Understanding Modern India
Five Things to Consider
In this reading, the author introduces five themes that are central to understanding modern India. As with any set of generalizations, there are exceptions, and not all authorities will agree with the author. As you study more about India you will be better able to come back to Buultjen's five ideas and decide wether you agree with him.
Five important features which will perhaps give us some aid in understanding modern India:
1. its diversity
2. the depth of culture
3. a land of minorities
4. its future depends on the interaction between two worlds:
5. the cities of India . . . and rural India
poverty, spirituality and modernity mix and coexist
Many people in the Western world think of India as an inert and distant [grouping] of people and poverty, a combination of the exotic and tragic. This misperception, popularized through years of media stereotyping, conceals reality.
In fact, India is a vibrant society with an increasingly vigorous internal dynamic and an increasing influence, directly and indirectly, in the world. Its significance lies not only in its size -- some 930 million Indians are 15 percent of the planetary population -- but also in the questions raised by the path India has chosen in domestic and foreign policy. This nation is the largest functioning democracy, with regular and freely contested elections. Thus, it is the test of whether democracy is a suitable system of govemment for large numbers of relatively poor people_in a world where democracy, as we understand it, is a much- endangered political species, especially in Third World countries.
Modern India is also a test of two middle-ground philosophies. As an early proponent of non-alignment in international politics, India has attempted to establish a [middle] position between Western and [communist] oriented states. Over the years, its leadership in carving out a Third World...