Independence Day: 08/15/1947
Head of state: Ram Nath Kovind
Head of government: Narendra Modi
Political system: Parliamentary democracy
BTI Transformation Index – Political: Rank 29 (of 137) (2020)
Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI): Rank 80 (out of 180) (2019)
The history of India spans over four thousand years and is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. It is documented by a rich literature, archaeological finds and architectural monuments. The Indus culture from the third and second millennium BC is the oldest known culture on the Indian subcontinent. In the 4th century BC, associations of nomadic ranchers from Central Asia who called themselves Aryans invaded northwest India.
According to Politicsezine.com, the political history of Vedic India is largely in the dark. The oldest literary testimonies, the so-called Vedas, describe both internal and external arguments. There were great numbers of kingdoms in the centuries that followed. In the 4th century BC Siddharta Gautama (Buddha) was born on the border with today’s Nepal. From the 3rd century BC Buddhism developed, which for 1,000 years, alongside Hinduism, was one of the most important intellectual currents in India. The Maurya dynasty and Emperor Ashoka (272-232 BC) should be mentioned here. Today Buddhism no longer plays a major role.
In India, external influences repeatedly played a major role: the first Islamic immigrants reached India at the beginning of the 8th century, but were only able to establish themselves politically from the 12th century. In 1206 the Sultanate of Delhi was founded by Aibak. In the middle of the 16th century, North India was part of the Islamic Mughal Empire, which had its origins in Central Asia, and was the height of Islamic rule in India. Outstanding monuments such as the Taj Mahal or the forts in Agra and Delhi, a high-ranking court culture, and one under Aurangzeb(1658-1707) almost complete expansion of rule over all of India are witnesses of this period. With the death of Aurangzeb, the Mughal Empire gradually dissolved, and India returned to the state of rival regional empires. This situation prepared the ground for the conquest of India by the Europeans from the 18th century.
From the beginning of the 16th century, European states and trading companies established bases in India, first the Portuguese, then the French and British. They reached India by ship and landed on the west or east coast of southern India. While the Portuguese largely restricted themselves to Goa, the French and British fought for supremacy on Indian soil. Ultimately, the British East India Company prevailed and gained extensive political control over the Indian territories in the mid-19th century. It was not until 1857 – after an uprising by Indian troops (so-called mutiny) – that India became a crown colony under the direct control of Great Britain.
In his book ” Inglorious Empire “, published in 2017, the Indian MP (Congress Party) Shashi Tharoor describes the history of British colonization from an Indian point of view and proposes that the rise of the British Empire would not have been possible without the exploitation of India. No matter how you evaluate this, the effects of British colonial rule in India can still be felt today in both a negative and a positive sense.
The resistance to British colonial rule formed step by step from 1885 under the leadership of the Indian National Congress. Formative figures in the independence movement were Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) and Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948). The country achieved its independence on August 15, 1947. This went hand in hand with the division of the subcontinent into two states: India and Pakistan. Excessive violence and huge flows of refugees accompanied this process. The number of deaths is estimated at around 1 million people. The division of the subcontinent has left deep wounds to this day.
After two previous wars with Pakistan, a third war in 1971 led to the secession of East Pakistan and the establishment of the new state of Bangladesh. The Nehru Gandhi family had a great influence on the development of India after 1947 and produced outstanding, but ultimately also many tragic figures. India and Pakistan celebrated their 70th birthday in August 2017. Both countries look back on eventful years and have a mixed record.
Foreign development efforts
In 2003 India decided to accept only a handful of bilateral partners in addition to multilateral donors: Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Russia and the USA. After there had been a debate in Great Britain as to why development funds should go to high-growth countries like India and China – and two countries with their own nuclear programs – no British development aid has officially been given to India since 2015. Nevertheless, there is of course still plenty of British money flowing into India.
The United Nations and its sub-organizations should be mentioned among the multilateral partners. The World Bank and ADB have so far also oriented their programs and strategies on the national development plans.
The EU is another strategic partner for India. The strategy paper 2007-2013 focused on the health, education sectors and the implementation of a joint action plan. In November 2018, the EU Foreign Representative presented an EU India Strategy to the European Parliament and the European Council.
The 14th EU-India Summit took place in Delhi in October 2017. The joint declaration once again underlined the joint strategic partnership in the field of counter-terrorism and at the same time two declarations on climate and energy partnerships for smart and sustainable urbanization were signed.
Foreign funded non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been targeted by the Indian government for years. According to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Rules, permission from the Indian government is required if an NGO wishes to accept foreign funds. This law is specifically directed against international NGOs, such as the country offices of Greenpeace or Amnesty International. The situation of NGOs has not improved under the Modi government.