India - People and Society
Photo: Rajendra Shaw/Oxfam
India is a very large country, with an estimated population of
one billion (by comparison, Britain has 58 million). It has, after
China, the largest population of any country in the world.
Most people living in India are subject to the caste system. The
caste system in India is part of the Hindu religion, to which 82
per cent of the people belong. The caste system used to regulate
who did what jobs, how rich people were likely to become, and many
aspects of their lives. Only very high caste Hindus, called Brahmins,
could become Hindu priests. Lower-caste people were generally the
poorest. The lowest Hindu castes were called untouchables and did
the jobs no-one else wanted to. The Indian goverment has introduced
laws to modify the caste system. Untouchability in the traditional
sense has been outlawed and the lowest castes are now called Scheduled
Castes or Dalits (meaning the oppressed).
Despite this the caste people are born into continues to have a
strong influence on the life they can expect to lead.
Music and media
Popular culture in India is big news. The thriving film industry,
nick-named "Bollywood", makes huge numbers of films and
videos which go all over the world. Television is lively and popular
and there are many radio stations. Pop and rock music create massive
stars, as does the film industry.
Society || Factfile
|| Oxfam in India