Modern Indian history is generally said to begin in the mid–nineteenth century, with the first contacts between the British and Indian cultures. The period of British rule in India is usually referred to as the British Raj, and it lasted until 1947, when India achieved its independence. During the Raj, British policy towards India was marked by a period of intense economic and political exploitation, which led to the growth of Indian nationalism and the emergence of a number of important Indian leaders. The early post–independence period saw the emergence of a number of new political movements, including the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and the Indian National Congress. This period also saw the rise of several regional parties, as well as the emergence of a strong military presence in the region. The economic reforms of the early 1990s, which were aimed at liberalizing the Indian economy, ushered in a period of rapid economic growth, which has continued to the present day.