The Indian National Congress under Jawaharlal Nehru is the dominant political force in India until the end of the 1960s. In 1977, the opposition wins for the first time. But the opposition is at odds with each other and the Congress has still a strong base. Only, the campaign of the Rama temple in Ayodhya in 1980s/1990s establishes the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the single largest opposition force against the Congress. In this context, the destruction of the Babri mosque in 1992 is a turning point in India’s history. From 1998 to 2004, the BJP forms a (non-Congress) national government in coalition with smaller regional parties. In 2004, the Congress in turn heads a government with other regional parties. (see table)

Due to the constitutional nature of the Pakistan movement, bureaucracy and military play a decisive role in the country’s history. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto develops important political, also egalitarian, ideas in the 1960s. Also, the establishment of Bangladesh (Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Awami League) and the independence of Ceylon/ Sri Lanka (under Bandaranaike) raise hopes of the people in the region. The region, however, is home to a number of conflicts. Some of them are interrelated with each other. Religions play an important or rather decisive role in shaping the identities of the South Asian nations.

Important events after independence


Independence 15th August 1947 (Nehru’s midnight speech)

Conflict between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir

Murder of Mahatma Gandhi, 30th January 1948

Constitution of the Indian Republic, 26th January 1950

Jawaharlal Nehru and the Indian National Congress: Avadi session and the “socialistic pattern of society”, 1955

Integration of the Princely states into the Indian Union and the formation of Union states on linguistic basis, 1956

Dravida language movement, 1960s

Premier Minister Indira Gandhi, 1966, and nationalisation of banks, 1969

War in East Pakistan and the founding of Bangladesh, 1971

Emergency, 1975-1977

Janata Party and the formation of an opposition government at the centre, 1977-1979

Re-election of Mrs. Gandhi (Congress), 1980

Khalistan movement in Punjab and the army operation Bluestar, 1984

Murder of Indira Gandhi and riots against Sikhs, 1984

Premier Minister Rajiv Gandhi, 1984-1989, and the corruption scandal Bofors

Opposition government and Prime Minister V. P. Singh (Janata), 1989

L. K. Advani, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rath Yatra to Ayodhya, 1990

Murder of Rajiv Gandhi (President of the Congress) during the election campaign, 1991

Demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya, 6th December 1992

Premier Minister A. B. Vajpayee (BJP), 1996 (13 days), 1998-2004, government of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)

Narendra Modi (BJP), Chief Minister of Gujarat, and the riots against Muslims, 2002

Sonia Gandhi, President of the Congress, 1998, and governments of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), 2004-2009 (UPA 1) and 2009-2014 (UPA 2)

Narendra Modi (BJP), Prime Minister of India (2014-)


Independence on 14th August 1947

Objectives Resolution, 1949 and the murder of Premier Minister Liaqat Ali Khan, 1951

One Unit Scheme, 1955-1970

Failure of the first constitution and the army takeover of General Ayub Khan, 1956

Basic Democracies Order (Constitution), 1959-1969

Six Point Programme of the Awami League of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, 1966

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, 1967

Separation of Pakistan and the foundation of Bangladesh, 16th December 1971

G. M. Syed and the Jiye Sindh movement, 1973

Constitution, 1973

General Zia-ul-Haq, 1977-1988, and the execution of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, 1979

Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, 1983

Altaf Hussain and the foundation of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM), 1984

Army takeover and General Musharraf, 1999-2008

Murder of Benazir Bhutto (PPP), 27th December 2007

Five-year term completion of a civilian government (PPP) and handover to another civilian government (Pakistan Muslim League) for the first time, 2013


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