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India and the World


India is centrally located between East and West Asia. In other words, it is the southward extension of the Asian Continent.

India's Location in the World

India’s location in Asia

The trans Indian Ocean routes favours the strategic central location of India. These sea routes enables to connect India with the countries of Europe in the west and the countries of Asia in the east . Peninsular India protrudes into the Indian Ocean and helps India to establish close contact with West Asia, Africa and Europe from the western coast and with Southeast and East Asia from the eastern coast.

Sea routes from Peninsular India

India’s Land & Sea routes in ancient times

India’s Air & Sea routes in the 21st Century

India is the only country in the Indian Ocean that has a very long coastline and indeed, it is its pre-eminent position in the Indian Ocean, which justifies the naming of an Ocean after it. Interestingly, no other country in the world has an ocean named after it.

The Indian Coast line

Indian coastline stretches about 5700 kms on the mainland and about 7500 kms including the two island territories and exhibits most of the known geomorphological features of coastal zones. Presently, Indian coastline is facing increasing human pressures e.g., overexploitation of marine resources, dumping of industrial and toxic wastes, oil spills and leaks which have resulted in substantial damage to its ecosystems. The impact of global warming-induced sea level rise due to thermal expansion of near- surface ocean water has great significance to India due to its extensive low-lying densely populated coastal zone. Sea level rise is likely to result in loss of land due to submergence of coastal areas, inland extension of saline intrusion and ground water contamination and may have wide economic, cultural and ecological repercussions.

India's Glory in past and her trade relations with other countries

India had very good relationship with her neighbours since the ancient times. This was possible due to 2 reasons.
  • The well developed sea routes, which was possible due to the extensive coastline
  • The land routes which were created through the mountain passes.

The land routes were formed much before the sea routes were created. As India is bounded by the mighty Himalayas in the north, passes had to be carved out through the mountains to enable travellers to from Asia Minor,China and Europe to reach India and vice versa.

Mountain Passes


The Himalayan range at Yumesongdong in Sikkim, in the Yumthang River valley

The rugged terrain of the Himalaya makes few routes through the mountains possible. Some of these routes include:

  • Gangtok in Sikkim to Lhasa in Tibet, via the Nathula Pass and Jelepla Passes (offshoots of the ancient Silk Road).
  • Bhadgaon in Nepal to Nyalam in Tibet.
  • Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh, India.
  • The road from Srinagar in Kashmir via Leh to Tibet. This pass is now less used because of regional troubles. Many people are affected.
  • Mohan Pass is the principal pass in the Siwalik Hills, the southern most and geologically youngest foothills running parallel to the main Himalayas in Sikkim.

Goods and ideas flowed freely through these land and sea routes.

Let us look at some of the goods and ideas that were passed on to other countries from India.


  • Spices
  • Muslin were the main commodities that were exported during the ancient times.


  • The Indian numerals
  • The Decimal System
  • The Upanishads
  • The Ramayan
  • Panchathantra Stories were the ideas from India ,that enhanced the people of other countries

On the other hand , Greek sculpture and the architecture of the West Asian countries influenced the Indian artist and builders.

Let us learn a little about the ancient Indian treasures

  • The Indian numerals and the Decimal System

A decimal place system has been traced back to ca. 500 in India. The Indian place-system numerals spread to neighboring Persia, where they were picked up by the conquering Arabs.

The addition of zero as a tenth positional digit is documented from the 7th century by Brahmagupta

The decimal numeral system has ten as its base. It is the most widely used numeral system, perhaps because humans have four fingers and a thumb on each hand, giving a total of ten digits over both hands.

As it was from the Arabs that the Europeans learnt this system, the Europeans called them Arabic numerals; ironically, to this day the Arabs refer to their numerals as Indian numerals.. Most of the positional base 10 numeral systems in the world have originated from India, which first developed the concept of positional numerology. The Indian numeral system is commonly referred to in the West as Hindu-Arabic numeral system, since it reached Europe through the Arabs.

The earliest known physical use of decimal fractions in ancient weight system was in 2600BC in the Indus Valley Civilisation.

  • The Upanishads

The Upanishads are regarded as part of the Vedas and as such form part of the Hindu scriptures. They primarily discuss philosophy, meditation, and the nature of God; they form the core spiritual thought of Vedantic Hinduism.

  • The Ramayan

The Ramayan is an ancient Sanskrit epic attributed to the poet Valmiki. It tells the story of Raam, whose wife Sita is abducted by the demon king of Lanka, Rāvan. In its current form, the Valmiki Ramayan is dated from 500 BC to 100 BC. Valmiki's version is the oldest written form and the most authentic. One of the most important literary works on ancient India, the Ramayan has had a profound impact on art and culture in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia

  • The Panchatantra

The Panchatantra approximated its current literary form within the 4th — 6th centuries CE. According to Hindu tradition, it was written around 200 BCE by Pandit Vishnu Sarma, a sage. One of the most influential Sanskrit contributions to world literature, it was exported (probably both in oral and literary formats) north to Tibet and China and east to South East

Asia by Buddhist Monks on pilgrimage


A page from the Arabic version of Kalila wa dimna dated 1210 CE illustrating the King of the Crows conferring with his political advisors

The Panchatantra, 'Five Principles', was originally a canonical collection of Sanskrit (Hindu) as well as Pali (Buddhist) animal fables in verse and prose. The original Sanskrit text, now long lost, and which some scholars believe was composed in the 3rd century BCE, is attributed to Vishnu Sarma. However, based as it is on older oral traditions, its antecedents among storytellers probably hark back to the origins of language and the subcontinent's earliest social groupings of hunting and fishing folk gathered around campfires.


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