Context of Indian Politics

Context of Indian Politics - The Context of Indian Politics...

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The Context of Indian Politics
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Key issues World’s largest democracy How to govern >1 billion people, most of whom are very poor? Legacy of colonialism--a new state (1947) with very old culture Great diversity--religion, ethnicity Nuclear power--prestige on world scale
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Geography Population of 1 billion! Area 1/3 the size of US Still mostly rural—around 70% live in rural areas Disputed borders--with China, and Pakistan (over Kashmir)
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Major cleavages Rural vs. urban—note similarities with China. Crowded huge cities. Religion—large role in politics 80% Hindu 11% Muslim (2 nd largest Muslim population in world Sikh (2%) Language—18 major languages—Hindi (31%) Regionally concentrated; basis for regional movts.
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Cleavages, cont. Caste system—India’s social stratification system Based on Hindu system of categorization Marriage within caste, occupations limited to certain castes Four major groups: Brahmins (political leaders, priests) Kshatriyas (warriors)
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Caste, cont. Vaisyas (traders and merchants) Sudras (menial laborers) Now abolished (in writing, at least (1950 Constitution): the Dalits, or “Untouchables” Perform lowest jobs—garbage disposal, removal of dead Touch considered polluting to high-caste Indians
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The Pre-Colonial Period Very ancient culture—dates back to 4000 BC Indo-Aryans arrive from Caucasus (beginning in 1500 B.C.): dominant ethnic group today (72%) Vedanta: philosophical system based on belief in all pervasive cosmic system;unity of all forms of life Aryans credited for developing caste system, beliefs forming foundation for Hinduism
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Pre-Colonial period, cont. 5 th century B.C.: Introduction of Buddhism. Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) travels in northern India—philosophy rejects caste system By 250 B.C. India almost entirely Buddhist 1000 A.D.: Muslims invade area By 1600s India under control of Mogul dynasty
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The British Raj (Reign) 1700s: Europeans move into South Asia 1757: British emerge as dominant power after defeat of Bengali army at Plassey Mid 1850s: British have entire sub-continent under their control Mostly indirect control. Until 1857, administered by shareholders of East India Company; reliance on Indian soldiers
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1857: Indian Mutiny. Sepoys refuse to use new rifles. 18-month rebellion results in 1000s of deaths.
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Context of Indian Politics - The Context of Indian Politics...

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