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The Warm Land India

civilization, china, indian, europe, world and plateau

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THE WARM LAND : INDIA as a preparation for further work, we survey what we have already noticed, it is seen that we have traced out the growth of two civilizations, each affecting a quarter of the population of the world—one in Europe, the other in China ; the one taking many forms, because it was affected in many ways by different geographical controls ; the other a continuous growth along the same lines, because of the overwhelming importance of one set of factors; both being affected by the open steppeland civilizations of the great heart land of the old world. The existence of each seems to have de pended on the possibility of making a beginning with small things, in having protection to organize small communities to save energy.

Now, if we consider the third area of the old world with a great population, India, we are at once struck by the fact that though there is a distinct type of civilization which may be called Indian, yet, on the one hand, India has never been organized as a whole from within, as China has been for centuries ; nor, on the other, has Indian civilization had influence all over the world, as had European civilization. And this distinct type of Indian civilization takes far more forms than does Chinese or even European. Further, while the civilization of Europe is a continuous growth from the seeds planted in Egypt and Babylonia, and that of China grew naturally from a beginning in the Wei Valley, the beginnings of Indian civilization can be traced to no such simple origins, and Indian history has been far more profoundly controlled by external forces.

Consider the geographical facts.

Like China and unlike Europe India has no Mediter ranean Sea; there is no assemblage of islands off the coast; the land is warm and, on the whole, productive. There is neither temptation, as in the Mediterranean, nor necessity, as in Scandinavia, for the inhabitants to venture on to the sea ; they have remained at the early stage of landmen to whom the sea is unfamiliar.

There are highlands and lowlands ; a map shows the great highlands of the north and north-west, the Himalayas, backed by the plateau of Tibet, continued eastwards and south-eastwards as many great mountain ranges separated by steep, densely forested valleys, and continued westwards by a fan of mountains descending to the plateau of Iran. In the peninsula is another much lower and flatter highland, steep-sided on the west, sloping gently eastward, and to a considerable extent worn away by the rivers which have followed that slope ; there is a very narrow lowland on the west and a wider lowland on the east. Between the northern mountains and the southern plateau lies the great alluvial plain stretching for 2000 miles from the mouth of the Ganges to the mouth of the Indus, without a stone on its surface over its whole extent except close to the hill margins, and rising so gently at the rate of a foot a mile that to the eye the slope is quite imperceptible. Here there is nothing of the variation of relief in the Balkans or in Italy; here nothing of the centralization which has made France.

Even when climatic conditions are taken into account, there is a sameness which is reflected in the lives of the people. Though it is true that India may be said to possess almost every variety of climate, and though scattered up and down through India there are hill stations whose climate is very pleasant for a greater or less part of the year, yet the fact remains that these are the exceptions, and the land as a whole is hot, not only in summer but in winter. During the latter season nearly the whole of India is warmer than any part of China, and of course warmer than any part of Europe. This is one great difference between India and the other two areas with great populations—a difference which goes far to explain the different histories. There is less need to save bodily energy by wearing clothes at any season of the year.

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