CBC Digital Archives

Taxi tour reveals snapshot of India in 1956

India is the world's largest democracy and its second most populous, but for decades its image was mainly that of a poor nation with a rich history. Shaken by periodic religious strife and still largely a rural and agricultural country, India has nevertheless emerged in the new millennium as an increasingly important global player. From its colonial origins to the bright lights of Bollywood, CBC Digital Archives presents a collection of clips about India past and present.

In 1957, India is a faraway place that few Canadians are likely to visit. But they can get a vivid audio tour with journalist Anne Francis, who was in Delhi for a conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. In this CBC Radio clip, Francis describes Delhi's great Red Fort and street bazaars and the pageant of veiled lepers, schoolchildren, Brahmin cows and sacred monkeys she encountered while travelling the road between Old Delhi and New Delhi. 
• In this clip, Anne Francis reports that just 20 per cent of the population of India was literate. By 2001 the overall rate had climbed to 61 per cent - 73.4 per cent for men and 47.8 per cent for women.

• In 2008 the population of India was an estimated 1.14 billion people, the world's second most populous nation. (China is first.) But the Population Reference Bureau, based in Washington, has projected that by 2050 India will have exceeded China in population.

• Both cows and monkeys are sacred in the Hindu religion, and 80 per cent of Indians are Hindu. Only two provinces, Kerala and West Bengal, permit the slaughter of cows, and it is illegal to transport them over state lines for slaughter. (However, that law is frequently broken.) 

Medium: Radio
Program: Radio News
Broadcast Date: Jan. 21, 1958
Reporter: Anne Francis
Duration: 9:06

Last updated: February 3, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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