If there is one place on the face
of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from
the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it
is India." - Romain Rolland
India is the largest democracy in
the world, seventh largest country and the second most populous.
India is a picture of diversity seen in her peoples, cultures, colourful
festivals, dress and costumes, religions, flaura and fauna and varying
landscapes. Her history dates back to the Indus Valley civilization
of about 2500-1700 BC. She is, as Mark Twain intones “ the cradle
of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of
history, grandmother of legend, and great grandmother of tradition.
Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history
of man are treasured up in India only.” She gave the world the knowledge
of counting that transformed the scientific faculty of man. She
was and arguably is the spiritual seat of the world.
India is located in the Asia continent
in northern hemisphere. The Himalayan ranges crown the northern
boundary of India. It is bounded on the north by Afghanistan, China,
Nepal, and Bhutan; on the east by Bangladesh, Myanmar (formerly
known as Burma), and the Bay of Bengal; on the south by the Palk
Strait and the Gulf of Mannar (which separates it from Sri Lanka)
and the Indian Ocean; and on the west by the Arabian Sea and Pakistan.
The country is divided into 28 states (three of which are recently
formed) and 7 Union Territories. New Delhi is the capital of India
and one of its largest cities.
India's total land mass is 2,973,190
square kilometers and is divided into three main geological regions:
the Indo-Gangetic Plain, the Himalayas, and thePeninsula region.
The Indo-Gangetic Plain and those portions of the Himalayas within
India are collectively known as North India. South India consists
of the peninsular region, often termed simply the Peninsula. On
the basis of its physiography, India is divided into ten regions:
the Indo-Gangetic Plain, the northern mountains of the Himalayas,
the Central Highlands, the Deccan or Peninsular Plateau, the East
Coast (Coromandel Coast in the south), the West Coast (Konkan, Kankara,
and Malabar coasts), the Great Indian Desert (a geographic feature
known as the Thar Desert in Pakistan) and the Rann of Kutch, the
valley of the Brahmaputra in Assam, the northeastern hill ranges
surrounding the Assam Valley, and the islands of the Arabian Sea
and the Bay of Bengal. Several major rivers, including the Ganges,
Brahmaputra, and Indus, flow through India. Arising in the northern
mountains and carrying rich alluvial soil to the plains below, these
mighty rivers have supported agriculture-based civilizations for
thousands of years.
The climate of India may be broadly described
as tropical monsoon type. There are four seasons: winter (January-
February), hot weather summer ( march- may), rainy south-western
monsoon ( June- September) and post- monsoon, also known as the
north-east monsoon in the southern peninsula ( October- December).
India's climate is affected by two seasonal winds- the north-east
monsoon and south-west monsoon. The north-east monsoon commonly
known as winter monsoon blows sea to land after crossing the Indian
Ocean, the Arabiab Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The south-west monsoon
brings most of the rainfall during the year in the country.
Dating back at least 5000 years, civilization
in India has been a rich and complicated mix of peoples and religions.
Harappa and Mohenjodaro were ancient Indian cities which existed
between 3000 to 1500 BC. Excavated remains suggest that these were
well planned with brick structures, wide streets, and underground
water system. Many copper, bronze, and pottery items were recoverd
as well as gold and silver jewelry. There was some writing system
as well but archeologists could not interpret these writings.
Brahminism, Buddhism, Jain, Hinduism
all developed here in a series of kingdoms and empires. The Gupta
dynasty ruled over a golden age for north India for about two hundred
years (320-544 A.D.). In the 600s, the Indus River Valley was invaded
by Arabs, who brought with them Islam, which took hold in northern
The Sultanate of Delhi was established
in 1206. It managed to withstand repeated Mongol invasions and eventually
succeeded in bringing together nearly all of India (with the exception
of some of the southern states). But the Sultanate of Delhi was
weakened by the stresses of internal rebellion, particularly when
combined with the attack of Timur Leng (Tamerlane) in 1398. In 1526,
Babur established the Moghul empire, whose culture thrived under
Akbar the Great. Threats to the Moghul empire from Marathan and
Rajput were compounded by the encroaching interests of the European
powers, who came to india in 1498 in the person of Vasco de Gama.
British rule in India began in the
AD 1700s. Foreign domination engendered Indian nationalism, which
eventually led to India winning its independence in 1947. Split
from Pakistan at independence, India struggled with its Muslim neighbor
over border differences and Hindu-Muslim relations. India and Pakistan
still conflict over the Jammu and Kashmir region, parts of which
are also occupied by China.
Society and culture
The Indian society is not a uniform
one. This is a natural corollary to the fact that diversity is a
part of Indian way of life. From region to region, diversity in
the social structure is prominently seen. The north Indian social
traditions and customs are markedly different and so those of the
eastern India from those of other parts of the country. And here
lies the tentalising element of mystery associated with India.
The diversity factor notwithstanding, there is a common thread running
through the Indians. Unity in diversity is best seen in India in
a maze of seemingly disparate peoples. One social unifier is the
Indian system of casteism adhered to by all racial groups belonging
to the Hindu religion fold. Lambasted by many as a retrogressive
social tradition, this system has also given the Indians a sense
of belongingness to a shared way of life. Though caste rigidity
was prevalent in the olden times, now it has become flexible to
a large extent. It is not an uncommon to come across families of
so called incompatible castes entering into matrimonial alliance.
The gender inequality is a phenomenon causing concern in the Indian
society. The Indian society is highly prejudiced against the female
gender. Basically a male dominated society, decision making at family
and political level is almost single handedly handled by the men.
Customs such as Dowry are worsening the process of subjugating women
in the society. Of late, with social awareness about women's vital
role in the development of a community or the country, there has
been a change in the perception of gender equations in favour of
women. Education of women, giving the women a greater say in decision
making in the family and the governance are emphasized. With the
liberalization of economy women are in top managerial position at
par with the best men.
In spite of significant leaps made by India in the economic front,
poverty is still a dominant social reality. A majority of the population
of India lives in utter poverty without access to health care, housing,
drinking water and education. Major policy change has to be enforced
to better the lives of these millions souls if India is to become
a truly desirable place to live in.
Education is still a privilege in this country of over one billion
people. Providing Primary education has been the motto of the government.
So far the government has not live up to its promises with the results
that there are more illiterate people than functionally literate
people in India. Lack of education is the primary obstacle to the
nation's development. India should educate the masses if its hope
of becoming the global knowledge superpower is to become a reality.
India has a rich cultural and artistic heritage. The fact that India
was invaded and ruled by various kings down the ages, is already
reflected by its impact on India culture. The Gupta dynasty, the
Mughal dynasty and many other dynasties influenced and contributed
to the Indian culture.
Music, inspired perhaps by the whistles
of the wind or the splash of the waves, chirping of the birds or
may be falling of the rain, exists on this land since the existence
of humanity. Many musical instruments and innumerable ragas were
designed by them. Then developed different notes for different times,
seasons and feelings. Different regions developed their own style
of singing, not following the ragas but their own tunes and taking
the lyrics in their own language and themes from their day-to-day
One of the powerful attractions in India is the colourful and diversified
attire of its people. The silk saris, brightly mirrored cholis,
colorful lehangas and the traditional salwar-kameez have fascinated
many a traveler over the centuries.
For a single length of material, the sari must be the most versatile
garment in existence. It is only one of the many traditional garments
worn by women, yet it has somehow become the national dress of Indian
women. A sari is a rectangular piece of cloth which is five to six
yards in length. The style, color and texture of this cloth vary
and it might be made from cotton, silk or one of the several man-made
materials. The sari has an ageless charm since it is not cut or
tailored for a particular size. This garment can fit any size and
if worn properly can accentuate or conceal. This supremely graceful
attire can also be worn in several ways and its manner of wearing
as well as its color and texture are indicative of the status, age,
occupation, region and religion of a woman.
Another popular attire of women in India is the salwar-kameez. This
dress evolved as a comfortable and respectable garment for women
in Kashmir and Punjab, but is now immensely popular in all regions
of India. Salwars are pyjama-like trousers drawn tightly in at the
waist and the ankles. Over the salwars, women wear a long and loose
tunic known as a kameez. Though the majority of Indian women wear
traditional costumes, the men in India can be found in more conventional
western clothing. Shirts and trousers are worn by men from all regions
in India. However, men in villages are still more comfortable in
traditional attire like kurtas, lungis, dhotis and pyjamas.
The traditional lungi originated in the south and today it is worn
by men and women alike. It is simply a short length of material
worn around the thighs rather like a sarong. A dhoti is a longer
lungi but with an additional length of material pulled up between
the legs. Pyjama-like trousers worn by the villagers are known as
Indian dressing styles are marked by many variations, both religious
and regional and one is likely to witness a plethora of colors,
textures and styles in garments worn by the Indians. Indian dance
is a blend of nritta - the rhythmic elements, nritya - the combination
of rhythm with expression and natya - the dramatic element. Most
Indian dances take their themes from India's rich mythology and
folk legends. Hindu gods and goddesses like Vishnu and Lakshmi,
Rama and Sita, Krishna and Radha are all depicted in classical Indian
dances. Each dance form also draws inspiration from stories depicting
the life, ethics and beliefs of the Indian people.
The genesis of the contemporary styles of classical dances can be
traced to the period between 1300-1400 A.D. India offers a number
of classical dance forms, each of which can be traced to different
parts of the country. Each form represents the culture and ethos
of a particular region or a group of people.
Bharatnatyam- Tamil Nadu; Kathak - Uttar Pradesh; Kathakali - Kerala;
Kuchipudi- Andhra Pradesh; Manipuri - Manipur; Mohiniyattam - Kerala;
Odissi - Orissa.
There is a multiciplity of festivals in India. Most of the festivals
owe their origin to legends, gods and goddesses and mythology. As
many communities there are, there are as many festivals unique to
them. Festivals here are characterized by colour, gaiety, enthusiasm,
feasts and a variety of prayers and rituals. There are number festivals
celebrated in India too numerous to count. Some important festivals
are: Deepawali, Krishna Janmashtami, Onam, Dussehra, Pongal, Ramzan
Id, Baisakhi Easter, Ganesha Chaturthi Holi, Raksha, Bandhan, Ram
Navmi, Christmas, Good Friday, Makar Sankranti, Moharrum Shivratri,
Durga Puja and many others.
Economy and Infrastructure
India is the seventh largest and second
most populous country in the world. A new spirit of economic freedom
is now stirring in the country, bringing sweeping changes in its
wake. A series of ambitious economic reforms aimed at deregulating
the country and stimulating foreign investment has moved India firmly
into the front ranks of the rapidly growing Asia Pacific region
and unleashed the latent strengths of a complex and rapidly changing
nation. India's process of economic reform is firmly rooted in a
political consensus that spans her diverse political parties. India's
democracy is a known and stable factor, which has taken deep roots
over nearly half a century. Importantly, India has no fundamental
conflict between its political and economic systems. Its political
institutions have fostered an open society with strong collective
and individual rights and an environment supportive of free economic
India's time tested institutions offer foreign investors a transparent
environment that guarantees the security of their long term investments.
These include a free and vibrant press, a judiciary which can and
does overrule the government, a sophisticated legal and accounting
system and a user friendly intellectual infrastructure. India's
dynamic and highly competitive private sector has long been the
backbone of its economic activity. It accounts for over 75% of its
Gross Domestic Product and offers considerable scope for joint ventures
Today, India is one of the most exciting emerging markets in the
world. Skilled managerial and technical manpower that match the
best available in the world and a middle class whose size exceeds
the population of the USA or the European Union, provide India with
a distinct cutting edge in global competition.
The road transport sector has been declared a priority and will
have access to loans at favourable conditions. The Monopoly and
Restrictive Trade Practices Act (MRTP Act) was passed in order to
encourage large industry to enter the road sector.
The National Highways Act has been modified to help the reduction
of tolls on national motorways, bridges and tunnels. Calcutta's
Howrah Bridge is the world's busiest with a daily flow of 57,000
vehicles and innumerable pedestrians. Private participation in the
energy sector has been encouraged with the reduction of import duties,
a five year tax exemption for new energy projects and a 16% return
The government is also following a new telecommunications policy
that aims for the improvement of quality to a worldwide standard
and, as a result, India could emerge as a major producer and exporter
of telecommunication systems. Advantageous policies in this sector
are encouraging private and foreign participation. Given below is
a profile of the present Indian Union Infrastructure:
- Road network (1990-91) 2,040,000 Km
- Motorway network 34,000 Km
- No. good transport vehicles 1,600,000
- Railways 62,486 Km
- No. railway stations 7,000
- Produce transported by rail (1992-93) 350,000,000 tons
- No. international airports 5
- No. national airports 88
- No. large ports 11
- No. small and medium ports 139
- Goods traveling through ports 166,610,000 tons
- Merchant fleet 443 ships
- No. post offices 150,000
- Energy production capacity (91-92) 78,000 Mw
- Energy generated (1992-93) 301,400,000,000 kWh
India has a promising future, given
the unprecedented growth in economy and its clout in the global
issues. India is now riding on the wave of a gigantic boom in computer
driven new economy. The huge pool of English speaking talented software
professionals in India is being sought after by many developed countries
of the world. Premier professional institutes like IIT and IIM have
become the source of big international corporates' human resource
needs, both overseas and within India.
India is also a nuclear power. Its security concerns have been to
some extent allayed by the possession of nuclear weapons, though
fears remain of an expensive military expenditure to sustain the
India is also poised to become the entertainment superpower. Already
the Bollywood is churning out hundreds of films annually. With improvements
in the technical and artistic aspects India can well give a stiff
competition to western productions.
Indian culture is influencing the western world in dress, food and
festivals. The Indian diaspora is increasing in economic prosperity
and status. The Indian community is a force to reckon with in every
country because of its contribution to the country concerned. Indian
lobby groups are funding partly some of the elections in vital countries
of the world.
The 21st century could well belong to India if it fully utilize
its resources and expertise. India's population is an asset and
not a pull down factor. Finally India is going to prove just that.