History of Modern India

WEeb.in Team    GK    Total Views: 1269    Posted: Oct 21, 2019   Updated: Sep 21, 2023

History of Modern India

The History of Modern India is absolutely fascinating, and it is important to have a good grasp of this history as it continues to affect our lives in the present day.

Below, you can find a detailed overview of some of the main historical events relating to India from the mid-eighteenth century until the late 20th century.

Company Raj (East India Company ) from 1757 to 1858.

  • Also known as the HEIC (Honourable East India Company) or British East India Company, Company Raj was a trading company. Though originally the aim of the company was to trade with the island nations of the East Indies, it ultimately ended up doing most of its trade with China and India.
  • Though the coat of arms of the company was developed in 1698, and it was founded back in 1600, it only really traded substantially with India from the mid-eighteenth century onward. It was dissolved in 1874.
  • However, the East India Company was involved not just in trade. The Battle of Plassey (1757) and the Battle of Buxar (1764) stand out here: they were two examples of how the East India Company consolidated its trade dominance in the Indian subcontinent by battling with indigenous people and other traders. In both battles British forces associated with the East India Company fought the Nawab of Bengal and the Nawab’s allies (in the case of the Battle of Plassey these allies included French forces).
  • The British East India Company also took part in wars that stretched over three decades, known as the Anglo Mysore Wars. These are divided into the First Anglo Mysore War (1767-1769), the Second Anglo Mysore War (1780-84), the third Anglo Mysore War (1789-1792) and the Fourth Anglo Mysore War (1799). Here, the British forces fought primarily against the Kingdom of Mysore and their victories expanded and consolidated their control over much of India.
  • These wars were followed by further wars, namely the Anglo Maratha Wars of 1775-1818 (which are divided into the first Anglo Maratha War of 1775-1782, the second Anglo Maratha War of 1803-1805 and the third Anglo Maratha War of 1817-1818) and then the Anglo Sikh Wars of 1845-1849 (which in their turn are subdivided into the first Anglo-Sikh War of 1845-1846 and the Second Anglo-Sikh War of 1848-1849). In all these wars, the British East India Company gained more and more control, both administratively and in terms of trade, over the Indian subcontinent.
  • The Great Indian Revolt (1857). The tide began to turn, however, with the Great Indian Revolt of 1857. The East India Company had been recruiting Indian sepoys to serve in their army, however in 1857 these sepoys mutinied against their British commanders. The importance of Great Revolt of 1857 should not be underestimated. Also known by various other names, including the Sepoy Mutiny and the Indian Rebellion, it led directly to the dissolution of the East India Company and concomitantly to a significant financial and administrative restructuring in the country. Rather than a small mutiny, then, this revolt should be (and often is) considered as India’s first war of independence against British rule.

The British Raj (1857 to 1947).

After the Great Indian Revolt, it was clear that the East India Company was no longer fulfilling its function of governing India. As a result (and as the company was being dissolved), the British Crown under Queen Victoria officially took control of the governance of India for a period that lasted some 90 years.

  • The Hindu Widows Remarriage Act, 1856: Before moving on to explain the way in which history unfolded during the time of the British Raj, it is important to note a key piece of legislation that came into force in 1856. The Hindu Widows Remarriage Act made it legal for Hindu widows to remarry.
  • The Partition of Bengal (1905): A key event at the start of the twentieth century was the Partition of Bengal. In 1905, Bengal was essentially divided into two parts, separating the largely Hindu areas in the west from the largely Muslim areas in the east. It was effected by Lord Curzon, who was the Viceroy of India at the time.
  • Led by the famous Mahatma Gandhi from around 1919 onward, the Non Co-operation Movementwas one of the greatest acts of non violent civil disobedience that the world has yet seen. Indians from all walks of life became part of this movement and it involved refusing to co-operate with British officials (rather than opposing them by force), thus making life very difficult for them and causing some parts of the British Raj to start to grind to a halt or at least work inefficiently.
  • In March-April 1930, Gandhi led a huge march in protest against British rule in India. This was known as the Dandi March or Salt Satyagraha.
  • Another important movement was the Khilafat Movement (1919-1924). This movement was another movement aimed at promoting Indian independence. It was a largely Muslim movement and it had strong ties to other Indian nationalist movements.
  • As a result of these protests and movements, round table conferences were held (1930-1932) and the Government of India Act, which was passed in 1935, became the final constitution of the British Raj.
  • In 1939, the left wing political party known as the All India Forward Bloc led by Subhash Chandra Bose began to agitate for its beliefs, and it was followed in 1942 by the Quit India Movement.
  • The Quit India Movement (8th August, 1942) was another movement led by Gandhi, and again it took the form of civil disobedience. There was also an associated Cabinet Mission. As a result of all of this, India gained its independence in 1947.
  • The Indian Independence Act, 1947: In 1947, India’s independence from British rule was declared. In the same year, the Partition of India into what was once British India and Pakistan occurred.

Post Independence

The post-independence period in India was marked by several happenings. These included the India- Pakistan War of 1948, the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on 30th January 1948, the India-China War (1962) and the second and third wars with Pakistan (in 1965 and 1971 respectively). In many ways this culminated with India testing a nuclear device for the first time in 1974. Thereafter, several positive developments did take place, such as the 1991 economic reforms.

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