Ethnic Groups: Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, Mongoloid and other 3%.
Religious affiliations: 50.5% Hindu (827,578,868), 13.4% Muslim (138,188,240), 2.3% Christian (24,080,016), 1.9% Sikh (19,215,730), 1.3% Nonreligious (12,848,612). Each of the following comprises less than one percent of the total population (listed in descending order of prevalence): Buddhist, Jains, Baha’i, Atheist, Zoroastrian, Chinese folk-religionist, Jew.
Education: Theoretically compulsory in 23 states to age 14.
Literacy rate: 61%.
GDP per capita: US $2,900 (2008 est.)
National GDP: US $3.304 trillion (2008 est.).
Major Industries: Textiles, steel, processed foods, cemen, machinery, chemicals, mining.
Head of state: President Pranab Mukherjee (as of 2015)
Head of government: Prime Minister Narendra Modi (as of 2015)
International organization memberships: United Nations (UN) and the Commonwealth.
Historical Background: India’s history is one of the oldest and richest in the world. Archeological evidence suggests its dawn prior to 5,000 BC. Classical Indian civilization is dated to 1500 BC, when the Sanskrit speaking Aryan tribes invaded a merged with the earlier inhabitants. In the 3rd century BC, Asoka ruled and established Buddhism, though Hinduism later thrived. Increasingly after the 8th century, Muslim leaders gained control starting from the west and north. From 1526-1857 Mogul emperors ruled, but after 1500 European influence began to dominate, especially Britain under British East India Company. India’s constitution was established in 1935. India’s diversity has been a blessing and a curse. Political factions, religious division, societal caste have caused multiple conflicts. Since its independence three leaders have been assassinated in religious and political controversies. Mohandas Ghandi, an advocate of self-rule and non-violent protest, was killed in 1948. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 by Sikhs in retaliation for government tactics involving the Sikh’s holiest shrine, the Golden Temple at Amritsar. Her son, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, was subsequently killed in 1991. Inter-religious conflicts throughout various provinces have plagued India. Pakistan and India have been in conflict over Kashmir since 1947 and in the 1990s, tensions have escalated.
Trends and Social Issues
Understanding the trends and social issues of a particular country should always take into consideration the opinions of persons within the country. We are looking for contributors from each country to add to our appreciation and understanding of its culture, potential, trends, and critical issues. If you have insight as to what is important to Indians, then please feel free to contact us.
We look forward to hearing the insights on what insiders consider the most important issues facing them. From an outsider’s perspective current issues would include the following: the rebuilding after the recent earthquake in 2000 and the Gujarat and Orissa cyclones, the conflict with Pakistan, the recovery of Ancient Indian history, the AIDS crisis (3.5 million adults in India are said to be infected), and the question of peaceful religious diversity. What are the most important issues for Indians today? This will be added as we receive this information.
Barrett, D., Kurian, G., & Johnson, T. (2001). World Christian Encyclopedia 2nd Edition: A Comparative Survey of Churches and Religions in the Modern World. Oxford: University Press.
Turner, B. (2000). The World Today: Essential Facts in an Ever Changing World 2000. New York, NY: St. Marten’s Press. pp. 856-867.
McGeveran, Jr., W. (Ed.). (2001). The World Almanac and Book of Facts. Mahwah, NJ: World Almanac Books. p. 842.
1. How important do you see Indias role in Asia and in the world?
2. What most impresses you about the above information?
3. Do you take issue with any of the above? If so, how would you express it differently?
4. What strikes you most about the population of India and its diversity? Why?
5. What do you see as the historical and cultural contributions of India to the world?
6. How has India handled its part in the crisis with Pakistan?
7. What can we learn from India and the Indian people?