With a population of over a billion people, India is one of the most influential and the powerful countries in the world. Its cultural history is particularly complex and details spanning 4,500 years of predominantly Hindu philosophy and theology. Thousands of years later, modern India is profoundly different with its own colossal film industry, a diverse population and an astonishingly big workforce.
Here are some shocking facts about India.
- Freddie Mercury
The extremely famous and talented frontman of the iconic band Queen, Freddie Mercury was actually of Indian descent, though many people don’t know this.
Its true. Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara and spent his lot of his time up until his mid-teens in India before moving to England. In many places, he stated that his nationality was British-Indian. It was in India, in fact, that he first received his formal piano training, which would become the cornerstone and basis of his musical talent.
- Floating Post Office
It is widely known that India has the highest number of Post Offices in the World, one thing you might not know is the extremes they go to in order to distribute their mail.
For instance, one of the many post offices in India is actually a boat. The Floating Post Office in Srinagar has become a popular part of tourist’s itinerary since its inauguration in 2011.
If you are a resident of India, you’ll also know right away if you get a letter postmarked from the Floating Post Office – all mail which is posted there bears a special design which features landscape depiction of Dal Lake and other attractions in Srinagar.
- New Workforce
It is no secret that India accounts for a lot of the outsourced workers in the world. The actual numbers, though, might shock you. The world’s workforce had shifted greatly to India, with up to 25% of new workers joining the world’s working pool coming from India. This is a pretty big deal, since virtually no other country in the world can top those numbers.
India’s job market is only expected to grow, in direct proportion to the number of tech-based companies currently popping up all over the world.
- Oldest City
There is a lot of archaeological evidence to suggest that the Indian city of Varanasi is probably the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.
This means that while it is not the oldest city where people ever lived, it is the only city in the world which can trace its history back from present day in a straight line all the way to potentially the 20th century BC. That’s more than 4000 years ago!
The concept of the number Zero was first theorized in India. This may seem strange, since zero is a fundamental part of our understanding of the world and even small children can grasp the concept, but humanity once did not have a true concept of zero.
As early as the 5th century, however, it’s speculated that Indian scholars were using the concept of zero in their math.
- Visible from Space
It’s actually a common myth that the Great Wall of China is visible from Space. That might be a letdown, but you’ll be happy to know that India has an ever cooler claim to space fame.
In 2001, the Maha Kumbh Mela spiritual gathering, which takes place every 144 years in India, had so many participants that it was visible from space. This event, which attracted more than 70 million people to the sacred location, still counts as the largest gathering of humans in one place ever.
- The Wettest Place in the World
A remote location in India known as Mawsynram is considered to be the wettest place in the world. This is because the location has the highest average annual rainfall, with an average of nearly 10,000 millimeters of rain in a given year.
- Martial Arts
We now associate cultures such as those of China and Japan with Martial Arts, but it was actually in India that the concept of martial arts was first created.
Kalaripayattu, or the study of war, was created in India as far back as the 3rd Century BC. The style is still practiced today, and is itself the basis for many more forms of modern martial arts.
- More Poor Than Anywhere
Although India’s culture is world renowned, India is also home to startling disparity. To a point, India has more people than any other country in the world.
According to the Millenium Development Goals report by the UN, more than one-third of world’s population of poor live in India. This is something that India is working to resolve. Indian government considers Poverty to be one of the biggest concerns they face and works to reduce that number.
- Bandra Worli Sealink
A cable stayed bridge in India called the Bandra Worli Sea Link (also known as the Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link), contains enough steel wire to wrap around the entire Earth. Additionally, the megalith structure contains 90,000 tons of cement, and has a daily tarffic volume of approximately 37,500 vehicles.
The structure also has a height 63 times that of Qutb Minar, the tallest brick minaret in the world, also located in India.
- Outsourced IT
India is pretty much the fastest growing job market in the world. A large part of that is because modern tech companies around the world see India as the premiere destination for outsourced IT work. In fact, more than 80% of US companies chose India as their first choice for outsourcing software development and support.
More recent estimates have shown that about 50% of the world’s outsourced IT ends up in India.
In general, people in the world shampoo an average of 4 – 6 times per week. It’s a part of the daily routine to lather up your hair in order to keep it clean, and you’ll quickly become a social pariah if chose not to do so. But did you know that the concept of shampooing comes from India?
It’s true! In fact, the word “Shampoo” comes from the sanskrit word “Champu”, or to massage.
- Indian Movie Market
Although the western world thinks of Hollywood when movies come to mind, India thinks of Bollywood. In fact, India’s movie market is so big that it accounts for more than the ticket sales of the United States and Canada combined.
In 2013, Indian ticket sales for movie accounte for about $2.7 billion. When all of this is taken into account , it’s undeniable that Indians truly love their movies.
- World’s Biggest Family
A man from India, named Ziona Chana, is currently recognized as having the largest family in the world. He has 39 wives, who have borne him 94 children, and who have in turn gives him 33 grandchildren.
The huge family actually all lives together in a gargantuan 100-room mansion in the Mizoram village of Baktwang in India. Chana says that he considers himself to be a lucky man to have such a large family.
- Indian Lunar Missions
The Indian Lunar Mission Chandrayaan 1 is significant not just because it’s a major achievement by a world power, but also because that mission is responsible for the discovery of water on the Moon. This discovery shocked the world when it was announced in 2009, with a spokesperson from NASA saying “None of us had expected this 10 years ago“.
The Indian Space Program is actually the 5th largest in the world, and with the popularization of private space exploration. It’s likely we’ll see more space missions coming out of India in the near future.
- Spa for Elephants
Elephants are an important part of Indian culture. So important, in fact, that there exists a spa in India which is reserved just for elephants.
Each year during the sweltering summer month of July, elephants in India get a bit of a reprieve from a heat. They enjoy scrub-downs by locals who lovingly clean them and bathe them in the centre, which is located in part of the famous Guruvayurappan Hindu Temple.
- Second Largest English Speaking Country
As part of their push to become a major part of the world’s workforce, India has embraced the English language. They’ve done so in such a big way, in fact that India is now the second largest English speaking country in the world, second only to the United States.
Part of this is because India actually does not have a national language of their own. Hindi is the official language of the Indian government, but most Indian people see it as arelic of the past and opt to speak English instead.
- Vegetarian Population
Indian eating habits are a lot different from those in the Western world. That’s no secret. But it’s surprising to learn that a huge amount of the population of India considers themselves vegetarian. Meat is a huge cornerstone of western diets, especially in America, but that’s not the case in India. In fact, more than 500,000,000 people in India don’t eat any meat at all. This is both due to poverty preventing access to meat as well as health and spiritual reasons. Either way, India is home to the largest percentage of vegetarians in the world.
Vegetarianism is so widespread in India, in fact, that popular restaurant chain Pizza Hut had to create vegetarian menu choices to stay relevant there.
- Milk Production
Although many people know that Indian culture considers cows as sacred, you might be surprised to learn that this hasn’t stopped them from becoming the largest producer of milk in the world. In fact, India alone accounts for more than 18% of all the milk produced globally. This constitutes an output of more than 146 million tons of milk per year.
So next time you go to dip your Oreo cookie, thank India!
- Indian Diamonds
Although diamond mining is now typically associated with different parts of Africa, it was actually in India that diamonds were first mined. Indian diamond mining dates back all the way to the 4th century BC, where Indian miners discovered the gems and pulled them from the earth to send along trade routes with China.
India is so historically associated with diamond mining, in fact, that it was common thought up until the 18th century that the stones could only be found in India.
- Sugar Consumption
Farming of Sugarcane in India dates back more than 60,000 years, with the first consumers of the sweet confection doing so just shortly after migrating to what would become India.
Sugar went on to become one of the most highly sought after prizes along the Silk Road trade route, and was the basis for India’s initial success in early human civilization.