In hindsight, it would be difficult to assume that one has understood the culture of a country like India. Given its size and multiple religious beliefs and practices, India continues to puzzle many. In order to evaluate a country’s culture, one has to understand the country’s history, resources, governance, and composition. India is a big country in terms of size and population. It is also too diverse in its races. Historically, India suffered from internal bickering. The country was once a rich, prosperous country and Alexander the Great wanted to conquer it for its riches. It was because of the valiant king Porus, and his huge army, that Alexander had to retreat, a bruised leader. India is a country with multi-ethnic diversity, cultural plurality, and lingual uniqueness.
It embraces all religions, and Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, not necessarily in the order of popularity, form the majority of followers. A number of Hindu festivals such as Diwali, Holi, and Dusherra are celebrated across the country, so too are the Muslim festivals of Ramzan and Id-ul-Fitr, and Christmas and Good Friday. All these festivals are given national importance and are thus, government-declared holidays. Much like the United States of America, India too is a confederation of states. There are twenty-eight states and seven union territories, and these states are further divided into districts and town panchayats. Each state has a number of District Courts and a High Court. Each state has a language of its own, and while Hindi is the national language and is spoken widely across the country, some of the other prominent languages in India are, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi,, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Sindhi, Parsi, Assamese, Manipuri, Oriya, and a number of others. “It is believed that there are over 1,652 languages spoken in India, of which eighteen are officially recognised in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution” (Manorama Year Book, 2006). Despite such diversity, the country is united and functions under a democratic system. English is a common language and is spoken by the majority of Indians, and is the medium of instruction in schools and colleges. It is also the official language used in business and at work.
The Indian Constitution ensures a legal right to pluralism in Indian society. The Preamble of the Indian Constitution guarantees that all Indian citizens has access to social, economic and political justice, has the liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, have equality of status and of opportunity, and fraternity, assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation. Protecting cultural and educational rights of minorities is another guarantee that the Indian Constitution allows its citizens. However, the Forty-fourth Amendment, passed in 1978, revised the status of such property rights by stating that ‘No person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law’ (Muppidi, 2007). As India is a fast developing country, the government does use its rights to take property for economic development.
It was not until 1965, that television started in India. Run by the government-owned Doordarshan, programs were televised only in Delhi and its surrounding areas. The programs were educational in content, and it was not until 1972, that a second television station was set up in Mumbai. Mody (1988) is of the opinion that the introduction of television as an educational tool was for national development, before it was completely usurped for entertainment purposes. Today, Doordarshan operates “27 channels-five All India channels, 11 regional language satellite channels, eight Hindi belt Kendras, one international channel and two parliament channels (DD-Lok Sabha and DD-Rajya Sabha). Except for DD-14 - DD-17, and DD-19 - DD-22, all other DD channels broadcast round the clock” (Muppidi, 2007).
Satellite television and DTH services have become popular across the country today. International news channel like CNN, and BBC, sports channels like Star Sports, Ten Sports, ESPN, and Sony Television, entertainment and movie channels like Star Movies, HBO, and Star World, and music channels such as MTV and V TV are flowed widely. India has welcomed all forms of developmental activities and stands firm in encouraging foreign investments. The country has the highest literacy rate in the world, and the country continues to produce a high number of engineers every year. “While Doordarshan’s monopoly was first broken by satellite channels from outside the country, it was not long before private satellite channels in Indian languages were started by local entrepreneurs” (Muppidi, 1998).
Manorama Yearbook (2006), The Malayala Manorama Company /Kottayam. ISBN 8189004077
Mody, B, (1988), The commercialisation of TV in India: A research agenda for cross-country comparisons, International Communication Association, Intercultural and Development Communication Division
Muppidi, S, R, (1998), The uses and gratifications of Doordarshan and Eenadu TV: A study of a regional Indian television audience, Bowling Green State University
Muppidi, S, R, (2007), India, Media Asia, Asian Media Information and Communication Centre Ltd. ISSN 01296612, Volume 34 (3-4, p. 135-146,