Since independence


Caste System



India since independence

External Borders of India

India gained its independence on 15/8/1947. The day before that British India was partitioned and Pakistan was created on both sides of India. In west was West Pakistan and in the east was East Pakistan, now an independent state called Bangladesh.

During the independence period India was not quiet socially. All around India there were bloody riots between the Hindus and the Muslims, while the militant Sikhs were siding with the Hindus. Two regions which suffered the most from these riots were Punjab in the north and Bengal in the east. Some of Punjab and Bengal remained in India, while the other parts became Pakistan. Passages between India and Pakistan in these regions were also the main passages through which millions of Indians moved from one side to other. Hindus and Sikhs moved to India and Muslims to the two entities of Pakistan.

The communal riots which were not the only problem India's government had. Other problems were deciding its borders with Pakistan and convincing princely states to join India when some of these states wanted to declare independence.

The British administered India by two systems. One was Provinces which were administered regions under complete British control and the other was princely states, which were ruled by local Indian rulers subjected to the British. When the British gave India and Pakistan independence, the provinces were handed over to the respective governments and it was agreed that the princely states could join India or Pakistan according to two principles. The ruler's will and the people's will.

Three princely states which were within India's borders refused to join India. One of them was Junagad. Junagad, in the present day Gujarat, was a small princely state whose ruler was a Muslim and he opted for Pakistan but the residents of his state were mostly Hindus and they opted for India. After some riots which occurred in Junagad the ruler emigrated or exiled to Pakistan and thus Junagad was included in India.

Two other two states wanted to declare independence. One was Hyderabad in south India and Kashmir in north India. Both these states were big princely states, about the size of England. The rulers of these states claimed that with the end of British rule in India, ended also the agreements these ruling families had with the British and therefore were independent. Hyderabad's ruling family was Muslim, but the majority of its residents were Hindus and they wanted to join India. After some riots in Hyderabad and the request from these people to the Indian government to join India, the Indian government acting according to the principle of 'people's will' sent its army to Hyderabad to include it in India.

Kashmir's problem was more complicated. Its ruling family was Hindus and most of its residents were Muslims, but what made it more complicated was that it was also bordering on Pakistan. Both, India and Pakistan, wanted to include Kashmir to their countries while the ruler opted for an independent Kashmir. The Pakistanis claimed that majority of the Kashmiris were Muslims and therefore Kashmir should be Pakistan. While the Indians not only claimed that Kashmir's ruler was a Hindu but they also had support from the Muslim leaders of Kashmir who wanted to join India and therefore claimed that as per the principle of 'people's will' they had the rights on Kashmir. The Pakistanis also acting according to the 'people's will' sent army and mercenaries into Kashmir. This action by the Pakistanis caused the ruler of Kashmir to ask help from the Indian government and he agreed in exchange to join India under specific terms which would give Kashmir more autonomy than the other Indian states. The Indian government sent its troops to Kashmir and there was a war between the Indian and Pakistani troops. During the war the United Nation intervened and a cease fire was declared. Parts of Kashmir which the Pakistanis invaded remained in their hands while India claims its rights over them, Pakistan claims that the whole of Kashmir belongs to Pakistan. The official map of India includes in Kashmir some parts which are actually in Pakistani control. Every few years in the month of August when the patriotic feelings are high (because of the independence days) there are always firing incidents in Kashmir between the Indian and Pakistani troops.

After 1948 the external borders changed a few times again. In 1949 the Hindu kingdom of Tripura, sized about 10000 square kilometers, on the eastern side of India, joined India. In 1950 the British troops ultimately left India. 26/1/1950 is celebrated in India as the 'Republic Day'. But there were still two other European countries in India, France and Portugal. France had small pockets in India and they handed them to the Indian government in 1950. The Portuguese remained in India with three pockets, two small regions, Daman and Diu. And one big region, Goa.

Religiously the people of Goa belong to two religions, Hindus and Christians. About one third of the Goanese are Christians and the rest are mainly Hindus. The Goanese wanted to join India and so an uprising took place in Goa. In 1961 the Indian government decided to free Goa from the foreign rule. The Portuguese did not have a big army in India and they preferred to leave India.

In 1962 a war broke out between India and China. In this war the Indians lost some territories in Kashmir and in north east India to China. In 1975 India gained other territories which previously were not Indian territories. The kingdom of Sikkim (about 7000 square kilometers) was annexed to India. Sikkim's rulers were Buddhist and they were socially, culturally and politically connected with Tibet. After the British arrived in this region, they established political agreements with the Sikkim rulers giving them certain rights over Sikkim. But the Tibet rulers saw in Sikkim their subject. After the British left India, Sikkim became an Indian subject according to which India managed the security and foreign affairs of Sikkin but did not intervene in internal Sikkim problems. But after the riots which occurred in Sikkim in 1975, India annexed Sikkim. But the Chinese who occupied Tibet in 1959 saw in Sikkim part of Tibet and it does not recognize India's annexation of Sikkim.

Aharon Daniel