Chapter 7: India
The Indus Valley civilization, one of the world’s oldest, flourished during the third and second millennia bc and extended into northwestern India. Aryan tribes from the northwest infiltrated the Indian subcontinent about 1500 bc; their merger with the earlier Dravidian inhabitants created the classical Indian culture. The Maurya Empire of the fourth and third centuries bc – which reached its zenith under Ashoka – united much of South Asia. The Golden Age ushered in by the Gupta dynasty (fourth to sixth centuries ad) saw a flowering of Indian science, art and culture. Islam spread across the subcontinent over a period of 700 years. In the tenth and eleventh centuries, Turks and Afghans invaded India and established the Delhi Sultanate. In the early sixteenth century, the Emperor Babur established the Mughal Dynasty, which ruled India for more than three centuries. European explorers began establishing footholds in India during the sixteenth century. By the nineteenth century, Great Britain had become the dominant political power on the subcontinent. The British Indian Army played a vital role in both World Wars. Non-violent resistance to British rule, led by Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, eventually brought about independence in 1947. Communal violence led to the subcontinent’s bloody partition, which resulted in the creation of two separate states, India and Pakistan. The two countries have fought three wars since independence, the last of which in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh.
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