Sikhism - An Introduction: India
by Owen Cole
Traditionally the name India has applied to the land between the Khyber Pass and the Bay of Calcutta, the Himalayas and the areas bordering the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. This vast region is frequently described as a subcontinent and was not united under one ruler until the British period. Today it is referred to as an independent republic, part of the British Commonwealth which became independent from Britain in 1947. It is a country of considerable climatic, religious and ethnic variety, and has a population of over 516 million. Though most of its inhabitants are Hindus, the Indian Constitution is inclusive and recognises pluralism, giving no preference to any faith. This is Indian secularism. Sometimes it has been argued that the Raj and the railway system created the concept of India but it must be said that despite occasional outbreaks of sectarianism and the recognition of 28 national languages including English, the unity of the nation is strong and that the vision of one India is much older than the reality.