Modern South Asia

A timeline to accompany HIST 1160

Decline of South Asia's Capitalist Economy

The entire world felt the affects of this depression, but it was especially detrimental to South Asia because of problems that arose from British colonialism. During this time, Indians were forced to buy English manufactured goods because they were cheaper than Indian goods, Indians were forced to export many of their goods to China for British profit, and several established cultural groups that had served as the center of Indian livelihood and success were broken off by the British. These things are significant in that they shape a universally accepted view of India that exists today, the view that India is a nation of traditionalist culture that hasn't recovered from British rule. India was one of the most progressive and capitalistic places in the world before British colonialism, but the depression of the 1820's-1850's gave it a certain stigma, and made it little but the unfortunate leftovers of a British empire.

Massacre of Amritsar

On April 13th, 1919, British troops open fire on a large crowd of unarmed Indians in Amritsar (in the Punjab region). Several hundred people were killed and is widely regarded as a turning point in India's modern history. The event permanently scarred Indo-British relations and was the prelude to Gandhi's full commitment to the cause of Indian independence.

Ghandi in South Africa

These were the twenty years that Ganhdi lived in South Africa. He observed the Indian community and the way it was treated by the British Empire and advocated that Indians should be treated as equal citizens of the empire. Furthermore, he observed the materialistic nature of the West and tested his theory of small village states. It was during time in South africa that Gandhi formulated the idea that in order to improve the condition of India, people must exercise swadesh and should have small independent villages that were linked together.

Jinnah Unites Hindus and Muslims

In 1916, Jinnah was offered a position to lead the All-India Muslim League, which he accepted. Having previously been a member of the Indian National Congress, he used this dual power to attempt to unite Hindus and Muslims under the common cause of independence. He appealed to Muslims by conveying to them that the British were conceding to their wishes in order to justify continuation of the British Raj. In this way, he was an integral part in the beginnings of the nationalist movement in India. Source: Midnight Furies: Jawaharlal and Jinnah

Post War Debt to India

In 1931, India’s debt to Britain totaled Rs. 1000 crore. The primary viewpoint held by the Indian national congress at this point was that this debt was the result of the British trying to further their interests in India. In 1947, Britain owed approximately Rs. 1600 crore. This debt was primarily accumulated based on Britain’s agreement to pay any Indian soldiers that fought on foreign lands. As World War 2 expanded to areas in South Asia, this sum expanded far more than the British had originally suspected.

Britain (and India) Declare War

Following the outbreak of the second world war, the viceroy of India, Lord Linlithgow, declared that India would go to war, alongside Britain, against Germany. Due to the unilateral nature of this act, considerable resistance brewed among Indian nationalists. In a show of protest, multiple provincial Congress ministries in India resigned. Ultimately, due to the lack of Congress rule in 1940, the Muslim League had ample political headroom to enact the Pakistan Resolution, a demand for independent Muslim states. (Source: Metcalf, pg. 203)

Integration of the Princely States

With Indian independence came the question of the princely states, as they were solely associated with the British Raj. The new governments were anxious to incorporate them into the new nations, and secured the cooperation of the majority of the princes through threats and intimidation by the date of independence. However, the Indian Army had to take the Nizam of Hyderabad by force in September of 1948, and the Maharaja of Kashmir only acceded to India after an invasion by Pakistani military men.

Gandhi Tours Northern India

Throughout the years of 1920 and 1922, Gandhi toured throughout northern India, speaking about his beliefs. Hundreds of thousands of Indians would gather at each stop on his tour, if only to catch a glimpse of him; to receive darshan. Followers of Gandhi developed a god-like devotion to him, manifesting in him a belief of holiness. Source: Gandhi as Mahatma p.2

Gandhi Assassination

On January 30th 1948, Gandhi was assassinated while in the garden of what was once known as the Birla House. The major cause for his assassination was Gandhi’s support for a unified state for both Muslims and Hindus. Gandhi’s protests, which contributed to the prevention of legislation that would separate the two faiths instigated a radical Hindu nationalist named Nathuram Godse and led to his assassination.

The Birth of Gandhi

Born in 1869 into a trading family, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a shy, intelligent child. Gandhi would later go on to become highly educated and highly passionate about Indian Rights as he moved from India, to london, to South Africa, and finally to India again. He became the leader of Indian independence from British Rule and united Indians in a manner that nationalists had not yet been successful in.

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