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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;

Kaleidoscope 2).


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

(Netscape n.p.).


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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