1HFA 5-3: The History of India

The world’s 2nd most populous nation is projected to have the largest economy on earth by 2050. Is India the most western of the great Asian nations? How did its utter subordination to Britain and subsequent independence define its cultural trajectory?

 

 

Course Summary

A First History for Adults, Part 5 will consist of three segments–Japan, China, and India–which form an integrated thematic whole, but can also be purchased and learned separately or in installments as the course proceeds. In this third and final segment we will explore greater India as a failed supranational subcontinent that displays striking parallels to Europe. We will begin with the ancient river valley civilization of the Harrapans and Aryans centered around the Indus and an exploration of the Vedas, the sacred texts of Hinduism. We will look at the origination of India’s caste system and pursue the question of Greek influence (brought about by Alexander the Great), and the much more pivotal impact of the penetration of Islam into India, starting in 711 — the same year the Muslims began their conquest of Iberia! The symmetry is striking, in that it would be the Iberians who would circumvent the Muslims of the “Middle East” to reach India by sea in 1498. The gradual prying opening of India began with naval dominion by the Portuguese then the Dutch, and finally the English. Though France also made inroads, the Seven Years’ War (1756-63) would insure that only British power would ultimately be ascendant in India. Taking advantage of India’s fractured patchwork of states, in part caused by the collapse of the Mogul Empire, the British played India’s princes against each other, gradually expanding from Bengal across to Afghanistan. British imperial government established in 1858 was absolute and completely divorced from the indigenous culture. Strange as it may be, awakening Indian nationalism found its most effective expression in an anglicized minority, which formed the Indian National Congress, pushing for independence in a manner not reflecting the regional culture, but rather the culture of its conquerors. The Congress served as one of the instruments of the barrister turned guru, Mohan Das Gandhi, whose charismatic presence is indelibly linked to India’s independence, achieved in the wake of WWII in 1947. The pragmatic partition of the subcontinent into Muslim Pakistan (and later Bangladesh) and India was a key consequence of the actions of Gandhi and other independence activists. India, the world largest democracy, is now locked in a “post-imperial” search for a national identity. The conduct and outcome of this search will define India’s trajectory through the 21st century.

 

Program Features and Details

  • 8 podcast lectures, each 1.25 hours, for a total of 10 hours of instruction
  • Lectures given using WEBEX on-line conferencing, and include interactive visuals.
    • Screencast recordings available for streaming and download on-line.
  • Audio recordings also available in MP3 format and on iTunes
    • Listen anytime, and as many times as you like, in your preferred format!
  • Yahoo! Group forum available for registered students.
  • “Facts practice sheets” that summarize the history of each major period
  • Tips and unique exercises to help you integrate and retain the material

 

Registration