India History  

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INDIA

Dating back at least 5000 years, civilization in India has been a rich and complicated mix of peoples and religions. Brahminism, Buddhism, Jain, Hinduism all developed here in a series of kingdoms and empires. The Gupta dynasty ruled over a golden age for north India for about two hundred years (320-544 A.D.). In the 600s, the Indus River Valley was invaded by Arabs, who brought with them Islam, which took hold in northern India. The Sultanate of Delhi was established in 1206. It managed to withstand repeated Mongol invasions and eventually succeeded in bringing together nearly all of India (with the exception of some of the southern states). But the Sultanate of Delhi was weakened by the stresses of internal rebellion, particularly when combined with the attack of Timur Leng (Tamerlane) in 1398. In 1526, Babur established the Moghul empire, whose culture thrived under Akbar the Great. Threats to the Moghul empire from Marathan and Rajput were compounded by the encroaching interests of the European powers, who came to india in 1498 in the person of Vasco de Gama. A decade later, the Portuguese founded a colony at Goa. The Dutch, British, and French all tried to get in on the action but by 1792, the British clearly held the upper hand. In 1803, the Moghuls agreed to a British protectorate and in 1858, the Moghul empire was no more; the government of India became directly subject to the crown. Britain exercised its authority through a viceroy and the British Colonial Office. Finally, Queen Victoria was made Empress of India in 1877. It took seven decades for India to emerge from under British control. In 1947, the British raj was divided into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan (by 1962, the French and the Portuguese had ceded their remaining Indian possessions). The architect of India's independence was Mahatma Gandhi, who was himself assassinated by a Hindu extremist in 1948. Peace has not reigned in the region since independence. India's most problematic relationship has been with Pakistan, but problems have persisted with the region of Kashmir. Internally, rivalry between Hindus and Muslims, and Sikhs and Hindus, have contributed to turmoil, as have the demands engendered by a huge and growing population. Political assassination resulted in the deaths of both Indira Gandhi in 1984 and her son and successor Rajiv in 1991.

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