Born along the tranquil waters of the Ganghes, the modern nation of India has grown into a giant on the coast of Southern Asia.With a population of over 1.1 billion people, it is the second most populous country in the entire world.Yet the most remarkable thing about India is its diversity.In 1897, Mark Twain described it as, “The land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendor and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genies, giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of a hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods” (Insight Guide 15).India is also the birthplace of four of the world’s great religions:Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.Islam and Christianity have also played important roles throughout India’s history.To further complicate matters, there are 23 major languages spoken in India and over 415 distinct languages spoken throughout the country.Despite these significant hurdles, India is a nation rapidly modernizing in order to compete in the 21st century.The true test of India’s future will lie in its ability to control its rapid population growth, while at the same time providing adequate services for its 1.1 billion citizens.Yet, if the past holds any indication as to India’s future ability; then there should be no doubt that the Mahabharata1 will overcome the challenges that it currently faces and be a prominent player in 21st century world affairs.

The Ethnic Mosaic

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At least six different ethnicities converge in present-day India as the result of millennia of traders, conquerors, colonizers, mercenaries, and missionaries sweeping through the country.The archetypal Indian is an Adivasi (a Sanskrit word for first-settler).These aboriginals still dwell in mountainous and jungle zones in a tribal belt that stretches from Arunachal Pradesh’s high …

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