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India is a large country and is located in south east Asia. It was
first colonized by the British. Its population has a large variety of
cultures. People of many different races, ethnic groups and religions have
settled there. Many of them came because of the democratic republic
form of government. The country’s economy is a mixed one and has been
India is the second most populous country in the world with a
population of 952,107,697 and a population density of 779 people per
square mile. India is the seventh largest country in the world, and is
slightly more than one third of the size of the U.S. It has a total area of
3,287,590 km2 and a land area of 2,973,190 km2. India is located in South
Asia. Its neighboring countries are Pakistan on the North West, China in
the North East, Nepal in the East and Sri Lanka, an island in the south
(Almanac 773-774). The neighboring bodies of water are Bay of Bengal on
the South East, Arabian Sea on the South West and Indian Ocean on the
South. Two major rivers are the Ganges and Indus rivers. The Ganges
river is a sacred river to the Hindus. They drink and bathe in it even
though it is very polluted. The Indus river originates in Southern China and
flows through mostly Pakistan except for a small section that flows within
the states Jammu and Kashir. The major physical features are the
Himalaya Mountains the Deccan Plateau and the Indo-Gangetic Plain. The
Himalayas Mountains cover 15% of the country in a 1,500 mile arc from
north to north east. The Deccan Plateau in southern India begins south of
Narmada River and comes to a point at Cape Comorin. Its height is
between 1,000 through 2,300 feet above sea level. The Indo-Gangetic
Plain, named this because it is bordered on the East and West by the Indus
and Ganges River, it is a 200 mile long plain land that is flat and well
A big geographical benefit os that India has many rivers, which are
good for irrigation. India also has many the natural resources which are
good to make money and to provide for the needs of the people in the
country. A major geographical problem in India is the climate. In summers
it is so hot in some areas that people have go to the mountains where it is
much cooler (Chambers 79; Brotvold 9,8,11,12).
India?s climate varies greatly throughout the country and has five
major seasons winter, spring, summer, fall and monsoon. The northern one
third of India, including the Himalayas, have seasonal summer temperatures
and cool winters. The rest of the country has temperatures that change
from hot to cold during the year. April through June are the warmest
months of the year. The months of April and May are the two hottest
months. Temperature can get up to 120 degrees in the inland, 105 degrees
on the Indo-Gangetic Plain, and 100 degrees in the southern parts of India.
In the months July through October, India receives most of its rainfall,
more than 90%. Malabar Coast and West Bengal are the most humid and
get the most rain, up to 100 inches a year. The eastern half of the
Indo-Gangetic Plain is also rainy. It gets 40-80 inches of rain a year. The
Deccan Plateau has moderate precipitation and gets 20-40 inches a year.
November through March are the cooler months. It is sunny and pleasant
throughout India (Brotvold 8-12).
India has many important resources. The most important natural
resources are iron ore, coal, and manganese. India holds the fourth largest
reserves of coal in the world. India has most of the mineral deposits it
needs, including iron ore, coal, lignite, silver, copper, gold, zinc and
manganese. Coal and lignite account for more than 60% of India?s energy
consumption, with wood, oil and natural gas, India is almost a self-sufficient
country. India also has a numerous amount of land resources. Of the total
land area, 20.5% is forest, 41.6% is sown with crops, 7.6% is left fallow,
3.9% is pasture and 1.5% contains crops such as tea and fruit trees and
24.9% is used for other purposes (Netscape n.p.).
India has more than 100 cities which make up over 27% of the
nation?s population. The five major cities in India are Bombay, Calcutta,
Delhi, New Delhi and Madras. Bombay is India?s largest City and is the
location of India?s main port. Bombay has a population of over 16 million.
Calcutta is the second largest city with over 9 million people and is where
the chief port for trade with South East Asia is located. Delhi was the
capital of India between 1912 and 1931. It has over 5 million people living
in it. New Delhi, with about half a million people, became India?s capital in
1931. Madras started out as a small village and now has a population of over
4 million people and is the home of another of India?s major ports on the
south east coast. Here there are many industrial plants such as cotton
mills, auto assembly facilities and leather tanneries (Brotvold 16;
India, a union of 25 states and 7 territories, is a secular Democratic
Republic with a Parliamentary system of Government. India is governed by
terms of the Constitution which were adopted on November 26, 1949 and
went into effect on November 26, 1950 (Netscape n.p.).
The president is the constitutional head of Executive of the Union.
The Executive of the Union consists of the President, currently Shankar
Dayal Sharma, the Vice President and the Council of Ministers with the
Prime Minister, who currently is H.D. Deve Gowdo, at the head to help and
and advise the President. President is more of a ceremonial position. He
acts on the advice from the Council of Ministers. The president is elected
by members of an electoral college consisting of elected members from the
House of Parliament and the Legislative Assemblies of the states. The
voting requirements in India are that you must be 21 years of age and you
can be either male or female. His term in office is five years. ?The
president has power to give himself all or any of the functions of the
government of a state if there is a failure in the constitution machinery?
(Netscape n.p.). The vice president is elected by an electoral college and is
an Ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. He serves a term of five
years. In the states, the governor is the head of the Executive, but most
of the power is with the Chief Minister who heads the Council of Ministers.
The Council of Ministers of a state is responsible for the elected
legislative assembly of the states and other problems on the regional level
such as education and health (Netscape n.p.).
The Legislative branch of the Union, called the Parliament, includes
the President, Rajya Sabha or Council of Ministers and the Lok Sabha or
House of People. All legislation requires the advice of both house of the
Parliament. But in the case of money bills, the Lok Sabha is what will
dominate. The Rajya Sabha has 245 members, Out of these, 233
represent states and territories. The other 12 members are nominated by
the president. Elections to the Rajya Sabha are by the members of the
Legislative assemblies of the affected states. One third of its members
retire every year. Lok Sabha consists of 545 members. Of these, two are
chosen by the president to represent The Parliament of India (Netscape
Indian Judicial System roots from British law. In the Judicial
System, the Supreme Court has the most power. The supreme court
includes the Chief justice and no more than 25 other judges picked by the
president. They hold office until the age of 65. ?The president may
consult the supreme court on any question of fact or public importance.?
The next in power are the High Courts. There are 18 High Courts in the
country, three of which have jurisdiction over more than one state. Of
the territories, Delhi has a High Court of its own. The other six
territories are under jurisdiction of different High Courts. The Chief
Justice of a High Court is appointed by the president, with the help of
the Chief Justice of India and the Governor of the state. High Court
judges retire at the age of 62 (Netscape n.p.).
The local or community government functions belong to the village
councils, or panchayats. A village council is elected by the village
members. The local government serves in the middle between villages
and state territorial governments (Netscape n.p.).
During World War I, Indian troops served the British. In 1919,
Britain passed a reform, providing for provincial councils of Indians with
some powers of supervision over agriculture, education, and public health.
The extreme nationalists, led by Mohandas K. Gandhi, gained control of the
Congress (Netscape n.p.). Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in
Porbandar, near Bombay. His family belonged to the Hindu caste, Vaisya
which was a merchant caste. Gandhi was married when he was only 13 years
old. When he was 19, his family sent him to study law at university college
in London. Gandhi was discriminated against in London because he was an
Indian. In his lonely hours he studied philosophy. While reading he
discovered nonviolent disobedience in the book Civil Disobedience by Henry
David Thoreau. He later worked in Southern Africa to improve the rights
of the immigrant Indians. While in South Africa, he developed his idea of
nonviolent resistance. He had improved many lives of the Indians living in
Southern Africa before he went back to India with his wife and children
(Compton?s n.p.). Not long after he returned to India, he started fighting
for India’s independence from Britain. When Muslims and Hindus
committed acts of violence against Britain, he fasted until the fighting
stopped. ?India’s independence came in 1947 it was not a military victory
but a victory of human will? (Netscape n.p.). However, the country was
broken into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan. He spent the last two months
of his life trying to end the violence which continued by fasting until on the
edge of death, which finally stopped the riots. The Congress part quickly
followed after thousands of people joined Gandhi’s civil disobedience
campaigns. Rioting broke out when the Parliaments didn’t place any Indians
on the Simon Commission, which was appointed in 1927 to investigate the
government of India. Gandhi and his followers were imprisoned in 1929,
and Jawaharlal Nehru was elected president of the Congress. Like Gandhi,
Nehru was devoted to the cause of freedom. But unlike Gandhi, he wanted
to bring modern technology and industrialization to India (Compton?s n.p.).
When World War II broke out, the congress demanded freedom for
India. The Congress wanted a Unified India but the Muslim league wanted
a separate Pakistan (Compton?s n.p.).
In February, 1947, the British Government said that it would leave
India no later than June, 1948. Muslim threats of Civil war then forced the
Hindu leaders to agree to make a separate state of Pakistan. The British
Parliament hurried through the Independence Act in July. On August 15,
1947, British rule in India ended. Two new countries, India and Pakistan,
were created. India took over the Indian Empire’s membership in the
United Nations. Mohammed Ali Jinnah became the first governor-general
of Pakistan. Jawaharlal Nehru became India’s first prime minister. The
boundaries between India and Pakistan were drawn to separate Muslims
from Hindus and Sikhs. Punjab, Bengal, and Assam were split in two, but
almost 38 million Muslims were still in India and about 19 million Hindus and
over 1.5 million Sikhs were left in Pakistan. Then rioting broke out Millions
of people ran across the borders to get to the side with their own religion.
On January 30, 1948, Gandhi was assassinated by a member of a militant
Hundu group that didn’t agree with his ideas of a truce. In 1950, the two
countries agreed to protect their own religious minorities. By 1951, about
7.2 million Hindus and Sikhs left Pakistan to go to India and 7.4 million
Indian Muslims entered Pakistan. Then in 1971 a war between India and
Pakistan Broke out. This war was started when East Pakistan could not
agree on a relationship between the central government that would be
accepted on both sides. This problem started when the government
delayed the National Assembly session. The last-minute efforts of
negotiations failed. Then a huge group of refugees crossed into India and
conflict began between India Pakistan in November, 1971 (Compton?s n.p.).
Indian and Bengal forces overtook Pakistan?s small army in the East.
By the time Pakistan surrendered to India on December 16, 1971, India
already had many prisoners and had taken a lot of land. Pakistan?s defeat
caused Yahya to fall on December 20, 1971. Zulfiqar Ali Butto, replaced
Yahya and East Pakistan became a separate state called Bangladesh
India’s economy is a mixture of farming, modern agriculture,
handicrafts and modern industries. The gross domestic product of India is
1.25 trillion dollars and per capta GDP is $1,360 (Almanac 773). The
currency in India is the rupee, 37 rupees are equal to one U.S. dollar.
Average incomes in India are some of the lowest in the world 40% of the
population is too poor to afford a proper diet. With foreign help India has
made progress since its independence. Some major countries that have
aided India are the United States and the Soviet Union. Reforms have
provided many more opportunities for about 200 million middle class
consumers and also the Indian businessmen. Foreign exchange reserves
were extremely low three years ago, but now total 19 billion dollars.
India’s exports total $24.4 billion. Items that are popular exports are
clothing, gems and jewelry, engineering goods, chemicals, leather
manufactures, cotton, yarn and other fabric projects. Its four biggest
export partners are USA 19.12%, Japan 7.74%, Germany with 6.62%, U.K.
with 6.62% and Hong Kong with 5.78%. Imports total $25.5 billion. The
popular import items are crude oil and petroleum products, machinery,
gems, and chemicals. India?s biggest import partners are the USA with
10.06%, Germany with 7.58%, Japan with 7.08%, Saudi Arabia with 5.56%,
and U.K. with 5.45% of the imports from other countries. Major
agricultural products are sugar cane, rice and wheat. Some major industrial
products are textiles, food processing, steel, transportation equipment,
cement, mining, and petroleum. Indian railroads total 62,211 km, highways
total 1.97 million km paved, 960,000 km unpaved and 1.1 million km gravel,
crushed stone or dirt. There are 16,180 km of navigable inland waterways
and 3,631 km that are navigable by large vessels (Netscape n.p.).
India is a country with very ancient and diverse cultures. That were
made of many waves of migrations to India and parts of cultures from
these people were taken into the Indian way of life. It has many varieties
of religion and race. Indo-Aryan is the main ethnic group of India with
72% of the population (Netscape n.p.).
Clothing in India is usually light because of the hot temperatures.
Men wrap clothes around them to form loose pants. They sometimes buy
pants that are loose at the waist and tight between the ankle and knees.
Women wear Saris, long pieces of fabric draped like a dresses. These
fabrics are usually brightly dyed (Brotvold 75).
Indian Hindus divide themselves by the caste system which are
hereditary groups whose members intermarry among themselves. Each of
these groups have their own origin myth, traditional occupations, rules
relating to kingship, diet and other forms of behavior. Each cast expects
respect from lower groups and gives respect to the higher groups. This
system is mostly associated with Hindus. They believe that the caste one
is born into depends on a person?s Karma or accumulated good and bad
deeds in their previous existences. They also believe that if you accept
one?s station in life and live it accordingly you will achieve a higher status in
future incarnations. There are thousands of castes. Most of them can be
grouped into four social classes called varnas. Brahmans is a group that
dominated the learned professions. Kshatriyas were traditionally warriors,
rulers and large land owners. Vaishyas were mainly farmers but are now
associated with commerce. Shudras were artisans and laborers. Below the
Shudras are caste groups with no varna designation. These outcasts were
traditionally regarded as ?untouchables? because they were known to have
unclean jobs like scavenging and leatherworking. These groups have always
been exposed to prejudice. Mahandas K. Gandhi tried to make sure that
they were treated right, and gave them the name Harijan, which means
Children of God (Srinivasan 52; Compton?s n.p.). ?The Indian constitution
outlaws untouchability and requires that a ?schedule? of such groups be
prepared in every state as an aid to provide them with special benefits, to
help them overcome their disadvantaged position? (Compton?s n.p.).
India has 15 national languages recognized by the constitution, which
are spoken in over 1,600 different dialects. The 15 national languages are
Hindi, English, Assumes, Bangle, Gujrati, Canned, Cashmere, Conking,
Sanskrit, Snide, Tamale, Malayalam, Martha, Ore, and Tillage (Netscape
n.p.). Hindi is the main language spoken by 20%. Assumes is the state
language of Assam and is spoken by 60% of the sate and originated in the
13th century. Bengali is the state language of West Bengal and originated
in the 13th century. Gujarati is the state language of Gujarat and is spoken
by 70% of the state. It originated from an Indic language. Kannada is the
state language of Karnataka and is spoken by 65% of the state. Ashmiri is
the state language of Jammu and Kahmir. It is spoken by 55% of the state.
Konkani is the state language of Goa and parts of the coastal Karnataka,
Kerala and Maharshtra. Malayalam is the state language of Kerala and is
thousands of years old. Marathi is the state language of the western part
of Maharashtra and originated in the 13th century. Oriya is the state
language of Orissa and is spoken by 87% of the state. Sankrit is one of the
oldest languages in the world and is the language of classical India. Sindi is
spoken in many parts of India in the devnagri script. Tamil is the state
language of Tamil Nadu and is spoken by 65 million people. It is over 2000
years old. English is the official working language of India and Telugu is
spoken by the people in Andhra Pradesh (Netscape n.p.; Kaleidoscope 2).
The Indian family is headed by a senior male. The senior female
assigns chores to the women and girls. The family would include the man?s
unmarried daughters, his younger brothers, their wives and their
unmarried children. It also would include his unmarried sisters, his married
sons and grandsons, and their wives and unmarried children. This type of
family system is known as an extended family. The sons of the man would
separate and form new a household after the death of their father. In
most parts of India, girls marry outside their village, usually while they are
still in their teens. She would then move into her husband?s household.
Couples in India want male children because of their contributions to the
family income. Sons are also needed to perform certain rites at a parent?s
cremation. Girls are seen as liability because of their expensive dowries
when they are married. Often families go into debt to provide dowries for
their daughters (Compton?s n.p.)
India is the birth place of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.
Its constitution guarantees religious freedom to all groups. Hinduism
makes up 83% of the population. Hinduism originated From the Aryans who
came to India more than 4,000 years ago. It is not just a religion but a way
of life for the people of India. 11% of India is Islam which is a religion
that was introduced to India in the 7th century by Arab traders.
Christians and Sikhs each make up about 2% of the population. Sikhism was
founded by Guru Nanak in the 15 century. Christianity was brought to
India by St. Tomas not long after Christ?s lifetime. Jains and Buddhists
are less than 1%. A man named Mahavira propagated Jainism in the sixth
century before Christ. At about the same time, Buddism came to India (A
& C.H. 52; Kaleidoscope 3).
A major cultural event in India are the festivals. Most of them have
religious character to them. Some are celebrated by only certain castes,
clans, or tribes. Some of the bigger celebrations can last between seven and
ten days. A few of the more notable festivals are Pongal, Janmashtami,
Onam, Diwali, Dussehra and Durga Puja. A Pongal is a three day harvest
festival and one of the most joyful events in the south. Janmashtami is the
anniversary of Lord Krishna. Night long prayers are offered and religious
hymns are sung in the temples. Onam is Kerala?s most popular festival,
primarily a harvest festival with a snake boat race held in the palm fringe
lagoon. Diwali is a festival of lights. It comes 21 days after Dussehra and
celebrates the return of Rama to Ayodhya after his 14 year banishment.
Dussehra and Durga Puja are some of the most popular of all festivals, they
symbolize the triumph of good over evil. Every region celebrates this 10 day
festival in their own special way (Art & C.H. 50; Srinivasan 107).
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