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Home :: History of India :: Modern India History

Modern India History

Coming of the Europeans | East India Company | India's freedom struggle

Vasco da Gama when landed at Calicut, sailing via the Cape of Good Hope in 1498, marked the beginning of the European era in Indian history. The Portuguese by the 16th Century had already established their colony in Goa.

In the next century, India was visited by a large number of European travellers - Italians, Englishmen, Frenchmen and Dutchmen. They were drawn to India for different reasons. Some were traders, others adventurers, and quite a few fired by the missionary zeal to find converts to Christianity. Eventually England, France, the Netherlands and Denmark, floated East India Companies.

During the late 16th and the 17th Centuries, these companies competed with each other fiercely. By the last quarter of the 18th Century the English had vanquished all others and established themselves as the dominant power in India. The British administered India for a period of about two centuries and brought about revolutionary changes in the social, political and the economic life of the country.

Once the British had consolidated their power, commercial exploitation of the natural resources and native labour became ruthless. By the middle of the 19th Century arrogant exploitation of the people had tried the patience of the Indians to the limit.

The six decades between the end of the "mutinous" war of 1857 - 59 and the conclusion of First World War saw both the peak of British imperial power in India and the birth of nationalist agitation against it. With increasing intrusion of aliens in their lives, a group of middle class Indians formed the Indian National Congress (1885) - a society of English educated affluent professionals - to seek reforms from the British.

The anticolonial struggle became truly a mass movement with the arrival of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869 - 1948) in 1915 who had suffered great humiliation in South Africa due to the policy of racial discrimination and later commited to rid his motherland of the ills of foreign rule.

Successive campaigns had the effect of driving the British out of India in 1947, but with independence came the independence of the country into Pakistan.

Topics Period Events
The British India Company 1600 AD – 1858 AD Constantinople falls to Arab power. Vasco-da-gama reaches India via cape of good hope. East India Company was established for spice trading. Company opens its trading centre in various parts of India. Battle of Plassey. Company establishes power in Bengal and extends it power to other kingdoms. People suffer under cruel management of East India Company.
The Independence Struggle 1857 AD – 1858 AD Growing resentment in Indian people. Mutiny started under the leadership of Mangal Pande. Bahadur Shah Zafar was proclaimed as new king. Jhansi was drawn into war. Rani Lakshmi's power becomes legendary. Company ransacks Jhansi and overcomes the mutiny ruthlessly. End of Company rule in India. British Crown takes over India.
The British Raj 1858 AD – 1947 Ad Presidencies are formed to govern India. British follow divide and rule method to keep their power intact. Indigenous industries were destroyed and Indian economy was transferred into Colonial economy. Developement of basic infrastructure. Impact of modern western culture brings social changes in Indian society.
The Indian National Congress 1885 AD – 1905 AD Meetings were held in various presidencies but were not collective. Indian National Congress formed under initiative of Hume. Congress represented the common will of Indians and led them in their struggle for freedom. First Congress meeting was held in Bombay under the leadership of W.C. Banerjee.
The Indian National Movement 1905 AD – 1914 AD Lal-Bal-Pal came into limelight. Partition of Bengal sends a tremor to the entire sub-continent. Militant groups and Revolutionay leadership were formed against British. Swadeshi and Swaraj became the mantra of the common man.
The Gandhian Era 1917 AD – 1948 AD Rowlatt Act passed to suppress Indian movement. Massacre in Jallianwala Bagh shakes Indian belief in British Government. Non-cooperation movement started by Gandhiji. British goods boycotted and Khadi becomes national symbol of freedom. Congress passes resolution on Poorna Swaraj. Indian Tri-colour unfurled. Civil disobedience movement started by Gandhi. Gandhi makes a Dandi March and breaks the Salt law.
The Government of India Act 1935 AD Simon Commission failed and Round Table Conference was convened. Conference fails. Government of India Act was passed to form All Indian Federation. Congress wins the poll. Subhash Chandra Bose forms Forward Bloc. Jinha demands Pakistan. Cripps Mission fails.
The Quit India Movement 1942 AD – 1945 AD In Bombay session Congress passes Quit India Resolution. Gandhiji calls Indians to Do or Die. Azad Hind Fauj marches towards India from south-east under the leadership of Netaji. Andaman and Nicobar get freedom from British. Netaji dies and INA soldiers were tried in Red Fort. Entire country defends INA. British resort to brutal repression.
The Indian Independence 15th August 1947 Indian Navy in Bombay calls for Naval strike. British foundation in India shaken by growing strong anti-British feeling. Clement Atlee announces his intention of granting independence. Formation of Indian constitution started. Mountbatten takes control of India. Jinha's demand for separate country for muslims sparks communal violence in the sub-continent. On 15th August India gets its Independence resulting in partition of the country. Two Pakistans were carved out of existing India.

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