India is one of the oldest and greatest civilizations of the world. There are many such things in India which are unique to the country and the rest of the world cannot even think of them. Various tourists and researchers often visit India to study about the heritage and culture of the country. Many books are published around the world about the lifestyle, faiths & believes and the culture of the Indians. Still most of the people are very ignorant about the country and many foreigners still presume India to be a land of the snake charmers. There are many misconceptions that people have about India. Here is a list of 10 such misconceptions.
10. Hindi is the national language of India and is known by all.
Many people outside India believe that Hindi is the national language of India and is spoken by all the Indians. This however is far from truth. Hindi is the first official language of India, but not her national language. India in fact has no national language although as per the 8th schedule of the country, there are at least 30 different languages in India. This number is excluding the 2000 different dialects which are the modes of communication for a large Indian population. The belief that most of people in India know Hindi is also a myth as huge population in India find it very difficult to understand the most widely spoken Indian language.
9. India is a land of old people
There is notion of many across the globe that Indian population is predominately that of the older generation. This notion did perhaps creep in the mind of many because India is considered to be a more traditional culture where most of the people stick to the old customs and superstitions; this however is a very big misconception as about 50% population of India is below 25 years of age and around two thirds of the population of the country is below 35 years of age.
8. Indians are all poor and hungry
Many people especially those in the western countries feel that India is a land of poor people and they don’t have sufficient to fulfill their basic necessities. This misconception can be cleared by visiting any one of the many extravagant marriages that happen in India. Even during the marriages of the middle class people in this country, one can see women wearing heavy jewelry. Undoubtedly there are some poor people in this country but there are also many rich millionaires in this country. Some of the big business families of the country are Tata’s, Birla’s and the Ambani’s. In fact many Indian tycoons have overtaken big companies across the globe.
7. Indians are mostly illiterate
Although India is credited to give birth to the university system of education (Taxshila and Nalanda being the oldest universities of the world), many feel that most of the Indians today are illiterate. However this is far from truth. The literacy percent of India as per 2011 census is 72% (male literacy rate is 82% and female literacy rate is 65%) This percentage is higher than the literacy rate of many countries. It is also worth mentioning here that India’s higher education system is the third largest in the world, next to the United States and China. As per the various statistics the number of college graduates in India is above 50 millions which is higher than the number of graduates in UK and New Zealand combined.
6. India is the birthplace of Buddha
One of the greatest spiritual gurus of all times, Gautama Buddha had spend most of his time in places which are the part of modern day India, perhaps this is the reason that generally people feel that Buddha was born in India. This however is not true. Buddha was born in the forests of Lumbini and he spend his childhood in Kapilvastu which was the capital of his father; a Shakya chief. Both Lumbini and Kapilvastu are said to be the places which lie in current day Nepal, hence considering India to be the birthplace of India is a big misconception which even many Indians have.
5. Indians were unaware of urban lifestyles until the British conquered them.
Nothing can be a bigger misconception than considering Indians to be totally unaware of the urban lifestyles before the British conquest, still many people have this belief. The Indus Valley people are said to be the first ever to use the baked bricks and the covered drains. This first sign of the modern day definition of urbanization was first observed on Indian soil. At the time of Alexander, Megesthense in his book Indica stated that although he has seen many cities, still he wouldn’t have believed that a city like Patliputra existed, had he not seen it. In fact statistics show that the percentage of urban population of India actually decreased during the British rule.
4. India was discovered by Vasco Da Gama
I have heard many (both Indians and abroad) saying that Vasco Da Gama had discovered India. No statement can be as misleading as this. It is a well known fact that India and Indian culture was known to the world for centuries before Vasco Da Gama was even born. The Indian culture had sustained the test of time and India was never in an era of known history a barren or uninhabited land. In fact the only reason why Vasco Da Gama headed to find a sea route to India was that his civilization had heard much about the country, therefore saying that he discovered India is definitely a big misconception, we can at the most give him credit for finding the sea route from Europe to India.
3. All Indian food items are very spicy
This is another misconception which many foreigners have. Although there is no doubt the many Indian cuisines are spicy, but this cannot be generalized to all the food items that are prepared in India. There are many food items prepared here which are not at all spicy. In fact the staple foods of India (i.e. Chapati and boiled rice) are the last items which can be called spicy. Again the kind of food items prepared also depend on the state you are in, and there are a few states (like Gujarat) where food is prepared by adding raw sugarcane. The Indians are also fond of desserts, and items like Kheer, Gulabjamun, Laddo etc. are relished across the country.
2. India is a very hot country
Although there are places in India which are very hot, but it cannot be generalized for the entire nation. India is a huge country and lies in different temperature zones. There are many cities in India (like Sikkim, Laddkh, etc) which are always covered with snow.
1. Every citizen of India is Hindu
This is the belief that is prevalent in the minds of many outsiders. However it is far from truth. India is home to the followers of almost all the major religions in this world. As per the 2011 census, the percentage of people following the various religions is as, Hindus- 80.5%, Muslims-13.4%, Christians – 2.3%, Sikhs-1.9%, Jains-0.38%, Buddhists- 0.68%, while people belonging to other religions contribute 0.65% to the entire Indian population.