History of Samraj

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This is an account of the history of both the Maráthá Sámrázj (Maratha Empire) and its successor state, the Bháraþíj Sámrázj (Indian Empire).

Contents

Early empire

Xahází Bhosale was a Maratha general who served under the Deccan Sultanate of Ahmadnagar. During the first quarter of the 17th century he changed his loyalty to the Moghul Empire and by 1638 the Ahmadnagar Sultanate was totally under Moghul rule. Xahází was awarded by the Moghuls with two jagirs (fiefdoms, Xrirampur Romanization: zagir) which later were expanded thanks to his military successes. Xahází had five children; one of them, Xivází, was crowned in 1674 raja of a vassal state based in Raigad under Moghul suzerainty. His crowning is now considered as the birth of Samraj.

Taking advantage of a weak and uninspired emperor several provinces and vassal states in India declared independence from the Moghul Empire during the mid-1600’s. While some were taken back by the empire during Gohar II's reign (1691-1711) they were lost permanently soon after, during Babur II’s reign (1715-1729). This resulted in the origin of many of present-day Indian states: Razputhana (1714), Ajodhja (1722), Bangal, Bhavalpur (1723), Haidarabad (1724) and finally the Marathas (1728) who, under the leadership of Raja Xáhú I (grandson of Xivází) had defeated a large Moghul army. Raja Xáhú crowned himself as Chhatrapati of the Maratha Empire and gradually expelled the Moghuls out of India with both the support of other newly independent Indian nations and from the Kemrese, who later were awarded with a trading post in Bombay (it would become later a Reciprocal Colony).

In order to effectively manage the large empire, the first Maratha emperor gave semi-autonomy to the strongest and most faithful knights, which created a confederation of Maratha states under suzerainty to the Chhatrapati (Xrirampur Romanization:Chatrapati). These knights were the origin of some of the most prominent Maratha noble families: the Gaekwads (Gáyakaváda; Xrirampur Romanization: Gájakaváda), the Holkars (Hoļakara), the Shindes (Xinde), the Puars (Pavára) and the Bhat (Bhata).

Beside the areas ruled by the five major noble families the Maratha Empire was also divided by a handful of smaller states, some of these ruled by local Muslim nobles who had changed side from the Moghul Empire to the Marathas. These became the Princely States which were able to survive as sub national monarchies to our days keeping their Moghulanate society and traditions.

Xáhú I died in 1749 without a natural male heir. His adoptive son ascended to the gadi (was crowned) as Chhatrapati Rázáráma II. During his reign the leader of the influential Bhata family became the hereditary prime-minister (peshwa; Xrirampur Romanization: pexwa), gradually reducing the chhatrapati to a mere figurehead.

Chhatrapati Rázáráma II died in 1777. Following his death there was a short succession war (known as the War of the Widows) in which his first and second wives wanted to crown their own teenage sons, Xáhú and Xivází respectively. Xivází’s party eventually won the war being crowned Chhatrapati Xivází III. Under his reign commercial relations with the Kemrese were improved.

Rázáráma III: Reforming the empire

The adopted son of Chhatrapati Xivází IV (grandson of Xivází III), Meherban Ẋrímanta Nagojirao Pátanakara, was crowned chhatrapati at the age of sixteen as Rázáráma III in 1867. In 1870 the young chhatrapati traveled across Europe visiting several states in northern Italy and the Federated Kingdoms. He was the first Indian ruler to ever visit Europe.

When he saw steamboats and steam trains the young emperor understood his empire was no match for European powers in terms of technology. He decided the empire should be modernized to avoid losing its influence to foreign powers.

He planned the modernization of the Maratha Empire. Wanting to make the changes on his own, he knew the Bhata peshwa would probably dislike the chhatrapi to take initiative. With description Rázáráma III created an initially small force equipped with modern European weapons such as machine guns. When the peshwa realized something was going on he tried to pressure the young chhatrapi by conducting a siege on the imperial palace in 1873. Rázáráma III counterattacked and his machine guns decimated the peshwa’s forces. Accusing the peshwa of trying to usurp the power, Rázáráma III declared the end of the hereditary Bhat premiership and the Bhata family was stripped from all noble titles. From then on the chhatrapati stopped being a figurehead, restoring direct imperial power lost almost one hundred years before.

Rázáráma III made contacts with politicians from the small European enclaves in Indian coast in order to better understand how European politics worked. During the next years Indian students started to be sent to study to Europe and to Xryram͂pur University in Frederiksnagore while mostly Kemrese, Batavian and Scandinavian technicians, paid with generous salaries, were called to the Maratha Empire to help modernization. With FK help and assistance, an efficient civil service was established and a massive railway network across the empire was built, improving transport and communication. In order to make it easier for people to read foreign technical manuals, Xrirampur Romanization was made co-official with the Đevanágarí script. The army was also reformed in 1875 (a modern national army dependent on a central power was finally created) and equipped with modern weaponry, and a brand new blue water navy with steamboats built in Europe was formed as well.

With better and faster means of transportation and communication the role of the noble feudal families as sub national rulers was no longer needed. The empire was centralized and both the princely rulers and the noble families could no longer have more than a symbolic military force. In exchange the major noble families were awarded with high positions in central and provincial governments and military. All the peshwas between 1873 and 1929 came out from these families, making the position no longer hereditary.

The dozens of princely states, which were formerly vassals to the main Maratha noble lineages, became vassals of the chhatrapati himself. Not abolishing those princely states was intended to refrain possible Hindustani and Guzarati nationalisms by giving local rulers perceived power and autonomy. They were allowed to collect taxes and to rule within their borders with lots of autonomy according to their traditions so as to keep some armed forces which could be called at any moment to defend the empire against foreign enemies. Being usually too small the princely states weren’t considered dangerous to imperial rule. Only would be abolished in case of rebellion or being incapable to rule within their own borders.

Gradual political and administrative reforms built a new political system in the Empire; a constitution was written in 1892 without any public debate turning the empire into a constitutional monarchy in which the chhatrapati was an active ruler and wielded considerable political power over foreign policy and diplomacy which was shared with an elected parliament. The Parliament primarily dictated domestic policy matters and initially only the upper castes (Brahmans and Satrias) were represented. Later, with the diversification of the economy and also thanks to social struggles, the Vaishyas/Banias won representation.

Large investments were made to industrialize Samraj and new technologies were imported from Europe. Over one hundred cotton mills were built around Bombay (a Kemrese settlement) and as textile industry boomed much of the exports travelled through this port to Europe. A little later textile industry also boomed in Ahmenabad (Guzarat) which became a major industrial and trade centre. By 1900 Samraji textile industry was the biggest in the world and many huge fortunes were made. But as a civil rights activist (Tiļaka) later asked:”How many poor are needed to create a rich man?”.

To feed the growing textile industry much of Samraj suffered from deforestation during late 1800’s and early 1900’s to make way for cotton and tea, which was another major export to Europe (especially to the Federated Kingdoms). Promotion of commercialization of agriculture with a focus on export trade resulted in a decreasing of food crops. Such made a major ecological impact, reducing biodiversity and making lands less resistant to the floods of the monsoon season. Also Samraj became the favorite destination for hunting in the small European communities from the European enclaves. The tiger population was nearly decimated during the first decades of the 20th century.

Field hockey and cricket became popular sports in Samraj, due to contacts with the Kemrese in Bombay. Samraj participated in the 1912 World Games in Stockholm, Sweden, Scandinavian Realm. Since then, they have participated in all World Games.

By the time Rázáráma III died (1919) the Maratha Empire was more powerful than all its Indian neighbors together, and as the most important regional power often influenced their internal policies. It also became a player in international politics, being one of the founding members of the League of Nations.

Rázáráma III’s reforms, known as Rázáráma Tisará Suðháraná, are now considered comparable to the contemporary Meidji Restoration in Japan or the Guangxu Reform in China. Rázáráma III is now celebrated as both as a national hero and the most important chhatrapati since Xáhú I and one of the most important world leaders of his time.

Industrialization and crisis

With industrialization a large class of proletarians emerged. They worked in harsh conditions all day long in exchange for meager salaries; often children also worked at the cotton mills at even lower wages. To fight harsh exploitation some workers started to organize themselves in unions by late 1800’s. They were often persecuted, especially when Communism arrived to Samraj during first years of the 20th century.

Industry and overall better economic perspectives attracted thousands of peasants from the country fields to the cities. Urbanization boomed and chawls became part of the city landscape in many coastal cities.

Europe was the biggest consumer of Samraji textiles. During the 1890’s the Federated Kingdoms’ (particularly Cambria, which had large textile interests in the city of Mafyc) textile industrialists felt threatened by the imports. They lobbied their governments in order to take protectionist measures and soon Samraji textiles (so as from other Indian states) started to be taxed; the export of FK industrial technology was also restricted. Indian textiles became much less competitive in terms of price and such would lead to many bankruptcies in Samraj. From 1900 on Samraj felt a growing economic crisis which caused plenty of resentments against Europeans in general and the Federated Kingdoms in particular. But protectionism failed. Much of the economy of the European enclaves was based on exporting to Europe textiles from India and locals cared more about their own profits than about the metropolitan textile industry. They started to circumvent metropolitan protectionist laws by smuggling textiles from Samraj then rebranding them as if they were made in the colonies.

In order to keep the low prices Samraji industrialists often lowered salaries which in turn worsened life conditions to the common people. Such caused emigration to boom and many went abroad looking for better life. Growing Indian communities appeared in Europe, America and Africa, spreading Indian culture accross the world. Through the influence of some left wing activists there were strikes which were harshly repressed both by the authorities and by the industrialists’ own security forces.

Only a minority of littered people had a political agenda. The masses were usually illiterate and influenced by the minority. For left wingers, notably communists, revolution should be made and society should be radically changed. On the other hand, for right wingers the masses should be patriotic but controlled and stay at their own social position so status quo could be maintained. Both defended a boycott against FK imports (mostly industrial goods) and gradually imports substitution industrialization occurred which contributed well to diversification of Samraji industry. Even so Samraj remained mostly an agrarian country where most of the population still lived in the country.

Fearing Samraj’s reaction to protectionist measures the European countries reinforced their military presence in the enclaves which worsened the relations with the Indian countries in general. Tensions arose and as nationalism grew in Samraj there were calls for a de-westernization of society in order to return to native values and politics.

This gave greater strength to the conservative wing. In order to maintain the status quo central government often turned a blind eye, and even allied, with conservatives who were strongly anti-communist. Gradually the reasonably liberal rule of Rázáráma III and his successor would become more and more conservative, supporting a stricter interpretation of the caste system and promoted its worsening in order to divide to rule.

Social and civic struggles

Indian students coming from Europe and capable to read foreign books brought not only new technologies but also new ideas. From 1890’s onwards movements for civil rights arose, asking for a better representation at the parliament and democracy. Later (during the first quarter of the 20th century) ideologies such as communism and snorism arrived as well.

During the turn of the century several activists advocated for better representation for the population in general at parliament as well as social reforms. Thanks to those movements the Bania caste was accepted at parliament, the sati (widow burning) and female infanticide were banned so as the child marriage (age of consent was raised from ten to twelve years old, teenagers hadn’t been invented yet) and polygamy became legal only with the consent of the first wife. Widows were also allowed to remarry. Also growing industrialization gave origin to a new class of workers; some activists struggled for their rights, often influenced by communist and socialist ideals.

The most notable left wing leader, Kéxava Gangáðhara Tiļaka, attempted revolution, influenced by the initially successful Russian Revolution of 1917. He instigated a massive strike in textile industry in 1920. Knowing that the central government surely was going to react by force he expected a massive workers’ rebellion. He was both right, the government reacted by force and the masses attempted a rebellion. In the end there was a blood bath in several cities. The most famous was the Ahmedabad Massacre on which six hundred people were shot, but in total thousands died across urban Samraj. In the country, the failed revolution was barely noted. Due to his failure Tiļaka fled to Bombay but Kemrese authorities sent him back to Samraj. He was then executed. The revolution was over and communists wouldn’t be tolerated during next decades.

Later an ethnic Guzarati named Móhan̷ðása Karamacanða Gánðhí became the most preeminent among the reforming activists after Tiļaka’s execution. Much less radical than Tiļaka, he started campaigning in the name of civil rights for the Dalits and the Shudras and republican representative democracy. By contrast to other activists he advocated for the employment of nonviolent civil disobedience and became famous inside and outside the borders, popularly known as Mahána Gánðhí (Great Gandhi, in Maráthí, although he was physically quite a small man). His peaceful campaigns were often repressed with violence by the authorities who gave him even more recognition worldwide.

New Empire

After Rázáráma III’s death, the following chhatrapati was neither interventive on politics nor inspired. Gradually the peshwas became more powerful once again. During the 1920’s both communists and more moderate pro-reform activists caused social unrest. Meanwhile China was becoming more aggressive and starting to make some of the Indian countries’ neighbors puppet states while Europeans further militarized their enclaves. These factors contributed to the rise of radical nationalist right wing Hindu politicians.

In reaction to social unrest and fears of external aggression, in 1929 Kéxava Baļíráma Hedagevára, a radical right wing Hindu inspired by SNORist regimes who had been campaigning for some years, was appointed peshwa. He was the first peshwa to come from outside the traditional noble lineage families.

In external politics Hedagevára cut off the European colonies on the coast from the rest of the country without inciting war, knowing that Europeans still had more advanced weapons despite the massive Samraji advantage in number of troops. The 1930’s were a rather tense decade, but these conflicts never evolved into war.

But it was in internal politics that the big changes occurred. With the support of the upper castes and businessmen he established a new constitution making caste discrimination law and restricting the parliament to the noble class (the Satria caste). The Brahman and Bania castes that supported him were taken out of parliament, causing unrest and a feeling of betrayal.

Hedagevára’s constitution established the New Empire (Navína Sámrázj) under the principles of Separate Development (Svatanþra Vikása). According to these principles every caste had its own place in society and should only work inside their sphere of activity: the Satrias should rule and defend the Empire, the Vesias/Banias should make the economy strong, the Shudras should feed and serve the other castes the while the Brahmans should take care of all spiritual affairs. This established in practical terms the worsening of official social segregation with force of written law (until then it was just customary law and much less rigid) and made the Dalits strongly feel its effects. They were placed by force in ghettos and planned to be relocated to reservations. Religious minorities, especially Muslims, suffered discrimination as well and some of their temples were even destroyed. Also law and order were a major concern to government, and the Thugs (by far the most important Indian criminal organisation) were strongly persecuted.

Separate Development received international condemnation from the League of Nations while Gánðhí pursued his peaceful campaign. He was arrested often but as he was so popular and well known abroad the government never made an attempt on his life. Other lesser-known activists were not as lucky.

By 1940 the empire was close to civil war. Vesias and Brahmans wanted to recover their lost political rights, Shudras wanted to become more than simple servants while Dalits simply wanted to have civil rights. To avoid civil war during the 1940’s the regime made some reforms and liberalized itself, returning political rights to the castes which had lost them. Due to internal and external pressures from both the League of Nations and neighboring Indian countries, gradually the principles of Separate Development were abandoned, at least in part. Even so, the socio-political situation was still rather explosive. In 1948 the chhatrapati finally took a stand and forced Hedagevára to compromise with Gánðhí to avoid civil war. Under the pressure of the emperor both leaders were forced to reconcile and make concessions to each other permitting social pacification. Hedagevára finally abandoned Separate Development and accepted representative democracy, while Gánðhí abandoned republicanism (though ironically Samraj would eventually turn to parliamentary republicanism anyway).

The next year both Gánðhí and Hedagevára were awarded with the Nobel Prize for Peace for that reconciliation. Gánðhí became 1948 Person of the Year in ERA magazine and is nowadays considered one of the greatest world leaders of the 20th century.

During the 1940’s the Federated Kingdoms ended their restriction of technologies exports to Samraj. Being the European enclaves too far away from Europe at war wouldn’t be difficult to Samraj to take them by force. Once again the FK exported modern weapons to Samraj, hoping the empire would help defend Asia against a possible Chinese attack. Many FK politicians and intellectuals openly criticized these measures as for them New Empire regime was as radical as the contemporary SNORist Russian regime under Vissarionov, in fact death toll of New Empire regime was one of the highest during the whole 20th century. Samraj was neutral in the Great Oriental War but remained vigilant and sympathetic to the FK, Australasia, the Iberian Pact, and ANJAC.

In 1948 (or 2026 Saka era, according to the local calendar) a new constitution changed the name of the empire to Bharatij Sámrázj (Indian Empire) and declared a representative democracy assuring its citizens justice, equality, and liberty, and endeavors to promote fraternity among them, replacing Hedagevára’s Constitution of 1929. Social discrimination based on caste was abolished and women and Dalits won the right to vote and be eligible for office. It made Sam̃skrytam the official language but also made Hin̷ðí co-official with Maráthí as an administrative language; in addition, Orija and Guzarati became regional administrative languages in Orissa and Guzarat respectively, where they are predominant (socially, Maráthí remains the prestige language). Hinduism was kept as the state religion, although members of minority religions (such as Muslims, Christians, Jains and Zoroastrians) were given equal rights.

By surprise, in the first elections held to elect a new parliament where all castes were represented for the first time, Hedagevára’s party received the most votes (although not a majority) resulting in suspicions of widespread electoral fraud. Gánðhí’s supporters rallied around him in a new political party which received the second-most votes.

The War of the Rajahs

Right after representative democracy was established several princely rulers, believing they would lose privileges with the new democratic changes, rebelled in the belief that the new government was weak. They imposed Hindustani nationalism (which was always repressed by the Maratha dominated central government, especially during the New Empire regime) on their subjects and declared independence. Under the leadership of the princely states of Surguja, Bastar and Rewa several other smaller states rallied to fight the central government, beginning the War of the Rajahs. Over the next ten years the central government fought the rebel princely states. It was one of the deadliest wars of the 20th century, often fought in densely populated areas with plenty of modern weapons brought from disarming China and the Holy Roman Empire after their defeat during the Great Oriental War and the Second Great War respectively.

During the first years of war Samraji forces weren’t able to defeat the rebels, who seemed initially to be a weak military force. There were accusations against Samraji generals (many coming from the New Empire period) of a lack of motivation in defeating the rebel princely states.

Both Hedagevára and Gánðhí died of natural causes in 1955. New elections took place and Gánðhí’s widow, 86 years old Kasturabá Gánðhí, became new peshwa. She was the first ever female prime-minister in Asia during modern times as well as the first non-ethnic Maratha and non Satria to hold that position. It was the beginning of the Gánðhí family as one of the most powerful political dynasties in Samraj, several of Gánðhí ’s children and grandchildren would become peshwas or held high positions in government later. Due to her old age she soon left power being replaced the next year by her son, Manilal Gánðhí.

He made changes in the army (some kind of more or less peaceful purge, as many generals were forced to retire) and finally one by one the rebel princely states were defeated and later abolished, according to the feudatory laws of Rázáráma III.

Republic

The last chhatrapati died in 1962 leaving neither a natural heir nor an appointed one. Samraj became a republic after the Constitution of 1948 was amended. Despite the political regime change the Sámrázj (Empire) name was preserved for historical reasons in spite of a campaign by the political Left to rename the country Bháraþíj Zanatá (Indian Commonwealth).

Pacification (and cheap workers) attracted foreign multinationals who strongly invested in Samraj. Massive industrialization took place from 1973 onwards (helped by the fall of oil prices) and Samraj became the most prominent of the so-called Six Indian Tigers, countries in the sub-continent which experienced fast economic growth during this period. Samraj today has one of the ten largest economies in the world. Despite industrialization, much of the population still lives in rural areas. Many of the peasants have small properties as a consequence of the relatively high birth rate resulting in a high number of inheritors. This has delayed extensive mechanization of agriculture in Samraj as most of the peasants are too poor to possess machinery. Those who don’t even have a tiny property work for the others, paying in money or with a part of the crops. Such an agrarian system affects the overall productivity, and part of the food consumed in Samraj has to be imported as productivity does not grow at the same rate of the population. During later years many thousands of Samraji migrated, especially to the Gulf Leopards where they are now a significant part of the population, bringing Indian culture and also Thuggee organized crime activities.

Samraj is also one of the most influential countries in the world in terms of culture. It has a huge cinema industry which is widely exported throughout the Hindu sphere (mostly Indian and South East Asian nations, as well as Indian immigrant communities abroad).

Despite poverty and low levels of education among the population in general as well as widespread corruption, Samraj is a surprisingly stable democracy. There was never a military coup and transfers of power always have been made by elections since 1948. Today Samraj is the most populous democratic country in the world, although its democracy cannot always be considered fully functional. Despite the 1948 Constitution, there is still a significant gap between the incomes of the upper castes and the lower castes (who have the right to reservation), and the rights of women and minorities are not always observed. Although the caste system was officially abolished and equality of gender was established reality is rather different. The constitution has proven to be far more advanced than Samraji society and its mentalities; this is slowly changing, however, especially with the growth of the millennial generation.

Samraj is nowadays an interventive country on world politics, being a founding member of the League of Nations and of the South Asian Nations. It is also an associate member of the Commonwealth of Nations, owing to its association with Cambria through the port of Bombay.

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