Visual History of the World




From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists


The Contemporary World

1945 to the present

After World War II, a new world order came into being in which two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, played the leading roles. Their ideological differences led to the arms race of the Cold War and fears of a global nuclear conflict. The rest of the world was also drawn into the bipolar bloc system, and very few nations were able to remain truly non-aligned. The East-West conflict came to an end in 1990 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the consequent downfall of the Eastern Bloc. Since that time, the world has been driven by the globalization of worldwide economic and political systems. The world has, however, remained divided: The rich nations of Europe, North America, and East Asia stand in contrast to the developing nations of the Third World.

The first moon landing made science-fiction dreams reality in the year 1969.
Space technology has made considerable progress as the search for new
possibilities of using space continues.



Pakistan and India

SINCE 1947


see also: United Nations member states -
Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Nepal


From the successful war for independence against British colonial rule, India and Pakistan emerged as two self-contained states in 1947. Both countries' claims for the Kashmir region led to a continuous political and military conflict. While India developed a democratic parliamentary democracy domestically, Pakistan was ruled by an authoritarian military government. Religious tensions led to the separation of East Pakistan as Bangladesh in 1971.

Pakistan and Bangladesh

 In 1947, Pakistan established itself as a separate Muslim state on the Indian sub-continent. In 1971, the eastern part of the country seceded as Bangladesh.


While 6 India was struggling for independence, Muhammad Ali Jinnah called for a separate state for the Muslim minority.

6 Negotiating independence for India in 1947
under the leadership of the British Viceroy Lord
Mountbatten and the leader of the Muslim League

Bloodshed between Hindus and Muslims led to a partition of the subcontinent and a migration of the Hindu and Muslim minorities. The primarily Muslim regions on either side of Hindu India—East Pakistan (today's Bangladesh) and West Pakistan— became the state of Pakistan, a dominion of the British Commonwealth, jinnah became the country's first president.

Tension between secularists and political Islamists over the role of religion, exacerbated by secessionist movements within the country and the conflict with India over Jammu and Kashmir, dominated politics. When the situation worsened in 1958, the secularist General Muhammad Ayub Khan seized power, stabilizing the country by imposing martial law. He followed a policy of a balance between the Cold War blocs, and in 1965 began a policy of detente with India.

The first free elections in East Pakistan were won by the Awami League with a large majority. Led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the league sought autonomy for the region. When Rahman proclaimed the independent People's Republic of Bangladesh on March 26, 1971, the Pakistani government responded with force.

India's 2 military support ensured that 1 Bangladesh became independent.

2 Volunteers fight against the Pakistani army for an independent Bangladesh

1 Traffic jam in Dhaka, the capital of
Bangladesh, November 2004

Since then, democratic governments have alternated with military regimes in Bangladesh. Plagued by floods, the country is one of the poorest in the world. After Bangladesh's secession in 1971, West Pakistan became Pakistan; it established relations with Bangladesh in 1974.

Until 1977 the dictatorship of 5 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto guaranteed a secular state, but General Zia ul-Haq seized power in a coup and planned the Islamization of society. Although the tension between secular- ,'' ists and Islamic forces continued to dominate politics, there was a return to free elections in 1985.

Benazir Bhutto, prime minister from 1988 to 1990 and 1993 to 1996, became the first woman to lead a Muslim country.

4 General Pervez Musharraf has led Pakistan's government after the bloodless coup in 1999.

Since 2001, he has been the United States' key ally in the region, while struggling to contain internal Islamic opposition to his rule.

5 Pakistani prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, 1976

3 Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto after her second victory in November 1988

4 General Pervez Musharraf at a press conference
on February 1, 2005


Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto (21 June 1953 – 27 December 2007) was a Pakistani politician who chaired the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), a centre-left political party in Pakistan. Bhutto was the first woman elected to lead a Muslim state, having twice been Prime Minister of Pakistan (1988–1990; 1993–1996). She was Pakistan's first and to date only female prime minister. She was also the wife of current Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Bhutto was the eldest child of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a Pakistani Shia Muslim of Sindhi descent and Begum Nusrat Bhutto, similarly Shia Muslim Pakistani of Kurdish descent. Her paternal grandfather was Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto, who came to Larkana District in Sindh before the independence from his native town of Bhatto Kalan, in the Indian state of Haryana.Bhutto was sworn in as Prime Minister for the first time in 1988 at the age of 35, but was removed from office 20 months later under the order of then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan on grounds of alleged corruption. In 1993 she was re-elected but was again removed in 1996 on similar charges, this time by President Farooq Leghari. She went into self-imposed exile in Dubai in 1998.

Bhutto returned to Pakistan on 18 October 2007, after reaching an understanding with President Pervez Musharraf by which she was granted amnesty and all corruption charges were withdrawn. She was assassinated on 27 December 2007, after departing a PPP rally in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi, two weeks before the scheduled Pakistani general election of 2008 where she was a leading opposition candidate. The following year she was named one of seven winners of the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights.




Since gaining independence in 1947, India has generally followed a policy of secular modernization, and political life has been dominated by the Nehru-Ghandi political dynasty. Despite numerous conflicts, the multiethnic state remains the world's largest democracy.


Shortly after independence was achieved, Muslim Pakistan broke off from India, but most of the 566 principalities of the subcontinent became a part of the new Indian state.

Fighting poverty and integrating the various ethnic groups were the most pressing tasks of the country, along with the long-running conflict with Pakistan over the 7 Kashmir region.

7 Nomads in Jammu-Kashmir in the north of India

Socially, the country fluctuated between secular modernization and traditional Hinduism.

Mahatma Gandhi was murdered by a Hindu fanatic on January 30,1948, and 9 Jawaharlal Nehru, who had held the office of prime minister since 1946, became the dominant political figure in the country.

Nehru pursued a socialist path, launching five-year plans to modernize the economically backward country. Constant unrest in the individual provinces and the Sino-Indian war of 1962-63 resulted in the loss of some border provinces. When Nehru died in May 1964, he was succeeded by Lai Bahadur Shastri.

He too died in office in 1966, and Nehru's daughter 10 Indira Gandhi then became prime minister.

She continued the policies of her father, but shifted between delegation and centralization of authority. Gandhi presided over the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, gaining support from the Soviets, France, and the United Kingdom in the UN Security Council. She was voted out of office in 1977, but regained power in a triumphant election victory in 1984.

9 Jawaharlal Nehru, 1962

10 Indira Gandhi, 1972


Richard Nixon and Indira Gandhi, 1971

Indira Gandhi

Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi (19 November 1917 – 31 October 1984) was the Prime Minister of the Republic of India for three consecutive terms from 1966 to 1977 and for a fourth term from 1980 until her assassination in 1984, a total of fifteen years. She was India's first and, to date, only female Prime Minister.

Born in the politically influential Nehru Family, she grew up in an intensely political atmosphere. Her grandfather, Motilal Nehru, was a prominent Indian nationalist leader. Her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, was a pivotal figure in the Indian independence movement and the first Prime Minister of Independent India. Returning to India from Oxford in 1941, she became involved in the Indian Independence movement. In the 1950s, she served her father unofficially as a personal assistant during his tenure as the first Prime Minister of India. After her father's death in 1964, she was appointed as a member of the Rajya Sabha by the President of India and became a member of Lal Bahadur Shastri's cabinet as Minister of Information and Broadcasting.

The then Congress Party President K. Kamaraj was instrumental in making Indira Gandhi the Prime Minister after the sudden demise of Shastri. Gandhi soon showed an ability to win elections and outmaneuver opponents. She introduced more left-wing economic policies and promoted agricultural productivity. She led the nation as Prime Minister during the decisive victory in the 1971 war with Pakistan and creation of an independent Bangladesh. A period of instability led her to impose a state of emergency in 1975. Due to the alleged authoritarian excesses during the period of emergency, the Congress Party and Indira Gandhi herself lost the next general election for the first time in 1977. Indira Gandhi led the Congress back to victory in 1980 elections and Gandhi resumed the office of the Prime Minister. In June 1984, under Gandhi's order, the Indian army forcefully entered the Golden Temple, the most sacred Sikh shrine, to remove armed insurgents present inside the temple. She was assassinated on October 31, 1984 in retaliation to this operation.

When in June 1984 she ordered military action against radical 8 Sikhs who had barricaded themselves in the 11 Temple of Amritsar for two years, she was murdered by her own Sikh bodyguards.

Her son Rajiv Gandhi then came into government, but he was killed in a 1991 bomb attack.

An evident radicalization of political Hinduism, separatist movements, natural catastrophes, local resistance to planned dam-building projects, and corruption scandals have led to repeated unrest in the country since the 1990s. In 2004, Sikh prime minister Manmohan Singh became the first non-Hindu to lead India's government.

8 Young Sikh soldiers in Allahabad, 1993

11 Shrine of the Sikhs:
The golden Temple of Amritsar,
January 9, 2003



The Kashmir Conflict

Scene from Srinagar, Kashmir, India

India and Pakistan continue to dispute ownership of the region of Kashmir, in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. The principality, inhabited by a majority of Muslims, had been governed by Hindu rulers since 1846. Over Pakistani protests, its rulers opted to join the Indian Union in 1947.

Despite UN mediation since 1951, increasingly serious and violent conflicts over the region, ignited by revolts of Pakistan-backed Muslim rebels, culminated in a war in 1965.

While the two countries remain in dialogue, the conflict has sparked an arms race between them, with both announcing the acquisition of nuclear weapons in 1998.

Indian soldiers at the border to Pakistan in
Kashmir open fire on guerrilla positions in the mountains,
May 31, 1999


see also: United Nations member states -  
Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Nepal



Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

| privacy