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Indian subcontinent

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Indian subcontinent, or the subcontinent, is a southern region and peninsula of Asia, mostly situated on the Indian Plate and projecting southwards into the Indian Ocean from the Himalayas. Geologically, the Indian subcontinent is related to the land mass that rifted from Gondwana and merged with the Eurasian Plate nearly 55 million years ago.[1] Geographically, it is the peninsular region in south-central Asia delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east.[2] Geopolitically, the Indian subcontinent includes all or part of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as well as the Maldives.

Name

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term "subcontinent" signifies a "subdivision of a continent which has a distinct geographical, political, or cultural identity" and also a "large land mass somewhat smaller than a continent".[3][4] The term "Indian continent" was first introduced in the early 20th century, when most of the territory was part of British India.[5] Its use to refer to the Indian subcontinent is seen from the early twentieth century.[6][7] It was especially convenient for referring to the region comprising both British India and the princely states under British Paramountcy.[8][9]

The Indian subcontinent as a term has been particularly common in the British Empire and its successors,[10] while some academics hold that the term "South Asia" is the more common usage in Europe and North America.[11][12] 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."[13] Indologist Ronald B. Inden argues that the usage of the term "South Asia" is becoming more widespread since it clearly distinguishes the region from East Asia.[14] While "South Asia", a more accurate term that reflectes the region's contemporary political demarcations, is replacing the "Indian subcontinent", a term closely linked to the region's colonial heritage, as a cover term, the latter is still widely used in typological studies.[15][16] The English term "subcontinent" continues to refer mainly to the Indian subcontinent.[6][17]

Since the partition of India, citizens of Pakistan (which became independent of British India in 1947) and Bangladesh (which became independent of Pakistan in 1971) often perceive the use of "Indian subcontinent" as offensive and suspicious because of the dominant placement of India in the term. As such it is being increasingly less used in those countries. Meanwhile many Indian analysts prefer to use the term because of socio-cultural commonalities of the region.[18] The region has also been called the "Asian subcontinent",[19][20] the "South Asian subcontinent",[21][22] or the "Indo-Pak subcontinent",[23] as well as India or Greater India in the classical and pre-modern sense.[24][25][26]

Geology

Geologically, the Indian subcontinent was first a part of a largely oceanic Greater India Basin,[27] a region of Gondwana that drifted away from East Africa about 160 million years ago, around the Middle Jurassic period.[1] The region experienced high volcanic activity and plate subdivisions, creating Madagascar, the Seychelles, Antarctica, Australasia and the Indian subcontinent basin. The Indian subcontinent drifted northeastwards, colliding with the Eurasian plate nearly 55 million years ago, towards the end of Paleocene.[1] The zone where the Eurasian and Indian subcontinent plates meet remains geologically active, prone to major earthquakes.[28][29]

Physiographically, it is a peninsular region in south-central Asia delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east.[2][30] It extends southward into the Indian Ocean with the Arabian Sea to the southwest and the Bay of Bengal to the southeast.[31][32] Most of this region rests on the Indian Plate and is isolated from the rest of Asia by large mountain barriers.[33]

Geography

According to anthropologist John R. Lukacs, "the Indian Subcontinent occupies the major landmass of South Asia".[34] This natural physical landmass in South Asia is the dry-land portion of the Indian Plate, which has been relatively isolated from the rest of Eurasia.[35] The Himalayas (from Brahmaputra River in the west to Indus River in the west), Karakoram (from Indus River in the east to Yarkand River in the west) and the Hindu Kush mountains (from Yarkand River westwards) form its northern boundary.[36] Along the Eastern Hindu Kush lies the Afghanistan–Pakistan border.[37] The Western Fold Belt along the border (between the Sulaiman Range and the Chaman Fault) is the western boundary of the Indian Plate.[38]

Given the difficulty of passage through the Himalayas, the sociocultural, religious and political interaction of the Indian subcontinent has largely been through the valleys of Afghanistan in its northwest,[39] the valleys of Manipur in its east, and by maritime routes.[35] More difficult but historically important interaction has also occurred through passages pioneered by the Tibetans. These routes and interactions have led to the spread of Buddhism out of the Indian subcontinent into other parts of Asia. And the Islamic expansion arrived into the Indian subcontinent in two ways, through Afghanistan on land and to Indian coast through the maritime routes on the Arabian Sea.[35]

Geopolitics

The precise definition of an "Indian subcontinent" in a geopolitical context is somewhat contested as there is no globally accepted definition on which countries are a part of South Asia or the Indian subcontinent.[40][41][42][43] Whether called the Indian subcontinent or South Asia, the definition of the geographical extent of this region varies.[25][26]

In terms of modern geopolitical boundaries, the Indian subcontinent is constituted of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan, besides, by convention, the island nation of Sri Lanka and other islands of the Indian Ocean, such as the Maldives.[44][45][46][47][48] Since most of these countries are located on Indian plate, a continuous landmass, the borders between two countries are often either a river or a no man's land.[49] According to Chris Brewster and Wolfgang Mayrhofer, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan constitute the Indian subcontinent; with Afghanistan and Maldives included it is more commonly referred to as South Asia.[50]

Afghanistan, despite often being considered as a part of South Asia, is usually not included in the Indian subcontinent.[40] Even when some parts of Afghanistan are sometimes included in the Indian subcontinent as a boundary territory between Central Asia and northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent, the socio-religious history of Afghanistan are related to the Turkic-influenced Central Asia.[51][52] The Maldives, a country consisting of a small archipelago southwest of the peninsula, is considered part of the Indian subcontinent.[53]

The periphery of the subcontinent comprises of areas, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kashmir and the island chains of Lakshdweep and Maldives, with large Muslim populations while the heartland, including most part of India, Nepal and northern Sri Lanka, is overwhelmingly Hindu.[54]

References

  1. ^ a b c Robert Wynn Jones (2011). Applications of Palaeontology: Techniques and Case Studies. Cambridge University Press. pp. 267–271. ISBN 978-1-139-49920-0.
  2. ^ a b Baker, Kathleen M.; Chapman, Graham P. (11 March 2002), The Changing Geography of Asia, Routledge, pp. 10–, ISBN 978-1-134-93384-6, This greater India is well defined in terms of topography; it is the Indian sub-continent, hemmed in by the Himalayas on the north, the Hindu Khush in the west and the Arakanese in the east.
  3. ^ Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, Merriam-Webster, 2002. Retrieved 6 December 2016; Quote: "a large landmass smaller than a continent; especially: a major subdivision of a continent <the Indian subcontinent>"
  4. ^ Subcontinent, Oxford English Dictionaries (2012). Retrieved 6 December 2016; Quote: "A large distinguishable part of a continent..."
  5. ^ "Indian subcontinent" is used by Henry D. Baker, British India With Notes On Ceylon Afghanistan And Tibet (1915), p. 401.
  6. ^ a b McLeod, John (1 January 2002). The History of India. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780313314599 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ Milton Walter Meyer, South Asia: A Short History of the Subcontinent, pages 1, Adams Littlefield, 1976, ISBN 0-8226-0034-X
  8. ^ "subcontinent". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  9. ^ "Indian subcontinent". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  10. ^ Milton Walter Meyer, South Asia: A Short History of the Subcontinent, pages 1, Adams Littlefield, 1976, ISBN 0-8226-0034-X
    Jim Norwine & Alfonso González, The Third World: states of mind and being, pages 209, Taylor & Francis, 1988, ISBN 0-04-910121-8
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    Lucian W. Pye & Mary W. Pye, Asian Power and Politics, pages 133, Harvard University Press, 1985, ISBN 0-674-04979-9
    Mark Juergensmeyer, The Oxford handbook of global religions, pages 465, Oxford University Press US, 2006, ISBN 0-19-513798-1
    Sugata Bose & Ayesha Jalal, Modern South Asia, pages 3, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0-415-30787-2
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  18. ^ B.H. Farmer, An Introduction to South Asia, page 1, Methuen and Co. Ltd., 1983, ISBN 9780416726008, "The 'Indian sub continent' 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 the Bangladeshis."
    Jona Razzaque, Public Interest Environmental Litigation in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, page 3, Kluwer Law International, 2004, ISBN 9789041122148 "Yet, because citizens of Pakistan (which was carved out of India in 1947 and has had recurring conflicts with India since then) and of Bangladesh (which became separated from Pakistan by civil war in 1971) might find offensive the dominant placement of India in the term "Indian subcontinent", many scholars today prefer the more recently adopted designation 'South Asia.'"
    Sushil Mittal and Gene Thursby, Religions of South Asia: An Introduction, page 3, Routledge, 2006, ISBN 9781134593224
    S K Shah, India and Its Neighbours: Renewed Threats and New Directions, page 26, Vij Books India Pvt Ltd, 2017, ISBN 9789386367501 "Indian analysts, who talk of the Indian sub-continent, wish to keep in mind, in their analyses, the common historical, political, religious and cultural heritage of these three countries. The term sub-continent is used less and less in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The political leadership and the policy-makers in these two countries do not wish to be reminded of this common heritage. Any highlighting of this common heritage by Indian analysts is viewed by them with suspicion—— as indicating a hidden desire to reverse history and undo the 1947 partition."
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    Jim Norwine & Alfonso González, The Third World: states of mind and being, pages 209, Taylor & Francis, 1988, ISBN 0-04-910121-8
    Raj S. Bhopal, Ethnicity, race, and health in multicultural societies, pages 33, Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-19-856817-7; Quote: "The term South Asian refers to populations originating from the Indian subcontinent, effectively India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka;
    Lucian W. Pye & Mary W. Pye, Asian Power and Politics, pages 133, Harvard University Press, 1985, ISBN 0-674-04979-9
    Mark Juergensmeyer, The Oxford handbook of global religions, pages 465, Oxford University Press US, 2006, ISBN 0-19-513798-1
    Sugata Bose & Ayesha Jalal, Modern South Asia, pages 3, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0-415-30787-2
  25. ^ a b Sushil Mittal and Gene Thursby, Religions of South Asia: An Introduction, page 3, Routledge, 2006, ISBN 9781134593224
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  28. ^ Bethany D. Rinard Hinga (2015). Ring of Fire: An Encyclopedia of the Pacific Rim's Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Volcanoes. ABC-CLIO. pp. 89–90. ISBN 978-1-61069-297-7.
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  32. ^ John McLeod, The history of India, page 1, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002, ISBN 0-313-31459-4
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  41. ^ Jona Razzaque (2004). Public Interest Environmental Litigation in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Kluwer Law International. pp. 3 with footnotes 1 and 2. ISBN 978-90-411-2214-8.
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