A. THE COUNTRY
The Republic of India, in South Asia, is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world. A country of 28 states and 7 union territories, it is a pluralistic, multilingual, and multiethnic society where more than 400 languages are spoken. India has become one of the fastest growing major economies in the world (as in industry and services), and is a nuclear weapons state. While having one of the world’s most diverse and modern healthcare systems, India faces several health-related challenges. The country contains the largest concentration of poor people in the world. Illiteracy, corruption, and the (constitutionally illegal) caste system are continuing realities.
B. THE PEOPLE
~97.7% are South Asian, ~1.1% are Tibetan/Himilayan, ~0.9% are Iranian-Median. There are two major linguistic families: Indo-Aryan (~76%) and Dravidian (~22%). Other languages come from the Austo-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman linguistic families. Constitutionally there are 22 official languages. The official language is Hindi (spoken by 40% of the population). English is a subsidiary official language.
C. RELIGION AND CHRISTIANITY/PENTECOSTALISM
Indian religions form one of the most defining aspects of the culture. The constitution provides full religious freedom for all religions. The rise of Hindutva extremism resulted in a hate campaign against Muslims and Christians (considered “foreign” religions) in the 1990’s. Persecution levels vary depending on the strength of Hindutva groups from one state to the next. Hinduism is the world’s third largest religious system, and is adhered
to by over 74% in India. Muslims are over 14% (the third-largest Muslim country in the world), Christians may be as high as 9%, Sikhs are ~1.86%, Ethnoreligionists are ~1.35%, and others are in smaller numbers. Significant affiliates in the Christian category are:
- Protestants ~ 26 million
- Catholics ~ 19 million (an estimated 10% are charismatic in their faith)
- Independent ~17.5 million
The above represent numerous denominations.
- Evangelicals are ~2.2% of the population.
- Charismatics are ~ 1.6% with ~ 0.4% of those being Pentecostals.
Operation World, Jason Mandryk. Colorado Springs: Biblica Publishing, 2010.