History of India

‘India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most astrictive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only!’ – Mark Twain

India’s history begins around 3300BC with the Indus Valley Civilization. Prior to this first civilisation humans had lived in the area from 75,000 years BC. The Indus civilization spread and flourished in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent and is hailed as the first major civilization of South Asia. The Indus people were a technology advanced Bronze aged people which thrived until 2000 BC when it collapsed.

After the Indus peoples came the Vedic’s and Aryan tribes that rapidly spread throughout the Indus valley and beyond. By 500BC the entire north of India was populated by Iron Age kingdoms and states. Around this time the Buddha began his preaching and the Hindu religion prospered.

Alexander the Greats armies invaded India where he conquered much of the Punjab and reached as far as the Ganges River before being forced to halt his march east.

In the 4th and 3rd centuries BC much of India was conquered by the Maurya Empire which hailed in what many call the golden age of India. During this period India had the biggest economy in the world.

The Kingdoms of southern India began sea trade with the Romans around 77AD.

In the 8th century the Muslims arrived in India and under the command of General Muhammad bin Qasim they conquered much of what is now modern day Pakistan. Afterwards the Muslims would invade large swathes of Asia and the Indian sub-continent.

The most famous Muslim empires in India were the Mughal Empires and the Delhi sultanate. At this time India was divided between a large number of different Hindu and Muslim states all competing against one another.

The 18th century saw the arrival of the British East India Company which gradually took control of large swathes of the sub continent. 1857 saw the Indian rebellion which led to India being directly administered by the British Crown and incorporated into the British Empire. During this period the British rapidly improved the lands infrastructure, bringing railways and roads. Despite the improvement to infrastructure India suffered a period of economic decline.

During both World Wars large numbers of Indian soldiers fought side by side with the British and Commonwealth forces and in WW2 successfully stopped the Japanese advance throughout Asia. Following the war a movement for independence gained popularity under the leadership of Mahatma Ghandi.   In 1947, India was portioned into two states, Pakistan and India. Following the divide up to half million people were killed in ethnic violence.

Since independence India has had a strained relationship with Pakistan with both nations going to war on a number of occasions, adding to the worlds concern is the fact that both nations are nuclear powers.