Indian subcontinent; key historical events
(Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka)
Secession of Bangladesh 1958-72
British military conquest of India 1751-1849
British East India Company
5/1/2016, Violent riots broke out in Kaliachak, West Bengal, India, after political activist Kamlesh Tiwari allegedly insulted the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
16/12/2014, Taliban gunmen scaled the wall of an army-run school in Peshawar, Pakistan, and began shooting indiscriminately. 141 schoolchildren were killed before the army regained control; many more had been injured. This was in revenge for Army attacks on the Taliban.
24/4/2013, A large garment factory in Rana Plaza in the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed, killing 1,129 people.
16/2/2013, A bomb exploded at a marketplace in Quetta, Pakistan, killing over 80 people.
24/11/2012, A fire at a clothing factory in Bangladesh killed 112 people.
5/9/2011, India and Bangladesh signed a pact to end their 40-year border dispute.
13/11/2010, Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest which she had been under for 15 of the previous 21 years. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, a year after winning elections which were nullified by the ruling junta.
18/5/2009, The Sri Lankan civil war ended, after over 25 years, with the defeat of the Tamil Tigers. 80,000 people had died in the war.
26/11/2008, Pakistani Islamic terrorists struck at several targets in Mumbai, India, taking visitors at the Taj Mahal luxury hotel hostage. Indian forces stormed the terrorists in the hotel. 183 people were killed and over 300 injured.
24/3/2008, Bhutan held its first-ever general elections.
27/12/2007, The moderate Pakistani politician, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated whilst participating in an opposition rally against the hard-line ruler, President Pervez Musharraf.
24/12/2007, Nepal announced that the country’s 240-year old monarchy was to be replaced by a Republic in 2008.
11/7/2006, Bombs exploded in Mumbai railway station, India. 200 were killed. Pakistan was suspected.
2/5/2003, India and Pakistan resumed diplomatic relations.
5/12/2002. General Ne Win of Burma (Myanmar) died. His real name was Shu Maung (apple of my eye) but he changed it to Ne Win (brilliant as the sun) on taking power. Ne Win had been close to Communist China, which he had visited in 1960. Ne Win disliked the democratic government left to Burma by the British after independence in 1948. He preferred the strong military rule of China. In 1962 Ne Win launched a military coup and took control of Burma. All land, commerce and industry were nationalised, dance halls and gambling were forbidden, foreigners were expelled and tourism abolished. No high rise building was allowed, and no neon signs, even for Coca Cola. The rest of the world was not too bothered as Burma was not strategically important as Vietnam and Korea were. Under Ne Win’s rule ethnic divisions within Burma intensified and opium chiefs expanded their fiefs, bribing the soldiers sent to close them down. Burma’s rice exports ceased and income per person per year fell from US$670 a year in 1960 to US$200 in 1989. Despite its resources of teak, oil, and good farmland, Burma became one of the world’s poorest countries. In 1988 Ne Win announced his retirement. A group of generals took over and renamed Burma by its traditional name, Myanmar. A surprisingly free election was won by Miss Suu Kyi’s democrats in 1990 but the result was not honoured. Ne Win died peacefully in his villa on the shores of Lake Inya, not far from Miss Suu Kyi’s house.
8/5/2002, In Karachi a suicide car bomber blew himself up next to a bus, killing 14 people – 11 of them were French naval engineers working for the Pakistan navy.
22/2/2002. A Norwegian-mediated ceasefire began in Sri Lanka.
13/12/2001, Terrorists attacked the Indian Parliament, killing 14 people. This brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war.
8/10/2001. Anti-American riots in several Pakistani cities. Banks, a shopping mall, and cinemas showing American films, were burnt down. Pakistan was a vital access point for USA forces seeking to enter Afghanistan. Raids continue over the next few days, with anti-American protests in Pakistan and Indonesia.
1/6/2001, Crown Prince Dipendra of Nepal killed his father, the King, and other members of the Royal family with an assault rifle, then shot himself. He died on 4/6/2001. King Gyanendra ascended the Nepalese throne.
24/1/2001, The greatest gathering of people ever recorded took place at Allahabad, India, where 20 million people gathered for the Maha Kumbh Mela.
12/10.1999, General Pervez Musharraf (born 1943) took control of Pakistan in a military coup.
10/8/1999, A Pakistani plane intruding into Indian airspace was shot down.
11/7/1999, India recaptured the town of Kargil from Pakistan, after two months of conflict.
26/5/1999, Indian air force planes attacked Pakistani intruders in Kashmir, sparking the Kargil War.
30/5/1998, Pakistan conducted further nuclear tests.
28/5/1998, Pakistan test-exploded five nuclear devices in retaliation for India’s nuclear tests earlier in the month. The US, Japan, and other nations imposed sanctions on Pakistan.
13/5/1998, The US and Japan imposed economic sanctions on India because of its nuclear test.
11/5/1998, India conducted a nuclear test in the Rajasthan Desert, its first such test since 1974. Pakistan, which already had nuclear weapons, was angered.
5/9/1997, Mother Teresa died in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, aged 87.
10/7/1995. The Burmese Nobel Peace prize winner, Aung San Kyi, was released, from six years house arrest. Amnesty International reported that the Human Rights situation in Burma remained ‘desperate’.
20/10/1993, Pakistan elected Benazir Bhutto (1953-2007) as President.
12/3/1993, 257 people were killing in a bombing in Mumbai, India.
12/1/1993. The Burmese military junta said it would hold opposition leader and Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi indefinitely.
7/12/1992. Religious riots swept India after Hindu fanatics destroyed the Babri Masjid mosque.
6/12/1992. Riots followed a Hindu attack on the Ayodha Mosque, India.
18/11/1992, In Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto was put under house arrest after police broke up a political demonstration.
14/10/1991 The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Aung San Suu Chi of Burma/Myanmar.
21/5/1991. Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi was assassinated. Police blamed Tamil Tigers.
28/2/1991. Khaleda Zia, widow of President Zia, won the Bangladeshi elections.
31/10/1990. In India, Hindu fundamentalists again attempted to storm the mosque at Ayodhya. Hindus wanted to demolish the mosque, claiming it stood on the site of the birthplace of one of their gods, Lord Rama. Over 8 days, 170 died in India in clashes over this mosque.
15/7/1990, Tamil Tigers killed 168 Muslims in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
19/4/1990. Victory for pro-democracy movement in Nepal.
24/3/1990, Indian peacekeeping troops pulled out of Sri Lanka.
2/12/1989, VP Singh, leader of the Janata Dat Party, replaced Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister of India, although Rajiv’s Congress Party remained the largest single party.
1/10/1989. Pakistan rejoined the Commonwealth after 17 years.
20/7/1989. The Burmese opposition leader, Aung Suu Kyi, was placed under house arrest, after public campaigning. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 whilst still in captivity.
29/5/1989. Burma changed its name to Myanmar.
15/2/1989, The United National Party won the Sri Lankan parliamentary election.
14/2/1989. Union Carbide agreed to pay US$ 470 million to the Indian Government in compensation for the 1984 Bhopal disaster.
31/12/1988, In the Pakistani capital Islamabad, the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi and his Pakistani counterpart Benazir Bhutto signed the first agreement between the two countries for 16 years.
8/12/1988, The new Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, released 1,000 political prisoners.
30/11/1988. Benazir Bhutto became the first woman Prime Minister of Pakistan; the first female leader of an Islamic country. These were the first democratic elections in Pakistan for 11 years. Her father, Zufilqar Ali Bhutto, was leader of Pakistan from 1971 until he was deposed in a military coup headed by General Zia in 1977; Zufilqar was hanged in 1979. Benazir inherited the leadership of the People’s Party and was an ongoing annoyance to the military regime until Zia died in 1987 in a plane crash.
16/9/1988, A military junta seized power in Burma.
17/8/1988, General Zia ul Haq of Pakistan died when his aircraft crashed shortly after taking off from a military demonstration of US tanks at Bahawalpur for Islamabad. The US ambassador to Pakistan was on board. A bomb or missile attack was suspected.
8/8/1988. A popular uprising in Myanmar / Burma against the military rule there.
21/6/1988, The Myanmar regime imposed martial law in the face of student protests.
1/5/1988. Tamil guerrillas set off a land mine in Sri Lanka under a bus, killing 26 passengers.
14/8/1986. In Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto was jailed by General Zia.
9/5/1986, Tenzing Norgay, or Tensing, the first joint conqueror of Everest, died.
14/5/1985. Tamil violence spread across Sri Lanka.
31/12/1984, Rajiv Ghandi became Prime Minister of India.
19/12/1984. Rajiv Ghandhi won the Indian elections by a large majority.
3/12/1984. The Union Carbide disaster at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh State, India. 410 died immediately as 30 tons of poison gas (methyl isocyanate) leaked; the final toll was 4,000 dead and 20,000 seriously injured; 150,000 required hospital treatment.
30/11/1984, Tamil Tigers began a purge of Sinhalese from north east Sri Lanka, killing 127 people.
3/11/1984, Indian Prime Minister Indira Ghandi was cremated.
1/11/1984, Rajiv Ghandi, son of Indira, was sworn in as Indian Prime Minister
31/10/1984 Mrs Indira Ghandi, Prime Minister of India, 67, was shot dead by a Sikh member of her bodyguard, whilst in New Delhi. Beant Singh, one of the attackers, was then shot dead by other loyal bodyguards. She was succeeded by her son, Rajiv Ghandi. Indira Ghandi was cremated on 3/11/1984. The assassination was in revenge for Indian troops storming the Golden Temple of Amritsar.
6/6/1984. Indian troops stormed the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar. 712 Sikhs and 90 soldiers were killed.
13/4/1984, India captured most of the Siachen glacier on its disputed Kashmir frontier with Pakistan.
10/1/1984, General Zia of Pakistan freed Benazir Bhutto, daughter of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had been executed in 1979.
23/7/1983, Civil war began in Sri Lanka.
30/5/1981, President Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh (born 1936) was assassinated.
6/1/1980. In India, Indira Ghandhi was re-elected as Prime Minister.
10/12/1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work helping the destitute in India. Born in Albania in 1910, she joined a convent at age 18 and taught in the convent’s Calcutta premises. In 1946 she began working the streets of Calcutta to relieve poverty.
4/4/1979. There were demonstrations in
10/2/1979, General Zia, ruler of
6/2/1979. Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that the former
Prime Minister, Zulfikar
Ali Bhutto, should be hanged
for conspiring to murder an opponent. He was hanged in
7/11/1978, Indira Ghandi was re-elected to the Indian Parliament.
16/9/1978. Zia ul Haq became head of state in
8/7/1978, Two German mountaineers, Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeller, made the first ascent of Everest without oxygen.
18/3/1978. Former Pakistani PM, Zufilkar Ali Bhutto, was sentenced to death for ordering the murder of a political opponent in 1974, see 5/7/1977 and 4/4/1979.
3/1/1978. Ex--Prime Minister Indira Ghandi was expelled from her Congress Party.
3/9/1977, In Pakistan, Bhutto was arrested on charges of conspiring to murder Ahmad Kasuri in 1974.
22/3/1977, Indira Ghandi resigned as President of India after an election defeat.
7/3/1977. Bhutto won the Pakistani general elections. However opposition to her had been so widespread that vote-rigging was suspected, and the Pakistani Army stepped in, led by Zia Ul Haq.
16/4/1976. India, to curb population growth, raised the minimum age for marriage to 21 for men and 18 for women.
24/9/1975. The south-west face of Everest was climbed for the first time by Douglas Haston and Doug Scott.
15/8/1975. In a military coup in
30/6/1975, In India, Indira Gandhi imposed press censorship, to suppress dissent.
11/6/1975, The High Court in India ruled that Indira Gandhi had used unfair practices to win the election and must stand down. She refused to go.
16/5/1975, India annexed
6/3/1975, Large demonstrations in New Delhi against Indira Gandhi.
11/11/1974, In Pakistan, Ahmad Kasuri, an outspoken critic of President Zufilkar al Bhutto, was assassinated by members of Bhutto’s security forces.
18/3/1974, India announced that it had successfully tested an atom bomb.
22/2/1974. Pakistan recognised Bangladesh.
7/11/1973, Pakistan formally left SEATO.
20/10/1973, The Dalai Lama first visited
8/4/1973. Indian troops annexed
22/5/1972. Ceylon, a self-governing dominion since 4/2/1948, became a republic within The Commonwealth, and adopted the new name of Sri Lanka.
18/4/1972. Pakistan became a member of the Commonwealth again. See 30/1/1972.
17/4/1972, Bangladesh formally seceded from Pakistan. See 26/3/1971.
19/3/1972. Bangladesh signed a treaty of friendship with India.
30/1/1972. Pakistan, under Zulfiqar Bhutto, withdrew from the Commonwealth, after Britain, Australia, and New Zealand recognised the independence of Bangladesh. See 18/4/1972.
12/1/1972, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was sworn in as Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
10/1/1972, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman returned to a heroes welcome in Dacca, Bangladesh.
20/12/1971. In Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto became President in place of Yahya Khan.
18/12/1971, Bangladesh formally came into existence after East Pakistan surrendered in the war with India.
16/12/1971. All eastern Pakistani troops surrendered to India.
9/12/1971, Indian planes bombed an orphanage in Dacca, East Pakistan, killing 300 children.
8/12/1971. Indian troops advanced to within 30 miles of Dacca, East Pakistan.
6/12/1971. India recognised Bangladesh as an independent republic.
3/12/1971. India was on a war footing with fighting on its western border with Pakistan. Yahya Khan knew he could not defend secessionist East Pakistan against India; India and Pakistan were hostile, and it was in India’s interests to see Bangladesh secede from Pakistan. Yahya Khan therefore tried to seize the initiative by attacking India from West Pakistan, hoping that a favourable outcome for Pakistan would force India to accept Pakistan’s terms in the East. On this day Pakistan launched air strikes into India. India responded decisively, completely overrunning East Pakistan The Pakistani offensive in the West petered out.
26/3/1971, Sheikh Mujibur declared the independence of East Pakistan (Bangladesh) from Pakistan. The Pakistan Army easily overcame East Pakistani resistance by end-April. Assisted by Islamic fundamentalist groups, the Army then massacred all those deemed in favour of independence, including Awami league members, Hindus (about 10% of the population), also students and intellectuals, including teachers, lecturers and doctors. Between one and three million people weer massacred; a further ten million fled to India. Many more died in the makeshift refugee camps. Bangladesh could only attain independence win Indian intervention,which did occur later in 1971.
25/3/1971, Yahya Khan, leader of Pakistan, announced a ‘restore law and order’ campaign in East Pakistan (see 23/3/1971). Members of the Awami League were arrested.
23/3/1971. Bangladesh (meaning ‘The Bengal Nation’), formerly East Pakistan, proclaimed its independence under Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. This started a civil war on 26/3/1971 between Pakistan and East Pakistan, or Bangladesh, in which India intervened on to help Bangladesh become independent. India helped defeat Pakistan on 17/12/1971. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was reported killed on 28/3/1970 and 7,000 people killed in the uprising against the government in West Pakistan. See 17/4/1972. West Pakistani troops killed anyone deemed ‘Bengali’, even teenage boys, as well as any Hindus they came across; rape was also widespread.
The USA had been a close ally of Pakistan, to counter the Soviet-india axis, and was now embarrassed to see its arms being used to massacre Bengalis. In rural areas of East Pakistan Aawami supporters used local knowledge to outflank Pakistani troops, forcing them back into the cities; the troops and their supporters were massacred as brutally as the Bengalis had been. Meanwhile India faced a major refugee crisis as ten million Bengalis fled into the country.
7/3/1971, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, political leader of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), delivered his famous speech in the Racecourse Field in Dhaka, calling on the masses to be prepared to fight for national independence.
7/12/1970, In the Pakistani elections, the Awami League (inevitably) won 160 of the 162 seats reserved for Eastern candidates (see 23/9/1969). In the west of the country, Benazhir Bhutto did well, gaining 81 of the remaining 138 seats, but this still left the Awami League as clear election winner. Bhutto, backed by Yahya Khan, immediately announced that he would not countenance implementation of the Awami ‘Six Point’ plan. Rahman responded by proposing that he govern East Pakistan whilst Bhutto governed the West; a proposal tantamount to secession. Rejection of Rahman’s proposal precipitated widespread rioting across East Pakistan. In early March 1971 Yahya Khan announced an indefinite postponement of the convening of the newly-elected National Assembly and appointed General Tikka Khan as Military Governor of East Pakistan. Mujib responded by calling on his supporters to turn Pakistan’s Republic Day (23 March) into ‘Resistance Day’.
13/11/1970. In Bangladesh (East Pakistan) a cyclone and tidal waves killed over 500,000 people. Yahya Khan’s response was seen by East Bengalis as grossly inadequate. Only one military transport plane and three small aircraft were mobilised by Khan, leaving Bengalis more dependent on aid from Britain. Western aid arrived faster than aid from West Pakistan.
25/3/1969, Amidst increasing separatist tension in East Pakistan, Ayub resigned, handing power to General Yahya Khan. Khan promised elections for 7/12/1970, and that 162 of the 300 seats in the National Assembly would be reserved for East Bengalis. Given the popularity of the Awami League in East Pakistan, this appeared to invite further problems of governance.
1/1968, A general strike in East Pakistan, encouraged by Rahman, Subsequently, Rahman was arested and opposition tension increased.
1967, The Mangla Dam on the Jhelum River was completed. This was the first part of a World Bank scheme to improve irrigation and agriculture in Pakistan.
8/7/1967, Fatima Jinnah, Pakistani politician, died.
(15)5/1967, In the village of Naxalbari, West Bengal, peasants rebelled against landowners. This was tye start of the Maoist rebel Naxalite movement in eastern India.
12/3/1967. Mrs Ghandi re-elected Prime Minister of India.
1966, Rahman launched his ‘Six Points’ demands, which effectively meant almost complete autonomy for East Pakistan, except in the fields of foreign policy and defence. Even more alarmingly for Karachi, Rahman appeared to be demanding this devolution not just for the East but for ‘wherever [Pakistan] was divided ethnically or religiously’. This might have meant the breakup of West Pakistan, leaving the east as the largest singe unit.
19/1/1966. Indira Ghandi
(no relation to Mahatma
Gandhi) became prime Minister of
22/9/1965. India and
6/9/1965. India invaded
1/9/1965. Pakistani troops crossed into
27/7/1965, The Maldives Islands became independent, having been a British Protectorate since 1887.
30/6/1965, India and
9/4/1965. Border clashes between
30/12/1964. 500 were arrested in
27/5/1964 The Indian statesman 'Pandit' Nehru died, aged 74, having been the first Prime Minister of India since independence in 1947. He was succeeded by Lal Shastri.
violence broke out in
1963, In East Pakistan, the Awami League chairman, Huseyn Suhrawady, died. This opened the way for the militant separatist, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, to become leader of the Aawami league. Rahman argued that economic growth due to the efforts of Easterners was benefitting West Pakistan alone/ It was true that Bengal was much poorer than West Pakistan and that foreign aid received by Karachi was spent mainly in West Pakistan. Rahman sturred up separatist sentiments in the East by continually referring to it as a ‘colony’ of Karachi.
29/8/1963, Gulzarilal Nanda replaced Lal Bahadur Shastri as Indian Minister for Home Affairs.
21/11/1962, Ceasefire in the India-China border dispute.
20/10/1962, Chinese troops attacked Indian border positions.
8/9/1962. China-India border dispute escalated.
19/12/1961. India annexed Goa from the Portuguese, after 400 years of Portuguese rule.
1959, The first newsprint mill was established in the Sundarbans region of East Pakistan (Bangladesh) to exploit the forest resources there.
29/12/1959, Durgapur steel works,
23/12/1959, The Earl of Halifax, politician and Viceroy of India, 1926-31, died.
25/9/1959, Solomon Bandaranaike, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka from 1956, was shot by a Buddhist monk
10/1958, East Pakistan was becoming more rebellious against the economic and political domination of (smaller) West Pakistan. In response to this unrest, the Governor-General of East Pakistan, Iskander Mirza, placed the half-country under military rule and appointed General Mohammed Ayub Khan as Prime Minister. Ayub Khan promptly exiled Mirza to London – effectively a military coup. Martial law in East Pakistan continued until 1962, during which time Ayub Khan replaced civilians in key government posts with senior military figures; the administration became highly centralised. Excluded from legitimate political participation, opposition parties became foci for discontent; the Awami League became the central locus for this discontent. Ayub Khan made efforts to placate Easterners, reserving half his Cabinet for them and making Dacca the ‘second capital’ of Pakistan; these measures were seen as tokenism and only intensified separatist ambitions,
27/5/1958, A State of Emergency was declared in Sri Lanka.
15/10/1957, The naval base at Tricomalee was handed over to Sri Lanka by Britain.
26/1/1957, Kashmir joined India, under ‘special status’ agreements, providing for example that non-Kashmiri Indians could not buy property there. Pakistan protested.
17/11/1956, Kashmir voted to become part of
23/3/1956, Pakistan became an independent Islamic republic within the Commonwealth
29/2/1956. Pakistan was declared an Islamic Republic.
1955, King Tribhuvan of Nepal died (reigned from 1951). He was succeeded by his son, King Mahendra.
14/10/1955, Baluchistan formally became part of West Pakistan
23/9/1955, Pakistan joined the
15/8/1955. India attempted to take over Goa.
25/5/1955, A British expedition, led by Charles Evans, became the first
to climb Kangchenjunga, the third highest peak in the
27/3/1955, Pakistan declared a State of
10/7/1954, US President Eisenhower signed Public Law 480, the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954, better known as PL-480. This facilitated the export of grain to US-aligned governments that were facing threats from Leftist agencies, either internal rebels or intimidation from a Soviet-aligned State next door. PL-480 could be used to keep recalcitrant allies, those possibly sliding towards Communism, in line. For example in 1965 US President Johnson shifted the renewal of PL-480 food aid to India from an annual to a monthly basis, threatening India with withdrawal of food aid as India’s President Shastri expressed disapproval of US bombing in Vietnam. However if Shastri abandoned Nehru’s ideas of land distribution to Indian peasants then India would receive US agricultural technology, enhancing food yields.
31/7/1954, K2, or Godwin Austen Mountain, in the Himalayas, was climbed for the first time.
31/12/1953, A British expedition arrived
2/11/1953, Pakistan announced it was to adopt Sharia law.
21/6/1953, Benazir Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan, was born in Karachi.
29/5/1953. The New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary, and the Sherpa, Tensing,
became the first two climbers to ascend to the 29,028 foot summit of
Sir Hillary headed the New Zealand Antarctic
Expedition and reached the South Pole in 1957. In the 60s he set up a hospital
for Sherpa tribesmen in
18/2/1951, The King of Nepal proclaimed a constitutional monarchy.
3/6/1950, The Himalayan Peak of
26/1/1950, India became a democratic republic within the Commonwealth.
7/3/1949, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Indian politician, was born.
1/1/1949. India and
4/11/1948, The new Indian Constitution was formally introduced to the Constituent Assembly.
13/9/1948, Nehru sent Indian troops to occupy the State of Hyderabad, whose ruler, the Nizam, had declined to join India. An appeal by the Nizam to the United Nations was in vain. The Nizam was allowed to keep his palaces and other private property.
11/9/1948, Death of Muhammed Ali Jinnah, first Governor-General of Pakistan.
28/2/1948. Last British
12/2/1948, The ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were placed in the ‘holy waters’ of the River Ganges at Allahabad.
4/2/1948. Ceylon became a self-governing dominion; it had been a British colony since 1802. It achieved full independence on 22/5/1972.
30/1/1948. The Indian leader Mahatma (= ‘Great Soul)
or Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic. Ghandi had been at a prayer meeting when he was
shot by Nathuram
Godse, a fanatic who totally rejected Ghandi's message of goodwill,
peace, and love. Some extremist Hindus
13/1/1948, Mahatma Ghandi began a six-day fast, in order to promote harmony between Muslims and Hindus.
4/1/1948. Burma became independent from Britain, and joined the Commonwealth. The new Republic was troubled by civil war; general Ne Win was in charge of military action against the Karen and their Communist guerrilla allies. U Nu (see 19/7/1947), a devout Buddhist, was Burmese leader until 1962 when Ne Win took over in an army coup.
26/10/1947. Kashmir joined
24/9/1947. 1,200 Muslims fleeing
15/8/1947. India became independent; the Union Jack was run down for the last time in New Delhi. Pandit Nehru was the first Indian Prime Minister. Ali Khan became first PM of the newly created Pakistan. See 4/6/1947 for more details.
14/8/1947, Pakistan became independent from Britain.
19/7/1947, The Burmese leader Aung San
was assassinated by gunmen in the pay of a political rival, shortly before
Burma was to gain independence from Britain, see 4/1/1948. U Nu became leader of
17/6/1947. Burma became an independent Republic.
4/6/1947. The last British viceroy to India, Lord Mountbatten, announced that plans for Indian independence from Britain would be speeded up and completed in just 70 days, not the 12 months previously envisaged (see 20/2/1947). Britain was deep in economic crisis and wanted to shed Empire as fast as possible. As a result of this haste, the subcontinent was hacked crudely into three states, and following this a million people were massacred and one of the greatest forced migrations in history began as Muslims fled India and Hindus fled East and West. Pakistan. This was the start of the Kashmir problem. The Maharajah of Kashmir was faced with a choice of joining Pakistan, effectively ending his own rule, or of joining India with his mainly Muslim population. On Independence Day, 15/8/1947, Kashmir had still not decided who to join. In October 1947 Afghan tribesmen, backed by Pakistan, began invading Kashmir from Pakistan and in response India sent tens of thousands of troops to repel them, one day after the Maharajah had decided to join India. Had Britain not pulled out of India in such haste, more orderly arrangements for Kashmir could have been set up whilst Britain was still in a position to enforce them.
29/5/1947. The Indian Parliament banned 'untouchables'.
23/5/1947, Britain agreed to the partition of India. Muslims wanted a separate state (Pakistan), fearing they would be subsumed in a Hindi India.
20/2/1947, Lord Louis Mountbatten was appointed the last Viceroy of India, the same day the British government announced that the British would leave India by June 1948. See 4/6/1947. Mountbatten was to supervise the peaceful transition to independence of India, despite major difference between Hindus and Muslims. Winston Churchill opposed Indian independence.
19/8/1946, Violence in Calcutta between Hindus and Moslems, thousands were killed.
16/8/1946, Major riots
against the British salt tax began in
21/2/1946, Indian naval mutiny at
19/9/1945. Clement Attlee, UK Prime Minister, promises
20/8/1944, Rajiv Ghandi, younger son of Prime Minister Indira Ghandi, was born.
1/3/1943. Ghandi broke his fast after 12 days.
9/8/1942. With Ghandi
about to launch a major civil disobedience campaign to force the British out of
29/3/1942. The British revealed plans for Indian independence after the war.
15/1/1942. Ghandi named Nehru as his successor.
23/3/1940. At the Moslem League conference in
6/7/1935, The Dalai Lama was born.
11/2/1935, The UK Government passed the 1935 Government of India Act, giving the colony of India more autonomy; Britain retained control of external affairs and defence.
24/10/1934. Ghandi left the Congress Party.
7/4/1934. Ghandi suspended his campaign of civil disobedience.
23/8/1933. Gandhi was released from Poona jail after his hunger strike over the government’s attitude to Untouchables nearly killed him.
4/7/1933. Ghandi was jailed for a year for anti-British activity.
16/5/1932. Clashes between Hindus and Muslims killed hundreds
4/1/1932. Ghandi was arrested in
4/11/1931, Indian campaigner Mahatma Ghandi, in London for the Round Table Conference on Dominion Status for India, had tea with King George V at Buckingham Palace.
29/8/1931, The Indian nationalist leader Mohandas Gandhi came to London, to attend the second Round Table Conference at St James Palace.
3/3/1931. The Viceroy of
16/2/1931, The Indian Viceroy received Ghandi.
10/2/1931, New Delhi was officially inaugurated.
1/2/1931. Ghandi continued his campaign of civil disobedience.
Churchill resigned from Baldwin’s shadow cabinet after
disagreements over the policy of conciliation with Indian nationalism; Churchill
opposed any hint of independence for India. In
12/11/1930. The British
16/4/1930, Rioting in
6/4/1930. Mahatma Ghandi reached the Indian coast after a 300 mile walk from
his ashram near Ahmedabad, taking 25 days. Thousands followed him, and prepared
to defy the British salt tax. To
8/3/1930. Mahatma Ghandi started a civil disobedience campaign in
3/2/1930, The first ever ‘untouchables’ were elected to local councils in India.
2/1/1930, The All-India National Congress called for ‘complete independence’.
22/12/1929. The All-India National Congress demanded Indian independence.
7/12/1929, Agha Khan 1I1 was married at a private ceremony in Aix les Bains, France, to a former candy store clerk and dressmaker. He was founder and first President of the all-India Muslim League.
28/9/1929, In India, marriage of girls aged under 14 was banned by the Sarda Act.
17/11/1928, Lala Rajpat Raj, Indian politician, died.
1/9/1926, Adbur Rahman Biswas, President of Bangladesh, was born.
2/4/1926. In India, riots broke out between Hindus and
Moslems. On 4/4/1926 martial law was declared in
24/3/1925, Quazi Nuruzzaman, Bangladeshi guerrilla commander, was born (died 2011)
18/9/1924. Mohandas Ghandi, serving 6 years in prison for sedition, began a 21-day hunger strike, to try and dissuade Hindus and Moslems from rioting.
11/7/1924. Hindus and Muslims
8/6/1924. George Mallory, on his third attempt to conquer Everest, was seen for the last time at a point 800 feet from the summit.
12/6/1922, The Mallory expedition succeeded in getting within 3,200 feet of the summit of Everest.
18/3/1922. Ghandi was jailed for 6 years for civil disobedience.
25/12/1921, Ghandi organised a successful mass boycott of the Prince of Wales
as he arrived in
28/7/1921, The All-India Congress Party voted to boycott a visit to India by the Prince of Wales, and also urged a boycott of imported cloth.
3/1/1921, India's first parliament met.
10/9/1920, The Indian National Congress voted to adopt Mahatma Gandhi’s policy of non-co-operation with Britain’s colonial administration.
1/8/1920, Ghandi began his campaign of resistance to British rule in India.
13/4/1919. The British fired
on and massacred Indian Nationalist rioters in
10/4/1919, Rioting by Sikhs began at Amritsar, see 13/4/1919.
19/11/1917. Indira Ghandi born in
8/6/1915, Kayyar Kinhanna Rai, Indian poet, known for his poems and activism work for an independent India, was born in Kayyar, India (died 2015).
13/3/1914, Saroj Dutta, Indian Communist Leader, active in the Naxalite movement in India, was born (died 1971).
12/12/1911, King George V was crowned Emperor of India, and founded the city of New Delhi, as new capital to replace Calcutta.
11/11/1911. The British King and Queen left Britain for the sea voyage to
11/1/1911, 18 killed in riots in
27/8/1910. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who dedicated her
life to the relief of the poor in
22/6/1910, John Hunt, leader of the successful expedition to climb Everest in 1953, was born.
10/6/1910, Sir Charles Hardinge, British Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, was appointed as the Viceroy of India, succeeding the Earl of Minto.
13/11/1909, Two bombs were thrown at the Viceroy of India, The Earl of Minto.
5/1/1909. Hindus and Moslems
26/12/1907, The first session of the Indian National Congress was halted after clashes between moderates and extremists.
4/10/1907, Riots in
6/6/1907. The British
Government said it would never leave
2/5/1907, Rioting in
1/1/1903, King George VII was proclaimed Emperor of India.
10/11/1901. The North-West Frontier province was incorporated
1/10/1901, Partap Singh Kairon, India politician and Chief Minister of the Punjab from 1956 to 1964, was born (assassinated 1965).
12/2/1901, Britain extended direct rule from India into the tribal areas of Peshawar, Khyber and Waziristan, scene of much inter-ethnic fighting. Britain was concerned that unrest in these areas, on India’s northern frontier, would allow Russia to invade from the north through Afghanistan.
8//1/1899, Solomon Bandaranaike, Sri Lankan Prime Minister 1956-59, was born in the capital, Colombo.
29/2/1896, Ranchhodji Morarji Desai, Indian Prime Minister who was imprisoned with Gandhi, was born.
12/11/1893, The Durand Agreement, defining the border between Afghanistan and India, was signed.
14/11/1889, Pandit Nehru, first Prime Minister of India, was born in Allahabad.
1/10/1887. The British in India annexed Baluchistan, an area strategic to the North-West Frontier.
16/2/1887, Queen Victoria’s Jubilee was marked in India by the freeing of 25,000 prisoners.
1/1/1887, Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India in Delhi.
1886, The British seized Upper Burma.
28/11/1885, The British entered Mandalay.
4/12/1883, The International Exhibition at Calcutta opened, the first exhibition to be held in India.
1/5/1876, Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India.
8/2/1872, Lord Mayo, British Viceroy to India, was murdered by nationalists.
2/10/1869, Mahatma Ghandi, Indian nationalist leader, was born in Porbandar, Gujarat.
7/11/1862, Bahadur Shah II, last titular Mogul Emperor of India, died.
1/11/1858. Queen Victoria was proclaimed ruler of India. The East India Company, formed in 1600 to exploit trade with the East, but accused of imperial abuse from the early 1700s, was abolished and administration of India was transferred to the British crown. Misconduct by the East India Company had been partially curbed by the Regulating Act (1773) and Pitt’s India Act (1784). The Indian Mutiny broke the Company’s power, British influence being totally regained with the conquest of Lucknow in March 1858.
2/8/1858, The Government of India transferred the East India Company to the British Government.
25/9/1857. The British lifted the siege of Lucknow, ending the Indian Mutiny.
20/9/1857. The British recaptured Delhi from Indian mutineers.
4/6/1857, In the Indian Mutiny, the British garrison of Kanpur (Cawnpore) in Uttar Pradesh, niorthern India, came under siege by Indian rebels against British rule. After a three-week siege the British, under Sir Hugh Wheeler, were promised safe passage to Allahabad, on thatched barges. However as they departed the barges were fired upon, and set ablaze. The survivors were transferred to a house called the Bibighar, where they were massacred on 15/7/1857 bu Indian rebels. 197 died.
10/5/1857. The outbreak of the Indian (Sepoy) Mutiny in Meerat. On 6/5/1857, 85 men of the 90-strong 3rd Cavalry Regiment in Meerut had refused to bite off the greased and of the new cartridges for Lee Enfield rifles, which they claimed contained both pig and cow fat, so offending both Muslims and Hindus. The British had 24 hours warning of the mutiny but refused to take the threat seriously. The Indian mutineers seized Delhi on 11/5/1857.
1852, Yangon (Rangoon) came under British control.
1850, Sikkim, a region in the far north of India, became a British deoendency, paving the way for British penetration into Tibet.
21/2/1849. Sikh forces were decisively defeated by the British at the Battle of Gujerat. This concluded the Second Sikh War; Britain annexed Punjab.
28/1/1846, Battle of Aliwal, fought during the First Sikh War, between the British and the Sikhs.
21/12/1845, The Battle of Ferozeshah began.
29/12/1843, The Battle of Maharaipur.
24/7/1837, The Indian Post Office was established.
18/11/1831, An uprising in Bengal against tyrannical Hindu rule was suppressed. Its leader, the Muslim Titu Mir, was killed by government forces.
1826, The British took control of Assam from the Burmese, who had previously governed the region.
11/5/1824. The British, with a force of 11,000 troops, invaded Burma and captured Rangoon in retaliation for the King of Burma’s invasion of Shahpuri, in British India, in February 1824. This was the first time steamboats had been used in warfare.
24/2/1824, The Burmese War began, between Britain and Burma, when Burma invaded the Indian island of Shahpuri. Lord Amherst, British Governor-General of India, declared war on Burma.
22/8/1818, Warren Hastings, British administrator and first Governor-General of British India, died in Worcestershire aged 85.
2/3/1816. Ghurkas signed a peace treaty with the British, following their heavy defeat in the Kathmandu Valley; this ended their year-long war.
1/7/1813. The East India Company lost its monopoly of trade with India.
28/11/1803. The British army, led by Major John Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, won a great victory over the Indians at Argaum, Madhya Pradesh.
1/11/1803, The British won the Battle of Laswari, against the Marathas of India.
23/9/1803, The British won the Battle of Assay, India.
14/9/1803, British General Lake captured Delhi, India.
4/5/1799, The British conquered Seringapatam, capital of Mysore in southern India.
23/4/1795, Warren Hastings was acquitted of high treason.
16/3/1792, Tippoo Sahib, Indian Sultan who was resisting the advance of the British East India Company into Mysore, surrendered. Tippoo had studied British military tactics and so was able to resist General Charles Cornwallis for longer than other Indian rulers.
13/8/1784, The East India Act put the Company under a board of control to manage its revenue and administration.
3/4/1784, The British Parliament passed the India Act, to make the British East India Company more accountable.
1/7/1781, In India, British troops defeated Haidar Ali at Porto Novo.
22/11/1774, Robert Clive, English soldier and Governor of India, died from an overdose of opium, shortly after being vindicated of improper behaviour regarding the East India Company.
13/4/1772, Warren Hastings was appointed Governor of Bengal.
12/8/1765. Robert Clive received revenue authority over Bengal from the Mogul emperor. The disintegration of the Mogul Empire created opportunities for the British, the French, and also Indian princes. See 12/8/1756.
23/10/1764, The British won the Battle of Buxar, Bengal.
3/5/1764, The British won the Battle of Patna, Bengal.
14/1/1761, At the Battle of Panipat, north of Delhi, the Afghans under Ahmad Shah Durrani defeated the Marathas Indians. Although Durrani weakened Mughal power he was unable to fill the resultant power vacuum, thereby opening the way for British dominance of India.
23/6/1757. The Battle of Plassey took place in Bengal. The British victory of Robert Clive over the Nawab of Bengal laid the foundations for the British Empire in India.
23/3/1757, The British won the Battle of Chandernagore, Bengal.
2/1/1757. Clive of India captured Calcutta after it had been seized by the Nawab of Bengal. The Nawab had imprisoned 146 British in the infamous Black Hole of Calcutta, see 20/6/1756. This brought Bengal, with all its wealth, under British control.
20/6/1756. Night of the Black Hole of Calcutta. See 2/1/1757, and 12/8/1765. A total of 147 people were confined in what came to be known as the Black Hole of Calcutta. The remaining European defenders of Calcutta in the Seven Years War in India were shut away in a local lock up for petty offenders, following the capture of Calcutta by the Nawab Siraj Ul Dawlah of Bengal. The Black Hole was a room 18 feet long by 14 foot 10 inches wide, with only two small windows. According to the British leader John Z Holwell, only 23 of the 147 imprisoned survived, but this figure may be inaccurate. Instead of the suspected slaughter, the Nawab may have been guilty of negligence.
5/11/1751. British forces defeated the French in the battle for control of southern India at Arcot.
25/7.1746, The French won a major naval victory at Negapatam, allowing them to capture Madras.
20/3/1739, Persian ruler Nadir Shah sacked the Indian city of Delhi. The collapse of the Moghul Empire created a large power vacuum in India. The Afghans invaded from the north-west, Marathas invaded from the west, and local warlords carved out small independent states, perpetually fighting each other. In the middle of this chaos, Britain was able to take over.
6/12/1732, Warren Hastings, British ambassador and first Governor-General of India, was born in Churchill, Oxfordshire.
20/2/1707, The Mogul Emperor Aurangzeb died aged 88, his empire crumbling around him. He seized the throne at Agra from his father Shah Jehan 49 years earlier, killing two of his brothers and jailing the third to secure his succession. He moved the capital to Delhi, and enjoyed stable rule until his third son backed a rebellion by the Rajputs, Hindu warriors of Rajasthan. His military ventures bankrupted his kingdom, causing his subjects starvation through excessive taxation, and he caused resentment by destroying hundreds of Hindu temples.
24/8/1690, The port of Calcutta was founded by Job Charnock of the English East India Company.
18/4/1669. Aurangzeb, the Moghul Emperor of India, ordered that all recently constructed Hindu temples should be demolished.
22/1/1666, Shah Jahan died, aged 74, in the fort where his son Aurangzeb had imprisoned him with his harem for the previous eight years. He had ruled India from 1628 to 1658. Shah Jahan had built the Taj Mahal as a mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz-i-Mahal and he was buried beside her. Aurangzeb had fought and killed his brothers to attain the throne, as Shah Jahan had done in 1628.
28/10/1627, Jahangir, ruler of the Moghul Empire, died.
10/1/1615, Sir Thomas Roe, Britain’s first Ambassador to India, presented his credentials at Agra.
1605, Akbar I (The Great), Jalal ud Din Muhammad Akbar, died. He was Mughal Emperor of India, 1556-1605 (born 1542). Succeeeding his father, Humayun, he took over from the Regent in 1560. He gained control of the whole of India north of the Vindhaya Mountains. He established a uniform system of weights and measures, encouraged the arts and sciences, and was tolerant to non-Muslims.
31/12/1600. Queen Elizabeth I granted a charter of incorporation to the East India Company. This charter gave George Clifford, the Earl of Cumberland, and 215 knights, aldermen, and merchants the right to trade in the East Indies (i.e. all countries beyond the Cape of Good Hope) for 15 years. The members of the Company paid a total of £72,000 to finance a large scale trading expedition and planned to send five ships to Java and Sumatra, to break the Cutch monopoly on the spice trade. Unauthorised interlopers were liable to confiscation of ships and cargo. See 20/3/1602.
1594, Lisbon closed its spice market to Dutch and English traders; at this time Portugal was in personal union with Spain, both being ruled by Philip II, and England was helping the Dutch to gain independecnce from Spain. This forced traders from those countries to get their spices directly from India, and the creation of the Dutch East India Company followed.
5/11/1556, Jalal-ud-Din, Moghul Emperor Akbar, defeated a Hindu army at the Battle of Panipat in the Punjab. He regained the Hindustani Empire.
27/1/1556, The Moghul Emperor Humayun died after falling from his library roof in Delhi. He was succeeded by his 14-year old son, Jalal-ud-Din, who returned from exile.
7/9/1539, Guru Angad Dev became the second Guru of the Sikhs.
16/3/1527, The Battle of Khanwa. Barbur continued his conquest of northern India.
21/4/1526, The First battle of Panipat. Barbur became first Moghul (Mughal) Emperor of India. He captured Delhi, and northern India, beginning the Moghul Empire, which lasted until 1857.
24/12/1524. The Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama, who discovered the sea route from Europe to the East, died on his second voyage after landing in Cochin, on the Malabar coast of India. See 22/11/1497.
1/3/1510, Francesco de Almeida, the first Portuguese viceroy to India, died.
20/8/1507, Guru Nanak Dev became the first guru and leader of the Sikh religion.
23/5/1498. Vasco da Gama arrived at Calicut, southern India, after discovering a route via the tip of southern Africa. , proving the feasibility of a sea route from Portugal to India and the Spice Islands. This meant Europe could buy spices independent from Venetian and Muslim middlemen.
1388, Death of Firuz Shah Tughlaq (born 1305), the third Tughlaq ruler of the Kingdpom of Delhi since 1351. His reign brought peace and stability, and he developed agriculture and irrigation; some of his canal works survive to the present day. He also promoted building works, and constructed a new capital, Firuzabad, which today forms part of Delhi.
1316, Death of Ala al Din Khalji, second ruler of the Khalji dynasty (acceded 1296). He subdued the Rajput and Gujerat princes, conquering large regions of southern India.
1287, Mongol forces overran Burma.
879, Nepal gained independence from Tibet.
264 BCE, Start of the reign of King Asoka of India (died ca. 233 BCE). He is called the ‘Buddhist Constantine’ because he orgamised Buddhism as the State religion. Asoka himself converted to Buddhism in around 257 BCE, and convened the 3rd great Buddhist Council at Patna in 244 BCE.
319 BCE, Chandragupta Maurya reconquered northern India from the Macedonians under Alexander the Great and founded the Mauryan Dynasty.
415 BCE, The reign of Chandragupta II over much of northern India (375 – 415) ended.
480 BCE, Death of Siddhartha (Gautama Buddha), founder of Buddhism (born 550/563 BCE).