India is a huge sub-continent, which brought us yoga and the Hindu religion. It’s also home to the oldest medicine in the world (Ayurveda) and of course home to amazing Indian food (curry!) But what else do you know about India (over 3% of the England and Wales population has Indian heritage). What environmental issues do they have, how does their treatment of cows (sacred) differ to us, and what do they do, that we could learn from? Let’s find out – Namaste!
Of course, Britain has quite a shameful history (which you’ll know about if you ever watched the film Gandhi). Back in 1700, India (the world’s richest country) was doing fine. Only after British rule were there issues with poverty, famine, borders and religious divides between Hindus and Muslims.
Many people believe India is always hot and dry, but in fact it’s wetter than the rainforests, with plenty of monsoons. There are also many beautiful mountains, railways and temples (not just the Taj Mahal but there is even a temple that is home to thousands of protected rats!) It’s also a country still rooted in nature. Many people eat just enough, earn just enough and under half the population use the Internet. Most people still eat with their hands (so no polluting the waters with plastic cutlery) and most areas are so safe to live in, people don’t use locks or keys (one village has not recorded any criminal act in almost 400 years – often to do with worrying over ‘bad karma’ in the next life!)
cows are sacred, most people are veggie!
One rule you need to know about if you ever visit India is that cows are sacred animals, and even protected by law (to kill a cow in India will land you in jail). It is upsetting seeing images of skinny cows on the streets, but they are protected the same. And many vegetarians are giving up ghee, butter and milk.
plant-based ‘shicken’ jalfrezi curry!
You likely know there are more vegetarians on earth in India, than anywhere. What’s interesting is that while other countries go for long ingredients lists and fake meats, in India, still the natural foods take charge – fresh fruits and vegetables, rice and lentils rule the day, as well as plenty of spices! Although it’s not good that KFC has ventured into India, they have to offer a veggie menu!
If you visit McDonald’s website for India, it gives two choices: One for north India (where people eat meat) and one for South India (where most people don’t). Neither serves beef or pork (due to ‘respect of religious beliefs’) but recently faced a mass boycott from Hindus, when finding their meat products (including the ‘chicken Big Mac’) contained Halal meat (it’s possible for Muslims to be veggie, so a decision could have been made to respect both religions).
The most famed building in India is the Taj Mahal, where Princess Diana famously sat alone, when her marriage to Prince Charles was falling apart. You likely know that the emperor had it designed in memory of his wife, who died in childbirth. The Yamuna River surrounding the building is drying up due to climate change, threatening the foundations. Elsewhere in India, street dogs have literally turned blue, from drinking and bathing in polluted waters, used to dye jeans blue for the western garment industry.
the world’s most untouched community
North Sentinel Island (in the Indian ocean) is around the size of Manhattan, and home to a tribe that has no contact with the outside world (you likely saw them on the news a few years back, when checking on them after a tsunami, they started firing arrows up at the helicopter).
Known to be thriving and healthy, they have killed poachers of local fish and turtles, and also shot and killed an American missionary with an arrow, when he attended ‘conversion bootcamp’ in Kansas, then tried to introduce them to God (a boy even fired an arrow through his Bible). He obviously was brainwashed, but critics pointed out that teaching people to do this is not just morally wrong, but also could have introduced them to serious disease as they have no immunity (so if they caught a cold, the whole tribe could die quickly).
music break: kasoor
This ballad is by Prateek Kuhad, who grew up in India before studying mathematics and economics in New York, then returned to become a songwriter.