THE PEOPLE OF INDIA

Indian Salvationists are proud to be citizens of India

Background: The Indus Valley civilization, one of the oldest in the world, goes back at least 5,000 years. Aryan tribes from the northwest invaded about 1500 B.C.; their merger with the earlier inhabitants created classical Indian culture. Arab incursions starting in the 8th century and Turkish in 12th were followed by European traders beginning in the late 15th century. By the 19th century, Britain had assumed political control of virtually all Indian lands. Non-violent resistance to British colonialism under Mohandas GANDHI and Jawaharlal NEHRU led to independence in 1947. The subcontinent was divided into the secular state of India and the smaller Muslim state of Pakistan. Fundamental concerns in India include the ongoing dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir, massive overpopulation, environmental degradation, extensive poverty, and ethnic strife, all this despite impressive gains in economic investment and output.

Location: Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Burma and Pakistan
Climate: varies from tropical monsoon in south to temperate in north
Population: 1,029,991,145 (July 2001 est.)

Birth rate: 24.28 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)

Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.03 male(s)/female
total population: 1.07 male(s)/female (2001 est.)

Religions: Hindu 81.3%, Muslim 12%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other groups including Buddhist, Jain, Parsi 2.5% (2000)

Languages: English enjoys associate status but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication. Hindi is the national language and primary tongue of 30% of the people.Other official languages include Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, Sanskrit, Hindustani (a popular variant of Hindi/Urdu spoken widely throughout northern India)

Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 52%
male: 65.5%
female: 37.7% (1995 est.)
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of India
Government type: federal republic
Capital: New Delhi
Independence: 15 August 1947 (from UK)
Constitution: 26 January 1950

Legal system: based on English common law; limited judicial review of legislative acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of orange (top), white, and green with a blue chakra (24-spoked wheel) centred in the white band; similar to the flag of Niger, which has a small orange disk centred in the white band

Economy - overview: India's economy encompasses traditional village farming, modern agriculture, handicrafts, a wide range of modern industries, and a multitude of support services. More than a third of the population is too poor to be able to afford an adequate diet. India's international payments position remained strong in 2000 with adequate foreign exchange reserves, moderately depreciating nominal exchange rates, and booming exports of software services. Growth in manufacturing output slowed, and electricity shortages continue in many regions.

Regional Differences:
Few countries in the world have as many celebrations each year as has India. Almost all of these festivals are religious even though the Indian government has instituted many civil ones, the largest of these being Republic Day on January 26th. In Delhi, this is the occasion of a spectacular parade in which all ethnic groups of India are represented. It includes theatre performances and dances typical of each region, and ends with a splendid fire-works display in the evening.

Indian celebrations are always colourful and noisy, sometimes out of proportion, yet they reflect the country where sometimes everything seems excessive: the height of the mountains, the devastating monsoons, the unbearable heat, the incalculable number of worshipping places and the uncontrollable crowds.

The pride of Agra, the Taj Mahal, the tomb erected on the banks of the Yamuna river is a white marbled monument dedicated with love by Shah Jahan, a great Mughal, to his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Goa's churches are the finest examples of Indo-European architectural fusion. The cathedral of St. Catherine is the largest Christian church in Asia built in the baroque style of the Renaissance period. The church of Bom Jesus (Doric and Corinthian style) houses the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier.

The temples of India are where most Indian art and dance forms originated. The temple dancers or devadasis in the southern state of Tamil Nadu used to perform Bharatha Natyam as part of the religious rituals. This dance form, which is one of the most popular dance forms (especially in the south) today, is danced to the accompaniment of Carnatic music. Hindustani classical music has traces of Persian and Arab influences. Kathak, a popular dance form of northern India, is performed to this music.

The Indian caste system has been in use for many years. Still today the values of the caste system are held strongly. It has kept a sense of order, and peace among the people. There are five different levels of the system: Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra, and Harijans. Within each of these categories are the actual "castes" or jatis within which people are born, marry, and die. They all have their own place among each other and accept that it is the way to keep society from disintegrating to chaos. This system still has a major role in modern India.