India is a country of mostly immigrants who came to the country over the past 10,000 years.
The original inhabitants of India, as it is believed now, were the pre-Dravidian tribal people such as the Bhils, the Santhals, the Gonds and the Todas. Called Adivasis or Scheduled Tribes, they form hardly 8 per cent of the population today. Here, Todas celebrating New Year near Udhagamandalam, or Ooty, on January 1.
THERE IS A mistaken notion that Sanskrit is a language of chanting mantras in temples or in religious ceremonies. However, such material accounts for only 5 per cent of Sanskrit literature, which deals with a whole range of subjects like philosophy, law, science (including mathematics, medicine and astronomy), grammar and phonetics. Here, a rare collection of 'copper plates' in Sanskrit, written in the Telugu script, at the Gowthami Regional Library, Rajamundry, Andhra Pradesh.
PANINI, WHO LIVED in the 5th century B.C., was perhaps the greatest grammarian the world has seen. In his book Ashtadhyayi he fixed the rules of Sanskrit. What is taught in schools and colleges today is Panini's Sanskrit, which is called classical Sanskrit. He made Sanskrit a powerful language in which scientific ideas could be expressed with great precision and clarity.
GREAT ADVANCES WERE made in medicine in India. Sushruta invented plastic surgery 2,000 years ago, long before the Westerners did it. Here, an image of Sushruta at Patanjali Yogpeeth, Haridwar.
THE KALLINA KOTE in Chitradurga, Karnataka. It was built in parts by Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan and encloses within its seven walls 18 temples, a mosque and several other structures.
TIPU SULTAN. IN their own interest every one of India's Muslim rulers fostered communal harmony. They gave grants to Hindu temples, they celebrated Hindu festivals. Tipu used to give annual grants to 156 temples; his Prime Minister was a Hindu, Purnaiya; and his commander-inchief was a Hindu, Krishna Rao. He even sent 30 respectful letters with grants to the Sankaracharya of Sringeri.
JAWAHARLAL NEHRU, AND Emperor Akbar. These two can be said to be the creators of modern India.
SINCE THERE IS so much diversity in India, the only policy that will work is the policy of secularism and giving equal respect to all communities.