Talk:Indian subcontinent

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Oxford English Dictionary[edit]

@Kautilya3: Please add the pub year, isbn and page number for the real OED source you just checked. I am looking at a paper copy, page 1435, edition by Angus Stevenson and Maurice Waite, published by Oxford University Press in 2011, and I don't see the "has a distinct geographical, political, or cultural identity" part. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 16:29, 7 December 2016 (UTC)

Hi Sara, I am accessing the online version (via my library). It doesn't have a date. I am copying the entire text below for you to compare:
OED entry

1. A subdivision of a continent which has a distinct geographical, political, or cultural identity; (also) a large land mass somewhat smaller than a continent.

1845 W. Darby Univ. Gazetteer (ed. 4) 51/1 The great Western [mountain] systems..range along or at no great distance from the western coasts of both sub-continents [sc. North and South America].

1863 T. H. Huxley Evid. Man's Place Nature iii. 154 From central Asia eastward to the Pacific islands and subcontinents on the one hand, and to America on the other.

1908 Fortn. Rev. Sept. 416 What enemy has Australasia at her doors? The sub-continent is isolated.

1913 C. R. Enock Republics Central & South Amer. xvi. 519 The Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Romans,..have no counterpart in the great continent and sub-continent of Latin America.

1920 Nation 20 16 The ‘Indian States’..cover, in various degrees of subjection to Great Britain, over a third of the South Asian sub-continent.

1950 Amer. Fern Jrnl. 40 112 The Antarctic floristic element is of great interest to the plant geographer for its suggestion of early migration paths from an antarctic subcontinent.

1973 Times Lit. Suppl. 23 Mar. 318/2 The breakaway of Bangladesh has effected a second partition of the Indo-Pakistani subcontinent.

1990 B. R. Allanson et al. Inland Waters Southern Afr. ii. 9 The coastal rimland of the southern subcontinent has been subject to successive elevations and subsequent coastal abrasion.

2b. = Indian subcontinent n. at Indian adj. and n. Special uses 1a.

1907 Imperial & Asiatic Q. Rev. Apr. 266 The difficulties to be faced vary in different parts of the subcontinent, and each problem will be most easily solved provincially.

1916 A. E. Duchesne Democracy & Empire x. 69 The beliefs and traditions of the communities composing the population of the subcontinent.

1951 Life 28 May 20/2 India is always hungry... Even when food is available, distributing it throughout the subcontinent is complicated by crude transportation.

1989 Guardian (Nexis) 20 Mar. Hinglish, the glorious jumble of good, bad and ugly English used in the subcontinent.

2005 Delicious Nov. (Flavours of India Suppl.) 19/1 Lentil-based dal is a menu essential across the sub-continent.

Interestingly, the 1920 quote refers to "South Asian sub-continent"! -- Kautilya3 (talk) 16:39, 7 December 2016 (UTC)
  • That is interesting. Though the South Asia in question seems much larger than the current South Asia (the 'third' probably includes all of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Burma which leaves a very large 2/3rd elsewhere - Afghanistan? Tibet? SE Asia?).
    No, I think th "South Asian sub-continent" in the quote just meant what we now call the Indian subcontinent. The "Indian states" were the princely states, which represented a third of it. The rest was "India", i.e., the British-ruled territory. Since they didn't call the princely territory "India", a term like "the subcontinent" was necessary. It doesn't look like Burma was included in the subcontinent, though I am not sure of it. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 23:30, 7 December 2016 (UTC)
@Kautilya3: Perhaps you can add the index details to this cite, to the "future curious" who may feel puzzled or get annoyed after looking at the free on-line or expensive OED paper copy version. It has to be somewhere, some link, or just the name of global-library-network link name on your computer. I like the 2005 entry: "lentil-based dal is a menu essential across the sub-continent" part!! Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 16:50, 7 December 2016 (UTC)
Ok, I added "Cite OED" refs. One of them seems to be publicly visible and the other is not. I could'nt find the "lentil-based dal" bit in the online version :-) -- Kautilya3 (talk) 19:41, 7 December 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @Ms Sarah Welch:, @Kautilya3:, Hi, thanks for having put some effort into expanding this article. Looks neat. However, there are few things that have raised my concerns. I believe this....;

  • "Some sources such as the United Nations include Afghanistan and Iran as part of South Asia in its geographical classification system,[6][7] but neither Afghanistan nor Iran is typically considered as a part of the Indian subcontinent.[8]"
  • "The United Nations includes Afghanistan and Iran in South Asia,[6] as do others (?!) and there is no globally accepted definition on which countries are a part of South Asia.[7] While Afghanistan or Iran or both are sometimes included in the region called South Asia, neither Afghanistan nor Iran is typically considered as a part of the Indian subcontinent.[8]" really a weasel wordish presentation of what's actually verifiably going on, in my opinion.

First of all, the United Nations is a huge organisation consisting of numerous agencies. Lets see some of the foremost ones and what they say about this;

  • UNICEF; Iran is in the MENA region,[1] Afghanistan in South Asia.[2][3]
  • WFP; Iran is in the Middle East, Afghanistan in Asia.[4]
  • World Bank; Iran is in the MENA region,[5] Afghanistan in South Asia.[6]
  • WHO; Iran is in the Eastern Mediterranean region (same even goes for Afghanistan apparantly).[7]
  • UNAIDS; Iran is in the MENA region, Afghanistan in Asia-Pacific.[8]

So, we can pretty much safely conclude that the highlighted sentences are wrong, and that the UN absolutely doesn't hold such a stance as defined in the highlighted sentences in question. Also, in the first sentence, the first two words are "some sources". That would mean that there are other sources, right? Which ones? Lastly, I really didn't get this part; "neither Afghanistan nor Iran is typically considered as a part of the Indian subcontinent." Can you show me a single reliable source that considers Iran to be part of the Indian Subcontinent? Bests - LouisAragon (talk) 01:12, 9 December 2016 (UTC)


  1. ^ United Nations Cartographic Centre Retrieved 18 June 2015

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @LouisAragon: Thanks for all the links, and a cogent explanation of your concerns. Ignore the so-called official "cartographic map". You are over-interpreting its significance (as does wikipedia's South Asia article, which needs cleanup too). Because, if you look at the West Asia cartographic map by the UN, you will see countries such as Egypt and Eritrea which are not even in Asia (forget West Asia). Other similar UN cartographic maps of world regions need equal care in its interpretation. The NPOV we are trying to achieve in this article is to state, with reliable sources, that not everyone agrees what South Asia is, what Indian subcontinent is, or that they are synonymous. On other links, yes, true, but much of that discussion should go into our South Asia article, not this article. A few sentences in this article do need a bit of wordsmith-ing for clarity. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 02:01, 9 December 2016 (UTC)

LouisAragon, thanks for sharing all those sources. Ms Sarah Welch, your edits, as admitted by you, are aimed at ensuring that the reader goes away with "Oh .. the usage of the term South Asia is contentious". This is not due in this article (it first even needs to be established if it is all that contentious in the first place, given all the contrary evidence), and the weasel wording attempts to somehow push this, unfortunately leaves the reader perplexed. (Leading to questions as this one from LouisAragon-"I really didn't get this part; "neither Afghanistan nor Iran is typically considered as a part of the Indian subcontinent." Can you show me a single reliable source that considers Iran to be part of the Indian Subcontinent". LouisAragon and the general reader is oblivious of your intentions to assert that "Indian Subcontinent is not equal to South Asia", and by adding such confusing statements that "neither Afghanistan nor Iran is considered part of Indian subcontinent", it leaves the reader utterly confused as to what has Iran got to do with Indian subcontinent.)
As to the term South Asia even being contentious enough, note that the United Nations geographical classification source itself carries this caveat upfront: "The assignment of countries or areas to specific groupings is for statistical convenience and does not imply any assumption regarding political or other affiliation of countries or territories by the United Nations." [9]. Couple that with all the other sources LouisAragon has shared, and its really very hard to give much weight to the UN classifications. Js82 (talk) 04:09, 9 December 2016 (UTC)
@Js82: the content you removed includes a lot of non-UN sources. The wordsmith-ing already addressed the few concerns of @LouisAragon. I believe one @LouisAragon concern is with the word "typical", as that implies "a few/some do consider Iran to be a part of Indian subcontinent". The intention of the edits is to give an NPOV summary of what the non-UN and UN sources are stating. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 12:21, 9 December 2016 (UTC)
Primarily in response to Ms Sarah Welsh. Trying to keep it focused as much as possible on the article here in question (which is almost undoable as everything got mixed up), but there are few other things that I'd like to adress;
  • "Ignore the so-called official "cartographic map"."
-- That's a bit odd. Why would we need to ignore this map, which seems to be showing the definition of the region as referred to most commonly, but should we then not "ignore" the UNSD source, which is clearly contradicted by the majority of the UN agencies? That would seem to be as using double standards, in my opinion. Especially, given, as I demonstrated, that no less 5 major UN agencies simply say something else than the UNSD does. We got the WFP, UNICEF, World Bank, WHO, UNAIDS, and the Cartographic centre "disagreeing/contradicting", with what the UNSD "link" says, yet the all these agencies should simply be ignored?
  • "On other links, yes, true, but much of that discussion should go into our South Asia article, not this article."
-- Alright. But if you agree about that, why do we still have such statements here then, which are, still erroneous the way they are defined currently, and perhaps most importantly have nothing to do with this article, e.g.;
  • "Some publications (vague) of the United Nations include Afghanistan and Iran as part of South Asia (Almost every UN agency puts Afghanistan into South Asia, whereas for Iran this is clearly not the case) in its geographical classification system for statistical reports,[6][7] (reference 7; uses a Wikipedia map in its book) but neither Afghanistan nor Iran is considered as a part of the Indian subcontinent (there is at least one definition that I know of that has considered Afghanistan to be part of a Subcontinent. So once again the equation is not correcly defined).[8]"
  • "The United Nations includes Afghanistan in South Asia, and sometimes (weasel words) Iran as well, in its publications (completely contradictory).[6] However, the different geographic groupings such as South Asia by United Nations (wrong as far as I can see?; this is a quote from the UNSD website; UNICEF, World Bank, etc. don't say this) is for reporting convenience, and do not imply any formally approved definition.[note 1] (<--- idem; that reference is taken from the UNSD website. UNICEF, World Bank, do not state this) There is no globally accepted definition on which countries are a part of South Asia.[7] While Afghanistan or Iran or both are sometimes included (weasel words) in the region called South Asia, neither Afghanistan nor Iran is considered as a part of the Indian subcontinent.(idem as in the previous quoted paragraph)[8]"
There are at least five major UN agencies that contradict the UNSD, as well as its cartographic centre. Yet this article, which isn't even about the definition known as South Asia, mentions for example no less than three times "Iran", a nation which hasn't even got a single thing to do with the definition known as the Indian Subcontinent, and is even basically put on par with Afghanistan, the latter which most UN agencies consistently put in South Asia, as a matter of fact. To conclude my words; I understand what your "intentions" were, with the changes you made -- they were obviously in nothing but good faith (! :-)) but right now, the article is in my opinion 1) way too vague 2) the words "South Asia" and the Subcontinent are mixed in a way that is really weird, and most importantly, which was never intended to be like that 3) and as a result to point #2; way too much prominence is given to one UN sub-agency. This article should solely discuss the matter known as the "Indian Subcontinent", and not evade the subject, and mix up things to result in such erroneous text. Indeed, one line that mentions that "Sometimes, the term "South Asia" is used interchangeably with Indian subcontinent" should be the only thing mentioned about it here -- which, basically, as far as I know (?), is what the article used to contain before the changes. - LouisAragon (talk) 19:05, 11 December 2016 (UTC)
  • "The wordsmith-ing already addressed the few concerns of @LouisAragon."
-- @Ms Sarah Welsh; Excuse me if I gave the wrong impression with the "thank you" message; I just wanted to let you know that I appreciated your prompt response, not that I agreed with everything you said. All the best - LouisAragon (talk) 19:05, 11 December 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @LouisAragon:, @Kautilya3: We can delete the striked out parts below, as a part of a major surgery that @Kautilya3 mentioned below:

The Indian subcontinent has been a term particularly common in the British Empire and its successors.[7] The region, state Mittal and Thursby, has also been labelled as "India" (in its classical and pre-modern sense), "Greater India", or as South Asia.[14][15] The BBC and some academic sources refer to the region as the "Asian Subcontinent".[16][17] Some academics refer to it as "South Asian Subcontinent".[18][19]
The terms "Indian subcontinent" and "South Asia" are sometimes used interchangeably.[7] According to historians Sugata Bose and Ayesha Jalal, the Indian subcontinent has come to be known as South Asia "in more recent and neutral parlance."[20] This "neutral" notion refers to the concerns of Pakistan and Bangladesh, particularly given the recurring conflicts between India and Pakistan, wherein the dominant placement of "India" as a prefix before the subcontinent might offend some political sentiments.[14]
There is no globally accepted definition on which countries are a part of South Asia or Indian subcontinent.[10][8] The United Nations includes Afghanistan in South Asia, and sometimes Iran as well, in its publications.[9] However, the different geographic groupings such as South Asia by United Nations is for reporting convenience, and do not imply any formally approved definition.[note 1] While Afghanistan or Iran or both are sometimes included in the region called South Asia, neither Afghanistan nor Iran is considered as a part of the Indian subcontinent.[8] Similarly, Myanmar is included by some scholars in South Asia, but in Southeast Asia by others.[14] Some question whether Afghanistan should be considered a part of South Asia or the Middle East.[22][23]
Indologist Ronald B. Inden states that Indian subcontinent is also referred to as "South Asia" to distinguish the region from East Asia.[24] A booklet published by the United States Department of State in 1959 includes Afghanistan, Ceylon (since 1972 Sri Lanka), India, Nepal, and Pakistan (including East Pakistan, since 1971 Bangladesh) as part of the "Subcontinent of South Asia".[25]

If we want to keep more than "The terms "Indian subcontinent" and "South Asia" are sometimes used interchangeably.[7]", such as what Bose and Jalal or Inden state about South Asia and Indian subcontinent, then for NPOV we need to summarize the WP:RS on South Asia and Indian subcontinent that state something different than what Bose/Jalal/Inden state. I have no strong preference either way. Which one would you prefer and why? Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 19:31, 11 December 2016 (UTC)

I think we can add a section at the bottom titled Concerns or something like that, which state the objections raised by Pakistani/Bangladeshi/Nepali folks and what others say about those concerns. Please see the sources I gave in reponse to Js82 below. I would still like to keep the focus on the "Indian subcontinent" term, and not worry much about what South Asia means or doesn't mean. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 21:37, 11 December 2016 (UTC)
@Kautilya3: I like that idea. Let us give @LouisAragon a bit of time to respond. BTW, @LouisAragon, you wrote above, "Indeed, one line that mentions (...) -- which, basically, as far as I know (?), is what the article used to contain before the changes". If you look at the facts, the version of this article before the recent changes, your impression does not reflect the reality of this article. Not even close. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 22:08, 11 December 2016 (UTC)

@LouisAragon:: You asked " ...which, basically, as far as I know (?), is what the article used to contain before the changes" To clarify, before all this started, the only sentence in the Lead was "The region is also called by a number of other names including South Asia, a name that is increasingly popular in academia and the US.[3][4][5]" This captures accurately what all WP:RS so far have been understood to state (except the fact that WP:RS also states that South Asia is more common due to "neutrality", and I feel we should add that). Do you agree with this ? As to the text in the body, again, I agree that we should trim to remove unnecessary NPOV emphasis (Iran, Afghanistan typically not in Indian SC and so on), but should still retain what WP:RS directly states on the Indian SC/South Asia nomenclature. Js82 (talk) 23:56, 11 December 2016 (UTC)

@Js82: Compare what you propose to what the current version of article states in the lead, "Sometimes, the term "South Asia" is used interchangeably with Indian subcontinent.[7]" This is exactly what @LouisAragon has proposed above. @LouisAragon is therefore discussing above the content in the main article. The old version, before all this started, had many more mentions of the term South Asia in the main article than the term "Indian subcontinent", a symptom of an article with "tail wagging the dog" problem. The current article has fixed that problem, it still needs further improvements and revisions. Per WP:LEAD guidelines, "Apart from basic facts, significant information should not appear in the lead if it is not covered in the remainder of the article." We therefore cannot do what you propose. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 00:21, 12 December 2016 (UTC)
@Ms Sarah Welch:, @Kautilya3:, excuse me for the belated response. Yeah, I agree with the proposed removals ("deleting the striked out parts"). Bests - LouisAragon (talk) 15:59, 15 December 2016 (UTC)

Second round[edit]

Wait...didn't we just agree to get rid of that stuff? Now it just all got moved to a new section. - LouisAragon (talk) 14:30, 16 December 2016 (UTC)

Did you miss this comment of @Kautilya3? The move tried to trim the text a little bit and retained what maintains the NPOV. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 15:16, 16 December 2016 (UTC)
Dear both, sorry to have been offline yesterday. MSW did implement what I suggested about a separate "Concerns" section. As I see it, the objections to "Indian subcontinent" are raised on two grounds:
  • It is unnecessary. "South Asia" serves the same purpose, e.g., Bose & Jalal.
  • It is offensive to some countries. (Pakistan and Bangladesh have been mentioned. Now, we hear that Nepalis have objections too.)
In my view, both the arguments don't hold water. Bose & Jalal, who canvass for "South Asia", themselves uses the term "subcontinent" ample times in their book. So, presumably it does serve a purpose, over and beyond "South Asia". On the second point, there is not much we can do about people taking offence to random things. But a good part of the problem is likely to be the idea that "Indian subcontinent" is named after the present day India, whereas it is named after historical India, which does indeed span all the countries of the subcontinent.
As I have said before, had India used "Hindustan" to name itself (as Jinnah vocally campaigned), this problem would not have arisen. In fact Aparna Pande states very clearly, It is important to note that Jinnah and the majority of the Pakistani policy-makers have often referred to independent India as "Hindustan," as an affirmation of the two-nation theory. In some ways there is a desire to assert that the name "India" belonged to both Hindus and Muslims and when the Muslims broke off to form Pakistan what was left was only "Hindu" India or Hindustan.[1] But since India has decided to use "India" as its own name, the name itself has now become a Hindu one, and they must dissociate themselves from it? Are Bose & Jalal pandering to such sectarian interests?
So there is plenty of issues to be discussed in this article, without getting entangled with what South Asia means or doesn't mean. Names are important because they encapsulate identities. Owning or disowning names also implies owning or disowning identities. "South Asia" happily doesn't have any identity associated with it, which is part of its attraction. But resorting to "South Asia" is just turning a blind eye to the identity politics, which we all know to exist, but are too afraid to touch. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 18:20, 17 December 2016 (UTC)


  1. ^ Pande, Aparna (2011), Explaining Pakistan’s Foreign Policy: Escaping India, Routledge, pp. 14–15, ISBN 978-1-136-81894-3 

Afghanistan etc again[edit]

Aditya Kabir: please see the above discussion and those in the archive. Do you have new concerns? Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 22:55, 3 December 2017 (UTC)


Khestwol, "southern Asia and southwestern Eurasia" doesn't make sense. If it is to the south of Asia, how does it move to the "southwest" when Europe is added? -- Kautilya3 (talk) 01:34, 25 December 2017 (UTC)

Unsourced and violates NPOV as well. I reverted it. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 21:30, 4 January 2018 (UTC)

Reverting might doom the existence of the article[edit]

This version has all the information reorganized to make for coherent sections. It was reverted to this version as better, and apparently based on previous discussions. (diff)

Neither a good reason to revert. In fact createing a one line "disagreement" section while the entire article is largely about disagreements is funniest to the boot. A discussion about identification of the region can not be titled as "politics".

The biggest reason for my change is South Asia and Indian Subcontinent are the same place. And if you want two articles on the same subject then please check WP:MERGE - "Overlap: There are two or more pages on related subjects that have a large overlap. Wikipedia is not a dictionary; there does not need to be a separate entry for every concept. For example, "flammable" and "non-flammable" can both be explained in an article on flammability."

If you want them to be two articles on the region then this article will need to be merged into South Asia. The only rational way for this article to exist is to have it as a separate topic. It is a separate topic if you have an article on the difference. That difference is lies in the fact that the Subcontinent is a different "term", quite popular, historical and contested, for South Asia. And, then you can have an acceptable and separate article on the term, and not the region. The region is covered in South Asia. Aditya(talkcontribs) 02:29, 5 January 2018 (UTC)

Aditya Kabir: Please see the extensive discussions in sections above, a comment for you above, and one discussion started by Kautilya3 in the archive section. There is no need to rehash the discussion we have had in the past, unless there is some new WP:RS you have to share. You can give the AfD/merge etc "doom" a try per regular process. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 03:33, 5 January 2018 (UTC)
Hmmm. The current content does seem to have somewhat of a consensus. But, the organisation of the article is still a bit interesting, to say the least. I guess, we need to use the current article as the base and improve it from there. No problem. A little extra work never killed anyone. :P
As for the lead I will still quote WP:MERGE, as this article is not about the region, it is about the alternative term. That term may be more popular, more established and everything, but it still is not a separate region. Aditya(talkcontribs) 04:09, 5 January 2018 (UTC)
Aditya Kabir: Please set aside the presumptions / scripted view / personal opinions. Wikipedia must fairly summarize the published verifiable RS, per content guidelines to the best of our abilities. Look at secondary and tertiary sources. Indian subcontinent and South Asia are two topics. Their description does vary, as sources in this article explain. I believe AfD and merge proposals are likely to fail. We can't take sides, we only explain the sides as best as we can, per WP:NPOV guidelines. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 04:19, 5 January 2018 (UTC)
Sorry if I have failed to explain. I am not proposing a merger. All I am saying is since this is about a separate term and not a separate region it probably should begin by saying - this is a term for this region. Not saying - this is a region. BTW, I believe now you are getting forum-y and are failing to assume good faith and started persona attacks. I believe we can refrain from those when discussing. Aditya(talkcontribs) 04:52, 5 January 2018 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I think we don't need to worry too much about WP:MERGE, because any one would hard put to demonstrate that the Indian subcontinent and South Asia do mean the same thing. Afghanistan is certainly an outlier for the Indian subcontinent. A more significant difference seems to be that "Indian subcontinent" is a geographical or geo-cultural term, whereas "South Asia" is geo-political term. According to our article on Encyclopedia, Generally speaking, unlike dictionary entries which focus on linguistic information about words, such as their meaning, pronunciation, use, and grammatical forms, encyclopedia articles focus on factual information concerning the subject named in the article’s title. It is not prohibited for Wikipedia to have on articles on terms (rather than places, people or whatever), provided that there is enough non-linguistic information about them that needs to be described. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 14:34, 5 January 2018 (UTC)

Thank you. I would probably never be able to put it so nicely. The two terms definitely does not mean the same thing. Though they are about the same region, the terms are different. From my information I found one to be popular, the other to be official, one to be historical, the other to be modern and so on. May be they are better defined as geo-political and geographical. In that case we probably need to establish that one is geographical, the other geo-political in the articles. And, they still would be about the same region.
And, yes, I also am betting on the fact that different "terms" for the same entity can exist, as long at least some of them are presented as a "term" with enough notability. Since, "Indian Subcontinent" has no notability problem, and "South Asia" seems to be the mother article, with enough content that is more updated than it is possible for the subcontinent (not many really publish updated statistics for the subcontinent), it is prudent that we treat South Asia as the article about the entity, and Indian Subcontinent about the term.
My proposal is quite simple - since two articles can't exist for the same concept, if the it is only a lexicological difference, then let us have that in the lead.
For the rest of the article, it looks a bit choppy and somewhat reducted. But, I hope that can easily be rectified without distorting the information content, weightage or context. I am perfectly willing to take the effort. I hope the participants in the last discussion would be there to help. You see, one person can always be wrong. Aditya(talkcontribs) 18:32, 5 January 2018 (UTC)
Yes, this article is really meant to be about the term rather than the land. More could be added (e.g., Historical India, Hindustan, Al-Hind, Bharatavarsha etc., which are much older terms) but we would start facing a lot of resistance from certain groups. The term is "Indian subcontinent" is popular because it is a useful substitute for all these historical terms. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 19:22, 5 January 2018 (UTC)
Aditya Kabir: Both are terms. Generally, most of Afghanistan has not been considered as a part of Indian subcontinent, it is an outlier. Let us avoid, "the term is often used interchangeably with South Asia", per NPOV. Like everyone, you are welcome to improve the article. Please do review the archived and other comments by Kautilya3, LouisAragon, others and I from the past (please ignore Js82). There is no point repeating the same thing all over again. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 21:01, 5 January 2018 (UTC)
Here are the first two sentences from The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th edition, Columbia University Press:
Quote: "Indian subcontinent, region, S central Asia, comprising the countries of Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh and the Himalayan states of Nepal, and Bhutan. Sri Lanka, an island off the southeastern tip of the Indian peninsula, is often considered a part of the subcontinent." Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 21:06, 5 January 2018 (UTC)
Sorry, MSW. The way you are pushing the issue as settled seems to be overdone. It is far from settled. You have cited a qute that explains the meaning of the term. Yes, this is a term to denote a region, but there are other terms for the region. And, there can not be two articles about the same entity. Indian subcontinent should be a an article about the term, and not the region. Are you still failing to see the point? Kautilya seems to have no problem understanding. Aditya(talkcontribs) 05:22, 6 January 2018 (UTC)
You misunderstand Kautilya3, see his comments in past to get the context. He and I are both saying these are terms! I have no interest in forum-y clarification of your wisdoms / prejudices / opinions. Let us focus on and stick with RS and NPOV. We will do fine. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 11:21, 6 January 2018 (UTC)

Arbitrary break[edit]

Sarah, perhaps you can explain why you want to avoid, "the term is often used interchangeably with South Asia"? Otherwise, I just see a lot of back and forth exchanges, without any substance being addressed. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 14:00, 6 January 2018 (UTC)

Two reasons, both driven by RS as cited in this article and the South Asia article. The term South Asia, with some dissent, typically includes Afghanistan. The term Indian subcontinent, with some dissent (relating to the Hindu Kush part), typically does not include Afghanistan. Second, if we carefully read the context of the sources, most are not stating these two terms have been or are interchangeable. Some which use the term interchangeably don't include Afghanistan in the discussion; some state South Asians are people from the Indian subcontinent and then list only Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (sometimes Maldives); and so on. We can't misrepresent the sources by ignoring the context of their discussion. To respect our NOR or NPOV guidelines, we must summarize all sides, and include the context of each source. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 14:19, 6 January 2018 (UTC)
What is this obsession with Afghanistan? Aditya(talkcontribs) 14:36, 6 January 2018 (UTC)
Obsession with the RS and their contexts, not Afghanistan or Maldives or whatever. Because the RS policy is a pillar of wikipedia. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 14:54, 6 January 2018 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I don't think it is an obsession with Afghanistan. But rather the fact that Afghanistan is included in one grouping but not the other points to deeper differences in the respective concepts. To me, "Indian subcontinent" is a substitute for the historical terms India/Hindustan/Al-Hind, as I mentioned already. These names have had an existence for 2000+ years in a wide range of cultures. So, the concept won't disappear any time soon just because some people make noise about it.

The term "South Asia" on the other hand gives me the image of the State Department trying to divvy up the globe in some arbitrary manner so as to allocate internal resources. It is just as meaningless as "Middle East" (which is neither in the East nor exactly in the middle). The only thing that gives me pause is the argument made by Asher & Talbot that Afghanistan is in fact part of the region historically. But the Afghans themselves are not so sure of it, as we see from the recent debate at talk:South Asia. I think the geo-cultural coherence of the "Indian subcontinent" is unassailable and Afghanistan is not really part of it. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 17:57, 6 January 2018 (UTC)

Ms Sarah Welch, stop lecturing. You are not being of any help. You quote WP:BRD like I was a novice, and then all the contribution you made was - "look at the other discussion". Where is your discussion in Bold, Revert, and Discuss? Preach what you practice. Name calling is not compliant to talk page guidelines.
Kautilya, are we sure the difference lies in inclusion or exclusion of Afghanistan? Because, a number of books seem to include Afghanistan in Indian subcontinent. Example: History of Middle East by Radhey Shyam Chaurasia (2005, page 331), Afghanistan: The Soviet War by Ed Girardet (2011, page 250), War and Escalation in South Asia by John E. Peters et al (2006, page 1), On the Cusp of an Era: Art in the Pre-Kuṣāṇa World by Doris Srinivasan (2007, page 55) and more.
But, the problem is not about Afghanistan (or Maldives, and MSW would have it now). It is about writing an article about an alternative term for a region, and not making it read like it is about the region. I have added a few cites a little further down. Aditya(talkcontribs) 17:44, 7 January 2018 (UTC)
More exceptions than the norm, I think. Are they really explicitly saying that Afghanistan is part of the Indian subcontinent? Witness this:

On the north it is bounded by the Himalayas, on the west by inter alia parts of the Hindu-Kush, Safed Koh, Sulaiman, Brahui, Pab, Kirthar and other ranges, on the east by inter alia the Patkai, Naga, Lushai and Chin Hills, and on the south, south-east and south-west by the Indian ocean, Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. In spite of natural barriers in internal communications, the subcontinent is an indivisible geographical entity. L. Dudley Stamp was probably not wrong when he remarked that "there is perhaps no mainland part of the world better marked off by nature as a region or a 'realm' by itself than the Indian subcontinent."[3: L. Dudley Stamp, India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma, 1957, p.185][1]

Mukherjee says that the terms Hindustan and India ('Indoi), which were originally applied to Sindh, were extended to the whole of the subcontinent by the time of Megasthenes. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 19:56, 7 January 2018 (UTC)


  1. ^ Mukherjee, Bratindra Nath (2001), Nationhood and Statehood in India: A historical survey, Regency Publications, p. 4, ISBN 978-81-87498-26-1 

I have found some:

  • "The Indian subcontinent comprises Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh Sri Lanka and the Maldives." (Jean-Pierre Favennec, The Geopolitics of Energy, page 237, Editions OPHRYS, 2011)
  • "The Indian Subcontinent comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, bounded on the north by the great ranges of the Himalaya." (Bob Parry and Chris Perkins, World Mapping Today, page 421, Walter de Gruyter, 2000)
  • "South Asia is sometimes referred to as the Indian subcontinent of the Indo-Pak Subcontinent, and comprises the modern nation states of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka." (Robin Coningham and Ruth Young, The Archaeology of South Asia: From the Indus to Asoka, c.6500 BCE–200 CE, page 33, Cambridge University Press, 2015)
  • "The subcontinent of South Asia consists of the nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives. To these we may add parts of Afghanistan, Tibet and Burma that clearly fall into the Indic civilisation sphere." (Stephen Goddard, A Guide to Information Sources in the Geographical Sciences, page 115, Rowman & Littlefield, 1983)

While, most authors would keep Afghanistan outside the Subcontinent, I can see the logic of inclusion. Afghanistan in the past was indeed a part of the Indic civilisation. Aditya(talkcontribs) 03:43, 8 January 2018 (UTC)


Kautilya3: FWIW, I randomly checked some sources cited in this article that allegedly support "South Asia is interchangeable with Indian subcontinent", and am running into OR. For example, this source is cited. It is merely stating the term South Asian refers to people from Indian subcontinent: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. That does not mean or imply South Asia = Indian subcontinent. When you have time, would you please cross-check. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 21:47, 5 January 2018 (UTC)

That OR you have so triumphantly run into can very easily corrected. We could have 100 sources cited telling - X, Y, Z uses this term to mean this region, and then cite another 100 telling - A, B, C uses another term to mean this region, and then say these terms are used interchangeably. It's okay to use you brain. Aditya(talkcontribs) 05:26, 6 January 2018 (UTC)
Please quit these "triumphantly run" style snide remarks, and your vague lecturing about "100 sources". See WP:TALK on how to productively use the talk page. The sources are clearly stating many things. We don't need to correct them. We need to summarize them in a neutral POV manner... which means summarizing all sides, not the "they are used interchangeably" side you wish to push. Once again, as I requested: please see the past discussions on all this. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 11:21, 6 January 2018 (UTC)
I see no reason of being hostile. We really need third party intervention. Thanks for the lectures. Aditya(talkcontribs) 14:30, 6 January 2018 (UTC)

Here go some refs[edit]

  • "Today, academics use the terms South Asia and Indian subcontinent interchangeably with the emphasis, of course, on Indian Studies, which is the primary focus of most of the scholarly research and writing." (Yasmin Saikia, Women, War, and the Making of Bangladesh, page ix, Duke University Press, 2011)
  • "South Asia (i.e. the Indian subcontinent)..." (Peter T. Daniels, The World's Writing Systems, page 371, Oxford University Press, 1996)
  • "South Asia (the Indian subcontinent)..." (Alexander Mikaberidze, Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World, page 98, ABC-CLIO, 2011)
  • "South Asia (i.e. the Indian subcontinent)..." (Mary MacKinnon, Providing Diabetes Care in General Practice, page 171, Class Publishing Ltd, 2002)
  • "The region of South Asia, known as the Indian subcontinent..." (Shiv R. Jhawar, Building a Noble World, page 39, Noble World Foundation, 2004)
  • "South Asia' as a cover term replaces the 'Indian subcontinent', a term closely linked to the area's colonial heritage and still widely used in typological studies, but no longer an accurate reflection of the area's contemporary political demarcations." (Raymond Hickey, Standards of English: Codified Varieties around the World, page 256, Cambridge University Press, 2012)
  • "South Asia, an arbitrary geographical definition (it might also be termed the Indian subcontinent), is an aggregate of eight political entities." (Milton Walter Meyer, Asia: A Concise History, page 342, Rowman & Littlefield, 1997)
  • "South Asia, also known as the Indian Subcontinent, comprises of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Burma and Afghanistan." (K.R. Sharma, Accounting Education In South Asia, page 37, Concept Publishing Company, 2004)
  • "I shall use the term South Asian English to refer to the variety of English used in what has traditionally been called the Indian subcontinent." (Braj B. Kachru, The Alchemy of English, page 33, University of Illinois Press, 1990)
  • "These countries are all included in the term South Asia, which also includes Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Skim and Sri Lanka. Another term covering approximately the same area is the Indian subcontinent." (Rajeev Verma, Faith & Philosophy of Hinduism, page 13, Gyan Publishing House, 2009)
  • "The Indian subcontinent is a term that certainly recognises the dominant position of India in both area and population. Since the partition of Indian Empire, use of this term becomes offensive to the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis." (Jona Razzaque, Public Interest Environmental Litigation in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, page 3, Kluwer Law International, 2004)
  • (inserted) "It is very common today in academic and official circles to speak of the Indian subcontinent as ‘South Asia’, thereby distinguishing it from an ‘East Asia’, consisting of China, Japan, and Korea." (Ronald B. Inden, Imagining India, page 51, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2000)
  • "To comprehend the history and linguistic base of Urdu/Hindi, one has to look at the Indian subcontinent or South Asia as a geopolitical and linguistic entity." (Abdul Jamil Khan, Urdu/Hindi: An Artificial Divide, page 13, Algora Publishing, 2006)
Some books that use the terms interchangeably
  • "Pakistan came into being as a democratic homeland for the Muslims of South Asia in August 1947, when the British ended their imperial rule of the Indian subcontinent." (Devin T. Hagerty, South Asia in World Politics, page 49, Rowman & Littlefield, 2005)
  • "South Asia is no different from most countries. Rafts and boats of the Indian subcontinent are mentioned by name." (Sean Mcgrail et al, Boats of South Asia, Routledge, 2003)
  • "Every linguistic entity within the Indian subcontinent is entitled to be a nation-state. Culturally, linguistically, and religiously, South Asia is one of the most heterogeneous regions of the world." (Actionaid, Peace and Justice, page 104, Pearson Education India, 2010)
  • "South Asian states that we are comparing here historically witnessed multiple regional kingdoms and competing centres of power. In the long history of the Indian subcontinent, there were..." (Mahendra Prasad Singh and Veena Kukreja, Federalism in South Asia, page 216, Routledge, 2014)
  • "Pakistan delineates the northwestern boundary of the Indian subcontinent, separating the south Asia region from the Middle East to the west and from central Asia to the northwest." (Karl R. DeRouen, Defense and Security: A Compendium of National Armed Forces and Security Policies, page 567, ABC-CLIO)

Does this illustrate the point with ample RS refs and no OR? Aditya(talkcontribs) 17:33, 7 January 2018 (UTC)

Aditya Kabir: Lets ignore sources such as Gyan Publishing you cite, because it is unreliable (plagiarism, WP:Circular, see WP:PUS). The problem with many of your quote-clips and cites above is that they ignore the context. A source may state "i.e.", but that means the authors wants to add a explanatory / clarifying note about what she or he means. Such passing comments in any source cannot be taken to mean the author is discussing and declaring that the terms Indian subcontinent and South Asia are "synonymous, interchangeable". Context is important. This is amply clear if you read beyond the "cherrypicked clip" in the sources you cite. For example, Yasmin Saikia contextually uses the term Indian subcontinent to mean India, Pakistan and Bangladesh (page x, etc). See others for their context. We shouldn't use sources with "in the passing remarks" here or other wikipedia articles, as admin Vanamonde93 rightly has remarked in the past. We should rely on more comprehesive sources that actually discuss the two terms. FWIW, we already state in this article that some sources use the term interchangeably. Perhaps, what we need to further clarify in the main article that usage sometimes depends on the national origin of the author, or the historical period. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 18:10, 7 January 2018 (UTC)
Now you are gaming the system, dropping policies out of relevance, and making false claims. But, don't you think that blatant policy-bombing is not very conducive of a discussion? As for "Yasmin Saikia contextually uses the term Indian subcontinent to mean India, Pakistan and Bangladesh", have you not already noticed that the exact extent of the Indian subcontinent is not established, and hence keeps varying with different authors? Do you need some cites on that? What is your point, apart from "look at the other discussion"? Aditya(talkcontribs) 18:26, 7 January 2018 (UTC)
Isn't interesting that all these sources find the need to explain South Asia, with "Indian subcontinent" being the understood meaning? -- Kautilya3 (talk) 20:15, 7 January 2018 (UTC)
At least three sources - Jona Razzaque, Sugata Bose and Ayesha Jalal, and Yasmin Saikia - indicates that South Asia is the more recent term and Subcontinent is the older term. Indian Defence Review printed an article narrating a brief history of the terms. Sugata Bose and Ayesha Jalal has an even better explanation. Using the older term to clarify the newer term is nothing new. Aditya(talkcontribs) 03:04, 8 January 2018 (UTC)

Here go some counter-refs[edit]

The lead must summarize the main article per WP:LEAD, not ignore the main article and push a particular POV. Please read South Asia article and this article, to see how South Asia is defined and described. Plus review the sources such as the following:

  • Hamid Alikuzai, A Concise History of Afghanistan, "South Asia (Afghanistan and the nations of the Indian subcontinent) is isolated from the rest of Asia by great mountain barriers."
  • Paul Joseph, The SAGE Encyclopedia of War; "Myanmar — a land-bridge state — joins South Asia to East and Southeast Asia. To the northwest of the Indian subcontinent, another land-bridge state joins South Asia to Iran, the Middle East, and to Central Asia — Afghanistan. (...) Contemporary South Asia's link to Afghanistan is its border with only one South Asian state - Pakistan. (...)"
  • Burjor Avari, Islamic Civilization in South Asia; "In the context of this book, the term South Asia refers to the three modern states of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. There are other states in South Asia, but this book deals specifically with the history of Muslims in these three states. The term Indian subcontinent has no political implication; it is simply the description of the more specific geographical zone in South Asia, covering the three states referred to."
  • Vinod Anand, Perspectives on Transforming India, "Due to its geographical location Afghanistan has historical relations with Central Asia as well as Indian subcontinent in South Asia."
  • Zahid Ahmed, Regionalism and Regional Security in South Asia, "For example, the South Asian Studies programme at the University of Edinburgh identifies the region as the Indian subcontinent comprising of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. This leads to another contested issue, the definition of the 'Indian subcontinent' which often includes or excludes Afghanistan and the Maldives from the list of the above-mentioned countries."
  • Jacqueline Hirst et al, Religious Traditions in Modern South Asia, pp. 1-3; "South Asia is the name given to a region that includes the modern nation-states of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Maldives. (...) In the broadest sense, these contexts are configured by the region itself. Its seven independent nation-states define South Asia geographically by their position on or adjacent to the Indian subcontinent."
  • Kaushik Roy, Warfare in Pre-British India, "South Asia is a recent term which has been coined in the post-World-War-II era by the US State Department officials. The bulk of the attention in this book is given to undivided India (which includes India, Pakistan and Bangladesh). (...) The traditional name for the subcontinent is India (as used by the British), which is derived from the medieval Arabic term al-Hind. (...)"
  • John Peters et al, War and Escalation in South Asia, "South Asia describes the area reaching from Afghanistan across Pakistan, the Indian subcontinent, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh down to Sri Lanka."
  • Partha Ghosh, Cooperation and Conflict in South Asia, pp. 4-6, "The area of South Asia, however, is not quite so clear-cut. (...) The South Asia Institute (SAI) of the Heidelberg University in West Germany subscribes to this kind of definition. It has departments and scholars there whose work primarily relates to some aspects or the other of Southeast Asian region although the major thrust of the institute is on studies related to the Indian subcontinent, the so-called South Asia proper. A similar definition has also been used by scholars like Howard Wriggins and James Guyot. (...) After having excluded Burma and Afghanistan what essentially remains of South Asia is the Indian subcontinent, that is five countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan."

There are a zillion sources which state South Asia and India subcontinent to be a contested term, not as interchangeable. Per NPOV we can't take sides. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 03:33, 8 January 2018 (UTC)

That is exactly why there used to be is a "weasel word" in the earlier version of the article. The two terms are "sometimes" used interchangeably. Not always. BTW, @Kautilya3:, have you noticed the Kaushik Roy quote? I was about to post it myself. It has the reference to you state department comment. A.Z. Hilali mentioned it too. :D
What is your point, @Ms Sarah Welch:? What are you arguing about? Aditya(talkcontribs) 03:52, 8 January 2018 (UTC)
Good question. I don't really know what it is that you are debating, even though I jumped into the middle of it. Aditya, it looks you started making changes recently. So the ONUS is on you to explain what you are trying to do. Your edit summaries don't really explain it. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 09:29, 8 January 2018 (UTC)
Thanks. At least someone is willing to listen. :D My point, as I have already mentioned above, is that the article needs to be about the term and not the region. As South Asia and Indian Subcontinent is arguably the same place, it is unnecessary to have two articles on the region. The current version is about a region. It also is probably not encyclopedic to remove every mention of an academic explanation of the difference between the two terms (i.e. Inden and Bose-Jalal). Looks suspiciously like POV pushing. Aditya(talkcontribs) 16:52, 8 January 2018 (UTC)
South Asia and Indian Subcontinent are arguably not the same, and their contextual use varies by the scholar. See sources above, those in the article already and the past discussions. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 19:44, 8 January 2018 (UTC)
The context varies for both of the terms, and so does their definition. Very little if any is not overlapping, not enough to establish anything. On the other hand a lot can be established about the term, without contradictory sources. So, is that your point - these two regions are different? Aditya(talkcontribs) 07:30, 9 January 2018 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Aditya Kabir: Your write, "Very little if any is not overlapping, not enough to establish anything." That is the script in your mind, not supported by most sources. Your own sources and the numerous sources listed on this talk page clearly establish that the term is a contested one, variously defined and inconsistently described. That is what we must acknowledge. We discussed this in past at length and reached a consensus. The current article summarizes the disagreements with care, without CITEKILL. The version you tried to revise to, deleted the disagreements section, and added content that violates NPOV guideline by undue, dubious, one-sided POV along the lines of the script in your mind. We can't ignore "contradictory sources", we can't suppress "contradictory sources", because that is what NPOV requires. We summarize the disputes and sides, we don't join the dispute or take a side in wikipedia. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 17:21, 9 January 2018 (UTC)

Please, don't get fixated on whatever version I reverted back to (that was plain laziness, very regrettable). I am discussion only one version - the current one. And, who agrees to your claim that "the current article summarizes the disagreements with care"? You? Not good enough. Do you even have a point apart from "I adhere to Wikipedia" and "see the discussion above"? Aditya(talkcontribs) 21:02, 9 January 2018 (UTC)
Aditya Kabir: See, plus the discussion that preceded it for example. If you take the current article as the starting point, then propose additions / revisions respecting the "contradictory sources", Kautilya3, other editors and I are likely to welcome it. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 02:03, 10 January 2018 (UTC)
Thanks. That is all that is needed. That is what I proposed to do already. Good that we can finally agree. Aditya(talkcontribs) 03:53, 10 January 2018 (UTC)