by Michael Schlitt
India is 1.3 million square miles in size, it's the seventh largest country in the world, it's the birthplace of numbers, of language, of medicine. It's the world's oldest, largest, continuous civilization; 1.2 billion people from every ethnic extraction known to mankind; six major religions, seventeen major languages and twenty-two thousand distinct dialects -- the closest thing they have to a national language is English.
India as a nation has never invaded any other country, yet India might be the most invaded place on earth. It was the richest for thousands of years, until the British arrived in the 17th century-the British came to trade, but they stayed on to rule. And by the time India won her Independence, in 1947, her soul as a nation was practically destroyed.
52 years later, I arrive at the great sub-continent to take them down yet another notch.
Indian expatriates respond to the question "What is India?"
Click here to find your own answers:
Wikipedia: History of India
Additional background on aforementioned Indian expatriates:
DR. SAM PITRODA is an inventor, entrepreneur and policymaker. He is currently chairman of India's National Knowledge Commission. He is known in many circles as India's "Telecom messiah" and is considered to be the man primarily responsible for India's communications revolution. He is the Chairman and CEO of World-Tel Limited, an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) initiative. He holds many key technology patents, has been involved in several startups, and lectures extensively around the world on the implications of communications and information technology. Mr. Pitroda has lived mainly in Chicago, Illinois since 1964, with his wife and two children
AASIF MANDVI is an actor, playwright and a regular correspondent on the Daily Show. He has appeared in over 15 feature films, and in recurring roles on TV's "CSI" and "Law And Order". Reflecting on changing cultural attitudes towards Indian actors, he notes "I used to get cast as cab drivers and grocery store clerks. Today, it's mostly Doctors and Judges."
SHASHI THAROOR is an accomplished author, and the winner of several journalism and literary awards, including a Commonwealth Writers' Prize. In July 1998. He is Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information of the United Nations, and was recently named by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as a Global Leader of tomorrow.
MAYANK CHHAYA is a freelance journalist and the author of biographies on Sam Pitroda and the Dali Lama.
ELA BHATT is the founder of the Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) Based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, SEWA is the largest single trade union in the country with a membership of 687,000 women. A lawyer by Training, Dr. Bhatt is a respected leader of the international labour, cooperative, women, and micro-finance movements who has won several national and international awards
D. R. SARDESAI is former Chairperson of South and Southeast Asian Studies and the first holder of the Doshi Chair in Indian History at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Southeast Asia: Past and Present 5th Edition and the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Yadunandan Center for India Studies for his caring and distinguished work in South and Southeast Asian studies.
CHIPPY GANGJEE is an engineer, actor, playwright, journalist, and a mainstay of Bangalore's cultural cognoscenti. His scathing review of Mike's Incredible Production of They're Playing Our Song can be read on this website.