Economics Of India Essay, Research Paper
Kalpesh P. Patel
Global Economics 271
50 Years of Independence ; 5000 Years of History
The Republic of India possesses tremendous contrasts and enormous ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity. Since independence in 1947, the Indian civilization has expanded in every facet – from its increasing population to its to its intertwining cultural and social systems. There are over 1600 languages, nearly 400 of them are spoken by more than 200, 000 people. Ethnically, the country is comprised of mostly of Indo-Aryans and Dravidians while Hindus are the majority in the religious groups. The distinguishing characteristic of India is that is unofficially uses the caste system to differentiate between socio-economic classes and to prevent a fusion of various groups. Like the US , India is a democratic republic with a federal form of government. Geographically, India lies east of Pakistan, west of Bangladesh, south of China, and north of the island-country of Sri Lanka. India’s population is the world’s second largest continues to grow at a rate faster than that of China, threatening to overtake it in the next century.
HISTORY and CULTURE
Over thousands of years of its history, India has been invaded from the Iranian plateau, Central Asia, and the West. “The Indian people have absorbed and changed these influences to produce remarkable racial and cultural synthesis” ( US Dept. of State, 1997, p 3) .They have had a continuous civilization since 2500 BC., when the inhabitants of the Indus River Valley developed an urban culture based on commerce and agricultural trade. Around 2000 BC, Aryan speaking tribes migrated from the northwest into the subcontinent. As they settled, they adapted to the previous Dravidian cultures. In the fourth and fifth centuries AD, northern India was unified under the Gupta Dynasty. During this period, know as India’s “Golden Age”, Hindu culture and political administration reached new heights.
Islam spread over the continent over a period of 500 years. In the tenth and eleventh centuries, Turks and Afghans invaded and established sultanates in Delhi. In the early sixteenth century, descendants of Genghis Khan swept across the Khyber Pass and established the Mughal or Mogul Dynasty, which lasted for 200 years.
During this time, the two systems — the prevailing Hindus and Muslims — mingled, leaving lasting cultural influences on each other. This influence would later lead to a sense of rivalry between the two.
The first British outpost in South Asia was established in 1619, at Surat, Gujarat and the British went on to establish posts at Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay, each under the protection of native rulers. The British expanded until , by the 1850’s they controlled most of present day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
In the late 1800’s, the first steps were taken towards self-government in British India with the appointment of Indian counselors to advise the British viceroy. Beginning in 1920, Indian leader Mohandas K. Gandhi transformed the Indian National Congress political party into a mass movement to campaign against British colonial rule. The part used both parliamentary and non-violent measures to achieve their means- independence.
On August 15, 1947, India became a dominion within the commonwealth, with Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister. The earlier mentioned feud between Hindus and Muslims led the British to partition India , creating east and West Pakistan, where there were Moslem majorities. India became a republic by promulgating its constitution on January 26, 1950.
Although India occupies only 2.4% of the world’s land area, it supports over 15% of the world’s population. Only China has a larger population. Forty percent of Indians are younger than 15 years. Thirteen states have more than 20 million people, six have populations of 60 million, three exceed 80 million and one – Uttar Pradesh – has more than 140 million. India’s density is about 271 people per square kilometer. About 70 % of the people live in more than 500, 000 villages, and the remainder in more than 200 towns and villages.
Despite efforts in birth control such as family planning and male sterilization, India’s population has risen to 952 million and it growing at a rate of 2.1% annually. One prominent reason for the high population is the view that large families are important because they can provide extra labor and look after parents in later life. There are also pressures to have a male successor so that the family name will live on.
Ethnicity and The Caste System
About 72% of Indians with the lighter skin are of Indo-Aryan descent. The Dravidians (25%) are the darker skinned group that inhabited India before the invasions from the west began. The Mongoloid groups and other tribal groupings make up the remainder.
Although the 1947 Congress abolished the caste system , is still significant to Indians. It reflects “historical occupation and redefined hierarchies” ( US Dept. of State , 1997, p. 2). Traditionally there are four castes identified, plus a category of outcasts, or “untouchables”, that are oppressed. In reality there are thousands of sub-castes and it is with these that the majority of Hindus identify. An example of this sub-caste lies in my own surname- Patel, which is equivalent to a Smith or Johnson in the US.. There are over ten different kinds of Patels, depending on that particular groups geographic locale. My family’s sub-caste, “Leuva-Patidar”, means land owner in Gujarat.
Religion and Languages
Religion, language and caste are major determinants of social and political organization in India today. Although 83% of Indians are Hindu, India is also home to about 120 million Muslims (12%) – one of the world’s largest Muslim populations. The population also includes Christians (2.5%) , Sikhs (2%), and other groups such as Jains, Parsis, Buddhists, etc. (1.5%). The government has recognized 16 languages as official: Hindi being the most widely spoken. These official languages vary across the India with Indo-Aryan languages in the North and Dravidian linkages in the south.. In all, there are over 1600 languages in India but as a by-product of the British Raj, English remains a language spoken by the educated elite and is used as a form of commercial communication.
According to its constitution, India is a “sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, republic” ( Jackson, 1993, p. 162 ). Like the US, The Republic of India has a federal form of government. However, the central government in India has greater power in relation to its states, and its central government is patterned after the British parliamentary system. The government exercises its broad administrative powers in the name of the president. The president and vice-president are elected for five year terms by a special electoral college.
Real national executive power is centered in the Council of Ministers ( cabinet) , led by the prime minister, who is designated by legislators of the political party or coalition commanding a parliamentary majority. India’s bicameral parliament consists of the Rajya Sabha ( Council of States ) and the Lok Sabha ( House of the People). The council of ministers is responsible to the Lok Sabha. India’s independent judicial system began under the British, and its concepts and procedures resemble those of Anglo-Saxon countries. The Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and 25 other justices, all appointed by the president on the advice if the PM.
India has 25 states ad 7 union territories. At the state level, some of the legislatures are bicameral, patterned after the two houses of the national parliament. The states’ chief ministers are responsible to the legislatures in the same way the PM is to the national parliament. each state also has a presidentially appointed governor who may assume certain broad powers during state government crises.
Although local governments in India have less autonomy than their counterparts in the US, some states are trying to revitalize the traditional village councils, or panchayats, and introduce democracy at the village level, where much of the population still lives. My great-grandfather, as a member of the Congress Party was the first sarpanch, or commissioner, of the Bardoli territory.
The 25 states that make up the 1.3 million square miles ( about 1/3 the size of the US ) of India’s federation are larger than many countries. India is larger than the Middle East and also has more people. The country can be divided into physical regions, regions of population density, and regions of social prosperity.
India’s terrain varies from Himalayas to flat river valleys. In the north, a wall of Himalayan mountains extends for about 2000 miles. The southern Ganges Plains include the most important rivers – the Holy Ganges and the Brahmaputra. The monsoon rains yearly help keep India from being a desert . Near the Himalayas, up to 40 inches of rain can fall in one day. These physical contrasts are reflected in the distribution of population as the highest occurs along the Ganges Plains and around the coastal peninsula where the lowest occurs in the dry, mountainous areas.
The climate ranges from temperate to subtropical monsoon. This monsoon environment brings down heavy downpours of rain in summer months to much of the Indian subcontinent and sometimes of the year, hardly any rain. The Himalayas act as a door to the freezing winter air of Central Asia and provide Southern Asia with warm but dry winters. Conversely, as land warms in early summer, temperatures in most of Southern Asia become unbearably hot until the monsoon season re-commences in June. The eastern part of the Ganges Plains receive more irregular rainfalls as crop production often depends on waterflow in the rivers that rise in the mountains. Tropical cyclones occur in the Bay of Bengal during summer months and cause flooding and death.
Much of Southern Asia’s resources occur in the peninsula and lie in India. For most people, the main resource is water. The amount of monsoon rains determines whether the region’s economies continue to grow. In the millions of villages across Southern Asia, access to water is a continuing effort to manage the environment and provide communities with a continuing supply of food.
Although India is a predominantly agricultural country , it has a large manufacturing base and it one of the world’s major industrial powers. The economic reforms of the last few years are enabling India to attract multinational corporations who want to tap into the huge Indian market. As a result of these reforms, there have been record levels of exports and foreign exchange reserves and an economic growth rate of 5.5% in 1994-95. India exports goods worth US$ 23 trillion. Textiles account for around 25 % of these exports.
Through centuries of oppression from the British Raj and hundreds of invasions from the West, the core culture of Indian life has managed to survive. That alone says much about the Indain determination to sdvance forward. Over the centuries, Indian civilization has been put to the test by many forces but it has managed to preserve its heritage and identity. Several factors such as overpopulation and governmental corruption have hindered the advancement of India on the international stage. Through economic reforms, that have been preceded by political reforms, there is evidence that the country shows a great potential for growth and advancement.
Dr. Kalpesh P. Patel