The history of Indian sub-continent can be traced back to the Homo Erectus from about 500,000 years. More significantly it can be traced to anatomically modern humans about 75,000 years ago. As regards the documented history is concerned, the Indus Valley Civilisation flourished between 3300 to 1300 BCE and was the first major human civilisation in South Asia.
During the Iron Age, the Vedic Civilisation extended over the Indo-Gangetic Plains. During this period, the great Mahajanpadas were established. One of the major Mahajanapadas was the Kingdom of Magadh.
The first foreign invasions into India began in 530 BCE when Cyrus, the King of Persian Achaemenid Empire crossed the Hindukush mountains. By 520 BCE, much of the north-western subcontinent came under the rule of the Persians.
By 326 BCE, Alexander the Great conquered Asia Minor and the Achaemenid Empire. He conquered most of Punjab. He stopped at the prospect of facing the Nanda Army and also when his army mutinied against the prospect of facing armies of the Nanda, Magadh and Gangaridai Empires.
The Persian culture was absorbed into the fabric of India and impact of Persian ideas was felt in many areas of Indian life. Persian coinage and rock inscriptions were adopted by India. The Persian political system influenced the administration of the Mauryan dynasty. In addition, the region of Gandhara became a melting pot of Indian, Persian, Central Asian, and Greek cultures. It gave rise to a hybrid culture known as Greco-Buddhism which lasted until the 5th century CE.
During the period 200 BCE to 650 CE three Indo-Greek kingdoms flourished in North West Indian sub-continent, these were:-
Indo-Greek Kingdom established by Menander-I. The Kingdom covered Afghanistan, Punjab and spread up to Mathura in present day Uttar Pradesh province. The kingdom lasted almost two centuries and was ruled by a succession of more than 30 Greek kings.
Indo-Scythian Kingdom displaced the Indo-Greeks. The Indo-Scythians descended from the Scythians who had migrated from southern Siberia to Pakistan and from Arachosia to India from the middle of the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century BCE.
Indo-Parthian Kingdom was founded by a local Parthian leader, Gondophares in the 1st century CE. Its capital was Taxila and it covered most parts of modern southeast Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern India.
In the 5th century, the Huns invaded India and overran the northern region of Pakistan and North India. In the 6th century they were defeated by the Indian kings Yasodharman of Malwa and Narasimhagupta. Some of the Huns were driven out of India while others were assimilated in the Indian society.
The next round of foreign invasions began when Muhammad bin Qasim conquered most of the Indus region for the Umayyad empire in 712 CE. Muslim trading communities also flourished throughout coastal south India, where Muslim traders from the Arabian peninsula arrived in small numbers. Thereafter in the 11th century Mahmud of Ghazni of Afghanistan raided the north-western parts of the Indian sub-continent 17 times. However, he did not seek to establish permanent dominion in those areas.
In the 12th and 13th centuries, Turks and Afghans invaded parts of northern India and established the Delhi Sultanate. This was followed by the Slave Dynasty and the Khilji Dynasty which conquered most of central India. They, however, could not conquer and unite the entire subcontinent. All these rulers and their followers were assimilated into India.
Then in 1526, Babur invaded India and established the Mughal Empire. During this period, the British East India Company was given permission by Mughal Emperor Jahangir to trade in India in 1617. Clive was appointed by the company as its first 'Governor of Bengal' in 1757. Taking advantage of the weak Mughal Empire and the rifts among various rulers of India, the British spread their influence in India. 100 years later, the remnants of the Mughal dynasty were finally defeated by the British in 1857. In the aftermath of the war of 1857, all power was transferred to the British Crown, which began to administer most of India as a number of provinces. The Mughal culture was also assimilated into India.
So what am I coming to?
We have assimilated the cultures and religions of all the people who invaded India whether from the Mediterranean, Arabia, Central Asia or even Siberia. We have accepted all the systems, political, land management, revenue etc that they brought with them. We are proud of the forts built at Delhi, Agra, Aurangabad etc. We are justly proud of Taj Mahal and the various mausoleums. These invaders are part of the Indian history and we have correctly accepted them as such.
However, I have seen a strong aberration in this acceptance as far the British part of the history is concerned. The British invaded and controlled India, like any other invader, they established systems and procedures and were able to unite India like no other invaders before could. Because of their influence railways, modern industry, modern irrigation systems etc were developed. They brought in modern education system and a number of social reforms. Most importantly they gave us the concept of parliamentary democracy, thanks to which we live in a free modern society.
I believe, that the credit for any work should be given to the person who did it. If the railways was established under the British, give the credit to them and let Victoria Terminus remain so. If New Delhi was established by the British, where we can have a road by the name of Humanyun Road or Aurangzeb Road, then let Connaught Place be not renamed Rajiv Gandhi Chowk.
My request is, that it has been 67 year since the British left. Let us please reconcile and accept the British part of the Indian history also and stop renaming anything that the British built. Because people after whom these places/ buildings are being renamed made no contribution to building them.