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Modern History of India ( Journey to Independent India )

Modern History of India

Colonial rule to Independence

Advent of British to India

Modern History of India in general refers to the period of colonial rule and dominance on India. The advent of the British on the Indian soil around 17th century can roughly be delineated as the inauguration of the modern era in Indian history. For two centuries, the British exercised absolute subordination over the Indian landmass till the scorching inferno of the freedom fighters forced their departure. The two hundred years of their rule not only had an impact in the subject of politics and economy, but was also instrumental in bringing about substantial changes in the sphere of education, society and customs.

Modern History of India

Arrival of Vasco Da Gama

The British, however, were not the foremost of the foreign powers to set their foot on the Indian soil. In the ultimate years of the 15th century, the Portuguese surveyor Vasco Da Gama had reached Calicut in south India. Since then, the French, the Dutch and subsequently the British colonizers made their expedition into India, the land of mammoth wealth and possessions. By the 18th century, the British Empire in India had already recognised their supremacy. The giant Indian Territory was characterised by a comprehensive lack of unanimity amongst the independent rulers, an aspect of which the British took absolute benefit. It was further escalated by the collapse of the Mughals in 1739 and the constant rivalries between various ruling dynasties in the Indian provinces who wanted to set up their supremacy autonomously. Some of the most dominant ruling clans in India during this period were the Marathas, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan of Mysore, the Nawabs of Bengal and the Sikhs under the direction of Ranjit Singh. The British encouraged rampant commercial exploitation to implement their supremacy and soon the British East India Company’s policy of annexation resulted in securing the manipulation of the British Empire as the ultimate authority.

British Rule

Although the British left no stone un-turned to determine their pressure over the Indian population, they were also significantly involved in bringing about definite changes in the area of education, culture as well as society. This was primarily an outline of their cultural imperialistic designs. Macaulay, an eminent element of the Governor-General’s Council, in his Minute (1835), despised the scriptures and riches of information that India treasured and called for the introduction of English education which he considered to be superior and obligatory to educate the barbaric Indians. However, noted educationists like Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar were instrumental in imbibing the intellectual trends of western education with those of the ancient Indian scriptures and literary works. It was towards the ending of the 18th and the commencement of the 19th century, that some of the premier educational institutions like the Hindu College or the Presidency College were established in Bengal. This era is often referred to as the Bengal Renaissance. The spread of education though was covered by the spread of Christian religious doctrines with the Christian missionaries being deputed the mission of extending education.

Social Services and Social Activists

The root of women’s education was propagated by Vidyasagar, who established around thirty schools for women in Bengal. Social reformers like Ram Mohan Roy played a vital role in the elimination of the Sati (1829) or the tradition of women surrendering their lives in the funeral pyres of their husbands. In 1856, the Widow Marriage Act was authorized by the British Government under the patronage of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.

Fight against Britishers

The 19th century tolerates testimony to the mass struggles and peasant riots against the British colonizers. Unable to withstand the tricky means unleashed by the British, the citizens of India took up arms against the colonizers. The Indigo rebellion of 1860, the Santhal Rebellion (1855-56), the Deccan Riots (1875) were some of the most prominent peasant movements and these protests lastly culminated in the form of the Revolt of 1857, traditionally referred to as the Sepoy Mutiny. Some of the prominent leaders of the nationalist struggle in the 19th century comprise of Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi and Tatya Tope. This nationalistic fervor was further enhanced with the birth of the Indian National Congress in 1885. During this epoch, a variety of literary works condemning British action on the Indians were written and performed. Regulatory actions were taken against such proceedings with the implementation of the Dramatic Performances Act (1876) and the Vernacular Press Act (1878) shortening the liberty of the press. The proposal for the Partition of Bengal in 1905 was the final straw that ignited the blaze of sovereignty amongst the Indian nationals.

Struggle for Independence

The nationalist struggle of the 20th century was spearheaded by leading figures like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Bhagat Singh, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Khudiram Bose, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi. A range of nationalist association like the Khilafat Movement, Non Cooperation Movement, Civil Disobedience Movement and Quit India Movement echoed the cry for freedom.

Finally on 15th August 1947, after centuries of dynamic struggle, India attained independence and was liberal from the shackles of British colonization. The Partition of India was completed and Pakistan was formed in its north-western frontier. Jawaharlal Nehru was sworn in as the first Prime Minister of independent India and the country came to be recognized as a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic with the execution of the Constitution of India.

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About the author

Disha Setia

A creative and passionate writer who loves to play with words. An ardent lover of english literature. Strongly believes in the power of words.She likes being original and innovative in her work.

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