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State of India: Affaires Brief

Shanet Clark

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Current Demographics of India:

A Basic H.E.W. & Development Briefing

I. Introduction:

Although making great strides in health care, literacy and higher education, India is a land of great deprivation, gender prejudice and urban overcrowding. Proper interpretation of the social development of India hinges on understanding two distinct facts, first, that rapid amelioration of poverty and economic distress is rapidly occurring and, secondly, that in absolute figures India still engrosses a very large number of desperately poor, ill hungry and mistreated individuals. We will consider some newsworthy recent health, education and welfare information, then go on to look at the astronomical population comparisons concerning literacy, language, poverty and religious affiliation. One theme of my findings is the pervasive inequality of women in India and this fact of gendered abasement can be seen in the statistics from the Census Bureau and reference materials, as well as in the news and the scholarly journal media.

II. Health Issues

On the health front, India has seen a recent wave of legislative and judicial action. The Indian Supreme Court in December ordered the Health Secretaries of eleven states to enforce the law passed in 1995, which had outlawed the selective abortion of female fetuses. Ultrasound laboratories and gynecologists face strong government pressure to end the practice of identifying and aborting female fetuses, and judges are registering labs and restricting ultrasound users to legitimate pre-natal care purposes.

Expanding judicial activity in the health arena is also seen in the recent smoking bans’ expansion and enforcement efforts. Smoking is outlawed in airports, restaurants and public streets. In Delhi, smoking in public is a one hundred rupee fine and in Madras thousands of public smoker have spent 48 hours in jail. These judicial decrees support new judicial orders to the government to limit the diesel exhaust of trucks and cabs in Delhi, one of the most polluted cities on earth. Most will be forced to switch to compressed natural gas to improve urban air quality.

In medical news, last year a Johns Hopkins University admitted that its staff scientist tested experimental cancer drugs on Indian patients in Kerala without first establishing safety guidelines through animal tests. Two medical researchers were suspended. This is a persistent shortcut for western pharmaceutical researchers, to test on human guinea pigs in India, as other cases are documented.

Across India, the National Family Health Survey found that more than one third of Indian women are undernourished and 47% of young children are underweight. The US Agency for International Development and UNICEF polled 90,000 women. About half of the Indian woman report they have no say in the decision-making processes for their health; forty percent of married women have symptoms of reproductive tract infections and sexually transmitted diseases. Malnutrition is now joined by western style obesity, especially in the Punjab and Delhi regions, yet 52% of women and 80% of rural young people are anemic.

AIDS awareness is tied closely to literacy level, as 40% overall have heard of AIDS, but only 18% of illiterate women know about the disease.

At least one of five women has been beaten or mistreated and 56% of the women surveyed believe that wife beating is justified for household infractions.

Western science and medicine has an interesting relationship with traditional medical traditions in India. New regulations are in place to monitor herbal and ayurvedic plant compounds for purity. In a related story, India’s famous salt supply is largely lacking in Iodine and there is a movement to regulate and modify salt to prevent Iodine deficiency syndromes.

Health issues are prioritized and addressed by the Indian government with the assistance of NGO’s like UNICEF, the WHO, the Danish International Development Agency, the Norwegian Agency for Development, etc. The period from 1997-2002 is the period of the Indian government’s Ninth Five Year Plan, which is focused on developing the health infrastructure of India and dealing with issues of malnourishment and under nutrition. The Ninth Five Year Plan also specifically addresses violence towards women, prostitutes’ children and victims of terrorism. The Five Year Plans have shown steady progress in reaching stated goals in health and social fields, but corruption at the top takes away many valuable resources. For example, the President of the Medical Council of India, or MCI, was removed for embezzling seven million rupees, fifteen times his true salary, in 1999.

Family Planning has been the central thrust of Indian welfare programs since 1950. Reducing the birth rate and family size has been emphasized in each Five Year Plan. Voluntary sterilization peaked at over eight million a year in the late 1970’s. The birth rate has fallen from 42 per thousand in the 1950’s to 28 per thousand in 1995, and contraception has been freely available for fifty years. Universal vaccination and greater regional and traditional health care services are the current goals of the government.

III. Education Issues

Free and compulsory education to age 14 is written into the Indian Constitution and the scheduled castes and tribes are singled out in the Constitution for economic and educational support. Governor General Warren Hastings set up the first two colleges in India in 1791, a Muslim college in Calcutta and a Hindu college in Benares. India now has five of the fifteen largest universities in the world, and the University of Madras, established in 1794, has 200,000 students, comparable with the UC California system. Thirty-five of the one hundred largest universities in the world are in India. Higher education is funded mainly by the states, with federal and student tuition contributing. Enrollment in Indian colleges rose from 175,000 in 1950 to over four million today, and 240,000 now teach. About 90% are undergraduates, 10% are graduate students and 1% are involved in research. Special efforts are made to enroll scheduled castes and tribes. 20% of government education funds now go toward higher education. Over 9000 doctorates are awarded each year, but less than 1% of Ph.D.’s find public and private sector work, as most are underemployed or remain at the colleges.

Literacy rates are rising rapidly across India, with the highest rates of literacy in the cities. The overall literacy rate rose from 43.5% in 1981 to 52.21 % in 1991, and then to nearly 65% in the 2001 provisional Census figures. Rural/urban factors and gender are major determinants of literacy. Delhi, Pondicherry and Kerala have over 75% literacy rates, West Bengal has 57% literacy, while the UP and Bihar hover around 40%--Madhya Pradesh and Andra Pradesh are typical of these less urban states with 44% literacy. Provisional 2001 Census figures give 75% male literacy, 54% female literacy and 65% overall. Urban literacy is at 73%, while rural literacy is 45%. Male literacy is over 64% while female literacy is under 40% overall. Perhaps the most evocative comparison is that of urban males at 81% literacy versus rural females at 30% literacy.

IV. Demographics Of India

On 1 March 2001, Indian Census figures were announced confirming that India had crossed the one billion mark, joining China. These one thousand million people were roughly three quarters rural dwellers and one-quarter urban dwellers.

The thirty-five largest Indian cities have over one million inhabitants, with the four former colonial British capitals being the largest cities in India. Bombay reports over 16 million, Calcutta over 13 million, Delhi just under 13 million and Madras has six million inhabitants. Twenty-one cities have one to two million people and thirteen cities have more than two million people. West Bengal is the most densely populated State, with 767 people per square KM -- and the West Bengal city of Calcutta is the most densely populous district in India with almost 24,000 people per thousand meters of area. Delhi has 6,000 people per square KM. Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman Island, Nicobar Island, Lahul and Spiti have from only two to 35 people per square KM, so some parts of India are not crowded at all.

India grows at about 2% a year, but Delhi grows at twice that rate. Homeless and institutionalized people make up less than 1% of the official total population, but this is above six million people in absolute terms, and there is some question as to the accuracy of estimates concerning homelessness, slums and city sizes. Of the two official 2001 Census reports, one gives Bombay at over 16 million people, the other reports Bombay at just under 12 million, and of these 12 million (the inner radius?), a full half live in slums. In Delhi the slums make up 20% of the housing stock and Calcutta in West Bengal is one-third slums.

Indian demographics are also disturbing in light of the male to female imbalance. India has only 920 women for every 1000 men, and in the cities only 890 women exist for every 1000 men. This indicates that violence, neglect and diversion of health and food resources from women by men still continue today.

Finally, lets look at the caste, religion and language distribution in India. Scheduled castes, the dalits or “untouchables,” make up 16.5% of the Indian population. They are concentrated in the Punjab, 28% of Punjabis are dalits. Delhi, with its 19% dalit population, has an “untouchable” population of one in five. Another 8% of the population, or 68 million people, are in the scheduled or protected tribal category.

By religion, India breaks down into 82% Hindus, 12% Muslims, 2.3% Christians and 1.9% Sikhs, followed by six million Buddhists, three million Jains, and three million of other faiths, Jews, etc. India’s 20 million Christians outnumber the 16 million Sikhs, and all non-Hindus face some discrimination.

Language groups provide the best evidence of India’s immense diversity of culture. The Census provides numbers on 18 languages, and another 30 million speak something other than these 18 languages. Some 50,000 speak Sanskrit, and 50,000 speak Kasmiri. Roughly two million apiece speak Nepali, Sindhi, Konkani and Manipuri. Thirteen million speak Assamese, 23 million speak Punjabi, 30 million speak Malayam, 28 million speak Oriyam, 32 million speak Kanada, 43 million speak Urdu and the 53 million Tamil speakers make up only 6% of the population. 62 million speak Marathi, 66 million speak Telugu and 69 million speak Bengali, both around 8 percent of the whole. 337 million, about forty percent, speak Hindi. English figures are unavailable.

V. Conclusions

India is a rapidly developing country with a climbing literacy rate, especially in urban areas, higher education spending and the high school graduation rates are very encouraging. Yet the more literate urban areas also have the huge slums, so the disparity between rich and poor is greatest in the metropolitan centers. Birth rates are going down while life expectancy is shown to have gone up considerably in the late 20th century. Persistent social problems concerning air quality, fresh water and sanitation are being addressed within spending limits. Violence toward and neglect of Indian women is a very troubling pattern of behavior in modern India. Judicial, State and Federal government actions show an interest in solving these problems, but these efforts are often blunted by corruption and communal violence. In relative terms, India can be seen as a success story of rising productivity and opportunity, mobilizing its manpower, although in absolute figure the poverty and disease figures remain astronomical. NGO’s and international aid and development organizations play an important role in developing the quality of life in India. Although making great strides in health care, literacy and higher education, India is a land of great deprivation, gender prejudice and urban overcrowding.

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Current Demographics of India:

A Basic H.E.W. & Development Briefing

III. Education Issues

Free and compulsory education to age 14 is written into the Indian Constitution and the scheduled castes and tribes are singled out in the Constitution for economic and educational support.  Governor General Warren Hastings set up the first two colleges in India in 1791, a Muslim college in Calcutta and a Hindu college in Benares.  India now has five of the fifteen largest universities in the world, and the University of Madras, established in 1794, has 200,000 students, comparable with the UC California system.

Shaner Clark,

I have read your article and also your biography.

I believe we have a common interests as students of history.

I consider myself not fully qualified to comment on economic aspects from economic point of view but as a student of history, I have been learning a lot about the economic aspects as a student of history.

I have read the write up with interest. At present, I reserve back my comment over the comments and observations made in it. On the whole, it is near to the true picture but also invites lot of critical comments in order to give a right picture of India as a country in Resources section.

I mainly here to make my first point at which I think I am enought qualified but if I am not correct I will be highly thankful if I am corrected.

The University of Madras was established in 1858 (not in 1857 or 1794).

Warren Hastings did help in opening the colleges. It was Calcutta Madrasa (Islamic Teaching institution - if I am rightly translating it and Madrasa should be read as Madd- rassa.) and Sanskrit School which was actually started by some local English Officer.

Warren Hasting is identified with Orientalist Group of scholars which included such English officers of East India Company lead by William Jones, Chief Justice appointed under Regualting Act 1773 and Pitts Act 1784 who were in favour of continuing with traditonal way of education system in India. It was the time, when your ancestors had not migrated or were just landed on the shores of America. (kindly take it with a view of comprative study which I think is more useful manner of studying the history of a one place and compare it what would be happening on some other place at the same time. At least I study history in that manner. While reading history of India, I always to think what had one hundred years back and what had happened after one year and the topic of reading is how old from the present day. It gives you a very different angle which I think is not possible in any other field of knowledge. .)

The Attitude of Company owners were not to interfere in the social life of the Indians. It all started with shift in the attitude of colonial powers to take over the responsibility of governance and improving the social lot of people as per their understanding of the responsibility of the ruling class. It was the period, when Britain lost America to their 'departing Brothers who had gone wrong" ( a comment by a British Historian trying to reason the cause of the American War of Independence.)

The policy of education started with the dominance of Utilitarian thought and Egalitarian group which had some racial complexes which dominated both the Whigs and Torys. The Change started with Charter Act of 1813, clause 87.

The next step came in 1821 with the establishement of General Council of Public Instruction which was placed under H. H. Wilson who was out and out Oritenalist.

The year 1833 saw of the charter act of 1833 and appointment of Macaulay as a Law member who was also made the President of General Council of Public Instruction.

Finally in 1853, came the Charles Wood dispatch and in 1857 the first university at Bombay in 1857 and second in Calcutta (kolkata) and the third in Madras in 1858.

Even before that, the real and concrete education achievements were made by Hindu College in 1817 under the guidance of Raja Ram Ramohan Roy and watch maker Hare. The First college in Bombay Presidency was started in 1827 by the local people. In all these, the government of the time did not have any role. The First law college had come up by 1825 and engineering college in 1837.

As I have observed above that your survey refers to some true facts about the country India but they somehow stop short of the actual statements and avoid reaching a near to actual picture.

I have found many of your observations on economic aspects different from the datas which I have been collecting here in India from jounals and newspapers.

On the whole your survey is good but it can only be called an opinion.

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Thank you for a critical look at my factual briefing.

Here is a short history review that addresses many of these issues of Indian History:

The Structure of British Authority in Colonial India:

Theories and Applications from the Elizabethan Period to 1857

How did the ideology and organizational forms of the British Empire in South Asia change as their power increased?

The ideology and organization of the British in India changed over time as the East India Company grew to paramountcy in South Asia. The worldview of the interested British parties shifted and grew more complex while the organizational structures governing South Asia also changed over time. Military ascendancy and commercial profit were the underlying motives. Two forces, the “London” school and the “Indian” school, roughly balanced the British Empire’s military needs with the East India Company’s profit ledgers. In the “Indian” school of thought a mild “orientalism” attempted, in general, to limit harsher authoritarianism and militant expansionism, but was generally overruled by the “London” authorities (exemplified by the Duke of Wellington). British leaders with first-hand knowledge of South Asia were systematically squelched in the structures governing the subcontinent. Sadly, the voices of cultural diversity working for greater toleration, negotiation and genuine exchange were often ignored. A constructed “orient,” requiring both despotic force and cost-effective toleration, was the lingering consensus arrived at by the two schools of British thought. The complexity of Indian culture and politics stimulated British learning, especially in languages, but the crass goals of aggrandizement overwhelmed the potential for equitable transactions.

The organizing ideology of Western Europe in the 17th and 18th century was mercantile capitalism carried out by agents of national monarchies. Grants of monopoly rights, privateer commissions and maritime trade wars among the British, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch Empires were normative for the early East India Company’s leadership. Agents of a major sea power, with bases on exotic coasts, the British traded goods from armed “factories,” or forts. With its artillery-armed ships and fortified outposts, the East India Company was always more than a simple business concern. When the delicate multi-lingual and multi-cultural Mughal Empire confronted the nationalistic and technologically advanced British East India Company, the European mercantile forces made steady inroads on the trade, revenue and prerogatives traditionally enjoyed by Indian elites.

Intrigue and the desire for greater profit and control encroached into the native governance; the British used military force to assert sovereign power over Bengal. The Company appointed the Nawab, assumed the Bengal state revenue collection powers and in 1765 received the title of Dewan from the Mughul in Delhi. At this point the guiding motive force of extractive gain brought exorbitant demands on the Bengal economic and political system -- and famine resulted.

On the heels of the Bengali famine and economic crisis a more moderate voice was heard, that of Warren Hastings. Although he was the rapacious agent for London interests, Hastings nevertheless brought upcountry experience and a sense of the Indian system to the Calcutta executive office. As he spelled out for the Chair of the Court of Directors, “Every accumulation of knowledge . . . (and) social communication with people over whom we exercise dominion . . . is useful to the state . . . it attracts and conciliates . . . (that) which brings their real character home to observation will impress us with a more generous sense of feeling for their natural rights.” This benevolence was not unmixed as Hastings spent seven years defending himself from impeachment in Parliament on charges stemming from aggrandizement and unnecessarily aggressive militarism in India.

Hastings’s new interest in Persian and Hindustani language and culture grew slowly within the dominant ideology of Imperial Britain. The British reduced Hindustani dialects and Persian court traditions to their deference mechanisms. Terms of address were modified to suit British protocols, the wearing of shoes was noticed and enforced by the British and traditional “Moors” or pidgin exchanges in the trading vernacular were dropped. The British remained very dependent on the honesty and work of the translator corps and many signs of disrespect were ignored. John Gilchrist, a Bengal Army Surgeon from Edinburgh made a mark on this school of authoritarian, paternal “orientalism” with his Oriental Linguist and Dialogues, which taught brief commands and how to “berate servants.” Short, pre-emptory commands and declamatory orders mark Gilchrist’s poular approach to communication in India.

The “oriental mind” was the operative paradigm in the early 19th century. This construct encompassed assumptions of dishonesty and indolence on the part of Asians. The complexity of the existing political systems was reduced to the cliché of “oriental despotism.” Since “they” only responded to force and arms, the British would have to play the authoritarian role (despite their rhetoric concerning the rights of the individual, liberal democracy, etc.). The language and cultural exchanges were therefore channeled into pre-conceived categories, and Indian habits were termed “beastly” and perverse, petty and insincere.

Political structures underwent a series of changes in the colonial era, as the British interlaid military, commercial and cabinet authorities over India. Warren Hastings had often faced a 2-2 split in his Governor’s Council, and subsequently in the 18th century the Governor General’s office assumed (and was granted by London) greater powers, especially under Governor General Lord Cornwallis. Governors Amherst and Bentinck wielded considerable powers during their administrations, but faced resistance from London. In the 19th century, limits on the Governor General’s powers were manifested by London’s appointed Commander-in-Chief. Military leaders (Wellington’s favorites) were often at odds with the Governors and Company officials in India. Broadly speaking, the Company “Indians” wished to limit expenditures to the minimum for defense, while the London-Wellington interest saw the Indian Army as a ready tool for Asian adventurism. The isolation of Madras and Bombay (with their own Presidents, garrison regiments and Commanders-In-Chief) further complicated the London-Calcutta disjunction.

One official group did have “considerable influence and often joined in the policy deliberations.” The six-member Secretariat in Calcutta was largely responsible for implementation of the Governor General’s policies. Because of the necessity of grappling with Indian issues on the ground in India, their ideology was the most realistic, if not enlightened. The six Secretaries represent the largest spheres of British governance in India. There was a judicial Secretary, a revenue Secretary, military Secretary and a Secretary of public works. These correspond to a conventional Cabinet composed of an Attorney General, a Treasury Secretary, a War Secretary and the Interior portfolio. The other two Secretaries reveal the unusual nature of the British governing in India. The Persian Secretary handled translations and correspondence with native Rajas, while the sixth Secretary carried out espionage and secret political affairs, handling bribe payments, etc. These six were ascendant over the Councilors in the early 19th century.

Whatever liberalizing occurred in the British ruling ideology, as represented by the upcountry “Indian” interests, was overwhelmed. The Duke of Wellington became the primary figure in the British government and Indian Affairs. Wellington’s worldview had no openings for the relative cultural values of Warren Hastings or the canny linguistic and judicial distinctions of Thomas Henry Colebrooke. The ideology of Wellington was one of authoritarian and martial force, in defense of royal and imperial prerogatives. Wellington’s influence in London and interest in India combined to make him the key player as he sent his “kindergarten” of Napoleonic wartime generals to lucrative positions in India. His stress on authoritarian display and military action stifled the “Indian” school of measured negotiation and toleration of Indian forms. Whereas the Indian school was serving long years and generations in India, learning the folkways and needs of the people, the London school embraced a heavy-handed show of force.

Structurally, over the long term, the East India Company interests became confounded with the King’s Cabinet government and powerful military interests. Bureaucratically, this meant that a sub cabinet level Board of Control emerged (1793) to counter the Court of (Company) Directors, while Governors and Presidents on the ground in India had to entertain Commanders-in Chief with separate agendas. “Officials . . . confronted with contradictory signals from London, were forced to decide between the Company and the Crown.”

The interests and ideology of the King, Prime Minister and Duke of Wellington in London were ascendant in the early 19th century, at the expense of the East India Company in general and the “Indian” faction especially. Political intrigue at Westminster and Whitehall, concern with the Czar’s actions for example, had taken pre-eminence over the needs of the British company in India, and certainly over the needs of the Indians themselves. Equally unsettling to those negotiating the British position in India “the Court of Directors guiding philosophy was firmly anchored in London.” This Court was “stacked” against Indian field veterans and the interests of the Company in India was subsumed to unrealistic military policies arrived at in London.

Two other structures evolved in British India in this era, the subsidiary alliance and the British Resident. The subsidiary alliance was an armed garrison present in certain provincial capitals, often tied to a British Resident. The Resident was an ambassador to interior princedoms, with veto power over foreign policy and military affairs of the local Prince. The Residents’ ideology was largely contractual, involving the objectification of ambiguous native values into simplistic market equivalencies, while always assuming British moral and mental superiority.

Douglas Peers summarizes the structural problems of British colonial India, including “an awkward and often unresponsive political superstructure . . . communication lags . . . titanic egos . . .(and) a long-standing commitment to military empire.” His conclusion is that “informal networks” ruled India. This is exemplified by the situation in the 1820’s when the Duke of Wellington, in London, conferred with his selected men, Charles Metcalfe and John Adam in the Secretariat in Bengal, Wellesley in Calcutta, Munro in Madras, and Elphinstone in Bombay. This “London” cadre could even marginalize strong leaders, like the Governor General Marquess of Hastings.

These individuals took power based on a militant, expansive and despotic ideology, an ideology of force and empire. Because of an apathetic and divided Indian lobby in Parliament, their role was unimpeded by the representative government. The rhetoric, then current, concerning liberal democracy, laissez-faire and utilitarian humanism was unmatched by relevant action. Extractive, exploitive aggrandizement was the result, and India’s national development was re-directed, delayed and stunted by force.

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