Kashmir – A Story

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Most call it “Heaven on Earth”. A Northern head of Indian subcontinent in PirPanjal valley, known for its famous DAL Lake in capital Srinagar, beautiful landscape of upper Indus and Jhelum river through its narrow valley, a point of entry over the Himalayas into the Subcontinent and in current day, de-facto divided between India, Pakistan and China.

To understand Kashmir’s cultural, political outline and its genealogy, going back in timeline of history since ancient times is a better way. Since 1947, it’s a politically sensitive and the main reason of conflict between India and Pakistan to the extent that in public imagination, the history of Kashmir begins in 1947 but actually it lies in its religious and cultural ancestry. Unlike the ancient history of plains, Kashmir had no major bloody conflicts and was mostly peaceful. Northern India was subjected to attack from Turkic, Afghans and Arab rulers from the ninth century onwards, but they generally ignored the mountain-circled Kashmir Valley in favour of easier pickings around Indus and Gangetic plains.

‘Kalahan’, an ancient writer is possibly the few source along with some Buddhist texts mentioning ancient era which was pre-dominantly Hindus and Buddhists. Hindus (Kashmiri Pandits) were native to Kashmir Valley under rule of Lohara Dynasty alongside Buddhists.

Early 14th Century while Khilji was busy fighting Rajputs and Mongols, Kashmir neighboured arears where Muslims were dominant, where some small rulers shared cordial relations but also facing Muslim influence in around this period in Kashmir. Mongols were a threat to this region too and in one of Mongol loot-campaign created anarchy followed by a void in Lohara kingdom. This triggered the start of Islamic rule in Kashmir. In-fact the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir was a Buddhist prince from Laddakh region who took the opportunity after this Mongol loot, called as Rinchan, established himself as King of Kashmir and in order to attain local acceptance, married Kota Rani, the daughter of Ramchandra, the commander of Lohara king Suhadev. Sahudev, the then Lohara King had already fled Kashmir after mongol attack and Ramchandra remained in Kashmir trying to build from remains. Rinchan also wanted to convert Hindu but denied by local lords in absence of any legit means to convert to Hinduism. He later converted to Islam. Rinchan ruled for three years with lot of internal opposition. He appointed his close aide Shah Mir as a trusted minister. Rinchan was killed by internal rebels, leaving a son. Kota Rani took charge by becoming a regent, making his infant son as king and ruled Kashmir for next six years but was overthrown by Shah Mir, who then after established his own kingdom and dynasty for next 200 years. Islam was firmly established in Kashmir during this dynasty. Shah Mir dynasty in their long tenure destroyed then prevailing culture of Kashmir by its rigorous sharia laws, intolerant religious standings which severely oppressed the Kashmiri population dominated by Hindus. The Small kingdom of Kashmir in view of their geographical conditions were mostly focused in containing their boundaries and were not expansionists.

Kota Rani is considered as the last Hindu ruler of Kashmir and a significant recognition is been given by Kashmiri historians. The account from other historians clearly suggests competing view of Kashmir on the lines of ethnicity/religion where it all started with rise of Buddhism during Ashoka period to the dominance of Hindus in medieval times. Buddhists were pro-active in propagation of their religion and they use to travel long distances in Himalayas and across to spread the teachings of Buddhism. During early and later medieval period Buddhists were persecuted while Hinduism expanded in these areas. Islam established in this region during 14th century and in the era when Mughals were ruling Indian plains. The small kingdom of Kashmir was under constant threat of inclusion to Mughal empire. Kashmir did not witness any direct Mughal rule till Akbar’s regime, who took control of Kashmir and added it to its important province of Kabul. Provinces (Suba) was then controlled by an administrators called as subedars and from here on Kashmir was stable during Mughal period and many mosques, gardens and structural development took place which can be witnessed even in current times. Chashma Shahi, Achabal Bagh, Shalimar Bagh, Nishat Bagh are few gardens still attract tourists.

The Mughal rule in Kashmir lasted for more than 150 years [ till Aurangzeb ] in which some land marks of progress and advances along with lot of cultural exchange happened. They provided patronage to Kashmiri saints, men of art and letters, and nobles, irrespective of religious considerations.

End of Mughal Rule in Kashmir:

In 1753 when Ahmad Shah Abdali, conquered and plundered Delhi and came back to Lahore. Some influential nobles of Kashmir in order to achieve their own personal gains, invited Ahmad Shah Abdali to invade and annex Kashmir. Ahmad Shah Abdali took the opportunity and sent a formidable force of Afghan soldiers to conquer Kashmir and it was annexed without any major battle. The condition of Kashmir that time was not in a well shape because of a Famine just about 5 years back when Abdali took control. The famine there occurred due to flood which washed off the most of ripened crops. The loss was all the more unfortunate because the reserve food stocks was also exhausted and wiped off, more than three fourths of the population of the valley either died or migrated to Delhi. Afghan rule lasted for 50 odd years and during the rule in Kashmir (1753-1819) the local population slowly transformed with some sufferings which was result of multiple factors. The population was dominated by Muslims, yet, the socio-cultural fabric did not witness any radical change. The minority Hindu population was largely supressed during this period and were mostly involved in administrative office work of literates. Muslims were mostly farmers, bunkars, peasants etc. Persian was the official language of Mughals across India and continued to be an official language in Kashmir as well even in Afghan period. The learned community of Kashmiri Pandits who had attained scholarship in Persian, rose to the position of eminence in Mughal and later in Afghan governing culture. The revenue administration was exclusively handled by Kashmiri Pandits.

While during Mughals then Afghans and carrying ancestry from Hindus and Buddhists, the culture of Kashmir is blended which strongly reflects in food , language and their outfit. The cuisines of Kashmir is poles apart from any other part of India and has more shades of Afghan-Persian cuisines. Kashmiris, be it Hindu or Muslim are voracious meat eaters and are known to cook around 18 different variety of meat preparations.  The same also is with drinks and bakery. The famous “waazwan”, usually prepared in marriage ceremonies usually consists of as many as 36 variety of delicacies. It would need a separate blog to describe the culture, food and their language, may write soon….

Fall of Afghans and rise of Sikh / Dogra rule

There was a drastic change in entire geo-political and socio-cultural flip in this region where the growing powers of Sikh Empire under Ranjit Singh annexed Kashmir from Afghans ending Durrani rule from this region. Ranjit Singh’s capital Lahore was the centre of power in the region of Punjab and regions of Jammu. Ranjit Singh was pushing Afghans from their territories one after the other and in 1819 in continuation and more so over to control over routes on Indus river, Kashmir became important for Ranjit Singh and to secure this trade and supply route. A decisive Battle of Sophian took place with victory of Ranjit Singh on capital Srinagar and afterwards it took no major effort to capture remaining areas, Kashmir came under Sikh Empire.

Earlier, in 1808 Jammu was already annexed by Sikh Empire and one of army commander and Jagirdaar Kishore Singh rose to the occasion and was rewarded Governorship of Jammu by Ranjit Singh. Gulab Singh, the son of Kishore Singh conquered some strategic areas around Srinagar for Ranjit Singh and after the death of Kishore Singh, Gulab Singh was given governorship of Jammu region by Ranjit Singh and titled as Raja of Jammu. He was also the most powerful hand in the Sikh Empire and gradually built a strong army. He also appointed Zorawar Singh as his army General, Zorawar Singh showed good results in expansion in hilly terrains. Ranjit Singh died in year 1839 and British East India company was in war with Sikh Empire. Ranjit Singh died just at the onset of first Anglo-Sikh war post which there was a succession struggle within Sikh Kingdom. Gulab Singh was then responsible for the security of Lahore where Ranjit Singh’s family and relatives were trying to capture Lahore for its excessive wealth and power. When mutual peace was made on both sides Gulab Singh took huge amount of wealth and went back to Jammu. When British East India company annexed Lahore ending Sikh empire and as usual a war indemnity of one and Half Crore was imposed on then nine year old son of Ranjit Singh [ Dilip Singh ] The Maharaja of Lahore. British company also took all their lands and since Company didn’t wanted to administer hilly regions between River Beas and Indus, including Kashmir. Gulab Singh had some friendly relations with the company, so he offered 75 lakhs as war indemnity imposed on Sikh King and in return, taken administration and control over Kashmir. This is the basic reason which in general discussions said as Gulab Singh bought Kashmir from British. Since Gulab Singh helped the company in the final rounds of their war, East India Company agree and it was signed as in Treaty of Lahore & Amritsar in 1846. It was the start of Dogra Rule over Jammu and Kashmir including Laddakh which Zorawar Singh earlier with his exemplary war skills had annexed in Dogra Rule.

This was the turning point in History of Kashmir for next 100 years to come with Jammu and Kashmir established as a large princely state and prime ally of British India. Dogras also known as Jamwal Rajputs ruled J&K for next 100 years and since they were a close ally of British, it remained stable throughout. After Gulab Singh his son Ranbir Singh ruled for 30 years and Pratap Singh for 40 years. Some very small new territories were added in the region around Gigit.

The map of Jammu and Kashmir at the time when, THE most important personality in history of Kashmir, Raja Hari Singh, the nephew of Pratap Singh ruled.

Dogra ruled Map of Jammu and Kashmir - Pre Independence
Dogra ruled Map of Jammu and Kashmir – Pre Independence

THE MOST IMPORTANT PERIOD FOR KASHMIR

1930s, the days when nationalism was trending against British in most of British India, in J&K it was brewing against rule of Maharaja. In the year 1932, a political party was formed named The Muslim Conference by a young Kashmiri, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah that demands social and political reformation of Muslims in Kashmir and an end to the monarchy. Soon, In view of not to be seen as a religious group, the party was renamed to National Conference including all Kashmiris, basically including population where Kashmiri language were been spoken. Dogra kingdom also included Punjabi dialect speaking people in and around Poonch, Pashto speaking in Gilgit and Laddakhi in Laddakh.  When a separate Islamic state becomes a strong possibility during Muslim League lead by Muhammad Ali Jinnah negotiating it hard with British, some of National Conference followers were unhappy with the secular nature of the party and with Sheikh Abdullah. Abdullah revives Muslim Conference and launched a “Quit Kashmir” movement against the monarchy with lot of anguish. In order to kill the movement, Hari Singh, the Maharaja got Sheikh Abdullah arrested for sedition leaving Kashmir in even more anguish. Jawaharlal Nehru was a political ally to Abdullah, rushes to Kashmir to demand his release, the Maharaja promptly had Nehru arrested as well and unceremoniously escorted out of the state. The Kashmir then had more than 75 percent of Muslim population under a Hindu monarchy and the entire agitation was focused only to overthrow the Monarchy. Maharaja Hari Singh was under tremendous pressure to deal with this situation which he or his predecessors never faced.

In the year 1935, British Parliament had already passed Government of India Act which has somewhat given the signs of Indian independence. The sequence of events of Independence starts with British Prime Minister Clement Attlee in Feb 1947, wrote to then Indian Viceroy Mountbatten too make India an independent state and also instructed to negotiate with princely states, one of which was Jammu and Kashmir. BUT by June it was clear that the Subcontinent would be divided in two dominion state of India and Pakistan. The provinces not in direct control of British, known as Princely States, would be given an option to choose sides based on geography and population, also they need to sign an Agreement of Accession. One of the biggest Princely state of Jammu and Kashmir under Maharaja Hari Singh was undecided.

India and Pakistan become realities after Independence but Hari Singh, the Maharaja of Kashmir was undecided with an objective to sign a standstill agreement with both India and Pakistan, meaning he had plans to declare free. The major reason for this dilemma with Hari Singh was due to the fact that he being a Hindu ruler of a largely Muslim majority state, he needed more time to think as to what is the best option for Jammu and Kashmir and he didn’t at the same time, want to jeopardize the minority community in any manner. The newly formed Pakistan was very keen to add Jammu and Kashmir to its territory. The reasons, possibly the Muslim population and even more important the six mighty rivers that flowed through Kashmir into Pakistan forming, the Indus River system, the main source of Pakistan’s water supply.

With no decision from the Maharaja, impatient Pakistan launches operation Gulmarg in 1947, basically it was a series of incursions aimed at annexing Kashmir. There was a serious uprising in Poonch region as well and soon the agitations around turns into a full-fledged genocide of minorities, Hindus and Sikhs in this western part of Jammu district and in Kashmir the voices become even stronger for the release of Sheikh Abdullah. In retaliation, Muslims are targeted in the Jammu province by the majoritarian Hindus and Sikhs living there. The state turns into a burning pot of communal violence.

The newly formed Indian government strongly advises the Maharaja to release Sheikh Abdullah to calm the waters and was released on advice. Pakistan was not expecting this and probably felt that India is taking Kashmir out of their hands. Meanwhile, Pakistan sent some local fighters for Sheikh, who were his friends and were persuading him to join Pakistan. Abdullah again clarified that he and his party has not made up mind and are fighting an independent battle to get rid of Maharaja and then whosoever accepts our conditions of accession, we will join that side.

In another parallel attack, detachments of armed Pakhtoon tribals under Pakistani army invades the Kashmir Valley. It was a surprise attack and Maharaja couldn’t handle this and had to run away from Kashmir. He left Kashmir without any defence and his army was wiped off in the very first attack up to Urri and then it was a walkover for attackers to take the entire valley.

Meanwhile in same time the agitation in Poonch and around was under Pakistan’s command, Pakistani’s took positions there and declared Muzaffarabad, Mirpur and Poonch as Azad Kashmir. This region is known today in India as POK [Pakistan Occupied Kashmir] and Azaad Kashmir in Pakistan.

Going little back in time, also to understand British interference in Kashmir, adds another dimension to the problem. In 1930s when communism had made its appearance in China. The Soviets had jumped into the Chinese Civil War, helping a rebel faction in Xinjiang province [now in China], a province further North of Gilgit. This sent the British into a tizzy as they always had a fear of Russia entering into subcontinent and the route was always through Khyber Pass then to Kashmir Valley.

Gilgit was the last northern outpost of British India So in 1935, the British took Gilgit and adjoining region on leased for a period of sixty years from the Maharaja Hari Singh and appointed an officer under direct British command. For the British, the area [ which later became Pakistan] was a far more strategically important part of the Indian subcontinent where they wanted a base against the Soviet Union as well as its proximity to the gulf for oil. When the formation of two, new nations drew close, the British hoped Gilgit region would end up going with Pakistan.

Just before, In 1945, Ramchandra Kak was appointed Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir by Hari Singh and he had no affinity with Congress. When it became clear that India would be portioned and knowing that Sardar Patel would be Home Minister of India, Kak was in talks with him but never wanted Sheikh Abdullah to be released from jail as he was pro-India. Ramchandra Kak also had good relations with Jinnah, so..

Here, British played an undisclosed politics, merely 15 days before transfer of power in 1947, they revoke the lease and returned Gilgit to the Maharaja. They also believed that, Ramachandra Kak would go with Pakistan in view of his relations and Maharaja would not be able to secure Gilgit.

In a dramatic sequence of events, just before independence Gandhi ji visited Kashmir and had influenced Hari Singh to dismiss Ramchandra Kak and just four days before independence Kak was removed from all his positions and was house arrested. British plans go up in smoke.

In 1947 just after independence, Kashmir was facing attacks from multiple sides. The Maharaja realised that situation is out of hands and entire Jammu and Kashmir will go out of his hands to Pakistan, he turns to India and agrees to accede for military help. In this tense situation, Indian diplomats advised Hari Singh to place him in Jammu for documentation and the instrument of accession was signed on 26th of October 1947, Kashmir along with Jammu and Laddakh finally accedes to India, first Kashmir accord was signed and then immediately Indian army was sent for counter attack Pakistani infiltrators.

Nearly two months after transfer of power to the newly-formed nations and Kashmir acceding to India, adding a new twist to this political page-turner. British plans for Gilgit was ruined when Kashmir decides to accede to India. Major William Brown was in command of Gilgit when it was leased from Maharaja and a few days after the accession Major Brown leads his scouts and some local Muslim troops to overthrow Maharajs’s Governor in Gilgit and without much of reluctance he let Gilgit successfully accede to Pakistan.

So, with Poonch, Muzaffarabad declared Azad Kashmir and Gilgit accedes to Pakistan, Kashmir is irrevocably fractured.

Map of Jammu and Kashmir after Accession to India
Map of Jammu and Kashmir after Accession to India

In this scenario, Pakistan’s proxy war with British understanding gains ground resulting unrest and violence in Kashmir. The British were helping Pakistan for Kashmir because they thought, Pakistan would be better strategic ally than India in the emerging cold war situation with Soviet Russia.

When instrument of accession was signed in October 1947, Hari Singh allowed to set up an interim Government and releases Sheikh Abdullah and gave him the responsibilities of Prime Ministership with Maharaja Hari Singh himself as Head of State, this was in agreement with Indian government lead by Nehru and Patel. Independent India was still to adopt a constitution and neither J&K had any, so as per the terms of accession Hari Singh kept all matters and functions, law and order with him and an immunity towards acquisition of any land by Indian Government.

In relation to the administration in the J&K state, it was agreed and to be exercised by the ruler of this state and nothing shall be deemed to commit in any way to accept any future constitution of India or to fetter ruler discretion to enter into arrangements with the Government of India under any such future constitution.

The fighting with Pakistani troops and their fighters was still going on ground with Indian army taking back some areas, India went to the UN security Council in 1948, the UN Security Council asks, Pakistan to remove all state and non-state actors from Jammu and Kashmir and India is asked to reduce its forces to minimum, only to maintain Law and Order and to install an interim government with all genuine stakeholders, then UN will appoint an administrator to seek and understand the wishes of the people, a plebiscite. Neither party agrees to it and the fate of the state of Jammu and Kashmir was sealed with the state fractured into Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Pakistani state of Gilgit.

Even after UN intervention, an interim government lead by Prime Minister Abdullah was formed, Kashmir was at war with Pakistan on ground and Indian army was pushing Pakistan back where they took back Drass and Kargil and secured Leh highway, the only road connecting Laddakh. Nehru knew that Abdullah’s influence was limited to Kashmiri speaking population up to Drass-Kargil on one side and upto Poonch on the other, on further sides in valley neither Abdullah nor any other leader was on Indian side having any influence. Nehru was not sure, even if the army took Gilgit/POK back, they would stay under their control, also as a new country this war was taking a big toll on the finances where they had task for a big nation to build. So the stalemate in war arrived.

If one read historians from Pakistan now, they accuse Jawaharlal Nehru, who was a Kashmiri Hindu, connived with Mountbatten to pressurize Maharaja and captured Kashmir by force, in-spite the population wanted to join Pakistan and on the other hand same Nehru is been implicated by some Indian historians, to have left half of Kashmir to be captured by Pakistan. Today it’s too judgemental on either side to foresee under the circumstances then, the upcoming future of Kashmir.

In between 1949 and 1954, some dramatic events unfolded. 1953, Maharaja Hari Singh appointed his son Prince Karan Singh as regent of J&K and Hari Singh stepped down. Hari Singh was no match in front of combined political force on Indian government. In a way he was forced to leave Kashmir. Karan Singh being a regent became Head of State and a new chapter in political history of J&K started. Subsequently, in absence of any solution the state went for their first election in 1951 and a constituent assembly was formed where Abdullah remains as Prime Minister, assembly abolishes the role of the regent Karan Singh and appointed him as Governor, the Constitutional Head of State (Sadar’e Riyasat). The last traces of monarchy in J&K were wiped off within 4 years of independence.

Karan Singh in year 1953 dismissed Abdullah from the post of Prime Minister, stating he having lost the confidence of his ministers and Abdullah’s deputy and leader of a dissident faction of National Conference, Bakshi Gulam Mohammed was appointed as Prime Minister. Abdullah was slapped with the charge of conspiracy against state and was arrested, jailed accusing him of conspiring with Pakistan to change sides and Kashmir being annexed by Pakistan by means of violence. He was imprisoned for next 10 odd years. Karan Singh had full confidence of Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel. Abdullah was later released in 1964 as a diplomatic decision and the charges were dropped by Government of India.

Seven years after independence and four years after Indian constitution came into effect, in year 1954, based on the agreements of Instrument of Accession, Article 370 was introduced into Indian constitution giving complete autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir except defence, foreign policy, financial policies and central infrastructure development projects etc.

The provisions in India constitution of 1950, Maharaja of J&K was head of State with a council of ministers headed by a Prime Minister, which after introduction of article 370 in 1954, was changed to President of India being head of state and Maharaja or its Regent as Governor with a legislative assembly headed by Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.

There was one more article 35A introduced in same year stating that, the state of J&K will have the special privileges and any non-residents shall not be allowed to; purchase land and immovable property, vote and contest elections, government employment and availing any other state benefits.

It was also made as provision that all other constitutional Acts shall apply on the state and subsequently when J&K had its own constitution in 1957, all mentioned provisions since 1950 was taken in account.

A further dent came in year 1962 war with China, where they wanted to include Laddakh and adjacent areas in their Xinjiang province. Indo-China war was result of failed diplomacy and J&K lost some areas in Laddakh to China, now known as Aksai Chin. Pakistan helped China in this war and also gifted them some parts of their Gilgit region.

Map of Jammu and Kashmir after Indo China War
Map of Jammu and Kashmir after Indo China War

From here on the state of Jammu and Kashmir is driven by internal politics of India and Pakistan continuously pushing it to gain grounds. In both the countries, its used as a tool for political gains with almost disowning the local cause, so I leave it here…

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Modern History of India

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Modern History of India usually referred to British India till Independence, but in a process to understand it better, is to summarize it from start of second millennium. The article is no point of view of history rather is capturing of important events in history and its chronology.

The account of history is taken from various historians and academic platforms and some years of personal research. Since history is no subject of consumption, rather for research. This timeline with little narration in form of storytelling have intent to inject interest for further research for the readers.

Brief of 1001-1175 AD

Indian subcontinent was moreover calm and no major events happened or not much written by historians, more-so there was no significant change in hands of geo-political power to internal or external forces. Central Asian tribes and kingdoms were putting pressure on Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms in South Asia. In significant series of raids across Indus and Yamuna river, Mahmud of Ghazni, a Persian Mamluk military commander from modern day Turkey attacked across Indus and Yamuna and retracted each time, so it was not for the purpose to extend his boundaries rather to loot wealthy region across Indus river, current day Pakistan and Punjab who was then ruled by local Hindu rulers.

1203-1526 [ Delhi Sultanate] 323 Years

A more systematic expansion was done by Muhammad Ghori in around 1175 with purpose to establish Islamic kingdom of his own across Indus river. He was the one who actually laid the foundation for the Islamic kingdom around current day Delhi and to form Delhi Sultanate. Two famous Battle of Tarain near current day Karnal-Haryana fought between Prithviraj Chouhan and Muhammad Ghori where Chouhan was victorious in 1191 and Ghori in second 1192. Ghori retracted again but this time he placed his Slave as Sultan.

Delhi Sultanate which experienced five dynasties and all of them were either Turks or Afghan-Turks. Initially their capital was in Lahore then moved to Badayun and finally Delhi which remained for most of its period for about 200 years. In final years they created a new capital in Agra.

1203-1290 [ Mamluk/Slave Dynasty ] 87 Years

After defeating Prithvi Raj Chouhan, Ghori campaigned for short period in areas around Punjab-Sindh and Delhi. Before his return, his one time slave Qutb-ud-din Aibak was placed in Delhi and started the Sultanate. Qutb-ud-din Aibak, Iltutmish and Balban was famous among Slave Dynasty. Razia Sultan, daughter of Iltutmish was the first and only Sultan of Delhi but was for a very short span of time.

Mamluks were overthrown by Jalaluddin Khalji who was well established ruler in Afghan region had earlier served Balban. In series of murder of Mamluk courtmen and without any major war Jalaluddin got better of the last Mamluk Sultan of Delhi and placed himself on Sultanate.

This was also the period when Mongols – successors of Genghis Khan were the most powerful empire in the world and a great push for their expansion were being faced by Turks, Afghans and other middle east kingdoms. Kublai Khan was the Khan by end of this century and had Mongols controlled almost all of Asia and Europe except Indian Peninsula.

1290-1320 [ Khilji Dynasty ] 30 Years

While Jalaluddin was trying to establish himself and busy eliminating old guards of Mamluk Empire who were in revolt, his son-in-law Alauddin Khilji was campaigning in Deccan and on his return to Delhi, he killed Jalaluddin and assumed the Sultanate. Alauddin remained for most of the period of Khilji dynasty and busy throughout fighting with Rajputs and with Mongols who were constantly pushing their conquest in this region. Delhi Sultanate started taking shape with Alauddin’s expansion from current day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Punjab, Delhi Rajasthan upto Awadh in North and Gujrat, Maharastra and Madhya Preadesh in West-Central.

1320-1413 [ Tughlaq Dynasty ] 93 Years

Khilji dynasty were overthrown Ghiasuddin Tughlaq who was once personal guard to Jalaluddin Khilji and played some important role in Khilji’s battle with Mongols. Ghiasuddin was awarded governorship of Multan and when after death of Alauddin Khilji, the later Khiljis were no so efficient, Ghiasuddin conspired and overthrown last Khilji Sultan Khusuru Khan. Tughlaq dynasty was most stable ever since formation of Delhi Sultanate and they expanded upto Bengal in East and Andhra in South. Muhammad bin Tughlaq and his son Firoz shah were the most prominent Sultan of this dynasty, they tried to push for economic and other reforms where they were successful in some areas and were also facing reluctances especially in Bengal and Gujrat.

1398 – Invasion of Timur, It was the time when Tughlaq’s were losing some control over the Sultanate after the death of Firoz Shah there were fighting within family for control over Sultanate and is the time when First successful Mongol invasion happened in 1398 by Timur (from Timurid Empire). Babur was 4th generation grandson of Timur. Timur was not decedent of Genghis Khan but Babur was from Khan lineage. Mughals what we call them today is derived from Mongols.

The capture of Delhi by Timur was horrific as his army massacred almost the population and the wealthy Delhi Sultanate was looted before he returned for his next campaign. The vacuum created by Timur’s invasion and disarray in Delhi city, Sayyed Khizr who was a governor in Multan used title of Timur and started Sayyed Dynasty

1413-1450 [ Sayyed Dynasty ] 37 Years

This was the period when very less been written or came to notice except the period was ruled by four Sultans and none did any better to either regain lost territories or even save the ones who were at the brink of parting away from Delhi Sultanate rule. The Delhi Sultanate reduced to area North and South of Gangetic and Yamuna. Indus region gone out of their hands and later in 1451 the first Afghan-Pashtun ruler from Lodi tribe Bahlul Lodi took control over Delhi Sultanate.

1469 : Birth of Guru Nanak Dev, the first guru and founder of Sikhism in Punjab region

1451-1526 [ Lodi Dynasty ] 75 Years

Lodi’s were also not expansionist and controlled only areas got from Sayyeds but both Sikander and Ibrahim Lodi contained and worked in cultural and infrastructure building. Agra was new Capital of Delhi Sultanate in their time.

Alongside, Delhi Sultanate were never so influential and in control of Southern part of Subcontinent where Vijayanagara Empire was flourishing under Raya’s and their empire reached its peak during the rule of Krishna Deva Raya with constant gain of territories formerly under the Deccan Sultanates in the north and east Deccan as Lodh’s were focused in Northern India. Vijayanagara Empire was the only large kingdom ruled by Hindu ruler ever since Delhi Sultanate started.

Map during Delhi Sultanate
Map during Delhi Sultanate

Parallel to these events in this period:

1453 Byzantine empire (Eastern Roman Empire) taken over by Ottomans (lead by Usman, leader of  Turk tribes) and trade route to India via land route was controlled by them, western European countries started exploring new sea route to India.

In the same period Cristofer Columbus sailed to America in search of India.

1497 : Vasco de Gama a Portuguese first sailed to Malabar coast (Calicut) and Portuguese started coming to Malabar coast for trade of spices. Western Roman Empire was also split by then and countries like Portugal, France, Britain and Spain had extended their trade to Asia. Since Ottomans now having control over the land route, they had opened the sea route circling Africa to South Asia and Indian Peninsula.  They also started building trade posts like Cochin, Calicut, Daman, Diu, Goa etc. These trading companies also had their small armies and fought battles and established themselves in coastal areas and started controlling Indian Ocean trade route.

1526 [ First Battle of Panipat ] : Babur, a Turco-Mongo lineage ruler of Kabul, in his campaign to claim his legacy from Timur’s possession in Punjab region fought his first battle in Punjab in 1524 and in two years’ time, across Indus River came to Delhi and defeated Ibrahim Lodhi in a fierce Battle of Panipat. Ibrahim Lodi was killed in the battle and Babur took control over Delhi Sultanate. Babur merged his areas from Afghanistan to Pakistan-Sindh-Punjab to new territories gained from Lodi empire up to North India and was the end of Delhi Sultanate.

1526 – 1707 [ Mughal Empire ] 180-200 Years.

This was one of the most important events in history of Modern India “First Battle of Panipat” post which there was a complete change in overall approach of governance in this peninsula. It started with Babur merging his territories of Afghanistan and Pakistan to Delhi Sultanate’s Norther India, making the it a formidable Empire in world. The capital and centre of power shifted from Delhi to Agra. It also gave an opportunity to Babur to settle his empire in Indian peninsula away from constant external threat in his home land (current day Uzbekistan).

Soon after taking control, the Mughals started their expansion drive starting with Rajputs, who were had long lasting control over their kingdoms around Rajasthan. Historians suggest the in early Mughal period, religious violence was the factor which triggered to militancy for self-defense in Sikhism. Religious persecution was one of the major conflict point.

While in Southern part, In the same period, Mangalore was captured by Portuguese and sometime later they even captured Islands of current day Mumbai.

1530 : Babur died in the year 1530 and succeeded by his son Humayun, as it usually happened in all dynasties, the family rift of succession didn’t allowed Humayun to settle. Humayun was overthrown by Sher Shah Suri in 1540 who was a Mughal Governor of Bengal and controlled the empire for next 15 years. Humayun who exiled himself in Persia returned to claim his throne after death of Sher Shah Suri and his successor. Bairam Khan helped Humayun to recapture Agra but later Humayun died and Bairam Khan became a sort of de-facto controller and son Akbar succeeded the throne.

BUT, there was one small twist in Akbar’s succession. Once general in Suri’s army named Hemu who had earlier raised his position during incapable last Suri Emperor, used the opportunity after Humayun’s death to recapture Delhi. Suri’s were placed in Bengal and Hemu rapidly started capturing territories after territories from Bengal via Awadh to Agra and finally captured Delhi. Akbar, a teenager then was under protection of Bairam Khan who fought the Second Battle of Panipat [1556] where Hemu was killed and Akbar’s Rule started.

Hemu who is also called Raja Hemu Vikramaditya, had risen from a humble background to accent up to capture Delhi is still considered as brave figure and the battle of Panipat was the one he lost in bad fortune.

1556 – 1605 [ Rule of Akbar ] Mughal India under Jalal-ud-din Akbar developed and started to become a strong and stable economy. Along expansion of territories, art and culture flourished in his regime of 50 years.

1565 : The Vijayanagara Empire of Deccan [ current day Karnataka, TamilNadu, Kerala, Andhra and Telangana ] was a century old Kingdom and in South India, the Mughal Empire was expanding under Akbar and with help of Ahmednagar, Bijapur and Golkunda sultanates in very important Battle of Talikota in year 1565 where long history and the Vijayanagara Empire had to compromise their position and territories in Deccan.

Many ancient dynasties collapsed during the early 14th century like Tamil Pandyas,  Andhra Kakatiyas etc. due to Muslim invasions mostly in Tughlaq era, Hindu rule over South India was preserved and consolidated under Vijayanagara Empire and was large.

The battle caused a political rupture of the Vijaynagara and permanently changed Deccan dynamics of rule. The Kingdom continued but with the interference of Mughals.

1576 : After his accession to the empire, Akbar had steadily settled and developed his relationship with most of the Rajput states who were most powerful in this era and all preceding Mughals never had absolute control on them, with the exception of Mewar, acknowledged as the leading state in Rajasthan. In order to control Mewar an inevitable Battle of Haldighati was fought in the year 1576 between Rana of Mewar, Maharana Pratap, and the Mughal emperor Akbar, led by Man Singh where Mughals were victorious but Rana escaped. Maharana Pratap is most prominent icon Rajasthan culture and is viewed as a celebrated warrior in India.

Akbar established courts at Delhi, Agra, and Fatehpur Sikri and became centres of the arts, literature, and learning. Persian culture started mixing and merge with indigenous Indian elements, and a distinct Indo-Persian culture emerged now called Mughal style art, food and monuments.

Akbar, during his regime annexed West and Central India and expanded further territories ahead Kabul. Rajputana were the most difficult to annex so Akbar had tactical alliances with them and even married to Rajput princess, well known as Jodha Bai who’s son Jahangir (Salim) later became Emperor. The diplomacy of matrimonial alliances in his regime somewhat reduced tussle which in return provides space for trade, culture, art and foreign relations to grow.

Portuguese who were already established in coastal areas where having good relations with Akbar and British were trying to seek permission of trade in this region.

In the same period Sikhism was rapidly spreading in Punjab and Akbar was neutral towards their propagation many gurudwaras were being constructed along The Golden Temple construction started in this era.

The empire in full shape had almost entire subcontinent extended upto Central Asia in North-West and upto Bangladesh in East either in direct control or under confederacy. Gorkha Kingdom [ Nepal ] ruled by Shah family, Small Himalayan Kingdoms, Ahom Kingdom [ Assam and around ] and to some extent of Vijayanagara Kingdom were remaining which Mughals never been able to bring under their empire.

1600 : East India Company [EIC] was formed in England and got permission [ Royal Charter ] from then Queen Elizabeth – I for trade in East Cost Africa, Middle East and Indian Peninsula. The Royal Charter also extended monopoly of trade in these areas. This was a result of England realizing that Portuguese and Dutch were making wealth with trade in this region.

1605 – 1627 : Prince Salim aka Jahangir who was the heir and successor after Akbar’s death in 1605, somewhat continued the expansionist legacy of Akbar and also in his period when East India Company was in tussle with Portuguese. Jahangir initially denied EIC to setup any trading posts, as Portuguese had decent influence in Akbar and Jahangir’s Court. Finally after 10 odd years of tussle with Portuguese, EIC established a trading post in current day Andhra and later a factory in Surat and Agra were established with permit from Jahangir.

Jahangir was responsible for ending a century long struggle with Rajputs but his regime was the start of fresh conquests with Sikhs because of the execution of their fifth Guru Arjan Dev over political egoistic issues, this and subsequent struggle between Mughals and Sikhs, sort of forced Sikhs to transform into a warrior sect.

Jahangir in order to continue the legacy, once Akbar had failed to conquer Kangra fort where Raja of Chamba who was the greatest of all the rajas of hills. Finally Jahangir was successful in capturing Kangra and some parts of current day Kashmir.

Mughal Empire was very strong that time and they had either direct control or under accord over the entire subcontinent and East India Company avoided any conflict with them, rather they kept on applying for trading rights in Mughal and local rulers court and focused on establishing themselves as traders in return of permit fee.

1628 – 1658 : Shah Jahan, the favourite son of Jahangir, not the elder son succeeded the throne, infact there was a series of family murder/killing by Shah Jahan’s father-in-law for his succession and his step brothers were killed. Shah Jahan like his father was son of Hindu mother.

The expansionist policy continues during his reign and being taken forward by his sons. The subcontinent by this time was one of the most rich centre of the arts & crafts, trade and architecture. Shah Jahan was an able emperor and stabilized the kingdom and during his tenure started experiencing new intrusions of trade by British, French and Portuguese.

East India Company [ EIC ] kept establishing trading posts and also started building Forts, Current day Kolkata and Chennai [ Madras ] was then a village and became a sort of Capital of EIC trade. Bengal was the biggest province that time and also very fertile, so EIC focused in this region, similarly they also took lease of current day Mumbai from Portuguese.

In his regime some low intensity struggle with Rajputs and Sikhs continued, Marathas in the west were also showing some signs of revolt alongside deccan but most were for existence rather dominance. Young Shivaji was trying his foothold near Pune and was in conflict with Bijapur Sultanate.

Taking a pause here  to understand deccan which is going to take an important part in coming decades. There were 5 major kingdom/sultanate where Ahmednagar, Bidar, Golkunda and Bijapur was once part of bigger kingdom called Bahmani Sultanate which was result of geo-political vacuum being created after fall of Tughlaq dynasty post invasion of Timur. Further Internal conflicts between various lineages from previous Muslim rulers ended up in these four Sultanates. Vijayanagara empire was holding older legacy in Southern part of deccan which disintegrated after battle of Talikota, finally being taken by Mughals and representatives being deployed. Aurangzeb the most able son of Shah Jahaan was at campaign in Deccan and one by one all either fall or came under suzerainty.

1658 – 1707 [ Rule of Aurangzeb ] : Aurangzeb, in sequence of succession war between four sons of Shah Jahan, killed them all and imprisoned Shah Jahan then enthroned himself.

It was during his regime that Mughal Empire reached its greatest extent and became one of the wealthiest powers the world. Aurangzeb also abandoned the policy of pluralism and religious tolerance which was being followed by his predecessors. He was more inclined towards Islamic codes and policies. His rather conservative measures imposed in society led to rebellions in different regions but he managed to supress most of them. Aurangzeb was an able administrator and in his long tenure he worked towards taxation on trade, army hierarchy and foreign relations. The empire in his tenure became so dominant that he even not willing to acknowledge Ottomans claim to the Caliphate and always disagreed with Ottomans idea of instigating holy war against Christians.

Shivaji with his skills of guerrilla warfare and pushing desire grown Maratha power in Bijapur and Golkunda Sultanate where Shivaji became a sort of de-facto ruler reducing their powers and expanding further in Deccan region. Shivaji’s courage and being the only notable Hindu force that was defying Mughal empire, titled as Chatrapati Maharaj. Aurangzeb used Rajputs against Marathas and even tried to ally with Shivaji but failed as Shivaji sensed some conspiracy to imprison him and his son.

1680 : Chatrapati Shivaji died at the age of 50 and his son continued the legacy but soon being captured by Aurangzeb and executed, but Marathas were now an established force of Deccan which later Peshwas expanded to the extent that they had biggest empire after Mughals.

East India Company were making efforts to gain more and more permits for trade from Mughals and finally in year 1682, East India Company got their permit to govern a small area in Bengal and first governor was appointed by EIC, they created first residency in Bengal [ Fort William – village Kalikata/Kalighata converted to fort and was the name used by EIC ] infact, EIC bought zamindari of three villages and also since they now have permit to govern, they started building their army which was realised by Mughals and the rift started between EIC and Mughals. First Anglo-Mughal war near current day Mumbai was fought and company was defeated badly and had to seek pardon from Aurangzeb and with some fine, Mughals wanted their tax money so with warnings their trading privileges were restored.

1699-1708 : Parallel events of opposition for religious conversion by various Sikh groups lead by the Ninth Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur became instrumental for the cause. Aurangzeb perceived his popularity as threat and executed him, Guru Tegh Bahadur’s son Guru Gobind Singh further transformed the movement with war his techniques and goes on with numerous war against Mughals and was finally assassinated in 1708, a year after death of Aurangzeb. While he was Guru, in 1699, he founded Khalsa [ A Warrior ] and named Guru Granth Sahib [Religious Scripture] as final eternal Guru.

Within the same era French East India company also tried to gain some foot hold in coastal areas, and except for few areas, British East India company didn’t allowed French’s to establish themselves.

Its very important to understand the political geography of Indian Sub-Continent in this period, which includes current day India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhutan. Afghanistan is also included to understand 17th century geography. Since there was no definition of country rather provinces and by the end of Aurengzeb rule, the Mughal expansion can be understood as; West to East: Kabul, Sindh, Lahore, Punjab, Rajputana, Kashmir, Delhi, Agra, Awadh and Bengal. West, Central and South: Gujrat, Deccan [ Ahmadnagar, Bijapur, Golkunda, Vijayanagara ] and Gondwana.

Polygars in South [ current Tamil Nadu and Kerala ], Gorkhas [ Nepal ] and Aohms [ Assam and North East India], Burma [ current Myanmar ] were never part of Mughal Empire.

1707 : Aurangzeb died and sudden fall of Mughal Empire

War between sons of Auranzeb succeeded by Bahadur Shah I, since the empire was too big to handle by someone lack in leadership, the empire rapidly start entering into decline where Marathas exploited the opportunity to expand and within next 10-15 years the empire was reduced to City walls of Delhi and around.

1708 : Guru Govind Singh died and succeeded by Banda Singh Bahadur who was in direct fight with Mughals and in 1715 was killed by Mughals

1713 – 1719

Farukh Siyar with help of Sayed brothers killed Jahandar Shah his predecessor who was Emperor only for an year. Farukh Siyar played an important role which gave traction to further sequence of events, he was not competent so had given governorship of Bengal to Murshid Quli Khan and that’s how Nawabi title was first given in Bengal which meant to collect tax and govern in the region for Mughal empire. Alivardi Khan was a famous Nawab who signed treaty with Marathas for peace in leu of money as Marathas then were frequent campaigners in Bengal province for extorting money. Siraj-ud-daula, grandson of Alivardi Khan later succeeded Nawabi of Bengal and played an important role in Battle of Plassey.

This was the same period when the war of succession was underway in Marathas. The sons of Shivaji, Shambahaji and Rajaram had their decedents who wanted control over Maratha empire. Marathas now had absolute control over Konkan coast. Shahuji, son of Shambhaji with help of Balaji Vishwanath who was then a Peshwa consolidated the grip over the Kingdom and also kept fighting with Mughals and Portuguese. The Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath became powerful enough to control Maratha empire which was later expanded by his son Peshwa Baji Rao I.

Farukhsiyar also appointed Asaf Jah the Nizam of Deccan and Mughals in this period had a treaty with Marathas for tax sharing. In a way Asaf Jah was appointed by Mughals but was under sovereignty of Marathas with a policy of compromise with both Rajputs and Marathas.

Why Farukhsiyar is important, is because he issued a “Farman”, exemption of custom duties of imports and exports to East India Company in Bengal and allowed Company to issue permits for local trade, also some land on rent around modern day Calcutta, Madras and Surat.

The “farmaan” issued to East India Company by Farukhsiyar was the first major breakthrough to company for trade and exemption of all duties against annual payment.

1719 Sayed Brothers with the help of Peshwa of Maratha Balaji Vishwanath killed Farukhsiyar and places a proxy in Delhi for some time and finally in same year or so, Muhammad Shah also called ‘Rangeela’  with the help of Asaf Jah killed Sayed Brothers and established himself on Delhi. Later Asaf Jah became powerful and he also fought and defeated Mughals during Muhammad Shah regime and declared Deccan, where he was a Nizam, Independent from Mughals [ * This is the pre-text of Nizams of Hyderabad that continued till Indian Independence]

1719 – 1761 : This was the period of Muhammad Shah (Rangeela) and the Mughal empire had gone through disintegration which started with Deccan gone out of their hands and Marathas expanding their territories under Baji Rao I. By 1725-30 Maratha expanded their territory to Malwa, Gujrat and upto Bundelkhand (current Madhya Pradesh) and areas under Mughals like Awadh, Punjab and Bengal had also sort of declared their Independence from empire and started collecting taxes on their own. In first 30 years of this period, this subcontinent was practically divided among Mughals, Rajputana, Maratha, Awadh, Bengal and Nizam of Deccan along with many small princely estates.

The power and control of Mughals further took a dent when Nadir Shah – Emperor of Iran in year 1739 invaded Delhi and in-spite help being sent by Nizam in the famous battle of Karnal, the region around Delhi was looted and massacred. This resulted the further de-fragmentation and Nadir Shah took proxy control over Delhi to North/West of Indus (current day Pakistan and parts of Afghanistan)

Saadat Khan who was appointed by Muhammad Shah as Governor earlier was further given Nawab title by Nadir Shah and his successor Safdar Jung then Shuja-ud-daulah as Nawab of Awadh. Later Shuja-ud-daulah who played an important role in Battle of Buxar.

In the same period Maraths also campaigned, attacked Delhi, Rajputanas, Awadh and Bengal and ransomed by Peshwa Baji Rao I. Marathas on the other hand were also in direct conflict with Portuguese, Peshwa Baji Rao after having fought several battles with Mughals, Portuguese, Awadh, Nizam and Bengal finally died in 1740 and succeeded by Balaji Baji Rao (also called Nanaji). In the same period there emerged some aligned Maratha powers like Gaikwads of Gujrat, Holkars of Indore, Shindes (now called as Schindhyas) of Gwalior, Bhonsles of Nagpur.

1747-1761 [ Third Battle of Panipat ] : After the death of Nadir Shah in 1747, an Afghan King Ahmed Shah Abdali (who later founded Durrani Empire) was frequently invading Delhi and Afghans started settling down in areas around Delhi – Rohilkhand (current day Rampur, Bareilly, Muradabad). Rohillas under Najib-ud-Daula, once important ally of Mughals, switch side to Abdali and was eying Delhi. Marathas were under treaty with Mughals to protect their territories and kept doing so and were fighting with Abdali. With support of Abdai, Najib-ud-daula was the de-facto ruler of Delhi and Delhi crown was going through frequent change overs in this period and finally Shah Iahan – III was replaced by Shah Alam, a puppet of Marathas, was made Mughal Emperor who remains for next 45 years.

In the year 1761 a very important event in history, Third Battle of Panipat took place between Abdali and Marathas where Abdli was supported by Nawab of Awadh (Suja-ud-Daula) and Rohillas (Najib-ud-Daula). Marathas were comprehensively defeated. In the same year Nanaji died and Mughal empire was restricted only in Delhi.

SO, from the period from the death of Aurenzeb in year 1707 till 1761 (~50 Years) the Mughal empire was completely divided and Marathas expanded and further weakened after death of Balaji Baji Rao (Nanaji). This battle of Panipat where East India company was not a part and had already taken control over Bengal after Battle of Plassey, exploited this situation in later period.

There was a vacuum created in the entire north region due to these events, in the same era Punjab was going through staggered rule by small groups who were in sort of alliance whenever any external threat, but they kept on fighting within as well. Southern region had some other dynamics due to French, Dutch, British and Portuguese influence building up in coastal regions.

Marathas were still strong in West and Central India and they kept on their control over Delhi and maintained Shah Alam as a puppet emperor.

Geo-Political Rise and Fall of Mughals

Battle of Plassey and Buxar : These are very important events in history which changed everything.

Bengal was the biggest province [ current day West Bengal, Bangladesh, Bihar, Orrissa and entire North East except Assam region ] and ruled by Nawabs, after the Farukhsiyar’s farmaan to East India Company the company were in gross misuse of terms of tax evasion and building army. A little before the battle of Panipat, Siraj-ud-Daula the young Nawab of Bengal was not happy with French and British fortification and deployment of troops in Fort William and around areas, so he ordered both to stop and revoked their privileges. Murshidabad was the capital of Bengal province, at the pre-text of Battle of Plassey there were couple of battle being fought between Murshidabad and Fort William. Siraj-ud-daula attacked Fort William, defeated company’s army and kept EIC officials captive. In order to rescue and control their position, Robert Clive was called from Madras with his army and naval fleet. He was made Lieutenant General of Bengal and he started playing divide politics and connived with Siraj-ud-Daula’s opponents. Nawab’s commander Mir Jafar was never happy with Siraj and was looking for his opportuinity, so in year 1757 East India Company decided to attack Murshidabad and the famous Battle of Plassey was fought where Mir Jafar ditched his own side in lieu of promised Nawabi by Clive. In the battle Siraj-ud-Daula was killed and Mir Jafar was planted as proxy Nawab by Robert Clive and East India Company. Robert Clive also took zamindari of a large land in his own name and till he remained in Bengal, made huge wealth of his own.

This is a land mark in Indian history where the largest province Bengal came completely under East India Company with Mir Jafar as proxy nawab and Company strengthening further in Bengal. When Mir Jafar started opposing with local social pressure, he was replaced by Mir Kasim and he too was a puppet. Later Mir Kasim was forced to move his capital from Murshidabad to Munger, he tried to get away from puppetry and asked help from Awadh Nawab Shuja-ud-daulah and so called Mughal emperor Shah Alam II. In the year 1764 the redefining Battle of Buxar happened where on one side, Nawab of Bengal, Awadh and Mughal emperor were defeated badly by the army of East India Company.

These two battles were redefining moments in Modern History of India which resulted, the so called Mughal Emperor was held captive in Allahabad with paid pension, Awadh forced to sign *subsidiary alliance and puppet Nawab placed in Bengal. The East India company took deewani rights [ tax collection rights ] of Bengal and now have absolute control over Bengal and Awadh. By this time the Carnatic wars were also over and Madras and entire coromandel coast line were in company’s control.

Coromandel [ Carnatic ] Wars 1745-1761 : Parallel to the events in Bengal and Awadh, there was a series of wars going on between French East India Company, British East India Company and Carnatic territories. The south eastern coast line on India is called Coromandel coast was then under rule of Tanjore and Arcot who were under Maratha support. There was internal conflicts between entire region for succession in Hyderabad after death of Asaf Jah as well as in Carnatic. French and British companies who had their own local allies, fought each other for control over this region. First carnatic war was not conclusive whereas French dominated in Second war and finally it was third one when Pondicherry went under British control from French was the result of third major Carnatic war which was spread up to Bengal.

These wars were result of English and French completion of Supremacy in Europe termed as “Seven Year war in Europe-1756” and both used local kingdoms who were in turmoil to settle their scores over supremacy. These wars were decisive for British company to realize they can not only trade but rule India.

Robert Clive – First governor of Bengal with help of Marathas and Mysore became famous with his victories. This started a new residency in Madras and control over areas under Nizam of Hyderabad. Bengal was made Presidency.

* Subsidiary Alliance: First Introduced by Robert Clive and later used by EIC governors, broadly this alliance restricts to raise any army, pay war indemnity, all future army support to be given by company, company to get free trade rights and revenue collection. In return pension to be paid.

There were many important events in terms of control of administration post these wars, company was not in good financial health, most of the wealth being extorted were in personal accounts of officials rather the company, so British Parliament came up with regulating act of 1773 for Company’s  affairs in India. First Governor General of Bengal [ Warren Hastings ] was appointed along with a council. Madras and Bombay governors came under Bengal and a Supreme court was established in Fort William for the hearings where Judges were sent from Britain. The act also restricted personal trade rights of the company’s officials.

1761-1799 [ Anglo Mysore Wars ]

By end of Carnatic wars, Kingdom of Mysore [Odeyar’s] was also facing threats from Nizam, Maratha, Tanjor and East India company in which their military commander Haider Ali showed lot of war courage and became powerful like a de-facto ruler. Haider Ali was an ally with French and it was the diplomacy of company (EIC) who were targeting Kingdom of Mysore allied with Marathas and resulted the start of Anglo Mysore wars. After death of Haider Ali, his son Tipu Sultan carried out Mysore struggle with East India Company. Tipu Sultan at one time became so powerful that tried to ally with Napoleon to over throw East India company but the parallel wars in Middle East Asia and America between French and British and their subsequent treaties changed the political alignment in India. There were three major battle between East India Company and Mysore and finally in 1792, then Governor General of Bengal Corwallis allied with Maratha and Nizam and defeated Tipu Sultan. East India company divided Mysore Kingdom. Tipu Sultan kept trying post his defeat for next seven years and finally in year 1799 then Governor General of Bengal with help of Nizam attacked Srirangpattanam  and Tipu Sultan was killed in battle and Mysore was annexed. Richard Wellesely, then Governor General played a very important diplomatic role. Arthur Wellesely most famous British commander, brother of Richard Wellesely was the one who led the final war.

1775-1803 [ Anglo Maratha Wars ]

Maratha and their allies Gaikwads of Gujrat, Holkars of Indore, Schindhyas of Gwalior, Bhonsles of Nagpur was a formidable alliance and were very strong but had some dent in the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761 and there were struggle of succession in Peshwa family after death of Nanaji. Raghunath Rao, brother of Nanaji was claiming Peshwa title and allied with East India company for his claim and that triggered the first Anglo-Maratha war which was sort not conclusive and and Schindhya played important role for Marathas, it ended in a treaty where Raghunath Rao had to abandon his claim and East India company got some extra foot hold in their Bombay presidency in West. Warren Hastings, then Governor General of Bengal also made Maratha agree to help company against Mysore who were ally of French against British.

The next 20 odd years after first Anglo-Maratha war, East India company focused on Mysore and after the annexation of Mysore, Wellesely asked Marathas and their allies to sign a subsidiary alliance exactly on the same lines what they did in Bengal after battle of Buxar. This triggered second Anglo-Maratha war where some of the alliance of Maratha allied with Wellesely and a sort of civil war started in entire region [ Gujrat, Indore, Gwalior, Nagpur and Pune ]. Finally in year 1803 Arthur Wellesely was called from Mysore and second Anglo-Maratha war took place after which various treaties were signed with all Maratha allies and their powers were cut and East India Company established themselves in West and Central India. Now, since the powers of these kingdoms were limited, in next 15 odd years, Company slowly took further control of administration as well and Marathas, once largest empire after Aurangzeb were reduced to their forts. Peshwaship abolished and East India Company used each one of them against them to defeat all of them.

Arthur Wellesely became so popular with these two major campaigns that he even became Prime Minister of England, he was the one who also defeated Napoleon in famous battle of Waterloo.

This was the period when Americans were in civil war for Independence, America was a British colony and Britain was in great debt as a result of Seven Year War in Europe. They use to recover through taxing their colonies and being resisted by Americans. With support of France and Spain, America got their Independence and was the End of First British Colony. Americans declared their independence in 1776 and wars continued and formally ended with various treaties including very famous “The Treaty of Paris” in 1783

Later in the same period 10 years of French revolution concluded with formation of Consulate and finally ended post battle of Waterloo, monarchy in France fell, feudalism ended with creating the path for future republic and individual freedom.

Permanent settlement of Bengal

There use to be zamindars predominantly in Bengal province, who held the right to collect revenue on behalf of the Mughal emperor or representative called as Diwans. In 1770 the devastating famine of Bengal happened and then Governor General Warren Hastings, introduced a system of five-yearly taxation. This led to agrarian crisis, the East India Company Court of Directors first proposed a permanent settlement for Bengal in 1793 by changing the policy then being followed by Calcutta. They divided roles of their officials and administration, judiciary and tax collection were separated.

Definition of Boundries in 19th Century

The Indian sub-continent in current day had boundaries defined among India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Maynmar, Bangladesh and Srilanka. In 18th century was no concept of country in this subcontinent and no borders were properly defined. Various kingdoms kept gaining and loosing territories among themselves. This was the period when British East India company forced various treaties which defined boundaries and still in effect. Treaty of Sugauli defined Indo-Nepal, Treaty of Yandabo defined Indo-Burma and Treaty of Lahore and Amritsar had significance over Independent India as a country. All these were result of Anglo-Burmese,  Sikh, Gorkha, Afghan wars and are very important events in 19th century. Post Anglo-Maratha wars EIC controlled entire subcontinent except Punjab, Sindh, Afghan, Nepal, Aohm and Burma. Bengal being centre of power along with Madras and Bombay presidencies.

1799 Sikh Empire: Post the death of Guru Gobind Singh in 1708, fall of Mughals after death of Aurangzeb in 1709 and reduced Marathas power post third battle of Panipat. Punjab had already transformed into warrior pockets where Sikhs were dominant. The entire region were being controlled by several “misl” [ group ] who use to fight among themselves for local dominance but alongside they were under some sort of mutual agreement to support each other in case of any external threat. Ranjit Singh, head of one of these group, started taking control over each one of them and united all to form Sikh Empire in 1799 and established their capital in Lahore.

1814-16 Anglo Gorkha Wars: Shah’s of Gorkha (Nepal) kingdom ruling from Kathmandu were expanding their territories in Himalayas and on southern side, they were on the boundaries of Awadh. Current day Garhwal, Kumaun and Sikkim were under their control. They were in direct conquest with Sikh Empire across Sutlej and Kali river. East India company were interested in Tibetan trade of wool, pashmina etc. but Shah’s never allowed the company. Finally in 1814 a war started between Gorkhas and EIC with support of some small Himalayan kingdoms. Gorkhas were defeated and the war ended with the Treaty of Sugauli, by virtue, Nepal remained independent but under company’s control, Garwal, Kumaoun and Sikkim included in company’s fully controlled territories. In other words, three current Indian state Himachal, Uttaranchal and Sikkim by this became part of India. Now East India company had absolute control of these Himalayan regions which they started developing for summers, also later Shimla even was made Summer Capital of British India. This treaty also resulted the recruitment of Gorkha people in British military and India still has a dedicated regiment.

1824-26 Anglo Burmese Wars: The current day Myanmar earlier called Burma was under Monarchy they expanded their territories by capturing current day Manipur and further expanded by capturing Aohm dynasty which was almost untouched since about 600 years and never came under any empire. Burmese after expansion were a sort of threat to East India Company as their borders in Bengal presidency became vulnerable, also because French were friends with Burma and then started First Anglo Burmese war, Company was victorious and ended with Treaty of Yandabo which gave control of Manipur and Aohm (Assam). These two states are Indian state as a result of this treaty. Burma came under British rule.

1839-1842 Anglo Afghan War and Annexation of Sindh: Going back in time from here to understand the pre-text of Afghan not being part of Company’s control.

After Nader Shah who once invaded Delhi, Ahmad Shah Abdali was ruler of Afghanistan – Iran and had reduced Maratha power in Third Battle of Panipat post which he had to retreat to Afghan and his dynasty [ Durrani ] was in total control over Afghans. Current day Kashmir was also under Afghan rule of Durranis before 1819.

In 19th Century there was an indirect conflict between British and Russian Monarch over control of Afghanistan, as it was the route to Indian Subcontinent across Indus river. There was no reason of direct engagement with Durranis but it was the political and diplomatic confrontation with Russia triggered the Company to gain control over Afghanistan.

Sindh province was being governed by Amirs [Emir] and were once under alliance with Durranis of Afghan. Sindh was worried about their invasion by Sikhs, so they came under treaty with Company for protection. EIC company were looking for such opportunity and assured support and in return wanted Sindh to support them against Afghans. In-fact EIC included Sikhs also in this treaty for war against Afghans. Ranjit Singh who was in full control over Punjab, in his diplomatic move had already given asylum to Shah Shujah [ once Durrani king struggling for succession on Kabul ]

East India company with Ranjit Singh’s army used Sindh in first Anglo-Afghan war in which Company got initial success but later it turned into a disaster. Afghan War was the first major defeat the company conceded and they finally winded up in 3 years. Afghanistan remained out of their control thereafter but were in constant conflict with British. Sindh was blamed for this defeat and was annexed by East India Company.

1845 Anglo Sikh War: Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the fulcrum of the Sikh Empire and also the only one who managed to keep control of his Empire for 30 years. He knew the art of keeping all the local groups in check and control by alliances of social, political and offensive. He was also in treaty with East India Company over control of territories between Satluj and Indus. The Sikh empire reached its peak when in year 1819 they annexed Kashmir from Afghans. One of his court members Gulab Singh [ who later started Dogra kingdom ] along with his general Zorawar Singh was placed in Kashmir to run the affairs under Sikh empire and Zorawar Singh soon took Laddakh from Gorkha Kingdom under Sikh empire.

Ranjit Singh died after the start of first Anglo Afghan wars in 1839 and then began the struggle of succession between family of Ranjit Singh which gave East India Company a chance to annex Punjab. In 1845 Sikh empire, which was an ally of Company since inception came under war and within a span of four months EIC forces defeated Sikh army who were in complete disarray because of their internal succession struggle.

The Sikh empire was until then one of the few remaining kingdoms in India after the rise of the company and the fall of the Mughal empire. Although the Sikh Army was weakened by the war, resentment at British interference in the government led to the Second Anglo-Sikh War within three years and the end of their story. The proxy ruler, a Kid, Dilip Singh Son of Ranjit Singh was send to England.

Like every war ended with a treaty, in 1846, The Famous Treaty of Lahore followed by Treaty of Amritsar by which, almost entire area under control of Sikhs were annexed, garrisons dismantled and a war indemnity of one crore was imposed. Dogra ruler, Gulab Singh was ruling Jammu, Kashmir and Ladaakh region helped EIC against Sikhs in the war and followed the second treaty where Gulab Singh offered the war indemnity of 75 lacs against rule of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladaakh. Now on it became the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir an ally and protectorate of East India Company.

1801 – 1857 Parallel events:

Charter Act 1813: After the regulating act of 1773 the charter was renewed and subsequently in 1793 for next 20 years but in 1813 the monopoly to trade by East India Company in this region was completely abolished by British Parliament. Tea and Opium trade was however exempted. Slowly the administrative powers are being taken over by British from the Company.

Religious, Political and Social Reforms: A very notable personality from this period Raja Ram Mohan Roy established Bramho Sabha to counter evil religious practices, he also advocated to bring laws against Sati system, crusaded against Child marriage, polygamy and caste system. Various educational institutions were also initiated by him with British support.

William Bentick, then was the first Governor General of India which now on was an elevated post from Governor General of Bengal who enacted reforms on Indian subjects. He also brought in some reforms in Judiciary, administration and police system, some of which is still followed in India. Persian language was officially removed from all government functioning and replaced by local language and English.

Charter Act 1833: Lease of East India Company was further extended for 20 years but this time all trade monopoly was abolished. All commercial activities of company were taken away and they were reduced to an administrative body only. Now on all territories of East India Company to be governed in name of Crown, all legislative powers of three presidencies were cut and given to Governor General of India. AN IN-FORMAL START OF BRITISH RAJ IN INDIA MORE FORMALISED AFTER THE FIRST INDEPENDENCE STRUGGLE IN 1857.

Policy of Doctrine of Lapse: The policy has the purpose to annex those princely states who were under subsidiary alliance and the ruler is either incompetent of dies without any biological heir. Few annexations were done in early 19th century but after the charter act of 1833, they captured more than 20 princely estates. Surat, Kangra, Satara, Punjab, Jhansi, Nagpur, Arcot and Tanjor were among them. Jhansi was the most famous where the king died without a son and as per policy the estate cannot declare an adopted child or any relative as the heir. Estate is required to relinquish its rights to the throne and surrender his kingdom to the British Crown. In 1853 Jhansi was annexed, but the queen of Jhansi revolted and later became a leading figure during rebel of 1857.

Another famous annexation was Awadh, who were under subsidiary alliance since battle of Buxar. The last Nawab of Awadh Wajid ali Shah was removed without any revolt in 1856. Wajid ali Shah promoted music, dance, arts and literature and legacy continued and still can be seen in that region.

The Indian Rebellion of 1857 or also called First war of Independence was a result of various factors that developed over a period of 20 odd years and not a single event causing the uprise. Its also termed as Sepoy (Sipahi) Mutiny which was the trigger point over the distress of Mangal Pandey hanging, post his revolt on the issue that in the new rifle which British introduced, grease used on these cartridges was derived from beef and pork, which was offensive to Hindus and Muslims. There was also huge civil unrest because of new laws which effected jamindars, talukdars and also among who were annexed amid doctrine of lapse. EIC has been successfully crushing various local revolts since 1840s.

Hanging of Mangal Pandey in Barrackpore where most recruits were from Bihar, Awadh (UP) and the word spread to other regiments. Meerut being a large cantonment the uprising and revolt was spontaneous rather planned. After the outbreak in Meerut, the rebels reached Delhi to seek help from then muted Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar and wanted him to lead the revolt and soon it spread up to Kanpur. The British with help from reinforcements, Kanpur and Delhi within months. However, it took more than year to suppress Jhansi, Lucknow, and especially the Awadh countryside. Bombay and the Madras Presidency remained largely calm with small revolts. Punjab by now was annexed, the Sikh prince was forced helped the British by providing both soldiers and support others estates mostly remain neutral. During the entire period there were lot of killings and atrocities on both sides and ended with mass killings of civilians by British army. The outrageous events was largely criticized in Britain and then started the reorganisation of entire administrative affairs in India by British Parliament passing Government of India Act 1958

Bahadur Shah Zafar was tried for treason and exiled in Rangoon, the formal end of Mughal Dynasty in India.

1858 Government of India Act: British East India Company after 1853 charter act were ruling under patronage of British Parliament was completely dissolved and transferred to British Crown – Queen Victoria. A separate provision in British Parliament, called Secretary of State for India, with counsel of ministers to administer India. The post of Governor General of India was abolished and replaced by Viceroy of India, Charles Canning being the first. THE FORMAL START OF BRITISH RAJ IN INDIAN SUBCONTINENT

Map of British India
Map of British India

1858 The British Raj territories included present-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh which continued to be part till Independence in 1947, except for small territories held like Goa by Portuguese and Pondicherry by French. Burma was also part of British India till 1937. Burma was separated from India and directly administered by the British Crown from 1937 until their independence in 1948.

The kingdoms of Nepal and Bhutan, having fought wars with the British, subsequently signed treaties with them and were recognised by the British as independent states. The Kingdom of Sikkim was established as a princely state after the events of Anglo-Gorkha wars. There were some small islands which were British protectorates. Kashmir and Ladaakh was also a princely estate under them but independently being administered by Dogra dynasty.

Next on British India till Independence is under research.. will come soon on this blog. Thanks for reading and write to me at me@singhabhi.in

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Story of Ancient India

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This article covers The Story of Indian peninsula and its history from pre-historic age to start of Mughal Empire in India, its not an history write-up rather my understanding  through accounts of various historians and archaeologists of evolution which this peninsula had gone through. Typically 3500 BCE to 1526 AD (5000 years)

Pre-Historic Period (Bronze Age)

Around 3500 BCE was the period when the human settlements around river Indus (Sindhu) had started to organize themselves and realizing the stability of life around Indus river.  If we look at the geography of this region, this valley has got major source of water through Indus, Jhelum and Chenab river. So the natives to these area started building their lives in this valley, although its significantly evident in Harrapa and Mohenjo-daro but I am sure there must have been more such settlements in this entire valley. Slowly by the end of 3rd millennium BCE this civilization gained maturity in terms of urbanization, improving the way of living and matured idea of society life. It was the same period when Egyptian Pharaohs were building Pyramids and by-virtue it signifies that these two ancient civilizations had nothing in common due to lack of cultural exchange. Egyptian history during this period has got evidences of weapons, wars and conflicts for possession but there is no such concrete evidence in Indus Valley civilization. There is also no evidences of monotheistic believes, for that matter any other belief. This also relates to the fact that the living was in peace and were in prosperity.

The civilization that we have evidence of around modern-day India and Pakistan is the Indus Valley Civilization, and it’s right around the Indus River in modern-day Pakistan and northwest India.

As historians say, 2nd millennium till mid 1st millennium BCE was mature period of Indus Valley civilization, a mature Harappan Phase, wherein large cities and urban areas emerged and the civilization expanded, precisely the period when Vedic Era and construction of cast system started to take shape in society. It might have been an influence of other peoples. This next significant period in the history of South Asia, and it involves the migration or the introduction of another group of people, we believe another group of people, and that’s the Indo-Aryans. Indo-Aryans, also referred to as just the Aryans, who we believe began to migrate into modern-day Pakistan and northwest India at right about the same time that the Indus Valley Civilization was declining. Some historians actually believe maybe Indus Valley Civilization declined because of them. Maybe it was some type of an invasion, although this theory is not as widely held anymore. Some historians believe that the Indus Valley Civilization and this Indo-Aryan migration somehow merged. But this period that we’re talking about, with the migration of these Indo-Aryans, this is called the Vedic Period.

Iron Age

It’s called the Vedic Period because we learn about it from a collection of literary works that we get from that time, most famously the Vedas.
Veda comes from Sanskrit, Sanskrit is the language of the Vedas and Vedas, in Sanskrit, means: knowledge. They’re the foundation of, one, what we know about the Vedic Period, but they’re also the foundation of modern Indian culture and religion. The primary pieces of the Vedas are the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda, and the Atharvaveda. The Rigveda in particular is considered the oldest of the Vedas. It’s believed that it was composed around the early part of that Vedic Period, between maybe 1500 BCE and around 1200 BCE. We’re talking between 3,000 and 3500 years ago, while these three Vedas we believe were composed later. Now, these Indo-Aryans, it’s believed, were essentially pastoralists; they were cattle herders, perhaps nomadic. But as they began to settle not just the Indus River Valley, they actually began to settle the entire Gangetic Plain, which would include this area, which would be northeast India as well as countries like Bangladesh. The Indus and the Ganges are two of the most significant rivers in this area but as they started to settle the Gangetic Plain they also became more traditional farmers. Its believed that the two significant Hindu epics, we believe the events happened around that late Vedic Period. The events of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Now, the Vedas and these epic poems were originally orally transmitted. But then, later, either in the late Vedic Period or after the Vedic Period was when they were actually written down. Just so you have some context here, Sanskrit is considered one of the oldest Indo-European languages we have. Just more about Indo-European languages in a little bit, because it turns out that Sanskrit is related to European languages like Greek and Latin and even Germanic languages. Sanskrit is one of the oldest, alongside Mycenaean Greek and the Hittite Language. Those were all contemporary civilizations of around this period right over here, in the Second Millennium BCE. Just so have you context, Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, his life was in one of these Vedic kingdoms in the northeast of India. Now, as I mentioned, the Vedas laid the foundation for much of what we consider to be modern-day India. In fact, the first documented reference to the Indus River we have from the Vedas.

The Indus Valley Civilization, we haven’t been able to decipher their writing. They didn’t wrote down the word Indus. It was in the Vedas that we have the word Sindhu, and Sindhu was later changed or mispronounced or pronounced differently into other words that we now associate with India. Words like Hindu, Indus, and India, they all derived from Sindhu, which was the River referred to in the Vedas, and then changed into Hindu, Indus, and things like India. Now, also in the Vedas is the first time that we have reference to a stratified social structure, and we see that with the Varnas that are referred to. You could view these as social roles or classes. At the top you have the Brahmins: the priests, the scholars, and the teachers. Then the next you have the kings and the warriors referred to as the Kshatriyas. Then the Vaishyas, who are the farmers, the merchants, the artisans. Then the Shudras: the labourers. Now, some historians and Vedic scholars believe that these reference to the Varnas were added after the Vedic Period to things like the Rigveda; and some believe that these weren’t traditional casts, as it’s sometimes perceived today, but just a reference to different social strata, that it wasn’t necessarily inherited. We are not actually sure about that, but just to give a feel of what was in the Rigveda.

I encourage you to go look at the actual primary text, and there’s a lot out there to read. It includes prayers; it includes praise of the gods; it includes rituals; but it also has a lot of interesting philosophy. I find it really interesting because it shows a fairly mature philosophical attitude. This is actually the origin hymn, and this is just a part of it. We’re talking about the origin of the universe. “Who really knows? “Who will here proclaim it? “Whence was it produced? “Whence is this creation? “Gods came afterward, with the creation of this universe. “Who then knows whence it has arisen? “Whether God’s will created it, or whether He was mute. “Perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not. “Only He who is the overseer in highest heaven knows. “Only He knows, or perhaps He does not know.” I just find it interesting because it takes a very philosophical view towards this very fundamental question of the origin of the actual universe.

Coming back to the Vedic Period, very important period in India. It really lays the foundation for what we consider to be modern Hinduism, modern-day India. It starts as really a Bronze-Age civilization, but as we get into the later Vedic Period, we see them smelting iron, and creating iron tools, and things like that. The language of the Vedas, the Sanskrit, when Western scholars started to discover it.

This era of 9th Century to 5th century BCE was the period when the Vedic arrangement in this peninsula gets some more thoughts of divulgence giving new ideas to life and being, giving source to religion like Jainism and Buddhism and are the oldest practiced religions in the world. This changed the entire dynamics and also consolidation to monotheistic culture. This period was also the start and consolidation of Great Kingdoms in shape of Janpads and MahaJanpads.

The southern part of this peninsula, where the Dravidians, native to this land, were also  experiencing dynasties like Pandyas and some smaller establishments culturally accumulative and sufficient. Its this period when expansion drive from Indo-Aryan lands having been consolidated into  Janpads, crossed the Vindhys and started their influence to some extent. The story of southern India moreover remains self sufficient with respect to outside influence in this era whereas the northern peninsula started experiencing invasions of bloody nature from west and first known invasion happened in this era from Persian region. The current region of Punjab (Indo-Pak) and Sindh (Pakistan) has started absorbing the outside influence after King Darius from Persia expanded to this region and included this region in scope for the upcoming invasive migrations from his land.

The most prominent and important event in the history of inter-civilization exchange happened in this region with the onset of Alexander in first quarter of 3rd century BCE, where his army intruded but never established themselves in this region but started an era of Indo-Greek influence, at almost in the same era when Chandragupta (Maurya) was on his way to establish the Great Mauryan Empire.

Mauryan Empire (Medieval Period)

Chandragupta being a Jain by religion gave a boost to non Vedic ideology and the homogeneity of Indo-Greek continued to an extent that he even married to Macedonian general’s daughter. His son Bindusara consolidated the empire and passed his legacy to “The Great Ashok”, is what he is called, who not only held the empire but also expanded it. This was the Mauryan period in 3rd-2nd century BCE when the boundaries expanded along with propagation of Buddhism and Jainism. Ashok even called “Chand Ashok” because of his bloody expeditions, but later while at his consolidation phase, he institutionalized cultural exchange which gave enough space to Greeks, who had already gained and adopted from Egyptians. 

There has been much similarities of the extent of influence from Achaemenid Empire (a Persian empire) to Lion Capital of Ashoka which especially shows obvious Achaemenid and Sargonid connection. Mauryans and Academicians had been in close contact since the Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley, from 500 BCE till 300 BCE.

The subsequent phase of 2nd century BCE for next 500 years, Indian historians termed it as “Dark Age”, but with account of Buddhist texts, this period was the transformation phase of history of this region.

Post Mauryan ERA

On the northern side of this peninsula, Indo-Greeks / Bactrians had a stable influence and it gave start to SAKA era which had an enormous influence which is still evident. The Hindu calendar in current form named as Saka calendar. Sakas were migrant tribe from north-central-asia also called Scythians who in turn were in great influence of Thracian and other nomadic tribes of region around black sea, caspian  sea and mediterranean sea.

This dark age as so called because of no single empire in this region rather was the age of, Sakas in north-west, Shungas in north-east and Satavahanas in central and southern part of this peninsula who collectively created a mixed culture and the era was moreover peaceful, in my view this 500 years had a very healthy period of cultural and knowledge exchange.

The book Indica written by Megasthenese mention a powerful tribe named Andarae possibly is identified with the Andhras, considered evidence of Satavahana rule in the 1st century BCE.  Apart Megasthenese the most prominent extract of history of this era comes from Jain and Buddhist texts. This era of 500+ years gave a boost to culture, language and possibly start to Hinduism evolved from Vedic arrangement after the end of Mauryan empire in the period of Dark age (called so by Indian historians) and by the rise of Satavahanas, a Dravidian expansion from mid-southern peninsula. Its a debatable subject but the texts from this era suggests so, that this era from of another 250+ years (1st century BCE to 2nd century CE) also gave precedence to Hinduism over Buddhism and Jainism and led further precedence of persecution of these religions forcing them be exiled to surrounding regions.

(This peninsula being origin place of Jainism and Buddhism, have very less population as there are many views of Buddhist persecution in this region and even their temples converted to Hindu temples.)

This is the same era around end of 1st century BCE when Roman Empire started taking shape, though Roman empire’s influence in this peninsula was none, but it had given fire and fuel to current day middle eastern world to be aggressive on the approach of existence and supremacy.

Common ERA (CE) or mostly termed as AD (Anno Domini) As we all know, as per our current, universally accepted Gregorian Calendar, a upgraded version of Roman Calendar reckoned the year of the birth of Jesus Christ, with AD counting years from the start of this epoch. 

The area around mediterranean sea was fully under the umbrella of Roman Empire and even had foot holds into Egypt as well, their being also opened trade across the lands and oceans, established permanent trade routes to the eastern world. This peninsular region during the late 1st century BCE and early periods of Common Era was quietly absorbing within the region. The 1st century CE (or AD) left a huge impact and influence on globe with the start of monotheistic belief into a new Abrahamic religion named “Christianity”.

While in the same period Indo-Greek, Indo-Parthian, Indo-Scythians and Satavahanas were into conquest for dominance. The Kushan dynasty in particular had diplomatic and trade contacts with the Romans, Persians,  Aksumites (North-East Africa) and Hans (China).

In the third century CE a major shift in power happened with the rise of Gupta Empire, the most important tenure or reign also also called by some historians as the Golden Age of History.

Gupta Empire

In first quarter of 3rd century CE, started by Sri Gupta succeeded by Chandragupta-I (different from Chandragupta from Mauryan empire) then by Samudragupta, the 4th century CE was the period of expansion and consolidation by Guptas which was majorly done by Samudragupta and Chandragupta II also known as Vikramaditya and this era of Gupta setup Hindu dominance to this region along side Cholas who continued their dominance to southern part of peninsula.

Culture, art and knowledge sharing peaked in this era and many of the mythological literary such as Mahabharata and Ramayana, were written/re-written during this period. Kalidasa, Aryabhata, and Vatsyayana who made academic fields such as science, art and culture to new heights. The poems of Purans, are also supposedly written around this period.

With fall of Gupta empire during 6th century which later was somewhat consolidated by Harshvardhan in 7th century, this was an important period in world history where there were huge consolidation of nomadic tribes happening in entire region around middle eastern world as is the period of start of third Abrahamic religion “Islam” which changed the entire dynamics of entire world.

By the end of seventh century, this region was divided where Chalukyas dominated south west and central peninsula, Cholas/Pandyas in south and a fragmented north and eastern region in terms of stability in post Gupta empire.  The next 100 years [ 8th century ] was a bloody period where the dynamics of middle eastern World has changed and Islamic consolidation was formalised, the rule of Khalifa (Caliphate) was established. The same period of time when Indian peninsula were divided into, if not less, more than 15 kingdoms and also in the middle of 8th century, first Islamic invasion happened and from there on north peninsula experiences multiple invasions from Arab and Persian region. South peninsula was mostly secured by Chalukyas and Cholas.

The events of invasion by different Commanders under Caliphate continued for next 250-300 years first by Muhammad Bin Quasim and then by various commanders. Mahmud Ghazni  was one of the notable regular invader to Pubjab and Sindh region with only intention of increasing their wealth for their conquests. While Chola and Chalukya kings during their reign were extending their influences and were one of the most powerful dynasties in Asia during his period. This southern dynasty has the greatest influence in current form of Hinduism being practiced as they were least exposed to cultural exchange from persian and arab world.

Historians believe that this period of Post Gupta Empire till 1000 CE also called Early medieval India was the period of Start and rise of Hinduism, where earlier influences of Indo-Scythian, Indo-Greek cultures got homogeneous adaption into native Dravidians resulting current day practices of Hinduism.

Delhi Sultanate

Prior to the rise of Muhammad, Arab world was dominated by self governing nomadic tribes with polytheistic believes and after the unification of these tribes under Islam, the region became unified and most of the tribes adopted Islam with formation of Caliphate (Khalifa) who’s generals and commanders expanded their territories for about 500 years. Indian peninsula started experiencing these, as early as, middle of 8th century and formally with multiple invasions of Muhammad of Ghor by end of 12th century, these Persians formally extended their territory further to Punjab and Sindh region to current day Delhi to formally establish The Delhi Sultanate. It started with Mamluk (Slave) dynasty who’s rulers were no more invaders, rather they settled on this area and further started consolidation to other parts of Indian peninsula. The boundaries of this Sultanate kept varying for next 200 years as its rulers, mostly Turks/Persians, kept on changing. Major dynasties in this next 200 years were Slave, Khilji, Tughlaq, Sayed and finally Lodi.

During this period of Delhi Sultanate, Khilji and Tughlaq era were most effective ones and also had the major control over the peninsula, South India continued its immunity with northern invaders, especially Vijayanagar empire who continued their legacy with previous Chola, Pandya, Chalukas etc.

Ever-since the trade routes flourished between Europe – through – Middle East to China, it had also opened doors for the Mangols (descendants  of Genghis Khan) and to keep striking in the north-western part of this peninsula, Khilji’s fought several battles to keep them away from this land and.  The era of Delhi Sultanate during Tughlaqs were the most prosperous in terms of trade and development also this period of 200 years were full of conflicts between then kingdoms, for survival and religious reluctance.

This period was also part of a trending spread of Islam. During and in the Delhi Sultanate, there was a composition of native civilization with that of Islam and the further integration had a significant impact on Indian culture and society. This era, inculcated a mixed culture, greater use of mechanics, economic growth and the emergence of the Hindi and Urdu language and on the flip side started a permanent religious divide which is still a major cause of conflict. This Islamic conquest further continued post Lodi era when Mughals (Mongols) take control of the sultanate and the start of Mughal era in this region.

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Spritual Joust and Divinity – Hindu Temples

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Being a born Hindu, probably gives an immunity to rationally analyse places where religious faith gets joult and joust in search of divinity. Spirituality is divine, but when exposed to ones scarcity of attainment results an outrage, which can be experienced in all popular temples across annex. I have had my faith vanished while I saw the commercial acpect of vending God for gain way back when I was at the door step of adulthood, which never prompted me to be pious.The further apathy deepens with Joust, Push, Pull, Scream, Shout and extortionist builtup around these temples. 

Whataboutry comes strong to justify the concept and gives license to feel content but in conditions where devotee can only get a glimpse for a second after all efforts, what is registered in their thoughts are just these Joust/s.

There is a way to avoid and get a clear exhibit of deity, a commercial offering and the entire arrangement of chaos is probably designed to mint money by virtue of it. This peculiar arrangement of connection between devotee and deity convenienced by gratuity which avoids Joust and Joult has certainly forced divinity to escape.

Eventually I was aware of this situation and for so forth it proved to be true once again.

There is a flip-side to all this, where my observation upon devotees who give a damn to establish connection by entering into these temples, rather in search of their own inner soul, leaving materials behind are devoted to experience devinity by way of meditation in isolation and certainly free from Jousts, Push, Pull, Shout and Joults of temple. Spirituality has no rule to follow. It’s a relationship  with self and not about competency, rather its about intimacy and connection where the way of spiritual life begins with being alone.

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Pen vs Gun

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Pen, A voice of mind vs Gun, rebuttal to muzzle the voice.

In civilised society, as children grow and step into a stage where s/he starts controlling their mind, a pencil/PEN is extended to them to express her/his mind and the journey of expression starts. Later few evolve with the ability to express one-selves clearly with sense of gratification and content being constitutional comes naturally from a rational thoughtful mind, be it with a PEN on paper or modern synonyms as Blog which people read. Agreement and dis-agreement creates a space for debate where words are exchanged with argument and  counter argument. Contrary, the disability / incapability  to understand and digest along lack of argument, refutation comes either with laughter, abuse, violence, assault and further leads to bullying display of power with a GUN.

The category of expressive minds are defined as Journalist, Writers, Bloggers, Authors etc. and the history is full of bloody suppression as a matter that a section or group could not justify opposition of their thoughts with a superlative reply with an opinion.

Looking back some five years, we in India have observed such case where writers have been gunned down in dis-agreement.

Sai Reddy 2013
Narendra Dabholkar 2013
Govind Pansare 2014
MVN Shankar 2014
Jagendra Singh 2015
MM Kalburgi 2015
Ranjan Rajdeo 2015
Gauri Lankesh 2017
V. Selvaraj
Brajmani Singh
Ramchandra Chatrapati
Tarun K Acharaya
Sandeep Kothari and may be more which may not have been to my notice.

It really doesn’t matter whether their writings were right or wrong till the time the expression of thoughts are constitutional, any unconstitutional expression have their penal provisions. Its the arrogance and infinite faith in their own wisdom are attributes which decide to muzzle the voice rather exercising constitutional provisions.

An abuse to an argument is acceptance of rout and muzzling of voice is final submission to that thought.

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Propaganda a tested tool

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I start this by what I strongly believe about, one of menace to society in current situation where what propaganda is for a democracy is what violence is/was to dictatorship. ‘TOOL’

Social Media propaganda is a new fictional achievement by propagators, courtesy to, who never believe in fact-checking and get overjoyed with self suited texts/images/videos which in most of time, a feed to their hatred. Most of them want to impress or denounce their contacts and pass it further and further… the compulsive forwards goes on and on… The propagator’s job is done, who all ingested and with further shares felt as a contributor to uplift the pride of the cause, but what was the cause?

Propaganda tool has got its own history and its success in past keep the propagator’s and provoker’s agenda-hope alive to shift the focus of masses to non issues and sometimes push them to dangerous cliffs. In recent times, few middle east organisations, has exploited social media to send its propaganda and messaging out to the world and to draw in people vulnerable to radicalisation. There use to be a ministry for public enlightenment & propaganda in Germany in Nazi era and the used it so effectively, all hatred were so well projected that a large population trusting it as nationalism. Sentiments related to religion, racism, nationalism etc. are some tried and tested vulnerabilities for curators to exploit.

Fabrication of facts, situation and condition is common in our society but most of them are not serious and do not effect masses, those which are meant for larger audience and for special purpose needs avoidance and criticism.

In India, politics and political parties are main source of propaganda as they find it the most easy way to distract masses from their inability, corruption and crime. In recent few years the propaganda of political parties got platforms with dedicated team called “IT-Cell” to keep circulating fake news, morphed images, jokes, videos and fudged figures through social media. Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and Youtube are preferred propagating media along smartphones are destined  for consumption. Consumer-cum-participators at the end of day don’t realize that their thoughts have been contaminated and are pushed away from reality.

Humans are naturally gifted creatures with unmatched capability to rationalise but its the religious/caste astigmatism, political ego, hero worship and most importantly, hatred has marginalized them to such vulnerable state that their exploitation is an insurance to the political masters.

Some recent examples where news and reports manipulated:

Official reports using internet image to project development

Photoshopped image of rally

Photo of Vietnamese Bridge claiming it’s in Chhattisgarh

Similar case can be witnessed where compromised twitter verified accounts started a throated propoganda hashtag #DemonetisationSuccess

Fake videos uploaded on social media after Champions troply final between India and Pakistan

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Demonetization – Speech to reality

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भाइयों और बहनों It gives me immense pleasure to announce that:

All Black money found in Ganges

Terrorist gone underground as their funding stopped

Stone pelting stopped

India on digital money

All नकली note out of system

Corruption died its own death.

Before getting to the topic please go through the series of events unfolded between November 16 and August 17 – Courtsey Business Standard

http://wap.business-standard.com/article-amp/economy-policy/rbi-annual-report-99-of-demonetised-currency-back-into-the-system-117083000891_1.html

November 9-10, 2016: Banks and ATMs remain closed to prepare for changes needed in the system after demonetisation. Govt had announced that any bank deposits of more than Rs 2.5 lakh would face tax and penalty.

November 14, 2016: Govt extends deadline for accepting scrapped notes for public utility and fuel payments until November 24. Queues get longer at ATMs. Cash withdrawal limit for current account holders increased to Rs 50,000 a week. Charges on ATM transactions waived until December 30. Cash crunch continues. Parliament House ATMs also run dry.

November 16, 2016: SBI says it collected Rs 1,14,139 crore in deposits in 7 days.

November 21, 2016: Banks report exchange/deposits from November 10 to November 18 amounted to Rs 5,44,571 crore – Rs 33,006 crore exchanged and Rs 5,11,565 crore deposited. They also report that the public withdrew Rs 1,03,316 crore from their accounts either over the counter or through ATMs.

November 24, 2016: Govt withdraws exchange of old currency notes and extends deadline for exemptions until December 15 midnight.

November 26, 2016: Deposits in Jan Dhan accounts soar sharply by around Rs 27,200 crore to Rs 72,834.72 crore in just 14 days.

November 27, 2016: Rs 32,631 cr deposited in post offices since the announcement of the demonetisation decision.

November 28, 2016: RBI says banks have got about Rs 8.45 lakh crore worth of scrapped notes

December 7, 2016: RBI Governor Urjit Patel says demonetisation was not done in haste. Note ban impact on GDP growth estimated at only 15 bps. RBI says Rs 11.55 lakh crore, or 76 per cent of junked notes, have come back into the system

December 13, 2016: RBI Deputy Governor R Gandhi says banks had collected Rs 12.44 lakh crore worth of deposits in banned notes until December 10.

December 19, 2016: RBI says in the remaining days of the month one could make deposits in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in excess of Rs 5,000 but only once for every account.

January 18, 2017: Governor Patel fails to answer queries on deposited banknotes. He, however, confirms RBI injected Rs 9.2 lakh crore worth of new currency notes into the banking system to help replace the banknotes banned in November.

March 10, 2017: RBI’s Macroeconomic Impact of Demonetisation report says the precise estimate of currency returned to the banking system was not yet available as the reconciliation process was still on.

July 4, 2017: Supreme Court asks the government and RBI to consider granting a window to those who has not been able to exchange scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes for genuine reasons.

July 13, 2017: Governor Patel, appearing before the Finance Standing Committee of Parliament, says the notes deposited after demonetisation are still being counted

August 2, 2017: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley says RBI is in the process of counting scrapped currency notes and will come out with the final figures once the fake notes are weeded out.

August 11, 2017: Describing the impact of demonetisation on the Indian economy in the Economic Survey-II, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian says there has been a 20 per cent reduction in cash in the economy.

August 12, 2017: A paper, ‘Demonetisation and Bank Deposit Growth’, says ‘unusual’ cash deposits in specific accounts that are usually less active is estimated at about Rs1.6-1.7 lakh crore.

August 15, 2017: In his Independence Day speech, PM Modi says demonetisation of old notes led to at least Rs 3 lakh crore of undeclared income coming into the banking system.

August 16, 2017: Congress accuses PM Modi of contrary stand on black money recovered. It says he first announced an additional Rs 3 lakh crore had been brought into the banking system, and then said about Rs 1,25,000 crore black money was recovered

August 27, 2017: Data put out by RBI on its website suggest that at least for the Rs 1,000 notes, almost 99% of the currency in circulation had come back into the banking system

August 29, 2017: Several members of a parliamentary panel seek re-drafting of the draft report on demonetisation as RBI is yet to provide some crucial details, including on the number of junked Rs 500/1000 notes.

I leave up to readers to perceive from the above sequence of events.

Just after RBI published their Annual Report on 30th August comments from different quarters started coming

Some do not understand demonetization” is what our Finance Minister has to say, actually its a question and suspense for him and his inability to defend what he has not done. The one who confidently understood will never take the onus of pain suffered by only those having no black or white money. Few endorsements surely benefited e-wallet business and also ensured benefits in state election. There are certainly some positive outcome of demonetization like tax base rise, more accountability etc. but the cost which the nation has paid is huge. One percent loss of GDP itself amounts to 1.25 Lakhs Cr., which is a huge amount to fiddle with and is not one time. Some would not realize, but within the span of 3 months there is no estimate of domestic trade and production  loss that we suffered.

While taking credit of increased tax base, an additional 93 lacks tax returns are filed is been reported whereas if we see the trend from last actual data available (FY2012-13) in which its evident that out of 5.3Cr returns only 1.7Cr were tax payers i.e. about 32 percent, keeping in mind the same trend only 30lakhs additional tax payer added which also includes natural growth of increase of tax base. Its not worth an addition at such a huge cost of demonetization. The better way to understand this is to look at Direct Tax to GDP ratio which in FY14-15 was 5.7% and in FY16-17 is 5.8%

The idea behind excess money received by banks resulting a healthy state of affairs when they are in position to lend it further but is one look at credit growth of banks which was at 60 years low in Nov16 went onto negative side by July17, this was primarily because of low capacity utilization, which was about 70% in that period resulting low investments, in nutshell not only un-organised sector but also the organised sector got a hit. The worst hit among all were the farmers. Agriculture, a sector which largely operates on cash, with farmers not being paid enough for vegetables and pulses they had grown. Many protested and several state governments waived payments on farm loans.

Less cash economy is a good thing to have but cannot be achieved through demonetization, it would require years to develop as a habit rather force and helplessness.

Counterfeit notes are all back in system and lets wait for this figure to come out from RBI, as what is the actual amount of counterfeit notes

I would not like to comment on corruption and patriotism attached to demonetization as this logic is beyond my imagination.

As far as our current government is concerned, it is unlikely anyone from government will admit it was a big mistake and will continue to put a positive spin on it, as it has been done since November16 and nothing is gonna change on this front as governments are not use to admitting mistakes.

To conclude, no relatively healthy economy has ever carried out demonetization.

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Hinduism A Way of Life

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Hinduism is considered to be the oldest religion that exists and also different from other monotheistic religions in practice. Hinduism is practiced majority in India while Nepal use to be only Hindu country prior to been resolved as Federal Democratic Republic. Aside India and Nepal, Hinduism is practiced throughout the world by immigrant from India. In terms of world’s population it stands one out of seven or in other words, has got third largest followership.

As I am a born Hindu, have realised over age, is a philosophy rather henotheistic practice which has certain boundaries limiting the core essence of this religion. North India believes in complete ownership of practices whereas south and west India demonstrate cultural superiority. Its because of polytheistic nature of this religion the geographical and cultural differences also reflects in their practices.

Hinduism is deeply attached with mythology resulting evolution of stories having same myth with different versions. The concept of Creater, Preserver and Destroyer have their names as Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh (Shiva) respectively are main deity(es), they or their avatars are being worshiped in some way or the other. Its an un-orthodox religion with almost no compulsions while practice, not even worship, has also given path for their followers to carry out their own set and has also resulted in formation of new religions.  Its evident that most monotheistic religions in practice have some rituals or methods to perform by an authorised, if someone wants to adopt, whereas only by way of practice one can be a Hindu if not by birth “Its a way of life”

Truth is eternal, The way of living your life in path of this eternal truth is Dharm. All souls are immortal “Aatma” or can be interpreted as God is inside each of us and is connected to this universe “Brahmand”. The life is to find out the connection between Aatma and Brahmand through “Karm”, good deeds/ bad deeds which influence the path that we follow. Hinduism also believes in reincarnation/re-birth and one’s next life is based upon “Karm”, better in deeds, better the next life and vice versa. In order to release or liberate the soul from this cycle of re-birth, one has to find out its own eternal truth called “Moksha” Freedom from Life and Death through Dharm in her/his life through Karm.

The whole idea of Hundism is to search for the eternal truth by following the “Dharm” and perform “Karm”, a path of knowlwdge, perform your duties, your devotion to society to liberate your soul from constant cycle of reincarnation and free your soul from all the pain and sufferings of life i.e. Moksh or to meet with your God.

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Convenience and Ideology in Politics

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Political parties in India and in general across countries are formed either on certain ideology or with some social-economic agenda or based on certain goal or for some specific purpose or on religious-caste lines. The inception of these parties are mostly on right memorandums and their founders always want to stick with it. Since India is a big country and hugely populated, these political parties want emerging and existing people from political fraternity to join them, take it forward along, but the representations within political parties on a broader level dilutes the essence and its ideology, agenda, goal and purpose. Its the magnetism of power, money and position which overshadows everything and convenience takes over their core political agenda and its evident that even two extreme ideology join each other. There are no surprises when it comes to acquisitive exchange of power and position, even who fought elections against each other, join hands. There are also evident cases where a party fighting election against the one in which a member of that party was an incumbent minister.

The social fabric of India is mainly based on religion, language and caste also there is now a new distinction in society on economic level where these parties carry no ideologies, rather they exploit the social-economic fabric at micro and broad levels to grab power and position.

There are seven national parties and about 50 odd regional/state parties in India. The history has got its evidence that the party at locus tends to attract members of non-ideological parties converge to find their suitable point of match with political justifications. The convenience overcomes ideology.

There is no harm in politicians wanting to be near post and positions, ultimately the essence of the profession itself is to service the citizens which can only be done by being in business and while doing so they first have to leave the high grounds of ideology. I personally have not witnessed any political party working on its main ideology ever since I started following politics.

 

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Badminton in India – A New Chapter

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World Badminton Championship 2017 has started a new chapter in Indian badminton as this is the first time that two iconic players from India has shared top three positions. A proud moment for us to have P.V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal as inspirational figures for new upcoming players.

There’s no denial of the fact that cricket still is most watched and played sport in India. But ever since players like Nehwal and Sindhu in guidance of Pullela Gopichand started winning major tournaments, it took giant steps in bringing more youngsters into the courts with racquets.

Badminton first gained popularity in the country in the late 70s and 80s which was the time when players like Prakash Padukone and Syed Modi came into the limelight. Prakash Padukone became the first Indian to win the All England Championships. The duo also won medals in other international events like the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games.

Then after there was a gap and badminton as a game lost it grounds of popularity, there were players reaching up to some level of recognition but no one could retain and maintain their positions in international level.

The major turnaround in Indian badminton came when All England Champion Pullela Gopichand started his academy in Hyderabad and Saina Nehwal became the first iconic player to maintain the position for almost a decade. She is like Sachin Tendulkar of badminton who remained an inspiration to young players. The legacy of Saina Nehwal is now been carried further by P.V. Sindhu and India is now at the doors of International league to challenge East Asian dominance in this game.

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