Pick a Region:. . South Asia
Deccan Plateau is a relatively flat highland area that lies between the Western Ghats Mountains ranging from northwest to southeast and the Eastern Ghats Mountains ranging from northeast to southwest. The mountains separate the plateau from the coastline and meet in the south at the tip of the triangular-shaped peninsula known as Peninsular India.
Himalaya, Karakorum, and Hindu Kush mountain ranges separate South Asia from the rest of the continent of Asia. The Himalayas, the highest mountains in the world, extend 1,500 miles west from the Brahmaputra River to the Karakorum, a mountain range that extends 300 miles and lies between the Indus River to its east and the Yarkand River to its west. The Hindu Kush, the worlds second highest range, extends 500 miles west and south of the Yarkand River.
Indo-Gangetic Plain is a 200 mile-wide broad strip of low, relatively flat land lying between the Himalaya Mountains to the north and the Narmada and Mahanadi Rivers to the south. This alluvial plain has been created by the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra Rivers and their many tributaries as they flow from the Himalayas down to the sea. The Indus and its tributaries flow south and west to empty into the Arabian Sea; the Ganges and Brahmaputra and their tributaries flow south and east to enter the Bay of Bengal.
South Asia refers to the geographic region of Asia bounded on the north by the Himalaya, Karakorum, and Hindu Kush mountain ranges, on the west by the Arabian Sea, and on the east by the Bay of Bengal. Politically, the area contains seven nations: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Maldives. The term subcontinent is often used synonymously with the term South Asia.
Subcontinent is used synonymously with the term South Asia. It refers to the geographic region of Asia bounded on the north by the Himalaya, Karakorum, and Hindu Kush mountain ranges, on the west by the Arabian Sea, and on the east by the Bay of Bengal. Politically, the area contains seven nations: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Maldives.
British India, for the purposes of this module, refers to those parts of the subcontinent that the British ruled directly and indirectly through treaties with Indian princes. The term includes present day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, but not Bhutan or Maldives.
Caste system arose in India at the time of the Aryan invasion into northwest India around 2000 BC. Aryan religious texts divided the people into four main castes: priests, warriors, merchants, and farmers. Each caste had its own set of obligatory rules and neither inter-caste dining nor marriages were permitted. A fifth category for people of the lowest status were considered without castes and often branded as outcastes. They received much discrimination, which continues even today in spite of the passage of laws to ensure their basic civil rights. In reality, there are several thousands of castes and subcastes and the strictness with which the rules have been enforced has varied from age to age. Caste remains the major factor in determining how Indian society works today.
Dorga Dynasty refers to the leaders of the princely state of Jammu Kashmir from the late 1830s to 1952. The term "Dorga" refers to an ethnic group that lived in the southeastern part of Jammu. The ruling family of the state emerged out of that ethnic group.
Ghulan Abbas was at one time one of the closest friends and political advisors of Sheik Mohammed Abdullah. They became bitter foes during the 1940s. In 1946 Abbas became the head of the Muslim Conference in Kashmir, which became closely allied to the Muslim League. At the time of independence and the partition of British India, Abbas favored making Kashmir part of Pakistan. After partition, Abbas became the governor of Azad Kashmir, the western part of Kashmir seized by Pakistan in 1949.
Jawharlal Nehru (1889-1964) was born in Allahabad, India. He was the son of Motilal Nehru, a prominent lawyer, and the leader of the Indian National Congress Party. Educated in England, Jawharlal returned to India to practice law, but was soon caught up in the fight for Indian independence. A close friend and supporter of Mohandas Gandhi, Nehru became Indias first Prime Minister, serving from 1947 until his death in 1964. Nehru favored making India into an industrialized, socialistic state and tried to follow a policy of neutralism in foreign affairs.
Karma in Sanskirt means"deed" or "action." The doctrine of karma refers to the Hindu belief that every action is result of the consequences. Every person's good or bad actions, which comprise thoughts, words, or deeds, help to determines a person's specific destiny in his or her next existence. A person might be reborn again at a lower or higher level of existence till he or she rids himself of bad karma and merges with the cosmic forces. A person accumulates good karma by living according to the rules (dharma) of the caste into which he or she has been born, or bad karma if he or she violates the rules of his or her caste.
Koran (Quran) is the sacred book of the Muslims. Written in Arabic some years after the death of Mohammed, the book is said to be Allahs (Gods) revelations to Mohammed conveyed by the Angel Gabriel.
Mohammed Ali Jinnah (1876-1948) was the founder of the state of Pakistan. Born in Karachi, he studied law in England and became a practicing lawyer in Bombay. He became a member of the Indian National Congress Party and a strong supporter of Hindu-Muslim unity. In 1913 he joined the Muslim League and gradually became disillusioned with the Congress Party. He fought for Indian independence from Britain. After becoming the head of the Muslim League in 1934, he demanded that independent British India be partitioned into two nations: Pakistan for Muslims, and India for all non-Muslims.
Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948) was educated as a lawyer in India and England. After an unsuccessful stint and practicing law in India, Gandhi went to South Africa in 1893 to work as a lawyer among Indian immigrants who lived there. He won fame for himself by leading successful demonstrations against discriminatory laws and practices of the South African government. He returned to India in 1915 to become the principal leader of the Indian National Congress Party and the struggle to achieve Indian independence. His stress and tactics of non-violent protest and support for the oppressed in society gained him recognition throughout the world. Later leaders of civil rights struggles, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., have attempted to follow his non-violent approach. Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic in 1948.
Mughal Dynasty refers to the Babur family, who belonged to the Turkish ethnic group called Mughals. This group provided a succession of rulers who controlled much of India from 1526 to 1858 when the British forced the last Mughal emperor to resign.
Mujibar Rahman (1920-1975) was born in Bengal and was a long time member of the Awami League. He became leader of the party in 1963 and became one of the leading opponents of the government of Ayub Khan, then President of Pakistan. In the late 1960s, he led the fight to write a new constitution for Pakistan that would grant both halves of the country considerable autonomy. His party won the election of 1971 and provoked the leaders of West Pakistan to attempt to suppress the Awami party and nullify the election. Rahman was imprisoned in West Pakistan, but East Pakistan defeated the government with Indian assistance and established an independent Bangladesh. Rahman was released from prison and went to Bangladesh to become its first president. He was assassinated in 1975 by political opponents.
Ranjit Singh (1780-1839) was the most powerful and successful of the Sikh rulers. Defeating a series of enemies, especially Afghan invaders of the Punjab, he created a great empire that included most of the Punjab north of the Sutlej River. His reign is seen as the golden age of Sikh political power. Shortly after his death, war broke out twice between the British and the Sikhs. The British were victorious on both occasions and annexed all Sikh territory after the second conflict.
Sant is a term which means a "truly authentic being," or in other words, a "holy person." Indians consider religious leaders like Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, Sants. Religious leaders in the Sant tradition promote devotion to the one transcendent God.
Awami League, or "Peoples" League, was the dominant political party in East Pakistan (Bangladesh after 1971). Founded in 1949, the Awami League was led by Sheik Mujibur Rahman in the 1960s. The League increasingly demanded independence for East Pakistan. The Leagues victory in the 1971 election led to an attempt by West Pakistan leaders to suppress the party and deny the Awami League of its victory. The result was civil war, intervention by India on the side of the Awami League, defeat for Pakistan, and the establishment of an independent Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan).
Cease fire line refers to the boundary between those parts of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan and those controlled by India after the United Nations prevailed on both sides to stop fighting in 1949. Neither India nor Pakistan regarded the cease fire line as a legal border, but as a temporary dividing line that could be altered in the future by diplomacy or war.
Communalism means sectarianism. The term has negative connotations in India. A communalist is one who identifies exclusively with only his or her own religious community. In India a communalist is a religious bigot. Communal rioting is sectarian rioting.
Hindu R.S.S. (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) was founded in 1925 to promote Hindu nationalism. Strongly opposed to the idea of a secular India, the Hindu R.S.S. demanded that the Indian government promote Hinduism and its cultural values. Since the 1940s, its followers have been organized into paramilitary formations and have been responsible for some of the worst attacks on Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians in India.
Indian National Congress Party was formed in 1885 by Western-educated Indians to bring about various political and social reforms in British-ruled India. The ultimate goal of the Congress Party was to bring about self-rule or the independence of India. The Indian National Congress Party became the dominant political movement pushing for Indian independence from Britain. The party has controlled the Indian government for most of the past 52 years, although factions have repeatedly split off from the party.
Kashmir National Conference (officially known as the All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference) was founded by Sheik Mohammed Abdullah in 1939 as a political party. Abdullah wanted a party that was open to people of all faiths and that would press for reforms in Kashmir. The Kashmir National Conference was independent of the Indian National Congress, but it maintained close ties and generally pushed for the same policies as the Indian National Congress Party.
Line of control refers to the boundary that currently exists between the Pakistani-controlled sections of Kashmir and those parts controlled by India. In 1972, India and Pakistan signed the Simla Accord. While not considered a final boundary, a line of control boundary is considered to be more settled and more of a legal boundary than a cease fire line. Moreover, in the accord both India and Pakistan promised not to use force to change the line of control. In other words, they would treat the line of control as a defacto, even if temporary border.
Muslim Khaksars were members of a social service movement in the Punjab founded by Inayatullah Khan Mashraqi in 1932. They soon became known for their religious fanaticism, military organization, and discipline. During the 1936-49 period, they organized into paramilitary bands and engaged in many attacks on Hindus and Sikhs.
Muslim League was founded in 1906 by Muslim leaders reacting to the growing power and influence of the Indian National Congress Party and its leadership in the fight for Indian freedom. Because the League focused primarily on the protection of all Muslim rights during the fight for reform and independence, the creation of the League split the Indian nationalist movement. Increasingly, the leaders of the Muslim League demanded a free, divided India with one state for Muslims and another for non-Muslims.
Nationalist is a person who places his own nations interests over that of all other political systems and organizations. For example, Indian nationalists demanded that Indian independence from foreign (British) control was necessary to ensure that Indias interests were always considered to be most important.
Nizam is the title of the dynasty of Muslim rulers of the state of Hyderbad in southern India. The Nizams ruled the territory from 1724 until 1948 when the Indian army invaded Hyderbad and forced the ruler to abdicate his position and fortune. The Nizams territory became the state of Hyderbad in 1950, but was divided up and joined to other Indian states in 1956. Hyderbad City, where the Nizam had his court, is now the capital of Andhra Pradesh.
Princely states is a term that refers to the approximately 580 (the number varied over time) territories of theoretically independent princes and kings who ruled territories in South Asia and who had signed agreements with the British government in British India. The agreements usually permitted the British to have some supervisory control over the princes policies, especially those impacting foreign affairs or defense.
Sectarianism in the religious context means communalism. The term has negative connotations in India. A sectarian identifies exclusively with only his or her own religious community. In India a sectarian is a religious bigot. Sectarian rioting is communal rioting.
Separatists in a political context are those that advocate withdrawing a particular area from union with their nation. For example, Punjabi separatists in India want Punjab to secede from India to form an independent Khalistan.
Shiromani Akali Dal can be translated as the Religious Akali Party. Sikh reformers, who called themselves Akalis, founded the party in 1920 to organize the Sikh community and to express Sikh demands in the area of public policy. The party currently controls the government in Punjab in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Hindu nationalist party, which currently heads the government of all India.
Sikh Jathas were independent bands of Sikhs who gained from hereditary temple officials control over Sikh temples in the 1920s. Closely tied to the Shiromani Akali Dal, jathas were reformers who accused temple officials of corrupting Sikhism. The jathas served as Sikh paramilitary forces when violence broke out during and after the partition of British India in 1947.
Socialism is an economic theory that calls for the means of production and distribution in society to be owned collectively by the whole community rather than by private individuals. All members of the community would share in the work and in the wealth produced.