India

2006 Wikipedia CD Selection

Republic of India
भारत गणराज्य
Bhārat Gaarājya
Flag of India Coat of arms of India
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Satyameva Jayate
Sanskrit: सत्यमेव जयते
/sətyəmeːvə ɟəjəteː/
(Truth Alone Triumphs)
Anthem: Jana Gana Mana
Sanskrit: जन गण मन
/ɟənə gəɳə mənə/
Location of India
Capital New Delhi
28°34′ N 77°12′ E
Largest city Mumbai (Bombay)
Official language(s) Hindi, English, and 21 other languages
Government
President
Prime Minister
Federal republic
APJ Abdul Kalam
Dr. Manmohan Singh
Independence
- Declared
- Republic
From the United Kingdom
1947- 08-15
1950- 01-26
Area
• Total

• Water (%)

3,287,590 km² ( 7th)
{{{areami²}}} mi²

9.56%
Population
2006 est.
2001 census

Density

1,112,225,812 ( 2nd)
1,027,000,000

329/km² ( 19th)
{{{population_densitymi²}}}/mi²
GDP ( PPP)
• Total
• Per capita
2005 estimate
$3.602 trillion ( 4th)
$3262 ( 125th)
HDI ( 2003) 0.602 ( 127th) – medium
Currency Rupee (Rs.)1 ( INR)
Time zone
• Summer ( DST)
IST ( UTC+5:30)
not observed ( UTC+5:30)
Internet TLD .in
Calling code +91
1 Re. is singular

The Republic of India is a South Asian country that comprises a major portion of the Indian subcontinent. It has a coastline of over seven thousand kilometres, borders Pakistan to the west, the People's Republic of China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast, and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. On the Indian Ocean, it is adjacent to three island nations — the Maldives to the southwest, Sri Lanka to the south, and Indonesia to the southeast. India also claims a border with Afghanistan to the northwest.

The name India 'ɪndiə is derived from the Old Persian version of Sindhu, the historic local name for the Indus river (see Origin of India's name). The Constitution of India and common usage also recognise Bharat ( Hindi: भारत /bʰɑːrət̪/ ) as an official name of equal status. This name is derived from the Sanskrit name of an ancient Hindu king whose story can be found in the Mahabharata epic poem. A third name, Hindustan ( Hindi: हिन्दुस्तान hin̪d̪ust̪ɑːn) ( Persian: Land of the Hindus / Land to the west of the Indus) has been used since the twelfth century AD, though its contemporary use is unevenly applied due to domestic disputes by some over its representation as a national signifier.

India is the fourth largest economy in the world by purchasing power parity, and the tenth largest by absolute GNP. It is the second most populous country, with a population of over one billion, and the seventh largest by geographical area. It is home to the Indus Valley Civilisation — one of the most ancient civilizations in recorded history — and a centre of important historic trade routes. Four major world religions — Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism — have Indian origins. India was a part of the British Empire before gaining independence in 1947. In the last twenty years, it has grown significantly, especially in the economic and military spheres.

History

Stone Age rock shelters with paintings at Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh are the earliest known traces of human life in present-day India. The first known permanent settlements appeared over 9,000 years ago, and gradually developed into the Indus Valley Civilisation, which began around 3300 BC and peaked between 2600 BC and 1900 BC. It was followed by the Vedic Civilisation. From around 550 BC, many independent kingdoms came into being.

In the north, the Maurya dynasty, which included Aşoka The Great, contributed greatly to India's cultural landscape. From 180 BC, a series of invasions from Central Asia followed. This led to the establishment of the Indo-Greek, Indo-Scythian and Indo-Parthian kingdoms in the northern Indian Subcontinent, and finally the Kushan Empire. From the 3rd century AD, the Gupta dynasty oversaw the period referred to as ancient India's "Golden Age".

In the south, several dynasties, including the Chalukyas, Cheras, Cholas, Kadambas, Pallavas and Pandyas prevailed during different periods. Science, engineering, art, literature, mathematics, astronomy, religion and philosophy flourished under the patronage of these kings.

The Sanchi stupa in Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh built by emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC
The Sanchi stupa in Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh built by emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC

Following the Islamic invasions from Central Asia and Persia in the beginning of the second millennium AD, much of north and central India came under the rule of the Delhi Sultanate, and later the Mughal dynasty, who gradually expanded their reign to much of the Indian subcontinent. Nevertheless, several indigenous kingdoms flourished, especially in the relatively sheltered south, one of which was the Vijayanagara Empire.

During mid-second millennium AD, several European countries, including Portugal, Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom, who initially wanted to trade with India, took advantage of the fractured kingdoms fighting each other, to establish colonies in the country. An 1857 insurrection against the British East India Company failed, known locally as the First War of Indian Independence, and in British and some Western literature as the Indian Mutiny, Sepoy Mutiny or Sepoy Rebellion. After it was put down, much of India came under the direct administrative control of the crown of the British Empire.

In the early 20th century, the prolonged, non-violent struggle for independence was led by Mahatma Gandhi, widely regarded as the "Father Of The Nation". The struggle culminated on 1947- 08-15, when India gained full independence from British rule, and became a republic on 1950- 01-26.

As a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation, India has had some sectarian violence and insurgencies in various parts of the country, but has stayed together as a vibrant democracy. It has unresolved border disputes with China (which escalated into the brief Sino-Indian War in 1962), and with Pakistan, which resulted in wars in 1947, 1965, 1971 and in 1999 in Kargil (at the northern fringe of Jammu and Kashmir State). India is a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement and the United Nations. In 1974, India conducted an underground nuclear test, making it an unofficial member of the " nuclear club". This was followed by a series of five more tests in Operation Shakti in 1998. Significant economic reforms beginning in 1991 have transformed India into one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, and added to its global and regional clout.

Government

National symbols of India
Flag Tiranga
Emblem Sarnath Lion
Anthem Jana Gana Mana
Song Vandē Mātaram
Animal Royal Bengal Tiger
Bird Indian Peacock
Flower Lotus
Tree Banyan
Fruit Mango
Sport Field Hockey
Calendar Saka

India is a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic. The Constitution of India, which came into force on 26th January 1950, is the supreme law of the land. India has a federal form of government (with a high degree of centralization) and a bicameral parliament operating under a Westminster-style parliamentary system. It has three branches of governance: the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary.

For the Union government of India, the President is the head of state, and has a largely ceremonial role, including interpreting the constitution, signing laws into action, issuing administrative orders and issuing pardons. He is also the Commander-in-Chief of India's armed forces. The President is elected indirectly by an electoral college for five-year terms, consisting of the members of Parliament and of all the state Legislative Assemblies in a very complicated scheme. The Prime Minister is the head of government, and has most executive powers. He or she is appointed by the President. As a general rule and rather a very strict convention, the President appoints only that person as the Prime Minister who enjoys the support of the majority of the members in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Parliament), and serves a five-year term, with re-selection possible. The constitution does not explicitly provide for a post of Deputy Prime Minister, but this option has been exercised from time to time.

The legislature of India is the bicameral Parliament (Sansad), which consists of the upper house called the Rajya Sabha (Council of States), and the lower house called the Lok Sabha (House of People). The 245-member Rajya Sabha is chosen indirectly through the state Legislative Assemblies, and has a staggered six-year term. Each state sends members to the Rajya Sabha in a proportion of its population (unlike the Senate of the United States). The 545-member Lok Sabha is directly elected by popular vote for a five-year term, and is the determinative constituent of political power and government formation. All Indian citizens above age 18 are eligible to vote. The Lok Sabha is subject to dissolution by the President but the Rajya Sabha is not.

The executive arm consists of the President, Vice-President and the Council of Ministers (the Cabinet being its executive comittee), headed by the Prime Minister. Any minister holding a portfolio must be a member of either house of parliament. In the Indian parliamentary system, the executive is subordinate to the legislature. All ministers are appointed and dismissed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. The President is bound to follow the advice of the Council of Ministers while making any executive decision or order, but may ask the Council to reconsider its decision once.

India's independent judiciary consists of the Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice of India—all appointed by the President. The Supreme Court has both original jurisdiction over disputes between states and the Centre, and appellate jurisdiction over the High Courts of India. Each of these states has a tiered system of lower courts. The Supreme Court has the right to declare laws and orders passed by the government as null and void if they are in conflict with the Constitution. Impeachment of the President and the judges of the Supreme Court requires a two-thirds majority in each house of the Parliament. Removal of the Prime Minister requires a simple majority in the Lok Sabha.

The federating states (rajya) of India have a governor as the titular head of the province, a Chief Minister as the real head of the government (with his council of ministers) and a directly-elected Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly) to which he is responsible, and optionally an upper house Vidhan Parishad (Legislative Council). The highest court of a state is its High court, whose judges are appointed by the President and not by the governor. There are 18 appellate High Courts, each having jurisdiction over a state or a group of smaller states. No state has its own Constitution except Jammu and Kashmir. No state has a separate citizenship (in Jammu and Kashmir, there is a constitutional provision of permanent resident of the state).

Politics

Map of India.[2]
Map of India.

For most of its independent history, India has been ruled by the Indian National Congress Party (INC). Following its position as the largest political organisation in pre-independence India, the INC, usually led by a member of the Nehru- Gandhi family, dominated national politics for over four decades. In 1975, the government led by Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency Rule across the nation. After emergency was lifted in 1977, and fresh elections were called, a united opposition, under the banner of the Janata Party won the elections and formed a non-Congress government for a short period. In 1996, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a political party with a right-wing nationalist ideology, became the largest single party, and established, for the first time, a serious opposition to the largely centre-left Congress. But power was de facto held by two successive coalition governments, with the active support of the Congress. In 1998, the BJP formed the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) along with smaller regional parties, and became the first non-Congress government to sustain a full five-year tenure (1999 to 2004). The decade prior to 1999 was marked by a state of political flux, with seven separate governments formed within that period.

In the 2004 Indian elections the INC returned to power after winning the largest number of seats. It formed a government in alliance with several regional parties, known as the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), with the outside support of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)). The NDA, led by the BJP, currently forms the main opposition. All governments since 1996 have required party coalitions, with no single party claiming a majority, due to the steady rise of regional parties at the national level.

States and union territories

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, though some have elected governments.

States of India
States of India

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:

  1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  2. Chandigarh
  3. Dadra and Nagar Haveli
  4. Daman and Diu
  5. Lakshadweep
  6. Pondicherry
  7. National Capital Territory of Delhi

India has had two scientific bases in Antarctica – the Dakshin Gangotri and Maitri, but has made no territorial claims so far.

Geography

Main article: Geography of India
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
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 northern and northeastern states are partially situated in the Himalayan Mountain Range. The rest of northern, central and eastern India consists of the fertile Indo-Gangetic plain. In the west, bordering southeast Pakistan, lies the Thar Desert. The southern Indian Peninsula is almost entirely composed of the Deccan plateau, which is flanked by two hilly coastal ranges, the Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats.

India is home to several major rivers, including the Ganga, Brahmaputra, Yamuna, Godavari, Kaveri, and Krishna. India has three archipelagos – Lakshadweep off the southwest coast, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands volcanic island chain to the southeast, and the Sunderbans in the Gangetic Delta in West Bengal State.

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

Economy

The Bombay Stock Exchange sensitive index is used as a determinant of the strength of the Indian economy.
The Bombay Stock Exchange sensitive index is used as a determinant of the strength of the Indian economy.
A thousand-rupee note
A thousand-rupee note

India's economy ranks tenth in the world in terms of currency conversion (GNP), and fourth in terms of Purchasing power parity (PPP). It recorded one of the fastest growth rates (8.1%) for the fourth quarter of 2005. Per-capita income (by PPP) is US$ 3100, ranked 125th according to the World Bank. India's foreign exchange reserves amount to over US$ 145 billion. Mumbai is the financial capital and home to the headquarters of the Reserve Bank of India and the pre-eminent Bombay Stock Exchange. While a quarter of Indians still live below the poverty line, a large middle class has now emerged along with the rapid growth of the information technology (IT) and service industries.

The Indian economy has shed much of its historical dependence on agriculture, which now contributes about 21% to GDP. Other important industries are mining, petroleum, diamond polishing, films, textiles, IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) services, pharmaceuticals and chemicals, and handicrafts. Most of India's industrial regions are centred around major cities. In recent years, India has emerged as one of the largest players in the software and BPO industries, with revenues of US$ 17.2 billion in 2004 to 2005. Many small-scale industries provide steady employment to workers in small towns and villages.

While India receives only around three million foreign visitors a year, tourism is still an important but under-developed source of national income. Tourism contributes 5.3% of GDP, about US$4 billion in foreign exchange.. Directly and indirectly, it generates an estimated 42 million jobs, about 10% of India's work force. India's major trading partners are the United States, the European Union, Japan, China and the United Arab Emirates.

India's main exports include agricultural products, textile goods, gems and jewelry, software services, engineering goods, chemicals and leather products, while its main imports are crude oil, machinery, gems, fertiliser, and chemicals. For the year 2004, India's total exports stood at US$ 69.18 billion, imports at US $89.33 billion.

Demographics

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

India's literacy rate is 64.8%, 53.7% for females and 75.3% of males. The sex ratio is 933 females per 1000 males. Work Participation Rate (WPR; the percentage of workers to total population) is 39.1%, with male WPR at 51.7% and female WPR at 25.6% India's median age is 24.66, and the population growth rate is 22.32 births per 1,000.

The Akshardham Hindu temple, Delhi
The Akshardham Hindu temple, Delhi

India has no state religion. Although 80.5% of the people are Hindus, India is also home to the third-largest population of Muslims in the world (13.4%; see Islam in India), after Indonesia and Pakistan. Other religious groups include Christians (2.3%), Sikhs (1.84%), Buddhists (0.76%), Jains (0.40%), Jews, Zoroastrians, Ahmadi-muslims, and Bahá'ís.

Race is not a major social factor in India. Anthropologists usually classify most Indians as Caucasoid (including Nordic and Mediterranoids), with minority populations of the Australoid, Negroid and Mongoloid racial type. Skin colour of the Indians may vary from very fair (almost white) to wheatish (for majority of the people) to very dark (almost black), with almost always black hair and black eyes.

Languages

India is home to two major linguistic families: Indo-European (whose branch Indo-Aryan is spoken by about 74% of the population) and Dravidian (spoken by about 24%). Other languages spoken in India come from the Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman linguistic families. Two classical languages native to the land are Sanskrit and Tamil. The number of mother tongues in India is as high as 1,652.

The Indian Constitution recognises 23 official languages. Hindi is the official language of the Union of India (Article 343, Indian Constitution). English is a co-official language of the Indian Union. The other languages are recognised in the Constitution as regional languages. Each state has the right to choose its own official and co-official language. Many states are formed on a linguistic basis.


Culture

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

India has a rich and unique cultural heritage, and has managed to preserve its established traditions throughout history. It has always absorbed customs, traditions and ideas from both invaders and immigrants. Many cultural practices, languages, customs and even monuments are examples of this co-mingling over centuries. Famous monuments, such as the Taj Mahal and other examples of Islamic-inspired architecture have been inherited from the Mughal dynasty. These are the result of a syncretic tradition that combined elements from all parts of the country.

Indian society is largely pluralist, multilingual and multicultural. 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. Traditional Indian family values are highly respected, and considered sacred, although urban families have grown to prefer a nuclear family system, owing to the socio-economic constraints imposed by the traditional joint family system.

Religion in India is a very public affair, with many practices imbued with pomp and vitality accompanying their underlying spiritual qualities.

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

A melting pot of many religions, India has a rich diversity of festivals, many of which are celebrated by all, irrespective of caste and creed. The most widely known and popular celebrations include the Hindu festivals of Diwali, Holi, and Dussehra, and the Muslim celebration of Eid. Sankranthi in Andhra Pradesh, Pongal in Tamil Nadu and Onam in Kerala are harvest festivals celebrated by people belonging to all religions in their respective states. Durga Puja in West Bengal, and Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra (during autumn) are two festivals which have social as well as religious significance.

Indian music is represented in a wide variety of forms. The two main forms of classical music are Carnatic from South India, and Hindustani from North India. Popular forms of music also prevail, the most notable being Filmi music. In addition to this are the diverse traditions of folk music from different parts of the country. Many classical dance forms exist, including the Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Mohiniyattam and Kuchipudi from the south, and Odissi, Kathak and Manipuri from the north and east. They often have a narrative form (based on the itihasa (Indian epics), and are usually infused with devotional and spiritual elements. In recent years Bhangra, which originates in the now divided Punjab region of India, has entered into mainstream western music as a combination of traditional Indian music in conjunction with pop, reggae, and hip-hop.

The earliest literary traditions in India were mostly oral, and were later transcribed. Most of these spring from Indian (later called Hindu) traditions, 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 traditions. There have been many notable modern Indian writers, both in Indian languages and in English. India's only Nobel laureate in literature was the Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore.

Traditional food in south India is ocasionally eaten on a plantain leaf.
Traditional food in south India is ocasionally eaten on a plantain leaf.

India produces the world's largest number of movies every year. The most recognisable face is that of cinema production based in Mumbai, which produces mainly commercial Hindi films, often referred to as " Bollywood". Cinema in other vernacular languages is also particularly strong, with movies regularly produced in well-established Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu industries. India's contribution to world cinema was the internationally renowned Bengali director Satyajit Ray, who in 1992 won an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Rice and wheat are the staple foods in the country. The cuisine of India is extremely diverse, as ingredients, spices and cooking methods vary from region to region. The country is notable for its wide variety of vegetarian and non vegetarian cuisine. Spicy food and sweets are popular in India. Traditional dress in India greatly varies across the regions in its colours and styles, and depend on various factors, including climate. The traditional sari and the salwar kameez are popular styles of dress for women. Traditional raiments for men are the kurta and dhoti.

Sports and games

India's national sport is field hockey, although cricket is now the de facto national game due to its success and popularity in recent times. However, cricket is not the most popular sport in some states, particularly in the northeast. Chess is another international sport in which India is quite strong: Viswanathan Anand was FIDE World Champion, and several players have made significant inroads in recent years, well past the Grandmaster level. India also has a tradition of cue sports ( snooker, billiards, etc) and shooting.

India has had relatively little success in other international events like the Olympics, where it garnered just one silver medal and two bronze medals in the previous three outings. However, it had won eight field hockey golds until 1980. India has done rather well in Davis Cup tennis tournaments, reaching the finals on three occasions. Its players have secured several individual titles and Grand Slam doubles wins, but an Indian is yet to win a Grand Slam singles.

Traditional indigenous sports include polo, kabaddi, Kho Kho and gilli-danda, which are played in most parts of the country. Chess, badminton and carrom are also said to have originated in India. Snooker and badminton have seen Indians achieve some international success. Football (soccer) is also widely watched in almost the entire country, and is the most popular sport in many states. Formula 1 racing is also increasing in popularity, due to racing driver Narain Karthikeyan, though its reach is largely limited to urban areas.

Holidays

India has three National Holidays. Other sets of holidays, varying between nine to twelve, pertains to festivals, religious holidays and births of leaders which are legislated by the individual states.

Date Holiday Remarks
26 January Republic Day The constitution of India came into effect on this day in the year 1950.
15 August Independence Day India gained its independence from the British Empire on this day in 1947.
2 October Gandhi Jayanti The birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

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