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Find out more about India, Gandhi's country

If India is seen as the birthplace of non-violence and Hinduism, it is also prey to numerous internal and external conflicts. 

India's origins go back 1,750 years

Around 2,000 BCE the Indus civilization appeared in India. Indus is the name of a river which nowadays rises in Pakistan. Then the Aryans of central Asia brought Sanskirt and the Vedas, the roots of Hinduism, to the region. Between 264 and 226 BCE was the dynasty of the Mauryas under the Buddhist King Ashoka. Then Andhras, Shungas and Kushanas fought for power, followed by the Guptas between the 4th and 5th centuries. The invasion of the Huns in the 10th century divided the empire. In the Middle-Ages, Islam gained territory: the sultanate of Delhi lasted until 1526. Then, in the 15th century, the Muslim Mongols arrived in India, and founded an empire which lasted 300 years, notably under the leadership of Akbar the Great, his son Jahangir and his grandson, Shah Jahan, builder of the famous Taj Mahal (a must see on the itinerary of your holiday in India) !

Taj Mahal, India

The colonial period and the celebrated Gandhi

In the 17th century, England, like all the other European countries, created the East India Company and annexed a large part of the territory. England ruled a large number of states and others were ruled by Indian Princes that obeyed it. It was at that point in Indian history that Gandhi, entered the scene, using a policy of non-violence to fight for the independence of his countrymen, and civil disobedience as his only weapon. In 1947, India was given its independence and divided : on one side the Republic of India with Nehru at its head; on the other the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

A country marked by violence and confrontational relationships with Pakistan.

The state of Kashmir was the cause of the first Indo-Pakistani war between 1947 and 1949. This fight followed the invasion of Kashmir by tribal militia from Pakistan. The state of Kashmir remains one of the major subjects of disagreement between the two powers even today.

Following the decade when Indira Gandhi ruled the country, her son, Rajiv Gandhi, was in favor of the economic liberalization of India, encouraged research, and developed industry and telecommunications. Although the country is modernizing, there is still a lot of violence between the Hindus and Muslims: and India's development is still held back by the ever present caste system. Violence towards women is also a worrying subject which is unfortunately still a reality in the country. Since the 1990s, Indian political life has been marked by the alternation between two main parties: the Congress Party, the first Indian political party to be created, and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), which represents the conservative Hindu right. In 2014, millions of votes carried Narendra Modi, the BJP candidate, to power.

Tiphaine Leblanc
78 contributions
Updated 28 May 2015
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