Showing posts with label india. Show all posts
Showing posts with label india. Show all posts

Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Atal Bihari Vajpayee is the former leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), or Indian People’s Party, a pro-Hindu political movement that seeks to define Indian culture and society according to Hindu religious values. Vajpayee was twice prime minister of India, in 1996 and from 1998 to 2004. He is considered the leader of Hindu nationalism and served as a member of parliament for almost 50 years.

During his six years as prime minister, Vajpayee worked to modernize the Indian economy and settle long-standing disputes with Pakistan. His government has been accused of fostering racism against Muslims and political extremism. Alongside his political activity Vajpayee also earned a reputation as a poet, publishing collections of poetry.

Vajpayee was born in Gwailor in Madhya Pradesh in 1924. He earned a master’s degree in political science from Victoria College and DAV College. His involve- ment with politics started at a very early age. Although initially close to communism he soon shifted to the right, finding inspiration in the campaigns of Syama Prasad Mookerjee for the inclusion of the Muslim majority state of Kashmir in the Indian Union.


In 1957 Vajpayee won his first parliamentary seat, and, after Mookerjee’s death, he took on the leadership of the BJS, becoming one of the major and most respected voices of opposition to the Congress Party. Yet, although the BJS increasingly won strong support in the northern regions of the country, it repeatedly failed to remove the Congress from power.

During the Indian Emergency of 1975–77, proclaimed by then-prime minister Indira Gandhi, Vajpayee was a vocal critic of the government and the suspensions of civil rights. He was also briefly put in jail. Upon his release he helped to form the Janata Coalition.

In his two years in government and in spite of his Hindu nationalism, Vajpayee worked to improve diplomatic relationships with Pakistan and China, visiting both countries and establishing trade relations with them. As the Janata government folded, destroyed by internal rifts, Vajpayee founded the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which became the new party of Hindu nationalism and conservatism.

The party performed badly in the 1984 election, in which it won only two seats in Parliament, in part because of the wave of sympathy for the Congress Party that swept the nation after the murder of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. The anti-Muslim sentiment that took hold of large sectors of the nation in the 1980s and early 1990s led to an impressive growth in the BJP.

With strong parliamentary support, Vajpayee embarked on a large kegiatan of economic reforms, encouraging the private sector and limiting state involvement in the industrial sector to contain waste and public debt. He also stimulated foreign investments and research in information technology, making India one of the major powers in the field.

During Vajpayee’s government, India experienced one of its fastest periods of economic growth. Yet critics argue that the poorer sectors of Indian society were left out of this prosperity. Vajpayee’s foreign policy record is equally mixed. His decision to conduct five underground nuclear tests in Rajasthan provoked international criticism.

Yet his government made historic progress in the establishment of normal relations with Pakistan, and President Bill Clinton’s official visit to India signaled the beginning of a new diplomatic entente between the United States and India after the tensions of the cold war. The economic and diplomatic successes of his government, however, were not enough to assure Vajpayee’s reelection.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Small of stature but solid in fortitude, Mother Teresa was born on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, Albania. The youngest of the children of Nikola and Dran Bojaxhiu, she was baptized Gonxha Agnes. Her father’s sudden death when Gonxha was eight left the family in difficult financial straits and left her mother as her guide for character and vocation. Her local Jesuit parish also contributed strongly to her formation.

At 18, desiring to become a missionary, Gonxha joined the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Sisters of Loretto) in Ireland. There she received the name Sister Mary Teresa after St. Thérèse of Lisieux. In December she departed for India, arriving in Calcutta on January 6, 1929.

After making her first profession of vows in May 1931, Sister Teresa was assigned to the Loretto Entally community in Calcutta and taught at St. Mary’s School for girls. On May 24, 1937, she made her simpulan vows. From that time on she was called Mother Teresa. She continued teaching at St. Mary’s and in 1944 became the school’s principal.

On September 10, 1946, during the train ride from Calcutta to Darjeeling for her annual retreat, Mother Teresa said she experienced a divine love for souls, a force within her that motivated her for the rest of her life.


She felt called to establish a religious community, the Missionaries of Charity sisters, dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor. Nearly two years passed in discernment before Mother Teresa received permission to begin.

On August 17, 1948, she dressed for the first time in a white, blue-bordered sari and left Loretto to enter the world of the poor. On December 21 she went for the first time to the slums to find and serve among "the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for". After some months she was joined by a number of her former students.

On October 7, 1950, the new congregation of the Missionaries of Charity was officially established in Calcutta. By the early 1960s Mother Teresa began to send her sisters to other parts of India. In February 1965 she opened a house in Venezuela. It was soon followed by foundations in Rome and Tanzania and, eventually, on every continent. During the years of rapid growth the world began to focus its attention on Mother Teresa.

Numerous awards honored her work. An increasingly interested media began to follow her activities. Her humble stature and effective work also attracted the attention of many intellectuals and celebrities, many of whom were touched by her spirit.

Mother Teresa’s life bore witness to the joy of loving, the dignity of every human person, the value of little things done faithfully, and the surpassing worth of faith in God. But only after her death was it revealed that her interior life was marked by a painful experience of feeling separated from God. At times she grappled with profound doubts and fears about her work and her faith.

Despite increasingly severe health problems, she continued to govern her society of sisters and respond to the needs of the poor and the church. By 1997 Mother Teresa’s sisters numbered nearly 4,000 and were established in 610 foundations in 123 countries. In March 1997 she handed on her duties as superior to a newly elected successor.

On September 3, 1997, Mother Teresa died. She was given a state funeral by the government of India, and her body was buried in the headquarters of her order. Her tomb quickly became a place of pilgrimage. Less than two years later, in view of Mother Teresa’s widespread reputation of holiness and the miracles reported as connected to her intercession, Pope John Paul II permitted official discussions about her canonization as a saint to begin. On October 19, 2003, he beatified Mother Teresa before a crowd of at least 300,000.

Tashkent Agreement

The Tashkent Agreement of 1966 brought a temporary end to the 1965 war between India and Pakistan and was important subsequently in regulating negotiations over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

The United Nations (UN) had organized a cease-fire in 1965 when it became clear that the fighting had the possibility of endangering large population centers. After 17 days of fighting, neither side wished to resume hostilities owing to the vulnerability of their people, the lack of ammunition and supplies, and the lack of war goals that could be held.

Arms suppliers in the United States and the United Kingdom as well as in China were unwilling to provide more weapons. Consequently, all parties were amenable to finding a means of diplomatically resolving the confrontation.


Soviet prime minister Alexei Nikolaevich Kosygin invited both sides to a conference at Tashkent in the southern Soviet Uzbek Republic. The subsequent agreement was signed by the president of Pakistan, Mohammad Ayub Khan, and the Indian prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, on January 10, 1966. Unfortunately, Shastri died the following day of a heart attack.

The main provisions included the withdrawal of all troops to their prewar positions, the restoration of diplomatic relations, the promise not to intervene in the internal affairs of the other side, and the agreement to hold discussions concerning various social and economic issues.

The oversight of the withdrawal of forces was conducted by the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) and the United Nations India-Pakistan Observation Mission (UNIPOM). These missions were successfully concluded.

The permanent end to war and the renunciation of terrorist activities in Kashmir were not included in the jawaban treaty, and both India and Pakistan suffered from some measure of internal disorder. In the case of Pakistan, unrest forced the resignation of Ayub Khan, the head of a military government, in 1969.

Meanwhile, Shastri was succeeded by Indira Gandhi, whose administration was troubled by right-wing opposition. The two countries were at war again in 1971 as part of the secession of East Bengal from Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh.

Lal Bahadur Shastri

Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indian prime minister at the time of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, was born on October 2, 1901, at Mughalsarai, Uttar Pradesh. Shastri graduated from Kashi Vidya Peeth in Varanasi in 1926, attaining the degree of shastri (equivalent to a bachelor’s degree).

His surname, Shastri, was taken by him from this degree. He was attracted to the freedom movement while at school and participated in the noncooperation and civil disobedience movements launched by Mohandas K. Gandhi.

After India’s independence Shastri became the home minister of Uttar Pradesh state. He then joined politics on the national level, became the general secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in 1951, under Jawaharlal Nehru as president, and became a close confidant of Nehru.

Shastri was a humble man and tolerant of opposing viewpoints, but never wavered from his convictions. He resigned as railway minister after an accident near Ariyalur, Tamil Nadu, taking responsibility for the event. Shastri was a very capable organizer of the Congress Party and contributed to the success of his party in general elections.


After Nehru’s death on May 27, 1964, party stalwarts favored the noncontroversial Shastri as his successor as prime minister. As prime minister, he tried to solve the rising duduk perkara of food shortage in the country and worked to ameliorate the condition of the peasantry.

Shastri showed strong determination and iron will in his dealings with Pakistan. These had been bad since independence. But the second Indo-Pakistani Wars began during Shastri’s premiership. India had been humiliated in the Sino-Indian War of 1962, and Pakistan exploited the situation by fomenting trouble on the western border of India. Shastri made diplomatic efforts to solve the duduk perkara but failed.

The conflict began in the Rann of Kutch region in Gujarat in March 1965 when Pakistani infiltrators entered Kashmir. The war was a stalemate. The United Nations Security Council called for a cease-fire on September 22. Then a meeting of the premiers of India and Pakistan, arranged by Soviet premier Alexei Kosygin, took place in the city of Tashkent.

The Tashkent Agreement was signed by Shastri and Pakistani president Ayub Khan on January 10, 1966. It restored normal relations between India and Pakistan. Both armies went back to the positions they had held before the war, and the cease-fire line became the de facto border between the two countries.

Shastri suffered a heart attack and died the next day. A grateful nation awarded him with the highest honor, Bharat Ratna, posthumously. Shastri had left an indelible mark in Indian politics because of his leadership quality, honesty, and steadfast determination.

Jawaharlal Nehru - Indian Leader

Jawaharlal Nehru - Indian Leader
Jawaharlal Nehru came from a distinguished Kashmiri Brahmin family. His father, Motilal Nehru (1861–1931), was a successful lawyer who joined the Indian National Congress (INC), becoming its president in 1920.

The elder Nehru founded a nationalist newspaper named The Independent and was elected to the Indian Legislative Assembly in accordance with the India Act (or Mongatu-Chelmsford Reform of 1919) between 1923 and 1924, and in 1926. He was also the author of the 1918 Nehru Report, which advocated dominion status for India.

Jawaharlal Nehru was educated at Harrow and Cambridge University in England, returning to India in 1912. He had a brief career as a barrister but soon gave up the legal profession and joined the Indian National Congress. He became a follower of Mohandas Gandhi, accompanying him in civil disobedience campaigns for self-government for India and serving many terms in jail.

He rose quickly in the Congress, becoming leader of its left wing, its secretary between 1929 and 1939, and also its president. He used five months of internment in Ahmadnagar Fort in 1944 to write a book titled The Discovery of India that explored India’s cultural heritage.


When freed from prison, he participated in negotiating sessions with British authorities in attempts to find mutually acceptable formulas for advancing India’s quest for independence. Although he condemned the provisions of the India Act of 1935 as totally inadequate, he nevertheless campaigned for the legislative elections that it authorized, winning impressive majorities in all non-Muslim provinces in 1937.

Triumphantly Nehru stated that henceforth there were “only two parties” in India, the British-controlled government and the INC. Such statements motivated Mohammed Ali Jinnah, president of the All India Muslim League (which won in the Muslim majority provinces) to rally Indian Muslims to work toward a separate nation, Pakistan.

World War II shattered hopes of Hindu-Muslim unity. While the Congress refused to cooperate with the British war effort without first achieving independence and ordered all its provincial ministries to resign, the League hailed the day that the order was given as a day of deliverance for Muslims.

League ministries cooperated with British authorities throughout the war and thereby gained valuable governing experience. Nehru spent the war years in jail for leading campaigns of noncooperation, and out of jail negotiating with British missions on the timetable for the transfer of power to Indians. His longest stint in prison was between August 1942 and March 1945.

Nehru with Gandhi

Elections in Britain in 1945 had brought the Labour Party to power. Prime Minister Clement Attlee appointed Louis, Lord Mountbatten, Allied supreme commander in the Southeast Asia war theater, the last viceroy to India to complete the handover of power, set for August 1947.

By that time the Muslim League had become firmly committed to Pakistan, and Gandhi and Nehru were forced to concede to a partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan, which was accompanied by communal rioting and large-scale movement of refugees, with countless killed. Nehru became the first prime minister of independent India.

The years between 1947 and 1964, when Nehru was prime minister and the Congress Party held a majority in the Indian parliament, are called the Nehru Era. Economically, Nehru was committed to industrial expansion and adopted many features of the planned economy of communist nations, although he also allowed free enterprise.

He abandoned the Gandhian vision of handicraft industries. India’s neutral stance and leadership among the nonaligned nations resulted in both the Communist and the Western blocs giving large amounts of economic aid to India. Farming remained in private hands, and there was no state-sponsored land distribution to the peasants.

Economic development was stymied by rapid population growth, spurred by medical advances that increased life expectancy. Nehru conceded that India had to run fast in order to stand still because, despite steady gains in gross national product, per capita income showed little growth, and most of the population remained very poor.

Under Nehru (and afterward), India’s main international masalah was Pakistan. The two newly independent nations went to war immediately over control of Kashmir, a princely state in the north with a Muslim majority population but ruled by a Hindu prince.

Under the terms of the partition all princely states had to choose to join either India or Pakistan, and the ruler of Kashmir opted to join India, which immediately sent in its military. Pakistani forces also crossed into Kashmir, touching off the first Indo-Pakistani War. A cease-fire under a United Nations mandate went into effect in 1948, but the dispute remained unsettled, and Kashmir remained partitioned in 2006.

A small war in 1961 expelled the Portuguese from their enclave, called Goa, in southwestern coastal India. As a republic, India remained a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Nehru’s foreign policy was aimed at securing Indian leadership among the nonaligned nations in the cold war; most of them were newly independent countries in Asia and Africa.

However, he found his quest for leadership challenged by the People’s Republic of China, which, although communist, also sought to lead the Third World. Nehru’s friendship with China hit a roadblock over Tibet, a Chinese territory that Great Britain had sought to draw into its sphere of influence since the late 19th century.

Tibet had enjoyed autonomy under the weak Chinese republican governments after 1912, which ended when the communist government of China militarily took control of Tibet and began consolidating its power there. A disputed boundary between the two nations remained unresolved, China contending that the McMahon Line drawn by the British in 1914 included 52,000 square miles of Chinese territory in India.

Relations were exacerbated when a failed Tibetan revolt against China led to the flight of the Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama, to India, which gave him and his followers political asylum. A brief war broke out between India and China (September–November 1962) in which the Indian army was decisively defeated. The victorious Chinese army, however, did not advance beyond the area in dispute. The war was a severe blow to Nehru’s prestige.

India-Pakistani Wars (Kashmir)

After the departure of the British in August 1947, India and Pakistan became successor states. The partition of the British Indian Empire into India and Pakistan left a legacy of mutual discord that is felt to the present day. India’s foreign policy after independence was centered around world issues; relations with India dominated Pakistan’s security concerns.

Indo-Pakistani Wars (Kashmir)
Kashmir remained the major bone of contention between the two countries. The state of Jammu and Kashmir was Muslim-dominated, with Hindus and others constituting about 48 percent of the population. It had boundaries with both India and Pakistan. The ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, vacillated over whether to join India or Pakistan.

Pakistan sponsored an attack on the state on October 22, 1947, leading Hari Singh to sign the Instrument of Accession with the governor-general of independent India, Lord Mountbatten on October 26, 1947. The next day it was accepted by India.

The sovereignty of Kashmir became a source of conflict, as Pakistan did not recognize the merger of its state with India. India agreed to Hari Singh’s request for military assistance after accepting the Instrument of Accession, and thus the first war between India and Pakistan began.

India airlifted reinforcements and deployed the 161st Infantry Brigade into Kashmir. Pakistan had occupied about one-third of the state and named it Azad Kashmir (Free Kashmir). In late December the war turned in favor of Pakistan when it gained control of the Punch, Mirpur, and Jhanger regions. By 1948 a stalemate had developed.

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (1889–1964) of India took the matter to the United Nations (UN) despite some opposition in the cabinet, which saw Kashmir as an internal duduk perkara of India. The terms of the cease-fire outlined in the UN resolution of August 13, 1948, called for withdrawal of Pakistani troops and the holding of a plebiscite to determine the desire of the Kashmir people.

On December 31, 1948, a cease-fire was declared, and the demarcation line after the end of hostilities became the line of control (LOC) between the two countries. The Kashmir valley, Jammu, and Ladakh came under Indian control, and the state became the only Muslim majority province of secular India. Swat, Gilgat, Hunza, Nagar, and Baltistan constituted Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Continuing Conflict

Neither India nor Pakistan adhered to the August resolutions, and the conflict over Kashmir continued. Pakistan insisted on a plebiscite, while India demanded Pakistan’s withdrawal from territory it controlled (Azad Kashmir). In February the Constituent Assembly of the state of Jammu and Kashmir ratified accession to India, and, after two years, the state became one of the provinces of the Indian Union.

Bombing by India air force

After a boundary agreement between China and Pakistan was negotiated in March 1963, the situation became still more complicated because China gained a large portion of the Trans-Karakoram Tract, ceded by Pakistan. The defeat of India in the 1962 October War by China encouraged Pakistan to enter another round of war.

It was widely believed that hawkish elements in Pakistan began the war so as to snatch an easy victory from a humiliated India after the Sino-Indian War. The second Indo-Pakistan conflict began after a series of border clashes starting in March 1965.

The border skirmishes, which began in the Rann of Kutch region of Gujarat, were contained in June after British mediation. A tribunal gave Pakistan 350 square miles of territory in 1968. The president, Muhammad Ayub Khan (1907–74), ordered Operation Gibraltar in August 1964 and sent infiltrators to Indian-held Kashmir.

The skirmishes between the forces of India and Pakistan began on August 6 and escalated into a large battle nine days later. The Indian army captured the strategic Haji Pir Pass inside Pakistan totalling 710 square miles of Pakistani territory, while Pakistan occupied 210 square miles of Indian territory. The UN Security Council called for a cease-fire on September 22 and the war ended the next day.

A meeting between the prime minister of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri, and Ayub Khan was arranged in the city of Tashkent by Soviet premier Alexey Kosygin. Under the Tashkent Agreement of January 10, the armies of both India and Pakistan went back to the positions they had held before August 5. Both agreed to resolve their disputes by peaceful means and not to interfere in each others’ internal affairs.

The Tashkent declaration proved to be a temporary respite in the deteriorating relationship between India and Pakistan. Ayub was blamed for Pakistan’s debacle and Pakistan’s foreign minister, Zulfikar Bhutto, resigned.

Internally, East Pakistan was simmering with discontent; its leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, criticized the government for neglecting the security of East Pakistan at the time of the 1965 war. When East Pakistan declared its independence, the Pakistani army retaliated with brutality against the people of East Pakistan.

Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi declared the support of her government of Bangladesh (the name for independent East Pakistan). Next, India signed a 20 year Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation with the Soviet Union in August 1971 to checkmate either Chinese or U.S. interference in case of a war with Pakistan and gave support to Bangladesh’s revolt.

On December 3 the Pakistani air force began preemptive air strikes against eight airfields in East Pakistan. India retaliated and began an air, land, and sea attack on Pakistani forces in the east, marching toward Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. More than 1 million people in Bangladesh perished before Pakistan’s army surrendered in Dhaka.

Bhutto and Gandhi signed the Shimla Accords on July 2, 1972, by which both countries recognized the line of control (LOC) after the war of 1971. India and Pakistan resolved to refrain from the use of force against each other and to solve disputes bilaterally without third-party mediation.

Starting in the mid-1980s, a sizable number of the people of Kashmir expressed a desire for independence and received support from Pakistan. Human rights abuses by the terrorists and the Indian army drew international attention.

In 1998 both India and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests and their relations became more volatile. In spite of this, both prime ministers, Atal Bihari Vajpayee of India and Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan, signed the Lahore Declaration for solving the Kashmir dispute peacefully.

In February 1999 a war that would last for 73 days began on May 8 on the Kargil ridges, situated about 120 miles from Srinagar, the capital of Indian Kashmir. Both armies had to fight in the inhospitable terrain of the Kargil mountains. On July 14 both India and Pakistan ended military operations without boundary changes.


India became an independent nation on August 15, 1947, with the end of British colonial rule. With a population of 1,095,351,995 (July 2006 estimate), India is the second most populous nation after China. It is the seventh-largest nation in land area in the world, covering 3,287,590 square kilometers. It borders Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, China, Nepal, and Pakistan.

It presents considerable ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity. India has 18 officially recognized languages and about 1,600 dialects. Hindus form 83.5 percent of the total population. After Indonesia, India has the second-largest number of Muslims, who constitute 13 percent of the population.

The partition of the British Empire into India and Pakistan created problems for both countries, a legacy that continues. India faced problems including the merger of princely states, an influx of refugees from Pakistan, communal riots, the division of assets, and war with Pakistan.

The 562 independent princely states were given the choice to merge with either India or Pakistan. Vallabhbhai Patel (1875–1950), the home minister, was the architect of the merger of these states. Hyderabad and Junagarh were annexed when their rulers did not select the option of merging with India.

War broke out over the state of Jammu and Kashmir, whose ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh (1895–1961), had signed the Instrument of Accession with the governor general of India, Lord Louis Mountbatten (1900–79) on October 26, 1947.

Despite opposition, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (1889–1964) took the matter to the United Nations, which called for a cease-fire on August 13, 1948. It called for a plebiscite to determine the desire of the people of the state.

The hostilities were over by December 31, 1948, and the demarcation line became the Line of Control (LOC) between the two countries. India also was getting ready to prepare a constitution, and B. R. Ambedkar (1891–1956) was appointed chairperson of the Drafting Committee on August 29, 1947.

On November 26, 1949, the Constituent Assembly adopted the constitution. India became a sovereign democratic republic on January 26, 1950, when the constitution came into effect. Rajendra Prasad (1884–1963) became the first president of India, which adopted a parliamentary form of government.

Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi

In 1952 the first general elections were held, and the Indian National Congress (INC), under Nehru, formed the government. Nehru left an indelible mark on modern Indian history with his belief in a parliamentary form of democracy, a socialist pattern of society, secularism, equality before the law, and nonalignment.

He believed that India could play a meaningful role at the time of cold war. Imbued with a high dose of idealism, India pursued a dynamic policy in international politics. Acting as intermediary, India contributed to a lessening of tensions by hosting conferences like the Asian Relations Conference in 1947 and the Conference on Indonesia in 1949.

The Bandung Conference (1955) was the high-water mark in Indian diplomacy. India became the chair of the peacekeeping machinery, the International Control Commission, after the end of the First Indochina War (1946–54). Nehru also played a pivotal role in establishing the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961.

India had maintained friendly relations with China and signed a friendship treaty in 1954. But there were boundary disputes with China, which resulted in the Sino-Indian War of October 1962. India’s humiliating defeat was a great shock to Nehru, and Indian foreign policy lost its momentum.

A planning commission was set up in 1950 headed by Jawaharlal Nehru. Large sectors of the economy were modernized. The new policies aimed for an increase in agricultural productivity and industrialization within the framework of a socialist pattern of society.

The government engaged itself in manufacturing, railways, aviation, electricity, communication, and infrastructural activities. The Indian Institutes of Technology, In tune with the scientific temperament of Jawaharlal Nehru, research and educational institutions were established. Attempts also were made to change the social sector through legislation in parliament.

Lal Bahadur Shastri (1904–66) became the next premier. The debacle for India in the Sino-Indian War of 1962 and the death of Jawaharlal Nehru prompted Pakistan to wage another war. The Indian army crossed the border, bringing Lahore under Indian artillery fire.

A cease-fire was called by the United Nations on September 22, 1965. The Tashkent Agreement was signed on January 10, 1966, and the cease-fire line (CFL) became the de facto border between the countries.

With the initiation of Indira Gandhi as prime minister, another important era began in contemporary Indian history. Daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, she was prime minister of India twice, between 1966 and 1977 and again from 1980 to 1984.

She unleashed a kegiatan of Garibi Hatao (abolish poverty), supported the Indochinese people in the Vietnam War, and moved closer to the Soviet Union with the signing of a 20-year treaty in August 1971. The liberation war in East Pakistan had started, and India was facing problems arising out of the exodus of 10 million refugees to provinces in eastern India. War became inevitable.

On December 3, the air force of Pakistan began preemptive air strikes on eight Indian airfields. The Pakistan army surrendered on December 16 in Dhaka. The Shimla Accords prevented outbreaks of any major conflict between the two countries until 1999.

Scientific development went forward at a tremendous speed with the launch of a satellite into space. In May 1974 India successfully carried out an underground nuclear explosion at Pokhran. The kegiatan of the Green Revolution, which utilized new types of seeds, resulted in greater agricultural productivity and self-sufficiency in food production.

There were demonstrations and strikes in protest against inflation and the poor standard of living. Indira Gandhi also was found guilty of violating election laws and she imposed a state of national emergency on June 26, 1975.

Fundamental rights were suspended, censorship was imposed on the press, and opposition leaders were put behind bars. When Gandhi called for elections two years afterward, the Congress Party was badly trounced, and the combined opposition, the Janata Party, came into power.

Morarji Desai (1896–1995), the first non-Congress prime minister of India, headed a coalition that lasted for two years. The mutual bickering among coalition partners and unsolved economic problems witnessed the return of Gandhi to power with a large majority in January 1980.

The rise of militancy in the Punjab was crushed by the Indian security forces, but Gandhi paid with the loss of her life at the hands of her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984. The violence that erupted against the Sikhs created another dark chapter in Indian history.

Rajiv Gandhi (1944–91), the son of Indira Gandhi, was the next prime minister, and he took the country toward economic reforms and expansion of the telecommunication sector and information technology (IT).

India became involved in the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. The Indo–Sri Lankan Peace Accords were signed in 1987, and the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was dispatched to Sri Lankan. Rajiv Gandhi was charged with corruption and the Congress lost the elections of November 1989. He was assassinated by a Sri Lankan suicide bomber in 1991.

The history of India since the last decade of the 20th century has been marked by the menace of terrorism, major economic reforms, tackling poverty, tremendous growth in IT, reservation to backward classes, and becoming a nuclear nation.

The Janata Party ministry of Vishwanath Pratap Singh (1931– ) lasted less than a year, but reactions to the affirmative action by his government of reserving jobs and seats in educational institutions for lower classes divided India along caste lines. Politicians like Singh and others jettisoned merit-based awards for the quota system.

Even after more than five decades of reservation, the various governments retained this system. The government of Manmohan Singh (1932– ) reserved seats for lower classes in some of the premier institutions of the country.

India shifted from its decade-old centralized planning model to a market-driven economy and joined the mainstream of globalization on an international level at the time of the Congress ministry of P. V. Narasimha Rao (1921–2004).

Indian workers were sought after in IT fields globally. The educational infrastructure had developed so as to produce one of the world’s largest concentrations of technical personnel.

There had been communal violence between Hindus and Muslims following the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992 over the question of the birthplace of the Hindu god Ram in Ayodhya. Violence again erupted in 2002 after a train fire in Godhra, Gujarat, resulting in the massacre of Hindus and Muslims alike.

Relations with Pakistan deteriorated over Kashmir, which has remained one of the major sources of conflict between the two countries. The conflict assumed dangerous proportions with the specter of a nuclear conflict after the Kargil War of 1999.

Prime Minister Shri Vajpayee and the Pakistan premier Nawaz Sharif (1949– ) signed the Lahore Declaration in February 1999 to solve the Kashmir problem. But the fourth war between the two countries began on May 8 and lasted for 73 days.

In spite of the odds, India maintained a democratic system. The country maintains steady economic growth and a reduction in the poverty level. India also is striving for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Battle of Plassey

Robert Clive of the British East India Company was the winner of the Battle of Plassey, 70 miles north of Calcutta in 1757. At the head of 1,000 English and 2,000 Indian (sepoy) soldiers and with eight pieces of artillery, he routed the 50,000 soldiers and 50 French-manned cannons of his opponent Siraj-ud-Daula, the governor, or nawab, of Bengal. This victory established British primacy in Bengal.
Battle of Plassey

With the Mughal (Mogul, Moghul) Empire in India in rapid decline in the 18th century, Great Britain and France became competitors for control of the subcontinent. Their rivalry was played out by employees of their respective East India Companies and when the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–48) and Seven Years’ War (1756–63) pitted Britain and France on opposing sides, India became a theater of war.

France won the first round when its agent in India Joseph Dupleix captured the British outpost Madras in 1746 and then extended French influence in the Indian state of Hyderabad.

However Dupleix was outmatched by a brilliant young Briton named Robert Clive, who decided to expand British power to the Bay of Bengal and the Ganges River delta during the Seven Years’ War. First he took revenge on the unpopular Mughal governor of Bengal, Siraj-ud-Daula, for the death of many Britons in the infamous “Black Hole of Calcutta.”

He recaptured Calcutta in 1756, then moved upriver and captured the French fort at Chandernagore in the following year. In the next phase of the conflict, the French supported Siraj-ud-Daula, whose oppressive rule had alienated his Muslim noblemen, including the powerful Mir Jaffa. On the other hand Britain had the support of Bengali businessmen and bankers.

These rivalries culminated in the Battle of Plassey, June 23, 1757, which pitted Clive’s 1,000 European soldiers and 2,000 Indian sepoys (no cavalry) and eight cannons against Siraj-ud-Daula’s 50,000 combined infantrymen and cavalry and 50 cannons manned by French soldiers. Mir Jaffa’s neutrality and Siraj-ud-Daula’s flight in the midst of battle caused demoralization and the rout of the latter’s army. Clive lost only 22 European soldiers; fewer than 50 were wounded.

Clive’s victory was a turning point in Indian history. French influence was eliminated from Bengal, and at the end of the Seven Years’ War, from all of India. Britain’s client Mir Jaffa was invested the new governor of Bengal by the Mughal emperor in Delhi, who in turn granted landholder’s rights of 882 square miles around Calcutta to the British East India Company.

Clive remained in Bengal for two years to organize the new administration. In 1759, the Mughal emperor granted land tax rights of all Bengal and Bihar provinces to the British East India Company and made Clive the highest-ranking noble of the Mughal Empire.

The British government made Clive baron of Plassey. Events that developed after Clive’s victory at the Battle of Plassey would change the British East India Company from a trading company to a governing power and draw Britain to conquer the whole of India. Thus the Battle of Plassey was a historic turning point, and its principal participant Robert Clive an empire builder.

Battles of Panipat

Battles of Panipat
Battles of Panipat

There were three battles fought at Panipat, located 70 miles northwest of Delhi, the strategically important city in northern India and capital of many dynasties. The first one was in 1526 between Ibrahim Lodi, Afghan ruler of the Kingdom of Delhi, and Babur from Ferghana in Central Asia via Afghanistan.

The second battle was fought between Akbar’s (grandson of Babur) forces and those of the grandson of Sher Shah (who had driven Humayun, son of Babur, from India). The third battle took place in 1761 when the Afghans under Ahmad Shah defeated the Maratha Confederacy.

First Battle of Panipat

A fugitive from his birthplace Ferghana, Babur led an army variously cited as 12,000 or 25,000 men from Afghanistan into India and met Ibrahim, ruler of the Lodi dynasty (originally from Afghanistan) that ruled north-central India.

Ibrahim headed a much larger army reputedly 100,000 strong with either 100 or 1,000 elephants. At Panipat, Babur prepared for battle by lashing together 700 carts with leather thongs to form a barricade and placing his matchlock men behind them.

Just as Ibrahim’s charging troops were stopped at the barricade and mowed down by the gunfire of Babur’s men, they were set upon on both flanks by arrows from Babur’s cavalry. In the ensuing rout, 20,000 of Ibrahim’s men died, he among them. Babur ordered Ibrahim buried where he fell; his tomb still stands at the site.

That afternoon Babur sent his eldest son, Humayun, to the Lodi capital at Agra to secure its treasures while he marched to Delhi, where he proclaimed himself emperor, founding the Mughal (Mogul, Moghul) dynasty in India.

Second Battle of Panipat

Akbar died in 1530 soon after establishing the Mughal Empire in northern India. His son and successor was Humayun, whose heavy drinking and opium eating habits rendered him unfit to rule. Driven out of India by an able general of Afghan origin, Sher Shah, he found refuge in Persia.

It was only after Sher Shah’s death and with his descendants fighting among one another for the succession that Humayun was able to return to India in 1555, with Persian aid, to restore his fortunes. He died a year later.

On November 5, 1556, Akbar, Humayun’s 13-year-old son, and his mentor, Bairan Khan, met the forces of Hemu, a powerful Hindu general, at the second Battle of Panipat. Hemu was injured, captured, and executed. With that victory Akbar entered Delhi. This battle resurrected the fortune of the Mughals in India.

Third Battle of Panipat

Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (r. 1658–1707) was a devout Muslim and persecutor of Hindus. Hindus of the Deccan rallied around a charismatic leader named Shivaji who was proclaimed king of the Marathas in 1674.

His movement continued to gain momentum after his death in 1680, reaching its zenith in the mid-18th century when the Marathas Confederacy controlled lands extending from Hyderabad in the south to Punjab in the north. But the quest for a restored Hindu empire in India came to an end in 1761 when the Marathas were badly defeated by Afghan forces under Shah Durani at the Third Battle of Panipat.

Although the Afghans retreated from India, the Maratha Confederacy never recovered. The British East India Company was the beneficiary and gradually supplanted the by-now-defunct Mughal Empire and the warring Indian factions.

Mughal Empire

Mughal Empire
Mughal Empire

The Mughal Empire in India was founded by Babur, also known as Zahir-ud-din Mohammed, born in 1482 in Ferghana in Central Asia, a descendant of Timurlane. With Central Asia in turmoil in 1501, Babur fled his native Ferghana and gained the great city of Samarkand, but he could not hold it. He next captured Kabul in 1504, with the intention of creating his own kingdom in Afghanistan.

However, for Babur, Afghanistan was only the stepping stone to the greatest conquest of all: India. For seven centuries, India had been the ultimate prize for all Muslim conquerors from Central Asia, and Babur shared that dream.

In 1505, Babur staged his first raid into northern India, then controlled by Sikander, one of the Lodi dynasty of Muslim sultans in Delhi. The Lodi dynasty had also come to India from Afghanistan. Surprisingly, Sikander took no real action against Babur’s incursion, a fact that was not lost on Babur in the future.

The troublesome Afghan tribes delayed Babur’s plans until 1526, when he invaded India in force. He met the Lodi sultan Ibrahim outside Delhi at the Battle of Panipat. Although Babur commanded only 12,000 men and Ibrahim about 100,000 and 1,000 elephants, Babur used his men well, armed with matchlock muskets and cannon, and won the battle. The Lodi forces were defeated and Ibrahim killed. Establishing his capital in Delhi, Babur then conquered most of northern India, establishing the Mughal (Mogul, Moghul) Empire.

Babur died in 1530 and his son Humayun succeeded him as the second Mughal emperor. However within 10 years Humayun lost his empire. He fled to Persia, then ruled by the Safavid dynasty. This time of exile instilled in Humayun and his son a profound respect for Persian ways so that when they conquered India again their rule was influenced by Persian culture. Persian would become the official language for Mughal India.

In 1555, Humayun raised another army in Persia with the support of Persian shah Tahmasp I and set out to reconquer his kingdom from Sher Shah, who now ruled in northern India. By August 1555, he had reentered Delhi in triumph but died in 1556. His son Akbar, then only 13, took power in 1556.

But Akbar won a decisive victory at the Second Battle of Panipat and became the padishah and undisputed ruler of the realm. Having crushed his Afghan and Hindu foes at Panipat, Akbar moved to consolidate his rule of Afghanistan and northern India.

Akbar began to implement a aktivitas of cooptation with his Hindu subjects to neutralize the threat of a Hindu uprising against his rule. He married a Hindu princess and his son and successor Jahangir was born of this marriage.

Hindus were invited to join the bureaucracy that governed his empire and became an important part of Mughal administration. Akbar wisely allowed the Indian princely states a large degree of autonomy so long as they recognized him as their padishah.

Religious Tolerance

Akbar did not impose the shariah, or Muslim law, upon his Hindu subjects. Instead, he limited the application of the shariah to the Muslim community within his kingdom and let the Hindus retain their own laws.

Exposed to a different religious tradition, including Zoroastrianism and Jainism, Akbar began perhaps the greatest intellectual exploration in Indian history. Studying all the faiths, including the Roman Catholicism that had been brought to Goa by the Portuguese, Akbar created a new religion named Din-i Ilahi, or “the Religion of God.” It was nothing less than an effort to draw together all the religions in his empire into one faith, which he hoped all would accept under his leadership. However this endeavor failed.

In 1605, Akbar died, leaving a legacy of stability to his son, Jahangir. Jahangir did not pursue a military policy but did cement his position in Bengal in the east, probably to gain control of the maritime trade.

In 1614, the Rajput king, Man Singh, who had fought Akbar to a stalemate at Haldhigati in 1576, made his submission to Jahangir. Toward the end of his reign, Jahangir’s son, who would reign as Shah Jahan, rose in rebellion against his father, a ekspresi dominan that would weaken the Mughal dynasty.

When Shah Jahan became emperor in 1628, he attempted to return to the days of military glory of Akbar and engaged in campaigns in the south. In 1658, Jahan’s son Aurangzeb seized power and imprisoned his father, who would live in captivity until his death in 1666. During a reign that would last until 1707, Aurangzeb waged many wars, driving the Mughals to conquer much of the Indian subcontinent.

He conquered the rest of the Deccan region, seizing the sultanates of Bijapur and Golconda, which had achieved virtual independence during the reigns of Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Aurangzeb turned his armies against the martial Hindu called Mavalhas and conquered their lands after an exhuastive campaign.

While Aurangzeb was extending the Mughal domains to their greatest territorial extent, he was also fatally changing the unified society that Akbar had tried to create. Aurangzeb was a pious, extremist Muslim and returned to the traditional Muslim doctrine that Muslim shariah law should extend to all subjects of an Islamic realm.

He persecuted Hindus. As a result, rebellions started to break out. Aurangzeb’s religious intolerance also made mortal enemies out of the Sikhs, who had peacefully followed the teachings of Guru Nanah from the 16th century.

Their ninth guru, Tegh Bahadur, was brought before Aurangzeb on a charge of blasphemy for preaching a non-Muslim faith and put to death. Sikhs under their 10th guru Govind would retreat to the Punjab to form their own martial kingdom to defend themselves against Aurangzeb’s holy war.

At the same time, the French and British East India Companies had established trading posts in India. Taking advantage of the growing unrest in the Mughal Empire, they would make their first inroads into the Indian subcontinent. When Aurangzeb died in 1707, another succession crisis would further weaken the great Mughal Empire, already in decline, largely the result of his policy decisions.

Toward the end of his life, Aurangzeb wrote, “I am forlorn and destitute, and misery is my ultimate lot.” In a very real sense, he had also penned the obituary for the Mughal Empire.

Jesuits in Asia

Jesuits in Asia
Jesuits in Asia

The missionary enterprise of the Jesuits in Asia is comprehensible only against the background of three foundational principles. The first two are from the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the order: Following Jesus as a Jesuit entails missionary outreach, and being a missionary implies cultural adaptation because Jesus adapted himself to the human condition.

The third theological principle is that missionary activity should reflect the shared life of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) as documented in the Formula of the Institute and Constitutions.

The nascent Society of Jesus was yet to receive full papal approbation (September 27, 1540) when a request arrived from João III the Pious, king of Portugal, for Jesuits to work in the Portuguese domains of Asia. Ignatius of Loyola chose two of his first companions, Simão Rodrigues and Nicolas Bobadilla, for the mission.

However, before they could leave for Portugal, Bobadilla fell ill. Providentially, Francis Xavier was then in Rome and Ignatius decided to send him instead. The king of Portugal, impressed by the two Jesuits, decided to keep Rodrigues in Lisbon. Xavier, accompanied by Micer Paul, a secular priest recently admitted into the Society of Jesus, and Francisco Mansilhas, a Jesuit aspirant, set sail for India.

They finally reached Goa in India on May 6, 1542. Xavier would labor in Asia for 10 years as a missionary, baptizing and catechizing the inhabitants of the Fishery Coast of southern India; Malacca on the western coast of the Malay Peninsula; the Moluccas, also known as the “Spice Islands”; and Japan.

While in Japan, Xavier heard about China and resolved to preach the Christian message there. While awaiting Chinese government permission to land, he died on the island of Sancian in 1552, unable to fulfill his dream of converting the Chinese to Christ.

That dream would be partially realized not much later as thousands of Jesuits of various nationalities followed Xavier in the Asian missionary enterprise. Missions were conducted in West Asia, for example, with the appointment of Jesuits as papal legates in establishing relations with the Maronites and in negotiating church unity with Orthodox, Nestorian, and Monophysite Churches. But the majority of Jesuit missionaries worked farther afield, chiefly in South Asia and in East Asia.

After India, Jesuits would find themselves laboring in places in peninsular (Malacca, Indochina) and insular (Indonesia, the Philippines) Southeast Asia, and in Japan and China. The primary goal was of course the spread of Christianity, but the diverse cultures who populated the huge continent called for various missionary strategies and tactics.

The chief architect of the Asian missionary enterprise was an Italian Jesuit named Alessandro Valignano. He called for cultural adaptation to Asian ways where this was legitimate and did not compromise the Christian message.

Perhaps the most significant cultural adaptation was the use of Asian languages in the preaching of Christ and teaching of doctrine. They also extended this cultural adaptation to the manner of dress, civil customs, and ordinary life of their target audience.

His principles were put to good use by such as Matteo Ricci and Michele Ruggieri. Aside from exploiting European sciences and arts of their day to gain entrance into the educated elite of China, Ricci and his companions decided to study the Confucian classics esteemed by the Mandarin ruling class.

In a similar way, the Jesuits working in the south of India decided on a two-pronged strategy that enabled them to reach out to both the higher and lower social castes, tailoring their manner of living to gain initial acceptance from their respective audiences.

“Dressed in cloth of red-ochre, a triangular sandal mark on his forehead, high wooden sandals on his feet,” Roberto de Nobili lived in the manner of a Hindu man of God (sannyasi), learned Sanskrit, and memorized the Vedas so that he could share the message of Christ and his church with the Indian people.

In other Asian places not as highly developed in civilization and culture, the Jesuits were animated by the same principles of cultural adaptation. In the Philippines, they creatively replicated strategies that were used elsewhere.

Because local populations were dispersed far and wide, the Jesuits encouraged people to set up permanent communities in planned settlements (a method they used in Latin America called reduction), thus laying the foundation of many towns and cities that exist today. They also set up schools wherever these were needed and constructed churches and other buildings that transformed European architectural designs to suit Asian artistic sensibilities.

They learned the various local languages and dialects and produced grammars, vocabularies, and dictionaries, thus systematizing the study not just of the languages themselves but of the cultures of the peoples that they were seeking to convert. They wrote books that mapped the ethnography of Asia and were keen observers of Asian ways and traditions, including their interaction with the natural environment.

The Jesuit missionary enterprise in Asia met with obstacles along the way. Some of these obstacles arose from European ethnocentric fears and prejudices that burdened the church of their times. Cultural adaptation was denounced as syncretism, and the missionaries themselves were often at loggerheads on the appropriate strategies to use in mission work.

It was not always clear for example whether Chinese categories used to translate Latin ones were without ambiguity, but a lack of understanding, trust, and generosity created a poisoned atmosphere that did not produce the requisite witness to Christian charity.

The distance between Rome and Asia proved to be not only a geographical dilema but also a psychological barrier that prevented church authorities from being more sympathetic to the needs of the missionary enterprise in Asia. Furthermore the political, economic, and social burden imposed by Portuguese and Spanish royal patronage of the church in the Indies proved too heavy at times to carry.

Rome itself would be forced to set up the Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith in 1622 to loosen the viselike grip of the European monarchs who wished to manipulate the missionary enterprise for political and economic gain. Also, Jesuits allowed themselves to be caught in political controversies of their host countries, thus inevitably creating enemies for themselves among members of the ruling classes.

In 1759 the Portuguese king expelled all Jesuits working in Portugal and Portuguese Asia. In Spain, the Spanish king followed suit and banished the Jesuits from his domains in 1767. Finally, in 1773, Pope Clement XIV, under extreme political pressure from the Bourbon monarchs of Europe, could no longer prevent the inevitable from happening.

Through the bull Redemptor ac hominis, the pope suppressed the Society of Jesus, thus bringing an end to their missionary work in Asia. This work would be resumed only in the 19th century, when Jesuits would return to their former mission fields now besieged by new historical forces.

Jahangir - Mughal Ruler

Jahangir - Mughal Ruler
Jahangir - Mughal Ruler
Jahangir inherited the Mughal throne from his father, Akbar, the greatest Mughal emperor. His realm included part of Afghanistan and the Indian subcontinent up to the Deccan. It was one of the largest empires of the world and enjoyed prosperity.

Prince Salim (Selim) was Akbar’s eldest son, who took the reign name Jahangir, which means “world grasper.” He explained in his memoir that there was a contemporary Ottoman emperor also named Salim, which made him decide to change his name.

Jahangir had to suppress many revolts during his reign, including those of his sons, one of whom he had blinded after the revolt failed. Other campaigns were against rulers in the Deccan area subdued by Emperor Akbar and again in revolt, and against the Persian ruler for control of Kandahar.

In addition to his frank memoir, there are vivid accounts by others about Jahangir. One was by his boon companion, the English sea captain William Hawkins, and another was by Sir Thomas Roe, English ambassador, who arrived at the Mughal court in 1616 to negotiate a treaty between England and the Mughal government but failed and left two years later.

As were many Mughal princes, Jahangir was addicted to strong alcoholic drinks, and to eating opium, which seldom left him sober. He professed himself an orthodox Muslim but was generally tolerant of other religions. However, he let divine faith, a religion that his father sponsored, wither away.

In 1611, Jahangir married the Persian-born widow of one of his officials after having her husband killed for refusing to divorce her and for revolting against him. The lady was given the title Nur Jahan, which means “light of the world,” and she became the empress for the remainder of his reign. Both Jahangir and Nur Jahan patronized the arts. But Nur Jahan was also politically ambitious.

To influence her husband’s succession she married her daughter to one of his sons, and her niece (Mumtaz Mahal) to another, who became his father’s successor as Shah Jahan. She surrounded herself with her relatives, arousing the jealousy of Jahangir’s relatives; intrigues among the members of the two factions led to rebellion.

In 1627, her protégé, a general named Mahabat Khan, revolted in alliance with Shah Jahan; they imprisoned both Jahangir and Nur Jahan for several months. Just as he had revolted against his father, so he died in the midst of his son’s revolt, followed by a power struggle between his sons.

Despite wars and rebellions, Jahangir’s reign was generally prosperous, as he enjoyed the legacy of his father. His memoirs often expressed good intentions for promoting justice and efficiency, but he seldom followed through because of his indulgence in alcohol and drugs.