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Contents General Information


History 6 Nature 24

Indian Personalities

People 34

Mohandas Karamchand “Mahatma� Gandhi


Economy & Transportation

Gautama Buddha


Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar


Rabindranath Tagore


Satyendra Nath Bose


Priyanka Chopra


Ranbir Raj Kapoor


Guru Nanak Dev


Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar


Salman Khan



Culture 49



Indian Cuisine


Tandoori Chicken


Rogan Josh


Butter Chicken


Kulfi 95 Hyderabadi Dum Biryani


Banjara Gosht


Garlic Naan, Idli and Corriander Chutney


Dal Makhani


Rajasthani Laal Maas


India Travel


Dosa 102

Mumbai 104

Darjeeling Tea

New Delhi


Kolkata (Calcutta)



Agra 120 Hyderabad 122 Other places


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India is part of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, BRICS, Commonwealth of Nations, United Nations, G-20 major economies and many others. The country might become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the India (Republic of India) is a country located Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in the near in South Asia. The country is bordered by Bangladesh future. Following market-based economic reforms in and Myanmar to the east, China, Nepal and Bhutan to 1991, India became one of the fastest-growing major the northeast and Pakistan to the west. It also has access economies and is considered a newly industrialized to the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of country. However, it continues to face the challenges of poverty, corruption, malnutrition, and inadequate Bengal. India covers an area of 3.287.263 km2, has a public healthcare. A nuclear weapons state and regional density of 390,1 people/km2 and its capital is located in the power, it has the 3rd largest standing army in the world city of New Delhi, which hosts about 21.753.486 persons and ranks 6th in military expenditure among nations. (including the metropolitan area) and only 250.000 persons without the metropolitan area. India’s national Symbol anthem is called “Jana Gana Mana”, which translates to The Indian flag is also called “Tiranga”, meaning “Thou Art the Ruler of the Minds of All People” and it tricolor in Sanskrit and it consists of three horizontal was written and composed by Rabindranath Tagore. The stripes of equal size: the saffron-colored orange-like country’s motto is “Satyameva Jayate”, which translates to one on the top, the white one in the center which has in “Truth Alone Triumphs”. India is organized as a federal the middle of it a blue chakra (wheel) with 24 rays, and constitutional republic governed under a parliamentary the green one down below. The saffron-orange color system and has in its componence 29 states and 7 union symbolizes courage, white stands for peace, while green territories. The total population of the country amounts represents prosperity. The chakra from the center of the to around people. Other important flag originally represented the spinning wheel of Gandhi, Indian populations around the world can be found in symbolizing self-sufficiency. It was later replaced by the countries like: the United States of America (4.000.000), Ashoka Chakra, the “wheel of law” that is derived from Saudi Arabia (3.000.000), the United Arab Emirates the 3rd century BC emblem of Emperor Ashoka. The 24 (2.900.000), Malaysia (2.850.000) or Nepal (2.000.000). rays of the wheel symbolize the 24 hours of the day, as The official currency of the country is the Indian Rupee well as steady progress. (INR). India’s national day is celebrated on 15 August Mahatma Gandhi presented a flag to the Indian every year. National Congress in 1921. The flag drawn by Pingali

General Information


emblem is a symbol of the vocation of contemporary Indians of commitment to world peace and goodwill. The four lions (only three are visible on the emblem) stand for the symbols of power, courage and confidence. The figures of the lions are located on a circular abacus, which is surrounded by four small animals that act as guardians of the four cardinal points: the lion in the north, the elephant in the east, the horse in the south and the bull in west. The abacus appears placed on a lotus in full bloom, an allusive element to the origin of life and creative inspiration. The national motto “Satyameva Jayate” appears inscribed in the lower part of the emblem, which, in Devanagari script, means Venkayya, a farmer from Machilipatnam, originally “truth alone triumphs”. presented two colours: red for the Hindus and green for the Muslims. In the center of the flag there was a spinning wheel (chakra), which symbolized Mahatma’s goal of pushing the Indians to self-sufficiency by making their own fabrics. The design was then modified by including a white band that symbolized other religious communities. In 1931, the order and meaning of the colours changed: saffron-orange, white and green were chosen; the colours representing courage and sacrifice, truth and peace, faith and courtesy. The flag was officially adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 22 July 1947. There is a specific elaborate code of laws that govern the proper use and display of the flag. Even nowadays it is used a lot in demonstrations and is a symbol of India’s 70 years of great history.

Coat of Arms

The national emblem of India represents the figure of the Lion of Sarnath, near Benares, in Uttar Pradesh. The capital of the lions was erected in the 3rd century BC by Emperor Ashoka to indicate the place where Buddha preached for the first time. The national

10 Indian Rupee banknote


History The first populations

The first men capable of developing a certain civilization, albeit primitive, in the nowadays region of India, seemed to have lived somewhere between 65.000 and 30.000 years ago. These populations were later replaced by the proto-Australoids people that were organized in small groups and united in tribes and used to live by hunting animals and gathering fruits from the forest. Their descendants are what the Hindus call the “Adivasi”. At these ancient tribes, the matriarchy seemed to be in power. The religion of these peoples was based on animism and an ongoing relationship with the nature. These first inhabitants, who spoke a Munda sort of language, were driven away by the successive invaders and thus they retreated into the forests and mountains where they lived up until our days, still having an important influence on the later civilizations.

Nowadays people of the “Adavasi” tribe

known as the Dravidians. These populations, belonging to the Mediterranean civilization, penetrated the Indian subcontinent from the west and settled in the Indus basin area, the Ganges and up to all of Central India. In the 3rd millennium BC, they were responsible for the development of the so-called Indus Valley Civilization, including the cities of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa that represent evidence of their presence in this area. Very few of these people have survived the subsequent Aryan invasion of this area and in time this culture became The second Indian civilization forgotten until the first extensive excavations on the Since 4000 BC, a brachycephalic people of sites of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro in 1920. dark skin colour, black and smooth hair, speaking After these events, it followed the development agglutinative languages ​​managed to spread across India of agriculture, the use of writing and the urbanization next to the Munda populations. These people became process with the emergence of several cities made out


Dodda Basappa Temple, a Dravidian architecture

of brick. The cultural and commercial relations with Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt were quite frequent. The Sumerian and Akkadian texts repeatedly refer to a people with whom these civilizations had active trade, called “Meluhha”, which would be identified with the Indus Valley civilization. The main Dravidian religion was based on the cult of the Mother Goddess, the god Shiva, as well as for the sacred trees, some sacred animals such as the cow or the cobra, and various sex symbols (especially the veneration of the phallus) intended as a continuation of the human genre. The other important religion was Jainism. Around 1900 BC, the first signs related to the onset of the first problems appeared and around 1800 BC, most of the cities had been completely abandoned. One of the causes of this early end may have been a major climate change: in the mid-third millennium, there is known that the Indus valley was a lush region, rich in forests and wild animals, with a very moist climate, while around 1800 BC the climate has changed, becoming colder and drier. The main factor was the probable disappearance of the hydrographic network of the Sarasvati River, mentioned in the Rig Veda, due to a tectonic catastrophe. The sudden shortage of the water resources led to famines that weakened this civilization to the point that it became vulnerable to the constant attacks of the most primitive but very warlike tribes.

However, the invasions didn’t disappear for the Dravidians and their civilization. In fact, in the northern parts of modern India, the Aryans, after perhaps hastening the end of the Indus civilization, came to acquire and to own a good part of the upper Dravidian tradition and culture. For example, many features of “Vedism” derive from the earlier religious traditions of the Indus civilization. In the south however, where the Dravidian hegemony lasted, the tradition of the Sangha continued up until the first century of the Christian era. The Sangha were the assemblies of poets who have participated in the drafting of the major collective works which have greatly influenced the ancient Indian and Tamil literature.

The Vedic civilization

In the second millennium BC, at the same time of the end of the Indus Valley civilization, groups of Aryan peoples coming from Central Asia and speaking Indo-European languages settled in north-western India. The Aryans were a branch of the Indo-Aryans people, whose origin lies in the Andronovo culture and before that in the culture of Sintashta, whose sacrificial rituals remained described until the later Hindu texts. These Indo-Aryans tribes or simply the Aryans, departed from the so-called Bactria-Margiana

Aryans entering India


Axe with eagle headed demon and animals discovered at the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex

Archaeological Complex, where they had infiltrated in the previous centuries, coming from the Indian subcontinent through the Hindukush mountain passes (north-east of Afghanistan) in a period between 1700 BC and 1500 B.C. The information about this period and the Aryans were taken from the Indian sacred texts that were written in Sanskrit and the Vedas (meaning wisdom or knowledge), including the Rig Veda (Veda of hymns). From these texts, scholars have agreed that the invasion of the Aryans was not rapid and definitive, it wasn’t a campaign of conquest as a result of an organized army that quickly seized the northern plains of India, but it was rather a slow penetration, probably hampered by the nature of the place and that of the much more evolved indigenous peoples, called Dasa (or Dasyu) that, unlike the white Aryans, they were dark-skinned. For centuries the various Aryan tribes were fighting with either the original populations, either among themselves, having to also cope with the successive waves of immigration. It is estimated that the nomadic Aryan tribes began to gradually become the permanent populations after 1200 BC, spreading across northern India along the Indo-Gangetic Plain. This period is also marked by the appearance of the gray painted ceramics, of iron metallurgy and the caste system (Varna). Among the various tribal kingdoms (including Janapada) of the late 7th century BC, the Mahajanapadas (Maha = great; Janapada = country), the most important one of them began to emerge. The Dravidian influence will continue to be dominant in the south of India where there will arise various highly developed kingdoms, such as the 8

Rig Veda

kingdom of Chola, the one of Chera, the kingdom of Pandya and later the kingdom of Pallava. These kingdoms were often at war with each other but they managed to maintain their independence from foreign invaders for more than 2000 years.

The Mahajanapadas

The 16 kingdoms of Mahajanapadas were among the most powerful kingdoms and republics of the time, which were mostly found along the fertile IndoGangetic Plain, although a number of smaller kingdoms were also stretching throughout the subcontinent. In 500 BC, the Mahajanapadas extended from today’s Afghanistan in the west to Bengal and Maharashtra in the east, encompassing the following kingdoms: Kasi, Kosala, Anga, Magadha, Vajji, Malla, Chedi, Vatsa (or Vamsa), Kuru, Panchala, Matsya, Surasena, Assaka, Avanti, Gandhara and Kamboja. This period represented the second major urbanization process in India after the one that happened during the Indus Valley Civilization. Among these Mahajanapadas there were some kingdoms in which the system of power was transmitted hereditary, by inheritance. Other states, however, used to elect their rulers. Between 500 and 400 BC, during the time of Buddha, four of these kingdoms: Vatsa, Avanti, Kosala and Magadha imposed their hegemony over their neighbors, thus expanding their territory. Especially Kosala and Magadha pursued a policy of aggression towards the neighboring people

and territories, becoming thus the major powers in the region. During the 5th century BC, Kosala stretched its domains from Varanasi to the Himalayas, while King Bimbisara, in a kingdom that lasted nearly 50 years (between 540 and 490 BC), led the rise of Magadha by conquering the nearby janapada of Anga (probably with the intent of seizing the important iron mines of the region) to the east towards the Ganges delta. The expansionist policy of King Bimbisara was continued by his son, Ajatashatru, who led the country against the tribal confederations of Vajji, located in the northern areas, in a war that lasted 14 years, and later against the king of Ujjain (Avanti), a powerful occidental mahajapanada. In addition to the above mentioned kingdoms, there were also many smaller oligarchies, such as those of Koliyas, Moriyas, Jnatrikas, Shakya and Licchavis. In particular, the tribes of Jnatrikas and Shakya became the most known of them because Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, respectively Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism belonged to them. These figures are from the spiritual point of view the milestones of Indian history in the 6th and 5th centuries BC and are two figures of great eminence in the global landscape. Gautama Buddha, founder of Buddhism lived between 563 and 483 B.C., while Mahavira, founder of Jainism died shortly after Buddha, in 477 B.C. While Buddhism started to decline in India, Jainism started to Gautama Siddhartha Buddha, founder of Buddhism lived in grow more in other neighboring countries and continue India during the 6th and 5th century BC to be present even nowadays. Buddha lived somewhere between Kosala and the kingdom of Magadha, and after The Persians and Greek invasions While the East saw rising powers such as his death, there will be convened a council at Rajagriha, capital of Magadha, with the intent of gathering and Magadha and Kosala, much of the north-western regions of the Indian subcontinent (now eastern preserving his teachings. Afghanistan and Pakistan) passed under the rule of the Achaemenid Persian empire around 520 BC, during the reign of Darius the Great, and remained so for a period of two centuries. In 334 BC, Alexander the Great conquered the Achaemenid Empire, reaching thus to the northwestern frontier of the Indian subcontinent. Here, he defeated King Porus in the Battle of the Hydaspes and conquered much of the Punjab. Alexander’s troops refused however, to continue their march beyond the Hydaspes River and the great conqueror was forced to turn back.

The Magadha Empire

Among the 16 Mahajanapadas, the kingdom of Magadha rose to a position of certain power in the The 16 Mahajanapadas


regional landscape of northern India as part of a series of dynasties. According to tradition, Haryanka founded the kingdom of Magadha that would later become an empire, in 684 BC. Its capital was located at Rajagriha (later Pataliputra, near modern Patna). The Empire was succeeded by the Shishunaga dynasty, which was overthrown by the Nanda dynasty in 424 BC, which lasted almost a century before being conquered by the Maurya dynasty.

The Achaemenid Empire conquered some of the north-western regions of the Indian subcontinent

extended its rule over most of the Indian subcontinent. But the empire also widened its territory towards Persia. Seleucus I Nicator, a former governor of the eastern part of the vast and ephemeral empire that was conquered by Alexander the Great, crossed the Hindukush mountain range in 305 BC in order to invade the Gangetic plain but he was eventually stopped by Chandragupta. According to the peace treaty, the Mauryan Empire obtained a vast territory in the Indus Valley and Gandhara. A figurehead of this dynasty was Asoka, who The Maurya dynasty In 321 BC, a general called Chandragupta initially had a strong contribution to the territorial Maurya, usurped the throne of Nanda, overthrowing expansion of the country. Following the carnage caused the then king Dhana Nanda and founded the Maurya by the invasion of Kalinga (roughly today’s Indian state dynasty. Under his leadership, the Mauryan Empire of Orissa), he gave up further bloodshed and pursued a policy of non-violence after his conversion to Buddhism. He became patron of this religion and contributed to its proliferation in South Asia. Since Asoka’s reign there remained numerous stone inscriptions scattered across much of the subcontinent. Adopting an internal policy based on right conduct, he avoided unnecessary wars that could’ve undermine the empire, thus strengthening it rather internally.

The following dynasties


Magadha Empire

The Shunga dynasty was founded in 185 BC, about fifty years after the death of Asoka, when King Brihadratha, the last of the Mauryan rulers, was murdered by the commander in chief of the armed forces, Pusyamitra Shunga. A century later, the Kanva dynasty replaced the Shunga dynasty in control of

The Maurya Empire

the eastern part of India between 71 BC and 26 BC. But since 30 BC, both the Kanva and the Shunga dynasties will be driven away. After the collapse of these dynasties, the Shatavahana kingdom, mainly comprised of the present-day Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra replaced the Magadha kingdom as the most powerful kingdom of the time in India. The middle period was a time of notable cultural development. The Shatavahana dynasty, also known as Andhra, was a major dynasty who settled in south-central India since around 230 BC. Satakarni, the 6th ruler of the Shatavahana dynasty, defeated the Shunga dynasty and expanded its territories to

Shunga Dynasty Map

north-eastern India. Another important ruler was Gautamiputra Satakarni. The Kuninda Kingdom was a small Himalayan state that developed in this period and survived from the 2nd century BC to the 3rd century A.D. Different empires and regional kingdoms settled in the southernmost part of the Indian peninsula, such as the Kingdom of Pandya, the Cholas, the Chera, the Kadamba, the Pallava and the Chalukya, succeeding each other in the various periods of time. Some of the southern kingdoms also expanded overseas,

Coin of Gautamiputra Satakarni


forming empires that stretched across South East Asia. of the Indo-Parthian kingdom, a new wave of invaders These kingdoms often fought against each other for penetrated the northern plains, occupying the northdomination in the south. western parts of India in the mid-first century AD. These invaders were known as the Kushana. Also coming from central Asia, these people founded an empire that New foreign invasions The Greek-Bactrian King Demetrius I, son of stretched from Peshawar to most of the Ganges valley Euthydemus I, invaded northwestern India around and, perhaps reached the Bay of Bengal and included 180 BC, leading his troops through the Hindukush Bactria (the north of modern Afghanistan and the mountain range. The Greek invasion seemed to have southern regions of Tajikistan). The western satrapies advanced to the capital of Pataliputra, then retreated (35 to 405 A.D.) continued however to be governed by and consolidated northwestern India. Apollodoto I, the Shaka. The Kushan Empire was a thriving empire that apparently a relative of Demetrius I, led the invasion into the south, while Menander, one of Demetrius’ registered commercial relations even with Rome. Pliny generals, conducted the eastward penetration. For his the Elder said on this matter: “India, China and the achievements, Demetrius received the nickname of Arabian Peninsula perceive hundred million sesterces ανικητος (“aniketos”), meaning “The Invincible”, a title from our empire per year, with a conservative estimate: that is what our luxuries and women cost us.” that was never taken by any king before him. The Kushan Empire was replaced by the Indo Between the late second and the early years of Sassanid Empire that during the 3rd and 4th centuries the 1st century BC, a thousand years since the Aryan invasion, India encountered a new migratory phase conquered their Indian territories. They were in turn of Central Asian populations. Driven in turn by other expelled from India in 410 AD because of the invasions of civilizations, these populations came across the plain of the Hephthalites (White Huns). They managed to regain the Ganges where the Shaka people will settle in a wide their lost territories by conquering the Hephthalites in region between the regions of Gandhara, Ujjain and 565, but in the middle of the 7th century their rule over up to the western coast, thus replacing the Indo-Greek western India ended because of the Arab conquests. kingdom and founding the Indo-Scythian kingdom. Less than a century later, after the brief interlude The Gupta Empire Between the 4th and 5th century, the Gupta Dynasty unified India. During this period, known as the golden age of ancient India; culture, science and the Hindu political administration reached its apogee. After the fall of the Gupta Empire during the 6th century, India became again divided into numerous regional kingdoms. The origin of this dynasty is unknown, although the Chinese pilgrim Yijing mentioned this kingdom. The empire ended because of the attack of the White Huns from Central Asia. Some descendants of the Gupta dynasty continued to rule Magadha after the disintegration of the empire. These Gupta were eventually overthrown by King Harsha Vardhana, who created in the mid-7th century an empire that rivaled the Gupta, even if it was short-lived.

The classical era

At the end of the late classical period, the kingdom of Chola in northern Tamil Nadu, and the Chera kingdom in Kerala emerged. The south Indian ports actively traded with the Roman Empire and 12

Kushan Empire

began to turn its attention to the south. The Pratihara, also called Gurjara-Pratihara was a dynasty that ruled over several kingdoms in the north of India from the 6th to the 11th century. The Pala Empire controlled the regions of today’s Bihar and Bengal between the 8th and 12th centuries. The Rashtruka was a dynasty that settled in the Deccan region between the 8th and 10th centuries following the fall of the Chalukya Empire. These three kingdoms fought over the domination of the North over the centuries, while the Cholas were prospering in the south. The first Rajput kingdom of which we have any kind of knowledge emerged in Rajasthan in the 6th century. This dynasty expanded in most of northern India, dominating the Gujarat (Solankis), Malwa (Param), Bandelkhand (Chandel) and Haryana (Tom) regions. Gupta Empire

The Islamic Sultanates

The first Islamic incursions in South Asia Southeast Asia, mainly in spices. King Harsha of Kannauj occurred during the first century after the death of succeeded in unifying the north of the subcontinent the Prophet Muhammad. The Umayyad Caliph of during his reign in the 7th century. However, the united Damascus, al-Walid I sent an expedition in Balochistan north collapsed after his death. Between the 7th and and Sindh in 711, which was led by Muhammad ibn 9th century, three dynasties fought for the control over northern India: Pratahara of Malwa (and later Kannauj), the Pala Rashtrakuta of Bengal and the Deccan. The Chalukya Empire ruled over the southern part of India between 550 and 750 AD and again from 970 to 1190. The Pallavas ruled on other regions during the same periods. During a period of about a century, both kingdoms undertook on minor wars, conquering each other’s capital on several occasions. The king of Sri Lanka and the Chera of Kerala gave support to the Pallava, while the Pandya supported the Chalukya. While the idea of an ​​ Indian empire in northern India was finally contoured by the Harsha Empire, in the same time it Chalukya Empire


Ghaznavid Empire

Qasim. The expedition failed to maintain its domination over these regions and to establish an Islamic regime in other parts of India. However, the presence of a Muslim colony in Sindh allowed the development of trade and cultural exchanges, as well as the spread of Islam through many parts of India. Three centuries later, the Turks, Persians and Afghans tried to conquer India through the north-west. Mahmud of Ghazni (979-1030) led a series of expeditions against the Rajput kingdoms, eventually managing to establish a base in Punjab for future incursions.

betrayals. Both the Quran and the Islamic law tried to replace the Hindu religion, but the efforts were unsuccessful. Sultan ‘Alā’ al-Din attempted to install a centralized system of government, but without any success. Although Muslims introduced small improvements in the agricultural sector through the construction of irrigation canals and other methods, the political instability and methods for tax collection negatively engraved on the peasantry. During this period, the Persian language and many cultural aspects of Persia were present in the Indian power centers. The failure of the sultans in ensuring their domination The Delhi Sultanate During the last quarter of the 12th century, over the Deccan region led to the creation of a series of Muhammad of Ghur invaded the Indo-Gangetic dynasties, such as the Bahmani Sultanate (1347-1527) plains conquering Ghazni, Multan, Sindh, Lahore and Delhi. One of his generals, Qutub al-Din Aybak was proclaimed Sultan of Delhi. In the 13th century, Shams al-Din Iltumish (1211-1236), a former slave trader, established a Turkish kingdom in Delhi, which allowed other sultans to extend their domains in the next 100 years, reaching to the east of Bengal and to the south of Deccan. The sultanate was the subject of several coups, to the point that in just a few centuries five dynasties succeeded one after another: the Mamluks (1206-1290), the Khalji (1290-1320), the Tughlak (1320-1413), the Sayyid (1414-1451) and the Lodi (1451-1526). Under the Khalji,’Alā’ al-Din (1296-1315) was able to expand the territories southward, but it was only for a short time because the conquered regions were quickly lost. The power in Delhi was often taken through violence: 16 of the 35 sultans that reigned there were killed. The intrigues at the court were frequent, as well as the 14

Delhi Sultanate

and the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire (1336-1565). Zafar Khan, a provincial governor under Tughluq, rebelled against the Turks and was proclaimed Sultan, assuming the title of Ala-ud-Din Bahman Shah in 1347. The Bahmani Sultanate, located in northern Deccan, lasted nearly two centuries, until it got fragmented in 1527 into five smaller states known as the Deccan Sultanates (Bijapur, Golconda, Ahmednagar, Berar and Bidar). The sultanate of Bahmani adopted the methods of tax collection and the government of the sultans of Delhi and its fall was caused by the competition and hatred between the Hindus and Muslims. The sultanate of Bahmani started a particularly important cultural process in the period.

The Vijayanagara Empire

competing for the control of the western ports. Goa became a Portuguese colony in 1510. The city of Vijayanagara had numerous temples, rich in various ornaments and altars dedicated to the gods. Among the best known of these temples is the one dedicated to Virupaksha, a manifestation of Shiva, the main god of the rulers of Vijayanagara. The temples have been a nucleus for culture, entertainment and intellectual activities. There was, however, the cultural exchange with the Muslim world. When the rulers of the five Deccan sultanates united in order to attack Vijayanagara in 1565, the empire suffered a profound defeat at the Battle of Talikota. It was the beginning of the end of one of the greatest empires that dominated southern India.

The Vijayanagara Empire (known by the name The Mughal Era of its ancient capital) spread rapidly toward Madurai in At the beginning of the 16th century, the the south and Goa and in the West. Its rulers followed descendants of Genghis Khan invaded India through the practices of the Chola Empire, particularly in the Khyber Pass, establishing the Mughal dynasty, agriculture and trade, promoting associations and honoring the temples with great gifts. There was also a strong rivalry with the sultanate of Bahmani for the control of the Krishna river valley and the Tungabhadra River. The traders’ associations were of great importance in this empire. They reached to the point that they had more power than the landowners and the Brahmins of the court. Finally, trade fell into the hands of foreigners, especially to the Arabs and Portuguese who were

Expansion of the Mughal Empire

which lasted for about 200 years. This dynasty reigned in the north of the Indian subcontinent since 1526 and slowly began to decline after 1707, finally disappearing after the War of Independence of 1857. This period had a significant social impact, although most of the Mughal rulers were of Muslim religion and unlike other Islamic kingdoms of the same period, they never imposed their religion to the people. Some emperors were even known for their respect and tolerance of other religions and eventually removed the tax on non-Muslim residents. Vijayanagara Empire


Guru Gobind Singh crossing the Sarsa river

During the decline of the Mughal Empire, which in its heyday reached to the sizes of the old Maurya Empire, several kingdoms emerged to fill the power vacuum left by the demise of the empire. It is during this period that the British penetration of India began.

The Maratha Dynasty


Bhonsle Shivaji, father of the Maratha nation

The Maratha tribal chiefs were at the service of the sultans of Bijapur until the time that the Mughals settled in the region. Bhonsle Shivaji (1627-1680), a fierce fighter recognized as the “father of the Maratha nation” took advantage of a series of conflicts to establish the seat of his principality near Pune, which later became the capital of Maratha. Shivaji successfully attacked the Mughal enclaves, including the port of Surat. In 1674, he assumed the title of “Lord of the Universe” during a lavish coronation ceremony, declaring his determination to challenge the Mughal power, in addition to re-establish a Hindu Kingdom in Maharashtra. In 1717, a Mughal emissary signed a treaty with the Maratha dynasty, offering it the total control over Deccan in exchange for an acknowledgment of the Mughal kingdom and the transfer of some taxes every year. However, at the beginning, the Maratha invaded

the Mughal domains of Malwa, Orissa and Bengal. Southern India came thus under Maratha power. But the Maratha dynasty, despite its military power, wasn’t organized well enough to manage a nation, nor the economic and social problems of the country. Looting was a characteristic of this kingdom that antagonized the peasants. Gradually, the dynasty began to weaken its power and the Marathas were repulsed by the Afghans in the bloody battle of Panipat in 1761. This gave rise to a division of the kingdom into five independent states. The Maratha dynasty finally ceded to the British forces during the Anglo-Maratha War.

The British Indian Empire in 1909

2nd century BC, but it didn’t matter until the 15th and 16th centuries, when the teachings of the Sikh gurus spread among the peasants of the northern regions. Pursued by the Mughals, the Sikhs, under the command of Guru Gobind Singh, formed what was called the “Khalsa”, or Army of the Pure. The Khalsa rebelled against the repression and economic policy of the Mughals in Punjab at the end of the reign of Aurangzeb. Thanks to the guerrilla tactics, the Sikhs took advantage of the political instability created by the wars between the Mughals, Afghans and Persians, enriching and expanding their territorial control. In 1770, the Sikh hegemony stretched from the Indus in the west to the Yamuna River east and from Multan in the south to The Sikhs Jammu in the north. But the Sikhs, just like the Maratha, The defeat of the Maratha at the hands of the was a disjointed conglomerate of twelve kingdoms that Afghans hastened the separation of Punjab and Delhi, continually confronted each other. It was Ranjit Singh and contributed to the creation of the Sikh kingdom in (1780-1839) who promoted the unity of the Sikhs and northwest India. The Sikh movement originated in the coexistence between Muslims and Hindus. Ranjit Singh 17

Madras Army

introduced a strict military discipline that allowed him exception being the Sikh kingdom in the north-west. to expand his territory in parts of Afghanistan, Kashmir Lord Hastings gave a new impetus to British and Ladakh. India: he restored the canal system, repaired the roads in Bengal and promoted the creation of a public education system. In 1828, Lord Bentinck replaced the Persian The British domination The English East India Company was a language as an official language with local dialects and commercial enterprise. The company was born on English. He also prohibited child labor and practices 31 December 1600 when Queen Elizabeth I granted of Sati. George Eden, Lord of Auckland succeeded in a charter which offered the monopoly trade to the charge and conquered Sind after defeating the Amir enterprise in the Indian Ocean for 21 years. The first dynasty in 1843. Edward Law, Sir Henry Hardings step towards the transformation into a colony was the and Lord Dalhousie followed in charge as colonial approval of the Indian Act in 1784, which granted the administrators. In May 1857, the Indian troops who served in general governors of the Society the authority to act on the Bengal Army, one of the three armies in which there behalf of the British government. Since 1785, the successive general governors, were organized the Anglo-Indian forces of the East backed by a modern army, had gone ahead in the India Company, made up of 238.000 men (of whom conquest of the immense territory, subduing the only 38.000 were Europeans), revolted in the barracks of principles of Maharata and Rajput, Nizam of Hyderabad Meerut. The insurrection spread throughout Northern and Prince of Mysore, Haider Ali. The enterprise laid its India, the state of Oudh and central India. This hands on the island of Ceylon as well. In 1818, the British insurrection was caused by the poor treatment of the ruled, by now, all over India, with the exception of the Indian troops by the British officers, Lord Dalhousie’s Indus basin and Assam. The wealthy regions, as well as annexations policy, as well as by the sea voyages where Bengal and Delhi were administered directly, with the Indians were sent to fight against the Burmese. 18

The rumor spread that the rifle cartridges were greased with pork fat (unclean animal for the Muslims) and cow (sacred animal to the Hindus), sparked an insurrection which caused thousands of casualties on both sides. The revolt was crushed in June 1858, and that same year the dissolution of the East India Company led to the reorganization of the regiments of sepoys (Indian soldiers) and their integration in the new army created by Lord Canning.

India as a British colony

Queen Victoria became Empress of India in 1877

The Government of the 1858 India Act ratified the end of the Mughal Empire, after the deposition of the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Muhammad, and transformed India into a British colony under the mandate of a viceroy. In London, the Ministry of India was created and Calcutta became the capital of the colony. The officials were organized in the Indian Civil Service. In 1877, Queen Victoria will be crowned “Empress of India�. English campaigns against Bengal and Assam caused three conflicts with Burma. The Court of Amarapura lost in 1826 the regions of Tenasserim, Arakan and Assam in the benefit of the British. In 1852, Britain annexed Lower Burma, and in 1891 the colonial power annexed the whole of Burma, which served as a

University of Calcutta, founded under the British dominion


the country that linked Calcutta to Agra. There were also founded the Universities of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, that were however reserved to the privileged social classes. The colleges and universities founded by the British contributed to the formation of a new Indian intelligentsia. The first signs of a nascent nationalist spirit, localized mostly in the region of Bengal, had religious characteristics. In 1885, Allan Octavian Hume founded the Indian National Congress, with the purpose of obtaining a more active participation of the Indians in the government of the country. Indian nationalism was remade following the examples of Canada, Australia and New Zealand to claim its status as a dominion in the British Empire.

The movement for Indian independence

In 1911, King George V was crowned Emperor of India in the new capital of the country, Delhi, and reunified Bengal with the new provinces of Bihar and Orissa. In 1916, the All-India King George V became Emperor of India in 1911 Muslim League and the Indian buffer state to protect the eastern borders. The British National Congress joined in the call for autonomy. In supported or created intermediate states like Nepal and 1918, the government promulgated the Rowlatt Act, a Bhutan, interfered in Afghanistan’s issues and annexed law that established exceptional measures for anyone Baluchistan and Burma. accused of terrorism. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as James A. Brown, governor between 1848 and 1856, carried out an expansionist policy based on Mahatma (Great Soul) led the protest movement against the “principle of reversibility”, which involved the the application of the law and a year later he began to annexation of those Indian principalities who remained implement the civil disobedience campaigns. In 1921, it without a direct heir following the Regent’s death. was promulgated a new Indian constitution in which it Thanks to this strategy, the British took possession of was granted wide autonomy to the Indians for education, Satara, Jaipur, Sambalpur, Udaipur, Jhansi, Nagpur and public works, agriculture and industry, but the direct control over defense, foreign policy, judicial system and Audh. In these territories, Lord Dalhousie has finance was left to the British. In the new constitution, it undertaken the construction of railways, the reform of was reaffirmed the concept that the Delhi government the Post Office and the installation of the first telephone was meant to report only to the British parliament. This lines. In 1854, it was inaugurated the first railway line of policy dug an unbridgeable gulf between the British 20

Partition of India

and the Indian national movement. Then, Gandhi propagated and put into effect various forms of struggle based on non-violence, civil disobedience and noncooperation with the colonists. He managed to involve large masses since he made his struggle almost a religion, so that the Indians saw him as a prophet to follow. In 1930, Gandhi realized the salt march: he walked a long way, to the

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, 1st President of India

sea, where he collected some salt crystals. This simple act was a crime: the British had the salt monopoly in India and therefore no Indian could get some salt if it wasn’t bought from the British. The manifestations of the nationalist movement forced the British to promise the granting of independence to India. The country indeed obtained its independence on 15 August 1947. But it must be emphasized the great importance of Bhagat Singh and Udham Singh, that are described by the Indians as people who have done justice to all the people massacred by the British Raj. In fact, Udham Singh went to England to assassinate the author of the Jallian Wala Bagh massacre, namely the “Massacre of Amritsar”, that happened in a garden from the city of Amritsar, in northern India, where 50 soldiers of the British Army of India opened fire against a group of unarmed civilians, killing about 1.000 people and injuring another 1.500. Reginald Dyer was the general that ordered the command.

The independence and partition of India

On 15 August 1947, following the partition of India, two sovereign states were born, the Sovereignty of Pakistan (later the Islamic Republic of Pakistan) and Mahatma Gandhi, unofficially called “Father of the Nation”, together with the future Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1942


the Union of India (later the Republic of India) after the United Kingdom guaranteed the independence of British India. In particular, the term refers to the partition of Bengal, the British Indian province between the Pakistani state of East Bengal (now Bangladesh) and the Indian state of West Bengal, as well as to the partition of British India’s Punjab region in the province of the Punjab state of Western Pakistan and the Indian state of Punjab. The secession of Bangladesh from Pakistan following Bangladesh’s war of liberation from 1971 wasn’t covered by the partition terms of India and neither were the previous separations of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Burma (now Myanmar) by the administration of British India. In the 60 years since its independence, India has had a mixed record of successes and failures. The country has remained a democracy with civil liberties, an active Supreme Court, and a largely independent press. The economic liberalization began in the 1990’s


and has created since a large urban middle class and transformed India into one of the world’s fastestgrowing economies. It also increased its geopolitical clout. Indian movies (Bollywood), music, and spiritual teachings play an increasing role in global culture. Terrorism in India is an important safety issue, especially in the Jammu and Kashmir regions in northeast India, and more recently even in major cities such as Delhi and Mumbai. The 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament remains the most serious to this date. India is a founding member of the NonAligned Movement and the United Nations. In 1974, India conducted an underground nuclear test and then another 5 tests in 1998, which made India to be recognized as a nuclear power. Since 1991, significant economic reforms have made India one of the countries with the highest economic growth rates among the world, which contributed both regionally and globally, to increase the living standards.

India is nowadays the 7th largest country by area, the 2nd most populous country and the most populous democracy in the world

Image depicting the Amritsar Massacre of 1919


Nature Landforms

India geographically represents most of the Indian subcontinent and is resting on the Indian plate, which in turn is part of the Indo-Australian plate. India’s geography started 75 million years ago via geological processes, when the Indian subcontinent, then part of the southern supercontinent Gondwana, began a drift towards a northeasterly direction that lasted 50 million years, crossing over all the Indian Ocean during this time (which was still in the making). The collision of the Indian subcontinent with the Eurasian plate and its subsequent subduction under the latter, gave shape to the Himalayas, the highest mountain range on the planet, which now encircles India to the north and north-east. The Himalayas culminates in the Indian territory with the Kanchenjunga peak, with its 8.586 meters. The Himalayan Mountains cover about 15% of India’s surface. They are the highest mountains in the world, reaching altitudes of more than 8.000 m. South of the Himalayas lies the great depression of the Thar Desert, that stretch from the west of the country to the east in Bangladesh, mainly consisting of the Ganges


Deccan Plateau

valley. It occupies 45% of the country and has 4.000 km from west to east and 350 km from north to south. South India consists of a huge peninsula occupied by the Deccan Plateau. In the northern part of the country there are the Vindhya Mountains, while in the west there are the Western Ghats with average heights of 1.200 m. Near the ancient seabed located immediately south of the emerging Himalayan peaks, the tectonic movement created a vast trough, which later was gradually filled with sediments of rivers, thus giving rise to nowadays Indo-Gangetic plain. To the west of this plain, separated by the Aravalli Mountains, lies the Thar Desert. The original plains of the subcontinent continue to survive in the peninsular part of India, more exactly

Ganges River bank in Varanasi

Kanchenjunga peak (8.586 m)

in the oldest and most geologically stable region that extends from the north to the Satpura and Vindhya Mountains of central India. These chains run parallel from the Arabian Sea coast in Gujarat to the western plateau of Chota Nagpur. To the south there is a large area that is called the Deccan Plateau, which is bordered to the west by the coastal ranges of the Western Ghats and to the east by the Eastern Ghats. The Deccan Plateau contains some of India’s most ancient rock formation, some of them being even older than a billion years. The Indian coastline stretches on about 7.517 kilometers in length, 5.423 km of which run along

Yamuna River

the peninsula, while the rest of 2.094 km belong to the Andaman Islands, Nicobar, and Lakshadweep. According to the Indian naval hydrographic charts, the coast is made up of 43% sandy beaches, 11% rocky coasts and cliffs and 46% muddy or marshy expanses. The Himalayan range gives rise to great rivers that flow through northern India, including the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, that drain into the Bay of Bengal. Important tributaries of the Ganges include the Yamuna and the Kosi rivers, which cause disastrous floods every year. Other great rivers of the peninsula include the following: Godavari, Mahanadi, Kaveri, and

Confluence of Indus and Zanskar rivers


The Western Ghats hills at Matheran in Maharashtra, India

Krishna, which flow into the Bay of Bengal, as well as the Narmada and Tapti, which flow into the Arabian Sea. Among the most characteristic Indian shores, the most notable ones are the marshy Great Rann of Kutch in western India, and the alluvial Sundarbans delta, shared with the neighboring Bangladesh. India has two archipelagos: the Lakshadweep, coral atolls near the south-western coast and the Andaman and Nicobar


Islands of volcanic origin, located in the Andaman Sea. The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghana system has the largest catchment area of about 1.600.000 km2. Only the Ganges Basin has a catchment of about 1.100.000 km2. The Ganges originates from the Gangotri Glacier in Uttarakhand and it flows towards southeast, draining in the end into the Bay of Bengal. India’s wetland ecosystem is widely distributed from

Kosi River

Karakoram West Tibetan Plateau near Ladakh, India

the cold and arid areas located in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir and those with the wet and humid climate of peninsular India. Most of the wetlands are linked to river networks either directly or indirectly. The Indian government has identified 71 wetlands that are now in a conservation status and recently became part of sanctuaries and national parks. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located 1.200 km east of Madras, have 8.249 km2 and a population of 188.741 inhabitants. They include five large islands and the Ten Degree Channel separates the Andaman islands from the 19 islands of the Nicobar group. Coconuts are the main trade products of the Nicobar islands, while the Andaman islands have valuable hardwood timber, like

Thar Dessert in Rajasthan

sandalwood and Gurjan, that are used to manufacture plywood. There are exported large quantities of softwood for matches factories. The people of the islands cultivate coffee and rubber and rice is grown on large fields. In the deep forests of the islands there are even nowadays some aboriginal inhabitants. Lakshadweep is a territory of 36 islands, out of which only 10 are inhabited. It is located about 300 km from the coast of Kerala, having a total area of ​​32 km2 and a total population of 40.249 people.


India’s climate is strongly influenced by the Himalayas and the Thar Desert, which guides the monsoons. The

Beach side resort at Kadmat Island in Lakshadweep


latitude. Therefore, even if the Tropic of Cancer (the boundary between the tropical and subtropical areas) passes through the center of India, the whole country is basically considered to be tropical. At the same time, the Thar Desert plays an important role in attracting the moisture of the winds that blow across the country from south-west India, carrying the summer monsoon loads, which between June and October, provide most of the rainfall. A tropical rainy climate characterizes regions where high temperatures persist and normally they do not fall below 18°C. India is home to two climatic subtypes that fall within this group. The monsoon climate of the tropical regions is thus covering the south-western plains along the Malabar Coast, the Western Ghats, The Barak Valley, the Lakshadweep islands and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Rain is seasonal in this area, typically exceeding 2.000 mm per year. Most of the rainfall occurs between May and November. The tropical wet and dry climate is more common. Significantly drier tropical wetlands prevail Climatic Zone Map of India over most of the mainland Indian peninsula. The Himalayas restrains the cold katabatic winds of Central winter is characterized by drought periods with average Asia, keeping most parts of the subcontinent at higher temperatures above 18°C. The summer is exceptionally temperatures than regions located at similar latitudes. warm with temperatures that can exceed 50°C in May The Thar Desert plays a crucial role in attracting the and heat waves which annually kill hundreds of Indians. winds of the summer monsoon between June and The rainy season lasts from June to September and the October. These winds have high humidity and provide average annual rainfall is in the range of 750 to 1500 most of the rainfall during the year. Four major climatic mm. groups predominate in the country: tropical wet, tropical dry, subtropical humid, and mountainous. India comprises a wide range of weather and climatic conditions, strongly influenced both by its geographical scale and its topographical variety. According to the Köppen system, India has six major climatic subtypes, ranging from desert to the west, alpine and glacial to the north, tropical dry and tropical humid to the southwestern regions and subtropical, arid to the islands. From here on, there are a whole series of regional micro climates. The subcontinent has four seasons: winter, in January and February, summer, from March to May, the monsoon season, from June to September and a post-monsoon period, from October to December. The geographical and geological uniqueness of India strongly influence its climate. This is especially true due to the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush Mountains that act as a natural barrier against the cold winds that come from Central Asia. This helps keeping higher temperatures than regions located at the same 28

Annual Average Rainfall Map of India

Monsoon Onset Map of India

A more arid and semi-arid tropical climate predominates in the large regions located south of the Tropic of Cancer and east of the Western Ghats, between Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Western Andhra Pradesh and Central Maharashtra, where rainfall is between 400 and 750 mm annually. December is the coldest month with temperatures between 20 and 24°C. The months of March, April and May are warm and dry. The monthly average temperature of these regions is 32°C. Most of the northern and north-eastern parts of India are subject to a subtropical humid climate. Even if these regions experience hot summers, temperatures in the colder months can go below the level of 0°C. Because of the extensive monsoon rains, India has only one subtype of this climate, the CFA (according to the Köppen system). Most of these regions are characterized by low rainfall during the winter. The annual rainfall varies from less than 1.000 mm in the west to up to more than 2.500 mm in the north-eastern regions. Further north the temperature is even cooler. Temperatures in some parts of the Indian plains sometimes fall below the freezing level. Most of northern India is plagued by fog during the winter season. The highest temperature recorded in India was 51°C in Phalodi, Rajasthan. The lowest was -45°C in Kashmir. The northern regions located in the Himalayas are subject to the alpine climate. Here, the temperature drops by 5,1°C per thousand meters above sea level

Wind Zone Map of India

(adiabatic lapse rate). The areas located at altitudes between 1.100 and 2.300 meters receive abundant rainfalls. Above 5.000 meters it never rains, instead all the precipitation takes the form of snow.

Average Annual Temperature Map of India



Climatic Disaster Risk Map of India


The flora of India is one of the richest in the world due to a wide range of climate variety, topology and existing environments in the country. It is thought there are more than 15.000 species of flowering plants, which represents 6% of the total existing abundant plant species in the world. Because of this extreme variance of climatic conditions, India has a rich variety of flora that no other country can boast, covered by more than 45.000 species in total, out of which there are several that can’t be found in any other place. The vastness of the Indian territories means that the flora and fauna of this country are extremely rich and varied. The region of Himachal Pradesh is located at the foot of the Himalayas. Here, 67% of the territory is covered by forests, and there can be found trees such as fig, pine, oak and deodar cedars, also called Himalayan cedars. There are also many wild flowers and there grow roses, gladioli, tulips and lilies. It seems that the name “Kerala”, given to the state from southwest India, actually means “land of coconuts” and in fact here there is produced about 60% of all Indian coconuts. It takes 3 coconut trees to support a family because multitude products of these trees can be used for both family

Teak forest

Sandalwood tree in Hyderabad

needs and for trade. The spice that made India famous around the world is the black pepper. The spices are derived from various parts of aromatic plants typical for this country: cinnamon, for example, is a cortex, while pepper represents the seeds of the homonymous plant. It seems that bananas have been made known to Europeans for the first time since Alexander the Great brought them from India in 327 BC. The Malabar coast and the foothills of the Western Ghats, thanks to the abundant rainfalls, are cloaked by lush rain forests, with a predominance of evergreen, bamboo and tall trees such as teak and sandalwood (especially the Santalum alba). In the marshy plains and along the slopes of the Western Ghats there are large tracts of dense and impenetrable jungle. The vegetation of the Deccan is less luxuriant and takes over vast areas with xerophilous characteristics, presenting itself as a more or less rich savanna, but throughout the peninsula there can be found along the rivers: bamboo patches,

The Indian Lotus is the national flower of India

palm trees and various evergreen species. Multiple varieties of animals are distributed in the vast Indian territory within their specific habitat of either forest, savannah, mountainous or other. In the dry areas on the border with Pakistan, the vegetation is sparse and largely herbaceous, having numerous shrub species. The Gangetic plain, thanks to the greater presence of water located in this area is home to lush vegetation with many species of plants, especially in the southeast where the mangroves and the shala tree are growing. The Himalayan peaks have different varieties of arctic flora, while the lower slopes that are covered with forests, are home to many species of subtropical plants, especially orchids. In the northwestern Himalayas, above the tropical belt, forests of conifers prevail, particularly cedar and pine, while in the eastern areas of the country there is a typical tropical and subtropical vegetation, with oaks and magnolias, that grow up to very high altitudinal levels. The rhododendron is also widespread in this area.



Indian Elephant


The cow is also a sacred animal in India because it was the mean of transport that was used by the The vastness of the Indian territory and its variety have encouraged the presence on these lands creator god Brahma during the creation of the world of 350 different species of mammals and 2.100 species and because it is the animal that feeds humans with its of birds. Among the animals symbol of this beautiful milk. Pashmina is the name of the wool coming from a country there can be certainly named: tigers, Indian particular type of goat that lives in the Himalayas. With elephants and the peacock, the true national emblem. this kind of wool, Indians make the well-known pure The Indian tiger is threatened by the loss of its habitat Pashmina shawls. and although it is now a protected species, its illegal hunting and other businesses related to it still continue. Indian elephants are smaller than their African cousins, but nevertheless they can reach up to 3 meters in height and weigh up to 5 tons. In Kerala, a region from southwest India, there are no parties without elephants. These huge mammals are often raised at the temples since their and dressed up for various religious processions. But the elephant in India is also a valuable business partner. Training an elephant takes a long time and it is not an easy work since a lot of patience is involved in this process. Elephant training is usually done by a “mahout�, which is a trainer who takes care of the elephants since a very young age. The elephant is considered sacred in India because it is the symbol of the god Ganesh, the god with the elephant head. 32

The cow is a sacred animal in India

India is a natural habitat for many felines, such as the tiger, the lion and the snow leopard (all of them being protected as they are endangered species), the panther, and in the Deccan, the cheetah. The Indian elephant is located on the northeastern slopes of the Himalayas and in the remote forests of the Deccan plateau. Also popular are, in different distribution areas, the rhinoceros, the jackal, the buffalo, wild boar, antelope and numerous species of monkeys (including the Rhesus monkey). Very popular are also the snake, especially poisonous species such as the cobra, as well as the crocodile, including the gharial. As for the birds there can be found numerous species of parrots, peacocks. kingfishers and herons. The olive ridley sea turtles are protected species at an international level because of their extinction risk. They nest every year on the beaches of Gahirmatha, in the region of Orissa. Nowadays, the industrial decisions concerning this territory could endanger their habitat. Only 2.000 specimens of dolphins can still be found in the river system between India, Nepal and Bangladesh. The Indian government has established 18 biosphere reserves which seek to protect more areas of possible natural habitat. Often, they include one or more parks or reserves along the buffer zones that remain

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

open to some economic uses. Protection is granted not only to the flora and fauna of the protected area, but this also applies to human communities that inhabit these regions, and their ways and customs of life. 9 out of these 18 biosphere reserves are also part of the World Network of Biosphere reserves, based on the list drawn up by UNESCO.

Bengali Tiger


People Language

Hindi is a language or a continuum dialect of languages of the Indian subcontinent that is spoken mainly in northern and central India. It is part of the Indo-European family of languages. Given the fact that this language has a multiplicity of dialects, there has been recognized the primacy of the Khari Boli dialect, which is spoken in the areas close to Delhi. On the basis of this dialect, the so-called standard Hindi took shape, which basically represents the official Hindi language but in the strict sense. Hindi is one of the 22 languages officially recognized by Annex VIII of the Constitution of India and it is, along with English, one of the two official languages of the country. The Indian constitution is written in both English and Hindi. It is the 4th most spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and English. Native speakers of the Hindi dialects make up about 41% of India’s population. Hindi is often described as the official standard language, which, along with English, is used to manage India’s central government. Hindi is an official language of Fiji as well. The word “Hindi” is a pre-Islamic term of Persian origin, and literally means “Indian”. The word is composed of the term “hind” and the adjectival suffix “i”. This term was used by the pre-Islamic Persian merchants and ambassadors of northern India in reference to any Indian language. From the 13th century, the term “hindi” with its variants “hindavi” and “hindui”, began to be used to distinguish the language spoken in the Delhi region. Hindi is the official language in the following states and territories: Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Like many other modern languages of India, Hindi derives from Sanskrit and perhaps it has influences of other ancient languages closely ​​ related to Sanskrit, like Prakrit for instance. Already around 400 AD, in the works of the poet Kālidāsa it appeared the term “Apabhramśa” that was used to indicate the “corrupt” languages spoken in northern India, which were dialects of the Sanskrit versions that didn’t fully comply with its 34

Indian Languages Speakers

grammatical rules. So, the term “Apabhramśa” refers to the transition languages ​​spoken in northern India until the 13th century. Some scholars have also applied to these transition languages the ​​ term “Prakrit”, while others limited to the antique languages or the ones spoken in the south. The Apabhramśa language had its own literature, whose last important representative was Raighu, in the 15th century. Meanwhile, around the year 1100, it had taken shape with the help of the script used for Sanskrit, the Devanagari writing currently used by the Hindi. On the level of spoken language, the differentiation between

Indian Languages Map

South Asian Language Families

the various dialects had increased, making it possible to distinguish the Hindi from the Bengali and other minor languages. Already in the 12th century, Chand Bardai had composed “Prithviraj Raso”, an epic poem that is considered one of the earliest works of Hindi literature. The name of Hindi for the new language wasn’t moreover consolidated. The terms of Hindavi, Hindustani and Urdu, as well as Hindi are used to indicate in various places and times the specific local forms or evolutionary phases of the same language. Only in the 20th century a clear definition of the term “Hindi” was given, at least in the standard form. Hindi is substantially the same language as Urdu, which not only has the same origin, but in its standard version it also refers to the same dialect, Khari Boli. The most obvious difference is related to the form of writing, because Hindi uses the Devanagari script, while Urdu uses a writing of Arabic origin. In terms of vocabulary it is well understood that the common basis of Hindi and Urdu descends from Sanskrit and has strong Persian influences. Hindi has undergone a Sanskritization process (ulterior recovery of the Sanskrit elements) while the Urdu has undergone a Persanization process (ulterior incorporation of terms with Persian origin). However, these processes have had limited effects, as those who speak the two languages can communicate with each other easily. English is also recognized as an official language. It was for a long time the language commonly spoken

by the elite and upper Indian bourgeoisie and is now practiced as a vehicular language by a part of the population with a great variety of accents, depending on the region or social class, as well as by a number of Indian writers of international renown. 10% of Indians speak English, which still makes more than 125 million second language speakers. On the other hand, English is only the mother tongue of 300.000 to 400.000 Indians, often of British ancestry. Anglophones are found mostly in urban areas, but English is relatively present almost everywhere, except for a few isolated areas. French, which is an official language of the territory of Pondicherry, has no official status at the level of the central government. It is the only foreign language that has an official status except for English. However, since the late 1950’s, English has supplanted French in Pondicherry, where there still are fewer than 2.000 French speakers. Portuguese was the administrative language of Goa during the Portuguese colonization but has no official status since 1987. However, there still are between 25.000 and 30.000 speakers, some of which being Creoles.


The most widely practiced religion in India is Hinduism (79,8%) according to the 2011 census. This religion is followed by Islam (14,2%), Christianity (2,3%), Sikhism (0,7%), Buddhism (0,7%), Jainism (0,4%), Judaism and Zoroastrianism (both with 0.009%). Among these religions, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism were born in India. Moreover, religions classified as animists are still contemporary among tribal groups from the center and north-eastern parts of the country. Hinduism is the belief in Brahman, the absolute, impersonal being, creator of the universe. Brahman is the supreme Self. Brahman is best described as infinite reality, omnipresent, omnipotent, intangible, transcendent, infinite consciousness and infinite happiness. According to Veda, Brahman exists and will exist forever. He is in all things but transcends all things. He is the divine source of all life. All Hindu gods are merely facets and incarnations of Brahman. Hinduism is spread nowadays in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Hinduism appeared during the second preChristian millennium, around 1500 BC and was founded by the Brahmins caste, which was made up of priests. According to the Hindu faith, the caste is an innate attribute, without which a man can’t find its place in 35

Hindu population of India

society and can’t marry. Even now, the Brahmins are the only Hindu entitled to read hymns, verses, incantations and treaties from the Vedas dating from the period of the Aryan invasions and which represent the foundation of the Hindu teachings. Upanishads, works developed on the Vedas, represented a compendium of metaphysical and philosophical speculation that circulated around 900 BC. These texts contain instructions on how the life of a Hinduism follower should be. According to the Vedic texts, a Hindu’s destiny is determined by all his actions and their consequences along the successive phases of his existence. His destiny is called Karma. A life right now is the guarantee of a better existence later. A vicious life in the present can have the consequences of a reincarnation in an inferior animal. This continuous cycle of birth and death is only concluded when the soul reaches a state of perfection through an ideal life. Most Hindus practice rituals at home. Rituals vary by regions, villages and their own choices depending on the person setting them. They are not mandatory in Hinduism. The nature or place in which they are used is, also, an individual choice. Hindus perform daily rituals such as worshiping at dawn after bathing, usually at a family shrine that includes a lighting lamp and offerings that are offered to deities, recitation of religious books, 36

Goddess Shiva, one of the principal deities of Hinduism and the supreme God within Shaivism

singing devotional hymns, yoga, meditation, chanting mantras and others. Vedic rituals of sacrifice by fire (Yajna) and chanting Vedic hymns are practiced on special occasions such as a Hindi wedding. Other major life events such as after death rituals include the chanting of Vedic mantras and Yajna. Muslims make up the majority in Jammu, Kashmir and Lakshadweep, and form large minorities in the states of Uttar Pradesh (30 million people, about 20% of the population), Bihar (13 million and a half, 15% of the population), West Bengal (25% of the population), Assam (less than 30%) and Kerala (25% of the population). The Hebrew population now much reduced, were historically living with the Cochin community of Maharashtra (Bene Israel), Bombay (Baghdadi), in Mizoram (Bnei Menashe, Indian converts) and Andhra Pradesh (Bene Ephraim, also Indians converted). The Christian community in South India sprang from two periods of evangelization. The first period was represented by the preaching of Saint Thomas in

majority of the practitioners are living in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat. However, there are also Jain communities in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Thailand, Nepal, Japan, Belgium (Antwerp), Malaysia, Kenya and so on. Jainism is characterized by an absolute respect for all forms of life. Even if Buddhism originated in India, nowadays it is practiced by a minority of the Indian population, notably by the inhabitants of the following regions: Ladakh, Lahaul and Spiti, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. There are also Tibetan practitioners who have been living in the country as refugees since the Chinese intervention in Tibet. Buddhism is also practiced by the communities of ex-untouchables from Maharashtra (5% of the population) who have converted following the example of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the leader of the “Untouchables” and architect of India’s independence. In recent years, the urban elite and the Indian middle class have been slowly beginning to take an increasing interest in Buddhism with the arrival of Buddhist schools from Japan. Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak (14691539). His sermons were addressed to all human beings irrespective of religion, caste or gender. The holy book of Sikhism, the Guru Granth Sahib, was first compiled by the 5th Sikh guru, Guru Arjan, according to the writings of the first five gurus and saints of other religions. Before the death of Guru Gobind Singh, the Sahib was declared as the eternal guru. The Zoroastrian population, which forms the second largest community of this religion, being overpassed only by Iran, is rapidly declining because of the extremely low fertility rate. At the moment there are still about 116.569 individuals. The Indian Zoroastrians are divided into two communities from two different periods of arrival: the Parsis, established in India around the year 717 following the Muslim invasions in Persia, and the Iranis, who came from Iran during the reign of the Kadjar dynasty in the 19th century. The Indian Vishnu, another important god of Hinduism government is organizing awareness campaigns with these groups on contraception and family planning, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, while the second period of prompting couples to have many children in order to evangelization was represented by the arrival of the save their ethnic groups from disappearance. Europeans in the 16th century: Portuguese, French, English, Danish and Italian. The Christians from North- World Heritage East India are the result of the mass evangelization On UNESCO’s list there can be found 27 cultural carried out by the American and British missionaries objectives, 7 natural objectives and 1 mixed objective in during the British colonization. India: Jainism is a religion in India that has about 4.4 Cultural Objectives: million faithful, about 0,4% of the population and the • Agra Fort 37

The festival of lights (Diwali) is celebrated by Hindus people every year

• Ajanta Caves • Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University) at Nalanda, Bihar • Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi • Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) • Churches and Convents of Goa • Elephanta Caves • Ellora Caves • Fatehpur Sikri • Great Living Chola Temples • Group of Monuments at Hampi • Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram • Group of Monuments at Pattadakal • Hill Forts of Rajasthan • Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi • Khajuraho Group of Monuments • Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya • Mountain Railways of India • Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi • Rani-ki-Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell) at Patan, Gujarat • Red Fort Complex 38

• • • •

Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka Sun Temple, Konârak Taj Mahal The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement • The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur Natural Objectives: • Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area • Kaziranga National Park • Keoladeo National Park • Manas Wildlife Sanctuary • Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks • Sundarbans National Park • Western Ghats Mixed Objective: • Khangchendzonga National Park


With a population estimated at about 1.3 billion people, which represents 17% of the world population, India is the second most populous country in the world after China and, according to some statistics, it could become the first around 2030. Life expectancy is about

Fertility rates of India

Life Expectancy of India

65 years and the population growth rate is 1.38% per annum. There are 22,01 births per 1.000 people per year. The national report women / men is equal to 944 women per 1.000 men. 67% of the population resides in the rural areas. However, the rate of urbanization continues to grow because of the heavy migration from countryside to cities. The largest cities are Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad. Barely five years after its independence in 1947, India was the first country to set up a policy of population control. Since then, the government has set itself ambitious targets as regularly as they failed. Because of the democratic nature of its political regime, India focuses its policy on individual responsibility, for example by the help of information centers on contraception. This non-binding policy differs from that of China’s only child. The factors that seem to have had the greatest impact on the birth rate appear to be the general improvement in the standard of living, as well as the literacy of women in some states, for example in Kerala. Thus, India is experiencing a rapid increase in its population. The Indian population increases by about 19 million people per year, a consequence of a fertility Population Density Map of India


General Religious and Linguistic Situation in India

of 2,4 children per woman on average, compared to China’s 1,5. Life expectancy increased from 38 years in 1952 to 64 years in 2011. Nevertheless, India is now faced with a problematic phenomenon: the decline in the number of women relative to the number of men due to the prenatal elimination of female fetuses. The average ratio in the population is about 900 women per 1.000 men. In some parts of India, there are only 800 women per 1.000 men. As a result, many men nowadays live a forced celibacy, at the same time as vast traffic of foreign women brought to marry develop, which are brought from the Philippines, Myanmar or Indonesia. While in India arranged marriages are the norm, the lack of women has prompted many families to seek a wife for their son in some mountainous states and even abroad, as in Nepal or Bangladesh, where matrimonial trades, sometimes even criminal by kidnapping have appeared. Moreover, men whose families have no land and little money are less likely to find a wife because families prefer to marry their daughter to a wealthy family so that they are more likely to be able to live well. It has even happened that cases of polyandry have been discovered, where several brothers shared the same woman. The cause often explained by the elimination of female fetuses is socio-cultural: the destiny of a girl in India is to leave her family at her marriage in order to live in that of her husband and thus contribute to enrich the home of her in-laws. In addition, the family of the bride must pay a dowry to the in laws, a practice formerly circumscribed to the families of the Brahmin caste, but which tends to extend to the entire population despite a law prohibiting it, which sometimes gives rise to abuse. Its payment can thus cause serious financial difficulties or even ruin for the family of the bride. The cases of young bride murders perpetrated by their in40

laws are often denounced in the Indian press and are presented as the consequence of a default payment of the dowry by their family of origin. In 2006, it was officially estimated that a case of dowry death was reported to the police every 77 minutes. Nearly 6.800 married brides are murdered each year. In 2005, the under 20’s represented 45,3% of the Indian population, while those over 60 years represented only 5,9%. Although the number of young people slowly declines (50,7% Indians were under 20 years of age in 1950), the country faces the challenges of feeding, housing and enrolling large numbers of children. India is divided into 29 states and 7 union territories as it can be seen in the following table:

Literacy Rate Map of India



Andhra Pradesh

Amaravati (former one – Hyderabad) Itanagar Dispur Patna Raipur Panaji Gandhinagar Chandigarh (shared with Punjab) Shimla Srinagar (summer) Jammu (winter) Ranchi Bengaluru Thiruvananthapuram Bhopal Mumbai Imphal Shillong Aizawl Kohima Bhubaneshwar Chandigarh (shared with Haryana) Jaipur Gangtok Chennai Hyderabad Agartala Lucknow Dehradun Kolkata Capital Port Blair

Arunachal Pradesh Assam Bihar Chhattisgarh Goa Gujarat Haryana Himachal Pradesh Jammu and Kashmir Jharkhand Karnataka Kerala Madhya Pradesh Maharashtra Manipur Meghalaya Mizoram Nagaland Odisha Punjab Rajasthan Sikkim Tamil Nadu Telangana Tripura Uttar Pradesh Uttarakhand West Bengal Union territory Andaman and Nicobar Islands Chandigarh Dadra and Nagar Haveli Daman and Diu Lakshadweep National Capital Territory of Delhi Puducherry

Chandigarh Silvassa Daman Kavaratti New Delhi Pondicherry

Administrative Divisions of India

The top 20 largest cities from India can be seen in the following table: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

City Mumbai Delhi Bengaluru Chennai Hyderabad Ahmedabad Kolkata Surat Pune Jaipur Lucknow Kanpur Nagpur Visakhapatnam Indore Thane Bhopal PimpriChinchwad Patna Vadodara

Region Maharashtra Delhi Karnataka Tamil Nadu Telangana Gujarat West Bengal Gujarat Maharashtra Rajasthan Uttar Pradesh Uttar Pradesh Maharashtra Andhra Pradesh Madhya Pradesh Maharashtra Madhya Pradesh Maharashtra

Population 12.450.000 11.050.000 8.450.000 7.090.000 6.735.000 5.580.000 4.500.000 4.470.000 3.125.000 3.048.000 2.820.000 2.765.000 2.405.000 2.035.000 1.960.000 1.820.000 1.800.000 1.730.000

Bihar Gujarat

1.685.000 1.668.000 41

Economy & Transportation Economy

India has made an enormous economic progress since its independence. By 2015, India was the 9th largest economy in the world with a GDP of 2.074 billion $. The Government of India's goal is to accelerate the economic development by reducing poverty, further developing infrastructure, especially in the rural areas, as well as facilitating access to education and access to healthcare for the population. Since its independence, India has adopted a mixed economy, in which alongside the large private groups like Tata (metalworking) and Birla (cement), small craft industries and retail trade companies, there were many publicly owned companies and there was a strict control by the government on private sector participation, foreign trade and foreign direct investment. However, since 1991, India has gradually opened up its markets through economic reforms and managed to reduce government controls on foreign trade and investment. Foreign currency reserves increased from 5,8 billion $ in March 1991 to 308 billion $ in 4 July 2008, while the state and federal budget deficit has been gradually decreasing since then. The privatization of publicly owned enterprises and the opening of some private sectors to foreign participation had driven the political debate. With a GDP growth rate of 9,4% in between 2006 and 2007, the Indian economy is among the fastest growing in the world. India’s GDP in 2012 in nominal terms reached up to 1.842 billion $, the 10th in the world. If measured in terms of purchasing power


India Export Tree Map

India’s GDP in comparison with other states and regions

parity (PPP), India is the 3rd world power with 4.716 billion $. The nominal income per capita is 1.501 $, while in purchasing power parity is 3.843 $. India is endeavoring to deepen its relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to strengthen its ties with China and to increase its interaction with the countries of Central Asia, The United States and Europe. The Indian middle class consists of more than 120 million people and is constantly changing. The sectors that benefit from the economy are, above all: IT, construction and services, including tourism and manufacturing. Public works alone employ more than 30 million Indians and account for about 10% of GDP. These public works include huge projects to widen roads, airports and dams between the years 2016 and 2025. In space, the country managed to launch in January 2007 a rocket carrying a capsule that was then recovered on Earth as part of the preparation for a manned space flight. The PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) fuse has placed four satellites in the orbit, a premiere for India. Two of the satellites are Indian, one is Indonesian and one Argentine. Nowadays, with nine operational geostationary satellites, the country has used its technological success in space to create teleeducation as well as tele-medicine networks to serve the population. India has more than 3 million new mobile phone subscribers each month and in early 2016 it exceeded more than one billion mobile subscriptions. Young people from all over the world, including a growing number of Europeans, come to study in India and do internships in the country. India is also the largest producer and exporter of generic medicines in the world. The capital of the pharmaceutical industry is Hyderabad. The first company in the sector is Ranbaxy, with more than 10.000 employees and 1.5 billion $ in sales. Indian

The gems and jewelry industry is an ancient and continuing major component of the Indian economy

India’s GDP (by 2011)

exports total more than 2 billion $. According to a study made by Jean-Joseph Boillot, a former financial advisor at the New Delhi Economic Mission, India’s growth surpassed that of China in the 2010-2015 period. In his book, “The Indian Economy”, he prognoses that India will be the great rival of China around 2020. The Indian newspaper “Economic Times” announced an economic growth of 7,6% for India from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016 compared to China’s 6,5%. The number of households equipped with television was 88 million in 2000 compared with 105 million in 2007. India has the second largest labor force in the world, with 516,3 million people, 60% of whom are employed in agriculture and related industries. 28% of them are employed in services and related industries,

while 12% are employed in the real industrial sector. The main agricultural crops include rice, wheat, oilseed, cotton, jute, tea, sugarcane and potatoes. The agricultural sector accounts for 28% of the GDP, while the service and industrial sectors make up 54% and 18% respectively. Large industries are active in the automotive, cement, chemicals, consumer electronics, food processing, machinery, mining, petroleum, pharmaceuticals, steel, transportation equipment, and textiles sectors. Alongside the rapid economic growth there is a growing demand for energy. According to the Energy Information Administration, India is the 6th largest consumer of oil and 3rd largest consumer of coal. In recent years India has been able to capitalize on the English language education of many people, thus becoming a major outsourcing destination for many multinational corporations and a popular

Mumbai, Maharashtra is considered the financial capital of India


destination for medical tourism. India has also become a major exporter of software and finance, research and technology services. Its natural resources include arable land, bauxite, chromite, coal, diamonds, iron ore, limestone, manganese, mica, natural gas, oil and titanium. In 2007, exports were estimated at 140 billion $ and imports amounted to 225 billion $. Textiles, jewelry, engineering and software products were the main export items, while crude oil, machinery, fertilizers and chemical products were among the imports. India’s most important trading partners are the United States of America, the European Union and China.


The transport sector is an important part of the Indian national economy. In 2005, more than 40% of Indian households had a bicycle, with percentages ranged from 30% to 70% at the state level. About 10% of households owned a motorcycle. The owned cars are available to very few, or approximately 0,7% of households in 2007, a much higher number anyway compared to 0,5% in 2000. The demand for transport infrastructure and related services has growth rates of about 10% per year. In general, the public transport suffers because of the outdated technology, inability of the management and low labor productivity. Nevertheless, India has the


Elephant Transportation in Kerala

rail network of the Indian Railways, the largest in the world and the 4th in terms of use. The railway covers about ​​63.140 km, with 6 billion passengers per year and 350 million tons of cargo. The growth of international trade is supported by the network of ports. In 2013, India had 13.581 km of pipelines and 11.069 km of pipelines of refined products. India has a network of National Highways connecting all the major cities and state capitals, forming the economic backbone of the country. India has a total of 70.934 km of National Highways, out of which only 1.208 km are classified as expressways. Under the National Highways Development Project

Bicycles are probably the most common used mean of transportation in India

Vijayawada-Guntur Highway

(NHDP), work is under progress to equip some of the important national highways with four lanes. The plan also provides the conversion of some stretches of these roads to six lanes. About 65% of freight and 80% passenger traffic in India is carried by roads. The National Highways carry about 40% of the total road traffic, though only about 2% of the road network is covered by these roads. The number of vehicles has been growing by around 10,16% per annum over the recent years. Highways have facilitated the development of many towns that have sprung up along major highways. Very few National Highways are constructed of concrete, the most notable being the MumbaiPune Expressway. In recent years, construction has commenced on a nationwide system of multi-lane highways, including the Golden Quadrilateral, as well as the North-South and East-West Corridors which link the largest cities in India. In 2000, around 40% of India’s

Bus filled with passengers near Nakashipara, West Bengal

villages lacked access to all weather roads and remained isolated during the monsoon season. The train is undoubtedly the most popular mean of transportation in India for middle and long distance travelling. There are many types of trains and as many classes of travel. The main ones are 1A (First class with air conditioning), 2A (Second Class with air conditioning), 3A (Third class with air conditioning) and Sleepers (equal to the third with its three-story bunks but not heated and thus with bars on the windows instead of glass). Obviously the cost of the ticket varies greatly and must be booked well in advance because the Indian population travels constantly, especially in the holiday season. However, if you are in India on a tourist visa, you will have less problems: each train has in fact a fixed number of seats assigned to the tourists. The bus is the obvious choice when you are unable to get a reservation on board trains or to reach

Indian Train


Bus in Bangalore

Indian Taxi Driver near Calcutta

places not connected by the Indian rail network. There usually are two types of buses: private and governmental. While the private buses are apparently “similar� to the European standards with curtains at the windows, reclining seat, TV and air conditioning, the governmental buses are real historical relics: dirty and bruised, with uncomfortable seats, no air conditioning, shock absorbers consumed by time and sometimes doors that do not close completely. Both types of buses tend to take along the way an improbable number of passengers, indifferent to the presence or not of further

free seats. Sometimes the path is so torturous that it puts a strain on the physical and mental resources of travelers, especially to those weak of heart. The private taxi is probably one of the best choices for comfort and lack of time constraints especially if you want to travel in small groups and cover more or less short distances. However the cost is higher compared to that of trains and buses. While in this manner queues at reservation counters and often interactions with intrusive travelers are avoided, the bad part of it is that if you want to stop at hotels, restaurants and resorts, the


Human Rickshaw in Calcutta

Motor Rickshaws or Tuk Tuk

Delhi Metro in New Delhi

driver will ask for special benefits or economic returns. Rickshaws were realized for the first time in 1869 by an American blacksmith and it is a mean of transport which, in its original form, was using the human power for vehicle traction. This form of rickshaws is now illegal in many countries. In India it is illegal since 2006 as a result of a measure passed by the government of Calcutta. Colloquially called “Tuk Tuk”, these motor rickshaws are three-wheeled vehicles of green and yellow colours that have a taximeter and a comfortable back seat. These vehicles can be taken anywhere in the

city. One of the downsides of these means is the absence of any type of air conditioning or the effective protective barrier against rains. Present only in some Indian cities like New Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore recently, the Delhi metro system is really efficient. For a few rupees it allows you to reach many areas of the city thus escaping the chaotic traffic and the unpleasant atmosphere but not the crowd. At least for women, travel conditions are less problematic. As in trains, in fact, there is a specific compartment dedicated to them, the so-called “wagon

Mumbai International Airport


Jawaharlal Nehru Trust Port in Navi Mumbai

for ladies”, in order to avoid the embarrassment due to the prying eyes of the male passengers. The negative side on this mean of transport is that not all places are accessible by metro and it closes around midnight. Another drawback of the metro is represented by the queues for the security checks. India has a coastline of 7.517 km and thus ports are the main centers of trade. In India, about 95% of the foreign trade by quantity and 70% by value takes place through ports. Mumbai Port & JNPT (Navi Mumbai) handles 70% of the maritime trade in India. There are 12 major ports in this country: Navi Mumbai, Mumbai, Kochi, Kolkata (including Haldia), Paradip, Visakhapatnam, Ennore, Chennai, Tuticorin, New Mangaluru, Mormugao and Kandla. Other than these,


there are 187 minor and intermediate ports, 43 of which handle cargo. India has an extensive network of inland waterways in the form of rivers, canals, backwaters and creeks. The total navigable length is 14.500 km, out of which about 5.200 km of river and 485 km of canals that can be used by mechanized crafts. Freight transport by waterways is highly underutilized in India compared to other large countries. The total cargo moved by inland waterways is just 0,15% of the total inland traffic in India, compared to the corresponding figures of 20% for Germany and 32% for Bangladesh. Indian Airlines, the main Indian airline managed by the government, has a fairly extensive network. The international carrier Air India is also carrying out domestic flights on routes like: Mumbai (Bombay) - Delhi, Mumbai - Kolkata, Delhi - Kolkata and Mumbai – Chennai (Madras). Deregulation has greatly improved the quality of service and multiplied the number of smaller players, although many of these have recently failed. Among the new entrants, the most reliable airline companies are probably Jetlite Airlines, Jet Airways and Spicejet. Only 132 of the total 346 civilian airfields were classified as “airports” as of November 2014. The state owned Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai handles more than a half of the air traffic in the country. The operations of the major airports in India have been privatized over the past 5 years and this has resulted in better equipped and cleaner airports. The terminals have either been refurbished or expanded.

Air India is the national carrier of India

Indian Culture Indian Proverbs

1. You should not have enmity with the crocodile if you are living in the water. 2. Avarice is root of all evils. 3. The drums sound better at a distance. 4. Life is to short to be miserable 5. May you live a thousand years and may each year have a fifty thousand days. 6. Your future does not depend on the lines of your hands, because people who do not have hands also have a future. 7. Ask not a saint of his cast. Ask of his knowledge. 8. As the king so are the subjects 9. What does a monkey knows about the taste of ginger? 10. Knows no dance, claims the stage is tilted. 11. The insider who knows all the secrets can bring down Lanka. 12. You don't need a mirror to see the bracelet on your wrist. 13. You cannot live in Rome and fight with the Pope. 14. Whoever owns the lathi, owns the buffalo. 15. Who saw a peacock dance in the woods? 16. Those who make the most threats seldom do anything. 17. In the beginning, every good work looks impossible. 18. Wisdom is an important part of bravery. 19. One who believes in his own capabilities, never becomes unsuccessful. 20. Concentration is essential to ensure victory.

Traditional Indian Decorative Pots



Makar Sakranti Republic Day Vasant Panchami Maha Shiva Ratri Holi Hindi New Year

Variable (January) 26 January Variable Variable Variable (March) Variable

Rama Navami Independence Day Gandhi Jayanthi Navaratri Diwali Boghi / Lohri Thiruvalluvar Day Vishu Uzhavar Thirunal Ratha Saptami Gudi Padwa/Ugadi/ Puthandu Hanuman Jayanti Akshaya Tritiya/Maharishi Parashurama Jayanti Rath Jatra

Variable 15 August 2 October Variable Variable Variable Variable Variable Variable Variable Variable

Nag Panchami Raksha Bandhan

Variable Variable

Krishna Janmashtami


Ganesh Chaturthi




Raja Parba


Mahalaya Dussehra Kumara Purnima

Variable Variable Variable

Devotthan Ekadashi


Hartalika Teej


Jagaddhatri Puja


Vishwakarma Puja




Chhath Puja






Variable Variable Variable


Kuchipudi dancer

Sadhu (religious ascetic) in Varanasi

Wedding ritual in southern India


Village Girls dressed up for a dance festival

Hindu Marriage



Bharatanatyam dancer

Indian Personalities


Mohandas Karamchand “Mahatma” Gandhi Mohandas Karamchand “Mahatma” Gandhi (b. 2 December 1869 in Porbandar State, Kathiawar Agency, British Indian Empire, now Gujarat, India – d. 30 January 1948 in New Delhi, Delhi, India) was the preeminent leader of the Indian independence movement in British ruled India. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The honorific Mahatma (Sanskrit: “high-souled”, “venerable”) applied to him first in 1914 in South Africa, is now used worldwide. He is also called Bapu (Gujarati: endearment for “father”, “papa” in India. In common parlance in India he is often called Gandhiji. He is unofficially called the Father of the Nation. On 2 October 1869 in Porbandar, Gujarat,


Mahatma Gandhi

India, Mohandas Gandhi was born. He was to become a peaceful nationalist revolutionary leader, reformer, priest and promoter of non-violent forms of protest that led to India’s detachment from the domination of the British Empire. In 1882, Gandhi married a teenager at the age of 13, in accordance with the local tradition. In 1888, at the age of 18, Mohandas went to London to study law, leaving at home his wife and newborn baby. Victorian England opened Gandhi’s eyes to the realities of the industrialized world, philosophy and the great religions of the world. He became a lawyer in 1891 and, after trying to practice this profession on his own in Bombay, he eventually accepted the offer of an Indian businessman and went to work in South Africa. Thus Gandhi moved to South Africa in 2 years later. He spent about 21 years in South Africa where he faced racial humiliations and thus decided to become a political activist. One day while in South Africa, one individual was kicked out of the first class carriage of a train because he was half Indian even though he bought a first-class ticket. Gandhi was deeply saddened by this event and quickly became the leader of the Indian community in South Africa and has gained a certain measure of racial and political equity for his fellow Indians. In 1894 he founded the Natal Indian Congress. While being in South Africa, he has developed a method of peaceful resistance, which he called “satyagraha” and also developed his own spiritual way of thinking and looking at things. As a result of these peaceful movements, he started a passive resistance movement. In 1909, during a trip to India, Gandhi wrote a small treatise on Indian indigenous leadership. In 1915, Mahatma Gandhi returned permanently in India and traveled a lot. He got involved as he had done in South Africa in many local disputes. He was also the one that stood up against the British after the First World War and decided to enter in politics. After the Amritsar massacre in 1919, when a British Army general ordered his soldiers to open fire on several hundred of unarmed demonstrators, Gandhi initiated a nationwide campaign of passive non-cooperation, including a boycott against the British products. He also transformed the inactive Indian National Congress into an efficient movement and assumed the role of leader of the Indian nationalist movement. Between 1922 and 1924, Gandhi was closed in jail for the first time, as many other such arrests would follow, after he made an objective indictment of the British rule at his process. Gandhi was eventually released after two years and began to prepare

his release, he vowed not to return home until India wouldn’t become independent. He resigned as head of the National Congress and established himself in Sevagram, a remote village in the heart of the continent. He had become an indisputable leader with authority and didn’t need a political office. After his decision to do so, politicians started to came to him. In 1942, Gandhi and the Congress leadership remained neutral during the Second World War, but most members were arrested after a speech held by Gandhi in which he asked the British to “leave India”. After the war, the Labour party took power in London and thus negotiations for India’s independence intensified and, together with them, the tensions between Muslims and Hindus. Mahatma Gandhi went bravely from village to village trying to end the religious violence, but about 1 million people died by the end of India’s struggle for independence and separation from the subcontinental part. He managed somehow to stop the riots from Calcutta in September 1947 and persuaded both communities in Delhi to conclude an agreement whereby they undertook to live in “perfect friendship” by January 1948. In 1947, India finally became independent. On 30 January 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in New Delhi, India, Mohandas Gandhi in London in 1906 while heading to the place where he had to make his evening prayer, by Nathuram Godse, an angered Hindu psychologically and sociologically the Indian population by the fact that Gandhi agreed with pragmatism the for the independence movement. He criticized the division of the subcontinent in Hindu India and Muslim caste system, called for interfaith tolerance and tried Pakistan. With his hands folded as for a last prayer, frantically to revive a sense of national confidence. He dying Gandhi has blessed his assassin with the words: preached what he called a “new science of peace”, which “Hey Rama”, meaning “Oh, God”. was based on the belief in universal love and has earned the title of Mahatma or “Great Soul”. He supported his ideas in front of an increasingly more numerous audience, exposing his opinions on any domains of activity, starting from hygiene and vegetarianism to education. He wanted to tell everyone the story about a socialist, utopian society. Gandhi asked the British to give India a dominion status. In 1930, Gandhi asked the Indians to refuse to pay their taxes, particularly the salt tax, against which he led a spectacular nationwide march. As a result, the British started to take some steps backwards and Gandhi was sent to London to negotiate. However, the negotiations didn’t reach to any kind of results and upon his return to India, Gandhi was once again arrested. In prison, he started a new hunger strike in order to protest against the government’s decision to break up the 5th caste of India, the outcasts, paria. After Gandhi laughing


As a child, Gandhi has experimented meat eating due to his innate curiosity and also because of his compelling friend, Sheikh Mehtab. The idea of​​ vegetarianism is deeply ingrained in Hindu and Jain traditions in India and in his native land of Gujarat, most Hindus were vegetarians, just like the Jains. Gandhi’s family was no exception. Before leaving for studies in London, Gandhi promised his mother, Putlibai, and his uncle, Becharji Swami, that he would abstain from meat, alcohol and promiscuity. Once mature, Gandhi became a strict vegetarian. He wrote a book entitled “Moral Basis of Vegetarianism” and various articles regarding this subject, some of which were published in the London Vegetarian Society “Vegetarian”. Gandhi himself was inspired by many great minds during this period and befriended the president of the London Vegetarian Society, Dr. Josiah Oldfield. Gandhi spent much time supporting vegetarianism during and after his stay in London. For Gandhi, a vegetarian diet would not only satisfy the body, but would also serve an economic purpose as meat was and still is more expensive than grains, Mahatma Gandhi with Jawaharlal Nehru (the vegetables and fruits. Also in that time, many Indians future 1st Prime Minister of India) in 1942 had a low income, thus vegetarianism was seen not only as a spiritual habit, but also a practical one. He abstained from eating for long periods, using fasting as a form of political protest. He refused many times to eat until his demands were granted. Mahatma Gandhi was born Hindu and practiced Hinduism all his life, most of his principles deriving from Hinduism. As an ordinary Hindu, he believed that all religions are equal, and rejected all efforts to convert him to another religion. He was an avid theologian and read about all the great religions of the world. Gandhi believed that at the core of every religion there is truth and love (compassion, non-violence and the Golden Rule). He also questioned hypocrisy, deviations from the dogmas of all religions and was a tireless social reformer. Gandhi firmly believed that a person involved in the service of society should lead a simple life, which could lead to Brahmacharya, the spiritual and practical purity. His simple way of life began by renouncing to the western lifestyle that he lived while in South Africa. He once said on this subject that “You must reduce yourself to Zero”, which basically meant that a person must give up the unnecessary expenses and adopt a simple lifestyle. Mahatma Gandhi spent one day of each week in silence. He believed that abstaining from speaking brought him inner peace. In those days, he communicated with others through writing. 56

Drawing of Mahatma Gandhi

Upon his return to India from South Africa, where he successfully practiced law, he gave up wearing Western clothes, which he associated with wealth and success. He dressed as simple as he could in order to be accepted by the poorest person in India, supporting the use of homemade cloth, called “khadi”. While Indian workers didn’t have any jobs, they often bought clothes from factories owned by the British. According to Gandhi, if Indians would make their own clothes, this thing would cause great economic shock in British India. Therefore, the spinning wheel was later included on the flag of the Indian National Congress. Later, Gandhi wore a dhoti for the rest of his life to express the simplicity of his existence. Gandhi dedicated his life to the high purpose of discovering the truth or Satya. He tried to discover it by learning from his own mistakes and experimenting on himself. He entitled his autobiography “The Story of My Experiments with Truth”. Gandhi said that the most important battle to fight is against our own demons, fears and insecurities. Mahatma Gandhi is officially honored in India as the Father of the Nation and his birthday (2 December) is a national holiday in India, called Gandhi Jayanti. On

15 June 2007, it was announced that “The United Nations General Assembly” unanimously adopted a resolution declaring 2 October as the “International Day of NonViolence”. Times Magazine named Gandhi “Man of the Year” in 1930. Gandhi was also second after Albert Einstein on the list of “Person of the Century” in late 1999. In 1996, the Indian government has introduced a series of “Mahatma Gandhi” bills, consisting of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 rupees. Today, all banknotes in circulation in India contain a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi. In 1969, Great Britain has made a series of stamps in order to commemorate the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi never received the Nobel Peace Prize, despite being nominated five times between 1937 and 1948. Decades later, the Nobel Committee publicly declared its regret for the omission. Mahatma Gandhi was about to receive the Nobel Prize in 1948, but his assassination prevented this thing to happen. The prize was awarded in 1948, the year Gandhi died, on the grounds that “there was no suitable candidate alive” and when the Dalai Lama received the Nobel Prize in 1989, the Committee chairman said that it is “somehow a tribute to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi”.

Gandhi spinning the yarn on charkha


Gautama Buddha

Gautama Buddha (b. between 563 and 480 BC in Lumbini, Shakya Republic, now Nepal – d. between 483 and 400 BC in Kushinagar, Malla Republic, now India) also known as Siddhārtha Gautama, Shakyamuni Buddha, or simply the Buddha, after the title of Buddha, was an ascetic (śramaṇa) and sage, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He is believed to have lived and taught mostly in the eastern part of ancient India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BC. Buddha was born in a small Himalayan kingdom, a nowadays region of Nepal on the border with India. His father, Śuddhodana, was the king of this kingdom and belonged to a tribe called Sakya, thus Buddha was born not so far from the capital of the kingdom, Kapilavastu. At the birth, the child was named Siddhārtha. The name of Buddha, under which he became known after reaching the enlightenment, means “the waken one”. He was also called Gautama or Gotama, which was the name of his grandfather. Also, he later was known under the name of Sakyamuni or the Sakya sage. The prince mother, Queen Māyādevī, died soon after Sakyamuni’s birth and entrusted the child to his sister and to his father, Śuddhodana. Soon, the young prince amazed his teachers and the wise men of the kingdom through his knowledge. Siddhārtha quickly became the best warrior in the kingdom and nobody could surpass him at riding and archery. As he grew up, he got a pleasant appearance. Texts describe him as a thin man, having a broad chest, big eyes, glowing skin and an imposing attitude. The prince used to spend hours in the beautiful gardens of the palace. The young prince saw one day while he was with his father in the fields, the beauty of the landscape but also the suffering of the ox and the fatigue of the peasant. Thus he observed in nature and in the fight for life, the law of the strongest and the death of the weak. As a result, he asked his father to stay in that place to meditate. Despite the movement of the Sun, the shade of the tree that protected Siddhārtha remained still and thus the prince experienced his first ecstasy. Impressed by his son’s attitude, the king remembered the predictions of a Brahmin: “By choosing the life of a wandering ascetic, he will attain enlightenment and will save the world!” One day, 58

Tibetan copper statue of Gautama Buddha

while wandering to the edge of the park, Siddhārtha saw beyond the orderly flowerbeds, the wild depths of the jungle. There, for the first time, he met the ascetics who have renounced the world. In front of his son’s melancholic attitude, the king decided that it’s the time for his son to find a wife. Among the 108 contenders, one more beautiful than the other, only the last one, Yaśodharā, attracted Siddhārtha’s attention. After he defeated his rivals in an archery and sword competition, Siddhārtha married the beautiful Yaśodharā. Among his rivals, there was also one of the prince cousins, Devadatta, who would later become one of his main opponents, even within the order founded by Buddha. After his son’s marriage, King Śuddhodana ordered the construction of a new palace that would be even more sumptuous than the previous one. He wanted the prince to taste the pleasures of love freely. Secretly, at night, the craftsmen were asked to build a wall around this paradise. The prince became thus contained in a vortex where everything was young and beautiful. The king gave orders that everything that could remind of

illness, old age and death must be removed from the path of his son. As soon as a dancer showed the slightest sign of fatigue, she was replaced. There was no wilted flower or dead leaf. Soon, Yaśodharā found out that a son will be born. Siddhārtha asked his people to harness the horses so that he could get out with the child. The elders and slaves were hidden and the entire city was transformed by the king’s men in a place of happiness and beauty. Suddenly, in front of the prince’s horse, a repulsive man on the verge of death appeared. Shaken by this apparition, during the night, Siddhārtha went out disguised and the city showed its habitual face. He saw a mortuary convoy and followed it to the place of cremation. Someone told the prince that all people die. Once returned to the palace, the prince’s soul became affected by the image of death. Siddhārtha meditate on what he saw. One evening, after being entertained by musicians and dancers, Siddhārtha fell asleep. Towards midnight, he suddenly woke up and saw a horrible sight. Snoozing, the women seemed cadaveric and the precious silks covering their bodies seemed no different than any simple colored rags. In the middle of the night, Siddhārtha awakens Channa, his young servant and asks him to saddle his horse. Under

the night sky, the prince leaves the palace on his white horse. The prince had about 27 years. At dawn, near the river Anoma, on the border of the kingdom, Siddhārtha gave Channa his horse and commands him to return to Kapilavastu. He changed his princely clothes with those of a hunter and cut his ponytail with a single sword blow. Legend has it that the prince’s tail rose up to the sky and disappeared. Channa feared the wrath of the king and didn’t hurry to return to Kapilavastu. Thus, the return trip lasted seven days. Freed from the worries that accompany sensual pleasures and riches, Siddhārtha went towards the plains of the Ganges. In a forest he met a group of ascetics who practiced techniques dedicated to rebirth in paradise but Siddhārtha wasn’t attracted to this path and continued his way on. The Brahman of the royal court, sent by his father, caught him from behind and tried to make him return home. The Brahman told him that if he was attracted to the ascetic life, the caste rules allow him to choose this way of life when he reached the age of 50 years. Until then he had to return to Kapilavastu to be king when his father will die. After being denied several times and not managing to convince the prince, the

Golden Meditating Buddha Statue


he still hadn’t reached illumination and thus he isolated in a cave, near Rajagrha. There, he forgot about the tigers, eagles and snakes that were haunting the places and deepens into an asceticism whose rigor will almost ruin him. His 5 followers, tired of waiting for a teaching that didn’t come, eventually abandoned him. Gautama then went to Uruvela where he contrasts with the austerity of his new cave. He sook more places of meditation, but eleven times, these proved inadequate. In a 12th place near Bodhigaya, he unraveled a favorable sign and chose a tree under which he stood until the end of the day and decided not to get up there until that meditation doesn’t make him discover how to suppress the suffering. In that place, Gautama endured the demonic attempts of Mara, goddess of temptations who tried to make him quit. Mara triggers storm, rain, lightning and thunder to make him abandon meditation. But the stones of fire and arrows fallen from the sky, turned into flowers before they reached anywhere near him. During the first night, Buddha saw hundreds of his previous lives. Jataka, a collection of Buddhist stories for children, is said to talk about these lives. In the course of the second Buddha’s statue near Belum Caves in Andhra Pradesh, India night, Buddha discovered the Brahman returnsed to Kapilavastu, while Siddhārtha complexity of the universe. He saw galaxies, the moved forward. After several days of walking, Gautama different suns, space, time, matter and the emptiness reached the town of Vaishali where he began to follow that composes it. He saw meteorites, comets, living the teachings of a famous Brahman. After hearing the stars and dead stars. To be more precise, he saw how doctrines exposed by the Brahman, Gautama said: death begets life, darkness light, formless form, in the “Your words didn’t go to my heart because I couldn’t uninterrupted string of rebirth. During the third night, find in them understanding for suffering and no cure the kingdoms of nature and their laws have emerged for healing. What I’m seeking for is the liberation of to the wise man clearly. The destruction of life and its man, but I see that you don’t really bother making him continuation as he contemplated it for the first time better ... You seek only strength and you are pleased to when his father showed him the plow that turned the land on the other side, appeared for him in a new light: be the slaves of the gods.” Five people started following Gautama, feeling the lioness that kills the gazelle to feed her cubs acts by that this ascetic will guide them to the Truth. However, its own nature, the bird that devours worms also acts by 60


its own nature, the snake that swallows small animals makes nothing contrary to its own nature. During the fourth night, resulting from his previous visions, he saw how suffering is the result of life and especially the result of senses. Trying to escape the pain, man takes refuge in sensual and mental pleasure and does nothing than to precipitate towards a higher pain. All the means he adopts are superficial. Even the refuge in religion brings him no peace. The vision of the Four Truths appeared then to Buddha: 1. Suffering (dukha) is the contact of the body, mind and consciousness that form the illusory nature with the world. 2. The Origin (Samudaya) of suffering is the cause of rebirth. 3. The Cessation (nirodha) of evil represents the cessation of this desire. 4. The Way (marga) leading to the cessation of Evil is the Noble Eightfold Path: right view, right resolve,

right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right meditation. The Buddha then climbed the Twelve NidÄ nas, causes of suffering, then taking the reverse way, he discovers the Path to Liberation. The Total Liberation Road is now open. Buddha entered into the deepest ecstasy. Illumination releases him from suffering and rebirth forever. The earth quaked twelve times and a dazzling light shroud Buddha. At this point, all the misdeeds had stop suddenly. Buddha had about 37 years old when he achieved illumination. He then reveals The Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path and the chaining of causes and effects to the people. In the Gazelles Park in Benares, Buddha preached his teachings. Day and night, people came in to listen to his liberating message. Buddha had in short time about sixty disciples and decided to leave the Gazelles Park so that he can go to Uruvela. Buddha meditated in the forest and used to spend his nights under the open sky. He urged those 61

who had been listening him to pursue a life dedicated to meditation. Buddha used to combat the practice of animal sacrifices. In a society organized on the principle of rigid caste, Buddha fought against the ideas that someone would be Brahmin by birth and showed that this is acquired only through what man does and by practicing meditation no matter what caste one would be born in. Devadatta instead started to teach the path of a more severe asceticism and criticized Buddha for being too soft. He tried to overthrow Buddha from the helm of the order that he created but fails to do so and produces only a small schism that has few ascetics. But Devadatta was not the only enemy of Buddha. Jainism also fought against Buddhism as this religion developed in parallel to the other one. Buddha, accompanied by a large retinue, took the road to Kapilavastu. The 20.000 people that followed him, slowly advanced towards the little kingdom. The decorated city awaited for the return of the prince. The impatient crowd waited for a sovereign but only saw a man poorly dressed, tired of the many sermons and difficult journey he made. Only Yaśodharā seemed to understand her husband’s glory and during the night they met again, she achieved illumination without even hearing Buddha’s teachings. Buddha’s son,


Rahula, receives the teachings of his father and will enter the order founded by his father. Before leaving Kapilavastu, he established The Five Pāramitā that his disciples must comply. After preaching for more than 40 years, Buddha, already over the age of 80 years old started to feel tired. He continued preaching despite some first signs of illness. Near the village of Kusinara, he lied on the ground between two trees isolated in the middle of a field. A blacksmith prepared the meals for Buddha and his disciples and to honor the Wise Man, he served him with poultry meat. This dish, according to the legend, caused Buddha’s death through a particularly severe upset stomach. Feeling his end near, Buddha remained alone with Ānanda, his closest disciple. As soon as Buddha entered Nirvana, a great, scary, horrible earthquake took place and the divine rumble of drums fell like thunder. Buddha passed away from this world in his 80’s and nobody knows if his death was caused by food poisoning or by an altered food. For 400 years his teachings were passed down orally, and were recorded on palm leaves. Later, the community left behind by Buddha was divided in many schools. The doctrine exposed by him remained vivid even nowadays, after almost three thousand years since his death.

Ascetic Siddhārtha with the Group of Five

Buddha in Nirvana


teacher changed his last name in the school records from the original Ambavadekar to Ambedkar. Bhimrao Ramji In 1898, Ambedkar moved to Bombay, where he became a student at the Government High School. Ambedkar In 1907, he enrolled at the University of Bombay, thus becoming the first untouchable university student from across India. As a result, he was presented a biography Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (b. 14 April 1891 of Buddha, by author and family friend, Krishnaji Arjun in Mhow, Central Provinces, now Madhya Pradesh, Keluskar. Bhimrao Ramji also received a scholarship of India – d. 6 December 1956 in Delhi, India), popularly 25 rupees per month, granted by Sayaji Rao Gaekwad known as Babasaheb, was an Indian jurist, economist, III, the Maharaja of Baroda. Ambedkar was involved in politician and social reformer who inspired the Dalit a forced marriage, according to the Hindu customs, with Buddhist Movement and campaigned against social discrimination against the Untouchables (Dalits), while also supporting the rights of women and labour. He was Independent India's first law minister and the principal architect of the Constitution of India. Ambedkar was the last born child in a family of military tradition, which was part of the first private army of the East India Company and then the army of British India. He had 14 brothers and sisters and was part of the Mahar caste, which has subject to discrimination (Untouchables). In 1894, with the retirement from the army of his father and his mother’s death, the family moved to Satara. In the short time that followed, only five brothers and sisters survived. Thanks to the military institution that his father was part of, Ambedkar could study and was in fact the only one of his family that passed the exams to enroll in high school, where his 64

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar

Ambedkar and Maulana Hasrat Mohani at Sardar Patel’s reception

Ramabai, a nine years old girl, in 1906. He graduated in economics and political sciences in 1912, became the father of Yashwant and, in 1913, became an orphan as his father passed away. In 1913, with a grant of 11,5 pounds per month, he enrolled in a three years doctorate study at Columbia University in New York. Bhimrao presented himself with a thesis entitled “Ancient Indian Commerce” and eventually completed his studies in economics in 1916, with the thesis “National Dividend of India - A Historical and Analytical Study”. In the same year, he moved to London where he enrolled at Gray’s Inn courses of law and at the London School of Economics where he took courses in economics. In 1917, after his scholarship came to an end, he was forced to return to

India, but his books that were dispatched on another steamboat, were sunk by a German submarine. In 1920, he began publishing the magazine “Mooknayak” in Bombay, in which he criticized the caste system of the Hindu state. In Kolhapur, after a speech against caste discrimination, Shahaji II, the local Maharaja, called him “the future national leader”, and after having lunch with Ambedkar, he left the rigid society completely shocked when he granted him financial assistance to continue his interrupted studies in London. Having obtained his degree in 1922, Bhimrao Ramji began his law practice, winning many famous defense causes of non-Brahmins against Brahmins. Following the achievement of India’s Independence on 15 August 1947, the new Indian 65

government invited Ambedkar to assume the position of Minister of Justice, a position that he gladly accepted. On 29 August, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was appointed by the President of the Parliamentary Committee for the drafting of the Constitution. Although Ambedkar has followed Western models for the drafting of the constitution, he also had extensively studied the Buddhist practices of Sangha (Buddhist monastic communities) and the traditional democratic management rules, which included voting, the rules of precedence, order of the debates, as well as the use of committees and agendas. The Sangha, however, was based on the rules of the ancient Indian tribal republics, such as those of the Shakya and Lichchavi. Granville Austin described the Indian Constitution written by Ambedkar as “primarily a social document”. The text guaranteed constitutionally protection for a broad spectrum of both civil and individual liberties, such as religious freedom to all social groups, and at the same time it abolished the “Untouchability” and all other forms of discrimination. Ambedkar was able to obtain through the Parliamentary Assembly the acceptance for the new system of reserves for public office, for state jobs, for schools


and universities in favour of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes’ members. This system, similar to the US system of affirmative action, preceded the other by a decade. The constitution was formally adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly Constituent on 26 November 1949. Ambedkar struggled to offer women wider social and economic rights. However, his law proposal, the Hindu Code Bill, which would have guaranteed equal rights to women in the laws of inheritance, marriage and heritage, although supported by Prime Minister Nehru, met heavy criticism from much of the Parliament and eventually was blocked. Following this opposition, Ambedkar resigned as Minister of Law and Justice in 1951. In 1952, Ambedkar was defeated in the elections for a seat in the Lower House of Parliament, the Lok Sabha. In March 1952, he was appointed member of the Upper House, the Rajya Sabha, a position he occupied until his death. While studying anthropology, Ambedkar discovered that the Mahar caste, of which he was a member according to his family origins, was originally Buddhist. Having refused to abandon the Buddhist practices, the Mahar were ousted from the

Ambedkar Memorial Park in Gomti Nagar, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Babasaheb Ambedkar in 1950

villages of Maharashtra and finally transformed into “Untouchables”. On this subject, he wrote an essay entitled “Who were the Shudras?” Ambedkar studied Buddhism throughout his whole life, but only around in his 50’s he exclusively devoted to this theme, following trips he made to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) where he attended to both scholars and Buddhist monk teachings. During the consecration of a new Vihara (Buddhist monastery) near Pune, Ambedkar announced that he would write a book on Buddhism and thus would make a formal public conversion to Buddhism himself. In 1954, Ambedkar visited Burma (now Myanmar) twice. The second trip to this country was on the occasion of the 3rd conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists in Rangoon during Vesak (Buddha Day), on the occasion of the 2500th anniversary of the Buddha’s enlightenment. On that occasion, he met Lokanātha Thera, leading monk and one of the major organizers of the event, of Italian origins. In 1955, he founded the “Bharatiya Bauddha

Mahasabha”, the Buddhist Society of India. After several meetings with the Sri Lankan monk Hammalawa Saddhatissa, Ambedkar organized a formal public ceremony for his conversion and those who supported him. In 1956, he completed his last work, “The Buddha and His Dhamma”, which was published posthumously in the same year. The ceremony was organized in Nagpur on 14 October 1956. Both Ambedkar and his wife accepted the “Three Refuges and Five Precepts” from a bhikkhu (Buddhist monk) and then proceeded to convert another 500.000 people that have gathered around him. In this manner, Ambedkar and those present at the ceremony became Buddhists in all effects. Ambedkar also prescribed the 22 Vows for these converts. After this event, he went to Kathmandu, Nepal to attend the 4th World Buddhist Conference. His latest works, “The Buddha or Karl Marx” and “Revolution and counter-revolution in ancient India” remained unfinished because he passed away on 6 December that same year. 67

Rabindranath Tagore Rabindranath Tagore (b. 7 May 1861 in Calcutta, British India, India –d. 7 August 1941 in Calcutta, British India, India) also written as Ravīndranātha Thākura, was an Indian Bengali polymath who reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of “Gitanjali” and its “profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse”, he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. Sometimes referred to as “The Bard of Bengal”, Tagore's poetry was viewed as spiritual and mercurial. However, his “elegant prose and magical poetry” remain largely unknown outside Bengal. Rabindranath Tagore was born in 1861 in Calcutta in a distinguished Bengali family. His father, Debendranâth Thâkur, was a Maharishi (wise mystic), reformer of Hinduism and founder of the “Brahmo Samaj” movement. His mother, Sharada Devi, already had 12 children, some of them even married by the time Rabindranath was born. Educated within the family, the young man also received English lessons. He had read the Bengali poets since childhood and himself started writing poems at the age of 8 years old. Tagore was also for a brief time at a British school, but conventional education seemed improper for him. His father wanted Rabindranath to become a lawyer and thus sent him to England for specialization. There, Tagore was impressed by the liberal conferences held by John Bright and W. E. Gladstone. In 1879, he enrolled at the University College in London, but his father denied his enrollment for unclear reasons. In 1883, he married with the bride (minor of age) chosen by his family in a restricted ceremony. The couple had four children, and his wife, Mrinalini died at the age of 30. In 1884, his beloved sister in law, Kadambari, committed suicide. He already dedicated four of his works to her and would dedicate two more in the following years. In 1901, he described her as Charu (beautiful, graceful, pure) in “Nashtanirh”. Since 1890, Tagore has taken over the management of the family assets. During the same period, he contributed to the most important magazines in Bengal. His first poetic collections, entitled “Manasi” (1890), “Chitra” (1895) and “Sonar Tari” (1895) were 68

written in a familiar language. Among his manifested interests during adulthood there is also social reform. In 1901, he founded “Shantiniketan”, an educational center (ashram type) in order to promote simplicity and beauty in conformity with the ancient spiritual traditions of mankind contained in the “Vedas” and “Upanishads” philosophies. In 1912, Tagore visited England once more and his own English translation of the work “Gitanjali” (The Lyric offering) was published under the auspices of Yeats. He then attended various lecture tours in England and the US, during which his fame reached bright heights. For the whole world, Tagore became the voice of India’s wisdom treasure, while for India and especially for the Bengal region, he became a living tradition. Wherever he used to find open minds that could understand his high teaching, Rabindranath shared it with simplicity, considering himself only an intermediary that had to provide further this knowledge that he himself received it as a gift and to which we are all entitled since birth. His lectures are contained

Rabindranath Tagore

Tagore with Albert Einstein on 14 July 1930 in Berlin

within the book “Sadhana” (1913) meaning “Awareness of Life”. From time to time, in his visionary manner, he participated in the Indian patriotic movement and Gandhi, father of India’s revolutionary politics, was his devoted friend. Tagore was knighted by the British Government in 1915, but after the Amritsar massacre, he gave up the title as a form of protest against the British policy that was practiced in India. In 1913, Rabindranath Tagore was awarded

the Nobel Prize for Literature. The money earned were used to improve the school from Shantiniketan. By 1921, he founded a university near the school complex. In response to some English admirers, such as painter William Rothenstein, Tagore began translating some of his poems into free verse. In 1912, he went to England carrying with him a handful of his translations. In the lectures given there, these poems shocked several Englishmen, most notably the Anglo-Irish poet W. B. Yeats and the English missionary Charles F. Andrews (protector of Gandhi). Tagore’s work as an assistant and mentor in Shantiniketan occupied him during the following years. During the mornings he usually was in the school teaching, while in the afternoons he personally developed students’ textbooks. During a frustrated trip to Peru, he had to spend the summer of 1924 in Argentina. Writer Victoria Ocampo offered him accommodation. Tagore frequently visited the current museum Villa Ocampo. In 1925, he traveled to Italy, then to Switzerland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Greece. He went from Egypt all the way to Russia and then to Canada before returning to England. In 1927, Tagore and two of his companions embarked on a four month tour of Southeast Asia, visiting places such as Bali, Java, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Penang, Siam and Singapore. The travel diaries he wrote during

Tagore with Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi at Shantiniketan


Bust of Rabindranath Tagore

this time were compiled in a work of the poet, entitled “Jatri”. In April 1932, Tagore was invited to host the Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlevi. Throughout his life, Tagore maintained many contacts with other intellectuals of his time, such as Henri Bergson, Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Mann, George Bernard Shaw, Victoria Ocampo, H. G. Wells and Romain Rolland. Particularly famous was the meeting between Tagore and Einstein that took place at Einstein’s home in Kaputh, Berlin on 14 July 1930. The two intellectuals met once again when Einstein visited Tagore at the home of an ordinary friend, Dr. Mendel. They discussed a wide variety of topics including epistemology, ontology, music theory and creativity. In August 1941, Tagore was carried to Shantiniketan for an operation. He died in the same year in the house where he was born. Although a successful writer in various genres, he was first and foremost a poet. His poems are deeply spiritual, natural 70

and vivid. Among the more than fifty books of poetry, the most well-known of them are: “Manasi” (1890) (The only ideal), “Sonar Tari” (1894) (The Ship of Gold), “Gitanjali” (1910) [The Lyric offering], “Gitimalya” (1914) (Garland of Songs) and “Balaka” (1916) (Flight of the cranes). Tagore is the author of several books of short stories and novels, including “Gora” (1910), “GhareBaire” (1916), (The Shelter of the World) and “Yogayog” (1929) (Communion). In addition, he also wrote plays, music and dance dramas, various essays, travelogues and two auto-biographies (one during his mid-life, and the second one just before his death). He also left behind numerous drawings and paintings, as well as songs, to which he composed the melody himself. The entire artistic creation of this mystic endowed with the grace of prophecy is a tribute to the divine, absolute love, which he expresses it in his attempt to reveal to all humanity the unity within the core of diversity.

Portrait of Rabindranath Tagore at Jadavpur University Campus


Satyendra Nath Bose Satyendra Nath Bose (b. 1 January 1894 in Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India – d. 4 February 1974 in Calcutta, India) was an Indian physicist from Bengal specialized in theoretical physics. He is best known for his work on quantum mechanics in the early 1920’s, providing the foundation for BoseEinstein statistics and the theory of the Bose-Einstein condensate. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he was awarded India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan in 1954 by the Indian Government. Satyendra Bose was the first of the seven children his family had. His father, Surendranath Bose, worked in the Department of Engineering of the East India Railway. Bose knew several languages and ​​ could play very well the esraj, a musical instrument similar to the violin. He attended the Hindu High School in Calcutta and then the Presidency College, achieving the best results in both. In 1914, at the age of 20 years old, Satyendra Nath Bose married Ushabati Ghosh, an 11 years old girl, daughter of a prominent physician from Calcutta. They had nine children, two of whom died in early childhood. From 1916 to 1921, he was an


assistant at the Department of Physics of the University of Calcutta. In 1921, he joined the Department of Physics at the university recently established in Dhaka, now called University of Dhaka, once more as an assistant. In 1924, Nath Bose managed to formulate a new quantum statistics for the particles of integer spin, which in his honour are now called bosons. Bose sent his work to Einstein who edited the German translation and publication. Bose traveled to Europe between 1924 and 1926, more precisely to Paris and Berlin, but failed to enter the academic world. Back in India, in Calcutta, he founded the Institute of Nuclear Studies that now bears his name. In 1926, he became professor and head of the Department of Physics at the University of Dhaka. Bose continued to teach at this university until 1945. Later, he returned to Calcutta where he taught until 1956, when he retired and was given the title of “professor emeritus”. Although many Nobel Prizes were awarded for the researches related to the concepts of the bosons, the Bose-Einstein statistics and the BoseEinstein condensate, Bose himself was not awarded a Nobel Prize. While he was at the University of Dhaka, Bose wrote a short article entitled “Planck’s Law and the Hypothesis of Light Quanta”, in which he described the photoelectric effect. This article was based on a lectureconference that he had held regarding the ultraviolet catastrophe. During this conference, in which he had

Satyendra Nath Bose, Ronald Aylmer Fisherft and Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis

Satyendra Nath Bose


Bose wasn’t awarded a Nobel Prize although he discovered together with Einstein the Bose-Einstein statistics and the Bose-Einstein condensate

intended to show his students that the theoretical predicted results were in disagreement with the experimental results, Bose committed an embarrassing statistical error that instead provided a theoretical prediction in agreement with the experimental observations. This clearly represented a contradiction. The error was obvious to anyone with a basic knowledge of statistics and it was comparable to throwing two coins in the air and obtaining two heads one time out of three. However, this led to incorrect results and Bose realized that in reality it couldn’t have been at all a misunderstanding. He initially claimed that the distribution of Maxwell-Boltzmann couldn’t have been true for microscopic particles, where the fluctuations of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle would be significant. As a result, he focused on the probability of finding the particle in phase space, each having a h^f 74

volume, ignoring thus the distinct positions and the momentum of the particles. The physics journals rejected Bose’s article, claiming that he had presented them a simple mistake, so his results were ignored. Discouraged, he wrote to Albert Einstein, who instead was immediately in accordance with his theories. The physics journals began to take seriously the ideas of Bose only when Einstein sent them the article entitled “Zeitschrift für Physik” in accompaniment to that of Bose, which was published in 1924. Bose had previously translated Einstein’s theory regarding general relativity from German to English. It seems that Satyendra Nath Bose considered Albert Einstein as a kind of personal Guru. Since photons are indistinguishable from each other, two photons can’t be considered having the same energy. In analogy to the coins throwing, if we

compare a photon and a boson with the coin example, the probability of obtaining two heads would be one out of three. This is how Bose’s “error” was born and nowadays the Bose-Einstein statistics. Einstein applied the same idea to atoms. Starting from this idea, the two physicists predicted the existence of the phenomenon that became known as the Bose-Einstein condensate. A Bose-Einstein condensate is a set of bosons, in fact particles with integer spin, named in honor of Bose, whose existence has been experimentally proven in 1995. Bose’s ideas were later accepted, and in 1924 he was allowed to leave the University of Dhaka to embark on a trip to Europe. He spent a year in Paris where he worked with Marie Curie and met some of the most famous scientists of the time. He then spent another year working with Albert Einstein in Berlin. Upon his return to Dhaka, in 1926, he acquired the title of professor. He didn’t have a doctorate and so, in theory, he wouldn’t have been qualified for the post, but Einstein expensed positive words in his favor. His work ranged from X-ray crystallography to unification theories. Along with Meghnad Saha, he published the relative results of a state equation for real gases.

Besides physics, Nath Bose also made various contributions in biochemistry and literature (written in Bengali and English). He made extensive studies in chemistry, geology, zoology, anthropology, engineering and other sciences. Having Bengalese origins, he devoted much of his time promoting the Bengali language. As a Bengali language teacher, he translated into his own language the scientific writings of the time, thus promoting the development of the Bengal region. In 1937, Rabindranath Tagore dedicated his only book on science, “Visva-Parichay”, to Satyendra Nath Bose. In 1944, Bose was elected General President of the Indian Science Congress. He was also honoured with title Padma Vibhushan award by the Indian Government in 1954. In 1958, he became a member of the Royal Society and in 1959 the government of India appointed him a national professor. He was also honored by the Indian President. Bose’s work stood at the transition between the “old quantum theory” of Planck, Bohr and Einstein and the new quantum mechanics of Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Born, Dirac and others. Satyendra Nath Bose died in Calcutta, where he had retired, a few days after suffering a severe heart attack.

Satyendra Nath Bose together with other professors at the Calcutta University


Priyanka Chopra

Priyanka Chopra (b. 18 July 1982 in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, India) is an Indian actress, singer, film producer, philanthropist, and the winner of the Miss World 2000 pageant. One of India’s highest paid and most popular celebrities, Chopra has received numerous awards, including a National Film Award and 5 Filmfare Awards. In 2016, the Government of India honoured her with the Padma Shri, the 4th highest civilian award, and Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Priyanka was born in 1982 in the city of Jamshedpur to parents Ashok and Madhu Chopra, both of them doctors in the Indian army. She has a brother, Siddharth, seven years younger than her. In June 2013, she lost her father to which she was very close. After her loss, she made a tattoo in his honour. Priyanka won international popularity when she managed to obtain the Miss World 2000 title. Prior to winning this title, she had also been elected for Femina Miss India. Curiously though, in the same year, her compatriots, Lara Dutta and Dia Mirza Handrich, won the Miss Universe, respectively the Miss Asia Pacific title, marking a historic treble for India. Her film debut was in 2002 when she played in the movie “Thamizhan”. The following year, she made her Bollywood debut with the movie “The Hero: Love Story of a Spy”, followed by another successful film entitled “Andaaz”, for which she won the Filmfare Award for best debutant actress. In 2004, she became the second woman to win the Filmfare Best Villain Award, which she received for her role in “Aitraaz”. Chopra also obtained other commercial successes with films like: “Mujhse Shaadi Karogi” (2004), “Krrish” (2006) or “Don - The Chase Begins Again”. Priyanka Chopra also won the Filmfare Award for Best Actress and a National Film Award for Best Actress for her performance in “Fashion” (2008), an award that has made her one of the leading contemporary actresses in Bollywood. In 2010, she was appointed Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF. She also has an active music career, having recorded songs in collaboration with and Pitbull. In 2009, she played in the movie “Kaminey”, directed by Vishal Bhardwaj with Shahid Kapoor, where she played 76

Priyanka Chopra Vogue Magazine Photoshoot Pic

the role of a girl from Maharashtra. The film was a success and its interpretation was appreciated among others by Taran Adarsh who ​​ wrote: “A brilliant performance, she was perfectly fit in the skin of her character and had a very good marathi accent”. She then appears in “What’s Your Rashee”, a romantic comedy directed by Ashutosh Gowariker alongside Harman Baweja, where she played 12 roles corresponding to the 12 signs of the zodiac. Despite this performance, a premiere cinema history, the film was a commercial failure. In 2010, she played in the movie “Pyaar Impossible”, directed by Jugal Hansraj and produced by the famous production company Yash Raj Films. Together with Uday Chopra, she embodied a high school girl who fell in love with a geek. This film was also a commercial failure. Later that year, she also co-starred with Ranbir Kapoor in Siddharth Anand’s romantic comedy “Anjaana Anjaani”. Priyanka Chopra played in 2011 a negative role in an adaptation of Vishal Bhardwaj, entitled “7

Khoon Maaf ”. The film was based on the short story “Susanna’s Seven Husbands” by Ruskin Bond. In this film, she got rid of all of her seven husbands including John Abraham, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Naseeruddin Shah and Irrfan Khan. Chopra’s performance earned her the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress and a nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress, the IIFA Award for Best Actress, the Screen Award for Best Actress, and the Producers Guild Film Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. At the end of the year, she returned to the favors of the spectators with the movie “Don 2”, where she resumed the track of the implacable godfather, embodied by Shahrukh Khan. In “Agneepath”, she was the companion of Hrithik Roshan in the remake of the 1990 film (with the same name) with Amitabh Bachchan. After the movie’s success at the box office, Priyanka played in Kunal Kohli’s romance “Teri Meri Kahaani”, alongside Shahid Kapoor, which was a mixed success. She then

Priyanka Chopra at TV


played in the drama “Barfi!”, where she performed for the first time in her career a young autistic girl, alongside Ranbir Kapoor and Ileana D’Cruz. The movie was a major success at the box office and Priyanka Chopra was acclaimed even by the critics. She then won a nomination at the Filmfare Award for Best Actress. Since 2015, she has also oriented her career towards Hollywood. She is the main actress of the American series “Quantico” and is part of a film project entitled “Baywatch” and directed by Seth Gordon. In 2015, she was the star of the American TV series “Quantico”, produced by ABC, becoming thus the first woman in South Asia to play the leading role in an American network. In the first season, a diverse group of FBI recruits began their training at the Quantico base. They were all brilliant and well prepared, but one of them would be responsible for the future explosion of the Grand Central Terminal. Priyanka Chopra played the role of Agent Alex Parrish, suspected of having designed the largest terrorist attack since the attacks of 11 September 2001. In July 2012, Chopra became the first Bollywood celebrity to sign a contract with Creative Artists Agency, a sport and entertainment agency from Los Angeles. She travelled to the US to work on her first music album and had collaborations with Sam Watters, Matthew Koma and Jay Sean. The album was produced by RedOne. Her first single, “In My City”, premiered in the United States on 13 September 2012 in a television commercial for the NFL Network, the Thursday Night Football. Rapper also participated in this song. The song received various reviews from critics and had a great commercial success in India, selling over 130.000 copies in the first week. In December 2012, she received three nominations: Best Female Artist, Best Song and Best Video (for “In My City”) at the World Music Awards. In the same year, she was also a featured artist on “Erase”, an EDM song produced by the American DJ and duo producer The Chainsmokers. In July 2013, Chopra released her second single entitled “Exotic”, in collaboration with American rapper Pitbull. The song also had a music video. “Exotic” debuted on the 16th place in the dance / electronic songs and on the 11th place in the Dance / Electronic Digital Songs chart in 27 July 2013. The single also entered on the 74th position in Canadian Hot 100 record chart. Her third single is a cover of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make you Love Me”, which was released in April 2014. The song reached on the 28th position on the Billboard Hot Dance / Electronic Songs ranking. 78

Chopra at the Times of India Film Awards 2013

Priyanka Chopra


Ranbir Raj Kapoor Ranbir Raj Kapoor (b. 14 December 1924 in Peshawar, North-West Frontier Province, British India, now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan – d. 2 June 1988 in New Delhi, India) also known as “the greatest showman of Indian cinema”, was a noted Indian film actor, producer and director of Hindi cinema. His performance in “Awaara” was ranked as one of the top 10 greatest performances of all time by Time magazine. His films attracted worldwide audiences, particularly in Asia and Europe and was called the Clark Gable of the Indian film industry. The son of actor Prithviraj Kapoor, Raj spent his childhood in Peshawar until his father moved to Bombay. His youth years were characterized by a nomadic life as a result of his father’s frequent displacements that led him to spend time in various Indian cities, including Calcutta. At the age of 22 years old, he married in the traditional way, through an arranged marriage, and had five children including Rishi, who was the only one that followed his father’s footsteps and became a successful actor. In the 1980’s, he renounced at the acting career and successfully continue as a director in the movie industry. He died prematurely due to a severe form of asthma, a few weeks after receiving one of the highest honors from the President of the Indian republic. Raj grew up in contact with the theater atmosphere and movie sets where his father worked. After just finishing school, he began his apprenticeship by working at the Prithvi Theatres. Here, he was able to exercise his acting skills. He had his debut in films for the first time at the age of only 10 years old, in the 1935’s “Inquilab”. At the same time while he was experiencing at the Prithvi Theatres, he also worked as an assistant at the Bombay


Raj Kapoor

Talkies film studio where director Kidar Sharma offered him the leading role in the film “Neel Kamal” in 1947, after acting in several movies over his last 12 years. In 1948, after finishing his experience with Prithvi Theatres, Raj Kapoor decided to found his own film studio, R.K. Studios, where he created a team consisting of screenwriter K.A. Abbas, musician Shankar, to which singers such as Mukesh or Lata Mangeshkar accompanied him, as well as actress Nargis. With this group he created in the 1950’s and 1960’s some of his most important films. Raj Kapoor introduced many innovations in the movies, such as the dream sequences, which were revealing the anxieties and conflicts of the characters, having very elaborate choreography. For the first time the viewer found himself in front of actresses in bathing suits and for the first time in Indian films, Raj used scenes from European countries. In the movie “Awaara”, Raj Kapoor gave life to his most well-known character, the “Little Tramp”, a tribute to Charlie Chaplin of which he was an admirer. The “Little Tramp” also starred in other films such as Shree 420, where the social theme was also evident. The movie “Awaara” also became popular outside India, in countries from the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, in China and in many countries from the Middle East, making Raj Kapoor one of the Indians whose reputation abroad was equaled only by Nehru. Another characteristic of his cinematographic productions of those years consisted in the combination of romantic and sentimental elements with social and humanistic accents. His films told the stories of popular characters, whom had to fight against poverty and corruption in order to finally find the fulfillment of the promises of a dignified life. In those years, he created an artistic collaboration with Nargis, protagonist of many films where she played alongside Raj Kapoor. The great understanding that developed between the two actors is translated on screen through their interpretation of romantic situations that would remain for a long time in the heart of the public. This first professional stage reached a turning point when Nargis married and decided to quit her acting career. In the same period, the collaboration with screenwriter Abbas also broke off but the two collaborated again a few years later. The 1970’s started with an ambitious project that provided the realization of a largely autobiographical film with an international cast. It was based on the life and experiences of a clown, his loves and professional vicissitudes. The writing of the script went on for

Nargis, Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar in a scene from Andaz

years and the production costs reached high levels. “Mera Naam Joker” was released in 1970 and, despite expectations, wasn’t so appreciated by the public. The result of this movie was a gigantic fiasco that left Raj Kapoor to the ground in both emotional and financial terms. The movie was probably too modern for its time and the audience was able to understand and appreciate it only many years after its release. Today, the film is regarded as one of Raj Kapoor’s highest point of his entire career as director. The moment of crisis came to an end when, in 1973, Raj Kapoor returned to the movie industry only as a director with a film that addressed the young public, their dreams and problems. Thus was born Bobby, who soon became another milestone at Bollywood. The story of two fleeing teenagers, the modern songs and clothing and the motorcycle were the elements that provoked an immediate response from viewers and thus the movie became a classic of the “young rebels” genre. Indiatimes Movies ranks Bobby amongst the “Top 25 Must See Bollywood Films”. The film became a “blockbuster” and was the top grossing hit of 1973. In the 1980’s, Raj Kapoor’s health conditions deteriorated steadily, but his artistic production was not particularly affected. After a series of movies in which the amorous and erotic elements were prevalent, the director returned to social themes and the film “Prem Rog” (1982) proposed a criticism over the mistreatment that the widows were suffering from in Indian society. “Prem Rog” was followed by another film in which Raj Kapoor tried to express his concern about the people’s lack of care for the environment and in particular, for the rivers. The story was presented in an allegorical way,

combining the idea of the ​​ Ganges’ pure waters to the story of a girl dragged in shady situations by powerful and corrupt men. The project of the film “Henna” remained unfinished. In this movie, Raj Kapoor wanted to express his view over the relationship between India and Pakistan in a direction of peace and cooperation between the two countries. In the original script, there was also expected the presence of a Western character. The film would’ve had a discourse of peace and harmony, but Raj Kapoor didn’t have enough time to implement the project. However, the movie project started a few years later, when one of his children took over this project and realized it in 1992. The contribution that Raj Kapoor has had to the Indian cinema, particularly in what we know as Bollywood, is recognized by many. There was a special characteristic, a special style in his movies, in which violence, racism and insult had no room. His kinematic speech was oriented to building harmony and offering the viewer a certain feeling. With his innovative traits, Raj Kapoor proposed reflections and asked questions, permanently having the constant concern not to lapse into mere propaganda or in bad taste. He was always in the search of extraordinary moments that could’ve been shared with the public.

Raj Kapoor in the movie “Anari”


Guru Nanak Dev

Guru Nanak Dev (b. 15 April 1469 in Rāi Bhoi Kī Talvandī, now Nankana Sahib, Punjab, Pakistan – d. 22 September 1539 in Kartarpur, Mughal Empire, now Pakistan) was the founder of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. His birth is celebrated worldwide as “Guru Nanak Gurpurab” on Kartik Pooranmashi, the full moon day in the month of Katak, somewhere in October or November. The exploits of Nanak’s life were written in books known as “Janamsakhis”. However, all the Janamsajis were written after Nanak’s death, so they give different and even contradictory details about the life of this man. Bhai Gurdas also wrote about the life of Nanak in his “Vārs”, although these were also written long after the death of the Guru and do not possess an exact reliability. The Sikhs, however, tend to believe more in the version of Bhai Gurdas due to his prestige, known to deserve, according to Sikhism, a blind trust in his honesty. In the Janam Sākhīs, the birth of Nanak is also detailed. According to a legend written after the death of Nanak, the astrologer who wrote his horoscope had already predicted that he would be revered not only by Hindus, but also by Muslims. Nanak was born in the village of Rāi Bhōi dī Talvandī, now known as the Nanakana Sahib, 80 km west of Lahore, in present day Pakistan. His father, Mehta Kalu, was a Patwari, that is to say, accountant of the Government. Specifically, he worked for the Muslim owner of the village, Rai Bullar. He and his wife, Tripta Devi, had Nanak and his older sister, known to the Sikhs as Nanaki. Nanak Mehta’s parents were Hindu Khatri of the Bedi clan. Legend has it that, at the age of 5 years old, Nanak began to talk about spiritual issues. At the age of 7 years old, his father sent him to the local school, but he left it soon in order to begin private and meditation classes. As a young man, Nanak was fascinated by religion and his desire to explore the mysteries of life led him to abandon his home. It was during this time that, it is said, Nanak met with Kabir, a saint of the time venerated by people of different religions. Nanak retired after this experience to the forest and only spoke to members of religious groups who went there frequently, some of whom were scholars of the Hindu religious literature 82

of the time, who toured almost all of ancient India in order to meet different famous religious teachers and to narrate their lessons further. In the Sikh tradition it is known that when Nanak was 30 years old (according to some books 28) he mysteriously disappeared. Some supposed that he had drowned in the Kali Bein River after one of his usual morning baths. However, Nanak reappeared 3 days later, constantly repeating the phrase “Nā kō hindū nā kō musalmān”, meaning “There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim”. From that moment, Nanak began to preach his new teachings that advocated the end of Islamism and Hinduism in order to create a new religion. This represented the beginning of Sikhism. Although the exact trajectory of his itineraries is disputed, he is widely recognized for having made 4 important trips, crossing thousands of kilometers. His first trip was to the northeast, where he crossed over the provinces of Bengal and Assam. The second trip was to the south, where he reached Sri Lanka through Tamil Nadu. The third trip was to the north in the Kashmir, Ladakh and Tibet regions. Finally, his last trip was to the west, where he reached Baghdad and Mecca. He gave all his speeches in front of the Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Muslims. He used to give his speeches in temples, in mosques or other places considered sacred in some of the religions of the moment. No matter where he went, Guru Nanak always spoke against the religious rituals which he claimed contained nothing, such as pilgrimages, the caste system, the obligatory suicide of widows (the sati tradition) during the funeral of their husbands and the dependence on books to learn about the true religion. Nanak married Sulakhni, daughter of Mul Chand Chon, a rice merchant from the village of Batala, with whom he had two children. The elder one, Sri Chand became an ascetic and had a considerable number of followers, known as the “Udasis”. The young son, Lakshmi Das lived instead a normal life. For Nanak, who believed in the ideal of “Rāj maim jōg” (separation in civic life), his two sons were totally incapable of being gurus. Nanak Dev was once revered by Hindus and Muslims. However, at that time some of his beliefs were not too popular. Today, all Sikhs accept them as their own. In Sultanpur, Nanak Dev formalized the three important pillars of Sikhism: • Directly practice the divine meditation (Simran) and sing the name of God (naam japna). • Be a homemaker (do not live on the fringes of the

world, such as Hindu priests and hermits) and practice the “denim kirat karni”, which consists of earning money honestly, be mentally and physically fit and accepting the blessings and gifts of God. • Share money within the community through collective consumption (“wand kay shako”). It is being said that during one of his adventures, Nanak arrived at Eminabad, a town where it was necessary for him to spend the night. Two men lived in the town, one of them being a very rich merchant and the other one being a very poor peasant. Nanak decided to spend the night in the peasant’s house because he enjoyed his simple and lovely food. Guru Nanak was so astonished by the reception and affection of the peasant

that he decided to stay a couple of days longer. The rich man however wanted to show his economic potential and decided to invite all the people for a dinner. Nanak was also invited, but refused to go. The rich man asked: “Oh Nanak, why don’t you want to come to my dinner? Am I not like a poor farmer?” Nanak was practically forced by the circumstances to go to dinner, but he took with him a piece of food from the house of the poor peasant. Before anyone started eating, Nanak got up and acted in a way that caught everyone’s attention: in one hand he took the piece of food that he took with him from the poor peasant’s house and in the other hand he took piece of food from the rich man’s meal. Suddenly,

Guru Nanak with Hindu holymen


he pressed the two pieces of food and saw that from the poor man’s food came out drops of milk, while from the rich man’s food came out drops of blood. All the attendants were astonished. The rich man was so angry with Nanak that he asked him what did he want to proof with that magic trick. Nanak explained that the poor man’s food was clean because the poor man worked honestly to get his winnings. Instead, the rich man’s food wasn’t clean because his profits were not due to honest work and the way he treated his employees wasn’t fair as he “squeezed” their blood out. The rich man was stunned by that answer and he allegedly promised Nanak that he would never again mistreat his workers, and from that moment on he would work honestly with his own hands. All the religious leaders of that time had a habit of addressing only those who followed their religion. Instead, Guru Nanak broke this tradition and addressed all human beings. In 1499, when the whole world offered no respect for women, Guru Nanak elevated the position of the woman by distributing the following message: “From a woman is the man born. Within the woman, man is conceived. With a woman, man engages and marries. The woman becomes his friend and through women, future generations are born. When his wife dies, he looks for another so he is bound to the


woman. Kings are born from her. Women are born women. Without the woman, there would be no one. Only the true God has no woman.” After his last trip, Guru Nanak asked a wealthy follower to donate a large area of land ​​ on the banks of the Ravi River (in Punjab). There, he built a town called Kartapur, where he taught uninterruptedly for 15 years. Sikh followers from all over India moved to Kartapur to be able to hear, sing and be with Nanak. During this time, although all his followers were Hindus, Muslims or members of other religions, these people began to be known as disciples of the guru or as Sikhs. It is from this moment that his followers called Nanak “guru” (in the native language - teacher). It was there, in Kartarpur, where Nanak implanted the concept of common food, in which the rich and the poor, the Muslim and the Hindu, the high caste and the low caste, sat together and ate together, working fraternally together and forming the whole village. Many leaders and scholars of the Indian regions joined Nanak. Among them was Lehna, later known as Guru Angad Dev. Angad Dev and Nanak preached together ever since. One of Nanak’s last prayers (which is still in force today for the Sikhs) is that anyone, regardless of religion or caste, may go to any “gurdwara” (places of worship for Sikhs) in the world to enjoy a hot meal.

Guru Gobind Singh meeting Guru Nanak Dev

Guru Nanak Dev


Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar (b. 24 April 1973 in Bombay, now Mumbai, Maharashtra, India) is a former Indian cricketer and captain, widely regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time. He took up cricket at the age of 11, made his Test debut on 15 November 1989 against Pakistan in Karachi at the age of 16, and went on to represent Mumbai domestically and India internationally for close to 24 years. He is the only player to have scored 100 international centuries, the first batsman to score a double century in a One Day International, the holder of the record for the number of runs in both ODI and Test cricket and the only player to complete more than 30.000 runs in international cricket. Sachin Tendulkar was born on 24 April 1973 in Bombay. He is the youngest of a family of four children, to whom cricket is a passion. Up until the age of 11 years old, he played only with tennis or rubber balls. His brother Ajit, one year older than him, served as his mentor. His brother urged him to be trained by Ramakant Achrekar. While he was in high school at Sharadashram Vidyamandir Boys High School, Tendulkar played in the school’s cricket team. In 1988, at the age of 14, he scored a double century in the quarter finals of the Harris Shield Tournament, an inter-school trophy. In February, in the semifinal of the same competition against Saint Xavier’s High School, Tendulkar and his friend, Vinod Kambli, another Indian international future, were involved in an unbroken 664


Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar (left)

run partnership, the highest ever recorded in any form of cricket. This record was however beaten by two 13 years old Indians in 2006. His personal score was 326 races. In the final stage of the competition, he scored 346 races in one run. At the age of 15, while training with the Bombay team, he was spotted by the captain of the team, Dilip Vengsarkar. Tendulkar made his first-class cricket debut against Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy in December 1988. Tendulkar scored a century that made him the youngest Indian to achieve such a performance in a debut game at this level. At the end of 1989, at the age of 16 years old and after only one season spent with the Bombay team, Tendulkar was selected for India national team’s tour in Pakistan. He disputed his first test match at the age of 16 years and 205 days old at the Karachi National Stadium against the national team of Pakistan. He only made 15 runs on this occasion. In the 4th and final match of the series, at Sialkot’s Jinnah Stadium, he was hit in the nose by Waqar Younis, who also made his debut in that match. He made his debut in the One Day International (ODI) on the date of 18 December in the same year, still facing Pakistan, but was eliminated without scoring. He was selected for India’s national team tour in England in 1990. In the second test match of the series against England’s national team at Old Trafford, he realized his first international century as he made 119 not out without being eliminated, an inning that helped his team obtain a draw as the players were in a very bad shape. Thus, his performance allowed India to avoid certain defeat, and at the age of 17 years and 112 days, he became the second youngest player in history to score more than a century in this form of play. He also traveled with India’s team to Australia during the 1991-1992 tour. India lost a series of five test matches by four wins to 0 against Australia, but Tendulkar was the best performing player of his team. At Sydney Cricket Ground, Sachin Ramesh became the youngest player to succeed a century on Australian soil in this format, with a score of 148 runs. He made an association of 196 runs with Ravi Shastri, who scored 206 runs. In the fifth test match, at Perth’s WACA Ground, Tendulkar scored 114 of the 140 runs that his team had accumulated while he was on the pitch. In 1992, at the age of 19 years old, he became the first non-English player to sign a contract with the Yorkshire County Cricket Club, which then abolished a seven decade practice whereby only players born in Yorkshire could have been part of the club. He participated in 16 matches in the County Championship,

Sachin Tendulkar glides the ball down to third man as the wicketkeeper and a fielder look on, Day 2 of the Second Test of the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2010

totaling 1.070 runs in the competition. Sachin Tendulkar scored his first century in ODI in September 1994 against Australia during a tripartite tournament in Sri Lanka during his 78th match at this level. With 523 runs, he was the top scorer of the 1996 World Cup, held in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Tendulkar became the richest cricketer in the world when he signed a 31,5 crore rupees contract in 1995 with WorldTel over five years. In 2001, he signed a new five year contract with this company, this time consisting of 100 crore rupees. In 2006, he signed a contract of 40 million $ for three years with the marketing company Iconix, a subsidiary of Saatchi & Saatchi. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar achieved his 35th century test match with India’s team in December 2005 against Sri Lanka, surpassing a record established by his compatriot, Sunil Gavaskar, that wasn’t broken for more than twenty years. After going through a difficult phase, the Indian cricketer regained his form in 2007, completing 11.000 test runs to become the leading run scorer from India. In the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, played between 2007 and 2008, he scored 493 runs in four tests, demonstrating his unbelievable batting skills. He surpassed Brian Lara’s record (11.593) of test runs in October 2008 against Australia, and at the same time became the first player to cross the 12.000 test runs at this level. Tendulkar’s 15.000th test run came in 2011. In ODI, he exceeded Desmond Haynes’s 17 centuries in 1998 against Zimbabwe, less than 4 years after achieving his first century at this level. He overcame the 9.378 runs of his former teammate and captain, Mohammad Azharuddin, in October 2000 against New Zealand. Tendulkar scored his 18.000th point in 2011. Sachin was the best performer of the 2011 World Cup during which he made 482 runs, including two centuries. India played against Sri Lanka in the finals and eventually won the match. For Sachin Ramesh, this was the first World Cup victory. His form however faltered after the World Cup. He retired from all forms

of cricket in November 2013 and was given a very emotional farewell by his fans. Tendulkar is the first person to score a double century in ODI’s and the only one to score a 100 centuries. He also amassed over 30.000 runs in all forms of international cricket, all of these performances turning him into a legend of cricket in India. Besides these performances, he also holds the world record for scoring the highest number of runs and centuries in both the Test Cricket and the ODI’s. He has managed to score 15.921 runs and 51 centuries in Test Cricket. On the other hand, in ODI’s, he has scored 18.426 runs and 49 centuries. He was honored with the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award in 2014 in recognition of his spectacular contributions to cricket. Following this award, Tendulkar became the first sportsman and the youngest person to receive this award. Ramesh Tendulkar performed very well against Bangladesh and he was considered the Man of the Series in the Future Cup against South Africa. Nowadays, Tendulkar is seen as a national icon to cricket fans from all over the world. At the moment, Sachin Tendulkar is the most worshipped cricketer in the world. Tendulkar has been granted the following awards by the Indian government: Padma Vibhushan, Padma Shri, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna Award, Padma Vibhushan. Sachin is an ambidextrous person as he writes with his left hand, but bats with his right one. In 1995, Sachin married Anjali, a doctor and the daughter of Gujarati industrialist, Anand Mehta. The couple has two children, Sara and Arjun. Tendulkar now sponsors 200 underprivileged children every year through a Mumbai based non-governmental organization.

Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar’s Wax Statue in Madame Tussauds London


Salman Khan Salman Khan (b. 27 December 1965 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India) is an Indian film actor, producer, television personality, singer and philanthropist. Referred to in the media as “The Tiger of Bollywood”, “Blockbuster Khan” and “Box-office King”, he is popularly called as “Bhaijaan” and “Sallu” by his fans. In a film career spanning more than 25 years, Khan has received numerous awards, including 2 National Film Awards, and 2 Filmfare Awards. Described by the CNN as one of the world's biggest stars, he has a significant following in Asia and the Indian diaspora worldwide and is cited in the media as one of the most popular and commercially successful actors of Indian cinema. In terms of audience size and income, he has been described as one of the most successful film stars in the world. Salman Khan began his career in 1988 in the movie “Biwi Ho To Aisi”, but it was “Maine Pyar Kiya” (1989), a critical and public hit, which propelled him to fame and allowed him to receive the Filmfare Award for Best Male Prospect. Although he continued to work in a sustained rhythm between 1990 and 1993, the audience was no longer interested in him, with the exception of Sanam Bewafa (Saawan Kumar Tak, 1991) and Saajan (Lawrence D’Souza, 1991). It was not until 1994, when he starred in “Hum Aapke Hain Koun ...!”, that he returned to success. Indeed, this “marriage comedy” realized by Sooraj R. Barjatya in which he played alongside Madhuri Dixit, was a huge blockbuster that marked a break in the performances of the Indian box office. The years 1995-1999 were also favorable despite several counter-performances. “Karan Arjun” (Rakesh Roshan, 1995), where he played alongside Shahrukh Khan, was a hit and earned him a Filmfare Award for Best Actor. In 1996, in the movie “Jeet” (Raj Kanwar) with Karisma Kapoor, Salman wasn’t denied success. He reaped good reviews in the role of Raju, a man married to a melancholic woman who escapes him. The actor continued his momentum following the “Judwaa” (David Dhawan, 1998) comedy, where he played a dual role for the first time in his career. It was only in 1998 in the “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” (Karan Johar) movie that he was truly recognized for his acting qualities, which 88

allowed him to receive the Best Supporting Actor Award at the 1999 Filmfare Awards. Salman Khan dominated the box office in 1999 with three important movies: “Biwi No. 1”, “Hum Saath Saath Hain” and “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam”, where he played alongside famous actors like: Aishwarya Rai, Ajay Devgan, David Dhawan and Karisma Kapoor. Between 2000 and 2008, the actor suffers many setbacks in his career. He has appeared in nearly 27 films, most of which were commercial failures and reviews, but some films emerged, such as “Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega” in 2000, “Chori Chori Chupke Chupke” in 2001, “Baghban” in 2003 and “No Entry” in 2005. In 2009, “Wanted” was one of the biggest hits of the year, together with “Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani” and “Three Idiots”, but his next two movies, “Main Aur Mrs Khanna” and “London Dreams” were only commercial failures. In 2010, Khan played in the big budget historical film, “Veer”, alongside Zarine Khan, a new actress who was often compared to Katrina Kaif for her physical resemblance. The film was a failure however at the

Salman Khan at the launch of Ek Tha Tiger’s first song, “Mashallah”

Salman Khan at Kallista Spa opening

box office. His second film of the year, “Dabangg”, was released on 10 September, the day of Eid. The movie was an astonishing success and represented a box office record, beating the one previously held by “Three Idiots” for the highest opening week grossing Bollywood film. In 2011, Salman Khan appeared in two other movies: “Ready”, directed by Anees Bazmee, as well as “Bodyguard” directed by Siddique, with Kareena Kapoor also starring in a leading role. After its release, despite mixed reviews, “Ready” placed second behind his previous film, “Dabangg”, becoming thus the second highest opening day grosser, as well as the second highest weekend grossing Bollywood film at that time. Internationally, his success is most recognized especially in the United Kingdom. “Bodyguard” managed to beat the record of his previous film, “Dabangg”, becoming

India’s highest earning movie of that year. At the international level, the film was particularly successful in the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Pakistan and North America. With three successive blockbusters, Salman Khan became a sure bet and an undisputed star of the box office. Having become a popular star, Salman Khan played in the movie “Ek Tha Tiger”, alongside Katrina Kaif. The movie was directed by Kabir Khan and produced by Yash Raj Films. Salman’s other film in 2012 was entitled “Dabangg 2”, where he played the main character. The film was directed by his brother Arbaaz Khan. While his partner, Sonakshi Sinha, remained the main actress, the antagonist was Prakash Raj, who replaced Sonu Sood. The film was released on Christmas Day. Other films followed in 2014, like “Jai Ho”, whose success was however more modest than the previous ones. Salman Khan also starred in “Kick”, alongside Jacqueline Fernandez. Salman Khan devotes himself to bodybuilding every day. He is known for removing his shirt in his films, as well as on stage. In 2004, he was elected the 7th most beautiful man in the world and the most beautiful man of India by People magazine. Khan has participated in several charitable operations throughout his career. On 11 October 2007, Khan accepted Madame Tussauds offer to have his replica in the London wax museum. His statue was inaugurated on 15 January 2008, making him the 4th Indian actor to be represented in the museum. He also featured in television shows like “Dix Ka Dum” and more recently in the fourth season of “Bigg Boss”. In August 2011, he admitted to suffering from trigeminal neuralgia for 7 years. The disease has affected his voice, which made him much hoarse. His involvement in charities since his first fees, more than 25 years ago, led him to create via his own funds in 2007 the “Being Human” Foundation. He imagined then a unique concept that would take care of the most deprived people in the fields of education and health. Being Human became both a charity and a clothing brand. The Foundation doesn’t make calls for donations and its funds come from Salman Khan’s income. The Being Human Clothing brand was launched in 2012 in collaboration with Manish Mandhana. A part of the profits generated by the brand supports the actions of the Foundation. The clothing line was first launched in France in 2012 before the Middle East and India. The first Being Human store was inaugurated in January 2013 in Mumbai and today there are more than 40 stores throughout India. Salman Khan at the 61st Filmfare Awards in 2016



Salman Khan at the 61st Filmfare Awards in 2016

Indian Cuisine


Tandoori Chicken Ingredients: • 4 to 6 Chicken thighs (900 g in total) (with their skin peeled) • 250g yoghurt • 2 cm fresh ginger root (chopped and then crushed) • 3 cloves of garlic (crushed) • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper • 2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds • 2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds • 1 teaspoon salt • 1/2 teaspoon red dye • Palm or sunflower oil • Basmati rice (for serving) • Few lettuce leaves (for serving) • Few onion rings (to garnish) • Cherry tomatoes (for garnish) • Few lemon slices (for garnish) Steps: 1. Wash the chicken thighs well then drain and dab them with paper towels. 2. Make 2 or 3 cuts transverse to the bone on each piece of chicken using a sharp knife. The holes


should have about 1 cm in depth. 3. Place the yogurt in a bowl. Add the ginger, garlic, paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander, salt and red dye and mix everything well. The mixture should have a perfectly uniform, red color. 4. Brush the chicken thighs with the yogurt mixture, stuffing it well inside the 1cm holes you made. The chicken thighs are then placed on a deep platter or in a large bowl. Pour the remaining marinade over them and mix well. 5. The meat must be covered with the marinade in an uniform manner. Cover the platter or the bowl and let the chicken marinate for 3 hours inside the refrigerator. 30 minutes before removing the chicken from the marinade, heat the oven at its maximum capacity. 6. Reduce the oven temperature to moderate. Put some metal foil on an oven tray, then place a suitable metal rack over it. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with a little oil and place them on the rack. 7. Bake the chicken thighs for about 30-35 minutes, turning them occasionally and sprinkling them with oil about once every 5 minutes. 8. Arrange the chicken thighs on a bed of lettuce leaves and garnish with onion rings, sliced ​​cherry tomatoes and lemon slices. Serve with cooked rice or Naan bread with mint, coriander and parsley.

Tandoori Chicken

Rogan Josh

Rogan Josh Ingredients: • 1,2 kg lamb • 70 ml vegetable oil • 1 large onion • 5 cloves of garlic • 1 piece of ginger of 2,5 cm • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon • 2 teaspoons ground cumin • 2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds • 1 tablespoon paprika • 1 teaspoon chili powder • 8 cardamom seeds (lightly crushed) • 1 tablespoon tomato paste • 1 tablespoon salt • Freshly ground pepper

Steps: 1. Heat the oven to 140°C. 2. Peel the onion, ginger and garlic and cut them into large chunks. 3. Cut the lamb meat into pieces of 2,5 or 3 cm. 4. Purée in a blender the pieces of onion, garlic, ginger, salt, tomato paste and all the other spices (paprika, chili powder, coriander, cumin, cinnamon) except for the seeds of cardamom, until it turns into a paste. 5. Gird the oil in a baking dish. 6. Add the meat and the slightly crushed cardamom seeds. 7. Fry the meat on all sides. 8. Add the spice paste and brown it together with the meat for 5 minutes. 9. Add 300 ml water into the baking dish, mix well and put the dish into the oven for 1½ hours, until the meat becomes tender. 93

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken Ingredients: • 800g chicken breast or thighs (with skin and bones) • 3 tablespoons fat butter • 3 tablespoons oil • 1 large onion • 2 cinnamon rolls • 5 cloves of garlic • 5 cm ginger root (or a teaspoon of powdered ginger) • 1 teaspoon garam masala • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds • 1 teaspoon turmeric • 1 teaspoon chili flakes or paprika • 2 bay leaves • 1 cup chopped peeled tomatoes • 1 tablespoon tomato paste • 2 or 3 cardamom pods (optional) • 4 tablespoons fat yogurt • 2 or 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves • Salt • Pepper 94

Steps: 1. Cut the chicken meat into cubes or thick strips. 2. Season the meat with salt, pepper, ground coriander and turmeric then leave aside for 15 to 20 minutes. 3. Clean and chop the onion and garlic. 4. Clean and chop the ginger. 5. Peel the tomatoes and chop them. 6. Gird the oil and fry all the pieces of chicken. Remove the meat once it is done and keep it in a warm place. 7. Add the butter in the same pan. 8. Add and brown the onion, garlic, ginger, garam masala and cardamom pods. 9. Add the chili flakes and the tomato paste. 10. Add the tomatoes, yogurt, bay leaves, cinnamon and 1 cup of water. 11. Simmer until the sauce reduces by half. 12. Add the chicken and let everything boil for 5-10 minutes longer until the meat is well permeated and the sauce looks nice. 13. Butter chicken is traditionally served with almond flakes and chopped coriander leaves, rice and Indian bread (Garlic Naan).


Kulfi Ingredients: • 500 ml milk • 20 ml fat sour cream • 3g cardamom powder • 1g ground cloves • 1g ground cinnamon • 2 stamens Saffron • 10g almonds or pistachios • 50g sugar • 100g strawberries, lemon, orange or whatever you like


Steps: 1. Simmer and reduce to half the initial quantity of


3. 4.

5. 6.

milk. Add sugar and continue to simmer until thickened for another 20 minutes. Add ground cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and saffron. Let it cool. Beat the fat sour cream until thickened and slowly incorporate it in the milk mixture, then pour into molds (as shown in the image) and place them in the freezer. Garnish with sliced almonds or pistachios. Put the strawberries, lemon, orange or whatever you decided you want into a blender and obtain a nice juice. Pour it over the Kulfi as shown in the image. Optional! You can add the juice to be mixed together with the fat sour cream. 95

Hyderabadi Dum Biryani Ingredients: For the chicken: • 1 kg chicken meat (cut into small chunks) • 1 tablespoon ginger paste • 2 tablespoons garlic paste • 1 teaspoon chili powder • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika • 1 teaspoon garam masala • ½ teaspoon caraway • ½ cup freshly chopped green coriander • 1/3 cup freshly chopped mint • 300g yoghurt • Juice of a lemon • 1 stick of cinnamon • 2 bay leaves • Palm oil For rice: • 500g basmati rice • 2 cinnamon sticks (for rice) • 5 cardamom seeds • Oil • Bay leaves • Salt and Pepper Extra: • 3 or 4 red onions (cut into Julienne style)


• • • •

Saffron (soaked in milk) Cashew nuts Raisins Almonds

Steps: 1. Mix all the chicken ingredients together with the chicken and leave the meat to marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight for a stronger flavor. 2. Wash the rice and allow it to hydrate for at least 2030 minutes. 3. Boil 2 or 3 liters of water together with the spices, salt and 2 tablespoons of oil. Once the water begins to boil, add the rice and allow it to boil for 3 or 4 minutes until it is cooked at a rate of 30 to 40%. 4. Strain the rice and transfer it in a spacious but not very deep saucepan. 5. Take a pan with thick bottom, preferably cast iron, grease it with butter and transferred the marinated chicken in it together with the sauce. 6. Place above it a layer of onion, 1 teaspoon of garam masala, 1 layer of chopped green herbs and half of the amount of rice then repeat once more the process by placing a layer of onions, herbs and garam masala. 7. Now add the other half of rice and pour the saffron soaked in warm milk on top of the rice. Also add salt to taste, a layer of caramelized onion, cashews,

Hyderabadi Dum Biryani

almonds, raisins and green herbs. 8. Cover the saucepan with a lid as tight as possible or you can cover it tightly with aluminum foil. Let it boil over high heat for 5 to 8 minutes, then another 40 minutes on low heat. 9. Turn off heat and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes, after which your recipe is ready for serving.

Banjara Gosht Ingredients: • 750g lamb • 2 tablespoons oil • 3 cups of water • 1 onion (sliced) • 4 red chilies • 1 black cardamom • 3 green cardamoms • 1 stick of cinnamon • 5 black peppercorns or Yenibahar • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds • 3 teaspoons grated ginger or ginger paste • 1 teaspoon coriander powder • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder • 1 teaspoon red chili powder • 1 and ½ cups of yoghurt • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds

• • • •

Mint sprigs Fresh coriander 1 bay leaf Salt

Steps: 1. Marinate the lamb meat together with the yogurt and 1 teaspoon of red chili powder during the night before you cook it. 2. Heat some oil in a non-sticky pan/pot. Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaf, peppercorns (Yenibahar), green cardamom, black cardamom and sauté them for a couple of seconds. 3. Add 2 chopped red chilies and the grated ginger or ginger paste and sauté. Also add the onions and sauté until they turn golden brown. 4. Now it’s time to add the other ingredients: turmeric powder, cumin seeds, the remaining chili powder, coriander powder and the other 2 red chilies, but this time broke them in half. 5. Add a small cup of water and cook everything for nearly 1 minute. Add the marinated lamb meat in the pan/pot and mix well. 6. Pour 2 cups of water, cover the pan/pot and cook the food for maximum 30 minutes on medium heat. Add salt and mix well. 7. Transfer the food in a serving bowl and serve hot, together with the garnished crushed coriander seeds and mint sprigs.

Banjara Gosht


Garlic Naan, Idli and Corriander Chutney Ingredients: For the Idli: • 90g oatmeal • 90g semolina • 120g sour cream • 1 cup of water • 1 teaspoon lemon salt or 1 teaspoon baking soda • 1 medium carrot (grated) • 3 chopped coriander leaves • Salt • 1/2 tablespoon oil • 1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds • 1/2 teaspoon cumin • 1 tablespoon white lentils • A pinch of spice asafetida • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper • 2 minced chilies


• 1 tablespoon finely chopped curry leaves • 1 tablespoon minced ginger • 10 cashew nuts (chopped) • 2 tablespoons grated coconut (optional) For the Naan bread: • 1 and ½ teaspoon dry yeast • 1 teaspoon sugar • 150ml warm water • 300g flour • 1 teaspoon salt • 5 tablespoons yoghurt (not skimmed) • 2 tablespoons melted butter • Minced cloves of garlic (as many as you want) • Optional: 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, caraway, sesame or poppy For the coriander chutney: • 1 cup chopped fresh coriander • 1 large tomato • 1 large onion • 3 chili peppers • Salt • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Garlic Naan Bread

Idli sambar

Steps: For the Idli: 1. Put the oatmeal in a blender and blend until you obtain the consistency of flour (or replace it with oatmeal flour if you want). 2. In a skillet, heat some oil over low heat and add the mustard seeds and lentils then fry them until the lentils become golden. Then add the ginger, chili, curry leaves, cashew nuts, asafetida and fry them for 1 minute. 3. Add the semolina, stir and let it fry for about 2 minutes. Then add the oatmeal flour and mix

thoroughly until the flour gets fried. 4. After about 5 minutes, take the mixture off the heat and leave it to cool completely. Add the grated carrot and coriander leaves. Then add the sour cream and water and mix the dough very well until it gets an average creamy consistency. 5. Cover it with something and let it sit for 5 minutes. Add some salt and mix well then put the lemon salt or baking soda. 6. As you add the lemon salt, start mixing the dough quickly and thoroughly, making sure that everything is incorporated into the dough. 99

7. Pour the batter into molds (you can use anything from a tray of cupcakes to bowls or cups) and place them in the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes (you can also use a pressure pot if you have, it is much better than in the oven). 8. Once you take them out, let them stand for a few minutes and after that you can remove them with a spoon dipped in hot water. For the Naan bread: 1. Put the sugar and yeast in a bowl, add hot water and stir well until the yeast gets dissolved then it leave for 10 minutes or until it increases. 2. Melt the butter in a pan. 3. Mix the flour and salt then form a dent in their midst. Incorporate the yogurt in the earlier prepared yeast and pour it in the bowl with the flour, along with the melted butter. 4. Start to incorporate the liquid in the flour and gradually add the remaining water in order to form a soft dough. Take the dough out on a surface covered with flour and knead it for 5 minutes until it becomes smooth and less sticky than before. 5. Place the dough in a bowl greased with a little oil and spin it so that it can have a bit of oil on the surface. Cover the bowl and let the dough to leaven in a dry place for about 2 hours. 6. Take out the dough on a surface covered with flour and press it a few times to release the air. Divide it into 6 to 8 pieces and form some balls. 7. Meanwhile, heat a pan on high heat for 5 minutes then lower the temperature to small heat. 8. Prepare some melted butter, minced garlic cloves and seeds if using. Stretch the pieces of dough into a disc, slightly thicker at the edges. 9. Catch it with your hand from one side and lift it off the table so that the dough may stretch in the shape of a tear. 10. Put the doughs into a pan and leave it there until you notice bubbles swelling up inside. Turn it on the other side and continue to cook until well browned. 11. Grease the hot Naan with butter and sprinkle with seeds and minced garlic if using. Place the garlic Naan in the heated oven (it must be turned off) in order to keep it warm until you prepare the other ones. 100

For the coriander chutney: 1. Mix the above mentioned ingredients in a blender, except for the salt and lemon juice, together with a bit of water in order to obtain a smooth paste. 2. Add salt and lemon juice to the mixture and stir. Attention! The chutney mustn’t be liquid.

Dal Makhani Ingredients: • 110g black lentils • 30g red beans • 120g tomato puree • 7g Dal Makhani powder • 50 ml heavy cream • 30g butter • Salt Steps: 1. Put the lentils and the beans to soak the night before you will cook them. 2. The next day, wash them well and put them to boil in 1,5 liters of hot water. 3. Let them simmer until well-cooked. 4. In parallel, mix the tomato puree with the spices powder mixture in a bowl. Pour the sauce over the lentils and beans. 5. Add butter and cream. 6. Taste and if you want your food spicier then put a little more spice powder mixture. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes, add salt and turn off the fire. 7. Serve the meal with fresh coriander leaves on top.

Dal Makhani

Rajasthani Laal Maas

Rajasthani Laal Maas Ingredients: • 500g lamb • 3 or 4 cloves • 7 black peppers • 3 black cardamom • 3 green cardamom • 2 cm cinnamon • 5 whole dry red chilies • 5 onions (thinly sliced) • 1 cup yoghurt • 2 tablespoons ginger paste • 3 tablespoons chili powder • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder • 3 tablespoons coriander powder • 1 tablespoon cumin powder • 2 tablespoons lemon juice • Salt • Oil • Fresh coriander (for garnishing) Steps: 1. Soak the red chilies in warm water for about 10-15

minutes. Put them in a blender and obtain a paste. 2. Mix the yoghurt together with the red chili, ginger garlic paste and the powdered spices, then whisk everything. 3. Add some oil in a cast iron pot or pressure cooker. 4. Add in all the whole spices then let it splutter. 5. Add the sliced onions and fry them until golden brown. Switch off the heat and let the temperature drop a bit. 6. Add in the yoghurt mixture together with half cup of water then mix well. 7. Turn on the heat again and cook everything for about 4 minutes. Don’t forget to stir every now and then so that the food doesn’t get burned. 8. Add in the chopped lamb meat, as well as 1 cup of water then cook under high heat for 2 more minutes, mixing everything very well. Add in salt to taste and check the food from time to time to see if it’s done. 9. When the oil starts floating atop, switch off the heat and keep mixing it for 3 more minutes. If there is a lot of liquid in the pot, let it evaporate! Add in coriander and mix. 10. Add the lemon juice as well. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve. 101

Dosa Ingredients: • 1 and ¼ cup of rice flour • 1 cup black chickpeas flour • 2 cups water • 2 teaspoons salt • 4 tablespoons oil • 4 medium potatoes (peeled and diced) • 3 green chilies, chopped • 1 teaspoon turmeric • 2/3 cup oil • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds • 3 dried chilies • 4 curry leaves • 2 tablespoons lemon juice Steps: 1. Mix in a bowl the two types of flour. Add water and 1 teaspoon salt then mix until you obtain a dough. 2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large non-adherent skillet. Using a ladle, add some of the dough in the pan. 3. Tilt the pan in order to spread the batter evenly on bottom. Cover the pan and fry the dough for 2 minutes over medium heat. 4. Remove the lid and turn the Dosa on the other side


very carefully. Pour a little oil on the edges of the pancake and cook for another 2 minutes. Repeat the operation until you finish the dough. 5. Boil the potatoes in a pot. Add green chilies, turmeric and salt to the potatoes and cook until they are tender and can easily be shattered. 6. Heat the 4 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan and fry the mustard seeds, dried chilies and curry leaves for 1 minute. Pour this mixture over the mashed potatoes, add lemon juice and mix everything well. 7. Place the potato stuffing on half of the Dosa. Fold the other half over the filling. Serve the Dosa hot.

Darjeeling Tea

Darjeeling Tea


India Travel




Siddhivinayak Temple

Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

Interior of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel


Victoria Terminus

Juhu Beach

Mount Mary Church


Panoramic View of Mumbai

Dr. Bhau Daji Laad Museum


Haji Ali Dargah

Chor Bazaar


Colaba Causeway

Gateway of India

Elephanta Caves


New Delhi


Qutub Minar

Gurudwara Bangla Sahib in New Delhi

Humayun’s Tomb


Red Fort

India Gate

National Crafts Museum


Jantar Mantar Observatory

Gandhi Smriti

Lotus Temple

Jaipur Column at Rashtrapati Bhavan



Hauz Khas Complex


Jama Masjid

National Railway Museum


Kolkata (Calcutta)


Marble Palace

Victoria Memorial Hall

Shaheed Minar


Mother Teresa’s Memorial House and Tomb


Dynamotion Hall within the Science City

Howrah Bridge


Hauz Khas Complex

Sundarban National Park



Taj Mahal


Taj Mahal Mosque Interior Hall in Agra

Agra Fort

Jahangiri Mahal Palace




Charminar of Hyderabad

Mecca Masjid

Golconda Fort

Ramoji Film City

Nehru Zoological Park


Other places


Amman Meenakshi Temple Gopuram in Madurai

Ripon Building in Chennai

Galta Monkey Temple

Lake Palace Hotel in Udaipur

Virupaksha Temple in Hampi


Beautiful Goa province beach of India

Stakna monastery with view of Himalayan Mountains, in the background, view of Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir regions


Amba Vilas at Mysore Palace

Ganges River bank in Varanasi

Ellora Caves

Jaisalmer Fortress


Jaswanth Thada Mausoleum in Jodhpur, Rajasthan

Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab


Kapaleeshwarar Temple in Chennai

City Palace in Jaipur

Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad

Ashtalakshmi Temple in Chennai



Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur

Holy City of Varanasi


Bara Gumbad Monument in Lodhi Gardens

Swaminarayan Akshardham

Amer Fort Entrance

Puducherry Immaculate Conception Cathedral


Kerala Backwaters

Mehrangarh Fortress


Amer Palace


Pangong Tso Lake


Batasia Loop of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

Pangong Tso Lake

Brihadeeswarar Temple


Ki Monastery in Spiti Valley

Khajuraho Lakshmana Temple


Jal Mahal Palace in Man Sagar Lake

Bandra-Worli Sea Link

Nathu La Stairs


Jain Temple

Shreemant Dagdusheth Halwai Sarvajanik Ganpati

Hawa Mahal in Jaipur

Peace Monument in Ladakh


Jaigarh Fort near Jaipur, Rajasthan

Sun Temple at Konark


Jim Corbett National Park

Mudumalai National Park

Ranthambore National Park


Dudhsagar Falls

Havelock Island

Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri


Periyar National Park

Kanha National Park

Fort Kochi Steam Boilers

Bandipur National Park


Rohtang Pass

Pench National Park


Mahabodhi Temple 143

All About Countries - India  

A Codex where you can find general information (history, nature, people, economy), top personalities, best recipes and at least 100 places t...

All About Countries - India  

A Codex where you can find general information (history, nature, people, economy), top personalities, best recipes and at least 100 places t...