After a year off from blogging, I decided it was about time to get back into it – and what better way than to write about one of the most incredible countries in the world? I’m talking about India, of course. After spending a month there last summer, I’ve been left with the overwhelming impression that British people should know more about the country with the fastest growing economy in the world. From its unfathomably rich history, to the fact that it is re-emerging as an economic, cultural and intellectual power, India has so much to offer.
A few insane facts:
– India has a population of 1.27 billion, with Karnataka, one of its 29 states, containing 64 million people, the same as the whole of the UK.
– It is estimated that India’s population has one third of the world’s poor.
– India is home to 22 official languages, but it is estimated that over 1500 different dialects are spoken around the country.
– In 2013, Indian women earned 62% of their male counterpart’s salary for equal work.
As you can probably tell, India is both fascinating and complex, with aspects of the country that amaze, dishearten and enlighten you. The most compelling part of its sheer size is how all of these people manage to live alongside each other, despite coming from such different and diverse backgrounds.
I was lucky enough to be accepted onto the scholarship programme Study India, which aims to forge stronger ties between the UK and India by showing students what it’s like to study, work and live in India. As part of cultural immersion, we got to attend the University of Delhi, as well as visiting some of the most spectacular places. From trying Bollywood and yoga, to learning Hindi and attending some of the most engaging talks and debates, it was an amazing experience.
We also gained an insight into some of the less well-known parts of Indian culture: I spent a week interning with Udayan Care, a fantastic organisation founded by Dr Kiran Modi. The charity aims to tackle the fact that whilst India is home to 31 million orphans, there are only 75’000 orphanages and shelters in India, most lacking emotional bonding or counselling. Udayan Care has set up 13 Udayan Ghars, or ‘Sunshine Homes’, around Delhi, that have cared for 352 vulnerable children to date. Understanding how prevalent this issue is in India, and helping such a worthwhile and important cause, added a depth of meaning to the trip and made my experience more rewarding.
So if you’re thinking WHAT A GREAT OPPORTUNITY, applications to go to India later this year are open now: http://www.indogenius.com/genuk/
Finally, if you want to find out more about India, including issues surrounding the role of women in Indian culture, you can listen to my radio documentary ‘The Importance of India’, and there is also an extract below.
“… Life in India is fast-paced, bustling and over-whelming, but whilst the humidity and noise can wear you down, there is never a dull moment. You can be sure that round every street corner, on every hair-raising auto-rickshaw ride, there will be something you have certainly never seen before, and will likely never see again. India’s expansive borders encompass an incomparable range of landscapes, cultures and people. From the over-whelming vibrancy of the Northern cities, to the lush valleys and intriguing ruins in the South, India’s profound cultural splendour is fascinating.”
Recommended read: ‘Shantaram’, by Gregory David Roberts.