An Analysis of the Culture of India [Essay]

An Analysis of the Culture of India

Richard X. Thripp

Daytona State College

For Dr. Natalie D. Rooney

EDF 2085 Introduction to Diversity for Educators

Culture Paper, 15%

Sunday, 2011 February 6

Final First Draft


The culture of India is very unique and goes back thousands of years. In this essay, I will focus only on modern India, particularly on Mohandus K. Gandhi’s influence on the formation of the 20th century Indian government and culture, but also on religion and language. However, I will be ignoring movies, music, and postsecondary education.

Additionally, I will list major American institutions, advice for Indian American parents and children immigrating to the United States, academic citations, and personal commentary.

Finally, I will include a lot of relevant metrics, subjective summarizations, and statistics.

Note: I did not use proper A.P.A. style or proper citations in this paper.

India has both a rich cultural history spanning multiple millenniums, and is the 2nd most populated country on earth with a population of 1,155 million (C1), trailing China’s population of 1,331 million but leading the 3rd most populated country on earth by a whopping 275% — the United States, which has 308 million people. (All statistics as of 2009.)

However, many people in India are very poor and under-nourished, lacking proper food, water, shelter, infrastructure, education, and job opportunities. Despite this, many world leaders and scientists hail from India, and extrapolating the previous 90 years over the remaining 90 years of the 21st century, it is safe to say that India and China will surpass the United States in planetary dominance. The Indian people are some of the most hard-working and resolved people in the world, much like the Americans were in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

On 1869 October 2, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in Porbander in modern-day Gujarat, where his father served in the Indian government under the rule of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (now the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as of 1927 and commonly known as the U.K.), of which the Indian portion was called the British Indian Empire (commonly known as the British Raj). Gandhi married at 13, had a son at 19, and left for London to pursue a law degree several months later. After enrolling in the High Court of London in 1891, he dropped out and went back to India. (

After failing his law practice, Gandhi spent 22 years in South Africa, where he declared himself a seeker of truth attained by love and celibacy. He also invented the term satyagraha to mean non-violent resistance, and he wrote a short treatise called “Indian Home Rule” subtly denouncing the United Kingdom, industrialization, and contemporary technology in general.

Gandhi’s first political campaign in India spanned 1915 to 1922, when he earned the title of Mahatma meaning “Great Soul” for initiating a movement of peaceful, non-violent, non-cooperation with the British government, which wielded great power but inferior numbers. When a large crowd killed many Indian policemen at Chauri Chaura in the United Provinces in February of 1922, Gandhi was arrested, convicted of sedition, and sentenced to six years by the British Raj, despite delivering a powerful self-defense and indictment of Great Britain at his trial.

Gandhi was released three years early due to poor health, after fasting three weeks in 1924 to stop Hindu-Muslim riots at Kohat. In 1932, he began his Fast unto Death to destroy the caste system which prevented people of the untouchable caste from marrying, doing business with, or associating with anyone outside their caste, and vice-versa. He also wanted the government to do away with separate electorates for the untouchables and the other castes, which angered Ambedkar, the leader of the untouchables.

Before surviving his fast, Gandhi broke the salt laws in 1930, by marching to the sea with his followers from March 12 to April 5, and, upon completing the 240 mile march to Dandi, collecting natural salt from the Arabian Sea as a symbolic act of resistance to the British Raj—specifically, the British monopoly on the production and sale of salt. Britain arrested Gandhi and thousands of other Indians, but it was at this point that the government relented and agreed to hold a Round Table Conference in London with Gandhi to discuss liberating India. The negotiations led nowhere, and upon Gandhi’s return to India, he was arrested again.

Prior to the Salt Satyagraha, the Indian National Congress further angered Great Britain by raising their saffron-white-green tricolor flag and issuing the following Purna Swaraj (Declaration of Independence) at midnight on 1929 December 31:

We believe that it is the inalienable right of the Indian people, as of any other people, to have freedom and to enjoy the fruits of their toil and have the necessities of life, so that they may have full opportunities of growth. We believe also that if any government deprives a people of these rights and oppresses them the people have a further right to alter it or abolish it. The British government in India has not only deprived the Indian people of their freedom but has based itself on the exploitation of the masses, and has ruined India economically, politically, culturally and spiritually. We believe therefore, that India must sever the British connection and attain Purna Swaraj or complete independence.”

In his mid-60s in the mid-1930s, Gandhi established homestead in a remote village called Segaon (now Sevagram) with no power or water in the very center of India, refusing to return to Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad under a non-sovereign India. When Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Great Britain wanted to drag India into the war, but Gandhi correctly identified the hypocrisy in the U.K. claiming to fight a war for democracy while attempting to maintain dictatorial control over India. It was at this point that he launched his “Do or Die” and “Quit India” campaigns, the former being a message to the Indian people and the latter being a message to the British Empire, which ultimately succeeded with the Indian Independence Act of 1947, effective 1947 August 15. However, Gandhi considered himself a Hindu, Muslim, and Christian, not considering divergent religions to be mutually exclusive and wanting India to remain unpartitioned. This did not succeed, and India was divided into the sovereign states of the Dominion of Pakistan on 1947 August 14 (now Pakistan and Bangladesh) and the secular Union of India on 1947 August 15 (now the Republic of India), mainly to separate the Muslims from the Hindus and Sikhs. Immediately following the partition, 7.226 million Muslims fled India into Pakistan and 7.249 Hindus and Sikhs fled Pakistan into India to avoid being religious minorities.

While there have been many skirmishes fought between India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Burma (now known as Myanmar and in perpetual martial law since 1962), there can be no doubt that Mahatma Gandhi had a major influence on the liberation of India and was overall a positive force in the world and one of the principle contributors to modern Indian culture. His writing, newspapers, philosophy, demonstrations, and particularly his autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, and his quote, “be the change you want to see in the world” will be remembered for centuries to come.

The Volusia County statistics on FedStats only include Whites, Blacks, American Indian and Alaska Natives, Asians, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders, and Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin. There are no statistics for Indian Americans. The U.S. Census Bureau reported on July 1, 1999 that the State of Florida contains an estimated 60,358 people of American Indian and Alaska Native origin, but it is unclear if this includes Indian Americans. Both the United States and Florida governments provide no information with regard to Indian Americans, because they recognize only the aforementioned six races. Notably, searching Google for “Indian American” without quotation marks returns only results regarding American Indians (Native Americans) on the first page. However, the Embassy of India in Washington, D.C. considers a Non-resident Indian (NRI) or Person of Indian Origin (PIO) to be anyone who has left India up to four generations removed. The Embassy says there are over 24 million such people, with 2,765,815 residing in the United States as of 2008.

A child immigrating from India would have to learn the English language and place a lesser focus on academics and memorization to thrive in the typical, interdisciplinary American classroom which includes recess, physical education, fewer students, mathematical calculators, and more artistic and creative assignments. While Indians and Asians are known for their strong work ethic and high intellectual intelligence, they may lack the emotional intelligence of their American peers. However, as with any skill, this can be learned or compensated for.

To accommodate Indian Americans, principals should hire more teachers who know Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya, Punjabi, and other widely-spoken Indian languages. Similarly, the federal or state governments should provide grants or matching funds to purchase computerized translation devices or hire interpreters for Indian American students. At the same time, Indian American parents should make a concerted effort to learn American English fluently so they can communicate multi-linguistically with their children.

Finally, Indian Americans should be educated about United States heritage and history including the Constitution, our founding fathers, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, our conquest of the central North American continent, Alaska, Hawaii, Pearl Harbor, the atomic bomb, the September 11th attacks, the presidents, executive orders, the Supreme Court, Congress, the IRS, CIA, FBI, DHS, and TSA, state sovereignty, federal holidays, the U.S. Postal Service, baseball, apple pie, Puritanism, Protestantism and Catholicism as contrasted with Hinduism, Islam, and other religions in India, our relationship with Israel, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, OPEC, the European Union, and other governments, our status as a global economic and military power, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon, the Federal Reserve System, Harvard University, New York City, San Fransisco, Atlanta, Daytona Beach, the de-industrialization of the United States in the late 20th century, our dependence on China, and our contributions to all major fields of study including, but not limited to, the arts, music, sciences, medicine, pharmacology, military science, political science, and environmentalism. Particularly with the rise of not only the Internet, cell phones, Google, and Facebook, we live in a global, virtually interconnected world which facilitates the bidirectional sharing of information between nations, institutions, and individuals in multiple formats on a historically unprecedented scale.


C1: Population of India: 1,155,347,678 as of 2009 according to the World Bank’s Book of World Development Indicators.

C2: Volusia County MapStats from FedStats:

C3: Paragraph 7 of the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2003:

C4: 2000 U.S. Census: States Ranked by American Indian and Alaska Native Population, July 1, 1999:

C5: The Constitution of India, Revised 2008 July 29:



I decided to write my cultural paper about the people and government of India, including Indian Americans and with a major focus on the contributions of Mohandas Gandhi to Indian and global culture, independence, and philosophy. I haven’t learned APA style and I didn’t rewrite my essay or use citations, nor did I start it until 8pm before it was due, but I think it’s pretty good that I wrote a 2000 word essay in under 3 hours that doesn’t feel like (in my opinion), a bore to read.

You can find the full text of my paper here:

I think it’s very important for even elementary school teachers to have broad-spectrum knowledge of every major discipline, language, people, and culture, even if they never achieve mastery in any of them. Only then can they seamlessly flow from one topic to the next and present a complete picture of the world to their students in a way that is fascinating and inoffensive.

How to Ace a Daytona State Online Exam

I learned some tricks when I took my human nutrition course (HUN1201) online last fall. The college offers many courses online through a program called Florida Online, which was previously Virtual College.

They use Desire2Learn Learning Environment for their online classes and tests. With the exception of finals, teachers create their own tests, usually with multiple-choice answers, but sometimes essays or fill-in-the-blanks. The latter is harder for most students, but also harder for the teacher to grade, so you don’t see it often.

The time limits vary quite widely. My teacher, Myra Vergani, had six tests, with 50 multiple choice questions each, and a limit of 45 minutes on each one. This means you have to work quickly. You can cheat as much as you want through Google or by looking things up in the book, but unless you have a good system you won’t get to the information fast enough.

The answers for all the test questions are in the book, often worded exactly the same. There is no answer list in the book because the teacher makes the tests. The questions are jumbled up to discourage cheating. The surefire way to get an A is to know the material by rote so answering the questions is no problem. This would take about 10 hours of studying for each test in human nutrition. I spent about 2 hours studying and consistently got A’s. My study area looked like this:

1. An index of the chapter is open in a text file.
2. Google is open in one window for fast searching.
3. The encyclopedic CD that came with the book is open in another window.
4. The book is in my lap.

First, let’s give some background info. You need a fast Internet connection. Any time spent waiting for web pages is time wasted. Get DSL before you start the semester. I use it; it’s $20 through AT&T around Daytona Beach. Brighthouse Internet is even better because it’s faster, but it’s really not necessary.

You also need a good computer. Windows XP or Vista is fine, but if you’ve been having problems with it crashing, use another computer. Go to the Academic Support Center at the college (building 500). They have plenty of computers that you can take your tests on. If you’re on a home computer, restart, then close all the programs that run on the system tray or in the background before beginning the exam. I don’t know what would happen if you lost power or your computer burned up during the test. You might be able to ask your instructor to re-take it, but it’s better to avoid the situation to start with.

I recommend Mozilla Firefox over Internet Explorer, for it’s find command (Ctrl + F). Internet Explorer’s in-text searching is hard to use, but with Firefox it jumps right to the text, you can highlight all instances, and there’s no clunky dialog box to get in the way; just a toolbar at the bottom of the screen. The college computers have v0.93, which is really old but works. You can download Portable Firefox and run it from a flash drive on the school computers if you want the newer version. I’ve tested this and it works.

Next, you have to submit the test before the time is up. I thought it would shut off automatically, but what happens is the test goes into “overtime” and you start losing points. I did this once and just for being a few seconds over I lost 2 points. I don’t know how quickly your test score goes down, but you want to avoid it to begin with by submitting early. When the test timer on the page says “> 1 minute,” scroll down and click “Submit” immediately.

Okay. Let’s start with the second point. Google is open so you can look up the definitions for stuff like aneurysm, aorta, and platelets real quick. Wikipedia will often be the top result, and I recommend using it. Even if misinformation makes you get 2 questions wrong, it’s only 4 points off a 50-question test and it’s worth it for the encyclopedia’s clarity.

Point 4. The book is in your lap so you can check things in it quickly. This isn’t useful without the index (coming up).

Point 3. My human nutrition book had a CD with a small nutritional encyclopedia on it, which you could load up in your web browser. I kept this open and used Firefox’s find command to search for definitions of words mentioned in test questions. It’s often a better resource than Google, because the definitions match the wording of the book, which matches the teacher’s wording in the text.

I’ve saved point 1 for last, as it’s the most important. Create an index of the test chapter in a text file on your computer. Even Notepad will work fine, but I like metapad because if you’re at the bottom of a file, it will ask you if you want to start searching from the top when you use it’s find command. The index should have the page numbers of everything in the chapter you think will be important. Don’t write a novel. You’re going to use this index to look things up in the book. Even in a 45 minute test with 50 questions, there’s enough time if you look quickly.

Let me show you the index I made for the last test in my human nutrition course:

394: Nutrition and Immunity
395: Lead causes of death chart
396: defs: AIDS, risk factors, protein-energy malnutrition
397: Degenerative diseases and diet risk factors
398-399: defs: artherosclerosis, plaques, macrophages, cardivascular diseases, warning signs
400: defs: aneurysm, aorta, platelets, thrombus, thrombosis, embolus, heart attack, stroke
401: heart disease and cardiovascular disease risk factors
402: hypertension, diabetes, blood lipids chart
403: heart disease risk chart
404-405: more risk factors, atherogenic diet = lots of LDL cholesterol, saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol; def: metabolic syndrome
406-407: risk factors and good foods to eat to avoid heart disease; stats on college students drinking, alcohol and CVD
408: more dietary factors that prevent CVD, nutrition and hypertension info
409: defs: systolic, diastolic
410-411: DASH eating plan, hypertension and nutrition, blood pressure annotated image
412-413: nutrition and cancer, def: cancer, chart of cancer risk factors
414-415: all about herbal medicines and alternative therapies
416-421: lots about cancer, foods to eat, foods to avoid, etc. defs: 416: carcinogen, initiation, carcinogenesis, promoters, metastasis; 417: caloric effect; 418: acrylamide; 420: anticarcinogens, cruciferous vegetables
421-422, 424: diet as a preventative medicine, tips
423: chart of foods to lower disease risks
426-431: controversy 11: the obesity epidemic
482: defs: fetus, embryo, fertility, low birthweight (less than 5.5 pounds), uterus, placenta, gestation, amniotic
483: about the placenta
484: events of pregnancy, defs: lactation, ovum, zygote, implantation, trimester, crticial period
485: nutrition and pregnancy
486: chart of nutrient recommendations
487: sample meal plan
488: defs: neural tube, neural tube defect (NTD), anencephaly, spina bigida; about spina bifida
489: good folate sources, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc in pregnancy
490: defs: cesarean, prenatal, Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, And Children (WIC)
491: weight gain in pregnancy
492: physical activity for pregnant woman
493: teen pregnancy, cravings
494: relieving discomforts of pregnancy
495: smoking, medicinal drugs, herbal supplements, street drugs, and environmental contaminents for pregnant women, def: environmental tobacco smoke (ETS)
496: more: foodborne illness, vitamin-mineral megadoses, dieting, sugar substitues, caffeine; def: listeriosis (with a list of foods to avoid and good practices)
497: Drinking during pregnancy; defs: apgar score, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), alcohold-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND), alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD)
498-499: fetal alcohol syndrome symptoms; defs: gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, edema
500-506: all about lactation; defs: 500: certified lactation consultant; 505: alpha-lactalbumin, lactoferrin; 506: colostrum
507: formula feeding; def: hypoallergenic formulas
508: formula’s advertising advantage
509: solid foods for infants, chart of development
510-511: foods to avoid, meal plan, def: milk anemia
512: nursing bottle syndrome
514-518: controversy 13: childhood diabetes and obesity
520: bar graph of children with bad diets
521: weight gain in infants and toddlers
522: dieting concerns: iron-rich foods, vitamins, minerals, fat, etc.
523: children’s food pyramid
524-525: meals and snacks, food skills of preschoolders
526: danger of lead
527: food alergies, preventing lead poisoning, def: allergy
528: managing food alergies; defs: antigen, antibodies, histamine, anaphylactic shock, epinephrine
529: Diet and hyperactivity; defs: food intolerance, food aversion, hyperactivity, learning disability
530: childhood obesity, the problem of inactivity, lifestyle choices to prevent obesity
531: dental cavities (caries), how to avoid them, food list
532: nourishment of school lunches
533: school lunches for different ages, teen years
534: iron in adolescence, bone growth; defs: growth spurt, epiphyseal
535: body changes of adolescence, bar graph of increasing soft drink consumption; def: premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
536: Bar graphs of milk consumption in girls and daily physical education classes, acne and eating patterns; defs: acne, gatekeeper
537: nutrition and PMS
538: later years, planning for ages; defs: life expectancy, life span, longevity
539: physical changes of aging: digestive tract, hormones, mouth, sensory organs, body composition
540-541: protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and fats in old age; def: arthritis
542-543: vitamins, water, and minerals in old age; def: cataracts
544: summary chart of nutrient concerns in old age, unavoidable changes, maximum life span of rats, spiders, and protozoans
545: Alzheimer’s Disease and nutrition; def: senile dementia
546: List of possible links between nutrition and Alzheimer’s Disease
547: List of DETERMINE (acronym) predictors of malnutrition in the elderly
548: Checklist for nutrition in older Americans
548-550: Single Survival and Nutrition on the Run
550: Convenience foods tips
552-558: Controversy 14: nutrient-drug interactions

It looks like a lot of work, but it’s a lot less work than learning the material thoroughly, and it’s more fun too. In fact, as you’re skimming through the book to write this index, you’ll probably learn more than you would by just reading the chapter outright.

To look up stuff in the index, use your text editor’s find command. So when I didn’t remember what the textbook said about diabetes, I searched “diabetes,” saw that it was on page 402, flipped to that page in the book, found the answer, and clicked the right box on the online test.

I don’t recommend using the book’s index, because you can’t search the text like on the computer. It’s fine for tests without strict time limits, but too slow to use otherwise.

My first idea was to scan in the whole chapter with a scanner, use optical character-recognition software to convert it to text, export it to a Microsoft Word document, and search that to find answers. This is fine in theory, but when you have a chapter that’s 70 pages, it’s just too much. I doubt it would work too well either. It’s tedious and boring. The whole point of avoiding learning is to avoid tedium. It just isn’t a good solution. Making an index is much better.

Another thing that helps is to have 2 monitors instead of 1. I have a special video card (~$60) to do this. I kept the text file open on the right monitor, and the test open on the left, with Firefox tabs open for Google and the CD encyclopedia. When I move my mouse to the edge of the screen, the arrow jumps over to the other. This makes work a lot quicker, once you’re accustomed to it.

I haven’t taken a math course online, but it’s a good idea because then you won’t have to memorize all the formulas in algebra, trigonometry, precalculus, and onward. You could just have them printed out in front of you. Also, take advantage of equation calculators, which can often solve an equation and show you all the steps to get to the solution. Here’s a Google Search query for equation calculators.

I wish you good luck with all your online tests! Keep learning.