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British Raj

The British Raj is an informal term for the period of British rule of the Indian subcontinent, or present-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It lasted from the late 18th century until 1947, when India's independence movement succeeded.

The first British outpost in South Asia was established in 1619 at Surat on the northwestern coast. Later in the century, the British East India Company opened permanent trading stations at Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta, each under the protection of native rulers.

The British expanded their influence from these footholds until, by the 1850s, they controlled most of present-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. In 1857, a rebellion in north India led by mutinous Indian soldiers caused the British Parliament to transfer all political power from the East India Company to the Crown. Great Britain began administering most of India directly, while controlling the rest through treaties with local rulers.

In the late 1800s, the first steps were taken toward self-government in "British India" with the appointment of Indian councilors to advise the British viceroy and the establishment of provincial councils with Indian members; the British subsequently widened participation in legislative councils. Beginning in 1920, Indian leader Mohandas K. Gandhi (also known as Mahatma Gandhi, a title similar to the Christian concept of sainthood) transformed the Indian National Congress party into a mass movement to campaign against British colonial rule. The movement eventually succeeded in bringing about independence by means of parliamentary speech, nonviolent resistance and noncooperation.

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