India is a country with a population approaching 1.1 billion. It is quickly closing the population gap with its neighbor to the north, China. However, with a geographical land mass equal to 1/3 that of the USA, India is, for the most part, densely populated. Unemployment is common and 25% of Indians live below the poverty line. Many people are jobless and homeless. In the city of Calcutta, for example, there are 2,000,000 homeless people. However, there is economic growth in the business sector. Many Western companies are moving some of their operations to India in order to take advantage of the inexpensive labor. Due in part to the tropical climate in much of India, diseases such as bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, typhoid fever, dengue fever, malaria, and Japanese encephalitis have taken their toll on the population. India is a tribal country and over 1,600 languages are spoken within its borders. The national languages are Hindi and English.
There are nearly 26 million orphans in India. The chief causes for child abandonment are poverty and disease. This affords a great opportunity for Christians to start orphanages in which they can care for the physical needs of the children and also can share with them the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Hinduism is the dominant religion in India, with 80-85% of the population claiming adherence to it. Hindus believe in 300 million gods and the devout Hindu will try to please as many of these as possible. Karma, the belief that one's situation in life is fixed as a reward or punishment for deeds done in a former life, dominates the Hindu worldview. Hindus also believe that they must be reincarnated (reborn) 82 trillion times in their quest for salvation. Salvation for the Hindu is being united with the ultimate being, called Brahman-Atman. Once this occurs, they will cease to exist, and thus will be saved.
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