British rule in India was preceded by the East India Company. The East India Company became active in the Indian Subcontinent during the early part of 1600’s. It eventually became one of the world’s largest trading corporations dealing in basic commodities and ruling large parts of the subcontinent with its own administrative setup and private army. The rule of the East India Company marked the beginnings of the “British Raj” (British Rule) in India which formally began after the Sepoy mutiny of 1857. (Menon, 2013)
The “sepoy mutiny” or “the war of independence” as the Indians like to name it is a significant event in the history of the subcontinent. The native Indian population was becoming frustrated of the British rulers due to the reforms being introduced that were in direct clash with the culture and religion of the local populace. The immediate trigger however proved to be a rumor that the cartridges being used by the army were made of cow and pig fat. It is pertinent to note that the army was comprised mainly of Hindus (who consider cows to be sacred and attach great religious importance to it) and Muslims (Islam prohibits the consumption of Pig and is considered “Haraam”). (Khan, 2008)
Another significant event that occurred after the Sepoy mutiny was that of Amritsar Massacre. The event also known as Jallianwala Bagh massacre occurred in 1919 when British troops on the orders of General Dyre opened fire on a large gathering of unarmed protesters at Jallianwala Bagh to protest against the arrest of their leaders. This resulted in an official estimate of 379 killed and 1200 injured but the unofficial figures put the death toll at over 1000. This tragic loss of countless human lives put a severe dent in indo-British relations. (Menon, 2013)
This further fueled up the nation and determined them towards their struggle of a separate country. The Indian National Congress pushed their struggle harder under the leadership of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawahar Lal Nehru.
During the 1920’s the Congress started their serious brawl for independence. In 1930 Gandhi started the Salt March as part of the larger civil disobedience movement which began after Indian National Congress’s annual session at Lahore in 1930 calling for complete Independence from the British rule. The salt march was a reaction to the tax imposed on salt (salt supplies were controlled entirely by the government); the local population defied the tax by making their own salt from seawater. Gandhi was able to activate a large number of the Indian population since salt was one the most basic commodities in the Indian way of life. (Khan, 2008)
These were some of the major events that widened the gap between the rulers (British) and the local population strengthening both Congress and Muslim League’s (which by the time had emerged as the representative party of Muslims) claim of independence. Finally in 1947 the Indian subcontinent was partitioned on religious lines; Muslim majority areas were demarcated into Pakistan and Hindi & Sikh majority areas into modern day India. (IndiaFolks, 2009)
Khan, Y. (2008). Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan. Yale University Press.
Menon, J. (2013). Introduction. In The performance of nationalism: India, Pakistan, and the memory of partition. Cambridge University Press.
IndiaFolks. (2009, March 12). Retrieved November 8, 2014. Retreived from,