India — January 2006

Sociopolitical situation

The 1.09 billion people in India are comprised of various groups based on culture and caste rather than language; this is the most important factor in understanding India’s complexity. The caste system (c. 6,400 castes) is socially important for over 80% of the population, that functions as separate groups due to the social barriers that separate them.

Now rapid industrialization and urbanization is taking place in India. The country is now a nuclear power and has a space industry. It is one of the world leaders in computer software production. Economic growth is accelerating but is offset by high birth rate, illiteracy, prejudice, widespread corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency. The middle class will benefit most from the market reforms and liberalization being instituted. Over 600 million people live in deep poverty and 300 million live “below the bread-line.” India’s widespread use of English gives the country a major advantage as its economy opens up to the world. Income per person is $370, which is only 1.2% of that of the USA.

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