History of India
Age rock shelters with paintings at the Bhimbetka rock shelters in
Madhya Pradesh are the earliest known traces of human life in India.
The first known permanent settlements appeared over 9,000 years ago
and gradually developed into the Indus Valley Civilization,
dating back to 3300 BCE in western India. It was followed by the
Vedic period, which laid the foundations of Hinduism and other
cultural aspects of early Indian society. From around 550 BCE, many
independent kingdoms and republics known as the Mahajanapadas were
established across the country.
Paintings at the Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, 6th
century.The empire built by the Maurya Empire under Emperor Ashoka
united most of South Asia in the third century BCE. From 180
BCE, a series of invasions from Central Asia followed, including
those led by the Indo-Greeks, Indo-Scythians, Indo-Parthians and
Kushans in the north-western Indian subcontinent. From the third
century CE, the Gupta dynasty oversaw the period referred to as
ancient "India's Golden Age." Among the notable South Indian
empires were the Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Hoysalas, Pallavas,
Pandyas, and Cholas. Science, engineering, art, literature,
astronomy, and philosophy flourished under the patronage of these
Following invasions from Central Asia between the tenth and twelfth
centuries, much of north India came under the rule of the Delhi
Sultanate, and later the Mughal Empire. Mughal emperors gradually
expanded their kingdoms to cover large parts of the subcontinent.
Nevertheless, several indigenous kingdoms, such as the Vijayanagara
Empire, flourished, especially in the south. In the seventeenth and
eighteenth century, the Mughal supremacy declined and the Maratha
Empire became the dominant power. From the sixteenth century,
several European countries, including Portugal, the Netherlands,
France, and the United Kingdom, started arriving as traders and
later took advantage of the fractious nature of relations between
the kingdoms to establish colonies in the country. By 1856, most of
India was under the control of the British East India Company. A
year later, a nationwide insurrection of rebelling military units
and kingdoms, variously referred to as the First War of Indian
Independence or Sepoy Mutiny, seriously challenged British rule but
eventually failed. As a consequence, India came under the direct
control of the British Crown as a colony of the British Empire.
Mahatma Gandhi (right) with Jawaharlal Nehru, 1937. Nehru would go
on to become India's first prime minister in 1947.During the first
half of the twentieth century, a nationwide struggle for
independence was launched by the Indian National Congress and other
political organizations. In the 1920s and 1930, a movement led by
Mahatma Gandhi, and displaying commitment to ahimsa, or
non-violence, millions of protesters engaged in mass campaigns of
civil disobedience. Finally, on 15 August 1947, India gained
independence from British rule, but was partitioned, in accordance
to wishes of the Muslim League, along the lines of religion to
create the Islamic nation state of Pakistan. Three years later,
on 26 January 1950, India became a republic and a new constitution
came into effect.
Since independence, India has experienced sectarian violence and
insurgencies in various parts of the country, but has maintained its
unity and democracy. It has unresolved territorial disputes with
China, which in 1962 escalated into the brief Sino-Indian War; and
with Pakistan, which resulted in wars in 1947, 1965, 1971, and 1999.
India is a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement and the
United Nations (as part of British India). In 1974, India conducted
an underground nuclear test. This was followed by five more
tests in 1998, making India a nuclear state. Beginning in 1991,
significant economic reforms have transformed India into one of
the fastest-growing economies in the world, adding to its global and
regional clout. For more
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