|Unique unit||War elephant (replaces Chariot archer)|
|Unique building||Mughal fort (replaces Castle)|
2x unhappiness from the number of cities, half the unhappiness from total population
Musical Theme: Raga Asa, composed by Michael Curran, orchestrated by Geoff Knorr
Architecture: Asian Music Set: Asian
The Republic of India is the second most populous country in the world and the largest democracy. A land of contrasts, India contains great wealth and grinding poverty. It possesses high-tech cities and primitive villages. In it one can find beauty and squalor, hope and despair. It is one of the oldest civilizations on the planet, yet India is considered an "emerging" market. In short, India is one of the most fascinating civilizations on the planet.
India is a diamond-shaped country. It borders the Himalayas Mountains to the north, while to the south a relatively flat plane juts out into the Indian Ocean between the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The plains are bisected by a regular series of west-to-east running rivers, many of which are prone to flooding in the Monsoon season. India is some 1,270,000 square miles in area, roughly one-third the size of the United States of America. Its climate tends to be tropical/sub-tropical, with a more mountainous climate to the far north.
History - Pre-History to PresentEdit
Archaeologists have discovered evidence of agricultural cultivation in India dating as far back as the 7th millennium BC, with the first signs of urban communities appearing around 2500 BC. The so-called Indus civilization flourished for eight centuries. Some experts believe that the Indus had an empire of some 500,000 square miles in size, with a (more or less) uniform language and currency and which supported an extensive trading network. For reasons that remain unclear, the Indus civilization collapsed some time around 1800 BC. The major cities all but disappeared, as did all traces of central authority. Some scholars believe that this was the result of environmental degradation resulting in widespread starvation, making larger urban populations unsustainable, while others suspect that large migration into the area by foreign invaders are responsible for the collapse. Whatever the cause, this post urban period lasted for almost one thousand years.
The Early Vedic PeriodEdit
The "Early Vedic Period" is dated from approximately 1500 to 800 BC. It is named after the "Vedas," which are the earliest surviving Indian written material, composed some time during this period. Four major Vedic texts have thus far been discovered – the Rigveda, the Samaveda, the Yajurveda, and the Atharvaveda. These texts describe religious/mystical practices of the Aryan people of India, a group which migrated from central Europe into India some time around 2000 BC. The Hindu religion traces its origin back to this period. At the beginning of the Vedic period many people had returned to a nomadic way of life, and the clan was the major political unit. Over time the population returned to a more stationary existence, and the clan chief evolved into a king, with political and religious – as well as military – authority. As taxation evolved, the state grew in wealth and power. This period also saw the widespread use of iron and the return to urban life, especially in the Ganges valley. Indian civilization was once again on the rise.
The Rigveda, the earliest of the Vedic texts, describes the mythological basis for the Indian "caste" system, which apparently developed during this period. Caste is hereditary: a person is born into his or her station, and no advancement is possible. There appear to have been four major castes in Indian culture during this period: the Brahmans, the priestly caste, the Kshatiriyas, the military and land-owning caste, the Vaishyas, the merchants and skilled workers, and the Sudras, the unskilled workers. The caste system has proven remarkably persistent throughout Indian history. The practice is still widespread in modern times, despite the Indian government's rigorous attempts to stamp it out.
The Growth of Indian StatesEdit
By around 500 BC more than a dozen major states could be found in India. Some of these states were monarchical, while others had a more oligarchic system of government. They fought with each other regularly, seeking to expand their influence and power. In addition to their internal conflicts, the Indian states were under pressure from forces outside of India. In 326 BC Alexander the Great invaded northwest India, conquering the province of Punjab before turning back. In the early 2nd century BC Demetrius, the Greek king of Bactria, conquered a large portion of northwest India, and his heirs ruled the area for some time. In the meantime, the eastern portions of India were invaded from Central Asian nomadic tribes, driven out of China by the Han emperors. Over time the invaders were driven out or assimilated, leaving behind a powerful influence on Indian history and culture.
The Maurya EmpireEdit
Chandragupta Maurya (340 BC – 290 BC) was the founder of the Maurya Empire. A great military and political leader, he unified much of the Indian subcontinent under his rule. The empire was further expanded by his son Ashoka the Great (304 BC – 232 BC). Ashoka continued his father's conquests for some years, but later in his life he embraced Buddhism and non-violence, constructing many Buddhist temples across India and doing much to further that religion in Southern Asia. The Maurya Empire went into decline after Ashoka's death, and in 185 BC the Brahmin general Sunga assassinated the Maurya king and seized power, establishing the Sunga dynasty.
Religion in IndiaEdit
Religion has always been a powerful force in India. Three major world religions were established in the sub-continent, and other external religions have found significant favor among the populous. Hinduism is the predominant religion of India. The roots of Hinduism date back to the Vedic period, making it the oldest surviving religious tradition. Approximately one billion people practice Hinduism, 90% of whom reside in India. Hinduism is less a specific creed and mythology than a collection of religious traditions and tenets. A remarkably open belief system, Hinduism embraces monotheism, polytheism, pantheism and several other "isms" as well. Dharma, ethics, Samsara, the cycle of life, death and rebirth, Karma, cause and effect, and Yoga, the paths to enlightenment, are important concepts in the Hindu religion. Buddhism is a set of beliefs based upon the teaching of Siddhartha Gautama (563 BC - 483 BC), the Buddha. Buddhism teaches its followers how to achieve nirvana and escape the endless cycle of suffering and rebirth through ethical conduct, meditation, exercise, and study. Buddhism spread slowly throughout India until it was embraced by Ashoka the Great, who constructed many Buddhist temples throughout India and actively exported the religion to other countries. Over time Buddhism was supplanted in India by Hinduism (and later Islam), until it was virtually extinct by the twelfth century AD. It has enjoyed a slight resurgence in India in modern times. Jainism is a religion that teaches its practitioners how to achieve the highest state of consciousness through study and self-discipline; it is a non-violent religion. It originated in the 9th century BC and survives today with perhaps 4 million followers in India and 100,000 more worldwide.
The Gupta Dynasty and BeyondEdit
The Gupta Dynasty ruled Northern and Central India from AD 320 to AD 540. Some scholars have called this period the "Golden Age" of India, a period in which Indian literature, art, architecture and philosophy flourished. However, by the mid fifth century much of the Gupta Empire had been overrun by Central Asian invaders known as the "Hunas." (It's unknown whether this group had any relation to the Huns who invaded Eastern Europe.) This period brought further Central Asian influence into India. Following the collapse of the Guptas, India saw the rise and fall of a series of smaller kingdoms, none of whom rose to the size or power of the Guptas.
The Muslims began raiding the Indian coast in the seventh century AD. However, the first significant military incursion into northern India occurred in the late 12th century by Muslim Turks under Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna, who conquered the Punjab and led many successful raids into northern and central India. Delhi was conquered in 1193, and the Delhi Sultanate was established. The Mamluk dynasty ruled the sultanate until 1290, when they were supplanted by the Khalji dynasty. The Khalji were in turn overthrown by the Tughlaq, and so forth. The fun continued until 1526, when Babur of Kabul defeated whoever happened to be in charge at that time and established the Mughal Dynasty, which would survive some three centuries. While the Muslims would never quite manage to conquer all of India, they did rule a large majority of the country. Much of the population remained Hindu, despite several Muslim rulers' vigorous attempts to convert them to Islam. Over time the Mughal Empire gradually declined, coming under increasing attacks from the Afghans, Sikhs, and Hindus. It received its death blow at the hands of the British.
Enter the EuropeansEdit
The first European known to sail from Europe to India was Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer who reached Calicut, India on May 20, 1498, after a voyage of some nine months. Upon leaving India, da Gama left behind several men to start a trading post, the first of many such European posts upon the long coast of India. The Portuguese quickly followed up da Gama's success with both trading and military vessels, setting up strategic bases in India and East Africa, seeking to dominate trade in the Indian Ocean. The sturdy Portuguese ships were easily able to defeat any Arab and Indian vessels that might dispute their mastery. (It was the Indian weakness at sea which ultimately made them so vulnerable to European conquest.) The Portuguese maintained their trading posts through the 16th century, until they were annexed by Spain in 1580. The Spanish concentrated their naval power to protect their vast interests in the New World, allowing the Dutch and English to challenge their dominance of India. In the 1600s the Dutch began setting up their trading empire in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They had no interest in conquest or in spreading their religion: they just wanted the spices. The majority of their trade was with the East Indies (Indonesia), although they did establish a few posts in southern India (for pepper and cardamom). The Dutch successfully dominated Indian trade for years, defeating other European countries' attempts to cut into their monopoly. In the early 17th century the English sought to challenge Dutch dominance over the East Indies, hoping for a piece of the spice trade. They were decisively rebuffed by the Dutch navy. Looking for somewhat easier prey, they attacked the Portuguese forces in India. After defeating the Portuguese in 1612, they received a favorable trading treaty with the Mughals, who had resented the Portuguese dominance of the sea. The English traded peacefully with the Mughals for 70 years, until they unsuccessfully attacked the Mughals in 1686. Having learned a lesson, the English returned to peaceful relations with the Mughals for the next 50 years. The French too sought to establish trading relations with India in the 16th century. They enjoyed success for some years, but events in Europe (read: wars) left them open to attack from other European powers. Their fortunes rose and fell in inverse proportion to those of the British and the Dutch.
The British RuleEdit
In 1757, the British East India Company's army fought the forces of the Nawab of Bengal, who was angry at the company's refusal to pay taxes. The Company's army was victorious, and the victors occupied Bengal, the first of many cities and provinces it would conquer in the name of "free trade." Over the next century the Company expanded its rule, taking advantage of the fractured Indian landscape of small, weak kingdoms and princely states. The British used bribery, threats and military means to expand their power, and by 1850 they controlled most of the sub-continent. In 1857 the Indians rebelled against the British. This rebellion is variously called "The Indian Mutiny" or the "First War of Independence." While the rebellion enjoyed initial success the British Army sent in large numbers of troops to reinforce the Company's beleaguered forces; these professional soldiers quickly defeated the rebellious Indians. Following the rebellion the British Crown took over governance of India from the British East India Company. India would remain the "Jewel" of the British Crown for the next ninety years. While the British Empire profited greatly from its domination of India, British rule was not entirely without benefit to the Indian people. The Brits educated the Indians, bringing them into contact with more advanced European science and technology. They constructed a solid network of telegraph lines, roads and railroads across the country. They also united the Indian people against them, giving everyone an equally-detested common enemy. It is this last effect that made an Indian independence movement possible.
Indian Independence MovementEdit
At the turn of the 20th century, the Indian Independence movement was fueled by growing frustration of Indian intellectuals who were barred from participating in their own government. The British constructed institutions of higher learning in India, giving the Indians the general understanding that they could take over control of the instruments of government once they had received the proper education and served the necessary apprenticeships. It soon became apparent that these were hollow promises, as the British kept the higher offices for themselves and froze out the most promising native candidates, no matter how brilliantly they did in university. This was a disastrous policy for the British, for it created a class of highly-educated, highly-dissatisfied Indians. The first Indian National Congress convened in December, 1885 with 73 representatives, most of whom were lawyers, businessmen, and landowners. Among other things, it demanded parity between Indian and British candidates for governmental positions, a reduction in the amount of money that India paid to its British government, and an end to the Anglo-Burmese War (largely fought with Indian soldiers under British officers). By the turn of the twentieth century, the Indian National Congress was calling for self rule. In the meantime, Muslim Indians feared that their interests would not be served by the majority Hindu Indian National Congress, and they created a parallel organization, the Muslim League, to fight for Muslim independence. The Muslim League and the Indian National Congress worked together only with great difficulty, and eventually differences between the two organizations would have catastrophic results for the country. When World War I broke out, the Indian National Congress enthusiastically backed the British war effort. In fact, Gandhi himself toured Indian villages urging men to join the British army. The support was given on the assumption that Britain would repay Indian loyalty with political concessions, if not dominion status or even independence. In the event the British did not move quickly enough to satisfy the Indian expectations, and Indian resentment grew.
In 1921, Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948) assumed leadership of the Indian National Congress. He implemented a policy of "satyagraha," resistance through non-violent civil disobedience. He led mass rallies, marches and protests, including the famous "Salt March in 1930, in which he and thousands of followers marched to the sea to make salt in protest of the British tax on that vital mineral. He was imprisoned on a number of occasions, including a two-year stint in 1942 during which his wife died and he contracted malaria. He was eventually released because the British feared he would die in prison. Despite his enormous popularity in India and around the world, Gandhi was unable to bridge the growing differences between Indian Hindus and Muslims. Even as he was bringing independence to his country, religious strife was tearing it apart.
Weakened by two World Wars and unable to find an answer to Gandhi's satyagraha tactics, in 1947 the British Parliament passed the Indian Independence Act. The Act recognized two countries: Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan. Pakistan was divided into two sections, one on the east and the other on the west, separated by 1000 miles by the much larger India between them. Something like 15 million people were displaced during the disintegration of India: Hindus fled from the newly-created Pakistan into Hindu India, and Muslims fled India into Muslim Pakistan. Perhaps one million people died during the upheaval. The new nations were openly hostile to each other, and over the years have fought a number of wars. Much of the tension has been related to border disputes. In 1971 India intervened in a civil war in East Pakistan, which gained its independence from West Pakistan and became the nation of Bangladesh.
Modern India, Pakistan and BangladeshEdit
The three nations that once comprised historical India have taken very different paths in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Bangladesh is a parliamentary democracy, a highly-dense country much subject to floods, cyclones and famine, though life for its population has steadily improved since its independence in the '70s. Pakistan is the sixth largest country in the world and the second largest Muslim country. While its economy has done well in the past 25 years, it remains locationally-challenged. To the east is India, its old enemy, with whom it has an ongoing border dispute, and both sides have recently acquired nuclear weapons. To the west is Afghanistan, which is loaded with Taliban terrorists who use Pakistan as a refuge, and really angry American soldiers equipped with the finest and most powerful weapons the world has ever seen. If Pakistan can achieve some kind of stable peace with India and figure out a way to keep the Taliban and Americans from tearing it apart from within, it might have a glorious future. India is the world's second most populous country and a thriving democracy. It is loud, boisterous, and has a growing and vibrant economy. It has a technological base second to none, and an education system that rivals that of the United States. It also has a large army and an arsenal of nuclear weapons, both mostly pointed at Pakistan. If it can figure out how to step down hostilities with Pakistan, it stands poised to be one of the great powers of the next century.
- The Indian film industry, Bollywood, makes more films each year than the United States, France, Italy, and the People`s Republic of China.
- The only country in the world that has a Bill of Rights for Cows is India.
- The longest station name on the Indian Railways is Venkatanarasimharajuvariapeta.
- Technically speaking, there is no such thing as an Indian ‘curry’- the word, an anglicized derivative of the Tamil word kari (black pepper), was used by the British as a term for any dish including spices.
- The board game chess was invented in India.
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