India (Hindi:Bhārat, officially the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by geographical area, the second most populous country, and the largest democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the west, and the Bay of Bengal on the east, India has a coastline of 7,517 kilometers (4,671 mi). It borders Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north-east; and Bangladesh and Burma to the east. Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia are in India's vicinity in the Indian Ocean.
India is the world's twelfth largest economy at market exchange rates and the third largest in purchasing power. Economic reforms have transformed it into the second fastest growing large economy; however, it still suffers from high levels of poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition.
India is the largest democracy in the world. For most of its democratic history, the federal government has been led by the Indian National Congress (INC). State politics have been dominated by several national parties including the INC, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)), and various regional parties. From 1950 to 1990, barring two brief periods, the INC enjoyed a parliamentary majority. The INC was out of power between 1977 and 1980, when the Janata Party won the election owing to public discontent with the "Emergency" declared by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In 1989, a Janata Dal-led National Front coalition in alliance with the Left Front coalition won the elections but managed to stay in power for only two years.
Since its independence in 1947, India has maintained cordial relationships with most nations. It took a leading role in the 1950s by advocating the independence of European colonies in Africa and Asia. India is a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement. After the Sino-Indian War and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, India's relationship with the Soviet Union warmed at the expense of ties with the United States and continued to remain so until the end of the Cold War. India has fought four wars with Pakistan, primarily over Kashmir. India also fought and won an additional war with Pakistan for the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.
India is a founding member and long time supporter of the United Nations, with over 55,000 Indian military and police personnel having served in thirty-five UN peace keeping operations deployed across four continents. Despite criticism and military sanctions, India has consistently refused to sign the CTBT and the NPT, preferring instead to maintain sovereignty over its nuclear program. Recent overtures by the Indian government have strengthened relations with the United States, China, and Pakistan. In the economic sphere, India has close relationships with other developing nations in South America, Asia, and Africa.
India is a federal republic of twenty-eight states and seven Union Territories. All states, the union territory of Puducherry, and the National Capital Territory of Delhi have elected governments. The other five union territories have centrally appointed administrators and hence are under direct rule of the President. In 1956, under the States Reorganisation Act, states were formed on a linguistic basis. Since then, this structure has remained largely unchanged. Each state or union territory is divided into basic units of government and administration called districts. There are nearly 600 districts in India. The districts in turn are further divided into tehsils and eventually into villages.
Administrative divisions of India, including 28 states and 7 union territories.
- Andhra Pradesh
- Arunachal Pradesh
- Himachal Pradesh
- Jammu and Kashmir
- Madhya Pradesh
- Tamil Nadu
- Uttar Pradesh
- West Bengal
- Andaman and Nicobar Islands
- Dadra and Nagar Haveli
- Daman and Diu
- National Capital Territory of Delhi
Major Cities: Ahmedabad • Bangalore • Chennai • Delhi • Hyderabad • Kolkata • Mumbai
For most of its post-independence history, India adhered to a quasi-socialist approach with strict government control over private sector participation, foreign trade, and foreign direct investment. However, since 1991, India has gradually opened up its markets through economic reforms and reduced government controls on foreign trade and investment. Foreign exchange reserves have risen from US$5.8 billion in March 1991 to US$275 billion in 2007, while federal and state budget deficits have decreased. Privatization of publicly-owned companies and the opening of certain sectors to private and foreign participation has continued amid political debate. With a GDP growth rate of 9.4% in 2006-07, the economy is among the fastest growing in the world. India's GDP in terms of USD exchange-rate is US$1.089 Trillion . When measured in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), India has the world's third largest GDP at US$4.726 trillion. India's per capita income (nominal) is US$ 1004 , while its per capita (PPP) is US$ 4182.
India has the world's second largest labour force, with 516.3 million people, 60% of whom are employed in agriculture and related industries; 28% in services and related industries; and 12% in industry. Major agricultural crops include rice, wheat, oilseed, cotton, jute, tea, sugarcane, and potatoes. The agricultural sector accounts for 28% of GDP; the service and industrial sectors make up 54% and 18% respectively. Major industries include automobiles, cement, chemicals, consumer electronics, food processing, machinery, mining, petroleum, pharmaceuticals, steel, transportation equipment, and textiles.
Although the Indian economy has grown steadily over the last two decades; its growth has been uneven when comparing different social groups, economic groups, geographic regions, and rural and urban areas.Income inequality in India is relatively small though it has been increasing of late. Wealth distribution in India is fairly uneven, with the top 10% of income groups earning 33% of the income. Despite significant economic progress, a quarter of the nation's population earns less than the government-specified poverty threshold of $0.40 per day. In 2004–2005, 27.5% of the population was living below the poverty line.
More recently, India has capitalised on its large pool of educated, English-speaking people, and trained professionals to become an important outsourcing destination for multinational corporations and a popular destination for medical tourism. India has also become a major exporter of software as well as financial, research, and technological services. Its natural resources include arable land, bauxite, chromite, coal, diamonds, iron ore, limestone, manganese, mica, natural gas, petroleum, and titanium ore.
In 2007, estimated exports stood at US$140 billion and imports were around US$224.9 billion. Textiles, jewellery, engineering goods and software are major export commodities. While crude oil, machineries, fertilizers, and chemicals are major imports. India's most important trading partners are the United States, the European Union, and China.
With an estimated population of 1.12 billion, India is the world's second most populous country. Almost 70% of Indians reside in rural areas, although in recent decades migration to larger cities has led to a dramatic increase in the country's urban population. India's largest cities are Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Delhi, Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), Chennai (formerly Madras), Bangalore, Hyderabad and Ahmadabad.
India is the second most culturally, linguistically and genetically diverse geographical entity after the African continent. India is home to two major linguistic families; Indo-Aryan (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. Hindi, with the largest number of speakers, is the official language of India. English, which is extensively used in business and administration, has the status of a 'subsidiary official language.' The constitution also recognises in particular 21 other languages that are either abundantly spoken or have classical status. The number of dialects in India is as high as 1,652.
India's literacy rate is 64.8% (53.7% for females and 75.3% for males). The state of Kerala has the highest literacy rate (91%); Bihar has the lowest (47%). The national human sex ratio is 944 females per 1,000 males. India's median age is 24.9, and the population growth rate of 1.38% per annum; there are 22.01 births per 1,000 people per year.