The British represented by the East India Company established their commercial control over vast areas in India, which very soon had an administrative dimension to it. The British rule in India was, however, formalized by the direct takeover of India by the British Crown, after the First War of Independence in 1857.
History of the Raj is one of constant struggle between the nationalists – who assumed different names, ideologies, backgrounds and methods – and the British and their repressive policies.
People from the length and breadth of India followed the path set by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, where truth and ahimsa or non-violence were held supreme. Strengthening this vision was the newly emerging intelligentsia. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Bankim Chandra, Rabindranath Tagore, Subramanya Bharathi and Abul Kalam Azad were some of those who enthused people through their soul-stirring writings and songs to reach out to nationalism.
There were many who communicated directly with the masses. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Asaf Ali, C. Rajagopalachari, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Subhas Chandra Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sarojini Naidu are some of the great names associated with the freedom struggle.
India’s moment of glory finally arrived on the midnight of 15 August 1947. People, delirious with joy, flooded the streets to welcome the dawn of a new era. And within the Assembly Hall, Jawaharlal Nehru rose to make his famous “tryst with destiny” speech. By the early hours of the morning, as the clouds sent a light drizzle to acknowledge the awakening, independent India was all set to transform from a colonial society into a liberal polity.
Jawaharlal Nehru became independent India’s first Prime Minister and Rajendra Prasad the country’s first President.
The Indian Constitution was drawn up in a matter of four years. It sought to assimilate different linguistic regions and religious communities of India into a cohesive Nation-State while, at the same time, conferring substantial autonomy upon the diverse states of the Indian Union.
The founding fathers, under the leadership of B R Ambedkar, based governance of the country upon the free choice of its citizens. The Legislature, the Executive, and the Judiciary started functioning long before such systems were recognized by international thinkers.
India embarked upon planning and began to address the issues like land reforms, improvement of agricultural marketing techniques and irrigation facilities. Reducing dependency on the fickle monsoons was a major priority area since most of the Indian agriculture is rain-fed.
All this required, in addition to planning, a good deal of research. Moving over to scientific research and development, India raised her agricultural production to a consistent growth rate of three percent per annum.
India after Independence
India started building a scientific foundation for all her programmes, whether it was agricultural research, pure scientific research or product designs for the craftsmen. If C. V. Raman, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, and Hargobind Khorana were recipients of the Nobel Prize, there were others with equal capabilities like Homi Bhabha, Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar, Jagdish Chandra Bose, Meghnad Saha Kothari, Krishnan, Vikram Sarabhai and Pal who concentrated their energies on creating the environment and infrastructure for further academic and developmental activities.
The ‘Green Revolution’ of the sixties and the ‘White Revolution’ of the seventies brought about amazing results in agriculture and cooperative dairy farming.
With the ninth-largest economy in the world by GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP), India is the second fastest growing economy in the world after China. From world-class infrastructure, megacities, economic hubs, modern airports, swanky multiplexes, thriving retail centers, plush hotels, to knowledge and information technology parks, the country has everything to illustrate its rapid strides on the fast trajectory of modernization and holistic development.
Today, the country marches proudly as the second largest country in Asia and the seventh largest and second most populous country on Earth. India comprises as much as one-third of Asia and supports one-seventh of humanity. It has been recognized as the largest democracy of the world, and an emerging global power.