With a population of about 1.3 billion, India dominates South Asia and the Indian Ocean. The capital Delhi has 22 million, second largest Mumbai (Bombay) has 20 million, and there are 45 other cities over 1 million. 30% of the population is under 15, and life expectancy is 63 years.
India is ancient and complex, with a history of racial, ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity. It is the most ethnically diverse nation on earth with over 2500 distinct people groups. Community and identity are still mostly based on caste. There are around 4700 castes and 25,000 subcastes, and the system affects both social and occupational situations. India has emerged as a leader in IT, which provides a lot of opportunity both economically and geographically. Being in the IT field myself, I have worked with many Indians over the years. I have enjoyed their cooking, their festivals, and their weddings. The previous barrier of language and social differences has been replaced with a common computer language of work and thought. I have found we are much more alike than different!
The majority of Indians are Hindu, with Muslim being the second largest. Only about 5% are Christian, and India has the largest and least-reached people groups in the world. We have a great opportunity now to introduce Indians to Christianity, but it is very difficult. Cultures are different and Bible translations are difficult. India faces many problems too – poverty, health concerns, and women and children are still in crisis. An Indian colleague of mine once told me he had to choose between taking an IT job offer with a major beer corporation here in the U.S. or face being sent back to India where he could not provide as much money for his family. It was a difficult decision for him, not only because he was a Christian, but because he felt he could not work for an alcohol company when he saw so many families back in India destroyed by alcohol. Many men were alcoholics and often prostituted their wives and daughters for money. He did not take the job.
I have many more stories about those I have met from India over the years. At the end of the day, we all want to provide the best we can for our families, and we all want love and respect. We also can no longer look the other way to the poverty and conditions of a country that contains about 1/5 of the world’s population, and is destined to become the most populated country on earth.