An informal pre-departure orientation from a participant’s perspective.
This section takes a look at some of the major issues in India from a more academic perspective.
Before leaving for India, it is useful to study the fundamental features of Indian culture, politics, history, economics, religion, equality, development, and the environment. Indians are very aware of issues and events their own country, and will expect you to be knowledgeable about both India and Canada.
In addition, learning about these topics is one of the best ways to prepare yourself for the trip. The cliché is true: India is a land of rich diversity and contrasts. The people of India are rich and poor, traditional and modern, surprising and stereotypical. Indians are Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Zoroastrian, Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist. They live in deserts, rainforests, mountains, and plains, in sprawling cramped cities, tiny villages, and everything in between.
You will get so much more out of the trip if you understand more about what is going on around you. Sure, you've heard all about India's diversity before, but consider this: at least 15 types of transport used the road past my house in Jaipur, Rajasthan, including elephants, camels, horses, donkeys, cow, goats, bicycles, two types of rickshaw, cars, semi-trucks, scooters, and pedestrians pushing carts full of vegetables. I've never seen anything even close to that in 'multicultural' Canada!
Photos: (Left) Donkeys hang out by by the house of our Coordinator in Jaipur; (Right) massive temples mix with modern conveniences.
Here are some excellent general resources on India:
Confused by Indian place names? Learn where everything is on this Map of India.
The PBS Commanding Heights website has an outstanding collection of timelines relating to Indian politics, economic, society, environment, law, trade, and more. It also has statistical graphs with very clear explanations of significance. Excellent!
Sometimes you just have to go to the source! Use this Directory of Departments to help find you way around the Government of India's website.
The Lonely Planet website is an excellent resource to help you get prepared for travel. You can have your questions answered on the message board, and find a basic summary of almost anything on this site!
Many Guelph professors are/have been involved in research projects in India. If you are interested in learning more, check out the department webpages, or ask your profs about who in their department has worked in India.
Updated: 2006 November 16