By: Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq.


Etymology: "India," "Bharat," and "Hindustan" have all been used to refer to what is now commonly known as India. "India" derives from Latin and Greek. "Bharat" was/is used by many native Indian languages for the region. And "Hindustan" is a Persian name that gained prominence during the Mughal Empire.


Geology: The interaction of the remnants of the supercontinent Gondwana and the Eurasian Plate created India, the Indian Ocean, and the Himalayan Mountains.


General History: India’s rich and treasured history dates back approximately 30,000 thousand years, and can be divided into the ancient times, medieval times, early modern times, and modern times. Around 4,500 BCE, the Indus Valley emerged with the first urban culture in South Asia. It was one of the three earliest cradles of civilization-- the other two being the Fertile Crescent (Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia) and Ancient China. Gautama Buddha, or simply Buddha as he is commonly known, lived and died in Ancient India. His biography was a starting point of recorded history in India. The Indus Valley civilization eventually declined because of a water shortage caused by a lack of monsoons.


Next, Medieval India, like Ancient India, consisted of various regional kingdoms and cultural diversity. India was not a unified kingdom. Emperors or kings reigned over many different portions and sections. Nevertheless, there was still a sense of belonging among all kingdoms to the motherland itself. With time, the Indian culture began to share certain commonalities. For example, devotional hymns in the Tamil language were widely imitated throughout India. This would later develop into the current Indian languages.


The third era, Early Modern India, began in the 16th century with the reign of the Mughal Empire. The emperors were direct descendants of the infamous Ghengis Khan. Though the emperors were Muslim and descendants of the warlord, they did not impose their religion on the people and the locals were basically free to continue their native practices. The relatively peaceful empire allowed the arts to flourish with a mix of Persian and Indian aspects.


Finally, Modern India began when the British defeated the Mughal Empire and ended the golden age of art and co-existence. One good thing that came from the forced colonization was that Britain provided India with a map. The map altered the Indians’ perception of themselves from competing subgroups to a unified continent.


The British did not rule as successfully as the Mughals and India experienced a high poverty rate during this time. The poverty rate in India contributed to Indians seeking employment under the indentured servitude system. Some Indians accepted the job offer to work overseas for 5 years and then return home to India, their families, and their culture. Others were deceived and thought that they were only going to work in another part of India. The British’s indentured servitude system would forever change the course of generations involved in the Indian diaspora.


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