Subject Material

India - Introduction

Published: 08.09.2010, Updated: 03.03.2017
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What are the first things that come to mind when you think of India? Make a list, and share it with the class.

You can find an easy version of the text here: India - Text in Brief 

  
India - Introduction
 

Woman talking on the phone while walking past a homeless woman. Photo.A Country of Contrasts The Republic of India is the second most populous country in the world. New Delhi  is the capital, but Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is the largest city.

India is a republic consisting of 28 states and seven union territories, with a parliamentary system of democracy. Economic reforms since 1991 have transformed it into one of the world's fastest growing economies. Nevertheless,  a large portion of the population still   suffers from high levels of poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition.

A Pluralistic, Multilingual and Multi-ethnic Society

Four major world religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism originated in India. Judaism, Christianity and Islam arrived in the first millennium AD and shaped the region's diverse culture. Hindi is the official language of the country, while English is recognised as a “subsidiary official language”. There are another 21 languages spoken in India, thus English has great importance as a lingua franca.

Commercial and Cultural Wealth

Home to a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, India has been admired for its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history. From the 16th century, European powers such as Portugal, the Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom established trading posts there. By 1856, most of India was under the control of The British East India Company, which had interests in commodities such as cotton, silk, tea and opium.

Independence

Map over India. Illustration.India India became an independent nation in 1947, after  a series of widespread, non-violent protests lead by Mahatma Gandhi, came to a successful end. Gandhi was soon after assassinated by a religious fanatic. Once, when asked what he thought of Western civilization, Gandhi answered that he thought this would be a good idea! Through his uncompromising non-violent attitude, Gandhi is  now a global symbol of peaceful and respectful co-existence.

Due to religious tension in the country, it was decided to establish two Muslim countries - Pakistan in the West and Bangladesh in the East. Still today, there are border disputes and a generally strained relationship between Pakistan and India.

Today

India has witnessed a technological and industrial boom in the last few decades. They have a huge high-tech economy and an educational system that provides the technology based industry with a skilled work force. Indian workers are also sought after in Western countries for their diligence and expertise.

Though India’s middle class is rapidly increasing in numbers there are, however, still hundreds of millions of poor people to whom the IT revolution is but a faint glimmer.

Tasks and Activities

Comprehension

  1. India -True and False Quiz

Writing

  1. Study the picture above and write a short text in which you share the thoughts of any of the three people in the picture as it is being taken. Use your imagination.
  2. Gather information about Mahatma Gandhi from several sources on the internet, and write an essay in which you share your views on this man.  Feel free to include your thoughts on how Gandhi would have felt about some of our current conflicts in e.g. the Middle East.

Discussion

India is a huge country with contrasting poverty and wealth. You can see a Mercedes alongside a mule in the streets and illiterate beggars alongside newly rich, well-educated people. Discuss how wealth and skills can be more evenly shared in a country like India.


Research

  1. How is the relationship between India and Pakistan today? Search for recent news from this conflict.
  2. What area does the border conflict between India and Pakistan involve? Make sure you cross-reference your information. Both India and Pakistan have English-speaking media that may be biased. You may start your search here: NewsNow.

Further Reading

Timeline 
Culture
Bangalore – India's Cybercity
Bollywood 

 

Recommended Literature

Salman Rushdie, Good Advice is Rarer than Rubies (Short story)
Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram (Excerpt from the novel and interview with the writer in Mumbai)

 

Recommended Film

Outsourced 

 

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