In 1947 the moment for India's INDEPENDENCE had finally come. However, the colony of British India was split in two countries, the Republics of India (with a dominating Hindu majority) and Pakistan (with a dominating Muslim majority). Both governments - in India a government of the CONGRESS PARTY under Prime Minister JAWAHARLAL NEHRU - were not willing to accept the continued independence of India's over 500 princely states; the princes or the people of these states had to make choices. While many accepted their fate and saw their statelets annexed into India or Pakistan, the Nizam of HYDERABAD did not; in a brief 1948 war, his principality was conquered by Indian forces and annexed, split over three Indian states. Another problem arose in the case of JAMMU AND KASHMIR : the Maharaja opted for India, while an estimated 90 % of the population was Muslim and desired integration into Pakistan (the K in Pakistan stands for Kashmir). In the end, Kashmir was partitioned into a part held by Pakistan and a (larger) part held by India. Both sides continue to claim all of Jammu and Kashmir.
The separation of British India and the princely states into India and Pakistan was violent; c. 8.6 million of Hindus and Sikhs fled from Pakistani territory, c. 7.9 million of Muslims from Indian territory. MOHANDAS K. GANDHI was assassinated by a radical Hindu. India and Pakistan fought a brief war in 1948.
In foreign policy, the Nehru administration criticized colonialism and pursued an independent course between the two blocks. Nehru was a leading figure in the early NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT. At the end of the Korean War, India assumed the presidency in the NNSC (Neutral Nations Supervisory Council) that was to supervise the armistice on the peninsula.
In 1954, India absorbed FRENCH INDIA; in 1961, Indian forces occupied PORTUGUESE INDIA; both were annexed into India. In 1962, India and China fought the SINO-INDIAN WAR; the Chinese occupied a part of Kashmir and Himalayan border regions in Arunachal Pradesh; China still holds on to these areas.
India's own conquests, her wars with Pakistan and her dispute with China discredited India as a leading force in the Non-Aligned Movement; it rather came to be regarded as a regional power. After Nehru's death in 1964, a SECOND INDO- PAKISTANI WAR (1965) was fought.
India adopted a FEDERAL CONSTITUTION, with some of her member states having a population larger than that of former mother country, the UK. In 1950 India became a REPUBLIC. The country earned the title LARGEST DEMOCRACY ON EARTH, despite the fact that many different languages are spoken within its borders, the country is a religious caleidoscope and despite high analphabetism.
The Congress Party administration pursued a social policy of cautious modernization, emphasizing the EMANCIPATION OF THE UNTOUCHABLES. Positions in public administration were to be granted without consideration to India's traditional caste system; the army and universities also were to be open for people from all social groups.
Under Nehru, India pursued a protectionist economic policy.
This page is part of World History at KMLA