Historical Persons

Abdul Ghaffar Khan: Popularly known as Frontier Gandhi, was leader of the Red Shirts (Khudai-Khidmatgars) of the North-West Frontier Province during pre-partition period. He took part in the 1930 civil disobedience movement started by Mahatma Gandhi.

Abdul Kalam, Dr A.P.J.: Indian scientist who is credited with advancement of missile technology in India. He is known as ‘‘father of India’s Missile Technology’’. Elected President of India in 2002.

Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khanan: He lived during the reign of Akbar. He translated Babar’s Memoirs from Turkish to Persian.

Abdur Razzaq: was a Persian traveller who visited Vijayanagar in 144243 during the reign of Deva Raya-II (1425-46).

Abul Fazal: was the celebrated Mughal court poet and councillor of Akbar. Works: Akbar-nama; Ain-i-Akbari.

Abussamad: He was honoured by Akbar with the award of Zari-qulam.

Acharya Narendra Dev: was a prominent leader of the Congress Socialist Party.

Agha Khan: He is known to have led the deputation of Muslim leaders to the Viceroy, Lord Minto-II, in 1906, seeking separate electorates for Muslims in any representative system which might be introduced.

Ahalyabai: was the famous Holkar queen. She was widowed daughterin-law of Malhar Rao Holkar, the virtual ruler of Malwa. After the death of Malhar Rao, Ahalyabai ruled the State with great skill and understanding.

Ahmad Shah Abdali: His invasion in the third battle of Panipat in 1761, gave a death blow to the political fortunes of the Marathas.

Ahmed, Sayyid: Sayyid Ahmed Khan is known for promoting Western education among Muslims in India during the 19th century. Sayyid Ahmed of Rai Bareilly is known for launching Wahabi movement in 1819.

Akbar: (1556-1605) Born at Amarkot (Rajasthan) in 1542, he was crowned at Kalanaur (Punjab) in 1556 at the age of 13 years and four months, as a successor of Humayun. He was the greatest of the Mughal Emperors in India. He founded a new religion Din-i-Elahi. He is known for reforms in land revenue administration, religious toleration, abolition of pilgrim tax and Jazia. He built Humayun’s mausoleum in Delhi.

Ala-ud-din Khilji: He introduced price control covering almost the entire market. Grain was rationed and the price fixed. Iqta, a land-grab system was also introduced by him. He started copper coins. Jazia was collected from non-Muslims during his reign. The maximum number of Mughal invasions took place during his reign.

Alberuni: was a celebrated historian who visited India in company with the armies of Mahmud of Ghazni. He was also a Sanskrit scholar.

Albuquerque: was the real founder of the Portuguese Empire in the East. He conquered Goa in 1510 and made it his capital. He died in 1515.

Alexander the Great: (356-323 BC) was king of Macedon (Greece) who set out for mighty military exploits and invaded India in 327 BC. He reached up to the Beas from where he retreated as his home-sick army refused to proceed further. Alexander died on his way to Babylon in 323 BC at the age of 33.

Ali, Aruna Asif: A veteran freedomn fighter. Played important role in Quit India Movement.

Amar Nath, Lala: famous Indian cricketer who became the first Indian to score a century, and that also against visiting Douglas Jardine’s England team at Bombay Gymkhana in 1933-34.

Amarasimha: was one of the nine gems in the court of Vikramaditya. His work Amarkosha occupies a dominant position in Sanskrit Lexicography.

Ambedkar, Dr B.R.: Head of the Drafting Committee which drafted the Indian Constitution. Leader of Scheduled Castes; he was law minister of India from 1947 to 1951. He organised (1) Samaj Samata Sangh (2) All-India Scheduled Castes Federation and (3) The Independent Labour Party. Died in 1956.

Amir Khusrau (1255-1325): Surnamed as the “Parrot of India” wrote prose and poetic works in Persian, Hindi and Arabic. He lived in the court of Alauddin Khilji.

Anand, Mulk Raj: Eminent Indian writer in English. His works include Untouchable and Coolie.

Andrew, C.F.: was a British missionary who came to India in 1904. After having lived here for some time, he devoted heart and soul to India’s freedom struggle and worked shoulder to shoulder with the Indian leaders. He was known as Deenabandhu. He died in Calcutta in 1940.

Aristotle: (384-322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, artist, poet, and thinker. He was the founder of a famous school of philosophy.

Arjan Singh, Marshal: First-ever Marshal of the Indian Air Force.

Arjun Dev, Guru: was the fifth Guru of the Sikhs. He was put to death by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir in 1605. He is associated with Adi Granth.

Aryabhatta: (AD 476-520) after whom India’s first scientific satellite has been named, was a great Indian astronomer and mathematician. He laid the foundations of algebra and was responsible for pointing out the importance of “zero”. He was the first Indian to suggest that the earth rotates on its own axis.

Ashoka, the Great: (264-228 BC) Indian Emperor, grandson of Chandragupta. He denounced war, embraced and preached Buddhism after the battle of Kalinga.

Ashvaghosha: was the spiritual adviser of Kanishka (the Kushan emperor) who took a leading part in the Fourth Buddhist Council at Srinagar which was presided by Vasumitra. He wrote Buddha Charitam.

Attlee, Clement: was the Prime Minister of England at the time of grant of independence to India in 1947.

Aurangzeb: was the third son of Shah Jahan, who ruled as Mughal Emperor (1658-1707). He levied higher trade duties on Hindu traders in 1679. He also imposed Jazia. He is known for his ruinous Deccan policy. In 1681, Aurangzeb proceeded to Deccan for (1) crushing the Marathas, (2) annexing Golconda and Bijapur and (3) Subduing the revolts of Mughal nobility.

Babur, Zahir-ud-din: was a Chaghatai Turk who, in 1494, inherited from his father, at the age of 11, a small principality of Farghana, now a province of Chinese Turkistan. Babur occupied Kabul in 1504. He had ambition to conquer Hindustan. An opportunity came his way when he was invited by Daulat Khan Lodi and Alam Khan to invade India. He conquered the throne of Delhi after the first battle of Panipat in 1526 and thus founded the Mughal Empire in India.

Baden Powell: (1857-1941) was founder of the Boy Scout movement in 1908 and Girl Guides in 1910.

Bahadur Shah II: was the last king of Mughal Empire who took part in the First War of Indian Independence (so-called Indian Mutiny) in 1857. He was sent as a State prisoner to Rangoon (Burma) where he died in 1862.

Bairam Khan: was the tutor and guardian of Akbar, the Great. Akbar acquired the throne of Delhi mainly through his efforts. He was known as Khan-i-Khana.

Baji Rao-II: was recognised as Peshwa on 4 December 1796. He was defeated by Holkar rulers of Marathas at Poona. He consented to accept the Subsidiary Alliance and signed the Treaty of Bassein on 31 December 1802. (The Treaty of Bassein forms an important landmark in the history of British supremacy in India).

Bakht Khan: During the revolt of 1857, he was the Chief Commander of troops in Delhi.

Balaji Vishwanath: was the first Peshwa appointed on 16 November 1713.

Balban, Ghiyas-ud-din: He belonged to the famous band of Turkish slaves of Iltumish, known as “The Forty”. His period as king was 1265-86. He introduced the Turkish methods and customs of Sajada and Paibos. He introduced the famous Persian festival of Nauroj in India. The “College of Forty” or the “Group of Forty Nobles”, formed during the reign of Iltumish, was broken by Balban.

Banabhatta: was the most celebrated of the learned men and court poet of Harshavardhana; author of Harshacharita and Kadambari. He was the greatest master of Sanskrit prose in his time.

Banda Bairagi: (Also called Banda Bahadur) was a Rajput by caste and a native of Rajauri (Poonch). He became bairagi in his youth but took up arms against the Mughals on the advice of Guru Gobind Singh; captured in 1716 along with 800 companions and was tortured to death.

Barni: He is the primary source for Balban’s opinions on sovereignty and government.

Bedi, Kiran: First woman to enter the Indian Police Service.

Beethoven: one of the world’s greatest musicians and composers. He became deaf at the age of 40 and despite this handicap, he wrote many memorable symphonies, songs, sonatas and concertos. Died at the age of 56.

Bentinck, Lord William: was Governor of Madras during Vellore Mutiny (1806) and came out as Governor-General of India (1828-1835). He is known for many reforms viz., suppression of thuggee; prohibition of sati; female infanticide and human sacrifices; financial, administrative and educational reforms. He introduced English education in India.

Besant, Annie: (1846-1933) An Irish woman who was a staunch supporter of India’s freedom. She has been President of the Theosophical Society and President of the Indian National Congress in 1917. She was the first woman President of the Congress. She started the magazine New India.

Bhabha, Dr Homi J.: (1909-66) was an Indian scientist of repute. He was the first Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, India.

Bhadrabahu: was a Jain teacher during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya. He wrote A Life of Mahavira.

Bhagat Singh: Indian revolutionary who was tried in the Lahore conspiracy case.

Bhasin, Dr Nivedita: Devoted over a dozen years working for upliftment of women in India as a disciple of Swami Vivekananda. She was Irish and her original name was Margaret Nobel.

Bhaskaracharya: (Indian) Bhaskara means the learned. Born in 1114, he was almost the last great Hindu mathematician and astronomer until modern times. He wrote Sidhanta-siromani in 1150 which consisted of two mathematical and two astronomical parts.

Bhave, Vinoba: Father of the Sarvodaya and Bhoodan movement. A saint and stalwart from the generation of freedom fighters and a true Gandhian.

Bhoja King: He belonged to the Gujara Pratihara dynasty which was firmly established in Kanauj by AD 836 He was a great patron of literature and art.

Bilhana: was a Sanskrit historian and poet born in Kashmir. He left Kashmir about 1065 and became the court poet at Kalyana where he wrote an epic, Vikramadevacharita to celebrate the reign of Vikramaditya-VI, the Chaulakya king of Kalyana.

Bindusara: was the Mauryan ruler who was also known by the name Amitraghata. He succeeded Chandragupta Maurya.

Bismarck: (1815-1898) was the most capable and prominent of the German statesmen of the 19th century popularly known for his blood and iron policy. Founded the German Empire.

Bleriot, Louis: (1872-1936) French airman who was the first to fly over the English Channel from Calais to Dover on the 25 July 1909.

Bonnerji, Womesh Chander: was the first President of the Indian National Congress. (The first session of the Indian National Congress was held in 1885).

Bose, Nand Lal: famous Indian artist; Director, Kala Bhavan, Shantiniketan; died in May 1966. He had been invited to draw sketches on the theme of national integration in the first copy of the Constitution of India.

Bose, J.C.: (1858-1937) Eminent Indian physicist and Botanist; founder of Bose Research Institute, Calcutta. Inventor of Crescograph.

Bose, Subhash Chandra: better known as Netaji of Azad Hind Fouj (Indian National Army). He was a powerful nationalist leader and was also once elected President of the Indian National Congress. He gained much prominence for organising I.N.A. during the World War II. The call “Dilli Challo” was given by him.

Brahmagupta: (598-660) of Ujjain was the third great name of Hindu Mathematician after Aryabhatta and Varahamihira.

Buddha, Gautama: (623 BC to 453 BC) born in Lumbini village in the Nepalese terai, he was son of Sudhodana, the king of Kapilvastu in Nepal. He renounced the world and became a great religious teacher. He founded Buddhism. His preachings were mainly in regard to purity of thought and conduct. The relics of Buddha are preserved in a Stupa.

Bradman, Sir Donald: Universally acknowledged as the greatest cricketer who ever lived. He played for Australia and in his 52-Test carreer scored 6,996 runs at an average of 99.94. He hit 29 centuries.

Cabot, John: (1425-1500) British sailor who saled westwards in 1497 and discovered Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, believing them to be part of Asia, and may have reached the mainland of America before Columbus did.

Canning, Lord: was Governor-General of India during 1856-1858 and again Viceroy of India (1858-1862). He was last of the East India Company’s Governors-General of India and the first of the Viceroys of the British Crown. His rule was the epoch of a great convulsion i.e., Indian Mutiny or the First War of Indian Independence.

Cavour: Count Camillo Benso (1810-1861) was a distinguished Italian statesman who exerted much to unify Italy.

Chaitanya or Gaurang: born in 1485 at Nadia (Bengal). He renounced the world and preached the doctrine of love and devotion to Lord Krishna.

Chanakya: See Kautilya.

Chand Bardai: was court poet of Prithvi Raj Chohan. He composed the epic Prithviraj Raso—the story of the prowess of romance of Prithviraj Chauhan.

Chand Bibi: was daughter of the king of Ahmednagar and wife of Ali Adil Shah, king of Bijapur. She was assassinated by her own soldiers in 1599.

Chandra, Bhartendu Harish: The 18th century Hindi litterateur, known as the first writer of standard Hindi prose.

Chandragupta Maurya: was the famous ruler of ancient India, known for establishing an elaborate system of municipal administration. His empire extended in the north-west upto Hindukush. During his reign, the Greek ambassador Megasthenes visited his court.

Chandu Shah: On his persuasion, Guru Arjun Dev was executed by Jahangir in 1605.

Charaka: (About AD 80-180) was the court physician to Kanishka, the Kushan King. His work on Ayurvedic medical science remains invaluable.

Charlemagne: (742-814) Emperor of the Romans, a wise and powerful ruler, general and statesman.

Charu, P. Ananda: He founded the newspaper The Hindu in 1878. Was President of Congress in 1891.

Charvaka: is known as the greatest of the materialistic philosophers of ancient India. The Charvakas advocated a life of sensible enjoyment and declared: “While you live, live well, even if you have to borrow, for once cremated there is no return.”

Chatterjee, Bankim Chandra: was a patriot poet and novelist known as the literary king of Bengal after Madhusudan. Works: Mirnalini; Durgesh Nandini; Kapal Kundala; Raj Singh; Chandra Sheikhar; Anand Math; Indra.

Chawla, Kalpana: First India-born woman to go in space. She was part of the Colombia space shuttle mission of NASA which went in space on 20 November 1997.

Chengiz Khan: He was the Mongol warrior, known as ‘one of the Scourges of God’. He is ranked with Attila, the Hunish leader, as the destroyer of human species.

Chisti, Khawja Mouin-ud-din: is the sponsor and the most prominent figure of the Chisti order of Sufis in India.

Chola, Rajendra: (AD 1018-1042) He was son of Raja Raja Chola the Great, of the Chola dynasty, in the south of India (11th Century AD). He vigorously carried on the warlike policy of his father. He penetrated as far as the territory of modern Burma and Bengal. He overrun Orissa and also conquered Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Churchill, Winston: British statesman, soldier and author; former Prime Minister of Great Britain; leader of Conservative Party and a vigorous war leader during the Second World War; died on January 24, 1965.

Cleopatra: (69-30 BC) famous Egyptian Queen whose beauty fascinated Julius Caesar whom she accompanied to Rome. She is known for her romance with Antony dramatised by Shakespeare in his love tragedy: Antony and Cleopatra.

Clive, Lord: (1725-1774) came to India as a clerk in the East India

Company. He showed such remarkable military genius that he became Commander-in-Chief. He defeated Siraj-ud-Daulah supported by the French in the Battle of Plassey in 1757. Returned to England in 1760; his later years were marked by mental disturbance and ultimately he committed suicide.

Columbus: (1446-1506) famous Italian navigator who discovered America in 1498.

Confucius: (551-479 BC) founder of the great world religion Confucianism; was a Chinese sage and philosopher.

Conti, Nicolo: Italian traveller who visited Vijayanagar around 1420 AD during the reign of Deva Raya-II.

Cornwallis, Lord: (1738-1805) Commander of the British forces which surrendered to the Americans at York Town in 1781, thus ending the American War of Independence. He was twice Governor-General of India. He introduced permanent settlement of Bengal in 1793.

Cromwell, Oliver: (1599-1658) Soldier statesman of England who became one of the Parliamentary leaders and became General of the Roundheads at the outbreak of the Civil War. He established the British Commonwealth and was installed at its head after the execution of Charles I.

Curie, Madame Marie: (1867-1934) Polish physicist and chemist; famous for her discovery of radium; was awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911. She had shared Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 with her husband and Bacquerel.

Curzon, Lord: (1859-1925) A vigorous and outstanding Viceroy of India (1889-1905); statesman and administrator. He was Britain’s Foreign Secretary from 1919 to 1923. He was prominent at many world conferences after the first World War.

Dalhousie, Lord: was the British Governor-General of India from 1848 to 1856. His period of office was known for extensive annexations and as far as the consolidation of British power in India is concerned, he ranks with Wellesley and Hastings. He introduced the doctrine of lapse.

Dante: (1265-1321) the greatest of Italian poets. Author of Divina Commedia.

Dandin: was Sanskrit prose writer and poet. He is author of Dasakumar-charita and Kavyadarsa.

Darius: was the Iranian ruler who penetrated into north-west India and annexed Punjab in 516 BC.

Darwin, Charles: (1809-82) He was the exponent of the theory of Natural Selection (theory of evolution); author of The Origin of Species.

Dass, C.R. (Deshbandhu): one of the leaders of freedom movement in India; a powerful speaker and politician, founded the Swarajist Party in the Assembly in 1923. Elected the first Mayor of Calcutta in March 1925; died on 16th June 1925.

Dayanand Saraswati: Great Hindu reformer of the 19th century and founder of the Arya Samaj.

Devapala (AD 830-850): was successor to Dharampala, the famous Pala ruler. He established the third important Pala University of Somapura. He shifted his capital to Monghyr.

Desai, Bhulabhai: Competent lawyer, remembered for his brilliant defence of the INA prisoners in 1945.

Devaraya-II: was the king of Vijayanagar, who appointed Muslims in his army, granted land to them, built a mosque and kept a copy of the Koran in front of his throne, so that the Muslims could pay respect to it.

Dhanvantri: a great physician during the reign of Chandragupta Vikramaditya (375-413 AD).

Dharmapala: was son of Gopala of the famous Pala dynasty. He was one of the greatest kings that ever ruled Bengal. His succession to the throne took place in AD 780. He was involved in the contest with the Pratiharas and Rashtrakutas.. He established a great Tantrik University in 810 AD.

Dhingra, Madan Lal: He killed Curzon-Wyllies, an official of the India Office in London, as a protest against the inhuman transportation and hangings of Indian youth.

Dipankara, Atiza: was the most famous teacher of Vikramasila University founded by King Dharampala of Pala dynasty in 810 AD.

Disraeli: (1804-1881) English statesman and novelist. Became Prime Minister in 1868. He contributed greatly to the building up of a great Empire and won the respect and liking of Queen Victoria.

Dolma, Dicky: Youngest woman (19 years) in the world to climb Mt Everest.

Dorjee, Phu: First Indian to climb Mt Everest without using oxygen.

Dupleix: French statesman; appointed Governor of French East Indian possessions in 1742. After Clive’s victory at Plassey he returned to France and fell into disgrace and poverty.

Edison, Thomas Alva: American inventor. Born in Ohio, he became first a newsboy and then a telegraph operator. He invented an automatic repeater for telegraphic messages, phonograph, incandescent lamp.

Edwin Lutyens: Designed New Delhi as the Capital of British government as its Chief Architect.

Einstein, Albert: (1879-1955) German-Swiss world famous scientist known for his theory of relativity. In 1933, he was driven by the Nazis and took asylum in the USA. He was awarded Nobel Prize for his work on Photoelectric effect.

Eisenhower, Dwight David: (1890-1969) 34th President of the USA Supreme Commander of all the Allied armies in the west during the Second World War. He introduced “Eisenhower Doctrine” in 1957, a policy of giving aid to Middle Eastern countries against international communist aggression.

Elizabeth I, Queen: (1533-1603) Queen of England; daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Spanish Armada was defeated during her reign. Her reign is famous for development in literature, colonisation and naval power. Shakespeare lived in her time.

Epicurus: (342-270 BC) Greek philosopher; founder of Epicurean philosophy which taught that virtues should be followed because they lead to happiness.

Fa-hein: The first Chinese pilgrim who came to India during the reign of Chandragupta Vikramaditya.

Firdausi: was a Persian poet who wrote Shahnama.

Francisco-de-Almeida: was the first Governor of the Portuguese possessions in India.

Freud, Sigmund: (1856-1939) was originator of psychoanalysis. He was born of Jewish parents and from 1860 lived at Vienna until, following the Nazi occupation in 1938, he migrated to London. Some of his famous works are: The Interpretation of Dreams, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, The Ego and the Id.

Gagarin: Yuri Gagarin was a Russian cosmonaut and the first spaceman of the world. He was launched into space in Vostok-1 on 12 April 1961 and brought back safely after a flight in space. Died in ’plane crash on 27 March 1968.

Galileo: (1564-1642) Italian scientist. He was professor of mathematics. He is known for invention of telescope.

Gandhi, M.K.: (1869-1948) the greatest Indian after Buddha; father of the Indian Nation. The Champaran campaign was the first movement started by Mahatma Gandhi and hunger-strike as a weapon was used by him for the first time during Ahmedabad strike (1917-18). Associated with many movements during the struggle for independence viz., Non-cooperation Movement in 1920; Salt Satyagraha; Quit India in 1942. Assassinated while attending prayer meeting on 30 January 1948 by Nathu Ram Godse.

Gandhi, Maganlal: was a friend of Mahatma Gandhi. He believed in his ideals and remained with him during the freedom struggle. He is known to have coined the word Satyagraha to the launching of freedom movement.

Gandhi, Mrs Indira: Prime Minister of India, for a little over 15 years, she was a dynamic leader who steered the country towards self-reliance in every field. She was assassinated on 31 October 1984.

Gandhi, Rajiv: He was Prime Minister of India from 1984 to 1989. In May 1991 he was assassinated by a LTTE suicide bomb attack.

Gangesh: was the founder of the school of Navya-Nyaya.

Garibaldi: (1807-1882) the famous Italian soldier and patriot who was condemned to death in 1834 for being concerned in a plot to seize a Government vessel, but escaped to South America. Later he returned to Italy and became head of a great volunteer army, intent upon liberating Italy.

Gautama (or Gotama): was an ancient Hindu philosopher (not to be mistaken for Gautam Buddh) who first formulated the philosophy of Nyaya in his Nyaya Sutra. He lived probably between 450 BC-AD. 100 and is regarded as the father of Indian logic and the Aristotle of Hindu thought.

Gautamiputra Satakarni: was a great king of Satavahana dynasty.

Ghori, Mohammad: His conquests commenced the Muslim rule in India. He occupied Lahore in AD 1186. In 1191, he was defeated by Prithvi Raj Chohan but after a year avenged his defeat and conquered Delhi and Ajmer.

Ghosh, Arvind: Indian revolutionary who was tried in Alipore Bomb case.

Ghosh, Aurobindo: an exponent of Indian nationalism; philosopher, poet and saint. Works: Life Divine; Essays on Gita; Basis of Yoga; Love and Death (Poem); Urvashi.

Glenn John: The first American to fly in orbit in 1962, he also holds the distinction of being the oldest man in space, achieved in 1999, at the age of 77.

Gobind Singh, Guru: the tenth and the last Guru of the Sikhs—a real founder of Sikh power (the Khalsa) whose major part of life was spent in fighting the Mughals.

Gokhale, Gopal Krishna: (1866-1915) The doyen of Indian statesmen and the chief leader of the moderate section of Indian National Congress. He was the greatest parliamentarian known to India. He was elected President of Indian National Congress at the session held at Banaras (now Varanasi) in 1905 at the age of 39. Gandhiji regarded him as his political Guru. He also founded the Servants of India Society, an organization which has done very noble work till recent times.

Gokhale, Kamalbai: The first actress of Indian screen.

Gulbadan Begum: She was Babur’s daughter. She wrote Humayunnama, a historical account during the Mughal period.

Har Dayal, Lala: was Indian revolutionary who founded Ghadr

(rebellion) party in the USA on 1 November 1913 which was violently antiBritish. He also founded the Yugantar Ashram. A paper called Ghadr was also started by him.

Hari Hara and Bukka: were two brothers who were founders of the Vijyanagar Empire. They belonged to Sangam dynasty.

Harsha Vardhana: (AD 606-647) was the last great Hindu King of northern India. He moved his capital from Thanesar to Kanauj. He was defeated by Pulakesin-II of the Chalukya dynasty.

Hasan Gangoo: entitled Zafar Khan, was founder of the Bahmani Kingdom in Deccan.

Hemadri: who lived during the thirteenth century, was a legal authority on caste and ritual. He kept the royal records of the Yadava rulers of Devagiri. He wrote a voluminous legal digest entitled Chaturvarga-Chintamani.

Hieun-tsang: Chinese pilgrim who visited India during the reign of King Harsha (606-647). He has left interesting records of the conditions in India at that time.

Homer: (850 BC) famous Greek epic poet. Author of the classics the Illiad and the Odyssey.

Hume, Alan Octavian: an English statesman who, realizing the true aspirations of Indians for freedom, founded the Indian National Congress in 1885 which party gained much popularity later and ultimately succeeded in achieving independence on 15 August 1947.

Ibn Batuta: a great scholar and traveller from South Africa who came to India in 1333 during the reign of Mohammed Tughlaq and wrote about him.

He spent eight years in India on his way to China.

Ibrahim Lodi: He was the last ruler of Lodi Dynasty.

Iltumish: was the first Muslim ruler who made Delhi as his capital in place of Lahore.

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar: He pioneered the movement leading to the Widow Remarriage Act.

Iyer, Chokila: She is the first woman to be appointed as the Foreign Secretary of India.

Jagat Seths: were the most important among the bankers of Bengal in the eighteenth century before overthrow of Mir Qasim by the English.

Jaipal: was Raja of Bathinda. He was defeated for the first time by Mahmud Ghazni.

Jatin Das: was a well known Indian revolutionary who died in jail while on hunger strike.

Jaydev: 12th century Sanskrit poet from Bengal who wrote many poems in praise of Lord Krishna, including Geet Govinda.

Jayakar, M.R.: He was an eminent Indian Jurist, a colleague of Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru. He attended the three Round Table Conferences held in London to evolve a constitutional system for India under the British rule.

Jayakar, Pupul: She was known as the grand old lady of Indian culture.

Jija Bai: was the name of Shivaji’s mother.

Jinnah, Mohd. Ali: (1879-1948) founder of a separate Muslim State of Pakistan.

Joan of Arc: (1412-31) the girl whose heroism inspired the French to drive the English out of Orleans and enabled Charles to be proclaimed king. She was burnt as a heretic at Rouen.

Julius Caesar: (100-44 BC) Roman General known for invasion of Gaul and Britain. Defeated Pompey in the Civil Gaul War. His assassination by his trusted friend Brutus is considered the most famous classic betrayal.

Kabir: a disciple of Ramanand, was one of the greatest exponents of Bhakti Movement—a socio-religious movement spread in the Middle Ages which aimed at stopping conversions to Islam and fighting the tyranny of the Brahmins in the social set-up of the Hindus. He believed in the unity of God and equality of all religions.

Kalhana: was poet historian of Kashmir. He lived in the 11th century AD. He was author of Rajatarangini, his masterpiece.

Kalidasa: (between 303 and 450 AD) the greatest epic Sanskrit poet and dramatist. Works: Shakuntala; Raghuvansa; Kumar Sambhava; Meghdoot; Ritusamhara.

Kamal Ataturk: builder of modern Turkey. He was a fine soldier. He defended the Dardanelles against the British in 1915 and drove the Greeks out of Turkey in 1922. He was President of the Turkish Republic and virtual dictator 1923-38.

Kanishka: was the third and the greatest king of Kushan dynasty (120-162 AD). He was a great conqueror, became a patron of Buddhism and was the only ruler of India who had his territory even in Central Asia beyond the Pamirs. Saka Era started during his reign.

Kautilya: or Chanakya or Vishnu Gupta was a great politician who helped Chandragupta Maurya in securing political power. He was a practical statesman of high ability. Author of Artha Shastra.

Kelkar, N.C.: Confident of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He was editor of Mahratta and Kesari.

Kharavela: was the ruler of Kalinga. He reigned during the first century BC and Kalinga rose to great fame under his rule. He was a Jain and belonged to the Mahamegha-Vahana line.

Khilji, Alauddin: ruled northern India from 1296 to 1316. It was in his time that the Muslims were able to penetrate beyond the Narmada into the Deccan, though not for permanent conquest.

Kilby, Jack: Inventor of integrated circuit, the basis of every electronic device.

King, Martin Luther: He was an American Negro leader who won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize at the young age of 35. He has been leading a movement which aims at securing Civil Rights for the American negroes. Assassinated on 5 April 1968.

Krishnadeva Raya: The most famous Raja of Vijayanagar Kingdom, the last great Hindu ruler of Southern India (1509-29). He was a very learned man (considered to be the greatest patron of literature), capable ruler and a great warrior, who often defeated the Muslims. He belonged to the Tulva dynasty. He was the first Vijayanagar King who concluded treaties with the Portuguese.

Krishnamurthy, Jiddu: He was a great radical thinker, philosopher and spiritual leader of the 20th century. He challenged his listeners to overcome the conditioning of the mind.

Kumarila Bhatta: was a well-known preacher of Hinduism during the eighth century.

Lajpat Rai, Lala: a brilliant writer, powerful orator and Congress leader of the United Punjab, popularly known as Sher-i-Punjab (Lion of the Punjab or Punjab Kesri); one of the founders of Dayanand Anglo-Vedic College, Lahore; leader of the Nationalist Party in Assembly. He died of fatal lathi blows by the police while lecturing against Simon Commission in Lahore.

Lackland, John: (1167-1216) King of England from 1199 till his death at Newark after deposition by the Barons in 1216. He granted, under compulsion, the Magna Carta, England’s great bulwark of liberty.

Lakshmi Bai, Rani of Jhansi: Rani Lakshmi Bai, famous as Rani of Jhansi, was queen ruler of Jhansi, a district of Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh. She was a brave woman warrior and was one of the leading personalities who took active part in the first War of Indian Independence in 1857 (the so-called Indian Mutiny). She is said to be the bravest and most capable heroine of the War of Independence.

Laughton, Charles: (1151-1228) He was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1213, and one of the chief instruments in forcing the Magna Carta from King John.

Lenin: (Russian) Nikolai Lenin (1870-1924) was founder of Bolshevik communism and by far the greatest single driving force behind the Soviet revolution of Oct-November 1917.

Leonardo da Vinci: one of the greatest all-round geniuses the world has known; painter, architect, sculptor, scientist, engineer and musician. Famed as painter of The Last Supper, Mona Lisa and other great works.

Lincoln, Abraham: (1809-1865) a lawyer in early life, was returned to Congress in 1846 from Springfield, Illinois and was elected 16th President of the United States of America. He abolished slavery in the USA. He was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth in 1865.

Lloyd, George: He was Prime Minister of Britain (1916-22). He was one of those primarily responsible for the Versailles peace settlement.

Lokahitawadi: was the first reformer of Maharashtra to challenge the old authorities and old traditions.

Louis XVI: (1754-93) The king of France who was executed in 1793 after the French Revolution which had taken place in 1789. The history of King Louis XVI is the history of French Revolution.

Machiavelli: (1469-1527) a Florentine historian and diplomat. Author of “The Prince”.

Magellan: Commanded the first expedition in 1519 to sail round the world. Discovered passages to the Pacific from the Atlantic through Straits later on named after him.

Mahavira: (540-468 BC) 24th and the last Jain tirthankara. Born in a village near Vaishali in North Bihar. Died at a place called Pavapuri near modern Rajgir in South Bihar. He was the real founder of Jainism. He introduced Brahamcharya.

Mahendravarman-I: (600-630) was Pallava king known for his architectural skill. He introduced the method of scooping out entire temples from the solid rock, as at Mamlapuram.

Malaviya, Madan Mohan: a great Indian nationalist. He had been long associated with Congress Party and was thrice elected its President. Leader of the Hindu Mahasabha; founder of the Banaras Hindu University. He was conferred the Bharat Ratna in 2014 (posthumously).

Malik Kafur: He was military general of Allauddin Khilji.

Man Singh: was the adopted son of Raja Bhagwan Das. He fought against Rana Pratap in 1576 and won the battle of Gogunda. He was appointed by Akbar to govern Kabul. He died in the ninth year of Jehangir’s reign.

Mangal Pandey: He had the unique distinction of firing the first shot in the Rebellion of 1857.

Mandela, Nelson: First black to be elected President of South Africa. Was imprisoned for 27 years by the White regime of South Africa for his opposition to apartheid. Awarded Nobel peace prize in 1993. Died on 5 December 2013.

Manu: famous Hindu law-giver; author of Manu Simriti.

Mao Tse-tung: The inspiration behind the great communist revolution that transformed China and sent shock waves throughout the world. He was a warrior leader who taught that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” and personally wielded more power over more people than any man before.

Marconi: (1873-1937) Italian scientist; pioneer in wireless telegraphy and radio.

Marco Polo: (1256-1323) famous Venetian traveller and explorer; the first European to visit China; made journeys through China, India and other Eastern countries and published a record of his wanderings.

Marx, Karl: (1818-83) German philosopher and socialist. Life-partner and friend of Engels. Wrote many important works on socialism. Author of Das Kapital. Communism is based on his teachings.

Maurya, Chandra Gupta (322-289 BC) was the founder of the Maurya dynasty and also founder of the first historical Empire of India.

Megasthenes: was an ambassador to Chandra Gupta Maurya’s court sent by Seleucus. He lived in Patliputra for five years (302 BC to 298 BC). The account written by him of India in his book Indica is a source of our knowledge of that period.

Menuhin, Yehudi: One of the world’s most brilliant and celebrated violinists of 20th century.

Metcalfe, Sir Charles: known as the Liberator of the Indian Press, was British Governor-General of India (1835-36).

Michaelangelo: the renowned Italian artist, painter, sculptor, architect and poet; one of the greatest geniuses.

Mira Bai: (1450-1547) was a mystic and Hindi poetess. She was said to have been a Rajput princess of Chittor and to have married the Rana of Udaipur. She was disciple of saint Raidas. She composed and sang hyumns of praise in honour of Lord Krishna whom she addressed as Girdharhari. She wrote in Braj dialect of Western Hindi.

Mir Jaffar: He deserted Siraj-ud-Dowlah and joined the English under Lord Clive when the Battle of Plassey (1757) was raging with utmost fury. He granted an extra allowance called Double Bhatta to the English troops.

Mohammad, the Prophet: Born in AD 570 was the founder of Islam.

Mohammad-bin-Qasim: was the first Muslim to invade India. The Arab conquest of Sind took place in AD 712 under his leadership.

Mohammed Bin Tughlaq: (1325-51) a very learned man who possessed an uncommon intelligence and remarkable memory but was an unsuccessful and unpopular emperor. He set up a department of agriculture. In 1327, he shifted his capital from Delhi to Devagiri, re-named by him as Daulatabad.

Montessori, Madam: (1870-1952) Italian educator and originator of the method of education known as Montessori system. Under this system, the teacher provides the necessary didactic materials and shows their use, but leaves the child to handle them for himself.

Mother Teresa: She was the Albanian-born Roman Catholic nun who moved to Calcutta’s slum “to Serve God among the Poorest of the Poor”. She established the religious order named as “Missionaries of Charity” in 1949. She had to her credit a number of national and international awards including the Nobel Peace Prize (1979), Bharat Ratna (1980), and Magsaysay Award. She became a legend in her own life time. She died on 5 September 1997.

Mountbatten, Lord: Admiral of the (British) Fleet. He was the last British Viceroy of India and the first Governor-General of free India.

Munda Birsa: Organised an agrarian and political rebellion of the Mundas of the Ranchi region against the Zamindars, Hakims, Police and money lenders in 1899.

Munshi, K.M.: Founder of Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan. He started his career as an advocate and soon made his mark. He played an active role in the national freedom movement and held important public office for nearly a quarter of a century. He was also a great writer, educationist, and expert on constitutional law.

Mussolini, Benito: (1883-1945) founder of the Fascist Party and dictator of Italy (1925-43). Shot dead by partisans.

Muzaffar Ahmed: He was arrested in the Kanpur and Meerut conspiracy cases. Was also the editor of the Left-wing paper Navyug.

Nagarjuna: was the philosopher scientist and a great figure of the court of Kanishka whom Hieun-Tsang called “one of the four lights of the world”. He enunciated the theory of Relativity in his great work called Madhyamika Sutra. He is rightly called the Indian Einstein.

Naidu, Sarojini: She was a gifted Indian poetess of English language, commonly known as the Nightingale of India. She was also an orator of eloquence. She was President of the Indian National Congress in 1925; was the first woman Governor of an Indian State (Governor of Uttar Pradesh) after independence.

Naipaul, Sir V.S.: Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, a citizen of Trinidad, he won the Nobel prize for literature in 2001. He was the seventh Indian or person of Indian origin to be awarded the Nobel prize and second for literature, after Rabindranath Tagore.

Nam Dev: an exponent of Bhakti cult, he hailed from Maharashtra.

Narendra Dev: Formed the Congress Socialist Party in 1934 along with Minoo Masani and J.P. Narayan.

Nanak, Guru: born in 1469 at Talwandi (now called Nankana Sahib) in Sheikhupura district (now in Pakistan). Founder of the Sikh faith. Died in 1538 at Dera Baba Nanak.

Nanda Kumar: was a Brahmin of high rank who held an important position in Siraj-ud-Daulah’s Government. In March 1775, he charged Warren Hastings, the then Governor-General, with having accepted presents to the tune of many lakhs among which were ` 3.5 lakh from Munni Begum, widow of the treacherous Mir Jafar, for her appointment as guardian of her minor son. Before Nanda Kumar could place his evidence, Warren Hastings stage-managed his prosecution for forgery. Nanda Kumar was tried and sentenced to death.

Naoroji, Dadabhai: popularly known as the “Grand Old Man” of India, was a great nationalist. He was also President of the Indian National Congress. He was earlier elected to the British Parliament. He put forth the theory of the Drain of India’s resources to England.

Napoleon Bonaparte: (1776-1821) great French statesman and soldier who rose to be the Emperor of post-Revolution France. He won series of splendid victories against England, Russia and Austria in 1805 but was completely defeated in the battle of Waterloo in June 1815 and exiled to St Helena where he died six years later.

Narasimhavarman-I: (630-660) son of Mahendravarman-I, was the greatest of the Pallava kings. He was patron of the Sanskrit poet Dandin. Hieun-Tsang, the Chinese traveller, visited his kingdom.

Nehru, Jawahar Lal: one of the world’s greatest statesmen. A great Indian leader and maker of modern India. He was Prime Minister of India from 1947 till his death on 27 May 1964.

Nehru, Motilal: Illustrious father of Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru. A great patriot, famous lawyer and leader of the Swaraj Party; later joined the Congress and sacrificed his all for the country.

Nelson, Lord: (1758-1805) notable English Admiral and Naval hero. He victoriously commanded the British Fleet in Mediterranean battles, the most famous of which is the Battle of Trafalgar in which he was mortally wounded.

Nero: (AD 37-68) a tyrant and notorious sixth Roman emperor responsible for persecution of his countrymen.

Newton: Sir Issac Newton (1642-1727) English physical scientist and mathematician is generally known as world’s greatest man of science. He achieved immortal fame for his work on the nature of white light, the calculus and the law of gravitation.

Nightingale, Florence: (1820-1910) famous hospital reformer. She took to nursing as a career and went to Crimea and organised women’s nursing service in the Crimean War of 1854.

Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jha: is known for his introduction of a new calendar, a new system of coinage, and new scales of weights and measures.

Norgay, Tenzing: Internationally renowned mountaineer who along with Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand made the first successful ascent of Mt Everest.

Nur Jahan: was the Mughal Queen whose name was written on the Mughal firmans and inscribed on the coins. Originally known as Mihir-ulnisa, whom Jahangir married in May 1611, was formerly wife of Sher Afghan.

Pal, Bachendri: First Indian woman to conquer Mt Everest, the world’s highest peak.

Panini: a great Sanskrit grammarian of ancient India.

Paratanka-I: was the first important ruler of the Chola dynasty in AD 907. He ruled for almost half a century. He captured Madurai, capital of Pandyas.

Parshava (or Parshvanatha): (?872-?772BC) He was the 23rd Jain tirthankara. He established a community of monks to propagate his doctrines and also admitted women into an order of nuns. He laid down the four vows of (1) ahimsa (non-injury), (2) satya (truth), (3) asteya (non-stealing) and (4) aparigraha (non-acquiring of property).

Patel, Sardar Vallabhbhai: (1875-1950) a great and vigorous Congress leader and late Deputy Prime Minister of India, well known as an iron man. A great administrator who integrated all the princely States of India as part of the country. He is also popularly known as the “Bismark of India”.

Pericles: (490-429 BC) distinguished Athenian statesman, orator and General. Athens rose to its fullest glory due to his efforts.

Peary, Robert: (1856-1920) American explorer; first to reach North Pole in 1909.

Phidias: famous for his works in gold, ivory and bronze. Known for the sculptures in the British Museum: The Elgin Marbles.

Picasso: (1881-1973) Spanish painter. His work is to be found in public galleries and private collections all over the world.

Plato: (427-347 BC) the renowned Greek philosopher. His Dialogues and Republic are among the greatest ancient works. He was Socrates’ disciple and Aristotle’s teacher.

Princip, James: a civil servant in the East India Company of Bengal, he was the first to decipher Ashokan inscriptions in 1837 engraved in Brahmi script in Prakrit language.

Prithvi Raj Chohan: a legendary figure in Indian history. A great warrior of his time, valiant soldier and able ruler. He waged many wars against his neighbours. In 1191 he defeated Mohammad Ghori but next year in 1192 was defeated by the latter and put to death.

Pulakesin II: (608-642) The most powerful ruler of Chalukya dynasty in the Deccan. He extended his territory in all directions and in doing so came into conflict with both Harsha in the north and with the Pallavas in the south.

Purandaradasa: was the earliest and the most celebrated of the Kanarese classical singers. He was once the favourite of the Vijayanagar court. He systematized Karnataka music in his masterly compositions.

Pushyamitra Sunga: (183-161 BC) was the Commander-in-Chief of the Maurya armies in the last days of the Mauryas. In approximately 185 BC he murdered his master and founded the Sunga dynasty (185-72 BC).

Qutab-ud-din Aibak: was founder of the Slave dynasty in India (120690). He was slave of Mu ’iz-ud-din Muhammad Ghuri. The famous Qutab Minar at Delhi was begun by him (and completed by Iltumish).

Radcliffe, Sir Cyril: He was responsible for demarcating the boundary between India and Pakistan in 1947. He was appointed chairman of the two boundary commissions set up by the British Government to effect partition of Punjab and Bengal.

Radhakrishnan, Dr S.: (1888-1975) was a great Indian scholar; philosopher and former President of the Indian Republic (1962-67). He has been professor of eastern religions and ethics at Oxford (1936-52); was Ambassador to Moscow (1949-52) and the first Vice-President of India (1952-62). Author of commentary on Bhagwat Gita; The Hindu View of Life; Indian Philosophy.

Rajaraja I, the Great: (985-1014) was a king of the Chola dynasty in the south of India. He was a great conqueror. His conquests included the territories of the Cheras, Pandyas, Vengi, Kalinga, and even Ceylon and the Laccadive and Maldive Islands. Under him, the Chola power reached its zenith. He was responsible for the creation of the great Siva temple at Tanjore.

Rajasekhara: (920) was court poet of Mahendrapala-I of the Pratihara empire. He is author of the play Karpura-manjari.

Rajendra Prasad, Dr: (1884-1963) First President of the Indian Republic (1950-62).

Ramakrishna Parmhansa: Great religious saint and teacher of Bengal whose teachings led Swami Vivekananda to found the Rama Krishna Mission.

Raman, C.V.: (1888-1970) was an eminent Indian scientist, F.R.S., National Professor of Physics and founder Director of Raman Research Institute, Bangalore. He was awarded Nobel Prize for his discovery of ‘Raman Effect’ (1930). His work on study of crystal structure is of unique importance. He died on 20 November 1970.

Ramanuj Acharya: the great Vaishnava teacher of Tamil Nad; founder of Bhakti Movement. He was born in Tirupati.

Ramanna, Dr Raja: Doyen of India’s nuclear programme.

Ramdas, Guru: Fourth Guru of Sikhs. In 1577, Akbar granted to him the site with a tank in Amritsar for construction of Golden Temple. Amritsar was thus established as the headquarters of Sikh faith.

Ram Prasad Bismil: He was Indian revolutionary tried in Kakori conspiracy case.

Ranade, Mahadev Govind (1842-1901): was a great social and religious reformer who devoted his energies for eradication of Child marriage and purdah system. He was one of the architects of Prarthana Samaj.

Rana Pratap: the bravest and the most illustrious figure in the history of Rajputs. A great patriot who refused to submit to Akbar—the great Mughal Emperor.

Rana Sanga: Rajput ruler of Mewar; a veteran warrior who had lost one eye, one hand, one leg and had scars of eighty wounds on his body. Defeated by Babar in 1527 at the battle of Kanwaha.

Ranga, N.G.: Founding member of All India India Kisan Sabha. He is also known for being the longest serving Parliamentarian in the world.

Ranjit Singh Maharaja: He was the greatest Indian ruler of his time and founder of the Sikh kingdom in Punjab. He was born in 1780 at Gujranwala; occupied Lahore in 1799 at the age of 19 and made it his capital; conquered Amritsar (in 1802), Attock, Multan, Kashmir, Hazara, Bannu, Derajat and Peshawar; died on the 27th June 1839. His empire at that time included the Punjab and Kashmir and touched the base of the Afghan hills.

Ranjit Singhji, Jam Saheb: (1872-1933) was an Indian prince who earned world fame as a cricketer and was also known as an enlightened ruler.

Rathore, Rajyavardhan Singh: First Indian to win a silver medal in an individual game in Olympics. He won the medal in shooting double trap event of Athens 2004 Olympics.

Razia Begum: daughter of Altmash; she was the first and the only Muslim lady who ever sat on the throne of Delhi.

Ripon, Lord: Governor-General of India (1880-84), famous for Repeal of Vernacular Press Act; the first Census of India in 1881 was taken in his time; Factory Act; policy of free trade. He also pioneered the Panchayati Raj and introduced local self-government.

Rishabha: is supposed to be the mythical founder of Jainism.

Rontgen, W. Konrad: (1845-1923) German physicist. He was awarded the first Nobel Prize in 1901 for his discovery of X-rays.

Roosevelt Franklin D. (1882-1945): was the 32nd President of the USA. He was a great American statesman who served as President from 1933 till his death, being the first President to be elected for more than two terms. His war time meetings with Churchill and Stalin, and his energetic prosecution of the Second World War were considered as the most important features of his foreign policy.

Rousseau: (1712-78) famous for his two remarkable works Confessions and Le Contrat Social which gave French a new field of thought and laid down principles of government and conduct which bore fruit in the French Revolution.

Roy, M.N.: was leader of the Indian communists until India’s independence in 1947. He played a notable role in the world communist movement. After India achieved independence, Roy abandoned communism and became founder of radical humanism, a mixture of socialist and liberal humanitarian ideas.

Roy, Raja Ram Mohan: (1774-1833) He was one of the greatest social reformers that India has produced. He was instrumental in eradicating social evils like Sati, Purdah and child marriage from the Indian soil. He advocated widow re-marriage and stood for women’s education. He was a profound scholar of Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit. He was also the founder of Brahmo Samaj. He is called the first modern Indian.

Russel, Bertrand: A great English philosopher and mathematician. He won Nobel Prize in literature in 1950.

Samudragupta: (330-375) son and successor of Chandra Gupta I; one of the most powerful and the ablest of the Hindu kings; a great military genius, a great scholar, poet and musician; known as the Indian Napoleon on account of his great conquests.

Sapru, Sir Tej Bahadur: He was an eminent jurist and scholar. He was a member of the Imperial Legislative Council from 1916 to 1920. For three years thereafter he was the Law member of the Viceroy’s Council. He attended all the three Round Table Conferences under the British rule. He was mainly responsible for bringing about the Gandhi-Irwin Pact (1931) and the Poona Pact (1932) which led to the modification of the Communal Award.

Sasanka: (619-637) was the king of Gauda in West Bengal.

Satyarthi, Kailash: He is a children’s rights activist, active in the Indian movement against child labour since the 1990s. He won the 2014 Noble Peace prize jointly with Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan.

Savarkar, V.D.: was an ardent Indian nationalist who was in the front ranks of the freedom fighters in the twenties. He was sentenced by the British to transportation for life for his part in a conspiracy case. He remained President of the Hindu Mahasabha for a long time. He wrote an account of the happenings of 1857 under the title Indian War of Independence.

Savitskaya, Svetlana: First woman to walk in space; on 25 July 1984.

Shah Jahan: (1627-58) the Mughal Emperor. His period is described as the golden age of the Mughals. He built Rauza Taj Mahal at Agra in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Lal Qila and Jama Masjid in Delhi were also built in his time.

Sen, Sushmita: First Indian to win Miss Universe title (in 1994).

Shah Nawaz Khan: was associated with the Azad Hind Fauj organised by Subhash Chandra Bose in Singapore in 1943.

Shambaji: was successor of Shivaji.

Shakespeare: (1564-1616) England’s greatest poet and dramatist. He was born at Stratford-on-Avon. He was son of a tradesman of that town. He married Anne Hathaway, who was eight years his senior. He first appeared before the public as a poet in 1593 with his Venus and Adonis.

Shankaracharya: (born 788) was a zealous preacher of Hinduism; a great scholar and philosopher. He uprooted Buddhism and Jainism.

Sharma, Sqn Ldr Rakesh: First Indian to enter outer space on 3 April 1984.

Shastri, Lal Bahadur: Prime Minister of India after Nehru; well-known as ‘Man of Peace’. His greatest achievement was Indo-Pak accord at Tashkent meet in January ’66. The slogan Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan was given by him.

Sher Afghan: was the first husband of Nur Jahan (originally known as Mihir-ul-nisa) whom Jahangir married in 1611.

Sher Shah Suri: Muslim king who reigned during 1540-1545. He was the first Muslim king who paid special attention to administration and reforms. Grand Trunk Road was built in his time. He is known for many reforms in works of public utility and in land revenue. He introduced Kabuliyat and Patta for the purpose of collection of revenues.

Shivaji: son of Shahji Bhonsla, born in 1627; was a brave general, military genius and capable administrator. He was the last great Hindu king who partly succeeded in establishing ‘Hindu Swaraj’. He fought successfully many battles against Aurangzeb’s army and was instrumental in shattering the structure of Mughal Empire in India.

Shri Narayana Guru: was a great social reformer, saint and philosopher of Kerala who has a place next to Adi Sankara. He flourished in the first half of the twentieth century.

Shuja-ud-daulah: (1754-75) was an important figure in the history of northern India. He played a very important role in the Battle of Buxar (1764).

Shyamji Krishna Varma: is known to have made the first organised attempt to establish a centre for training, propaganda and political action for India’s deliverance from British oppression. He established the Home Rule Society in 1905 and then opened a centre for study and propaganda in London, called the India House.

Sikander Lodi: was one of the rulers of the Delhi Sultanate who moved the capital from Delhi to a new town which later came to be known as Agra.

Simuka: was the founder of Satavahana dynasty. He is said to have destroyed the power of the Kanvas and the remnants of the Sungas.

Singh, Dr Manmohan: First Sikh to become the Prime Minister of India.

Slocum, S.H.: He designed the Bhakra Dam, one of the highest straight gravity dams in the world.

Socrates: (469-399 BC) Greek philosopher and teacher who exhorted the people on public questions and conduct of life. He was charged with impiety and sentenced to death. He had to drink poison which he did calmly and ended his life.

Solomon: was king of Israel; reputed for exceptional wisdom. He lived from 1033 BC to 931 BC. Credited with having written the well-known ‘Song of Solomon’.

Sorabji, Cornelia: first woman to practice law in India. Born on 15 November 1866, in Nashik, Sorabji was a pioneer who helped open up higher education as well as the legal profession to women. She was the first woman permitted to attend Bombay University, where she excelled. She then went on to become the first Indian woman to study law at Oxford University in 1892.

Stalin: (1879-1953) Soviet statesman. He was leader of the Russian people for nearly thirty years. He assumed military leadership against the German invasion, June 1941. After his death, he was severely criticised by the Russian leaders.

Subuktigin: was the first Turkish invader of India.

Subulakshmi, M.S.: Doyen of Carnatic music.

Sun Yat Sen: the founder and the first President of the Chinese Republic, 1912. In 1905, founded the China Revolutionary League in Europe and Japan and played a prominent part in the 1911 revolution.

Surendra Sahi: was the prince of Sambalpur (Orissa) who led a number of anti-British revolts in 1857. He was held prisoner in the Hazaribagh jail but was rescued by the rebellious sepoys who challenged the authority of the British government. It was not till 1862 that Surendra Sahi surrendered and was deported.

Susruta: (350) is associated with the city of Banaras (Varanasi). He is the author of a work on medicine which is rather a treatise on surgery (hernia, cataract, plastic surgery etc). There is also a small section on interpretation of dreams for diagnosis.

Syed Ahmed, Sir: (1817-1898) an educationist and reformer of the Muslim community in India. He established the M.A.O. College at Aligarh in 1875 which later became Aligarh Muslim University.

Tagore, Rabindranath: Known as Gurudev, was great Indian poet, novelist, philosopher and thinker. Awarded Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Works: Gitanjali; The Crescent Moon; Fruit Gathering; Gora; The Wreck; Gardener; Sadhana; Mashi; The Post Office (Dakghar); Hungry Stones. He renounced his Knighthood as a protest against the Jallianwala Bagh Tragedy of 1919.

Tansen: great exponent of Indian classical music. He was one of the Nau Rattans in the Court of Akbar.

Tantya Tope: the brave Commander of Nana Sahib’s forces during the first War of Indian Independence, 1857. He was one of the heroes of this war.

Tara Bai: was the thirteen-year-old widow of Jankoji Scindia who had died without a male heir in February 1843. She resisted the attempts of Lord Ellenborough to annex Gwalior.

Tata, Jamshedji: (1813-1904) Indian industrialist, founder of the Tata Iron and Steel Company, one of the largest integrated steel works in the world. He also founded the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and built the Taj hotel in Bombay. He was a man of high social ideals and was a pioneer in his attitude to labour. He was a great philanthropist and donated a large proportion of his firm’s profits to works of social welfare.

Tayabji, Badurudin: He was the first President of the Indian National Congress, elected in 1887 at the Madras session.

Tegh Bahadur, Guru: son of Hargobind whose tercentenary of martyrdom was celebrated throughout the country on the 7 December 1975, was the ninth Guru of the Sikhs. He was ordered by Emperor Aurangzeb to embrace Islam; he refused and was executed.

Tennyson, Alfred Lord: (1802-92) He was England’s Poet Laureate from 1850 till his death. Author of In Memoriam, a poem of great beauty and depth of thought.

Tereshkova, Valentina: First woman to go in space on 16 June 1963.

Thyagaraja: South India’s best-known and best-loved musician (17671847). His mother tongue was Tamil but he composed his songs in Telugu.

Tilak, Bal Gangadhar (Lokmanya): ‘Father of the Indian Unrest’—a great political leader and profound religious scholar; author of Gita Rahasya—a commentary on the Bhagwat Gita, founded the Home Rule League in 1916. He was the first Indian to demand freedom as his birthright. He was called as extremist. He started the magazine Kesari.

Timur: born in 1335. Head of the Chughtai Turks. He was a masterful warrior and a butcher, notorious for sack of Delhi (indiscriminate massacre and plunder) during his invasion of India in 1398.

Tipu Sultan: Raja of Mysore. He had his capital at Sringapatnam. He died fighting the British in the fourth Mysore war in 1799. This was the real beginning of British territorial dominion in South India.

Todar Mal: One of the Nau Rattans and Revenue Minister in the Court of Akbar. Famous for reforms in Land Revenue Administration.

Tolstoy, Leo: was a great Russian writer. Mahatma Gandhi was greatly influenced by his works.

Trotsky: Russian revolutionary; one of the leaders of Bolshevist revolution; assassinated in exile in Mexico.

Tulsi Dass: a great Hindu religious preacher. Author of famous Ram Charit Manas describing the life story and achievements of Lord Rama. He composed it during the reign of Akbar.

Udham Singh: was the person who went to England and shot General O’Dyer dead to avenge the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

Vaghbhata: is regarded as unrivalled in the knowledge of the basic principles of Ayurveda.

Vajpayee, Atal Behari: Former Prime Minister of India. Statesman, gracious, charming, witty, great repartee are the kind of adjectives that come to mind immediately while talking about him. He is best known for the Pokhran blast that catapulted India to the nuclear-haves club, his peace efforts with Pakistan and his famous raj-dharam comment after the Gujarat riots. He is also termed as India’s most instinctive reformer. He was conferred the Bharat Ratna in 2014.

Varahmihira: (505-587 AD) was a distinguished Indian astronomer, mathemati-cian and philosopher. He was one of the nine gems of the court of king Vikramaditya.

Vasco da Gama: a Portuguese sailor who, in 1498, rounded the Cape of Good Hope and succeeded in reaching the port of Calicut (now Kazikhode) on 20 May 1498.

Vatsyayana: He is the author of Kamasutra.

Vera Anstey: His writings refuted the charges of de-industrialisation and the growth of poverty of India under the British rule.

Victoria, Queen: British Queen who was appointed Empress of India in the year 1877.

Vijnanesvara: was a jurist. He wrote at the court of the Chalukya king Vikramaditya-VI. Mitakshara, a commentary on Hindu law is written by him.

Vikramaditya, Chandragupta II: a great ruler of Northern India during 375-413 AD. His period is called the golden period of the Hindus. He was a liberal patron of Art and Literature. Fa-hein, a Chinese pilgrim, visited India during his reign.

Vidyasagar, Ishwar Chander: (1820-1891) was more an educationist than a religious reformer. He was a profound Sanskrit scholar who became a professor in the Sanskrit College, Calcutta in 1850, and a year later, Principal. He served also as a Special Inspector of Schools. He resigned from Government service in 1858, but continued to advise informally the Government on education matters. As a result of unremitting labour and strenuous agitation, Vidyasagar succeeded in inducing the Government to pass a measure in 1856 legalising the remarriage of Hindu widows.

Visvesvarayya, M.: (1861-1962) He was a versatile genius. He was a great engineer, statesman and administrator. Builder of modern Mysore, he was the architect of many of the modern irrigation and power projects in India.

Vivekananda: (1863-1902) a great Hindu saint and religious leader; founder of the Ramakrishna Mission. He was born in Calcutta on 12 January 1863, and his original name was Narindranath Datta. He led the Vedanta movement. His message influenced many of India’s leaders in the national awakening in the 20th century. He asked his countrymen to cultivate faith in themselves. He died on January 4, 1902, at the age of 39.

Voltaire: (1694-1778) one of the greatest of French philosophers and writers. Author of Essays on the Morals; Spirit of Nations.

Yule George: First English President of the Indian National Congress in 1888.

Walpole, Robert: (1676-1745) was the first Prime Minister of England. He was a great 18th century Whig statesman who sat in the House of Commons for over forty years. He was Prime Minister of Britain for a record period of 21 years.

Warren Hastings: He was the first Governor-General (1774-85) in India during the British reign. His period is known for the Regulating Act, 1774; first Marhatta War (1775-82) and Pitt’s India Act, 1784, to improve the Indian administration.

Washington, George: soldier statesman and the first President of the Republic of USA elected in 1789. He was also Commander-in-Chief of the American Army during the War of Independence (1775-83).

Wellington, Duke of: (1769-1852) was the most famous British General of the 19th century. He led the campaign against Napoleon’s army and defeated him at Waterloo. He was Prime Minister of Britain from 1828 to 1830 and from 1842 till his death was Commander-in-Chief.

Zia-ud-din Barni: His historical works give the source material of the Tughlaq dynasty.

Zoroaster: Persian prophet; lived about the seventh century BC The Parsis of India are his followers.

Historical Places


Ahichhatra: originally Ahikshetra in Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh was once the capital of Panchalas.

Aihole: in Karnataka contains chief sites of Chalukyan architecture— nearly 50 structural stone temples important in the development of Hindu architecture and sculpture.

Ajanta Caves: 106 km north of Aurangabad in Maharashtra State. These are rock-cut Buddhist caves, 29 in number. These caves represent a record of unique painting, sculpture and architecture of the period from about the 2nd century BC to about 7th century AD.

Amaravati: is the legendary capital of Svarga. Also a historical site near modern Vijaywada, believed to have flourished under the Satavahana dynasty.

Arikamedu: was a sea-port near Pudducherry in Chola times.

Ayodhya: a few miles from modern Faizabad, near Lucknow, was capital of the Kosala and the Solar kings of ancient India. Rama was the most prominent among them.

Badami (or Vatapi): in Karnataka is well-known for Chalukyan sculpture found in the cave temples here. These are groups of Hindu temples dating back to 7th or 8th century and are examples of pure Dravidian architecture. Besides cave temples and rock-cut pillared halls, there is also the famous Malegitti Sivalaya temple.

Belur: in Karnataka is famous for its elaborately sculptured Cheena Kesava temple of the Hoysala period.

Bhubaneswar: in Odisa is known for ancient temples viz., Rajarani; Lingraja; Brahmesvara.

Bodh Gaya: is situated six miles south of Gaya in Bihar State on the western bank of the Lilajan river and connected by two metalled roads. It is famous as the place where Buddha got enlightenment. There are modern monasteries, rest houses and museum.

Chidambaram: a town 240 km south of Chennai known as Tillai in ancient time, was once the capital of the Chola kingdom. Its temples are among the oldest in India and are gems of Dravidian architecture. It is famous as the abode of Natraja, the Dancing Siva.

Daulatabad: near Aurangabad in Maharashtra State is famous for rockcut 12 century fortress near the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.

Elephanta Caves: on the island of the same name near Mumbai harbour are rock-cut caves of the 7th and 8th century.

Ellora Caves: about 24 km north-west of Aurangabad in Maharashtra State are about 34 caves excavated in the face of a hill.

Fatehpur Sikri: 37 km from Agra in Uttar Pradesh was the city founded by Akbar in 1569 but abandoned soon after. The place contains a number of places, shrines, mosques. The most notable among them is Buland Darwaza, 53 m high and built to commemorate the conquest of Khandesh.

Halebid: in Karnataka, 14 km from Belur, is well-known for its elaborately sculptured temples of the Hoysala period. The monuments rank among the masterpieces of Hindu art.

Hampi: in Karnataka, 11 km from Hospet railway station, is the ruined capital of the Vijayanagar Empire.

Harappa: in Montgomery district of Punjab, now in West Pakistan, is known for excavations carried out here showing signs of Indus Valley Civilization.

Junagadh: in Gujarat is one of the most ancient cities of India. It is situated below the Girnar Hill. The temples on the Hill are known for their architecture and paintings.

Kalibangan: in Rajasthan where recent excavations brought to light the varied achievements of Indus Valley Civilisation—town planning and use of burnt bricks.

Kanauj: Capital of Harshavardhan.

Kanchipuram: or the “Golden City”, 72 km south-west of Chennai is known for Kailashnath temple. It was the capital of successive dynasties of Hindu rulers.

Kanheri: 32 km from Mumbai is known for its Buddhist caves dating back to the 1st century AD.

Kanyakubja: or modern Kannauj is an ancient city. It was the cultural centre of northern India from the seventh century to the time when the Muslims came.

Kapilvastu: a small ancient kingdom in the north of India; associated with Mahatma Buddha.

Khajuraho: in Chhattarpur in Madhya Pradesh is famous for its group of highly ornate mediaeval Hindu temples.

Kusinagar: in the district of modern Gorakhpur, is the place where Buddha died.

Lothal: ancient town, situated on the sea-plain of former Saurashtra, 720 km south-east of Mohenjo-Daro. The excavation made here represent the Indus Valley Civilization.

Madurai: popularly known as the “City of Festivals”, was till the 14th century the capital of the Pandyan kingdom which had sea-borne trade with Rome and Greece. It is famous for Minakshi temple.

Mamallapuram (now Mahabalipuram): Situated 85 km from Chennai, it is known for rock-cut temples, monolithic figures and carvings of the 7th and 8th centuries AD. The chief points of interest here are the Five Rathas or temples modelled as chariots—“Arjuna Ratha”, “Draupadi Ratha”, “Dharamraja’s chariot” etc. Also famous for Shore temple.

Mandu: In Madhya Pradesh. It is one of the largest mediaeval city sites. It has extensive remains—fortifications and palaces—a synthesis of Hindu and Muslim styles in architecture and painting; Jama Masjid (of Mandu).

Mithila: was the home of the three scholar sages—Gargi, Maitreya and Kapila. It was the capital town of Raja Janak’s territory.

Mohenjo-daro: in the Larkana district of Sind (now in Pakistan) is the site of excavation revealing pre-Aryan Indus Valley Civilization.

Nalanda: in Bihar was the seat of an ancient Buddhist University. It contains a group of Buddhist temples and monasteries.

Palitana: in Saurashtra is famous for its holly hill Shatrunjaya. It is the most sacred place for Shvetambara Jains.

Pandharpur: is in Sholapur district (Maharashtra State). It stands on Bhima river and is one of the most sacred places of pilgrimage in the State.

Prabhas Patan: (or Som Nath) in Gujarat State is the site of the famous Som Nath temple which was destroyed by Mahmud Ghazni.

Pragjyotishpur: was the capital of an ancient tribal kingdom in Kamarupa or modern Assam. (It is the new capital of Assam State).

Rajgir: 10 km south-west of Nalanda by road is an important place of pilgrimage for Buddhists. It was the capital of Bimbisara in ancient times. The Buddha preached at Rajgir, and so did Mahavir, the great preceptor of the Jains.

Sanchi: in Madhya Pradesh is famous for the largest and the most wellpreserved Buddhist Stupa (33 m in diameter and 12.8 m in height).

Sarnath: near Varanasi is the place where the Buddha delivered his first sermon after he became the “Enlightened One”. The place is known for Buddhist temples and remains.

Seringapatam: in Karnataka was the ancient capital of Tipu Sultan. (Now known as Seringapatnam.)

Somnathpuram: in Karnataka is known for temples of Hoysala period, Kesava temple.

Sravanabelgola: in Karnataka is famous for its Jain temples and the colossal statue of Gomateswara—19.8 m high erected in 983, the tallest monolithic in the world.

Srirangam: an island on the Cauvery river two miles north of Tiruchirapalli. It contains one of the largest temples in south India of the Vijayanagar period.

Sringeri: in Karnataka is a place of pilgrimage on the banks of Tung river where the great philosopher Sankara founded one of the principal maths (monasteries).

Tamralipti: A flourishing sea port in ancient India.

Tanjore: was the capital of Cholas. It is situated in the delta of the Cauvery in Tamil Nadu. Also known for Brihadeeswara temple.

Taxila: ancient capital of Gandhara and one of the most renowned cities of ancient north-west India.

Tirupati: in Andhra State, situated about 160 km to the north-west of Chennai is one of the holiest places in South India. This hill temple of Sri Venkateswara is an example of early Dravidian architecture and is one of the finest in the south.

Ujjain: known to be the seat of king Vikrama, is situated on the Sipra in Madhya Pradesh. It is one of the seven sacred cities also known as Avanti. The Oriental Museum here has some valuable manuscripts and pieces of sculpture. Mahakaleshwar temple here is known as a pilgrimage centre.

Vaishali: in the district of Muzaffarpur in Bihar was the capital of famous Vaishali kingdom in ancient times. It was the capital Lichchavis also.

Vatapi: Refer Badami.

Vikramasila: was a great Tantrik University established by the Pala King Dharampala in 810. It was a hotbed of moral corruption, socery and idolatry. In 1198, the soldiers of Ikhtiar Khilji raised the structure to the ground and killed all the monks in the university.

Reforms & Movements in World History

French Revolution: It was brought about in 1789 by the revolutionary teachings of French philosophers namely, Rousseau, Voltaire and Montesquieu. In those days in France, the Clergy enjoyed privileges at the expense of the people. Rousseau preached the gospel of “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity”. The revolt spread when a mob stormed the Bastille Prison in Paris. King Louis XVI was executed in 1793 and the Queen Marie Antoinette also suffered death later. Napoleon emerged as Emperor of France.

Russian Revolution: It came about in 1917 during Czar Nicholas’s regime. The people in his time were very poor and the Czar suppressed them ruthlessly. A full-scale revolt broke out in 1917 when the Soviet Council of Workers sprang into action. The army refused to fire at the revolutionaries and rather sided with them. Bolsheviks came to power. Czar Nicholas was executed and Lenin emerged as the strong man of Russia.

Magna Carta: It was the Charter of Liberties which King John II was forced to sign in 1215. It meant to put a check upon the arbitrary Powers of the King. The most important principle that it laid down was that Englishmen should be governed by definite laws and not by the whims or the will of a despotic ruler. Magna Carta was said to be “the foundation-stone of the rights and liberties of the English people”.

Renaissance: It was a transitional movement in Europe between the mediaeval and the modern which brought back the classic ideals in literature, painting and architecture. It began in the 14th century and attained its highest glory in the 15th and 16th century.

Glorious Revolution (England): It is so called due to its bloodless character and far-reaching consequences. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 ended the despotic rule of the Stuarts in England, reduced monarchy to a sort of crowned Presidency in a free state, vested sovereignty in the Parliament and led to far-reaching and permanent changes in the English system of Government.

The Bill of Rights: was the name given to a law declaring the rights and liberties of British subjects and settling the question of succession to the British Crown, passed by Parliament in 1689. The significance of the bill lies in that it not only clarified the existing law but also placed monarchy in England on a constitutional basis. It liberated British subjects from arbitrary government.

Industrial Revolution, England: Period beginning in the second half of the eighteenth century, during which power-driven machines replaced handwork as a result of rapid growth of applied science—watt and steam power.

American Civil War: Fought by the settlers in America against the sovereignty of British Empire under the leadership of George Washington in 1776-83. America became independent.

Crusades, The: Military expeditions undertaken by some Christian Nations to ensure the safety to pilgrims visiting the Holy sepulchre and to retain in Christian hands the Holy Places (1095-1217). First Crusade was undertaken by Godfrey of Bouillon.

Reformation Movement in Germany: A great religious movement of the 16th century, under the leadership of Martin Luther; resulted in the establishment of protestantism. From Germany it spread to other European countries.

Human Rights Charter: The General Assembly of the U.N. adopted Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The Declaration recognised the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family. The work of drafting the Human Rights Charter was mostly done by Rene Cassin, Nobel Peace Prize winner of 1968.

Nazism: the cult of the Nazis or of the National Socialism of Hitler in pre-war Germany, which believed in the superiority of the German or Nordic race and treated the peoples of other races, particularly the Jews, in a cruel manner.

The Spanish Armada: was a great fleet sent by Philip II of Spain, leader of Catholic Europe, to invade England in 1588. The British defeated the Armada and thus established their supremacy over the seas.

Post-Independence History of India

The history of the Republic of India began on 26 January 1950. The country had earlier become an independent dominion within the British Commonwealth on 15 August 1947.

At the time of granting independence, the Muslim-majority northwest and east of British India was separated into the Dominion of Pakistan, by the partition of India. The partition led to a population transfer of more than 10 million people between India and Pakistan and the death of about one million people. Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minister of India and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel became the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs. The new Constitution of 1950 made India a secular and a democratic State.

Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi: The celebrations of independence had hardly died down when on 30 January 1948, a radical minded Hindu, Nathuram Godse, assassinated Gandhiji at Birla House, just before his evening prayers.

Refugee Problem: The Indian government had to stretch itself to the maximum to give relief to and resettle and rehabilitate the nearly six million refugees from Pakistan. By 1951, the problem of the rehabilitation of the refugees from West Pakistan was fully tackled.

However, the task of rehabilitating and resettling refugees from East Bengal was made more difficult by the fact that the exodus of Hindus from East Bengal continued for years. While nearly all the Hindus and Sikhs from West Pakistan had migrated in one go in 1947, a large number of Hindus in East Bengal had stayed on there in the initial years. However, as violence against Hindus broke out periodically in East Bengal, there was a steady stream of refugees from there year after year until 1971. Providing them with work and shelter and psychological assurance, remained a continuous and a difficult task.

Because of linguistic affinity the resettlement of the refugees from East Bengal could take place only in Bengal and to a lesser extent in Assam and Tripura. As a result, a very large number of people who had been engaged in agricultural occupations before their displacement were forced to seek survival in semi-urban and urban contexts as the underclass.

Political Integration of India: At the time of independence, India was divided into two sets of territories—the first being the territories of “British India”, which were under the direct control of the Governor-General of India, and the second being the “Princely States”, the territories over which the Crown had suzerainty, but which were under the control of their hereditary rulers. In addition, there were several colonial enclaves controlled by France and Portugal. The political integration of these territories into India was a declared objective of the Indian National Congress, which the government of India pursued over the next decade. Through a combination of factors, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel convinced the rulers of almost all of the hundreds of princely States to accede to India. Having secured their accession, they then proceeded to, in a step-by-step process, secure and extend the central government’s authority over these States and transform their administrations until, by 1956, there was little difference between the territories that had formerly been part of British India and those that had been part of princely States. Simultaneously, the government of India, through a combination of diplomatic and military means, acquired de facto and de jure control over the remaining colonial enclaves, which too were integrated into India.

The process, however, was not as successful in relation to the former princely State of Jammu & Kashmir, the accession of which to India was disputed by Pakistan, the State of Hyderabad, whose ruler was determined to remain independent, and the States of Tripura and Manipur, where active secessionist movements existed.

The Instruments of Accession were limited, transferring control of only three matters—Defence, Communication and External Affairs—to India, and would by themselves have produced a rather loose federation, with significant differences in administration and governance across the various States.

The first step in the process of complete merger, carried out between 1947 and 1949, was to merge the smaller States that were not seen by the government of India to be viable administrative units either into neighbouring provinces, or with other princely States to create a “princely union”. The bulk of the larger States, and some groups of small States, were integrated through a different, four-step process. In return for agreeing to the extinction of their States as discrete entities, the rulers were given a privy purse and guarantees similar to those provided under the Merger Agreements.

First General Elections: Democracy took a giant step forward with the first general election held in 1951-52 over a four-month period. These elections were the biggest experiment in democracy anywhere in the world. The elections were held based on universal adult franchise, with all those twenty-one years of age or older having the right to vote. There were over 173 million voters, most of them poor, illiterate, and rural, and having had no experience of elections. The big question at the time was how would the people respond to this opportunity.

Reorganisation of States: Potti Sreeramulu’s fast-unto-death, and consequent death for the demand of an Andhra State in 1953 sparked a major re-shaping of the Indian Union. Pt Nehru appointed the States Reorganization Commission, upon whose recommendations, the States Reorganization Act was passed in 1956. Old states were dissolved and new States created on the lines of shared linguistic and ethnic demographics. The separation of Kerala and the Telugu-speaking regions of Madras State enabled the creation of an exclusively Tamil-speaking State of Tamil Nadu. On 1 May 1960, the States of Maharashtra and Gujarat were created out of the Bombay State.

Post-Nehru India: Jawaharlal Nehru died on 27 May 1964. Lal Bahadur Shastri succeeded him as Prime Minister. In 1965 India and Pakistan again went to war over Kashmir, but without any definitive outcome or alteration of the Kashmir boundary. The Tashkent Agreement was signed under the mediation of the Soviet government, but Shastri died on the night after the signing ceremony. A leadership election resulted in the elevation of Indira Gandhi, Nehru’s daughter, as the third Prime Minister.

Birth of Naxalism: The CPM had originally split from the united CPI in 1964 on grounds of differences over revolutionary politics, (equated with armed struggle) and reformist parliamentary politics. A section of the party, consisting largely of its younger cadres and inspired by the Cultural Revolution then going on in China, accused the party leadership of falling prey to reformism and parliamentary politics and, therefore, of betraying the revolution. They argued that the party must immediately initiate armed peasant insurrections in rural areas, leading to the formation of liberated areas and the gradual extension of the armed struggle to the entire country. To implement their political line, the rebel CPM leaders launched a peasant uprising in the small Naxalbari area of northern West Bengal. The CPM leadership immediately expelled the rebel leaders accusing them of left-wing adventurism, and used the party organization and government machinery to suppress the Naxalbari insurrection. The breakaway CPM leaders came to be known as Naxalites and were soon joined by other similar groups from the rest of the country. The Naxalite movement drew many young people, especially college and university students, who were dissatisfied with existing politics and angry at the prevailing social condition.

India goes nuclear: India achieved a major success in terms of a breakthrough in science and technology when the Atomic Energy Commission detonated an underground nuclear device at Pokhran in the deserts of Rajasthan on 18 May 1974. The Indian government, however, declared that it was not going to make nuclear weapons even though it had acquired the capacity to do so. It claimed that the Pokhran explosion was an effort to harness atomic energy for peaceful purposes and to make India selfreliant in nuclear technology.

Green Revolution and Operation Flood: India’s long-standing food crisis was resolved with greatly improved agricultural productivity due to the Green revolution. The government-sponsored modern agricultural implements, new varieties of generic seeds and increased financial assistance to farmers that increased the yield of food crops such as wheat, rice and corn, as well as commercial crops like cotton, tea, tobacco and coffee. Increased agricultural productivity expanded across the States of the IndoGangetic plains and Punjab. Under Operation Flood, government encouraged production of milk and improved rearing of livestock across India. This enabled India to become self-sufficient in feeding its own population, ending two decades of food imports.

Emergency: Economic and social problems, as well as allegations of corruption caused increasing political unrest across India, culminating in the Bihar Movement. In 1974, the Allahabad High Court found Indira Gandhi guilty of misusing government machinery for election purposes. Leading strikes across India, that paralyzed its economy and administration, Jay Prakash Narayan even called for the Army to oust Mrs. Gandhi. In 1975, Mrs. Gandhi advised President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed to declare a state of emergency under the Constitution, which allowed the Central government to assume sweeping powers to defend law and order in the nation. Many civil liberties were suspended and elections postponed at national and State levels. Non-Congress governments in Indian states were dismissed, and nearly 1,000 opposition political leaders and activists were imprisoned and programme of compulsory birth control was introduced.

Although, India’s economy benefited from an end to paralyzing strikes and political disorder, many organs of government and many Congress politicians were accused of corruption and authoritarian conduct. Police officers were accused of arresting and torturing innocent people.

Post Emergency: Mrs. Indira Gandhi called for general elections in 1977, only to suffer a humiliating electoral defeat at the hands of the Janata Party, an amalgamation of opposition parties. Morarji Desai became the first non-Congress Prime Minister of India. The Desai administration established tribunals to investigate Emergency-era abuses, and Indira and Sanjay Gandhi were arrested after a report from the Shah Commission. But in 1979, the coalition crumbled and Charan Singh formed an interim government. The Janata Party become intensely unpopular due to its internecine warfare, and the fact that it offered no leadership on solving India’s serious economic and social problems. Ultimately, the Janata Party split in to its original constituents. The January Sangh emerged in its new avatar as Bhartiya Janata Party.

Indira Gandhi and her Congress party splinter group, Congress (Indira) were swept back into power with a large majority in January 1980. But the rise of an insurgency in Punjab jeopardized India’s security. In Assam also there were many incidents of communal violence between native villagers and refugees from Bangladesh, as well as settlers from other parts of India. When Indian forces, undertaking Operation Blue Star, raided the hideout of Khalistan militants in the Golden Temple—Sikhs’ most holy shrine— in Amritsar, in June 1984, the inadvertent deaths of civilians and damage to the temple building inflamed tensions in the Sikh community across India. Northeast India was also paralyzed owing to the ULFA’s clash with government forces.

On 31 October 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s own Sikh bodyguards assassinated her, and anti-Sikh riots erupted in Delhi and parts of Punjab, causing the deaths of thousands of Sikhs.

Post Indira Gandhi: After the assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi, the Congress party chose Rajiv Gandhi, her older son, as the next Prime Minister. The Parliament was dissolved and Rajiv led the Congress party to its largest majority in history (over 415 seats out of 545 possible) in the general elections, reaping a sympathy vote over his mother’s assassination.

Rajiv Gandhi initiated a series of reforms—the license raj was loosened, and government restrictions on foreign currency, travel, foreign investment and imports decreased considerably. This allowed private businesses to use resources and produce commercial goods without government bureaucracy interfering, and the influx of foreign investment increased India’s national reserves. Rajiv’s encouragement to science and technology resulted in a major expansion of the telecommunications industry, India’s space program and gave birth to the software industry and information technology sector.

In 1987, India brokered an agreement between government of Sri Lanka and rebel LTTE, and agreed to deploy troops for peacekeeping operation and to disarm the Tamil rebels. Butm the Indian Peace Keeping Force became entangled in outbreaks of violence—ultimately ending up fighting the Tamil rebels itself, and becoming a target of attack from Sri Lankan nationalists.

Rajiv Gandhi’s image as an honest politician was shattered when the Bofors scandal broke, revealing that senior government officials had taken bribes over defence contracts with the Swedish manufacturer. As the Defence minister in Rajiv Gandhi’s government, Mr V.P. Singh had unearthed the Bofors scandal, and was sacked from the party and office. Becoming a popular crusader for reform and clean government, he led the Janata Dal coalition to a majority in 1989 elections. He was supported by BJP and the Leftist parties from outside. Becoming Prime Minister, Singh started to implement the controversial Mandal commission report, to increase the quota in reservation for low caste Hindus. The BJP protested these implementations, and took its support back, following which he resigned. Chandra Shekhar split to form the Janata Dal (Socialist), supported by Rajiv’s Congress. This new government also collapsed in a matter of months, when Congress withdrew its support.

Post Rajiv Gandhi: On 21 May 1991, while former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi campaigned in Tamil Nadu on behalf of Congress (I), a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) female suicide bomber assassinated him and many others. In the elections, Congress (I) won 244 Parliamentary seats and put together a coalition, returning to power under the leadership of Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao. This Congress-led government, which served a full 5-year term, initiated a gradual process of economic liberalisation and reform, which opened the Indian economy to global trade and investment. India’s domestic politics also took new shape, as traditional alignments by caste, creed, and ethnicity gave way to a plethora of small, regionally-based political parties.

In 1992, India was rocked by communal violence between Hindus and Muslims that killed over 10,000 people, following the Babri Mosque demolition by Hindu extremists in the course of the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute in Ayodhya. The final months of the Rao-led government in the spring of 1996 suffered the effects of several major political corruption scandals, which contributed to the worst electoral performance by the Congress Party in its history as Bharatiya Janata Party emerged as largest single party.

Era of Coalitions: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged from the May 1996 national elections as the single-largest party in the Lok Sabha but without enough strength to prove a majority on the floor of the Parliament. Under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the BJP coalition lasted in power 13 days. With all political parties wishing to avoid another round of elections, a 14-party coalition led by the Janata Dal emerged to form a government known as the United Front. A United Front government under former Chief Minister of Karnataka H.D. Deve Gowda lasted less than a year. Congress (I) withdrew support in March 1997.

Inder Kumar Gujral replaced Deve Gowda as the consensus choice for Prime Minister of a 16-party United Front coalition. In November 1997, the Congress Party again withdrew support for the United Front. New elections in February 1998 brought the BJP the largest number of seats in Parliament (182), but this fell far short of a majority. On March 20, 1998, the President inaugurated a BJP-led coalition government with Mr Vajpayee again serving as Prime Minister.

First Sikh Prime Minister of India: In January 2004, Prime Minister Vajpayee recommended early dissolution of the Lok Sabha and general elections. The Congress Party-led alliance won an surprise victory in elections held in May 2004. Manmohan Singh became the first Sikh Prime Minister of India.

First Female President of India: In 2007, Ms Pratibha Patil became India’s first female President. Long associated with Nehru–Gandhi family, Pratibha Patil was a low-profile Governor of Rajasthan before emerging as the favoured Presidential candidate.

2009 Elections: In the 2009 General Election, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance won a convincing and resounding 262 seats, with Congress alone winning 206 seats. Mr Manmohan Singh was re-elected as the Prime Minister.

2014 Elections: On 16 May 2014, ending the BJP’s 10-year political ‘vanvaas’, Narendra Damodardas Modi scripted a never-before win for the party, helping it cruise to power on its own steam at the Centre by breaking a three-decade old trend of fractured mandates. BJP attained a comfortable majority of 282 seats on its own.


Louis Mountbatten: (15 August 1947 to 20 June 1948)
(The first Governor-General of Free India)

C. Rajagopalachari: (21 June 1948 to 25 January 1950) (The first Indian Governor-General of Free India).


  • Dr Rajendra Prasad: (1950-62) The first President of the Indian Republic.
  • Dr S. Radhakrishnan: (1962-67) The Philosopher-President of India.
  • Dr Zakir Hussain: (13 May 1967 to 3 May 1969) The first President of India to have died while in office.
  • V.V. Giri: (24 August 1969 to 23 August 1974) The first President to be elected in contest against a Congress nominee.
  • Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed: (24 August 1974 to 11 February 1977) The fifth President of the Republic of India.
  • Neelam Sanjiva Reddy: (25 July 1977 to 24 July 1982) The sixth President of the Republic of India.
  • Zail Singh: (25 July 1982 to 24 July 1987) The first Sikh and seventh President of the Republic of India.
  • R. Venkataraman: (25 July 1987 to 24 July 1992) The eighth President of the Republic of India.
  • Shankar Dayal Sharma: (25 July 1992 to 24 July 1997) The ninth President of the Republic of India.
  • K.R. Narayanan: (25 July 1997 to 24 July 2002) The tenth President of the Republic of India.
  • A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: (25 July 2002 to 24 July 2007) The 11th President of the Republic of India.
  • Pratibha Devisingh Patil: (25 July 2007 to 24 July 2012) The 12th President of the Republic of India and first woman to become President of India.
  • Pranab Mukherjee: (25 July 2012 to 24 July 2017) The 13th President of the Republic of India.
  • Ram Nath Kovind (25 July 2017 to ____ ) The 14th and current President of the Repulic of India.


  • Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan: (1952-1962)
  • Dr Zakir Hussain: (1962-1967)
  • Varahagiri Venkatagiri: (1967-1969)
  • Gopal Swarup Pathak: (1969-1974)
  • B.D. Jatti: (1974-1979)
  • Justice Mohammad Hidayatullah: (1979-1984)
  • R. Venkataraman: (1984-1987)
  • Dr Shanker Dayal Sharma: (1987-1992)
  • K.R. Narayanan: (1992-1997)
  • Krishan Kant: (1997-2002)
  • Bhairon Singh Shekhawat: (2002-2007)
  • Mohammad Hamid Ansari: (2007-2017)
  • Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu: (2017-______ )

History – Eras & Dynasties

The Eras

a) Vikram Era—58 BC, b) Saka Era—78 AD, c) Kalachuri Era—248 AD, d) Gupta Era—319-20 AD, e) Harsha Era—606 AD, f) Nevari Era of Nepal—October 20, 879 AD. g) Kollane Era of Malabar—825 AD, h) Chalukya-Vikramaditya Era—1075 AD, i) Ilahi Era started by Akbar—1556 AD.

Alexander’s Invasion (326 BC)

Alexander, son of Philip, King of Macedonia (Greece), crossed the Indus in 327 BC After defeating Porus near Jhelum and subjugating other tribes he reached Beas from where he retreated as his army refused to proceed further. At that time India was divided into a number of independent kingdoms. The most powerful kingdom in Northern India was that of Magadha ruled by Nanda Dynasty with its capital at Pataliputra (modern Patna). Alexander had to face stiff resistance from the small monarchies and republics. He returned by way of the Indus and died on his way to Babylon in 323 BC at the age of 33. Greek rule in north-west India came to an end soon after his death.

The invasion of Alexander did not produce any major political effect. It however, opened the land route from Europe to India. At the same time, it paved the way for the political unity of India.

Sunga dynasty

This dynasty was established by Pushyamitra Sunga in about 185 BC after slaying the last prince of the Maurya dynasty named Brihadratha. Sunga dynasty is said to have lasted for 112 years until 73 BC.

The reign of Pushyamitra appears to mark a violent Brahmanical reaction against Buddhism, which had enjoyed much favour in the time of Ashoka. Pushyamitra also repelled the invasion of Greek king, Demetrios, son of Euthydemos.

The capital of this dynasty was Pataliputra.

Satavahana dynasty

This dynasty, called ‘Andhras’ in Puranas, mentions the name of thirty kings whose rule lasted for a period of about four centuries and a half. The first king of the line was Simuka who probably ruled for 23 years from about 235 BC to 212 BC. He is said to have destroyed the Kanvas. The capital of this dynasty was Pratishthana (now Paithan) on the upper Godavari.

Maurya Dynasty (322-185 BC)

Chandra Gupta Maurya (322-289 BC) was the founder of the Maurya dynasty and also founder of the first historical Empire in India. With the help of his wise and able tutor (afterwards Minister)—Kautilya or Chanakya— he drove the Greeks out of the Punjab and conquered Magadha. He also defeated Seleucus in 305 BC Megasthenes, the Greek Ambassador sent by Seleucus came to his court and wrote the book “Indica” which gives valuable information about that period.

Ashoka, the Great (273-232 BC) the most famous king of Maurya dynasty and one of the greatest kings in history; conquered Kalinga in 261 BC, but this battle killed the ‘soldier’ in him and he embraced and preached Buddhism. He was the first Indian King to speak directly to the people through his inscriptions.

The Ashokan inscriptions, in the form of 44 royal orders, were composed in Prakrit language, and written in Brahmi script (from left to right) throughout the greater part of the empire. But in the north-western part, they appear in Kharosthi script (from right to left), and in Kandhar in Afghanistan, they were written even in Aramaic, in Greek script and Greek language.

The Mauryan period constitutes a landmark in the system of taxation in Ancient India. The Samaharta was the highest officer in charge of assessment, and the Sannidhata was the Chief custodian of the State treasury and store-house.

The punch-marked silver coins, which carry the symbols of the peacock, and the hill and crescent, formed the imperial currency of the Mauryas.

The Mauryas introduced stone masonry on a wider scale.

In the Mauryan period, burnt bricks were used for the first time in northeastern India, the Maurya structures made of burnt-bricks have been found in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh Houses were made of both bricks and timber. Megasthenes speaks through Indica that there were wooden structures at the Maurya capital ‘Patliputra’.

The Maurya empire was finally destroyed by Pushyamita Sunga, a brahmana general in Mauryan army, by killing Brihadarth, the last Mauryan King, in 185 BC. The Sungas ruled in Patliputra and Central India and they performed several Vedic sacrifices in order to mark the revival of the brahmanical way of life. They were succeeded by the Kanvas who were also brahmans.

Kushan Dynasty (AD 120 to AD 162)

Kushans were a war-like tribe driven out by the Chinese from their country. They came to India in the Ist century AD. Kanishka was the third and the greatest king of Kushan dynasty; was a great conqueror; became a patron of Buddhism and was the only ruler of India who had his territory even in Central Asia beyond the Pamirs. Kushans were the first rulers in India to issue gold coins on a wider scale. Along with the Sakas, they strengthened the idea of the divine origin of Kingship. They also introduced Satrap system of government.

Gupta Dynasty (AD 320-550)

The Imperial Guptas ruled for about 200 years (AD 320-550) and founded a powerful empire. It was the golden period of the Hindus. The founder of this powerful kingdom was Chandra Gupta-I (AD 320-330). He started the Gupta Era. The other famous kings of the Gupta dynasty were Samudra Gupta (AD 330-375) and Chandra Gupta II, popularly known as Vikramaditya (AD 375-413).

The Imperial Guptas freed the country from foreign domination and the country made much progress politically, intellectually and culturally during their reigns.

Chandra Gupta I (AD 320-330): Founded a powerful kingdom. Started the Gupta Era.

Samudra Gupta (330-375): son and successor of Chandra Gupta I; one of the most powerful and the ablest of the Hindu kings; a great military genius, a great scholar, poet and musician; known as the Indian Napoleon on account of his great conquests.

Chandra Gupta II (Vikramaditya) (AD 375-413): was as brave as his father Samudra Gupta; defeated the Saka rulers of Malava, Gujarat and Kathiawar and thus wiped away the last trace of foreign rule from India; visit of Fahein, the first Chinese pilgrim; art and literature flourished; great personages who lived during his period include Kalidasa—poet and dramatist, known as the Shakespeare of India; Aryabhatta, Varahamihira and Brahmagupta—the greatest mathematicians and astronomers of their times; Kumarila Bhatta and Shankaracharya—the great preachers of Hinduism and Dhanwantri—a great physician. A Gupta inscription from Allahabad district suggests that decimal system was known in India at the beginning of 5th century AD.


The Huns (5th century AD) were a wild and fierce nomadic tribe of Central Asia who invaded India in the middle of the 5th century.

Their attack destroyed the Gupta power and many small kingdoms were set up in the country. The Hun Power came to end in AD 450 and many of the Huns embraced Hinduism.

Chalukya Dynasty (AD 450-1189)

The Chalukya dynasty was founded by Chulik, the barbarian Gujar chieftain. The greatest of the Chalukyas was Pulakesin II (608-642), a contemporary of Harsha. Pulakesin II defeated Harsha when the latter attempted to invade the Deccan. Chalukyas and Pallavas were hereditary enemies and the two royal houses carried on a ceaseless struggle for supremacy. Pulakesin II was defeated and probably slain by Narasimhavarman, the Pallava king of Kanchi. By the end of the twelfth century, the Chalukya empire was split up among the Hoysalas of Mysore, the Yadavas of Devagiri, and the Kakatiyas of Warangal.

Hoysala Dynasty (AD 1006-1343)

Hoysala was a dynasty of Mysore which came from the ruins of Chaulakyan empire. It is also at times spoken of as the Later Chaulakya dynasty, or the feudatories of Chaulakyas. Its traditional founder was Sala (1006), a Jain. His capital was Dorasamundra, now Halebid.

The Hoysalas attained great prominence under Vishnuvardhana. They are notable for having raised unique temples especially the Chenna Kesava temple built in 1133 at Belur.

It was one of the most powerful dynasty in the Deccan. Their shortlived dominion was shattered in 1310 by the attack of Malik Kafur and Khawja Haji, the generals of Ala-ud-din Khilji who ravaged the kingdom and sacked the capital.

Vardhana Dynasty (AD 606-647)

Harsha Vardhana (AD 606-647): was the king of Thanesar who conquered nearly the whole of Northern India and established a strong empire. He was the last great Hindu king of Northern India.

The famous Chinese pilgrim Hiuen-Tsang visited India (630-44) during his reign.

Banabhatta was the court poet of Harsha and was the source of information about him. He wrote Harshacharitra, Harsha’s biography and Kadambri.

Harsha himself was a poet and dramatist. The three Sanskrit dramas attributed to him are: Ratnavali, Priyadarsika, and Nagananda.

During his reign, the high officers of the State were not paid in cash but they were assigned “jagirs” in return of their services. He moved his capital from Thanesar to Kanauj.

He was defeated by Pulakesin-II of the Chalukya dynasty.

The last Buddhist empire in India was that of Harshavardhana. Information regarding time of Harsha is contained in the books of Kalhana.

The Rajputs (AD 650-1200)

After the death of Harsha, the brave Rajputs established their rule in the whole of Northern India and formed several petty independent kingdoms. These kingdoms lasted for about 500 years and then succumbed to the Muslim invaders one by one. The well known Rajput rulers of this period were: Prithvi Raj Chohan, the king of Delhi and Ajmer (Chand Bardai, the author of Prithvi Raj Raso, lived during his time). He defeated Mohammed Ghori in 1191 at the battle of Tarain but next year Mohammed Ghori defeated and killed him. Jai Chand Rathor was the last and most famous king whom Mohammed Ghori defeated and killed in 1194. Bihar was ruled by Palta dynasty and Bengal by Sena dynasty. In 1199 Mohammed Bakhtiar Khilji swept away both of them. The Chandel Rajputs ruled the Bundelkhand kingdom. In 1203 Qutab-ud-din Aibak conquered it. Sisodia dynasty founded by Bapa Rawal was ruling in Mewar with Chittor as its capital. Mewar rose to great power under Rana Kumbha (15th century). The Rana defeated the Muslims and erected the Tower of Victory at Chittor to commemorate this victory. Rana Sangram Singh (Sanga) and Rana Pratap belonged to this dynasty. Mirabai, the celebrated devotee to Lord Krishna was the daughterin-law of Rana Kumbha.

Rashtrakutas, Pratiharas, and Palas (AD 700-1200)

These dynasties were involved in ‘tripartite struggle’ between themselves. The object of political ambition of all was to conquer and hold the city of Kanauj, which had become the symbol of imperial power.

Rashtrakutas: The famous king of this dynasty was Amoghavarsha. His long reign (814-80) was distinguished for patronage of Jaina religion and of regional literature. His main problem was the rebellious feudatories. In 753, they brought the first Chaulakya dynasty to an end but by the end of the tenth century, Chaulakyas brought the Rashtrakuta dynasty to an end.

Pratiharas: were descendants of the Gujara people of Rajasthan in Western India. The Arabs conquered Sind in 712 but their attempts at further conquests were resisted both by Pratiharas and Rashtrakutas. After successfully resisting the Arabs, the pratiharas ruled over a large part of Rajasthan and also captured Kanauj.

Palas: Who controlled most of Bengal and Bihar, was the third power involved in the three-sided conflict between Rashtrakutas and Pratiharas over the control of Kanauj. The king of Palas was Gopala who attained renown from the fact that he was not the hereditary king but was elected. He established the Pala dynasty but it was his son Dharampala who made it a force in north Indian politics.

Chola Dynasty

The Chola dynasty was an ancient Tamil kingdom on the lower coast of India along the banks of the river Cauvery. They were the leading power of the south. Cholas reached zenith of their power under Rajaraja I, the Great (985-1014). He conquered the territories of the Cheras, Pandyas, Vengi, Kalinga and even Ceylon and the Laccadive and Maldive Islands. Temple architecture was the most developed under Cholas. The great Siva temple at Tanjore, the masterpiece of Chola architecture, was built by him. Village autonomy was a unique feature of the administrative system of Cholas. Their power ultimately declined in the 13th century when their territory was divided between the Hoysalas of Mysore and the Pandyas of Madura. Karikal the greater King of Cholas founded the new capital at Puhar.

Bahmani Kingdom (1346-1526)

It was a Muslim Kingdom established in the Deccan during the reign of Mohammad Tughlak and founded in 1347 by Zafar Khan, a brave soldier.

The most important person of this kingdom was Mahmud Gawan, a Persian who was a minister for a long time. He was put to death by the king and after that this kingdom began to decline and was split up into five independent States, viz., (1) Bidar (2) Berar (3) Ahmednagar (4) Bijapur (5) Golkonda. Even after this disintegration, the States continued their wars with the Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar and at last, in 1565 they combined (except Berar) and destroyed the Vijayanagar Kingdom at the Battle of Talikota.

Vijayanagar Kingdom (1336-1565)

It was a Hindu Kingdom in the Deccan, situated to the south of Bahmani kingdom from the Krishna to Cape Comorin, and founded during the reign of Mohammad Tughlak by two Hindu brothers Hari Har and Bukka Raya in 1336 in order to check the tide of Muslim conquests. The most famous Raja of this kingdom was Raja Krishna Dev, the last great Hindu ruler of Southern India (1509-1529). He was a very learned man, capable ruler and a great warrior, who often defeated the Muslims. The last king of this dynasty was Ram Raja. In 1564-65 a fierce battle was fought at Talikota between the Hindus and the Muslims in which Ram Raja and about one lakh Hindus were killed. Muslims were victorious and this ended the Vijayanagar kingdom.

The Marathas

The Marathas rose to power during the second half of the seventeenth century. Their rise is considered to be an important factor in the Indian political life. The Marathas were then the strongest of the indigenous powers. They aspired after India’s sovereignty. Under Shivaji (1627-80) they became a great power. Under Peshwas, during the weak rule of Aurangzeb’s successors, they made a bold bid to build up a Hindu Padshahi. Baji Rao was the ablest of the Peshwas whose policy was to strike at the very heart of the Mughal power. He conquered Gujarat, Malwa and Bundelkhand and advanced as far as Delhi. But he died in 1740 leaving the reins of affairs in the hands of his son Balaji, the third Peshwa who at best was a reckless person. The Maratha power under him extended from one end of India to the other and was at its zenith but in the intoxication of success, he failed to win over the Rajputs, Jats and Sikhs. Just at that time when the Marathas were master of nearly the whole of India, a Muslim coalition headed by Ahmed Shah Abdali inflicted a crushing defeat to the Peshwa’s forces at Panipat in January 1761. The Marathas lost, but neither side gained control of India. The field was left clear to a body of foreign traders viz., the English East India Company. The strongest among the Marathas was Chhatrapati Shivaji.

The Sikhs

The Sikh community was founded as a religious sect by Guru Nanak during the religious revival of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1707), the tenth and the last Guru of the Sikhs, transformed the religious sect into a military brotherhood. In the confusion and disorder that followed the invasion of Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali, they increased their military strength and became a strong power.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the greatest Indian ruler of his time and founder of the Sikh rule in the Punjab. Born in 1780 at Gujranwala, he occupied Lahore in 1799 at the age of 19 and made it his capital. He conquered Amritsar in 1802, occupied Ludhiana and after incessant wars, annexed Kangra, Attock, Multan, Kashmir, Hazara, Bannu, Derajat and Peshawar. He died on the 27th June 1839. His empire at that time included the Punjab and Kashmir and touched the base of the Afghan hills.

The Sikh power was, however, broken by the British after the death of Ranjit Singh. The British annexed the kingdom of the Sikhs.

History – Ancient Civilizations

Indus Valley Civilization

According to the carbon-dating process, the Indus Valley Civilization appears to have flourished between 2500 to 1700 BC, though at some places it may have lasted till later. This period is known as pre-historic period. It belongs to the Chalcolithic Age. Archaeological excavations for the remains of the Indus Valley Civilization have been carried out at many places. Two big cities discovered in the beginning were Harappa in the Montgomery district of what is now West Punjab in 1921, situated on the bank of river Ravi, and Mohenjodaro in the Larkana District of Sind in 1922. In India, important sites connected with the Indus Valley Civilization are Ropar in Punjab and Kalibangan in Rajasthan. Yet another site of this civilization discovered in India is Lothal in Gujarat State on the sea-plain of former Saurashtra, 720 km south-east of Mohenjodaro. It was an ancient port city of the Indus Vallley people. The excavations made here represent the Harappan culture. The discovery of a dockyard here measuring 710 feet by 125 feet (found blocked) proves maritime trade with Mesopotamia and other countries. It is the best example of maritime activity during the Harappan period.

Mohenjodaro, on the bank of river Indus, is the largest known Indus Valley period city.

Recent excavations at Dholavira in Kachchar (Gujarat) have further illuminated Indian history with revelations of an extensive Harappan city in the Rann of Kutch.

Dholavira, an ancient city, was most conspicuous for its aesthetic architecture, a unique water harnessing system and its storm-water drainage system. A large well and a bath were also excavated.

From archaeological excavations at Indus Valley sites it appears the people belonging to that era cultivated barley, wheat, peas, melons, sesame etc. The large number of earthen spindles found in the remains go to show that the people knew how to spin both cotton and woollen threads.

From the statues and carvings, we can make out that women put on skirts, and the men wore a band of cloth round their loins, and sometimes put on wrappers covering their left shoulder and passing below the right shoulder. They also sported beards and whiskers. Both men and women wore ornaments like finger-rings, necklaces, armlets etc. made of gold, silver, ivory, shell, bone, copper or terracotta. Women also used anklets, girdles, earstuds, nose-studs etc. The ornaments of the poor people were made of copper, shells and bones. People had domesticated the humped bull (zebu), buffalo, pig, elephant, horses and dogs. Available evidence suggests that among wild animals the Indus Valley people were familiar with tigers, bears, rhinoceros etc. The Harappans were the earliest people to produce cotton.

According to eminent archaeologists, the supreme god of the Indus Valley people was the Pipal God. A form similar to that of the Great God Siva of the Hindus has also been repeatedly found.

The people worshipped trees. The large number of steatite seals and other carvings discovered in the excavations show that art had made great progress. This is also borne out by the excellent finish of some stone-images found among the ruins.

The area in which the Indus Valley Civilization flourished had at least two big cities and more than 100 towns and villages. The big cities were Harappa and Mohenjodaro. These cities appear to have been well planned with broad streets up to 33 ft. in breadth. The roads cut each other at right angles. The people used burnt bricks with gypsum and mud-plaster. Most of the houses had bathrooms and the cities had a well laid out drainage system. In every house, big jars were fixed in the floor for storage of grains. In Mohenjodaro, there was a great communal bath with a 30’ x 23’ x 8’ tank in the middle. The town had a good system of water supply built round a large number of wells.

The area occupied by the Aryans was then called Sapt Sindhu (Frontier Province and Punjab as before partition).

The Indus Valley civilization was primarily urban. The system of governing was probably kingship.

A very interesting feature of this civilisation is that Iron was not known to the people.

The Rigveda speaks of a battle at a place named Hariyumpiya which has been identified with Harappa.

Language: Malati J. Shendge in his book “The Language of Harappans” says that the language of the Indus Valley Civilization was “Akkadian”, and not proto-Dravidian, as is generally believed. The earliest script was noticed in 1853 and complete script discovered by 1923.

The Indus script has not been deciphered so far.

Similarity with the Sumerian and Mesopotamian Civilizations: According to the historians, there were close commercial and cultural contacts between the Indus Valley and the Sumerian civilization. The Valley of the Indus has been referred to in Sumerian myths as Dilbun. The similarities between the Indus Valley Civilization and the civilizations which developed in Sumeria and Mesopotamia were the use of burnt bricks, copper and bronze vessels, the potter’s wheel, pictorial seals etc. They had a flourishing trade with each other and each one of them had a fairly well developed pattern of urban life. Mesopotaminans called the Indus region Meluha.

Difference with the Vedic Civilization: The Indus Valley people had not learnt to domesticate horses but those who lived in the Vedic age did make use of the horse. The use of armour was likewise a Vedic practice unknown to the Indus people. Whereas the latter lived mostly in towns and cities, the Vedic people were for the most part pastoral. They lived mostly in the countryside. They knew the use of iron which was not known to the inhabitants of the Indus Valley. The two civilizations worshipped different gods.

The Indus Empire—Latest Discoveries: In 1921, when the archaeological discoveries of Harappa and Mohenjodaro were made, it was thought that the Indus Valley Civilization was confined to Punjab and Sind only. Later, archaeological discoveries, however, traced it as far east as Alamgirpur in Uttar Pradesh, and as far north as the foothills of the Himalayas. Excavations at Lothal, further proved that the civilization extended to the shores of Gujarat. Lothal was an outpost for sea trade with the contemporary West Asian civilizations.

Recent excavations at many sites on or near the banks of the Krishna river show that this civilization percolated as far south as the Krishna valley. A scholar suggests that the civilization influenced culture in this region even in the post-Harappan period. It may have extended even further south.

The latest excavations show that the extent of the Harappan empire may have been widely spread throughout the country. As such, many theories as to its race and language are likely to become obsolete. With so many claims about deciphering of the mysterious Harappan script, the geography of the Indus people may have yet to be finally drawn!

Earliest evidence of agricultural communities: Earliest evidence before the emergence of Harappan civilisation comes from a place called Mehrgarh, near the Bolan Pass. Radiocarbon dates indicate that people here were growing wheat and barley and tending sheep and goats in 5000 BC. The Harappans were the earliest people to produce Cotton.

Vedic or Aryan Civilization

The location of the original home of the Aryans still remains a controversial point. Some scholars believe that the Aryans were native to the soil of India and were living in the Punjab or in the Ganga-Jamuna valley.

According to popular belief, the Aryans are supposed to have migrated from Central Asia in the course of a great nomadic movement that spread from the Mongolian Steppes in the east to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean in the West. It is not definitely known when the Aryans first came to India.

The group that came to India first settled in the present Frontier Province and the Punjab—then called Sapta Sindhu. They lived here for many centuries and gradually pushed into the interior to settle in the valleys of the Ganges and the Yamuna.

While according to Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the Aryans came from Arctic region, according to Max Muller they came from Central Asia. Ganganath Jha claims they are original inhabitants of India or Brahamrishi Dish. According to D.S. Kala, Aryans came from Himalayan region or Kashmir.

It is presumed that the Rig Veda was composed while the Aryans were still in the Punjab.

The Aryans were skilful farmers. They knew the art of domesticating animals. They were engaged in trade and knew maritime navigation.

The religious books of the Aryans show their culture at the highest perfection. The most important of these books are the Vedas—four in number: (i) the Rig Veda (collection of lyrics), the oldest, it contains 1028 hymns, divided into 10 mandals. The hymns were recited by Hotri. (ii) the Yajur Veda (book of sacrificial prayers). Its hymns were recited by Adveryu. (iii) the Sama Veda (book of chants). All verses (excluding 75) were taken from Rig Veda and recited by Udgatri and (iv) the Atharva Veda (book of magical formula). It contains charms and spells to ward off evils and diseases; the Upanishads—Philosophical treatises; the Epics— the Ramayana and the Mahabharata; the Puranas—18 in number; the Shastras or the Darshanas—six in number and the Manu Simriti.

Rig Veda contains tribal assemblies such as the Sabha, Samiti, Vidath and Gana, Sabha was committee of few privileged and important individuals.

The Aryans or the Hindus were divided into four groups called castes: (i) Brahmanas, (ii) Kshatriyas, (iii) Vaishyas and (iv) Sudras.

To lead an ideal life they had divided human life into four stages (Ashrams): (i) Brahamcharya Ashram, (ii) Grahastha Ashram, (iii) Banprastha and (iv) Sanyas Ashram.

Gradually, changes of far-reaching importance occurred in the social system of Aryans. The caste system became more rigid and the sacrificial side of religion was greatly developed by the Brahmanas. The privileges of the Brahmanas and growing complexities of their rituals, however, did not last long and the struggle against Brahmanism found expression in two new faiths—Jainism and Buddhism.

Aryans in the Rigvedic Period: The Aryans in the Rig vedic period were a highly organised patriarchal society. Marriage was a recognised institution and it was looked upon as a sacrament which could not be broken by any means. Women occupied a place of honour in society and had freedom to choose their marriage-partners. As a rule people were monogamous though those in the higher strata of society sometimes practised polygamy also. Widows were allowed to remarry, particularly when they had no male progeny. The father was the head of the family, which was the basic unit of the social structure. It has not been conclusively established whether the Aryans in the Rig vedic age believed in or observed the caste-system, but they did look down upon the non-Aryans or the original inhabitants of the land whom they described as dasyus or asuras. As compared to the Aryans, the latter were short-statured and dark-skinned. They spoke a different language and worshipped other gods. The Aryans deified natural phenomenon like fire, wind, water etc. and worshipped them. They had an elaborate code of rituals and sacrifices. They performed several types of Yajnas to propitiate the elemental forces.

It is believed that the Aryans of the Rig vedic period were settled in what are now known as the Shivalik Hills. As has been said earlier, the basic social unit was the family. Families were further organised into Kulas or clans, Janapads or cantons and then into the Rashtra or the nation. The system of government prevailing in the age was monarchic. The king was the protector of his people and also led them in the battlefield. He had ministers to help him in running the administration. He was also advised in the task of government by sabhas and samitis—assemblies of representatives elected by the people.

The king did not maintain any army. In times of war he mustered a militia whose military functions were performed by different tribal groups called Vrata, Gana, Grama and Sardha.

The later Vedic people were acquainted with 4 types of pottery: (i) black and red ware, (ii) black slipped ware, (iii) painted grey ware and (iv) red ware.

The Red ware was the most popular type of pottery in later vedic period. It has been found almost all over western Uttar Pradesh. However, the most distinctive pottery of the period is known as Painted Grey Ware. It consisted of bowls and dishes, which were used either for rituals or for eating or for both, but by the upper orders.

The Vedic people continued to produce Yava (barley) but during later vedic period, rice (vrihi) and wheat became their Chief crops. For the first time, the vedic people came to be acquainted with rice in doab and its remains recovered from Hastinapur belong to the 8th century BC.

During later Vedic period, popular assemblies i.e. Sabha and Samiti continued to hold the ground but their character changed. They came to be dominated by princes and rich nobles. Women were no longer permitted to sit on the Sabha and it was now dominated by nobles and brahmanas. The Vidath was completely disappeared during this period.

The institution of gotra appeared in later Vedic period.

The later vedic texts mention only three asramas (stages of life)— brahmacharya, grihastha and vanaprastha. The last and the 4th stage (samyasa) had not been well established in later vedic times.

Foreign Countries Influenced by Indian Culture in the Ancient Period

India in the ancient past was a great maritime and colonial power. According to researches made by eminent Indian and foreign historians, ancient Indians extended the frontiers of India to include several countries in the Far East. Traces of Indian culture can be found even to-day in the following countries/regions (the ancient Indian names are given in brackets in each case): Vietnam (Champa), Java (Yavadwipa), Sumatra (Suvarnadwipa), Borneo (Varunadwipa), Cambodia (Kamboja), Sri Lanka (Tamraparni), Myanmar (Indradwipa), Malaya (Malaya Desha) etc.

History – Battles & Wars


Battle of Hydaspes (Vitasta, modern Jhelum) 326 BC—Alexander the Great, defeated Porus, the Paurava king.

Battle of Kalinga 261 BC—Ashoka defeated the king of Kalinga. This battle killed the ‘soldier’ in Ashoka and he embraced and preached Buddhism during the rest of his life.

First Battle of Tarain or Thaneswar AD 1191—Prithvi Raj Chohan defeated Mohammed Ghori.

Second Battle of Tarain AD 1192—Mohammed Ghori defeated Prithvi Raj Chohan. This battle gave an irreparable blow to Rajput power.

First Battle of Panipat 1526—Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodhi. This laid the foundation of the Mughal rule in India.

Battle of Kanwah 1527—Babar defeated Rana Sanga of Mewar. This battle resulted in the defeat of the powerful Rajput confederacy.

Second Battle of Panipat 1556—Bairam Khan (Akbar’s General) defeated Hemu (the Hindu General and right-hand man of Mohd. Adil Shah). The defeat of Hemu frustrated all hopes of the Hindus to establish their own Rule in India. It also ended the Afghan Rule and Mughal Rule began instead.

Battle of Talikota 1564-65—United alliance between Bijapur, Bidar, Ahmednagar and Golkonda under Hussain Nizam Shah defeated Ram Raja of Vijayanagar. It destroyed the Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar.

Battle of Haldighat 1576—Akbar’s forces headed by Raja Man Singh and Asaf Khan II defeated Rana Pratap, the brave Rajput king who had refused to acknowledge Akbar’s suzerainty. Rana Pratap took refuge in remote fortresses.

Battle of Plassey 1757—The English under Lord Clive defeated Sirajud-Daulah supported by the French forces. It brought Muslim Rule in Bengal to an end and laid foundations of the British Rule in India.

Importance of the Battle of Plassey in the modern history of India:

(1) The Battle of Plassey paved the way for the conquest of Northern India; (2) Mir Jaffar, who became Nawab of Bengal, assigned to the East India Company, a tract of country near Calcutta (24 Parganas) in addition to paying a crore of rupees; (3) With the Bengal gold and silver which the Battle of Plassey had placed at their disposal, the English could defeat the French in the south; (4) The British merchants fully utilized the newly acquired power in Bengal for their own interest and they reduced the reigning Nawabs like Mir Jaffar and Mir Kasim to impotence and removed them from power whenever it suited them.

Battle of Wandiawash 1760—The English defeated the French. The battle sealed the fate of the French in India.

Third Battle of Panipat 1761—Ahmed Shah Abdali defeated Marhattas. It gave a terrible blow to the Marhatta power. This battle also sealed the destiny of the Mughal Empire. It made the field clear for the English.

Causes of the defeat of the Marhattas at the hands of Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1761: The Marhattas suffered a defeat at the hands of Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1761 for the following reasons: (1) The Marhatta General Sadasheo Rao committed the fatal blunder of giving up the guerilla methods of warfare and of engaging his army in a pitched battle against Ahmed Shah Abdali; (2) The desertion of Holkar at the critical moment hastened the defeat of the Marhattas; (3) The Rajputs and the Sikhs remained neutral; (4) Fearing the growth of Marhatta power, all the Mohammedan powers made common cause with Abdali in ousting the Marhattas from the Punjab; (5) The Marhatta army had by this time become denationalised; (6) The Forward Policy of the Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao was not wisely carried out; the idea of a Hindu sovereignty with all the Hindu chiefs under one flag was neglected; (7) The Peshwa tried to further his own interests at the cost of Marhatta Confederacy.

Battle of Buxar 1764—Fought in 1764 between the forces of the English under Major Munro and the combined forces of Mir Kasim, Shuja-ud-Daulah (Nawab of Oudh) and the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam; the battle of Buxar is described as the biggest battle yet fought by the Company in India. The English victory at Buxar finally riveted the shackles of the Company’s rule upon Bengal. It not only completed the work of Plassey but also did something more. Besides Bengal, it made Oudh completely prostrate at the feet of the English.

First Mysore War (1767-68)—By his skilful diplomacy, Haider Ali broke alliance against him between the English and the Nizam, later joined by the Marathas. He detached the Marathas by a bribe of 35 lakhs and then won the Nizam to his side. His forces with those of the Nizam attacked the English under Col Smith in 1767. But in 1768, he was defeated by the English relinquishing all his rights over Mysore in favour of the English.

Second Mysore War (1780)—A grand alliance between Haider Ali, the Nizam and the Marathas was formed and Haider Ali swooped down on the plains of Carnatic in July 1780, causing death and destruction and in October 1780, he defeated the English and took possession of Arcot and became the undisputed master of the Carnatic.

Third Mysore War 1790-92—Fought between the English and Tipu Sultan. Tipu Sultan had to submit and was compelled to sign the Treaty of Seringapattam which crippled his resources and stripped him of half his territory.

Fourth Mysore War 1799—The British forces under Arthur Wellesley and General Harris, defeated Tipu Sultan. The decisive battle was fought at Malavali and this brought the short Mohammedan dynasty of Mysore to a violent end.

Marhatta War 1803-05—It brought under English protection the States of Hyderabad and Oudh; weakened the Marhatta power and destroyed the French influence. The English annexed Tanjore, Surat and Carnatic.

Fourth Marhatta War 1817-18—The British forces under East India Company defeated Marhattas and this campaign finally extinguished the Marhatta Empire. It also placed the East India Company on the Mughal throne with a more absolute authority than Akbar or Aurangzeb had ever enjoyed.

Battle of Cheelianwala 1849—Forces of the East India Company under Lord Hugh Gough defeated the Sikhs under Sher Singh.

Burmese War 1885—As a result of this War, the whole of Burma was occupied by the English and made a part of India.

Afghan War III 1919—As a result of this War, Treaty of Rawalpindi was signed by which Afghanistan was recognised as an independent State.

India-China War 1962—The cause of the war was a dispute over the sovereignty of the widely separated Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh border regions. Aksai Chin, claimed by India to belong to Kashmir and by China to be part of Xinjiang, contains an important road link that connects the Chinese regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. China’s construction of this road was one of the triggers of the conflict. The Chinese launched simultaneous offensives in Ladakh and across the McMahon Line on 20 October 1962. Chinese troops advanced over Indian forces in both theatres, capturing Rezang la in Chushul in the western theatre, as well as Tawang in the eastern theatre. The war ended when the Chinese declared a ceasefire on 20 November 1962, and simultaneously announced its withdrawal from the disputed area.

Indo-Pak War 1965—This was Pakistan’s third attack on India. While India had the upper hand, the fighting was brought to a stop by a call for cease-fire issued by the Security Council. Two battles in the conflict, fought at Phillora near Sialkot and Asal Uttar near Khem Karan, were described as the heaviest tank battles since World War II.

Indo-Pak War December 1971—Pakistan started the war attacking India on December 3 with surprise air-raids on a number of Indian airfields. India defeated Pakistan on all fronts. Pakistani occupation forces, numbering about one lakh, in East Bengal (Bangladesh) surrendered. The outstanding achievement was complete liberation of Bangladesh. India emerged victorious, stronger and a united nation.

Kargil War: May-July 1999—It was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan in the Kargil district of Jammu & Kashmir and elsewhere along the Line of Control (LOC). The conflict is also referred to as Operation Vijay (Victory in Hindi) which was the name of the Indian operation to clear the Kargil sector. The cause of the war was the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants into positions on the Indian side of the LOC, which serves as the de facto border between the two States. The Indian Army, supported by the Indian Air Force, recaptured a majority of the positions on the Indian side of the LOC infiltrated by the Pakistani troops and militants. With international diplomatic opposition, the Pakistani forces withdrew from the remaining Indian positions along the LOC.


Battle of Marathon 490 BC—The Greeks defeated the Persians at Athens.

Battle of Salamis 480 BC—The Greek fleet defeated the Persians.

Battle of Thermopylae 480 BC—Spartans under Leonidas wiped out by Persians.

Battle of Zama 202 BC—Scipio defeated Hannibal.

Battle of Pharasalus AD 48—Caesar defeated Pompey.

Battle of Hastings AD 1066—William, the Duke of Normandy defeated Harold, the king of England. England came under the control of Normans.

Hundred Year’s War 1338-1453—Fought between France and England. The cause of the war was the succession question to the throne of France which was claimed by Edward III of England. The war was resumed by Henry V and was brought to an end by the heroism of Joan of Arc—“A country girl who overthrew the power of England.” Joan of Arc was burnt alive at the stakes in 1431.

Battle of Leopanto 1571—The Christians League defeated the Turks.

Battle of England or the defeat of the Spanish Armada 1588—The British fleet under Lord Howard defeated the Spanish Armada. A heavy storm scattered the Spanish fleet. This victory of the British established their supremacy over the seas.

Battle of Gibraltar Bay 1606-07—The Dutch defeated the Spaniards and the Portuguese.

Battle of Preston 1641—Cromwell defeated Charles I and succeeded in establishing the Protectorate.

Battle of Naseby 1645 – Royalists in England defeated.

Battle of Blenheim 1704—England and Austria headed by Marlborough defeated the French and Bavarians.

Seven Years War or Anglo-French War III 1756-63—England and Germany defeated France and Russia.

American War of Independence 1776-83—George Washington defeated the British forces. America became independent.

Battle of the Nile 1798—The British fleet under Lord Nelson defeated the French fleet and established their supremacy over the Mediterranean Sea.

Battle of Trafalgar 1805—The British fleet under Lord Nelson defeated the combined French and Spanish fleet. By this defeat, Napoleon’s scheme of invading England was foiled.

Battle of Austerlitz 1805—Napoleon defeated Austria and Russia.

Battle of Leipzig 1813—The English and the Allies (Russia and Prussia) defeated Napoleon and called this battle as “the Battle of the Nations”.

Battle of Waterloo 1815—the British under Duke of Willington (Sir Arthur Wellesley) defeated the French under Napoleon. Napoleon was captured and exiled to St Helena where he died.

Crimean War 1854-56—The combined forces of the British, French and Turks defeated Russia.

American Civil War 1861-1865—Northern States of America under Abraham Lincoln defeated the Southern States and established a Federal State.

Sino-Japanese War 1894-95—Japan defeated China and occupied Formosa and Korea.

Battle of the Omdurman 1898—The British and Egyptian forces defeated the forces of Khalifa (Mehdists).

Battle of the Sea of Japan (1905) – (i) Battle of Port Authur and (ii) Battle of Yalu—Japanese fleet defeated the Russian fleet. It led the wave of the idea of Asian Resurgence.

Battle of Jutland 1916—Naval battle between England and Germany during World War I; England defeated Germany.

Battle of Verdun 1916—famous battle of World War I fought between France and Germany.

Second Battle of Marne 1918—was fought on 15 July 1918 between the Germans and French in World War I. The Germans were defeated.

World War I 1914-18—Britain and her allies (France, U.S.A. and Belgium) defeated Germany and her associate powers.

World War II (1st September 1939 to 14th August 1945)—The Allies (England, France, USA and USSR) defeated the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy and Japan).

Battle of El Alamein 1942—The Allies victory during the Second World War and retreat of General Rommel’s forces.

Suez Crisis 1956—Britain, France and Israel attacked Egypt. All the three countries had to withdraw their invasion forces under pressure of the UN.

Arab-Israel War (5-9 June 1967)—Fought between Israel on one side and the UAR, Syria and Jordan on the other. Israel achieved victory within 80 hours before all hostilities ceased on June 10 in response to repeated ceasefire calls by the UN Security Council. Israel, after virtually destroying the air forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, (1) overran the entire Sinai Peninsula; (2) advanced up to the Eastern bank of the Suez Canal, and captured the Gaza strip; (3) gained whole of Jerusalem; (4) captured high ground on Syrian border; (5) overran the whole of Jordan west of the Jordan river.

Vietnam War: The Vietnam War occurred in present-day Vietnam, Southeast Asia. It represented a successful attempt on the part of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam, DRV) and the National Front for the Liberation of Vietnam (Viet Cong) to unite and impose a communist system over the entire nation. Opposing the DRV was the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam, RVN), backed by the United States. The war in Vietnam occurred during the Cold War, and is generally viewed as an indirect conflict between the United States and Soviet Union, with each nation and its allies supporting one side. On 27 January 1974, a peace accord was signed in Paris ending the conflict. By March of that year, American combat troops left the country. After a brief period of peace, North Vietnam recommenced hostilities in late 1974. Pushing through ARVN forces with ease, they captured Saigon on 30 April 1975, forcing South Vietnam’s surrender and reuniting the country.

Falkland War: The world witnessed a unique war as a result of the surprise invasion of the British-owned Falkland (in South Atlantic) by Argentina on 2 April 1982. The British claimed sovereignty over the islands on the basis of certain agreements reached over 150 years ago. But Argentina has laid claims to at least three dependencies of Falklands and still describes the territory as disputed. To regain control 10,000 strong armada was sent by Britain. Argentina damaged several ships, shot down several planes and thwarted the British forces plan for a quick victory for several days. However, on 16 June, 1985, Argentinian forces surrendered. It cost Britain over 2 billion dollars and loss of several lives to regain its hold on the disputed islands.

Iran-Iraq War: The war between the Gulf countries started when Iraq suddenly invaded Iran on 22 September 1980. Though Iraq gained some initial advantages, but lost them with Iran mobilising its forces effectively. The Iranian-Iraqi frontier has been a trouble-spot for decades, with periodic skirmishes erupting over Iraqi efforts to control Shatt-al-Arab waterway at the head of the Gulf, the key oil gateway to both the nations. On 20 August 1988, the eight-year-old war ended. Iran and Iraq implemented a UN-brokered ceasefire. A de facto truce had come into effect on 8 August 1988, when the UN Secretary-General, Mr Javier Perez de Cuellar, announced a ceasefire.

Gulf War: The foundation stone of the Gulf War was laid when Kuwait was invaded and captured by Iraq on 2 August 1990. On 30 November 1990, the UN Security Council gave an ultimatum to Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait by 15 January 1991. The deadline was not observed and on 16 January 1991, the Gulf War began. The massive military might of 28 countries seeked to smash Iraq’s impressive array of weapons and bases through almost non-stop bombing raids—about 2000 bombardments daily.

The war ended on 28 February 1991, when President George Bush announced a halt to six-week old war. The cease-fire followed within hours of Mr Saddam Hussein’s acceptance of all UN resolutions on the war.

The war left both Iraq and Kuwait in ruins. 90 per cent of the oil wells in Kuwait caught fire—in allied bombings or were put on fire by retreating Iraqi soldiers.

Gulf War II: After months of threats and a long military build-up, the United States attacked Iraq on 20 March 2003, in an operation codenamed Operation Iraqi Freedom. The attack by coalition forces of USA and Britain came in complete defiance of United Nations which wanted to give Iraq some more time to destroy its weapons of mass destruction.

In the first week of May 2003, following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Baghdad, the Gulf War-II ended and Iraq came under direct control of the occupation forces. On 14 December 2003, the coalition forces captured Saddam Hussein.

Afghan War: The War in Afghanistan began on 7 October 2001, as the armed forces of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, and the Afghan United Front (Northern Alliance) launched Operation Enduring Freedom. Following the September 11 attacks, the US administration organized an allied invasion to dismantle the terrorist organization and end its use of Afghanistan as a base. The US also intended to remove the fundamentalist Taliban regime from power and create a viable democratic State.

NATO forces continued to battle the widespread Taliban insurgency, and by 2011 the war expanded into the tribal areas of neighbouring Pakistan. The War in Afghanistan had become the United States’ second-longest war. On 2 May 2011, US forces raided the urban compound of Osama bin Laden and killed him in Abbotabad, Pakistan. On 21 May 2012, the leaders of the NATO-member countries endorsed an exit strategy during the 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago.


World War I (1914-18)

Background: After the dismissal of Bismarck, the young Kaiser, William II, of Germany sought to build a supreme Navy to dominate the Atlantic and to push towards the East. This was known as his policy of Drang nach Osten.

Germany’s rival was the Triple Etente, formed between Britain, France and Russia during the period of Armed Peace (1905-13) in Europe.

It was Germany’s ambition to be a world power but she found herself thwarted in every direction. She was determined to have her ‘place in the sun’ and for this purpose, she acquired a dominating influence over Turkey and committed herself to support the Balkan policy of Austria. She looked upon England as her greatest enemy.

Immediate Cause of the War: Archduke Ferdinand, the Austrian heirapparent to the throne, was murdered in a street of Serajevo, the capital of Bosnia, an annexed territory of Austria, by a Serb national. Austria held Serbia responsible for this act and denounced Serbians as the ‘nation of assassins’. After one month of the incident, Austria delivered an ultimatum and moved for war. This brought Russia into the field as she felt a kinship with Slavic People. Russia’s entry brought Germany to the side of Austria. One by one France and England, both signatories of the Triple Etente, entered the war.

Main Contestants of World War I: There were two camps. One was the Central Powers comprising Germany, Austria, Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria and the other was the Allied Powers—England, France, Belgium, Serbia, Russia and Japan. Italy and the U.S.A. joined the Allies in 1915 and 1917 respectively.

Results of the War: The Central Powers were completely defeated by the Allied Powers and an Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918, followed by a Peace Conference at Paris and the Treaty of Versailles in 1919—the principal treaty, curbing the power of the German Empire.

The Treaty of Versailles: It was signed in June 1919. According to this treaty, boundaries of European countries were re-arranged and many new States viz., Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, etc., were formed.

At the instance of Woodrow Wilson, the American President, the League of Nations was established on 10 January 1920, “to prevent all future wars”.

Wilson’s Fourteen Points: In an address to the Congress in January 1918, American President Wilson outlined the basis of a peace settlement— his famous Fourteen Points—for lasting peace in the world: (1) There was to be no more secret diplomacy; (2) freedom of the seas; (3) removal of economic barriers of international trade; (4) reduction of armaments; (5) impartial adjustment of all colonial claims on the basis of the interests of the subject population; (6) national self-determination; (7) establishment of a League of Nations for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity of great and small States alike.

The remaining points dealt with the formation of new boundaries and new States on the basis of nationality and demanded that Germany must evacuate all lands she had forcibly occupied.

World War II (1939-45)

Background: The Treaty of Versailles itself sowed the seeds of another world conflagration. It was such an unjust Treaty that the Allied Powers sought territorial and economic benefits brushing aside the idealistic war axims. The discontented Germany, during the great slump period of the world economy, when she had been suffering from a terrible economic crisis, brought onto its political stage a person who promised to build a new Germany and free the country of the shackles of the Versailles Treaty.

In 1933, Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany and in the following year he became the President of the German Republic after the death of Von Hindenburg. To tear away the Treaty of Versailles, he joined hands with Mussolini, the Fascist leader of Italy, and both began their verbal crusade against the Big Powers who had monopolised whole colonies of the world.

One by one, Hitler broke the terms of the Versailles Treaty by occupying Sarr, Alsace-Loraine, Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia. This onward march of Hitler also alarmed Britain and France. Mussolini attacked Abyssinia and Japan attacked China. This aggressive mood of the Fascist Powers got its fullest expression when they formed an Axis providing for mutual aid in the international sphere.

Immediate Causes of World War II: Encouraged by his threats and blistering, which had brought success in the past, Hitler, demanded from Poland a corridor to establish a direct link with East Prussia. Britain and France guaranteed aid to Poland in the event of any aggression against her and started friendly negotiations with Russia.

Britain’s negotiations with Russia, however, failed and Hitler, taking advantage of this failure, succeeded in signing a Non-Aggression Pact with Russia. Being convinced that Britain would not now fight for Poland, he attacked Poland on 1 September 1939, and this started World War II. Britain and France, who were under treaty obligations to side with Poland in case of aggression against her, declared war against Germany on 3 September 1939.

Main Contestants of World War II: Germany, Italy and Japan, called the Axis Powers, were on one side and Britain, France, Russia, U.S.A., Poland and others, called Allies, were on the other side. The war ended on 14 August 1945.

Result of World War II: The ravages of the war were so complex and widespread that no formal Peace Conference could be held immediately after the surrender of Germany and Japan. The meetings of the Big Three (Russia, U.K. and U.S.A.) at Cairo, Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam formulated general principles, which ultimately led to disagreements betwen the victorious Powers. Germany was divided into four zones, one under occupation of each great power. The country was ultimately divided into two States— East Germany under the Soviet Union and West Germany under the Allies. Another noteworthy sequel to this war was emergence of the U.S.S.R. as one of the biggest powers of the world, while the United Kingdom and France lost much of their past glory.

Nearly all the East European countries embraced Communism and communist rule was established in the Chinese mainland also.