13 Maps That Explain India In Comparison To The Rest Of The World - Homegrown

13 Maps That Explain India In Comparison To The Rest Of The World

The Washington Post was instrumental in starting a trend sometime late last year. One that tried to simplify the world’s many conundrums by providing us relative comparisons of countries with respect to different scales and subjects, through the visual representations of a map. While we have since learned, from pop culture no less, that the maps we’ve grown up with are quite possibly entirely wrong, it’s definitely a more interesting way to learn about stuff than, well, wordy, undulating articles. Either way, we decided to take a cue from the pioneers and put together this collection of maps that do a fairly good job of showcasing India’s position in a global context, across a number of interesting and unrelated issues. Some of them may seem less necessary than others, but all are equally fascinating when you apply your own analyses to them. Plus we've included links for further reading in as many of these maps as possible.
Without further ado, here they are. 15 (two for bonus because we're nice like that) maps that explain India, within the context of the rest of the world.

I. We have the highest number of enslaved individuals in the world.

The Map: Where the world's 30 million slaves live

How it works: It is colour coded to signify the density of the concentration of slaves in the world. Countries that are more yellow, have a lower number, while countries like India which are darker, belong to the other extreme end of the scale.

According to statistics, there are over 30 million people today living as forced labourers, forced prostitutes, child soldiers and other forms of definitive ‘slavery’ and about 1% or 14 million Indians are living as slaves today. You can read more about the breakup of the numbers in this map over here.

II. We are one of the oldest civilizations in the world.

The Map: How Humans Spread Across The World

How It Works: The map shows where the first waves of migration went, when humans first began leaving Africa.

The globe wasn't always this peopled.  About 60,000 years ago, the first humans left Africa and judging by the routes they took (which this map shows) it quickly becomes apparent that the first real civilizations were born in the Middle East, India and of course, Africa. This also, according to some experts, explains why relatively younger countries like America don't have as dense populations despite their large size.

III. There was more terrorism in Eastern India (in 2012) than a lot of the Middle East.

The Map: All terror attacks worldwide in 2012 

How It Works: The concentration of dots indicates the presence of terrorism at all, while the colour demarcates the intensity/frequency of the same. As such, the redder the colour, the higher is the intensity of those attacks, putting North Eastern India right up there with the Middle East as far as relative scales go.

Yes, this map is a little dated but it represents a fairly predominant pattern either way. A study conducted by the University of Maryland-based National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism tracked every single terrorist attack in 2012 this map lets us know that Eastern India is one of the major hotbeds for terrorism globally and it makes us realise just how vulnerable we are. This is mostly due to the Maoist ‘Naxalite’ Insurgency that has been wreaking havoc in those parts for almost 50 years with little governmental interference to do something about the issue.

IV. We’re not as hospitable as we think (So much for atithi devo bhava?)

The Map: Where people are the most and least welcoming to foreigners 

How It Works: As part of a World Economic Forum report on global tourism, they actually compiled compelling data of each countries’ population’s attitude towards foreigners. The colour grading is such that countries that are more blue indicate a better attitude while countries moving towards red are less hospitable.

As the map clearly shows, despite Indian customs being in line with great hospitality, we’re still nowhere close to the acceptance levels in countries like huge chunks of New Zealand, Iceland or even America. However, we are better off that Russia, Bolivia and Venezuela and some expectedly troubled states like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia but at least they have serious internal conflict to cite as an excuse.

It could be argued that this is a sociological issue we’re facing as a country as a whole, growing less tolerant towards outside cultures is due to a constant tussle between modernity and tradition. There’s also the other matter of surveys having named us among the most racist countries in the world.

V. We’re one of the worst places in the world to be born.

The Map: The Best And Worst Places To Be Born

How It Works: The Economic Intelligence unit looked at 80 countries, scoring them across 11 variables to determine "which country will provide the best opportunities for a healthy, safe and prosperous life in the years ahead."

Nothing too surprising here. Given our terrible infant mortality rates, major gender equality gaps, violent crime rates and health standards among other things, India is definitely on one of the lowest rungs on this list, sharing its status with countries like Syria and Ecuador.
Moreover, there is a clear correlation between richer countries and a higher standard of living/happiness so given our optimistic economic projections, perhaps our status will improve soon. Then again, money can’t buy complete happiness unless our society doesn’t become more homogenous.

VI. We’re not as emotional as the 'K' serials we love to watch.

The Map: The countries where people are the most and least emotional

How It Works: People in yellow countries are the least likely to report having emotional experiences of any kind, positive or negative. Purple countries are where people report experiencing the most feelings.

While we were certain we’d see India top this list given all the daily drama we seem to indulge in, this survey conducted by the Gallup Polling firm says otherwise. Parts of Central Africa and India shared a rung, while most of the West (spanish and english speaking, largely) seemed relatively more in tune with their emotions. Experts think that the lack of emotional expressiveness is also directly in proportion to the frequency of hardships that people face on a regular basis.
Of course, trying to sum up entire populations’ emotional response based on five questions alone does leave room for error and we felt the results of this particular map were a definitely little bit skewed. Either way, you can learn more about their grading system here. 

VII. Incomes in India are more equitably distributed than in America.

The Map: How countries compare on economic inequality

How It Works: Based on the Palma Ratio, which measures the gap between the rich and poor, bluer countries experience more equality in income distribution than red countries.

Quite surprisingly, India fares a lot better than both Russia and huge parts of North America and is actually just a little above average on this scale. However, this is no reason to get complacent because the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development claims that India’s income inequality has doubled in the last 20 years and the gap is only getting bigger.

VIII. We’re moving backwards as far as gay rights are concerned.

The Map: Gay Rights Around The World

How It Works: Blocks of colour variate countries’ progression as far as gay rights are concerned by looking at their legal systems and how they treat homosexuality. Countries in grey, like India, imply the lack of any laws pertaining to the same but things have changed since this map was made.

What’s interesting to note is that since this map was constructed, India has actually become more regressive. Over here, we belong to the category of countries that have no stance towards same sex union legally speaking (nothing to write home about either) but as of December, 2013, Section 377 has actually criminalised the act of homosexuality making us the 77th country in the world to do so. And forget moving towards legal gay union. In fact, India’s first Lesbian couple to marry was met with serious death threats upon their civilian union and even needed 24-hour protection. 
Another great insight into this issue, is with this map that shows where people are the most and least tolerant of homosexuality. 

IX. In comparison to others, we don't smoke quite as much as we thought. 

The Map: Where people smoke the most (and least) cigarettes per person

How it works: The colours represent different ranges (of numbers) of cigarettes smoked per person in the country.

It may seem surprising that India is one of the best ranked countries on the list despite a steady rise in tobacco consumption but don’t be fooled by these statistics.
For one thing, the total number of cigarettes being consumed is being divided by a billion strong population which is bound to lower the per person calculation by a whole lot. Moreover, this study does not account for the various other means of tobacco consumption, especially chewing products like guthka, which leads to a high rate of Oral cancer. Don’t believe us? See this report that claims tobacco will be killing as many as 1.5 million Indians by 2020.

X. We’re one of the worst countries to be a mother in.

The Map: Best & Worst Countries To Be A Mother

How It Works: The colour index on this map, based on a report by Save The Children, indicates that bluer countries are far better places to be a mother while the ones moving in the opposite direction are quite literally ‘in the red’ as far as being a mother is concerned.

The London-based NGO created this index based on a wide range of data gathered from the UN and other sources using five different metrics namely, risk of maternal death, infant mortality rate, the number of years an average child will spend in school, gross national income per capita and participation of women in government. The report indicates that 847 babies die everyday in India within 24 hours of their birth, while other factors like unusually early marriages for girl children also pushed it so far down the mark for motherhood. None of this comes as a surprise, of course, considering we already know that we're one of the worst countries to be a woman at all. More recently, the Mother's Index report was released that placed us 140 out of 179 countries, placing us in the same category as countries like Rwanda, Nigeria and Ghana as far as the survival divide between wealthy and poor urban children go.
Still, at least we're not in the bottom 10 countries for this list. Yet.

XI. We love god more than many, many others.

The Map: Where the atheists live

How it works: A 2012 poll by Win/Gallup International asked more than 50,000 people in 40 countries whether they considered themselves “religious,” “non religious” or “convinced atheist” and made the following inferences based on it.

India has only 0-4% of its population claiming to be ‘convinced atheists’ making us one of the most faith-centric places on the planet. Even less than places like Saudi Arabia which shocked with the magnitude of convinced atheists, despite this being punishable by death in those parts.

XII. Our economic activity is still relatively low

The Map: The World Light Map

How It Works: For the most part, it’s difficult to measure things as abstract as economic activity but there are simpler ways to take a stab at guessing how developed a country is. Take this Light map for example, essentially satellite images of the world at night and it quickly becomes clear that light is a good estimator of population density and progress together.

Huge swathes of light exist in America’s Northeastern Metropolis and northwestern Europe while Africa is barely illuminated at all. And given its intensely dense population, India is surprisingly dim. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that 70% of the Indian population is still rural and not living in major metropolises where the demand for light and industrial activity is high.

XIII. We’re not as happy as a lot of the world

The Map: The happiest and least happy countries in the world

How it works: Columbia University’s world happiness ranking attempted to measure happiness using a series of social metrics including more obvious ones like wealth, health, political stability and economic equality among others.

Taking all of this into account, it’s to surprising that India isn’t at the top of this list. In fact, we are a little below average and actually at par with war-ravaged countries in the Central African Republic


A. We've got way too many people over in our corner.

The Map: More than half of humanity lives inside this circle 

How It Works: By drawing a circle around India and China for starters!

In yet another illustration of both countries’ massive populations, this isn’t India specific per say but it’s still interesting to note that more than half the world’s entire population actually lives on just this much land.
According the U.S. Census Bureau, India’s population is 2nd only to China’s at approx. 1,220,800,359. Indonesia follows at less than a quarter of that. For more such numbers about the rest of this circle’s countries, check this out.

B. More than half of our country's households don't have a toilet to call their own.

The Map: How many Indian homes have toilets

How It Works: Higher density of green dots indicate the presence of bathrooms per house.

Though over half of Indian households do own a telephone, over 49.6% of the total 246.6 million households have a toilet as a result of which, most of the country still defecates in the open.
Releasing the data, Registrar-General and Census Commissioner C. Chandramouli told The Hindu that the lack of sanitary facilities “continues to be a big concern for the country.” “Cultural and traditional reasons,” he argued, “and lack of education seemed to be the primary reasons for this unhygienic practice. We have to do a lot in these areas.”

For more interesting statistics that were uncovered by this survey, click here.

Words: Mandovi Menon

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