“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind” – John F Kennedy
India is a country with 3500 year old civilization with rich culture and moralities. We start to study about our countries history, wars and movements right from our school days as part of social studies. But, how much do you know about the wars and movements that took place to shape our present India?
We shall also wish that let these wars remain as history and never repeat again.
1. Ramayana War (5100 BC)
The battle between the army of Rama, constructed with the help of Sugriva, and Ravana. Having received Hanuman’s report on Sita, Rama and Lakshmana proceed with their allies towards the shore of the southern sea. There they are joined by Ravana’s renegade brother Vibhishana. The monkeys named Nala and Nila construct a floating bridge (known as Rama Setu) across the ocean, and the princes and their army cross over to Lanka. A lengthy battle ensues and Rama kills Ravana. Rama then installs Vibhishana on the throne of Lanka
2. Kurukshetra War (3102 BC)
The Kurukshetra War is a mythological war described in the Indian epic Mahābhārata as a conflict that arose from a dynastic succession struggle between two groups of cousins of an Indo-Aryan kingdom called Kuru, the Kauravas and Pandavas, for the throne of Hastinapura. It involved a number of ancient kingdoms participating as allies of the rival groups. The location of the battle is described as having occurred in Kurukshetra in the modern state of Haryana in India. The conflict is believed to form an essential component of an ancient work called Jaya and hence the epic Mahābhārata.
3. Conquest of the Nanda Empire (321 BC – 320 BC)
Chandragupta Maurya established himself as ruler of Magadha around 321 BC. He decided to conquer the Nanda Dynasty, rulers at the time of the Gangetic Plain. He fought the empire for 11 years with successful guerrilla campaigns, and captured the Nanda capital, Pataliputra. This led to the fall of the empire and the eventual creation of the Maurya Empire with Chandragupta as its leader.
4. Kalinga War (262 – 261 BC)
The Kalinga War was fought between the Mauryan Empire with Ashoka the Great and the ruler of the state of Kalinga, a feudal republic located on the coast of the present-day Indian state of Odisha and northern parts of Andhra Pradesh. The Kalinga war, the only major war Ashoka fought after his accession to throne, is one of the major and bloodiest battles in world history. Kalinga put up a stiff resistance, but they were no match for Ashoka’s brutal strength. The bloodshed of this war is said to have prompted Ashoka to adopt Buddhism. However, he retained Kalinga after its conquest and incorporated it into the Maurya Empire
5. Panipat War (1526 and 1556)
The First Battle of Panipat, on 21 April 1526, was fought between the invading forces of Babur and the Lodi Empire. It took place in north India and marked the beginning of the Mughal Empire. This was one of the earliest battles involving gunpowder firearms and field artillery. The Second Battle of Panipat was fought on November 5, 1556, between the forces of Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya, popularly called Hemu, the Hindu ruler of north India from Delhi, and the army of Akbar. It was a decisive victory for Akbar’s generals Khan Zaman I and Bairam Khan.
6. Siege of Trichinopoly (1741)
The Siege of Trichinopoly took place in early 1741 during an extended series of conflicts between the Mughal Empire and the Maratha Empire for control over what is now southern India. Raghuji Bhonsle’s Maratha army successfully starved out the town, compelling the surrender of Chanda Sahib on 26 March 1741.
Image Source – Trichinopoly
7. Battle of Madras (1746)
The Battle of Madras or Fall of Madras took place in September 1746 during the War of the Austrian Succession when a French force attacked and captured the city of Madras from its British garrison. They occupied it until the end of hostilities when it was exchanged for a British conquest of Louisbourg in North America as part of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. One of the British defenders, Robert Clive made his name by escaping from the French captors and carrying news of the city’s fall to his superiors at Fort St David.
8. Carnatic Wars (1746 and 1763)
The Carnatic Wars (also spelled Karnatic Wars) were a series of military conflicts in the middle of the 18th century on the Indian subcontinent. The conflicts involved numerous nominally independent rulers and their vassals, struggles for succession and territory, and included a diplomatic and military struggle between the French East India Company and the British East India Company. They were mainly fought on the territories in India which were dominated by the Nizam of Hyderabad up to the Godavari delta. As a result of these military contests, the British East India Company established its dominance among the European trading companies within India. The French company was pushed to a corner and was confined primarily to Pondichéry. The British company’s dominance eventually led to control by the United Kingdom over most of India and the establishment of the British Raj.
9. Siege of Calcutta (1756)
The Siege of Calcutta was a battle between the British East India Company, and Siraj ud-Daulah, the Nawab of Bengal in India. The Nawab aimed to recapture the city of Calcutta from European control, after tensions had risen due to the East India Company building fortifications in case of French attack as part of the Seven Years’ War. The British were unprepared for the attack on June 20th, and Fort William – containing the entire European population of the city – fell almost immediately, leaving the city in Indian hands. Many of the British prisoners were held in a prison called the ‘Black Hole’ shortly afterwards, with many deaths.
Image Source – Black Hole
10. Battle of Plassey (1757)
The Battle of Plassey was a decisive victory of the British East India Company over the Nawab of Bengal and his French allies on 23 June 1757. The battle established the Company rule in Bengal which expanded over much of India for the next hundred years. The battle was preceded by the attack on British-controlled Calcutta by Nawab Siraj-ud-daulah and the Black Hole incident. The British sent reinforcements under Colonel Robert Clive and Admiral Charles Watson from Madras to Bengal and recaptured Calcutta.
11. First Mysore War (1767–1769)
The First Anglo–Mysore War (1767–1769) was a war in India between the Sultanate of Mysore and the East India Company. The war was instigated in part by the machinations of Asaf Jah II, the Nizam of Hyderabad, who sought to divert the company’s resources from attempts to gain control of the Northern Circars.
12. First Maratha War (1775 – 82)
The First Anglo-Maratha War (1775–1782) was the first of three Anglo-Maratha wars fought between the British East India Company and Maratha Empire in India. The war began with the Treaty of Surat and ended with the Treaty of Salbai with Maratha victory. Company retained control of Salsette but all the territories occupied by the British after the treaty of Purandar were given back to the Marathas.
13. Cotiote War (1792 – 1806)
The Cotiote War refers to a series of continuous struggles fought between the Cotiote prince, Pazhassi Raja Kerala Varma, and the English East India Company across a span of fourteen years between 1792 to 1806. Pazhassi Raja aimed to preserve the independence and unity of his kingdom while the British were determined to annex and dismember it. His own desire for independence and sense of betrayal by English on their earlier promise to respect his country’s independence combined with constant exhortations of his two patriot noblemen, Kaitheri Ambu and Kannavath Sankaran, led to outbreak of Cotiote War. It is the longest war waged by English East India Company during their wars of conquests in India – much longer than Anglo-Mysore Wars, Anglo-Maratha Wars, Anglo-Sikh Wars and Polygar Wars. Cotiote War ended within months of death of Cotiote leader, Pazhassi Raja in a skirmish on November 30 of 1805. Following this war, kingdom of Cotiote was annexed into district of Malabar in Madras Presidency.
Image Source – Pazhassi Raja
14. Fourth Mysore War – Death of Tipu Sultan (1798 – 1799)
The Fourth Anglo–Mysore War (1798–1799) was a war in South India between the Kingdom of Mysore and the British East India Company under the Earl of Mornington.
This was the final conflict of the four Anglo–Mysore Wars. The British took indirect control of Mysore, restoring the Wodeyar Dynasty to the Mysore throne (with a British commissioner to advise him on all issues). Tipu Sultan’s young heir, Fateh Ali, was sent into exile. The Kingdom of Mysore became a princely state in a subsidiary alliance with British India and ceded Coimbatore, Uttara Kannada, and Dakshina Kannada to the British.
Image Source – Tipu Sultan
15. Polygar War (1799 – 1805)
Polygar War or Palayaikarar Wars refers to the wars fought between the Polygars (Palaiyakkarars) of former Madurai Kingdom in Tamil Nadu, India and the British East India Company forces between March 1799 to May 1802 or July 1805. The British finally won after carrying out long and difficult protracted jungle campaigns against the Polygar armies and finally defeated them. Many lives were lost on both sides and the victory over Polygars made large part of territories of Tamil Nadu come under British control enabling them to get a strong hold in India.
The war between the British and Kattabomman Nayak of Panchalankurichi Palayam in the then Tirunelveli region is often classified as the First Polygar war. In 1799, a brief meeting (over pending taxes) between Kattabomman and the British ended in a bloody encounter in which the British commander of the forces was slain by the former. A price was put on Kattabomman’s head prompting many Polygars to an open rebellion.
Image Source – Kattabomman
16. Paik Rebellion (1817)
The Paik Rebellion also called the Paika Rebellion was an armed rebellion against the British East India Company’s rule in Odisha in 1817. The Paiks rose in rebellion under their leader Bakshi Jagabandhuand, projecting Lord Jagannath as the symbol of Oriya unity, the rebellion quickly spread across most of Odisha before being ruthlessly put down by the company’s forces. In May of 1817, the British posted judges to Khurda to sentence the captured rebels. The rebels were awarded sentences of death, transportation and long-term imprisonment.
Image Source – Bakshi Jagabandhu
17. First Sikh War (1845-1846)
The First Anglo-Sikh War was fought between the Sikh Empire and the East India Company between 1845 and 1846. It resulted in partial subjugation of the Sikh kingdom. The Sikh kingdom of Punjab was expanded and consolidated by Maharajah Ranjit Singh during the early years of the nineteenth century, about the same time as the British-controlled territories were advanced by conquest or annexation to the borders of the Punjab. Ranjit Singh died in 1839. Immediately after the death of Ranjit Singh, the British East India Company had begun increasing its military strength, particularly in the regions adjacent to the Punjab, establishing a military cantonment at Ferozepur, only a few miles from the Sutlej River which marked the frontier between British-ruled India and the Punjab. Raja Lal Singh, who led Sikh forces against the British during the First Anglo-Sikh War, 1846
18. Battle of Aliwal (1846)
The Battle of Aliwal was fought on 28 January 1846 between the British and the Sikhs. The British were led by Sir Harry Smith, while the Sikhs were led by Ranjodh Singh Majithia. The British won a victory which is sometimes regarded as the turning point of the First Anglo-Sikh War.
19. The Revolt of 1857 – The First War of Indian Independence (1857-1858)
The Indian Rebellion of 1857 began as a mutiny of sepoys of the East India Company’s army on 10 May 1857, in the cantonment of the town of Meerut, and soon escalated into other mutinies and civilian rebellions largely in the upper Gangetic plain and Central India. Other regions of Company-controlled India, such as Bengal, the Bombay Presidency, and the Madras Presidency, remained largely calm. In Punjab, the Sikh princes backed the Company by providing soldiers and support.
The large princely states of Hyderabad, Mysore, Travancore, and Kashmir, as well as the smaller ones of Rajputana, did not join the rebellion. Maratha leaders, such as Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi, became folk heroes in the nationalist movement in India half a century later; however, they themselves “generated no coherent ideology” for a new order. The rebellion led to the dissolution of the East India Company in 1858. It also led the British to reorganize the army, the financial system and the administration in India. The country was thereafter directly governed by the crown as the new British Raj.
20. Rise of Indian nationalism (1885–1905)
The Indian National Association was the first avowed nationalist organization founded in British India by Surendranath Banerjea and Ananda Mohan Bose in 1876. The objectives of this Association were “promoting by every legitimate means the political, intellectual and material advancement of the people”. The Association attracted educated Indians and civic leaders from all parts of the country, and became an important forum for India’s aspirations for independence. It later merged with the Indian National Congress
21. Swadeshi Movement (1905 – 1908)
The Swadeshi movement encouraged the Indian people to stop using British products and start using their own handmade products. The original Swadeshi movement emanated from the partition of Bengal in 1905 and continued up to 1908. The Swadeshi movement which was a part of the Indian freedom struggle was a successful economic strategy to remove the British empire and improve economic conditions in India.The Swadeshi movement soon stimulated local enterprise in many areas. Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai, V. O. Chidambaram Pillai, Sri Aurobindo, Surendarnath Banerji, Rabindranath Tagore were some of the prominent leaders of this movement. The Swadeshi movement was the most successful.
22. Jallianwala Bagh massacre (1919)
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, also known as the Amritsar massacre, was a seminal event in the British rule of India. On 13 April 1919, a crowd of non-violent protesters, along with Baishakhi pilgrims, had gathered in the Jallianwala Bagh garden in Amritsar, Punjab to protest against the arrest of two leaders despite a curfew which had been recently declared. On the orders of Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, the army fired on the crowd for ten minutes, directing their bullets largely towards the few open gates through which people were trying to run out. The figures released by the British government were 370 dead and 1200 wounded. Other sources place the number dead at well over 1000. This “brutality stunned the entire nation”, resulting in a “wrenching loss of faith” of the general public in the intentions of Britain. The ineffective inquiry and the initial accolades for Dyer by the House of Lords fuelled widespread anger, leading to the Non-cooperation Movement of 1920–22.
23. The Non Co-operation Movement (1920 – 1922)
This movement lasted from September 1920 to February 1922.The Non Cooperation Movement in India was the first of the three major movements carried out by Gandhi. The movement was started with the thought in mind that the British rule had lasted in India only because of the cooperation by Indians. If Indians refused to cooperate then India would gain Independence. The Movement soon caught National attention and Millions joined the movement. People left their offices, jobs, factories or any other Business which Cooperated the British. People forced their children out of the Government schools and Colleges. The failure of these movements made many people poor, uneducated and illiterate due to withdrawal from Government offices, schools, factories and services. The name of Mahatma began spreading around. People started following him in all parts of the country. However, the movement could not continue as anticipated by Mahatma. He had hoped for a Nationwide peaceful and Non-Violent movement
24. The Dandi March or the Salt Satyagraha (1930)
The Salt Satyagraha was started by Mahatma Gandhi on 12 March 1930 from Sabarmati Ashram to 5 April till Dandi, Gujarat where he manufactured Salt, broke the Salt Law and started a nationwide Civil disobedience. The Salt March, also known as the Salt Satyagraha, began on 12 March 1930 and was an important part of the Indian independence movement. It was a direct action campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly in colonial India, and triggered the wider Civil Disobedience Movement. This was the most significant organised challenge to British authority since the Non-cooperation movement of 1920–22, and directly followed the Purna Swaraj declaration of independence by the Indian National Congress on 26 January 1930.
25. Azad hind movement (1940 – 1945)
The entry of India into the war was strongly opposed by Subhas Chandra Bose, who had been elected President of the Congress in 1938 and 1939, but later removed from the presidency and expelled from the organization. Bose then founded the All India Forward Bloc. In 1940, a year after war broke out, the British had put Bose under house arrest in Calcutta. However, he escaped and made his way through Afghanistan to Nazi Germany to seek Hitler and Mussolini’s help for raising an army to fight the British. Bose was ferried to Japanese Southeast Asia, where he formed the Azad Hind Government, a Provisional Free Indian Government in exile, and reorganised the Indian National Army. The INA failed owing to disrupted logistics, poor supplies from the Japanese, and lack of training. It surrendered unconditionally to the British in Singapore in 1945. Bose, however, attempted to escape to Japanese-held Manchuria in an attempt to escape to the Soviet Union, marking the end of the entire Azad Hindmovement
26. Quit India Movement (1942)
The Quit India movement was the final of the major Nationalist movements in India. It was started in August 1942 by MK Gandhi. Though the Quit India Movement collapsed within a very short time it will be a mistake to suppose that the movement was a total failure. Firstly, the movement revealed the determination of the people to undergo any amount of suffering for the cause of the country. Secondly, the popular character of the August Rebellion was revealed through the participation of students, working class and peasants. In the opinion of Sumit Sarkar, it was the participation of the peasant communication that turned the movement into a mass upsurge. Thirdly, 1942 Movement marked the end of Indias struggle for freedom and may be regarded as an apex of the freedom struggle. Fourthly, the violent mass upsurge of 1942 convinced the British ruler that their hold was sure to collapse in India sooner or later.
27. First Indo-Pakistani War (1947 – 1948)
The Indo-Pakistani War of 1947–1948, sometimes known as the First Kashmir War, was fought between India and Pakistan over the princely state of Kashmir and Jammu from 1947 to 1948. It was the first of four wars fought between the two newly independent nations. Pakistan precipitated the War a few weeks after independence by launching tribal lashkar (militia) from Waziristan, in an effort to secure Kashmir, the future of which hung in the balance. The inconclusive result of the war still affects the geopolitics of both countries.
28. Third Indo-Pakistani War (1971)
The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was the direct military confrontation between India and Pakistan during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. Indian, Bangladeshi and international sources consider the beginning of the war to have been Operation Chengiz Khan, when Pakistan launched pre-emptive air strikes on 11 Indian airbases on 3 December 1971, leading to India’s entry into the war of independence in East Pakistan on the side of Bangladeshi nationalist forces, and the commencement of hostilities with West Pakistan. Lasting just 13 days, it is considered to be one of the shortest wars in history.
29. Sri Lankan Civil War (1987 – 1990)
The Indian intervention in the Sri Lankan Civil War was the deployment of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka intended to perform a peacekeeping role. The deployment followed the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord between India and Sri Lanka of 1987 which was intended to end the Sri Lankan Civil War between militant Sri Lankan Tamil nationalists, principally the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and the Sri Lankan military.
The original intention was the Indian Peace Keeping Force would not be involved in large scale military operations. However, after a few months, the Indian Peace Keeping Force engaged the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in a series of battles. During the two years in which it was deployed, the IPKF fought numerous battles against the LTTE. The IPKF began withdrawing in 1989, and completed the withdrawal in 1990.
Image Source – LTTE
30. Kargil War (1999)
The Kargil War, was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan that took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Kashmir and elsewhere along the Line of Control (LOC). In India, the conflict is also referred to as Operation Vijay which was the name of the Indian operation to clear the Kargil sector. The cause of the war was the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants into positions on the Indian side of the LOC, which serves as the de facto border between the two states.
The Indian army launched its final attacks in the last week of July; as soon as the Drass subsector had been cleared of Pakistani forces, the fighting ceased on July 26. The day has since been marked as Kargil Vijay Diwas (Kargil Victory Day) in India. By the end of the war, Pakistan had to withdraw under international pressure and due to pressure from continued fighting at battle front and left India in control of all territory south and east of the Line of Control, as was established in July 1972 as per the Simla Agreement. Pakistan, however, retained control over some strategic peaks inside the Indian territory.
The question still remains, Can we justify all these wars and blood shed ?