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"Detriments you call us? Detriments? Well I want to remind you that it was detriments like us that built this bloody Empire and the Izzat of the bloody Raj. Hats on!"
Peachy Carnehan, The Man Who Would Be King, film by John Huston, story by Rudyard Kipling
The British Indian Empire (1858-1947), known colloquially as the British Raj, was the name of Britain's colonial holdings in the subcontinent, including both directly ruled provinces and autonomous princely states that were under the suzerainity of the British Crown.
The Raj (hindustani/urdu for "reign") was established soon after the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, when the British East India Company that had been slowly gaining control of the subcontinent from the dying Mughal Empire, was seen as no longer up to the task of running things and the Crown seized the lands directly, forming the "Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire".
Unfortunately for them, they had not counted on the great efforts of a bald lawyer named Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. In 1947, exhausted from World War II and under great pressure from the Indians, Great Britain gave India its independence.
However, there was a small problem. Most Indians at this point were Hindu, but there was a vocal Muslim minority that had co-operated with the British, more than Gandhi had. For these reasons, the Raj was divided into predominantly Hindu India (although it is referred to as Bharat in most Indian languages), and entirely Muslim Pakistan (which was then split in 1971 into its current form and Bangladesh).
For the army of The Raj see Kiplings Finest .
The Raj in popular culture: