is affected by the government reform.
Eleven is sentenced to life for the Gulbarg massacre
17th of June
A special court sentenced eleven people to life imprisonment for
participating in the massacre at the Gulbarg building in Gujarat in 2002 that
claimed the lives of 69 Muslims. Twelve defendants are sentenced to seven years
in prison, while one man receives a 10-year prison sentence for his role in the
massacre. The massacre of Muslims in Gulbarg was one of the worst committed
during the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002. One of the convicted is a local
leader of the Hindu extremist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).
Modi visits Iran
Prime Minister Modi is visiting Iran to strengthen trade relations between
the two countries. India promises, among other things, to finance the expansion
and modernization of the port of Chabahar in southern Iran. The countries also
agree to exchange information for the purpose of combating terrorism and
Electoral success for regional parties
Elections are held in the states of Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal
as well as in the central governed territory of Pondicherry. The BJP, which has
a electoral cooperation with regional parties, wins in Assam where the Congress
Party has ruled since 2001. In West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, regional parties win,
while Indian Communist Party (Marxists) win in Kerala. In Pondicherry, the
Congress Party makes its best choice. The domestic political trend is that
regional parties are gaining ground, while the BJP and the Congress party are
HD: The authorities passive in the face of a drought disaster
The Supreme Court (HD) criticizes the authorities for sticking their heads in
the sand in the face of the worst drought that has hit India in decades. At
least 330 million Indians in 13 of the 29 states are affected by the drought. HD
orders the government to set up a crisis fund within three months.
Five civilians are killed in riots in Kashmir
Five civilians, including a boy, are killed in Handwara city in Indian
Kashmir as the army opens fire on protesters accusing an army soldier of
sexually harassing a girl. As the demonstrations grow in size before the
Over 100 dead in temple fire
More than 100 people are killed and nearly 400 injured when an illegal New
Year's fireworks explode and catch fire in a temple in the state of Kerala in
the south. The temple's director had been denied an application to use fireworks
at the Indian New Year, but the pressure from the crowd becomes too great for
the temple's staff. When a rocket goes off in the wrong direction, it hits a
building that ignites and collapses. Many people die in there.
Lifetime of terrorist acts
Three men are sentenced to life imprisonment in a Mumbai Special Court for
intervening in a series of assaults in the city in 2002 and 2003. Seven other
people are each sentenced to ten years in prison each for participating in the
Jat is entitled to a quotation
Parliament in the state of Haryana is voting to give the cast the right to
quota for government jobs and study places. The decision is made as a result of
violent demonstrations a month earlier (see February 2016). At
the same time, four other castes are entitled to quotas: jat sikh, tyagi,
bishnoi and ror.
Student is released on bail
The student arrested for commotion in connection with a speech at a
university in New Delhi (see February 2016) is released on
Agricultural investments in the 2016 state budget
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presents the 2016 budget to Parliament. Extra
money is being invested in agricultural development and the government promises
that all Indian villages will have electricity within two years.
Many dead in violence attack in Kashmir
A "war of positions" is fought for three days between three armed
perpetrators and a group of Indian militants in Indian Kashmir. The incident
ends with the killing of five soldiers, one civilian and the three assailants.
The men, whom Indian police describe as "suspected anti-Indian rebels," attack a
paramilitary convoy outside Srinagar and then barricade themselves in a study
center next door. For three days, the men stand against the Indian military,
which surrounds the building and eventually kills the attackers.
Twenty-five dead in caste-related violence
Twenty-five people are killed and hundreds injured when members of the caste
jat demonstrate for several days in the state of Haryana and Delhi. Jat members
demand positive discrimination in the labor market and in the universities. Jat
is a relatively high caste whose members are often farmers. But prolonged
drought in Haryana outside Delhi has caused jat to lose a lot of income and
assets. The group now demands to be quoted on a hard labor market, in the same
way that lower castes can be. In connection with the demonstrations, the
protesters take control of a channel that supplies large parts of Delhi with
drinking water. The army must step in and take back control of the important
Largest student demonstrations in 25 years
A student at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi has been arrested on
suspicion of rioting after speaking in a speech "anti-national sentiment" in
relation to the Kashmir conflict. The arrest of the student triggers mass
demonstrations at several universities in the country. Teachers and journalists
are also taking part in the protests against what protesters consider to be a
gross violation of freedom of expression.
Caste-related violence in Andhra Pradesh
At least 15 police officers are injured in clashes with members of the
low-caste kapu. The protesters demand better access to education and jobs, but
the protests degenerate into violence and damage before the police manage to
calm down the situation. About a quarter of the state's 50 million inhabitants
belong to kapu. Discrimination on the basis of caste affiliation is prohibited
in India but in practice nonetheless occurs.
Prison for foreign sailors
Thirty-five crew members on a US, privately owned vessel are sentenced to
five years in prison for illegally being in Indian territorial waters, carrying
weapons and ammunition in the cargo (see October 2013). The
crew, which comes from Estonia, the UK, Ukraine and India, were released on bail
in March 2014.
Convicting conviction for group rape and murder
A court finds six men guilty of murder and rape on a female student in West
Bengal in 2013. The lawsuit has triggered numerous protests against sexual
violence around India.
India buys French fighter aircraft
France and India enter into an agreement for France to sell 36 fighter
aircraft of the Rafale model to India. The deal, worth about $ 9 billion, is
signed in conjunction with French President Francois Hollande's visit to Delhi.
Twelve other bilateral agreements were concluded during the visit, for example
on space cooperation, technology and research and on the renovation of Indian
Deadline for prosecuted Italian
The Supreme Court allows one of the two Italian marines indicted in India for
killing two Indian fishermen in 2012 to stay in their homeland until April 30.
The man has been living in Italy for some time due to health reasons (see
Attack on air base in Patkankot
Seven Indian soldiers and at least four militant Islamists are killed as
gunfire erupts since armed men attempted to occupy an Indian airbase in
Pathankot near the Pakistan border. It takes at least a few days for the army to
secure the base. The United Jihad Council, a coalition of militant groups that
opposes India's control of most of Kashmir, is taking on the deed. However,
India is accusing Pakistan-based militant Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammad of the
act and demands that Pakistan seize group members, which also happens. The two
countries say the peace talks plans are firm.