About India

With over a billion inhabitants, India is the worlds’ second largest country as measured by its population. India’s neighbouring countries are Pakistan, Nepal, China, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maledives. India is the largest democracy in the world, consisting of 28 states and 7 Union territories. India has Delhi as its capital, while Mumbai (Bombay) is India’s largest city with 20.5 milliion inhabitants. Measured in income per capita, Mumbai is also India’s richest city, but is at the same time home to some of the worlds’ largest slums. Other important cities are Kolkata (Calcutta), Bangalore and Chennai (Madras). Kolkata was the capital of India during the British Raj untill 1911. Bangalore is often called the “Silicon Valley of India”, because of its large IT sector. India’s official languages or Hindi and English, but many other languages and scripts are used in the country as well. 23 languages are registered as official languages of a state.
Taj Mahal, Agra

Maha Bodhi Temple, Bodhgaya


India has a long and rich history. The Indus civilisation came from Pakistan to India and was blooming between 2500 and 1900 BC. It is seen as one of the first highly developed civilisations worldwide with a clear infrastrucure, drainage system and trade network. It had a few important cities and at its peak, the Indus civilisation consisted of 5 million people.Between 2000 and 500 BC, the Veda’s, the old Hindu scriptures were written. During this time, the caste-system developed as well.Between the sixth and fourth century BC, prince Siddhartha Gautama, better known as the Buddha, lived in India. Were he was born exactly is unknown. His father wanted him to become a powerful king, but Siddhartha Gautama was attracted by a life outside of the palace. He met normal people and was hit by their suffering. The prince left his royal life to start a spiritual queste. He lived an ascetic life for a long time and by the time he was 35, he reached enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya. Today, Bodh Gaya still attracts many pilgrims and tourists to admire this place.

Between 321 and 185 BC, most of India was ruled by the Maurya dynasty. The empire was established by Chandragupta Maurya. A famous ruler of the Mauryan empire is Ashoka the Great, who first participated in violent wars, but felt regret and embraced the teachings of Buddha, later in his life.During the early middle ages, there were no large dynasties ruling big parts of India. This gave room for cultural diversity and regional differences emerged.Starting around the year 1200, the Islamic rule started taking over the whole of Northern India. In the 16th century, the Mogul empire, a muslim-dynasty ruled over large parts of India. The fifth ruler of this empire, Shah Jahan, built famous builgings such as the Taj Mahal in Agra, the Red Ford and the Jama Masjid mosque in Delhi.

Bodhi tree, Bodhgaya

Detail Taj Mahal, Agra
Portugal was the first country to establish a colony in India in the 17th century, followed by the French, British and Dutch. The European influence kept on growing. The British East India company increased its power beyond trade to military and political influence. By the 1820s, the company was able to rule most of India. The export of raw materials now exceeded the export of manufactured goods. This is often seen as an important reason for the decrease in India’s share in world income, which declined from 22.6% in 1700 to 3.8% in 1952. Despite of protests by the Indian people, the British government took over the Indian administration in 1858. India was a British colony until it became independent again in 1947.

Strong Economic Growth and Development Issues

Since the start of the 1990, after liberalising its trade policies, India has shown strong economic growth. In 2010-11, GDP growth was 8.5%. Despite of comparable growth rates in recent years, India is still seen as a developing country. Reason for this are large income disparities, high unemployment rates, the high prevalence of child labour in several sectors and more.
Large income disparities are existent between rural and urban areas, but differences between states are often large as well. While Punjab and Haryana can be compared to Middle-Income Countries (the large majority of South-American countries belongs to this group), a third of India’s population lives in Low-Income states.
52.1% of the Indian population is employed in agriculture, fishery and comparable sectors. These 52.1% earn only 15% of GDP. Productivity in the sector is low, as is the standard of living of people employed in the sector.

silk industry, Varanasi

Clinic for the poor, Chennai
Over 40% of the children in India suffers from malnutrition. The infant mortality rate in India is 30 per 1000 life births, while in most European countries infant mortality lies between three and five children per 1000 life births. Maternal mortality lies above 300 per 100,000 life births, while in European countries maternal mortality lies between 0 and 30.
India has a high prevalence of malaria and one third of all tuberculosis cases wordwide are found in India. India also still belongs to the last four countries where polio has not been eradicated yet. Due to a lack of clean drinking water, 700,000 people die of diarroeah per year in India.

There are large inequalities between men and women in India. Unemployment and illiteracy rates are high among women. Trustlaw Women took six risk factors for women into account in their research and found India to be the fourth most dangerous country in the world for women, after Afghanistan, Pakistan and Congo. The included risk factors were health, violence, sexual violence, cultural and religious factors, access to resources and human trafficking.
Human trafficking in India is commited for several purposes, such as forced prostitution, marriage, and all sorts of forced labour (begging, industrial and agricultural labour, etc.). Another major problem in India is daughter aversion, which is rooted in culture and most prevalent under the richer parts of the population. It leads to female infanticide, female selective abortions and neglect of the female child. In the past decennia daughter aversion and its consequences have spread from north to south and from rich to poor.

Peanut field, Chennai


Deforestation started under the British Raj. It has led animals such as the tiger and the elephant to be threatened with extinction. Today the rainforests are still threatened by large infrastructure projects and tourism. The indigenous population of the rainforest, who have probably lived there for centuries without harming their environment, are often relocated to different areas. These people are often deprived from healthcare and education and unemployment rates among these tribes are high.

Wikipedia: Economy of India
Wikipedia: Education in India
Wikipedia: Economic disparities in India
Wikipedia: Poverty in India
Wikipedia: Healthcare in India
Wikipedia: Kaart moedersterfte
Silicon India: India dangerous country for women
Wikipedia: India (nl)
Wikipedia: India (en)
Wikipedia: British Raj (en)
"Conflict analysis of Human-Elephant Conflict in and around Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, South India", private archive.