South West India
The culture and literature of the area date back thousands of years. The area is dominated by the Deccan Plateau, and has a tropical climate with monsoons. The most populous cities as of 2008 include Mumbai, Pune, Vadodara, Surat, Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Madurai, Visakhapatnam, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, and Mangalore.
Carbon dating on ash mounds associated with neolithic cultures in Southern India date back to 8000 BCE. Artefacts such as ground stone axes and minor copper objects have been found in the region. Towards the beginning of 1000 BCE, Iron Age technology spread through the region. There does not appear to be a fully developed Bronze Age preceding the Iron Age in South India. South Western India was a crossroads of the ancient world that linked the Mediterranean and the Far East. The southern coastline from Karwar to Kodungallur was the most important trading shore in the Indian subcontinent and saw the intermingling of locals and traders. Residents of the South West Indian coast of Malabar and the Tamil people of the Sangam period traded with the Graeco-Roman world. They were in contact with the Canaanites, Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Syrians, Jews, and Chinese.
There were several significant rulers and dynasties in south western Indian history. Dynasties such as the Maurya Kingdom, Gurjar, Rajputs, Satavahanas, Satavahanas of Amaravati, Kadambas of Banavasi, Western Ganga Dynasty, Chalukya dynasty of Badami, Western Chalukyas, Eastern Chalukya, Cheras, Cholas, Hoysalas, Kakatiya dynasty, Pallavas, Pandyas, and Rashtrakutas of Manyaketha have ruled over South India. The late medieval period saw the rise of Muslim power in South India. The defeat of the Kakatiya dynasty of Warangal by Tughlaq forces of the Delhi Sultanate in 1323 CE heralded a new chapter in South West Indian history.
The struggle of the period was between the Bahmani Sultanate based in Gulbarga (and later, Bidar) and the Vijayanagara Empire with its capital in Vijayanagara in modern Hampi. With the fall of Vijayanagara and the break-up of the Bahmani sultanate, the Qutb Shahi dynasty of Golconda and Hyderabad became the dominant power in the region. During the medieval age, the region came under Persian influence and under the Mughal rule. The Qutb Shahi dynasty dominanted of the region until the middle of the 17th century, when the Mughals under Aurangzeb made determined inroads into the Deccan. Following Aurangzeb's death, Mughal power weakened, and South West Indian rulers gained autonomy from Delhi. The Wodeyar kingdom of Mysore, the Asaf Jahis of Hyderabad, and Marathas all gained power. The Marathas arose in western Maharashtra and dominated a major portion of the Indian sub-continent for 150 years.
Defeat by the British in the Anglo-Maratha wars (1817–1818) left most of India under colonial rule. The region experienced great upheavals during the struggle for Indian independence. In the middle of the 18th century, the French and the British initiated a protracted struggle for military control of South West India. Shifting alliances between the two [European powers and the local powers saw mercenary armies being employed by all sides causing general anarchy in South India. As the British consolidated power over much of India in the late 1850s, they allowed the French to retain their possessions over Pondicherry. The four Anglo-Mysore wars and the three Anglo-Maratha Wars saw Mysore, Pune and Hyderabad allying themselves with the British or the French. South India during British colonial rule was divided into the Madras Presidency and Hyderabad, Mysore, Thiruvithamcoore (also known as Travancore), Kochi (also known as Cochin or Perumpadapu Swaroopam), Vizianagaram, and a number of other minor princely states. British Residents were stationed in the capitals of the important states to supervise and report on the activities of the rulers. India gained independence from Britain in 1947.
The States Reorganisation Act (1956) created new states (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala) and reorganised modern-day Tamil Nadu along linguistic lines. The enclaves of French India, which were ceded to India in the 1950s, were constituted into the union territory of Pondicherry.
The region is a peninsula in the shape of a vast inverted triangle, bounded on the west by the Arabian Sea, on the east by the Bay of Bengal and on the north by the Vindhya and Satpura ranges. The Narmada flows westwards in the depression between the Vindhya and Satpura ranges. The Satpura ranges define the northern spur of the Deccan plateau. The Western Ghats, along the western coast, mark another boundary of the plateau. The narrow strip of verdant land between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea is the Konkan region. The Western Ghats continue south, forming the Malenadu (Canara) region along the Karnataka coast, and terminate at the Nilgiri mountains, an inward (easterly) extension of the Western Ghats. The Nilgiris run in a crescent approximately along the borders of Tamil Nadu with northern Kerala and Karnataka, encompassing the Palakkad and Wayanad hills, and the Satyamangalam ranges, and extending on to the relatively low-lying hills of the Eastern Ghats, on the western portion of the Tamil Nadu - Andhra Pradesh border. The Tirupati and Anaimalai Hills form part of this range. The low lying coral islands of Lakshadweep are off the south-western coast of India. Sri Lanka lies off the south-eastern coast, separated from India by the Palk Strait and the chain of low sandbars and islands known as Rama's Bridge. The Andaman and Nicobar islands lie far off the eastern coast of India, near the Tenasserim coast of Burma. The southernmost tip of mainland India is at Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin) on the Indian Ocean.
The Deccan plateau is the vast elevated region bound by the C-shape defined by all these mountain ranges. No major elevations border the plateau to the east, and it slopes gently from the Western Ghats to the eastern coast. The plateau is watered by the east flowing Godavari and Krishna rivers. The other major rivers of the Deccan plateau are the Pennar and the Tungabhadra, a major tributary of the Krishna. The three major river deltas of South India, the Kaveri, the Godavari and the Krishna, are located along the Bay of Bengal. These areas constitute the rice bowls of South India.
The region has a tropical climate with the monsoons playing a major part. The South - West Monsoon accounts for most of the rainfall in the region and much of it falls from about June to October. The south-west monsoon starts from Kerala during June and moves up towards the northern parts of India. Tamil Nadu and southeast Andhra Pradesh receive rains from the Northeast Monsoon from about November to February.
Much of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have a distinct dry season from about October through May when there is not much rainfall. This region experiences cooler nights from October to March while the days are pleasantly warm. In the northern parts of the region temperatures can fall below 10 °C (50 °F) on occasions at night during this time. Days are very hot from March to June when temperatures can go over 40 °C (104 °F). The southern coastal region has an average minimum temperature of 20 °C (68 °F) and maximum of 35 °C (95 °F) .
The climate varies between tropical wet, tropical wet and dry, and semi arid. The coastal regions experience little seasonal variations although the temperatures range between 20 °C (68 °F)to 38 °C (100 °F). Mumbai and the northern Konkan region experience cooler winters with minimum temperatures hovering around 12 °C (54 °F). Interior Maharashtra experiences hot summers with maximum temperatures averaging 40 °C (104 °F) and mild winters with minimum temperatures averaging about 10 °C (50 °F). Gujarat has a warm climate with hot summers and cool winters.
The population density is around 290 per square km. The average fertility rate is about 2.2, while the average household size is about 4.7. The estimated population of South India is 233 million.
The sex ratio in South India is fairly equable at 997. Scheduled Castes and Tribes form 18% of the population of the region. Agriculture is the major employer in the region – 47.5% of the population is involved in agrarian activities. About 60% of the population lives in permanent housing structures. 47.8% of South India has access to tap water. Wells and springs are other major forms of water supply.
Hinduism is practiced by the majority of the population in Gujarat. The Parsis who settled in Gujarat made Mumbai and Surat their home. Maharashtra is religiously diverse, with the majority being Hindus, Islam as the second largest religion, followed by Christianity. Indigenous Jews called the Bene Israel who speak Marathi constitute a significant number. Some Jains can be found in South West India. Christianity is dominant in the state of Goa. Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali, Navratri, Eid, and Christmas are the most important festivals in South West India.
The average literacy rate of West India is around 76%, higher than the national average of 70.5%. Kerala leads the nation with a literacy rate of 91%.
The official languages of these states include Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Urdu and Konkani.
Telugu, with about 76 million speakers, is the most widely spoken language, followed by Marathi with about 73 million speakers and Tamil with 70 million speakers.
The Dravidian language family of approximately seventy-three languages spoken in South Asia is also prevalent in the area. Major Dravidian languages include Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu.
The States Reorganisation Act of 1956 divided states in India along linguistic lines and led to the creation of separate states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in areas where Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil respectively were dominant. In the 2002 Census, Telugu had the third largest base of native speakers in India (74 million), after Hindi and Bengali, and was awarded the status of classical language in 2008. Tamil was accorded the status of classical language in 2002 and has about 60 million native speakers. Kannada has 38 million and was awarded the status of classical language in 2008, and Malayalam has 33 million native speakers. Each of these languages is listed as an official language of India, per the Official Languages Act (1963).
Urdu is spoken by over half of the 25 million Muslims in southern India. South Indian Muslims in some regions of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka speak a dialect of Urdu called Dakhni, while some in the Dakshina Kannada region of Karnataka and regions in Kerala speak Beary bashe.
Both Dakhni and Beary bashe are influenced by other South Indian languages. Tulu, a Dravidian language prevalent in coastal Kerala and Karnataka, is spoken by about 1.5 million people in the region, while Konkani, an Indo-Aryan language, is spoken by over half a million people in the region.
According to some experts, the world view of South Western Indians is essentially the celebration of the eternal universe through the celebration of the beauty of the body, and motherhood, which is exemplified through their dance, clothing, and sculptures. South Indian women traditionally wear the Saree while the men wear a type of sarong, which could be either a white pancha or a colourful lungi with typical batik patterns.
The music of South Western India is known as Carnatic music, which includes rhythmic and structured music by composers like Purandara Dasa, Kanaka Dasa, Tyagaraja, Annamacharya, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Shyama Shastri, Subbaraya Shastri, Mysore Vasudevachar and Swathi Thirunal. The contemporary singer K. J. Yesudas is a cultural ambassador of Carnatic music. The motion picture industry has emerged as an important platform in South India, over the years portraying the cultural changes, trends, aspirations, and developments experienced by its people. Some movie classics like Nammukku paarkkaan munthiri thoppukal (1986) by Padmarajan, Adi Shankara (1984) by director G. V. Iyer, and Perumthachan (1990) by Ajayan have gained worldwide acclaim. South India is home to several distinct dance forms – the Koodiyattam, Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Yakshagana, Theyyam, Ottamthullal, Oppana, Kerala Natanam and Mohiniaattam.
South India has an independent literary tradition going back over 2,500 years. The first known literature of South India are the poetic Sangams, which were written in Tamil between 2,500 and 2,100 years ago. The Kannada classic Kavirajamarga written by King Amoghavarsha I in 850 CE makes references to Kannada literature of King Durvinita in the early 6th century. Tamil Buddhist commentators of the Nemrinatham, written in the 10th century, make references to Kannada literature of the 4th century. Distinct Malayalam and Telugu literary traditions developed in the following centuries.
South India has two distinct styles of architecture, the pure Dravida style of Tamil Nadu and the Vesara style (also called Karnata Dravida style) present in Karnataka. The inspirational temple sculptures of Hampi, Badami, Bhattiprolu, Pattadakal, Aihole, Belur, Halebidu, Lakkundi, Shravanabelagola, Mahabalipuram, Tanjore, Madurai and the mural paintings of Travancore and Lepakshi temples, also stand as a testament to South Indian culture. The paintings of Raja Ravi Varma are considered classic renditions of scenes of South Indian life and mythology. Murudeshwara, a town in Uttar Kannada district, is home to one of the world's tallest Shiva statues.
The main spiritual traditions of South India include both Shaivite and Vaishnavite branches of Hinduism, although Buddhist and Jain philosophies had been influential several centuries earlier. Shravanabelagola in Karnataka is a popular pilgrimage center for Jains. Ayyavazhi is spread significantly across the southernmost parts of South India, with many followers in South Tamil Nadu and Kerala. There is a large Muslim community in South India, particularly on the Malabar coast, which can trace its roots to the ancient maritime trade between Kerala and Omanis and other Arabs. Christianity has flourished in coastal South India from the times of Thomas the Apostle, who is believed to have come to Kerala and established the Syrian Christian tradition today called as Saint Thomas Christians or Syrian Malabar Nasrani. Kerala is home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world who may have arrived on the Malabar coast during the time of King Solomon. The oldest surviving Jewish synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations is the Paradesi Synagogue in Kochi, Kerala.
The states of Maharashtra, Goa, and Gujarat are varied and distinct. Goa has a Latin aura due to centuries of Portuguese rule. The architecture and cuisine of Goa is a unique blend of Indian and Portuguese cultures. Goa is known for its beaches and churches. Maharashtrian culture derives from the ancient Indo-Aryan Vedic culture influenced deeply by the Maratha Empire and British colonial rule. Maharashtrians take great pride in the Maratha Empire, and many places in Maharashtra are named after the founder of the Empire, Shivaji. Marathi literature and cinema are popular in the state as well as across India.
Gujarati culture is a blend of Hindu and Jain traditions. It has been influenced by the Parsis, who migrated to Gujarat from Iran about 1,000 years ago. In recent years, Gujarat has been rocked by communal violence, damaging centuries old traditions of tolerance. Mumbai and Goa are renowned for nightlife. Bollywood has had a huge impact on the lifestyle and culture of this part of India as the Bollywood film industry is based in Mumbai.
Politics in South Western India is home to a mix of regional parties and larger national political parties like the Congress (INC), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)). With the exclusion of Karnataka, each state has at least two parties dominating politics in that state.
Shiv Sena (Army of Shiv), referring to Shivaji Bhosle), is a far-right political party in India founded in 1966 by Balasaheb Thackeray. The party originally emerged from a movement in Mumbai that broadly favoured increased influence of Marathis in Maharashtra. It built a strong base amongst the Marathi community in the 1960s based on its militant ideology that Maharashtra belonged to the Marathi community and migrants from other Indian states should be thrown out. Although the party's primary base is still in Maharashtra, it has tried to expand to a pan-Indian base. Gradually the party moved from solely advocating a pro-Marathi ideology to one supporting a broader Hindu nationalist agenda as it aligned itself with the Bharatiya Janata Party. The party has taken part in several Maharashtra state governments and was a coalition partner in the National Democratic Alliance cabinet that ruled India between 1998-2004.
Pre-independence politics in the Madras Presidency was dominated by the Justice Party and the Indian National Congress (INC). Periyar Ramasami, who founded the Dravidian movement (Self Respect Movement), was elected leader of the Justice Party in 1938. In 1944 the party was renamed Dravidar Kazhagam, with its initial aim being the secession of Dravida Nadu from the rest of India. Following independence, Periyar strongly believed that the party should not participate in elections in the newly created India, something his closest followers disagreed with. In 1948, C. N. Annadurai, a follower of Periyar and a Joint Secretary of Dravidar Kazhagam, parted ways with Periyar to form the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) political party. The Indian National Congress's political influence over Tamil Nadu gave way to the rise of the DMK which formed its first government in 1968 and again in 1978. The following year, a split in the DMK resulted in the formation of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), led by M. G. Ramachandran. Together, the AIADMK and the DMK currently command a 60% share in Tamil Nadu state elections.
The main facets of state politics in Tamil Nadu include language — the distinction between Tamil and non-Tamil speakers; and caste — a distinction addressed by the Self-respect Movement. The imposition of Hindi on non-Hindi speaking areas of India is a contentious issue in Tamil Nadu. In January–February 1965, large scale anti-Hindi agitation, a cause championed by the DMK, occurred in Tamil Nadu.
In 1982, the establishment of the Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh by former Telugu actor Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (NTR) broke the dominance of the INC in Andhra Pradesh politics. The party was voted into power four times. In 1996, a year after winning the state assembly election by a landslide, a dispute between NTR, his wife Lakshmi Parvati, and his immediate family resulted in a split in the TDP. Concerned over Lakshmi Parvati's undue influence over NTR and his policies, the bulk of the party favoured the leadership of NTR's son-in-law, N Chandrababu Naidu, who later became Chief Minister of the state. Naidu was regarded as a visionary who promoted the growth of information technology in the state. On 26 August 2008 Chiranjeevi, a leading actor of the Telugu film industry launched a new party at Tirupathi, called Prajarajyam. He said he would be contesting for the elections scheduled in the next year.
The Janata Dal party has been far more successful in Karnataka than it has been in national politics. National political parties such as the BJP and INC have experienced more comparative success in Karnataka than they have in other states of South India. Karnataka's political environment is dominated by two rival caste groups – the Vokkaligas and the Lingayats. Ramakrishna Hegde played an integral part in the ascent of the Janata Dal into the national foray in the late 1980s. However, it was his political rival H. D. Deve Gowda, then the Chief Minister of Karnataka, who later went on to become the Prime Minister of India.
Kerala hosts two major political alliances: the United Democratic Front (UDF, led by the Indian National Congress) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist)). Kerala numbers among India's most left-wing states. Kerala has had the alternate election of Congress and the Communists to power.
Rice is the staple diet, while fish is an integral component of coastal South West Indian meals. Coconut is an important ingredient in Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh cuisine is characterized by pickles and spicy curries. Hyderabadi cuisine, a legacy of the past, is popular for its biryani. Dosa, Idli, and Uttapam are popular throughout the region. There are large coffee estates in southern Karnataka and parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The cuisine of South Western India is diverse. Goan cuisine is dominated by the use of cashew nuts, coconuts, and seafood. Pork Vindaloo and Xacuti are goan curries. Bebinca is a sweet prepared with eggs and coconuts. Maharashtrian cuisine ranges from bland to fiery hot. Pohay, Shrikhand, Pav Bhaji, Vada Pav are good examples of Maharashtrian cuisine. Maharashtra has some of the best vineyards in India, with Nashik and Sangli districts the country's biggest grape-producing districts.
Traditionally Tamil dishes are served on a banana leaf instead of a plate, and are eaten with the right hand. Rice is the staple food of Tamils and accompanied with various sauces along with meat or vegetarian dishes. Traditional Tamil cuisine includes Dosai, Idly, Vadai, Pongal and Uthappam. These dishes are served along with Sambar, Rasam, Kootu, Aviyal, Chatni and Poriyal. The traditionally prepared filter coffee has a unique taste. The fast food culture is witnessing a steady growth in Tamil Nadu in recent years. The Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu has a spicy non-vegetarian cuisine, and Tirunelveli has a unique wheat halwa.
The cuisine of Kerala is linked to the history and culture of the area. Because many of Kerala's Hindus are vegetarian, and because Kerala has large Muslim and Christian minorities that are predominantly not vegetarian, Kerala cuisine has a multitude of both vegetarian and meat dishes. As with almost all Indian food, spices play an important part in Kerala cuisine. The main spices used are cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, green and red peppers, cloves, garlic, cumin seeds, coriander, and turmeric. Herbs are seldom used.
South Western India has relatively high standards of living, although the city of Mumbai suffers from extreme overcrowding due to immigration from across the country. The region generates 20.34% of the national GDP, with an annual growth rate of 14.5% as of 2006. The states generate about 23% of the tax revenues of the country. More than 85% of the households have access to electricity with about 55% owning a television. Agriculture employs most people in the region, while services have the largest share of the total GDP.
India's economy after independence in 1947 conformed to a socialist framework, with strict governmental control over private sector participation, foreign trade and foreign direct investment (FDI). Through 1960-1990, South Indian economies experienced mixed economic growth. In the 1960s, Karnataka and Kerala achieved above average economic growth, while Andhra Pradesh's economy declined during this period. Kerala experienced economic decline in the 1970s while the economies of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh. and Tamil Nadu consistently exceeded national average growth rates after 1970. Karnataka experienced the highest positive differential in economic growth after the liberalisation of the Indian economy in 1991, while Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka were noted by some to be more reform-oriented in terms of economic policy when compared to other Indian states.
Over 48% of South India's population is engaged in agriculture, which is largely dependent on seasonal monsoons Some of the main crops cultivated in South India include rice, sorghum, pearl millet, pulses, sugarcane, cotton, chilli, and ragi. Areca, coffee, tea, vanilla, rubber, pepper, tapioca, and cardamom are cultivated on the hills, and coconut grows in abundance in coastal areas. Andhra Pradesh is the largest producer of rice in India, and Karnataka produces 70% of India's coffee. Frequent droughts in northern Karnataka, Rayalaseema, and Telangana have left farmers debt-ridden, forcing them to sell their livestock and sometimes even to commit suicide. The region suffers from water scarcity, especially during summer. Since the liberalisation of the Indian economy, South India has seen a decrease in revenue from agriculture and agriculture related services.
Traditionally, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have been home to large, public sector industries (referred to as Public Sector Undertakings, or PSUs), with both states posting above average growth rates in this sector following economic liberalisation. The registered headquarters of 42% of all Central PSUs in South India are located in Karnataka. Chennai, The Detroit of South Asia, accounts for about 35% of India's overall automotive components. The growth of information technology (IT) hubs in the region have spurred economic growth and attracted foreign investments and job seekers from other parts of the country. Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, is India's IT hub, and is home to over 200 software companies. In fiscal 2006-2007, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka attracted the third and fourth highest total FDI approvals in India, respectively, totalling to over 417 billion (US$6.9 billion). Software exports from South India grossed over 640 billion (US$11 billion) in fiscal 2005-06.
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