General InformationIndia is the Large country below Southern China and is bordered by Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Arunachal Pradesh, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Most of India is surrounded by the Indian Ocean. The population is over 900,000,000 living in a little over 3,000,000 sq. km. The economy is basically agricultural with industry being developed. Most of the citizens live in poverty. Johnstone says that 600 million live in deep poverty and 300 million live below the bread line. (Johnstone 1995:274) Calcutta, one of the larger cities, has the world's lowest urban living standards. (Yman 1995:103)
The Indian government governs the 25 states and 7 territories through a representative democracy. The Capital is located in New Delhi. The government has been rocket with several wars with neighboring nations and several secession movements. Added to this is the religious, racial and caste tensions that have continually erupted into violence towards fellow citizens and the government. The present democracy is still developing.
India's population greatly varies linguistically, ethnically, and religiously. There are almost 5,000 people groups. Hindu and English are the official languages with 16 more recognized by the state they are spoken in. There are at least 1,652 languages spoken amongst by the different ethnic groups.
Most divide the ethnic groups in four categories. The Indo-Aryan peoples are about 73% of the population; They live mostly in the Northern part of India. 24% of the population are Dravidian; They live mostly in the South. The Austro-Asiatic tribal groups are about 2% of the population and they are scattered all over India. The Sino-Tibetan peoples accounting for 1% of the population and they live mostly in the northeast area of India.
Another important way to understand the Indian population is through the caste system that comes out of the Hindu religious influence. Even though the caste system discrimination is outlawed, the prevailing majority live under it's restrictions and control. There are over 6,400 castes that are classified in five categories. The High caste or the Brahmin are the elite priestly line comprising about 5% of the population. The forward caste (the Kshatriya and Vaisya) make up about 10% of the population. The Backward castes are about 47% of the population. The Outcasts or Scheduled caste (the Harijan - "untouchables") make up 155 of the people. The unclassified class is those who are not Hindu, such as the Moslem and Christian believers, make up about 22% of the peoples.
India is officially a secular state. Yet Hindu influence is strong in the government and often tends to discriminate towards other religions. 78-82% of Indian people are Hindu. The Hindu practice can very between being intellectual or very animistic. The Muslim community is about 12%. They Are mostly in the state of Kashmir. The Sikh community is almost 2% and they are mostly in the Punjab state. There is a small Buddhist community that almost is 1%. It is mostly practiced among the Tibetan ethnic groups. The Christian community is somewhere around 2-4%
By Loyal Osterhoudt | ASIA | India | Mission Resources