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The People of India

1,173,108,018 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
Age structure:
0-14 years: 30.5% (male 187,197,389/female 165,285,592)
15-64 years: 64.3% (male 384,131,994/female 359,795,835)
65 years and over: 5.2% (male 28,816,115/female 31,670,841) (2010 est.)
Median age:
total: 25.9 years
male: 25.4 years
female: 26.6 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.376% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89
Birth rate:
21.34 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85
Death rate:
7.53 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
Net migration rate:
-0.05 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123
urban population: 29% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2.4% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.12 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.13 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.91 male(s)/female
total population: 1.08 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 49.13 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 53
male: 47.7 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 50.73 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 66.46 years
country comparison to the world: 160
male: 65.46 years
female: 67.57 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.65 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 81
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.3% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
2.4 million (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 4
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
310,000 (2001 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: chikungunya, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, and malaria
animal contact disease: rabies
water contact disease: leptospirosis
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2009)
noun: Indian(s)
adjective: Indian
Ethnic groups:
Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, Mongoloid and other 3% (2000)
Hindu 80.5%, Muslim 13.4%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.1% (2001 census)
Hindi 41%, Bengali 8.1%, Telugu 7.2%, Marathi 7%, Tamil 5.9%, Urdu 5%, Gujarati 4.5%, Kannada 3.7%, Malayalam 3.2%, Oriya 3.2%, Punjabi 2.8%, Assamese 1.3%, Maithili 1.2%, other 5.9%
note: English enjoys the status of subsidiary official language but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication; Hindi is the most widely spoken language and primary tongue of 41% of the people; there are 14 other official languages: Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Sanskrit; Hindustani is a popular variant of Hindi/Urdu spoken widely throughout northern India but is not an official language (2001 census)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 61%
male: 73.4%
female: 47.8% (2001 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 10 years
male: 11 years
female: 10 years (2007)
Education expenditures:
3.2% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 142


India's population, numbering 1.027 billion as of 2001, resides mainly in rural areas with India having a population density of about 305 people per square km.

Second only to China in population size, India is the home of 16 percent of the world's population. The country accounts though for only 2.42 percent of the total world area.

Cultural diversity is what makes up India, which is evident with the many different states.  In spite of the cultural and ethnic diversity, the physical characteristics of the Indian people are essentially the same.

 With various shades of brown skin, straight black hair and for the most part brown eyes, the Indian people do not have specific physical characteristics that differentiate them from many of the other different ethnic groups. 



India's process of development since 1947 has been accompanied by significant social changes and an increasing awareness about issues affecting the poor, the women and the children in India. This period has also seen the burgeoning of the voluntary movement in India and the establishment of several non governmental organizations to protect and promote the interests of women and children.

The Government has made constant attempts to promote values like democracy, freedom from discrimination, self-reliance and independence of thought. It has also tried to improve the lot of the poor and weaker sections of society. Women and children have figured prominently in the government's agenda of social reforms and initiatives.

Today, India is working towards a society where the poor, marginalized and underprivileged have equal opportunities in all spheres of life. Partnership and collective action by the voluntary agencies, government and other like-minded institutions and individuals have been the key to a meaningful thrust in this direction.

National Anthem

The song, Jana-gana-mana, composed by the great poet Rabindranath Tagore was adopted by the Constituent Assembly as the National Anthem of India on 24 January, 1950. Hindi is the official language with English as the associate and link language. Numerous other languages and dialects are used in various parts of the country of which 18 languages are recognised in the Constitution.

Cultural and Social Diversity

India's cultural and social diversity is all-pervading and yet a harmonious balance permeates throughout the social fabric. Social attitudes are often based on traditional beliefs, religious adherence and through interaction with modern social and political concepts

India is a secular country. Hindus form the largest community followed by the Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis. Seventy percent of the Indian people live in villages with agriculture or agro-based small industry providing the major occupation. With the large industrial cities and urban centres coming up, a new middle class and a new working class have emerged where the social and cultural order is different and pluralistic.

Creative Arts

In creative arts, India's sculpture, architecture and painting have had a rich history. The cave architecture of Ajanta and the cavewall paintings of Ajanta and Ellora, the temples of Khajuraho, the Mughal and Rajasthani paintings and the Taj Mahal are but a few examples of India's cultural heritage. The history of accomplishments in dance, drama and music is equally formidable and impressive. The classical dances still thrive in India, especially in its major forms-the Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Kathak and Manipuri.

Traditional crafts and textiles have been equally famous from times ancient. They also served to carry forward myths, legends, motifs and other aspects of a culture peculiar to a region. Some famous examples of the craft and art are the warp-weft type of dyeing as seen in textiles from Orissa (Ikkat), embroidery from Bengal (Baluchari), Banarasi silk-brocade from Varanasi.

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The literary tradition of India consists of the greet body of Sanskrit, Prakrit and Pali literature. The Samhitas and Upanishads represent great works of literature, sociology, philosophy and religion. The treatises on medicine, science, mathematics etc. of this period are also significant. Of the epic literature, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana are the foremost examples. Descendants of Sanskrit language like Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi have also produced great literary works during mediaeval period.

The Dravidian group of languages, like Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam have had their share of outstanding literary works of the past, like the Kurals, the Kaviraja-marga, Ramacharitram and Mahabharata of Nannaya.

Much of ancient Indian fiction consists of folk tales, which have been narrated from generation to generation. These represent myths, legends, stories of adventure, anecdotes and jokes and are often intended for moral edification. There is a rich reservoir of literature which grew up during the Muslim period, mostly on royal dynasties, history, travelogue, legal systems and mystical philosophy.

With the introduction of Western and English education in India, many Indians started to write in English. Their literary work covered wide areas, from fiction to poetry, philosophy, sociology, history, drama, biography and art.

Great works written in different Indian languages, have been highly acclaimed and have won laurels all over the world, including award of the Nobel prize in literature for the famous book of poems, Geetanjali by Rabindranath Tagore.


There is no strict uniformity in dress, the styles varying from province to province and from community to community. In the North, men wear a loose type of pyjama and kurta or shirt, while in the South and the East they use dhotis. Most women usually wear the sari, but the way it is worn varies from place to place.

Manners and Customs

In India as elsewhere, certain customs are observed in social matters. When people are introduced to each other they usually say "Namaste," which is the most common form of greeting. The same form is used at parting as well. Both the hands are joined and raised in greeting. Some people also shake hands and use the English form of greeting like "Good Morning," "Good Afternoon" and "Good Evening." Women do not generally shake hands. supports I.C.E.Y. - H.O.P.E. (non-profit org)
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