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India in the Modern Age


South Asia since 1945


South Asia’s Geography

South Asia as a “Subcontinent” -  Since South Asia is separated from the rest of the continent by tremendous mountain ranges it, is referred to as the “subcontinent”


Topography (study of the earth’s surface ex. elevation, mountains, valleys)

·         Himalayas (including Mt. Everest 28,029 ft.)

·         Hindu Kush, Khyber Pass

·         Ghats,  Deccan Plateau


River Systems – Indus, Ganges, Bramaputra rivers


The Ganges River

·         Headwaters stem from the Himalayas & Vindya mountain ranges

·         Sacred to Hindus, Source of irrigation, food

·         Highly polluted today

·         High population density along the river



·         Cotton, Rice, Rubber, Jute



·         The summer monsoons bring much needed water.

·         If they come too soon, there are floods, if they come too late there is drought.


The World’s Largest Democracy

·         India’s population has passed the 1,000,000,000 person mark.

·         Two out of every five people in the world are either Indian or Chinese.

·         Cultural diversity - there are over 800 languages/dialects spoken in India.


Characteristics of the Early Civilizations

·         Cities (favorite regents concept)

·         Organized religion - polytheistic

·         Population increases in the cities (urbanization)

·         Appearance of Social Classes



Indus River Valley

·         3,000 - 1,000 B.C. Harappan Civilization develops along the Indus River Valley due to its fertile land.

·         The two major cities  were Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.  -They showed evidence of complex urban planning.

·         Both cities had wide streets laid out on a grid pattern. They also had public baths and a covered brick sewer system. The early Indus River valley people also developed their own written language.


Ø  1,500 - 1,200 B.C. Aryan invasion of India.  (Cultural diffusion - Early aspects of Hinduism/Castes)


Effects of Religion in India & Pakistan?

    • Hinduism

Caste System - Castes are social groupings (similar to our upper vs. middle class) in India based on occupation.

Hinduism and Gupta Society

·         Boys of the top three castes, Brahmans (priests and teachers), Kshatriyas (warrior kings), and Vaishyas (family businesses), received very good educations.

·         Outcastes or Untouchables were so low, there were not even included in the caste system.


    • Buddhism


    • Islam


 Indian Golden Ages

Any “golden age” refers to a period of economic prosperity, political stability, and cultural achievements.


Maurya Empire (321BC – 185BC)

·         Chandragupta set up a harsh,  bureaucratic government

·         Asoka-Great warrior who converted to Buddhism and sent missionaries to the “far east”

Gupta Empire (320 AD) -  Traded with foreign areas (ex. China)

Ø  Cultural advancements included the use of Arabic numerals, decimal system, the use of 0, concept of infinity.


The Age of Exploration -Vasco da Gama -In 1498 da Gama rounded the tip of Africa and reached India.  The all-water route, though long, was easier, safer, and far more profitable than over-land routes.




Absolutism in Mughal India 1500’s – 1600’s

Akbar the Great –-Strong stable ruler

·         Empire fell to due to weak successors & Spread  of French and English influence

·         The Mughal Empire survived until 1857

·         Indian Architecturue & The Taj Mahal

·         The Taj Mahal is considered as the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Turkish, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles. In 1983, Taj Mahal was cited as "the jewel of Muslim art in Indial.  Taj Mahal was completed around 1648.


British Imperialism
Motives -Raw Materials, New Markets, Nationalism - to show that they were indeed a world power.   “the sun never sets on the British Empire”

·         British Colonial Rule -The British always tried to divide the people of India so that they would not unite and rise up.

·         The Indians learned about parliamentary democracy.

The Sepoy Rebellion (Nationalist Rebellion) began in the spring of 1857 sepoys are Indian soldier).

The reasons for the rebellion were:

  • Attempts by British missionaries to convert all India to Christianity

  • Insensitive recruiting policy and "Europeanization" of the sepoy regiments

  • Sepoy objections to serving outside their homeland and traditional areas.

  • The spark that started the rebellion was the objection by sepoys to cartridges coated with animal grease. This offended both Hindus and Muslims.


British Imperialism
 Effects -
Schools, hospitals, communication and transportation systems were built.


Nationalist movements seek independence from foreign control.


Nationalist Organizations

·         Indian National Congress - Hindu majority

·         Muslim League


Mohandas Gandhi

·         Gandhi has come to represent the Indian nationalist movement.

·         His methods included non-violent, civil disobedience

·         Salt March

·         Gandhi leads the “Salt March” as a protest on the British monopoly on the sale of salt.




Muhammad Ali Jinnah -Jinnah was the leader of the Muslim League.

·         He became the first Prime Minister of Pakistan

·         Creation of Pakistan  1947

·         Britain created a separate Muslim state when granting independence to India.

·         Pakistan had 2 parts  East & West

·         As 12 million people moved in either direction (into or out of either Pakistan), violence erupted between Hindus and Muslims.

·         Conflict Pakistan Civil War - In 1971, Pakistan (East & West) went through a civil war which ended with the country being split up.


Bangladesh was created from East Pakistan.

·         It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.

·         Bangladesh Today -Current Issues-Overpopulation, Floods and droughts, Poverty


Pakistan Today

·         Benizar Ali Bhutto Prime Minister Pakistan - 1988

·         Benazir Bhutto sworn in as the first female Prime Minister of an Islamic country

·         Elements of Islamic Fundamentalism within its borders.


     Freedom for India

·         India achieved independence after years of struggle against Great Britain.

·         India’s Constitution

·         Universal suffrage -improved the status of women

·         banned the caste system.


Jawaharlal Nehru -Nehru was the first Prime Minister of India.

·         He was active in the I.N.C.

·         Led his country on a democratic path towards socialism


The Nehru “Dynasty”

·         India was ruled by a member of the Nehru family for almost 40 years.

·         Nehru’s goal was to transform India into modern industrialized, secular state.


      Indira Gandhi - She was the daughter of Nehru.  First female leader of India.

·         Sikhism - Sikhism is a religion in the Punjab region of India.

·         Separatist Movements – Each of the groups below have used terrorism as a means of trying to gain independence. Sikhs in the Punjab region of India

·         Golden Temple of Amritsar -Indira Gandhi sent troops to this most holy Sikh Temple.

·         Consequently, she was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.




·         Area in India near the Pakistan border.

·         It has a Muslim majority who wants to break away from India.

·         Human Rights violations

·         Some human rights watch groups have complained that the Indian government uses torture to get information from political prisoners.


Sri Lanka -Island nation off the east coast of India formerly called Ceylon.

·         experiencing political turmoil as a result of  separatist movements.

·         Sinhalese vs. Tamils

·         Religious Conflict in Sri Lanka

·         Tamil Tigers

·         Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by Hindus who felt betrayed by his policy in Sri Lanka

·         Rajiv was the son of Indira and grandson of Nehru.


Sri Lanka (Tamil Tigers, a Hindu group living under a Buddhist majority in Sri Lanka)

Punjab Region


India & The mixed economy

·         A combination of privately owned (free enterprise) and government controlled businesses (socialist policies).


Green Revolution - An effort to use technology to increase agricultural production aimed at meeting the needs of a growing population.  While agricultural output increased the population grew at an even greater rate, therefore hunger remains a huge problem.

Winner National History Day 2012 - The Green Revolution: Against All Odds


Domestic Issues –Poverty, Spread of Aids.


·         Foreign Investment -Foreign Investment during the 1980’s stimulated economic growth in India.

·         Foreign companies see opportunity to earn big profits with a 1 billion person market;

·         Human Rights violation
Treatment of Women In India -Abortion of female fetuses, dowry deaths


Foreign Policy

·         During the “Cold War,” India was said to be the leader of the third world.

·         Non Alignment - India accepted aid from both sides in the cold war and remained non committed to either side.


Nuclear Proliferation

·         Both India and Pakistan have exploded nuclear weapons in recent years.

·         The testing has added to tensions between the two countries.

·         Neither country has agreed to sign existing nuclear test ban treaties.