populations, India was divided into two: a vast Hindu territory and a Muslim country, known as Pakistan, divided into two regions, one in the northwest and one in the northeast of the country. (The northeastern portion would later split off into the independent country of Bangladesh in 1971.) This Partition of India, as it was called, caused great suffering, as Muslims and Hindus stranded in these newly demarcated areas were forced to flee under violent conditions to their new homes. Nevertheless, contemporary India still is home to many Muslims: Islam is practiced by some 15 percent of the population.
A COTTON MOVEMENT In protest of British control of the textile industry, Mohandas Gandhi insisted on
wearing only khadi, or cotton fabrics handwoven in India. In doing so, he led a movement to boycott British clothing made from cotton grown in India and sold back to Indians at high prices.
Mohandas Gandhi spinning his own cotton yarn in the late 1920s.
After adopting a constitution and becoming a democratic republic in 1950, India began its tran-
sition into full self-governance. It has not always been an easy road: multiple military conflicts with Pakistan, government corruption, and the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 have all contributed to periods of unrest. While there are still tensions among the Muslim and Hindu communi- ties, as well as socioeconomic divides reinforced by traditional class divisions known as the caste system, India today is seen as a nation on the rise. A
rapidly growing economy has improved employment opportunities, particu- larly in the technology sector, and there are movements among citizens toward greater equality between classes.
Tourists and pilgrims visit the Raj Ghat memorial to Mohandas Gandhi located in New Delhi.
MAJOR NATIONS IN A GLOBAL WORLD: INDIA
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