For detailed information on the Primary and Secondary Cultural Characteristics, go here.
- Stats for India
Tolerance is a hallmark of Indian religious philosophy and grows out of the belief that all truth claims are equally valid, all spiritual paths lead to god. Hinduism and India are closely aligned, even for those who are not Hindu. India has hundreds of languages, with 22 official languages (including Hindi and English). India is not a very united country due to its large size, many people-groups, and languages. Youth are challenging the caste system and gender inequality. A growing focus on materialism is said to be causing an increase in Individualism in society. Deepest shame comes not from actions, but position, such as a low-caste Indian dalit. Status is primarily inherited; Even though caste system is illegal, culture trumps the law. Discrimination and violence against the lower castes are still common to this day.
Top 25 Stats
Total Population- 1.28 Billion (2nd); Total Christians- 71 M (8th); Total Evangelicals 26.3 M (5th); Total Gospel Visits- 64.5 M (1st); Total Gospel Decisions- 3.5 M (1st).
Fastest Growing Religion
Human Development Index
India is the most ethnically diverse nation in the world with, 2,500 people groups: Hindi (37%); Bengali (14.3%); Telugu (5.4%); Marathi-Konkani (5.3%); Rajasthan (5.3%); Tamil 4.6%); Gujarati (4.1%); Kannada (3.1%); Malayali (3.1%); Urdu Muslims (3.1%); Jat (2.8%); Munda-Santal (1.4%); Punjabi (1.4%); Oriya (1.4%); Gond (1.4%); Bhil (1.3%); Tibetan/Himalayan Peoples (1.1%); Iranian-Median (0.9%).
Hindi, English; Constitution has 22 official languages
A traditional agricultural economy; Since 1990’s rapidly becoming a more diverse economy. Now much more involved in industry, services, nuclear power, hi-tech, and space industry. Rapid growth has brought wealth to many and has caused a middle class to grow. Rural poor and urban slums still have millions and 40% of population is in poverty. Poor infrastructure (power, roads, sanitation), corruption, and prejudice hinder growth. India boasts 45 cities with populations of one million or more. However, India is still primarily rural, with 70% of the people living in rural areas. Corruption, inefficiency, and prejudice continue to hinder economic development. Last decade has seen great growth of the middle class, millionaires, and IT industry. India is the nation with largest number of poor and greatest gap between rich and poor. Up to 24% of the population lives in poverty and 40% of children are undernourished.
History / Politics
Independence in 1947 from Britain split India into India and Pakistan (and Bangladesh-1971). Muslims ruled India for 600 years, then British; India is largest democracy in the world. Hindu extreme nationalists grew and eventually gained political power in the 1990’s. Power has gone between Hindu extremists and the moderate Indian National Congress. India and Pakistan have long-standing tension, especially over Kashmir. About 4,700 castes and 25,000 sub-castes define the social order and one’s place in society. The caste system is illegal by the constitution, but still widely practiced. India has an ancient, complex culture, diversity of languages, ethnicities, and religions. The younger generation is more educated, open-minded, and materialistic. The caste system remains a major issue; About 25% of population is from the lowest castes. India still has enormous needs for poverty relief, healthcare, orphanages, and other issues. Society prefers male children, so families often abort, abandon, or kill girl babies. 35 million fewer girls exist than boys; Girls are less literate and domestic abuse is common. Some young girls are still dedicated to the ancient service of temple prostitution. Armed communist militants grow in number in central and eastern India. Regions of India South India- 200 million; 12% are Christian; Many Indian mission groups work here. Tourists come to lovely Goa which helps economy, but also has drugs and child prostitution. IT industry centered in Bangalore and many have become Christians here in all castes. Kerala has a long Christian history and more Christians live here than any other state in India. Christians in Kerala have invested in education, and it is now the best-educated state in India. Kerala is the most favorable state to women. There is tension between Charismatic and traditional churches. Northeast India- 40 million; About 20% are Christian. Many ethnic, rebel groups disrupt life, fight each other, and sometimes attack Christians. Many revivals occurred here in the 20th century even in the midst of persecution. Central India- 400 million people, but only 2% are Christians; From Mumbai to Kolkata. A million street people live in Kolkata; Bengalis (250 M) are largest unreached people. Orissa has more intense Christian persecution with threats of death than any place in India. Madhya Pradesh is in central northern India, and one of the last areas reached by missions. Madhya Pradesh is strongly Hindu, has many tribal people, and has laws limiting conversions. Madhya Pradesh has a strong house church movement allowing the Gospel to flourish. Mumbai has the Indian stock exchange, movie industry (Bollywood), and a huge slum (1 M). Mumbai has 200,000 in sex trade, 100,000 street children, and 300,000 AIDS cases. Mumbai has the second largest Christian population of any of India's mega-cities. Gujarat has religious persecution, with police and government helping to persecute. North India- More than 400 million; Only 0.5% are Christians; A very unreached area. Kashmir has been in dispute since 1947; Muslims fight for independence or to join Pakistan. Punjab is the home of the Sikhs and is the only state where they are a majority. Christians did not reach out to Sikhs much in the past, but more evangelism occurs now. Rajasthan is a popular tourist site, but has lots of militant Hindus persecuting Christians. Delhi is the capital of India and the center of power and finance; There are 3,000 slums. Delhi is also the location of many Christian headquarters. Haryana is one of India’s least evangelized states, but this has improved recently. Himachal Pradesh has many holy sites; Least evangelized at one time, but better now. Uttarakhand is mainly upper caste and guardians of Hindu gods; Very resistant to Gospel. Uttar Pradesh is home of Hinduism, and so has been very resistant to the Gospel. Uttar Pradesh has severe problems with diseases and malnourishment of children. Bihar, birthplace of Buddhism and Jainism, is India’s poorest state. Its government is known for incompetence and corruption, division, and community conflict. Sikkim is a small state bordered by Nepal and Bhutan; the church has grown rapidly here.
The caste system still remains within the Indian church, but to a lesser degree than society. Some Hindu militant groups use intimidation or violence against other religious groups. Hinduism is the 3rd largest religion, but is really more like a network of religious beliefs. Some focus on philosophy, others on ritual, others worship idols, others use the occult. The constitution gives full religious freedom, but some states still discriminate. India has world's 3rd largest Muslim population (160 million) who often face discrimination. These are some of the least evangelized Muslims in the world, but are very accessible. Christianity is associated positively with service by Catholics and Protestants. Sikhs, Buddhist refugees from Tibet, Jains, and Zoroastrians also need to be reached. The Indian church is very diverse: 35% Protestant; 24% Catholic; 38% Independent. Charismatic movement has grown rapidly, especially in the last 15 years. Christian growth among lower-caste Hindus and tribal people is especially strong. Christian literature, radio, TV, and Internet have been especially effective. Much growth has come after prayer movements (often driven by women and children). Persecution occurs in some areas; Some churches use Western methods of worship. Effective Biblical training is needed for pastors and other workers. 1,000 mission agencies send out 100,000 church planters, evangelists, and workers.
Pray for the caste system to be removed and justice for the lower caste members. Pray for the 35 million orphans, street children, and children sold into slavery or prostitution. Pray for true religious freedom to occur and for the church to continue to grow. Pray that church growth would not be connected to the West, but to India’s own culture.