For our study of modern Indian history let us begin with the earliest interactions of India with European Nations.
Summary of Historical Europe-India link
- The first known connection between the two regions was Alexander the Great’s invasion of the Punjab, in the year 327-325 B. C.
- In the 2nd century B.C., Greeks from Bactria founded kingdoms in the Punjab and the bordering Afghan hills; these survived into the late 1 st century. There was also commercial intercourse in the south, which continued until the decline of the Roman Empire in the 4th
- Trade with the East then passed into Arab hands, and it was mainly carried out with the Middle Eastern Islamic and Greek worlds until the end of the middle ages in Europe.
- In the intervening period, the only physical contact with Europe came from occasional travellers, such as the Italians, Marco Polo and Niccolò dei Conti and the Russian, Afanasy Nikitin in the 15 th century.
- These were very limited because of disturbed conditions within the Arab-Islamic world created by successive invasions of Turks and Mongols.
- In the absence of direct contacts for Europeans with India, in 1498, India was regarded as a mythical land of spices and of marvels attested to by imaginative Greek authors.
- When Vasco da Gama landed at Calicut (Kozhikode) in the year 1498, he restored the link between Europe and the East that had existed many centuries earlier.