At 75, India is one of our world’s oldest nations — and youngest states.
India is — in the same breath — a vibrant subcontinent, an economic powerhouse, a cultural cauldron, a political miracle and effectively, the world’s largest democracy. Once a clutch of 562 princely states, India now spans 28 states, 8 union territories, and an unevenly distributed population of 1.4 billion people drawn from 6 major ethnic groups. India is the seventh largest country on the globe.
So, as the world celebrates India’s 75th Independence Day, it is worth looking at the world’s largest democracy, past the churn of its discussion-debate-dissent daily, to celebrate that India is 75 now — and beyond.
India is the sixth largest economy and represents one sixth of the world today. She has grown in 40 eventful years from $189 billion to nearly $3 trillion today — the world’s fastest growing large economy today. Consider this solitary fact. With over 18 million people of Indian origin living abroad, over $100 billion of inbound remittances flows into India every year.
India is a political miracle. A man who lived through India’s partition explained to me once that India is the only country in the world where the last colonial ruler and the first independent ruler were the one and same person. It exemplifies a balance of power & peace that have made India the world’s largest democracy, thriving in the volatile Asia Pacific region.
In the world’s largest democracy, over 16 general elections have seen India transition political power through its Parliament, based on the votes of its people. In the 2019 election alone, 611 of 912 million votes — 66% of the electorate — showed up to cast their vote in the Indian elections.
India celebrates breathtaking variance in her span. Across her land area of 3,287,263 square kilometres, she showcases a world of diversity. From North to South, she stretches 3214 kilometres. From East to West, she measures 2933 kilometres. She has a land frontier of 15,200 square kilometres — much of it zealously guarded by the Himalayas. The Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal lap up on her splendid coastline stretching 7516 kilometres.
Visit her Northern reaches in Himachal Pradesh, and you brace yourself for icy climes in the Himalayas that rival the Alps of Europe. Head to her north western frontier near Rajasthan to experience the sullen heat of the Thar Desert. Her humid Eastern border introduces you to the song of the cicada in the mangrove-fringed coastline of Bengal.
And, let’s not forget her slices of tropical paradise: Andaman & Nicobar islands, at the extreme end of the Bay of Bengal. Or for that matter, the Lakshadweep islands, nestled in the sparkling Arabian sea. Head for her vibrant South, and you will experience the extremes of the tropical experience. She is India.
Her culture revolves around her spirituality. For 5000 years, six world religions have made India their home. Hinduism is her largest faith. It constitutes about 82 percent of the population. Islam comes second, with about 12 percent of her population. The other religions have smaller but significant presences. They include Christianity (2.4 percent), Sikhism (2 percent), Buddhism (0.7 percent), Jainism (0.4 percent), and others like Zoroastrianism, which constitute about 0.4 percent of her population.
And, then there is the way that she communicates in her languages. Her constitution recognizes uses Hindi, English and 17 other officially recognised languages. They include Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. Here’s an Incredible India fact. Its people use 780 spoken languages and over 2000 dialects to communicate every day. Despite this, India has done an admirable job of connecting its diverse populations through governance, communication technologies and networks.
On the 8th of November 2022, as the world’s population moves past the 8 billion mark (800 crores), India will surge ahead to become the world’s most populated country at 1.4 billion (140 crore) people. Over 50 percent of her population will be below the age of 25, and so India will become home to the world’s largest cohort of young people.
India’s population has grown from 340 million in 1947 to 1.4 billion today. It is expected to touch 1.5 billion by 2030 and 166 billion by 2050. It will peak by 2064 with a projected population of 1.7 billion people. Though she covers only 2.4 percent of the world’s landmass, India is home to about 17.5 percent of the world’s population.
India knows how to celebrate her contrasts. Software cities next to rustic villages. International class highways running through verdant countryside. Amusement parks next to heritage villages. Nothing really, is a surprise here.
Through all of this, India remains united, dynamic and grows stronger as one of the 21st century leaders.
She is home to all of us. She is India.
The Hindu dated August 15, 2022
Five key findings from the 2022 UN Population Prospects: https://ourworldindata.org/world-population-update-2022
India to become world’s most populous country by 2023: UN
Gravitas Plus-India’s achievements @75:
Corporate Communications: A 21st Century Primer, Joseph F. (Sage, 2004):