Monday, February 16, 2015


By: John Mathew Thekkel M.A. Ph.D.
(Dr. Sunny Ezhumattoor)
Originally wrote in 1990 and updated in December 2014.

    C. Hindu Beliefs                         D. Advaita Vedanta
    A. The Mauryan Empire             B. Period of Islam
        A. Islam    B. Buddhism    C. Jainism    D. Sikhs
        E. Christianity     F. Zoroastrianism         G. Judaism

India, also known as Bharat in Indian languages, is in South Asia. The Indian Republic is the seventh largest and the second most populous country in the world. It is about the same size of Europe and it presents even greater extremes of nature and differences in lifestyles than Europe. It covers an area of 3,287,782 square kilometers with a land frontier of 9425 miles and a coastline of 3535 miles. India’s neighbors to the north are the Chinese: Tibetan region, Nepal and Bhutan. To the northwest, India shares a boundary with Pakistan. India is flanked by Burma (Myanmar) on the eastern border. The country of Bangladesh forms an enclave within India, and is bounded by the Indian states of west Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura and Mizoram. Geologically, Sri Lanka is a continuation of the Indian peninsula, separated by 30 km wide shallows known as Adam’s Bridge. In contrast, the island chains of the Laccadives and Minicoy off the west coast of India and the Maldives to the southwest are coral atolls. The Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Bay of Bengal are part of Indian Territory.
India can be divided into three major natural regions: the Himalayas in the north, the Ganga plains, and the peninsula. The Himalayas, constituting the highest mountain system of the world, contain most of the world’s highest peaks (some ten of which rise above 25,000 feet). Mount Everest (29,028 feet) dominates the Himalayas and extends into Nepal and Tibet. India’s extreme diversities are reflected in its various races, languages, and religions. Each state has differing dress, manners, ways of life and though, and wide disparities exist in literacy and wealth. India’s people range from the primitive to the most sophisticated and represent the largest democracy on earth. "The diversity of India is tremendous," said Jawaharlal Nehru. "It is obvious ... and anybody can see it because the people of Snowy Kashmir and Steamy Kerala are at least strange to each other as the Finns are to the Sicilians. It is perilous to talk about any person or anything as typically Indian!"
The population of India is 1.27 billion, (2014) second only to that of China. Most of the north Indian languages belong to the family of Indo-Aryan or Indo-European. An excerpt from Archaeology and Language, The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins by Colin Renfrew:
"In the year of 1786, an English judge, serving in India at the high court of Calcutta, made quite an extraordinary discovery. He was Sir William Jones, who had trained as an Oriental scholar before reading law. On arrival in Calcutta, three years earlier, he had taken up the study of Sanskrit, the language in which the earliest literary and religious texts of India are written. Many of the texts are from the fourth to the sixth centuries A.D., by which time Sanskrit was no longer spoken, but served only as the language of scholarship and literature (much as Latin was used in the west during the Renaissance). In his Third Anniversary Discourse to the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Jones briefly mentioned an observation he had made which can be taken as a starting point for the whole study of historical linguistics, and certainly for the field of Indo-European studies" ‘The Sanskrit language, whatever may be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed that no Philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists; there is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothic and the Celtic though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with Sanskrit; and the old Persian might be added to the same family, if this were the place for discussing any question concerning the antiquities of Persia.’ Sir William Jones saw that in comparing two languages, points of resemblance in the grammatical structure are as important as similarity between the vocabularies. He appropriately compared Sanskrit, Latin and Ancient Greek, all by then dead languages, which had flourished at about the same time, and he drew into the discussion two of the languages of Northern Europe – Gothic, the ancestor of German and Celtic, and rightly compare these with the Old Iranian (Persian) language in which the hymns of the Avesta, the ancient Iranian scriptures, are written."

*Literature and Religion*
Sanskrit was the first and oldest Indian language. Literature had a fundamental influence on the religious, social and political life of the entire region. There are no accurate records of the earliest Sanskrit hymns.
The Vedas were written around 1200 B.C. The Rig Veda, the earliest of the four Vedas, is a collection of 1028 hymns, not all directly religious. The main function of the Rig Veda was to provide orders of worship for priests responsible for the sacrifices that were central to the religion of the Indo-Aryans. There are three other Vedas: Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda.

*Dravidian Languages*
As an independent family, the Dravidian languages were first recognized in 1816 by Francis W. Ellis, a British civil servant. The actual word Dravidian was first used by Robert A. Caldwell, who introduced the Sanskrit word Dravida (which, in a 7th century text, obviously meant Tamil) in his famous book, A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South Indian Family of Languages (1856).
The Dravidian language family consists of 23 languages spoken by more than 300 million people in south Asia. The four major languages: Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu – possess independent scripts and literary histories dating from the pre-Christian era.
Tamil is the language with the greatest geographical extension and the richest most ancient literature, paralleled in India only by that of Sanskrit. Dravidian speakers may have moved to India from the northwest to the south and east of the Indian peninsula, or even further from central Asia. India’s valley people were Dravidian in origin.
Dravidian languages show a connection with the Indo-European tongues: Mitanni, Basque, Sumerian, and Korean. (ex.: Words in Malayalam such as the following translate the same in Korean: Amma – mother, Appa – father, Uppappa – Chettan, etc.) There is a close linguistic relationship between Dravidian languages with the Uralic (Hungarian, Finnish) and the Atlantic (Turkish, Mongol) language groups. Tamil is spoken in Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, East and South Africa, Guiana and on the islands of Fiji, Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar, Trinidad and Martinique.
Malayalam, closely related to Tamil, is spoken in the state of Kerala. It is rich in modern literature. Today, many Malayalees are living in all parts of the world.
There are many tribal Dravidian languages such as Kota, Toda, Badaga, Irula, Kurumba, Paniya and Kodagu. Parji is spoken in the Bastar district of Madhya Pradesh. In the state of Orissa, many Dravidian dialects are spoken such as Konda, Ollari, Pottangi, Poya, Pengo, Manda Naiki, Chanda, Kui and Kuvi.
Many Gondi dialects are spoken in Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, and Bihar. Kurukh is spoken near the borders of Bihar and West Bengal. Many tribes speak Malto. The only Dravidian language spoken entirely outside India is Brahui. It is spoken in Qualat, Hairpur, and Hyderabad district of Pakistan.

*History of Dravidian Languages*
The origin of the Dravidian speech is still unknown. Dravidians were wide spread throughout India, including the Northwest region. A number of features of the Dravidian languages appear in the Rig Veda.
There are vague linguistic and cultural ties with the Urals, with the Mediterranean area and with Iran. It is possible that a Dravidian–speaking people, that can be described dolichocephalic (long headed from front to back) Mediterraneans mixed with Brachycephalic (short headed from front to back) Armenoids, were established in northwest India during the 4th millennium B.C. Along their route, these immigrants may have come into contact with the Ural-Atlantic speakers, thus explaining the striking similarities between the Dravidian and Ural-Atlantic language groups.
During the 1st millennium B.C., while Aryanization progressed in North India, the Dravidian speaking newcomers began to mix with the Negritos (not connected with African Negros) and proto-Australoids in the south. (These two groups existed in India even before Dravidians.) This process of acculturation continued from 1200 to 600 B.C. Movement of the Aryans into the south of India began about 1000 B.C.

*Dravidian Writing*
Writing was first developed in Tamil Nadu, about 250 B.C., when the Asokan Southern Brahmi script was adapted for Tamil. The earliest inscriptions in the Tamil script proper are the Pallava copper plates of about 550 A.D. The Kannada-Telugu script is based on the Chalukya (6th century) inscriptions. The Grantha script, used in Tamil Nadu for Sanskrit since the 6th century, was accommodated for Malayalam and Tulu. Tamil has, relatively, the lowest number of Indo-Aryan loan words (18-25 %), whereas in Malayalam and Telugu, the percentage is much higher. The important sources of loanwords have been Sanskrit, Pali, and Prakrit and in modern times, Urdu, Portuguese and English have made significant contributions. In Tamil and Malayalam, a purifying process has started. Less Sanskrit is used in Tamil and less English is used in Malayalam recently.

*Racial Types*
At least six different racial types converge in present day India. One type is known as Adivasi (first settler), who are dark in complexion. These aboriginals still dwell in mountainous or jungle areas in a tribal environment in all parts of India. They are swarthy with wavy hair and broad noses, but less stocky than Australia's Aborigines. Isolation and inbreeding has caused abnormal traits to develop in some tribes, and regional variations are marked.
The Dravidians, who drove the Adivasis into margins away from plains lush with sugar cane and rice, now live mainly in the South Decan. The Dravidians are considered to be darker-skinned than the Aryans, who came to India from central Europe via Mesopotamia and dominated the Indo-Gangetic plain from BC onward.
Aryan warriors and herdsmen were Caucasians with light hair and blue eyes. The Aryans were followed by Arab Semites from the area now comprising Afghanistan, Iran and central Asia. Jews escaping from Nebuchadnezzar arrived around 587 BC at Malabar Coast (present day Kerala) and became spice traders. Refugee Zoroastrians fled from Persia in the 10th century, and ended up in Mumbai. Persecuted Bahais from modern Iran arrived more recently. In the Himalayas and on the Northeastern frontier with Burma, most people are distinguished by Mongloid features; with high cheek bones and sparse facial hair. A Middle East mixture is evident if one observes many people in Kerala. In the Bible, in the Book of Genesis chapter 11 verse 31, we read of "Ur" of the Chaldeans, or Mesopotamia. Abraham left Ur and settled in Canaan which later became the land of Israel. The early settlers of Mesopotamia might have migrated to Kerala because there are historical records that King Solomon had traded with Kerala around 1000 BC so, later settlers might have come from the Middle East to Kerala from 1000 B.C. onward.
The end name of the many cities and villages of South India is noteworthy. Ur also may mean a place where water is available. Bijappur, Paravoor, Ezhumattur, and Trissur are some names.

*Caste System*
India's caste system is a multi-tiered apartheid, worse than any place on the planet. Some of the obsolete and primitive religious systems teach this doctrine and still are much alive in Indian society. If you are born in a low caste, it is your own fault for leading an evil life in the previous birth. The ultimate goal is to be born as a Brahmin. Any animosity or disrespect toward a Brahmin can result in much punishment in the next birth. If one is not doing good deeds in this life, he or she can be born as a tree frog or any other creature.
Each one unlucky enough to be born beneath the caste system is considered an "untouchable." They are loathed as spiritually filthy and were considered to be a separate species. Higher castes shun them for fear of contamination, even by the touch of their shadows. Since a glass put to their lips would be rendered unusable, untouchables must drink from their own cupped hands. If an untouchable ever touched a high caste person that low caste person could even be put to death. This condition has changed only because of British rule and they stopped this extreme practice. Low caste people accepted their oppressed condition without protest because their misery would be easily attributed to their past misdeeds, for which the person must undergo appropriate punishment in order to ensure a better life next time. They had no rights for education or prayer. They are even prohibited from hearing or reading Vedic scriptures.
The code of Manu, a Hindu sage who lived in 300 BC, speaks out a master plan for life in a multi-racial society. Individual choice is devalued. Each individual is born into a particular caste that predetermines both profession and status, regardless of the wealth of the parents. The Brahmins are intellectuals and priests - the link between mortals and millions of Hindu deities. Kshatriyas are rulers and warriors in charge of justice and administration. Both Brahmins and Kshatriyas are considered far superior to the others: the Vaishyas, businessmen or traders, and the lowly Shudras who must serve as servants, laborers, launderers, weavers, iron workers, craftsmen and other manual and menial works. But outcastes, the dark skinned tribal groups conquered by higher castes and considered unworthy to be part of the system, get all the worst jobs, such as cleaning lavatories, sweeping the streets, scavenging, burning corpses and gathering dead animals, etc.
A wedding, the ultimate family occasion, will bring out latent caste differences, even in liberal-thinking, modern professionals who have earned degrees for jobs but it is forbidden to them because of the birth in a certain caste... Classified advertisements in Indian newspapers list brides and grooms available for arranged marriages under specific headings of caste. The demands are blatantly racist, often requiring a fair complexion, sharp features and minimum height required also will be mentioned. Income and astrological signs are usually specified too.
There are thousands of subdivisions within the four major caste divisions, and these really matter. Jati or cast determines the degree of superiority within society's elitist pyramid. Caste is not something that can be lied about. Each family's surname gives away their rank. To insure the purity of the bloodline, traditional families still insist on an arranged match. A child will inherit the caste of the father, so inter-marriages are tolerated by relatives if it is the groom who marries down.
Although discrimination is banned by the Indian constitution, for the past 66 years, atrocities against lowest castes occur daily. In rural India, private armies enforce the status quo for feudal landlords who still keep low-caste bonded field workers in serf-like existence. Another social evil is bride burning due to lack of dowry.
Most societies in India are patriarchal and a daughter must leave her parents to set up a household with the groom's family.

The Hindu philosophies were originated between 7th and 5th centuries B.C. Hinduism consists of the beliefs, practices and socio-religious institutions of south Asian peoples known as Hindus mainly in India and overseas Hindu communities that are situated in parts of Southeast Asia, east and South Africa, West Indies, Indonesia, Surinam and in islands such as Fiji, Mauritius and Trinidad.
The name Hinduism means the civilization of the Hindus or the inhabitants of the land of the Indus River. It gradually evolved from Vedism, the religion of the ancient Indo-European peoples who settled in India in the last centuries of the 2nd millennium B.C. As a religion, Hinduism is a diverse conglomerate of doctrines, cults and ways of life.
In principle, Hinduism incorporates all forms of beliefs and worship without necessitating the selection or elimination of any. A Hindu may embrace a non-Hindu religion without ceasing to be a Hindu. They believe that different methods of worship and different religions all lead to the same God, such as different rivers flow and finally reach the same ocean. Hinduism is both a civilization and a conglomerate of religions. It is a religion without a beginning, a founder, or a central authority. It is structured with neither hierarchy nor organization.
Doctrine of Atman-Brahman: First there is the belief in a UN created, external, infinite, transcendent, and all embracing principle. This principle, "comprising in itself – being and non-being," is the sole reality, the ultimate cause, the foundation, the source, and the goal of all existence. This ultimate reality is called the Brahman. The Brahman causes the universe and all beings to emanate from itself, transform itself into the universe, or assumes its appearance. The Brahman is in all things and is the self (Atman) of all living beings. The Brahman is the creator, preserver or transformer and re absorber of everything. Though it is a being in itself, without attributes or qualities, and hence impersonal, it may also be conceived of as a personal High God (usually Vishnu or Siva). Vishnu is often regarded as a special manifestation of the "preservative" aspect of the supreme and Siva as that of the "destructive" function. Another deity, Brahma, the personification of the impersonal Brahman remains in the background. (There are only two temples dedicated for Brahma.) These three figures constitute the Hindu "Trimurti" (the one or whole with three forms). This conception attempts to synthesize and harmonize the conviction that the supreme power is singular with plurality of gods in daily religious worship.
Indra was the greatest God of Vedic religion. The invading Aryans adopted the beliefs of local and Aryan beliefs. Aryan influence is evident in the earliest Tamil ( a Dravidian Language) literature. The aristocratic group adopted the Aryan ways. The pastoral god Murugan was identified with Skanda and his mother, the fierce war goddess Korravi, with Durga. Varunan (a sea god who had adopted the name of the old Vedic god) and Mayon ( a black god who was a rural divinity with many of the characteristics of Krishna in his pastoral aspect) also are depicted in Tamil literature. Sanskritization of the Tamils was brought about through the patronage of the Pallava kings of Kanchipuram who began to rule in the 4th century A.D.

Vedism - the religion of the earliest Indo-European people who settled in India in the last quarter
of the second millennium B.C.
Brahmanism – the religion into which Vedism gradually grew, deriving its name from both its
Ancient Brahman priestly elite and the supreme God Brahman whom they worshipped
Vaisnavism – regarded Vishnu as the Supreme Being
Saivism – regards Siva as supreme
Tantrism (Tantra) and Saktism
Folk Hinduism – is an amalgamation of numerous local folk beliefs and practices
An ideal life has four stages. That of the Student, the Householder, the Forest Dweller, and the Wandering dependent or Sanyasi. These stages represent the phases through which an individual learns of life’s goals and of the means of achieving them. He carries out his duties, raises sons, and then retires to meditate alone. Finally, he gives up all possessions and depends on others.
Dharma represents the order inherent in human life. The Mahabharata talks of ten embodiments of Dharma: Good Name, Truth, Self-Control, Cleanliness of mind and body, Simplicity, Endurance, Resoluteness of character, giving and Sharing, Austerities and Continence.
Central to achieving liberation is the idea of Karma. It can be thought of as the effect of former actions. The cause holds the effect. According to this doctrine, every person, animal or god has a being or self that has existed without beginning. Every action, except those that are done without any consideration of the results, leaves a mark on that self. This is carried forward into the next life, and the overall character of the imprint of each person’s self-determines three features of the next life. It controls the nature of his next birth (animal, human or god) and the kind of family a person will be born into if human. It also determines the length of the next life.
The beliefs in the transmigration of souls (Samsara) in a never-ending cycle of rebirth has been Hinduism’s most distinctive and important contribution to Indian culture. The earliest reference to the belief is found in one of the Upanishad’s around the 7th century B.C. At about the same time, the doctrine of Karma made its appearance. The belief in rebirth mean that all living things and creatures of the spirit – people, devils, gods, animals (even worms) – possessed the same essential soul.
According to this school, there is no division between the cosmic force or principle, Brahman, and the individual self, Atman (soul). The fact that we appear to see distinct, separate individuals is simply a result of ignorance. This is termed Maya or illusion. It is only our limited understanding which prevents us from seeing the full and real unity of self and Brahman.
Brahman refers to the impersonal, all-pervasive aspect of the Absolute Truth. Everything comes from Brahman.
Sankaracherya of Kerala, who lived in the 8th century A.D., is the author of Advaita Vedanta philosophy.

The Hindus are essentially monotheists. They believe in the oneness of the Supreme Being. However, for convenience and for simplifying worship, they have assigned the major attributes of the deity to their trinity of principle gods: Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Siva the Destroyer. This diversity also finds its roots in history, for when the Indo-Aryans first came to India about 2000 B.C., they met Dravidians who had already attained a high degree of civilization. To make any religious headway in the new territory, the invaders had to adopt many Dravidian beliefs and weave them into a new body that is now known as the Puranic literature. (600 B.C.)
Several of the Dravidian goddesses were turned into consorts of the Aryan gods, resulting in a multiplicity of names for the same deity. Each god has an associated animal known as the vehicle on which they ride, as well as a consort with certain attributes and abilities. Brahma’s consort is Sarasvati, the goddess of learning. She rides upon a white swan and holds the stringed musical instrument known as Veena.
Vishnu has incarnated on earth nine times and on his tenth, he is expected as a Kalki, riding a horse. Vishnu, in his original form, sits on a couch made from the coils of a serpent. In his hands, he holds two symbols, the conch shell and the discus. Vishnu’s vehicle is the half-man, half-eagle known as the Garuda. His consort is the beautiful Laxmi, who came from the sea and is the goddess of wealth and prosperity.
Siva’s creative role is phallically symbolized by the worship of Lingam. Siva rides on the bull Nandi and matted hair holds Ganga, the goddess of the River Ganges. He has a third eye in the middle of his forehead and carries a trident. Siva or Rudra is also known as Nataraja, the cosmic dancer whose dance shook the cosmos and created the world. Siva’s consort is Parvati. She, however, has a dark side when she appears as Durga the Terrible. In this role, she holds weapons in her ten hands and rides a tiger. As Kali, the fiercest of the gods, she demands sacrifices and wears a garland of skulls. Kali handles the destructive side of Siva’s personality.
Siva and Parvati have two children. Ganesh is the elephant-headed god of prosperity and wisdom. He has numerous names such as Vinayaka, Lambodara (huge bellied) Vigneshwara the remover of obstacles. He is the most popular of all the gods. Ganesh’s vehicle is a mouse.... The other son is Kartikaya, and he has many other names such as Skanda, Subramanium, Veelayudhan, Shunmukhan, Murugan, the god of war.
Rama is the most influential of the incarnations of Vishnu. Rama’s birthplace, Ayodhya, has become the focus of fierce communal war between Muslims and Hindus. Toward the end of 1992, Hindu fanatics demolished a four-hundred year old Muslim mosque named Babri Masjid located in Ayodhya. Hindus wanted to build a Rama temple at that site. Thousands of people have died all over India recently due to communal conflicts.

In prehistoric times, people who had discovered the use of iron, copper and other metals settled in India. By the end of the fourth millennium B.C., India emerged as a region of a high and developed civilization comparable in many of its characteristics to the civilizations of Egypt and Sumer. Early Indian people lived in well-planned cities with a very good system of drainage. Their houses, made of baked bricks, were practices of early Indians, such as the worship of Siva and of the other mother goddess. The Aryans were a nomadic, pastoral people who migrated from central Asia. The Great Battle of the Ten Kings, of which the Rig Veda sings and in which the settlers of the Jamuna Valley threw back the invaders, closed the era of Aryan invasions.
[Many modern Hindu scholars and historians repudiate the theory of Aryan invasion of early India. American Vedic scientist David Frawley says that Aryans are the original inhabitants of India, and racially, Aryans and Dravidians are the same. This theory was supported by anthropologists who claim there are only three races: the mongloid, the Negroid, and the Caucasoid. Mr. Frawley says that "There is no evidence of any Aryan invasion in Vedic literature, but of the spread of Vedic culture from its homeland on the Sarasvati river of India. There are battles mentioned in the Rig Veda, but these are among the Vedic Aryans themselves" (from" ‘Voice of Asia’, March 22, 1993). Some blame the British for the theory of Aryan dominance and Dravidian subjugation to divide north and south. Since India’s independence, socialist minded people continue to blame the American C.I.A. for all types of calamities, disease and problems including natural disasters. It is customary for many Indians to blame the British for the ills of the pre-independent era in India including the partition between India and Pakistan in 1947. But a neutral historical reading will give us the true picture. Even before the arrival of foreigners, Indian kings could not maintain harmony and constantly fought amongst themselves. From the 18th to the early part of the 19th centuries, all nations believed in colonialism and aggression. Peace, non-violence and democracy flourished only after World War II. So the British only capitalized on the disunity of Indians. India was divided not because the British wanted it, but because of the rigidity and intolerance of Muslims in south Asia. Based on religion, barbaric violence still erupts in India .Instead of blaming others for all out miseries, let us look into our own hearts and correct our hypocritical errors.]

The valley of the Indus in western Punjab in the fifth century B.C. passed under the authority of the Persian Empire. It was organized as a separate satrapy or province and was named India. The conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander in 330 B.C. brought the Macedonian monarch to the Indian Satrapy of the Persian kings. When Alexander retreated without marching to India, Chandra Gupta, a discontented scion of the Nanda dynasty (then ruling in Magadha), took advantage of the confusion. He drove out the last Nanda monarch and established the Maurya dynasty at around 323 B.C. He defeated Seleucus Nikator, the successor of Alexander the Great, and annexed Afghanistan. Pataliputra (the modern Patna) was his capitol. The Mauryan Empire lasted for over 150 years and Asoka is recognized as one of the great figures of world history. A convert to the non-violent doctrines of the Buddha, Asoka devoted the rest of his life to the moral education of his people. After the complete downfall of the Mauryan dynasty, the Great Gupta dynasty of 320 A.D. came into power.
The history of south India was shaped by its maritime relations with Egypt, the Middle East, and Europe. In 52 A.D., St. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ, went to Kerala and converted Brahmins to Christianity. South India was comprised of the countries: Cholas, Pandyas, and Cheras.
From the 8th to the 12th centuries, various Islamic powers conquered India. Sultan Mahmoud of Afghanistan invaded India seventeen times between 1000 and 1027 A.D. in order to plunder Hindu temples. The true founder of Islam in India was Mohammed Ghori during the 12th century. By the third decade of the 14th century, organized Hindu resistance began. The Great Empire of South India Vijyanagar was able to hold Islam at bay over two and one half centuries due solely to the leadership of Ranas of Mewar. However, the Rajput confederacy fought back successfully by the middle of the 15th century.
Early in 1526, Babur the Mongol (descendant from the Mughal conquerors, Timur and Genghis khan), invaded Punjab and defeated the Afghan Sultan of Delhi. He then proclaimed himself emperor of India. His grandson Akbar was a monarch of outstanding ability, vision, wisdom, and tolerance. He loved Hindus and Muslims in like fashion. The Mughal Empire began to decline at the time Aurangzeb (1658-1707). The Rajputs, jats, and Sikhs organized resistance. Maratha country was established in 1624 by an outstanding hero named Shivaji. He symbolized a great spiritual and political revival.
The British were not the first European power to arrive in India, nor were they the last to leave. Both those honors go to the Portuguese. In 1498, Vasco de Gama arrived on the coast of modern-day Kerala, having sailed around the African Cape of Good Hope. Pioneering this route gave the Portuguese a century of uninterrupted monopoly over Indian trade with Europe. In 1510, they captured Goa, the Indian enclave, and controlled it through 1961. By the beginning of the 19th century, the British East India Company had acquired sovereign control over most of India. Britain defeated the Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish, and French. British rule covered India from 1818 to 1947. The British formulated a uniform educational policy for the whole of India with English as the medium in higher stages. They promulgated both legislation and penal codes which gave India the framework for a modern judicial system. They created a civil service on an all India basis. Railways, postal and telegraphic services, currency and customs policies brought about an administrative unity within the framework of an India divided into British princely states.
The great achievements of British rule in India were the creation of a solid infrastructure for a modern state. Hindu religion underwent drastic changes due to British contacts. Great Hindu leaders who made the reformations were Ram Mohan Roy, Dayanand Sarasvati, Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda.
Two-hundred and fifty years of British rule has produced a large Anglo Indian community. They are the descendants of British and Indian parents (mixed marriage). They are neither pure British nor pure Indian. They preserve a special ethnic identity in India and a very useful community. The can be seen all over India and they live in special subdivisions. Indian constitution has granted special privileges (reservations) for this community. Their numbers may not exceed more than 500,000 all over India.

The Indian National Congress was founded in 1885. After World War I (1914), Mahatma Gandhi became the top leader of India. His program was non-cooperation with the government based on non-violence. The Muslim League party under the leadership of Mohammed Ali Jinnah wanted a separate country for Muslims. Thus, on the 15th day of August, 1947, India and Pakistan emerged as two independent states.
Mahatma Gandhi was an extraordinary person; a westernized, English educated lawyer, who had lived outside India from his youth to middle age. He preached Ahimsa or non-violence. From 1921, he gave up his western style of dress and adopted the hand spun dhoti worn by poor Indian villagers. He also preached against the caste system. On January 30, 1948, the father of India, Mahatma Gandhi, was assassinated. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minister of India and held that position from 1947 to 1964. From 1964 to 1966, Lal Bahadur Shastri was Prime Minister of India. Shastri’s sudden death made Indira Gandhi the third Prime Minister of India. She declared emergency in 1975 and Morarji Desai became Prime Minister in 1977. In 1980, Indira Gandhi returned to power. On October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated and Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister in 1984. In 1989, V.P. Singh became Prime Minister but resigned in 1990. He was succeeded by Chandrasekhar. Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated near Madras on the 21st of May, 1991. P.V. Narasimha Rao became the Prime Minister after elections in 1991. (see the chart for dates)
India is one of the largest Muslim nations on earth with about 110 million inhabitants. Islam and Hinduism have often been seen as fundamentally opposed to each other. The contrasts in basic beliefs and practice are certainly sharp. Yet Hindus and Muslims live and work side by side. The spread of Islam across India was achieved by favors from Muslim rulers and partially by forceful methods.

*Muslim Beliefs*
In the Semitic tradition, the beliefs of Islam (which means ‘submission to God’) could scarcely be more different from those of Hinduism. Unlike Hinduism, Islam has a fundamental creed. "There is only one God, and Mohammed is the prophet of God" (La illaha illa ‘llah Mohammed Rasulu ‘llah). One book, the Koran, is the supreme authority on Islamic teaching and faith. Islam preaches the belief in bodily resurrection after death, and in the reality of heaven and hell. The idea of heaven is pre-Islamic and can be traced to old and new testaments of the Bible. Paradise is believed to be filled with delights and pleasures, while hell is a place of eternal terror and torture for those who deny the unity of god. There are four obligatory requirements imposed on Muslims: Daily prayers are prescribed at daybreak, noon, afternoon, sunset and nightfall; they must give alms to the poor; they must observe strict fasts during the month of Ramadan (they must not eat or drink between sunrise and sunset); and finally, Muslims must attempt the pilgrimage to the Ka’aba in Mecca, known as Hajj. Those who have done so are entitled to the prefix Hajji before their name. Muslims are strictly forbidden to drink alcohol. Also, the eating of pork or other animals which were not killed by the drainage of blood while alive, is also prohibited. (Meat prepared the appropriate way is called ‘Halal’). Charging usury or charging interest on loans gambling and betting are all strictly forbidden.
Mohammed, the founder of Islam, was born in 570 A.D. in Saudi Arabia. He had his first revelation from Allah (God) in 610 A.D. This, as well as other visions, were compiled into the Muslim holy book, the Koran. Muslims are strictly monotheistic and believe that to search for God through images is sinful. Muslim teachings correspond closely with the Old Testament of the Bible. Also, Moses and Jesus are both accepted as Muslim prophets (note: Jesus is not seen as the Son of God).

*Two Sects*
After the death of Mohammed, Islam split into two sects known as the Shias and the Sunnis. Abu Baker, Omar, and Osman were the first three caliphs after Mohammed’s death. Ali, whom the Sunnis count as the fourth Caliph, is regarded as the first legitimate Caliph by the Shias, who consider the other Caliphs to be usurpers. The first day of the Muslim calendar is July 16, 622 A.D. This was the date of the prophet’s migration from Mecca to Medina, known as the Hijra. Moharram, the anniversary of the murder of Mohammed’s two grandsons, Hassan and Hussain, is commemorated by Shia Muslims. Ali married the daughter of Mohammed, Fatima.

India was the home of Buddhism. There are only 5 million Buddhists in India. Siddhartha Gautama, who came to be given the title of Buddha (the enlightened one), was born a prince to the warrior caste in 563 B.C. He was married at the age of 16 and had a son. When he reached the age of 29, he left home and wandered as a beggar and ascetic. After six years sitting under the Bo tree meditating, he received enlightenment. There are many groups of Buddhists. Buddha developed his beliefs in reaction to the Brahmanism of his time, rejecting several of the doctrines of Vedic religion which were widely held in his lifetime: the Vedic gods, scriptures, priesthood and all social distinctions based on caste. However, he did accept the belief in the cyclical nature of life and that the nature of an individual’s existence is determined by a natural process of reward and punishment for deeds in previous lives. This is the Hindu doctrine of Karma. He preached four noble truths: life is painful; suffering is caused by ignorance and desire; that beyond the suffering of life, there is a state which cannot be described but which he termed as ‘Nirvana’; and that Nirvana can be reached by following an eightfold path.

Jainism started as a reform movement of the Brahmanic religious beliefs of the 6th century B.C. Its founder was Vardhammana who became known as Mahavir, the Great Hero. He was born near Patna in 599 B.C. Buddha was also born in the same area. Mahavir was about 35 years older than Buddha. His family, also royal, were followers of an ascetic Saint Parvanatha, who lived two hundred years previously. He died in 527 B.C. at the age of 72. His death was commemorated by a special lamp festival in the region of Bihar, which Jains claims is the basis of the now common – Hindu festival of lights, Deepavali. Unlike Buddhism, Jainism never crossed Indian borders, but it has survived into modern India claiming about 5 million followers.
Jainism has two principles, the living and non-living. All life is sacred and that every living entity, even the smallest insect has within it an indestructible and immortal soul. Ahimsa or non-violence was the basis for the entire scheme of Jain values and ethics. They believe in endless rebirths. There exist two sects: Svetambaras (white-clad), and Digambaras (sky-clad), who go naked.

The name Sikhs is derived from the Sanskrit word for disciples. Beards and turbans give them a very distinctive presence. There are Sikhs living all over India and playing an important role in all India’s major institutions.
From Hinduism came the ideas of Samsara, the cycle of rebirths and Karma. Sikhs reject idolatry and any worship of objects or images. Sikh principles are a blending of Islam and Hinduism. Guru Nanak founded this religion. He believed that man is blind and unwilling to recognize God'’ nature. He believed that God is one, formless, eternal and beyond description.. He transformed the Hindu concept of Maya into meaning the unreality of the values commonly held by the world.

There are about 26 million Christians in India today (1999). One of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ, St. Thomas, reached in India (Kerala) in 52 A.D. only 20 years after Christ was crucified. He settled in Malabar and then expanded his missionary work to China. He was martyred in Tamil Nadu on his return to India in 72 A.D and was buried in Mylapore near Madras.
The Syrian church of Kerala was linked directly with the Middle East and they still retain a Syriac order of service. Roman Catholicism spread after the arrival of the Portuguese. The Jesuit, St. Francis Xavier, landed in Goa in 1542.
Christian theology had its roots in Judaism, with its beliefs in one God, the Eternal Creator of the universe. Judaism saw the Jewish people as the vehicle of God’s salvation, and the chosen people of God. They pointed to a time when God would send a savior or Messiah. Jesus, whom Christians believe was ‘the Christ’ or Messiah, was born in the village of Bethlehem (20 km away from Jerusalem). He was crucified when he was 33 1/2 at Jerusalem, and was resurrected on the third day after his death. He appeared to his closest followers many times after his resurrection.
Christians believe in man’s fall and total depravity; his guilt, lost and hopeless condition; the amazing love of God in providing a savior in his only son; the perfection of Christ in His divine as well as His human nature; reconciliation to God through Christ’s shed blood, by which alone man is redeemed, and not by works, law keeping, or reformation. Christ’s resurrection is proof that God accepted his atonement. The Bible teaches that a Christian life should be one of devotedness to Christ, and of separation from the way of the world. The hope of the Christian is not the betterment of this world system, but the coming of Christ to receive His own. He will raise the dead in Christ and change the living that together they may be caught up to meet with Him in the air. God will then judge the world by judgment preparatory to Christ’s millennial reign on earth when He will rule the nations with a rod of iron. Righteousness will then prevail throughout the world. His redeemed church will always be with Him in New Jerusalem. Those who do not respond by faith to the Gospel of God’s grace and receive His free salvation will have their part in "the lake of fire," which is the second death, and eternal punishment, not extinction or restoration.

The first Zoroastrians arrived on the West coast of India in 936 A.D., forced out from the native Iran by Islamic Arabs. Until 1477, they lost all contact with Iran. They became known as Parsis or Persians. The population is approximately 120,000 in India. They have made tremendous economic and social impact in India. They adopted Western costumes and dresses. Tata, who is a member of the Parsi community, is one of the leading industrialists in the world.
Zoroastrians trace their beliefs to the Prophet Zarathustra, who lived in North East Iran around 6th century B.C. He enjoyed the patronage of the father of Darius the great. Alexander’s invasion weakened this religion. The spread of Islam was the major blow for this religion. They believed in a single God. Fire placed a central and symbolic part of Zoroastrian worship representing the presence of God. Earth, fire and air are all regarded as sacred, while death is the result of evil. Dead matter pollutes all it touches. Dead bodies are placed in the open to be consumed by vultures. However, burial and cremation are also allowed.

The first emigration of Jews to Kerala might have taken place in 587 B.C. King Solomon of Israel conducted extensive trade with Kerala since 1000 B.C. There was a much bigger exodus in the first century A.D. when Jews fleeing Roman persecution in Jerusalem came to Cranganore or Kodungalloor. For several centuries, there were two Jewish Communities in Kerala. The older was that of the "black “Jews .They might have settled in 587 B.C... The white Jews came much later. The synagogue of the white Jews is next to the mattanchery palace. One of the most impressive sights in the synagogue of mattanchery is the copper plates presented to the Jewish community by king Bhaskara Ravi Varma (962-1020). It awarded them the village of Anjuvanam, a name meaning "five castes," for the Jews were believed to be Lords of five castes of artisans. (Both Jews and Christians have always been considered of high caste in Kerala.) The plates state that "Anjuvanam shall be the hereditary possession of Joseph Rabban and his descendants so long as the world and moon exist." Governor of Cochin Al Buquerque requested the king of Portugal’s permission to exterminate the Jews one by one and destroyed their city at Cranganore. It was only with the arrival of the Dutch that the Jews of Cochin were able to live without fear once more as they always had in India. Their synagogue in Mattanchery, a Jewish town, was built in 1568 after their expulsion from Cranganore in which they were able to live without fear. At present, there are only 20 Jews who live in Kerala. All of them migrated to Israel. Jews always enjoyed special privileges under Hindu kings.

New Delhi is the capitol of India. It is a spacious, garden city, tree lined and with a number of parks. Modern New Delhi was occupied by the British when they moved their capitol from Calcutta to Delhi, which they used as their temporary capitol. This modern city of New Delhi, south of Delhi, was built on the ruins of the ancient epic city of Indraprastha.  Delhi has become the world’s second most populous city in 2014 after Tokyo. Delhi has a population of 25 Million.
Delhi, from time immemorial, was a grand junction of North India and a natural capitol of the Indian subcontinent. The ancient city of Delhi became the capitol of the Mogul empire. The Mogul palace, Red Fort, is now one of the major tourist attractions in Delhi. Calcutta is India’s largest city (with a population of about 11 million) and is the capitol of Bengal. It was founded by the remarkable English merchant trader, Job Charnock, in 1690. The name is derived from the Hindu goddess, Kali. Kalikshetra or Kalikata gave the city its name.
Chennai, being just over 350 years old, was founded by the East India trader Francis Day. Madras’ population today is around 4.7 million. St. Thomas went to India in 52 A.D. He arrived in Mylapore near Madras and was martyred. The Armenian Christians who came from Persia, found St. Thomas’ grave and built a tomb and church over it.
Mumbai, or Bombay, with a population of about 21 million, was originally an area of seven islands, inhabited by Koli fishermen and their families 300 years ago. To the original inhabitants, we owe the word "coolie," for many were later absorbed into the urban economy as manual, unskilled laborers and porters. With subsequent land reclamations, the islands were connected. The British acquired these marshy islands for a pittance of their true worth. Mumbadevi or Mumbai (from which Bombay gets its name) was part of Catherine of Braganza’a marriage dowry when he married Charles II in 1661. In 1688, the East India Company leased the whole area for 10 sterling in gold per year.

*A Great Monument of Grief*
Agra is host to one of the Seven Great Wonders on Earth, the Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan (1618-1707), fifth of the Great Mughals, was devoted to his wife Mumtaz Mahal (jewel of the palace). She died at the age of 39 giving birth to her 14th child. After her death, he went into mourning for two years and built for his wife the most magnificent memorial on earth. The Taj complex took over 22 years to construct and employed 20,000 workers. The red sandstone was available locally, but the white marble was quarried near Jodhpur (300 km away) and was transported by a fleet of 1000 elephants. Precious stones for the inlay came from far and wide: Carnelian (red) from Baghdad, Jasper (red, yellow, and brown) from the Punjab, Jade (green) and crystal from China, Lapis Lazuli (bright blue) from Afghanistan and Ceylon, Turquoise from Tibet, Chrysolite (gold) from Egypt, Amethyst (violet) from Persia, Agates (various colors) from the Yemen, Malachite (dark green) from Russia, Diamonds from Golconda in central India, and Mother of Pearl from the Indian Ocean. It is said that the emperor ordered the chief mason's right hand to be cut to prevent him from repeating the masterpiece. Another legend says that Shah Jahan intended to build a replica for himself in black marble and that the two were to be connected by a bridge made in alternate blocks of black and white marble.

India is a country with tremendous reserves. Its manpower is vast and virtually untapped. India is an important producer of rice, wheat, tea, sugar cane, vegetable oil, tobacco, cotton and jute. India is also a potential industrial giant since she possesses all the essential minerals. Although agriculture now accounts for less than 30% of India's Gross Domestic Product, compared with over 60% at independence, it remains the most important single sector of the economy. More than half of India's people depend on agriculture.
India has extensive resources of iron ore, coal, bauxite and other minerals. Reserves of coal at current levels will last more than 100 years. High grade iron ore reserves at present extraction rates (5 billion tons) will last more than 200 years.
India produces goods from airplanes and rockets to watches and computers; from industrial and transport machinery to textiles and consumer goods. Four decades of planned and centralized rule stifled India's growth. If India followed a capitalist oriented economic system, India would have been the richest country on earth today. Since 1991, after Rajiv Gandhi's death, Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and Finance Minister Man Mohansingh started dismantling the most regulated and archaic economic system on earth.  Today even a slum dweller has smart phone in India. This happened only because of the liberalization started by Manmohan sing in 1191. If India liberalizes her economy 100 percent it would become the richest country in the world.

The joint family system has descended from time immemorial, the Aryan patriarchal system of old still holding in India. Many Indians, especially in rural areas, live in joint families where grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and many relations all of the same male line, live under the same roof. The home is presided over by the most senior male member of the joint family. A young Indian usually does not set up house of his own when he gets married; instead, he brings his bride to the joint family. Parents play a vital role in choosing the mate for their child. The great advantage of the joint family is the economic and emotional security it provides its members. Further, the old, sick and disabled are taken care of medically. Adults step into the family concern and are provided with capital to expand the business. Children have cousins and second cousins to play with, as well as aunts to help them with their homework. Babies have babysitters and nurses to look after them. The joint family system has great disadvantages as well. It encourages parasites, and it saps individual initiative. When relations do not get along with each other, the atmosphere in the home becomes poisonous. It does not allow for privacy or solitude. Under the joint family system, sometimes in-laws become outlaws.
The joint family system is disintegrating as wealth is increasing. Many couples have opted out of the joint family to set up homes on their own, thereby gaining a more flexible lifestyle. And therefore, the old are carving out a new role for themselves. Senior citizens' groups have sprung up all over the country to be active in the community.
Indian women have always enjoyed a very special and honored place. The gods of the Hindu Pantheon are on the whole, monogamous, unlike the Greek or Roman gods. Dire consequences followed whenever a woman is insulted. Thus, in the Mahabharata, the stripping of Queen Draupadi resulted in the war between the Pandava and Kaurava kings at the battle of Kurukshetra. In the Ramayana, the abduction of Sita results in war against ancient Lanka and the death of the demon-king Ravana. Respect for women is thus an important part of the country's culture. A woman can travel for long distances on her own more safely in India than in some of the "highly civilized" western societies. But in marriage, the male exerts a dominant role. The marriage, which is arranged according to caste, sub caste and horoscope, is not the mating of two individuals, but rather the alliance of families much as between the old-time royalty.
The orthodox wife does not call her husband by his name, this would be disrespectful. She has to use circumlocutions like: 'my houseman,' hither and thither, or 'he' when speaking of him, or 'father of little' so and so, etc…. The husband never rules the house, no matter how much respect he is paid. Respect after all costs nothing. Even the women of Kerala's matriarchal society are respectful to men in public. But within the house, the wife or the mother rules (this contrasts with the Moslem family, where the men are always the masters).
Due to urbanization, education, and globalization, many of the old traditions such as the cast system, are breaking down. In Northern India, sending women for jobs was once a disgrace, but now, women in the work force have become a more familiar sight.

                                                     *Rise of Feminism*
India has always been a male-dominated society with strict traditions governing the life of women. Although the same restrictions prevail in rural areas, the past two decades have brought about a remarkable change in the lives of urban women.
The feminist movement fights against social evils such as dowry, bride burning, rape and child labor. Divorce, virtually unheard of in the past, has become a common feature of life. Economic self-sufficiency among women has gone some way towards removing the stigma attached to divorce.
Premarital and extra marital relations are on the rise in the present Indian society. Videos and satellite television may be responsible for this lax moral behavior. (Television is the most common form of entertainment.)
       Socialism and democracy is an oxymoron.

* We quote frequently with pride that India is the largest democracy on earth. Superficially, this statement is legitimate and valid. But if someone took the time to study the laws and regulations of India and what is happening in India and compare that with any western democracy, he would realize that India does not have a full-fledged democratic system. The country has managed to sustain a working electoral system since 1947.
Jawaharlal Nehru, the architect of modern India, the first prime minister, did not believe in the economic power of the individual; but he believed in the state. He was impressed with Fabian Socialism of Great Britain and was magnetized by state control and five year plans of communist Soviet Union. He gave India the most regulated, taxed and tariffed economy in the world, in which the government owned basic industries. Indian government allowed a few billionaires to exist in the private sector, which in collision with the government stood in the way of reforms. So India had two monopolies; government monopolies and private monopolies.
All these industries built with antique technologies of the Soviet Union and its communist satellite nations produced substandard products and also created one of the worst air pollution problems in the world.
Manufacturers were licensed to produce goods in certain quantities at certain prices and were issued with raw materials. Free competition was seen as a vice. The word profit is considered a dirty and immoral word. Since an industrial license was, in effect, a license to make money, corporations were not allowed to increase production to meet demand. Increased production meant increased profits and wealth was a sin in India although everybody desired it in a hypocritical way. The wealthy class preached for socialist cause and preached against wealth. Imports were restricted and businesses were checked by state institutions.
Socialism was a magic word and everyone preached the virtues of socialism. Although Nehru and his daughter visited both western capitalist societies and Soviet bloc countries and saw the great gulf between these two systems, their preconceived prejudice, arrogance and self-interest blinded them of the benefits of capitalism and a free society. To please the masses, Indira Gandhi started vigorous nationalization programs. Instead of teaching, in leading, she followed the utopian ideals of socialism. But her son, Rajiv Gandhi, had more intellectual acumen and started a moderate liberalization program. Now India has hope. If India manages to implement Narendra Modi’s free market policies, India will become the most advanced country in the world.
                                         Narendra Modi.
Rob Jenkins finds certain Reagan- Modi parallels that are easy to spot. His assessment is given below.
“To an American eye, India’s voters seem to be yearning for the inspirational tonic of their very own Ronald Reagan. This is troubling enough for those who recall Reagan’s stigmatization of welfare recipients and adventurism in places like Grenada and El Salvador. It would be far more worrying, though, if India actually elected Modi, a leader who in many ways bears a greater resemblance to that other iconic California Republican, Richard Nixon.
Certain Reagan-Modi parallels are easy to spot. Both ran on their records as governors of prosperous, modernizing states on the western coasts of their respective countries. Gujarat, like California, has long been an engine of industrial growth. Modi’s business-friendly policies have helped per capita income to triple in Gujarat since he took office in 2001 — though critics attribute these gains to previous reforms and complain that health and other human development indicators have not kept pace with economic growth.
Like Reagan, Modi is committed to replicating his regional success on the national stage, while somewhat contradictorily pledging to decentralize power to the states.
Like Reagan, Modi is committed to replicating his regional success on the national stage, while somewhat contradictorily pledging to decentralize power to the states.
Reagan and Modi each promised to unleash the pent-up capitalist energies of an entrepreneurial people. Modi’s policy agenda has been described as Thatcherite, a close cousin to Reaganomics. And Modi’s brain trust includes free market economists such as Columbia University professors Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya. Slashing dependency-creating welfare programs is a signature trope for Modi, as it was for Reagan. And Reagan’s other key campaign promise, to cut red tape in Washington, finds strong echoes in Modi’s plans for taming India’s bureaucracy.
Modi, like Reagan, is a master of the personal anecdote, effortlessly tying individual stories to larger principles. And both have employed catchphrases to mock adversaries. Reagan frequently replied to Carter in the 1980 presidential debates with a head tilt and a well-rehearsed "there you go again" — as if Carter kept repeating the same mistake. Modi refers to his main rival, Rahul Gandhi of the Congress party, as the "prince" — a barb that stings because it’s so true. His father (Rajiv Gandhi), grandmother (Indira Gandhi), and great-grandfather (Jawaharlal Nehru) were all prime ministers.
Similarities in style mask substantive differences, however. While associated with the religious right, Reagan was basically a centrist. Modi, by contrast, presents himself as a centrist, despite having spent much of his adult life with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, an organization whose divisive ideology promotes the idea of India as a Hindu nation. In 1990, Modi helped organize a notorious, religiously themed tour by BJP leaders through India’s Hindu-Muslim flash points, which left a shameful trail of intercommunal violence in its wake.
Like Nixon, Modi maintains a coterie of private-sector associates, some less
Too many Indians still believe that the market makes “the rich richer and the poor poorer” and leads to corruption and crony capitalism. This is false, of course. Despite the market having generated broad-spread prosperity over two decades — lifting 250 million poor above the poverty line — people still distrust the market and the nation continues to reform by stealth. The blame lies partly with our reformers who have not ‘sold’ the competitive market as Margaret Thatcher did in Britain. But fortunately, we now have in Narendra Modi an outstanding salesman of ideas who could transform the master narrative of our political economy.
When the government decontrolled the price of diesel two weeks ago, Modi lost the opportunity to explain why the competitive market is far better at discovering prices than politicians. He could have reminded people that during our socialist license raj, price controls pervaded our lives. Political prices did not allow producers to recover costs and this led to scarcities, black markets, and controllers. Our family home, I recall, remained half complete for years because my father was unwilling to bribe the cement controller for a few extra bags of cement. The mighty Soviet Union also collapsed partly because of political pricing.
Corruption is the inevitable result of tampering with prices. It has led to adulterating diesel with kerosene, a scam estimated at a shocking Rs 40,000 crore per year by KLN Shastri, formerly of the government’s Oil Coordinating Committee, plus the murder of whistleblowers who tried to expose the racket. In controlling food prices, the nation actually spends Rs 3.65 to deliver a rupee worth of grain through the PDS system — no wonder, half the grain ‘leaks’ out. In the case of power, theft is the natural outcome of price control. The Indian Railways actually loses 24 paisa per kilometer on every second-class ticket, which prevents it from modernizing.
Modi must employ his considerable rhetorical skills to persuade Indians that an efficient, corruption-free economy does not allow politicians to set prices. It will also help him to convince people that direct cash transfers into Jan Dhan Yojana bank accounts is a more efficient, less corrupt way to deliver welfare. The market does a far better job of preventing corruption than even the Lokpal, a lesson that has escaped Arvind Kejriwal and Anna Hazare.
A few days after decontrolling diesel prices, the government announced competitive bidding in coal mining. It was a good decision as market based auctions are the right way to discover the price of natural resources. But it did not go far enough — it restricted open bidding only to users of coal, such as power companies. Had it opened coal mining for free sale, it would have brought much higher revenues to the state and led to a competitive coal market, breaking Coal India’s monopoly that is the root cause of the nation’s coal troubles. Allowing competition in airlines, telephones, and television has greatly increased choice and freedom in India. There is an irony here: Indians think they are free because of their proud democracy, but economically they are still quite unfree.
Modi has repeatedly said that the government’s job is not to run business but to govern. But such general statements will not help him to sell the tough decisions that are coming in the next few months. He needs to go the extra mile to persuade Indians that subsidies, price controls, and government monopolies create distortions and harm the very people they are meant to serve. Market competition keeps prices low, raises the quality of products, and increases the aam aadmi’s freedom. It is when politicians are allowed to make economic decisions that crony capitalism enters the system.
In the end, Prime Minister Modi will be judged for creating jobs, controlling inflation, and stopping corruption. All three of these happy outcomes depend on moving decisions that are still in the discretionary hands of politicians to the impersonal market. Like democracy, the market is imperfect but it is better than any other alternative. If Modi succeeds in changing the narrative, an aspiring India may finally shed its socialist hypocrisy and begin to trust the market.”
DISCLAIMER: Views expressed above are the author's own.
More from Times of India Blogs

Socialism and state interventions are an anomaly of nature. Even the Hindu, Muslim and Christian religions only teach about the free market system for humanity. From our practice in India and other socialist countries, we knew that state intervention and control is a source of corruption and bribery. There are two powerful forces that operate in a free market: reputation and credit worthiness. In a free market, cheating, lying and bribery are quickly exposed and published. Reputation is prized and protected.
A free market promotes good manners, the core of all morality. In a free market, you have to be nice to your customers. Under a socialist system, an employee's job is secure, so that employee will tend to behave rudely to people as we see in India. Why did India become an unmannered nation? The state is directly responsible for this. Many Indians including this writer has been embarrassed many times, because people have seen the video of Indian legislatures throwing chairs at other party members and punching at each other's face.
Only a free market can break the feudal system and religious strife in India. Indian leaders must act morally and support just cause.
In America, only a born citizen can become the president, because this is the only country that accepts immigrants every year. But still, this law was promulgated a long time ago. Henry Kissinger, a German, and Madeline Albright, a Yugoslavian, became secretaries of state in the USA, the second highest rank in the cabinet after the president. But fanatics in India say that Sonia Gandhi is a foreigner and should not become the Prime Minister. This shows the callous and racist nature of many Indians.
America's strength is its Open Door Policy and free market. India's failure is mainly arrogance, racism, closed door policy, control, and suspicion and paranoia. Unless we try to get out of these outdated practices and beliefs that encumber, we will not have a future in the global economy.
For more scientific explanation of the benefits of capitalism, read the book "Capitalism, A Panacea for Socioeconomic Woes," by the author The limited liberalization has changed the face of India. These changes have a great impact, especially among the middle class in India.
Attitudes have shifted because of liberalization. The desire for material objects is no longer considered a vice. Now you can see PC's, the internet and cellular phones all over India due to this partial liberalization. Pursuit of individual goals is no longer seen as a bad thing.
A country which proclaimed socialism as its ultimate goal cannot be considered as a democracy. True freedom is economic freedom. Political freedom unaccompanied by economic freedom is meaningless.
Still, the majority of the Indians are against a free market economy. China started its liberalization in 1978 under supreme leader Deng Xiao Ping. Chinese leaders were far sighted and intelligent. So China today is one of the great powers on earth.
Now, many Indians, in the name of Swadesi  rhetoric, are creating many obstacles against liberalization and foreign investments.
In the United States, even foreign nationals and companies can come and start any business. Indians are in the forefront in the computer revolution in America because they can expand their abilities without encumbrance from the state.
The end of the cold war and the collapse of communism removed a permanent threat to peace, liberated millions of people living under communist tyranny, and demonstrated the bankruptcy of planned socialist economies and the superiority of the free market. Historical facts show that the societies and economies that flourish are those that allow the distinctive talents of individuals to blossom. Societies like the past-socialist Indian governments that dwarf, crush or manipulate individuals cannot progress. The nation that places a high value on individual freedom experiences the greatest advance.
The regulatory state does not produce a better society, it simply puts extra costs on business. These costs ultimately produce unemployment. A nation's wealth is not based on its natural resources or population. India's overpopulation is a blessing it if is exploited properly. Russia has the richest stock of natural resources in the world. It has almost everything: diamonds, platinum, gold, silver, oil, all the industrial metals and marvelous soil. If natural resources mean anything, Russia should be the richest country in the world. Thus, its poverty tells us something very significant. A nation's success is not based on its natural resources, nor on the talents and abilities of the people. For example, Indians excel in technology dealing with computers and science in America. If the same people lived in India, they would not be reaching that higher level of success. It is based on whether that country has the rule of law and a tax system that encourages individual's talents and abilities to flourish, and enables people to profit from them.

*Religious Freedom*
Religious freedom is the cornerstone of a democracy. In Western democracies, anyone is free to propagate, preach and convert. In Houston, at the initial opening ceremony of Meenakshi Temple, a CBS news affiliate in Houston showered flowers from a helicopter. Even devil worshippers have total freedom, as long as they do not violate any laws. Remember, the Hare Krishna movement has been operating, converting many Americans for decades without any trouble in the USA. Hindus are building temples all over America. Even Rajaneesh, who was expelled from India, had complete freedom to organize his commune based on nakedness and free love.
In India, when many states passed restrictions on conversion, and a wave of anti-conversion propaganda came in full swing, India automatically ceased to be an ideal democracy. A minority group of Hindu fanatics allege that missionaries convert law caste Hindus by coercion and inducement. Most of these wanton allegations are fabricated to justify their dastardly attack against nonviolent Christians.
The central tenet of Christianity is the proclamation of the love and sacrifice of Christ to humanity to provide salvation and eternal life. So it is imperative that a Christian must preach this good news. In addition, just like Christ loved and helped the poor, Christians also should be obliged to assist the poor and downtrodden. Therefore, Christians are establishing schools, colleges, hospitals, and orphanages. While they do these great services, Christians fulfill their divine duty of proclaiming the gospel. If anyone interprets these aforesaid deeds as inducement and coercion, it is a travesty of truth. Remember most of the past and present leaders of India are the products of Christian educational institutions.
Some leaders stated that we need a discussion about conversion. Actually, we need a discussion about some of the outdated Hindu practices, such as the caste system. Although banned by the constitution, untouchability is practiced all over India. Now we are in the 21st century, we still can see the massacre of low caste people in many other north Indian states. (Sudras, or low class people, are considered less than humans.)    On the basis of the ongoing persecution in India I would like to shed some light in to a historical fact occurred in the state of Kerala. In Kerala only high cast people had access in to temples. In protests the "Ezhava” community wanted to convert to Christianity. But the Christian Bishops discouraged the mass conversion idea. Sooner the maharaja of Travancore promulgated the famous Temple Entry Act for all Hindues.Professor M.K.Sanu an outstanding scholar and Hindu leader reminded these historical facts recently (1999), and stated that Christianity was spread in India without any foreign money and influence. Christian accepted converts only after genuine change of faith.  But many incidents of misuse might have some northern Indian States.
Christian missionaries do not show caste distinctions. Lepers are considered as outcasts. Only Christian missionaries go to help them. If Christians work among the poor and low class people and convert them, how can it be a crime?
Christianity came to India in A.D. 52. After 2000 years, including British rule for more than 150 years, Christians are less than 3% in India. So, fear of converting all Indians to Christianity is due to the lack of knowledge and paranoia of the fanatics. Indian Christians are unique and more patriotic than anybody else. They observe most of the Indian culture and way of life. Even some Christians observe caste distinctions although it is not sanctioned by the Bible.
Although Hinduism has many outdated practices, it is one of the most accommodating religions in the world. The pride of Hinduism is not in conquest, but in acceptance of all other religions. That is actually its strength.
Since its independence of 1947, India is facing its most difficult times today. Unless we turn to secular ways of life, India will face the destiny of Lebanon, Somalia, Cambodia, Angola and Yugoslavia. Religious fanaticism will never solve any problems. Conflicts will lead to mutually assured destruction. So let us go back to our traditional non-violent and secular way of life.

List of Prime ministers of India are given below:

Political party
Jawahar Lal Nehru
15-Aug-1947 to 27-May-1964
Indian NationalCongress
Gulzarilal Nanda
27-May-1964 to 9 June 1964
Indian NationalCongress
Lal Bahadur Shastri
09-Jun-1964 to 11-Jan-1966
Indian NationalCongress
Gulzarilal Nanda
11-Jan-1966 to 24 January 1966
Indian NationalCongress
Indira Gandhi
24-Jan-1966 to 24-Mar-1977
Indian NationalCongress
Morarji Desai
24-Mar-1977 to 28-Jul-1979
Janata Party
Charan Singh
28-Jul-1979 to 14-Jan-1980
Janata Party
Indira Gandhi
14-Jan-1980 to 31-Oct-1984
Indian NationalCongress
Rajiv Gandhi
31-Oct-1984 to 02-Dec-1989
Indian National Congress(Indira)
Vishwanath PratapSingh
02-Dec-1989 to 10-Nov-1990
Janata Dal
Chandra Shekhar
10-Nov-1990 to 21-Jun-1991
Samajwadi JanataParty
P. V. Narasimha Rao
21-Jun-1991 to 16-May-1996
Indian NationalCongress
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
16-May-1996 to 01-Jun-1996
Bharatiya JanataParty
H. D. Deve Gowda
01-Jun-1996 to 21-Apr-1997
Janata Dal
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
19-Mar-1998 to 22-May-2004
Bharatiya JanataParty
Dr. Manmohan   Singh
22-May-2004 to 26-May-2014
Indian NationalCongress
Narendra Modi
26-May-2014  to Incumbent
Bharatiya JanataParty

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