Modern India: A Brief History

Starting today I will post a series of essays concerning India; it’s history and International Relations, particularly within its own subcontinent, China, America, and the geopolitics of Asia. One interpretation of a rising India is that for its potential to be successfully realized, it will have to comfortably secure the Indic realm within its sphere. The Indic source encompasses the Indian subcontinent which the modern, Indian state already secures the majority of. It is the Indic source that gives a common cultural universe to this neighborhood. IndicKeep this in mind as as we delve deeper into a rising India and its relation to the smaller nations surrounding as well as the larger nations (China, Russia) on the near periphery.

Over the course of successive empires, the Indian subcontinent was united, and through four or five periods of history in which the India we see today was blended. This series begins with 1) Ancient India and 2) Mughal India. Mughal India saw Islamic rule in the north, Khanates moving into the subcontinent and over time integrating into the fabric of societies of the indigenous people. Islam plays an important role in India. Conversion of Indians occurred over a period of two hundred years, and only the latter 100 of those years were under the Mughals.

The blending of Islam within India would become part of a British strategy of divide and conquer during the third period. The 3) Raj period or British India began with the British trading empire navigating its way to the subcontinent. When the British arrived, they successfully managed to play princes of the different realms off of one another, while simultaneously adding India to the building blocks of the early globalization period in the early modern world. The British not only managed to play Indian princes off one another, but entire people, including Muslim Indians and non-Muslim Indians. The British did this by giving concessions and privilege’s to Muslim Indians. With that, they encouraged Muslims to build a distinctive identity revolving around their religion. This helped the British to continue their political piercing of Indian society though the early 20th century. However the resistance to being a crown jewel in the British trading empire began over 100 years before the beginning of the 4th period.

4) 1947 the independence of India and the creation of a modern state. The independence of India has been perhaps one of the most successful creations of a modern state from the regressive period of colonialism. Though the subcontinent has had its own divisive and at times bloody issues, the Indian state has not collapsed in on itself. There were breakaways, land-border conflicts, Maoist rebellions, and domestic economic and social woes with the beginning of Independence. These issues did not stop India from entering its 5th period. 5) The post-Cold War period began great changes in India. It was not only the international environment that was changing, but the domestic environment within India. India had come out of the shadows of the Cold War as an international player, with a new market-friendly set of policy preferences, and a strong pattern of economic growth and development focused on the technological, research, and service sectors.

Beijing may have been the capital to watch recently with the success of the APEC summit amid Chinese-Japanese, US-Chinese, US-Russia, and China-Russia relations that are all at crucial diplomatic stages that could trend in either a more positive, or more conflict-prone way. But New Delhi should not be counted out; India’s power on the world stage is increasing, which means all these nations will be looking to India as a possible counterweight or hedge to another in the next decade. Whether India will be able to secure its own backyard will have an impact on just how much global influence it is able to attain after moving out of Cold War isolation.

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