With a population of almost 1.2 billion people, 1.2 million square miles, and more than 1000 different languages, India truly is a unique country. A country that many people are aware of, but don’t really know what’s really going on. This article aims to explain how India has become the country it is now, and to what extent its geography has contributed to this.
Even though China and India are neighbours, their culture could not be more different, and the reason why this is the case lies in the north-east of India. There lies the formidable Himalayas, which has been preventing the two countries to build up a close relationship ever since. As a result, there are no border crossings, and additionally, occasional escalations between the two superpowers let the relationships remain cold.
Having a look at the longest border of the country, the one with the Indian ocean, we have an additional factor that contributed to India`s development. Basically, a border with an ocean has always been sort of a double-sided sword. On the one hand, countries like the UK and Portugal has used them to increase their global power while they have also been benefiting from the natural protection that comes along with it.
One the other hand, if we take a look at the map presented above, we see one major disadvantage India has over for example, the UK. As compared to the UK, India has many further ways to travel by boat until they reach the next centres of power, with the Persian Gulf being an 800 miles trip, Singapore 1700 miles, and almost 3500 miles to Hong Kong. As such, compared to the UK, inventions from different countries take way more time to spread out into India. Which is the reason why the country has always had to go through its cultural and technological development process literally independently.
However, let’s have a look at the most problematic border India has, the north-western one. To give a little background why this is the case, we have to remember the impact the British colonialization had had.
Before the British colonized India during the 19th and 20th century, the country was separated in many small collectives with the regional power. Nevertheless, under the British leadership, all of these regions had been put together under the rule of one single government that served under the crown. The problem with this attempt was, however, that they combined hundreds of different ethnic groups that speak up to 1000 different languages and were divided into six major religious groups. It doesn’t seem too surprising that this would not last forever, and, in fact, after the second world war, the British decided to abandon their colony. In the process of doing so, the country got split up in two different parts, based only on whether people were Muslims or Hindu. The way how the country got divided can be seen by the graph below. West and East Pakistan were reserved for the Muslims to live in, while India was for the Hindu.
It’s not hard to guess that this didn’t work out either, considering that the two parts of Pakistan were roughly 1000 miles apart from each other, and left with considerably fewer resources than India. In 1971, east Pakistan revolted and became an independent state called Bangladesh. West Pakistan is Pakistan as we know it today, and it has been at odds with India almost continuously ever since. Apart from many conflicts and fights that have resulted from this, there is also a major tendency for Pakistanis to hate Indians, and vice versa.
India vs China
Typically, India is compared with China, considering that these two represent the two biggest countries in the world. As such, let’s have a look at the countries’ GDP growth since 1990. If we look at the graph presented below, we can clearly see that after the 1990s the typically large difference between the GPDs starts to decrease, until, in 2015, India surpassed China, and it has been doing so ever since.
One of the main reasons for India`s huge economic growth can also be traced back to one of the biggest trends in the economy – outsourcings. The reason why India is so attractive for international countries is partly due to the British influence. Because of them, India is nowadays, behind the U.S., the second biggest country with an English-speaking population. In fact, there are more than 125 million people with considerable English skills. Combined with a cheap labour market in the country, businesses worldwide are continuously seeing great opportunities to outsource. However, one has to realize that even though 125 million people sounds like a lot, this barely represents 10% of the entire population. his implies that India has many medium-skilled workers resulting from a good educational system, but this same system also lets many fall through its cracks.
These cracks might also be traced back to the country’s geography, related to the largely dispersed people as well as the undeveloped transportation system due to the hostile terrain in many parts of the country. There is a lot of research that suggests that a country`s urbanization level very strongly correlates with the quality of its educational system.
Up until today, India remains a country of many nations. Knowing that a one-ruling government is currently not going to work out for the country, India today has created a federalized government consisting of multiple states with particular levels of autonomy. For now, the biggest advantage lies in the sheer amount of people the country has. With one of the fastest-growing economies in the entire world, the next few decades will be determining if India will rise to be one of the world’s superpowers or if the country is doomed to fail.