India’s Culture, History and Economy
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Published: Mon, 12 Feb 2018
With traces of Human life dating back over 9000 years, India can be described as one of the oldest nations in the world. This brief analysis looks at the construction of a major European trading post and the downfall of the colonies as well as looking at how the current trends in populace are helping India develop into one of the world’s newest major powers.
Type of government and State system employed
Indian politics are described as a very grey area. What is construed as a democracy by the constitution is in reality a democracy where the people repeatedly vote in the same corrupt leaders. It is a country run by money and its idea of democracy needs to change drastically if India has any chance of catching up with the powerful G8 nations.
Relationship with neighbouring countries
India’s relationship with neighbouring countries varies completely from Pakistan their arch rival due to different aspects from religion to ownership of land. To their relationship with China which has dramatically changed from warring neighbouring countries to making ‘friends’ with each other and co-operating with one and other.
India’s court system appears to be at fault. Terrorism is becoming increasingly frequent but punishment for such crimes is minimal. Although the court system is attempting to pass laws to eliminate crime, the government is failing to implement them efficiently and the corrupt police forces overlook these laws.
Religion within India is widely spread and very important to the people of India. Instead of having the usual class system, India has a caste system and as soon as somebody is born they are put into rankings according to the caste system.
India’s culture is one of the oldest and most unique. It is unlike any other culture in the world and each region of the country possesses its own distinctive cultural niche. Cultural diversity is reflected through India’s exciting traditional clothing and highly respectful family values.
Health, welfare and education
The healthcare in India has developed dramatically over the years from hardly any at all to a national health service; even though this is available many of the higher class population choose to seek private centres. Welfare in India differs from the cities where tourism is popular to the villages were at particular months, times can be a struggle. Education is very popular in the cities where the government can provide help, on the other hand, in the outer villages education is scarce.
Government and Media
Indian Press, TV, Radio and Internet media are all explored in this section. It explains quick growth of Indian media sector and how it came across Governments will to control it.
Currently India is doing very well itself and is in a boom state rather than a bust in comparison with many other countries. India has many imports and exports e.g. diamonds and fuel. India has some main trading partners that are America and China.
India is a powerhouse in terms of their involvement in European relations. Relationships with neighbouring countries such as Pakistan are hostile but Bhutan and China are both working closely with India to improve trade routes.
In our group assignment, the question we were given to answer was ‘How can we accurately define the 21st century nation state with regards to the country India. This report consists of research into many different aspects of India including,
- Historical/geographical background and demographics,
- The type of government and state system employed,
- The nation state, relationship with neighbours,
- Judicial system,
- Importance of religion/class/caste,
- Culture and Ideology,
- Provision of welfare/education,
- Relationship of media and the Indian government,
- The modern economy.
During this project, we will explore deep in to India as a country, to gain extensive knowledge, to help us to understand more about their life and culture enabling us to complete our report. Each section of the report will be researched in depth and the most important and relevant parts picked out and used to show our understanding and knowledge of India. This will then enable us to piece together everyone’s individual work and produce an overall project.
The report will be created to the best of all our abilities, as it is a group project we will obviously be working together to complete the work. However, not only will we have to work together but we will also each have to do our own individual piece regarding our country, India. The information and the images e.g. diagrams that we will use in the report will be appropriately referenced in the bibliography along with any other relevant information we find.
Historical background of India
The Earliest know traces of life in India can be found as Stone Age rock shelters with paintings. These can be found in Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh. The first known settlement was traced back to over 9000 years ago. This settlement developed into the Indus Valley Civilization, which dates back to 3300 BCE in the western province of India. (http://www.harappa.com/indus/indus1.html) During the 16th Century India was used a major trading post to the far east by the Major European powers such as; the UK, Portugal, the Netherlands and France.
During the later half of the 16th century colonies were set up in India aided by the countries internal conflicts. By 1856, India was mostly under the control of the British East India Company. (http://india.gov.in/knowindia/history_freedom_struggle.php) Within a year India would be brought under direct rule of the British Crown. These events are some of the major factors, which have helped India to develop into a developing nation faster than a lot of its surrounding 3rd world neighbors. In my opinion India would not have been considered a developing nation for some time without the early introduction to European trading and industry, which are now the foundation to a thriving economy along with other factors such as the huge population and modern investment.
By the 20th Century India was ready for freedom and a struggle for nationwide independence ensued. The Indian National Congress as well as some other political organizations led the struggle. Infamous Indian Leader Mahatma Gandhi led millions of Indian people through non-violent campaigns for freedom. (http://www.kamat.com/mmgandhi/mkgtimeline.htm) On 15 August 1947, the nation of India was declared as free from British rule. At the same time as the gained there independence, some mostly Muslim areas where partitioned to Pakistan. (http://english.emory.edu/Bahri/Part.html) India became a republic on the 26th of January 1950 and the new constitution came into power. (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/in.html)
Geographical background of India
The seventh largest country in the world India is guarded from the rest of Asia by ranges of mountains and vast seas. This gives India a palatable geographical actuality. Spanning an area of 32,87,2631 Km square, India shares its borders with Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma, Bhutan, China and Kashmir. India has Borders with the Indian Ocean to the South West and Bay of Bengal to the South East with a coastline including non-mainland islands of 7,516.5 km. http://www.indiabook.com/india-information/indian-geography.html A lot of India’s strengths today can be attributed to its size. With size come resources and the power to export.
Demographical background of India
India has an estimated population of 1.2million people. (http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wpp2008/wpp2008_text_tables.pdf) This Makes India the 2nd most populated country in the world. I believe that we can attribute some of India’s success and a growing nation to this. For example, their massive GDP that has been climbing steadily could be accredited to the cheap work force that they are able to get their hands on. With the labor cost in India being cheaper India has found that Developed nations have taken an interest in using that cheap labor. This Investment from other countries has also helped India leave its neighbors behind. In recent years the population has risen sharply. It has been claimed that this is due to the recent advancements in medicine. I agree that this is an attributing factor and India’s aging population could be a problem for the in the very foreseeable future. But as it stands with its huge population India can only become more powerful as they advance technologically and strive to catch up with ‘Western’ nation.
There isn’t a more populated democracy in the entire world than India. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/country_profiles/1154019.stm) India also boasts the longest constitution by any independent nation. This exhaustive constitution was initiated on the 26th of January in 1950. The constitution outlines India as a Secular, Socialist, Sovereign and Democratic republic. (“Identities and the Indian state: An overview”) India adopted, beneficially, a parliamentary government but has shifted to a much more federal style in the 1990’s due to internal social and economical change. The constitutional head of the Indian government is the president. He is elected by an ‘electoral college’ and should serve a maximum of five years with out being re-elected. All real power in the country is shared between the President of India and the Council of Ministers. (http://www.tradechakra.com/india-political-system.html) On paper India is considered a very typical democracy. In reality voters keep voting for corrupt leaders. Democracy in India faces threats from leaders such as Abu Salem, who has recently requested to contest in elections. Abu Salem, and extradite of Portugal would almost certainly use his position of power to initiate hate campaigns against Hindus backed by his pseudo-secular followers. This puts forward the question, does democracy ever work? Thomas Jefferson once said, “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine”. Is the majority decision the correct one? Some people would say that Indian politics doesn’t work as a democracy, but if you were to compare them with Pakistan who have a very similar democracy to India, ‘On Paper’. In reality you would find that Pakistan has a much more corrupt government than India. This would suggest that the Indian system is a working democracy to some extent; to the extent perhaps that any democracy works.
Relationship with Neighbouring countries
Pakistan & India
Ever since 1947 when the British government went in and dismantled India as a country they have been arch rivals and even over the many years it has shown that they still do not get along. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/south_asia/2002/india_pakistan/timeline/default.stm These arguments go deep into religion and history the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and whom they actually belong to. Pakistan and India have not yet managed to agree on power over the equal equation in south Asia. An undeclared war broke out in 1947 between the two countries over the state of Kashmir; this was the first of three extreme conflicts that the countries have had with each other. On July 18th, both of the countries signed the Karachi Agreement establishing a ceasefire line that was supervised by the United Nations. This left Pakistan, India and China part of the land. Most of the tension between the two nations comes from a long history of conflict, through religion and ownership of land, ending up as a nuclear competition. http://www.ignca.nic.in/ks_41061.htm Each trying to push the other country to back down, one of the countries needs to take the first step to a harmonious relationship or things seem set to only get worse for themselves.
China & India
China and India have had a completely different relationship with one and other, they are very similar in many different ways, both of the countries had to fight for their countries freedom and have been allies in war. However, the change in new world has managed to alter India’s perspective of China and their true intentions. China’s military has had a rapid growth and this begins to worry India in several ways. China has always used their military forces to gain control of different aspects of their culture, for example for the fight for their freedom they used their armed forces to complete a gruelling task to fight until the end to obtain their goal. India went down the opposite route of using non-violent demonstrations to gain their achievements. So naturally, the development of the Chinese army has begun to worry India. Although these http://iaps.cass.cn/xueshuwz/showcontent.asp?id=262two approaches are completely different, both have seen success in their relationship, with one and other and other countries. By keeping there tactics the same, they now in the 21st century are aiming for the same goals of maintaining Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence around the world. I believe that India and china will continue to keep a harmonious relationship with one and other even with their different views on appropriate action so far they have managed to keep a friendship going and will continue this, using each other’s strengths to help themselves.
Indian Judicial System
How does it work?
The Supreme Court of India is the uppermost part in the Indian legal system, consisting of a Chief Justice and 25 associate justices, who are appointed by the President. Under The Supreme Court of India, each state or group of states possesses High Courts and there are several subordinate courts under these High Courts. As of the 1960’s, Indian eliminated the use of juries for most trials as they were deemed ineffective and corrupt and opted for the majority of trials to be conducted by judges (www.indiafacts.headlinesinindia.com & www.wikepedia.com).
Does India have a fair and working police and court system?
From research, I have found much primary data that shows me India’s police and court system appears to be working ineffectively. Terrorism is rife in India and the most recent attack was the Mumbai bombings in November 2008. These were a series of attacks, lasting three days, on some of India’s most famous landmarks, notably the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower. The attacks resulted in the death of more than 170 people. According to the Amnesty International Report ”the government tightened security legislation and set up a federal agency to investigate terrorist attacks”. However, the laws put in place failed to materialize and despite 70 death sentences, no executions took place. This suggests to me that the court system is failing in their attempts to improve the country and perhaps not enough effort is being put on important laws, such as punishing terrorists. (http://thereport.amnesty.org/en/regions/asia-pacific/india)
Furthermore, a report released by Human Rights Watch on August 4th 2009 gives an in-depth 118-page account of a range of human violations committed by the police in India. The report is based on interviews with police officers and over 60 members on the public who have first-hand experience of the police forces unprovoked and unnecessary violence. One individual describes how he was tortured in an attempt to force a confession out of him. He describes how he was repeatedly beaten with a wooden stick until he nearly fainted.
”India is modernizing rapidly, but the police continue to use their old methods: abuse and threats. It is time for the government to stop talking about reform and fix the system.” (http://thereport.amnesty.org/en/regions/asia-pacific/india)
This quote from Brad Adams, the Asia Director at Human Rights Watch shows how feels that the police system is not working and that the government need to do something about it.
Is the court system to blame for the corrupt police system?
According to the report, in 2006, The Supreme Court of India judgment attempted to improve police laws. However, the implications of these laws were poorly put into practice. The article implies that officials do not view the need for police and human rights reforms at an urgent matter and are satisfied for it to continue as it is.
“India’s status as the world’s largest democracy is undermined by a police force that thinks it is above the law.”
This is another quote from Brad Adams, revealing that the Supreme Court of India’s efforts have been overlooked by a policing system that chooses to ignore the law. (http://www.hrw.org/node/84730) From research, I have learnt that India’s police and court system appears to be failing. Although there seems be attempts to make new laws the process of putting them into practice is poor and ineffective.
India is a very religious country and the main religion that is followed in this country is Hinduism, 83% of the population of India is Hindu (http://www.incredibleindia.org/newsite/cms_Page.asp) and therefore obviously it is a very important subject. Religion in India plays a huge part and is often a way of life for the people who live in India and is something they relate to every day. Although Hinduism is the main religion there are many others with Islam been the second biggest religious group in India, “Muslims number over a billion globally, spread among many different countries, ranging from the Middle East and Africa to areas now part of Russia and extending as far as China and Malaysia in East Asia. They make up the majority of the population in 30 countries and large minorities in other” (Book-The international Business Environment, 2nd Ed. Janet Morrison 2006, Palgrave, Macmillan Page 182) and others including Christianity, Sikhism and Buddhism.
As religion is a way of life for the average person living in India they eat, sleep and breathe their religion because it is very important to them and this is what they live for. There are aspects of all religions within India that have become very common, the most recent of these aspects is the food and dance festivals that the people have to celebrate certain timesof the year within each religion. However because a large population of India go to these festivals regardless of their religion each actual religion has its own beliefs, heroes and culinary specialties (http://www.squidoo.com/indian-religions). This shows that no religion is the same despite the fact that they celebrate the same religious and cultural events.
India has a caste system that is a hierarchical system within their society http://www.indianchild.com/caste_system_in_india.htm, the system is used for almost everything and puts people in a ranking order depending on certain qualities which each individual has e.g. wealth, relatives. This system seems very important because it is used to help identify who is of more worth and who should be looked at differently with regards to the caste system.
It becomes easy to see who is where in the ranking and if you are at the lower end of the hierarchical caste system it is likely that people will act differently towards that person compared to if they were of a higher ranking. The extent of the impact will depend upon how severe the caste system is and how much people judge each other in relation to the system. I don’t believe it is fair to judge and make opinions on people just based on the caste system that they use in India, however it happens and so the people of India have to cope with it.
As there is a caste system the Indian people obviously class people according to things like wealth and power. This in my opinion shows that they have a class system and there will be a lower class who have the basic job and basic wages, the middle class who have the better paid jobs and the better power and then there is the ultimate higher class who most people will aspire to be because they are the wealthiest people among the classes and they have the power and the most powerful contacts and relationships. However most countries do class people according to how much money and power they have and this is unlikely to change any time soon.
India is renowned for possessing one of the richest and most unique cultures in the world. Each regions culture enjoys its own individual features, demonstrating great cultural diversity throughout the country. It would be difficult to identify any culture in the world that possesses the variation and individuality that Indian culture does. In this section of the assignment, I intend to explore some of the distinctive features of Indian culture, namely family values, clothing and dance.
So what is culture?
”The term culture refers to a state of intellectual development or manners. The social and political forces that influence the growth of a human being are defined as culture.” (www.indianchild.com)
Distinctive features of Indian culture
Traditional family values remain similar in all regions of India, despite the rich cultural diversity. A common belief among Indians is that children are a gift from God, boys being the more favourable sex as they can earn money to support the family. (www.essortment.com/all/familyindianli_rvuy.htm) Traditional family values are highly respected and a vast majority of Indians have their marriages arranged for them by their parents or other highly regarded family members. In India, marriage is thought to be for life and therefore the divorce rate is extremely low. According to statistics, (www.divorcemag.com) the divorce rate in the United Kingdom was 42.6% as a percentage of marriages, whereas India was only 1.1%; this huge difference reiterates that Indian family values believe marriage is for life.
Traditional Indian attire exudes ethnic charm through the bright, rich colours and style and material can vary depending on the geographical location. For women, a draped garment called a sari is popular and an embroidered dress called a salwar kameez. Similarly, men wear a draped garment called a dhoti or a lungi. Also popular for men are European-style trousers and shirts. From research, when I think of Indian clothing I instantly visualise radiant and exciting colours. I think this is reflective of India’s rich and unique culture as there are not many other countries in which traditional clothing is so exciting. The picture shows a woman in traditional Indian salwar kameez, the embroidery detail on the dress along with the vibrant colours suggests to me a lot of effort goes into their clothing and shows that clothing is a significant part of their culture.
Dance forms are divided into two categories; classical and folk. Classical usually aim to convey a spiritual message, whereas, folk dances are mainly used as part of celebrations. Like other aspects of Indian culture, dance forms are equally unique and vary across the regions. ‘Bharatnatyam’ is the most renowned dance from the South, as significant as a dance form it is viewed almost as a religion to many who revere it. I get the sense that dance is a highly significant part of Indian culture if it can be regarded to some people as important as religion.
From family values, clothing and dance to their unique monuments and religions, I have found the culture of India to be diverse among regions and extremely interesting to learn about. It is notably dissimilar to any other country I am familiar with.
Health care was changed substantially between the 1950’s and the 1980’s; however, this managed to cause a large boost in population growth causing the number of practises per person to be at an extreme low. In 1991, India had about 22,400 primary health centres, 11,200 hospitals and 27,400 dispensaries. (http://www.indianchild.com/health_care_in_india.htm) They managed to produce a tiered health care system that placed more difficult cases into the urban hospitals while attempting to provide medical care for most of the cases in the countryside; this seems quite significant because most of the Indian population live in villages in the outer areas.
Many of the hospitals were owned and managed by charitable trusts, and received some payment from the government, while the rest of the hospitals were managed by private trusts. Many of the medical equipment needed for the hospitals was limited as the money needed to by the products was scarce in the early 1990’s. By 1992, however, most of the privately owned hospitals were part of the government scheme for colleges and contained enough medical equipment to treat all major types of diseases including cancer. (http://www.indianchild.com/health_care_in_india.htm) India has a free treatment at public health centres on the other hand however most of the public prefer to pay money for treatment by private physicians. This seems interesting as India is not known as a rich country so paying for treatment rather than take the free care seems to be a bit of a luxury, on the other hand, it shows that the standard of national free health care must be at a poor standard.
In the case of welfare India is the same as everywhere else depending on its income to help it succeed. However, in India there are two scenarios with the richer parts of India’s population have no problem at all maintaining healthy living constantly all year round, however in the small villages of the less developed parts of India this can be an increasing problem with hot summers and no constant flow of tourists, times can seem very hard. (http://giik.net/blog/india-welfare/)With an enormous population in the billions many people live out of the main cities and even further into the country this can make it hard for them to access medical centres and other vital aid that they may need. This contributes to the high death rate, lowering the average life expectancy.
India’s recent economic growth rates have helped them progress in the educational department. The story of India’s educational achievements is one of mixed success. On the negative side, India has 22 per cent of the world’s population and is home to a high proportion of the worlds out of school children and youths. On the positive side, it has made encouraging recent progress in raising schooling participation. While the base of India’s education may be weak, it has emerged as an important player in the worldwide information technology revolution due to the substantial numbers of well educated computing and other graduates.
However it was not always this way in 1854, Sir Charles Wood’s introduced a new policy into India’s government, this was made to help those who have not got enough money to send their children to school, for help to be provided for them, so that all children would be treated equally. (Crisis and Change in Contemporary India)On the other hand, due to the enormous population of the country they could not make the school scheme compulsory, as the government did not have enough money for all of the children that needed their help and support.
Media and government of India
Relationships between the media and the government in India is not very different to the West European democratic model, however some historical and demographical aspects drove this relation in its own specification and pace. Recent changes in regulations of freedom and speech seems to follow global concept of independent media production and broadcasting news.
The history of media in India began in the eighteenth century when the first prints were published. Indian media has been relatively independent throughout most of their history, however, over the period of 1975-1977 Prime Minister Gandhi declared the period of emergency with potential government retribution. This incident has not changed freedom of Indian media in the long term. (http://india.mapsofindia.com/india-forum/media-in-india.html)
Nowadays Indian media markets with over 99 million newspaper copies in 2007, 60 million internet users in 2008 and large amounts of TV channels is one of the leading media markets in the world. With a population of over one billion the Indian market is a lot to fight for. Major newspapers like The India Gazette, The Calcutta Gazette, The Madras Courier were initially carried under the British rule, however same as The Bombay Times most Indian publishers are now independent. The Press Council is a statutory body of journalists, publishers, academics and politicians, with a chairman appointed by the Government. Designed to be a self-regulating mechanism for the press, it investigates complaints of irresponsible journalism and sets a code of conduct for publishers. This code includes a commitment not to publish articles or details that might incite caste or communal violence.
Radio broadcasting became state responsibility in 1930. AM broadcasting remained a government monopoly. Private FM radio station ownership was legalized during 2000, but licenses only authorized entertainment and educational content. Although there were privately owned radio stations, they were not permitted to broadcast news. Major radio stations nowadays in India like All India Radio, Radio City, Big FM, Radio Mirchi are important informational channels all over the country. Some channels are more recognized as of the language dialect, but Hindi spoken media with over 422 million speakers are the most popular.
Complete television broadcasting was initiated in 1965. The Government of India owned and maintained audio-visual apparatus and played a significant role in increasing mass education and publishing information. Some TV projects were specifically designed to educate village population. Following the economic reforms of the 90’s, satellite TV channels from around the world – including BBC, CNN, CNBC and other foreign television channels gained a foothold in the country. In 1993 there were over 47 million registered TV users. Private satellite television was distributed widely by cable or satellite dish. These channels provided substantial competition for Doordarshan, the government-owned television network, in both presentation and credibility. Doordarshan frequently was accused of manipulating the news in the Government’s favour; however, in some parts of the country satellite channel owners used their medium to promote the platforms of the political parties that they supported. In addition, citizens had access to uncensored Cable News Network, the British Broadcasting Company and a variety of other foreign programs. Recently, with 562 television stations, the country ranked eighth in the list of countries by number of television broadcast stations as of 1997. Star Plus, Colors, Zee TV, DD1 are the top TV channels in 2009.
Internet as the newest and the quickest growing media nowadays is the one that seems to be less influenced by Government regulations, however, some radical acts have also taken place in the past. The Government imposed limited access to the Internet. The Informational Technology Act provides for censoring information on the Internet on public morality grounds, and it considers “unauthorized access to electronic information” a crime. According to Reporters Without Borders, this law allowed police officers to search the homes or offices of Internet users, at any time and without a warrant. But it was another way to fight against crime and allowing legal acts against those who are breaking the law. In practice, the internet is the most popular media worldwide and is the most powerful source of information in India, same as the rest of the world.
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