Celebrating India on her Independence Day
She is a vibrant subcontinent, a cultural cauldron and a political miracle.
Across her land area of 3,287,263 square kilometres, she celebrates 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 Northwestern 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 Lakshwadeep 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 small, 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.
India is a political miracle. The seventh largest country on the globe, she spans 29 states, 7 union territories, 6 major ethnic groups and an unevenly distributed population of over 1 billion people. Though she covers only 2.4 percent of the world’s landmass, she is home to about 16 percent of the world’s population.
And, then there is the way that she communicates. Her constitution recognizes uses one official language (Hindi), one principal language of commerce (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. And, here is the unbelievable part: India uses 780 spoken languages to communicate!
Despite this veritable babel of languages, India has done an admirable job of connecting its diverse populations with communication technologies and networks. She knows how to celebrate her contrasts. Software cities next to villages, International class highways through pristine countryside, glitzy amusement parks next to heritage villages. Nothing really, is a surprise in India.
She is home to all of us. She is India.
— Excerpted from Corporate Communications: A 21st Century Primer (Sage Publications, 2004) by Joseph Fernandez