Take the 2-minute tour ×
Skeptics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for scientific skepticism. It's 100% free, no registration required.

There is a common claim that India hasn't invaded any other country in the past 10,000 years.

It has been repeated in chain mails and various web-sites: Example, Example.

India never invaded any country in her last 10,000 years of history

Other variations exist, such as 5,000 or 1,000 or 100,000 years.

Are these claims true?

If 10,000 years is too much into the infancy of civilization, what about 5000 years when civilization was more established?

share|improve this question
22  
India didn't exist for most of that time. And the entities that did exist in the indian region frequently invaded each other and fought each other. –  matt_black Nov 30 '12 at 14:47
8  
The region encompassed by present-day India has, like many regions, for most of recorded history consisted of an ever shifting variety of kingdoms perpetually invading one another. The nearest India came to being united (prior to the British and Independence) was perhaps the Mughal empire which itself was the result of invasion. The EU never invaded any country in 1000000 years, go EU! –  RedGrittyBrick Nov 30 '12 at 15:14
3  
@RedGrittyBrick - Libya 2012. Your argument is invalid :) –  DVK Nov 30 '12 at 15:23
3  
The Hyderabad Police Action in 1948 would seem to be another counterexample of this claim. –  Richard Terrett Nov 30 '12 at 15:36
2  
India as we see it today is very different than it was before independence. Before the British, India was divided into hundreds of small kingdoms each governed by royal families. These kingdoms often fought with each other e.g Shivaji and the Mughals, Emperor Ashoka and the Kalinga. So asking the question "Has India invaded any country in the last 10,000 years?" is misleading as it assumes that India has been always the same. –  Jay Apr 12 '13 at 13:43
show 4 more comments

3 Answers 3

1971

I have the Impression India did a little bit of invading in 1971

map From Wikipedia

After building tensions during the Bangladesh Liberation war, Pakistan launched a pre-emptive attack against India, which responded with air-strikes.

This marked the official start of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered the immediate mobilisation of troops and launched the full-scale invasion. This involved Indian forces in a massive coordinated air, sea, and land assault. Indian Air Force started flying sorties against Pakistan from midnight. The main Indian objective on the western front was to prevent Pakistan from entering Indian soil. There was no Indian intention of conducting any major offensive into West Pakistan.

The invasion didn't last long but troops crossed international borders and engaged in armed conflict with the government of a foreign nation, forcing its surrender.


1948

And as Richard Terret points out above,

Hyderabad invaded

[In 1948] the Indian Armed Forces invaded the State of Hyderabad and ended the rule of Nizam, annexing the state into the Indian Union.

See The Fall of Hyderabad and Operation Polo

1944

Since the question asks about the last 10,000 years, we can consider examples prior to the establishment of India as a fully independent state.

In 1944 Indian troops participated in the invasion of Italy

it was hoped that the invasion would distract German attention and forces from France.

The next attempt or Second Battle of Cassino was made by Lieutenant-General Sir Bernard Freyberg’s newly formed New Zealand Corps, consisting of Major-General Tuker’s 4th Indian Division and the 2nd New Zealand Division.

From The Battles for Monte Casino


Maybe this is a case of irregular verb conjugation: I liberate; You invade; He, She or It fight a border war?


Terminology

A number of commenters have attempted to dispute the inclusion of the events above on several grounds:

  • It's not an invasion if your motives are good.
  • It's not an invasion if the target is somehow not a country.

Invasion

Motivation

Motivation is irrelevant. In 1944 Britain and the USA invaded France†. At that time France was governed by a French government (the Vichy government) put in place by the Nazis. The British motivation was the liberation of France from Nazi occupation. They invaded France at the request of the Free-French government in exile. Their motives were good and their actions after 1945 proved this.

However it was still an invasion and described as such. Example

Target

The word invasion can validly be used where the target is not a country. For example, when a burglar enters my house, it is described as a home invasion. When a journalist listens to the phone messages of a member of the public it is described as an invasion of privacy.

However the intent of the question obviously is aimed at violent military takeover of foreign territory. (foreign meaning outside the internationally recognised borders of the invading force)

Country

In English, the words Country, Nation and State are often used interchangeably. There is a great deal of dispute about what constitutes a country and how many exist.

For example which of England, Britain, Great Britain and the United Kingdom are or are not countries? If I invade London, am I simultaneously invading one, two, three or four countries?

Another example: Is the Principality of Monaco a country? Would it be nonsense to ask whether Monaco has ever been or could be invaded? Would any violent military takeover of Monaco by a foreign country not count as an invasion under any circumstances?

The intent of the above question is best addressed by interpreting country to mean something like the kind of independent sovereign states recognised by the U.N. We should not get hung up over terms like "principality" or "princely state" - we should consider whether they meet common criteria such as internationally recognised borders, independent government and so on.

Footnotes

† A great many other nations participated in the invasion of France (or in it's liberation if you prefer), I haven't listed them all for brevity - not from a lack of recognition or respect for the scale and value of their contribution and losses.

share|improve this answer
1  
bdw, India helped Bangladesh because it was proved Pakistan did not have any right on Bangladesh(politically,geographically). After all, It was India who helped the then East-Pakistan to be independent and that is why today we see free Bangladesh and Bangladesh admits Indias "contribution" in their freedom war! –  Mistu4u Nov 30 '12 at 15:35
1  
and don't forget earlier wars between modern india and pakistan and between india and china. –  matt_black Nov 30 '12 at 15:56
3  
@Mistu4u If "invasion" means fighting on foreign territory then yes. –  matt_black Nov 30 '12 at 21:58
1  
If Hyderabad was a country, India invaded it. –  shahkalpesh Nov 6 '13 at 8:57
1  
@R11G: On this website, the function of comments is to assist an author to improve an answer. Please provide references to support any assertion that Pakistan was not a country or that movement under gunfire of Indian troops into UN-recognised Pakistan did not constitute invasion. I'll amend the answer to address what I believe are your points. –  RedGrittyBrick Mar 7 at 9:01
show 4 more comments

RedGrittyBrick's excellent answer misses a spot. Goa. In 1961, India annexed Portuguese India which included the enclaves of Goa, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. All three elements of the Indian military were utilised in the invasion and successful capture of these three enclaves.

The Portuguese PM, Salazar, ordered the Governor General of Goa, Vassalo e Silva, to fight to the last man or to hold out for eight days while he drummed up support against the invasion. Silva managed to hold out for a brief period after which he was forced to surrender as the Portuguese forces were unable to combat the aerial threat of the Indian Air Force.

The war lasted two days. India suffered 34 dead and 51 wounded. Portugal lost 31 killed, 57 wounded, and 4668 captured.

The reaction of the United States was as follows:

Referring to the perception, especially in the West, that India had previously been lecturing the world about the virtues of non-violence, US President Kennedy told the Indian ambassador to the US, “You spend the last fifteen years preaching morality to us, and then you go ahead and act the way any normal country would behave.... People are saying, the preacher has been caught coming out of the brothel.”

In an article titled "India, The Aggressor", The New York Times on 19 December 1961, stated "With his invasion of Goa Prime Minister Nehru has done irreparable damage to India's good name and to the principles of international morality."

India tried to give the invasion a different spin by calling it a police action rather than a war. So, to answer the OP's question, yes, India has invaded at least one country in the last 10,000 60 years.

share|improve this answer
    
I think that the fact that Goa was an overseas colony of Portugal, that was conquered from a local ruler at 1510, should be noted in the answer. Wiki for Goa –  Ilya Melamed Jun 17 '13 at 10:57
    
@IlyaMelamed I'm not sure I see how that is distinct from any other part of India. –  coleopterist Jun 17 '13 at 16:20
    
Some people, including one that that posted an answer/comment here, find a distinction between invasion and liberation. And some people will argue that the invasion of Goa was a liberation campaign/war/skirmish. –  Ilya Melamed Jun 17 '13 at 18:04
1  
@IlyaMelamed That is simply semantics. As noted in my answer, India too deemed it to be a "police action". But the Portuguese had been in control of Goa for ~450 years (older than most modern countries). The Goa Wiki too terms the action an invasion. That said, I do see your point in that a significant number of locals in Portuguese Goa did want to be "liberated". I am afraid that I do not know enough on the subject to state if this was the majority view or not. –  coleopterist Jun 17 '13 at 18:23
1  
+1 I was just thinking about this when reading the (excellent) leading answer. One difference is that Goa and other Portuguese colonies were on the UN's list of non-self-governing territories, lending some independent (as in: independent from the various parties involved and especially Portugal and India) support to the view that this invasion was different than the other wars fought by India. –  Relaxed Mar 11 at 11:44
add comment

The Maurya Dynasty (322BCE - 185BCE) was an empire that controlled most of the Indian peninsula and extended as far East as modern day Myanmar and as far West as modern day Iran.

The Empire was founded in 322 BCE by Chandragupta Maurya, who had overthrown the Nanda Dynasty and rapidly expanded his power westwards across central and western India taking advantage of the disruptions of local powers in the wake of the withdrawal westward by Alexander the Great's Greek and Persian armies. By 320 BCE the empire had fully occupied Northwestern India, defeating and conquering the satraps left by Alexander.

Under Chandragupta, the Mauryan Empire conquered the trans-Indus region, which was under Macedonian rule. Chandragupta then defeated the invasion led by Seleucus I, a Greek general from Alexander's army. Under Chandragupta and his successors, internal and external trade, agriculture and economic activities, all thrived and expanded across India thanks to the creation of a single and efficient system of finance, administration, and security.

Here are maps of their conquests through the years.(from Wikipedia)

pic pic pic pic pic

Maurya Empire at its maximum extent (Dark Blue), including its vassals (Light Blue):

pic

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 for looking beyond the Mughal empire (as most of the other answers seem to be stuck in). –  talonx Dec 5 '13 at 15:56
1  
It's not much of a knock against the other answers to say they're focusing on more recent problems with a recent claim that demonstrates ignorance of even relatively recent history. That being said, +1 from me too for showing that the problems exist throughout the "10,000 years", so really, the claim is completely ignorant! –  Nick Stauner Mar 7 at 9:50
add comment

protected by Community Jun 17 '13 at 11:46

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.