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Encyclopedia > Indian Union

The Republic of India is a large country in South Asia, and one of only two countries in the world with a population of over one billion. The Indian economy is the fourth largest in the world in terms of purchasing power parity and is the world's second fastest growing economy. India is also the second most populous country in the world and the world's largest democracy. It is the seventh largest country by geographical size. It has grown significantly, in both population and strategic importance, in the last twenty years. India has also emerged as an important regional power, possessing one of the world's largest military forces and a declared nuclear weapons capability.


Located in Asia and constituting most of the Indian subcontinent, India straddles many trade routes. It shares its borders with Pakistan, the People's Republic of China, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Afghanistan1. Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia are nearby island nations in the Indian Ocean. India is home to some of the most ancient civilizations and has given birth to four major world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. The country was a part of the British Empire before gaining independence in 1947.

Republic of India
भारत गणराज्य
Bhārat Ganarājya
Emblem of India
(In Detail) (In Detail)

National motto: Satyamēva Jayatē (Sanskrit: Truth Alone Triumphs)

Location of India
Official language Hindi, English, and 21 other languages
Capital New Delhi
Largest City Mumbai (Bombay)
President: APJ Abdul Kalam
Prime Minister: Manmohan Singh
Area
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 7th
3,287,590 km˛
9.5%
Population
 - Total (2003)
 - Density
Ranked 2nd
1,065,070,607
324/km˛
Independence
Republic
15 August 1947
26 January 1950
GDP (PPP)
  - Total (2003)
  - GDP/capita
Ranked 4th, 111th
$3.096 trillion
$2,909
Currency Indian Rupee
Time zone IST (UTC+5.30)
National anthem Jana Gana Mana
National song Vandē Mātaram
Internet TLD .in
Calling Code +91
Contents

Origin of names

Main article: Origin of India's name


The official name India is the Old Persian version of Sindhu, the historic local appellation for the river Indus. The Constitution of India and general usage also recognises Bharat as an official name of equal status. Bharat was the name of an ancient Indian king. A third name, Hindustan, or land of the Hindus in Persian, was used from Mughal times onwards.


History

Main articles: History of India, Timeline of Indian history

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The Indus Valley Civilisation points to the earliest known urban settlements in India.

Stone Age rock shelters with paintings at Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh are the earliest known traces of human life in India. The first known permanent settlements appeared 9,000 years ago and developed into the Indus Valley Civilization, which peaked between 2600 BC and 1900 BC.


Early Hinduism was Brahmanical and based on the Vedas. Later, Buddhism and Jainism arose in waves of religious reform. Eventually, Hinduism regained its primacy by interacting with the Vedic and indigenous Dravidian culture. From c. 500 BC onwards, many independent kingdoms came into being. The Maurya dynasty, which included the Buddhist king Ashoka, made great contributions to India's cultural landscape, and the Gupta dynasty oversaw the period referred to as India's Golden Age. Art, mathematics, engineering, astrology, religion, and philosophy flourished under the patronage of kings. Following the Islamic invasions in the second millenium, much of India was ruled by the Delhi Sultanate and later the Mughal dynasty, although some Hindu kingdoms remained in or rose to power.

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A figurine of the Standing Buddha, 5th century, Mathura, Gupta period (4th-6th century AD).

Portuguese, French and English traders took advantage of the fractured kingdoms to colonise India. The British East India Company became powerful, and their discriminatory policies caused widespread resentment resulting in 1857 in an insurrection popularly known as the First War of Indian Independence. After the revolt India came under the crown of the British Empire. Subsequently, the Indian independence movement began its struggle for independence. On August 15, 1947 India was granted independence from British rule, becoming a secular republic in 1950.


Since its independence, India has fought four wars with its neighbours. In 1974 India became the world's sixth nuclear power, exploding a nuclear device in Pokhran, Rajasthan. From 1975 to 1977 Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a "State of Emergency in India", thereby freezing civil rights and detaining civilians without trial. The destruction of the Babri Masjid in 1992 resulted in religious strife in much of India. In 1998 the Indian government exploded five nuclear warheads, confirming India's nuclear status. In 1999 India participated in the Kargil War in Kashmir to repel Islamic separatists encroaching there.


Government and politics

Main article: Politics of India


India is a democratic republic. It is a federation of states within a federal structure. The head of state is the President, who has a largely ceremonial role. The President and Vice-President are elected indirectly by an electoral college for five-year terms.


The Prime Minister wields the executive power. The Prime Minister is designated by legislators of the political party or coalition commanding a parliamentary majority. He or she is assisted by the Council of Ministers, or the cabinet, appointed by the Prime Minister. All ministers are sworn in by the President. The President then appoints subordinate ministers on the advice of the Prime Minister.

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Map of India: The black line is the boundary as recognised by the government of India. The northern region of Kashmir is currently administered by India, Pakistan, and China (and coloured in as such). The delimiting of the three administered regions is not the international boundary but a ceasefire line demarcated in red. The boundary separating India and Pakistan is known as the Line of Control, that separating India and China as the 'Line of Actual Control'.

India's bicameral parliament consists of the upper house known as the Council of States, or Rajya Sabha and the lower house known as the House of the People, or Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha is chosen by an electoral college whereas the Lok Sabha is elected directly.


For most of its independent history, India's union government has been ruled by the Indian National Congress Party. Having been the biggest political group in pre-independence India, the Congress enjoyed nearly unchallenged dominance in national politics for over forty years. It was not until 1977 that a united opposition, under the banner of Janata Party, was able to win elections and form a non-Congress government.


See also:

Geography and climate

Main article: Geography of India

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The Himalaya stretch from Jammu and Kashmir in the north to Arunachal Pradesh in the far east making up most of India's eastern borders.

India's entire north and northeast states are made up of the Himalayan Range. The rest of northern, central and eastern India consists of the fertile Indo-Gangetic plain. Towards western India, bordering southeast Pakistan, lies the Thar Desert. The southern Indian peninsula is almost entirely composed of the Deccan plateau. The plateau is flanked by two hilly coastal ranges, the Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats.


India is home to several major rivers such as the Ganga (Ganges), the Brahmaputra, the Yamuna, the Godavari, and the Krishna.


The Indian climate varies from a tropical climate in the south to a more temperate climate in the north. Parts of India which lie in the Himalayan mountains have a tundra climate. India gets its rains through the monsoons.


See also:

States and Union territories

Main article: States and Territories of India


India is divided into twenty-eight states (which are further subdivided into districts), six Union Territories and the National Capital Territory of Delhi. States have their own elected government, whereas Union Territories are governed by an administrator appointed by the union government.

States:

  1. Andhra Pradesh
  2. Arunachal Pradesh
  3. Assam
  4. Bihar
  5. Chhattisgarh
  6. Goa
  7. Gujarat
  8. Haryana
  9. Himachal Pradesh
  10. Jammu and Kashmir
  11. Jharkhand
  12. Karnataka
  13. Kerala
  14. Madhya Pradesh
  1. Maharashtra
  2. Manipur
  3. Meghalaya
  4. Mizoram
  5. Nagaland
  6. Orissa
  7. Punjab
  8. Rajasthan
  9. Sikkim
  10. Tamil Nadu
  11. Tripura
  12. Uttaranchal
  13. Uttar Pradesh
  14. West Bengal


Union Territories:

National Capital Territory:

India has made no territorial claim in Antarctica but had two scientific bases there – Dakshin Gangotri and Maitri.


See also: List of states of India by population


Economy

Main articles: Economy of India, List of Indian companies


A nation in rapid development, India has an economy ranked as the twelfth largest in the world (in terms of currency conversion) or fourth largest (in terms of Purchasing Power Parity) and recorded the second-fastest annual growth rate at around eight percent in 2003. However, owing to its huge population, India's per-capita income by purchasing power parity works out to be US$ 2,540. India's foreign exchange reserves amount to over US$120 billion. Mumbai serves as the nation's financial capital and nerve centre; it is home to both the headquarters of the Reserve Bank of India and the Bombay Stock Exchange. While many Indians live in poverty, a large middle class has emerged along with the growth of a promising IT industry.

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The IT industry in India is one of India's fastest growing industries pegged at $13 billion in revenues. Pictured here is Infosys, one of India's leading IT companies.

The Indian economy has shed much of its historical dependence on agriculture, which now contributes to less than 25% of the GDP. Other important industries are mining, petroleum, diamond polishing, films, textiles, information technology services, and handicrafts. Most of India's industrial regions are centred around the major cities. In recent years, India has emerged the global leader in software and business process outsourcing services, raking in revenues of US$ 12.5 billion in the year that ended March 2004. There are also a lot of small-scale industries that provide steady employment to many of its citizens in small towns and villages. While India receives only around three million foreign visitors a year, its tourism base is still an important aspect of its national income. India's major trading partners are the United States, Japan, and the European Union.


Demographics

Main article: Demographics of India


India is the second most populous country in the world, with only China having a larger population. Language, religion, and caste are major determinants of social and political organisation within the highly diverse Indian population today. Its biggest metropolitan agglomerations are Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Delhi, Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), and Chennai (formerly Madras).


India's literacy rate is 64.8%, with 53.7% of females being literate. The sex ratio is 933 females for every 1000 males.


Although 80.5% of the people are Hindus, India is also home to the second largest population of Muslims in the world (13.4%). Other smaller religious minorities include Christians (2.33%), Sikhs (1.84%), Buddhists (0.76%), Jains (0.40%), Jews, Parsis, Ahmadi, and Bahá'ís. Religion in India is very public, with many practices imbued with pomp and vitality accompanying their underlying spiritual qualities. A melting pot of many religions, India has rich festivals celebrated by one and all. The most widely known and popular celebrations include the Hindu festivals of Diwali, Holi and Dussera.


India is home to two major linguistic families, those of the Indo-Aryan and Dravidian-derived languages. The Indian constitution recognises 22 languages. Hindi along with English are the languages used by the Central Government for official purposes. Two classical languages native to the land are Sanskrit and Tamil.


The number of mother tongues in India is as high as 1652.


See also:

Culture

Main article: Culture of India

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The Taj Mahal in Agra is India's most popular tourist destination.

India has a rich and unique cultural heritage, having striven to preserve its established traditions throughout history; its dynamic nature is manifest in its willingness to respect and tolerate foreign ways and practices. Many dynamic cultural practices and monuments, such as the Taj Mahal, have been inherited from the rule of Mughal emperors.


Living in a pluralist, multilingual and multicultural society, Indians are largely tolerant and peaceful. Religious practices of various faiths are an integral part of everyday life in society. Education is highly regarded by members of every socio-economic stratum. The traditional Indian family values are highly respected and considered sacred. Some urban families have grown into a nuclear family system, owing to the socio-economic constraints imposed by the traditional joint family system.


Indian music is represented by a wide variety of forms. The two main ones in terms of classical music are Carnatic from South India and Hindustani from the north. Popular forms of music also prevail, the most notable being Filmi music; interestingly, Hindu religious bhajans and Urdu ghazals often transcend the classical and popular realms. In addition to this are the diverse traditions of folk music. Many dance forms exist in India—Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Kathakali and others. They often have a narrative form (based on the Indian epics) and are usually infused with devotional and spiritual elements.

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The Gumpa dance is a mystic dance celebrated by the Tibetan Buddhist community in Sikkim during the Buddhist New Year — Losar.

The earliest literary traditions were mostly oral and were later transcribed. Most of these spring from Hindu tradition and are represented by sacred works like the Vedas and the epics of the Mahabharatha and Ramayana. Sangam literature from Tamil Nadu represents some of India's oldest secular traditions. Indian writers in modern times have been the cynosure of wide acclaim, both in Indian languages and English. India's only Nobel laureate in literature was the Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore.


India produces the world's highest number of films annually. The most recognisable face is that of Bollywood, based in Mumbai, which produces mainly commercial Hindi films. Cinema in other language bases is particularly strong, with movies regularly produced in well-established Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu industries. India's gift to world cinema was the internationally renowned Bengali language director Satyajit Ray.


Rice and wheat (in bread forms) are the staple foods in the country. The gastronomy of India is extremely rich and varied, as spices and other ingredients vary from region to region. Notable is the country's diverse and extensive vegetarian cuisine. Indians love their famous spicy food as much as their wide variety of sweets.


Traditional dress in India greatly varies across the regions in its colours and styles. The Sari and Salwar Kameez are popular styles of dress for women. Traditional raiments for men are the Kurta and Dhoti.


See also:

Sports and games

Main article: Sports in India


India's national sport is field hockey, although many would assert that cricket is now the de facto national game due to its success in recent times. Football (soccer) too finds large viewership in almost the entire country. Some traditional indigenous games are kabaddi and gilli-danda. Chess, carrom, polo, and badminton are some other games and sports that are said to have originated in India.


Indian athletes, however, do not shine in the international arena in many sports. Many blame the Indian government for not having an active sports policy and allowing for the breakdown of the sporting infrastructure. Others choose to criticise the perpetual media fixation on cricket as a distraction from other sports.


Trivia

See also

Topics related to India edit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Topics_related_to_India&action=edit)
History of India Timeline of Indian history Indus Valley Civilization, Meluhha, Aryan invasion theory, Greek Conquests in India, Mauryan dynasty, Ashokan Era, Sunga dynasty, Satavahana, Indo-Greek kingdom, Indo-Scythians, Indo-Parthian Kingdom, Kushan Empire, Western Kshatrapas, Gupta Empire, Pala Empire, Islamic incursions in India, Mughal Era, British Raj, British East India Company, Governor-General, Viceroy, War of Independence, 1857, Indian independence movement, Quit India Movement, Partition of India, Non-Aligned Movement, Sino-Indian War, Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Kargil War, Military, Demographic and Postal history
Politics Law, Constitution, Political parties (Bharatiya Janata Party, Indian National Congress), Foreign relations, Elections, Political divisions
Government Government agencies, Legislative branch (Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha) Executive branch (President & Vice-President, Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, Attorney-General, Election Commission, Foreign Minister; Law enforcement: CBI, CID, Intelligence: IB, RAW), Judicial branch (Supreme Court), Military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Border Security Force, Coast Guard)
Geography Himalayan Mtns., Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats, Indo Gangetic Plain, Deccan Plateau, Thar Desert, Ganges River, Rann of Kutch, Brahmaputra River, North-East India; Mountains, Valleys, Islands, Rivers; States and territories, Cities, List of Indian Districts, Regions
Economy Rupee, Bombay Stock Exchange, National Stock Exchange India, Standard of living, Companies, Reserve Bank of India
Demographics Languages, Standard of living, Religion
Arts & Culture Music (Carnatic, Hindustani, Indi-pop), Film & TV (Bollywood), TV stations, Literature, Cuisine, Holidays, Folklore, Dance, Architecture; Education, Languages, Media
Other Indian English, Numbering system, Indian Space Research Organization, Communications, Transportation (Highways,

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