India after the Middle Ages

European imperialism and modern history

European imperialism in India lasted about five centuries and it has had a deep impact on the development of India.

The first Europeans to reach India after Alexander the Great were the Portuguese in 1498. Two centuries later, in the 1700’s they lost their position to Great Britain and the Netherlands.

In 1639 the English East India Company established a trading base with India, which grew into the city of Madras.

In 1662 Bombay was given to King Charles II of England when he married the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza. Six years later the city was sold to the East India Company, which established a base in Bengal. The base grew into Calcutta.

By the 18th century the Dutch had lost their positions in India, but France had a strong influence in the region. During the 18th century the French and the British were in constant conflict which lead to the Seven Years war over influence in the region. As a result of the war Britain gained control over more territories in India.

The position of Great Britain in India was weakened by World War I. In 1920 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi) came back to India from South Africa and started a movement that promoted non-cooperation with the British. Gandhi was arrested several times in the late 20’s - early 30’s of the 20th century, but he kept on acting against the British government. As a result, Indians were granted different rights and freedoms.

In 1947 after a series of clashes between Indians and the British, but also between Hindus and Muslims, India gained its independence. The Muslims were given Pakistan and Bangladesh. India officially became a secular state in 1950.

Over the next 30 years India participated in three wars. The first one - in 1962 against China, and two against Pakistan- one in 1965 and one in 1971. The second war brought the independence of Bangladesh.

In the 1980’s, aside from the recession, the Indian government had to deal with the Sikh in Punjab who wanted independence.

In the 90’s India gained complete control over its governance and today is one of the fastest growing economies in the world.


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