Everything About the Modern Indian History [PDF]

Vasco da Gama discovered India back in 1498. He first landed in Calicut and that was said to be the European era in Indian history.

In fact, in the 15th-16th century, many travellers from western countries like Italy, France, England, Netherlands, Denmark, etc. visited India for different reasons – some as traders, some as adventurers and some to establish their kingdom.

Indian history from the beginning of the 16th century to the mid of 20th century is known as modern Indian history.

In this blog post, you will find very detailed information about the modern history of India. All the major incidents and happenings are covered in this blog post.

So, let’s dive right in…

Table of Contents show

Modern Indian History (Brief Introduction)

From the beginning of the 17th century, the British Empire started to be established in India.

It took the British almost a century to get their roots to strengthen well in India. And, once they got established by the beginning of the 18th century, real exploitation of natural resources and forced labour started rising significantly.

Shashi Tharoor in his speech at Oxford Union Society said that at the beginning of the 18th century, India’s share of the world economy was 23% and by the time the British left India, it was down below 4%.

With a huge amount of loot everywhere, the British had forgotten that everything has a limit. With the rising cruelty of the British towards Indians, started rising the anti-colonial struggle to be free from British humiliation. Various protests and anti-British movements started rising significantly.

The entire history of modern India can be divided into 2 parts for better understanding:

  1. Expansion and Consolidation of British in India
  2. Indian Freedom Movement against British

The first part contains the incidents related to how the East India Company started gaining control over India. And, the second part contains the incidents related to the Indian freedom struggle.

#1 – Expansion and Consolidation of British in India

With their cunning strategies and policies like ‘divide and rule,’ the British had slowly started to gain control over India.

In the name of free trade, the British East India Company started to strengthen its feet in Bengal. Because, subsequently, it would be easier for them to expand their reach in the other parts of the country.

Following are the important incidents that occurred during their expansion:

1. Battle of Plassey (1757)

On 20th June 1756, the Nawab of Bengal kingdom, Siraj ud Daulah attacked Fort William and took over because the East India Company had started to capture it.

On 2nd January 1757, Robert Clive and Admiral Watson were sent with their troops to take control over Calcutta. Clive played a dirty game and finalized a deal (by bribing) with Mir Jafar (uncle of Siraj ud Daulah) against Siraj. Clive said that if he helps them defeat Siraj, then they will help him become the next Nawab.

Robert Clive Meeting with Mir Jafar
Robert Clive meeting with Mir Jafar after the War (Source)

On 23rd June 1757, troops led by Robert Clive and Admiral Watson attacked Nawab’s palace. And, in a few hours only, Siraj lost the battle because his own people betrayed him.

Later, he was assassinated by the British in the capital Muishidabad and Mir Jafar was appointed as the new Nawab by the company.

2. Battle of Wandiwash (1760)

One thing, the British didn’t want other companies to stay in India.

By land and by sea, the French had taken over the Madras in 1740 which the British didn’t like. So, after 8 years in 1748, Rear Admiral Boscawen, with a large army, was sent to take control over the Madras region. And, after a war, Madras was restored to the British.

To end over a century of conflict of supremacy in India, the English also defeated the French in the battle of Wandiwash in 1760.

3. Third Battle of Panipat (1761)

The third battle of Panipat happened on 14th January 1761. It was fought between the Maratha Empire and the invading forces of Ahmad Shah Abdali of Afghanistan. Ahmad Shah Abdali was supported by the two Indian allies Najib-ud-Daulah and Shuja-ud-Daulah.

The 3rd battle of Panipat is considered to be one of the biggest battles of the 18th century. It is estimated to be the involvement of 125000 troops in the battle which lasted for several days.

Third Battle of the Panipat
A scene from the 3rd Battle of Panipat (Source)

According to many historians, 60,000 to 70,000 people had lost their lives in the battle and thousands were imprisoned. The day after the battle, approximately 40,000 Maratha prisoners were slaughtered cold-blooded.

After this war, the advancement of the Marathas towards the northern region had stopped completely for almost 10 years. And, in 1771, Marathas sent a large army to the north to avenge their defeat from Rohillas, but their success didn’t last long.

4. Battle of Buxar (1764)

The battle of Buxar was fought on 21-22nd October 1764 between British forces led by Hector Munro and the current Nawab of Bengal, Mir Qasim.

Mughal emperor Shah Alam II and the Nawab of Awadh Shuja-ud-Daulah also supported Mir Qasim in the fight against the English.

Sketch of the Battle of Buxar
A Sketch of the Battle of Buxar (Source)

The battle was fought on the land of Buxar, which was under the territory of Bihar. And, in the battle, 10,000 British men defeated the 40,000 men of the combined army of Mir Qasim, Mughals, and Awadh.

The lack of coordination among the armies of the three was the main reason for their defeat.

5. First Anglo-Mysore War (1767-1769)

The first war of Mysore was a result of the conflict between the East India Company and the Sultanate of Mysore. The war was fought from 1767 to 1769.

The Flag of the Sultanate of Mysore
The Flag of the Sultanate of Mysore (Source)

Despite being 70,000 men on the Mysore side and only 7,000 on the British side, Mysore had undergone a heavy loss. And, at last, Hyder Ali had to agree with the British terms. Hyder Ali asked them to assist him against Maratha’s penetration of Mysorean territory, but the British refused to help.

Later in 1779, Marathas allied with Hyder Ali and Nizam to be united against the company, which was the beginning of the second war of Mysore.

6. First Anglo-Maratha War (1775-1782)

Among the three Anglo-Maratha wars, this was the first war that was fought between the British and the Maratha Empire. The war was the result of the Bombay government’s alliance with the wannabe Maratha Peshwa Raghoba.

Warren Hastings of the East India Company became successful in breaking the coalition between the Maratha, Hyder Ali, and the Nizam to weaken them.

British Naval Attack on the Maratha Empire
British Naval Attack on the Maratha Empire (Source)

Soon, this broke into a war between the Company and the Marathas. The English were defeated badly in the war. And, the Marathas were again at the top, but the unfortunate death of Madhaji Scindia ended all hopes.

7. Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780-1784)

The second Anglo-Mysore war also was the result of the conflict between the Mysore kingdom and the British East India Company. The war was fought from 1780 to 1784.

Second Anglo-Mysore War
The Second Anglo-Mysore War (Source)

Sir Eyre Coote defeated Hyder Ali thrice, succeeding in the battles of Porto Novo, Pollilur, and Sholinghur. After the defeat of the British in the war, Hyder Ali died due to cancer on 7th December 1782 at Chittoor.

After the death of Hyder Ali, his son Tipu Sultan continued the battle and defeated Colonel Braithwaite and General Matthews in 1782.

8. Pitt’s India Act (1784)

Pitt’s India Act or the East India Company Act (EIC Act 1784) was a British Parliament Act to address the shortcomings of the Regulating Act of 1773. The act was named after the prime minister of Great Britain William Pitt the Younger.

According to Wikipedia, the Long Title for Pitt’s India Act 1784 was,

An Act for the Better Regulation and Management of the Affairs of the East India Company and of the British Possessions in India, and for establishing a Court of Judicature for the more speedy and effectual Trial of Persons accused of Offences committed in the East Indies.

Later, it was repealed by the Government of India (Amendment) Act 1916.

9. Third Anglo-Mysore War (1790-1792)

The third Anglo-Mysore war was also the result of conflicts in Southern India between the Mysore Kingdom and the East India Company. The war was fought between Tipu Sultan (son of Hyder Ali) and the British.

British Forces Advancement Towards Bangalore
British Forces Advancement Towards Bangalore
Tipu Sultan Sending 2 of His Sons to Madras as Hostages
Tipu Sultan Sending 2 of His Sons to Madras as Hostages (Source)

Tipu simply wanted to drive the British away from India. But he lost this war because the Marathas and the Nizam joined against him and supported the British. After losing, he had to surrender half of his kingdom and send two of his sons as hostages to Madras.

10. Fourth Anglo-Mysore War (1799)

The fourth war was the last of the 4 Anglo-Mysore wars.

Tipu Sultan was killed in this last battle and Britain had taken indirect control over Mysore. The Wodeyar Dynasty, with a British commissioner to advise him on all the issues, was restored to the Mysore throne.

The Last Effort and Fall of Tipu Sultan
The Last Effort and Fall of Tipu Sultan (Source)

Not only this but Tipu’s young heir, Fateh Ali was barred from Mysore and the kingdom became a princely state in a subsidiary alliance with British India.

11. Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803-1805)

The second Anglo-Maratha was the second conflict between the Maratha Empire and the British EIC. The war was fought from 1802 to 1805.

British and Marathas in the War
British and Marathas in the War (Source)

In September 1803, Lord Gerard Lake defeated Scindia at Delhi, and in October, Pettah of Asirgarh Fort was captured by the British. Later, in November, Lake also defeated another Scindia force at Laswari.

Arthur Wellesley had also defeated Scindia forces at Assaye and Aragon (now Adgaon) in September and November (1803) respectively.

This way, the Maratha army was almost wiped out.

12. Anglo-Nepalese War (1814-1816)

The Anglo-Nepalese war is also known as the Anglo-Gurkha war, which was fought between the Gorkha Kingdom (now known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal) and the East India Company from 1814 to 1816.

Anglo-Nepalese war
Anglo-Nepalese War (Source)

The war had simply started as a border dispute and was led by the British EIC against the Kingdom of Gorkha. Not only this, but the British also had native states’ support from the Garhwal Kingdom, Patiala State, and the Kingdom of Sikkim.

The war ended up with the Treaty of Sugauli under which some land, controlled by Nepalese, was ceded to the British Company.

13. Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817-1818)

This was the final conflict between the company and the Maratha Empire. The war was fought from 1817 to 1818. Occasionally, the 3rd Anglo-Maratha war is also known as the Pindari War.

Indian Camp During the War
Indian Camp During the War (Source)

Mudhoji II Bhonsle of Nagpur and Malharrao Holkar III of Indore supported the forces of Peshwa Baji Rao II to stand against the company. Due to some circumstances, Daulatrao Shinde of Gwalior (fourth major Maratha leader) had to remain neutral even though he lost control over Rajasthan.

The Maratha Empire was broken up and the Maratha independence was lost, but the British Empire was growing up quickly. In the battle of Khadki and Koregaon, Peshwa was defeated, but his forces fought several minor battles to regain control.

Later, the Peshwa was caught and sent to a small remote location at Bithur, near Kanpur. Most of the Peshwa’s territories became part of the Bombay Presidency.

14. First Anglo-Burmese War (1824-1826)

The first Anglo-Burmese war was fought between the Burmese Empire and the British. The war was fought from 5th March 1824 to 24th February 1826.

A Scene from the First Anglo-Burmese War
A Scene from the First Anglo-Burmese War (Source)

The war had started over the control of north-eastern India, and the British won the battle. Now, they had total control over Assam, Manipur, Cachar, and Jaintia. They had even captured Arakan Province and Tenasserim.

After the war, the Burmese were forced to pay 1 million pounds sterling as an indemnity and also forced to sign a commercial treaty.

15. Prohibition of Sati (1829)

The incident Prohibition of Sati is also known as the Bengal Sati Regulation or Regulation XVII. The governor-general Lord William Bentinck of the East India Company abolished the Sati or Suttee practice. Lord Bentinck declared the Sati practice illegal across the whole of India.

Sati (or, Suttee, as the British called it) was an ancient Hindu practice in which the widow used to burn herself alive along with her dead husband.

Widow Burning in India - 18th Century
Widow Burning in India – 18th Century (Source)

In 1829, this custom was made illegal and highly punishable.

16. Slavery Abolition Act (1833)

In 1833, the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed an act ‘Slavery Abolition Act 1833’ abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire.

According to Wikipedia, the Long Title of the Act read,

An Act for the Abolition of Slavery throughout the British Colonies; for promoting the Industry of the manumitted Slaves; and for compensating the Persons hitherto entitled to the Services of such Slaves.

A Illustration Explaining Slavery from Book - The Black Man's Lament
An Illustration Explaining Slavery from Book – The Black Man’s Lament (Source)

But this Slavery Abolishment Act had specifically excluded ‘the Territories in the Possession of the East India Company, and the Island of Ceylon, and the Island of Saint Helena’.

Slavery was later abolished in India in 1843.

17. First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-1842)

The first Anglo-Afghan war is also known as the Disaster in Afghanistan. The war was fought between the Emirates of Afghanistan and the British East India Company from 1839 to 1842.

A British-Indian force attacks Ghazni fort during the First Afghan War
A British-Indian force attacks Ghazni fort during the First Afghan War (Source)

The British along with the Sikh forces were badly annihilated against the Emirates of Afghanistan. Thereafter, the British sent a huge army (Army of Retribution) to Afghanistan to take revenge. They demolished many parts of the capital and returned by the end of 1842 with the recovered prisoners.

The Afghans had won the battle, the British had to leave Afghanistan. And, in India, Dost Mohammad (Barakzai) was reinstalled to the throne and resumed his rule.

18. Gwalior Campaign (1843)

The Gwalior Campaign or the Gwalior War was fought between the Maratha forces in Gwalior and the company in 1843.

After the death of the Maharaja, the British forcefully appointed a Child as the new Maharaja of Gwalior after the war in 1818. When the British campaign failed in Afghanistan during 1839-1842, Marathas saw it as the opportunity to regain its empire and removed the young child from the throne of Maharaja.

Death of Major General Churchill during the Gwalior Campaign
Death of Major General Churchill during the Gwalior Campaign (Source)

Lord Ellenborough understood their plan and set up an army of exercise near Agra. The plan of negotiations had failed, and the war had started. Two wars happened on the same day – one at Maharajpore and one at Punniar.

The British defeated Maratha forces in both wars and appointed a British governor at the Gwalior fort.

And, the British forces who fought the battle were awarded a medal called Gwalior Star.

19. First Anglo-Sikh War (1845-1846)

The first Anglo-Sikh war was fought between the Sikh Empire and the East India Company from 1845 to 1846.

This resulted in two very diverse results – partial subjugation of the Sikh Kingdom and the cession of Jammu and Kashmir as a separate princely state.

The Sikh Trophy Guns used in the War
The Sikh Trophy Guns used in the War (Source)

Betrayed by the Sikh army head Raja Lal Singh and Tej Singh, Sikh Kingdom had to surrender the region between the Beas River and the Sutlej River. And, they also had to pay an indemnity of 15 million rupees.

Lastly, the war completely weakened the Sikh army.

20. Lord Dalhousie became Governor-General (1848)

Lord Dalhousie (original name: James Andrew Broun Ramsay) was appointed as the Governor-General of British India on 12th January 1848.

A Portrait of Lord Dalhousie
A Portrait of Lord Dalhousie (Source)

Dalhousie was born in 1812 in Scotland Castle and was elected to the British Parliament at the age of 25. After becoming the Governor-General of India, from 1848 to 1856, he ruled for 8 straight years.

He worked on the modernization and unity of India. Later, Dalhousie retired on 29th February 1856 and died in 1860.

21. Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-1849)

The war was the result of a military conflict between the Sikhs and the British, which is called the Second Anglo-Sikh War. It was fought from 1848 to 1849. After the war, the Sikh Empire was entirely ruined and the annexation of Punjab happened.

The Battle of Gujrat during the Second Anglo-Sikh War
The Battle of Gujrat during the Second Anglo-Sikh War (Source)

The main reason why Punjab got defeated was the lack of food for armies and poor administration. Furthermore, the British had brought a pretty large force to fight against the Sikhs, and that was another reason for their defeat.

22. Introduction of Railways (1853)

The very first railway system was introduced in India on 16th April 1853 between Mumbai to Thane, carrying 400 passengers. The paperwork for railways by the East India Company started in 1845.

Thane Railway Viaduct in 1855
Thane Railway Viaduct in 1855 (Source)

Anglo-Indians found an ample amount of employment in the railways and also in the telegraph system. It is said that Lord Dalhousie had a critical role in bringing railways to India.

23. Indian Rebellion – the First War of Indian Independence (1857)

The year 1857 is considered the Revolutionary Upheaval of Indian Independence history. It was a major uprising in India against the British in 1857-1858, but couldn’t be successful.

The 1857 Rebellion has many other names like Sepoy Mutiny, Indian Mutiny, Great 1857 Rebellion, Revolt of 1857, and Indian Insurrection, and it is also considered the very first war of Indian Independence.

A Scene from Bengal Army during the 1857 Indian Rebellion
A Scene from Bengal Army during the 1857 Indian Rebellion (Source)

There were many reasons for this rebellion like the General Service Enlistment Act of 25th July 1856 which prevented the Bengal Army from overseas services, issues of promotion of Indian Sepoy soldiers in the army, rumours of the presence of beef and pork in the pre-greased paper cartridges of the new Enfield P-53 rifle, rumours of British controlling Indian Hindu’s and Muslim’s minds to convert them to Christianity, etc.

In Oudh alone, an estimated number of 1,50,000 (with 1,00,000 of them being civilians) Indians were killed during the incident. Indian soldiers also committed some cruel acts against the Anglo-Indians.

The Indians who fuelled the rebellion of 1857 were Bahadur Shah Zafar, Bakht Khan, Nana Sahib, Tatya Tope, Rani Lakshmibai, Begum Hazrat Mahal, Birjis Qadr, and various Zamindars and Chieftains, etc.

The Sepoy revolt at Meerut
The Sepoy revolt at Meerut

To seek revenge on the Indian soldiers, the British went on another level of humiliation. Indian civilians had to go through very cruel tortures like,

  • Searing with a hot iron
  • Sequencing the testicles
  • Red chilies in the eyes
  • Hindus and Muslims were forced to eat Beef or Pork
  • Rebellions were tied to the cannons and cannons were fired
  • Red chilies in the private parts of men and women
  • Prevention of sleep
  • Nipping off the flesh with pinners
  • Sexual violence against women
  • Random civilians were shot dead and butchered

Later, on 8th July 1858, the rebellion ended with the signing of a peace treaty.

24. Vernacular Press Act (1878)

The Vernacular Press Act was set up to provide freedom to the Indian press, but also to prevent any criticism of British policies.

First, Lord Lytton (Viceroy of India) proposed this act, and it was passed on 14th March 1878 by the Viceroy’s council. The act was mainly brought to control the seditious writing in ‘publications in Oriental languages’ because English-language publications were excluded from this act.

It didn’t last long and was repealed by Lytton’s successor, viceroy Lord Ripon, in 1881.

25. Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-1880)

The second Anglo-Afghan war was fought between the Emirate of Afghanistan and the British from 1878 to 1880.

The Emirate of Afghanistan was ruled by the son of Emir Dost Mohammad Khan, Sher Ali Khan (of the Barakzai dynasty).

British team at the site of the Battle of Ali Masjid
British team at the site of the Battle of Ali Masjid (Source)

And, this was the second time when the British invaded Afghanistan.

After the war ended in 1880, Abdur Rahman (the new Amir appointed by the British) had to confirm the Treaty of Gandamak and now, the British had control over Afghanistan’s foreign policies.

#2 – Indian freedom movement against the British

By being aware of their birthright, Indians had started their freedom movement against the British by the mid-20th century, which lasted until India officially got free from the British on 15th August 1947.

Driven by leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, the independence movement was at its peak from the start of the 20th century.

Recommended Read: All the Important Dates of the History Chapter Nationalism in India

1. Foundation of the Indian National Congress (1885)

Indian National Congress, which is also known as Congress Party or INC, is the oldest political party in India.

The party was founded on 28th December 1885.

After 1920, when Mahatma Gandhi took the leadership of the Indian National Congress, the party became the main leader of the Indian Independence Movement.

First Session of the Indian National Congress
First Session of the Indian National Congress (Source)

After the approval from the current Viceroy Lord Dufferin, the very first meeting of the party was conducted at Bombay on the initiatives of the retired Civil Service officer Allan Octavian Hume. And, 72 delegates, representing each province of India, attended the meeting.

Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee was appointed as the very first president of the Indian National Congress.

2. Partition of Bengal (1905)

Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India, on 16th October 1905, partitioned the largely Muslim eastern area from the largely Hindu western area.

The partition was announced on 19th July 1905 and was acted upon on 16th October.

Partition of Bengal - Full Map
Full Map of Partition of Bengal in 1905 (Source)

Curzon’s main motive was to divide Bengalis, not the Hindus from the Muslims, but he pointed out that he considered the new province to be Muslim.

And, as a result of the partition, Bihar and Odisha got formed on Lord Curzon’s instructions.

3. Foundation of the All-India Muslim League (1906)

All-India Muslim League or the Muslim League was a political party in British India that was established on 30th December 1906 at Dacca, British India (now Dhaka, Bangladesh).

The AIME Conference at Ahsan Manzil palace Dhaka
The AIME Conference at Ahsan Manzil palace, Dhaka (Source)

They wanted a separate Muslim majority nation-state, which led to the partition of British India by the British Empire in 1947.

With Syed Ahmad Khan as a central figure, the league or party arose out of a literary movement begun at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

After the independence, All-India Muslim League became Indian Union Muslim League in India and Muslim League in Pakistan.

4. Defence of India Act (1915)

Every so often, the Defence of India Act is also referred to as the Defence of India Regulations Act. It was an emergency criminal law enacted by the Governor-General of India and was applied in 1915.

According to Wikipedia, the Long Title for Defence of India Act 1915 was,

An Act to provide for special measures to secure the public safety and the defence of British India and for the more speedy trial of certain offences.

The act was similar to that of the British Defence of the Realm Acts which granted the British government powers like preventive detention, internment without trial, restriction of writing & speech, and restriction of movements.

5. Indian Home Rule Movement (1916)

Based on the Irish Home Rule Movement and some other home rule movements, the Indian Home Rule Movement was a movement in British India that lasted for 2 years from 1916 to 1918.

The movement was going on under the leadership of Annie Besant (an Irish woman) all over India. Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s job was to educate the English-speaking upper-class Indians.

Later, the movement changed its name from Indian Home Rule Movement to Swarajya Sabha, and Mahatma Gandhi wrote its very first book called Hind Swaraj (Indian Home Rule) which was composed in 1909.

The main leaders involved in the Home Rule Movement were Joseph Baptista, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, G. S. Khaparde, Sir S. Subramania Iyer, Satendra Nath Bose, and Annie Besant (leader of the Theosophical Society).

6. Jallianwala Bagh Massacre (1919)

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, also known as the Amritsar Massacre, took place on 13th April 1919. Over 400 unarmed civilians were killed and over 1000 were injured. Among the people who lost their lives, there were 41 children too and 1 with only 6 months of age.

Jallianwala Bagh a Month Before the Massacre
Jallianwala Bagh, a Month Before the Massacre (Source)

The massacre took place on the orders of Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, who ordered the British Indian armed forces to fire their guns on unarmed civilians.

Jallianwala Bagh was a large public garden with high walls all around and only 5 entrance gates. On Sunday, 13th April 1919, it was the festival of Baisakhi and people gathered to celebrate the festival and protest peacefully against the arrest of 2 national leaders Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew.

Dyer entered the garden and started firing with his troops blocking all the entrance gates. He didn’t even bother to warn people once.

Recent Image of the Bullet Marks at Jallianwala Bagh
Recent Image of the Bullet Marks at Jallianwala Bagh

On the next day, General Dyer stated in a report, “I hear that between 200 and 300 of the crowd were killed. My party fired 1,650 rounds.”

A Punjab’s Social Service Society approximated 379 people to be dead and 1100 to be wounded. Indian National Congress approximated 1000 people to be dead and more than 1500 to be injured.

7. Khilafat Movement (1919-1924)

Khilafat Movement, also known as the Muslim Movement, was led by Shaukat Ali, Mohammad Ali Jauhar, and Abdul Kalam Azad to restore the caliph of the Ottoman Caliphate as an effective political authority.

While seemingly pan-Islamic, the movement was primarily a means of achieving pan-Indian Muslim political mobilization.

According to a source, “the movement belonged less in its supposed pan-Islamism, than in its impact upon the Indian nationalist movement.

8. Non-cooperation Movement (1920-1922)

In the Indian Independence Movement, the Non-cooperation Movement was a short phase movement yet significant, which lasted from 1920 to February 1922.

The movement was led by Mahatma Gandhi after the Rowlett Act and the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre (1919). Gandhi’s focus was to resist British rule in India through Non-violence or Ahimsa.

The movement got started on 1st August 1920 by Gandhiji, which encouraged people not to buy British goods and adopt the use of local handicrafts. And, his leadership got a huge number of people who joined the movement.

On 5th February 1922, at Chauri Chaura, British police opened fire on a large group of non-cooperation movement protesters. Thereafter, the situation went out of control and 22 policemen got killed by the angry protesters. In the clash, 3 civilians were also killed.

Gandhiji got arrested on 10th February, and he had to immediately call off the National Non-cooperation Movement on 12th February 1922. Mahatma Gandhi got jailed for publishing seditious material for 6 years on 18th February 1922.

The movement had come to a complete end.

9. Chauri Chaura Incident (1922)

A small clash between a group of protesters of the non-cooperation movement and the policemen at Chauri Chaura, Gorakhpur (now in Uttar Pradesh) led to massive violence on 5th February 1922.

A Recent Image of Chauri Chaura Shahid Samarak
A Recent Image of Chauri Chaura Shahid Samarak (Source)

After 3 civilians and 22 policemen got killed in the clash, Gandhiji got arrested and single-handedly halted the National Non-cooperation Movement on 12th February 1922. After 6 days, he got jailed for 6 years.

But, the leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Bhagat Singh did not want this movement to be stopped, and they were highly disappointed by the decision of Gandhiji.

10. Simon Commission Comes to India (1928)

The Simon Commission was a group of 7 British members of Parliament who came to India under the chairmanship of Sir John Simon in 1928. It was called the Indian Statutory Commission.

The commission had come to India to study the constitutional reform in British India, which was strongly opposed by almost all the leaders and parties. It was opposed by Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, the Muslim League, and the Indian National Congress.

And, the main reason for the opposition of the Simon Commission was that it contained no Indian, but only British members. People saw it as an insult to their self-respect and a violation of their right to self-determination.

Lala Lajpat Rai was leading the protest in Lahore and suffered a heavy beating by the police, due to which he died on 17th November 1928.

11. Salt Satyagraha or Dandi March (1930)

Salt Satyagraha is also known as the Dandi March, Salt March, or the Dandi Satyagraha. It was a 24-day march led by Mahatma Gandhi and a part of an act of non-violent civil disobedience movement in British India.

Gandhiji During the Salt March
Gandhiji During the Salt March (Source)

Dandi Satyagraha lasted from 12th March 1930 to 6th April 1930, and it was a direct-action campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British Salt monopoly.

Here’s an original video of Gandhi’s Salt March

With 80 trusted followers, Mahatma Gandhi started the march and walked 240 miles from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi (then, Navsari) in 24 days. After reaching Dandi on 6th April, at 6:30 PM, he broke the salt laws, which sparked large-scale acts of Civil Disobedience against the British Raj salt laws.

12. First Round Table Conference (1930-1931)

The Round Table Conferences were officially started by Majesty George V on 12th November 1930. The very first Round Table Conference was held at the Royal Gallery House of Lords in London and Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald was the chairman.

The event was held from November 1930 to January 1931.

A total of 74 delegates from British India attended the conference and discussed various issues like federal structure, provincial constitution, province of Sindh and NWFP, defence services, minorities, etc.

However, the Indian National Congress and many other main leaders were away from the conference because most of them were in jail. At that time, Gandhiji had also refused to attend the conference.

13. Second Round Table Conference (1931)

Before the conference, a settlement between Gandhi and Lord Irwin took place on 5th March 1931, and the settlement was named as the Gandhi-Irwin Pact.

Gandhiji Along with Other Leaders at 2nd Round Table Conference at London
Gandhiji Along with Other Leaders at 2nd Round Table Conference at London (Source)

Unlike the previous conference, Gandhiji went to London to attend the conference as a sole representative of the Indian National Congress, which was held from 7th September 1931 to 7th November 1931.

At the conference, Gandhiji was accompanied by Sarojini Naidu, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Ghanshyam Das Birla, Muhammad Iqbal, Sir Mirza Ismail, S. K. Dutta, and Syed Ali Imam.

14. Third Round Table Conference (1932)

Most of the main Indian political leaders did not attend the Third Round Table Conference, which was held from November 1932 to December 1932.

The Labour Party of Britain as well as the Indian National Congress had refused to attend the conference for some reason.

46 delegates attended the event. A few of the representatives from India were Akbar Hydari, Mirza Ismail, V. T. Krishnamachari, Wajahat Hussain, Sir Sukhdeo Prasad, J. A. Surve, Raja Oudh Narain Bisarya, Manubhai Mehta, Nawab Liaqat Hayat Khan, Fateh Naseeb Khan, L. F. Rushbrook Williams, etc.

15. Satyagraha Called Off (1934)

Since the Salt Satyagraha failed to gain the Muslims’ support and also did not make enough progress, Gandhiji, with other Congress leaders, decided to end the Satyagraha in 1934.

Now, Mahatma Gandhi was putting his efforts to end Untouchability in the Harijan movement.

Jawaharlal Nehru had said that even if the Salt Satyagraha failed, it had helped Indian people change their attitude towards self-rule.

16. Indian Provincial Elections (1937)

It became mandatory as per the Government of India Act 1935, so the very first Provincial Elections were held during 1936-1937.

The elections were held in the 11 provinces:

  • Madras
  • Central Provinces
  • Bihar
  • Orissa
  • United Provinces
  • Bombay Presidency
  • Assam
  • NWFP
  • Bengal
  • Punjab
  • Sindh

The final results for the elections came out in February 1937. And, the Indian National Congress had won 8 out of 11 provinces.

17. Resignation of Congress Ministries (1939)

Viceroy Lord Linlithgow had declared India to be belligerent in the Second World War without discussing it with the Indian people. He declared India at war with Germany on 3rd September 1939.

Congress wanted to form a central Indian national government to tackle this situation, but the Muslim League supported the British.

Moreover, Lord Linlithgow didn’t come up with any satisfactory response and refused the demands of Congress.

To protest against the Viceroy Linlithgow, Congress ministries resigned on 22nd October 1939. The Viceroy along with Muhammad Ali Jinnah was happy with the resignations.

18. Quit India Movement (1942)

Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement on 8th August 1942 (during the 2nd world war) at the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. He demanded that British Rule be completely ended in India.

Procession in Bangalore during the Quit India Movement
Procession in Bangalore during the Quit India Movement (Source)

The Quit India Movement or the Bharat Chhodo Movement is also known as the August Movement. After Gandhiji called to ‘Do or Die’ in the speech of the All-India Congress Committee, within hours of the speech, most of the leaders of the Indian National Congress were imprisoned without trial.

Here’s an original video of the Quit India Movement

American President Franklin D. Roosevelt came in the support of India and asked British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to accept some Indian demands. But, Churchill denied it, and the Quit India Mission was badly crushed.

However, the British said that they might think about independence after World War 2.

19. Gandhi-Jinnah Talks (1944)

In May 1944, Gandhiji was released from Jail by the new Viceroy Lord Wavell on medical grounds. The British departure from India seemed to be inevitable.

Gandhiji asked Jinnah to support the Congress and said that the partition will be decided after independence.

Gandhi and Jinnah in Bombay, September 1944
Gandhi and Jinnah in Bombay, September 1944 (Source)

Lastly, both the leaders met in September 1944 at Jinnah’s home in Bombay and discussed the future of India, but it became unsuccessful due to the following reasons:

  • Gandhiji wanted Jinnah to support Congress to move the British out and partition will be discussed later, but Jinnah wanted to secure the partition before the British left.
  • Gandhiji wanted the central government to have control over the foreign policies and defence like key areas, but Jinnah wanted these powers in the hands of the provinces.
  • Gandhiji said that he speaks for all the Indians, but Jinnah reminded him that he was just a spokesperson of Congress.
  • Gandhiji was against the “two-nation theory” but that was the official policy of the Muslim league.

Lastly, the talks ended with no results.

20. Formation of Interim Government of India (1946)

The Interim Government or the Provisional Government of India was formed from the newly elected Constituent Assembly of India on 2nd September 1946. It had tasks to assist British India to gain independence.

The Interim Government remained in place until India’s independence and partition (creation of Pakistan) on 15th August 1947.

Indian National Congress, as well as the Muslim League, had agreed to participate in the elections for a constituent assembly.

In the elections, the Congress won most seats (about 69%) including almost every seat in the areas with a majority Hindu electorate, and the Muslim League won the seats allocated to the Muslim electorate.

The cabinet was reconstituted on 15th October 1946 when the Muslim League agreed to participate in the Interim Government. Below is a table that contains a list of all the key individuals in the cabinet:

Viceroy and Governor-General of India
President of the Executive Council
Viscount Wavell
(15 October 1946 – 20 February 1947)
British Raj
 Viscount Mountbatten of Burma
(21 February 1947 -)
British Raj
Commander-in-ChiefSir Claude AuchinleckBritish Raj
Vice President of the Executive Council
External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations
Jawaharlal NehruIndian National Congress
Agriculture and FoodRajendra PrasadIndian National Congress
CommerceIbrahim Ismail ChundrigarAll-India Muslim League
DefenseBaldev SinghIndian National Congress
FinanceLiaquat Ali KhanAll-India Muslim League
EducationC. RajagopalachariIndian National Congress
HealthGhazanfar Ali KhanAll-India Muslim League
Home Affairs
Information and Broadcasting
Vallabhbhai PatelIndian National Congress
LabourJagjivan RamIndian National Congress
LawJogendra Nath MandalAll-India Muslim League
Railways and Communications
Post and Air
Abdur Rab NishtarAll-India Muslim League
Works, Mines, and PowerC.H. BhabhaIndian National Congress

British India remained under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom until August 1947 and the Interim Government proceeded to diplomatic relations with other countries.

21. Indian Independence Act (1947)

The Indian Independence Act 1947 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which partitioned British India into two independent dominions of India and Pakistan.

On 18th July 1947, the act received royal approval and on 15th August 1947, India and Pakistan became two different nations, with Pakistan having the west and east areas.

India and Pakistan at the time independence
India and Pakistan at the time of independence

According to Wikipedia, the Long Title of the Act was,

An Act to make provision for the setting up in India of two independent Dominion states, to substitute other provisions for certain provisions of the Government of India Act, 1935, which apply outside those Dominions, and to provide for other matters consequential on or connected with the setting up of those Dominions.

With massive violence, countless Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan areas flee to India and countless Muslims from India flee to Pakistan, leaving behind all their possessions and properties.

On 15th August 1947, India became completely independent.

However, Lord Mountbatten of Burma (the last Viceroy) was asked by the Indian leaders to continue as the Governor-General of India.

Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minister of India, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel became the Home Minister of the country.

On the Pakistan side, Liaquat Ali Khan became the Prime Minister of Pakistan and Muhammad Ali Jinnah became the Governor-General of the country.

[Recommended Read: All the Important Dates of the History Chapter Nationalism in Europe]

Final Words

Finally, after a lot of bloodshed and sacrifice, India became completely independent on 15th August 1947. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru raised the Indian flag “tricolour” above the Lahori Gate of the Red Fort in Delhi.

And, since then, each year on the 15th of August, the current Prime Minister raises the flag and the whole event is broadcasted by the national broadcaster of India, Doordarshan. Usually, the event begins with the Shehnai music of Ustad Bismillah Khan.

That’s it.

I have tried to cover almost all the major events in the History of Modern India. If you think I’ve missed something important or if you have any related queries, please let me know by dropping a quick comment right now.

Also, share this highly informative article with the people who you think might be interested in reading it.


  1. History of Railways
  2. Indian Home Rule movement
  3. Khilafat Movement
  4. Non-cooperation movement
  5. Simon Commission
  6. 1937 Indian provincial elections
  7. Interim Government of India
  8. Modern India History
  9. History of India
  10. History of Modern India: Complete Study Material
  11. Modern Indian History for Civil Services Examination
  12. Modern Indian History
  13. Modern History of India


  1. bookmarked!!, I really like your site!

  2. Awesome article. Loved it.

  3. thank you so much sir, aaj ke time me koi jha kuch free nhi hai yha tak ki knowledge bhi vha aapne free me knowledge share ki hai. bhut bhut dhanyewad sir

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