Story highlights

Making sense of India has never been easy. The land, seen by many as mystical, has with its vastness and variety always charmed, challenged and confused outsiders in equal measure.

It’s a country with few parallels – a nation of more than a billion people, who straddle diverse geographical zones, from ice-capped mountains to hot and humid plains, from parched deserts to dense forests and fertile valleys.

A majority are Hindus, but millions of others are either Muslims, Christians, Jains, Buddhists or Sikhs.

Even being a Hindu guarantees little commonality. As one popular saying goes, Hindus pray and swear by 330 million different gods and goddesses.

They also speak different languages – 438 languages and about 2000 dialects are said to be in circulation in this populous country.

Making sense of India has never been easy. This land has always charmed and confused outsiders in equal measure – where hope thrives amid seas of despair, and entrepreneurs and free thinkers are going global and forging a new world.

It’s a story that Al Jazeera has covered from the early days of our launch in 2006, when we established one of our first foreign bureaus in New Delhi.

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Now we aim to do even better. We are launching a special focus on India, which we hope will bring all the issues facing the region into focus.

We’re starting out this week by telling stories through the eyes of India’s women. We hope you will be intrigued as we are. See our latest Spotlight page here.

And as always, we’d like you to tell us what you think. Keep in touch.

Source: Al Jazeera