country report: India – culture

by admin on September 1, 2010

GHD Lab Spring 2011

Country briefing

Emily Edwards, Ozge Karanfil, Alicia Pichard, Julia Stark

Section 3: History, culture, society, politics, education

  • Overview of the nation’s history and recent events
  • Music, food, and other aspects of its culture
  • Recent changes in country’s culture
  • Ethnic groups, languages
  • How social factors may affect health issues
  • Must answer: What is the impact of culture on enterprises’ roles in delivering health care?

Section 3: History, culture, society, politics, education. 3

1-Overview of the nation’s history and recent events. 3

Hyderabad-Overview of History and Recent Events: 3

2-Music, food, and other aspects of its culture. 4

Music: 4

Food: 4

Music, Food and Culture in Hyderabad: 5

3- Recent changes in country’s culture. 5

4- Ethnic groups, languages. 6

Ethnic Groups: 6

Languages: 6

Religion: 7

Languages and Religion in Hyderabad: 7

5- How social factors may affect health issues. 7

Water. 7

Traditional verse “Westernized” Healthcare. 7

6- Must answer: What is the impact of culture on enterprises’ roles in delivering health care?. 8

Works Cited. 9

Section 3: History, culture, society, politics, education

1-Overview of the nation’s history and recent events

India is home to one of the richest and the most ancient civilizations in the world originating around 5,000 years ago in Indus River Valley.  Historically, India has been referred to as the ‘Indus Valley civilization, Bharat, or Hindustan’.  It is the world’s second most populated country after China, accounting for 17% of the world’s population.

India is a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic with a Parliamentary system of government. As a federal system, India’s system of government is divided by constitutional right between national and local units of government in regions which means that India is divided into 28 states and 7 union territories.   The nation governed in accordance to the Constitution adopted by the Constituent Assembly which provides detailed lists dividing up legislative powers between central and state governments. The residual powers of legislation of the Union remain with the central government or the Parliament.

India was a dominion under the British colonial rule for a period of over 200 years till 1947. After years of struggle, India gined independence on August 15, 1947 under the leadership of the non- violent revolutionary advocate Mohandas Karam Chand (Mahatma) Gandhi, popularly referred to as the “Father of the Nation”. The Indian constitution, the world’s lengthiest constitution was passed by the Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949 and came into force on 26th January 1950. The Constitution created a Sovereign Democratic Republic which was officially named ‘Bharat’ (in National language Hindi, after the legendary king of the Epic Mahabharata) or India, a Union of different states (Suni Systems , 2000).

Following independence, India pursued a policy of planned economic development until the early 1990s, when it shifted to structural adjustment policies and liberalization. Subsequently, the Indian economy grew at a fast rate though concerns on equity and poverty persist. The country has recently become one of the world’s fastest growing economies with an average growth rate of 8% over the past three years. It has emerged as a global player in several areas, including information technology, business process outsourcing, telecommunications, and pharmaceuticals (World Health Organization, 2006).

Hyderabad-Overview of History and Recent Events:

On 1 November 1956, the states of India were reorganized on linguistic grounds, where territories of the State of Hyderabad were divided between newly created Andhra Pradesh, Bombay state (later Maharashtra), and Karnataka. The Telugu speaking area of Hyderabad state, also known as Telangana, was merged with the Telugu speaking state of Andhra state to create Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad became the capital city of the new state of Andhra Pradesh.

Since liberalization in the 1990s, Hyderabad city has become one of the major hubs of the IT industry. The growth in the IT sector and opening of Rajiv Gandhi International Airport attracted activity in other economic sectors like real estate in the 2000s. However, the Global financial crisis of 2008–2009 has had a significant impact on construction activity (Wikipedia, 2011).

2-Music, food, and other aspects of its culture


The music of India is said to be one of the oldest unbroken musical traditions in the world and includes multiple varieties of folk, popular, pop, classical music, and rhythm and blues. It is said that musical origins go back to the Vedas (ancient scripts of the Hindus).  Many different legends have grown up concerning the origins and development of Indian classical music.  Such legends go a long way in showing the importance that music has in defining Indian culture.

The word music in India means ‘Sangeeta’, which is a combination of three artforms: vocal music, instrumental music and dance.  Many musical instruments are special to India.  The most famous are the sitar and tabla.  (Courtney, 2011)  The present system of Indian classical music has two major characteristics:  The raga and the tala.  Rag is the melodic form while tal is the rhythmic, or the pulse of Indian music. The melody deals with the rise and fall of sounds and the latter deals with the pattern of time beats of Ragas.


Indian food reflects a perfect blend of various cultures and ages. Just like Indian culture, food in India has also been influenced by various civilizations, which have contributed their share in its overall development and the present form.

Foods of India are better known for its spiciness. Every single spice used in Indian dishes carries some or the other nutritional as well as medicinal properties. Correct use and blending of the aromatic spices is crucial to the proper preparation of Indian cuisine.  Oil is an important part of cooking, whether it’s mustard oil in the north or coconut oil in the south. Vegetables as well vary according to the different regions and the season. The vegetables are prepared according to the main dish or food that’s to be served with them.  It is not common for Indians to keep leftover food, if it is bought or made in one day it is consumed that same day (DesiGrub, 2010).

Music, Food and Culture in Hyderabad:

Historically, Hyderabad has been the city where distinct cultural and linguistic traditions of North India and South India meet. Hyderabadis, as residents of the city are known, have developed a distinctive culture which is a mixture of Hindu and Muslim traditions. A typical Hyderabadi could be either a Telugu or an Urdu-speaking person that has decided to make Hyderabad his/her home.

Women of all cultures and faiths in Hyderabad typically wear either the traditional Indian dress, the sari, or the Salwar kameez especially among the younger population. The traditional Hyderabadi garb for females is the Khara Dupatta, the Salwar kameez and the Burqa (religious). For males the traditional garb is the Sherwani. This is one of the more visible cultural attributes of Hyderabad.

Hyderabadi cuisine is a blend of traditional South Indian, Mughal, and Persian cuisine. Hyderabadi Biryani is an iconic dish of the region. Other native preparations include Qubani ka meetha, Double ka meetha, Phirni, Nahari Kulche also known as paya and Haleem (a meat dish traditionally eaten during the holy month of Ramadan), Kaddu Ki Kheer (a sweet porridge made with sweet gourd), Sheer Qorma (a sweet liquid dish cooked with vermicelli and milk), Mirchi ka saalan, etc.

Hyderabadi sweets are known for their ghee-based items. Famous sweet shops include the traditionally made. G.Pulla Reddy, Hammedi Confectioners,Rami Reddy sweets and Karachi Bakery are the famous Pure Ghee Sweet Multi location chain in Hyderabad. Widely found on street-corners are Irani café‘s that offer Irani chai, Irani samosa and Osmania biscuit.

Italian, Mexican, Chinese and Continental cuisine are all popular in the city along with typical Andhra and other South Indian cuisine. Pubs are also getting popular in Hyderabad (Wikipedia, 2011).

3- Recent changes in country’s culture

Like other developing countries, India has undergone rapid urbanization over the past fifty years. As per the 2001 Census (Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, 2001), 28 percent of the population of India was living in urban areas. From 1951 to 2001, India’s urban population grew almost fivefold, from around 62 million in 1951 to around 286 million in 2001 (Figure below). After China, India has the largest urban population in the world, and the urban population in India is expected to increase to more than 550 million by 2030.

(International Institute for Population Sciences, 200)

According to a study conducted by Bostonanalytics, “the expansion of India’s economy has greatly affected the lives of its citizens. Higher levels of work-related stress, increasing time constraints, and more sedentary lifestyles have increased Indians’ consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and fast foods/prepared foods. This behavior, combined with higher levels of pollution, has led to an increase in obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. At the same time, however, one would also suspect that more money and attention is being paid towards healthcare.” (bostonanalytics, Report Highlights January 2009)

4- Ethnic groups, languages

Ethnic Groups:

Within India, there are several dozen ethnic groups, each with a unique culture, language, and traditions. The main ethnic groups are: Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, Mongoloid and other 3% (Central Intelligence Agency, 2011).

Indian people are also categorized into tribes, or Adivasis.  According to Subramanian, Adivasis refers to “people living in tribal communities characterized by distinctive social, cultural, historical, and geographical circumstances…. They are often considered to be tribal people in the sense that they belong to small-scale pre-industrial societies that live in comparative isolation and manage their own affairs without the centralized authority of a state.’’ (Subramanian, Smith, & Subramanyam, 2006).  These groups are also often referred to as ‘Indigenous’ groups.


There are two national languages in India: English and Hindi.  English is the most important language for national, political and commercial communication where as Hindi is the most widely spoken language.  41% of people speak Hindi as their first language.  In addition to English and Hindi, there are 14 other official languages: Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Sanskrit (Central Intelligence Agency, 2011).


Several religions originated India: Hinduism (Hindu), Buddism, Zoroastrianism, and Jainism. Based on the 2001 census, major religions are Hindu 80.5%, Muslim 13.4%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, and other 1.8% (Central Intelligence Agency, 2011).

Languages and Religion in Hyderabad:

The faith of the people in Hyderbad differs slightly than those throughout India.  In Hyderabad 55.4% are Hindu, 41.17% are Muslim, and 2.13% are Christian.  Religion is present is the city via temples, mosques, and churches. Muslims have greater presence in Hyderabad than most of India.  They are especially present in and around Old City.

In Hyderbad, Telugu and Urdu are the primary spoken languages however English is also widely spoken. (Wikipedia, 2011).

5- How social factors may affect health issues


Contaminated water is a real problem for the Indian population.  Many cities only have running water a few hours of the day.  Additionally, in 2003, only 30% of India’s wastewater was being treated.  Any remaining waste water flowed freeing into rivers and groundwater.  Making this even worse, open defecation is common in urban areas.  As a result of these unsanitary conditions, The World Health Organization estimates that 700,000 Indians die each year from diarrhea (Wikipedia, 2011).

Traditional versus “Westernized” Healthcare

Another important factor which impacts health in India is its various healthcare practices.  Traditional healthcare practices, which trace back almost 3500 years to indigenous or traditional medical practitioners, continued to be practiced in India today.  The two primary forms are the ayurvedic system and the unani (or Galenic) system.  The Ayurvedic system deals with mental, spiritual and physical well-being whereas the Unani system is focused on herbal medical practice. These traditional medical practices are pasted down from generation to generation (Wikipedia, 2011).  Indians often seek treatment from traditional sources rather than hospitals or private practices however this is beginning to change.  The middle and upper class are beginning to use “Westernized” practices such as exercising, diets, and westernized medicine.  However, as the global economy reshapes industry in India, lifestyles have been impacted and the Indian population is beginning to face more chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease (bostonanalytics, Report Highlights January 2009).

6- Must answer: What is the impact of culture on enterprises’ roles in delivering health care?

There are many aspects of culture that impact enterprises roles in delivering health care.  One major challenge is that discussed in the section entitled “Traditional versus Westernized Healthcare”.  In order to provide westernized services, enterprises must educate the population on why these services are superior to traditional services.

Another tradition which challenges enterprises is the tradition that a pregnant women’s mother pays the costs associated with the delivery of herfirst child.  As a result, the grandmother-to-be greatly influences whether the child will be boarding in a private hospital, private hospital, or using a midwife (Johar, 2010).

Yet another issue is the stigma associated with catering to low-income families.  If a hospital caters to low-income families, mid-income families are likely to believe the hospital provides a lower quality of care (Johar, 2010).  As a result, if an enterprise wants to cater to both the lower, middle, and upper class, they must overcome thesebarriers.

Works Cited

Bostonanalytics. (Report Highlights January 2009). Healtchare in India.

Central Intelligence Agency. (2011). Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved February 13, 2011, from The World Factbook:

Central Intelligence Agency. (2011). Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved February 13, 2011, from The World Factbook South Asia: India:

Courtney, D. (2011, January 24). Overview of Indian Classic Music. Retrieved February 13, 2011, from

DesiGrub. (2010). Your Guide to Indian Food. Retrieved February 13, 2011, from

International Institute for Population Sciences. (2000). National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) India 2005-2006.

Johar, G. (2010). LifeSpring Hospitals. Columbia CasWroks.

Subramanian, S., Smith, G. D., & Subramanyam, M. (2006, October 24). PLoS Medicine. Retrieved February 13, 2011, from Indigenous Health and Socioeconomic Status in India:

Suni Systems . (2000). India Government. Retrieved February 10, 2010, from

Wikipedia. (2011, February 13). Wikipedia. Retrieved February 13, 2011, from Hyderabad, India:,_India

Wikipedia. (2011, February 11). Wikipedia. Retrieved February 13, 2011, from Religion in India:

Wikipedia. (2011, February 9). Wikipedia. Retrieved February 13, 2011, from Healthcare in India:

World Health Organization. (2006). Country Cooperation Strategy at a Glance, India.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: