What Should I Know About India?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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India, a country mainly located on the subcontinent of Asia, has been independent since 1947, when it was freed from British colonialism through the nonviolent resistance movement led by Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohandas Mahatma Gandhi. It was at that time that the state of India, which is secular, and the state of Pakistan, which is Muslim, were formed, and there have been several wars between them, one of which resulted in the formation of the nation of Bangladesh in 1971.

India is bordered to the southwest by the Arabian Sea, to the northwest by Pakistan, to the north by Nepal, China, and Bhutan, to the east by Myanmar or Burma, and to the east by the Bay of Bengal, with Bangladesh tucked into its northeastern arm. It has an area of 1,269,345.6 square miles (3,287,590 sq km), making it the seventh largest country in the world, following Russia, Canada, the United States, China, Brazil, and Australia.

Although seventh in size, India is second in population, following China, with an estimated 1,147,995,904 people. While most of the population is ethnically Indo-Aryan (72%), 25% are Dravidian and 3% are Mongoloid or other. The people of India are primarily Hindu (80.5%); with 13.4% Muslims, 2.3% Christians, and 1.0% Sikhs.


The population is more diverse when it comes to languages. The country has 14 official languages, with Hindi being the most spoken native language (41%), but English having associate status and being used for politics and business. Other official languages include Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Kahmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Orriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, and Telugu. The literacy rate is 61%.

Locally, the country is known as Bharatiya Ganarajya and is a federal republic, divided into 28 states and seven entities known as union territories. In addition to a state legal system with roots in English common law, there exist separate codes of personal law for the three major religious groups: Hindus, Muslims, and Christians.

Most of the population — 60% — is involved in agriculture, although this area contributes least to the gross domestic product, coming in behind both industry and the service sector, which contributes the most at 53.7%, while comprised of only 12% of the labor force. Exports include chemicals, gems and jewelry, engineering and textile goods, petroleum products and leather.

India is known for regional food specialties, including Tandoori-style foods and Bengali specialties. Many Indians are vegetarians, and spices in various combinations, including garam masala and curries are popular. There is even a spiced tea called chai. Dal dishes made from beans, spinach dishes, and rice dishes, as well as a variety of breads — some of them stuffed and going by names such as chapati, samosa, pakora, and poori — are common.


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Post 6

India is really a beautiful country.

Post 5

@turquoise: You were right in mentioning that most Muslims in India did not want to be separated from their land of birth. It was a political decision made to please a few who couldn't have been leaders unless a separate country was carved out of India. Look into what happened with East Pakistan which is now Bangladesh.

Post 4

India has fourteen different languages?! That's a lot! India must be one of the most multicultural countries in the world. And I think that India is a democracy, right?

Kudos to them for being able to maintain so much diversity in one country.

Post 3

I just read the most shocking fact about India! India has a greater Muslim population than Pakistan!

But wasn't Pakistan formed so that the Muslims in India would have their own nation? That means that most of the Indian Muslims never left India during partition which is really interesting.

From what I remember from history class, it was Britain that helped organize the formation of Pakistan. Did they have a referendum among the Indian Muslims to see if they wanted their own nation? I think they probably didn't because if they had, the Muslims would have probably voted no and there would have never been a separate nation called Pakistan.

Why else would there be more Muslims in India than Pakistan?

Post 2

I was introduced to Indian culture when I was in college, I met and made friends with many exchange students from India. Basically everything I have learned about India, has been through them.

India seems like such a lively and colorful country. I think that they have the most beautiful clothing ever, especially the salwar kameez and sarees. Salwar kameez, which is basically a combination of loose pants and a tunic, is the most comfortable clothes I have ever worn.

I'm really fond of Indian cooking too. My favorite Indian foods are samosas, sabza korma and gulab jamun. Samosa is a fried snack with a potato and peas filling. Sabza korma is a combination of different vegetables, gee

(oil) and masala spices. Gulab jamun is a dessert made of cheese and smothered in a sugar syrup. It sounds kind of fattening, right? It is! But it tastes so good!

I haven't had the chance to visit yet but I hope I can travel to India sometime in the next few years. Just thinking about it makes me so excited! I hope I can be there either during or Holi or Diwali so that I can experience an Indian festival and celebrate with them. I think that Holi, the festival of colors, is in March and Diwali, the festival of lights, is in November. It would be so much fun if I could be there for one of those.

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