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This article is about the people of India. For information on the population of India, see Demography of India. For other uses, see Indian.
Indian people
Total population
1,250,000,000 est
17.31% of the world's population
Indian diaspora
Regions with significant populations
India India 1,210,193,422 (2011)
 United States 3,182,053[3]
 Burma 3,100,000
 Saudi Arabia 2,450,000[4]
 Canada 2,400,000[citation needed]
 Malaysia 2,400,000[5]
 United Arab Emirates 1,500,000[6]
 United Kingdom 1,412,958[7]
 South Africa 1,160,000[citation needed]
 Mauritius 871,000
 Qatar 855,000
 Sri Lanka 842,323[8]
 Australia 686,256[9]
 Philippines 610,000
 Kuwait 580,000
 Singapore 476,560
 Bangladesh 500,000
 Oman 450,000
   Nepal 400,000
 Fiji 340,000
 Réunion 330,000
 Guyana 327,000
 Bahrain 310,000
 Suriname 185,000
 Italy 160,296[10]
 New Zealand 150,000[11]
 Netherlands 120,000
 Portugal 70,000[12]
 South Korea 55,000[13]
 Ireland 36,986[14]

Official: Hindi[15]  · English [15]
Other Indian languages

National: None[16][17]
Hinduism · Islam · Christianity · Sikhism · Buddhism · Jainism · Zoroastrianism · Judaism

Indian people or Indians are citizens of India, the second most populous nation containing 17.50%[18] of the world's population, and people of Indian heritage. The Indian nationality consists of many regional ethno-linguistic groups, reflecting the rich and complex history of India. The diaspora populations with Indian ancestry, as a result of emigration, are somewhat widespread most notably in Southeast Asia, South Africa, Australia, United Kingdom, Middle East, Trinidad and North America. Population estimates vary from a conservative 12 million to 20 million diaspora.[1][2]


The Indian people established during ancient and medieval period some of the greatest Dynasties in South Asian history like the Maurya Empire, Satavahana dynasty, Gupta Empire, Rashtrakuta dynasty, Western Chalukya Empire, Chola Empire, Vijayanagara Empire and Maratha Empire. The first great Empire of the Indian people was the Maurya Empire which conquered the major part of South Asia in the 4th and 3rd century BC during the reign of the Indian Emperors Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka. The next great ancient Empire of the Indian people was the Gupta Empire. This period, witnessing a Hindu religious and intellectual resurgence, is known as the classical or "Golden Age of India". During this period, aspects of Indian civilization, administration, culture, and religion (Hinduism and Buddhism) spread to much of Asia, while kingdoms in southern India had maritime business links with the Roman Empire from around AD 77. The ancient Indian mathematicians Aryabhata, Bhāskara I and Brahmagupta invented the concept of zero and the decimal system during this period.[19] During this period Indian cultural influence spread over many parts of Southeast Asia which led to the establishment of Indianized kingdoms in Southeast Asia.[20]

During the early medieval period the great Rashtrakuta dynasty dominated the major part of the Indian subcontinent. from the 8th to 10th century and the Indian Emperor Amoghavarsha of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty was described by the Arab traveler Sulaiman as one of the 4 great Kings of the world.[21] The medieval south Indian mathematician Mahāvīra (mathematician) lived in the Rashtrakuta dynasty and was the first Indian mathematician who separated astrology from mathematics and who wrote the earliest Indian text entirely devoted to mathematics.[22] The greatest maritime Empire of the medieval Indians was the Chola dynasty. Under the great Indian Emperors Rajaraja Chola I and his successor Rajendra Chola I the Chola dynasty became a military, economic and cultural power in South Asia and South-East Asia.[23][24] The power of the Chola empire was proclaimed to the eastern world by the expedition to the Ganges which Rajendra Chola I undertook and by the occupation of cities of the maritime empire of Srivijaya in Southeast Asia, as well as by the repeated embassies to China.[25]

During the late medieval period the great Vijayanagara Empire dominated the major part of southern India from the 14th to 16th century and reached its peak during the reign of the south Indian Emperor Sri Krishnadevaraya[26] The medieval Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics flourished during this period under such well known south Indian mathematicians as Madhava (c. 1340-1425) who made important contributions to Trigonometery and Calculus, and Nilakhanta (c. 1444-1545) who postulated on the orbitals of planets.[27] The Indian Maratha people emerged in the 17th century and established the Maratha Empire under the reign of Shivaji Maharaj which became the dominant power in India in the 18th century.[28]

India had a Mughal influence by the Muslim rulers. This had a marked influence in the Indian society.


According to a major 2009 study published by Reich et al. using over 500,000 biallelic autosomal markers, the modern Indian population is composed of two genetically divergent and heterogeneous populations, known as Ancestral North Indians (ANI) and Ancestral South Indians (ASI). ASI corresponds to the Dravidian-speaking population of southern India, whereas ANI corresponds to the Indo-Aryan-speaking population of northern India.[29][30] Research by Moorjani et al., published in 2013,[31] shows the two groups mixed extensively in the period from around 2100 BC to 100 AD, at which point a trend towards endogamy precluded any further mixing of the populations.[32]

The Andamanese negritos are found on the Andaman Islands located on the southeastern side of the country. These speak a language known simply as Great Andamanese, a linguistic isolate not related to any known language. And finally, Austroasiatic languages are spoken by only tribals or Adivasis, who can be of either Australoid or Mongoloid racial stock.[33]

Caste groups[edit]

Caste system[edit]

Main article: Caste system in India

The caste system in India is a system of social stratification and severe social restrictions in which social classes are defined by thousands of endogamous hereditary groups, often termed jatis or castes. Within a jati, there exist exogamous groups known as gotras, the lineage or clan of an individual. In a handful of sub-castes such as Shakadvipi, endogamy within a gotra is permitted and alternative mechanisms of restricting endogamy are used (e.g. banning endogamy within a surname). Caste barriers have mostly broken down in large cities,[34] though they persist in rural areas of the country, where 72% of India's population resides.

The 1901 census of India recorded 1646 distinct caste groups, which increased to 4147 in 1931. The oft-criticised The People of India project that began in the 1990s and relied heavily on Raj ethnographies, recorded 4635 castes.[35] Every major religion is represented, as are four major families of languages (Indo-Aryan – a branch of the larger Indo-European language group –, Dravidian, Austroasiatic, and Tibeto-Burman) as well as a language isolate (the Nihali language[36] spoken in parts of Maharashtra).


Close-up of a statue depicting Maitreya at the Thikse Monastery in Ladakh, India. Dharmic religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, are indigenous to India.[37]
Saint Thomas Christians or Syrian Christians of Kerala in ancient days (from an old painting). Photo published in the Cochin Government Royal War Efforts Souvenir in 1938
Sikh wedding in India
Jama Masjid, Delhi, one of the largest mosques in India
Elderly man near Jaira, M.P., India

India is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, collectively known as Indian religions.[38] Indian religions, also known as Dharmic religions are a major form of world religions along with Abrahamic ones. Today, Hinduism and Buddhism are the world's third- and fourth-largest religions respectively, with over 2 billion followers altogether,[39][40][41] and possibly as many as 2.5 or 2.6 billion followers.[39][42] India is also the birthplace for the Jain, Lingayat, and Ahmadiyya faiths.

India is one of the most religiously diverse nations in the world, with some of the most deeply religious societies and cultures. Religion still plays a central and definitive role in the life of most of its people.

The religion of 80.5% of the people is Hinduism. Islam is practiced by around 13% of all Indians.[43] Sikhism, Jainism and especially Buddhism are influential not only in India but across the world. Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Judaism and the Bahá'í Faith are also influential but their numbers are smaller. Despite the strong role of religion in Indian life, atheism and agnostics also have visible influence along with a self-ascribed tolerance to other people.

Hinduism is the majority in most states; Kashmir and Lakshadweep are Muslim majority; Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya are Christian majority; Punjab is a Sikh majority with Hindus 37%. It is to be noted that while participants in the Indian census may choose to not declare their religion, there is no mechanism for a person to indicate that he/she does not adhere to any religion. Due to this limitation in the Indian census process, the data for persons not affiliated with any religion may not be accurate. India contains the majority of the world's Hindus, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Jains and Bahá'í. India is also home to the third-largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia and Pakistan. Muslims are the largest religious minority.

Table 1: 2001 Religious Data Composition[44]
Religious Composition Population (%)
Hindus 827,578,868 80.5%
Muslims 138,188,240 13.4%
Christians 24,080,016 2.3%
Sikhs 19,215,730 1.9%
Buddhists 7,955,207 0.8%
Jains 4,225,053 0.4%
Other religions & persuasions 6,639,626 0.6%
Religion not stated 727,588 0.1%
Total 1,028,610,328 100.0%
N.B. "Total" excludes Mao-Maram, Paomata and Purul subdivisions of Senapati District of Manipur state.

Music and dance[edit]

Main articles: Music of India and Dance in India
Kuchipudi, a traditional Indian dance

The music of India includes multiple varieties of folk, popular, pop, classical music and R&B. India's classical music tradition, including Carnatic and Hindustani music, has a history spanning millennia and, developed over several eras, it remains fundamental to the lives of Indians today as sources of spiritual inspiration, cultural expression and pure entertainment. India is made up of several dozen ethnic groups, speaking their own languages and dialects, having very distinct cultural traditions.

Dance in India covers a wide range of dance and dance theatre forms, from the ancient classical or temple dance to folk and modern styles.

Three best-known hindu deities, Shiva, Kali, Ganesha and Krishna, are typically represented dancing. There are hundreds of Indian folk dances such as Bhangra, Garba and special dances observed in regional festivals. India offers a number of classical Indian dance forms, each of which can be traced to different parts of the country. The presentation of Indian dance styles in film, Bollywood, has exposed the range of dance in India to a global audience.

National personification[edit]

Bharat Mata (Hindi, from Sanskrit भारत माता, Bhārata Mātā), Mother India, or Bhāratāmbā (from अंबा ambā 'mother') is the national personification of India as a mother goddess. She is usually depicted as a woman clad in an orange or saffron sari holding a flag, and sometimes accompanied by a lion.

The image of Bharat Mata formed with the Indian independence movement of the late 19th century. A play by Kiran Chandra Bandyopadhyay, Bhārat Mātā, was first performed in 1873.

Indian diaspora[edit]

Population estimates vary from a conservative 12 million to 20 million diaspora.[1][2]


Main article: British Indian

The British Indian community had grown to number over one million. According to the 2001 UK Census, 1,053,411 Britons had full Indian ethnicity (representing 1.8% of the UK's population). An overwhelming majority of 99.3% resided in England (in 2008 the figure is thought to be around 97.0%). In the seven-year period between 2001 and 2009, the number of Indian-born people in the UK increased in size by 38% from 467,634 to around 647,000 (an increase of approximately 180,000).[45]


Main article: Indo-Canadians

There are over 1 million Indian people in Canada, the majority of which live in Greater Toronto and Vancouver. Nearly 4% of the total Canadian population is of Indian ancestry, a figure higher than both the United States and Britain.

South Africa[edit]

Main article: Indian South Africans

More than a million people of Indian descent live in South Africa, concentrated around the city of Durban.


Main article: Indians in Tanzania

About 40,000 people of Indian origin live in Tanzania mostly in the urban areas.

United States[edit]

Main article: Indian American

According to the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau, the Indian American population in the United States grew from almost 1.67 million in 2000 to 3.1 million in 2010 which comprises as the third-largest Asian American community in the United States after Chinese Americans and Filipino Americans.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Vijay Mishra (2007). The Literature of the Indian Diaspora: Theorizing the Diasporic Imaginary. Taylor & Francis US. pp. 256–. ISBN 978-0-415-42417-2. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Sagarika Dutt (28 November 2006). India in a Globalised World. Manchester University Press. pp. 176–. ISBN 978-0-7190-6900-0. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 
  3. ^ Race Reporting for the Asian Population. Factfinder2.census.gov (5 October 2010). Retrieved on 2012-11-19.
  4. ^ http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-05-25/india/39520309_1_nitaqat-saudi-arabia-salman-khurshid?
  5. ^ C. S. Kuppuswamy (28 February 2003). MALAYSIAN INDIANS: The third class race. South Asia Analysis Group
  6. ^ Chandru (26 November 2009). "The Indian Community in Myanmar". Southasiaanalysis.org. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  7. ^ "BBC 2011 Census breakdown". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  8. ^ "A2 : Population by ethnic group according to districts, 2012". Census of Population & Housing, 2011. Department of Census & Statistics, Sri Lanka. 
  9. ^ Australian Government - Department of Immigration and Border Protection. "Indian Australians". Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  10. ^ [1]. ISTAT. Retrieved on 2014-01-01.
  11. ^ K. Kesavapany; A. Mani; Palanisamy Ramasamy (2008). Rising India and Indian Communities in East Asia. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 537–. ISBN 978-981-230-799-6. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 
  12. ^ Imagens, Factos, Notícias, Informações e História sobra Goa India. SuperGoa. Retrieved on 2012-11-19.
  13. ^ [2]. Retrieved on 2012-03-13.
  14. ^ "CSO Emigration". Census Office Ireland. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  15. ^ a b राजभाषा. Rajbhasha.nic.in. Retrieved on 2012-11-19.
  16. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/hindi-not-a-national-language-court/article94695.ece
  17. ^ http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2010-01-25/india/28148512_1_national-language-official-language-hindi
  18. ^ Official population clock 
  19. ^ The Earth and Its Peoples by Richard Bulliet,Pamela Crossley,Daniel Headrick,Steven Hirsch,Lyman Johnson p.192
  20. ^ The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia: From early times to c. 1800, Band 1 by Nicholas Tarling p.281
  21. ^ The Shaping of Modern Gujarat: Plurality, Hindutva, and Beyond; Acyuta Yājñika, Suchitra Sheth, Penguins Books, (2005), p.42, ISBN 978-0-14400-038-8
  22. ^ The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 Milestones by Clifford A. Pickover: page 88
  23. ^ Kulke and Rothermund, p 115
  24. ^ Keay, p 215
  25. ^ K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, A History of South India, p 158
  26. ^ Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture by John Stewart Bowman p.270
  27. ^ "History of Science and Philosophy of Science: A Historical Perspective of the Evolution of Ideas in Science", editor: Pradip Kumar Sengupta, author: Subhash Kak, 2010, p91, vol XIII, part 6, Publisher: Pearson Longman, ISBN 978-81-317-1930-5
  28. ^ Western India in the Nineteenth Century: A Study in the Social History by Ravinder Kumar p.5
  29. ^ Nature. "Reconstructing Indian population history : Abstract". Nature. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  30. ^ "Abstract/Presentation". Ichg2011.org. 12 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  31. ^ Moorjani, Priya; Thangaraj, Kumarasamy et al. (2013). "Genetic Evidence for Recent Population Mixture in India". The American Journal of Human Genetics 93 (3): 422–438. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2013.07.006. ISSN 0002-9297. 
  32. ^ Prasad, R (9 August 2013). "Population admixture happened in India for 2,300 years". The Hindu. Retrieved 16 June 2014. 
  33. ^ Indian Genome Variation Consortium (2005). "The Indian Genome Variation database (IGVdb): A project overview". Human Genetics 118 (1): 1–11. doi:10.1007/s00439-005-0009-9. PMID 16133172. 
  34. ^ BBC, Religion and ethics, Hinduism[dead link]
  35. ^ Bhagat, Ram B. (2006). "Census and caste enumeration: British legacy and contemporary practice in India". Genus 62 (2): 119–134. JSTOR 29789312. (subscription required (help)). 
  36. ^ SIL International. "Ethnologue report for Language Isolate". Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  37. ^ Mark Kobayashi-Hillary Outsourcing to India, Springer, 2004 ISBN 3-540-20855-0 p.8
  38. ^ Nikki Stafford Finding Lost, ECW Press, 2006 ISBN 1-55022-743-2 p. 174
  39. ^ a b "45". What Is Hinduism?: Modern Adventures Into a Profound Global Faith. Himalayan Academy Publications. 2007. p. 359. ISBN 1-934145-00-9. 
  40. ^ "Non Resident Nepali – Speeches". Nrn.org.np. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  41. ^ "BBCVietnamese.com". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  42. ^ "Religions of the world: numbers of adherents; growth rates". Religioustolerance.org. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  43. ^ "Religions Muslim" (PDF). Registrat General and Census Commissioner, India. Archived from the original on 23 May 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-01. 
  44. ^ "Census of India – India at a Glance : Religious Compositions". Censusindia.gov.in. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  45. ^ "Estimated population resident in the United Kingdom, by foreign country of birth (Table 1.3)". Office for National Statistics. September 2009. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 

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