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Hindustan is derived from the Modern Persian word Hindū. In Old Persian, the region beyond the Indus River was referred to as Hinduš (the Iranic equivalent of Sanskrit Sindhu), hence Modern Persian Hind, Hindū. This combined with the Iranic suffix -stān results in Hindustan, "land of the Hindus". By about 1st century BC, the term "Hein-tu" was used by Chinese, for referring to North Indian people. The term came into common use under the rule of the Mughals who referred to their dominion, centered on Delhi, as 'Hindustan'.
Further, it may pertain to numerous aspects belonging to three geographical areas: the modern Republic of India, the Indian subcontinent during medieval times, or a region in northern India, east and south of the Yamuna river, between the Vindhya mountains and the Himalayas where Hindustani language is spoken.
In modern Persian, Urdu and Hindi, Hindustan and its abbreviated version Hind usually refer to the current Republic of India. The abbreviated version appears in the common nationalist salutation of India, Jai Hind, coined by Major Abid Hasan Safrani of the Indian National Army as a shortened version of Jai Hindustan Ki (translation: Victory to India). It was popularized by Subhas Chandra Bose, who used it on Azad Hind Radio during the Indian independence movement. It appears in the revered song, Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon. Today, it is widely used as a salutation and a battle cry in the Indian Armed Forces. It is also commonly used to sign off at the end of major speeches.
Most formally, in the proper disciplines of Geography and History, Hindustan refers to the region of the upper and middle Ganges valley; Hindustan by this definition is the region located between (but not including) the distinct lands of Punjab in the northwest and Bengal in the north-east. So used, the term is not a synonym for terms "South Asia", "India", "Country of the Hindus" [sic], or of the modern-day Republic of India, variously interpreted.
In its current usage among Hindustani speakers in India, the term 'Hindustani' refers to an Indian, irrespective of religious affiliation. Among non-Hindustani speakers e.g. Bengali-speakers, "Hindustani" is sometimes used to describe persons who are from the upper Ganges.
Hindustani is sometimes used as an ethnic term applied to South Asia (e.g., a Surinamese man with roots in South Asia might describe his ethnicity by saying he is Hindustani). For example, Hindoestanen is a Dutch word used to describe people of South Asian origin, in Netherlands and Suriname.
In Pakistan, the term 'Hindustani' was also infrequently used to refer to Urdu-speaking people in Karachi and Hyderabad, Sindh, who migrated from India during the partition of 1947. However, these people are now commonly referred to as Muhajirs. Some Pakistani's who were former hindus were also known as Chandu. This was a race that was hindu generations ago, but then converted to Muslim as they migrated to Pakistan. As well, within Pakistan, the term "Hindustan" is sometimes used as a synonym for the modern-day Republic of India.
- "Hindustan: Definition". Thefreedictionary.com. Retrieved 2012-05-15.
- Sindh: An Introduction[dead link]
- Lipner 1998, pp. 7–8
- "Khotanese Texts, Volume 7", p. 23, by Harold Walter Bailey
- "Foreign Influence on Ancient India", by Krishna Chandra Sagar, p. 6
- "Hindustan". Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- Leonard A. Gordon (1990). Brothers Against the Raj. Columbia University Press.
- A Sketch of the History of Hindustan from the First Muslim Conquest to the Fall of the Mughal Empire by H. G. Keene. (Hindustan The English Historical Review, Vol. 2, No. 5 (Jan., 1887), pp. 180–181.)
- Story of India through the Ages; An Entertaining History of Hindustan, to the Suppression of the Mutiny, by Flora Annie Steel, 1909 E.P. Dutton and Co., New York. (as recommended by the New York Times; Flora Annie Steel Book Review, February 20, 1909, New York Times.)
- The History of Hindustan: Post Classical and Modern, Ed. B.S. Danniya and Alexander Dow. 2003, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-1993-4. (History of Hindustan (First published: 1770-1772). Dow had succeeded his father as the private secretary of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.)