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    All-India Muslim League (Muslim League)
    Founded in 1906 in Dacca (Dhaka), in what then was the province of Eastern Bengal and Assam, by Muslim representatives from throughout India and Burma as a counterpoise to the Indian National Congress (q.v.).

    Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
    Founded in 1967 for the purpose of promoting regional stability, economic development, and cultural exchange. ASEAN's membership includes Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. India is a "dialogue partner" along with Austria, Canada, China, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Russia, and the United States.

    Backward Classes
    Citizens of India otherwise defined as members of Scheduled Castes (q.v.), Scheduled Tribes (q.v.), and other low-ranking and disadvantaged groups (sometimes referred to as Other Backward Classes). Discrimination against the Backward Classes is prohibited by Article 15 of the Indian constitution. The Backward Classes reportedly constitute an estimated 52 percent of India's population. The Mandal Commission (q.v.) identified 3,743 Backward Classes.

    From the Sanskrit brahmana, one of four major caste groups (varna) or social classes. Brahmans are the highest caste group, traditionally made up of priests, philosophers, scholars, and religious leaders. Not to be confused with brahman (q.v., the Absolute Reality).

    The Absolute Reality, the eternal, supreme, or ultimate principle. A state of pure transcendence. In some Vedantic schools of Hindu thought, a Supreme Being who is the cause of the universe, with theistic attributes. Not to be confused with Brahman (q.v., the priestly caste group).

    British Raj (1858-1947)
    The period of direct rule of India by the British government. The period began with the demise of the Mughal Empire and of East India Company rule and ended with the achievement of independence by India and Pakistan. During this time, the British crown was represented in India by a viceroy.

    Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic and Social Development in Asia and the Pacific (Colombo Plan)
    Founded in 1950 to coordinate and aid development among newly independent countries. Members include nations throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Donor countries include Australia, Britain, Canada, India, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States. The headquarters are in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

    See Indian National Congress.

    A unit of measure equal to 10 million (or 100 lakh, q.v.).

    Sanskrit word meaning burst, split, broken, crushed, or destroyed but, since the nineteenth century, often taken to mean downtrodden; used in reference to Untouchables (Harijans, q.v.), outcastes, Scheduled Castes (q.v.), and others living in a reduced social state.

    Literally, "the script of the city of the gods." Script used in the written forms of Hindi, Marathi, Nepali, Tibetan, Sanskrit, and in some forms of Konkani. In use in North India throughout the second millennium A.D.

    A divinely ordained code of proper conduct.

    fiscal year (FY)
    April 1 to March 31. The fiscal year from April 1, 1995 through March 31, 1996, for example, is designated FY 1995.

    Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
    A United Nations specialized agency established in 1945 to raise living standards and increase the availability of agricultural products.

    gross domestic product (GDP)
    A value measure of the flow of domestic goods and services produced by an economy over a period of time, such as a year. Only output values of goods for final consumption and intermediate production are assumed to be included in the final prices. GDP is sometimes aggregated and shown at market prices, meaning that indirect taxes and subsidies are included; when these indirect taxes and subsidies have been eliminated, the result is GDP at factor cost. The word gross indicates that deductions for depreciation of physical assets have not been made. See also gross national product.

    gross national product (GNP)
    Gross domestic product (q.v.) plus net income or loss stemming from transactions with foreign countries, including income received from abroad by residents and subtracting payments remitted abroad to nonresidents. GNP is the broadest measurement of the output of goods and services by an economy. It can be calculated at market prices, which include indirect taxes and subsidies. Because indirect taxes and subsidies are only transfer payments, GNP is often calculated at factor cost by removing indirect taxes and subsidies.

    Group of Fifteen (G-15)
    Group of Third World countries that participated in the Conference on International Economic Cooperation held in several sessions between December 1975 and June 1977. At the Ninth Nonaligned Movement Summit in Belgrade in May 1989, the G-15 was designated a "Summit Level Group of South-South Consultation and Cooperation" and charged with opening a dialogue with the industrialized nations, specifically the members of the Group of Seven (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain, and the United States). G-15 summits were held in Kuala Lumpur (June 1990), Caracas (November 1991), Dakar (November 1992), and New Delhi (March 1994). The group includes Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Senegal, Venezuela, Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

    In the Sikh faith, one of ten spiritual leaders and teachers, the first of whom was Nanak Dev, the last being Gobind Singh. In Hinduism, a religious teacher or guide.

    Term introduced by Mahatma Gandhi for Untouchables. Literal meaning is children of God. Militant members of this group prefer to be called Dalit (q.v.) in self-recognition of their historical oppression.

    In general use and lower-cased, imam means the leader of congregational prayers; as such it implies no ordination or special spiritual powers beyond sufficient education to carry out this function. Imam is also used figuratively by many Sunni (q.v.) Muslims to mean the leader of the Islamic community. Among Shia (q.v.) Muslims, the word is usually upper-cased and takes on many complex and controversial meanings; in general, however, it indicates that particular descendant of the House of Ali who is believed to have been God's designated repository of the spiritual authority inherent in that line. The identity of this individual and the means of ascertaining his identity have been the major issues causing divisions among Shias.

    Indian National Congress
    Founded in 1885; before and after 1947, popularly called Congress or the Congress. A major force in the independence movement, the Congress has been dominant in Parliament and formed governments from 1947 to 1977, 1980 to 1985, and 1991 to 1996. In 1969 the Congress split, and the ruling party under Indira Gandhi became known as Congress (R)--R for Requisition--while the faction opposed to her was called Congress (O)--O for Organisation. In 1978 she renamed her party Congress (I)--I for Indira. There also have been Congress (S)--S for Socialist or Secular--and Congress (U)--for Urs, named after its founder Devanaj Urs--splinter groups.

    International Monetary Fund (IMF)
    Established along with the World Bank (q.v.) in 1945, the IMF is a specialized agency affiliated with the United Nations and is responsible for stabilizing international exchange rates and payments. The main business of the IMF is the provision of loans to its members (including industrialized and developing countries) when they experience balance of payments difficulties. These loans frequently carry conditions that require substantial internal economic adjustments by the recipients, most of which are developing countries.

    Literally, birth group. Basic endogamous unit of the caste system. There are approximately 3,000 jatis in contemporary society. The word jati is also sometimes used for ethnic, religious, or linguistic groups.

    Literally, action. Spiritual merit or demerit that a being acquired in a previous incarnation and is acquiring in present existence.

    A unit of measure equal to 100,000. Also see crore (q.v.).

    Mandal Commission
    A government-appointed commission, officially the Second Backwards Classes Commission, chaired by former member of Parliament Bindhyeshwari Prasad Mandal from December 1978 to December 1980. Of the five members, four were from Backward Classes (q.v.) and one was from a Scheduled Caste (q.v.). The commission's controversial December 1980 report (the Mandal Commission Report of the Backward Classes Commission) called for reserving 27 percent of all services and public-sector undertakings under the central government and 27 percent of all admissions to institutions of higher education (except in states that have reserved higher percentages) for Backward Class members and Dalits (q.v.). In August 1990, Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh announced his support for the radical affirmative-action 1980 proposals. The First Backward Classes Commission existed from January 1950 to March 1955.

    Muslim League
    See All-India Muslim League.

    Nonaligned Movement
    Established in September 1961 with the aim of promoting the concept of political and military nonalignment (q.v.) apart from the traditional East and West blocs. India was among the original members. The Nonaligned Movement in 1995 included 107 members plus the Palestine Liberation Organization, twenty-one observer nations and organizations, and twenty-one "guest" nations.

    The ideological basis of Indian foreign policy, first articulated by Jawaharlal Nehru: refusal to align India with any bloc or alliance, peaceful settlement of international disputes, the Panch Shila (q.v.), anticolonialism, antiracism, and international cooperation to promote economic development.

    Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
    Established on September 14, 1960, with the aim of coordinating the members' petroleum policies and prices. Members include Algeria, Gabon, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

    Panch Shila
    Literally, five principles of foreign policy: mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual nonaggression, mutual noninterference in internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. The Panch Shila were enunciated by Jawaharlal Nehru in April 1954 in a trade agreement with China and adopted as a keystone of relations among nations at the Asian-African Conference (the Bandung Conference) held in Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955.

    A council of five or more. Found both in villages and in jatis (q.v.). Also refers to an administrative grouping of villages under constitutionally mandated elected councils.

    Honorific for erudite individual, sometimes taken as personal or family name. Various Brahmans (q.v.) (such as the family of Jawaharlal Nehru) were known as pandits. Sometimes transliterated as pundit.

    State in India (and a province in adjacent Pakistan). Term the Punjab usually refers to either the pre-1947 state of British India or the geographic region centered on the five major rivers, whence its name, panch ab, meaning five waters, or rivers.

    rupee (Rp; Rs--plural)
    Basic unit of currency consisting of 100 paise. From September 1949 to June 1966, the official value of the rupee was Rs4.76 per US$1. From June 1966 through mid-December 1971, the official value was Rs7.50 per US$1, and from mid-December 1971 to late June 1972, the value was Rs7.28 per US$1. Thereafter, the official value of the rupee as compared with the United States dollar began to fall, from Rs7.44 in 1971-72 to Rs 8.08 in 1979-80 to Rs12.24 in 1985-86 to Rs14.48 in 1988-89, Rs16.66 in 1989-90, Rs17.95 in 1990-91, Rs24.52 in 1991-92, and Rs26.41 in 1992-93. A dual exchange-rate system was established in March 1992, and, starting in March 1993, the exchange rate was reunified at the free-market rate. As of July 1996, US$1 was worth Rs35.67. Aluminum-magnesium, stainless steel, and cupro-nickel coins are minted at the Calcutta and Bombay mints for circulation in five, ten, twenty, twenty-five, and fifty paise and Rs1 and Rs2 denominations. Bank notes issued by the Reserve Bank of India are issued in denominations of Rs1, Rs2, Rs5, Rs10, Rs20, Rs50, Rs100, and Rs500.

    Method employed by Mahatma Gandhi and his followers to secure sociopolitical reform by nonviolent, passive resistance and noncooperation; the individual following the method is called a satyagrahi.

    Scheduled Areas
    Article 244 of the Indian constitution allows the government to compile a schedule (list) of areas of the country occupied by Scheduled Tribes (q.v.). The Sixth and Ninth Schedules of the constitution list the Scheduled Areas.

    Scheduled Castes
    Article 341 of the Indian constitution allows thegovernment to compile a schedule (list) of castes, races, or tribes or parts of groups within castes, races, or tribes that are economically and socially disadvantaged and are therefore entitled to protection and specified benefits under the constitution. Untouchables, also known as Harijans (q.v.) or Dalits (q.v.), constitute the bulk of Scheduled Castes. See also Scheduled Tribes (q.v.). The 1991 census tabulated 138 million Scheduled Caste members throughout India, representing about 16 percent of the total population. The largest numbers were in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. The schedule in the constitution does not list the Scheduled Castes by name.

    Scheduled Languages
    Article 351 of the Indian constitution allows the government to compile a schedule (list) of languages recognized by the government for use in state legislatures. The Eighth Schedule, written in 1950, lists Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. Sindhi was added to the schedule in 1967, and Konkani, Manipuri, and Nepali were added in 1992. Article 343 of the constitution designates Hindi written in Devanagari (q.v.) as the official language of India. Even though it was supposed to be phased out by 1965, English continues as India's other official language for use in Parliament, the Supreme Court, and the high courts unless otherwise authorized by the president.

    Scheduled Tribes
    Article 342 of the Indian constitution includes a schedule (list) of tribes or tribal communities that are economically and socially disadvantaged and are entitled to specified benefits. The tribes are listed in the Fifth Schedule. The 1991 census tabulated 67.8 million members of Scheduled Tribes throughout India, representing about 8 percent of the total population. The largest numbers are in Maharashtra, Orissa, and West Bengal. See also Scheduled Castes (q.v.).

    Shia (from Shiat Ali, the Party of Ali)
    A member of the smaller of the two great divisions of Islam. The Shia supported the claims of Ali and his line to presumptive right to the caliphate and leadership of the Muslim community, and on this issue they divided from the Sunnis (q.v.) in the major schism of Islam. Later schisms have produced further divisions among the Shia over the identity and number of imams (q.v.). Most Shia revere twelve Imams, the last of whom is believed to be hidden from view.

    South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
    Comprises the seven nations of South Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka; founded as the South Asia Regional Cooperation (SARC) organization at a meeting of foreign ministers in New Delhi on August 1-2, 1983. A second organizational meeting of foreign ministers was held in Thimphu in May 1985, followed by the inaugural meeting of heads of state and government in Dhaka on December 7-8, 1985. SAARC's goal is to effect economic, technical, and cultural cooperation and to provide a forum for discussions of South Asian political problems.

    Comes from suf, the Arabic word for "wool." The term derives from the practice of wearing a woolen robe, a sign of dedicating oneself to the mystical life, known in Islam as becoming a Sufi. Sufis seek mystical union with God and have been condemned by some Sunni (q.v.) legal schools.

    Comes from sunna, meaning "custom," with connotations of orthodoxy. One of the two great divisions of Islam, the Sunnis supported the traditional method of election to the caliphate and accepted the Umayyad line. On this issue, they divided from the Shia (q.v.) belief in the first great schism within Islam.

    Literally, of one's own country. A preindependence movement to further the use of Indian-made items, particularly cottage-industry products, such as hand-loomed cloth, and to oppose British-made goods.

    In addition to its use as an adjective--tribal land or tribal customs--the word is also used as a noun to describe a tribesperson, tribesman, or tribeswoman.

    Referring to jatis (q.v.) claiming membership in one of the three upper varnas (q.v.), that is, Brahman (q.v.), Kshatriya, and Vaishya. Male member's natural birth is followed by a sprititual rebirth in a rite involving investiture with a sacred thread.

    Literally, color. One of the four large caste groups (Brahman (q.v.) Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Sudra) from which most jatis (q.v.) are believed to derive.

    World Bank
    Informal name used to designate a group of four affiliated international institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The IBRD, established in 1945, has the primary purpose of providing loans at market-related rates of interest to developing countries at more advanced stages of development. The IDA, a legally separate loan fund but administered by the staff of the IBRD, was set up in 1960 to furnish credits to the poorest developing countries on much easier terms than those of conventional IBRD loans. The IFC, founded in 1956, supplements the activities of the IBRD through loans and assistance designed specifically to encourage the growth of productive private enterprises in the less-developed countries. The MIGA, founded in 1988, insures private foreign investment in developing countries against various noncommercial risks. The president and certain officers of the IBRD hold the same positions in the IFC. The four institutions are owned by the governments of the countries that subscribe their capital. To participate in the World Bank group, member states must first belong to the International Monetary Fund (q.v.).

    Landlord, but particularly the group of landlords and the zamindar system that emerged after the British Permanent Settlement (Landlease) Act of 1793. In essence, the former revenue collectors of the Mughal period (1526-1858) became landlords under the British.

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    NOTE: The information regarding India Religions on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress country studies. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Indian religions information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about religions in India should be addressed to The Library of Congress.

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Revised 8-Aug-03
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