Answer by Balaji Viswanathan:
Plenty of dark moments have already been covered. I will try to cover some more dark moments in Independent India that are often forgotten. I will especially provide more weight on 1990s – a time when many of us here grew up.
Sino-Indian war (1962):
This is the only war that India lost in 200 years now. Although, both countries were evenly matched in economy, China had the element of surprise. Just as Soviet Union and USA were involved in the Cuban missile crisis, China chose to attack India as they knew US & USSR wouldn't be able to help India. This is the only war that was fought between the 2 civilizations since the start of history, and seriously impacted the Indian psyche.
After years of mis-governance in India, gulf war and the collapse of Soviet Union, India had almost no dollars to pay for its foreign exchange. India was within weeks of declaring bankruptcy – a truly ugly prospect. Then Rao and Dr. Singh came and we dismantled a good chunk of the license raj.
Nuclear element of Kargil War 1999 –
Like in 1962 China war we were totally taken by surprise and we lost precious territory. Although we eventually won the war, it was the only time that any two nuclear armed powers directly engaged in a war. For a while, it was scary as Pakistan was reportedly close to using the nuclear weapon. Fortunately, Nawaz Sharif was not a looney and Clinton had a big influence on Pakistan. But, it was an extremely close aversion of disaster.
In the only instance of major bubonic plague spread in modern history, India was attacked by a plague epidemic in 1994 (reportedly a gift from our neighbor). Indian cities became like war zone – everyone wearing masks and raised alarms in Indian medical circles. Eventually 700 people died.
In one of the biggest hijack stories since Munich (1972), Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked an Indian Airlines plane from Kathmandu and took it to Kandahar in Afghanistan. After two grueling weeks, India finally agreed to release three of most deadly terrorists, including Maulana Masood Azhar. These are now the most feared ones in India