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Indian people
Indian people.jpg
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
 Canada 2,400,000[citation needed]
 Malaysia 2,400,000[4]
 Saudi Arabia 2,000,000[citation needed]
 United Arab Emirates 1,500,000[5]
 United Kingdom 1,414,100[citation needed]
 South Africa 1,160,000[citation needed]
 Mauritius 871,000
 Qatar 855,000
 Australia 686,256[6]
 Kuwait 580,000
 Singapore 476,560
 Trinidad and Tobago 525,000
 Oman 450,000
   Nepal 400,000
 Fiji 340,000
 France 330,000
 Guyana 327,000
 Bahrain 310,000
 Suriname 185,000
 New Zealand 150,000[7]
 Netherlands 120,000
 Portugal 70,000[8]
 South Korea 55,000[9]
 Ireland 36,986[10]

Official: Hindi[11]  · English [11]
Other Indian languages

National: None[12][13]
Hinduism · Islam · Sikhism · Jainism · Christianity · Judaism · Buddhism · Zoroastrism
Related ethnic groups
Bangladeshi people · Nepali people · Pakistani people
Sri Lankan people · other South Asians · Romani people ·
Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian · Indo-Guyanese
British Asian people · Indian-Americans
Indo-Caribbean people · Indo-Surinamese
Non-resident Indians

Indian people or Indians are people who are citizens of India, which forms a major part of South Asia, containing 17.31% of the world's population. The Indian nationality consists of many regional ethno-linguistic groups, reflecting the rich and complex history of India. India, in its current boundaries, was formed out of a number of predecessors.

Populations with Indian ancestry, as a result of emigration, are somewhat ubiquitous, most notably in Southeast Asia, South Africa, Australia, United Kingdom, Middle East and North America. Population estimates vary from a conservative 12 million to 20 million diaspora.[1][2]


Basu et al. (2006) emphasize that the combined results from mtDNA, Y-chromosome and autosomal markers suggest that "(1) there is an underlying unity of female lineages in India, indicating that the initial number of female settlers may have been small; (2) the tribal and the caste populations are highly differentiated; (3) the Austroasiatic tribals are the earliest settlers in India, providing support to one anthropological hypothesis while refuting some others; (4) a major wave of humans entered India through the northwest; (5) the Tibeto-Burman tribals share considerable genetic commonalities with the Austroasiatic tribals, supporting the hypothesis that they may have shared a common habitat in southern China, but the two groups of tribals can be differentiated on the basis of Y-chromosomal haplotypes; (6) the Dravidian tribals were possibly widespread throughout India before the arrival of the Indo-European-speaking nomads, but retreated to southern India to avoid dominance; (7) formation of populations by fission that resulted in founder and drift effects have left their imprints on the genetic structures of contemporary populations; (8) the upper castes show closer genetic affinities with Central Asian populations, although those of southern India are more distant than those of northern India; (9) historical gene flow into India has contributed to a considerable obliteration of genetic histories of contemporary populations so that there is at present no clear congruence of genetic and geographical or sociocultural affinities."[14]

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.[15]

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 which mixed in ancient times (about 1,200–3,500 BC), 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.[16][17] Till 4,200 years ago, the two populations grew independently and produced many more groups but there was no admixture between them. But during the time period between 1,900 years and 4,200 years, the ANI-derived populations and ASI-derived populations mixed together to form the modern day population.The ANI population is related to West Eurasians (people of Central Asia, the Middle East, the Caucasus and Europe); the ASI population is distinctly related to the indigenous Andaman Islanders.[18] The admixture of the populations between the two ancestral groups was rampant for an extended period before endogamy became the norm.The period of admixture coincides with increasing population density in the central and downstream portions of the Gangetic system, and deurbanisation of the Indus civilisation. Caste, which came later, drastically reduced the chances of admixture making it nearly zero.[19]

Caste groups[edit]

India has more than two thousand ethnic groups[citation needed] and 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[20] spoken in parts of Maharashtra). India's castism history is extremely complex; nevertheless, distinct racial divisions between peoples still exist as established by modern anthropologists, despite the fact that the national Census of India does not recognize racial or ethnic groups within India,[21] but recognizes many of the tribal groups as Scheduled Castes and Tribes (see list of Scheduled Tribes in India).

Caste/groups in India


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.[22]
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
Old man near Jaira, M.P., India

India is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, collectively known as Indian religions.[23] 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,[24][25][26] and possibly as many as 2.5 or 2.6 billion followers.[24][27] 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.[28] 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 mainly a mixture of both Hindus and Sikhs. 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[29]
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]

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.

Caste system[edit]

The Indian caste system describes the system of social stratification and severe social restrictions in India in which social classes are defined by thousands of endogamous hereditary groups, often termed jātis or castes. Within a jāti, 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).

The Indian caste system involves four castes and outcasted social groups.[30] Caste barriers have mostly broken down in large cities,[31] though they persist in rural areas of the country, where 72% of India's population resides.

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]


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).[32]


There are over 1 million Indian people in Canada, the majority of which live in Greater Toronto and Vancouver. 3% of the total Canadian population is of Indian ancestry, a figure higher than both the United States and Britain.

South Africa[edit]

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


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

United States[edit]

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. ^ C. S. Kuppuswamy (28 February 2003). MALAYSIAN INDIANS: The third class race. South Asia Analysis Group
  5. ^ Chandru (26 November 2009). "The Indian Community in Myanmar". Southasiaanalysis.org. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  6. ^ Australian Government - Department of Immigration and Border Protection. "Indian Australians". Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ Imagens, Factos, Notícias, Informações e História sobra Goa India. SuperGoa. Retrieved on 2012-11-19.
  9. ^ [1]. Retrieved on 2012-03-13.
  10. ^ "CSO Emigration". Census Office Ireland. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  11. ^ a b राजभाषा. Rajbhasha.nic.in. Retrieved on 2012-11-19.
  12. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/hindi-not-a-national-language-court/article94695.ece
  13. ^ http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2010-01-25/india/28148512_1_national-language-official-language-hindi
  14. ^ "Ethnic India: A Genomic View, With Special Reference to Peopling and Structure". Genome.cshlp.org. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  15. ^ 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. 
  16. ^ Nature. "Reconstructing Indian population history : Abstract". Nature. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  17. ^ "Abstract/Presentation". Ichg2011.org. 12 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  18. ^ Priya Moorjani , Kumarasamy Thangaraj , Nick Patterson, Mark Lipson, Po-Ru Loh, Periyasamy Govindaraj, Bonnie Berger, David Reich, Lalji Singh (August 8, 2013). "Genetic Evidence for Recent Population Mixture in India". The American Journal of Human Genetics. pp. http://www.cell.com/AJHG/abstract/S0002–9297(13)00324–8. Retrieved 10 August 2013 
  19. ^ "Population admixture happened in India for 2,300 years". The Hindu. August 9, 2013. Retrieved August 10, 2013. 
  20. ^ SIL International. "Ethnologue report for Language Isolate". Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  21. ^ Kumar, Jayant. Census of India. 2001. 4 September 2006. Indian Census
  22. ^ Mark Kobayashi-Hillary Outsourcing to India, Springer, 2004 ISBN 3-540-20855-0 p.8
  23. ^ Nikki Stafford Finding Lost, ECW Press, 2006 ISBN 1-55022-743-2 p. 174
  24. ^ a b "45". What Is Hinduism?: Modern Adventures Into a Profound Global Faith. Himalayan Academy Publications. 2007. p. 359. ISBN 1-934145-00-9. 
  25. ^ "Non Resident Nepali – Speeches". Nrn.org.np. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  26. ^ "BBCVietnamese.com". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  27. ^ "Religions of the world: numbers of adherents; growth rates". Religioustolerance.org. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  28. ^ "Religions Muslim" (PDF). Registrat General and Census Commissioner, India. Archived from the original on 23 May 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-01. 
  29. ^ "Census of India – India at a Glance : Religious Compositions". Censusindia.gov.in. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  30. ^ Francis Buchanan, Indian Census Record, 1883
  31. ^ BBC, Religion and ethics, Hinduism[dead link]
  32. ^ "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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