Bizarre Borders -The Indian Subcontinent

Samanyu Ram

January 13, 2023

The Indian subcontinent is a diverse and dynamic region in South Asia, consisting of modern-day countries such as India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. The boundaries of this region have undergone numerous changes throughout history, with various empires and dynasties ruling over different parts of the subcontinent. 

The earliest known borders of the Indian subcontinent were during the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, which flourished from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE. The civilization, centered around the Indus River, flowed through modern-day Pakistan and India. The borders stretched from the Himalayan Mountains in the north to the Deccan Plateau in the south. They also extended from the Arabian Sea in the west to the Ganges River in the east. 

After the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization, the Maurya Empire rose to power in the 3rd century BCE under the leadership of Emperor Ashoka. The Maurya Empire extended its borders to include parts of modern-day Afghanistan, Iran, and Central Asia, making it one of the largest empires in the world at the time. The Maurya Empire was followed by a series of dynasties, including the Gupta Empire and the Mughal Empire, which ruled over the Indian subcontinent for centuries. 

Early during European colonization, the British East India Company was created, and soon came British Raj, also known as British rule over India. They divided the subcontinent into various provinces and states governed by British officials. The British also established princely states where native rulers, loyal to the British, ruled. 

After India gained independence from the British Empire in 1947, the borders of the Indian subcontinent underwent significant changes once again. India was predominantly Hindu, while Pakistan was predominantly Muslim. As a result, the British divided the subcontinent into two regions, India and Pakistan, based on religion. Unfortunately, the lousy partition led to widespread violence and displacement of millions of people, as Hindus and Muslims migrated to their respective countries. Even today, there is an Indian region known as Kashmir and Jammu that falls under this problem. Although this is a very divulging situation, there is too much to dissect here for this edition of Bizarre Borders. 

The borders of the Indian subcontinent were further redefined in 1971 when East Pakistan declared independence from West Pakistan and became known as Bangladesh. This division led to a War between India and Pakistan, resulting in the sovereignty of the independent nation of  Bangladesh. Sri Lanka, following India's effort at independence, rebelled against British rule. The Kandyan Wars and the Matale Rebellion both contributed to its effort. In 1948, it became a Dominion of the British Empire and finally became a republic in 1972.