Present Day India

India lies to the north of the equator, between 8°-4’ and 37°-6’ north latitude and 68°-7’ and 97°-25’ east longitude. It is bounded on the south-west by the Arabian Sea and on the south-east by the Bay of Bengal. On the north, north-east and north-west lie the Himalayan ranges. The southern tip, Kanyakumari, touches the Indian Ocean.

India measures 3214 km from north to south and 2933 km from east to west. The total land area is 3,287,263 sq km. India has a land frontier of 15,200 km and a coastline of 7516.5 km.

The southernmost point in Indian Territory, (in Great Nicobar Islands) is the Indira Point, while Kanyakumari, also known as Cape Comorin, is the southernmost point of Indian mainland.

The 82o30’E longitude is taken as Standard Time Meridian of India, as it passes through the middle of India (at Naini, near Allahabad). Indian

Standard Time is GMT +05:30

The Indian Union is made-up of 29 States, six Union Territories and the National Capital Territory Delhi.

India has a common border with Afghanistan and Pakistan to north-west, China, Bhutan and Nepal to north, Myanmar to the east and Bangladesh to the east of West Bengal.

A narrow channel of sea formed by the Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar separates India and Sri Lanka.

Area-wise, Rajasthan is the biggest State of India (342,239 sq km) and Goa is the smallest (3,702 sq. km.).

The States/Union Territories having a coastline on the Bay of Bengal are: Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

The States having common border with Myanmar are: Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. The States having coastline on Arabian Sea are: Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Lakshadweep.

Languages of India

Languages recognised in the Eighth Schedule of Indian Constitution are: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Maithili, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Santhali, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Konkani, Nepali and Manipuri.

Originally fourteen languages were specified in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. Sindhi was included as the fifteenth recognised language, vide the Constitution (21st Amendment) Act. Nepali, Manipuri and Konkani were included vide the Constitution (71st Amendment) Act. Bodo, Maithili, Santhali and Dogri were inculded vide the Constitution (92nd Amendment Act).

 

The Indian languages of today have evolved from different language families corresponding more or less to the different ethnic elements that have come into India from the dawn of history. They may be grouped into 6 groups as under: 1. Negroid, 2. Austric, 3. Sino-Tibetan, 4. Dravidian, 5. Indo-Aryan and 6. Other Speeches.

The Constitution recognises Hindi in Devanagari script as the official language of the Union (Art. 343 et seq.) and the regional languages as the official languages of the States concerned (Art. 345 et seq.). English was recognised as the authoritative legislative and judicial language (Art. 348 et seq.). A schedule—the 8th Schedule—was added to the Constitution to indicate all regional languages statutorily recognised.

Assamese, an Indo-Aryan language, is the official language of Assam State. More than 57 per cent of the population of Assam speak Assamese. Assamese has developed as a literary language from the 13th century.

Bengali, one of the leading Indo-Aryan languages, is the official language of West Bengal. It is spoken by more than 86 million people, the majority of whom are now in Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan. Bengali emerged as a separate language around A.D. 1000. It is now one of the most advanced languages of India.

Gujarati, a member of the Indo-Aryan family, is the official language of the State of Gujarat. Gujarati started out as an independent language around AD 1200. It has progressed at a rapid pace and is now one of the most developed Indian languages.

Hindi, numerically the biggest of the Indo-Aryan family is the official language of the Government of India. Among the various dialects of Hindi, the dialect chosen as official Hindi is the standard Khariboli, written in Devanagari script. This was originally spoken in Delhi and some western UP districts. From the literary point of view, the term Hindi covers not only the Khariboli form, but also a number of other dialects like Brajbhasha, Bundeli, Awadhi, early Marwari of Rajasthan and the Maithili and Bhojpuri of Bihar.

Being the official language of six States and the Indian Union today, Hindi is receiving high patronage. This patronage and support has encouraged the development of Hindi as a great literary language.

Kannada, the official language of the State of Karnataka, belongs to the Dravidian family. The majority of its speakers is found in Karnataka where they form more than 65 per cent of the population. Kannada, as an independent language, dates from the 9th century. It has rich literary traditions.

Kashmiri, a language of the Indo-Aryan group is often mistaken as the State language of Jammu and Kashmir. Actually, Urdu is the State language of Jammu and Kashmir.

Malayalam, a branch of the Dravidian family, is the official language of the State of Kerala. Malayalam struck out on its own by the 10th century AD. It is one of the most developed languages of India.

Marathi, belonging to the Indo-Aryan stock, is the official language of Maharashtra. Though Marathi separated from the main Indo-Aryan stock at a very early date, its literary career began only in the 13th century. Since then, it has made wonderful progress. It has today a fully developed literature of the modern type.

Odia, a branch of the Indo-Aryan family, is the official language of the State of Odisha, where Odia-speaking population comprises some 82 per cent of the population. Oriya is found recorded as far back as the 10th century. But its literary career began only in the 14th century.

Punjabi, belongs to the Indo-Aryan family and is the official language of the State of Punjab. Punjabi, though a very ancient language, turned literary only in the 15th century. From the 19th century, Punjabi showed vigorous development in all branches of literature. It is written in the Gurumukhi script.

Sanskrit, the classical language of India, is also one of the oldest languages of the world—perhaps the very oldest to be recorded. It starts with Rig Veda, which appears to have been composed around 2000 BC. Early Sanskrit is known as Vedic Sanskrit and covers the period between 2000 and 500 BC. Classical Sanskrit covers the period between 500 BC and AD 1000.

Sindhi, is a branch of the Indo-Aryan family. It is spoken by some seven million people, of whom 5.5 million live in Sind (Pakistan), and the rest mostly in India.

Tamil, the oldest of the Dravidian languages, is the State language of Tamil Nadu. Tamil literature goes back to centuries before the Christian era.

Telugu, numerically the biggest of the Dravidian languages, is the State language of Andhra Pradesh. Next to Hindi, it is the biggest linguistic unit in India. Telugu is found recorded from the 7th century AD. But it was only in the 11th century that it broke out into a literary language.

Urdu, the State language of Jammu and Kashmir, is spoken by more than 28 million people in India (1981 census). The name Urdu is derived from ‘Zaban-e-Urdu-Muala’ which means the language of the exalted camp or court. The exalted camp or court here meant the camp or court of the ruling Sultans of Delhi. Urdu has produced an extensive literature. Muslim speakers of Urdu use the Perso-Arabic script while Hindus use the Devanagari script. Urdu is also written in Roman characters.

Prominent Indian languages having Dravadian origin: Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil and Kannada.

Literacy rate: As per Population Census of India 2011, the Literacy rate of India has gone up to 74.04% in 2011 from 65.38% in 2001. Male literacy rate is 82.14% and female literacy rate is 65.46%. With 93.9% literacy rate, Kerala is the most literate State of India. Bihar, with 63.08% literacy rate, is the last in terms of literacy rate.

POPULATION

Population of India in 2012: 1,220,200,000 (1.22 billion).

Total Male Population: 628,800,000 (628.8 million).

Total Female Population: 591,400,000 (591.4 million).

Sex Ratio: 940 females per 1,000 males.

India is the second most populous country in the world. India represents almost 17.31% of the world’s population, which means one out of six people on this planet live in India. With the population growth rate at 1.58%, India is predicted to have more than 1.53 billion people by the end of 2030.

Population-wise, Uttar Pradesh is the largest and Sikkim the smallest.

More than 50% of India’s current population is below the age of 25 and over 65% below the age of 35. About 72.2% of the population lives in some 638,000 villages and the rest 27.8% in about 5,480 towns and urban agglomerations. The birth rate (child births per 1,000 people per year) is 22.22 births/1,000 population (2009 est.) while death rate (deaths per 1000 individuals per year) is 6.4 deaths/1,000 population. Fertility rate is 2.72 children born/woman and Infant mortality rate is 30.15 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.).

NATIONAL FLAG

The National Flag of India is a tri-colour with three equal horizontal stripes: (i) saffron (kesari) at the top (ii) white in the middle and (iii) dark green at the bottom. A Chakra—dark blue in colour and having 24 spokesis superimposed on the middle white stripe. This Emblem on the Flag is an exact reproduction of the Dharma Chakra on the capitol of Ashoka’s pillar at Sarnath. The ratio of the width to length of the flag is two to three.

The National Flag of India was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on the 22nd July 1947, and it was presented to the nation at the midnight session of the Assembly on the 14th August 1947.

Use of the Flag:

  • The dipping of the Flag to any person or thing is prohibited.
  • No other Flag or Emblem is to be placed above or to the right of the National Flag. If hung in a line, all other flags are to be placed on the left of the National Flag. When flown or raised with other flags, the National Flag must be the highest.
  • The flag is not to be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free; when carried in a procession it is to be borne high on the right shoulder of the standard bearer and carried in front of the procession.
  • The saffron stripe should always be at the top when the Flag is displayed from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle from a window, a balcony or from the front of a building.

The Union Cabinet decided in January 2002, that all citizens of India could hoist the Tricolour throughout the year. Earlier they could do so only on special days such as Republic Day and Independence Day.

The decision was taken in the wake of Supreme Court and Delhi High Court judgements in favour of extending this right. While the Supreme Court had observed that restrictions on flying the national flag appeared prima facie unsustainable, the Delhi High Court had ruled that the display of the Tricolour was part of the fundamental right to freedom of expression.

Normally, the National Flag is flown on all important Government buildings. In frontier areas, it is flown at some special points.

NATIONAL SYMBOLS

National Emblem and Seal

The National Emblem and Seal of the Government of India is a replica (duplicate) of the capitol (top part) of Ashoka’s pillar at Sarnath. In the original capitol of the stone pillar are carved out four lions, standing back to back with their mouths wide open.  In the emblem, however, only three lions are visible—as it appears in print—because the fourth remains hidden from view. The capitol (top part) is mounted on an abacus (a flat slab or base plate). There is a Dharma Chakra in the centre of the base plate, on the right of which stands the figure of a bull and on the left that of a horse. The side-views (only the edges) of the Dharma Chakra of the other right and left side are visible on both ends of the base plate. The words “Satyameva Jayate” are inscribed below the base plate of the Emblem in the Devnagari script. The words Satyameva Jayate are taken from the Mundaka Upanishad, meaning “Truth alone triumphs”.

The original lioned capitol of the pillar was designed by Emperor Ashoka between 242-232 B.C. to mark the hallowed spot where Mahatma Buddha first initiated his disciples in the eight-fold path of salvation. This was adopted as the National Emblem on 26th January 1950, by the Government of India.

NATIONAL ANTHEM

The song Jana-gana-mana was adopted as the National Anthem of India on 24th January 1950.

The song Jana-gana-mana was composed by Rabindranath Tagore and it was first published in January 1912, under the title Bharat Vidhata in the Tatva-Bodhini Patrika edited by Tagore himself. The song was translated into English by Tagore in 1919 under the title Morning Song of India. The complete song consists of five stanzas and only the first stanza has been adopted by the Defence Forces and is usually sung on ceremonial occasions.

It reads as follows:

Jana-gana-mana-Adhinayaka jaya he Bharat-bhagya-vidhata.
Punjaba-Sindhu-Gujarata-Maratha-
Dravida-Utkala-Banga
Vindhya-Himachala-Yamuna-Ganga
Uchchala-jaladhi taranga
Tava subha name jage
Tava subha asisa mage Gahe tava jaya-gatha.
Jana-gana-mangala-dayaka jaya he,
Bharat-bhagya-vidhata
Jaya he, jaya he, jaya he, Jaya, jaya, jaya, jaya he.

NATIONAL SONG

The song Vande Mataram is the national song of India. It is older than Janagana-mana and was composed by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and appeared in his novel Anand Math published in 1882. It was first sung at the 1896 session of the Indian National Congress. Its first stanza reads as under:

Vande Mataram!
Sujalam, suphalam, malayaja sitalam, Sasyasyamalam Mataram!
Subhrajyotsna-pulakitayaminim,
Phullakusumita-drumadala-sobhinim, Suhasinim, Sumadhura-bhasinim, Sukhadam,
Varadam, Mataram!

NATIONAL CALENDAR

The two calendars most widely used in India are the Vikrama calendar, followed in Western and Northern India and Nepal, and the Shalivahana or Saka calendar which is followed in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa.

In the year 56 BC, Vikrama Samvat era was founded by the emperor Vikramaditya of Ujjain, following his victory over the Sakas. Later, in a similar fashion, Satavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni initiated the Saka era to celebrate his victory against the Sakas in the year 78 AD.

Both the Vikrama and the Shalivahana eras are lunisolar calendars, and feature annual cycles of twelve lunar months, each month divided into two phases: the ‘bright half’ (Śukla Pakṣa) and the ‘dark half’ (Kṛṣṇa Pakṣa); these correspond respectively to the periods of the ‘waxing’’ and the ‘waning’ of the moon.

The names of the 12 months, as also their sequence, are the same in both calendars; however, the New Year is celebrated at separate points during the year and the “year zero” for the two calendars is different. In the Vikrama calendar, the zero year corresponds to 56 BC, while in the Shalivahana calendar, it corresponds to 78 AD. The Vikrama calendar begins with the month of Baiśākha or Vaiśākha (April), or Kartak (October/November). The Shalivahana calendar begins with the month of Chaitra (March) and the Ugadi/Gudi Padwa festivals mark the New Year.

A variant of the Shalivahana Calendar was reformed and standardized as the Indian National calendar in 1957. This official calendar follows the Shalivahan Shak calendar in beginning from the month of Chaitra and counting years with 78 AD being year zero. It features a constant number of days in every month (with leap years). Chaitra is the first month and Phalguna is the last month of the year.

The dates of this calendar permanently correspond with the Gregorian calendar Chaitra 1 falling on March 21 in a common year and March 22 in a Leap Year.

The use of the National Calendar is being implemented for the following official purposes: (1) the Gazette of India; (2) news broadcasts by All India Radio; (3) calendars issued by the Government of India; (4) communications addressed to public by the Government of India.

Months of the National Calendar: (1) Chaitra, (2) Vaishakha, (3) Jaishtha, (4) Ashadha, (5) Shravan, (6) Bhadra, (7) Ashvina, (8) Kartika, (9) Margashirsha,
(10) Pausha, (11) Magha, (12) Phalguna.

NATIONAL ANIMAL, BIRD, FLOWER

National Animal of India: Tiger (Previously it was Lion).
National Bird of India: Peacock.
National Flower of India: Lotus.

PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS
Places of Worship and Religious Books

Christianity: Church; Bible.
Hinduism: Temple; Vedas; The Bhagwad Gita; Ramayana; Mahabharata.
Islam: Mosque; Qoran.
Jews: Synagogue; Torah.
Sikhism: Gurudwara; The Granth Sahib.
Zoroastrianism (Parsi religion): Fire Temple; Zend Avesta.

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