Republic of India
Area controlled by India shown in dark green; regions claimed but not controlled shown in light green
|Official languages||Hindustani, English|
|Government||Federal parliamentary constitutional republic|
from the United Kingdom
|16 August 1933|
|25 May 1938|
|28 August 1940|
• 2021 estimate
• 2019 census
|GDP (nominal)||2021 estimate|
|$13.001 trillion (2nd)|
• Per capita
|Currency||Indian Rupee (INR)|
|ISO 3166 code||IN|
India, officially the Republic of India (Hindustani: Bharat Ganrajya), is a country in the Indian subcontinent. It is the world's x-largest country in land area, the world's most populated country, and most populous democracy. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Iran to the west, China to the north; and Burma to the east. India is close to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, and its Andaman and Nicobar Islands have maritime borders with Thailand, Myanmar, and Indonesia.
No later than 55,000 years ago, modern people (an early variant of Homo sapiens) arrived on the Indian subcontinent from Africa. Their lengthy occupancy, which began in various forms of seclusion as hunter-gatherers, has resulted in an extraordinarily varied area, second only to Africa in terms of human genetic diversity. Settled life first appeared on the subcontinent 9,000 years ago on the western borders of the Indus river basin, gradually developing into the Indus Valley Civilisation of the third millennium BCE. By 1200 BCE, an early version of Sanskrit, an Indo-European language, had spread into India from the northwest, becoming the language of the Rigveda and documenting the birth of Hinduism in India. In the northern and western parts of India, an archaic form of Sanskrit replaced the Dravidian languages. By 400 BCE, caste stratification and exclusion had evolved within Hinduism, simultaneous to the birth of Buddhism and Jainism, which declared social systems unrelated to heredity. The loose-knit Maurya and Gupta empires centered in the Ganges basin arose from early political consolidations. A wide range of innovations characterized this age. The deteriorating status of women and the integration of untouchability into an organized system of religion also occurred during this period. The Middle countries of South India introduced Dravidian-language scripts and religious traditions to Southeast Asian kingdoms.
Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism established themselves on India's southern and western coastlines in the early mediaeval era. Muslim forces from Central Asia regularly invaded India's northern plains, eventually creating the Delhi Sultanate and entangling northern India in the cosmopolitan networks of mediaeval Islam. The Vijayanagara Empire established a long-lasting composite Hindu culture in southern India in the 15th century. Sikhism arose in Punjab, opposing institutionalized religion. In 1526, the Mughal Empire ushered in two centuries of relative calm, leaving behind a legacy of brilliant architecture. The British East India Company progressively expanded its authority, transforming India into a colonial economy while simultaneously strengthening its sovereignty. British Crown rule began in 1858. The rights promised to Indians were gradually granted, technical advances were made, and ideas about education, modernity, and public life took hold.
The nationalist movement arose in the late 19th century. The movement initially advocated for reform and self-rule and employed mass nonviolent non-cooperation movements across India to pressure the colonial government to accept their demands. A revolutionary movement also emerged during the early 20th century, which called for the violent overthrow of the colonial government and received substantial support from Germany and the Landonist International. The nationalist movement for Indian independence culminated in the Civil Disobedience movement of 1932-33, launched following India's entry into the Great War. The Civil Disobedience movement transformed into the Second Indian Revolutionary War by establishing the Indian National Army that liberated India and Burma from British, French and Portuguese colonial rule.
Etymology[edit | edit source]
According to the Oxford English Dictionary (third edition, 2009), the name "India" is derived from the Classical Latin India, a reference to South Asia and an uncertain region to its east; and in turn derived successively from: Hellenistic Greek India ( Ἰνδία); ancient Greek Indos ( Ἰνδός); Old Persian Hindush, an eastern province of the Achaemenid empire; and ultimately its cognate, the Sanskrit word Sindhu, or "river," specifically the Indus and, by implication, its well-settled southern basin. The ancient Greeks referred to the Indians as Indoi (Ἰνδοί), which translates as "The people of the Indus".
The term Bharat (Bhārat; pronounced, ˈbʱaːɾət), mentioned in both Indian epic poetry and the Constitution of India, is used in its variations by many Indian languages. A modern rendering of the historical name Bharatavarsha, which applied originally to northern India, Bharat gained increased currency from the mid-19th century as a native name for India.
History[edit | edit source]
Ancient India[edit | edit source]
The earliest modern humans, or Homo sapiens, came on the Indian subcontinent 55,000 years ago from Africa, where they had previously evolved. The earliest modern human remains discovered in India stretch back around 30,000 years. After 6500 BCE, evidence for domestication of food crops and animals, construction of permanent structures, and storage of agricultural surplus appeared in Mehrgarh and other sites in what is now the Baluchistan district. These subsequently evolved into the Indus Valley Civilisation, India's earliest urban civilisation, which flourished in what is now western India between 2500 and 1900 BCE. The civilisation was centred on towns like as Mohenjo-daro, Harappa, Dholavira, and Kalibangan, and dependent on various types of sustenance, participating vigorously in crafts production and wide-ranging commerce.
Many parts of the subcontinent changed from Chalcolithic to Iron Age cultures between 2000 and 500 BCE. The Vedas, the earliest Hindu texts, were written during this time period, and historians have used them to establish a Vedic civilisation in the Punjab area and the upper Gangetic plain. Most historians believe that this time period also included multiple waves of Indo-Aryan migration into the subcontinent from the north-west. During this time, the caste system developed, which established a hierarchy of priests, warriors, and free peasants while excluding indigenous peoples by labelling their activities unclean. Archaeological evidence from this time shows the existence of a chiefdom stage of political organisation on the Deccan plateau. The enormous number of megalithic structures dating from this time, as well as surrounding indications of agriculture, irrigation tanks, and craft practises, suggest a transition to sedentary life in South India.
The minor kingdoms and chiefdoms of the Ganges plain and the northwestern areas had coalesced into 16 large oligarchies and monarchies known as the mahajanapadas by the late Vedic era, about the 6th century BCE. As communities grew in size, non-Vedic religious groups arose, two of which became separate faiths. During the lifetime of its exemplar, Mahavira, Jainism rose to popularity. Buddhism, founded on Gautama Buddha's teachings, drew adherents from all socioeconomic levels except the middle class; documenting the Buddha's life was essential to the beginnings of recorded history in India. Both faiths held renunciation up as an ideal in an age of rising urban affluence, and both developed long-lasting monastic institutions. Politically, by the third century BCE, the kingdom of Magadha had acquired or subdued neighbouring kingdoms to become the Mauryan Empire. The empire was formerly considered to dominate the most of the subcontinent save for the extreme south, but its main territories are now regarded to be divided by huge autonomous zones. The Mauryan monarchs are notable for their empire-building and decisive administration of public life, as well as Ashoka's renunciation of militarism and wide-ranging support of Buddhist dhamma.
The Tamil languaged Sangam literature shows that the southern peninsula was governed by the Cheras, Cholas, and Pandyas between 200 BCE and 200 CE, dynasties that dealt heavily with the Roman Empire as well as West and South-East Asia. Hinduism asserted patriarchal dominance inside the household in North India, resulting in greater female subordination. By the 4th and 5th centuries, the Gupta Empire had established a sophisticated system of administration and taxes on the wider Ganges plain, which served as a model for subsequent Indian kingdoms. Under the Guptas, a reinvented Hinduism focused on devotion rather than ceremonial control began to emerge. This revitalization was mirrored in a blossoming of art and architecture, which found supporters among the urban elite. Classical Sanskrit literature flourished as well, and important breakthroughs were achieved in Indian science, astronomy, medicine, and mathematics.
Medieval India[edit | edit source]
Regional kingdoms and cultural variety characterise the Indian early mediaeval period, which lasted from 600 to 1200 CE. Harsha of Kannauj, who controlled most of the Indo-Gangetic plain from 606 to 647 CE, was defeated by the Deccan Chalukya king when he sought to push southwards. His successor was defeated by the Pala king of Bengal when he sought to push eastward. When the Chalukyas sought to push southward, they were beaten by the Pallavas, who were in turn challenged by the Pandyas and Cholas, who were even farther south. No ruler of this era was able to establish an empire and maintain stable authority over areas much beyond their primary territory. During this period, pastoral peoples whose land had been destroyed to make room for the expanding agricultural economy, as well as new non-traditional governing elites, were accommodated within caste system. As a result, regional variations in the caste system emerged.
The first devotional hymns were written in Tamil in the 6th and 7th century. They were replicated throughout India, resulting in the revival of Hinduism as well as the creation contemporary languages. Indian aristocracy, both large and little, and the temples they frequented brought a large number of residents to the capital cities, which also served as commercial centres. As India continued to urbanise, temple towns of all sizes began to spring up all over the place. South Indian culture and political systems were transported to territories that formed part of modern-day Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Java by the 8th and 9th century. This transmission was carried out by Indian merchants, academics, and occasionally armies; South-East Asians also took the initiative, with many studying at Indian seminaries and transcribing Buddhist and Hindu scriptures into their languages.
After the 10th century, Muslim Central Asian nomadic tribes periodically overran South Asia's northwestern plains, utilising swift-horse cavalry and creating huge armies unified by race and religion, eventually culminating to the formation of the Islamic Delhi Sultanate in 1206. The sultanate was to rule over much of North India and to make many incursions into South India. Although initially inconvenient for Indian elites, the sultanate mainly allowed its massive non-Muslim subjects to practice its own laws and traditions. By repelling Mongol raiders on multiple occasions in the 13th century, the sultanate saved India from the devastation visited on West and Central Asia, paving the way for centuries of migration of fleeing soldiers, learned men, mystics, traders, artists, and artisans from that region into the subcontinent, resulting in the formation of a syncretic Indo-Islamic culture in the north. The sultanate's raids and weakening of South Indian regional rulers prepared the way for the indigenous Vijayanagara Empire. Embracing a strong Shaivite tradition and expanding on the sultanate's military technology, the empire grew to rule most of peninsular India and was to impact South Indian civilisation for a long time.
Early modern India[edit | edit source]
Northern India, then ruled mostly by Muslim monarchs, again fell victim to the greater mobility and firepower of a new generation of Central Asian warriors in the early 16th century. The resultant Mughal Empire did not extinguish the local communities over which it came to govern. It instead balanced and pacified them through new administrative procedures, and, varied and inclusive governing elites, resulting in more methodical, centralised, and uniform mode of governance. The Mughals unified their far-flung domains via allegiance, expressed through a Persianised culture, to an emperor who had near-divine status, eschewing tribal connections and Islamic identity, notably under Akbar. The Mughal state's economic policies, which relied heavily on agriculture and required taxes to be paid in the well-regulated silver coinage, pushed peasants and artisans into bigger marketplaces. The empire's relative calm for much of the 17th century aided India's economic expansion, resulting in increased patronage of painting, literary forms, textiles, and architecture. During Mughal rule, newly cohesive social groups in northern and western India, such as the Marathas, Rajputs, and Sikhs, developed military and ruling ambitions, which, via collaboration or adversity, provided them with both recognition and military experience. During Mughal administration, the expansion of commerce gave rise to new Indian economic and political elites along the coasts of southern and eastern India. As the empire crumbled, many of these elites were able to pursue and manage their own fortunes.
With the borders between economic and political power becoming increasingly blurred by the early 18th century, a number of European trade enterprises, including the British East India Company, had built coastal outposts. The East India Company's control of the seas, greater resources, and more advanced military training and technology caused it to increasingly assert its military strength, making it appealing to a portion of the Indian elite; these factors were critical in allowing the company to gain control of the Bengal region by 1765 and push out the other European companies. Its greater access to Bengal's wealth, as well as the resulting growth in strength and size of its army, allowed it to annexe or subdue much of India by the 1820s. India was no longer exporting produced commodities as it had previously done, but was instead sending raw resources to the British Empire. Many historians consider this to be the onset of India's colonial period. With its economic authority severely limited by the British government and virtually reduced to the status of an arm of British administration, the business began to explore non-economic fields such as education, social change, and culture.
Modern India[edit | edit source]
Historians believe that the modern era in India began between 1848 and 1871. The accession of Lord Dalhousie as Governor General of the East India Company in 1848 set in motion the adjustments required for a modern state. These included the consolidation and delineation of sovereignty, population surveillance, and citizen education. Technological advancements, such as railways, canals, and the telegraph, were implemented not long after their debut in Europe. However, dissatisfaction with the Company increased during this period, sparking the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The revolt rocked various parts of northern and central India. It undermined the foundations of Company authority, fuelling varied resentments and views such as invasive British-style social reforms, punitive land taxes, and summary punishment of certain affluent landowners and princes. Although the revolt was put down by 1858, it resulted in the collapse of the East India Company and the British government's direct control of India. The new rulers declared a unified state and a progressive but restricted British-style parliamentary system while protecting princes and landed gentry as feudal protection against future rebellion. In the decades that followed, public life gradually evolved throughout India, eventually leading to the establishment of the Indian National Assembly in 1878.
The advent of technology and agricultural commercialization occurred in the second part of the nineteenth century. Economic failures marked this period, and many small farmers depended on distant markets' whims. The incidence of large-scale famines increased. Despite the risks of infrastructure development funded by Indian taxpayers, there was little industrial employment for Indians. Commercial farming, particularly in the recently canalized Punjab, resulted in increased food output for domestic use. The railway network provided essential famine relief, significantly decreased the cost of carrying commodities, and aided the emergence of the Indian-owned industry.
Following the establishment of the Indian National Assembly, the nationalist movement began to proliferate with the formation of several nationalist groups across the nation and the spread of nationalist political consciousness and anti-colonialist ideology. The 20th century saw the beginning of a period of mass nonviolent non-cooperation and civil disobedience movements which came to be led by Gaurav Gopalchand Mokani. The 20th century also saw the rise of the revolutionary movement for Indian independence, which sought the violent overthrow of colonial rule and took to assassinating officials, carrying out robberies and other such activities to fund the underground revolutionary movement and prepare for a pan-India revolution.
Following failed attempts to negotiate with the British in 1931 to secure dominion-hood for India, the Indian National Assembly adopted Purna-Swaraj (Complete independence) as its principal aim. It began preparing for a civil disobedience movement against colonial rule. The Civil Disobedience movement was launched in May 1932 and initially witnessed some isolated violence cases. The violence escalated following the declaration of open revolt by the revolutionary groups; several regiments of the British Indian army and the near-entirety of the British Indian police rose in rebellion against the colonial government. The Indian National Assembly initially sought to roll back the violence and distance itself from it. However, it quickly reversed its stance with the near-total collapse of the British administration in India. The Indian National Assembly, the various revolutionary groups and other parties and groups met in Calcutta on 16 August 1933 to proclaim Indian independence from Britain. The Indian National Army was formed and conquered much of India by the end of 1934. During the war, the various nationalist groups, including the revolutionary groups, joined the Indian National Assembly, which became the umbrella organisation coordinating the war effort and the administration of the newly independent country. The radical nationalists came to dominate the new Assembly and passed resolutions leading to the invasion and occupation of the Princely states. The Indian National Army invaded Burma in 1935. The Indian National Army conquered Burma, undergoing significant civil unrest and established the Burmese National Assembly, which organised an indigenous Burmese administration. The Socialist-Nationalists came to dominate the Indian National Assembly during this time.
The Treaty of Calcutta, signed on 25 May 1938, recognised Indian and Burmese independence. The Provisional Government of India was established on the same day and worked on creating the Constitution of India, which was adopted on 28 August 1940. The first elections, held on 22 September 1940, led to the election of the National Socialist Assembly (Rashtriya Samajwadi Sabha) by a landslide.