India occupies most of South Asia. It is the second most populated country in the world. With a population of 1.2 billion people, 1/6th of the world’s population reside in India.
The Republic of India or Bharat is a republic comprising 29 States, 6 Union Territories and the National Capital Region of Delhi. New Delhi is the capital of India. The country has two legislative houses, the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) having 245 seats and the House of the People (Lok Sabha) with 545 seats.
Indian Civilization dates back to 2600 BCE when the civilizations of the Indus flourished. Evidence of the civilization has been unearthed at Harappa in present day Pakistan. The civilization gave rise to the distinctive tradition of Hinduism. India is also the birthplace of Buddhism and Jainism.
India is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. Religious practices are diverse and many sects exist. In addition there are innumerable castes and tribes. India is the 7th largest country in the world. The people speak many different languages. At least 12 major languages can be identifies with hundreds of minor languages. These do not all originate from the same language family. The languages used by the Union Government are Hindi and English.
The Indian sub-continent has constantly been subjected to incursions from over the northern mountainous border. Islam was brought to the country by Arab, Turk and Persian raiders. By the 13th century the raiders began to settle in India and the sub-continent came under Muslim rule.
With the arrival of Vasco da Gama in 1498, India was exposed to western influences coming in from sea routes opened up by the European powers. By 1858, India came under the direct administration of the British Empire. Thus began a period of economic and political unification. Before the British left in 1947, they divided India into two countries based on dominant religious settlement. Pakistan the Muslim dominated country further split into 2 with the birth of Bangladesh in 1971.
China is another Asian giant, occupying most of East Asia. In terms of land area it is the third largest country in the world and in terms of population it is the largest. China has a population of 1.3 billion. This means that 1/5th of the world’s people live in China.
Unlike the Indian population, the Chinese are seen as a homogenous people. This perception comes from the fact that the majority of the population is Han Chinese. However within this community itself there is vast diversity in cultural and linguistic traditions. Sometimes the only linguistic commonality between two Chinese people is the written script.
The People’s Republic of China or the Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo occupies a territory that is 1/14th of the land area of the Earth. It is a single party people’s republic with only one legislative house, the National People’s Congress, having 3000 members. Beijing (Peking) is the capital and the official language is Mandarin Chinese. The official currency is the Renminbi (yuan).
China is one of the few countries today that is flourishing both economically and culturally as it did 4000 years ago. It is the only country with a recorded history dating so far back. Despite having such a large many parts of China are uninhabited or have a very sparse population.
China as one of the world’s earliest civilizations has developed through the ages as a discrete politico-cultural unit, with very little outside influence.The Manchu invaders were soon absorbed into Han Chinese culture. The only exception is the coming of Buddhism from neighboring India.
China and India both lay claim to giving the world many inventions and discoveries. Architectural structures that are marvels of human construction efforts come from both civilizations. The Great Wall of China is 6,000 km long. It stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the deserts of central China. It is the largest architectural structure ever built by humans. It took 2000 years to build.
By contrast the Taj Mahal built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan is one of the most beautiful structures ever built. Built on the bans of the Yamuna River in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India, it is a monument of love visited by tourists from all over the world.