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INDIA

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
TOPOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENVIRONMENT
POPULATION
MIGRATION
ETHNIC GROUPS
LANGUAGES
RELIGIONS
TRANSPORTATION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL PARTIES
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
JUDICIAL SYSTEM
ARMED FORCES
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
ECONOMY
INCOME
LABOR
AGRICULTURE
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
FISHING
FORESTRY
MINING
ENERGY AND POWER
INDUSTRY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOMESTIC TRADE
FOREIGN TRADE
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
INSURANCE
PUBLIC FINANCE
TAXATION
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH
HOUSING
EDUCATION
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
MEDIA
ORGANIZATIONS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
FAMOUS INDIANS
DEPENDENCIES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Republic of India

Bharat Ganarajya

CAPITAL: New Delhi

FLAG: The national flag, adopted in 1947, is a tricolor of deep saffron, white, and green horizontal stripes. In the center of the white stripe is a blue wheel representing the wheel (chakra) that appears on the abacus of Asoka's lion capital (c.250 bc) at Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh.

ANTHEM: Jana gana mana (Thou Art the Ruler of the Minds of All People ). A national song of equal status is Vande Mataram (I Bow to Thee, Mother).

MONETARY UNIT: The rupee (r) is a paper currency of 100 paise. There are coins of 5, 10, 20, 25, and 50 paise, and 1, 2, and 5 rupees, and notes of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500 rupees. r1 = 0.02294 (or $1 = r43.6) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: Metric weights and measures, introduced in 1958, replaced the British and local systems. Indian numerical units still in use include the lakh (equal to 100,000) and the crore (equal to 10 million).

HOLIDAYS: Republic Day, 26 January; Independence Day, 15 August; Gandhi Jayanti, 2 October. Annual eventssome national, others purely local, and each associated with one or more religious communitiesnumber in the hundreds. The more important include Shivarati in February; and Raksha Bandhan in August. Movable religious holidays include Holi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja, Dussehra, 'Id al-Fitr, Dewali; and Christmas, 25 December.

TIME: 5:30 pm = noon GMT.

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT

The Republic of India, Asia's second-largest country after China, fills the major part of the South Asian subcontinent (which it shares with Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh) and includes the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal and Lakshadweep (formerly the Laccadive, Minicoy, and Amindivi Islands) in the Arabian Sea. The total area is 3,287,590 sq km (1,269,345 sq mi), including 222,236 sq km (85,806 sq mi) belonging to Jammu and Kashmir; of this disputed region, 78,932 sq km (30,476 sq mi) are under the de facto control of Pakistan and 42,735 sq km (16,500 sq mi) are held by China. Comparatively, the area occupied by India is slightly more than one-third the size of the United States. China claims part of Arunachal Pradesh. Continental India extends 3,214 km (1,997 mi) ns and 2,933 km (1,822 mi) ew.

India is bordered on the n by the disputed area of Jammu and Kashmir (west of the Karakoram Pass), China, Nepal, and Bhutan; on the e by Myanmar, Bangladesh, and the Bay of Bengal; on the s by the Indian Ocean; on the w by the Arabian Sea; and on the nw by Pakistan. The total boundary length is 21,103 km (13,113 mi), of which 7,000 km (4,340 mi) is coastline.

India's capital city, New Delhi, is located in the north central part of the country.

TOPOGRAPHY

Three major features fill the Indian landscape: the Himalayas and associated ranges, a geologically young mountain belt, folded, faulted, and uplifted, that marks the nation's northern boundary and effectively seals India climatically from other Asian countries; the Peninsula, a huge stable massif of ancient crystalline rock, severely weathered and eroded; and the Ganges-Brahmaputra Lowland, a structural trough between the two rivers, now an alluvial plain carrying some of India's major rivers from the Peninsula and the Himalayas to the sea. These three features, plus a narrow coastal plain along the Arabian Sea and a wider one along the Bay of Bengal, effectively establish five major physical-economic zones in India.

Some of the world's highest peaks are found in the northern mountains: Kanchenjunga (8,598 m/28,208 ft), the third-highest mountain in the world, is on the border between Sikkim and Nepal; Nanda Devi (7,817 m/25,645 ft), Badrinath (7,138 m/23,420 ft), and Dunagiri (7,065 m/23,179 ft) are wholly in India; and Kamet (7,756 m/25,447 ft) is on the border between India and Tibet.

The Peninsula consists of an abrupt 2,400-km (1,500-mi) escarpment, the Western Ghats, facing the Arabian Sea; interior low, rolling hills seldom rising above 610 m (2,000 ft); an interior plateau, the Deccan, a vast lava bed; and peripheral hills on the north, east, and south, which rise to 2,440 m (8,000 ft) in the Nilgiris and Cardamoms of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The Peninsula holds the bulk of India's mineral wealth, and many of its great riversthe Narbada, Tapti, Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveriflow through it to the sea. The great trench between the Peninsula and the Himalayas is the largest alluvial plain on earth, covering 1,088,000 sq km (420,000 sq mi) and extending without noticeable interruption 3,200 km (2,000 mi) from the Indus Delta (in Pakistan) to the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta (shared by India and Bangladesh), at an average width of about 320 km (200 mi). Along this plain flow the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Son, Jumna, Chambal, Gogra, and many other major rivers, which provide India with its richest agricultural land.

India is located in a seismically active region prone to destructive earthquakes. On 26 January 2001, a 7.7 magnitude earthquake hit northwest India with tremors felt through most of Pakistan as well. Over 20,000 people were killed and over 166,800 were injured. It was recorded as the deadliest earthquake of the year worldwide. The disastrous tsunami that struck Indonesia on 26 December 2004 also impacted India. The tsunami was caused by an underwater earthquake 324 km (180 mi) south of Indonesia's Sumatra island. More than 100,000 people were affected and there were more than 10,000 casualties. On 8 October 2005, an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale, struck the Kashmir region. There were more than 140 aftershocks recorded; many measured 5 in magnitude. More than 1,300 were killed and at least 32,000 homes were destroyed.

CLIMATE

The lower east (Coromandel) and west (Malabar) coasts of the Peninsula and the Ganges Delta are humid tropical; most of the Peninsula and the Ganges-Brahmaputra Lowland are moist subtropical to temperate; and the semiarid steppe and dry desert of the far west are subtropical to temperate. The northern mountains display a zonal stratification from moist subtropical to dry arctic, depending on altitude.

Extremes of weather are even more pronounced than the wide variety of climatic types would indicate. Thus, villages in western Rajasthan, in the Thar (Great Indian) Desert, may experience less than 13 cm (5 in) of rainfall yearly, while 2,400 km (1,500 mi) eastward, in the Khasi Hills of Assam, Cherrapunji averages about 1,143 cm (450 in) yearly. Sections of the Malabar Coast and hill stations in the Himalayas regularly receive 250760 cm (100300 in) yearly; many areas of the heavily populated Ganges-Brahmaputra Lowland and the Peninsula receive under 100 cm (40 in).

Winter snowfall is normal for the northern mountains and Kashmir Valley, but for most of India, scorching spring dust storms and severe hailstorms are more common. The northern half of the country is subject to frost from November through February, but by May a temperature as high as 49°c (120°f) in the shade may be recorded. High relative humidity is general from April through September. Extratropical cyclones (similar to hurricanes) often strike the coastal areas between April and June and between September and December.

The monsoon is the predominant feature of India's climate and helps to divide the year into four seasons: rainy, the southwest monsoon, JuneSeptember; moist, the retreating monsoon, OctoberNovember; dry cool, the northeast monsoon, DecemberMarch; hot, AprilMay. The southwest monsoon brings from the Indian Ocean the moisture on which Indian agriculture relies. Unfortunately, neither the exact times of its annual arrival and departure nor its duration and intensity can be predicted, and variations are great. In 1987, the failure of the southwest monsoon resulted in one of India's worst droughts of the century.

FLORA AND FAUNA

Almost one-fourth of the land is forested. Valuable commercial forests, some of luxuriant tropical growth, are mainly restricted to the eastern Himalayas, the Western Ghats, and the Andaman Islands. Pine, oak, bamboo, juniper, deodar, and sal are important species of the Himalayas; sandalwood, teak, rosewood, mango, and Indian mahogany are found in the southern Peninsula. Some 15,000 varieties of midaltitude, subtropical, and tropical flowers abound in their appropriate climatic zones. The neem tree, a native tropical evergreen tree, has been called the "village pharmacy" because many parts of the tree have been used for a variety of medicines and lotions.

India has over 300 species of mammals, 900 species of breeding birds, and a great diversity of fish and reptiles. Wild mammals, including deer, Indian bison, monkeys, and bears, live in the Himalayan foothills and the hilly section of Assam and the plateau. In the populated areas, many dogs, cows, and monkeys wander as wild or semiwild scavengers.

ENVIRONMENT

Among India's most pressing environmental problems are land damage, water shortages, and air and water pollution. During 1985, deforestation, which, especially in the Himalayan watershed areas, aggravates the danger of flooding, averaged 1,471 sq km (568 sq mi) per year. India also lost 50% of its mangrove area between 1963 and 1977. In 2000, about 21% of the total land area was forested.

Despite three decades of flood-control programs that had already cost an estimated $10 billion, floods in 1980 alone claimed nearly 2,000 lives, killed tens of thousands of cattle, and affected 55 million people on 11.3 million hectares (28 million acres) of land. As of the mid-1990s, 60% of the land where crops could be grown had been damaged by the grazing of the nation's 406 million head of livestock, deforestation, misuse of agricultural chemicals, and salinization.

Due to uncontrolled dumping of chemical and industrial waste, fertilizers and pesticides, 70% of the surface water in India is polluted. The nation has 1,261 cu km of renewable water resources, of which 92% is used for farming. Safe drinking water is available to 96% of urban and 82% of rural dwellers.

Air pollution is most severe in urban centers, but even in rural areas, the burning of wood, charcoal, and dung for fuel, coupled with dust from wind erosion during the dry season, poses a significant problem. Industrial air pollution threatens some of India's architectural treasures, including the Taj Mahal in Agra, part of the exterior of which has been dulled and pitted by airborne acids. In what was probably the worst industrial disaster of all time, a noxious gas leak from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, killed more than 1,500 people and injured tens of thousands of others in December 1985. In 1992 India had the world's sixth-highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which totaled 769 million metric tons, a per capita level of 0.88 metric tons. In 2000, the total carbon dioxide emissions was reported at 1 billion metric tons.

The environmental effects of intensive urbanization are evident in all the major cities, although Calcuttaonce a symbol of urban blighthas been freed of cholera, and most of the city now has water purification and sewer services. Analogous improvements have been made in other leading cities under the Central Scheme for Environmental Improvement in Slum Areas, launched in 1972, which provided funds for sewers, community baths and latrines, road paving, and other services.

The National Committee on Environmental Planning and Coordination was established in 1972 to investigate and propose solutions to environmental problems resulting from continued population growth and consequent economic development; in 1980, the Department of the Environment was created. The sixth development plan (197984), which for the first time included a section on environmental planning and coordination, gave the planning commission veto power over development projects that might damage the environment; this policy was sustained in the seventh development plan (198590). The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute has field center areas throughout the country.

The Wildlife Act of 1972 prohibits killing of and commerce in threatened animals. There are about 20 national parks and more than 200 wildlife sanctuaries, including 5 natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 19 Ramsar wetland sites. As of 2003, 5.2% of India's total land area was protected. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 85 types of mammals, 79 species of birds, 25 types of reptiles, 66 species of amphibians, 28 species of fish, 2 types of mollusks, 21 species of other invertebrates, and 246 species of plants. Endangered species in India include the liontailed macaque, five species of langur, the Indus dolphin, wolf, Asiatic wild dog, Malabar largespotted civet, clouded leopard, Asiatic lion, Indian tiger, leopard, snow leopard, cheetah, Asian elephant, dugong, wild Asian ass, great Indian rhinoceros, Sumatran rhinoceros, pygmy hog, swamp deer, Himalayan musk deer, Kashmir stag or hangul, Asiatic buffalo, gaur, wild yak, white-winged wood duck, four species of pheasant, the crimson tragopan, Siberian white crane, great Indian bustard, river terrapin, marsh and estuarine crocodiles, gavial, and Indian python. There are at least ten extinct species. Although wardens are authorized to shoot poachers on game reserves, poaching continues, with the Indian rhinoceros (whose horn is renowned for its supposed aphrodisiac qualities) an especially valuable prize.

POPULATION

The population of India reached one billion in March 2001. In 2005 the population was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 1,103,596,000, which placed it at number 2 (behind China) in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 4% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 36% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 105 males for every 100 females in the country. The projected population for the year 2025 was 1,363,000,000. The population density was 336 per sq km (869 per sq mi).

The US Census Bureau expected India's population to surpass China's by 2035. India's population grew rapidly from the 1920s until the 1970s, mostly due to a sharp decline in the death rate because of improvements in health care, nutrition, and sanitation. In 1921, when India's population stood at 251,321,213, the birth rate was 48.1 but the death rate was 47.2; by 1961, when the population reached 439,234,771, the birth rate was still high at 40.8, but the death rate had dropped by more than half to 22.8. The birth rate dropped from 41.1 in 1971 to 30.2 in 199091, presumably attributable to an aggressive program of family planning, contraception, and sterilization, but had little immediate impact on the compounded population growth rate, which averaged 2.1% in the 1980s and 1.9% in 199095. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 1.7%. Despite the fact that the population growth rate had been steadily declining for several decades, the government in 2005 continued to seek ways to slow population growth. The government considers the rapid population growth a serious problem, particularly in relation to reducing poverty. The goal of the Indian government is to reach zero population growth by 2050 with a population of 1.3 billion.

The majority of people live in some 555,315 villages with fewer than 10,000 residents each. The UN estimated that just 28% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 2.38%. The capital city, New Delhi, had a population of 14,146,000 in that year. Other large urban areas and their estimated population were Mumbai (formerly Bombay) (18,336,000); Delhi (15,334,000); Calcutta (14,299,000); Chennai (Madras) (6,900,000); Bangalore (6,532,000); Hyderābād (6,145,000); Ahmadābad (5,897,000); Pune (4,485,000); Surat (3,671,000); Kānpur (3,040,000); Jaipur (2,796,000); Lucknow (2,589,000); and Nāgpur (2,359.000).

MIGRATION

The partitioning of the South Asian subcontinent to create India and Pakistan in 1947 produced one of the great mass migrations in human history, involving some 20 million people. Historically, major migratory movements have been to and from Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. The influx of Muslim refugees (estimated at 280,000 in 1983) from Bangladesh to Assam state since the 1970s has sparked protests among Hindus. Persons of Indian origin domiciled abroad (excluding Pakistan) reside mainly in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Nepal, Myanmar, South Africa, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Fiji, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Indian minority groups in foreign countries generally do not become assimilated with the local population but live as separate groups, intermarry, and retain their own distinctive culture even after a residence of several generations.

There has been a steady migration within India from rural to urban areas. Linguistic differences limit the degree of interstate migration, as do efforts by some states to limit job opportunities for migrants and to give preference in public employment to longtime local residents. Sri Lankans began arriving in the early 1990s. Since 1992, 54,000 repatriated voluntarily. However, repatriation stopped in 1995 due to violence in Sri Lanka. Some 3,800 people arrived in 1998, and arrivals continued. In 1999 there were around 66,000 Sri Lankan refugees located in 133 camps in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. An estimated 40,000 Sri Lankans live outside the camps. Indian authorities have not requested international assistance for Sri Lankan refugees, and the repatriation of Sri Lankans to their country is voluntary.

In 2000 there were 6,271,000 migrants living in India, including 170,900 refugees. In 2004, India had 162,687 refugees from China, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan, and 314 asylum seekers from Myanmar and Afghanistan. In 2004, there were also 650,000 internally displaced people in India.

India receives more remittances from migrant workers than any other country, $23 billion in 2004, up from $10 billion in 2001. Most Indian migrants are unskilled workers. However, increasingly skilled health care and information technology workers emigrate, some returning to participate in India's rapid economic growth. In 2004, some 14,341 Indians applied for asylum in 17 countries, nearly 3,000 to Slovakia and over 1,000 each to Austria, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada. In that same year 5,659 Indians entered the United States as refugees.

In 2005 the net immigration rate was estimated as -0.07 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.

ETHNIC GROUPS

India's ethnic history is extremely complex, and distinct racial divisions between peoples generally cannot be drawn clearly. However, Negroid, Australoid, Mongoloid, and Caucasoid stocks are discernible. The first three are represented mainly by tribal peoples in the southern hills, the plateau, Assam, the Himalayas, and the Andaman Islands. The main Caucasoid elements are the Mediterranean, including groups dominant in much of the north, and the Nordic or IndoAryan, a taller, fairerskinned strain dominant in the northwest. The dark-complexioned Dravidians of the south have a mixture of Mediterranean and Australoid features. In 2000, 72% of the population was IndoAryan, 25% Dravidian, and 3% Mongoloid and other.

LANGUAGES

The 1961 census recorded 1,652 different languages and dialects in India; one state alone, Madhya Pradesh, had 377. There are officially 211 separate, distinct languages, of which Hindi, English, and 15 regional languages are officially recognized by the constitution. There are 24 languages that are each spoken by a million or more persons.

The most important speech group, culturally and numerically, is the IndoAryan branch of the IndoEuropean family, consisting of languages that are derived from Sanskrit. Hindi, spoken as the mother tongue by about 240 million people (30% of the total population), is the principal language in this family. Urdu differs from Hindi in being written in the ArabicFarsi script and containing a large mixture of Arabic and Farsi words. Western Hindi, Eastern Hindi, Bihari, and Pahari are recognized separate Hindi dialects. Other IndoAryan languages include Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kashmiri, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Rajasthani, and Sindhi. Languages of Dravidian stock are dominant in southern India and include Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam. A few tribal languages of eastern India, such as Ho and Santali, fit into the aboriginal Munda family, which predates the Dravidian family on the subcontinent. Smaller groups in Assam and the Himalayas speak languages of MonKhmer and Tibeto-Chinese origin.

English is spoken as the native tongue by an estimated 1015 million Indians and is widely employed in government, education, science, communications, and industry; it is often a second or third language of the educated classes. Although Hindi in Devanagari script is the official language, English is also recognized for official purposes. According to government policy, Hindi is the national language; for that reason, Hindi instruction in nonHindi areas is being rapidly increased, and large numbers of scientific and other modern words are being added to its vocabulary. However, there has been considerable resistance to the adoption of Hindi in the Dravidian-language areas of southern India, as well as in some of the IndoAryanspeaking areas, especially West Bengal.

The importance of regional languages was well demonstrated in 1956, when the states were reorganized along linguistic boundaries. Thus, multilingual Hyderābād state was abolished by giving its Marathispeaking sections to Mumbai (formerly Bombay, now in Maharashtra), its Telugu sections to Andhra Pradesh, and its Kannada sections to Mysore (now Karnataka). The Malayalamspeaking areas of Madras were united with TravancoreCochin to form a single Malayalam state, Kerala. Madhya Bharat, Bhopal, and Vindhya Pradesh, three small Hindispeaking states, were given to Madhya Pradesh, a large Hindi state, which, at the same time, lost its southern Marathi areas to Mumbai (formerly Bombay) state. Many other boundary changes occurred in this reorganization. Mumbai state originally was to have been divided into Gujarati and Marathi linguistic sections but remained as one state largely because of disagreement over which group was to receive the city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay). In 1960, however, it, too, was split into two states, Gujarat and Maharashtra, on the basis of linguistic boundaries. In 1966, the government of India accepted the demand of the Punjabispeaking people, mainly Sikhs, to divide the bilingual state of Punjab into two unilingual areas, with the Hindispeaking area to be known as Haryana and the Punjabispeaking area to retain the name of Punjab.

India has almost as many forms of script as it has languages. Thus, all of the Dravidian and some of the IndoAryan languages have their own distinctive alphabets, which differ greatly in form and appearance. Some languages, such as Hindi, may be written in either of two different scripts. Konkani, a dialect of the west coast, is written in three different scripts in different geographic areas.

RELIGIONS

India is the cradle of two of the world's great religions, Hinduism and Buddhism. The principal texts of Hinduismthe Rig Veda (Verses of Spiritual Knowledge ), the Upanishads (Ways of Worship ), and the BhagavadGita (Song of the Lord )were written between 1200 and 100 bc. The teachings of Buddha, who lived during the 6th5th centuries bc, were first transmitted orally and then systematized for transmission throughout Asia. Jainism, a religion that developed contemporaneously with Buddhism, has largely been confined to India. The Sikh religion began in the 15th century as an attempt to reconcile Muslim and Hindu doctrine, but the Sikhs soon became a warrior sect bitterly opposed to Islam.

An estimated 82% of the population are Hindus. Hindus have an absolute majority in all areas except Nagaland, Jammu, and Kashmir, and the tribal areas of Assam. Sikhs account for about 2% of the population and are concentrated in the state of Punjab, which since 1980 has been the site of violent acts by Sikh activists demanding greater autonomy from the Hindudominated central government. Other religious groups include Muslims (12% of the population, mostly Sunni) and Christians (2.3%). Large Muslim populations are located in Utar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Jammu, and Kashmir. The northeastern states of Nagaland, Mizoram, and Meghalaya have Christian majorities. Buddhists, Jains, Parsis (Zoroastrians), Jews, and Baha'is make up less than 2% of the total population.

The caste system is a distinct feature of Hinduism, wherein every person either is born into one of four groupsBrahmans (priests and scholars), Kshatriyas (warriors and rulers), Vaisyas (shopkeepers, artisans, and farmers), and Sudras (farm laborers and menial workers)or is casteless and thus untouchable. The untouchables are commonly known as Dalits or as Harijan (from the term used by Mahatma Gandhi). Although the constitution outlaws caste distinctions and discrimination, especially those applying to untouchability, progress in changing customs has been slow. Many Dalits have converted to other faiths in order to escape widespread discrimination in some areas; but several states have anticonversion laws in place for Dalits.

Freedom of worship is theoretically assured under the constitution; however, the government has the right to religious organizations that are considered to provoke public disorder. There are also a number of laws in place on both the federal and state level that regulate the activities of religious groups and even the right to religious conversions. There is a great deal of animosity between Muslims and Hindus, as well as Christians and Hindus; violent outbursts between these groups are not uncommon.

TRANSPORTATION

India's railway system is highly developed and constitutes the country's primary means of long-distance domestic transport. In 2004, the Indian railway system consisted of 63,230 km (39,329 mi), of broad and narrow gauge rail lines, of which 16,693 km (10,383 mi) were electrified. Broad gauge lines were the most extensive at 45,718 km (28,437 mi), with three sizes of narrow gauge line accounting for the remainder. Virtually all of India's railways are state-owned, and are the nation's largest public enterprise. It is also the largest railroad system in Asia and the fourth-largest in the world. In October 1984, India's first subway began operation in Calcutta over 3 km (1.9 mi) of track.

The national and state road network in 2002 consisted of about 3,319,644 km (2,064,818 mi), of which 1,517,077 km (942,712 mi) were paved. In 2003, there were 10,694,000 motor vehicles, including 6,669,000 automobiles and 4,025,000 commercial vehicles.

As of 2004, India had about 14,500 km (9,019 mi) of inland waterways, with 5,200 km (3,234 mi) on major rivers and 485 km (302 mi) on canals accessible by motorized vessels. Most important are the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Godavari, and Krishna rivers and the coastal plain canals of Kerala, Chennai, Andhra Pradesh, and Orissa.

In 2005, India's merchant fleet totaled 299 vessels of 1,000 GRT or more, with a combined total of 6,555,507 GRT, sufficient to handle almost all of the country's coastal trade and much of its trade with adjacent countries. The rest of India's trade is handled by foreign ships. Eleven major ports handle the bulk of the import-export traffic; the leading ports are Mumbai (formerly Bombay) and Mormugao. There are 140 smaller ports along the Indian coastline.

In 2004, there were an estimated 333 airports. As of 2005, a total of 239 had paved runways and there were also 27 heliports. International airports are at Mumbai, formerly Bombay (Santa Cruz); Calcutta (Dum Dum); Delhi (Indira Gandhi); Chennai, formerly Madras (Meenambakkam); and Trivandrum. The Indian Airlines Corp., a nationalized industry, operates all internal flights and services to neighboring countries with daily flights to 60 cities. Air-India, also government-owned, operates long-distance services to foreign countries on five continents. A national airline, Vayudoot, was established in 1981 to provide service to otherwise inaccessible areas in the northeast. Private airlines are growing in importance as well. In 2003, about 19.456 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.

HISTORY

India is one of the oldest continuously inhabited regions in the world. In Harappa, an area in the Indus Valley (now in Pakistan), between 3000 and 2000 bc, scores of thriving municipalities developed a distinct urban culture. This riverain civilization fell into decay around 15001200 bc, probably owing to the arrival of Aryan (Indo-European-speaking) invaders, who began entering the northern part of the subcontinent via Afghanistan. There followed over a thousand years of instability, of petty states and larger kingdoms, as one invading group after another contended for power. During this period, Indian village and family patterns, along with Brahmanismone form of Hinduismand its caste system, became established. Among the distinguished oral literature surviving from this period are two anonymous Sanskrit epics, the Ramayana (traditionally attributed to the legendary poet Valmiki) and the Mahabharata (the longest poem in the world, containing over 100,000 verses, including one of Hinduism's more sacred texts, the Bhagavad-Gita ).

The South Asian subcontinent already had a population of about 30 million, of whom approximately 20 million lived in the Ganges Basin, when Alexander the Great invaded the Indus Valley in 326 bc. His successors were absorbed by the new Maurya dynasty (c.321c.184 bc); under Chandragupta (r. c.321c.297 bc), from his capital at Pataliputra (now Patna), the Mauryans subdued most of northern India and what is now Bangladesh. His successor, Asoka (r.273232 bc), put all of India under unified control for the first time; an early convert to Buddhism, his regime was remembered for its sectarian tolerance, as well as for remarkable administrative, legal, and cultural achievements. Many Buddhist monuments and elaborately carved cave temples found at Sarnath, Ajanta, Bodhgaya, and other places in India date from the reigns of Asoka and his Buddhist successors.

In the years following Asoka, India divided again into a patchwork of kingdoms, as other invaders arrived from central and western Asia. In the process, Hinduism prevailed over Buddhism, which found wide acceptance elsewhere in Asia but remained widely practiced in India, its birthplace. Hindu kingdoms began to appear in what is presentday southern India after the 4th century ad. The era of the Gupta dynasty rule (ad 320c.535) was a golden age of art, literature, and science in India. Hindu princes of the Rajput sub-caste, ruling in the northwest, reached their peak of power from ad 700 to 1000, although their descendants retained much of their influence well into British days.

In the 8th century, the first of several Islamic invaders appeared in the northwest; between 1000 and 1030, Mahmud of Ghaznī made 17 forays into the subcontinent. The first Muslim sultan of Delhi was Kutbuddin (r. c.11951210), and Islam gradually spread eastward and southward, reaching its greatest territorial and cultural extent under the Mughal (or Mogul) dynasty. "Mughal" comes from the Farsi word for Mongol, and the earlier Mughals were descendants of the great 14thcentury Mongol conqueror Timur (also known as "Timur the Lame" or Tamerlane), a descendant in turn of Genghis Khan. Much of the population of the subcontinent began converting to Islam during the Mughal period, however, which helped weave Islam into the social fabric of India.

One of the Timurid princes, Babur (r.152630), captured Kabul in 1504 and defeated the Sultan of Delhi in 1526, becoming the first of the Mughals to proclaim himself emperor of India. In 1560, Akbar (r.15561605), Babur's grandson, extended the dynasty's authority over all of northern India. Akbar also attempted to establish a national state in and it was Akbar who was the first of the Muslim emperors to attempt the establishment alliance with Hindu rajahs (kings). Though illiterate, he was a great patron of art and literature. Among his successors were Shah Jahan and his son Aurangzeb, who left their imprint in massive palaces and mosques, superb fortresses (like the Lahore fort), dazzling mausoleums (like the Taj Mahal at Agra), elaborate formal gardens (like those in Srinagar), and the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri (37 km/23 mi w of Agra). Under Aurangzeb (r.16581707), who seized his father's throne, the Mughal Empire reached its greatest extent and then began its decline, largely the result of his repressive policies. The Hindu Marathas fought the Mughals and established their own empire in western India.

Vasco da Gama reached India's southwest coast by sea in 1498, and for a century the Portuguese had a monopoly over the Indian sea. Although it continued to hold bits of Indian territory until 1961, Portugal lost its dominant position as early as 1612 when forces controlled by the British East India Company defeated the Portuguese and won concessions from the Mughals. The company, which had been established in 1600, had permanent trading settlements in Chennai (formerly Madras), Mumbai (formerly Bombay), and Calcutta by 1690. Threatened by the French East India Company, which was founded in 1664, the two companies fought each other as part of their nations' struggle for supremacy in Europe and the western hemisphere in the 18th century. They both allied with rival Indian princes and recruited soldiers (sepoys ) locally, but the French and their allies suffered disastrous defeats in 1756 and 1757, against the backdrop of the Seven Years' War (175663) raging in Europe. By 1761, France was no longer a power in India. The architect of the British triumph, later known as the founder of British India, was Robert Clive, later Baron, who became governor of the Company's Bengal Presidency in 1764, to be followed by Warren Hastings and Lord Cornwallis in the years before 1800. The Company's rule spread up the Gangetic plain to Oudh and Delhi, and eventually, to western India where the Maratha Confederacy, the alliance of independent Indian states that had succeeded the Mughal Empire there, was reduced to a group of relatively weak principalities owing fealty to the British in 1818.

The British government took direct control of the East India Company's Indian domain during the Sepoy Mutiny (185759), a widespread rebellion by Indian soldiers in the company's service, and in 1859, Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India. The succeeding decades were characterized by significant economic and political development, but also by a growing cultural and political gap between Indians and the British. Indian troops were deployed elsewhere in the world by the Crown in defense of British interests but without any recourse of Indian views.

Nationalism and Independence

While the British moved gradually to expand local self-rule along federal lines, British power was increasingly challenged by the rise of indigenous movements challenging its authority. A modern Indian nationalism began to grow as a result of the influence of Western culture and education among the elite, and the formation of such groups as the Arya Samaj and Indian National Congress. Founded as an Anglophile debating society in 1885, the congress grew into a movement leading agitation for greater self-rule in the first 30 years of this century. Under the leadership of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (called the Mahatma, or Great Soul) and other nationalist leaders, such as Motilal and Jawaharlal Nehru, congress began to attract mass support in the 1930s with the success of noncooperation campaigns spearheaded by Gandhi and its advocacy of education, cottage industries, self-help, an end to the caste system, and nonviolent struggle. Muslims had also been politicized, beginning with the abortive partition of Bengal during the period 190512. And despite the INC leadership's commitment to secularism, as the movement evolved under Gandhi, its leadership style appearedto Muslimsuniquely Hindu, leading Indian Muslims to look to the protection of their interests in the formation of their own organization, the AllIndia Muslim League.

National and provincial elections in the mid-1930s, coupled with growing unrest throughout India, persuaded many Muslims that the power the majority Hindu population could exercise at the ballot box could leave them as a permanent electoral minority in any single democratic polity that would follow British rule. Sentiment in the Muslim League began to coalesce around the "two nation" theory propounded by the poet Iqbal, who argued that Muslims and Hindus were separate nations and that Muslims required creation of an independent Islamic state for their protection and fulfillment. A prominent attorney, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, led the fight for a separate Muslim state to be known as Pakistan, a goal formally endorsed by the Muslim League in Lahore in 1940.

Mahatma Gandhi, meanwhile, had broadened his demand in 1929 from self-rule to independence in 1929; in the 1930s, his campaigns of nonviolent noncooperation and civil disobedience electrified the countryside. In 1942, with British fortunes at a new low and the Japanese successful everywhere in Asia, Gandhi rejected a British appeal to postpone further talks on Indian self-rule until the end of World War II. Declining to support the British (and Allied) war effort and demanding immediate British withdrawal from India, he launched a "Quit India" campaign. In retaliation, Gandhi and most of India's nationalist leaders were jailed.

The end of World War II and the British Labor Party's victory at the polls in 1945 led to renewed negotiations on independence between Britain and the Hindu and Muslim leaders. Jawaharlal Nehru and the Congress leadership pressed anew for a single, secular nation in which the rights of all would be guarded by constitutional guarantees and democratic practice. But Jinnah and the Muslim League persevered in their campaign for Pakistan. In midAugust 1947, with HinduMuslim tensions rising, British India was divided into the two self-governing dominions of India and Pakistan, the latter created by combining contiguous, Muslimmajority districts in the western and eastern parts of British India, with the former, the new republic of India, consisting of the large remaining land mass in between. Partition resulted in one of the world's largest mass movements of people: Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs who found themselves on the "wrong" side of new international boundaries sought to cross over. As many as 20 million people moved, and up to 3 million of these were killed as violence erupted along the borders. Gandhi, who opposed the partition and worked unceasingly for HinduMuslim amity, became himself a casualty of heightened communal feeling; he was assassinated by a Hindu extremist five months after Partition.

Kashmiri Dispute

The Partition did not address the more than 500 princely states with which the British Crown had treaty ties. Most princely rulers chose one or the other dominion on grounds of geography, but the state of Jammu and Kashmir, bordering both new nations, had a real option. A Muslimmajority state with a Hindu maharaja, Kashmir opted first for neither but sought protection when invaded in 1948 by tribesmen from Pakistan. Quickly, Indian and Pakistani armed forces were engaged in fighting that cut to the heart of the "two-nation" theory and brought the dispute to the fledgling United Nations. A UN ceasefire in 1949 left the state divided, one-third with Pakistan and the rest, including the Vale of Kashmir, under Indian control. An agreement to hold an impartial plebiscite broke down when the antagonists could not agree on the terms under which it would be held. India and Pakistan went to war again in 1965, and relationships over Kashmir remained tense. A 1971 agreement formed an informal border, known as the Line of Control, which both nations agreed to honor. Both nations have stood by the agreement for the most part, although militant activity in Kashmir since the late 1980s has led to periodic clashes between Indian and Pakistani troops. Such clashes came close to war in 1999 when insurgents that India claimed were backed by Pakistan entered the Indianheld Kargil region in Kashmir. Heavy fighting between Indian and Pakistani troops ensued, until Pakistan withdrew from Kargil that year. On 24 December 1999, Kashmiri militants hijacked an Indian Airlines plane flying between Nepal and Delhi to Afghanistan, an incident India blamed on Pakistan. In July 2002, the United States announced that it did not support Pakistan's persistent demand for a plebiscite in Kashmir, a statement welcome to India.

An upsurge in violence marked the runup to state elections held in Indianadministered JammuKashmir in SeptemberOctober 2002. More than 800 people were killed in the violence. The elections were fought among proIndia parties, with separatists boycotting the elections. The elections resulted in an upset for the National Conference; it was the first time the party had been voted out of office since independence. The NC won 28 seats out of 87 in the State Assembly. The People's Democratic Party, which firmly stood against human rights abuses in Kashmir, emerged as victor, along with the Congress Party. India had seven million troops amassed on the Line of Control in Kashmir.

Nearly 80,000 people had died in the Indiacontrolled portion of Kashmir as of early 2006.

India and Pakistan declared a formal ceasefire in Kashmir in November 2003, and relations between the two countries were slowly improving. A bus link between the India- and Pakistancontrolled portions was established in April 2005, and both countries cooperated to some degree with the distribution of humanitarian aid following a deadly earthquake that struck the region on 8 October 2005.

In a second border dispute, India and China have been at odds about their Himalayan border since the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959, leading to clashes between Indian and Chinese troops at a number of locations along the disputed Himalayan border, including remote areas of Ladakh. In 1962, Chinese troops invadedthen withdrew fromChinese claimed areas along the border, defeating India's underequipped and badly led forces. The border dispute with China remained unresolved, although tensions have been eased by a standstill accord signed by the two countries in September 1993. An "agree to disagree" stance persisted between the two populationheavy nations until 2005 when talks were initiated to resolve the longstanding dispute.

After Nehru's death on 27 May 1964, his successor, Lal Bahadur Shastri, led India in dealing with an unprecedented round of HinduMuslim violence occasioned by the theft of a holy Islamic relic in Kashmir. In August and September 1965, his government successfully resisted a new effort by Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute by force of arms. India was victorious on the battlefield, and an agreement both nations signed at Tashkent in January 1966, essentially restored the status quo ante. Shastri died of a heart attack at Tashkent, while at the height of his power, and his successor, Indira Gandhi (Nehru's daughter), pledged to honor the accords. India again went to war with Pakistan in December 1971, this time to support East Pakistan in its civil war with West Pakistan; Indian forces tipped the balance in favor of the separatists and led to the creation of Bangladesh from the former East Pakistan; in Kashmir, there were minor territorial adjustments. International tensions were heightened again, however, in April 1974 when India became the first Third World country to conduct a successful test of an atomic bomb.

Weakening of Congress

Domestically, Indira Gandhi consolidated her power. The party lost its accustomed majority in parliament in the 1967 elections, but she continued to govern with the support of other parties and independents, winning again in 1972. In June 1975, after her conviction on minor election law violations in the 1972 polls, which required her to resign, she continued in power by proclaiming a state of emergency. By decree, she imposed press censorship, arrested opposition political leaders, and sponsored legislation that retroactively cleared her of the election law violations. These actions, although later upheld by the Supreme Court, resulted in widespread public disapproval.

Two years later, she held parliamentary elections in which she was defeated, forcing the Congress Party into the parliamentary opposition for the first time. The state of emergency was lifted, and Morarji Desai, formerly Nehru's deputy prime minister and the compromise choice of the winning five-party Janata coalition, became prime minister. But Janata did not last. Formed solely to oppose Indira Gandhi, the Janata coalition had no unity or agreed program, and soon collapsed. Indira Gandhi's newly reorganized Congress Party/I ("I" for Indira) courted Hindu votes to win a huge election victory in January 1980, and she regained office.

Rise of Communal Violence

Indira Gandhi's rule ended with her assassination by her Sikh bodyguards in October 1984. The assassination stemmed from her ordering of troops in 1983 to storm the Golden Temple in Amritsar, where Sikh militants agitating for an independent nation of Khalistan in the Sikhdominant Punjab province were alleged to be storing arms. The Sikh factionalism occurred against a backdrop of communal violence that plagued India in 1983. Hindu mobs in the state of Assam attacked Muslims from Bangladesh and West Bengal, killing at least 3,000 persons. After widespread violence in Punjab, Indira Gandhi had imposed direct rule in the state.

Rajiv Gandhi immediately succeeded his mother as prime minister and, in parliamentary elections held in December 1984, led the CP/I to its largest victory. But during the next two years, Rajiv Gandhi's popularity declined precipitously as the public reacted to government imposed price increases in basic commodities, his inability to stem escalating sectarian violence, and charges of military kickbacks and other scandals. In October 1987, Indian troops were sent to Sri Lanka to enforce an agreement he and the Sri Lankan president had signed in July, aimed at ending the conflict between the country's Sinhalese majority and Tamil minority.

In September 1989, Rajiv agreed with Sri Lanka's request to pull his 100,000 troops out of their bloody standoff with Tamil separatists by the end of the year. In elections later that fall, his Congress/I Party won only a plurality of seats in the Lok Sabha, and he resigned. Vishwanath Pratap Singh, formerly Rajiv's rival in the CP and leader of the secondlargest party (Janata Dal) in the house, formed a government with the support of two other parliamentary groups. Despite an encouraging start, V.P. Singh's government lost first its momentum, then its ability to command a majority in the parliament. He resigned on losing a confidence vote 11 months later and was succeeded, with Congress/I support, by longtime Janata and Congress leader Chandra Shekhar, who resigned after four months.

During the election campaign that followed in the spring of 1991, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a disgruntled Sri Lankan Tamil while in Tamil Nadu. Congress/I rallied around longtime party stalwart P. V. Narasimha Rao, a former minister under both Rajiv and Indira Gandhi, drawing on a sympathy vote, to finish close enough to a majority to form a minority government. As prime minister, Raowho was also Congress Party presidentfaced one of the worst outbreaks of HinduMuslim violence since Partition. The violence was focused on a dispute over the Babri Masjid mosque in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. Hindus had claimed that the mosque had been built on the site of a former temple, and a proHindu political party, the Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) exploited the longsimmering dispute into a carefully orchestrated grab for political power. Hindu militants succeeded in destroying the mosque on 6 December 1992, an act that led to widespread communal riots in Uttar Pradesh, Mumbai (formerly Bombday) and much of the rest of the country. Communal riots have flared up throughout India ever since, and remained a persistent threat to the country's longterm stability. The worst outbreak of communal violence following the 1992 rioting occurred in February and March 2002, a group of Muslims in the town of Godhra in the state of Gujarat attacked and set fire to two train cars carrying Hindu activists returning from Ayodhya. Fifty-eight Hindus were killed in the 27 February attack. Starting the following day, Hindus attacked Muslims in Gujarat, leaving hundreds dead and tens of thousands displaced. In three months of violence, much of it sanctioned by India's Hindu nationalist dominant federal and Gujarati state governments, approximately 2,000 individuals were killed, mostly Muslims.

In more positive developments, Rao initiated economic reforms that, beginning in the early 1990s, opened India to foreign investors and market economics. He lost his hold on power in 1996, and in May of that year, President Shankan Dayal Sharma appointed Hindu nationalist Atal Bihari Vajpayee as prime minister, beginning a whirlwind of power struggles and political instability during which India changed governments four times in 11 months, with power shifting between the BJP and a United Front/Congress coalition. In an effort to retain its traditional grasp of power, Rajiv Gandhi's widow, Sonia Gandhi, was named president of the Congress Party. Her magnetisim did little, however, to boost Congress' fortunes, and the power struggles culminated with Vajpayee's BJPled party forming a government in 1998 after emerging as the largest single party in India's Parliament. The BJP held power until general elections in 2004 dealt it a loss. Power was returned to the Congress Party for the first time in nearly a decade.

Nuclear Politics and World Terrorism

In May 1998, Vajpayee's government surprised the world by exploding several underground nuclear devices. Pakistan responded by holding its own nuclear tests later in the month. The tests brought economic sanctions against both India and Pakistan from the United States and other countries. Tensions eased somewhat in February 1999, however, when Vajpayee inaugurated the first ever bus service between India and Pakistan by traveling to Lahore to meet Pakistan's prime minister. This resulted in the Lahore Declaration (signed 21 February 1999), by which India and Pakistan pledged to resolve their differences peacefully and work for nuclear security. Nevertheless, both countries continued to test mediumrange missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads on targets throughout the region.

Following the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the United States lifted sanctions imposed on India following its 1998 nuclear tests, citing India's support in the USled war on terrorism. India began to insist that Pakistan play a larger role in curtailing "crossborder terrorism" in Kashmir and India itself. On 13 December 2001, the Indian Parliament was attacked by five suicide fighters. Fourteen people died in the raid, including the five attackers. India blamed the attacks on two Pakistan-based organizations, LashkareTaiba and JaisheMuhammad, which the United States also listed as terrorist groups. Following the attacks on Parliament, diplomatic contacts were curtailed, rail, bus, and air links were severed, and close to one million troops amassed on India's and Pakistan's shared border, the largest military buildup since the 1971 war. In January 2002, India successfully testfired the Agni, a nuclearcapable ballistic missile, off its eastern coast. In May, Pakistan testfired three mediumrange surface-to-surface Ghauri missiles, capable of carrying nuclear warheads. In June, the United States and the United Kingdom undertook a diplomatic offensive to avert war, and urged their citizens to leave India and Pakistan. In October, India announced its troops had begun withdrawing from Pakistan's border, but Pakistan stated it wanted proof of the pullback before starting its own.

On 19 March 2003, the USled coalition launched war in Iraq. The war was seen as setting a precedent for authorizing preemptive strikes on hostile states. The notion that India and Pakistan might adopt such a policy toward one another caused international concern. In April 2003, spokesmen from both India and Pakistan asserted that the grounds on which the USled coalition attacked Iraq also existed in each other's country. The situation became more uncomfortable in March 2006 when US president George W. Bush, in a visit to India, signed a deal that allowed India to import nuclear fuel and technology, a privilege unlikely to be extended to Pakistan.

GOVERNMENT

India is a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic. Its constitution, which became effective 26 January 1950, provides for a parliamentary form of government, at the center and in the states. The constitution also contains an extensive set of directive principles akin to the US Bill of Rights. Legislative acts and amendments have weakened some of those guarantees, while a number of decisions by the supreme court have left some weakened and otherslike the commitment to secularism and to representative governmentstrengthened. Suffrage is universal at age 18.

The parliament, or legislative branch, consists of the president, the Council of States (Rajya Sabha), and the House of the People (Lok Sabha). The Rajya Sabha has a membership of not more than 250 members, of whom 12 are appointed by the president and the remainder indirectly elected by the state legislatures and by the union territories for six-year terms, with one-third chosen every two years. The Lok Sabha has 543 directly elected members (530 from the states, 13 from the union territories) and two members appointed by the president to represent the AngloIndian community. More than 22% of the seats are reserved for socalled "backward classes," that is, schedule castes (formerly "Untouchables") and scheduled tribes. The Lok Sabha has a maximum life of five years but can be dissolved earlier by the president. The next elections were to take place before May 2009.

The president and vice president are elected for five-year terms by an electoral college made up of the members of both parliamentary houses and the legislative assemblies of the states. Legally, all executive authority, including supreme command of the armed forces, is vested in the president, as head of state, who, in turn, appoints a council of ministers headed by a prime minister. The prime minister serves as the head of government. That individual is chosen by legislators of the political party, or coalition of parties, that commands the confidence of the parliament. The prime minister formsand the president then appointsthe council of ministers, consisting of cabinet ministers, ministers of state, and deputy ministers to formulate and execute the government program. The vice president serves as president of the Rajya Sabha and usually succeeds the president at the end of the latter's term.

By tradition, the presidency and vice presidency trade off between northerner and southerner, although a Muslim and a Sikhnonregional identificationshave also held these positions. In July 2002, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was elected India's 11th president, garnering 90% of the electoral college vote. He was the scientist responsible for carrying out India's nuclear tests in 1998, and is a Muslim. His term was to last through 2007.

Elections at the state level are no longer timed to coincide with national elections, and their schedule has become erratic, as state governments have been more or less stable.

BJP party leader A.B. Vajpayee emerged from the May 1996 election as the new prime minister. In an 11-month period, he was succeeded by Deve Gowda, of the United Front and I.K. Gujral, a coalition candidate representing Congress and the United Front. Vajpayee returned to the prime minister's position in 1999 and, despite a brief loss of power, retained the position until May 2004 when Congress regained power and chose Manmohan Singh to lead the governing coalition. The next election for prime minister was scheduled for May 2009.

POLITICAL PARTIES

India began its independent existence with the Indian National Congress supreme at the center and in all state legislatures. In its various manifestations, it controlled the government for most of the years since independence in 1947 before losing its dominant position with the rise of the Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1980. Founded in 1885, the Indian National Congress, known after 1947 as the Congress Party, was the most powerful mass movement fighting for independence in British India. It became the ruling party of a free India by reason of its national popularity and because most leaders of the independence movement were among its members, including Indian first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. In its progression from independence movement to ruling party, the CP spawned many offshoots and continued to do so, as often for personal reasons as for matters of party policy. The first to do so was the socialist wing that split off shortly after independence to form a party in its own right, dividing again several times thereafter.

Other major parties at the time of independence included the Communist Party of India (CPI), with its origins in the peasants and workers parties of the past, representing, like them, the communist left. The CPI began the independence period under a cloud because of its Moscowdirected cooperation with the British during World War II. On the right were parties like the Hindu Mahasabha (HMS), doomed to ignominy when one of its kind killed Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. Within the political system, the HMS, nonetheless, reflected a vital Hindu nationalist strain that has seen several party iterations in the years since. It became a force to contend with as the BJP began to gain popularity after bringing together various strains of the Hindu nationalist movement into an "allIndia" coalition party in 1980. By the early 1990s, the BJP has emerged as India's largest opposition party, and led a ruling coalition from 1998 to 2004.

Parties on the left, right, and center have continued to divide or split off over the years, and the number of single state linguistic, sectarian, and regional parties capable of governing only at the state level but available for coalition building at the center has grown significantly.

As of 2006, 19 political parties held seats in the People's Assembly. Leading parties in 2006 were Congress with 145 seats, the BJP with 138 seats, and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) with 43 seats.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

The Republic of India is a union of states. The specific powers and spheres of influence of these states are set forth in the constitution, with all residual or nonspecified powers in the hands of the central government (the reverse of the US Constitution). The central government has the power to set state boundaries and to create and abolish states. The state governments are similar to the central government in form, with a chief minister and a cabinet responsible to the state legislature, which may be unicameral or bicameral. State governors, usually retired civil servants or politicians, are appointed by the president for a five-year term and act only on the advice of the state cabinet.

The constitution gives the president the poweron the advice of the prime ministerto dissolve a state legislature and dismiss a state government if no party commands the support of a majority or if the state's constitutional machinery is incapable of maintaining order. The Lok Sahba, which must approve each six-month extension of direct rule, acts as the state legislature during its imposition, governing through the governor. Termed as "President's Rule" in the constitution, this power derives from a provision for "Governor's Rule" in the Government of India Act of 1935 and survives in the Pakistan constitution of 1973 in that form. It was invoked for the first time in 1959 by Prime Minister Nehru, and on the advice of Indira Gandhi, who was then Congress Party president; in power herself, she invoked the power repeatedly, often for partisan political purposes and, especially in the early 1980s, in the wake of ethnic/communal violence in Punjab, Assam, and Jammu and Kashmir. Limitations on its partisan use were imposed in a Supreme Court decision in spring 1994.

Under the States Reorganization Act of 1956, there were 14 states and five union territories, organized, where appropriate, on linguistic grounds. Through a gradual process of reorganization and division, two former union territories have become states while new union territories have been created (there were seven as of 2006), and the number of states has grown to 28.

Administratively, the states and union territories are divided into districts, under the control of senior civil servants who are responsible for collecting revenues, maintaining law and order, and setting development priorities. Districts are further divided into subdivisions, and subdivisions into taluks or tehsils. State government and lower levels of representative councils vary in organization and function, but all are based on universal adult suffrage. Large towns are each governed by a corporation headed by a mayor; health, safety, education, and the maintenance of normal city facilities are under its jurisdiction. Smaller towns have municipal boards and committees similar to the corporations but with more limited powers. District boards in rural areas provide for road construction and maintenance, education, and public health. The constitution provides for the organization of village councils (panchayats ), and nearly all the villages have been so organized. The panchayats are elected from among the villagers by all the adult population and have administrative functions and a judicial wing that enables them to handle minor offenses.

In the mid-1990s, there were several campaigns to form new states in India, carving new borders along factional lines in existing states. A promise by former Prime Minister Deve Gowda to create a new state in Uttar Pradesh in 1996 renewed separatist sentiments in several other states.

The Hindu nationalist party (BJP) proposed five new states in 1996, hoping to control their assemblies rather than fight political foes in larger entities. Both proposals ignore potentially chaotic consequences in favor of political gain; existing state boundaries were drawn on language differences, while there appeared to be no motive other than politics for the boundaries suggested by the new proposals. On its return to power in 1998, the BJP government succeeded in drafting bills that created three new states (Chhattisgarh, Uttaranchal, and Jharkhand), but put on hold its plans for making Delhi, presently a Union Territory, a state. Chhattisgarh, Uttaranchal, and Jharkhand became India's three newest states in November 2000, raising the total from 25 to 28.

JUDICIAL SYSTEM

The laws and judicial system of British India were continued after independence with only slight modifications. The supreme court consists of a chief justice and 25 associate judges, appointed by the president, who hold office until age 65. The court's duties include interpreting the constitution, handling all disputes between the central government and a state or between states themselves, and judging appeals from lower courts.

There are 18 high courts, subordinate to but not under the control of, the supreme court. Three have jurisdiction over more than one state. Each state's judicial system is headed by a high court whose judges are appointed by the president and over whom state legislatures have no control. High court judges can serve up to the age of 62. Each state is divided into districts; within each district, a hierarchy of civil courts is responsible to the principal civil courts, presided over by a district judge. The 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure, effective 1 April 1974, provides for the appointment of separate sets of magistrates for the performance of executive and judicial functions within the criminal court system. Executive magistrates are responsible to the state government; judicial magistrates are under the control of the high court in each state.

Different personal laws are administered through the single civil court system. Islamic law (Shariah) governs many noncriminal matters involving Muslims, including family law, inheritance, and divorce. There are strong constitutional safeguards assuring the independence of the judiciary. In 199394, the supreme court rendered important judgments imposing limits on the use of the constitutional device known as "President's Rule" by the central government and reaffirming India's secular commitment.

ARMED FORCES

The Indian Armed Forces have a proud tradition, having provided one million soldiers during World War I and two million during World War II for combat in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. The armed forces are entirely volunteer and consist of a Strategic Forces Command, the regular army, navy, and air force, a territorial (reserve) army, and 16 different fulltime or reserve special purpose paramilitary units for border, transportation, and internal defense.

In 2005, active armed forces personnel totaled 1,325,000. The Army had 1,100,000 personnel, organized into 6 regional commands, a training command, and 11 corps headquarters, which included 3 armored divisions, 25 mechanized infantry battalions, 4 RAPID, 18 infantry divisions, 10 mountain divisions, 8 independent armored brigades, 8 independent infantry brigades, 2 artillery divisions, 4 air defense brigades, and 3 engineer brigades. The Army's equipment included 3,978 main battle tanks, 190 light tanks, 110 reconnaissance vehicles, over 1,700 armored infantry fighting vehicles, more than 817 armored personnel carriers, and more than 12,675 artillery pieces. The Indian Navy had 55,000 active personnel, including 7,000 personnel in its aviation arm and 1,200 Marines. Major naval units included 19 tactical submarines, 1 aircraft carrier, 8 destroyers, 17 frigates, and 28 corvettes. The naval aviation forces had 34 combat capable aircraft that included 15 fighter ground attack and 17 antisubmarine warfare aircraft. The Air Force had 170,000 personnel and 852 combatcapable aircraft, including 386 fighters and 380 fighter ground attack aircraft. The Air Force also had 60 attack helicopters. There is also a Coast Guard of over 8,000 personnel, with 41 aircraft and 50 patrol vessels.

India's Strategic Forces Command is responsible for the country's strategic missile force which consists of 24 IRBMs and 45 SRBMs. As of 2002, it was suspected that India possessed 60 nuclear weapons and had the capability for producing more.

India's paramilitary forces have 1,293,229 active personnel, which included a 208,422 person Border Security Force (BSF), a Central Industrial Security Force of 94,347, and a Central Reserve Police Force of 229,699, which were under the Ministry of Home Affairs. There was also a State Armed Police force of 450,000.

In 2005, the defense budget totaled $22 billion. India in that same year, supplied personnel to six UN peacekeeping operations.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

India became a charter member of the United Nations on 13 October 1945 and belongs to ESCAP and several nonregional specialized agencies. India is also part of the Asian Development Bank, the African Development Bank, the Colombo Plan, SAARC, G-6, G-15, G-19, G-24, and G-77. India became a founding member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 1 January 1995. It is a dialogue partner with the ASEAN and an observer in the OAS. India is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

India was a founder of the nonaligned movement and has pursued a formally neutralist foreign policy since independence. Relations with China, hostile during the early 1960s, have been normalized since 1976. India's primary ally among the superpowers had been the former USSR, with which a 20-year treaty of peace, friendship, and cooperation was signed in 1971. India also negotiated a settlement in Sri Lanka's civil unrest in July 1987, sending in troops to enforce the agreement.

Since independence, India has fought three wars with neighboring Pakistan, in 194748, 1965, and 1971. On 10 March 1983, India and Pakistan signed a five-year agreement for improving economic and cultural ties, which was viewed as a major step in the normalization of their relations. Tension between India and Pakistan increased again in 198687, when both countries conducted military exercises near their common border in the sensitive Punjab region. IndoPakistan relations worsened again in 1990 and in the years immediately following as a consequence of Pakistan's support of Islamic insurgents in Indian Kashmir. In 1998 both countries became nuclear powers, conducting a series of underground nuclear tests. Tensions between them worsened again after an attack on the Indian Lok Sabha in December 2001, and both countries amassed approximately one million troops on their shared border. At the January 2004 SAARC summit in Islāmābād, India and Pakistan agreed to begin a Composite Dialogue addressing major issues, including control in Kashmir.

In environmental cooperation, India is part of the Antarctic Treaty, the Basel Convention, Conventions on Biological Diversity and Whaling, Ramsar, CITES, International Tropical Timber Agreements, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification. The nation is also part of the South Asia Cooperative Environment Program (SACEP).

ECONOMY

As of 2006, India was the world's twelfth-largest economy, and thirdlargest in Asia behind Japan and China, in nominal terms. Although in current dollars, India's GDP was estimated at $758.9 billion in 2005, in purchasing power parity (PPP) termsa calculation which takes into account the low price levels for goods and services in India compared to the United StatesIndia's effective GDP equaled $3.718 trillion. Annual per capita income, of course, remained very lowestimated at $693 in nominal terms and $3,395 in PPP terms in 2005but its twelfth-place rank reflects the country's remarkable record of steady growth: an annual growth average of 6.8% since 1994 with a 10% reduction in the proportion of the population living in poverty. Severe impediments and future challenges remain, however. Nearly two-thirds of the labor force is still employed or underemployed in agriculture, which constitutes 22% of the GDP. Industry contributes about 27% to GDP and employs some 17% of the labor force. Services account for about 23% of the labor force, and for 51% of GDP, up from a 12.8% share in 1980. India's population growth dropped below 2% for the first time in four decades in 2001 (it averaged 1.5% over the 200105 period), but the growth rate for the workingage group 15 to 60 years olds continued to accelerate, presenting government policy makers with the need to accelerate job creation. Over 58% of the population is under the age of 20.

India is rich in mineral, forest, and power resources, and its ample reserves of iron ore and coal provide a substantial base for heavy industry. Coal is the principal source for generating electric power although hydroelectric and nuclear installations supply a rising proportion of India's power needs. As well, anticipating a rapid growth in oil consumption in the near future, the government actively promotes oil exploration and development. Since 1997, under its New Exploration and Licensing Policy (NELP), foreign companies have been permitted to participate in upstream oil exploration, long restricted to Indianowned firms.

The Indian economy is a mixture of public and private enterprises. Under a planned development regime since independence, the public sector provided the impetus for industrialization and for absorption of sophisticated technology. Nevertheless, a large proportion of the total manufacturing output continued to be contributed by small, unorganized industries. In recent years, and especially since 1991, the government has placed greater emphasis on private enterprise to stimulate growth and modernization. Reflecting this policy shift, public enterprises accounted for only about 7% of the country's GDP in 1999, down from 23% in the mid-1980s. In December 1999, the government created the Ministry of Disinvestment and announced plans to disinvest in 247 companies owned by the central government down to a 26% share in most companies, excluding only three strategic sectors altogether: railways, defense, and nuclear energy. In all, about $530 million was received from disinvestment in 2000/01. In 2002/03 total receipts from disinvestment were only about 28% ($717 million) of the Ministry's projected target $2.5 billion. Sales included a strategic stake of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (VSNL), India's premier international communications and internet service provider (ISP) company to the Tata Group, India's largest conglomerate; a strategic stake in IBP, the national petroleum marketing company, to Indian Oil; a strategic stake in Indian Petrochemical Company Ltd. (IPCL) to the Indian company, Reliance Industries; and a strategic share of Maruti Udyog Ltd. (MUL), India's top car maker, to Suzuki Maintenance Corporation (SMC) of Japan.

Following the proclamation of a state of emergency in June 1975, a 20-point economic reform program was announced. Price regulations were toughened, and a moratorium on rural debts was declared. A new campaign was mounted against tax evaders, currency speculators, smugglers, and hoarders. This program, which lapsed when Indira Gandhi was out of power (197780), was revised and incorporated into the sixth five-year plan (198085). The reforms were buttressed by a 30-month arrangement under the IMF's Extended Fund Facility (EFF), from 9 November 1981 to 10 May 1984. After the collapse of world oil prices in 1986, India's average annual growth increased to 6.2% on the latter half of the decade. This expansion was accompanied, however, by numerous persistent weaknesses: slow growth in formal sector employment, inefficiency and technological lags in the public sector, and increasing fiscal and balance of payments deficits, which by 1990 had produced double digit inflation. The oil shock accompanying the Persian Gulf War catalyzed an acute balance of payments crisis in early 1991.

Swift stabilization measures taken by the newly elected government, including two stand-by arrangements with the IMF, proved highly successful. By mid-1992, foreign exchange reserves had recovered to a comfortable margin and inflation declined from 13.1% in 199192 to 8.6% in 199394. Further reforms focused on trade liberalization, privatization, and deregulation helped push GDP growth to an average of 6.5% for the five years 1995 to 1999. Accelerating growth sparked a return of double-digit inflation, reaching 13.1% in 1998/99, but a currency devaluation of almost 12% helped bring inflation down to 3.4% in 1999. Economic growth slowed significantly in 2000/01 to around 4% reflecting both the global economic slowdown and also weak agricultural growth in India. The 2000/01 budget included a 30% increase on defense spending because of conflict with Pakistan, increasing the public debt. The central government's fiscal deficit increased steadily from 1997/98 to 2001/02, from 4.9% of GDP to 6.1% of GDP. In 2001/02, however, growth recovered to around 5.5% largely due to a recovery in agriculture. In the more export-sensitive industrial sector, the growth rate was only 2.7%. In 2002/03 industrial growth recovered to an estimated 6.17%, while services increased 7.1%.

By mid-2005, India's economy was booming. Industrial production had grown at its fastest rate in nine years, by 11.7% over the same period in 2004, including an increase in manufacturing of 12.5%. Exports were up by 19% on 2004, and imports by 30%. Economic growth was averaging 6.5% over the 200105 period, with inflation at 4%. The stock market in mid-2005 had risen by more than 50% in one year, and foreign exchange reserves were building. Real GDP growth was forecast at 7.8% in fiscal year 2005/06, but was predicted to fall to 7% in 2006/07 and to 6.5% again in 2007/08. High international oil prices and strong domestic demand were predicted to lead to a significant widening of the merchandise trade deficit over the 200608 period, but strong surpluses on services and transfers were forecast to limit the size of the current-account deficit.

Despite its shining economy in 2006, India was suffering a stalling of economic reforms that had laid the basis for its successes. These reforms were begun in 1991 under Finance Minister Manmohan Singh, who by May 2004 had become prime minister. The government, led by the Congress Party, by 2005 had proved unable to pursue additional liberalizing economic reforms, as it relied upon support from a group of Communist parties that opposed many such reforms. In June 2005, those parties forced the government to formally abandon plans to sell stakes in 13 state-owned companies to strategic investors. However, by implementing a large public-works project, the government insisted it was implementing plans to reduce rural poverty, help fix rural infrastructure, and give power and rights to the very poor. In addition to the lost revenue from potential privatizations, with such publicworks plans being envisioned, and the money it would take to fund them, the government faced budgetary concerns.

INCOME

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 India's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $3.7 trillion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $3,400. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 7.1%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 4.4%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 20.6% of GDP, industry 28.1%, and services 51.4%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $17.406 billion or about $16 per capita and accounted for approximately 2.9% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $942 million or about $1 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.2% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in India totaled $384.29 billion or about $363 per capita based on a GDP of $600.6 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 4.9%. It was estimated that in 2002 about 25% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.

LABOR

In 2005, India's active labor force totaled an estimated 496.4 million. In 1999 (the latest year for which data was available), 60% were employed in agriculture, 17% in industry, and 23% in services. The unemployment rate in 2005 was estimated at 9%.

In 2005, there were an estimated 13 to 15 million organized industrial workers, all belonging to the formal economy, which accounted for about 30 million workers, or less than 10% of the total labor force. Most trade unions are affiliated with political parties. The right to strike is often exercised, but public sector unions are required to give 14 days notice prior to an organized strike. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against union activity, and collective bargaining is practiced.

As of 2005, working hours are limited by law to 49 per week for adults with eight-hour days. Minimum wages are set according to industry and by the various states. By law, earned income also includes a costofliving allowance and an annual bonus. However, these regulations were only applicable to factories and all other establishments covered by the Factories Act. Most workers covered under that law earned more than the minimum, and were subject to bonuses and other benefits. Argricultural workers were subject to separate state mandated minimum wage rates. In addition, some industries, such as apparel and footwear, had no prescibed minimum wage rate. Although factory, mine, and other hazardous indutry employment of children under 14 years of age was prohibited, India had no formal overall minimum age governing child labor. Estimates place the number of child laborers as ranging from 12.7 to 55 million, as of 2005. Many of them work in the hand-knotted carpet industry. Bonded labor was abolished in 1976, but was still prevalent. Estimates of the number of bonded laborers range as high as 40 million. Health and safety standards are not regularly enforced.

AGRICULTURE

In 2003, of the total land area of 297 million hectares (734 million acres), the net sown area was 169 million hectares (420 million acres), or about 57%. The irrigated area totaled 55.8 million hectares (137.9 million acres) in 2003. At least 10 million hectares (24.7 million acres) were redistributed under land reform programs during 195179. Agriculture employs about 60% of India's population and contributes about 22% to GDP.

Agricultural production increased at an average annual rate of 2.9% during the 1970s, 3.1% during the 1980s, and 3.8% during 199098, mainly as the result of the "green revolution," which has made India basically self-sufficient in grain output through the use of improved hybrid seeds, irrigation, and fertilizers. During 200204, crop production was up 0.1% from 19992001. Cereal production averaged over 104 million tons per year from 1979 to 1981; in 2003, production totaled 232 million tons. Rice leads all crops and, except in the northwest, is generally grown wherever the conditions are suitable. In 2004, 129 million tons of rice were produced on 42.3 million hectares (104.5 million acres). The combined acreage and production of other cereals, all to a large extent grown for human consumption, considerably exceed those of rice. These include jowar, a rich grain sorghum grown especially in the Deccan; wheat, grown in the northwest; and bajra, another grain sorghum grown in the drier areas of western India and the far south. A wheat crop of 72 million tons was harvested on 26.6 million hectares (65.8 million acres) in 2004. Vegetables, pulses, and oilseeds are the other main food crops. Oilseed production in 2004 included 5.1 million tons of cottonseed and 6.8 million tons of rapeseed.

Nonfood crops are mainly linseed, cotton, jute, and tobacco. The cotton crop in 2004/05 was 19 million bales (170 kg each) and was large enough to both supply the increasing demands of the domestic textile sector and provide export receipts. For centuries, India has been famous for its spices and today is one of the world's largest producers, consumers, and exporters of a wide range of spices. Of the 63 spices grown in the country, black pepper, cardamom, ginger, turmeric, and chilles are the most economically important. Since World War II (193945), India has been the world's largest producer of black pepper (51,000 tons in 2004). Pepper production is concentrated in the southern states of Kerlala (65%), Karnataka (20%), and Tamil Nadu (15%).

India was the world's second leading producer (after Brazil) of sugarcane in 2004, with an output of 244.8 million tons. Production of raw sugar amounted to 14.2 million tons in 2004/05, enough to meet over 90% of domestic consumption. Tea, coffee, and rubber plantations contribute significantly to the economy, although they occupy less than 1% of the agricultural land (in hill areas generally unsuited to Indian indigenous agriculture), and are the largest agricultural enterprises in India. Tea, the most important plantation crop, is a large foreign exchange earner, with an export value of $377.7 million in 2004, based on exports of 174,728 tons. Production in 2004 was 850,800 tons, 26% of global production. It is grown mostly in Assam and northern Bengal, but also in southern India. Coffee (275,000 tons in 2004) is produced in southern India, and rubber (762,000 tons in 2004) in Kerala. Leaf tobacco production totaled 598,000 tons in 2004.

Because of the everpresent danger of food shortages, the government tightly controls the grain trade, fixing minimum support and procurement prices and maintaining buffer stocks. The Food Corp. of India, a government enterprise, distributes 12 million tons of food grains annually and is increasing its storage capacity.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

The livestock population of India is huge and animals as a whole play an important role in the agricultural economy even though they often receive inadequate nourishment. Slaughter of cattle in India is prohibited in all but a few states since Hindus believe that cows and other animals may contain reincarnated human souls. The slaughter of buffaloes is not as offensive to the religious beliefs of Hindus, and buffaloes are slaughtered for meat.

In 2005 there were an estimated 185 million head of cattle, representing about 6% of the world's total and more than in any other country. There are eight breeds of buffalo, 26 cattle breeds, and numerous crossbreeds. The bovine inventory in 2005 also included 98 million buffalo. Other livestock in 2005 included 120 million goats, 62.5 million sheep, 14.3 million hogs, 635,000 camels, 750,000 asses, 800,000 horses, and 430 million chickens. Bullocks (steers) and water buffalo are important draft animals. Dairy farming has made India self-sufficient in butter and powdered milk. Dairying in India is undertaken on millions of small farms, where one to three milk animals are raised on less than a hectare (2.5 acres), and yields consist of two to three liters of milk daily. To improve milk production, a dairy development program was begun in 1978 to build up the milch herd to 150 million cross-bred cows. Milk output in 2005 from over 35 million dairy cows was estimated at 38.5 million tons, second in the world. India also produced 38.5 million tons of buffalo milk that year. Egg production in 2005 was 2,492,000 tons. The production of cattle and buffalo hides and goat- and sheepskins is a major industry. About 51,400 tons of wool were produced in 2005. Silk production that year amounted to 17,500 tons, second highest after China. Animal dung is also used for fuel and fertilizer.

FISHING

Fishing is an important secondary source of income to some farmers and a primary occupation in small fishing villages. Almost three-fifths of the catch consists of sea fish. The bulk is marketed fresh; of the remainder, more than half is sundried. Fish and fish products account for about 2.53% of the total export value. Deepsea fishing is not done on a large scale. Inland fishing is most developed in the deltaic channels of Bengal, an area where fish is an important ingredient of the diet. In recent years, the government has been encouraging ocean fishing through the establishment of processing plants and the introduction of deepsea craft. Fishing harbors have been built along the coasts of the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. Under the fifth national plan (197479), fish farming was encouraged through the creation of Fish Farmers' Development Agencies. Fish production achieved a new high of about 3.7 million tons at the end of the seventh national plan (198691).

The total fish catch in 2003 was 5,904,584 tons (sixth in the world), of which capture fishing accounted for 3,658,994 tons and aquacultural sources for 2,215,590 tons. Fish exports, still only a fraction of the potential, have shown a steady gain. In 2003, exports of fish products amounted to over $1.3 billion.

FORESTRY

The major forestlands lie in the foothills of the Himalayas, the hills of Assam state, the northern highlands of the Deccan, the Western Ghats, and the Andaman Islands. Other forestlands are generally scrub and poor secondary growth of restricted commercial potential. India's forests are mostly broadleaved; the most important commercial species are sal (10.9% of forest trees), mixed conifers (8.1%), teak (6.8%), fir (3.2%), chirpine (2.4%), and upland hardwood (2.4%). In 2000 there were 64,113,000 hectares (158,423,000 acres) of forestland, according to a satellite survey. About 40% of the forest area is highly degraded and devoid of wood producing trees.

India's forests have historically suffered tremendous pressure from its large human and animal populations as a source of fuel wood, fodder, and timber. According to the government's national forest policy, 33% of the land area should be covered by forest, but actual forest coverage is just 21.6%. About 138,000 hectares (341,000 acres) were planted annually during the 1980s under afforestation programs. During 19902000, the forested area grew by an annual average of 38,000 hectares (94,000 acres). Most forests (98%) are owned by state governments and are reserved or protected for the maintenance of permanent timber and water supplies. The government has prohibited commercial harvesting of trees on public land, except for mature, fallen, or sick trees. In order to help meet the fuel needs of much of the population, harvesting dead and fallen branches is permitted in government forests, but this policy is widely violated. About 94% of the total timber cut in 2004 was burned as fuel.

The total timber cut in 2004 was 322.7 million cu m (11.4 billion cu ft). Production that year included (in million of cubic meters): sawn wood, 11.9; paper and paperboard, 4.1; wood-based panels, 2.1; and wood pulp, 1.7. Other forestry products include bamboos, canes, fibers, flosses, gums and resins, medicinal herbs, tanning barks, and lac. Imports of forest products nearly totaled $1,075 million in 2004, and mainly consisted of newsprint, printing and writing paper, and recovered paper products.

MINING

Well endowed with industrial minerals, India's leading industries in 2003 included steel, cement, mining, and petroleum. Gems and jewelry were leading export commodities to the United States. The minerals industry of India produced more than 80 mineral commodities in the form of ores, metals, industrial minerals, and mineral fuels and is among the world's leading producers of iron ore, bituminous coal, zinc, and bauxite. The country exploited 52 minerals11 metallic, 38 nonmetallic, and 3 mineral fuels. In 2003, India also produced lead, monazite, selenium, silver, ilmenite, rutile, corundum, garnet, jasper, asbestos, barite (from the Cuddapah District mines, Andhra Pradesh), bromine, hydraulic cement, chalk, clays (including ball clay, diaspore, fireclay, and kaolin), feldspar, fluorspar, agate, zircon, graphite, kyanite, sillimanite, lime, magnesite, nitrogen, phosphate rock, apatite, ocher, mineral and natural pigments, pyrites, salt, soda ash, calcite, dolomite, limestone, quartz, quartzite, sand (including calcareous and silica), slate, talc, pyrophyllite, steatite (soapstone), vermiculite, and wollastonite.

Output of iron ore and concentrate totaled 85 million tons in 2003, up from 80 million tons in 2002. Iron ore reserves, estimated at 11,000 million tons of hematite ore containing at least 55% iron, were among the largest in the world. Principal iron ore output came from the rich fields along the Bihar-Orissa border, close to all major existing iron and steel works. Smaller amounts were mined in the Bababudan Hills of Karnataka and elsewhere. The joint venture Río Tinto Orissa Mining Ltd. studied a new mining project, in the Gandhamardan/Malanjtoli areas of Orissa, that had ore reserves of 800 million tons and could start in 2006, produce 25 million tons per year by its fifth year, and have an eventual capacity of 50 million tons per year.

India's output of bauxite by gross weight was 10,002,000 million tons in 2003, up from 9,647,000 tons in 2002. Bauxite deposits were estimated at 2,300 million tons. The stateowned National Aluminium Co. Ltd. (Nalco), which doubled its mining capacity to 4.8 million tons per year, has been privatized by the government.

Production of zinc concentrates (zinc content) in 2003 was 162,000 metric tons, up from 234,300 metric tons in 2002.

Production of smelted gold in 2003 totaled 3,100 kg, while the output of mined and smelted silver totaled 53,600 kg in that same year. Gold and silver came largely from the Kolar fields of southeastern Karnataka, where the gold mines have reached a depth of more than 3.2 km and contained reserves of 55,000 kg of gold. The Geological Survey of India outlined three new gold resourcesin the Dona block, Andhra Pradesh, 4.8 million tons averaging 1.9 grams per ton of gold; in the Banswar district, Rajasthan, 7.1 million tons averaging 2.96 grams per ton of gold; and in the Ghrhar Pahar block, Sidhi district of Madhya Pradesh, 3.3 million tons averaging 1.04 grams per ton of gold. The import duty on gold was reduced to curtail smuggling.

In 2003 diamond production (gem and industrial) totaled 60,000 carats, down from 62,000 carats in 2002. Industrial diamond output in 2003 totaled 44,000 carats, down from 45,000 carats in 2002, while gem diamond output totaled 16,000 and 17,000 carats for 2003 and 2002, respectively.

Content of manganese in mined ore produced was 620,000 tons in 2003. Manganese deposits were estimated at 154 million tons. Manganese was mined in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, the Nāgpur section of Maharashtra, northward in Madhya Pradesh, along the Bihar-Orissa border adjoining the iron ore deposits, along the MaharashtraMadhya PradeshRajasthan border, and in central coastal Andhra Pradesh.

Mineral production in 2003 included: 28,400 metric tons of mined copper ore, down from 31,500 metric tons in 2002; 1.8 million tons of gross weight chromite, compared to 1.9 in 2002; 2.3 million metric tons of gypsum; and 1,600 metric tons of crude mica, up from 1,500 metric tons in 2002. The bestquality mica came from Bihar.

There were extensive workable reserves of fluorite, chromite, ilmenite (for titanium), monazite (for thorium), beach sands, magnesite, beryllium, copper, and a variety of other industrial and agricultural minerals. However, India lacked substantial reserves of some nonferrous metals and special steel ingredients.

ENERGY AND POWER

India's proven petroleum reserves and crude refining capacity were estimated at 5.4 billion barrels and at 2.1 million barrels per day, respectively, as of 1 January 2004. Oil production in 2003 was estimated at 819,000 barrels per day, of which crude oil accounted for 660,000 barrels per day. However, in that same year, demand for oil totaled an estimated 2.2 million barrels per day, requiring India to import an estimated net 1.4 million barrels per day, in 2003. While India's future oil consumption is anticipated to reach 2.8 million barrels per day by 2010, the country is looking to expand its domestic production to offset its need to rely upon imports. Oil exploration and production are undertaken in joint ventures between government and private foreign companies. As of October 2004, oil accounted for roughly 30% of India's energy consumption. India's natural gas reserves were estimated at 30.1 trillion cu ft, as of 1 January 2004. In 2002, natural gas production and consumption each totaled an estimated 883 billion cu ft.

India's recoverable coal reserves were estimated in 2001 at total 93 billion short tons. Production and consumption of coal in 2002, was estimated at 393 million short tons and 421 million short tons, respectively.

In 2002, India's electric generating capacity was placed at 122.074 million kW, which included: 91.447 million kW of conventional thermal; 26.260 million kW of hydro; 2.860 million kW of nuclear; and 1.507 million kW for geothermal/other sources. Electric power output in 2002 totaled an estimated 547 billion kWh, of which: 478.213 kWh were generated by conventional thermal sources; 26.260 kWh by hydroelectric sources; 17.760 kWh by nuclear plants; and 4.093 kWh by geothermal/other sources. In 2002, India consumed 525.427 billion kWh of electricity, of which 1.520 billion kWh were imported.

A 380 MW nuclear power station, India's first, was completed with US assistance in 1969 at Tarapur, near Mumbai (formerly Bombay). (The Tarapur plant has long been a center of controversy because of India's alleged failure to observe international safeguards to prevent the diversion of nuclear materials for military purposes.) Another nuclear station, in Rajasthan, began partial operations in the early 1970s, and two more plants were added by the end of the decade. In 1996, India had 10 operating reactors with a combined capacity of 1,695 MW, and four more under construction with a planned capacity of 808 MW. In 1999, the 740 MW initial phase of the Dabhol LNGfired power plant began operationLNG is liquefied natural gas.

INDUSTRY

Modern industry has advanced fairly rapidly since independence, and the industrial sector now contributes 27% of the GDP. Large modern steel mills and many fertilizer plants, heavy-machinery plants, oil refineries, locomotive and automotive works have been constructed; the metallurgical, chemical, cement, and oilrefining industries have also expanded. Moreover, India has established its role in the high valueadded sectors of the "new economy" sectors of information technology (IT), computer hardware, computer software, media, and entertainment. Yet, though the total product is large, industry absorbs only about 17% of the labor force. Nine statesMaharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradeshtogether account for most of Indian industry.

Industrial production expanded at an average annual rate of 56% between 1970 and 1990. Enforced austerity and demand management measures taken to stabilize rapidly worsening macroeconomic imbalances in 199192 slowed growth in the industry sector to 0% for that year. This was followed by a modest recovery to 1.9% growth in 199293, though declining to an estimated 1.6% in 199394, due to lingering effects of the earlier stabilization measures as well as poorer than expected demand in key export markets. In 199596, however, the industrial growth rate jumped 11.7%, led by a 13% increase in manufacturing output, the highest in 25 years. Growth in industrial production was 6.6% in 199798, but slowed to 4.1% in 1998/99 primarily due to the effects of the Asian financial crisis, but also in part to international sanctions imposed after its nuclear tests in 1998. A rebound evidenced in 6.6% growth in 19992000 was cut short by the global economic slowdown in 2001, and the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, including intensifying regional tensions with Pakistan. Growth in industrial production slowed, to 5.1% in 200001 and to 2.7% in 200102. As the economy improved by middecade, the industrial production growth rate stood at 7.4% in 2004, and had climbed to 11.7% by June 2005.

Under the planned development regime of past decades, government directives channeled much of the country's resources into public enterprises. Private investment was closely regulated for all industries, discouraging investors from formal entry into the sector. However, industrial policy has shifted towards privatization and deregulation. Since 1991 government licensing requirements have been abolished for all but a few "controlled areas": distillation and brewing of alcoholic drinks, cigars and cigarettes, defense equipment, industrial explosives, hazardous chemicals, and drugs and pharmaceuticals. Under the government disinvestment program announced at the end of 1999, only three sectors remain completely closed to private investment: defense, atomic energy, and railway transport. The oil industry was opened to joint foreign investment in 1997 under the New Exploration and Licensing Policy (NELP). The Ministry of Disinvestment was established in December 1999 to oversee the reduction of government shares in 247 stateowned companies. The first sale, in 2000, was 51% of the Bharat Aluminum Company, Ltd. to Sterlite Ltd. of India. In 2002, managerial control of Maruti Udyog Ltd. (MUL), India's top carmaker, was transferred to Suzuki Maintenance Corporation (SMC) of Japan. Generally, the public sector units (PSUs) for which the government has found buyers in its disinvestment program have not been in the industrial or manufacturing sectors. Instead, the government has taken steps to make their operations more competitive. Credit and capital markets have also been greatly liberalized. Since 1992, all foreign companies have been on par with Indian companies in the area of foreign exchange solvency and on the stock market. With these reforms, private investment in industry is now proceeding at a steady pace, fostering increased competition in most of the mining and manufacturing sectors previously monopolized by parastatals.

Textile production dominates the industrial field, accounting for about 30% of export earnings while adding only 78% to imports. The textile industry employs approximately 35 million workers, making it the secondlargest employer in India after agriculture. On a broad level, the textile sector can be divided between the natural fiber segment (cotton, silk, wool, jute, etc.) and the manmade fiber segment (polyester filament yarn, blended yarns, etc.). Cotton accounts for about 60% of both domestic consumption and exports. In terms of operations, since the 1980s decentralized powerlooms have produced an increasingly large share of production as centralized mills have declined. In 1986, there were about 638,000 decentralized powerlooms in operation, and by 2002 these had increased 260% to about 1,662,000. Anticipating the globalization of the textile market in 2004, India's National Textile Policy of 2000 pinpointed the weaving sector as the crucial link in the textile value chain (from fiber to fabric to garment to style) that needed to become more competitive. However, integrated mill operations, which perform spinning, weaving and processing in a central location, have stagnated and declined. Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Ahmadābad, and the provincial cities in southern India lead in cotton milling, which accounts for about 65% of the raw material consumed by the textile industry. Jute milling is localized at Calcutta, center of the jute agricultural area. India is the world's number one jute manufacturer. On average, textile production was growing at about 5% a year by 2000, although in 200102, with demand damped by a series of negative eventseconomic recession in the United States, a global economic slowdown, the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the attack on India's Parliament on 13 December 2001, and sectarian violence in Gujaratgrowth fell to 2.6%, while textile exports fell 9%. However, beginning at the end of 2002 and continuing into the next three years, strong growth was evidenced. Textile exports had increased to $11.7 by 2004, an increase of some 5% over 2003. Estimates were that the textile sector would grow by 1518% following the end of world textile quotas in 2005.

India is the world's ninthlargest steel producer. Crude steel production reached 32.6 million tons in 2004. India's steel production has more than doubled since 1990. In 2005, India's steel production increased by 16.6% over 2004; with China, India led the global increase in steel production in 2005. The industry consists of seven large integrated mills and about 180 mini steel plants. The metallurgical sector also produced 818,000 tons of aluminum products in 2002. Automobile production, fed by both the steel and aluminum industries, has grown at an annual rates of close to 20% since liberalization in 1993, propelled by low interest rates, the expansion of consumer finance, and strong export demand. About 90% of vehicles produced are economy cars, and 10% are luxury cars and SUVs.

In the field of computers and consumer electronics, production has been boosted by the liberalization of technology and component imports. In consumer durables, production in many cases grew at doubledigit rates in 2001/02 (air conditioners, 25%; microwave ovens, over 20%; color TVs, over 15%; refrigerators, 12%; audio products and DVDs, 10%; washing machines, less than 5%), while computer production was up 36%. Computer software exports have grown as a compound growth rate of some 50% per year. The electronics market in India was worth $11.5 billion in 2004, and was projected to be the fastestgrowing electronics market in several succeeding years. Since 2004, the electronics industry growth rate was surging at close to 30%.

In the petrochemical sector, India has 18 refineries throughout the country with a total refinery capacity of more than two million barrels per day. Sixteen refineries are governmentowned, one is jointly owned, and one, the Reliance Industries refinery at Jamnagar in Gujarat State, is privately owned. Almost half India's refinery capacity has been built since 1998, the government's goal being self-sufficiency in refined petroleum products. India's total refinery capacity should currently be enough to meet domestic demand, but because of operational problems it still has to import diesel fuel.

India's cement industry is the secondlargest in the world, after China, with an installed capacity of some 135 million tons. Exports have been very limited and only to immediate neighbors. In the last decade, the government's portion of cement consumption decreased from 50% to 35% as the domestic housing market has grown. However, government financed infrastructure projects have also helped sparked a growth in construction. In 2001/02, 106.9 million tons of cement were produced, of which 5.14 million tons were exported. Cement productionat a 10% growth ratewas expected to grow to $158.5 million tons by the end of 2006/07.

Like cement, India's food processing industry is oriented mainly toward the domestic market. It is India's fifthlargest industry, with output reaching more than $30 billion. Structurally it consists of about 9000 operational units, accounts for about 6.3% of GDP, 13% of exports, and 18% of industrial employment (about 1.6 million workers).

India's fertilizer industry is the thirdlargest in the world and central to its efforts to increase agricultural productivity. Potassium-based nutrients must all be imported. Since 1992 the government has been gradually decontrolling the price of fertilizers.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

In 2000 (the latest year for which data was available), India's total expenditures on research and development (R&D) amounted to $20,782.676 million, or 0.85% of GDP. Allocations are divided among government and industry, with government providing the major share at 74.7%, as of 2000, followed by business at 23% and higher education at 2.4%. In 2002, the value of India's high technology exports totaled $1.788 billion, accounting for 5% of the country's manufactured exports. There has been a marked growth in the training of engineers and technicians. For the period 1990-01, India had an estimated 157 researchers and 115 technicians per million people that were actively engaged in R&D. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 25% of college and university enrollments.

Among the technological higher schools are the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore and the Indian Institutes of Technology at Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Delhi, Kānpur, Kharagpur, and Madras. In 1947, there were 620 colleges and universities; by 1996, that number was nearly 7,700. One of the primary science and technology issues facing India is a "brain drain." Over 13,000 Indian students annually seek science and engineering degrees in the United States. Such an exodus may greatly reduce the quality of science and engineering education in India.

There are more than 2,500 national research and development institutions connected with science and technology in India. Principal government agencies engaged in scientific research and technical development are the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the Ministry of Atomic Energy, and the Ministry of Electronics. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (founded in 1942) has 39 national laboratories under its umbrella. In March 1981, a cabinet committee, headed by the prime minister, was established to review science and technology programs and to decide future policy.

An importer of nuclear technology since the 1960s, India tested its own underground nuclear device for the first time in 1974 at Pokhran, in Rajasthan. In May 1996, India once again performed nuclear tests, dropping three bombs into 700-footdeep shafts in the desert at Pokhran, with an impact of 80 kilotons. Pakistan responded later the same month with tests of its own. The first Indianbuilt nuclear power plant, with two 235-MW heavy-water reactors, began operating in July 1983, and an experimental fastbreeder reactor was under construction.

The country's largest scientific establishment is the Bhabha Atomic Research Center at Trombay, near Mumbai (formerly Bombay), which has four nuclear research reactors and trains 150 nuclear scientists each year. In the area of space technology, India's first communications satellite, Aryabhata, was launched into orbit by the former USSR on 19 April 1975, and two additional satellites were orbited by Soviet rockets in 1979 and 1981. The Indian Space Research Organization constructed and launched India's first satellitelaunching vehicle, the SLV-3, from its Vikram Sarabhai Space Center at Sriharikota on 18 July 1980; the four-stage, solidfuel rocket put a 35 kg (77 lb) Rohini satellite into nearearth orbit. Indianbuilt telecommunications satellites have been launched into orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida, by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, by the European Space Agency, and from French Guiana. India has established a satellitetracking station at Kavalur, in Tamil Nadu. In 1984, the first IndoSoviet manned mission was completed successfully; in 1985, two Indians were selected for an IndoUS joint shuttle flight. An important international sciences program is the United StatesIndia Fund (USIF), through which scientists and engineers participate in IndoUS joint research projects at 15 institutions in each country. Projects include earthquake, atmospheric, marine, energy, environment, medical, and life sciences.

Major learned societies in the country are the Indian Academy of Sciences (founded in 1934 in Bangalore), the Indian National Science Academy (founded in 1935 in New Delhi), and the National Academy of Sciences (founded in 1930 in Allahābād).

DOMESTIC TRADE

Under a nationwide scheme launched in 1979 for the distribution of essential commodities, goods are procured by the central government and then supplied to citizens. Each state has its own consumer cooperative federation; all of these groups are under the aegis of the National Cooperative Consumers Federation with the Minister of Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution. By 2000, more than 26,000 cooperatives and 680 wholesale stores shared in the distribution of sugar, edible oils, and grains in rural areas.

With the government's new emphasis on growth in private enterprise since the late 1980s, the expansion of privately-owned retail outlets have competed with the cooperative sector. Most private commercial enterprises are small establishments owned and operated by a single person or a single family; retail outlets are often highly specialized in product and usually very small in quarters and total stock. Often the Indian retail shop is large enough to hold only the proprietor and a small selection of stock; shutters fronting the store are opened to allow customers to negotiate from the street or sidewalk. There are no major national chains but foreign franchises do exist. In most retail shops, fixed prices are rare and bargaining is the accepted means of purchase. Some department stores and supermarkets have begun to appear in shopping centers in major cities. These shopping centers usually offer entertainment and leisure activities as well.

India's domestic trade is widely influenced by informal and unreported commerce and income, known as "black money."

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 63,028.9 77,201.4 -14,172.5
United States 11,374.8 4,974.9 6,399.9
United Arab Emirates 5,038.7 2,035.1 3,003.6
China, Hong Kong SAR 3,221.4 1,474.8 1,746.6
United Kingdom 2,986.8 3,195.5 -208.7
China 2,918.5 4,004.5 -1,086.0
Germany 2,513.1 2,883.5 -370.4
Singapore 2,098.5 2,060.3 38.2
Belgium 1,783.4 3,928.1 -2,144.7
Bangladesh 1,719.2 1,719.2
Italy-San Marino-Holy See 1,708.0 1,058.2 649.8
() data not available or not significant.

Government and business hours are generally from 10 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday, with a lunch break from 1 to 2 pm. Larger shops in Delhi are open from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm and from 3:30 to 7:30 pm. Normal banking hours are from 10 am to 4 pm on weekdays and from 10 am to noon on Saturdays.

FOREIGN TRADE

Initially, India's foreign trade followed a pattern common to all underdeveloped countries: exporting raw materials and food in exchange for manufactured goods. The only difference in India's case was that it also exported processed textiles, yarn, and jute goods. Until the late 1980s, the government's strongly import substitution-oriented industrial policy limited the significance of exports for the Indian economy, and while exports have become more important, they remain only about 8% of national income. With imports exceeding exports almost continuously in the 1970s and 1980s, India registers a chronic trade deficit. Stabilization and structural adjustment measures taken in 1991, including a 50% currency devaluation, have improved the country's balance of trade position by depressing imports and making exports more competitive in the world market. Given the country's relatively well-developed manufacturing base, items like textile goods, gems and jewelry, engineering goods, chemicals, and leather manufactures now comprise the country's leading exported items, replacing jute, tea, and other food products that dominated its export base in the 1960s and early 1970s. India's major imports include petroleum and petroleum products, gold and precious stones, machinery, chemicals, and fertilizers.

India's trade deficit rose to an estimated $19.2 billion in 2004 in balanceofpayments terms, up from $8.9 billion in 2003. Exports performed strongly, rising 31.3% to $78 billion, but imports also soared by 42% to $97 billion, owing largely to the higher price of oil and to the demand for industrial inputs and consumer goods. The United States remained India's largest trading partner, although China in recent years has become the secondlargest market for Indian goods. In 2004, India's leading markets were: the United States (19.8% of all exports); China (8.3%); the United Arab Emirates (8%); the United Kingdom (5.1%); and Hong Kong (4.6%). Leading suppliers include: the United States (6.9% of all imports); China (6%); BelgiumLuxembourg (6%); Singapore (4.7%); and Australia (4.5%).

In percentage terms, India's primary exports in 2004/05 were: engineering goods (20.1% of all exports); gems and jewelry (17.5%); and textiles and garments (16.3%). Major imports were: petroleum and petroleum products (30.4% of all imports); capital goods (10%); and electronic goods (9.3%).

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

India has in the past had a chronic deficit on current accounts. What has bridged the gap between payments and receipts is mainly external aid (especially nonproject assistance), tourism earnings, and remittances from Indians working abroad. Heavy imports of food grains and armament purchases caused a decline in India's foreign exchange reserves in the mid-1960s. An economic recovery from 196869, however, eased the problem, and by September 1970, foreign exchange reserves amounted to $616 million, as compared with $383 million by December 1965. Reserves declined to $566 million by the end of 1972 but increased to $841

Current Account 5,815.0
     Balance on goods -12,041.0
         Imports -62,742.0
         Exports 50,701.0
     Balance on services 6,790.0
     Balance on income -3,564.0
     Current transfers 14,630.0
Capital Account 2,563.0
Financial Account 11,054.0
     Direct investment abroad -488.0
     Direct investment in India 3,700.0
     Portfolio investment assets -42.0
     Portfolio investment liabilities 1,064.0
     Financial derivatives
     Other investment assets 4,780.0
     Other investment liabilities 2,040.0
Net Errors and Omissions -585.0
Reserves and Related Items -18,848.0
() data not available or not significant.

million as of December 1975, despite massive deficits on current accounts, attributable to the quadrupling of oil import prices during 197374. Foreign exchange reserves declined from $6,739 million at the end of 1979 to $3,476 million as of November 1982 but subsequently rose to $5,924 million by March 1987.

The Persian Gulf War crisis worsened the ratio of current account deficit to GDP. Foreign exchange reserves plummeted because of export losses in Kuwait, Iraq, and other nations. Remittances from Indian workers fell, and sudden price increases for oil imports caused an estimated loss to India of over $2.8 billion in earnings. By November 1993, however, India's foreign exchange reserves had risen to $8.1 billion, the highest level since 1951. A substantial reduction in the trade deficit, increased inflows from foreign institutional investors, a stable exchange rate, and improved remittances all contributed in the recovery of reserves. Although export growth remained strong, the current account deficit tripled from 199394 to 199596. The increase was attributed to a continuing surge in imports and higher debt service requirements. However, between 1995 and 1998 the current account deficit shrank to about 1% of GDP due to increased textile exports and a liberalizing trade regime. India's total external debt in 2001 was estimated at $100.6 billion, and at $117.2 billion in 2004. High international oil prices and strong domestic demand were forecast to lead to a significant widening of the merchandise trade deficit over the period 200608, but strong surpluses on services and transfers (remittances) were expected to counteract a deficit in the currentaccount. For the year ending in March 2005, India was expected to enjoy a currentaccount surplus of some $5 billion, compared with $8.7 billion in 2004. Thus, India would have had four consecutive currentaccount surpluses for the first time in 23 years. In the early 2000s, India's exports to East and Southeast Asia increased, including to Japan and South Korea. High growth rates were registered for textiles, chemicals and related products, engineering goods, and leather and manufactures.

BANKING AND SECURITIES

A well-established banking system exists in India as a result of British colonialism. The Reserve Bank of India, founded in 1935 and nationalized in 1949, is the central banking and noteissuing authority. The Reserve Bank funds the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation, which provides deposit insurance coverage to the banking sector. The largest publicsector bank is the State Bank of India, which, at the end of 1996, accounted for one-third of income. Banks operating in the public sector account for 75% of commercial banking, while private banks take 15% of the market and foreign banks account for the remaining 10%. In 1997, 58% of commercial banks operated regionally, extending credit to small borrowers in rural areas. Scheduled banks maintain branches, mainly in the major commercial and industrial centers of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu states and the Delhi territory. Over 100 branches of Indian commercial banks operate overseas as well, primarily in the United Kingdom, United States, Fiji, Mauritius, Hong Kong, and Singapore. As of July 2000, there were 45 foreign banks in India with 180 branches, as well as 26 foreign representative offices. Total deposits in commercial banks reached $206 billion in 2000-01.

The cost of borrowing remained very high, because of bad debts and nonperforming assets. Most Indian banks lend approximately 3040% of their capital to the government of India, and over 80% of investment is in government securities. In an attempt to regulate lending practices and interest rates, the government encouraged the formation of cooperative credit societies. Longterm credit is provided by the cooperative land development banks. Nonagricultural credit societies and employees' credit societies supply urban credit. A process of gradual liberalization is being applied to government institutions that supply most medium- and longterm credit. These termlending institutions also control about 30% of all share capital and act as a channel for most foreign borrowing by the private sector. The main bodies are the Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI), the Industrial Finance Corporation of India (IFCI), the Industrial Credit and Investment Corp. of India (ICIC), and the ExportImport Bank of India (Eximbank). The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $81.6 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $283.4 billion. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 6.5%.

The main stock exchanges are located in Calcutta, Mumbai (formerly Bombay), and Madras, and there are secondary exchanges in Ahmadābad, Delhi, Kānpur, Nāgpur, and other cities. The Securities and Exchange Board of India supplies regulation of the stock market. These regulations are not strict, and at times margin trading and other questionable practices have tended to produce wild speculation. Rules favor exchange members rather than public protection or benefit. Brokerage and jobbing are commonly combined. Of India's 21 stock exchanges, the Mumbai Stock Exchange (BSE) and National Stock Exchange (NSE) are the most important. There were 4,730 companies listed on the BSE as of 2004. Total market capitalization on the BSE's listed companies that year totaled was $387.851 billion in that same year. The NSE, however, is perceived as more transparent, has faster trading cycles, more timely settlements, and is in the process of setting up a share depository. Major efforts have been made to strengthen the stock market institutionally and make it less like a casino.

In 199697 negative market sentiment, particularly among foreign institutional investors, took the overall price earnings ratio down from 19.6 in June 1996 to 11.3 in November. In the two years ending October 1996, all but 436 of the 2,531 mosttraded shares lost over half their value; more than 1,000 lost over 80% of their value. The market continued to lose ground in 1997 and 1998 due to the Asian financial crisis. In 19992000, though, both the BSE and the NSE gained approximately 40% in market share value due to the growth in information technology (IT) stocks. Between 1998 and 1999 alone, the local S&P CNX Index grew 97.8%, but then dropped about 2324% in each of the next two years. The S&P IFCG and IFCI Indexes also dropped about 2030% in 1999 and 2000. In 2004, the S&P CNX 500 rose 17.9% from the previous year to 1,804.9.

INSURANCE

The life insurance business was formally nationalized on 1 September 1956 by the establishment of the Life Insurance Corp. of India (LIC), which absorbed the life insurance business of 245 Indian and foreign companies. LIC also transacts business in certain African and Asian countries where there are large Indian populations. The general insurance business was nationalized as of 1 January 1973 and all nationalized general insurance companies were merged into the General Insurance Corp. (GIC) of India. GIC serves as the parent company for the four operating insurers, the New India Assurance Company, the Oriental Fire and General Insurance Company, the National Insurance Company, and the United India Insurance Company.

In 1997, despite repeated promises to allow private insurers into the industry, an announcement on privatization in the financial services sector was postponed in the face of institutional resistance. The unions and leftwing parties led a struggle to stop an opening up of the insurance sector. They were alarmed by government plans to introduce legislation that would set up an independent Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRA). Under the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act of 1999, the IRA finally gained the power to issue licenses to private insurance companies in 2000 to Indians and foreigners. In India, thirdparty auto liablity, public liability for hazardous material handling, workers' compensation, and thirdparty liability for inland water vessels are all compulsory. In 2003, the value of direct premiums written totaled $17.302 billion, of which life premiums accounted for $13.590 billion. India's top nonlife insurer in 2003 was New India, with gross written nonlife premiums of $806.7 million. The nation's leading life insurer that same year was LIC, with gross written life premiums totaling $13,939.1 million.

PUBLIC FINANCE

The government's financial year extends from 1 April to 31 March, and the budget is presented to the parliament on the last day of February. The executive branch has considerable control over public finance. Thus, while parliament can oversee and investigate public expenditures and may reduce the budget, it cannot expand the budget, and checks exist that prevent it from delaying passage. Budgets in recent decades have reflected the needs of rapid

Revenue and Grants 3,222.3 100.0%
     Tax revenue 2,515.3 78.1%
     Social contributions 11.7 0.4%
     Grants 14.6 0.5%
     Other revenue 680.7 21.1%
Expenditures 4,560 100.0%
     General public services 2,768 60.7%
     Defense 652 14.3%
     Public order and safety
     Economic affairs 771.6 16.9%
     Environmental protection
     Housing and community amenities 192.3 4.2%
     Health 74.2 1.6%
     Recreational, culture, and religion
     Education 102 2.2%
     Social protection 0.0%
() data not available or not significant.

economic development under rising expenditures of the five-year plans. Insufficient government receipts for financing this development have led to yearly deficits and a resulting increase of new tax measures and deficit financing. The Gulf crisis, increased interest payments, subsidies, and relief in 1991 caused the central government's fiscal deficit to reach 9% of GDP. It fell to 5.7% in 199293 but rose to 7.3% of GDP in 199394. Principal sources of government revenue are customs and excise duties and individual and corporate income taxes. Major items of expenditure are defense, grants to states and territories, interest payments on the national debt, and economic, social, and community services. High interest rates, 8% inflation, slow industrial growth, and weak foreign investment prompted the government to recommend dramatic new initiatives in the 199798 budget, including cuts in taxes and duties. The proposed budget projected a 15% increase in expenditures to $65 billion and a reduction in the deficit to 4.5% of GDP. While expenditures were cut, the budget deficit actually grew in 199798 to about 8.5% of the GDP due to currency devaluation and the Asian financial crisis. The budget for 2000 included a 30% increase on defense spending due to the Pakistani conflict. Although applauded by the business community as market-friendly, some observers were chagrined by the 2000 budget's failure to squarely tackle infrastructure reforms. India suffers from inadequate roads and ports, a substandard educational system, and unreliable power supplies.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 India's central government took in revenues of approximately $111.2 billion and had expenditures of $135.8 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$24.6 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 82% of GDP (federal and state debt combined). Total external debt was $119.7 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2003, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were r3,222.3 billion and expenditures were r4,560 billion. The value of revenues was us$69 million and expenditures us$98 million, based on a market exchange rate for 2003 of us$1 = r46.583 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 60.7%; defense, 14.3%; economic affairs, 16.9%; housing and community amenities, 4.2%; health, 1.6%; and education, 2.2%.

TAXATION

Taxes are levied by the central government, the state governments, and the various municipal governments. The sources of central government tax revenue are union excise duties, the central valueadded tax or CENVAT, corporate and personal income (nonagricultural) taxes, wealth taxes, and customs duties. The gift tax was abolished in January 1998. State government sources, in general order of importance, are land taxes, sales taxes, excise duties, and registration and stamp duties. The states also share in central government income tax revenues and union excise duties; and they receive all revenues from the wealth tax on agricultural property. Municipal governments levy land and other property taxes and license fees. Many also impose duties on goods entering the municipal limits. There is little uniformity in types or rates of state and municipal taxes.

Corporate income tax for domestic companies as of 2005 is 35% plus a 2.5% surcharge, and for foreign companies 40% plus a 2.5% surcharge.

The wealth tax is 1% of wealth exceeding r1,500,000 ($31,000). Interest income is taxed at 20% to both foreign and resident companies; capital gains and rental income are taxed at 20% and winnings from lotteries and horse races at 30%. There is no tax on dividends.

The central government imposes a 12.5% valueadded tax (VAT) called the CENVAT. However, lower rates of 4%, 1% and 0% are also levied on domestically manufactured goods.

For the 2003/04 Union Budget, the excise structure was rationalized into four tiers: exempt items many of which had carried 4% rates (like umbrellas, band-aids, toys, corrective glasses, CDs); 8% (like pressure cookers, buckets, dental chairs); 16% (the standard VAT rate applied to most items), and 24% reduced from 20% to 50% on polyester filament yarn, motor cars, utility vehicles, and replacement tires. Special Excise Duties of 32% are applied to aerated soft drinks and concentrates, pan masala, and chewing tobacco.

As of 1 April 2003, instead of being 100% tax free, profits and gains derived from Software Technology Parks of India (STPIs) and export oriented units (EOUs) will only be 90% tax-free.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

The majority of imports and some exports are subject to tariffs. There are both revenue and protective tariffs, although the former are more important and have long been a major source of central government income. The Indian government has been steadily reducing tariff rates in order to increase trade and investment. A 35% tariff ceiling was set in the 200102 budget. However, India's tariffs are still among the highest in the world. Additional, special duties can more than double the barriers to importing a product, including textiles and apparel. Gold is taxed at an added rate of 9% at the state level and at least an added 3% at the local level. Indians spend more money on gold than anything but oil. India's 28 states also impose duties on products coming in from other states.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

Until recently, foreign investment remained closely regulated. Rules and incentives directed the flow of foreign capital mainly toward consumer industries and light engineering, with major capitalintensive projects reserved for the public sector. Under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act of 1973, which went into effect on 1 January 1974, all branches of foreign companies in which nonresident interest exceeded 40% were required to reapply for permission to carry on business; most companies had reduced their holdings to no more than 40% by 1 January 1976. Certain key export-oriented or technology-intensive industries were permitted to maintain up to 100% nonresident ownership. Tea plantations were also exempted from the 40% requirement. Although the government officially welcomed private foreign investment, collaboration and royalty arrangements were tightly controlled. Due to the restrictiveness of these policies, foreign investment remained remarkably low during the 1980s, ranging between $200 and $400 million a year.

Government reform measures in mid-1991 changed this picture significantly. Under the New Industrial Policy, the amount of money invested in the country doubled annually from 1991 to 1995. In 1997 the New Exploration and Licensing Policy (NELP) was announced, permitting the participation of foreign oil companies in upstream exploration and development of oil and gas resources. Effective 1 April 2001, imports of crude oil and petroleum products were liberalized, with staterun enterprises losing their exclusive right to import certain petroleum products for domestic consumption. Also in 2001, India removed quantitative restrictions (QRs) from 715 items (147 agricultural products, 342 textile items, and 226 manufactured goods, including automobiles) in compliance with WTO standards. Under the New Industrial Policy as amended, most sectors have been opened for 100% foreign investment. Sectors such as banking, telecommunications, and print media are still restricted. In some restricted sectors, foreign investment up to 49% or 74% is allowed in the equity of an Indian joint venture company. In the early 2000s, the requirement prior approval by the Reserve Bank of India was removed from enterprises falling within categories allowing 100% foreign investment.

India has eight export processing zones (EPZs) designed to provide internationally competitive infrastructure and duty-free, lowcost facilities for exporters. Foreign investors in some industries can operate in EPZs, export oriented units (EOUs), special economic zones (SEZs) and Software Technology Parks of India (STPIs). SEZs are regarded as foreign territory for purposes of duties and taxes and sector caps that limit foreign direct investment (FDI) in different industries do not apply in the SEZs. In any case, the corporate tax rate on foreign companies has been reduced to 48% to 40%, and the peak customs rate was reduced from 35% to 30%. In November 1999 the government announced its intention to disinvest in 247 stateowned enterprise to the general level of 26% ownership, and established the Ministry of Disinvestment. Although the program has involved the transfer of significant amounts of equity and management control from the government to private sector, it has yet to generate appreciable foreign investment. Despite the trend towards liberalization, India's foreign investment regime remains complex and relatively restricted. Although FDI has increased, average a net $2.64 billion per year 1997/98 to 2001/02, the inflow is still small compared to China, the most relevant comparison, where FDI has run some $30 billion to $40 billion a year. The net flow dropped to $1.8 billion in 2000/01, and then recovered to a net $3.4 billion in 2001/02. FDI inflow amounted to $3.33 billion in 2004. Investment was heaviest in the transportation sector.

Statistics on FDI for India show Mauritius as consistently one of the largest sources, averaging about $700 million per year from 1995 to 2000, with the United States in second place, averaging about $383 million a year. In 2004, the Netherlands was India's largest investor, at $434 million, followed by Mauritius ($420 million) and the United States ($342 million). However, most of the investments credited to Mauritius are actually from American companies seeking to take advantage of its lower withholding taxes or exemptions on payments of royalties, dividends, technical service fees, interest on loans and capital gain by Indian joint venture companies under the terms of the Double Tax Agreement (DTA) between India and Mauritius. Foreign investment through the stock market is limited to 3040%.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Under a series of five-year plans through 2000, the government became a participant in many industrial fields and increased its regulation of existing private commerce and industry. Long the owneroperator of most railway facilities, all radio broadcasting, post, and telegraph facilities, arms and ammunition factories, and river development programs, the government reserved for itself the right to nationalize any industries it deemed necessary. Yet the government's socialist approach was pragmatic, not doctrinaire; agriculture and large segments of trade, finance, and industry remained in private hands. Planning is supervised by an eight-member planning commission, established in 1950 and chaired by the prime minister.

India's first four five-year plans entailed a total public sector outlay of r314.1 billion. The first plan (195156) accorded top priority to agriculture, especially irrigation and power projects. The second plan (195661) was designed to implement the new industrial policy and to achieve a "socialist pattern of society." The plan stressed rapid industrialization, a 25% increase in national income (in fact, the achieved increase was only 20%), and reduction of inequalities in wealth and income. The focus of the third plan (196166) was industrialization, with 24.6% spent on transportation and communications and 20.1% on industry and minerals. Drought, inflation, and war with Pakistan made this plan a major disappointment; although considerable industrial diversification was achieved and national income rose, per capita income did not increase (because of population growth), and harvests were disastrously low. Because of the unsettled domestic situation, the fourth five-year plan did not take effect until 1969. The 196974 plan sought to control fluctuations in agricultural output and to promote equality and social justice. Agriculture and allied sectors received 16.9%, more than in any previous plan, while industry and minerals received 18.5%, transportation and communications 18.4%, and power development 17.8%, also more than in any previous plan.

The fifth plan (197479) aimed at the removal of poverty and the attainment of self-reliance. A total outlay of r393.2 billion was allocated (26% less than originally envisaged), and actual expenditures totaled r394.2 billion. Once again, the emphasis was on industry, with mining and manufacturing taking 22.5%, electric power 18.7%, transportation and communications 17.2%, and agriculture 12.1%. The fifth plan was cut short a year early, in 1978, and, with India enmeshed in recession and political turmoil, work began on the sixth development plan (198085). Its goal, like that of the fifth, was the removal of poverty, although the planners recognized that this gigantic task could not be accomplished within five years. The plan aimed to strengthen the agricultural and industrial infrastructure in order to accelerate the growth of investments and exports. Projected outlays totaled r975 billion, of which electric power received 27.1%, industry and mining 15.4%, transportation and communications 12.7%, and agriculture 12.2%. The main target was a GDP growth rate of 5.2% annually. The seventh development plan (198590) projected 5% overall GDP growth (which was largely achieved and even exceeded) based on increases of 4% and 8% in agricultural and industrial output, respectively. Outlays were to total r1,800 billion.

The eighth development plan (for 199297), drafted in response to the country's looming debt crisis in 199091, laid the groundwork for longterm structural adjustment. The plan's overall thrust was to stimulate industrial growth by the private sector, and thereby free government resources for greater investment in basic infrastructure and human resources development. In addition to liberalized conditions for private and foreign investment, the foreign exchange system was reformed, the currency devalued, the maximum tariff reduced from 350% to 85%, import barriers generally loosened, and those for key intermediate goods removed altogether. Reform of the tax system, reduction of subsidies, and restructuring of public enterprises were also targeted. While the eighth plan generally supported expansion of private enterprise, unlike structural adjustment programs in other developing countries, it did not stipulate a largescale privatization of the public sector.

As the eighth plan came to an end in 1997 most analysts proclaimed it a success; economic growth averaged 6% a year, employment rose, poverty was reduced, exports increased, and inflation declined.

The ninth development plan (19972002) focused on the redistribution of wealth and alleviation of poverty, the further privatization of the economy and attraction of foreign investment, and the reduction of the deficit. Overall there were improvements in the reform era including an increase in the GDP growth rate from an average of about 5.7% to about 6.1% in the eighth and ninth plan periods, a reduction of the percent in poverty from a third of the population to a fourth, increased literacy from 52% in 1991 to 65% in 2001, and India's emergence as a competitor in state of the art technologies of the new information age economy. However, persistent inefficienciesunemployment and underemployment, and welfare deficienciesremained. Moreover, after 1998 a series of domestic and international shocks brought a disturbing deceleration to India's economic growth.

In the tenth five-year plan, 200207, the government set the ambitious target of achieving an average 8% growth, above the level achieved during the ninth plan. Other monitorable economic targets include a reduction of the poverty rate by 5% by 2007, and by 15% by 2012; providing gainful and highquality employment at least equal to the projected increases in the labor force; increase in forest and tree cover to 25%, in 2007 and to 33% by 2012; all villages provided with sustained access to potable water by 2007; and cleaning of all major polluted rivers by 2007. Agricultural development was viewed as the core element of the tenth plan with attention to sectors most likely to create employment opportunities. These include agriculture in its extended sense, construction, tourism, transport, smallscale industries (SSI), retailing, IT, and communications enabling services. Industrial policy includes continued emphasis on privatization and deregulation. The ambitious 8% annual growth of the tenth plan was considered achievable because of the inefficiencies that have traditionally plagued Indian agriculture and industry. Because the scope for improvement is so wide, both in the public sector and in the private sector, strong growth can be expected from efficiency enhancing policies. GDP growth was forecast to end at the more modest rate of 7.8% in 2005/06, 7% in 2006/07, and 6.5% in 2007/08, due in part to high international oil prices.

The government remained committed to stimulating the agricultural sector, but balancing this with the need to reduce the budget deficit proved difficult. As of 2006, it was politically difficult for the United Progressive Coalition (UPA) government, led by the Congress Party, to continue with the disinvestment process, although it was expected to attempt to reduce subsidies to stateowned companies. Further liberalization was expected to expand the role of domestic and foreign privatesector firms. India's population was forecast to exceed that of China's by 2035; the huge and growing population remained India's foremost economic, social, and environmental problem. In December 2004, a major tsunami took nearly 11,000 lives, left almost 6,000 missing, destroyed $1.2 billion worth of property, and severely damaged the fishing fleet.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

An employees' provident fund was established in 1954. In 2004, a voluntary old age, disability, and survivor benefit scheme was implemented for some low income employees and self-employed persons. Contributions are income related and at a flat rate. Provident fund old age benefits are available at age 55, or at any age if the worker is leaving the country permanently. Workmen's compensation was first enacted in 1923. Currently it provides coverage to lower income employees working for establishment with more than 10 employees. State governments arrange for the provisions of medical care for workers. Labor laws require employers to provide severance pay in certain situations.

The program for old age, disability, and death benefits are covered by a provident fund with deposit linked insurance for industrial workers in 177 categories. The system is partially funded by insured persons and employers, with a small pension scheme subsidized by the government. There is a social insurance system covering sickness and maternity as well as work injury. The law requires employers to pay a severance indemnity of 15 days pay for each year of employment.

Domestic violence is commonplace; in 2004 more than half of women surveyed believed it was justifiable and a normal part of married life. Wife murder, usually referred to as "dowry deaths," are still evident. Although the law prohibits discrimination in the workplace, women are paid less than men in both rural and urban areas. Discrimination exists in access to employment, credit, and in family and property law. Laws aimed at preventing employment discrimination, female bondage and prostitution, and the sati (widow burning), are not always enforced. India is a significant source and destination for thousands of trafficked women. Not only does the male population exceed that of females, but India is also one of the few countries where men, on the average, live longer than women. To explain this anomaly, it has been suggested that daughters are more likely to be malnourished and to be provided with fewer health care services. Female infanticide and feticide is a growing problem in a society that values sons over daughters. It is estimated there are nearly 500,000 children living and working on the streets. Child prostitution is widespread. Children are subject to beatings in school and abuse during religious ceremonies.

Human rights abuses, including incommunicado detention, are particularly acute in Kashmir, where separatist violence has flared. Although constitutional and statutory safeguards are in place, serious abuses still occur including extrajudicial killings, abuse of detainees, and poor prison conditions. Despite efforts to eliminate discrimination based on the longstanding caste system, the practice remains unchanged. Prison conditions are harsh, and the judicial system is severely overloaded.

HEALTH

Great improvements have taken place in public health since independence, but the general health picture remained far from satisfactory. The government has paid increasing attention to integrated health, maternity, and child care in rural areas. An increasing number of community health workers and doctors are being sent to rural health centers. Primary health care is provided to the rural population through a network of over 150,000 primary health centers and subcenters that are staffed by trained midwives and health guides.

As of 2004, there were an estimated 51 physicians and 62 nurses per 100,000 people. In the mid-1990s, there were nearly 40,000 hospitals and dispensaries. In addition, the rural population was served by more than 130,000 subcenters, over 20,350 primary health centers, and nearly 2,000 community health centers. There are also numerous herb compounders, along with thousands of registered practitioners following the Ayurvedic (ancient Hindu) and Unani systems.

India has modern medical colleges, dental colleges, colleges of nursing, and nursing schools. More than 100 colleges and schools teach the indigenous Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine and 74 teach homeopathy. New drugs and pharmaceutical plants, some assisted by the UN and some established by European and American firms, manufacture antibiotics, vaccines, germicides, and fungicides. However, patent medicines and other reputed curatives of dubious value are still widely marketed; medical advisors of the indigenous systems and their curatives probably are more widely followed than Western doctors, drugs, and medical practices.

Total health care expenditure was estimated at 5.4% of GDP. Average life expectancy increased from 48 years in 1971 to 64.35 years in 2005. Infant mortality declined from 135 per 1,000 live births in the mid-1970s to 56.29 in 2005. The high mortality rate among infants and children is directly linked to size of family, which is being reduced through the small family norm (National Family Planning Program). The overall mortality rate in 2002 was an estimated 8.6 per 1,000 people.

The government of India took stringent measures to prevent plague following outbreaks during 1994. Mandatory screenings at airports and inspections of passengers were instituted. A shortterm multidrug therapy launched in India in 1995 led to a dramatic fall in the leprosy prevalence. The incidence of malaria was reduced by 98% between 1953 and 1965, but the number of reported cases increased from 14.8 million in 1966 to 64.7 million in 1976 because DDTresistant strains of mosquitoes had developed. The incidence of malaria in 1995 was 295 cases per 100,000 people. The death toll from smallpox was reduced to zero by 1977 through a massive vaccination program and plague had not been reported since 1967. Between 1948 and 1980, 254 million people were tested for tuberculosis and 252 million received BCG, an anti-tuberculosis vaccine. In 1999, there were 185 reported cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 people. In 1994, there was a serious outbreak of pneumonic plague in western India, which spread to others parts of the country, killing thousands. Many diseases remained, especially deficiency diseases such as goiter, kwashiorkor, rickets, and beriberi. However, India's immunization rates for children up to one year old were high. Data from 1997 shows vaccinations against tuberculosis, 96%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 90%; polio, 91%; and measles, 81%. There is also a national system to distribute vitamin A capsules to children because a lack of this vitamin contributes to blindness and malnutrition. As of the mid1990s, nearly 25% of the country's children had been reached. Hypertension is a major health problem in India. Between 3.5% and 6.5% of adults have high blood pressure.

India is currently the nation with the second most HIVinfected people. As of 2004, there were approximately 5,100,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.90 per 100 adults in 2003. There were an estimated 310,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

HOUSING

Though progress has been made toward improving the generally primitive housing in which most Indians live, there are still some deficits in housing supply and access to basic utilities. A number of subsidized, lowcost housing schemes have been launched by the government, but the goal of providing a house for every homeless family cannot be met because of the prohibitive cost. The sixth five-year plan envisaged an expenditure of r94 billion for rural housing and r35 billion for urban housing during the period 198085, including r11.9 billion to provide shelter for homeless people. The eighth five-year plan (199095) called for an investment of $40 billion in housing, with 90% of this sum earmarked for the private sector. The government's goal is to provide eight million new housing units between 1990 and 2000, two million to fill the existing backlog and six million to meet the needs that would be created by population growth.

According to the 2001 national census, there were about 187,063,733 residential dwelling units nationwide. About 50% were considered to be in "good" condition and 44% were described as "livable." Many rural dwellings are constructed of mud brick or burnt brick walls with mud floors and a thatched or tiled roof. Urban dwellings are made from concrete or burnt brick. In 2001, only about 51.6% of all residential dwellings were considered to be permanent structures. Only about 38.9% of all households had drinking water within their premises. About 55% of dwellings had access to electricity. Only about 36% of all dwellings had bathroom facilities within the house.

EDUCATION

In 1986, the National Education Policy (NPE) was adopted in order to bring about major reforms in the system, primarily universalization of primary education. In 1988, a national literacy mission was launched, following which states, like Kerala and Pondicherry, achieved 100% literacy. In 1992, the second program of action on education was introduced to reaffirm the 1986 policy with plans to achieve total literacy and free education for all children up to grade eight.

The main goal has been primary education for children in the 611 age group. An emphasis on "basic education"learning in the context of the physical and cultural environment, including domestic and commercial productive activitieshas met with some success. In addition to expansion of primary education, there has been marked increase in educational facilities in secondary schools, colleges, universities, and technical institutes. An intensive development of adult education is under way in both urban and rural areas.

Free and compulsory elementary education is a directive principle of the constitution. Eight years of basic education are divided into three stages of lower primary school (five years), middle school (three years) and secondary school (two years). Following this, students may choose to attend a two-year senior secondary school or a three-year vocational school. The academic year runs from July to April.

In 2001, about 30% of children between the ages of three and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 88% of age-eligible students; 90% for boys and 85% for girls. It is estimated that about 81% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 40:1 in 2000; the ratio for secondary school was about 33:1. In 2000, private schools accounted for about 16.5% of primary school enrollment and 43% of secondary enrollment.

India's system of higher education is still basically British in structure and approach. The university system is second in size only to that of the United States' with 150 universities and over 5,000 colleges and higherlevel institutions. Educational standards are constantly improving and especially in the area of science and mathematics in which standards are as high as those found any-where in the world. The older universities are in Calcutta, Mumbai (formerly Bombay), and Chennai (formerly Madras), all established in 1857; Allahābād, 1877; Banares Hindu (in Varanasi) and Mysore (now Karnataka), both in 1916; Hyderābād (Osmania University), in 1918; and Aligarh and Lucknow, both in 1921. Most universities have attached and affiliated undergraduate colleges, some of which are in distant towns.

Christian missions in India have organized more than three dozen collegerank institutions and hundreds of primary, secondary, and vocational schools. In addition to universities there are some 3,500 arts and sciences colleges (excluding research institutes) and commercial colleges, as well as 1,500 other training schools and colleges. The autonomous University Grants Commission promotes university education and maintains standards in teaching and research. Many college students receive scholarships and stipends. In 2003, about 12% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 61%, with 73.4% for men and 47.8% for women.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.1% of GDP, or 12.7% of total government expenditures.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

The National Library in Calcutta, with over 22 million books and numerous other items, is by far the largest in the country. Some of the other leading libraries are the New Delhi Public Library (1.4 million volumes), the Central Secretariat Library in New Delhi (700,000 volumes), and the libraries of some of the larger universities. The Khuda Baksh Oriental Library in Patna, with a collection of rare manuscripts in Arabic, Urdu, and Farsi, is one of 10 libraries declared "institutions of national importance" by an act of parliament. The National Archives of India, in New Delhi, is the largest repository of documents in Asia, with 25 km (16 mi) of shelf space. There is an extensive public library system as well as cultural and religious institutions and libraries throughout the country.

Noted botanical gardens are located in Calcutta, Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Lucknow, Ootacamund, Bangalore, Chennai (formerly Madras), and Darjeeling, and well-stocked zoological gardens are found in Calcutta, Mumbai, Chennai, Trivandrum, Hyderābād, Karnataka, and Jodhpur. Most of India's hundreds of museums specialize in one or several aspects of Indian or South Asian culture; these include 25 archaeological museums at ancient sites, such as Konarak, Amravati, and Sarnath. Some of the more important museums are the Indian Museum in Calcutta, the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), and the National Museum and the National Gallery of Modern Art, both in New Delhi.

There are also municipal museums throughout the country and dozens of museums and galleries devoted to prominent South Asian artists. There are science museums in Bhopāl, Calcutta, Mumbai (formerly Bombay), and New Delhi. Bhavongor houses the Gandhi Museum, one of several sites devoted to the history of the national hero. In 2001 the Broadcasting Museum was founded in Delhi. There also are thousands of architectural masterpieces of antiquitythe palaces, temples, mausoleums, fortresses, mosques, formal gardens, deserted cities, and rockhewn monasteriesfound in every section of the subcontinent.

MEDIA

All postal and telegraph and most telephone services are owned and operated by the government. International telephone services, both radio and cable, are available between India and all major countries of the world. In 2003, there were an estimated 46 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; over one million people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately 25 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

All-India Radio (AIR), governmentowned, operates short- and mediumwave transmission through over 100 stations and broadcasts in all major languages and dialects for home consumption. AIR also operates external services in 24 foreign and 36 Indian languages. There are privately licensed radio stations, but they are only permitted to broadcast educational or entertainment programming. News broadcasting by independent radio stations is prohibited. In 1959, India's first television station was inaugurated in Delhi, and color television broadcasting was inaugurated in 1982. The public television service, Doordarshan, operates 21 national, regional, and local services. The School Television Section broadcasts regular inschool instruction programs on selected subjects. Cable and satellite stations have fairly large audiences. As of 1999, there were, altogether, 153 AM and 92 FM radio stations and 562 television stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 120 radios and 83 television sets for every 1,000 people. About 398.9 of every 1,000 people were cable subscribers. Also in 2003, there were 7.2 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 17 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 462 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

India has a thriving film industry, centered at Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Chennai (formerly Madras), Calcutta, and Bangalore. Indians are avid filmgoers and users of videocassettes.

The first newspaper in India, an Englishlanguage weekly issued in Calcutta in 1780, was followed by Englishlanguage papers in other cities. The first Indianlanguage newspaper (in Hindi) appeared in Varanasi (Benares) in 1845. There are hundreds of newspapers in circulation throughout the country, published in some 85 languages, primarily Hindi, English, Bengali, Urdu, and Marathi. The majority of Indian newspapers are under individual ownership and have small circulations. About 30% are published in Delhi, Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Calcutta, and Madras.

The principal national Englishlanguage newspapers are the Indian Express, with editions published in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) and 10 other cities, and the Times of India, published in Ahmadābad, Mumbai, Delhi, and three other cities. The largest Hindi daily is the Navbharat Times, published in Mumbai with a 2002 circulation of 418,500. Other major Hindi dailies (with estimated 2002 circulation) are: Punjab Kesari (173,390), Hindustan (98,900), and Dainik Jagran (409,480). Leading Englishlanguage dailies (with estimated 2002 circulation) include: Indian Express (576,200), Times of India (536,166), The Economic Times (336,060), The Telegraph (234,500), and The Hindu (300,320). In 2002, there were two major Bengali dailies, Jugantar (circulation 302,000) and Aajkaal (157,713). The same year there were two major Marathi dailies, Lokasatta (258,090) and Maharashtra Times; two Tamil dailies, Thanthi (297,797) and Dinamani (178,230); and two major Malayalam dailies, Mathirubhumi (454,351) and Malayala Manorama (1,013,590).

In 1976, the four leading Indian news agenciesthe Press Trust of India (English), United News of India (English), Hindustan Samachar (Hindi), and Samachar Bharati (Hindi)merged to form Samachar, which means "news" in Hindi. The merger followed the cancellation by AIR of subscriptions to all four services. Samachar was dissolved in 1978, and as of 1991 there were three separate agencies: Indian News and Features Alliance, Press Trust of India, and United News of India.

Freedom of the press has been nominally ensured by liberal court interpretations of the constitution, but the government has long held the right to impose "reasonable restrictions" in the interest of "public order, state security, decency, and morality." On a day-to-day basis, the press is essentially unfettered, and news magazines abound in addition to the newspapers.

ORGANIZATIONS

There are many political, commercial, industrial, and labor organizations, and rural cooperatives. Almost all commercial and industrial centers have chambers of commerce. The Center of Indian Trade Unions and All India Trade Union Congress are umbrella organizations representing the rights of worker's. Other labor and industry organizations include the All India Association of Industries and the All India Manufacturers Organization. There are unions for more specialized trades and fields as well, such as the Silk Association of India. There are a number of scholarly and professional societies and associations focused on education and research in various scientific and medical fields, including the national Indian Medical Association. There are also several associations dedicated to research and education for specific fields of medicine and particular diseases and conditions. The Indian Academy of Sciences was established in 1934 to promote research and education in a variety of branches of pure and applied sciences. The Indian National Science Academy similarly promotes public interest in science.

Cultural activities, especially traditional arts and crafts, are promoted throughout India by the National Academy of Fine Arts; the National Academy of Music, Dance, and Drama; the National Center for the Performing Arts; and the National Academy of Letters. Other state organizations for the furthering of cultural activities include the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, and the National Book Trust. There are a great many private cultural and institutional organizations based on religion and philosophy, language (including Sanskrit and Pali), drama, music and dancing, modern writing, the classics, and painting and sculpture.

Notable national youth organizations include the All India Students Federation, Girl Guides and Scouts of India, Indian National Youth Organization, National Council of YMCA's of India, Service CivilYouth Volunteers of India, Student Christian Movement of India, Junior Chamber, Student Federation of India, the Bharat Scouts and Guides, Tibetan Youth Congress, United Nations Youth Organization of India, and Young Catholic Students of India. National women's organizations include All India Women's Conference, Women's Equal Rights Group, and Women's Protection League.

There are several national and local organizations and associations dedicated to providing assistance and services to the poor, disadvantaged, and marginalized, such as the Karnataka Welfare Society and Andhra Mahila Sabha. There are a wide variety of international organizations with chapters in India, including Christian Children's Fund, CARE, Caritas, Defence for Children International, Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, Amnesty International, Kiwanis, and Lion's Clubs. The International Health Organization has an office in New Delhi.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

The national Department of Tourism maintains tourist information offices at home and abroad. It has constructed many facilities for viewing wildlife in forest regions, by minibus, boat, or elephant; and operates tourist lodges in wildlife sanctuaries. The principal tourist attractions are India's distinctive music, dance, theater, festivals, and cuisines; the great cities of Calcutta, Mumbai (formerly Bombay), and Chennai (formerly Madras); and such monuments as the Red Fort and Jama Masjid mosque in Delhi, the Taj Mahal at Agra, and the Amber Palace in Jaipur. Tourists and pilgrims also flock to the sacred Ganges River, the Ajanta temple caves, the temple at Bodhgaya where the Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment, and many other ancient temples and tombs throughout the country. All visitors must have a valid passport and an entry, transit, or tourist visa. The visa must be acquired before arrival. Vaccination against typhoid is recommended.

The big-game hunting for which India was once famous is now banned, but excellent fishing is available. There are also many golf courses. Cricket, field hockey, polo, football (soccer), volleyball, and basketball are all popular, as are ponytrekking in the hill stations and skiing in northern India.

All major cities have comfortable Westernstyle hotels that cater to tourists. In 2003, there were 2,726,214 tourist arrivals, almost 34% of whom came from Europe. Tourist receipts totaled $3.5 billion. The 91,720 hotel rooms with 183,440 beds had an occupancy rate of 60%.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the cost of staying in New Delhi at $245 per day. Daily expenses were estimated at $254 in Calcutta, $266 in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), and $353 in Bangalore.

FAMOUS INDIANS

Siddartha Gautama was (624544 bc according to Sinhalese tradition; 563?483? bc according to most modern scholars) later known as the Buddha ("the enlightened one"). Born in what is now Nepal, he spent much of his life in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, propounding the philosophical doctrines that were later to become Buddhism. Contemporary with the Buddha was Vardhamana (599?527 bc), also known as Mahavira ("great hero"), a saintly thinker of Bihar from whose teachings evolved Jainism. Some of the noteworthy religious and political leaders were Chandragupta (r.321?297? bc), founder of the Maurya Dynasty; Asoka (r.273232 bc), who made Buddhism the religion of his empire; Chandragupta II (r. ad 375?413), whose era marked a high point of Hindu art and literature; Shivaji (1627?80), a hero of much Hindu folklore; Nanak (14691539), whose teachings are the basis of Sikhism; and Govind Singh (16661708), the guru who gave Sikhism its definitive form. Akbar (15421605) greatly expanded the Mughal Empire, which reached its height under Shah Jahan (15921666), builder of the Taj Mahal, and his son, the fanatical emperor Aurangzeb (16181707).

Sanskrit grammarian Panini (5th?4th? centuries bc), wrote the first book on scientific linguistics. The Bengali educator and reformer Rammohan Roy (17721833) has been called "the father of modern India." Swami Vivekananda (18631902), founder of the nonsectarian Ramakrishna Mission and a great traveler both in India and abroad, did much to explain the Hindu philosophy to the world and to India as well. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (18881975), a leading 20thcentury Hindu scholar and philosopher, also served as president of India from 1962 to 1967. Another revered religious philosopher was Meher Baba (18941969). The rising position of India in science and industry is well exemplified by Jamshedji Nusserwanji Tata (18221904), founder of the nation's first modern iron and steel works as well as many other key industries; the physicist Jagadis Chandra Bose (18581937), noted for his research in plant life; Srinivasa Ramanujan (18871919), an amazingly original, although largely self-taught, mathematician; Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (18881970), who was awarded the 1930 Nobel Prize for research in physics; Chandrasekhara Subramanyan (191095), also a Nobel Prize laureate in physics, and Vikram A. Sarabhai (191971), the founder of the Indian space program. Mother Teresa (Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, 191097, in what is now Serbia and Montenegro) won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her 30 years of work among Calcutta's poor.

In modern times no Indian so completely captured the Indian masses and had such a deep spiritual effect on so many throughout the world as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (18691948). Reverently referred to by millions of Indians as the Mahatma ("the greatsouled one"), Gandhi is considered the greatest Indian since the Buddha. His unifying ability and his unusual methods of nonviolent resistance contributed materially to the liberation of India in 1947. A leading disciple of the Mahatma, Vinayak ("Vinoba") Narahari Bhave (18951982), was an agrarian reformer who persuaded wealthy landowners to give about 600,000 hectares (1,500,000 acres) of tillable land to India's poor.

Gandhi's political heir, Jawaharlal Nehru (18891964), had a hold on the Indian people almost equal to that of the Mahatma. Affectionately known as Chacha (Uncle) Nehru, he steered India through its first 17 years of independence and played a key role in the independence struggle. Indira Gandhi (191784), the daughter of Nehru and prime minister from 1966 to 1977 and again from 1980 to 1984, continued her father's work in modernizing India and played an important role among the leaders of nonaligned nations. Her son Rajiv (194491) succeeded her as prime minister and, in the 1985 election, achieved for himself and his party the largest parliamentary victory since India became independent. Subsequent prime ministers have been: P.V. Narasimha Rao (19212004, served 199196), Atal Behari Vajpayee (b.1924, served 1996 and 19982004), and Dr. Manmohan Singh (b.1932), who began his term in 2004.

A classical Sanskrit writer in Indian history was the poet and playwright Kalidasa (fl. 5th cent. ad), whose bestknown work is Shakuntala. In modern times, Rabindranath Tagore (18611941), the great Bengali humanist, influenced Indian thought in his many songs and poems. Tagore received the Nobel Prize in literature in 1913 and through his lifetime wrote more than 50 dramas and about 150 books of verse, fiction, and philosophy. Another Bengali writer highly esteemed was the novelist Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (183894). Tagore and Chatterjee are the authors, respectively, of India's national anthem and national song. The novel in English is a thriving genre; notable modern practitioners include Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Narayan (19062001), Bhabani Bhattacharya (190688), Raja Rao (b.1908) and Khushwant Singh (b.1915). Other contemporary Indianborn novelists writing in English include: Anita Desai (b.1937), Bharati Mukherjee (b.1940), Salman Rushdie (b.1947), and Arundhati Roy (b.1961); Jhumpa Lahiri (b.1967) is an American author of Indian descent. Influential poets of the last two centuries include the Bengalis Iswar Chandra Gupta (181259) and Sarojini Naidu (18791949), known as "the nightingale of India," a close associate of Gandhi and a political leader in her own right.

Modern interpreters of the rich Indian musical tradition include the composer and performer Ravi Shankar (b.1920) and the performer and educator Ali Akbar Khan (b.1922). Zubin Mehta (b.1936) is an orchestral conductor of international renown. Uday Shankar (1900?1977), a dancer and scholar, did much to stimulate Western interest in Indian dance. Tanjore Balasaraswati (1919?84) won renown as a classical dancer and teacher. Preeminent in the Indian cinema is the director Satyajit Ray (192192).

DEPENDENCIES

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are two groups of islands in the Indian Ocean, extending approximately 970 km (600 mi) ns and lying about 640 km (400 mi) w of both the Tenasserim coast of Myanmar and peninsular Thailand. Their total area is 8,293 sq km (3,202 sq mi); their population was estimated to exceed 188,000 in the mid-1990s. These islands together form a union territory with its capital at Port Blair. The legal system is under the jurisdiction of the high court of Calcutta.

The Andaman Islands extend more than 354 km (220 mi) between 10 and 14°n and 92°12 and 94°17 e. Of the 204 islands in the group, the three largest are North, Middle, and South Andaman; since these are separated only by narrow inlets, they are often referred to together as Great Andaman. Little Andaman lies to the south.

The Nicobars extend south from the Andamans between 10 and 6°n and 92°43 and 93°57e. Of the 19 islands, Car Nicobar, 121 km (75 mi) s of Little Andaman, holds more than half the total population; the largest, Great Nicobar, 146 km (91 mi) nw of Sumatra, is sparsely populated.

The Andamans were occupied by the British in 1858, the Nicobars in 1869; sporadic settlements by British, Danish, and other groups were known previously. During World War II (193945), the islands were occupied by Japanese forces. They became a union territory in 1956. That same year, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Act came into force; this act, designed to protect the primitive tribes that live in the islands, prohibited outsiders from carrying on trade or industry in the islands without a special license. Six different tribes live in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the largest being the Nicobarese. There are lesser numbers of Andamanese, Onges, Jarawas, Sentinalese, and Shompens in the dependency. Access to tribal areas is prohibited.

Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. The principal crops are rice and coconuts; some sugarcane, fruits, and vegetables are also grown. There is little industry other than a sawmill and plywood and match factories, but the government is making plans to promote tourism in the islands. These plans include the construction of a 1,000-bed hotel, a casino, and duty-free shopping facilities in Port Blair.

Lakshadweep

The union territory of Lakshadweep consists of the Laccadive, Minicoy, and Amindivi Islands, a scattered group of small coral atolls and reefs in the Arabian Sea between 10° and 13°n and 71°43 and 73°43e and about 320 km (200 mi) w of Kerala state. Their total area is about 32 sq km (12 sq mi). Minicoy, southernmost of the islands, is the largest.

In the mid-1990s, the population of Lakshadweep was estimated to exceed 40,000. The inhabitants of the Laccadives and Amindivis are Malayalamspeaking Muslims; those on Minicoy are also Muslim, but speak a language similar to Sinhalese. The islanders are skilled fishermen and trade their marine products and island-processed coir in the Malabar ports of Kerala. The main cottage industry is coir spinning. Politically, these islands were under the control of the state of Madras until 1956. The present territorial capital is at Kavaratti. Judicial affairs are under the jurisdiction of the high court of Kerala.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alexander, Yonah (ed.). Combating Terrorism: Strategies of Ten Countries. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press, 2002.

Barter, James. The Ganges. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books, 2003.

Bhattacharya, Sabyasachi (ed.). The South Indian Economy: Agrarian Change, Industrial Structure, and State Policy, c. 19141947. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Bhattacharyya, Narendra Nath. Indian Religious Historiography. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1996.

Chakravarti, Ranabir (ed.). Trade in Early India. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Contesting the Nation: Religion, Community, and the Politics of Democracy in India. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996.

Diwan, Paras. Human Rights and the Law: Universal and Indian. New Delhi: Deep and Deep, 1996.

Economic History of India. Mumbai (formerly Bombay): Shri Bhagavan Vedavyasa Itihasa Samshodhana Mandira (Bhishma), 1996.

Gehlot, N. S. Indian Government and Politics. New Delhi: Rawat Publications, 1996.

Hazarika, Joysankar. Geopolitics of North East India: A Strategical Study. New Delhi: Gyan Publishing House, 1996.

Jalan, Bimal (ed.). The New Cambridge History of India. New York: Cambridge University Press, 19871993.

Mansingh, Surjit. Historical Dictionary of India. 2nd ed. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2006.

Mathur, Krishan D. Conduct of India's Foreign Policy. New Delhi: South Asian Publishers, 1996.

Mitra, Subrata K. (ed.). A Political and Economic Dictionary of South Asia. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2006.

Pavan, Aldo. The Ganges: Along Sacred Waters. London, Eng.: Thames and Hudson, 2005.

Stern, Robert W. Democracy and Dictatorship in South Asia: Dominant Classes and Political Outcomes in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2001.

Tomlinson, B. R. The Economy of Modern India, 18601970. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Vohra, Ranbir. The Making of India: A Historical Survey. Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharp, 1997.

Wolpert, Stanley A. A New History of India. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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INDIA

Republic of India

Major Cities:
New Delhi, Calcutta, Chennai (Madras), Mumbai (Bombay)

Other Cities:
Agra, Ahmadabad, Bangalore, Baroda, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kanpur, Lucknow, Madurai, Nagapur, Pune, Surat, Varanasi

EDITOR'S NOTE

This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated January 1997. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.

INTRODUCTION

INDIA challenges and fascinates any newcomer. India is a land of contrasts4,000 year old Indus Valley seals in the National Museum, Indian teens browsing among the latest Western fashions to the beat of rock music at Benettons, elephants draped in red and gold plodding up music-filled driveways of five-star hotels amid lights and gyrating wedding guests, bazaars filled with ultra-soft pashmina shawls and silk saris edged in gold, cows dozing on the center divider of busy urban avenues, white-water rafting on the chilly Ganga (Ganges River), bookstores with Anglo-Indian literature and American novels, delicious makhani dal (red bean dish) and masala dosa (South Indian crispy potato-filled pancake), graceful maharaja palaces offering tourist specials, bird sanctuaries with wintering flamingos and cranes from Siberia, more than a dozen recognized regional languages with English widely spoken from north to south, and one of the wonders of the worldthe Taj Mahal in Agra.

India requires patience and flexibility. First-time travelers overseasas well as veteranscan expect a certain amount of culture shock. The English language is used in ways which may perplex native speakers. Local customs concerning timeliness and sanitation are relaxed. Indians may give the answer they think a questioning foreigner wants to hear, rather than the truth. Gentle persistence on issues of importance to you yields dividends.

Schooling, support, and social activities are good and plentiful. " Achcha " (fine) or "T.K." (o.k.), accompanied by a head bobble, is the most common reply to a question. So, " Na-must-ay " (hello) and "Welcome to India!"

MAJOR CITIES

New Delhi

New Delhi is located in north-central India beside the old city of Delhi on the Yamuna River. The capital of modern-day India traces its roots to King George V's triumphant tour of India in 1911. While encamped on the outskirts of Delhi, the King announced that the capital of British India would be shifted from Calcutta to a new city to be built beside the ancient city of Delhi.

Older residential areas feature broad, tree-lined streets and large bungalows with spacious yards. Houses in newer residential areas are more modern, but yard space is often at a premium and streets are congested. The commercial heart of New Delhi is Connaught Place, where state emporia sell local crafts. Jan Path, famous as the capital's souvenir center, has everything from cheap curios to exquisite pieces of art. Luxurious five-star hotels have good restaurants and shopping malls. An occasional cow meanders down avenues, reminding visitors that this is India.

The old city of Delhi is a vivid contrast to the spacious, orderliness of New Delhi. Jama Masjid and the majestic Red Fort lie amid narrow, crooked streets teeming with humanity, vehicles, produce, and animals. Chandni Chowk in the heart of Delhi is jammed with shoppers, vendors, conveyances, temples, mosques, and small shops selling everything from spices to expensive jewelry. Qutab Minar, a 13th-century minaret over 240 feet high, stands amid ruins outside the city limits. New Delhi is filled with massive forts, palaces, and grand tombs built over the centuries by Delhi's various rulers.

Food

Every neighborhood in New Delhi has at least one market that sells fresh fruit, vegetables, cut flowers, and dry goods, oils, eggs, some canned or bottled items, milk, soft drinks, lotion, shampoo. There are also chemists (pharmacy), bakery, and sometimes a meat shop with chicken and/or mutton. The most popular markets among foreigners are Modern Bazaar, Khan Market, and INA Market.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are seasonal and the selection may not be as large as in U.S. supermarkets. The winter season is best for price and varietymany stock up by freezing or canning. Potatoes, onions, tomatoes, carrots, limes, lemons, cucumbers, eggplant, at least one variety of squash, coriander, bananas, orange or tangerine, apples (sometimes stored from last season), and coconuts are always available. Frozen peas are available year round. Seasonal varieties include peas, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, red and white radishes, kohlrabi, green peas, spinach, lettuce, string beans, parsley, varieties of squash, sweet potatoes, turnips, breadfruit, avocados, melons, many varieties of mangoes, limes, pomegranates, tangerines, oranges, grapes, papaya, grapefruit, pineapple and occasionally small peaches, short thin celery, and apricots. Dried fruits, cashews, walnuts, almonds, and pine nuts are usually available in the market.

Mutton, goat, pork, and chicken are available in several cuts. Buffalo undercut can be used as beef in recipes. Fresh sea fish and shellfish are available, but should be eaten only in the cooler months. Baby food in the local market is limited to powdered milk in tins and an occasional box of cereal mixed with dried fruit.

Clothing

In general, the adult Indian dresses more conservatively than Americans. Indians wear Western dress more and more as the years go byespecially the men. Men wear shirts and slacks, suits, bush or safari suits (the short or long-sleeved shirt is worn outside the same-color pants), or a kurta-pajama (long tunic over draw-string pants). At home, a man might wear an undershirt with lungi (3 yards of material tucked in at the waist).

The accepted national dress for women is the sari, which can be worn in a number of ways. Usually it is a combination of 6 meters of often elaborately bordered silk, cotton, or polyesters wrapped over a drawstring full-length petticoat and a form-fitting choli blouse which leaves the midriff exposed. The sari is worn for formal occasions, accompanied by quality jewelry of gold, silver, and precious stones. The other outfit Indian women wear frequently is the salwar kameez, a two-piece suit made up of decorative knee length tunic over drawstring pants, sometimes worn with a scarf ("dupatta").

Although Indian women are not hesitant to show their mid-sectionsome even have open backsthey usually feel self-conscious in pants and a tucked-in blouse. Most would not wear shorts even in the privacy of their own homes. (See Special Information for more information on Indian sensitivities on dress.)

New Delhi's climate alternates between extremely hot summers, humid monsoons, and surprisingly chilly winters. Lightweight, loose yet covering cotton clothing is suitable for eight months of the year. Sweaters, jackets, wool skirts, wool suits, sweat suits, hats, scarves, and even gloves will be welcome during the winter. Excursions to the north or to hill stations require warm clothing including heavy sweaters and coats. American-style underwear and sports socks are not available locally. Light raincoats or Windbreakers may come in handy. Umbrellas are needed in the monsoon season.

Washable fabrics are the most convenient for maintenance, but drycleaning services are also available. Cotton, silk, and wool are the most comfortable fabrics to wear. Quality woolen and knit fabrics are generally not available. India's distinctive cottons and silks, however, are among the bonuses of life here.

Local footwear consists mainly of sandals ("chappals"), which have straps over the instep and big toe. Ready made shoes often lack quality, comfort, and durabilityand they can be expensive. Cobblers repair shoes at little cost. Shoes wear out more quickly in this climate. Bring several pair of comfortable walking shoes, good work shoes, and sport shoes for recreation and exercise.

Men: Lightweight suits are practical for most of the year, but warmer suits (wool) are needed in December and January. High-quality local silk ties are beautiful and inexpensive. Men occasionally wear locally tailored bush or safari suits for summer or winter wear. Local tailor-made shirts and suits vary greatly in quality and fit, and can be more expensive than ready made. Most Americans prefer to bring tennis shorts, knit shirts, golf clothes, and swim trunks. Shorts for at-home wear can be tailored locally, but may cost more than U.S. ready made shorts. Men's sandals, available in many styles, are comfortable during the summer heat.

Women: Casual dresses, suits, and pants suits are suitable for most daytime occasions. Cotton dresses and cotton underwear are coolest in the hot weather. Women may want to bring pantyhose as comparable pantyhose are difficult to find on the local market, but it is acceptable to go without hose, particularly during the warm weather. Shorts and strapless tops are not worn on the public streets.

Children: At the American Embassy School in New Delhi students dress casually. Jeans, slacks, shorts, T-shirts, shirts, light jackets, tennis shoes, sweat suits, and sweaters are worn by both girls and boys. Teenage girls also wear the salwar kameez and dresses on occasion.

Sweaters and warm jackets are worn daily in December and January. Warm clothing will be needed for the middle school and high school sport conventions which take place in Pakistan, for school or family outings to the hill stations or up north, and for the winter months. Light colors are cooler in hot weather, but dark colored clothes are practical for active childrenthe red soil is difficult to wash out.

Sandals, worn by both girls and boys during summer, are widely available locally. Socks and tennis shoes tend to wear out quickly.

Teens can buy the latest fashions in jeans, sweaters, shirts, and cotton skirts from sidewalk vendors or in classy shops.

Supplies and Services

Local dry cleaning is available with varying results. Shoe repair is good, inexpensive, and available in the marketplace.

Tailoring services vary in quality and price. Copying existing clothing achieves the best results, but tailors will work from pictures, too.

A beauty shop and a barbershop are located on the enclave compound. Some of the hotels have complete health club facilities, including massage and sauna. For excellent private massages, specialists will come to the home on a regular basis. Prices are inexpensive for these services.

Religious Activities

A Jewish synagogue conducts services in Hebrew at the Judah-Hyam Hall.

Christianity in India dates back nearly 2000 years. Most Christian churches have services conducted in regional languages, as well as in English.

Catholic churches conducting Mass in New Delhi include the Carmel Convent School, the Holy See Embassy, St. Dominic's, Sacred Heart Cathedral, and the Holy Family Hospital.

Protestant churches include the Bible Bhawan Bethany Assembly, the St. James Church of North India, Centenary United Methodist Church, Cathedral Church of the Redemption, New Delhi Christian Fellowship at the Taj Mahal Hotel, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Free Church, the Delhi Bible Fellowship at Triveni Auditorium, and the Green Park Free Church.

Moslems worship in Arabic in mosques ("Masjid") all over Delhi.

Sikh temples ("gurdwara") ring with readings in Punjabi.

International prayers are read in English and Hindi from the holy books of all religions meetings in the Baha'i House of Worship.

Hindu and Jain temples ("mandirs") abound; the language is Hindi.

Education

The American Embassy School (AES) is a private nonprofit, coeducational day school, conveniently located on a 12-acre site just behind in New Delhi. Instruction by American, Indian, and third-country national teachers follows the American educational system from pre-school through high school. AES is on a par with the best schools in the U.S. The school is divided into three sections: Elementary (ECEC-5), Middle School (6-8), and High School (9-12). The school year runs from early August through May. Students with U.S. citizenship may be admitted any time during this period.

About 35 percent of the 1000 students are American, the balance are 47 different nationalities. About 98 percent of AES graduates attend universities in the U.S. and in other countries. The school is a designated testing center for the College Entrance Examination Board, American College Testing Program, Secondary School Admission Test, and Graduate Management Admission Test and Graduate Record Examination. The school is accredited by the Middle States Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges. Selected Advanced Placement courses are offered. Courses are also offered that satisfy the requirements of the International Baccalaureate diploma. Many extracurricular activities are offered including softball, soccer, swimming, hockey, basketball, baseball, tennis, camping, photography, dramatics, cheerleading and student publications. School-sponsored trips to places of interest outside Delhi are available to students in grades 6 to 12. AES provides daily school bus transportation to most neighborhoods in New Delhi, and a late bus is available for those engaging in after school activities.

Apply for admission to AES as early as possible. Write to the school at the following address:

Director
American Embassy School
Chandragupta Marg
Chanakyapuri
New Delhi-110 021
India

Include a record of academic achievement (official transcript of high school credits or official elementary school report card) and health record. In some cases, interviews with school officials, appropriate testing, and physical examinations may be required. A child who is 3 years old on or before September 1 is eligible for admission to the Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC). However, AES does not ensure space in this program. To enter a child in this program, parents should write to the school as soon as their assignment is firm. A child who is 5 years old on or before September 1 is eligible for admission to kindergarten; a child who is 6 years old on or before September 1 is eligible for the first grade. For information regarding a child with a specific learning disability, contact the school prior to coming to post. AES offers remedial education classes, but only for the mildly learning disabled. They do not offer services for severely handicapped children. There are some ramps throughout the grounds, but the school is not equipped to handle children who require special accommodations due to physical handicaps.

New Delhi has a range of pre-schools, both Montessori and traditional, which attract both Indian and foreign diplomats' children. They offer quality education at lower cost than the ECEC of AES. Some American children attend these schools, which provide contact with children in other communities.

Parent groups associated with the school include Home and School Association (HSA) and Parent Teacher Student Administrators (PTSA, pronounced "pizza"). All parents of children at AES automatically belong to HSA. All participants in the high school program are also eligible for PTSA family memberships for a small fee.

USIS has a large library at the American Center which is open to Americans and Indians alike. The USIS collection concentrates on all aspects of the U.S.

AWA operates a growing library near the Co-op, which is open 16 hours a week and has a good collection in fiction and nonfiction.

AES runs an elementary library and a high school library. Parents may also use the library.

Special Educational Opportunities

The Delhi School of Music offers private instruction in a full range of instruments of Western music, e.g. piano, violin, cello, and guitar.

Private instruction in Indian music, both instrumental and vocal, and in Indian dance are readily available at moderate cost. Piano teachers are also available. Those interested in art and handicrafts can take courses in painting, ceramics, batik, tie-dye, and fabric design.

The National Museum occasionally gives courses on the history of Indian art.

Sports

Among the sports activities to be enjoyed in and around Delhi are golf, tennis, bowling, badminton, horseback riding, polo, swimming, fishing, and softball. Spectator sports include horse racing, polo, cricket, soccer, field hockey, and school sports.

The Delhi Gymkhana Club and the Chelmsford Club offer swimming, tennis, squash, and billiards. The Delhi Golf Club has a good 18-hole course and a small 9-hole course, complete with peacocks in the trees. Many golf clubs in Delhi offer pay and playthe Delhi Golf Club is the best (although hard to get into), but a new course in Noida across the Yamuna River is popular.

For horseback riding, the Delhi Riding Club gives instruction from beginning to advanced levels, and the Presidents Estate Polo Club offers both riding and polo playing.

Both single-glider rides and gliding instruction are available at the Delhi Gliding Club. Several major hotels offer memberships to their swimming and health clubs.

Within the community, one can also find the Delhi Football League (soccer) and Hash House Harriers (joggers). A vast wooded park area near the U.S. Embassy offers several running/jogging paths ranging in distance from 2.5 to 5 miles. Groups within the community get together for basketball, soccer, and volleyball.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Sightseeing opportunities range from those in immediate neighborhoods to extensive tours of other parts of India and neighboring countries. Costs may be higher than expected, especially when traveling with a family, and the quality of accommodations varies. Delhi has many historical monuments, religious buildings, and shrines open to visitors.

Excellent sight-seeing guides which are updated every year or two, include India, a Travel Survival Kit, Fodor's India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, and the AWA Glimpses of India.

Ancient and historic sites are everywhere. Once the home of viceroys and now the official residence of the President of India, Rashtrapati Bhawan overlooks a 2-mile long mall down Rajpath to India Gate.

There are many sites that one can visit: Qutab Minar and the nearby mosque constructed from demolished Hindu and Jain temples; the Mughal Gardens of Rastrapati Bhavan, Parliament House and the Secretariat; the Red Fort with Shah Jahan's court, the Pearl Mosque, and the evening Sound and Light Show on its history; Raj Ghat, Mahatma Gandhi's cremation memorial grounds; Chandni Chawk and the spice and silver bazaars; Hauz Khas village and Moslem ruins; Feroz Shah Kotla grounds with an Ashoka pillar on the Jamuna River bank; Humayun's tomb and gardens; Lodi Gardens with tombs and pathways; the huge 14th-century fortress city of Tughlakh; Suraj Kund, a pre-Islamic site; Purana Qila; the 1857 Mutiny Memorial on Delhi's Northern Ridge; the Jantar Mantar observatory; the Viceroy's Church; Safdarjang's Tomb; and Jama Masjid in old Delhi.

When visiting religious sites, remember to dress accordingly. Visitors may be asked to cover their heads, remove shoes, and/or wait until devotions are completed.

During the hot season, it is good to combine the out-of-doors touring with a trip to one of the many museumsNational Museum, Crafts Museum and Village Complex, Mahatma Gandhi Museum, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, National Museum of Natural History, Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum, and National Gallery of Modern Art. State museums are closed on Mondays.

Children particularly enjoy the Delhi Zoo with Indian birds and animals, Apu Ghar Amusement Park, and Shankar's International Doll Museum. The Rail Transport Museum offers the opportunity to circle Delhi on a train in a couple of hours. During cool months, the city's parks and gardens are filled with all-seasonal flowers and offer pleasant picnic spots.

For out-of-town trips, transportation is available by car, train, tour bus, or plane. AWA Out-of-Town Tours frequently offers special trips throughout India and to neighboring Nepal and Thailand. Other popular trips are to Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The first trip out, however, should be to see the Taj Mahal at Agra. Travel by train early in the morningvisit the Taj, the Agra Fort, and Fatipur Sikrithen return at night by train. Near Agra is the Bharatpur bird sanctuary.

Rajasthan has a number of palaces and fortresses cities on the tour mapthe pink city of Jaipur is 180 miles away or 5 hours by car; and a trip to Udaipur's Lake Palace, Jodhpur, and Jaiselmer would make a week-long trip by car or train. The major pilgrimage site on the Ganges River, Varanasi (Banaras), is 450 miles from Delhi and is accessible by car, plane, or train.

White-water rafting on the Ganges River, north of Rishikesh, has become a popular 3-5 day family outing or school trip.

Two areas for skiing are Auli, Uttar Pradesh and Solang in Himachal Pradesh's Kulu Valley. With an incredibly beautiful panorama of India's major Himalayan peaks, Auli offers the basics. Accommodation is very cheap. Skis, poles, boots, and goggles cost $4 to rent, and are in poor repair. No ski lift is available, and it takes 2 long days to get there. Solang has a ski liftfor those taking a course or who obtain permission from the Manali Mountaineering Institute, who owns the lift. Rental equipment is cheap. Accommodations include a nearby lodge, run by Himachal Pradesh tourism, and guest houses in Manali. Kulu Valley also offers heli-skiing. For $1,000 for 4 days, a European-flown and maintained helicopter will lift skiers from a luxury hotel parking lot to 18,000-foot mountains where one can ski down deep powder slopes for hours without seeing a tree or another skier.

Visitors to Corbett National Park, 183 miles from Delhi, can see tigers, leopards, hyenas, deer, peafowl, and elephants. Hill stations offering relief from the summer heat are Mussoorie, 170 miles away, and Simla, 225 miles. There are many excellent game reserves and bird sanctuaries. Bring binoculars and a good camera. Fishing spots within driving distance of Delhi are available.

Photography is prohibited at airports, dams, bridges, and military installations. Still cameras, not video cameras, may be used to photograph certain historical monuments, but the rules may be changing. At the entrance to historical or tourist sites, a posted sign or guide will explain the current policy. In some cases, a fee is charged to carry in a camera. Obtain the consent of any local individuals to be photographed. If someone asks to be photographed in their ethnic outfit or with their elephant or cobra, be prepared to pay a tipthis is their livelihood.

Entertainment

New Delhi has many auditoriums, concert halls, stadiums, and luxury hotels with grand ballrooms. Indian and Western music, drama, dance, exhibitions and lectures are plentiful, especially in the cooler season. Traditional Indian festivals are celebrated in Delhi, as well as all over the country. These festivals offer exceptional photo opportunities.

The All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society holds regular lecture meetings and exhibitions of contemporary Indian art. Many restaurants feature Indian musicians. In addition to Indian music, local hotels and auditoriums occasionally feature performances by foreign jazz groups, ballets, and Shakespearean plays. Cultural centers of various embassies regularly offer special programs. The Delhi Music Society sponsors an international concert season. The Delhi Diary, a small weekly magazine, carries a current listing of events in New Delhi.

Tickets are available for these annual events: Republic Day parade, Beating Retreat, Ram Lila (drama), Suraj Kund Mela (fair), and the melas staged by the AWA, the Canadians, and the Australians.

Amateur performers have wonderful opportunities here. The Delhi Symphony Orchestra performs regularly and is always looking for musicians. The Delhi Community Players, an international group of theatre lovers, presents one or two dramas or musicals each season. AES an active program of dramatic and musical presentations by students. The AES High School Chorus and the Delhi Christian Chorus always welcome new members.

Films are regularly shown at the British High Commission, the Max Mueller Bhavan (Goethe Institute), the Alliance Francaise, and the India International Centre. A few Indian theaters show English-language foreign films.

For those who enjoy dinner and dancing, most large hotels in New Delhi feature Western-style dance bands and discotheques.

Social Activities

Americans in New Delhi can lead an active social life. In addition to the Indian and international events, Americans generate many activities themselves. Most of these activities also attract Indian and international participation.

AWA offers opportunities for Americans to share activities in the American community and to explore and enjoy living in India.

Scouting in New Delhi has an active program for boys (age 7-18) and for girls (kindergarten through grade 6)camping, white water rafting, hiking, exploring, crafts, drama, and community service projects. Scouts should bring their current records and equipment. Uniforms, packs, and sleeping bags may be ordered or locally tailored. Adult leaders, merit badge counselors, and helpers are always needed.

In addition to after school activities organized by AES (soccer, volleyball, swimming, basketball, and track), PTSA sponsors Saturday night Open Gym for high schoolers and a foreign film festival during Language Week.

The best opportunity to meet Indians is at receptions and dinner parties. India is a warm, open society. Indians invite Americans to their homes and readily accept American invitations. Older children of Indians and Americans are often included in invitations.

Sports clubs, churches, business associations, international organizations, and American groups offer occasions for meeting people outside the American community. The Rotary and Lions Clubs have local chapters.

Americans may apply for associate membership in the Canadian High Commission Recreation Association and for a 2-year courtesy card from the Australian High Commission Social Club.

Delhi Network is an informal organization which invites women, especially foreigners new to Delhi, to a monthly coffee morning where information on life in Delhi is shared.

The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce welcomes Americans and Indians to their varied and interesting programs.

The Women International Club (WIC) and the Delhi Commonwealth Women Association (DCWA) have 50 percent Indian membership. WIC has a very active social and cultural program for members. The DCWA turns its energies to the funding and running of the DCWA Clinic and small school for the poor.

The Outreach Committee of the AWA operates a recycling program and has a listing of Indian organizations welcoming volunteer help.

Special Information

Indians dress modestly. To respect Indian sensitivities when in public, Western women should wear skirts below the knees or longer or relatively loose dark slacks, avoiding sleeveless blouses, tight pants, and shorts. Young women and teenage girls, especially those dressed in tight or short Western dress, may attract pinches and other undesirable attention. Western men should avoid going shirtless; trousers are preferable to shorts. These suggestions are especially important when visiting rural areas or tradition-bound urban areas.

Short-term visitors, especially those planning trips outside the major cities, should keep the weather in mind when arranging their travel.

Calcutta

By Indian standards, Calcutta is a new city. It was established by Job Charnock in 1690 as the trading center in Bengal for the East India Company. The site of the city was occupied at that time by three villages, one of which had been developed by Portuguese traders as early as 1530. Development of the city has been shared not only by the English and the Indians, but also by Greeks, Portuguese, Dutch, French, Swedes, Jews, Armenians, and Persiansall of whom have contributed to its history.

Calcutta, once a trading center for the East India Company and the capital of British India from 1772 to 1912, is today India's second largest city with 13 million people. Capital of the state of West Bengal, Calcutta is situated in eastern India on the Hooghly River about 80 miles north of the Bay of Bengal. The city is built on marshland and experiences periodic flooding.

About half of Calcutta's inhabitants are Bengali Hindus and a significant percentage are Anglo-Indians, Moslems, and other communities (Sikhs, Parsees and Christians). The largest single element is from the U.K. and now numbers only 266 residents. The American community is estimated to be about 217. Principal languages of the city are Bengali, Hindi and English.

Overpopulation and associated problemspoverty, poor sanitation, and lack of housingare evident everywhere. Despite facing problems of high unemployment, overcrowding and poor infrastructure, Calcutta, as a city, shows remarkable resilience. The friendliness of Indians of all classes provides many contacts and experiences that together can make a tour in Calcutta pleasant and memorable.

Food

In-season fruits and vegetables are plentiful. Bananas, oranges, and limes are always available. In winter, cauliflower, broccoli, red cabbage and squash are specialities. All fruits and vegetables must be washed and treated with a disinfectant solution.

Excellent and inexpensive beef and mutton is plentiful in the market.

Pork and poultry (poor by U.S. standards) are also available. Better cuts of these meats are usually purchased at higher prices from specialty shops or vendors who deliver.

Fresh fish is reasonably priced in season. Shrimp, crabs, and lobster are available seasonally at slightly high prices. Rice, eggs, sodas, and baked goods are available locally.

Locally available powdered milk is expensive.

Clothing

Men: During the warmest part of the year, short-sleeved shirts or locally made bush shirts are worn.

Wash-and-wear or other lightweight suits in cotton or blends are appropriate. Mohair, wool, or blend medium-weight suits are good for the cool season. Local dry cleaners are adequate, but the quality of service is irregular. Vacations in the hill stations call for a coat, raincoat, jacket, and/or sweater.

Calcutta has many country and sports clubs. Those interested in tennis, swimming, golf and riding should bring appropriate attire.

Women: Washable, inexpensive, and easy-care cotton dresses are worn for most daytime occasions during the 9 warm months of the year. During this time, evening wear is casual. During the cool months, cottons, lightweight woolens, wool, synthetic fabrics, and silks are worn. A lightweight coat, sweaters, and knitwear are good for vacations in the hills.

Local tailors can make clothing from patterns or pictures with the local cottons, cotton-blends, and silks.

Bring lightweight, sturdy summer footwear. Flat, low-heeled shoes are necessary for the rough terrain. Relatively inexpensive sandals are available in small sizes only, others can be made to order, but quality is inconsistent. Cobblers can copy shoes that you own or work from pictures.

Children: Bring at least an initial clothing supply for children, especially underwear, swimsuit, tennis shoes, and school shoes. Bring a small supply of winter clothing for cool winter days or visits to hill stations. Children who attend boarding school in hill stations will need a full supply of winter clothing and warm blankets.

Local baby supplies are not up to U.S. standards; bring cotton or disposable diapers and rubber pants. Outerwear can be made locally with local fabrics.

Religious Activities

Calcutta's largest religious groups are the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists.

The Jewish Synagogue is located near the Calcutta Cathedral.

Calcutta has several Anglican churches in addition to the Cathedral of St. Paul. Presbyterian services are held in St. Andrew's Church of Scotland. The largest of the Roman Catholic churches is St. Thomas' on Middleton Row. Other denominations represented are Methodist, Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Christian Scientist, Assembly of God, and Quaker. Many church services are in English.

Education

Schooling in Calcutta above the lower elementary grades is poor by U.S. standards. Many American students to the Calcutta International School (CIS), which accepts students from nursery school through Grade 12. CIS follows the British curriculum but satisfies most American requirements. Grades 10-12 are geared to the British A-level equivalent, requiring American students to do additional coursework before entering most U.S. colleges and universities.

The Mongrace Montessori School, is excellent for preschoolers (age 3 and over).

The school calendar varies among the schools, but most continue throughout the year, with a 1-month-long break in December to January and a 6-week break during the summer months of May and June.

Sports

Many sports are availablegolf, tennis, swimming, horseback riding, rowing, squash, soccer, cricket, polo, horse racing, and field hockey. Squash is played on European-sized courts with imported English squash balls (softer than American balls). A swimming pool is at several private clubs.

Medium-quality tennis and squash rackets are available. Squash balls are difficult to obtain. Local tennis balls are of poor quality. Golfers may use either English-or American-sized golf balls.

Most Americans pay to join a private club for the social life and sports facilities. The Tollygunge Club, about 30 minutes from central Calcutta, has a swimming pool, golf, tennis, horseback riding, monthly movies, and a snack area.

The Saturday Club has tennis courts, a swimming pool, library, restaurant, and lawn. The Calcutta Swimming Club has a large outdoor swimming pool, dining room, and bar. Both clubs accept single women as members.

The Bengal Club offers its older, conservative membership a quiet atmosphere for business luncheons and dinner parties. The Calcutta Club is most prestigious among Bengalis. The South Club and International Club are popular with tennis players. The Rowing Club uses a small lake in south Calcutta, and the Royal Calcutta Golf Club is the oldest Golf Club outside the U.K.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

A drive on the Grand Trunk Road along the Hooghly River reveals glimpses of bygone splendor in Calcutta. Boat rides are available at Diamond Harbor and Kakdwip, a 2-hour drive from Calcutta.

The ocean resorts of Puri and palpur lie about 300 miles southwest on the Bay of Bengal and may be reached by overnight train. Hotel accommodations are moderate to poor. Visitors may swim and surf. Also on the Bay of Bengal and only 4 hours from Calcutta by road is Digha, which has limited accommodations.

The temples and caves of Bhubaneswar, Puri, Konarak, and other historic towns are 275 miles southwest of Calcutta in Orissa. The largest collection of Siberian tigers in the world is in the wildlife preserve there. Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is about 700 miles northwest of Calcutta and is about 1 hour by air. The hill station town of Darjeeling is a hour's flight or an overnight train ride from Calcutta.

Permits are required to visit Sikkim, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, and the scenic Andaman Islands, a 2-hour flight from Calcutta. Good snorkeling, scuba diving, moderately priced hotels, and tours are available. Some rental snorkeling and scuba gear is available. The peak holiday season is November through April.

Entertainment

Calcutta has good hotel restaurants with international cuisine and live dance bands. Americans also dine at several good Indian and Chinese restaurants.

Several movie theaters regularly feature European and American films, but facilities are poor.

Calcutta is known as the creative capital of India. Bengalis are lively, talkative, and outgoing people. During the cool season, Calcutta comes alive with Indian poetry, music, drama, painting, sculpture, and dance programs. The Calcutta School of Music presents occasional chamber music concerts. Visiting vocal, instrumental, and dance artists perform several times a year.

The Birla Planetarium has daily lectures and demonstrations, except on Mondays. The Zoological Gardens with its white tigers, and the Agri-Horticultural Society are located in Alipur. There are also the Botanical Gardens in Alipur.

Social Activities

Many clubs are available for membership. The Lions and Rotary Clubs welcome men of all nationalities. Many organizations welcome the participation of foreign women in their educational and charitable activities, including local orphanages and Mother Teresa's institutions.

Chennai (Madras)

Chennai (known as Madras until 1997), the capital of Tamil Nadu, lies on the shore of the Bay of Bengal, about 900 miles north of the Equator. With a population of 6.4 million, Chennai is the fourth largest city in India and the major industrial, business, and cultural center of South India. Founded by the British in the early 17th century as their first trading and military post in South Asia, Chennai has continued to grow with very little planning. Modern concrete buildings are often flanked by small shops, thatched huts, and vacant lots. Major streets bustle with bicycles, scooters, handcarts, oxcarts, buses, and long-distance trucks. The general pace of life is slower than in Bombay or Calcutta. Chennai, however, experiences poor sanitation and overcrowding. About 80 percent of the people in South India are still engaged in agriculture, but engineering and consumer industries are beginning to attract more activity.

Chennai is one of India's more pleasant major cities and is spread out over 50 kilometers.

The population is mostly Hindu, with large Muslim and Christian minorities. The traditional jibba, veshti and lungi are worn by many men; professional and businessmen wear Western dress. South Indian women typically wear saris, although the north Indian tunic sets are gaining popularity. South India is famous for Carnatic music and classical dance in the Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, and Kuchipudi styles.

English is spoken by about 5 percent of the people in South India. Tamil is the primary language in Chennai.

Food

Many fruits and vegetables are availablecorn, eggplant, beans, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, squash, avocados, mushrooms, artichokes, yams, manes, bananas, peaches, pears, apples, grapes, oranges (sweet limes), guavas, limes, tangerines, and pineapples. Cashews, peanuts, walnuts, and coconuts are also available.

Beef, chicken, mutton, lamb, pork and, occasionally, veal are available. The cost of all meats, except lamb and chicken, is less than in the U.S. Turkey is also available, but the quality is poor.

Fresh seafood (fish, lobster, crab, shrimp) is available and reasonably priced. Eggs are plentiful and their quality is good. UHT Long-Life milk or powdered milk is used by many foreigners for both drinking and cooking. Good quality cream is available locally. Fresh milk, cream, and powdered milk are available locally, but the supply is undependable. Fresh milk should always be boiled. Baby food and formula are also available locally, but the quality is questionable.

Clothing

American men usually wear short-sleeved dress shirts or bush shirts and slacks in the office, although a sports coat or suit may be necessary for an important appointment or official function. American women's office dress is similar to that worn in U.S. offices during the summer.

Materials for women's summer clothing are excellent, inexpensive and easily available in Chennai, although elastic, thread and zippers are not of the highest quality. Several changes of dress may be necessary daily. Frequent laundering, tropical sunlight, and perspiration combine to shorten the life of clothing. Since there is little seasonal change, cottons are worn year around. Indian dress (two-piece pajama outfits and saris) is popular for casual as well as formal wear. Chennai is a center for a great variety of export-quality handloom silks and cotton textiles. Many women bring a good supply of summer dresses from the U.S. and add locally-made garments to their wardrobes. Also, there are excellent local tailors who can copy almost anything, though these tailors have trouble with designing or copying from pictures.

Bring several swimsuits and other sport clothes, including shoes for tennis and jogging and riding. Shoes with Western styling and quality are difficult to find, though both inexpensive dress and casual sandals are available locally. A good supply of undergarments is also recommended as local versions are not designed or sized to American tastes. Keep in mind that cotton is the most comfortable for the Chennai climate.

Supplies and Services

Most medicines and drugs are available, although the brand names differ and quality control is inadequate. Travelers are advised to bring their own supply. Most medicines cost less than those in the U.S. Vitamins are available, though not in combination supplements. Chennai water supply does not have fluoride added. Vitamins with fluoride added are recommended for children.

Hairdressers and barbers are adequate and inexpensive. Dry cleaning facilities exist but are of low quality.

Education

The American International School in Chennai (AIM) opened in August of 1995. Designed to enhance the educational and social experiences of expatriate children in Chennai (formerly Madras), AIM is independently operated under the auspices of the U.S. Consulate, Chennai, with the permission of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. It is governed by a Board of Directors drawn from the parents of the children attending AIM.

AIM follows an American international curriculum taught by expatriate and Indian teachers.

Some elementary-age children have attended KFI-The School. Established with the intention of exploring the educational implications of the teaching of philosopher J. Krishnamurti, KFI-The School is run by the Krishnamurti Foundation and accepts students from nursery school age through U.S. 10th grade. Its student body is 90 percent Indian; its curriculum is religious based. Parents find this alternative very agreeable, but admissions are difficult to obtain particularly for foreign children. Applications are taken once a year in April for June. Class size is limited to 25 per grade level.

By American standards, other schooling options in Chennai are inadequate. Other schooling options are available in the city however enrollment is restricted and entrance standards are very rigid. Facilities lack resources, with outdated textbooks, class rooms and buildings badly in need of repair. Although the curriculum is in English, many of the students have only marginal English speaking skills.

A preschool has recently opened in conjunction with the American International School. Other American preschoolers attend local Montessori schools. Maria Montessori visited Chennai many times during her professional career and left her marks in the city. Traditional Montessori methods are very popular in many local pre schools.

Special Educational Opportunities

Private instruction is available in classical south Indian dancing, instrumental music, philosophy, and yoga. Several famous yoga instructors reside in Chennai.

In Chennai, colleges are affiliated with the University of Chennai. Few admissions are granted to foreigners.

The Government College of Arts and Crafts offers instruction in painting, sculpture, and handicrafts. Interested persons may arrange private lessons from staff members.

Sports

Americans occasionally join the Madras Club, the Cosmopolitan Club, or the Madras Gymkhana Club. All have swimming pools and tennis courts where whites are customarily worn. The Cosmopolitan Club and Madras Gymkhana have marginal golf courses.

Bring sports equipment, such as golf clubs, tennis rackets, and balls. Good equipment for volleyball, hockey, badminton, and soccer is available locally.

Laws in the southern states make the sport of hunting almost impossible. Do not import weapons into India.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

The ancient rock carvings at Mamallapuram (also called Mahabalipuram) and the temple cities of Kanchipuram are worth a visit. Facilities for sight-seeing are improving yearly. Adequate overnight accommodations exist in hotels, clubs, guesthouses of business concerns, or government-run tourist bungalows.

The beach in Chennai is not considered usable for health reasons. Many Americans use a resort area 35 kilometers south of the city for swimming and sunbathing. You can rent a beach house for weekends and holidays. However, be aware of the powerful undertow, and avoid leaving the beach line. Individuals who plan to use the beach should bring a sufficient supply of sun-screen.

Entertainment

On weekends a group of expats might organize pick up, softball and volleyball games. The Chennai Hash House Harriers organize biweekly runs around the city for individuals and families.

The Government Arts Gallery has a small collection of contemporary art; exhibits by individual artists are displayed periodically. The Government Museum exhibits a world-famous collection of early and medieval temple sculpture and an outstanding collection of bronze art.

There are a number of good restaurants in Chennaiin private clubs, deluxe hotels, and a few Chinese and Indian restaurants.

Social Activities

Several informal groups meet regularly for bridge, mahjong, snooker, Scottish Dancing etc. There are two women's groups which are popular with the expatriate community. The Overseas Women's Club (OWC) is open to foreign passport holders and concentrates on fund-raising to support local charities but also provides some support and orientation to newcomers. The OWC has recently published a book called "At home in Madras, a Handbook" which is an excellent resource for persons setting up residence in Chennai (formerly Madras). The International Women's Association (IWA) is an Indian/International organization which provides a social network. Activities and programs are centered around cross cultural exchanges, friendship and goodwill between India and the expatriate community in Chennai. Monthly programs include topics on philosophy/religion, health/ecology, current events, tours/travel, cooking swap-shop, book discussions and arts/handicrafts.

Social life is centered in the home for Indians and Westerners alike. Consumption and importation of alcohol is tightly controlled. Certain clubs, restaurants, and hotel permit rooms may serve Indian liquor and wines.

South Indians are hospitable, easygoing, and pleasant. Entertaining at home consists of dinner parties and buffet suppers, occasional cocktail parties, and large receptions. Many Indians do not serve alcohol.

Third-country nationals in Chennai are largely members of the consular corps and business community from the U.K., Japan, Germany, Russia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Sri Lanka. About 20 honorary consuls reside in Chennai. The Consulate General of France is located in Pondicherry, a former French territory.

Special Information

British Airlines and Lufthansa have direct flights from Europe to Chennai. For long flights, a midpoint layover is recommended. Other major international airlines fly into India through Bombay and New Delhi. Transiting Bombay is not recommended.

Mumbai

Government of Maharashtra changed the name of the city of Bombay to Mumbai in December, 1995.

With a population of more than 16 million, greater Mumbai now out-ranks Calcutta as the largest urban area in India. Mumbai is India's most western city, and yet the most representative of India's diverse populations.

Mumbai occupies two islands on the west coast of India in Maharashtra state. The eastern side looks out over a great natural harbor, unrivaled elsewhere on the subcontinent, that provides 75 square miles of sheltered, deep water.

At the southern end of the city lies the sweeping, 3-mile curve of Back Bay, fringed by a boulevard whose lightsbrightly gleaming at nightare known locally as the Queen's Necklace.

The downtown business area is flanked to the north by a belt of thriving markets or bazaars that sell everything from essential foodstuffs to luxury items. Beyond the bazaars, Mumbai is a hodgepodge of densely crowded tenements, slum areas, factories, cotton mills, railway lines, and crowded streets.

Mumbai provides about one-third of India's income tax revenue and twofifths of the country's total revenue from air and seaborne trade. It has the country's busiest stock exchange and the largest concentration of industries. More U.S. banks and manufacturing companies are located in Mumbai than in any other city in India. By far India's busiest port, Mumbai handles twice the tonnage of Calcutta and Cochin. The Indian film industry, whose capital is Mumbai, produces more movies than any other place in the world.

Nearly 70 percent of Mumbai residents are Hindu. Muslims account for another 15 percent. The remainder is composed of Christians (mainly Catholics), Buddhists, Jains, Jews, Parsees and Sikhsoften influential minorities, though few in number. Most of the estimated 5,000 Americans in the Mumbai consular district are of Indian ancestry.

Americans have few language problems in Mumbai. English is widely used in government and business circles. Service personnel often have a poor understanding of English, speaking instead Marathi or Gujarati. Most domestic employees speak some English and Goan or Konkani.

Food

Most basic food items are available locally. Beef has become increasingly scarce since the ascension to Maharashtra state power of a Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, in 1994. Mutton, pork, ham, and chicken are readily available. A broad variety of fresh seafood is available in the dry seasons, including many kinds of fish, prawns, lobster, and crab. A good variety of vegetables is found in plentiful supply year roundtomatoes, green peppers, potatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, beets, beans, onions, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, and okra. Lettuce and celery are available. Many wonderful fruits are available at different times of the yearpapaya, mangoes, pineapples, oranges, tangerines, grapes, peaches, pears, plums, apples, and strawberries. Prices of fruits and vegetables can be as much as 80 percent less than the would cost in the U.S.

Many canned and dry goods can be found on the local market. White flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar (very coarse), confectioners sugar, tea, coffee (ground or beans), juices, jellies, gelatins, crackers, potato chips, excellent nuts, dried beans and lentils, and locally bottled soft drinks such as Pepsi, Coca-Cola, 7-Up, orange soda, club soda, and tonic water are all available. Local dairy products such as fresh milk, cream, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese are available. However, the fresh milk and cream are generally not considered safe unless they are boiled before use. It is safer to use long-life milk, which is available locally. Specialty items such as pate, cheese, and olive oil can be found, as can many American products (Tang and Hershey's Chocolate Syrup), but the prices are high.

Clothing

Because of the heat and humidity in Mumbai, lightweight, washable clothing is a must. There are very few air-conditioned buildings. Even in the coolest months, polyester blends are uncomfortably warm.

Clothing, including underwear, made of 100 percent cotton is best. Bring clothing for cooler climates for travel to the mountain and desert areas of India and for planned or unexpected trips to Europe, the U.S., or other parts of the globe in winter.

Sports attire is informal in Mumbai, but whites are generally used on tennis courts.

Men: Cotton dress shirts and sports shirts are available in Mumbai, but the quality is not quite the same as in the U.S. Bring a supply of ties, socks, cotton underwear, and shoes. Good sandals and slippers are sold locally, but dress shoes are not satisfactory. Bring athletic shoes, bathing suits, and clothing for sports activities (tennis, volleyball, squash). Some better quality men's clothing can be purchased in Benetton. Good quality athletic shoes are not available locally. Casual waterproof shoes are helpful to have to wear during the monsoon.

Women: For other times, inexpensive, lightweight cotton dresses, blouses, skirts, shorts, and slacks are available locally. On Fashion Street, an open fair-market dealing in seconds, dresses and skirts are sold for $2-$3. Better quality clothing can be found at shops like Benetton.

Ready-made Indian suits (salwar kameez) and saris in beautiful design may be worn for casual and formal occasions. Silk saris can be tailored into dresses and suits. Accessories such as belts, scarves, and costume jewelry are inexpensive. Shoes and sandals are available, but the quality is not as good as in the U.S. Leather purses in a multitude of colors and styles are sold at reasonable prices.

Children: Children's clothing should be lightweight and washable. Bring a supply of cotton underwear, bathing suits (and other swimming necessities), and shoes. Cotton T-shirts and shorts are available, but bring a supply. Also, bring rubber boots and umbrellas. Infant supplies are sold locally, but are not up to Western standards.

Supplies and Services

Shopping in Mumbai is interesting. The city has many handicraft shops that specialize in crafts from many parts of India, especially Kashmir and Gujaratgemstones, embroidery, leather goods, antiques, carved screens, brass, gold items, and carpets.

Gasoline is about $3.60 a gallon for 93 octane. Eighty-seven octane, as well as unleaded gasoline is also available. Gasoline quality is good but not as good as in the U.S.

Beauty salons and barbershops are adequate and inexpensive.

Dry cleaners exist, but quality is questionable. If you must have something cleaned, make arrangements through one of the five-star hotels.

Tailors and dressmakers are inexpensive. They can easily copy already existing items (rather than sewing from pictures or patterns). Tailors are not as speedy as in Hong Kong or Bangkok, nor is the finished product as skillfully made, but one can usually find a tailor who does adequate work. Good-quality fabrics are available here, but notions (thread, buttons, fasteners, etc.) are below American standards.

Religious Activities

Mumbai has Hindu temples, Moslem mosques, Christian churches, and Jewish synagogues. Among Christian denominations represented are Roman Catholic, Methodist, Church of Christ, and Episcopalian (Church of England). Services are conducted in English, Hindi, Gujarati, and Marathi.

Education

The American School of Mumbai (ASB) offers classes from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. ASB is an American-sponsored school and receives grants from the Department of State. It is the only one of the many English-medium schools to use the American system. The school year runs from mid-August to late May.

The school staff numbers about 30, including a principal, full-time teachers, special staff, and several aides. The student body is composed of about 200 students, 30% American and the remainder other foreign residents of Mumbai. The elementary school is located across the street from the consulate; the middle and high schools are approximately one block from the consulate. The school is currently in the process of purchasing property, and will soon start building a new school. The new school is expected to be ready for occupancy and classes in the fall of 1999.

ASB's high school program is operated as an independent course of study with the University of Nebraska correspondence program. ASB modifies the University of Nebraska program by scheduling the students into as normal a school program as possible.

Most parents send their children to ASB at least through grade 8.

Other English-medium schools in Mumbai operate under the British system. Mumbai International School, Cathedral School, and John Cannon are well known. The schools are competitive and children are under great pressure to perform well. Admission is difficult, particularly in the lower grades. Few American-type extracurricular activities are available. The school year begins in early June and ends in early April.

Sunflower School and Casa Bambino are two nursery schools located in the residential areas near the U.S. Consulate General. Both accept children sooner than ASB does. Though classes are crowded, in recent years American children have been attending Casa Bambino.

Special Educational Opportunities

Teachers of Hindi are available. Classes are available locally in pottery, Indian cooking, weaving, art, computers, fabric painting, and many other subjects are also available. Coaches are available for tennis and golf.

Sports

Basketball teams play weekly, and tennis is popular. Most sports activities in Mumbai are centered around various private clubs.

Breach Candy Swimming Bath Trust, has two saltwater pools, a lap pool that is partially covered, and an outdoor pool in the shape of prepartition India. Applicants must have a European sponsor to join. Fees for two years for a family of two total about $925. The children's park and playground may be used at Breach Candy free of charge. Visitors may use the pool area for $3.00 per person.

The Willingdon Sports Club is Mumbai's most prestigious private club. Foreign businessmen and diplomats must have a'sponsor, but are admitted under special provisions. Fees for two years total about $6,300 in 1996. The only club with a golf course in Mumbai, it also has tennis, badminton, and squash courts, a swimming pool, a library, several restaurants, and gardens often used for large parties.

Mumbai Gymkhana is located in the downtown area near USIS and offers tennis, swimming, badminton, and squash. The total cost for belonging to this club for two years, irrespective of family size, is about $9,125 in 1996. Married women cannot be members, but can use the facilities as their husbands' dependents. This club is very popular with Mumbai's young professional crowd.

The Royal Mumbai Yacht Club, located near the Taj Mahal Hotel and the Gateway of India, has sailboats for members to use during the October-May sailing season. Members of Washington, D.C.'s Army Navy Club are allowed to use the club and the sailboats at no cost. The Colaba Sailing Club also has sailboats and is less expensive.

Amateur Riders' Club is adjacent to the race course and has riding facilities. It is especially nice for young people who wish to take riding lessons.

Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, and Masonic Lodges are active in Mumbai.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

There are fascinating sights in and around Mumbai. Newcomers can begin by taking one of the several half-day or full-day city tours arranged by the Government of India Tourist Office. A tour of Victorian architecture of the city and a boat ride from the Gateway of India to Elephanta Caves is worthwhile. There are also many Hindu, Jain, and Moslem shrines to see.

Other daytime outings include trips to the Buddhist temple caves on a jungle-covered hillside at Kanheri, the Portuguese fort city of Bassein, and the Kanala bird sanctuary with a fort perched atop a jungle-covered hill.

The three hill stations of Lonavala, Matheran, and Mahableshwar make pleasant weekend excursions. Lonavala has the Karla and Baja Buddhist temple caves and two interesting old hill forts. Matheran has pleasant views, walks, and bridle trails. Mahableshwar is the coolest of all, with attractive views and walks.

Goa, about a 45-minute flight from Mumbai (about $100.00 round-trip), has clean beaches, luxury resort hotels, and historic Portuguese towns. Reservations usually must be made well in advance. Aurangabad, 30 minutes from Mumbai by plane, has the temple caves of Ajunta and Ellora and an old fort at Dalaudabad. And a trip to the Taj Mahal at Agra is a must for anyone stationed in India.

Entertainment

Mumbai is a cosmopolitan city and dining out in the many Chinese, French, Italian, and Indian restaurants is a popular activity. Hotels often have discotheques and dance bands in their restaurants. Many new nightclubs have opened throughout Mumbai.

Mumbai is a center for Indian and western classical music. Well-known Indian and international artists perform in Mumbai's concert halls.

Art and archeology exhibits can be found at the Jehangir Art Gallery and the Prince of Wales Museum. The Museum Society sponsors slide lectures by international and Indian scholars. The Mumbai Natural History Society organizes weekend bird-watching trips and publishes magazines, bird guides, and books on flowering trees. English-language plays by professionals and vintage American and English films can be seen. American action-style films are frequently shown in local theaters.

The USIS and British Council libraries, Alliance Francaise, and Max Mueller museum are open to everyone. Inexpensive paperback books published in India, U.S., and U.K. are available in the several nearby, moderately well-stocked book stores.

Social Activities

A small, active American Women's Club holds monthly meetings.

An active social life with international contacts is possible in Mumbai. Indians are hospitable people and friendships develop rapidly. Americans are welcome to join the American Alumni Association and the Indo-American Society. Both offer opportunities for contact with Indians interested in the U.S. Indus International is a popular women's organization that features study groups and trips to interesting parts of India. Many business people join the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce.

The Hash House Harriers, an international running group, sponsors a run the last Sunday of each month, an occasional weekend trip to Goa or a hill station, and the Hash Bash (party) every fall.

OTHER CITIES

AGRA is situated on the right bank of the Yamuna River, 125 miles southeast of New Delhi. An important commercial center and rail junction, this city of over 1.2 million is known for its glass products, shoes, carpets, and handicrafts. The present city was established by Akbar, who built a stone fort here in 1564; it was a Mogul capital until 1658. The city frequently changed rulers during the decline of the Mogul empire until it was annexed by the British in 1803. It served as capital of the North-West Provinces from 1835-62. Agra has many magnificent forts and castles and is home of Agra University, but its main attraction is the Taj Mahal. When the fifth Mogul emperor, Shah Jahan, learned of the death of his wife, Queen Mumtaz, he ordered the Taj Mahal to be built in her memory. Often called a monument of love, its polished white marble walls are decorated with millions of inlaid precious and semi-precious stones. Construction began in 1632 and took 22 years and over 20,000 workers to complete.

AHMADABAD (or Ahmedabad) is one of India's most beautiful cities, and is known best as the site of the beginning of Mahatma Gandhi's efforts in the country's independence movement. It was here that Gandhi was arrested in 1933. Ahmadabad, with a population of more than 4.2 million, is an important rail terminal, as well as an industrial center known for its cotton mills. It is located on the Sabarmati River, nearly 300 miles north of Bombay. Ahmadabad is the capital and cultural center of Gujarat State. It has many magnificent tombs and mosques, and is sacred to the Jains, who have over a hundred temples here. Ahmadabad is also the home of Gujarat University, founded in 1950.

BANGALORE is 180 miles west of Chennai. It is the home of a university, of the National Aeronautical Research Institute, and of the University of Agricultural Sciences. It once had a large British civil and military post. Bangalore is the capital city of Karnataka State, and has a population of approximately 5.6 million. Founded in 1537, Bangalore today is one of South India's major transportation hubs and industrial centers. There are aircraft and electronics industries and textile mills; coffee is traded. Known as a retirement city, Bangalore has wide streets and numerous parks. Kolar Gold Fields, with a population of 144,400, is 35 miles east of Bangalore. It is known for its gold mines.

The city of BARODA lies on the Viswamitn River between Bombay to the south and Ahmadabad to the north. Situated in a fertile area, Baroda is a major marketing hub for millet, cotton, and tobacco. Hand-loomed cloth interwoven with silver is made here. It is also a prominent rail center. Formerly the capital of the princely state of Baroda, the city became part of the Indian Union in 1947; merged with Bombay State in 1948; and became part of the new state of Gujarat in 1960. Historic landmarks include a palace dating back to 1721. Medieval Indian sculptures and paintings may be seen at the Museum and Picture Gallery. There is a medical college and an university, founded in 1949 here. A well-planned city with wide avenues and beautiful parks and buildings, Baroda's population is over 750,000.

The city of BHOPAL is situated in central India in an agricultural region surrounded by rolling hills and dense forests. Founded in 1728, this industrial city of about 1.4 million people is 466 miles south of New Delhi. Items produced in Bhopal include electrical goods, jewelry, and cotton cloth. Bhopal is best known, however, for the tragedy that occurred in December 1984. The deadly gas, methyl isocyanate, escaped from the Union Carbide pesticide plant on the outskirts of the city. It passed over the towns of Jaiprakash and Chhola and drifted toward Bhopal. It was the worst industrial disaster ever, killing more than 2,500 people.

The capital of Orissa State, BHUBANESWAR is situated 140 miles southwest of Calcutta, in eastern India. The city boasts numerous shrines, built between the sixth and 12th centuries, that are examples of the finest of Hindu architecture in the country. At one time, there were 700 temples in Bhubaneswar; today, 500 still stand. The Great Temple, built to the sun god in the seventh century, is decorated with detailed carvings. Today, the city is a developing administrative center, with a population of over 225,000. Utkal University, founded in 1943, and Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, founded in 1962, are located in Bhubaneswar.

Situated on the Noyil River at an altitude of 1,400 feet, COIMBATORE is the third largest city in Madras State in southwestern India. In 1866, Coimbatore was made a municipality and the headquarters of its district. It is a major commercial and industrial hub based on the hydroelectric complex on the Pykora River. Coimbatore is the largest cotton-milling center south of Bombay. A majority of its residents are Hindu and speak Tamil. The renowned Hindu-Dravidian-style Temple of Perur is located here. The Nilgiri Hills, known for their tea and coffee, are nearby. A railway connects the city with Madurai and Tuticorin, and air service links it with Cochin, Bangalore, and Chennai. The population in Coimbatore exceeds 1.4 million.

HYDERABAD , a city of 5.4 million inhabitants, is located in Andhra Pradesh State. Once part of the Mogul Empire, the area is known as Nizam's Dominions, after the sovereigns who ruled the region for many centuries. Hyderabad lies on the Musi River, about 300 miles north-northwest of Chennai, and is a city of paper factories, pottery works, sugar refineries, and carpet and textile mills. The University of Hyderabad was founded in 1918. Some of its ancient structures include Char Minar, built in 1591, and the Old Bridge, built in 1593. Warangal is 90 miles northeast of Hyderabad. The 12th-century capital of Telugu Kingdom, Warangal is known for its carpets, silk, and textiles, and has a population of 336,000.

INDORE is located in northwestern India, about 320 miles northeast of Bombay. The city, on the Bombay-Agra Road, is the center of the Malwa Region, which offers a pleasant climate, fertile land, and consistent rainfall. Indore has cotton mills and several other light industries; cotton, peanuts, millet, wheat, and barley are grown in the region. Indore's educational facilities include a medical college, a technical institute, and a plant experimentation station; Daly College, once exclusively for royal princes, now offers open enrollment. Two palaces and the old British Residency still stand here. The city has a population of approximately 1.6 million.

JAIPUR , the capital of Rajasthan, is situated in northwest India, about 150 miles southwest of New Delhi. Founded in 1727, the city was the capital of the former Indian state of Jaipur. It is a commercial center, known for its ivory and enamel work, and for glassware and marble carvings. The name is sometimes seen spelled Jeypore. Among the city's many tourist attractions is a fabulous maharajah's palace, which occupies one-seventh of the municipal area. Currently, Jaipur has over 2 million residents, and is known as the pink city, from the color of its houses. The city of Ajmer is 85 miles to the southwest of Jaipur. Founded in 145, Ajmer today is a trade center with cotton mills and nearby marble quarries. This city of almost one million has a Jain temple, the tomb of a Muslim saint, and a palace among its historic sites.

KANPUR (Cawnpore) is a rail junction, and the most important industrial center of the Uttar Pradesh State in northern India. Situated on the right bank of the Ganges River, about 250 miles southeast of New Delhi, Kanpur is known for the massacre of British soldiers and European families during the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. It now is a city with a population of 2.6 million. A technological institute is located in Kanpur. The city of Allahabad is located farther south on the Ganges River at the junction of the Yamuna. A holy city long sacred to Hindu pilgrims, Allahabad today is an administrative, transportation, and legal center that trades in sugar and cotton. Historic sites in this city of 1.5 million include Jama Masjid (Great Mosque). There is also a university, founded in 1887.

The commercial and cultural center of the middle Ganges Valley, LUCKNOW is the capital of Uttar Pradesh State. It lies 48 miles northeast of Kanpur and 270 miles southeast of New Delhi, on the Gumti River. Lucknow is a major wholesaling center, handling food products. There are also financial and banking opportunities here. Lucknow once served as the capital of the princes of Oudh. A number of interesting mosques, palaces, and other buildings are reminders of their reign. The most fascinating is the white marble Great Imambara, built in the late 1700s. The city is known for its zoological gardens, parks, and National Botanical Gardens. The city is the site of Lucknow University, several government research centers, and a variety of colleges. The majority of Lucknow's approximately 2.2 million inhabitants are Hindus; there is also a small Muslim community.

Situated near the Vaigai River, MADURAI (formerly called Madura) is in southern India, about 280 miles southwest of Chennai. In the middle of a cotton-growing region, the city's industries concentrate on cotton spinning and textile weaving. An old city, Madurai was the headquarters of the Pandya Dynasty from about the third century B.C. until the A.D. 10th century. Madurai was controlled by Great Britain from 1801 to 1947. Of the outstanding shrines, temples, and palaces located here, the Great Temple is one of the largest Hindu temple complexes. It is visited daily by thousands of pilgrims; parts of the complex are open to non-Hindus as well. The population here is estimated at 1,187,000.

NAGAPUR , a transportation hub and industrial center, is located on the Nag River in central India, about 425 miles northeast of Bombay. Founded in the 18th century, Nagapur passed to the Marathas after 1743 and to the British in 1853. Today, it is a city of more than 2 million whose industries include flour milling, fruit canning, printing, and dyeing. Nagapur also manufactures pottery, glass, brassware, textiles, and iron and leather goods. Amravati is a city of 261,400 situated 85 miles southwest of Nagapur on a branch of the Purna River. An important cotton center, Amravati is the site of the Great Stupa, dating to the second century A.D. Andhra Dynasty.

PUNE (also called Poona) is situated on the Bima River, 75 miles east-southeast of Bombay. It is a rail and road junction, as well as a city of beautiful public gardens and numerous palaces and temples. There are extensive military headquarters here and in its suburbs. Pune has 3.7 million residents.

SURAT , with a population exceeding 2 million, is 150 miles north of Bombay, near the mouth of the Tapti River. During the 18th century, this ancient city was the largest in the country. It was the site of serious conflict between Portuguese, Dutch, and British traders while it was the principal European trading port. Surat is no longer a prominent port, but it is a major commercial city for trading, cotton and silk milling, handloom weaving, and a variety of crafts.

Situated on the Ganges River, VARANASI (formerly called Benares and Banaras) is 375 miles northwest of Calcutta in northeastern India. To Hindus, this city is the most sacred place on earth. They believe dying here guarantees a Hindu release from endless rebirths; and by worshipping at the river, a Hindu acquires special merits during the present life. Over one million pilgrims visit Varanasi's 1,500 temples every year. Most of the temples have been built in the past 200 years due to the earlier destruction of the ancient complexes. Noted shrines include the Great Mosque of Aurangzeb, the most prominent structure situated on the highest ground; the Golden Temple, dedicated to Biseswar (Shiva); and the Durga Temple, favored by tourists for its swarms of monkeys. Industries in Varanasi include the manufacture of brocade, silk, and brassware. The city has a population of approximately 1.2 million.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

India" Bharat " to most Indiansis the seventh largest country in the world, with an area approximately one-third the size of the U.S. India is bordered by China, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar (Burma) and Sri Lanka. To the west, south, and east, India is surrounded by the searespectively, the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal. The Lakshadweep Islands off the southwest coast and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 750 miles off the southeast coast in the Bay of Bengal, belong to India.

India stretches more than 2,000 miles from Jammu and Kashmir in the north to the southern tip of Tamil Nadu. It is 1,800 miles from Gujarat in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east. The topography is dominated in the far north by the majestic Himalayas, which include the world's highest peaks. From the Himalayan foothills to the Vindhyachal Range in central India spreads the vast, fertile, heavily populated Gangetic Plain. The sacred Ganges (Ganga) and the Yamuna rivers dissect the Plain. South of the Vindhyachal Range lies the Deccan Plateau. The Western and Eastern Ghats lie along the southern coastlines.

The climate in India ranges from Arctic-like conditions in the high Himalayas, to blast furnace heat in many parts of the country during the summer, and heavy monsoon downpours during the rainy season. At other times, the weather can be mild and delightfully pleasant. New Delhi is at an altitude of 700 feet above sea level in north central India. The weather in the capital is most pleasant during the temperate months of October-November and February-March, periods characterized by cool nights and warm days. While the winter months of December and January are usually fairly temperate too, the temperature can become surprisingly cold at night. From April through mid-July daytime temperatures often top 100°F. The nights cool off somewhat, but are still hot. From mid-July to September, the occasional monsoon rains create high humidity and high temperatures.

Throughout the year severe air pollution is a problem in New Delhi. During the monsoon season, mosquitos breed in standing water, spreading malaria, Japanese B encephalitis, and dengue fever. Mold, dust, and bacterial infections are common. Cockroaches, termites, moths, and flies are common pests.

Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), India's financial capital, is a port on the Arabian Sea in the western state of Maharashtra. On a map, Mumbai appears as a peninsula (actually two islands) off the west coast of India. A great natural harbor provides 75 square miles of sheltered deep water.

Mumbai has a tropical climate with three distinct seasons. The heat and high humidity of April, May, and October make life quite uncomfortable. The monsoon season, June to September, brings a welcome relief although the humidity remains high. An average of 77 inches of rain falls during the monsoon. Late November through February is cooler, although the days are still hot and sunny.

Calcutta, the capital of the state of West Bengal, is situated on the Hooghly River about 80 miles north of the Bay of Bengal. Because the city is built on near sea-level marshland, Calcutta and its suburbs suffer from poor drainage and periodic flooding, especially during the monsoon, June to October. From November through February, temperatures are pleasant, however the city suffers from considerable air pollution during these months. The heat begins in March, and occasional "nor'westers" bring welcome cool winds and rain from the Himalayas through May. Then the overcast sky of the monsoon brings relief from the glare of the sun, even though the temperature remains high.

Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, lies on the shore of the Bay of Bengal, about 900 miles north of the Equator. Until 1997, the city was known as Madras. Chennai has a medium-sized artificial harbor and a wide sandy beach that extends for several hundred miles along the coast. The surrounding countryside is a largely flat, coastal plain devoted to rice cultivation. It is green and fertile during part of the year but dry and dusty during the rainless spring and early summer months.

The climate is tropical throughout the year. December and January are relatively cool months. The weather heats up drastically from March through June. Unfortunately, as the temperature rises, so does the humidity. Chennai is unique among the consular citiesit experiences a late monsoon from August through November. Pre-monsoon rains bring slight relief in July, and the temperatures decrease slowly until the cooler season returns in November. During the hottest months, sea breezes occasionally lessen the discomfort.

Chennai averages 48 inches of rain annually, although droughts occur when the monsoon fails. Most rain falls from October through December, but frequent showers can occur from May to September. Occasionally, cyclones strike the coast. Mildew damage occurs throughout the year. All U.S. Government houses have air conditioners in every room to help combat this fungus, as well as for comfort.

Population

India is the world's second most populous country with an approximate population of 1,017,650,000. If current population growth trends continue, India's population will likely surpass China's in the next 20 to 30 years. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates are located in the following cities (with rough population estimates from 2000): Delhi (including New Delhi), 12.4 million; greater Mumbai, 18 million; greater Calcutta, 12.9 million; and Chennai, 6.6 million.

India is a predominantly rural country; more than three-fourths of the people live in villages. Nevertheless, India's cities are huge and continue to expand with the annual migration of hundreds of thousands of rural residents. The strain on the cities to provide basic services to these burgeoning populations is outstripping their resources. The result is predictablethe quality and reliability of the water, power, transportation, and communications infrastructure have deteriorated in many urban centers.

India is a cultural, linguistic, ethnic, and religious mosaic unequaled in the world. The nation's 25 states and several union territories are largely established on ethnic and linguistic lines. Hindi has been designated as the national language; it is in widespread use throughout the north and is increasingly understood in other parts of the nation, especially in large urban centers. English also continues as a language link between educated people from different parts of the country. Shopping and getting around in any of the urban areas can be easily done in English. Communication in rural areas can also be pursued in English, but some understanding of Hindi or the local language is a definite advantage.

Although largely a Hindu nation (nearly 80% of the population), India has a huge Muslim population (approximately 12%)the world's second largest, after Indonesia. Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and others make up the balance. Religion in India often provides identity and defines a way of life. Marriage, clothing, diet, employment, and location of housing can be dictated by religious considerations. Most women and some men dress in their traditional clothing, though modern fashions tend to blur ethnic lines in cities.

Most Indians have dietary restrictions; many are vegetarian, and some avoid eggs and dairy products. Many fast on a particular day of the week. Among those who do eat meat, Hindus do not eat beef and Muslims avoid pork. In cities, Indians generally eat late, often as late as 10 or 11 p.m.

Caste identification remains strong today, even among some non-Hindus. Having evolved over thousands of years, castes or family clans now number in the hundreds and are roughly divided by the Government of India into the Forward Castes (priestly, princely, and business), Backward Castes (agrarian and tradesmen), and Scheduled Castes and Tribes (formerly untouchables). Despite long-standing government affirmative action programs, most members of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes remain at the bottom of India's social and economic ladder. Socially, an Indian is expected to marry within his own caste.

Dating and public display of affection between males and females are rarely seen. Arranged marriages are the norm, though there are exceptions, especially among the urban middle class. The traditional joint family is common, and a bride typically moves into her in-laws' home. Traditionally, an Indian family is not considered complete until there is a male heir to care for his parents in their old age and to light their funeral pyres.

Public Institutions

India is a democratic republic made up of 25 states and 7 union territories. Its 1950 constitution is mainly derived from the British parliamentary system. The constitutional head of State is the President, although his duties are mainly ceremonial. He resides in Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, formerly the residence of the British Viceroy. Executive power is held by the Prime Minister and his appointed Council of Ministers (the Cabinet) from the majority party or a coalition in Parliament.

Legislative power is vested in the bicameral Parliament, which is made up of the Rajya Sabha with, up to 250 appointed and indirectly elected members, and the Lok Sabha, with up to 550 directly elected members.

The judicial system is headed by a Supreme Court appointed by the President.

The political structure of the state governments is similar. The Governor, who is appointed by the President, is ceremonial head of the government, while the Chief Minister and his cabinet, who come from the majority party or coalition in the State Assembly (Legislature), exercise executive authority.

National political parties include the Congress (I) Party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Janata Dal, Communist Party of India (CPI), and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM). In addition, there are several important regionally-based political parties, including Telugu Desam, All India Anna Dravida Munetra Kazhagam, Dravida Munetra Kazhagam, Akali Dal, and Samajwadi Janta Dal.

Many philanthropic organizations exist in India. The Rotary and Lions Clubs, the Red Cross, the YWCA and YMCA, the Boy Scouts and Girl Guidesto name a few. The National Cadet Corps selects young men and women from all over the country to train at a military camp in New Delhi each year.

Arts, Science, and Education

The cultural heritage of India is one of the richest and most ancient in the world. India absorbed immigrants and invaders with their varied cultures. Although as a nation, India is less than 50 years old (1947); it has an ancient civilization spanning more than 4,000 years.

Indian architecture and sculpture have served primarily religious functions, mainly in temple carvings and tombs (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam). The pinnacle of Moslem Mughal architecture was reached in the 17th century when Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal at Agra as a tomb for his favorite wife.

Beginning with the sacred Vedas, Sanskrit literature developed over 2,500 years and is now alive in the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana, originally handed down orally. Indian philosophy, which analyzes the soul, karma (action or duty) and salvation, is divided into many schools of thought (e.g., Schools of Yoga ).

Indian music comprises a wide variety of instrumental and vocal traditions, among which are classical, religious, popular, theatrical and modern. The internationally famous Ravi Shankar still performs on his sitar, accompanied by tabla drummers.

The classical traditions of Indian dance are at least 2,000 years old and have evolved into dance dramas which dramatize Hindu religious stories through stylized gestures which are highly symbolic and emotionally suggestive.

Education is primarily the responsibility of the state governments. Although free in most states for children between the ages of 6 and 14, education is not compulsory. Secondary schools offer instruction in Hindi, English and the appropriate regional language. Higher education is provided in colleges, universities and technical institutes. Social education programs promote adult literacy. In the nearly 50 years since independence, India has built a university education system which is second in size only to that of the U.S., with 200 universities and more than 6,300 colleges.

Commerce and Industry

With a population growth rate of over 2.1 percent per year and a real gross national product (GNP) growth rate since the early 1950s averaging below 4 percent, India has made modest progress in improving the standard of living for most of its population. Per capita income is U.S.$2,200.

Agriculture accounts for 27% of India's GDP, involving 62% of the work force. The services sector, which includes trade, hotels, banking, transport and communications, now accounts for 52% of GDP and is the largest and the fastest growing sector of the economy.

India has traditionally found it difficult to export sufficient goods to offset import needs. India's leading exports include textiles and garments, leather products, gems and cut diamonds and, in recent years, manufactured goods. Principal imports include petroleum, capital goods, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizers and edible oils. With over $5.2 billion in two-way trade, the U.S. is India's largest trading partner followed by Russia, the European Community, and Japan. The U.S. is the largest foreign investor and the largest source of joint ventures in India.

Jute and cotton textiles remain the most important industrial sectors, but steel, heavy industry, and chemicals have gained in importance. India now manufactures a variety of finished products, including consumer durables such as TVs, washers, stereos, electronics equipment, computer software, and automobiles for domestic use and export. Mineral resources (coal, iron ore, bauxite, manganese) are substantial but have been only partially tapped. Despite industrial development, chronic problems of unemployment and underemployment remain.

Transportation

Fuel

Diesel fuel and 93 octane petrol (gasoline) are readily available throughout the country. Diesel costs one-third as much as petrol. Lead free petrol is available on the open market in New Delhi and other large metropolitan cities. It is not readily available throughout India.

Rental Cars

When one rents an automobile for travel in India, it usually includes a driver. Air-conditioning costs more. Using rental services through a hotel more than doubles the cost, but this insures an English-speaking driver. One can also rent a car without a driver through Budget and Hertz.

New Delhi

New Delhi is probably the easiest Indian city in which to drive with its wide boulevards and flower-filled traffic circles.

Mumbai

Public transportation is available. Taxis are inexpensive (about 50 cent one-way between home and work) and readily available during daytime hours though often not late in the night. However, they are small and uncomfortable. Local buses and trains are extremely crowded and unclean.

Calcutta

The road conditions are poor. During the monsoons, streets flood and can stay flooded for 2 or 3 days.

Local transportation includes the subway, buses, taxis, three-wheelers, and rickshaws. Buses are overcrowded and service is irregular. Metered taxis are available at all major hotels and shopping areas. The rates are low; however, most taxi drivers prefer to negotiate a flat rate. Tipping is optional. The city subway provides service that is comfortable, safe, and uninterrupted by traffic congestion.

Rental vehicles are available, but it is very difficult to get an English-speaking driver.

Local

Public transportation in Indian cities includes trains, buses, taxis, auto rickshaws (three-wheeled scooters), and cycle rickshaws. Horse-drawn Tongas are still seen in some cities and towns. Taxis and auto rickshaws, usually yellow and black, are not air-conditioned, but are inexpensive. Meters are often not set at the current rate, but drivers will produce a current rate card if asked to substantiate the higher rate. Taxis charge higher rates late at night.

VIP automobiles are given more leeway on the roads than are emergency vehicles. They usually come equipped with flashing lights, sirens, and are often accompanied by hand and gun-waving security vehicles. (There are also VVIPs and VVVIPs.) Ambulances may have a small flashing light, but not a siren. Police vehicles (jeeps, motor scooters, buses) are marked POLICE in English or Hindi. Fire engines have sirens.

Public transportation between cities is done by bus, train, or plane. India has an extensive rail system. State corporations run the bus companies which network throughout the country. Luxury tour buses can be rented.

Regional

India's highway system extends to most parts of the country. During the monsoon, roadways can become flooded due to sudden downpours. Traffic is diverted, potholes and sinkholes appear, and power and telephone service goes out. If one plans to do a lot of traveling in India by personally owned vehicle, a 4-wheel drive utility vehicle with right-hand drive would be very useful.

Cars are driven on the left and most vehicles are right-hand drive. Operating a left-hand drive vehicle outside city limits can be dangerous. The driver will need someone in the passenger seat to tell when to pass or when another vehicle or animal is coming head-on in the left lane.

Driving is a challenge when sharing the road with the vehicles of varied speeds and sizestrucks, buses, auto rickshaws, Indian-made Marutis, bullock carts, bicycles, hand-carts, bicycle rickshaws, motor cycles, wandering livestock, taxis, pedestrians, and the occasional elephant or camel. Accidents are frequent and can be very serious, especially to unprotected passengers and pedestrians. Emergency medical services for road accident victims are usually poor or nonexistent.

The road conditions throughout the country differ from state to state. India has installed a new system of traffic signs, listing destinations and distances in English, Hindi, and local language on one sign. Bypasses are being installed around major cities. Petrol pumps are readily available throughout the country with 93 octane petrol and diesel fuel.

No matter how challenging the new ways of the road may seem, Indian drivers are tolerant of unusual behavior on the roadways. The key to driving in India is patience and flexibility.

Regional Air

India has separate domestic and international terminals at the major airports. To enter the airport, one must have a current airplane ticket or an official airport pass. Check-in procedures take 1-2 hours for domestic flights, and 2-3 hours for international flights. Most international flights arrive and depart in the middle of the night. Arriving passengers can expect to spend 15 minutes to 2 hours to get their baggage.

United Airlines currently offers daily round-the-world service from New Delhi, with flights in both directions to and from London and Hong Kong. Delta flies into Mumbai from Frankfurt seven times a week.

Direct flight connections link various Indian cities with Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. Indian Airlines, Vayudoot Airlines, and new private air carriers offer service throughout India. Domestic travel by air is expensive. A round trip from Delhi to Goa, a distance of 500 miles, costs $360.

No American carriers operate in and out of Calcutta. The city is served by a few foreign carriers, and their services are limited. Overnighting in Bangkok or Singapore is unavoidable. Calcutta is connected with major Indian cities by Indian Airlines.

The international airport departure tax is Rs. 300 a person; and to neighboring countries the tax is Rs. 150.

Regional Railroads

India has one of the largest railway systems in the world. Although train stations can be a challenge, train travel is very enjoyable and probably the best way to see the country. Reservations should be made well in advance. And trains are no longer the bargain they once were. Indian rail offers 1st and 2nd class, sleepers, chair car, compartments, vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals, and air conditioning. Passengers carry their own toilet paper and drinking water.

Rail and air travel in India require a lot of planning, patience, and flexibility. Occasionally a train, plane or bus will be delayed or pre-poned (an Indian-English word meaning earlier than scheduled).

Communications

Telephone and Telegraph

Local and international telephone service is available in India. Service is often disrupted, especially during monsoons and a heavy workload can delay repairs and installations. In general, the phone system functions adequately but requires patience, persistence, and low expectations.

Telephone numbers in India currently may be 6-digit or 7-digit numbers. Most homes have only one extension, usually placed by the front door or in the kitchen.

USA-Direct is now available in India for collect and credit card calls. Many Embassy employees have an AT&T credit card for international use. However, having the long-distance phone call originate in the U.S. incurs the least expense. Commercial telegraph, public FAX, and international telex services are available in India, but are, often unreliable.

Radio and TV

Electronic media in India is controlled by the Government of India. All India Radio (AIR) broadcasts mainly in various Indian languages, with occasional Western music and news programs in English. A good shortwave radio is necessary to receive Voice of America (VOA) and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

Doordarshan, the local government-run TV, telecasts in color on the PAL system. One or two channels can be seen in major cities. Limited daily news is supplemented by a world news roundup on Friday nights. Classical Indian music, melodramatic Hindi movies/serials, political debates, and educational instruction are interspersed with cricket matches, edited coverage of Parliament, and old English-language movies.

CNN came to India in 1991 during the Gulf War. In 1992 the satellite broadcast Star Network (BBC news, sports, MTV, movies and entertainment in English and other Asian languages) was introduced. The availability vary considerably from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

India has wonderful bookstores and a lot to read in English. Besides the local language newspapers, many nationally circulated English language dailies are sold in the major cities. The Times of India, The Indian Express, The Hindustan Times and The Hindu are only the tip of the iceberg. The International Herald Tribune, the Asian Wall Street Journal and USA Today, all printed in Singapore, are available 1 day after publication. A few other foreign newspapers are available. Asian editions of Time and Newsweek, as well as the Far Eastern Economic Review, are available within a few days of publication. India Today, Business India, Delhi Diary (tourism), Femina, and many other magazines are of high quality and address a variety of subjects.

A variety of fiction and nonfiction books are sold in local bookstores, especially mysteries, science fiction, current best-sellers, and books on India by American, British, and Indian authors. Locally published paperbacks are inexpensive; imported ones are the same cost as in the U.S. or England. Hardbacks may be more expensive than expected. The American Women's Association in New Delhi has an excellent lending library located on the housing compound adjacent to the U.S. Embassy.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities (New Delhi)

Many name-brand prescription medications manufactured by U.S. and other multinational pharmaceutical companies are available locally, often at a cost far less than in the U.S.

(Mumbai)

Local dental care is satisfactory, and orthodontic treatment is available.

(Calcutta)

Prescription glasses are available locally. Local dentists offer good, general services at reasonable prices, but have specialized dental work done in the U.S. if possible.

Calcutta's humidity and pollution have a drying effect on hair and contribute to a variety of skin rashes.

Services in India

Qualified English-speaking specialists, many trained in the U.S. and Europe, are available in India for consultation and patient care.

Routine prenatal care is available, but all pregnant women are strongly encouraged to return to the U.S. to deliver. Basic dental services are available in India and are less expensive than in the U.S. Dental services in Calcutta are somewhat limited. Root canals, crown and bridgework, and orthodontic care in New Delhi are of high quality and inexpensive. High-quality, low-cost optical services are available throughout India.

Community Health

In most of India, public sanitation falls far below Western standards. Open sewers abound. Insect control programs have been under-funded. Tap water is considered unsafe throughout India and adequacy of water fluoridation varies with locality and other factors. Fresh produce is considered contaminated. Regulation of food handling and preparation in restaurants is nonexistent. Intestinal parasites, bacillary dysentery, malaria, hepatitis, dengue fever, meningitis, Japanese B encephalitis, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and rabies are important health concerns. Automobile accidents can be catastrophic due to inadequacies in the medical care delivery system. AIDS is a growing public health problem. Air pollution is an acute problem in many urban areas.

Preventive Measures

Adjusting to a new living and work situation, a new school system, and a tropical environment creates stresses as well as rewards. Culture shock can cause insomnia, headaches, irritability, and a variety of other symptoms. A program of proper rest, exercise and nutrition can be very helpful in managing these conditions and in making your overseas tour an enjoyable one.

Respiratory illnesses and allergies are common due to dust and heavy pollution. Conditions here aggravate respiratory ailments and allergies. Adults or children prone to these illnesses may want to consult with a physician before considering this assignment.

Caution must be exercised concerning food and water. Commercially bottled beverages, including beer, soft drinks, and mineral water can be considered safe. Otherwise, water must be made safe for drinking by boiling or chemicals. Commercially bottled mineral water is available at restaurants and in the local market.

Meat (chicken, beef, and pork) should be well cooked. Fish should be cooked, not eaten raw. All fruits and vegetables that are eaten raw must be thoroughly cleaned and soaked for 15 minutes in disinfectant solution.

Malaria is endemic in India, and chloroquine-resistant malaria is found in New Delhi and other urban centers. Detailed recommendations for malaria prevention are available 24 hours daily by calling the CDC Malaria hotline at (404) 332-4555.

Tuberculosis is still a common problem in India. Children and adults should have a TB skin test annually.

AIDS is a health risk in India. Use of condoms and avoidance of high-risk behaviors are encouraged. Specific information may be obtained by calling (800) 342-AIDS.

Up-to-date immunizations are a must. Routine childhood immunizations should be up to date, including Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus (DPT); Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR); Polio (either OPV or IPV), and Hemophilus b Conjugate Vaccine (HbCV). In addition, the following immunizations are recommended:

  • Hepatitis A Vaccine is recommended for those traveling to India.
  • Oral typhoid vaccine is recommended.
  • Hepatitis B Vaccine is recommended for travelers who expect to stay longer than 60 days, or who may be at a high risk.
  • Rabies vaccine is recommended in India for those who spend a lot of time outdoors, joggers, bicyclists, and frequent travelers to rural areas.
  • Japanese B Encephalitis (JBE) vaccine is recommended.
  • Dengue fever, a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, is present throughout India. No specific treatment and no vaccines are available.
  • Those arriving in India from Africa should have a valid yellow fever vaccination. The WHO-approved facility at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi can give this vaccination to those who need it.

Last, but perhaps the most important, while driving or riding in an automobile in India, buckle the seat belt.

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

All American citizens require a passport and visa for entry into and exit from India for any purpose. All visitors, including those on official U.S. government business, must obtain visas at an Indian embassy or consulate abroad prior to entering the country. There are no provisions for visas upon arrival. Those arriving in India without a visa bearing the correct validity dates and number of entries are subject to immediate deportation on the return flight. The U.S. Embassy and consulates in India are unable to assist when U.S. citizens arrive without visas. For further information on entry requirements, please contact the Embassy of India at 2536 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 939-9849 or 939-9806 or the Indian consulates in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, or Houston. The Internet address of the Embassy of India is http://www.indianembassy.org/. Outside the United States, inquiries should be made at the nearest Indian embassy or consulate.

Permission from the Indian Government (from Indian diplomatic missions abroad or in some cases from the Ministry of Home Affairs) is required to visit the states of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, parts of Kulu district and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, border areas of Jammu and Kashmir, some areas of Uttar Pradesh, the area west of National Highway No. 15 running from Ganganagar to Sanchar in Rajasthan, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the Union Territory of the Laccadive Islands.

Indian customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from India of items such as firearms, antiquities, electronic equipment, currency, ivory, gold objects, and other prohibited materials. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of India in Washington, D.C. or one of India's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Americans living in or visiting India are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi or at one of the U.S. consulates in India. They may also obtain updated information on travel and security in India and request a copy of the booklet, "Guidelines for American travelers in India."

--The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is located at Shantipath, Chanakyapuri 110021; telephone (91) (11) 419-8000; fax (91) (11) 419-0017. The Embassy's Internet home page address is http://usembassy.state.gov/delhi.html/.

--The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai (Bombay) is located at Lincoln House, 78 Bhulabhai Desai Road, 400026, telephone (91) (22) 363-3611; fax (91)(22)363-0350. Internet home page address is http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/in3/wwwhmain.html.

--The U.S. Consulate General in Calcutta (now often called Kolkata) is at 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, 700071;telephone (91) (033) 282-3611 through 282-3615; fax (91)(033)(282-2335). The Internet home page address is http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/in4/wwwhmain.html.

--The U.S. Consulate General in Chennai (Madras) is at Mount Road, 600006, telephone (91) (044)811-2000; fax (91)(044)811-2020. The Internet home page address is http://usembassy.state.gov/chennai/.

Pets

No quarantine of pets exists in India. Whether accompanying the owner or being shipped unaccompanied, the following documents must be available at the time of arrival:

  • A current health certificate with the pet's name, breed and sex, stating that the animal is in good health, fully vaccinated, and free from contagious diseases (including for a dog: Aujossky's disease, distemper, rabies, leishmaniasis, and leptospirosis; for a cat: rabies and distemper).
  • A rabies vaccination certificate which must be either: (a) a nerve tissue vaccine taken more than 30 days but not more than 12 months before arrival of the pet in India, or, (b) a chicken-embryo vaccine taken more than 30 days but not more than 36 months before the arrival of the pet in India.
  • A distemper vaccination certificate.
  • A parrot should have a certificate stating negative results from a compliment fixation test for Psittacosis within 30 days prior to arrival.

Hotels in India do not allow pets. Occasionally, a hotel will grant an exception to those with a small pet. Some kenneling facilities are available in India, but at present are inadequate for the health and care of the animal.

Bring an adequate supply of flea collars, heartworm pills, and any required medication.

Dog licenses are required and can be obtained from the local municipality for a nominal fee. Dogs can be registered with the Kennel Club of India through its northern India branch.

Secretary
Northern India Kennel Club
H-9, Green Park Extension
New Delhi
Telephone: 667-692

Veterinarian services in India are marginal. One or two excellent veterinarians practice in New Delhi, but in general they tend to administer multiple medicines without adequate examination.

When deciding whether to ship a pet to India, consider the heat, humidity, and availability of living space. Pets here seem to develop a variety of skin rashes. Shipping an animal into India during the peak summer months can be hard on it.

Currency

The official currency is the rupee which is divided into 100 paise. Rupee notes come in the following denominations: 10, 50, 100, and 500. Coins come in the following denominations: 10, 25 and 50 paise, and 1, 2, and 5 rupee.

The rate of exchange is Rs. 48.98=US$1 (May 2002). The exchange rate is free floating, changing daily.

All currency and travelers checks in excess of $10,000 carried into India must be declared at Customs upon arrival. An unlimited amount of other currencies, drafts, travelers checks, or letters of credit may be brought in. Foreigners must usually pay hotel bills and domestic air fares in hard currency.

India uses the metric system of weights and measures. Mileage markers are in kilometers, and frequently in miles also. Smaller distances are gauged in meters. Weights are in kilograms (kilos) and grams. Liters are used to measure liquid amounts. One inch equals 2.54 centimeters or 25.4 millimeters.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Jan. 26 Republic Day

Mar Holi/Doljatra*

Mar/April Good Friday*

Mar/April Easter*

Aug. 15 Indian Independence Day

Oct. 2 Mahatma Gandhi's Birthday

Nov. 14 Children's Day

Dec. 25 Christmas

Id al-Zuha*

Muharram*
Mahavir Jayanti*

Baisakhi*

Buddha Purnima*

Khardad Sal*

Janmashtami*

Onam*

Dussehra and Durga Puja*

Guru Nanak Jayanti*

Ramadan*

Id al-Fitr*

Bakri-Id*

Diwali*

*variable

RECOMMENDED READING

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published in and about India. Some of the following books are published and sold only in India. However, they can be mail ordered from: Prof. Jerry Barrier, South Asia Books, Box 502, Columbia, MO 65205, Tel. (314) 474-0116.

Periodicals

India Today. Published in India, available in New York.

Newspaper

Express India. An Asian Weekly from the Nation's Capital, Washington, D.C. (1500 Mass Ave NW, Suite 400, Room C, Washington, D.C. 20005.)

General

American University. Area Handbook for India. U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, D.C.

Basham, A.L. The Wonder That Was India. New York: Grove Press, 1959.

Travel

India, a Travel Survival Kit, Lonely Planet.

Fodor's India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. David McKay Company: New York.

Jagannathan, Shakunthala. India, Plan Your Own Holiday.

Khushwant Singh. Sangam City Guide.

Nicholson, Louise. India Companion: A Practical Guide for the Discerning Traveler.

Williams, L.F. Rushbrook, ed. A Handbook for Travellers in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka (Ceylon). 22nd ed. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1982.

History/Politics/Economics/Social Work/Autobiographies

Akbar, M.J. Riot After Riot: Reports on Caste and Communal Violence in India. New Delhi: Penguin Books India, Ltd., 1988.

Allen, Charles. Plain Tales from the Raj.

Balasubramanyam, V.N. The Economy of India. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1986.

Barnds, William J. India, Pakistan, and the Great Powers. New York: Praeger, 1972.

Brass, Paul. Caste, Faction, and Party in Indian Politics. Chanakya, New Delhi, 1988.

Brown, Judith M. Modern India: The Origins of an Asian Democracy.

Brown, W. Norman. The United States and India, Pakistan, Bangladesh. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972.

Bumiller, Elisabeth. May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons, Fawcett, Columbine, N.Y., 1990.

Choudhury, R.A., S. Gankhar, and A. Ghose. The Indian Economy and Its Performance Since Independence. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Collins, Larry and Dominique Lapierre. Freedom at Midnight. Vikas Publishing House: Delhi, 1975.

Coomaraswamy, Anand K. Thirty Songs from Panjab & Kashmir. Sterling, New Delhi, 1996

Craven, Roy. Concise History of Indian Art.

Farwell, Byron. Armies of the Raj.

Feinberg and Echeverri-Gant. Economic Reform in the Three Giants. Transaction Books, New York, 1990.

Fishlock, Trevor. India File: Inside the Subcontinent. J. Murray Publishers, 1989.

Frankel, Francine R. India's Political Economy, 1947-1977. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978.

Frankel, Francine and M.S.A. Rao. Dominance and State Power in Modern India: Decline of a Social Order, Vols. 1 and 2. Manohar Book Service, New Delhi, 1992.

Frater, Alexander. Chasing the Monsoon.

Gayatri Devi and Shanta Rama Rao. A Princess Remembers.

Galbraith, John K. Ambassador's Journal.

Goldsmith, R.W. The Development of India, 1860-1977. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1984.

Hardgrave, Robert L., Jr. India: Government and Politics in a Developing Nation. 3rd ed. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980.

Healy, Kathleen. Rajiv Gandhi: The Years of Power. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1989.

Holmstrom, Indira. Inner Courtyard. Rupa and Company, New Delhi, 1990.

Jalan, Bimal. India's Economic Crisis: The Way Ahead. 1991/2

Kapur, Rajiv A. Sikh Separatism: The Politics of Faith. London: Allen and Unwin, 1986.

Kohli, Atul. Democracy and Discontent: India's Growing Crisis of Governability. Cambridge University Press, U.K., 1991.

Malhotra, Inder. India Trapped in Uncertainty. UBS, New Delhi, 1991.

Naipaul, V. S. India, a Million Mutinies Now. Viking Penguin 1991.

Nehru, Jawaharlal and Robert I. Crane, ed. The Discovery of India. Double-day: Garden City, 1960.

Panniker, K. M. Communalism in India. Monohar Book Service, New Delhi, 1992.

Rudolph, Lloyd I. and Susanne H. In Pursuit of Lakshmi: Political Economy of the Indian State. University of Chicago Press, 1987.

. The Modernity of Tradition: Political Development in India. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967.

Rushdie, Salman. Midnight's Children. Avon Books, New York, 1982.

Sengupta, Bhabani. Problems of Governance. Center for Policy Research.

Singh, Khushwant. History of the Sikhs, 2 vols. Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1990.

. Train to Pakistan. Grove Weidenfeld, 1990.

Spear, Percival. A History of India (vol. 2).

Srinivas, M.N. The Remembered Village. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976.

Tharpur, Romila. A History of India ( vol. 1).

Tully, Mark. No Full Stops in India. Viking, New Delhi, 1991.

Watson, Francis. A Concise History of India.

Weiner, Myron. The Child and the State in India. MIT Press, 1989.

Wiser, Charlotte and William. Behind Mud Walls. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1989.

Wolpert, Stanley. India. University of California Press, 1991. (Highly recommended)

. A New History of India. Oxford University Press.

views updated

India

Compiled from the December 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of India

PROFILE

PEOPLE

HISTORY

GOVERNMENT

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

DEFENSE

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-INDIA RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 3.29 million sq. km. (1.27 million sq. mi.); about one-third the size of the U.S.

Cities: Capital—New Delhi (pop. 12.8 million, 2001 census). Other major cities—Mumbai, formerly Bombay (16.4 million); Kolkata, formerly Calcutta (13.2 million); Chen-nai, formerly Madras (6.4 million); Bangalore (5.7 million); Hyderabad (5.5 million); Ahmedabad (5 million); Pune (4 million).

Terrain: Varies from Himalayas to flat river valleys.

Climate: Alpine to temperate to sub-tropical monsoon.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Indian(s).

Population: (2004) 1.1 billion; urban 27.8%.

Annual growth rate: 1.3%

Density: 324/sq. km.

Ethnic groups: Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, Mongoloid 2%, others.

Religions: Hindu 82.41%, Muslim 12%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other groups including Buddhist, Jain, Parsi 2.5%.

Languages: Hindi, English, and 16 other official languages.

Education: Years compulsory—None. Literacy—65.42%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—54.6/1,000. Life expectancy—64.7 years.

Work force: (est.) 450 million. Agriculture—62%; industry and commerce—22%; services and government—12%; transport and communications—4%.

Government

Type: Federal republic.

Independence: August 15, 1947.

Constitution: January 26, 1950.

Government branches: Executive—president (chief of state), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers (cabinet). Legislative—bicameral parliament (Rajya Sabha or Council of States, and Lok Sabha or House of the People). Judicial —Supreme Court.

Political parties: Bharatiya Janata Party, Indian National Congress (INC), Janata Dal (United), Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India-Marxist, and numerous regional and small national parties.

Political subdivisions: 28 states,* 7 union territories.

Suffrage: Universal over 18.

Economy

GDP: (FY2005-06) $797 billion.

Real growth rate: (FY2005-06) 8.4%.

Per capita GDP: (FY2005-06) $761.

Natural resources: Coal, iron ore, manganese, mica, bauxite, chromite, thorium, limestone, barite, titanium ore, diamonds, crude oil.

Agriculture: 21% of GDP. Products—wheat, rice, coarse grains, oilseeds, sugar, cotton, jute, tea

Industry: 28% of GDP. Products—textiles, jute, processed food, steel, machinery, transport equipment, cement, aluminum, fertilizers, mining, petroleum, chemicals, and computer software.

Services and transportation: 51% of GDP.

Trade: Exports (FY2005-06)—$105 billion; agricultural products, engineering goods, precious stones, cotton apparel and fabrics, gems and jewelry, handicrafts, tea. Software exports—$22 billion. Imports (FY2005-06) 156 billion; petroleum, machinery and transport equipment, electronic goods, edible oils, fertilizers, chemicals, gold, textiles, iron and steel. Major trade partners—U.S., China, EU, Russia, Japan.

PEOPLE

Although India occupies only 2.4% of the world’s land area, it supports over 15% of the world’s population. Only China has a larger population. Almost 33% of Indians are younger than 15 years of age. About 70% live in more than 550,000 villages, and the remainder in more than 200 towns and cities. Over the thousands of years of its history, India has been invaded from the Iranian plateau, Central Asia, Arabia, Afghanistan, and the West; Indian people and culture have absorbed and modified these influences to produce a remarkable racial and cultural synthesis.

Religion, caste, and language are major determinants of social and political organization in India today. The government has recognized 18 official languages; Hindi, the national language, is the most widely spoken, although English is a national lingua franca. Although 82% of its people are Hindu, India also is the home of more than 138 million Muslims—one of the world’s largest Muslim populations. The population also includes Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, and Parsis.

The Hindu caste system reflects Indian occupational and socially defined hierarchies. Ancient Sanskrit sources divide society into four major categories, priests (Brahmin), warriors (Kshatriya), traders (Vaishya) and farmers/laborers (Shudra). Although these categories are understood throughout India, they describe reality only in the most general terms. They omit, for example, the tribes and those once known as “untouchables.” In reality, Indian society is divided into thousands of jatis—local, endogamous groups based on occupation—and organized hierarchically according to complex ideas of purity and pollution.

Despite economic modernization and laws countering discrimination against the lower end of the caste structure and outlawing “untouchability,” the caste system remains an important source of social identification and a potent factor in the political life of the country. Nevertheless, the government has made strong efforts to minimize the importance of caste through active affirmative action and social policies. Moreover, caste has been diluted if not subsumed in the economically prosperous and heterogeneous cities, where an increasing percentage of India's population lives. In the countryside, expanding education, land reform and economic opportunity through access to information, communication, transport, and credit have lessened the harshest elements of the caste system.

HISTORY

The people of India have had a continuous civilization since 2500 B.C., when the inhabitants of the Indus River valley developed an urban culture based on commerce and sustained by agricultural trade. This civilization declined around 1500 B.C., probably due to ecological changes.

During the second millennium B.C., pastoral, Aryan-speaking tribes migrated from the northwest into the subcontinent, settled in the middle Ganges River valley, and adapted to antecedent cultures.

The political map of ancient and medieval India was made up of myriad kingdoms with fluctuating boundaries. In the 4th and 5th centuries A.D., northern India was unified under the Gupta Dynasty. During this period, known as India's Golden Age, Hindu culture and political administration reached new heights.

Islam spread across the subcontinent over a period of 700 years. In the 10th and 11th centuries, Turks and Afghans invaded India and established sultanates in Delhi. In the early 16th century, Babur, a Turkish adventurer and distant relative of Timurlang, established the Mughal Dynasty, which lasted for 200 years. South India followed an independent path, but by the 17th century large areas of South India came under the direct rule or influence of the expanding Mughal Empire. While most of Indian society in its thousands of villages remained untouched by the political struggles going on around them, Indian courtly culture evolved into a unique blend of Hindu and Muslim traditions.

The first British outpost in South Asia was established by the English East India Company in 1619 at Surat on the northwestern coast. Later in the century, the Company opened permanent trading stations at Madras (now Chennai), Bombay (now Mumbai), and Calcutta (now Kolkata), each under the protection of native rulers.

The British expanded their influence from these footholds until, by the 1850s, they controlled most of present-day India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. In 1857, an unsuccessful rebellion in north India led by Indian soldiers seeking the restoration of the Mughal Emperor caused the British Parliament to transfer political power from the East India Company to the Crown. Great Britain began administering most of India directly, while controlling the rest through treaties with local rulers.

In the late 1800s, the first steps were taken toward self-government in British India with the appointment of Indian councilors to advise the British Viceroy and the establishment of Provincial Councils with Indian members; the British subsequently widened participation in Legislative Councils. Beginning in 1920, Indian leader Mohandas K. Gandhi transformed the Indian National Congress political party into a mass movement to campaign against British colonial rule. The party used both parliamentary and nonviolent resistance and non-cooperation to agitate for independence. During this period, however, millions of Indians served with honor and distinction in the British armed forces, including service in both World Wars and countless other overseas actions in service of the Empire.

With Indians increasingly united in their quest for independence, a war-weary Britain led by Labor Prime Minister Clement Attlee began in earnest to plan for the end of its suzerainty in India. On August 15, 1947, India became a dominion within the Commonwealth, with Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister. Strategic considerations, as well as political tensions between Hindus and Muslims, led the British to partition

British India into two separate states: India, with a Hindu majority; and Pakistan, which consisted of two “wings,” East and West Pakistan—currently Bangladesh and Pakistan—with Muslim majorities. India became a republic within the Commonwealth after promulgating its Constitution on January 26, 1950. After independence, the Indian National Congress, the party of Mohandas K. Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, ruled India under the leadership first of Nehru and then his daughter (Indira Gandhi) and grandson (Rajiv Gandhi), with the exception of brief periods in the 1970s and 1980s, during a short period in 1996, and the period from 1998–2004, when a coalition led by the Bharatiya Janata Party governed.

Prime Minister Nehru governed the nation until his death in 1964. Nehru was succeeded by Lal Bahadur Shastri, who also died in office. In 1966, power passed to Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977. In 1975, beset with deepening political and economic problems, Mrs. Gandhi declared a state of emergency and suspended many civil liberties. Seeking a mandate at the polls for her policies, she called for elections in 1977, only to be defeated by Morarji Desai, who headed the Janata Party, an amalgam of five opposition parties.

In 1979, Desai’s Government crumbled. Charan Singh formed an interim government, which was followed by Mrs. Gandhi’s return to power in January 1980. On October 31, 1984, Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated, and her son, Rajiv, was chosen by the Congress (I)—for “Indira”—Party to take her place. His Congress government was plagued with allegations of corruption resulting in an early call for national elections in 1989.

Although Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress Party won more seats than any other single party in the 1989 elections, he was unable to form a government with a clear majority. The Janata Dal, a union of opposition parties, then joined with the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the right and the Communists on the left to form the government. This loose coalition collapsed in November 1990, and the Janata Dal, supported by the Congress (I), came to power for a short period, with Chandra Shekhar as Prime Minister. That alliance also collapsed, resulting in national elections in June 1991.

While campaigning in Tamil Nadu on behalf of Congress (I), Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on May 27, 1991, apparently by Tamil extremists from Sri Lanka, unhappy with India’s armed intervention to try to stop the civil war there. In the elections, Congress (I) won 213 parliamentary seats and returned to power at the head of a coalition, under the leadership of P.V. Narasimha Rao. This Congress-led government, which served a full 5-year term, initiated a gradual process of economic liberalization and reform, which opened the Indian economy to global trade and investment. India’s domestic politics also took new shape, as the nationalist appeal of the Congress Party gave way to traditional caste, creed, and ethnic alignments, leading to the founding of a plethora of small, regionally based political parties.

The final months of the Rao-led government in the spring of 1996 were marred by several major corruption scandals, which contributed to the worst electoral performance by the Congress Party in its history. The Hindu-nationalist BJP emerged from the May 1996 national elections as the single-largest party in the Lok Sabha but without a parliamentary majority. Under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the subsequent BJP coalition lasted only 13 days. With all political parties wishing to avoid another round of elections, a 14-party coalition led by the Janata Dal formed a government known as the United Front, under the former Chief Minister of Karnataka, H.D. Deve Gowda. His government collapsed after less than a year, when the Congress Party withdrew its support in March 1997. Inder Kumar Gujral replaced Deve Gowda as the consensus choice for Prime Minister at the head of a 16-party United Front coalition.

In November 1997, the Congress Party again withdrew support from the United Front. In new elections in February 1998, the BJP won the largest number of seats in Parliament—182—but fell far short of a majority. On March 20, 1998, the President approved a BJP-led coalition government with Vajpayee again serving as Prime Minister. On May 11 and 13, 1998, this government conducted a series of underground nuclear tests, spurring U.S. President Clinton to impose economic sanctions on India pursuant to the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act.

In April 1999, the BJP-led coalition government fell apart, leading to fresh elections in September. The National Democratic Alliance—a new coalition led by the BJP—won a majority to form the government with Vajpayee as Prime Minister in October 1999. The NDA government was the first in many years to serve a full five year term, providing much-needed political stability.

The Kargil conflict in 1999 and an attack by terrorists on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 led to increased tensions with Pakistan.

Hindu nationalists supportive of the BJP agitated to build a temple on a disputed site in Ayodhya, destroying a 17th century mosque there in December 1992, and sparking widespread religious riots in which thousands, mostly Muslims, were killed. In February 2002, 57 Hindu volunteers returning from Ayodhya were burnt alive when their train caught fire. Alleging that the fire was caused by Muslim attackers, anti-Muslim rioters throughout the state killed over 900 people and left 100,000 homeless. This led to accusations that the BJP-led state government had not done enough to contain the riots, or arrest and prosecute the rioters.

The ruling BJP-led coalition was defeated in a five-stage election held in April and May of 2004, and a Congress-led coalition, known as the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), took power on May 22 with Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister. The UPA’s victory was attributed to dissatisfaction among poorer rural voters that the prosperity of the cities had not filtered down to them, and rejection of the BJP’s Hindu nationalist agenda.

The Congress-led UPA government has continued many of the BJP’s foreign policies, particularly improving relations with the U.S. Prime Minister Singh and President Bush concluded a landmark U.S.-India strategic partnership framework agreement on July 18, 2005. In March 2006, President Bush visited India to further the many initiatives that underlie the new agreement.

The strategic partnership is anchored by a historic civil nuclear cooperation initiative and includes cooperation in the fields of space, high-technology commerce, health issues, democracy promotion, agriculture, and trade and investment.

GOVERNMENT

According to its Constitution, India is a “sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic.” Like the United States, India has a federal form of government. However, the central government in India has greater power in relation to its states, and has adopted a British-style parliamentary system.

The government exercises its broad administrative powers in the name of the president, whose duties are largely ceremonial. A special electoral college elects the president and vice president indirectly for 5-year terms. Their terms are staggered, and the vice president does not automatically become president following the death or removal from office of the president.

Real national executive power is centered in the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), led by the prime minister. The president appoints the prime minister, who is designated by legislators of the political party or coalition commanding a parliamentary majority in the Lok Sabha (lower house). The president then appoints subordinate ministers on the advice of the prime minister.

India’s bicameral Parliament consists of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People). The Council of Ministers is responsible to the Lok Sabha.

The legislatures of the states and union territories elect 233 members to the Rajya Sabha, and the president appoints another 12. The members of the Rajya Sabha serve 6-year terms, with one-third up for election every 2 years. The Lok Sabha consists of 545 members, who serve 5-year terms; 543 are directly elected, and two are appointed. India’s independent judicial system began under the British, and its concepts and procedures resemble those of Anglo-Saxon countries. The Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and 25 other justices, all appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister.

India has 28 states and 7 union territories. At the state level, some legislatures are bicameral, patterned after the two houses of the national parliament. The states’ chief ministers are responsible to the legislatures in the same way the prime minister is responsible to Parliament.

Each state also has a presidentially appointed governor, who may assume certain broad powers when directed by the central government. The central government exerts greater control over the union territories than over the states, although some territories have gained more power to administer their own affairs. Local governments in India have less autonomy than their counterparts in the United States. Some states are trying to revitalize the traditional village councils, or panchayats, to promote popular democratic participation at the village level, where much of the population still lives. Over half a million panchayats exist throughout India.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 12/1/2006

President: Abdul KALAM

Vice President: Bhairon Singh SHEKHAWAT

Prime Minister: Manmohan SINGH

Principal Sec. to the Prime Minister’s Office: T. K. A. NAIR

National Security Adviser: M. K. NARAYANAN

Dep. Chmn., Planning Commission: Montek Singh AHLUWALIA

Min. of Agriculture: Sharad PAWAR

Min. of Agro & Rural Industries: Mahavir PRASAD

Min. of Chemicals & Fertilizers: Ram Vilas PASWAN

Min. of State (Ind. Charge) for Civil Aviation: Praful PATEL

Min. of Coal:

Min. of Commerce & Industry: Kamal NATH

Min. of Communications & Information Technology: Dayanidhi MARAN

Min. of Company Affairs: Prem Chand GUPTA

Min. of Consumer Affairs, Food, & Public Administration: Sharad PAWAR

Min. of Culture: Jaipal REDDY

Min. of Defense: A. K. ANTONY

Min. of Development of North Eastern Region: Paty Ripple KYNDIAH

Min. of Environment & Forests: A. RAJA

Min. of External Affairs: Pranab MUKHERJEE

Min. of Finance: Palaniappan CHIDAMBARAM

Min. of State (Ind. Charge) for Food Processing Industries: Subodh Kant SAHAY

Min. of Health & Family Welfare: Anbumani RAMADOSS

Min. of State (Ind. Charge) for Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises: Santosh Mohan DEV

Min. of Home Affairs: Shivraj PATIL

Min. of Human Resource Development: Arjun SINGH

Min. of Information & Broadcasting: Priyaranjan DASMUNSI

Min. of State (Ind. Charge) for Labor & Employment: Oscar FERNANDES

Min. of Law & Justice: Hans Raj BHARDWAJ

Min. of Local Government: Mani Shankar AIYAR

Min. of Mines: Sis Ram OLA

Min. of Minority Affairs: A. R. ANTULAY

Min. of State (Ind. Charge) for Non-Conventional Energy Sources: Vilas MUTTEMWAR

Min. of Ocean Development: Kapil SIBAL

Min. of Overseas Indian Affairs: Vayalar RAVI

Min. of Panchayati Raj: Mani Shankar AIYAR

Min. of Parliamentary Affairs: Priyaranjan DASMUNSI

Min. of Petroleum & Natural Gas: Murli DEORA

Min. of Power: Sushil Kumar SHINDE

Min. of Railways: Laloo Prasad YADAV

Min. of Rural Development: Raghuvansh Prasad SINGH

Min. of Science & Technology: Kapil SIBAL

Min. of Shipping, Road Transport, & Highways: T. R. BAALU

Min. of Small-Scale Industries: Mahavir PRASAD

Min. of Social Justice & Empowerment: Meira KUMAR

Min. of State (Ind. Charge) for Statistics & Program Implementation: G. K. VASAN

Min. of Steel: Ram Vilas PASWAN

Min. of Textiles: Shankersinh VAGHELA

Min. of Tourism & Culture: Ambika SONI

Min. of Tribal Affairs: Paty Ripple KYNDIAH

Min. of Urban Development: Jaipal REDDY

Min. of State (Ind. Charge) for Urban Employment & Poverty Alleviation: Mumari SELJA

Min. of Water Resources: Saif-u-Din SOZ

Min. of State (Ind. Charge) for Women & Child Development: Renuka CHOWDHURY

Min. of Youth Affairs & Sports: Mani Shankar AIYAR

Governor, Reserve Bank of India: Y. Venugopal REDDY

Ambassador to the US: Ranendra SEN

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Nirupam SEN

India maintains an embassy in the United States at 2107 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-939-7000, fax 202-265-4351, email [email protected] and consulates general in New York, Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco. The embassy’s web site is http://www.indianembassy.org/.

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Emerging as the nation’s single largest party in the April/May 2004 Lok Sabha election, Congress currently leads a coalition government under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Party President Sonia Gandhi was reelected by the Party National Executive in May 2005. Also a Member of Parliament, she heads the Congress Lok Sabha delegation. Congress prides itself as a secular, left of center party, with a long history of political dominance. Although its performance in national elections had steadily declined during the last 12 years, its surprise victory in 2004 was a result of recruiting strong allies into the UPA, the antiincumbency factor among voters, and its courtship of India’s many poor, rural and Muslim voters. Congress political fortunes suffered badly in the 1990s, as many traditional supporters were lost to emerging regional and caste-based parties, such as the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party, but have rebounded since its May 2004 ascension to power. It currently rules either directly or in coalition with its allies in 9 states. In November 2005, the Congress regained the Chief Ministership of Jammu and Kashmir state, under a power-sharing agreement. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Rajnath Singh, holds the second-largest number of seats in the Lok Sabha. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee serves as Chairman of the BJP Parliamentary Party, and former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani is Leader of the Opposition. The Hindu-nationalist BJP draws its political strength mainly from the “Hindi Belt” in the northern and western regions of India.

The party holds power in the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Orissa—in coalition with the Biju Janata Dal. Popularly viewed as the party of the northern upper caste and trading communities, the BJP made strong inroads into lower castes in recent national and state assembly elections. The party must balance the competing interests of Hindu nationalists, (who advocate construction of a temple on a disputed site in Ayodhya, and other primarily religious issues), and center-right modernizers who see the BJP as a party of economic and political reform.

Four Communist and Marxist parties are united in a bloc called the “Left Front,” which controls 57 parliamentary seats. The Left Front rules the states of West Bengal and Kerala. Although it has not joined the government, Left Front support provides the crucial seats necessary for the UPA to retain power in New Delhi; without its support, the UPA government would fall. It advocates a secular and Communist ideology and opposes many aspects of economic liberalization and globalization, resulting in dissonance with Prime Minister Singh’s liberal economic approach.

The next general election is scheduled for 2009.

ECONOMY

India’s population is estimated at nearly 1.1 billion and is growing at 1.3% a year. It has the world’s 12th largest economy—and the third largest in Asia behind Japan and China—with total GDP of around $797 billion. Services, industry and agriculture account for 51%, 28%, and 21% of GDP respectively. Nearly two-thirds of the population depends on agriculture for its livelihood. About 28% of the population lives below the poverty line, but there is a large and growing middle class of 325-350 million with disposable income for consumer goods.

India is continuing to move forward with market-oriented economic reforms that began in 1991. Recent reforms include liberalized foreign investment and exchange regimes, industrial decontrol, significant reductions in tariffs and other trade barriers, reform and modernization of the financial sector, significant adjustments in government monetary and fiscal policies, and safeguarding intellectual property rights.

Real GDP growth for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2006 was 8.4%, up from 7.7% growth in the previous year. Growth for the year ending March 31, 2007 is expected to be between 7.8-8.3%. Foreign portfolio and direct investment inflows have risen significantly in recent years. They have contributed to the $166 billion in foreign exchange reserves by mid-September 2006. Government receipts from privatization were about $3 billion in fiscal year 2003-04.

However, economic growth is constrained by inadequate infrastructure, a cumbersome bureaucracy, corruption, labor market rigidities, regulatory and foreign investment controls, the “reservation” of key products for small-scale industries, and high fiscal deficits. The outlook for further trade liberalization is mixed. India eliminated quotas on 1,420 consumer imports in 2002 and has announced its intention to continue to lower customs duties. However, the tax structure is complex, with compounding effects of various taxes.

The United States is India’s largest trading partner. Bilateral trade in 2005 was $26.8 billion. Principal U.S. exports are diagnostic or lab reagents, aircraft and parts, advanced machinery, cotton, fertilizers, ferrous waste/scrap metal, and computer hardware. Major U.S. imports from India include textiles and ready-made garments, Internet-enabled services, agricultural and related products, gems and jewelry, leather products, and chemicals.

The rapidly growing software sector is boosting service exports and modernizing India’s economy. Revenues from the information technology (IT) industry reached a turnover of $23.6 billion in 2005-06. Software exports crossed $22 billion in FY2005-06. IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) exports are projected to grow at nearly 27-30% during 2006-07. Personal computer penetration is 14 per 1,000 persons. The cellular/mobile market surged to 140 million subscribers by November 2006. The country has 54 million cable TV customers.

The United States is India’s largest investment partner, with a 13% share. India’s total inflow of U.S. direct investment is estimated at more than $5 billion through 2005-06. Proposals for direct foreign investment are considered by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board and generally receive government approval. Automatic approvals are available for investments involving up to 100% foreign equity, depending on the kind of industry. Foreign investment is particularly sought after in power generation, telecommunications, ports, roads, petroleum exploration/processing, and mining.

India’s external debt was $125 billion in 2005-06, up from $123 billion in 2004-05. Foreign assistance was approximately $3.8 billion in 2005-06, with the United States providing about $126 million in development assistance. The World Bank plans to double aid to India to almost $3 billion a year, with focus on infrastructure, education, health, and rural livelihoods.

DEFENSE

The supreme command of the Indian armed forces is vested in the President of India. Policies concerning India’s defense, and the armed forces as a whole, are formulated and confirmed by the Cabinet.

The Indian Army numbers over 1.1 million strong and fields 34 divisions. Its primary task is to safeguard the territorial integrity of the country against external threats. The Army has been heavily committed in the recent past to counterterrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as the in the Northeast. Its current modernization program focuses on obtaining equipment to be used in combating terror. The Army often provides aid to civil authorities and assists the government in organizing relief operations.

The Indian Navy is by far the most capable navy in the region. The Navy’s primary missions are the defense of India and of India’s vital sea lines of communication. India relies on the sea for 90% of its oil and natural gas and over 90% of its foreign trade. The Navy currently operates one aircraft carrier with two on order, 14 submarines, and 15 major surface combatants. It is capable of projecting power within the Indian Ocean basin and occasionally operates in the South China Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Gulf. Fleet introduction of the Brahmos cruise missile and the possible lease of nuclear submarines from Russia will add significantly to the Indian Navy’s flexibility and striking power.

Although small, the Indian Coast Guard has been expanding rapidly in recent years. Indian Navy officers typically fill top Coast Guard positions to ensure coordination between the two services. India’s Coast Guard is responsible for control of India’s huge exclusive economic zone.

The Indian Air Force is becoming a 21st century force through modernization, new tactics and the acquisition of modern aircraft, such as the SU-30MKI, a new advanced jet trainer (BAE Hawk) and the indigenously produced advanced light helicopter (Dhruv).

FOREIGN RELATIONS

India’s size, population, and strategic location give it a prominent voice in international affairs, and its growing industrial base, military strength, and scientific and technical capacity give it added weight. The end of the Cold War dramatically affected Indian foreign policy. India remains a leader of the developing world and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and hosted the NAM Heads of State Summit in 1997. India is now also seeking to strengthen its political and commercial ties with the United States, Japan, the European Union, Iran, China, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. India is an active member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

Always an active member of the United Nations, India now seeks a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. India has a long tradition of participating in UN peacekeeping operations and most recently contributed personnel to UN operations in Somalia, Cambodia, Mozambique, Kuwait, Bosnia, Angola, El Salvador, and Lebanon.

Bilateral and Regional Relations

Pakistan. India and Pakistan have been locked in a tense rivalry since the partition of the subcontinent upon achieving independence from Great Britain in 1947. The principal source of contention has been Kashmir, whose Hindu Maharaja at that time chose to join India, although a majority of his subjects were Muslim. India maintains that his decision and subsequent elections in Kashmir have made it an integral part of India. This dispute triggered wars between the two countries in 1947 and 1965 and provoked the Kargil conflict in 1999.

Pakistan and India fought a war in December 1971 following a political crisis in what was then East Pakistan and the flight of millions of Bengali refugees to India. The brief conflict left the situation largely unchanged in the west, where the two armies reached an impasse, but a decisive Indian victory in the east resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.

Since the 1971 war, Pakistan and India have made slow progress toward normalization of relations. In July 1972, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto met in the Indian hill station of Simla. They signed an agreement by which India would return all personnel and captured territory in the west and the two countries would “settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations.” Diplomatic and trade relations were re-established in 1976.

The 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan caused new strains between India and Pakistan. Pakistan supported the Afghan resistance, while India implicitly supported the Soviet occupation. In the following eight years, India voiced increasing concern over Pakistani arms purchases, U.S. military aid to Pakistan, and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. In an effort to curtail tensions, the two countries formed a joint commission. In December 1988, Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto concluded a pact not to attack each other’s nuclear facilities and initiated agreements on cultural exchanges and civil aviation.

In 1997, high-level Indo-Pakistani talks resumed after a three-year pause. The Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan met twice, and the foreign secretaries conducted three rounds of talks. In June 1997 at Lahore, the foreign secretaries identified eight “outstanding issues” around which continuing talks would be focused. The dispute over the status of Jammu and Kashmir, an issue since partition, remains the major stumbling block in their dialogue. India maintains that the entire former princely state is an integral part of the Indian union, while Pakistan insists upon the implementation of UN resolutions calling for self-determination for the people of the state.

In September 1997, the talks broke down over the structure of how to deal with the issues of Kashmir and peace and security. Pakistan advocated that separate working groups treat each issue. India responded that the two issues be taken up along with six others on a simultaneous basis. In May 1998 India, and then Pakistan, conducted nuclear tests. Attempts to restart dialogue between the two nations were given a major boost by the February 1999 meeting of both Prime Ministers in Lahore and their signing of three agreements. These efforts were stalled by the intrusion of Pakistani-backed forces into Indian-held territory near Kargil in May 1999 (that nearly turned into full scale war), and by the military coup in Pakistan that overturned the Nawaz Sharif government in October the same year. In July 2001, Mr. Vajpayee and General Pervez Musharraf, leader of Pakistan after the coup, met in Agra, but talks ended after two days without result.

After an attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001, India-Pakistan relations cooled further as India accused Pakistan of involvement. Tensions increased, fueled by killings in Jammu and Kashmir, peaking in a troop buildup by both sides in early 2002.

Prime Minister Vajpayee’s April 18, 2003 speech in Srinagar (Kashmir) revived bilateral efforts to normalize relations. In November 2003, Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Musharraf agreed to a ceasefire, which still holds, along the Line-of-Control in Jammu and Kashmir. After a series of confidence building measures, Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Musharraf met on the sidelines of the January 2004 SAARC summit in Islamabad and agreed to commence a Composite Dialogue addressing outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, including Kashmir. The UPA government has continued the Composite Dialogue with Pakistan.

In February 2004, India and Pakistan agreed to restart the “2+6” Composite Dialogue formula, which provides for talks on Peace and Security and Jammu and Kashmir, followed by technical and Secretary-level discussions on six other bilateral disputes: Siachen Glacier, Wuller Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project, Sir Creek estuary, Terrorism and Drug Trafficking, Economic and Commercial cooperation, and the Promotion of Friendly Exchanges in various fields. The Foreign Secretary talks resumed in November 2006, after a three-month delay following the July 11, 2006 terrorist bombings in Mumbai. The meeting generated modest progress, with the two sides agreeing to establish a joint mechanism on counter-terrorism and agreeing to a follow-on meeting in February 2007. The restart of the Composite Dialogue process is especially significant, given the almost six years that transpired since the two sides agreed to this formula in 1997-98.

Following the October 2005 earthquake in Kashmir, the two governments coordinated relief efforts and opened access points along the Line-of-Control to allow relief supplies to flow from India to Pakistan and to allow Kashmiris from both sides to visit one another.

SAARC. Certain aspects of India’s relations within the subcontinent are conducted through the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Its members are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Established in 1985, SAARC encourages cooperation in agriculture, rural development, science and technology, culture, health, population control, narcotics, and terrorism.

SAARC has intentionally stressed these “core issues” and avoided those which could prove divisive, although political dialogue is often conducted on the margins of SAARC meetings. In 1993, India and its SAARC partners signed an agreement gradually to lower tariffs within the region. Forward movement in SAARC had slowed because of tension between India and Pakistan, and the SAARC summit scheduled for 1999 was not held until January 2002. In addition, to boost the process of normalizing India’s relationship with Pakistan, the January 2004 SAARC summit in Islamabad produced an agreement to establish a South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA). All the member governments have ratified SAFTA, which was slated to come into force on January 1, 2006, with a series of graduated tariff cuts through 2015. As of December 2006, however, the FTA partners were still negotiating sensitive product lists, rules of origin, and technical assistance.

China. Despite suspicions remaining from a 1962 border conflict between India and China and continuing territorial/boundary disputes, Sino-Indian relations have improved gradually since 1988. Both countries have sought to reduce tensions along the frontier, expand trade and cultural ties, and normalize relations. Their bilateral trade reached $19 billion in 2005. China is India’s second-largest trading partner behind the U.S.

A series of high-level visits between the two nations has improved relations. In December 1996, Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited India on a tour of South Asia. While in New Delhi, he and the Indian Prime Minister signed a series of confidence-building measures along the disputed border, including troop reductions and weapons limitations.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao invited Prime Minister Vajpayee to visit China in June 2003. They recognized the common goals of both countries and made the commitment to build a “long-term constructive and cooperative partnership” to peacefully promote their mutual political and economic goals without encroaching upon their good relations with other countries. In Beijing, Prime Minister Vajpayee proposed the designation of special representatives to discuss the border dispute at the political level, a process that is still under way.

In November 2006, President Hu Jintao made an official state visit to India, further cementing Sino-Indian relations. India and China are building on growing economic ties to improve other aspects of their relationship such as counter-terrorism, energy, and trade. In another symbol of improved ties, the two countries opened the Nathu La Pass to bilateral trade in July 2006 for the first time in 40 years. Though it is the first direct land trade route in decades, trade is expected to be local and small since the pass is open only four months a year.

Former Soviet Union. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the emergence of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) had major repercussions for Indian foreign policy. India’s substantial trade with the region plummeted after the Soviet collapse and has yet to recover. Longstanding military supply relationships were similarly disrupted due to questions over financing. Russia nonetheless remains India’s largest supplier of military systems and spare parts.

Russia and India have not renewed the 1971 Indo-Soviet Peace and Friendship Treaty and follow what both describe as a more pragmatic, less ideological relationship. The visit of Russian President Boris Yeltsin to India in January 1993 helped cement this new relationship. The pace of high-level visits has since increased, as has discussion of major defense purchases. UPA leader Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Singh visited Russia in July 2005. President Vladimir Putin will travel to India in January 2007 to attend an Indo-Russia Summit and will be the guest of honor at India’s Republic Day celebrations.

U.S.-INDIA RELATIONS

Recognizing India as a key to strategic U.S. interests, the United States has sought to strengthen its relationship with India. The two countries are the world’s largest democracies, both committed to political freedom protected by representative government. India is also moving gradually toward greater economic freedom. The U.S. and India have a common interest in the free flow of commerce and resources, including through the vital sea lanes of the Indian Ocean. They also share an interest in fighting terrorism and in creating a strategically stable Asia.

Differences remain, however, including over India’s nuclear weapons programs and the pace of India’s economic reforms. In the past, these concerns may have dominated U.S. thinking about India, but today the U.S. views India as a growing world power with which it shares common strategic interests. A strong partnership between the two countries will continue to address differences and shape a dynamic and collaborative future.

In late September 2001, President Bush lifted sanctions imposed under the terms of the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act following India’s nuclear tests in May 1998. The nonproliferation dialogue initiated after the 1998 nuclear tests has bridged many of the gaps in understanding between the countries. In a meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Vajpayee in November 2001, the two leaders expressed a strong interest in transforming the U.S.-India bilateral relationship. High-level meetings and concrete cooperation between the two countries increased during 2002 and 2003. In January 2004, the U.S. and India launched the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP), which was both a milestone in the transformation of the bilateral relationship and a blueprint for its further progress.

In July 2005, President Bush hosted Prime Minister Singh in Washington, DC. The two leaders announced the successful completion of the NSSP, as well as other agreements which further enhance cooperation in the areas of civil nuclear, civil space, and high-technology commerce. Other initiatives announced at this meeting include: an U.S.-India Economic Dialogue, Fight Against HIV/AIDS, Disaster Relief, Technology Cooperation, Democracy Initiative, an Agriculture Knowledge Initiative, a Trade Policy Forum, Energy Dialogue and CEO Forum. President Bush made a reciprocal visit to India in March 2006, during which the progress of these initiatives were reviewed, and new initiatives were launched.

In December 2006, Congress passed the historic Henry J. Hyde United States-India Peaceful Atomic Cooperation Act, which allows direct civilian nuclear commerce with India for the first time in 30 years. U.S. policy had opposed nuclear cooperation with India because the country had developed nuclear weapons in contravention of international conventions and never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The legislation clears the way for India to buy U.S. nuclear reactors and fuel for civilian use.

The U.S. and India are seeking to elevate the strategic partnership further in 2007 to include cooperation in counter-terrorism, defense cooperation, education, and joint democracy promotion.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

NEW DELHI (E) Address: Shanti Path, Chanakya Puri New Delhi– 110021, India; Phone: 91-11-24198000; Fax: 91-11-24190017; Workweek: Monday thru Friday; 0830 hrs to 1730 hrs; Website: www.usembassy.state.gov/delhi.html.

AMB:David C. Mulford
AMB OMS:Susanne Ames
DCM:Geoffrey Pyatt
POL:Theodore Osius
CON:Peter Kaestner
MGT:James Forbes
AGR:Holly Higgins
AID:George Deikun
APHIS:Marvin Felder
CLO:Fatima Brown
CUS:Elliott Harbin
DAO:Frank Rindone
DEA:Ronald Khan
ECO:John Davison
EST:Donald L. Brown
FAA:Randall S. Fiertz
FCS:Carmine D’Aloisio
FIN:Ken Kowalchek
FMO:Mark Moore
GSO:Vincent Romero
ICASS Chair:Mark Ericson
IMO:James L. Cleveland
INS:Terry DeMaegd
IPO:Kimberly Kaestner
IRS:Elizabeth Kinney
ISO:Douglas McGifford
ISSO:Richard Everitt
LEGATT:Kathy Stearman
MLO:Mark Ericson
NAS:Duke Lokka
PAO:Larry Schwartz
RSO:George Lambert
State ICASS:John Fennerty

Last Updated: 1/9/2007

MUMBAI (CG) Address: 78, Bhulabhai Desai Rd., Mumbai, India; Phone: 91-22-2363-3611; Fax: 91-22-2363-0350; Workweek: Mon-Fri 8:15 am– 5:00 pm; Website: http://usembassy.state.gov/mumbai

CG:Michael S. Owen
CG OMS:Nancy Alain
PO:Michael S. Owen
POL:William Klein
COM:Jim Cunningham
CON:Glen Keiser
MGT:James Leaf
CLO:Elizabeth Inman
ECO:William Klein
GSO:Darion Akins
ISO:Charles VanSickle
PAO:Elizabeth Kauffman
RSO:William Inman

Last Updated: 9/29/2006

CHENNAI (C) Address: 220 Anna Salai Rd, Chennai 600 006, India; Phone: 91-44-2857-4000; Fax: 91-44-2811-2020; INMARSAT Tel: 00-873-383133034#; Workweek: Mon–Fri 0815–1700; Website: http://chennai.usconsulate.gov.

CG:David T. Hopper
CG OMS:Marsha Thomas
PO:David T. Hopper
PO/CON:Mark Fry
DPO/PAO:Frederick J. Kaplan
MGT:Kelly Buenrostro
CLO:Jennifer Mauldin
COM/CON:Mark Russell
EEO:Colin P. Bucknor
GSO:Marielle H. Martin
IPO:Kenneth D. Klein
ISO:Kenneth D. Klein
ISSO:Colin P. Bucknor
PAO:Frederick J. Kaplan
RSO:Colin P. Bucknor
State ICASS:Kelly Buenrostro

Last Updated: 10/30/2006

KOLKATA (C) Address: 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, Calcutta 700071; Phone: 91-33-3984-2400; Fax: 91-33-2282-2335; Workweek: Mon-Fri, 0800 hours-1700 hours; Website: http://calcutta.usconsulate.gov.

CG:Henry V. Jardine
POL/ECO:Rakesh Surampudi
CON:Paul M. Fermoile
MGT:Kit A. Junge
CLO:Management Officer
FCS:Mary Aileen Nandi
FIN:Management Officer
GSO:Management Officer
IMO:James L Cleveland (New Delhi)
IPO:Chandra L Smith
ISO:Sherril L. Pavin (New Delhi)
ISSO:Chandra L. Smith
PAO:Douglas G. Kelly
RSO:George Lambert (New Delhi)

Last Updated: 11/17/2006

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : December 11, 2006

Country Description: India, the world’s largest democratic republic, has a very diverse population, geography and climate. India is the second most populous and the seventh largest country in the world in area. Tourist facilities varying in degree of comfort and amenities are widely available in the major population centers and main tourist areas.

Entry/Exit Requirements: U.S. citizens require a passport and visa to enter and exit India for any purpose. Visitors, including those on official U.S. government business, must obtain visas at an Indian Embassy or Consulate abroad prior to entering the country, as there are no provisions for visas upon arrival. Those arriving without a visa are subject to immediate deportation. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India are unable to assist when U.S. citizens arrive without visas. Each visitor should carry photocopies of the bio-data page of the traveler’s U.S. passport and the page containing the Indian visa in order to facilitate obtaining an exit visa from the Indian government in the event of theft or loss of the passport.

Americans wishing to visit India are responsible for requesting the correct type of visa from the Indian Embassy or Consulate, as there generally are no provisions for changing one’s immigration category (e.g., from tourist to work visa) once admitted. Foreign citizens whose primary purpose of travel is to participate in religious activities should obtain a missionary visa rather than a tourist visa. Indian immigration authorities have deported American citizens who entered India with a tourist visa and conducted religious activities.

Foreign citizens who visit India to study, do research, work or act as missionaries, as well as all travelers planning to stay more than 180 days are required to register, generally within 14 days of arrival, with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) closest to where they will be staying. The FRRO maintains offices in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chen-nai (known as the “Chennai Immigration Office”), Calcutta, and Amritsar. In smaller cities and towns, the local police headquarters will normally perform this function (referred to as the Foreigner’s Registration Office or FRO). General information regarding Indian visa and immigration rules, including the addresses and telephone numbers for the FRRO offices, can be found at the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs website for its Bureau of Immigration at http://www.immigrationindia.nic.in.

If a foreign citizen (e.g., an American) overstays his or her Indian visa, or otherwise violates Indian visa regulations, the traveler may require a clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs in order to leave the country. Such travelers generally must pay a fine, and in some cases, may be jailed until their deportation can be arranged. Visa violators seeking an exit clearance can visit the following office any weekday from 10 am—12 noon: Ministry of Home Affairs, Foreigner’s Division, Jaisalmer House, 26 Man Singh Road, New Delhi (tel. +91-11-2338-5748).

For the most current information on entry and exit requirements, please contact the Embassy of India at 2536 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 939-9806 (http://www.indianembassy.org) or the Indian Consulates in Chicago (http://chicago.indianconsulate.com), New York (http://www.indiacgny.org), San Francisco (http://www.cgisf.org) or Houston (http://www.cgihouston.org). Outside the United States, inquiries should be made at the nearest Indian embassy or consulate. A list of selected Indian consulates and embassies can be found at http://pass-port.nic.in/missions.htm.

Safety and Security: Some terrorist groups are active in India. In recent years, there have been occasional terrorist bombing incidents in various parts of India. These bomb blasts have occurred in public places as well as on public transportation, such as trains and buses, in markets and in other public areas, resulting in deaths or injuries. There were several significant terrorist incidents in India in the second half of 2005 and the first several months of 2006, the most serious of which occurred in Mumbai, Varanasi and New Delhi. In July 2006, a series of bombs left on crowded commuter trains in Mumbai and nearby suburbs killed over 190 and wounded more than 700. In March 2006, two near simultaneous explosions occurred in Varanasi, one in the main railway station and another in a popular Hindu temple, leaving more than 20 dead and over 100 injured. A similar series of coordinated explosions occurred in New Delhi in October 2005, hitting crowded market areas (including the Paharganj area popular with budget travelers), leaving more than 60 persons dead and more than 180 wounded.

A number of other terrorist incidents causing fewer casualties have recently occurred as well. For example, in August 2006, a grenade attack on an ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) temple in the northeastern state of Manipur resulted in five deaths and injuries to several others, including two American citizens. Violence has continued unabated in the northern state of Jammu & Kashmir. Previously, Kashmiri militants aimed their attacks primarily at Indian police and military installations, but more recently they have been directing violence against civilians with increasing frequency, including several grenade attacks aimed at tourist buses and crowded shopping areas. In one such incident in July 2006, a young American girl was injured. In late November 2006, at least 12 people were killed and 50 injured when two bombs exploded on the Haldibari passenger train in West Bengal. In February 2006, an improvised explosive device exploded at the Ahmedabad railway station in the state of Gujarat. The device was intended to explode on a train traveling from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, but the timer was improperly set. In January 2006, eighteen separate explosions occurred throughout the state of Assam, including the capital Guwahati, targeting public places, power, oil and security-related sites. In December 2005, a gunman opened fire on participants of an international conference on the Indian Institute of Science campus in Bangalore, Karnataka, killing a prominent Indian scientist. In October 2005, a suicide bomber and a security guard were killed during a bomb attack on a police station located in an upscale neighborhood of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.

Other serious terrorist events have happened in the past in areas popular with tourists. For example, in 2003, terrorists set off several bombs in Mumbai (Bombay), including on public transportation, at a public market and at the Gateway of India, a popular tourist destination, leaving over 50 people dead and 160 injured. The motive for these blasts has not been clearly established. U.S. citizens were not specifically targeted or injured in any of these attacks. However, U.S. citizens have been killed and injured during past acts of indiscriminate violence. Anti-Western terrorist groups, some of which are on the U.S. government’s list of foreign terrorist organizations, are believed to be active in India. Therefore, U.S. citizens should exercise particular vigilance when in the vicinity of government installations, visiting tourist sites, or attending public events throughout India. In particular, the disputed region of Kashmir in the state of Jammu & Kashmir has experienced an inordinate number of terrorist incidents, including several bombings in the capital city of Srinagar.

Demonstrations can occur or escalate spontaneously, posing risks to travelers’ personal safety and disrupting transportation systems and city services. In response to such events, Indian authorities occasionally impose curfews and/or restrict travel. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid demonstrations and rallies as they have the potential for violence, especially immediately preceding and following elections. In addition, religious and inter-caste violence occasionally occurs unpredictably. In early 2002, violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat resulted in at least 950 deaths according to official figures. While such violence rarely targets foreigners, mobs have attacked Indian Christian workers. U.S. citizens should read local newspapers and contact the U.S. Embassy or the nearest U.S. Consulate for further information about the current situation in areas where they wish to travel.

Visitors should exercise caution when swimming in open waters along the Indian coastline, particularly during the monsoon season. Every year, several people in Goa, Mumbai, Puri (Orissa) and other areas drown due to the unusually strong undertow. It is important for visitors to heed warnings posted or advised at beaches and avoid swimming in the ocean during the monsoon season.

Social and religious activity has aroused strong reactions in some areas. Most recently, in December 2005, four American citizens working for an organization assisting Indian authorities to rescue bonded laborers were attacked by an angry mob in a village outside Bangalore. In October 2005, a group of Americans distributing religious literature were attacked by an angry mob in a predominately Muslim town in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. In January 2003, Hindu activists attacked a visiting U.S. citizen in Kerala after accusing him of preaching to the local community. A similar incident occurred in June 2005, when residents of a Mumbai suburb attacked three American tourists participating in a Christian prayer meeting. In January 1999, a mob murdered an Australian missionary and his son in Orissa. The principal risk for foreigners is that they could become inadvertent victims.

During the Dussehra (Durga Puja) and Diwali (Kali Puja) festivals, U.S.-citizen travelers to Calcutta and Eastern India should exercise additional caution. Large and sometimes unruly crowds gather on these holidays, especially in the evening hours in the immediate vicinity of the Pandals (elaborately decorated temporary structures). Such concentrations heighten the risk of petty theft, accidental injury, groping and crowd disturbances. Although Calcutta police have improved crowd control in recent years, transportation (even for emergency purposes) is more difficult during the holiday season, and travelers may become disoriented amidst large, flowing crowds. The United States Consulate General in Calcutta is available to assist U.S. citizens in emergencies, should they arise. In 2007, Dussehra (Durga Puja) will be celebrated in Eastern India on October 18—21, and Diwali (Kali Puja) will be celebrated on November 8—9.

Jammu & Kashmir: The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid travel to the state of Jammu & Kashmir, with the exception of visits to the Ladakh region and its capital, Leh. A number of terrorist groups operate in the state, targeting security forces who are present throughout the region, particularly along the Line of Control (LOC) separating Indian and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, and stationed in the primary tourist destinations in the Kashmir Valley – Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pahalgam.

Since 1989, as many as 60,000 people (terrorists, security forces, and civilians) have been killed in the Kashmir conflict, including more than 500 civilians in 2005 alone. Many terrorist incidents take place in the state’s summer capital of Srinagar, but the majority occurs in rural areas. Foreigners are particularly visible, vulnerable, and definitely at risk. Attacks have been aimed at civilians with increasing frequency.

Occasionally, even the Ladakh region of the state has been affected by terrorist violence, but incidents there are rare. The last such case was in 2000, when terrorists in Ladakh’s Zanskar region killed a German tourist. The Indian government prohibits foreign tourists from visiting the Kargil area of Ladakh along the LOC. U.S. Government employees are prohibited from traveling to the state of Jammu & Kashmir without permission from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

In 1999, the terrorist organization Harakat-ul Mujahideen issued a ban on U.S. citizens, including tourists, visiting Kashmir, but has not followed up on this threat. In 1995, the terrorist organization Al Faran kidnapped six Western tourists, including two U.S. citizens, who were trekking in Kashmir valley. One of the hostages was brutally murdered, another escaped, and the other four—including one U.S. citizen—have never been found. Srinagar has also been the site of a great deal of violence, including car bombings, market bombings, hand-grenade attacks that miss their targets and kill or injure innocent bystanders, and deaths resulting from improvised (remote-controlled) explosive devices (IEDs). In the early to mid-1990s, several tourists, including at least one U.S. citizen, were fatally shot or wounded in Srinagar, and a young American girl was injured in a grenade attack in 2006. The 2002 state elections were marred by multiple terrorist attacks that killed some 800 people, a large percentage of whom were innocent civilians. Some terrorist violence also marred the national parliamentary polls in April/May 2004. Terrorists focused in spring and summer of 2006 on buses carrying tourists and pilgrims, killing dozens in several grenade attacks in areas throughout the Kashmir Valley.

India-Pakistan Border: The State Department recommends that U.S. citizens avoid travel to areas within approximately five to ten kilometers of the border between India and Pakistan in the states of Gujarat, Punjab (other than the Atari/Wagah border crossing near Amritsar), Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir. A ceasefire along the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir began on November 26, 2003 and continues to hold, and a dialogue between the two countries aimed at easing tensions continues. Both India and Pakistan maintain a strong military presence on both sides of the LOC. The only official India-Pakistan border crossing point for persons who are not citizens of India or Pakistan is in the state of Punjab between Atari, India, and Wagah, Pakistan. A Pakistani visa is required to enter Pakistan. The border crossing is currently open. However, travelers are advised to confirm the current status of the border crossing prior to commencing travel.

Both India and Pakistan claim an area of the Karakoram mountain range that includes the Siachen glacier. The ceasefire in Kashmir that took effect in November 2003 has also been in effect on the glacier. U.S. citizens traveling to or climbing peaks in the disputed areas face significant risks. The disputed area includes the following peaks: Rimo Peak; Apsarasas I, II, and III; Tegam Kangri I, II and III; Suingri Kangri; Ghiant I and II; Indira Col; and Sia Kangri.

Travelers may check with the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi for information on current conditions.

Northeast States: Sporadic incidents of violence by ethnic insurgent groups, including the bombing of buses and trains, have been reported in parts of Assam, Manipur, Naga-land, Tripura, and Meghalaya. While U.S. citizens have not been specifically targeted, they may be affected as bystanders, as occurred in a grenade attack on a temple in Imphal, Manipur in 2006 in which two Americans were injured. Visitors to India’s Northeast states are cautioned not to travel outside major cities at night. Security laws are in force, and the central government has deployed security personnel to several Northeast states. Travelers may check with the U.S. Consulate in Calcutta for information on current conditions.

East Central and Southern India: Left-wing Maoist extremist groups called “Naxalites” are active in the region and U.S. citizens should exercise appropriate caution. The Naxalites have a long history of conflict with state and national authorities, including attacks on police and government officials. The Naxalites have not specifically targeted U.S. citizens, but have attacked symbolic targets that have included American companies. Groups claiming to be Naxalites have blackmailed American organizations, and a small bomb exploded at an American corporation’s production site may have been part of an extortion plot. Two Naxalite groups, the Maoist Communist Center of India (MCCI), and the People’s War Group (PWG) merged in 2004 to create the Communist Party of India (Maoist). Both were added to the list of “Other Terrorist Organizations” in the U.S. State Department Publication, “Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003.” CPI (Maoist) regional affiliates are active in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkand and West Bengal. Most recently, there has been significant Naxalite activity in the southern part of the state of Chhattisgarh.

Restricted Areas: Advance permission is required from the Indian Government (from Indian diplomatic missions abroad, or for U.S. citizens currently in India, from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in New Delhi) to visit the states of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. Indian Government permission is also required for certain other parts of India as well, including parts of the Kullu and Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh, areas of Jammu & Kashmir near the Line of Control with Pakistan, some areas of Uttaranchal near the Chinese border, the area west of National Highway No. 15 running from Ganganagar to Sanchar in Rajasthan, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the Union Territory of the Laccadives Islands (Lakshad-weep). In addition, U.S. citizens who visit the Tibetan Colony in Mundgod, Karnataka, must obtain a permit from MHA before visiting. U.S. citizens may contact the MHA at: +91-11-2338-5748 or +91-11-2338-1374 (begin by dialing 011 if calling from the United States), or visit the MHA Foreigner’s Division office at Jaisalmer House, 26 Man Singh Road, New Delhi. In some cases, permits for the first five states listed above may also be obtained from Mizoram House, Manipur House, Nagaland House, Arunachal Pradesh House and Sikkim House, respectively, all of which are located in New Delhi. Tourists should exercise caution while visiting Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) in Tamil Nadu as the Indira Gandhi Atomic Research Center, Kalpakkam, is located just south of the site and is not clearly marked as a restricted and dangerous area. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Petty crime, especially theft of personal property, is common, particularly on trains or buses throughout the country. Pickpockets can be very adept, and women have reported having their bags snatched, purse-straps cut or the bottom of their purses slit without their knowledge. Theft of U.S. passports is quite common, particularly in major tourist areas and on overnight trains. Train travelers are urged to lock their sleeping compartments and take valuables with them when leaving their berths. Violent crime, especially directed against foreigners, has traditionally been at relatively low levels, although in recent years there has been an apparent increase in violent attacks directed against foreign tourists, including robbery, murder, and sexual assault. These attacks have mainly been directed at women traveling alone, but men have also been victimized. U.S. citizens, particularly women, are cautioned not to travel alone in India. So-called “Eve Teasing” or verbal and sometimes physical harassment of Indian women is not unusual. Because U.S. citizens’ purchasing power is comparatively large relative to that of the general population, travelers also should always exercise modesty and caution in their financial dealings in India to reduce the chance of being a target for robbery or other serious crime. Gangs and criminal elements operate in major cities and have sometimes targeted unsuspecting businessmen for ransom. Visitors are cautioned to be aware of their environment and belongings, especially when taking night trains or buses.

Major airports, train stations and tourist sites are often used by touts (confidence men) and scam artists looking to prey on visitors, often by creating a distraction. Taxi drivers and others, including train porters, may solicit travelers with “come-on” offers of cheap transportation and/or hotels. Travelers accepting such offers have often found themselves the victims of scams, including offers to assist with “necessary” transfers to the domestic airport, disproportionately expensive hotel rooms, unwanted “tours,” unwelcome “purchases,” and even threats to the traveler when the tourists try to decline to pay. There have been several disturbing reports of tourists being held hostage on houseboats in Srinagar (Jammu & Kashmir), forced to pay thousands of dollars in the face of threats of violence against the traveler and his/her family members. Visitors to Mumbai should be extremely vigilant when traveling along the roads leading from the domestic and international airports. Locals and foreigners alike, including American citizens, have reported being robbed while traveling along these roads. In most cases, the victim took a taxi whose driver was complicit in the robbery. In other cases, men traveling on motorcycles stopped the traveler’s vehicle or taxi while en route from the airport, demanding money and/or the traveler’s luggage before driving off.

There are several ways a traveler arriving at a major airport in India can avoid these incidents:

  • While it may be common in other countries, travelers in India should never board a taxi holding existing passengers, nor should the traveler allow the taxi driver to pick up additional passengers while en route. If a taxi driver tells you that the other passenger is a personal friend or family member, exit the taxi and seek another taxi before departing the airport grounds.
  • Many hotels offer free and secure transportation to/from the airport. Take advantage of this service when possible.
  • If traveling for business, ask your company to arrange a private car to transport you between the airport and your hotel.
  • If you must travel to/from the airport by taxi, arrange a fixed-price taxi with one of the taxi services with offices inside the airport terminal. Travelers are encouraged to ask for the taxi’s registration number and compare it with the number of the actual vehicle being used. The murder and robbery of an Australian woman traveling alone in a pre-paid taxi contracted at the New Delhi airport in early 2004 demonstrates the need to exercise caution and to be sure that such taxis are properly licensed.

Travelers should also exercise care when hiring transportation and/or guides and use only well-known travel agents to book trips. Some scam artists have lured travelers by displaying their name on a sign when they leave the airport. Another popular scam is to drop money or to squirt something on the clothing of an unsuspecting traveler and during the distraction to rob them of their valuables. Individual tourists have also been given drugged drinks or tainted food to make them more vulnerable to theft, particularly at train stations. Even food or drink purchased in front of the traveler from a canteen or vendor could be tainted. To protect against robbery of personal belongings, it is best not to accept food or drink from strangers.

Some vendors sell rugs or other expensive items that may not be of the quality promised. Travelers should deal only with reputable businesses and should not hand over credit cards or money unless they are certain that goods being shipped to them are the goods they purchased. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it is best avoided. Most Indian states have official tourism bureaus set up to handle travelers’ complaints. The Internet addresses for these offices are available at http://www.tourismofindia.com/foot/links.htm.

Travelers should be aware of a number of other scams that have been perpetrated against foreign travelers, particularly in Goa, Jaipur and Agra. The scams generally target younger travelers and involve suggestions that money can be made by privately transporting gems or gold (both of which can result in arrest) or by taking delivery abroad of expensive carpets, supposedly while avoiding customs duties. The scam artists describe profits that can be made upon delivery of the goods. Most schemes require that the traveler first put up a “deposit” to either show “sincerity” or as a “down payment” or as the “wholesale cost.” In other cases, the scam artists stage phone calls to the traveler from persons posing as “customs agents,” claiming that the package has been intercepted and that the traveler must pay an exorbitant customs fee in order to avoid arrest. All travelers are strongly cautioned that the schemes invariably result in the traveler being fleeced. The “gems” or “gold” are always fake, and if they were real, the traveler could be subject to arrest. Such schemes often pull the unsuspecting traveler in over the course of several days and begin with a new “friend” who offers to show the traveler the sights so that the “friend can practice his English.” Offers of cheap lodgings and meals also can place the traveler in the physical custody of the scam artist and can leave the traveler at the mercy of threats or even physical coercion.

While violent crime involving U.S. citizens is relatively rare in India, some years ago two U.S. citizens were murdered in the Haridwar/Rishikesh region of the state of Uttaranchal. In addition, an American citizen was found murdered in 2003 on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai highway. Crime and violence have also increased in the popular hiking and rafting destination of Kullu/Manali, where the number of foreign backpackers and tourists has been growing and where drugs are readily available, but can occur in any part of India. Foreigners are the targets of criminal activities primarily because of the disproportionately large sums of money they are thought to carry.

U.S. citizens should be aware that there have been unconfirmed reports of inappropriate sexual behavior by a prominent local religious leader at an ashram (religious retreat) located in Andhra Pradesh. Most of the reports indicate that the subjects of these approaches have been young male devotees, including a number of U.S. citizens.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. Victims of a crime in India, including loss or theft of a passport, should obtain a copy of the police report (called an “FIR” or “First Information Report”) from local police at the time of reporting the incident. A copy of this report is helpful for insurance purposes in replacing lost valuables, and is required by the Indian Government in order to obtain an exit visa to leave India in the event of a lost or stolen passport.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Adequate to excellent medical care is available in the major population centers, but is usually very limited or unavailable in rural areas. Indian health regulations require all travelers arriving from Sub-Saharan Africa or other yellow-fever areas to have evidence of vacci-nation against yellow fever. Travelers who do not have such proof are subject to immediate deportation or a six-day detention in the yellow-fever quarantine center. U.S. citizens who transit through any part of subSaharan Africa, even for one day, are advised to carry proof of yellow fever immunization.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. These websites provide useful information, such as suggested vaccinations for visitors to India, safe food and water precautions, appropriate precautions to avoid contraction of mosquito-borne diseases (such as malaria), suggestions for mountain trekkers to avoid altitude sickness, etc. Further, these sites provide information on disease outbreaks that may arise from time to time – outbreaks of mosquito-borne viral diseases such as dengue fever and chikungunya occur in various parts of India each year, so travelers should check the sites shortly before arriving in India. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith/en/.

In the Spring of 2006, there were outbreaks of Avian Influenza in poultry in rural areas of the states of Maharasthra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. All of the outbreaks were contained. There were no reported cases of the H5N1 virus in humans, however, and there have been no new reported outbreaks in wild or domesticated birds since that time. Updates on the avian influenza situation in India are published on the Embassy’s website at http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov/acsinfluenza.html.

The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India maintain lists of local doctors and hospitals, all of which are published on their respective websites under “U.S. Citizen Services.”

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning India is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Travel by road in India is dangerous. A number of U.S. citizens have suffered fatal traffic accidents in recent years. Travel at night is particularly hazardous. Buses, patronized by hundreds of millions of Indians, are convenient in that they serve almost every city of any size. However, they are usually driven fast, recklessly, and without consideration for official rules of the road. Accidents are quite common. Trains are somewhat safer than buses, but train accidents still occur more frequently than in developed countries.

In order to drive in India, one must have either a valid Indian drivers’ license or a valid international drivers’ license. Because of difficult road and traffic conditions, many Americans who visit India choose to hire a local driver.

On Indian roads, the safest driving policy is to assume that other drivers will not respond to a traffic situation in the same way you would in the United States. For instance, buses and trucks often run red lights and merge directly into traffic at yield points and traffic circles. Cars, auto-rickshaws, bicycles and pedestrians behave only slightly more cautiously. Indian drivers tend to look only ahead and often consider themselves responsible only for traffic in front of them, not behind or to the side. Frequent use of one’s horn or flashing of headlights to announce one’s presence is both customary and wise. It is usually preferable to have a licensed experienced driver who has a “feel” for road and driving conditions.

Outside major cities, main roads and other roads are poorly maintained and congested. Even main roads often have only two lanes, with poor visibility and inadequate warning markers. On the few divided highways one can expect to meet local transportation traveling in the wrong direction, often without lights. Heavy traffic is the norm and includes (but is not limited to) overloaded trucks and buses, scooters, pedestrians, bullock and camel carts, horse or elephant riders en route to weddings, and free-roaming livestock. Traffic in India moves on the left. It is important to be alert while crossing streets and intersections, especially after dark as traffic is coming in the “wrong” direction (i.e., from the left). Travelers should remember to use seatbelts in both rear and front seats where available, and to ask their drivers to maintain a safe speed.

If a driver hits a pedestrian or a cow, the vehicle and its occupants are at risk of being attacked by passersby. Such attacks pose significant risk of injury or death to the vehicle’s occupants or at least of incineration of the vehicle. It can thus be unsafe to remain at the scene of an accident of this nature, and drivers may instead wish to seek out the nearest police station.

Visit the website of India’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.tourismofindia.com.

Emergency Numbers: The following emergency numbers work in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta:
Police 100
Fire Brigade 101
Ambulance 102

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of India’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of India’s air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s website at http://www.faa.gov.

Civil aircraft have been detained a number of times for deviating from approved flight plans. U.S. citizens piloting civil aircraft in India must file any changes to previous flight plans with the appropriate Indian authorities and may not over-fly restricted airspace.

Special Circumstances: In 2006, India launched the “Overseas Citizens of India” (OCI) program, which has often been mischaracterized as a dual nationality program, although it does not grant Indian citizenship.

Thus, an American who obtains an OCI card is not a citizen of India and remains a citizen of the United States. An OCI card in reality is similar to a U.S. “green card” in that a holder can travel to and from India indefinitely, work in India, study in India, and own property in India (except for certain agricultural and plantation properties). An OCI holder, however, does not receive an Indian passport, cannot vote in Indian elections and is not eligible for Indian government employment. The OCI program is similar to the Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) card introduced by the Indian government several years ago, except that PIO holders must still register with Indian immigration authorities, and PIO cards are not issued for an indefinite period. American citizens of Indian descent can apply for PIO or OCI cards at the Indian Embassy in Washington, or at the Indian Consulates in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Houston. Inside India, American citizens can apply at the nearest FRRO office (please see Entry/Exit Requirements Above for more information on the FRRO). For more information on the OCI program, please see www.mha.nic.in/oci/oci-main.htm.

A number of U.S.-citizen men who have come to India to marry Indian nationals have been arrested and charged with crimes related to dowry extraction. Many of the charges stem from the U.S. citizen’s inability to provide an immigrant visa for his prospective spouse to travel immediately to the United States. The courts sometimes order the U.S. citizen to pay large sums of money to his spouse in exchange for the dismissal of charges. The courts normally confiscate the American’s passport, and he must remain in India until the case has been settled. There are also cases of U.S.-citizen women of Indian descent whose families force them against their will into marriages to Indian nationals.

Foreign visitors planning to engage in religious proselytizing are required by the 1956 Foreigners Act to have a “missionary” visa. A 1995 Central Government order defines “inappropriate” religious activity to include speaking at religious meetings to which the general public is invited. Foreigners with tourist visas who engage in missionary activity are subject to deportation and possible criminal prosecution. The states of Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Arunachal Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh have additional legislation regulating conversion from one religious faith to another. U.S. citizens intending to engage in missionary activity may wish to seek legal advice regarding this legislation.

Businesspersons who are considering investing in India should carefully consider the risks of conducting business in an overseas environment prior to entering into any contractual relationships. While Indo-U.S. trade is at an all-time high, India is still working to modernize its legal system to cope with the evolving, high-tech business environment. Under Indian law, the police may arrest anyone who is accused of committing a crime, even if the allegation appears frivolous in nature. This practice has been increasingly exploited by dissatisfied business partners or contractors and used to escalate civil or personal disagreements into criminal charges, occasionally resulting in the jailing of U.S. citizens pending resolution of their disputes. At the very least, such circumstances can delay the U.S. citizen’s timely departure from India, and may result in an unintended long-term stay in the country.

Indian customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from India of items such as firearms, antiquities, electronic equipment, currency, ivory, gold objects, and other prohibited materials. Even transit passengers require permission from the Government of India to bring in such items. Those not complying risk arrest and/or fine and confiscation of these items. If charged with any alleged legal violations by Indian law enforcement, it is recommended that an attorney review any document prior to signing. The Government of India requires the registration of antique items with the local police along with a photograph of the item. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of India in Washington or one of India’s consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. More information is available from the Indian Central Board of Excise and Customs at http://www.cbec.gov.in. Another useful site is http://www.igiacustoms.gov.in. In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.

Indian customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information call (212) 354-4480, email [email protected], or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. For example, certain comments or gestures towards women or about religion that are legal in the United States may be considered a criminal violation in India, subjecting the accused to possible fines or imprisonment.

Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Indian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in India are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: India is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor is international child abduction considered to be a crime under Indian law.

Registration/Embassy and Consulate Location: Americans living or traveling in India are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website and to obtain updated information on travel and India. Americans without Internet access may register in person with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is located at Shanti Path, Chanakya Puri 110021; telephone +91-11-2419-8000; fax +91-11-2419-8407. The Embassy’s Internet home page address is http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov. (Note that the “+” sign indicates your international access code, which in the United States is 011-, but which is 00- in most other countries.)

The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai (Bombay) is located at Lincoln House, 78 Bhulabhai Desai Road, 400026, telephone +91-22-2363-3611; fax +91-22-2363-0350. The Internet home page address is http://mumbai.usconsulate.gov.

The U.S. Consulate General in Calcutta (now often called Kolkata) is at 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, 700071; telephone +91-33-3984-2400; fax +91-33-2282-2335.

The U.S. Consulate General in Chennai (Madras) is at 220 Anna Salai, Gemini Circle, 600006; telephone +91-44-2857-4000; fax +91-44-2857-4443. The Internet home page address is http://chennai.usconsulate.gov.

International Adoption : October 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note: Under Indian law, foreign prospective adoptive parents considering adoption of a child from India are required to use an adoption agency that is “enlisted” with the Indian Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA).

In addition, it is important to note that Indian law does not permit foreigners to adopt Indian children, but rather, to receive guardianship (custody) that allows the prospective adoptive parents to depart India with the child and later adopt him/her in the parents’ home country.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authority: The official national agency that oversees the intercountry adoptions in India is the Central Adoption Resource Agency. Its contact information is:

Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA)
Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
West Block VIII, Wing II
2nd Floor, R.K. Peram
New Delhi—110 066
Tel: 91-011 618-0194
Fax: 91-011 618-0198
Web site: www.adoptionindia.nic.in
E-Mail: [email protected]

Eligibility Requirements for Prospective Guardians: Couples with a composite age of 90 or less, or single persons up to age 45 can adopt; parents should be at least 21 years older than the child; in no case can a prospective adoptive parent be less than 30 or more than 55. For more information on this issue, please refer them to the CARA website for specific details.

Residency Requirements: There are no residency requirements in order to obtain legal custody of an Indian orphan.

Time Frame: Once prospective adoptive parents have received approval from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to adopt abroad (approval of their I-600A petition) and arrive in India, they should anticipate needing 2-3 months to complete all formalities in India, barring any particularly unusual delays. If all goes very smoothly, the processing time may be shorter.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: All recognized adoption (or, as they are normally referred to in India, placement) agencies in India are local and must be registered with their Indian state Volunteer Coordinating Agency (VCA). No placement agencies provide national coverage, so prospective adoptive parents must determine the Indian state from which they propose to adopt. The Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA), established in 1990, licenses all the VCAs and all Indian placement agencies. CARA also, to some extent, regulates the agencies and enforces laws pertaining to adoption. CARA also serves as India’s Central Authority under the 1993 Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention.

Foreign agencies that wish to sponsor applications of prospective parents to adopt an Indian child must apply for “enlistment” with CARA through the Indian embassy in their country. The CARA web site lists some 55 American agencies approved by CARA. Prospective parents must work through one of these agencies in order to adopt in India. These agencies then work with a local placement agency to complete the custody process in India on behalf of the prospective parents. Only an Indian agency recognized and listed by the Indian Government may make children available for adoption by foreigners.

To find the current list of authorized Indian and U.S. agencies, prospective adoptive parents should visit CARA’s web site at: http://www.adoptionindia.nic.in/carahome.html and go to “Indian Placement Agencies” and “Enlisted Foreign Agencies.”

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Fees: The CARA web site sets out the fees for processing an intercountry adoption case, which is currently approximately $3500 or the rupee equivalent.

Adoption & Guardianship Procedures: Adoptions per se are not possible for non-citizens of India. The procedures below describe how non-citizens may obtain legal custody of orphans in India for purposes of subsequent adoption abroad.

All persons or organizations contemplating guardianship/adoption of an Indian child should visit the CARA web site and also review the recently revised “Guidelines for Adoption from India 2006” released by CARA in March 2006, updating the 1995 guidelines.

Indian law only allows Hindus, Sikhs, Jains & Buddhists to complete full adoptions of Indian children. However, Under the Guardian and Wards Act of 1890, foreigners may petition an Indian District Court (or Family Court in larger urban areas) for legal custody of a child to be taken abroad for adoption. Please Note: The recently enacted Juvenile Justice Act does not appear to have an effect on the intercountry adoption process in India. The U.S. Department of State will continue to monitor the implementation of this legislation, however, and modify this flyer as the situation warrants.

A “No Objection Certificate” (NOC) must be issued for every child processed for an intercountry adoption and only CARA is authorized to do this. The court will normally require at a minimum the NOC, a birth certificate or affidavit, and evidence of abandonment prior to granting the custody order. Once the court has granted the order, an Indian passport must also be obtained in order for the child to leave India.

Important Note Concerning Indian Passports: Licenses held by adoption agencies in India are generally valid for three years, and are renewable provided the agency is reviewed and approved for renewal. Not infrequently, the license renewal process can extend beyond the expiration of the license, leaving the agency temporarily without a license. Because of fraud concerns, regional passport offices (RPOs) in some parts of India, particularly southern India, will not issue passports to children in cases where an agency’s license is in the process of being renewed or if it has been suspended or lapsed. Each RPO is free to make its own determination on issuance policy, and if the RPO determines not to issue, neither CARA nor the U.S. Embassy/Consulate nor the Central Passport Office can intervene to alter that determination, no matter how much of the adoption process may have been completed when the license lapsed.

Documentary Requirements: All prospective adoptive parents must provide the following documents to the Indian District Court when applying for guardianship of an Indian child:

  • Approved I-600A,
  • Birth certificate for the child
  • Abandonment certificate for the child from an approved adoption agency,
  • No Objection Certificate from CARA,
  • Child’s Indian Passport.

Embassy of India, Washington, D.C.
2107 Massachusetts Ave, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Phone: (202) 939-7000
Fax: (202) 265-4351
Website: http://www.indianembassy.org/newsite/embassy.asp

India also has consulates in Chicago, Houston, New York and San Francisco.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adopting parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adopting Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy, New Delhi
Shantipath, Chanakyapuri
New Delhi—110021
Tel: 011-2419-8000
Fax: +91-11-2419-0017
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov/

U.S. Consulate General, Calcutta
5/1, Ho Chi Minh Sarani
Calcutta- 700071
Tel: 033-3984-2400
Fax: +91-33-2282-2335
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://calcutta.usconsulate.gov

U.S. Consulate General, Chennai
No. 220, Anna Salai
Chennai—600006
Tel: 044-2811-2000
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://chennai.usconsulate.gov

U.S. Consulate General, Mumbai
Lincoln House
78, Bhulabhai Desai Road
Mumbai—400026
Tel: 022-2363-3611
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://mumbai.usconsulate.gov

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in India may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi or any of the U.S. Consulates General listed above. General questions regarding inter-country adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

views updated

India

PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
DEFENSE
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-INDIA RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the October 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Republic of India

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 3.29 million sq. km. (1.27 million sq. mi.); about one-third the size of the U.S.

Cities: Capital—New Delhi (pop. 12.8 million, 2001 census). Other major cities—Mumbai, formerly Bombay (16.4 million); Kolkata, formerly Calcutta (13.2 million); Chennai, formerly Madras (6.4 million); Bangalore (5.7 million); Hyderabad (5.5 million); Ahmedabad (5 million); Pune (4 million).

Terrain: Varies from Himalayas to flat river valleys and deserts in the west.

Climate: Alpine to temperate to subtropical monsoon.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Indian(s).

Population: (2007) 1.12 billion; urban 27.8%.

Annual growth rate: 1.3%

Population density: 324/sq. km.

Ethnic groups: Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, others 3%. While the national census does not recognize racial or ethnic groups, it is estimated that there are more than 2,000 ethnic groups in India.

Religions: Hindu 80.5%, Muslim 13.4%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other groups including Buddhist, Jain, Parsi.

Languages: Hindi, English, and 16 other official languages.

Education: Years compulsory—none. Literacy—61%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—34.61/1,000. Life expectancy—68.59 years (2007 est.).

Work force: (est.) 450 million. Agriculture—60%; industry and commerce—18%; services and government—22%

Government

Type: Federal republic.

Independence: August 15, 1947.

Constitution: January 26, 1950.

Government branches: Executive—president (chief of state), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers (cabinet). Legislative—bicameral parliament (Rajya Sabha or Council of States, and Lok Sabha or House of the People). Judicial —Supreme Court.

Political parties: Indian National Congress (INC), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Communist Party of India-Marxist, and numerous regional and small national parties.

Political subdivisions: 28 states (including Jammu and Kashmir), 7 union territories.

Suffrage: Universal over 18.

Economy

GDP: (FY 2007) $1 trillion ($1,000 billion).

Real growth rate: (2006-2007 est.) 9.4%.

Per capita GDP: (FY 2006-2007) $909.

Natural resources: Coal, iron ore, manganese, mica, bauxite, chromite, thorium, limestone, barite, titanium ore, diamonds, crude oil.

Agriculture: (18% of GDP) Products—wheat, rice, coarse grains, oilseeds, sugar, cotton, jute, tea

Industry: 27% of GDP. Products—textiles, jute, processed food, steel, machinery, transport equipment, cement, aluminum, fertilizers, mining, petroleum, chemicals, and computer software.

Services and transportation: 55% of GDP.

Trade: Exports (FY 2006-2007)— $127 billion; engineering goods, petroleum products, precious stones, cotton apparel and fabrics, gems and jewelry, handicrafts, tea. Software exports—$22 billion. Imports (FY 2006-2007)—$192 billion; petroleum, machinery and transport equipment, electronic goods, edible oils, fertilizers, chemicals, gold, textiles, iron and steel. Major trade partners—U.S., China, EU, Russia, Japan.

PEOPLE

Although India occupies only 2.4% of the world's land area, it supports over 15% of the world's population. Only China has a larger population. India's median age is 25, one of the youngest among large economies. About 70% live in more than 550,000 villages, and the remainder in more than 200 towns and cities. Over the thousands of years of its history, India has been invaded from the Iranian plateau, Central Asia, Arabia, Afghanistan, and the West; Indian people and culture have absorbed and modified these influences to produce a remarkable racial and cultural synthesis.

Religion, caste, and language are major determinants of social and political organization in India today. However, with more job opportunities in the private sector and better chances of upward social mobility, India has begun a quiet social transformation in this area. The government has recognized 18 official languages; Hindi, the national language, is the most widely spoken, although English is a national lingua franca. Although 81% of its people are Hindu, India also is the home of more than 138 million Muslims—one of the world's largest Muslim populations. The population also includes Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, and Parsis.

The Hindu caste system reflects Indian occupational and socially defined hierarchies. Ancient Sanskrit sources divide society into four major categories, priests (Brahmin), warriors (Kshatriya), traders (Vaishya) and farmers/laborers (Shudra). Although these categories are understood throughout India, they describe reality only in the most general terms. They omit, for example, the tribes and those once known as “untouchables.” In reality, Indian society is divided into thousands of jatis—local, endogamous groups based on occupation—and organized hierarchically according to complex ideas of purity and pollution. Discrimination based on caste is officially illegal, but remains prevalent, especially in rural areas. Nevertheless, the government has made strong efforts to minimize the importance of caste through active affirmative action and social policies. Moreover, caste has been diluted if not subsumed in the economically prosperous and heterogeneous cities, where an increasing percentage of India's population lives. In the countryside, expanding education, land reform and economic opportunity through access to information, communication, transport, and credit have lessened the harshest elements of the caste system.

HISTORY

The people of India have had a continuous civilization since 2500 B.C., when the inhabitants of the Indus River valley developed an urban culture based on commerce and sustained by agricultural trade. This civilization declined around 1500 B.C., probably due to ecological changes.

During the second millennium B.C., pastoral, Aryan-speaking tribes migrated from the northwest into the subcontinent, settled in the middle Ganges River valley, and adapted to antecedent cultures.

The political map of ancient and medieval India was made up of myriad kingdoms with fluctuating boundaries. In the 4th and 5th centuries A.D., northern India was unified under the Gupta Dynasty. During this period, known as India's Golden Age, Hindu culture and political administration reached new heights.

Islam spread across the subcontinent over a period of 700 years. In the 10th and 11th centuries, Turks and Afghans invaded India and established sultanates in Delhi. In the early 16th century, Babur, a Turkish adventurer and distant relative of Timurlane, established the Mughal Dynasty, which lasted for 200 years. South India followed an independent path, but by the 17th century large areas of South India came under the direct rule or influence of the expanding Mughal Empire. While most of Indian society in its thousands of villages remained untouched by the political struggles going on around them, Indian courtly culture evolved into a unique blend of Hindu and Muslim traditions.

The first British outpost in South Asia was established by the English East India Company in 1619 at Surat on the northwestern coast. Later in the century, the Company opened permanent trading stations at Madras (now Chennai), Bombay (now Mumbai), and Calcutta (now Kolkata), each under the protection of native rulers.

The British expanded their influence from these footholds until, by the 1850s, they controlled most of present-day India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. In 1857, an unsuccessful rebellion in north India led by Indian soldiers seeking the restoration of the Mughal Emperor caused the British Parliament to transfer political power from the East India Company to the Crown. Great Britain began administering most of India directly, while controlling the rest through treaties with local rulers.

In the late 1800s, the first steps were taken toward self-government in British India with the appointment of Indian councilors to advise the British Viceroy and the establishment of Provincial Councils with Indian members; the British subsequently widened participation in Legislative Councils. Beginning in 1920, Indian leader Mohandas K. Gandhi transformed the Indian National Congress political party into a mass movement to campaign against British colonial rule. The party used both parliamentary and nonviolent resistance and non-cooperation to agitate for independence. During this period, however, millions of Indians served with honor and distinction in the British armed forces, including service in both World Wars and countless other overseas actions in service of the Empire.

With Indians increasingly united in their quest for independence, a war-weary Britain led by Labor Prime

Minister Clement Attlee began in earnest to plan for the end of its suzerainty in India. On August 15, 1947, India became a dominion within the Commonwealth, with Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister. Strategic colonial considerations, as well as political tensions between Hindus and Muslims, led the British to partition British India into two separate states: India, with a Hindu majority; and Pakistan, which consisted of two “wings,” East and West Pakistan—currently Bangladesh and Pakistan—with Muslim majorities. India became a republic within the Commonwealth after promulgating its Constitution on January 26, 1950. After independence, the Indian National Congress, the party of Mohandas K. Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, ruled India under the leadership first of Nehru and then his daughter (Indira Gandhi) and grandson (Rajiv Gandhi), with the exception of brief periods in the 1970s and 1980s, during a short period in 1996, and the period from 1998-2004, when a coalition led by the Bharatiya Jan-ata Party governed.

Prime Minister Nehru governed the nation until his death in 1964. Nehru was succeeded by Lal Bahadur Shas-tri, who also died in office. In 1966, power passed to Nehru's daughter, Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977. In 1975, beset with deepening political and economic problems, Mrs. Gandhi declared a state of emergency and suspended many civil liberties. Seeking a mandate at the polls for her policies, she called for elections in 1977, only to be defeated by Morarji Desai, who headed the Janata Party, an amalgam of five opposition parties.

In 1979, Desai's Government crumbled. Charan Singh formed an interim government, which was followed by Mrs. Gandhi's return to power in January 1980. On October 31, 1984, Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated, and her son, Rajiv, was chosen by the Congress (I)—for “Indira”— Party to take her place. His Congress government was plagued with allegations of corruption resulting in an early call for national elections in 1989.

Although Rajiv Gandhi's Congress Party won more seats than any other single party in the 1989 elections, he was unable to form a government with a clear majority. The Janata Dal, a union of opposition parties, then joined with the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the right and the Communists on the left to form the government. This loose coalition collapsed in November 1990, and the Janata Dal, supported by the Congress (I), came to power for a short period, with Chandra Shekhar as Prime Minister. That alliance also collapsed, resulting in national elections in June 1991.

While campaigning in Tamil Nadu on behalf of Congress (I), Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on May 27, 1991, apparently by Tamil extremists from Sri Lanka, unhappy with India's armed intervention to try to stop the civil war there. In the elections, Congress (I) won 213 parliamentary seats and returned to power at the head of a coalition, under the leadership of P.V. Narasimha Rao. This Congress-led government, which served a full 5-year term, initiated a gradual process of economic liberalization and reform, which opened the Indian economy to global trade and investment. India's domestic politics also took new shape, as the nationalist appeal of the Congress Party gave way to traditional caste, creed, regional, and ethnic alignments, leading to the founding of a plethora of small, regionally based political parties.

The final months of the Rao-led government in the spring of 1996 were marred by several major corruption scandals, which contributed to the worst electoral performance by the Congress Party in its history. The Hindu-nationalist BJP emerged from the May 1996 national elections as the single-largest party in the Lok Sabha but without a parliamentary majority. Under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the subsequent BJP coalition lasted only 13 days. With all political parties wishing to avoid another round of elections, a 14-party coalition led by the Janata Dal formed a government known as the United Front, under the former Chief Minister of Karnataka, H.D. Deve Gowda. His government collapsed after less than a year, when the Congress Party withdrew its support in March 1997. Inder Kumar Gujral replaced Deve Gowda as the consensus choice for Prime Minister at the head of a 16-party United Front coalition.

In November 1997, the Congress Party again withdrew support from the United Front. In new elections in February 1998, the BJP won the largest number of seats in Parliament—182—but fell far short of a majority. On March 20, 1998, the President approved a BJP-led coalition government with Vajpayee again serving as Prime Minister. On May 11 and 13, 1998, this government conducted a series of underground nuclear tests, spurring U.S. President Clinton to impose economic sanctions on India pursuant to the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act.

In April 1999, the BJP-led coalition government fell apart, leading to fresh elections in September. The National Democratic Alliance—a new coalition led by the BJP—won a majority to form the government with Vajpayee as Prime Minister in October 1999. The NDA government was the first in many years to serve a full five year term, providing much-needed political stability.

The Kargil conflict in 1999 and an attack by terrorists on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 led to increased tensions with Pakistan.

Hindu nationalists supportive of the BJP agitated to build a temple on a disputed site in Ayodhya, destroying a 17th century mosque there in December 1992, and sparking widespread religious riots in which thousands, mostly Muslims, were killed. In February 2002, 57 Hindu volunteers returning from Ayodhya were burnt alive when their train caught fire. Alleging that the fire was caused by Muslim attackers, anti-Muslim rioters throughout the state of Gujarat killed over 900 people and left 100,000 homeless. This led to accusations that the BJP-led Gujarat state government had not done enough to contain the riots, or arrest and prosecute the rioters.

The ruling BJP-led coalition was defeated in a five-stage election held in April and May of 2004, and a Congress-led coalition, known as the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), took power on May 22 with Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister. The UPA's victory was attributed to dissatisfaction among poorer rural voters that the prosperity of the cities had not filtered down to them, and rejection of the BJP's Hindu nationalist agenda.

The Congress-led UPA government has continued many of the BJP's foreign policies, particularly improving relations with the U.S. Prime Minister Singh and President Bush concluded a landmark U.S.-India strategic partnership framework agreement on July 18, 2005. In March 2006, President Bush visited India to further the many initiatives that underlie the new agreement. The strategic partnership is anchored by a historic civil nuclear cooperation initiative and includes cooperation in the fields of space, high-technology commerce, health issues, democracy promotion, agriculture, and trade and investment.

GOVERNMENT

According to its Constitution, India is a “sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic.” Like the United States, India has a federal form of government. However, the central government in India has greater power in relation to its states, and has adopted a British-style parliamentary system.

The government exercises its broad administrative powers in the name of the president, whose duties are largely ceremonial. A special electoral college elects the president and vice president indirectly for 5-year terms. Their terms are staggered, and the vice president does not automatically become president following the death or removal from office of the president.

Real national executive power is centered in the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), led by the prime minister. The president appoints the prime minister, who is designated by legislators of the political party or coalition commanding a parliamentary majority in the Lok Sabha (lower house). The president then appoints subordinate ministers on the advice of the prime minister.

India's bicameral Parliament consists of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People). The Council of Ministers is responsible to the Lok Sabha. The legislatures of the states and union territories elect 233 members to the Rajya Sabha, and the president appoints another 12. The members of the Rajya Sabha serve 6-year terms, with one-third up for election every 2 years. The Lok Sabha consists of 545 members, who serve 5-year terms; 543 are directly elected, and two are appointed.

India's independent judicial system began under the British, and its concepts and procedures resemble those of Anglo-Saxon countries. The Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and 25 other justices, all appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister.

India has 28 states* and 7 union territories. At the state level, some legislatures are bicameral, patterned after the two houses of the national parliament. The states’ chief ministers are responsible to the legislatures in the same way the prime minister is responsible to Parliament.

Each state also has a presidentially appointed governor, who may assume certain broad powers when directed by the central government. The central government exerts greater control over the union territories than over the states, although some territories have gained more power to administer their own affairs. Local governments in India have less autonomy than their counterparts in the United States. Some states are trying to revitalize the traditional village councils, or panchayats, to promote popular democratic participation at the village level, where much of the population still lives. Over half a million panchayats exist throughout India.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Pres.: Pratibha PATIL

Vice Pres.: Hamid ANSARI

Prime Min.: Manmohan SINGH

Principal Sec. to the Prime Min.'s Office: T. K. A. NAIR

National Security Adviser: M. K. NARAYANAN

Dep. Chmn., Planning Commission: Montek Singh AHLUWALIA

Min. of Agriculture: Sharad PAWAR

Min. of Agro & Rural Industries: Mahavir PRASAD

Min. of Chemicals & Fertilizers: Ram Vilas PASWAN

Min. of Coal: Min. of Commerce & Industry: Kamal NATH

Min. of Communications & Information Technology: A. RAJA

Min. of Company Affairs: Prem Chand GUPTA

Min. of Consumer Affairs, Food, & Public Admin.: Sharad PAWAR

Min. of Culture: Jaipal REDDY

Min. of Defense: A. K. ANTONY

Min. of Development of Northeastern Region: Paty Ripple KYNDIAH

Min. of Earth Sciences: Kapil SIBAL

Min. of Environment & Forests: A. RAJA

Min. of External Affairs: Pranab MUKHERJEE

Min. of Finance: Palaniappan CHIDAMBARAM

Min. of Health & Family Welfare: Anbumani RAMADOSS

Min. of Home Affairs: Shivraj PATIL

Min. of Human Resource Development: Arjun SINGH

Min. of Information & Broadcasting: Priyaranjan DASMUNSI

Min. of Law & Justice: Hans Raj BHARDWAJ

Min. of Local Govt.: Mani Shankar AIYAR

Min. of Mines: Sis Ram OLA

Min. of Minority Affairs: A. R. ANTULAY

Min. of Overseas Indian Affairs: Vayalar RAVI

Min. of Panchayati Raj: Mani Shankar AIYAR

Min. of Parliamentary Affairs:Priyaranjan DASMUNSI

Min. of Petroleum & Natural Gas: Murli DEORA

Min. of Power: Sushil Kumar SHINDE

Min. of Railways: Laloo Prasad YADAV

Min. of Rural Development: Raghuvansh Prasad SINGH

Min. of Science & Technology: Kapil SIBAL

Min. of Shipping, Road Transport, & Highways: T. R. BAALU

Min. of Small-Scale Industries: Mahavir PRASAD

Min. of Social Justice & Empowerment: Meira KUMAR

Min. of Steel: Ram Vilas PASWAN

Min. of Textiles: Shankersinh VAGHELA

Min. of Tourism & Culture: Ambika SONI

Min. of Tribal Affairs: Paty Ripple KYNDIAH

Min. of Urban Development: Jaipal REDDY

Min. of Water Resources: Saif-u-Din SOZ

Min. of Youth Affairs & Sports: Mani Shankar AIYAR

Min. of State (Independent Charge) for Civil Aviation: Praful PATEL

Min. of State (Independent Charge) for Food Processing Industries: Subodh Kant SAHAY

Min. of State (Independent Charge) for Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises: Santosh Mohan DEV

Min. of State (Independent Charge) for Labor & Employment: Oscar FERNANDES

Min. of State (Independent Charge) for Nonconventional Energy Sources: Vilas MUTTEMWAR

Min. of State (Independent Charge) for Statistics & Program Implementation: G. K. VASAN

Min. of State (Independent Charge) for Urban Employment & Poverty Alleviation: Kumari SELJA

Min. of State (Independent Charge) for Women & Child Development: Renuka CHOWDHURY

Governor, Reserve Bank of India: Y. Venugopal REDDY

Ambassador to the US: Ranendra SEN

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Nirupam SEN

India maintains an embassy in the United States at 2107 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-939-7000, fax 202-265-4351, email [email protected] and consulates general in New York, Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco. The embassy's web site is http://www.indianembassy.org/.

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Emerging as the nation's single largest party in the April/May 2004 Lok Sabha election, Congress currently leads a coalition government under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Party President Sonia Gandhi was reelected by the Party National Executive in May 2005. Also a Member of Parliament, she heads the Congress Lok Sabha delegation. Congress prides itself as a secular, left of center party, with a long history of political dominance. Although its performance in national elections had steadily declined during the last 12 years, its surprise victory in 2004 was a result of recruiting strong allies into the UPA, the anti-incumbency factor among voters, and its courtship of India's many poor, rural and Muslim voters. Congress political fortunes suffered badly in the 1990s, as many traditional supporters were lost to emerging regional and caste-based parties, such as the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party, but have rebounded since its May 2004 ascension to power. It currently rules either directly or in coalition with its allies in 9 states. In November 2005, the Congress regained the Chief Ministership of Jammu and Kashmir state, under a power-sharing agreement.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Rajnath Singh, holds the second-largest number of seats in the Lok Sabha. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee serves as Chairman of the BJP Parliamentary Party, and former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani is Leader of the Opposition. The Hindu-nationalist BJP draws its political strength mainly from the “Hindi Belt” in the northern and western regions of India.

The party holds power in the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Orissa—in coalition with the Biju Janata Dal. Popularly viewed as the party of the northern upper caste and trading communities, the BJP made strong inroads into lower castes in recent national and state assembly elections. The party must balance the competing interests of Hindu nationalists, (who advocate construction of a temple on a disputed site in Ayodhya, and other primarily religious issues), and center-right modernizers who see the BJP as a party of economic and political reform. Four Communist and Marxist parties are united in a bloc called the “Left Front,” which controls 57 parliamentary seats. The Left Front rules the states of West Bengal and Kerala. Although it has not joined the government, Left Front support provides the crucial seats necessary for the UPA to retain power in New Delhi; without its support, the UPA government would fall. It advocates a secular and Communist ideology and opposes many aspects of economic liberalization and globalization, resulting in dissonance with Prime Minister Singh's liberal economic approach.

The next general election is scheduled for 2009.

ECONOMY

India's population is estimated at more than 1.1 billion and is growing at 1.3% a year. It has the world's 12th largest economy—and the third largest in Asia behind Japan and China—with total GDP of around $1 trillion ($1,000 billion). Services, industry, and agriculture account for 55%, 27%, and 18% of GDP respectively. Nearly two-thirds of the population depends on agriculture for its livelihood. 700 million Indians live on $2 per day or less, but there is a large and growing middle class of 325-350 million with disposable income for consumer goods.

India is continuing to move forward with market-oriented economic reforms that began in 1991. Recent reforms include liberalized foreign investment and exchange regimes, industrial decontrol, significant reductions in tariffs and other trade barriers, reform and modernization of the financial sector, significant adjustments in government monetary and fiscal policies, and safeguarding intellectual property rights.

Real GDP growth for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2007 was 9.4%, up from 9.0% growth in the previous year. Growth for the year ending March 31, 2008 is expected to be between 8.5-9.0%. Foreign portfolio and direct investment inflows have risen significantly in recent years. They have contributed to $255 billion in foreign exchange reserves by June 2007. Government receipts from privatization were about $3 billion in fiscal year 2003-2004, but the privatization program has stalled since then.

Economic growth is constrained by inadequate infrastructure, a cumbersome bureaucracy, corruption, labor market rigidities, regulatory and foreign investment controls, the “reservation” of key products for small-scale industries, and high (although declining) fiscal deficits. The outlook for further trade liberalization is mixed. India eliminated quotas on 1,420 consumer imports in 2002 and has incrementally lowered non-agricultural customs duties in recent successive budgets. However, the tax structure is complex, with compounding effects of various taxes.

The United States is India's largest trading partner. Bilateral trade in 2006 was $32 billion. Principal U.S. exports are diagnostic or lab reagents, aircraft and parts, advanced machinery, cotton, fertilizers, ferrous waste/scrap metal, and computer hardware. Major U.S. imports from India include textiles and ready-made garments, Internet-enabled services, agricultural and related products, gems and jewelry, leather products, and chemicals.

The rapidly growing software sector is boosting service exports and modernizing India's economy. Software exports crossed $28 billion in FY 2006-2007, while business process outsourcing (BPO) revenues hit $8.3 billion in 2006-2007. Personal computer penetration is 14 per 1,000 persons. The cellular/mobile market surged to 140 million subscribers by November 2006. The country has 54 million cable TV customers.

The United States is India's largest investment partner, with a 13% share. India's total inflow of U.S. direct investment is estimated at more than $9 billion through 2006. Proposals for direct foreign investment are considered by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board and generally receive government approval. Automatic approvals are available for investments involving up to 100% foreign equity, depending on the kind of industry. Foreign investment is particularly sought after in power generation, telecommunications, ports, roads, petroleum exploration/processing, and mining.

India's external debt was $155 billion in 2006-2007, up from $126 billion in 2005-2006. Foreign assistance was approximately $3 billion in 2006-2007, with the United States providing about $126 million in development assistance. The World Bank plans to double aid to India to almost $3 billion a year, with focus on infrastructure, education, health, and rural livelihoods.

DEFENSE

The supreme command of the Indian armed forces is vested in the President of India. Policies concerning India's defense, and the armed forces as a whole, are formulated and confirmed by the Cabinet.

The Indian Army numbers over 1.1 million strong and fields 34 divisions. Its primary task is to safeguard the territorial integrity of the country against external threats. The Army has been heavily committed in the recent past to counterterrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as the in the Northeast. Its current modernization program focuses on obtaining equipment to be used in combating terror. The Army often provides aid to civil authorities and assists the government in organizing relief operations.

The Indian Navy is by far the most capable navy in the region. The Navy's primary missions are the defense of India and of India's vital sea lines of communication. India relies on the sea for 90% of its oil and natural gas and over 90% of its foreign trade. The Navy currently operates one aircraft carrier with two on order, 14 submarines, and 15 major surface combatants. It is capable of projecting power within the Indian Ocean basin and occasionally operates in the South China Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Gulf. Fleet introduction of the Brahmos cruise missile and the possible lease of nuclear submarines from Russia will add significantly to the Indian Navy's flexibility and striking power.

Although small, the Indian Coast Guard has been expanding rapidly in recent years. Indian Navy officers typically fill top Coast Guard positions to ensure coordination between the two services. India's Coast Guard is responsible for control of India's huge exclusive economic zone.

The Indian Air Force is becoming a 21st century force through modernization, new tactics and the acquisition of modern aircraft, such as the SU-30MKI, a new advanced jet trainer (BAE Hawk) and the indigenously produced advanced light helicopter (Dhruv). In June 2007, the Indian Government announced intentions to release a request for proposals for 126 multi-role combat aircraft for the Indian Air Force.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

India's size, population, and strategic location give it a prominent voice in international affairs, and its growing economic strength, military prowess, and scientific and technical capacity give it added weight. The end of the Cold War dramatically affected Indian foreign policy. India remains a leader of the developing world and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). India is now strengthening its political and commercial ties with the United States, Japan, the European Union, Iran, China, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. India is an active member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Always an active member of the United Nations, India now seeks a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. India has a long tradition of participating in UN peacekeeping operations.

Bilateral and Regional Relations

Pakistan. India and Pakistan have been locked in a tense rivalry since the partition of the subcontinent upon achieving independence from Great Britain in 1947. The principal source of contention has been Kashmir, whose Hindu Maharaja at that time chose to join India, although a majority of his subjects were Muslim. India maintains that his decision and subsequent elections in Kashmir have made it an integral part of India. This dispute triggered wars between the two countries in 1947 and 1965 and provoked the Kargil conflict in 1999.

Pakistan and India fought a war in December 1971 following a political crisis in what was then East Pakistan and the flight of millions of Bengali refugees to India. The brief conflict left the situation largely unchanged in the west, where the two armies reached an impasse, but a decisive Indian victory in the east resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.

Since the 1971 war, Pakistan and India have made slow progress toward normalization of relations. In July 1972, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto met in the Indian hill station of Simla. They signed an agreement by which India would return all personnel and captured territory in the west and the two countries would “settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations.” Diplomatic and trade relations were re-established in 1976.

The 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan caused new strains between India and Pakistan. Pakistan supported the Afghan resistance, while India implicitly supported the Soviet occupation. In the following eight years, India voiced increasing concern over Pakistani arms purchases, U.S. military aid to Pakistan, and Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. In an effort to curtail tensions, the two countries formed a joint commission. In December 1988, Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto concluded a pact not to attack each other's nuclear facilities and initiated agreements on cultural exchanges and civil aviation.

In 1997, high-level Indo-Pakistani talks resumed after a three-year pause. The Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan met twice, and the foreign secretaries conducted three rounds of talks. In June 1997 at Lahore, the foreign secretaries identified eight “outstanding issues” around which continuing talks would be focused. The dispute over the status of Jammu and Kashmir, an issue since partition, remains the major stumbling block in their dialogue. India maintains that the entire former princely state is an integral part of the Indian union, while Pakistan insists upon the implementation of UN resolutions calling for self-determination for the people of the state.

In September 1997, the talks broke down over the structure of how to deal with the issues of Kashmir and peace and security. Pakistan advocated that separate working groups treat each issue. India responded that the two issues be taken up along with six others on a simultaneous basis. In May 1998 India, and then Pakistan, conducted nuclear tests. Attempts to restart dialogue between the two nations were given a major boost by the February 1999 meeting of both Prime Ministers in Lahore and their signing of three agreements. These efforts were stalled by the intrusion of Pakistani-backed forces into Indian-held territory near Kargil in May 1999 (that nearly turned into full scale war), and by the military coup in Pakistan that over-turned the Nawaz Sharif government in October the same year. In July 2001, Mr. Vajpayee and General Pervez Musharraf, leader of Pakistan after the coup, met in Agra, but talks ended after two days without result. After an attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001, India-Pakistan relations cooled further as India accused Pakistan of involvement. Tensions increased, fueled by killings in Jammu and Kashmir, peaking in a troop buildup by both sides in early 2002.

Prime Minister Vajpayee's April 18, 2003 speech in Srinagar (Kashmir) revived bilateral efforts to normalize relations. In November 2003, Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Musharraf agreed to a ceasefire, which still holds, along the Line-of-Control in Jammu and Kashmir. After a series of confidence building measures, Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Musharraf met on the sidelines of the January 2004 SAARC summit in Islamabad and agreed to commence a Composite Dialogue addressing outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, including Kashmir. The UPA government has continued the Composite Dialogue with Pakistan.

In February 2004, India and Pakistan agreed to restart the “2+6” Composite Dialogue formula, which provides for talks on Peace and Security and Jammu and Kashmir, followed by technical and Secretary-level discussions on six other bilateral disputes: Siachen Glacier, Wuller Barrage/Tul-bul Navigation Project, Sir Creek estuary, Terrorism and Drug Trafficking, Economic and Commercial cooperation, and the Promotion of Friendly Exchanges in various fields. The Foreign Secretary talks resumed in November 2006, after a three-month delay following the July 11, 2006 terrorist bombings in Mumbai. The meeting generated modest progress, with the two sides agreeing to establish a joint mechanism on counter-terrorism and agreeing to a follow-on meeting in February 2007. The restart of the Composite Dialogue process is especially significant, given the almost six years that transpired since the two sides agreed to this formula in 1997-98.

Following the October 2005 earth-quake in Kashmir, the two governments coordinated relief efforts and opened access points along the Line-of-Control to allow relief supplies to flow from India to Pakistan and to allow Kashmiris from both sides to visit one another.

SAARC. Certain aspects of India's relations within the subcontinent are conducted through the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Its members are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, with the People's Republic of China, Iran, Japan, European Union, Republic of Korea, and the U.S. as observers. Established in 1985, SAARC encourages cooperation in agriculture, rural development, science and technology, culture, health, population control, narcotics, and terrorism.

SAARC has intentionally stressed these “core issues” and avoided those which could prove divisive, although political dialogue is often conducted on the margins of SAARC meetings. In 1993, India and its SAARC partners signed an agreement gradually to lower tariffs within the region. Forward movement in SAARC had slowed because of tension between India and Pakistan, and the SAARC summit scheduled for 1999 was not held until January 2002. In addition, to boost the process of normalizing India's relationship with Pakistan, the January 2004 SAARC summit in Islamabad produced an agreement to establish a South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA). All the member governments have ratified SAFTA, which was slated to come into force on January 1, 2006, with a series of graduated tariff cuts through 2015. As of December 2006, however, the FTA partners were still negotiating sensitive product lists, rules of origin, and technical assistance. India hosted the 2007 SAARC summit, which called for greater regional cooperation on trade, environmental, social, and counterterrorism issues.

China. Despite suspicions remaining from a 1962 border conflict between India and China and continuing territorial/boundary disputes, Sino-Indian relations have improved gradually since 1988. Both countries have sought to reduce tensions along the frontier, expand trade and cultural ties, and normalize relations. Their bilateral trade reached $24 billion in 2006. China is India's second-largest trading partner behind the U.S.

A series of high-level visits between the two nations has improved relations. In December 1996, Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited India on a tour of South Asia. While in New Delhi, he and the Indian Prime Minister signed a series of confidence-building measures along the disputed border, including troop reductions and weapons limitations.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao invited Prime Minister Vajpayee to visit China in June 2003. They recognized the common goals of both countries and made the commitment to build a “long-term constructive and cooperative partnership” to peacefully promote their mutual political and economic goals without encroaching upon their good relations with other countries. In Beijing, Prime Minister Vajpayee proposed the designation of special representatives to discuss the border dispute at the political level, a process that is still under way.

In November 2006, President Hu Jin-tao made an official state visit to India, further cementing Sino-Indian relations. India and China are building on growing economic ties to improve other aspects of their relationship such as counter-terrorism, energy, and trade. In another symbol of improved ties, the two countries opened the Nathu La Pass to bilateral trade in July 2006 for the first time in 40 years. Though it is the first direct land trade route in decades, trade is expected to be local and small since the pass is open only four months a year.

Former Soviet Union. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the emergence of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) had major repercussions for Indian foreign policy. India's substantial trade with the region plummeted after the Soviet collapse and has yet to recover. Long-standing military supply relationships were similarly disrupted due to questions over financing. Russia nonetheless remains India's largest supplier of military systems and spare parts.

Russia and India have not renewed the 1971 Indo-Soviet Peace and Friendship Treaty and follow what both describe as a more pragmatic, less ideological relationship. The visit of Russian President Boris Yeltsin to India in January 1993 helped cement this new relationship. The pace of high-level visits has since increased, as has discussion of major defense purchases. UPA leader Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Singh visited Russia in July 2005. President Vladimir Putin traveled to India in January 2007 to attend an Indo-Russia Summit and was the guest of honor at India's Republic Day celebrations.

U.S.-INDIA RELATIONS

Recognizing India as a key to strategic U.S. interests, the United States has sought to strengthen its relationship with India. The two countries are the world's largest democracies, both committed to political freedom protected by representative government. India is also moving gradually toward greater economic freedom. The U.S. and India have a common interest in the free flow of commerce and resources, including through the vital sea lanes of the Indian Ocean. They also share an interest in fighting terrorism and in creating a strategically stable Asia.

There were some differences, however, including over India's nuclear weapons programs and the pace of India's economic reforms. In the past, these concerns may have dominated U.S. thinking about India, but today the U.S. views India as a growing world power with which it shares common strategic interests. A strong partnership between the two countries will continue to address differences and shape a dynamic and collaborative future.

In late September 2001, President Bush lifted sanctions imposed under the terms of the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act following India's nuclear tests in May 1998. The nonproliferation dialogue initiated after the 1998 nuclear tests has bridged many of the gaps in understanding between the countries. In a meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Vajpayee in November 2001, the two leaders expressed a strong interest in transforming the U.S.-India bilateral relationship. High-level meetings and concrete cooperation between the two countries increased during 2002 and 2003. In January 2004, the U.S. and India launched the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP), which was both a milestone in the transformation of the bilateral relationship and a blueprint for its further progress.

In July 2005, President Bush hosted Prime Minister Singh in Washington, DC. The two leaders announced the successful completion of the NSSP, as well as other agreements which further enhance cooperation in the areas of civil nuclear, civil space, and high-technology commerce. Other initiatives announced at this meeting include: an U.S.-India Economic Dialogue, Fight Against HIV/AIDS, Disaster Relief, Technology Cooperation, Democracy Initiative, an Agriculture Knowledge Initiative, a Trade Policy Forum, Energy Dialogue and CEO Forum. President Bush made a reciprocal visit to India in March 2006, during which the progress of these initiatives were reviewed, and new initiatives were launched.

In December 2006, Congress passed the historic Henry J. Hyde United States-India Peaceful Atomic Cooperation Act, which allows direct civilian nuclear commerce with India for the first time in 30 years. U.S. policy had opposed nuclear cooperation with India because the country had developed nuclear weapons in contravention of international conventions and never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The legislation clears the way for India to buy U.S. nuclear reactors and fuel for civilian use.

In July 2007, the United States and India reached a historic milestone in their strategic partnership by completing negotiations on the bilateral agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation, also known as the “123 agreement.” This agreement will govern civil nuclear trade between the two countries and open the door for American and Indian firms to participate in each other's civil nuclear energy sector. The U.S. and India are seeking to elevate the strategic partnership further in 2007 to include cooperation in counter-terrorism, defense cooperation, education, and joint democracy promotion.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

NEW DELHI (E) Shanti Path, Chanakya Puri New Delhi-110021, India, 91-11-24198000, Fax 91-11-24190017, Workweek: Monday thru Friday; 0830 hrs to 1730 hrs, Website: http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov.

DCM OMS:Beverly Oliver
AMB OMS:Susanne Ames
DHS/CIS:Terry Demaegd
DHS/ICE:Elliott Harbin
ECO:John Davison
FCS:Carmine D'Aloisio
FM:Mark Moore
MGT:Gerri O'Brien
AMB:David C. Mulford
CON:Peter Kaestner
DCM:Steven J. White
PAO:Larry Schwartz
GSO:Mary Lou Gonzales
RSO:George Lambert
AGR:Holly Higgins
AID:George Deikun
APHIS:Marvin Felder
CLO:Fatima Brown
DAO:Frank Rindone
DEA:Harold Willis
EEO:Klaudia Krueger
EST:Satish Kulkarni
FAA:Randall S. Fiertz
FMO:Ken Kowalchek
ICASS:Chair Mark Ericson
IMO:Patrick Meagher
IPO:Kimberly Kaestner
IRS:Elizabeth Kinney
ISO:Douglas McGifford
ISSO:Dale Orr
LEGATT:Kathy Stearman
MLO:Mark Ericson
NAS:Duke Lokka
POL:Theodore Osius
State ICASS:John Fennerty

KOLKATA (CG) 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, Calcutta 700071, 91-33-3984-2400, Fax 91-33-2282-2335, Work-week: Mon-Fri, 0800 hours-1700 hours, Website: http://kolkata.usconsulate.gov.

FCS:Mary Aileen Nandi
HRO:Management Officer
MGT:Kit A. Junge
POL ECO:Rakesh Surampudi
CG:Henry V. Jardine
CON:Deborah A. Miller
PAO:Douglas G. Kelly
GSO:Management Officer
RSO:George Lambert (New Delhi)
CLO:Management Officer
FIN:Management Officer
IMO:Patrick Meagher (Newdelhi)
IPO:Jon Boren
ISO:Doug McGifford (New Delhi)
ISSO:Jon Boren
State ICASS:Management Officer

MUMBAI (CG) 78, BhuLABhai Desai Rd., Mumbai, India, 91-22-2363-3611, Fax 91-22-2363-0350, Workweek: Mon-Fri 8:15 am-5:00 pm, Website: http://mumbai.usconsulate.gov.

CG OMS:Nancy Alain
ECO:William Klein
MGT:James Leaf
CG:Michael S. Owen
PO:Michael S. Owen
CON:Glen Keiser
PAO:Elizabeth Kauffman
COM:Jim Cunningham
GSO:Darion Akins
RSO:William Inman
CLO:Elizabeth Inman
ISO:Charles Vansickle
POL:William Klein

CHENNAI (C) 220 Anna Salai Rd, Chennai 600 006, India, 91-44-2857-4000, Fax 91-44-2811-2020, INMAR-SAT Tel 00-873-383133034#, Work-week: Mon–Fri 0815-1700, Website: http://chennai.usconsulate.gov.

CG OMS:Marsha Thomas
COM/CON:Mark Russell
DPO/PAO:Frederick J. Kaplan
MGT:Juliana K Ballard
PO/CON: Mark Fry
POL ECO:Rohit Nepal
CG:David T. Hopper
PO:David T. Hopper
PAO:Frederick J. Kaplan
GSO:Marielle H. Martin
RSO:Colin P. Bucknor
CLO:Ratricia Russell
EEO:Colin P. Bucknor
IPO:Robert Silos
ISO:Robert Silos
ISSO:Colin P. Bucknor
State ICASS: Juliana K Ballard

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

August 9, 2007

Country Description: India, the world's largest democratic republic, has a very diverse population, geography and climate. India is the world's second most populous country, and the world's seventh largest country in area. Tourist facilities have varying degrees of comfort and amenities are widely available in the major population centers and main tourist areas.

Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens require a valid passport and valid Indian visa to enter and exit India for any purpose. Visitors, including those on official U.S. government business, must obtain visas at an Indian Embassy or Consulate abroad prior to entering the country, as there are no provisions for visas upon arrival. Those arriving without a valid passport and valid visa are subject to immediate deportation. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India are unable to assist when U.S. citizens arrive without proper documentation. Each visitor should carry photocopies of the bio-data page of the traveler's U.S. passport and the page containing the Indian visa in order to facilitate obtaining an exit visa from the Indian government in the event of theft or loss of the passport.

Americans wishing to visit India are responsible for requesting the correct type of visa from the Indian Embassy or Consulate, as there generally are no provisions for changing one's immigration category (e.g., from tourist to work visa) once admitted. Foreign citizens whose primary purpose of travel is to participate in religious activities should obtain a missionary visa rather than a tourist visa. Indian immigration authorities have deported American citizens who entered India with a tourist visa and conducted religious activities.

Foreign citizens who visit India to study, do research, work or act as missionaries, as well as all travelers planning to stay more than 180 days are required to register, generally within 14 days of arrival, with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) closest to where they will be staying. The FRRO maintains offices in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai (known as the “Chennai Immigration Office”), Kolkata and Amritsar. In smaller cities and towns, the local police headquarters will normally perform this function (referred to as the Foreigner's Registration Office or FRO). General information regarding Indian visa and immigration rules, including the addresses and telephone numbers for the FRRO offices, can be found at the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs website for its Bureau of Immigration online at http://www.immigrationindia.nic.in.

If a foreign citizen (e.g., an American) overstays his or her Indian visa, or otherwise violates Indian visa regulations, the traveler may require a clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs in order to leave the country. Such travelers generally must pay a fine, and in some cases, may be jailed until their deportation can be arranged. Visa violators seeking an exit clearance can visit the following office any weekday from 10 am—12 noon: Ministry of Home Affairs, Foreigners Division, Jaisalmer House, 26 Man Singh Road, New Delhi 110 011 (tel. +91-11-2338-5748).

For the most current information on entry and exit requirements, please contact the Embassy of India at 2536 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 939-9806 (http://www.indianembassy.org) or the Indian Consulates in Chicago (http://chicago.indianconsulate.com), New York (http://www.indiacgny.org), San Francisco (http://www.cgisf.org) or Houston (http://www.cgihouston.org). Outside the United States, inquiries should be made at the nearest Indian embassy or consulate.

Safety and Security: A number of anti-Western terrorist groups (some of which are on the U.S. government's list of foreign terrorist organizations) are believed to be active in India., including, but not limited to, Islamic extremist groups such as Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Lashkar-e Tayyiba. While historically Jammu and Kashmir have been a focal point of terrorist activity, bomb blasts resulting in deaths and injuries have occurred in public places such as markets, as well as on public transportation such as trains and buses throughout India. Examples of major attacks in recent years include the detonation of explosive devices on a train northwest of Delhi (February 2007), simultaneous attacks on Mumbai commuter trains (July 2006), simultaneous attacks on a train station and places of worship in Varanasi (March 2006), and simultaneous attacks on several markets in New Delhi (October 2005). A number of other terrorist incidents causing fewer casualties have also occurred, including a few in which American citizens were injured. The motive for many of these attacks has not been clearly established, although it is believed that U.S. citizens were not specifically targeted or injured in any of these attacks. Specific areas of concern are addressed below under “Areas of Instability.”

Beyond the threat from terrorism, demonstrations are also likely to cause disruption. Protests can begin spontaneously and escalate with little warning, disrupting transportation systems and city services and posing risks to travelers’ personal safety. In response to such events, Indian authorities occasionally impose curfews and/or restrict travel. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid demonstrations and rallies as they have the potential for violence, especially immediately preceding and following elections. In addition, religious and inter-caste violence is unpredictable and occurs occasionally. In some cases, demonstrators specifically block roads near popular tourist sites in order to gain the attention of Indian authorities, although tourists are rarely attacked in these incidents. Mobs have, however, attacked Indian and American missionaries and social workers as such activity provokes strong reactions in some areas. U.S. citizens should monitor local television and print media and contact the U.S. Embassy or the nearest U.S. Consulate for further information about the current situation in areas where they wish to travel.

Finally, visitors should exercise caution when swimming in open waters along the Indian coastline, particularly during the monsoon season. Every year, several people in Goa, Mumbai, Puri (Orissa), and other areas drown due to the strong undertow. It is important for visitors to heed warnings posted or advised at beaches and avoid swimming in the ocean during the monsoon season.

Jammu & Kashmir: The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid travel to the state of Jammu & Kashmir, with the exception of visits to the eastern Ladakh region and its capital, Leh. A number of terrorist groups operate in the state, targeting security forces that are present throughout the region, particularly along the Line of Control (LOC) separating Indian and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, and those stationed in the primary tourist destinations in the Kashmir Valley—Srinagar, Gulmarg, and Pahalgam.

Since 1989, as many as 60,000 people (terrorists, security forces, and civilians) have been killed in the Kashmir conflict. Many terrorist incidents take place in the state's summer capital of Srinagar, but the majority of attacks occur in rural areas. Foreigners are particularly visible, vulnerable, and definitely at risk. Furthermore, attacks have been aimed at civilians with increasing frequency. For example, in 2006, several grenade attacks were launched against buses carrying local tourists. The Indian government prohibits foreign tourists from visiting certain areas along the LOC. U.S. Government employees are prohibited from traveling to the state of Jammu & Kashmir (except for Ladakh) without permission from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

India-Pakistan Border: The State Department recommends that U.S. citizens avoid travel to areas within five to ten kilometers of the border between India and Pakistan. Both India and Pakistan maintain a strong military presence on both sides of the border. The only official India-Pakistan border crossing point for persons who are not citizens of India or Pakistan is in the state of Punjab between Atari, India, and Wagah, Pakistan. A Pakistani visa is required to enter Pakistan. The border crossing is usually open, but travelers are advised to confirm the current status of the border crossing prior to commencing travel.

Both India and Pakistan claim an area of the Karakoram mountain range that includes the Siachen glacier. U.S. citizens traveling to or climbing peaks in the disputed areas face significant risks. The disputed area includes the following peaks: Rimo Peak; Apsarasas I, II, and III; Tegam Kangri I, II and III; Suingri Kangri; Ghiant I and II; Indira Col; and Sia Kangri.

Travelers may check with the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi for information on current conditions.

Northeast States: Sporadic incidents of violence by ethnic insurgent groups, including the bombing of buses and trains, have been reported in parts of Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, and Meghalaya. While U.S. citizens have not been specifically targeted, they may be affected as bystanders. Visitors to India's Northeast states are cautioned not to travel outside major cities at night. Security laws are in force, and the central government has deployed security personnel. Certain Northeastern states can be visited by foreigners only with a permit. Travelers may check with the U.S. Consulate in Kolkata for information on current conditions.

East Central and Southern India: Self-styled Maoist extremist groups called “Naxalites” are active in the region, primarily in rural areas. The Naxalites have a long history of conflict with state and national authorities, including attacks on police and government officials. The Naxalites have not specifically targeted U.S. citizens, but have attacked symbolic targets that have included Western companies. The primary Naxalite group is represented by the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The party's regional affiliates are active in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkand, and West Bengal. Most recently, there has been significant Naxalite activity in the southern part of the state of Chhattisgarh.

Restricted Areas: Certain parts of India are designated as “restricted areas” by the Indian Government, and require special advance permission to visit. These areas include:

  • The state of Mizoram,
  • The state of Manipur,
  • The state of Arunachal Pradesh,
  • The state of Nagaland,
  • The state of Sikkim,
  • Portions of the state of Himachal Pradesh near the Chinese border,
  • Portions of the state of Uttarakhand (Uttaranchal) near the Chinese border,
  • Portions of the state of Rajasthan near the Pakistani border,
  • Portions of the state of Jammu & Kashmir near the Line of Control with Pakistan,
  • The Andaman & Nicobar Islands,
  • The Union Territory of the Laccadives Islands (Lakshadweep), and
  • The Tibetan colony in Mundgod, Karnataka.

“Restricted Area Permits” can be obtained outside of India at Indian embassies and consulates abroad, or within India, from the Ministry of Home Affairs (Foreigners Division) at Jaisalmer House, 26 Man Singh Road, New Delhi. The states of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim all maintain official guesthouses in New Delhi, each of which also can issue Restricted Area Permits for their respective states for certain travelers. Tourists also should exercise caution while visiting Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) in Tamil Nadu as the Indira Gandhi Atomic Research Center, Kalpakkam, is located just south of the site and is not clearly marked as a restricted and dangerous area.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor travel information included on the websites of the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi as well as the Consulates General in Mumbai (Bombay), Chennai (Madras) and Kolkata (Calcutta). Travelers should also monitor the Department's Internet web site where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, including the Worldwide Caution Travel Alert, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

Crime: Petty crime, especially theft of personal property, is common, particularly on trains or buses. Pickpockets can be very adept, and women have reported having their bags snatched, purse-straps cut or the bottom of their purses slit without their knowledge. Theft of U.S. passports is quite common, particularly in major tourist areas, on overnight trains, and at airports. Train travelers are urged to lock their sleeping compartments and take valuables with them when leaving their berths. Air travelers are advised to carefully watch their bags in the arrival and departure areas outside of airports. Violent crime, especially directed against foreigners, has traditionally been uncommon, although in recent years there has been a modest increase. U.S. citizens, particularly women, are cautioned not to travel alone in India. Western women continue to report incidents of physical harassment by groups of men. Known as “Eve-teasing,” these incidents can be quite frightening. Because U.S. citizens’ purchasing power is comparatively large, travelers also should exercise modesty and caution in their financial dealings in India to reduce the chance of being a target for robbery or other crime. Gangs and criminal elements operate in major cities and have sometimes targeted unsuspecting businessmen and their family members for kidnapping.

Scams: Major airports, train stations and tourist sites are often used by scam artists looking to prey on visitors, often by creating a distraction. Taxi drivers and others, including train porters, may solicit travelers with “come-on” offers of cheap transportation and/or hotels. Travelers accepting such offers have often found themselves the victims of scams, including offers to assist with “necessary” transfers to the domestic airport, disproportionately expensive hotel rooms, unwanted “tours,” unwelcome “purchases,” and even threats to the traveler when the tourists try to decline to pay. There have been several disturbing reports of tourists being held hostage on house-boats in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, forced to pay thousands of dollars in the face of threats of violence against the traveler and his/her family members.

Travelers should also exercise care when hiring transportation and/or guides and use only well-known travel agents to book trips. Some scam artists have lured travelers by displaying their name on a sign when they leave the airport. Another popular scam is to drop money or to squirt something on the clothing of an unsuspecting traveler and during the distraction to rob them of their valuables. Individual tourists have also been given drugged drinks or tainted food to make them more vulnerable to theft, particularly at train stations. Even food or drink purchased in front of the traveler from a canteen or vendor could be tainted. To protect against robbery of personal belongings, it is best not to accept food or drink from strangers.

Some vendors sell rugs or other expensive items that may not be of the quality promised. Travelers should deal only with reputable businesses and should not hand over credit cards or money unless they are certain that goods being shipped to them are the goods they purchased. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it is best avoided. Most Indian states have official tourism bureaus set up to handle travelers’ complaints. The Internet addresses for these offices are available at www.tourismofindia.com/foot/links.htm.

Travelers should be aware of a number of other scams that have been perpetrated against foreign travelers, particularly in Goa, Jaipur, and Agra. The scams generally target younger travelers and involve suggestions that money can be made by privately transporting gems or gold (both of which can result in arrest) or by taking delivery abroad of expensive carpets, supposedly while avoiding customs duties. The scam artists describe profits that can be made upon delivery of the goods, and require the traveler to pay a “deposit” as part of the transaction. The items are always fake, and if they were real, the traveler could be subject to arrest.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. Victims of a crime in India, including loss or theft of a passport, should obtain a copy of the police report (called an “FIR” or “First Information Report”) from local police at the time of reporting the incident. A copy of this report is helpful for insurance purposes in replacing lost valuables, and is required by the Indian Government in order to obtain an exit visa to leave India in the event of a lost or stolen passport. Local authorities generally are unable to take any meaningful action without the filing of a police report.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Adequate to excellent medical care is available in the major population centers, but is usually very limited or unavailable in rural areas. Indian health regulations require all travelers arriving from Sub-Saharan Africa or other yellow-fever areas to have evidence of vaccination against yellow fever. Travelers who do not have such proof are subject to immediate deportation or a six-day detention in the yellow-fever quarantine center. U.S. citizens who transit through any part of sub-Saharan Africa, even for one day, are advised to carry proof of yellow fever immunization.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect-bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's internet site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. These websites provide useful information, such as suggested vaccinations for visitors to India, safe food and water precautions, appropriate measures to avoid contraction of mosquito-borne diseases (such as malaria), suggestions to avoid altitude sickness, etc. Further, these sites provide information on disease outbreaks that may arise from time to time—outbreaks of mosquito-borne viral diseases such as dengue fever and chikungunya occur in various parts of India each year, so travelers should check the sites shortly before arriving in India. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith/en.

In the Spring of 2006, there were outbreaks of Avian Influenza in poultry in rural areas of the states of Maharasthra, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. All of the outbreaks were contained. There were no reported cases of the H5N1 virus in humans, however. In July 2007 there was a localized outbreak of Avian Influenza, H5N1 strain, in the eastern Indian state of Manipal. The outbreak is in the town of Chingma-rong, north of Imphal. American citizens traveling to this remote part of India should take all necessary precautions. The outbreak has affected poultry but there are no reported human cases. Updates on the avian influenza situation in India are published on the Embassy's web site at http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov/acsinfluenza.html.

The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India maintain lists of local doctors and hospitals, all of which are published on their respective websites under “U.S. Citizen Services.”

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning India is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Travel by road in India is dangerous. A number of U.S. citizens have suffered fatal traffic accidents in recent years. Travel at night is particularly hazardous. Buses, patronized by hundreds of millions of Indians, are convenient in that they serve almost every city of any size. However, they are usually driven fast, recklessly, and without consideration for the rules of the road. Accidents are quite common. Trains are safer than buses, but train accidents still occur more frequently than in developed countries.

In order to drive in India, one must have either a valid Indian driver's license or a valid international driver's license. Because of difficult road and traffic conditions, many Americans who visit India wisely choose to hire a local driver.

On Indian roads, the safest driving policy is to always assume that other drivers will not respond to a traffic situation in the same way you would in the United States. On Indian roads, might makes right, and buses and trucks epitomize this fact. For instance, buses and trucks often run red lights and merge directly into traffic at yield points and traffic circles. Cars, auto-rickshaws, bicycles and pedestrians behave only slightly more cautiously. Frequent use of one's horn or flashing of headlights to announce one's presence is both customary and wise.

Outside major cities, main roads and other roads are poorly maintained and congested. Even main roads often have only two lanes, with poor visibility and inadequate warning markers. On the few divided high-ways one can expect to meet local transportation traveling in the wrong direction, often without lights. Heavy traffic is the norm and includes (but is not limited to) overloaded trucks and buses, scooters, pedestrians, bullock and camel carts, horse or elephant riders en route to weddings, bicycles, and free-roaming livestock. Traffic in India moves on the left. It is important to be alert while crossing streets and intersections, especially after dark as traffic is coming in the “wrong” direction (i.e., from the left). Travelers should remember to use seatbelts in both rear and front seats where available, and to ask their drivers to maintain a safe speed.

If a driver hits a pedestrian or a cow, the vehicle and its occupants are at risk of being attacked by passersby. Such attacks pose significant risk of injury or death to the vehicle's occupants or at least of incineration of the vehicle. It can thus be unsafe to remain at the scene of an accident of this nature, and drivers may instead wish to seek out the nearest police station.

Protestors often use road blockage as a means of publicizing their grievances, causing severe inconvenience to travelers. Visitors should monitor local news reports for any reports of road disturbances.

Emergency Numbers: The following emergency numbers work in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata:

Police 100
Fire Brigade 101
Ambulance 102

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of India's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of India's air carrier operations. Civil aircraft have been detained a number of times for deviating from approved flight plans. U.S. citizens piloting civil aircraft in India must file any changes to previous flight plans with the appropriate Indian authorities and may not over-fly restricted airspace.

Dual Nationality: In 2006, India launched the Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) program, which has often been mischaracterized as a dual nationality program, as it does not grant Indian citizenship. Thus, an American who obtains an OCI card is not a citizen of India and remains a citizen of the United States. An OCI card in reality is similar to a U.S. “green card” in that a holder can travel to and from India indefinitely, work in India, study in India, and own property in India (except for certain agricultural and plantation properties). An OCI holder, however, does not receive an Indian passport, cannot vote in Indian elections and is not eligible for Indian government employment. The OCI program is similar to the Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) card introduced by the Indian government several years ago, except that PIO holders must still register with Indian immigration authorities, and PIO cards are not issued for an indefinite period. American citizens of Indian descent can apply for PIO or OCI cards at the Indian Embassy in Washington, or at the Indian Consulates in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Houston. Inside India, American citizens can apply at the nearest FRRO office (please see Entry/Exit Requirements section above for more information on the FRRO). For more information on the OCI program, please see www.mha.nic.in/oci/oci-main.htm.

Religious Activities: Foreign visitors planning to engage in religious proselytizing are required by Indian law to have a “missionary” visa. Immigration authorities have determined that certain activities, including speaking at religious meetings to which the general public is invited, may violate immigration law if the traveler does not hold a missionary visa. Foreigners with tourist visas who engage in missionary activity are subject to deportation and possible criminal prosecution. The states of Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Arunachal Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh have additional legislation regulating conversion from one religious faith to another. U.S. citizens intending to engage in missionary activity may wish to seek legal advice to determine whether the activities they intend to pursue are permitted under Indian law.

Customs Restrictions: Indian customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from India of items such as firearms, antiquities, electronic equipment, currency, ivory, gold objects, and other prohibited materials. Even transit passengers require permission from the Government of India to bring in such items. Those not complying risk arrest and/ or fine and confiscation of these items. If charged with any alleged legal violations by Indian law enforcement, it is recommended that an attorney review any document prior to signing. The Government of India requires the registration of antique items with the local police along with a photograph of the item. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of India in Washington or one of India's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. More information is available from the Indian Central Board of Excise and Customs at http://www.cbec.gov.in. Another useful site is http://www.igiacustoms.gov.in. In many countries around the world, including India, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under Indian law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/ or fines. More information on this serious problem is available in a report prepared by the Office of the United States Trade Representative called the “Special 301 Report.” This report is updated each year, and can be viewed at http://www.ustr.gov.

Indian customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information call (212) 354-4480, e-mail atacarnet @uscib.org, or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Persons violating Indian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. For example, certain comments or gestures towards women or about religion that are legal in the United States may be considered a criminal violation in India, subjecting the accused to possible fines or imprisonment. Furthermore, since the police may arrest anyone who is accused of committing a crime (even if the allegation is frivolous in nature), the Indian criminal justice system is often used to escalate personal disagreements into criminal charges. This practice has been increasingly exploited by dissatisfied business partners, contractors, estranged spouses, or other persons with whom the U.S. citizen has a disagreement, occasionally resulting in the jailing of U.S. citizens pending resolution of their disputes. At the very least, such circumstances can delay the U.S. citizen's timely departure from India, and may result in an unintended long-term stay in the country. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in India are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in India is a crime, and is prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: India is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (although the Government of India has expressed its intention to sign the convention at some point in the future), nor is international child abduction considered to be a crime under Indian law.

Registration and Embassy and Consulate Locations: Americans living or traveling in India are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration web site and to obtain updated information on travel and security in India. Americans without Internet access may register in person with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is located at Shanti Path, Chanakya Puri 110021; telephone +91-11-2419-8000; fax +91-11-2419-8407. The Embassy's Internet home page address is http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov. (Note that the “+” sign indicates your international access code, which in the United States is 011-, but which is 00-in most other countries.)

The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai (Bombay) is located at Lincoln House, 78 Bhulabhai Desai Road, 400026, telephone +91-22-2363-3611; fax +91-22-2363-0350. The Internet home page address is http://mumbai.usconsulate.gov.

The U.S. Consulate General in Kolkata (Calcutta) is at 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, 700071; telephone +91-33-3984-2400; fax +91-33-2282-2335. The Internet home page address is http://kolkata.usconsulate.gov.

The U.S. Consulate General in Chennai (Madras) is at 220 Anna Salai, Gemini Circle, 600006; telephone +91-44-2857-4000; fax +91-44-2857-4443. The Internet home page address is http://chennai.usconsulate.gov.

International Adoption

October 2006

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note: Under Indian law, foreign prospective adoptive parents considering adoption of a child from India are required to use an adoption agency that is “enlisted” with the Indian Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA). Further details on enlisted agencies, including a link to the CARA web site, appear later in this flyer.

In addition, it is important to note that Indian law does not permit foreigners to adopt Indian children, but rather, to receive guardianship (custody) that allows the prospective adoptive parents to depart India with the child and later adopt him/her in the parents’ home country.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authority: The official national agency that oversees the intercountry adoptions in India is the Central Adoption Resource Agency. Its contact information is:

Central Adoption Resource Agenc y (CARA)
Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
West Block VIII, Wing II
2nd Floor, R.K. Peram
New Delhi—110 066
Tel: 91-011 618-0194
Fax: 91-011 618-0198
Web site: www.adoptionindia.nic.in
E-Mail: [email protected]

Eligibility Requirements For Prospective Guardians: Couples with a composite age of 90 or less, or single persons up to age 45 can adopt; parents should be at least 21 years older than the child; in no case can a prospective adoptive parent be less than 30 or more than 55. For more information on this issue, please refer them to the CARA website for specific details.

Residency Requirements: There are no residency requirements in order to obtain legal custody of an Indian orphan.

Time Frame: Once prospective adoptive parents have received approval from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to adopt abroad (approval of their I-600A petition) and arrive in India, they should anticipate needing 2–3 months to complete all formalities in India, barring any particularly unusual delays. If all goes very smoothly, the processing time may be shorter.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: All recognized adoption (or, as they are normally referred to in India, placement) agencies in India are local and must be registered with their Indian state Volunteer Coordinating Agency (VCA). No placement agencies provide national coverage, so prospective adoptive parents must determine the Indian state from which they propose to adopt. The Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA), established in 1990, licenses all the VCAs and all Indian placement agencies. CARA also, to some extent, regulates the agencies and enforces laws pertaining to adoption. CARA also serves as India's Central Authority under the 1993 Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention.

Foreign agencies that wish to sponsor applications of prospective parents to adopt an Indian child must apply for “enlistment” with CARA through the Indian embassy in their country. The CARA web site lists some 55 Americcan agencies approved by CARA. Prospective parents must work through one of these agencies in order to adopt in India. These agencies then work with a local placement agency to complete the custody process in India on behalf of the prospective parents. Only an Indian agency recognized and listed by the Indian Government may make children available for adoption by foreigners.

To find the current list of authorized Indian and U.S. agencies, prospective adoptive parents should visit CARA's web site at: http://www.adoptionindia.nic.in/carahome.html and go to “Indian Placement Agencies” and “Enlisted Foreign Agencies.” Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Fees: The CARA web site sets out the fees for processing an intercountry adoption case, which is currently approximately $3500 or the rupee equivalent.

Adoption Procedures: Adoptions per se are not possible for non-citizens of India. The procedures below describe how non-citizens may obtain legal custody of orphans in India for purposes of subsequent adoption abroad.

All persons or organizations contemplating guardianship/adoption of an Indian child should visit the CARA web site and also review the recently revised “Guidelines for Adoption from India 2006” released by CARA in March 2006, updating the 1995 guidelines.

Indian law only allows Hindus, Sikhs, Jains & Buddhists to complete full adoptions of Indian children. However, Under the Guardian and Wards Act of 1890, foreigners may petition an Indian District Court (or Family Court in larger urban areas) for legal custody of a child to be taken abroad for adoption.

A “No Objection Certificate” (NOC) must be issued for every child processed for an intercountry adoption and only CARA is authorized to do this. The court will normally require at a minimum the NOC, a birth certificate or affidavit, and evidence of abandonment prior to granting the custody order. Once the court has granted the order, an Indian passport must also be obtained in order for the child to leave India.

Required Documents: All prospective adoptive parents must provide the following documents to the Indian District Court when applying for guardianship of an Indian child:

  • Approved I-600A
  • Birth certificate for the child
  • Abandonment certificate for the child from an approved adoption agency
  • No Objection Certificate from CARA
  • Child's Indian Passport

The above documents are obtained during the course of the adoption pro-cecess in India, but must all be ready by the time of the court hearing on guardianship. Once the court has granted guardianship, all the above documents, plus the court order will need to presented to the USCIS office in New Delhi at the time of filing the 1-600 petition.

Embassy of India, Washington, D.C.
2107 Massachusetts Ave, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Phone: (202) 939-7000
Fax: (202) 265-4351
Web site: http://www.indianembassy.org/newsite/embassy.asp

India also has consulates in Chicago, Houston, New York and San Francisco.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adopting parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy, New Delhi Shantipath, Chanakyapuri
New Delhi—110021 Tel: 011-2419-8000
Fax: +91-11-2419-0017
Email: [email protected]
Website:
http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov

U.S. Consulate General, Calcutta 5/1, Ho Chi Minh Sarani
Calcutta- 700071
Tel: 033-3984-2400
Fax: +91-33-2282-2335
Email: [email protected]
Website:
http://calcutta.usconsulate.gov

U.S. Consulate General, Chennai No. 220, Anna Salai
Chennai—600006
Tel: 044-2811-2000
Email: [email protected]
Website:
http://chennai.usconsulate.gov

U.S. Consulate General, Mumbai Lincoln House
78, Bhulabhai Desai Road
Mumbai—400026
Tel: 022-2363-3611
Email: [email protected]
Website:
http://mumbai.usconsulate.gov

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in India may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi or any of the U.S. Consulates General listed above. General questions regarding inter-country adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

views updated

INDIA

Compiled from the December 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of India


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

3.29 million sq. km. (1.27 million sq. mi.); about one-third the size of the U.S.

Cities:

Capital—New Delhi (pop. 12.8 million, 2001 census). Other major cities—Mumbai, formerly Bombay (16.4 million); Kolkata, formerly Calcutta (13.2 million); Chennai, formerly Madras (6.4 million); Bangalore (5.7 million); Hyderabad (5.5 million); Ahmedabad (5 million); Pune (4 million).

Terrain:

Varies from Himalayas to flat river valleys.

Climate:

Alpine to temperate to subtropical monsoon.

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—Indian(s).

Population (2004):

1.1 billion; urban 27.8%.

Annual growth rate:

1.4%.

Density:

324/sq. km.

Ethnic groups:

Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, Mongoloid 2%, others.

Religion:

Hindu 82.41%, Muslim 12%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other groups including Buddhist, Jain, Parsi 2.5%.

Language:

Hindi, English, and 16 other official languages.

Education:

Years compulsory—9 (to age 14). Literacy—65.38%.

Health:

Infant mortality rate—61/1,000. Life expectancy—63 years.

Work force (est.):

416 million. Agriculture—63%; industry and commerce—22%; services and government—11%; transport and communications—4%.

Government

Type:

Federal republic.

Independence:

August 15, 1947.

Constitution:

January 26, 1950.

Branches:

Executive—president (chief of state), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers (cabinet). Legislative—bicameral parliament (Rajya Sabha or Council of States, and Lok Sabha or House of the People). Judicial—Supreme Court.

Political parties:

Bharatiya Janata Party, Indian National Congress (INC), Janata Dal (United), Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India-Marxist, and numerous regional and small national parties.

Political subdivisions:

28 states,* 7 union territories.

Suffrage:

Universal over 18.

Economy

GDP (2004):

$691 billion.

Real growth rate (2004):

6.9%.

Per capita GDP (2004):

$640.

Natural resources:

Coal, iron ore, manganese, mica, bauxite, chromite, thorium, limestone, barite, titanium ore, diamonds, crude oil.

Agriculture:

22.7% of GDP. Products—wheat, rice, coarse grains, oilseeds, sugar, cotton, jute, tea

Industry:

26.6% of GDP. Products—textiles, jute, processed food, steel, machinery, transport equipment, cement, aluminum, fertilizers, mining, petroleum, chemicals, and computer software.

Services and transportation:

50.7% of GDP.

Trade:

Exports (2004)—$76.3 billion; agricultural products, engineering goods, precious stones, cotton apparel and fabrics, gems and jewelry, handicrafts, tea. Software exports—$12.5 billion. Imports (2004)—$99.8 billion; petroleum, machinery and transport equipment, electronic goods, edible oils, fertilizers, chemicals, gold, textiles, iron and steel. Major trade partners—U.S., EU, Russia, Japan.


PEOPLE

Although India occupies only 2.4% of the world's land area, it supports over 15% of the world's population. Only China has a larger population. Almost 33% of Indians are younger than 15 years of age. About 70% of the people live in more than 550,000 villages, and the remainder in more than 200 towns and cities. Over thousands of years of its history, India has been invaded from the Iranian plateau, Central Asia, Arabia, Afghanistan, and the West; Indian people and culture have absorbed and changed these influences to produce a remarkable racial and cultural synthesis.

Religion, caste, and language are major determinants of social and political organization in India today. The government has recognized 18 languages as official; Hindi is the most widely spoken, although English is a national lingua franca. Although 82% of the people are Hindu, India also is the home of more than 126 million Muslims—one of the world's largest Muslim populations. The population also includes Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, and Parsis.

The caste system reflects Indian occupational and socially defined hierarchies. Ancient Sanskrit sources refer to four social categories, priests (Brahmin), warriors (kshatriya), traders (vaishya) and farmers (shudra). Although these categories are understood throughout India, they describe reality only in the most general terms. They omit, for example, the tribes and low castes once known as "untouchables." In reality, society in India is divided into thousands of jatis—local, endogamous groups based on occupation—and organized hierarchically according to complex ideas of purity and pollution. Despite economic modernization and laws countering discrimination against the lower end of the class structure and outlawing "untouchability," the caste system remains an important source of social identification and a potent factor in the political life of the country. Nevertheless, the government has made strong efforts to minimize the importance of caste through active affirmative action and social policies. Moreover, caste has been diluted if not subsumed in the economically prosperous and heterogeneous cities, where an increasing percentage of India's population lives. In the countryside, land reform and economic opportunity through access to information, communication, transport, and credit have lessened the harshest elements of the caste system.


HISTORY

The people of India have had a continuous civilization since 2500 B.C., when the inhabitants of the Indus River valley developed an urban culture based on commerce and sustained by agricultural trade. This civilization declined around 1500 B.C., probably due to ecological changes.

During the second millennium B.C., pastoral, Aryan-speaking tribes migrated from the northwest into the subcontinent. As they settled in the middle Ganges River valley, they adapted to antecedent cultures.

The political map of ancient and medieval India was made up of myriad kingdoms with fluctuating boundaries. In the 4th and 5th centuries A.D., northern India was unified under the Gupta Dynasty. During this period, known as India's Golden Age, Hindu culture and political administration reached new heights.

Islam spread across the subcontinent over a period of 700 years. In the 10th and 11th centuries, Turks and Afghans invaded India and established sultanates in Delhi. In the early 16th century, the Chaghtai Turkish adventurer and distant relative of Timurlang, Babur, established the Mughal Dynasty, which lasted for 200 years. South India followed an independent path, but by the 17th century large areas of South India came under the direct rule or influence of the expanding Mughal Empire. While most of Indian society in its thousands of villages remained untouched by the political struggles going on around them, Indian courtly culture evolved into a unique blend of Hindu and Muslim traditions.

The first British outpost in South Asia was established by the English East India Company in 1619 at Surat on the northwestern coast. Later in the century, the Company opened permanent trading stations at Madras (now Chennai), Bombay (now Mumbai), and Calcutta (now Kolkata), each under the protection of native rulers.

The British expanded their influence from these footholds until, by the 1850s, they controlled most of present-day India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. In 1857, an unsuccessful rebellion in north India led by Indian soldiers seeking the restoration of the Mughal Emperor caused the British Parliament to transfer political power from the East India Company to the Crown. Great Britain began administering most of India directly, while controlling the rest through treaties with local rulers.

In the late 1800s, the first steps were taken toward self-government in British India with the appointment of Indian councilors to advise the British Viceroy and the establishment of Provincial Councils with Indian members; the British subsequently widened participation in Legislative Councils. Beginning in 1920, Indian leader Mohandas K. Gandhi transformed the Indian National Congress political party into a mass movement to campaign against British colonial rule. The party used both parliamentary and nonviolent resistance and noncooperation to achieve independence. During this period, however, millions of Indians served with honor and distinction in the British armed forces, including service in both World Wars and countless other overseas actions in service of the Empire.

With Indians increasingly united in their quest for independence, a war weary Britain led by Labor Prime Minister Clement Attlee began in earnest to plan for the end of its suzerainty in India. On August 15, 1947, India became a dominion within the Commonwealth, with Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister. Strategic considerations, as well as political tensions between Hindus and Muslims, led the British to partition British India into two separate states: India, with a Hindu majority; and Pakistan, which consisted of two

"wings," East and West Pakistan—currently Bangladesh and Pakistan—with Muslim majorities. India became a republic within the Commonwealth after promulgating its Constitution on January 26, 1950.

After independence, the Indian National Congress, the party of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, ruled India under the influence first of Nehru and then his daughter (Indira Gandhi) and grandson (Rajiv Gandhi), with the exception of brief periods in the 1970s and 1980s, during a short period in 1996, and the period from 1998–2004, when a coalition led by the Bharatiya Janata Party governed.

Prime Minister Nehru governed the nation until his death in 1964. Nehru was succeeded by Lal Bahadur Shastri, who also died in office. In 1966, power passed to Nehru's daughter, Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977. In 1975, beset with deepening political and economic problems, Mrs. Gandhi declared a state of emergency and suspended many civil liberties. Seeking a mandate at the polls for her policies, she called for elections in 1977, only to be defeated by Morarji Desai, who headed the Janata Party, an amalgam of five opposition parties.

In 1979, Desai's Government crumbled. Charan Singh formed an interim government, which was followed by Mrs. Gandhi's return to power in January 1980. On October 31, 1984, Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated, and her son, Rajiv, was chosen by the Congress (I)—for "Indira"—Party to take her place. His Congress government was plagued with allegations of corruption resulting in an early call for national elections in 1989.

Although Rajiv Gandhi's Congress Party won more seats than any other single party in the 1989 elections, he was unable to form a government with a clear majority. The Janata Dal, a union of opposition parties, then joined with the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the right and the Communists on the left to form the government. This loose coalition collapsed in November 1990, and the Janata Dal, supported by the Congress (I), came to power for a short period, with Chandra Shekhar as Prime Minister. That alliance also collapsed, resulting in national elections in June 1991.

While campaigning in Tamil Nadu on behalf of Congress (I), Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on May 27, 1991, apparently by Tamil extremists from Sri Lanka, unhappy with India's armed intervention to try to stop the civil war there. In the elections, Congress (I) won 213 parliamentary seats and returned to power at the head of a coalition, under the leadership of P.V. Narasimha Rao. This Congress-led government, which served a full 5-year term, initiated a gradual process of economic liberalization and reform, which opened the Indian economy to global trade and investment. India's domestic politics also took new shape, as the nationalist appeal of the Congress Party gave way to traditional alignments by caste, creed, and ethnicity leading to the founding of a plethora of small, regionally based political parties.

The final months of the Rao-led government in the spring of 1996 were marred by several major political corruption scandals, which contributed to the worst electoral performance by the Congress Party in its history. The Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged from the May 1996 national elections as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha but without a parliamentary majority. Under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the subsequent BJP coalition lasted only 13 days. With all political parties wishing to avoid another round of elections, a 14-party coalition led by the Janata Dal formed a government known as the United Front, under the former Chief Minister of Karnataka, H.D. Deve Gowda. His government collapsed after less than a year, when the Congress Party withdrew his support in March 1997. Inder Kumar Gujral replaced Deve Gowda as the consensus choice for Prime Minister at the head of a 16-party United Front coalition.

In November 1997, the Congress Party again withdrew support from the United Front. In new elections in February 1998, the BJP won the largest number of seats in Parliament—182—but fell far short of a majority. On March 20, 1998, the President approved a BJP-led coalition government with Vajpayee again serving as Prime Minister. On May 11 and 13, 1998, this government conducted a series of underground nuclear tests, spurring U.S. President Clinton to impose economic sanctions on India pursuant to the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act.

In April 1999, the BJP-led coalition government fell apart, leading to fresh elections in September. The National Democratic Alliance—a new coalition led by the BJP—won a majority to form the government with Vajpayee as Prime Minister in October 1999.

The Kargil conflict in 1999 and an attack by terrorists on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 led to increased tensions with Pakistan. In February 2002, 57 Hindu volunteers returning from Ayodhya were burnt alive when their train caught fire. Alleging that the fire was caused by Muslim attackers, anti-Muslim rioters throughout the state killed over 900 people and left 100,000 homeless. This led to accusations that the BJP-led state government had not done enough to contain the riots, or arrest and prosecute the rioters. Hindu nationalists supportive of the BJP agitated to build a temple on a disputed site in Ayodhya, destroying a 17th century mosque there in December 1992, and sparking widespread religious riots in which thousands, mostly Muslims, were killed.

The ruling BJP-led coalition was defeated in a five-stage election held in April and May of 2004, and a Congress-led coalition, known as the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), took power on May 22 with Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister. The UPA's victory was attributed to dissatisfaction among poorer rural voters that the prosperity of the cities had not filtered down to them, and rejection of the BJP's Hindu nationalist agenda.

The Congress-led UPA government has continued many of the BJP's foreign policies, particularly with regard to better relations with the U.S. Prime Minister Singh and President Bush concluded a landmark U.S.-India framework agreement on strategic partnership on July 18, 2005, and both countries are now working to implement this historic understanding.


GOVERNMENT

According to its Constitution, India is a "sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic." Like the United States, India has a federal form of government. However, the central government in India has greater power in relation to its states, and has adopted a British-style parliamentary system.

The government exercises its broad administrative powers in the name of the president, whose duties are largely ceremonial. A special electoral college elects the president and vice president indirectly for 5-year terms. Their terms are staggered, and the vice president does not automatically become president following the death or removal from office of the president.

Real national executive power is centered in the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), led by the prime minister. The president appoints the prime minister, who is designated by legislators of the political party or coalition commanding a parliamentary majority in the Lok Sabha (lower house). The president then appoints subordinate ministers on the advice of the prime minister.

India's bicameral Parliament consists of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People). The Council of Ministers is responsible to the Lok Sabha.

The legislatures of the states and union territories elect 233 members to the Rajya Sabha, and the president appoints another 12. The members of the Rajya Sabha serve 6-year terms, with one-third up for election every 2 years. The Lok Sabha consists of 545 members, who serve 5-year terms; 543 are directly elected, and two are appointed.

India's independent judicial system began under the British, and its concepts and procedures resemble those of Anglo-Saxon countries. The Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and 25 other justices, all appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister.

India has 28 states* and 7 union territories. At the state level, some legislatures are bicameral, patterned after the two houses of the national parliament. The states' chief ministers are responsible to the legislatures in the same way the prime minister is responsible to Parliament.

Each state also has a presidentially appointed governor, who may assume certain broad powers when directed by the central government. The central government exerts greater control over the union territories than over the states, although some territories have gained more power to administer their own affairs. Local governments in India have less autonomy than their counterparts in the United States. Some states are trying to revitalize the traditional village councils, or panchayats, to promote popular democratic participation at the village level, where much of the population still lives. Over half a million panchayats exist throughout India.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 11/21/2005

President: Abdul KALAM
Vice President: Bhairon Singh SHEKHAWAT
Prime Minister: Manmohan SINGH
Principal Sec. to the Prime Minister's Office: T. K. A. NAIR
National Security Adviser: M. K. NARAYANAN
Dep. Chmn., Planning Commission: Montek Singh AHLUWALIA
Min. of Agriculture: Sharad PAWAR
Mini. of Agro & Rural Industries: Mahavir PRASAD
Min. of Chemicals & Fertilizers: Ram Vilas PASWAN
Min. of State (Ind. Charge) for Civil Aviation: Praful PATEL
Min. of Coal:
Min. of Commerce & Industry: Kamal NATH
Min. of Communications & Information Technology: Dayanidhi MARAN
Min. of State (Ind. Charge) for Company Affairs: Prem Chand GUPTA
Min. of Consumer Affairs, Food, & Public Administration: Sharad PAWAR
Min. of Culture: Jaipal REDDY
Min. of Defense: Pranab MUKHERJEE
Min. of Development of North Eastern Region: Paty Ripple KYNDIAH
Min. of Environment & Forests: A. RAJA
Min. of External Affairs:
Min. of Finance: Palaniappan CHIDAMBARAM
Min. of State (Ind. Charge) for Food Processing Industries: Subodh Kant SAHAY
Min. of Health & Family Welfare: Anbumani RAMADOSS
Min. of State (Ind. Charge) for Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises: Santosh Mohan DEV
Min. of Home Affairs: Shivraj PATIL
Min. of Human Resource Development: Arjun SINGH
Min. of Information & Broadcasting: Priyaranjan DASMUNSI
Min. of Labor & Employment: K. Chandra Shekhar RAO
Min. of Law & Justice: Hans Raj BHARDWAJ
Min. of Local Government: Mani Shankar AIYAR
Min. of Mines: Sis Ram OLA
Min. of State (Ind. Charge) for Non Conventional Energy Sources: Vilas MUTTEMWAR
Min. of State (Ind. Charge) for Ocean Development: Kapil SIBAL
Min. of State (Ind. Charge) for Overseas Indian Affairs: Oscar FERNANDES
Min. of Panchayati Raj: Mani Shankar AIYAR
Min. of Parliamentary Affairs: Priyaranjan DASMUNSI
Min. of Petroleum & Natural Gas: Mani Shankar AIYAR
Min. of Power: P. M. SAYEED
Min. of Railways: Laloo Prasad YADAV
Min. of Rural Development: Raghuvansh Prasad SINGH
Min. of State (Ind. Charge) for Science & Technology: Kapil SIBAL
Min. of Shipping, Road Transport, & Highways: T. R. BAALU
Min. of Small-Scale Industries: Mahavir PRASAD
Min. of Social Justice & Empowerment: Meira KUMAR
Min. of State (Ind. Charge) for Statistics & Program Implementation: Oscar FERNANDES
Min. of Steel: Ram Vilas PASWAN
Min. of Textiles: Shankersinh VAGHELA
Min. of State (Ind. Charge) for Tourism: Renuka CHOWDHURY
Min. of Tribal Affairs: Paty Ripple KYNDIAH
Min. of Urban Development: Jaipal REDDY
Min. of State (Ind. Charge) for Urban Employment & Poverty Alleviation: Mumari SELJA
Min. of Water Resources: Santosh Mohan DEV
Min. of Youth Affairs & Sports: Oscar FERNANDES
Min. Without Portfolio: K. Natwar SINGH
Governor, Reserve Bank of India: Y. Venugopal REDDY
Ambassador to the US: Ranendra SEN
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Nirupam SEN

India maintains an embassy in the United States at 2107 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-939-7000, fax 202-265-4351, email [email protected]) and consulates general in New York, Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco. The embassy's web site is http://www.indianembassy.org/.


POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took office on May 22, 2004 after an April/May 2004 general election in which a Congress-led coalition of 12 parties called the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) emerged with the largest number of Lok Sabha seats. Six additional parties did not join the government, but provided support. The inability of Congress to return to power on its own reflects the ongoing transition in Indian politics away from historical domination by the national-based Congress Party toward coalitions including smaller, narrower-based regional parties. This process has been underway for more than a decade and is likely to continue in the future, with smaller parties aligning with either the Congress or the BJP to form the central government.

Emerging as the nation's single largest party in the April/May 2004 Lok Sbha election, Congress currently leads a coalition government under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Party President Sonia Gandhi was reelected by the Party National Executive in May 2005. She is also a Member of Parliament and heads the Congress delegation in the Lok Sabha. Congress prides itself as a secular, left of center party, and has been the historically dominant political party in India. Although its performance in national elections had steadily declined during the last 12 years, its surprise victory in 2004, was a result of recruiting strong allies into the UPA, the anti-incumbency factor among voters, and its courtship of many poor, rural and Muslim voters. The political fortunes of the Congress suffered badly in the 1990s as major groups in its traditional voters were lost to emerging regional and caste-based parties, such as the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party, but have rebounded since its ascension to power in New Delhi in May 2004. It currently rules either directly or in coalition with its allies in 14 states. In November 2005, the Congress regained the Chief Ministership of Jammu and Kashmir state, under a powersharing agreement.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by L.K. Advani, holds the second largest number of seats in the Lok Sabha. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee serves as Chairman of the BJP Parliamentary Party, and former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani is Leader of the Opposition. The Hindu-nationalist BJP draws its political strength mainly from the "Hindi Belt" in the northern and western regions of India.

The party holds power in the states of Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Orissa—in coalition with the Biju Janata Dal. Popularly viewed as the party of the northern upper caste and trading communities, the BJP made strong inroads into lower castes in recent national and state assembly elections. The party must balance the competing interests of Hindu nationalists, (who advocate construction of a temple on a disputed site in Ayodhya, and other primarily religious issues), and center-right modernizers who see the BJP as a party of economic and political reform.

Four Communist and Marxist parties are united in a bloc called the "Left Front," which controls 59 parliamentary seats. The Left Front rules the state of West Bengal and participates in a governing coalition in Kerala. Although it has not joined the government, Left Front support provides the crucial seats necessary for the UPA to retain power in New Delhi; without its support, the UPA government would fall. It advocates a secular and Communist ideology and opposes many aspects of economic liberalization and globalization, resulting in dissonance with Prime Minister Singh's liberal economic approach.

The next general election is scheduled for 2009.


ECONOMY

India's population is estimated at nearly 1.1 billion and is growing at 1.6% a year. It has the world's 12th largest economy—and the third largest in Asia behind Japan and China—with total GDP of around $691 billion. Services, industry and agriculture account for 50.8%, 27.2%, and 22.0% of GDP respectively. Nearly two-thirds of the population depends on agriculture for its livelihood. About 25% of the population lives below the poverty line, but there is a large and growing middle class of 320-340 million with disposable income for consumer goods.

India is continuing to move forward with market-oriented economic reforms that began in 1991. Recent reforms include liberalized foreign investment and exchange regimes, industrial decontrol, significant reductions in tariffs and other trade barriers, reform and modernization of the financial sector, significant adjustments in government monetary and fiscal policies, and safeguarding intellectual property rights.

Real GDP growth for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2005 was 6.9%, down from 8.5% growth in the previous year. Growth for the year ending March 31, 2006 is expected to be between 7-7.6%. Foreign portfolio and direct investment inflows have risen significantly in recent years. They have contributed to the $144 billion in foreign exchange reserves at the end October 2005. Government receipts from privatization were about $3 billion in fiscal year 2003–04.

However, economic growth is constrained by inadequate infrastructure, a cumbersome bureaucracy, corruption, labor market rigidities, regulatory and foreign investment controls, the "reservation" of key products for small-scale industries, and high fiscal deficits. The outlook for further trade liberalization is mixed. India eliminated quotas on 1,420 consumer imports in 2002 and has announced its intention to continue to lower customs duties. However, the tax structure is complex, with compounding effects of various taxes.

The United States is India's largest trading partner. Bilateral trade in 2004 was $21.7 billion. Principal U.S. exports are diagnostic or lab reagents, aircraft and parts, advanced machinery, cotton, fertilizers, ferrous waste/scrap metal, and computer hardware. Major U.S. imports from India include textiles and ready-made garments, Internetenabled services, agricultural and related products, gems and jewelry, leather products, and chemicals.

The rapidly growing software sector is boosting service exports and modernizing India's economy. Revenues from the information technology industry reached a turnover of $16.2 billion in 2004–05. Software exports crossed $17.2 billion in 2004–05, and a similar growth is expected in FY 2005–06. Personal computer penetration is 9 per 1,000 persons. The cellular mobile market is expected to surge to over 70 million subscribers by fiscal year ending 2005 from the present 67 million users. The country has 54 million cable TV customers.

The United States is India's largest investment partner, with a 17% share. India's total inflow of U.S. direct investment is estimated at $3.8 billion in 2004. Proposals for direct foreign investment are considered by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board and generally receive government approval. Automatic approvals are available for investments involving up to 100% foreign equity, depending on the kind of industry. Foreign investment is particularly sought after in power generation, telecommunications, ports, roads, petroleum exploration/processing, and mining.

India's external debt was $123 billion in 2004, up from $111 billion in 2003. Bilateral assistance was approximately $4 billion in 2004–05, with the United States providing about $134.7 million in development assistance. The World Bank plans to double aid to India to almost $3 billion a year, with focus on infrastructure, education, health, and rural livelihoods.


DEFENSE

The supreme command of the Indian armed forces is vested in the President of India. The policy concerning India's defense, and the armed forces as a whole, is formulated and confirmed by the Union Cabinet. The Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister, consists of ministers, one of whom holds the portfolio of defense and is known as the Defence Minister.

The Defence Committee of the Cabinet takes decisions on all matter of policy concerning defense. That committee consists of the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister, the Home Minister, the Finance Minister, and the Transport & Communications Minister.

Jointness is coming to the Indian armed forces. There is a position Chief of Integrated Service Command that looks after the integration of the defense services under the proposed Chief of Defence Staff plan. A Joint Integrated Defence Staff supports this organization with elements from the three services and various departments in the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of External Affairs.

The Indian Army numbers over 1.1 million strong and fields 34 divisions. Its primary task is to safeguard the territorial integrity of the country against external threats. The Army has been heavily committed in the recent past to counterterrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as the in the Northeast. Its current modernization program focuses on obtaining equipment to be used in combating terror. The Army will often find itself providing aid to civil authorities and assisting the government in organizing relief operations.

The Indian Navy is by far the most capable navy in the region. They currently operate one aircraft carrier with two on order, 14 submarines, and 15 major surface combatants. The navy is capable of projecting power within the Indian Ocean basin and occasionally operates in the South China Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Gulf. Fleet introduction of the Brahmos cruise missiles and the possible lease of nuclear submarines from Russia will add significantly to the Indian Navy's flexibility and striking power. The Navy's primary missions are the defense of India and of India's vital sea lines of communication. India relies on the sea for 90% of its oil and natural gas and over 90% of its foreign trade.

Although small, the Indian Coast Guard has been expanding rapidly in recent years. Indian Navy officers typically fill top Coast Guard positions to ensure coordination between the two services. India's Coast Guard is responsible for control of India's huge exclusive economic zone.

The Indian Air Force is in the process of becoming a viable 21st century western-style force through modernization and new tactics. Force modernization is key in this revolution, with the likes of new SU-30MKI becoming the backbone of a power projection capability. Other significant modernization efforts include the induction of a new advanced jet trainer (BAE Hawk) and the indigenously produced advanced light helicopter (Dhruv).


FOREIGN RELATIONS

India's size, population, and strategic location give it a prominent voice in international affairs, and its growing industrial base, military strength, and scientific and technical capacity give it added weight. It collaborates closely with other developing countries on issues from trade to environmental protection. The end of the Cold War dramatically affected Indian foreign policy. India remains a leader of the developing world and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and hosted the NAM Heads of State Summit in 1997. India is now also seeking to strengthen its political and commercial ties with the United States, Japan, the European Union, Iran, China, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. India is an active member of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

India has always been an active member of the United Nations and now seeks a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. India has a long tradition of participating in UN peacekeeping operations and most recently contributed personnel to UN operations in Somalia, Cambodia, Mozambique, Kuwait, Bosnia, Angola, and El Salvador.

Bilateral and Regional Relations

Pakistan. India and Pakistan have been locked in a tense rivalry since the partition of the subcontinent upon achieving independence from Great Britain in 1947. The principal source of contention has been Kashmir, whose Hindu Maharaja at that time chose to join India, although a majority of his subjects were Muslim. India maintains that his decision and the subsequent elections in Kashmir have made it an integral part of India. This dispute triggered wars between the two countries in 1947 and 1965 and the Kargil conflict in 1999.

In December 1971, following a political crisis in what was then East Pakistan and the flight of millions of Bengali refugees to India, Pakistan and India again went to war. The brief conflict left the situation largely unchanged in the west, where the two armies reached an impasse, but a decisive Indian victory in the east resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.

Since the 1971 war, Pakistan and India have made only slow progress toward normalization of relations. In July 1972, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto met in the Indian hill station of Simla. They signed an agreement by which India would return all personnel and captured territory in the west and the two countries would "settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations." Diplomatic and trade relations were re-established in 1976.

After the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, new strains appeared in India-Pakistan relations; Pakistan supported the Afghan resistance, while India implicitly supported Soviet occupation. In the following 8 years, India voiced increasing concern over Pakistani arms purchases, U.S. military aid to Pakistan, and Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. In an effort to curtail tensions, the two countries formed a joint commission. In December 1988, Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto concluded a pact not to attack each other's nuclear facilities. Agreements on cultural exchanges and civil aviation also were initiated.

In 1997, high-level Indo-Pakistani talks resumed after a 3-year pause. The Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan met twice, and the foreign secretaries conducted three rounds of talks. In June 1997 at Lahore, the foreign secretaries identified eight "outstanding issues" around which continuing talks would be focused. The dispute over the status of Jammu and Kashmir, an issue since partition, remains the major stumbling block in their dialogue. India maintains that the entire former princely state is an integral part of the Indian union, while Pakistan insists that UN resolutions calling for self-determination of the people of the state must be taken into account.

In September 1997, the talks broke down over the structure of how to deal with the issues of Kashmir and peace and security. Pakistan advocated that separate working groups treat each issue. India responded that the two issues be taken up along with six others on a simultaneous basis. In May 1998 India, and then Pakistan, conducted nuclear tests. Attempts to restart dialogue between the two nations were given a major boost by the February 1999 meeting of both Prime Ministers in Lahore and their signing of three agreements. These efforts were stalled by the intrusion of Pakistani-backed forces into Indian-held territory near Kargil in May 1999 (that nearly turned into full scale war), and by the military coup in Pakistan that overturned the Nawaz Sharif government in October the same year. In July 2001, Mr. Vajpayee and General Pervez Musharraf, leader of Pakistan after the coup, met in Agra, but talks ended after 2 days without result.

After an attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001, India-Pakistan relations cooled further as India accused Pakistanis of being involved in the attacks. Tensions increased, fueled by killings in Jammu and Kashmir, peaking in a troop buildup by both sides in early 2002.

Prime Minister Vajpayee's April 18, 2003 speech in Srinagar (Kashmir) revived bilateral efforts to normalize relations. In November 2003, Prime Minister Vajapyee and President Musharraf agreed to a ceasefire, which still holds, along the line of control in Jammu and Kashmir. After a series of confidence building measures, Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Musharraf met on the sidelines of the January 2004 SAARC summit in Islamabad and agreed to commence a Composite Dialogue addressing outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, including Kashmir. The UPA government has continued the Composite Dialogue with Pakistan.

In February 2004, India and Pakistan agreed to restart the "2+6" Composite Dialogue formula, which provides for talks on Peace and Security and Jammu and Kashmir, followed by technical and Secretary-level discussions on six other bilateral disputes: Siachen Glacier, Wuller Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project, Sir Creek, Terrorism and Drug Trafficking, Economic and Commercial cooperation and the Promotion of Friendly Exchanges in various fields. Foreign Secretary-level discussions took place in June, which generated modest progress, and the two sides agreed to schedule a further set of meetings in July and August. The restart of the Composite Dialogue process is especially significant, given the almost six years that transpired since the two sides agreed to this formula in 1997–98.

Following the October 2005 earthquake in Kashmir, the two governments coordinated relief efforts and opened access points along the Line-of-Control to allow relief supplies to flow from India to Pakistan and to allow Kashmiris from both sides to visit one another.

SAARC. Certain aspects of India's relations within the subcontinent are conducted through the SAARC. Its members are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Established in 1985, SAARC encourages cooperation in agriculture, rural development, science and technology, culture, health, population control, narcotics, and terrorism.

SAARC has intentionally stressed these "core issues" and avoided more divisive political issues, although political dialogue is often conducted on the margins of SAARC meetings. In 1993, India and its SAARC partners signed an agreement gradually to lower tariffs within the region. Forward movement in SAARC had slowed because of the tension between India and Pakistan, and the SAARC summit scheduled for 1999 was not held until January 2002. In addition to the boost to the process of normalizing India's relationship with Pakistan, the January 2004 SAARC summit in Islamabad produced an agreement to establish a South Asia Free Trade Area. SAARC members will reduce tariffs on intra-regional trade over a period of 8 years following the ratification of the accord, with least developed countries allowed the most time to adjust.

China. Despite suspicions remaining from a 1962 border conflict between India and China and continuing territorial/boundary disputes, Sino-Indian relations have improved gradually since 1988. Both countries have sought to reduce tensions along the frontier, expand trade and cultural ties, and normalize relations.

A series of high-level visits between the two nations has helped to improve relations. In December 1996, Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited India on a tour of South Asia. While in New Delhi, he signed, with the Indian Prime Minister, a series of confidence-building measures along the disputed border, including troop reductions and weapons limitations.

Continuing the trend of friendly relations, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao invited Prime Minister Vajpayee to visit China in June 2003. They recognized the common goals of both countries and made the commitment to build a "long-term constructive and cooperative partnership" to peacefully promote their mutual political and economic goals without encroaching upon their good relations with other countries. In Beijing, Prime Minister Vajpayee proposed the designation of special representatives to discuss the border dispute at the political level, a process that is still under way.

Former Soviet Union. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the emergence of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) had major repercussions for Indian foreign policy. India's formerly substantial trade with the former Soviet Union plummeted after the Soviet collapse and has yet to recover. Longstanding military supply relationships were similarly disrupted due to questions over financing, although Russia continues to be India's largest supplier of military systems and spare parts.

Russia and India have decided not to renew the 1971 Indo-Soviet Peace and Friendship Treaty and have sought to follow what both describe as a more pragmatic, less ideological relationship. Russian President Yeltsin's visit to India in January 1993 helped cement this new relationship. The pace of high-level visits has since increased, as has discussion of major defense purchases. UPA leader Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Singh visited Russia in July 2005.


U.S.-INDIA RELATIONS

The United States has undertaken a transformation in its relationship with India based on the conviction that U.S. interests require a strong relationship with India. The two countries are the largest democracies, committed to political freedom protected by representative government. India is also moving toward greater economic freedom. The two have a common interest in the free flow of commerce, including through the vital seas lanes of the Indian Ocean. They also share an interest in fighting terrorism and in creating a strategically stable Asia.

Differences remain, including over India's nuclear weapons programs and over the pace of India's economic reforms. But while in the past these concerns may have dominated U.S. thinking about India, today the U.S. starts with a view of India as a growing world power with which it shares common strategic interests. Through a strong partnership with India, the two countries can best address differences and shape a dynamic future.

In late September 2001, President Bush lifted the sanctions that were imposed under the terms of the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act following India's nuclear tests in May 1998. The nonproliferation dialogue initiated after the 1998 nuclear tests has bridged many of the gaps in understanding between the countries. President Bush met Prime Minister Vajpayee in November 2001, and the two leaders expressed a strong interest in transforming the U.S.-India bilateral relationship. High-level meetings and concrete cooperation between the two countries increased during 2002 and 2003. In January 2004, the U.S. and India launched the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP), both a milestone in the transformation of the bilateral relationship and a blueprint for its further progress.

In July 2005, President Bush hosted Prime Minister Singh for in Washington, DC. The two leaders announced the successful completion of the NSSP, as well as other agreements which will help further enhance cooperation in the areas of civil nuclear, civil space, and high-technology commerce. Other initiatives announced at this meting include: an U.S.-India Economic Dialogue, Fight Against HIV/AIDS, Disaster Relief, Technology Cooperation, Democracy Initiative, a Knowledge Initiative for Agriculture, a Trade Policy Forum, and an Energy Dialogue.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

NEW DELHI (E) Address: Shanti Path, Chanakaya Puri New Delhi -110021, India; Phone: 91-11-24198000; Fax: 91-11-24190017; Workweek: Monday thru Friday; 0830 hrs to 1730 hrs; Website:www.usembassy.state.gov/delhi.html

AMB:David C. Mulford
AMB OMS:Susanne Ames
DCM:Robert O. Blake
DCM OMS:Irvina Wallace
CG:William Bartlett
POL:Geoffrey Pyatt
CON:William Bartlett
MGT:James Forbes
AGR:Chad Russell
AID:George Deikun
APHIS:Marvin Felder
CLO:Fatima Brown
CUS:James Dozier
DAO:Steven Sboto
DEA:Ronald Khan
ECO:Lee A. Brudvig
EST:Donald L. Brown
FAA:Howard W. Nesbitt
FCS:John Peters
FIN:Ken Kowalchek
FMO:Mark Moore
GSO:Stephen Ames
ICASS Chair:Mark Ericson
IMO:James L. Cleveland
INS:Terry DeMaegd
IPO:Robert Hall
IRS:Elizabeth Kinney
ISO:Sherril Pavin
ISSO:Bill Price
LEGATT:Cary Gleicher
MLO:Mark Ericson
NAS:Duke Lokka
PAO:Michael Anderson
RSO:George Lambert
State ICASS:Michael Anderson
Last Updated: 1/6/2006

MUMBAI (CG) Address: 78, Bhulabhai Desai Rd., Mumbai, India; Phone: 91-22-2363-3611; Fax: 91-22-2363-0350; Workweek: Mon-Fri 8:15 am-5:00 pm; Website: usembassy.state.gov/mumbai

CG:Michael S. Owen
CG OMS:Mirtea Starkey
PO:Michael S. Owen
POL:William Klein
COM:Jim Cunningham
CON:Joseph Pomper
MGT:James Leaf
CLO:Lejla Shaw
ECO:William Klein
GSO:Phyllis DeSmet-Howard
ISO:Charles VanSickle
PAO:Linda Cheatham
RSO:Matthew Sweeney
Last Updated: 10/31/2005

CHENNAI (C) Address: 220 Anna Salai Rd, Chennai 600 006, India; Phone: 91-44-2811-2000; Fax: 91-44-2811-2020; INMARSAT Tel: 00-873-383133034#; Workweek: Mon -Fri 0830 -1700; Website:chennai. usconsulate.gov

CG:David T. Hopper
CG OMS:Sumita Gupta
PO:David T. Hopper
PO/CON:Mark Fry
DPO/PAO:Ravi Candadai
POL:Robert King
MGT:Kelly Buenrostro
CLO:Jennifer Mauldin
COM/CON:Mark Russell
EEO:Mary Lou Gonzales
GSO:Mary Lou Gonzales
IPO:James J Foster
ISO:James J Foster
ISSO:James J Foster
PAO:Ravi Candidai
RSO:Colin Bucknor
State ICASS:Kelly Buenrostro
Last Updated: 8/29/2005

KOLKATA (C) Address: 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, Calcutta 700071; Phone: 91-33-2282-3611; Fax: 91-33-2282-2335; Workweek: Mon-Fri, 0800 hours-1700 hours; Website: calcutta.usconsulate.gov

CG:Henry V. Jardine
CON:Paul M. Fermoile
MGT:Kit A. Junge
CLO:Management Officer
FIN:Management Officer
GSO:Management Officer
IMO:James L Cleveland (New Delhi)
IPO:Chandra L Smith
ISO:Sherril L. Pavin (New Delhi)
ISSO:Chandra L. Smith
PAO:Susan M. Shultz
RSO:George Lambert (New Delhi)
Last Updated: 12/29/2005

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

August 24, 2005

Country Description:

India is the world's largest democratic republic. It is a country with a very diverse population, geography and climate. Tourist facilities varying in degree of comfort and amenity are widely available in the major population centers and main tourist areas.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

U.S. citizens require a passport and visa to enter and exit India for any purpose. Visitors, including those on official U.S. government business, must obtain visas at an Indian Embassy or Consulate abroad prior to entering the country as there are no provisions for visas upon arrival. Those arriving without a visa are subject to immediate deportation. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India are unable to assist when U.S. citizens arrive without visas. Each visitor should carry photocopies of the face page of the traveler's U.S. passport and the page which contains the Indian visa in order to facilitate obtaining new U.S. passports from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate and exit visas from the Indian government, in the event of theft or loss of the passport.

Foreign citizens whose primary purpose of travel is to participate in religious activities should obtain a missionary visa rather than a tourist visa. Indian immigration authorities have deported American citizens who were conducting religious activities while holding a tourist visa.

Foreign citizens who visit India to study, do research, work or act as missionaries, as well as all travelers planning to stay more than 180 days are required to register within 14 days of arrival with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office where they will be staying. FRRO maintains offices in New Delhi, Mumbai (Bombay), Chennai (Madras), Kolkata (Calcutta), and Amritsar. In smaller cities and towns, the local police headquarters will normally perform this function. The address and telephone number of each major FRRO office can be found at http://www.airportsindia.org.in/aai/immigration/immigration.htm. General information regarding Indian visa and immigration rules can be found at the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs website for its Bureau of Immigration at http://www.immigrationindia.nic.in.

For the most current information on entry and exit requirements, please contact the Embassy of India at 2536 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 939-9849 or 939-9806 or the Indian Consulates in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, or Houston or http://www.indianembassy.org. Outside the United States, inquiries should be made at the nearest Indian embassy or consulate. A list of Indian consulates and embassies can be found at http://passport.nic.in/missions.htm.

Safety and Security:

Some terrorist groups are active in India. In recent years, there have been occasional terrorist bombing incidents in various parts of India. These bomb blasts have occurred in public places as well as on public transportation, such as trains and buses, in markets and in other public areas, resulting in deaths or injuries. There were two significant terrorist incidents in northern India in July 2005. On July 5, suspected Islamic militants attacked a disputed religious site at Ayodhya in the state of Uttar Pradesh, resulting in the deaths of five persons, and on July 28, unidentified terrorists exploded a bomb on a train in Uttar Pradesh bound for New Delhi, killing thirteen passengers. In October 2004, over 35 people were killed in separate bombing incidents in a train station and market in Dimapur, capital of the Northeastern state of Nagaland. In 2003, terrorists set off several bombs in Mumbai (Bombay), including on public transportation, at a public market and at the Gateway of India, a popular tourist destination, leaving over 50 people dead and 160 injured. The motive for these blasts has not been clearly established. U.S. citizens were not specifically targeted or injured in any of these attacks. However, U.S. citizens have been killed and injured during past acts of indiscriminate violence. Anti-Western terrorist groups, some of which are on the U.S. government's list of foreign terrorist organizations, are believed to be active in India. Therefore, U.S. citizens should exercise particular vigilance when in the vicinity of government installations, visiting tourist sites, or attending public events throughout India. In particular, the disputed region of Kashmir in the state of Jammu and Kashmir has experienced an inordinate number of terrorist incidents, including several bombings in the capital city of Srinagar.

Visitors should exercise caution when swimming in open waters along the Indian coastline, particularly during the monsoon season. Every year, several people in Goa, Mumbai and other areas drown due to the unusually strong undertow. It is important for visitors to heed warnings posted or advised at beaches and avoid swimming altogether during the monsoon season.

Demonstrations can occur spontaneously and pose risks to travelers' personal safety and disrupt transportation systems and city services. In response to such events, Indian authorities occasionally impose curfews and/or restrict travel. Political rallies and demonstrations in India have the potential for violence, especially immediately preceding and following elections. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid demonstrations and rallies. In addition, religious and inter-caste violence occasionally occurs unpredictably. In early 2002, violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat resulted in at least 950 deaths according to official figures. While such violence rarely targets foreigners, mobs have attacked Indian Christian workers.

Missionary activity has aroused strong reactions in some areas—usually rural—and in January 1999, a mob murdered an Australian missionary and his son in the eastern state of Orissa. In January 2003, a visiting U.S. citizen was attacked in Kerala by Hindu activists who accused him of preaching to the local community. The principal risk for foreigners is that they could become inadvertent victims. A similar incident occurred in June 2005, when residents of a Mumbai suburb attacked three American tourists participating in a Christian prayer meeting.

U.S. citizens should read local newspapers and contact the U.S. Embassy or the nearest U.S. Consulate for further information about the current situation in areas where they wish to travel.

During the Dassera and the Diwali festivals, U.S.-citizen travelers to Calcutta and Eastern India should exercise additional caution. Large and sometimes unruly crowds gather on these holidays, especially in the immediate vicinity of the Pandals (elaborately decorated temporary structures). Such concentrations heighten the risk of petty theft, accidental injury, groping, and crowd disturbances. Transportation, even for emergency purposes, is more difficult during the holiday season, and travelers may become disoriented amidst large, flowing crowds. The United States Consulate General in Calcutta is available to assist U.S. citizens in emergencies, should they arise.

Areas of Instability:

Jammu and Kashmir:

The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid travel to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, with the exception of visits to the Ladakh region and its capital, Leh. A number of terrorist groups operate in the state, and security forces are active throughout the region, particularly along the Line of Control (LOC) separating Indian and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, and are visible in the primary tourist destinations in the Kashmir Valley – Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pahalgam.

Since 1989, as many as 60,000 people (terrorists, security forces, and civilians) have been killed in the Kashmir conflict, including approximately 700 civilians in 2004 alone. Many terrorist incidents take place in the state's summer capital of Srinagar, but the majority occurs in rural areas. Foreigners are particularly visible, vulnerable, and definitely at risk.

Occasionally, even the Ladakh region of the state has been affected by terrorist violence, but incidents there are rare. The last such case was in 2000, when terrorists in Ladakh's Zanskar region killed a German tourist. The Indian government prohibits foreign tourists from visiting the Kargil area of Ladakh along the LOC. U.S. Government employees are prohibited from traveling to the state of Jammu and Kashmir without permission from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

In 1999, the terrorist organization Harakat-ul Mujahideen issued a ban on U.S. citizens, including tourists, visiting Kashmir, but has not followed up on this threat. In 1995, the terrorist organization Al Faran kidnapped six Western tourists, including two U.S. citizens, who were trekking in Kashmir valley. One of the hostages was brutally murdered, another escaped, and the other four—including one U.S. citizen—have never been found. Srinagar has also been the site of a great deal of violence, including car bombings, market bombings, hand-grenade attacks that miss their targets and kill or injure innocent bystanders, and deaths resulting from improvised (remote-controlled) explosive devices (IEDs). In the early to mid-1990s, several tourists, including at least one U.S. citizen, were fatally shot or wounded in Srinagar. The 2002 state elections were marred by multiple terrorist attacks that killed some 800 people, a large percentage of whom were innocent civilians. Some terrorist violence also marred the national parliamentary polls in April/May 2004.

India-Pakistan Border:

The State Department recommends that U.S. citizens avoid travel to border areas between India and Pakistan, including within the states of Gujarat, Punjab, and Rajasthan, and the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir. A ceasefire along the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir began on November 26, 2003 and a dialogue between the two countries aimed at easing tensions continues. Both India and Pakistan maintain a strong military presence on both sides of the LOC. The only official India-Pakistan border crossing point is in the state of Punjab between Atari, India, and Wagah, Pakistan. A Pakistani visa is required to enter Pakistan. The border crossing is currently open. However, travelers are advised to confirm the current status of the border crossing prior to commencing travel.

Both India and Pakistan claim an area of the Karakoram mountain range that includes the Siachen glacier. The ceasefire in Kashmir that took effect in November 2003 has also been in effect on the glacier. U.S. citizens traveling to or climbing peaks in the disputed areas face significant risks. The disputed area includes the following peaks: Rimo Peak; Apsarasas I, II, and III; Tegam Kangri I, II and III; Suingri Kangri; Ghiant I and II; Indira Col; and, Sia Kangri.

Travelers may check with the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi for information on current conditions.

Northeast States:

Sporadic incidents of violence by ethnic insurgent groups, including the bombing of buses and trains, are reported from parts of Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, and Meghalaya, most recently in October of 2004 when over 35 people were killed in separate bombing incidents in a train station and market in Dimapur, capital of the state of Nagaland. While U.S. citizens have not been specifically targeted, visitors are cautioned not to travel outside major cities at night. Security laws are in force, and the central government has deployed security personnel to several Northeast states. Travelers may check with the U.S. Consulate in Calcutta for information on current conditions.

East Central and Southern India:

Left-wing Maoist extremist groups called "Naxalites" are active in the region and U.S. citizens should exercise appropriate caution. The Naxalites have a long history of conflict with state and national authorities, including attacks on police and government officials. The Naxalites have not specifically targeted U.S. citizens, but have attacked symbolic targets that have included American companies. Groups claiming to be Naxalites have blackmailed American organizations, and in one instance a small bomb that exploded at an American corporation's production site was thought to have been part of an extortion plot. Two Naxalite groups, The Maoist Communist Center of India (MCCI), and the People's War Group (PWG) were added to the list of "Other Terrorist Organizations" in the U.S. State Department Publication, "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003." They merged in October 2004 into one organization under one leadership, and regional affiliates are active in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and West Bengal.

Restricted Area:

Advance permission is required from the Indian Government (from Indian diplomatic missions abroad) or for U.S. citizens currently in India, from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in New Delhi, to visit the states of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, parts of Kulu district and the Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, border areas of Jammu and Kashmir, some areas of Uttaranchal, the area west of National Highway No. 15 running from Ganganagar to Sanchar in Rajasthan, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the Union Territory of the Laccadives Islands (Lakshad weep). In addition, U.S. citizens who visit the Tibetan Colony in Mundgod, Karnataka, must obtain a permit from MHA before visiting. U.S. citizens may contact the MHA at: +91-11-2469-3334 or 2301-3054 (begin by dialing 011 if calling from the United States). Tourists should exercise caution while visiting Mahabillipuram. The Indira Gandhi Atomic Research Center, Kalpakkam, is located directly adjacent to the site and is not clearly marked as a restricted and dangerous area.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime:

Petty crime, especially theft of personal property, is common, particularly on trains or buses throughout the country. Pickpockets can be very adept, and women have reported having their bags snatched, pursestraps cut or the bottom of their purses slit without their knowledge. Theft of U.S. passports is quite common, particularly in major tourist areas and on overnight trains. Violent crime, especially directed against foreigners, has traditionally been at relatively low levels, although in recent years there has been an apparent increase in violent attacks directed against foreign tourists, including robbery, murder, and sexual assault. These attacks have mainly been directed at women traveling alone, but men have also been victimized. U.S. citizens, particularly women, are cautioned not to travel alone in India. So-called "Eve Teasing" or verbal and sometimes physical harassment of single Indian women is not unusual. There have been more reports in the past year of foreign women being harassed in this manner. Because U.S. citizens' purchasing power is comparatively large relative to that of the general population, travelers also should always exercise modesty and caution in their financial dealings in India to reduce the chance of being a target for robbery or other serious crime. Gangs and criminal elements operate in several major cities in India and have sometimes targeted unsuspecting businessmen for ransom. Visitors are strongly cautioned not to travel alone and to be aware of their environment and belongings, especially when taking night trains or buses.

Major airports, train stations and tourist sites are often used by touts (confidence men) and scam artists looking to prey on visitors, often by creating a distraction. Taxi drivers and others, including train porters, may solicit travelers with "come-on" offers of cheap transportation and/or hotels. Travelers accepting such offers have often found themselves the victims of scams, including offers to assist with "necessary" transfers to the domestic airport, disproportionately expensive hotel rooms, unwanted "tours" to houseboats in Kashmir, unwelcome "purchases," and even threats when the tourists try to decline to pay.

Visitors to Mumbai should be extremely vigilant when traveling along the roads leading from the domestic and international airports. Locals and foreigners alike, including American citizens, have reported being robbed while traveling along these roads. In most cases, the victim took a taxi whose driver was complicit in the robbery. In other cases, men traveling on motorcycles stopped the traveler's vehicle or taxi while en route from the airport, demanding money and/or the traveler's luggage before driving off.

There are several ways a traveler arriving at a major airport in India can avoid these incidents: (1) While it may be common in other countries, travelers in India should never board a taxi holding existing passengers, nor should the traveler allow the taxi driver to pick up additional passengers while en route. If a taxi driver tells you that the other passenger is a personal friend or family member, exit the taxi and seek another taxi before departing the airport grounds. (2) Many hotels offer free and secure transportation to/from the airport. Take advantage of this service when possible. (3) If traveling for business, ask your company to arrange a private car to transport you between the airport and your hotel. (4) If you must travel to/from the airport by taxi, arrange a fixed-price taxi with one of the private taxi services that have offices inside the airport terminal. Travelers are encouraged to ask for the taxi's registration number and compare it with the number of the actual vehicle being used. The murder and robbery of an Australian woman traveling alone in a pre-paid taxi contracted at the New Delhi airport in early 2004 demonstrates the need to exercise caution and to be sure that such taxis are properly licensed.

Travelers should also exercise care when hiring transportation and/or guides and use only well-known travel agents to book trips. Some scam artists have lured travelers by displaying their name on a sign when they leave the airport. Another popular scam is to drop money or to squirt something on the clothing of an unsuspecting traveler and during the distraction to rob them of their valuables. Individual tourists have also been given drugged drinks or tainted food to make them more vulnerable to theft, particularly at train stations. Even food or drink purchased in front of the traveler from a canteen or vendor could be tainted. To protect against robbery of personal belongings, it is best not to accept food or drink from strangers.

Some vendors sell rugs or other expensive items that may not be of the quality promised. Travelers should deal only with reputable businesses and should not give their credit cards or money unless they are certain that goods being shipped to them are the goods they purchased. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it is best avoided. Most Indian states have official tourism bureaus set up to handle travelers' complaints. The internet addresses for these offices are available at http://www.tourismofindia.com/foot/links.htm.

Travelers should be aware of a number of other scams that have been perpetrated against foreign travelers, particularly in Goa and the Jaipur area. The scams generally target younger travelers and involve suggestions that money can be made by privately transporting gems or gold (both of which can result in arrest) or by taking delivery abroad of expensive carpets, supposedly while avoiding customs duties. The scam artists describe profits that can be made upon delivery of the goods.

Most schemes require that the traveler first put up a "deposit" to either show "sincerity" or as a "down payment" or as the "wholesale cost." In other cases, the scam artists stage phone calls to the traveler from persons posing as "customs agents," claiming that the package has been intercepted and that the traveler must pay an exorbitant customs fee in order to avoid arrest. All travelers are strongly cautioned that the schemes invariably result in the traveler being fleeced. The "gems" or "gold" are always fake, and if they were real, the traveler could be subject to arrest. Such schemes often pull the unsuspecting traveler in over the course of several days and begin with a new "friend" who offers to show the traveler the sights so that the "friend can practice his English." Offers of cheap lodgings and meals also can place the traveler in the physical custody of the scam artist and can leave the traveler at the mercy of threats or even physical coercion.

While violent crime involving U.S. citizens is relatively rare in India, in recent years two U.S. citizens were murdered in the Haridwar/Rishikesh region of Uttaranchal state. Several other foreigners have also been attacked in Uttaranchal. In addition, an American citizen was found murdered in 2003 on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai highway. Crime and violence have also increased in the popular hiking and rafting destination of Kulu/Manali, where the number of foreign backpackers and tourists has been growing and where drugs are readily available, but can occur in any part of India. Foreigners are the targets of criminal activities primarily because of the disproportionately large sums of money they are thought to carry.

U.S. citizens should be aware that there have been unconfirmed reports of inappropriate sexual behavior by a prominent local religious leader at an ashram or religious retreat located in Andhra Pradesh. Most of the reports indicate that the subjects of these approaches have been young male devotees, including a number of U.S. citizens.

Information for Victims of Crime:

If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. Victims of a crime in India, including loss or theft of a passport, should obtain a copy of the police report (called an "FIR" or "First Incident Report") from local police at the time of reporting the incident. A copy of this report is helpful for insurance purposes in replacing lost valuables, and is required by the Indian Government in order to obtain an exit visa to leave India in the event of a lost or stolen passport.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

Adequate to excellent medical care is available in the major population centers, but is usually very limited or unavailable in rural areas. Visitors to India should pay special attention to safe food and water precautions, and steps the traveler can take to avoid contracting malaria. Visitors planning to hike in the mountainous areas of northern India should pay attention to the risk of altitude illness.

Indian health regulations require all travelers arriving from Sub-Saharan Africa or other yellow-fever areas to have evidence of vaccination against yellow fever. Travelers who do not have such proof are subject to immediate deportation or a six-day detention in the yellow-fever quarantine center. U.S. citizens who transit through any part of sub-Saharan Africa, even for one day, are advised to carry proof of yellow fever immunization.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning India is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Travel by road in India is dangerous. A number of U.S. citizens have suffered fatal traffic accidents in recent years. Travel at night is particularly hazardous. Buses, patronized by hundreds of millions of Indians, are convenient in that they serve almost every city of any size. However, they are usually driven fast, recklessly, and without consideration for official rules of the road. Accidents are quite common. Trains are somewhat safer than buses, but train accidents still occur more frequently than in developed countries.

In order to drive in India, one must have either a valid Indian drivers' license or a valid international drivers' license. Because of difficult road and traffic conditions, many Americans who visit India choose to hire a local driver.

On Indian roads, the safest driving policy is to assume that other drivers will not respond to a traffic situation in the same way you would in the United States. For instance, buses and trucks often run red lights and merge directly into traffic at yield points and traffic circles. Cars, autorickshaws, bicycles and pedestrians behave only slightly more cautiously. Indian drivers tend to look only ahead and often consider themselves responsible only for traffic in front of them, not behind or to the side. Frequent use of one's horn or flashing of headlights to announce one's presence is both customary and wise. It is usually preferable to have a licensed experienced driver who has a "feel" for road and driving conditions.

Outside major cities, main roads and other roads are poorly maintained and congested. Even main roads often have only two lanes, with poor visibility and inadequate warning markers. On the few divided highways one can expect to meet local transportation traveling in the wrong direction, often without any lights on. Heavy traffic is the norm and includes (but is not limited to) overloaded trucks and buses, scooters, pedestrians, bullock and camel carts, horse or elephant riders en route to weddings, and free-roaming livestock. Traffic in India moves on the left. It is important to be alert while crossing streets and intersections, especially after dark as traffic is coming in the "wrong" direction (i.e., from the left). Travelers should remember to use seatbelts in both rear and front seats where available, and to ask their drivers to maintain a safe speed.

If a driver hits a pedestrian or a cow, the vehicle and its occupants are at risk of being attacked by passersby. Such attacks pose significant risk of injury or death to the vehicle's occupants or at least of incineration of the vehicle. It can thus be unsafe to remain at the scene of an accident of this nature, and drivers may instead wish to seek out the nearest police station.

Visit the website of India's national tourist office at http://www.tourismofindia.com for information concerning Indian driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance.

Emergency Numbers:

The following emergency numbers work in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta:

Police 100
Fire Brigade 101
Ambulance 102 (Note that this number often does not work in Calcutta).

Aviation Safety Oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of India as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of India's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/.

Civil aircraft have been detained a number of times for deviating from approved flight plans. U.S. citizens piloting civil aircraft in India must file any changes to previous flight plans with the appropriate Indian authorities and may not over-fly restricted airspace.

Special Circumstances:

In 2003, India passed a bill that allows persons of Indian origin in sixteen countries (subsequently extended to almost all countries), including the United States, to apply for a form of dual citizenship known as "Overseas Citizens of India" (OCI). The government recently announced that the process for a person to become an OCI will be launched on August 15, 2005 or shortly thereafter. However, many specific details regarding what rights and obligations apply to a person who applies for OCI status have yet to be clarified. Presently, the Government of India offers a special visa for "Persons of Indian Origin" (PIO). It is contemplated that OCI status will be similar to PIO status. At present, the PIO card allows a person to enter and exit the country without a visa for almost any purpose for any period of time, without the requirement of registering with immigration authorities. However, PIOs cannot vote in Indian elections, and are also subject to other restrictions, such as the ability to own certain types of real property in India. The Embassy understands that similar restrictions may apply to OCIs. The Indian government has indicated that a person who applies for OCI status will not be required to take an oath of allegiance to India. Accordingly, at this time, it is not clear whether an OCI would legally be considered a "national" of India. Information on how to apply for PIO or OCI status can be found on the Indian Embassy's website at http://www.indianembassy.org/consular/index.htm.

Any person who is considered to have dual nationality as a citizen of both India and the U.S is subject to all Indian laws. Moreover, a dual national also may be subject to other laws and regulations that impose special obligations on Indian citizens, such as taxation. In some instances such as arrest, dual nationality may hamper U.S. Government efforts to provide assistance abroad. Additional general information about dual nationality is available at travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1753.html.

A number of U.S.-citizen men who have come to India to marry Indian nationals have been arrested and charged with crimes related to dowry extraction. Many of the charges stem from the U.S. citizen's inability to provide an immigrant visa for his prospective spouse to travel immediately to the United States. The courts sometimes order the U.S. citizen to pay large sums of money to his spouse in exchange for the dismissal of charges. The courts normally confiscate the American's passport, and he must remain in India until the case has been settled. There are also cases of U.S.-citizen women of Indian descent whose families force them against their will into marriages to Indian nationals.

Foreign visitors planning to engage in religious proselytizing are required by the 1956 Foreigners Act to have a "missionary" visa. A 1995 Central Government order defines "inappropriate" religious activity to include speaking at religious meetings to which the general public is invited. Foreigners with tourist visas who engage in missionary activity are subject to deportation and possible criminal prosecution. The states of Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Arunachal Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh have additional legislation regulating conversion from one religious faith to another. U.S. citizens intending to engage in missionary activity may wish to seek legal advice regarding this legislation.

Indian customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from India of items such as firearms, antiquities, electronic equipment, currency, ivory, gold objects, and other prohibited materials. Even transit passengers require permission from the Government of India to bring in such items. Those not complying risk arrest and/or fine and confiscation of these items. If charged with any alleged legal violations by Indian law enforcement, it is recommended that an attorney review any document prior to signing. The Government of India requires the registration of antique items with the local police along with a photograph of the item. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of India in Washington or one of India's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.

Indian customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information call (212) 354-4480, e-mail [email protected], or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. For example, certain comments or gestures towards women or about religion that are legal in the United States may be considered a criminal violation in India, subjecting the accused to possible fines or imprisonment.

Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Indian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in India are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. For more information, please refer to travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1467.html.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy and Consulate Location:

Americans living or traveling in India are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within India. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. When calling from the United States, begin by dialing 011.

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is located at Shanti Path, Chanakyapuri 110021; telephone +91-11-2419-8000; fax +91-11-2419-8407. The Embassy's Internet home pge address is newdelhi.usembassy.gov.

The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai (Bombay) is located at Lincoln House, 78 Bhulabhai Desai Road, 400026, telephone +91-22-2363-3611; fax +91-22-2363-0350. The Internet home page address is mumbai.usconsulate.gov.

The U.S. Consulate General in Calcutta (now often called Kolkata) is at 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, 700071; telephone +91-33-2282-3611 through -3615; fax +91-33-2282-2335. The Internet home page address is calcutta.usconsulate.gov.

The U.S. Consulate General in Chennai (Madras) is at 220 Anna Salai, Gemini Circle, 600006; telephone +91-44-2811-2000; fax +91-44-2811-2027. The Internet home page address is chennai.usconsulate.gov.

International Adoption

January 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer:

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Before You Leave the U.S.:

U.S. immigration and visa laws provide for advance approval of an adoption petition on Form I-600A by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (BCIS) office that has jurisdiction over your place of domicile. This form may be filed before you locate a specific child for adoption. Taking this step generally reduces the amount of time adoptive parents must wait to bring the child to the United States after a particular child is chosen.

You may obtain additional information from your local office of BCIS. The telephone number of that office should appear in the U.S. Government section (blue pages) of your telephone directory.

Complying with Indian Law:

Hindus may adopt a child pursuant to the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act LXXVIII of 1956. Indian law has no provisions for foreigners to adopt Indian children, but under the Guardian and Wards Act of 1890, foreigners may petition an Indian District Court for legal custody of a child to be taken abroad for adoption. Following a 1984 Indian Supreme Court decision, non-Indians are required to work through an adoption agency in their home country that is licensed in accordance with local law and appears on a list of agencies approved by the Indian government. Only an Indian agency recognized and listed by the Indian Government may make children available for adoption by foreigners. The list of U.S. and Indian agencies authorized by India to handle inter-country adoptions is enclosed.

You may wish to contact an Indian attorney to assist you in obtaining custody. Lists of attorneys practicing in India are attached.

Filing An Adoption Petition with the BCIS:

The I-600A petition, which established the eligibility of the parents to adopt a child abroad, is generally filed with the BCIS in the U.S. The following documents are required:

  • Fingerprints of petitioner (and spouse, if married);
  • Home study documents from an authorized agency in the U.S. where the child will be adopted;
  • Proof of petitioners' U.S. citizenship (passport or birth certificate);
  • Evidence of financial support;
  • Payment of the filing fee.

Once the child has been identified, the I-600 can be filed either with the domestic BCIS officer where the I-660A (if any) was filed, or the I-600 petition can be filed with the BCIS in New Delhi. The following documents are generally required for filing an I-600 petition:

  • Court order regarding legal custody of the child;
  • Evidence that the child is an orphan;
  • Birth certificate of the child;
  • Two photographs of the child;
  • Payment of required fees.

Obtaining the Child's Immigrant Visa:

Once the petition has been approved by BCIS and forwarded to the consular section at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, the adopted child must apply for an immigrant visa. The child must appear in person, but there is no requirement that the adoptive parent(s) appear as well. Often someone from the child welfare agency will bring the child to the consular section for the visa and subsequently accompany the child to the U.S. The following documents are generally required for issuance of an immigrant visa:

  • A copy of the court order granting legal custody of the child;
  • Medical examination of the child from one of the physicians on the Embassy or Consulate's panel;
  • Child's birth certificate;
  • Application fee and visa fee; rupee demand drafts (bank checks) are preferred, but cash or travelers checks in either dollars or the equivalent amount in rupees are accepted.
  • Indian passport for the child.

After the Child Arrives in the U.S.:

The actual adoption of the child will take place in the U.S., according to the laws of the state in which you are domiciled. Each state has its own laws governing adoption of children. Your stateside adoption agency or local child welfare bureau can help you with this final step. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

Questions:

Specific questions regarding adoption in India may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in India. You may also contact the Office of Children's Issues, SA-29, 2201 C Street, NW, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-2818; Phone: 1-888-407-4747; Fax: (202) 312-9743.

views updated

INDIA

Compiled from the November 2004 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of India


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 3.29 million sq. km. (1.27 million sq. mi.); about one-third the size of the U.S.

Cities: Capital—New Delhi (pop. 12.8 million, 2001 census). Other major cities—Mumbai, formerly Bombay (16.4 million); Kolkata, formerly Calcutta (13.2 million); Chennai, formerly Madras (6.4 million); Bangalore (5.7 million); Hyderabad (5.5 million); Ahmedabad (5 million); Pune (4 million).

Terrain: Varies from Himalayas to flat river valleys.

Climate: Alpine to temperate to subtropical monsoon.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Indian(s).

Population: (2003 est.) 1.05 billion; urban 27.8%.

Annual growth rate: 1.6%.

Density: 319/sq. km.

Ethnic groups: Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, Mongoloid 2%, others.

Religions: Hindu 81.3%, Muslim 12%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other groups including Buddhist, Jain, Parsi 2.5%.

Languages: Hindi, English, and 16 other official languages.

Education: Years compulsory—9 (to age 14). Literacy—55.2%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—61/1,000. Life expectancy—63 years.

Work force: (est.) 416 million. Agriculture—63%; industry and commerce—22%; services and government—11%; transport and communications—4%.

Government

Type: Federal republic.

Independence: August 15, 1947.

Constitution: January 26, 1950.

Branches: Executive—president (chief of state), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers (cabinet). Legislative—bicameral parliament (Rajya Sabha or Council of States, and Lok Sabha or House of the People). Judicial—Supreme Court.

Political parties: Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress (I), Janata Dal (United), Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India-Marxist, and numerous regional and small national parties.

Administrative subdivisions: 28 states (This number includes the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The United States considers all of the former princely state of Kashmir to be disputed territory. India, Pakistan, and China each control parts of Kashmir.) 7 union territories.

Suffrage: Universal over 18.

Economy

GDP: $576 billion (2003); $648 billion (2004 est.).

Real growth rate: 8.2% (2003).

Per capita GDP: $543 (2003); $602 (2004 est.).

Natural resources: Coal, iron ore, manganese, mica, bauxite, chromite, thorium, limestone, barite, titanium ore, diamonds, crude oil.

Agriculture: 22.7% of GDP. Products—wheat, rice, coarse grains, oilseeds, sugar, cotton, jute, tea

Industry: 26.6% of GDP. Products—textiles, jute, processed food, steel, machinery, transport equipment, cement, aluminum, fertilizers, mining, petroleum, chemicals, computer software.

Services and transportation: 50.7% of GDP.

Trade: Exports—$62 billion; agricultural products, engineering goods, precious stones, cotton apparel and fabrics, gems and jewelry, handicrafts, tea. Software exports—$12.5 billion. Imports—$76 billion; petroleum, machinery and transport equipment, electronic goods, edible oils, fertilizers, chemicals, gold, textiles, iron and steel. Major trade partners—U.S., EU, Russia, Japan, Iraq.


PEOPLE

Although India occupies only 2.4% of the world's land area, it supports over 15% of the world's population. Only China has a larger population. Almost 33% of Indians are younger than 15 years of age. About 70% of the people live in more than 550,000 villages, and the remainder in more than 200 towns and cities. Over thousands of years of its history, India has been invaded from the Iranian plateau, Central Asia, Arabia, Afghanistan, and the West; Indian people and culture have absorbed and changed these influences to produce a remarkable racial and cultural synthesis.

Religion, caste, and language are major determinants of social and political organization in India today. The government has recognized 18 languages as official; Hindi is the most widely spoken.

Although 81% of the people are Hindu, India also is the home of more than 126 million Muslims—one of the world's largest Muslim populations. The population also includes Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, and Parsis.

The caste system reflects Indian occupational and socially defined hierarchies. Sanskrit sources refer to four social categories, priests (Brahmin), warriors (kshatriya), traders (vayisha) and farmers (shudra). Although these categories are under-stood throughout India, they describe reality only in the most general terms. They omit, for example, the tribes and low castes once known as 'untouchables.' In reality, society in India is divided into thousands of jatis, local, endogamous groups, organized hierarchically according to complex ideas of purity and pollution. Despite economic modernization and laws countering discrimination against the lower end of the class structure, the caste system remains an important source of social identification for most Hindus and a potent factor in the political life of the country.


HISTORY

The people of India have had a continuous civilization since 2500 B.C., when the inhabitants of the Indus River valley developed an urban culture based on commerce and sustained by agricultural trade. This civilization declined around 1500 B.C., probably due to ecological changes.

During the second millennium B.C., pastoral, Aryan-speaking tribes migrated from the northwest into the subcontinent. As they settled in the middle Ganges River valley, they adapted to antecedent cultures.

The political map of ancient and medieval India was made up of myriad kingdoms with fluctuating boundaries. In the 4th and 5th centuries A.D., northern India was unified under the Gupta Dynasty. During this period, known as India's Golden Age, Hindu culture and political administration reached new heights.

Islam spread across the subcontinent over a period of 500 years. In the 10th and 11th centuries, Turks and Afghans invaded India and established sultanates in Delhi. In the early 16th century, the Chaghtai Turkish adventurer and distant relative of Timurlang, Babur, established the Mughal Dynasty, which lasted for 200 years. South India followed an independent path, but by the 17th century it too came under the direct rule of influence of the expanding Mughal Empire. While most of Indian society in its thousands of villages remained untouched by the political struggles going on around them, Indian courtly culture evolved into a unique blend of Hindu and Muslim traditions.

The first British outpost in South Asia was established by the English East India Company in 1619 at Surat on the northwestern coast. Later in the century, the Company opened permanent trading stations at Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta, each under the protection of native rulers. The British expanded their influence from these footholds until, by the 1850s, they controlled most of present-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. In 1857, a rebellion in north India led by mutinous Indian soldiers caused the British Parliament to transfer all political power from the East India Company to the Crown. Great Britain began administering most of India directly while controlling the rest through treaties with local rulers.

In the late 1800s, the first steps were taken toward self-government in British India with the appointment of Indian councilors to advise the British viceroy and the establishment of provincial councils with Indian members; the British subsequently widened participation in legislative councils. Beginning in 1920, Indian leader Mohandas K. Gandhi transformed the Indian National Congress political party into a mass movement to campaign against British colonial rule. The party used both parliamentary and nonviolent resistance and noncooperation to achieve independence.

On August 15, 1947, India became a dominion within the Commonwealth, with Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister. Enmity between Hindus and Muslims led the British to partition British India, creating East and West Pakistan, where there were Muslim majorities. India became a republic within the Commonwealth after promulgating its Constitution on January 26, 1950.

After independence, the Congress Party, the party of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, ruled India under the influence first of Nehru and then his daughter and grandson, with the exception of two brief periods in the 1970s and 1980s.

Prime Minister Nehru governed the nation until his death in 1964. He was succeeded by Lal Bahadur Shastri, who also died in office. In 1966, power passed to Nehru's daughter, Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977. In 1975, beset with deepening political and economic

problems, Mrs. Gandhi declared a state of emergency and suspended many civil liberties. Seeking a mandate at the polls for her policies, she called for elections in 1977, only to be defeated by Moraji Desai, who headed the Janata Party, an amalgam of five opposition parties. In 1979, Desai's Government crumbled. Charan Singh formed an interim government, which was followed by Mrs. Gandhi's return to power in January 1980. On October 31, 1984, Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated, and her son, Rajiv, was chosen by the Congress (I)—for "Indira"—Party to take her place. His Congress government was plagued with allegations of corruption resulting in an early call for national elections in 1989.

In the 1989 elections Rajiv Gandhi and Congress won more seats than any other single party, but he was unable to form a government with a clear majority. The Janata Dal, a union of opposition parties, then joined with the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the right and the communists on the left to form the government. This loose coalition collapsed in November 1990, and Janata Dal, supported by the Congress (I), came to power for a short period, with Chandra Shekhar as Prime Minister. That alliance also collapsed, resulting in national elections in June 1991.

On May 27, 1991, while campaigning in Tamil Nadu on behalf of Congress (I), Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, apparently by Tamil extremists from Sri Lanka. In the elections, Congress (I) won 213 parliamentary seats and returned to power at the head of a coalition, under the leadership of P.V. Narasimha Rao. This Congress-led government, which served a full 5-year term, initiated a gradual process of economic liberalization and reform, which opened the Indian economy to global trade and investment. India's domestic politics also took new shape, as the nationalist appeal of the Congress Party gave way to traditional alignments by caste, creed, and ethnicity leading to the founding of a plethora of small, regionally based political parties.

The final months of the Rao-led government in the spring of 1996 were marred by several major political corruption scandals, which contributed to the worst electoral performance by the Congress Party in its history. The Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged from the May 1996 national elections as the single-largest party in the Lok Sabha but without a parliamentary majority. Under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the subsequent BJP coalition lasted only 13 days. With all political parties wishing to avoid another round of elections, a 14-party coalition led by the Janata Dal formed a government known as the United Front, under the former Chief Minister of Karnataka, H.D. Deve Gowda. His government collapsed after less than a year, when the Congress Party withdrew his support in March 1997. Inder Kumar Gujral replaced Deve Gowda as the consensus choice for Prime Minister at the head of a 16-party United Front coalition.

In November 1997, the Congress Party again withdrew support from the United Front. In new elections in February 1998, the BJP won the largest number of seats in Parliament—182—but fell far short of a majority. On March 20, 1998, the President inaugurated a BJP-led coalition government with Vajpayee again serving as Prime Minister. On May 11 and 13, 1998, this government conducted a series of underground nuclear tests, forcing U.S. President Clinton to impose economic sanctions on India pursuant to the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act.

In April 1999, the BJP-led coalition government fell apart, leading to fresh elections in September. The National Democratic Alliance—a new coalition led by the BJP—gained a majority to form the government with Vajpayee as Prime Minister in October 1999.

The Kargil conflict in 1999 and an attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 led to increased tensions with Pakistan. Hindu nationalists have long agitated to build a temple on a disputed site in Ayodhya. In February 2002, a mob of Muslims attacked a train carrying Hindu volunteers returning from Ayodhya to the state of Gujarat, and 57 were burnt alive. Over 900 people were killed and 100,000 left homeless in the resulting anti-Muslim riots throughout the state. This led to accusations that the state government had not done enough to contain the riots, or arrest and prosecute the rioters.

The ruling BJP-led coalition was defeated in a five-stage election held in April and May of 2004, and a Congress-led coalition took power on May 22 with Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister.


GOVERNMENT

According to its Constitution, India is a "sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic." Like the United States, India has a federal form of government. However, the central government in India has greater power in relation to its states, and its central government is patterned after the British parliamentary system.

The government exercises its broad administrative powers in the name of the president, whose duties are largely ceremonial. A special electoral college elects the president and vice president indirectly for 5-year terms. Their terms are staggered, and the vice president does not automatically become president following the death or removal from office of the president.

Real national executive power is centered in the Council of Ministers (cabinet), led by the prime minister. The president appoints the prime minister, who is designated by legislators of the political party or coalition commanding a parliamentary majority in the Lok Sabha. The president then appoints subordinate ministers on the advice of the prime minister.

India's bicameral parliament consists of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People). The Council of Ministers is responsible to the Lok Sabha.

The legislatures of the states and union territories elect 233 members to the Rajya Sabha, and the president appoints another 12. The members of the Rajya Sabha serve 6-year terms, with one-third up for election every 2 years. The Lok Sabha consists of 545 members, who serve 5-year terms; 543 are directly elected, and two are appointed.

India's independent judicial system began under the British, and its concepts and procedures resemble those of Anglo-Saxon countries. The Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and 25 other justices, all appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister.

India has 28 states* and 7 union territories. At the state level, some of the legislatures are bicameral, patterned after the two houses of the national parliament. The states' chief ministers are responsible to the legislatures in the same way the prime minister is responsible to parliament.

Each state also has a presidentially appointed governor, who may assume certain broad powers when directed by the central government. The central government exerts greater control over the union territories than over the states, although some territories have gained more power to administer their own affairs. Local governments in India have less autonomy than their counterparts in the United States. Some states are trying to revitalize the traditional village councils, or panchayats, to promote popular democratic participation at the village level, where much of the population still lives.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 11/29/04

President: Kalam , Abdul
Vice President: Shekhawat , Bhairon Singh
Prime Minister: Singh , Manmohan
Dep. Prime Min.:
Principal Sec. to the Prime Minister's Office: Nair , T. K. A.
National Security Adviser: Dixit , J. N. "Mani"
Min. of Agriculture: Pawar , Sharad
Mini. of Agro & Rural Industries: Prasad , Mahavir
Min. of Chemicals & Fertilizers: Paswan , Ram Vilas
Min. of Civil Aviation: Patel , Praful
Min. of Coal: Soren , Shibu
Min. of Commerce & Industry: Nath , Kamal
Min. of Communications & Information Technology: Maran , Dayanidhi
Min. of Consumer Affairs, Food, & Public Distribution:
Min. of Culture: Reddy , Jaipal
Min. of Defense: Mukherjee , Pranab
Min. of Development of North Eastern Region: Kyndiah , Paty Ripple
Min. of Disinvestment:
Min. of Environment & Forests: Raja , A.
Min. of External Affairs: Singh , K. Natwar
Min. of Finance & Company Affairs: Chidambaram , P.
Min. of Food Processing Industries:
Min. of Health & Family Welfare: Ramadoss , Anbumani
Min. of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises:
Min. of Home Affairs: Patil , Shivraj
Min. of Human Resource Development: Singh , Arun
Min. of Information & Broadcasting: Reddy , Jaipal
Min. of Information & Technology:
Min. of Labor & Employment: Rao , K. Chandrasekhara
Min. of Law & Justice: Bhardwaj , Hans Raj
Min. of Local Government: Aiyar , Mani Shankar
Min. of Mines: Ola , Sis Ram
Min. of Non-Conventional Energy Sources:
Min. of Ocean Development:
Min. of Parliamentary Affairs: Azad , Ghulam Nabi
Min. of Personnel, Public Grievance & Pensions:
Min. of Petroleum & Natural Gas: Aiyar Mani Shankar
Min. of Planning:
Min. of Power: Sayeed , P. M.
Min. of Railways: Yadav , Laloo Prasad
Min. of Road Transport & Highways: Baalu , T. R.
Min. of Rural Development: Singh , Raghuvansh Prasad
Min. of Science & Technology: Sibal , Kapil
Min. of Shipping: Baalu , T. R.
Min. of Small-Scale Industries: Prasad , Mahavir
Min. of Social Justice & Empowerment: Kumar , Meira
Min. of Statistics & Program Implementation:
Min. of Steel: Paswan , Ram Vilas
Min. of Textiles: Vaghela , Shankersinh
Min. of Tourism & Culture:
Min. of Tribal Affairs: Kyndiah , Paty Ripple
Min. of Urban Development: Azad , Ghulam Nabi
Min. of Water Resources: Dasmunshi , Priyaranjan
Min. of Youth Affairs & Sports: Dutt , Sunil
Min. Without Portfolio:
Governor, Reserve Bank: Reddy , Y. Venugopal
Ambassador to the US: Sen , Ranendra
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Sen , Nirupam

India maintains an embassy in the United States at 2107 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-939-7000, fax 202-265-4351, email [email protected]) and consulates general in New York, Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco. The embassy's web site is http://www.indianembassy.org/.


POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took office on May 22, 2004 after an April/May 2004 general election in which a Congress-led coalition of 12 parties called the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) emerged with the largest number of Lok Sabha seats. Six additional parties did not join the government, but provided support. The inability of Congress to return to power on its own reflects the ongoing transition in Indian politics away from historical domination by the national-based Congress Party toward coalitions including smaller, narrower-based regional parties. This process has been underway for more than a decade and is likely to continue in the future, with smaller parties aligning with either the Congress or the BJP to form the central government.

Emerging as the nation's single largest party in the April/May 2004 Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) election, Congress currently leads a coalition government under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Party President Sonia Gandhi was reelected by the Party National Executive in May 2004. She is also a Member of Parliament and leader of the Congress delegation in the Lok Sabha. Congress prides itself as a secular, left of center party, and has been the historically dominant political party in India. Although its performance in national elections had steadily declined during the last 12 years, its surprise victory in 2004, was a result of recruiting strong allies into the UPA, the anti-incumbency factor among voters, and winning the votes of many poor, rural and Muslim voters. The political fortunes of the Congress had suffered badly in the 1990s as major groups in its traditional vote bank were lost to emerging regional and caste-based parties, such as the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party. In November 2003, elections in five states reduced the number of Congress ruled states from 14.5 to 11.5–the Congress shares power with the People's Democratic Party in the state of Jammu and Kashmir—and convinced the BJP to move up the Lok Sabha elections from October to May.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Venkaiah Naidu, holds the second-largest number of seats in the Lok Sabha. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee serves as Chairman of the BJP Parliamentary Party, and former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani is Leader of the Opposition. The Hindu-nationalist BJP draws its political strength mainly from the "Hindi Belt" in the northern and western regions of India.

The party holds power in the states of Gujarat, Jharkhand, Goa, Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Orissa–in coalition with the Biju Janata Dal–and in Haryana–in coalition with the Indian National Lok Dal. Popularly viewed as the party of the northern upper caste and trading communities, the BJP has made strong inroads into the lower caste vote bank in recent national and state assembly elections. The party must balance the competing interests of Hindu nationalists, (who advocate construction of a temple on a disputed site in Ayodhya), and center-right modernizers who see the BJP as a party of economic and political reform.

Four Communist and Marxist parties are united in a bloc called the "Left Front," which controls 59 parliamentary seats. The Left Front rules the state of West Bengal and participates in a governing coalition in Kerala. Although it has not joined the government, Left Front support provides the crucial seats necessary for the UPA to retain power in New Delhi; without its support, the UPA government would fall. It advocates a secular and Communist ideology and opposes many aspects of economic liberalization and globalization.

The next general election is scheduled for 2009.


ECONOMY

India's population is estimated at nearly 1.07 billion and is growing at 1.7% a year. It has the world's 12th largest economy—and the third largest in Asia behind Japan and China—with total GDP of around $570 billion. Services, industry and agriculture account for 50.7%, 26.6% and 22.7% of GDP respectively. Nearly two-thirds of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. About 25% of the population lives below the poverty line, but a large and growing middle class of 320-340 million has disposable income for consumer goods.

India is continuing to move forward with market-oriented economic reforms that began in 1991. Recent reforms include liberalized foreign investment and exchange regimes, industrial decontrol, significant reductions in tariffs and other trade barriers, reform and modernization of the financial sector, significant adjustments in government monetary and fiscal policies and safeguarding intellectual property rights.

Real GDP growth for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2004 was 8.17%, up from the drought-depressed 4.0% growth in the previous year. Growth for the year ending March 31, 2005 is expected to be between 6.5% and 7.0%. Foreign portfolio and direct investment in-flows have risen significantly in recent years. They have contributed to the $120 billion in foreign exchange reserves at the end of June 2004. Government receipts from privatization were about $3 billion in fiscal year 2003-04.

However, economic growth is constrained by inadequate infrastructure, a cumbersome bureaucracy, corruption, labor market rigidities, regulatory and foreign investment controls, the "reservation" of key products for small-scale industries and high fiscal deficits. The outlook for further trade liberalization is mixed. India eliminated quotas on 1,420 consumer imports in 2002 and has announced its intention to continue to lower customs duties. However, the tax structure is complex with compounding effects of various taxes.

The United States is India's largest trading partner. Bilateral trade in 2003 was $18.1 billion and is expected to reach $20 billion in 2004. Principal U.S. exports are diagnostic or lab reagents, aircraft and parts, advanced machinery, cotton, fertilizers, ferrous waste/scrap metal and computer hardware. Major U.S. imports from India include textiles and ready-made garments, internet-enabled services, agricultural and related products, gems and jewelry, leather products and chemicals.

The rapidly growing software sector is boosting service exports and modernizing India's economy. Revenues from IT industry are expected to cross $20 billion in 2004-05. Software exports were $12.5 billion in 2003-04. PC penetration is 8 per 1,000 persons, but is expected to grow to 10 per 1,000 by 2005. The cellular mobile market is expected to surge to over 50 million subscribers by 2005 from the present 36 million users. The country has 52 million cable TV customers.

The United States is India's largest investment partner, with total inflow of U.S. direct investment estimated at $3.7 billion in 2003. Proposals for direct foreign investment are considered by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board and generally receive government approval. Automatic approvals are available for investments involving up to 100% foreign equity, depending on the kind of industry. Foreign investment is particularly sought after in power generation, telecommunications, ports, roads, petroleum exploration/processing and mining.

India's external debt was $112 billion in 2003, up from $105 billion in 2002. Bilateral assistance was approximately $2.62 billion in 2002-03, with the United States providing about $130.2 million in development assistance in 2003. The World Bank plans to double aid to India to almost $3 billion over the next four years, beginning in July 2004.


DEFENSE

The supreme command of the Indian armed forces is vested in the President of India. The policy concerning India's defense, and the armed forces as a whole, is formulated and confirmed by the Union Cabinet. The Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister, consists of ministers, one of whom holds the portfolio of defense and is known as the Defence Minister.

The Defence Committee of the Cabinet takes decisions on all matter of policy concerning defense. That committee consists of the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister, the Home Minister, the Finance Minister, and the Transport & Communications Minister.

Jointness is coming to the Indian armed forces. There is a position Chief of Integrated Service Command that looks after the integration of the defense services under the proposed Chief of Defence Staff plan. A Joint Integrated Defence Staff supports this organization with elements from the three services and various departments in the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of External Affairs.

The Indian Army numbers over 1.1 million strong and fields 34 divisions. Its primary task is to safeguard the territorial integrity of the country against external threats. The Army has been heavily committed in the recent past to counterterrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as the in the Northeast. Its current modernization program focuses on obtaining equipment to be used in combating terror. The Army will often find itself providing aid to civil authorities and assisting the government in organizing relief operations.

The Indian Navy is by far the most capable navy in the region. They currently operate one aircraft carrier with two on order, 14 submarines, and 15 major surface combatants. The navy is capable of projecting power within the Indian Ocean basin and occasionally operates in the South China Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Gulf. Fleet introduction of the Brahmos cruise missiles (expected in 2005) and the possible lease of nuclear submarines from Russia will add significantly to the Indian Navy's flexibility and striking power. The Navy's primary missions are the defense of India and of India's vital sea lines of communication. India relies on the sea for 90% of its oil and natural gas and over 90% of its foreign trade.

Although small, the Indian Coast Guard has been expanding rapidly in recent years. Indian Navy officers typically fill top Coast Guard positions to ensure coordination between the two services. India's Coast Guard is responsible for control of India's huge exclusive economic zone.

The Indian Air Force is in the process of becoming a viable 21st century western-style force through modernization and new tactics. Force modernization is key in this revolution, with the likes of new SU-30MKI becoming the backbone of a power projection capability. Other significant modernization efforts include the induction of a new advanced jet trainer (BAE Hawk) and the indigenously produced advanced light helicopter (Dhruv).


FOREIGN RELATIONS

India's size, population, and strategic location give it a prominent voice in international affairs, and its growing industrial base, military strength, and scientific and technical capacity give it added weight. It collaborates closely with other developing countries on issues from trade to environmental protection. The end of the Cold War dramatically affected Indian foreign policy. India remains a leader of the developing world and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and hosted the NAM Heads of State Summit in 1997. India is now also seeking to strengthen its political and commercial ties with the United States, Japan, the European Union, Iran, China, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. India is an active member of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

India has always been an active member of the United Nations and now seeks a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. India has a long tradition of participating in UN peacekeeping operations and most recently contributed personnel to UN operations in Somalia, Cambodia, Mozambique, Kuwait, Bosnia, Angola, and El Salvador.

Bilateral and Regional Relations

Pakistan. The January 2004 SAARC summit marked a historic breakthrough, with India and Pakistan agreeing to resume a composite dialogue on all issues including Kashmir.

India and Pakistan have been locked in a tense rivalry since the partition of the subcontinent upon achieving independence from Great Britain in 1947. The principal source of contention has been Kashmir, whose Hindu Maharaja at that time chose to join India, although a majority of his subjects were Muslim. India maintains that his decision and the subsequent elections in Kashmir have made it an integral part of India. This dispute triggered wars between the two countries in 1947 and 1965.

In December 1971, following a political crisis in what was then East Pakistan and the flight of millions of Bengali refugees to India, Pakistan and India again went to war. The brief conflict left the situation largely unchanged in the west, where the two armies reached an impasse, but a decisive Indian victory in the east resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.

Since the 1971 war, Pakistan and India have made only slow progress toward normalization of relations. In July 1972, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto met in the Indian hill station of Simla. They signed an agreement by which India would return all personnel and captured territory in the west and the two countries would "settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations." Diplomatic and trade relations were re-established in 1976.

After the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, new strains appeared in India-Pakistan relations; Pakistan supported the Afghan resistance, while India implicitly supported Soviet occupation. In the following 8 years, India voiced increasing concern over Pakistani arms purchases, U.S. military aid to Pakistan, and Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. In an effort to curtail tensions, the two countries formed a joint commission. In December 1988, Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto concluded a pact not to attack each other's nuclear facilities. Agreements on cultural exchanges and civil aviation also were initiated.

In 1997, high-level Indo-Pakistani talks resumed after a 3-year pause. The Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan met twice, and the foreign secretaries conducted three rounds of talks. In June 1997 at Lahore, the foreign secretaries identified eight "outstanding issues" around which continuing talks would be focused.

The dispute over the status of Jammu and Kashmir, an issue since partition, remains the major stumbling block in their dialogue. India maintains that the entire former princely state is an integral part of the Indian union, while Pakistan insists that UN resolutions calling for self-determination of the people of the state must be taken into account.

In September 1997, the talks broke down over the structure of how to deal with the issues of Kashmir and peace and security. Pakistan advocated that separate working groups treat each issue. India responded that the two issues be taken up along with six others on a simultaneous basis. In May 1998 India, and then Pakistan, conducted nuclear tests. Attempts to restart dialogue between the two nations were given a major boost by the February 1999 meeting of both Prime Ministers in Lahore and their signing of three agreements. These efforts were stalled by the intrusion of Pakistani-backed forces into Indian-held territory near Kargil in May 1999 (that nearly turned into full scale war), and by the military coup in Pakistan that over-turned the Nawaz Sharif government in October the same year. In July 2001, Mr. Vajpayee and General Pervez Musharraf, leader of Pakistan after the coup, met in Agra, but talks ended after 2 days without result.

After an attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001, India-Pakistan relations cooled further as India accused Pakistanis of being involved in the attacks. Tensions increased, fueled by killings in Jammu and Kashmir, peaking in a troop buildup by both sides in early 2002.

Prime Minister Vajpayee's April 18, 2003 speech in Srinagar (Kashmir) revived bilateral efforts to normalize relations. After a series of confidence building measures, Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Musharraf met on the sidelines of the January 2004 SAARC summit in Islamabad and agreed to commence a Composite Dialogue addressing outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, including Kashmir. In November 2003, Prime Minister Vajapyee and President Musharraf agreed to a ceasefire along the line of control in Jammu and Kashmir, which is still holding. The UPA government has pledged to continue the Composite Dialogue with Pakistan.

In February, India and Pakistan agreed to restart the "2+6" Composite Dialogue formula, which provides for talks on Peace and Security and Jammu and Kashmir, followed by technical and Secretary-level discussions on six other bilateral disputes: Siachen Glacier, Wuller Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project, Sir Creek, Terrorism and Drug Trafficking, Economic and Commercial cooperation and the Promotion of Friendly Exchanges in various fields. Foreign Secretary-level discussions took place in June, which generated modest progress, and the two sides agreed to schedule a further set of meetings in July and August. The restart of the Composite Dialogue process is especially significant, given the almost six years that have transpired since the two sides agreed to this formula in 1997-98.

SAARC

Certain aspects of India's relations within the subcontinent are conducted through the SAARC. Its members are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Established in 1985, SAARC encourages cooperation in agriculture, rural development, science and technology, culture, health, population control, narcotics, and terrorism.

SAARC has intentionally stressed these "core issues" and avoided more divisive political issues, although political dialogue is often conducted on the margins of SAARC meetings. In 1993, India and its SAARC partners signed an agreement gradually to lower tariffs within the region. Forward movement in SAARC had slowed because of the tension between India and Pakistan, and the SAARC summit scheduled for 1999 was not held until January 2002. In addition to the boost to the process of normalizing India's relationship with Pakistan, the January 2004 SAARC summit in Islamabad produced an agreement to establish a South Asia Free Trade Area. SAARC members will reduce tariffs on intra-regional trade over a period of 8 years following the ratification of the accord, with least developed countries allowed the most time to adjust.

China. Despite suspicions remaining from a 1962 border conflict between India and China and continuing territorial/boundary disputes, Sino-Indian relations have improved gradually since 1988. Both countries have sought to reduce tensions along the frontier, expand trade and cultural ties, and normalize relations.

A series of high-level visits between the two nations has helped to improve relations. In December 1996, Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited India on a tour of South Asia. While in New Delhi, he signed, with the Indian Prime Minister, a series of confidence-building measures along the disputed border, including troop reductions and weapons limitations.

Continuing the trend of friendly relations, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao invited Prime Minister Vajpayee to visit China in June 2003. They recognized the common goals of both countries and made the commitment to build a "long-term constructive and cooperative partnership" to peacefully promote their mutual political and economic goals without encroaching upon their good relations with other countries. In Beijing, Prime Minister Vajpayee proposed the designation of special representatives to discuss the border dispute at the political level, a process that is still under way.

Former Soviet Union. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the emergence of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) had major repercussions for Indian foreign policy. India's formerly substantial trade with the former Soviet Union plummeted after the Soviet collapse and has yet to recover. Longstanding military supply relationships were similarly disrupted due to questions over financing, although Russia continues to be India's largest supplier of military systems and spare parts.

Russia and India have decided not to renew the 1971 Indo-Soviet Peace and Friendship Treaty and have sought to follow what both describe as a more pragmatic, less ideological relationship. Russian President Yeltsin's visit to India in January 1993 helped cement this new relationship. The pace of high-level visits has since increased, as has discussion of major defense purchases.


U.S.-INDIA RELATIONS

The United States has undertaken a transformation in its relationship with India based on the conviction that U.S. interests require a strong relationship with India. The two countries are the largest democracies, committed to political freedom protected by representative government. India is also moving toward greater economic freedom. The two have a common interest in the free flow of commerce, including through the vital seas lanes of the Indian Ocean. They also share an interest in fighting terrorism and in creating a strategically stable Asia.

Differences remain, including over India's nuclear weapons programs and over the pace of India's economic reforms. But while in the past these concerns may have dominated U.S. thinking about India, today the U.S. starts with a view of India as a growing world power with which it shares common strategic interests. Through a strong partnership with India, the two countries can best address differences and shape a dynamic future.

In late September 2001, President Bush lifted the sanctions that were imposed under the terms of the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act following India's nuclear tests in May 1998. The nonproliferation dialogue initiated after the 1998 nuclear tests has bridged many of the gaps in understanding between the countries. President Bush met Prime Minister Vajpayee in November 2001, and the two leaders expressed a strong interest in transforming the U.S.-India bilateral relationship. High-level meetings and concrete cooperation between the two countries increased during 2002 and 2003. The U.S. and India announced on January 12, 2004, the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP), both a milestone in the transformation of the bilateral relationship and a blueprint for its further progress. Progress has been made on this initiative with the conclusion of Phase I in late September 2004.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

NEW DELHI (E) Address: Shanti Path, Chanakaya Puri New Delhi-110021, India; Phone: 91-11-24198000; Fax: 91-11-24190017; Workweek: Monday thru Friday; 0830 hrs to 1730 hrs; Website: www.usembassy.state.gov/delhi.html

AMB:David C. Mulford
DCM:Robert O. Blake
CG:William Bartlett
POL:Geoffrey Pyatt
COM:John Peters
CON:William Bartlett
MGT:James Forbes
AGR:Chad Russell
APHIS:Marvin Felder
CLO:Dumi Nxumalo Martin
CUS:James Dozier
DAO:Steven Sboto
DEA:Alan Santos
ECO:Lee A. Brudvig
EST:Marco DiCapua
FIN:David Sarisky
FMO:William Hedges
GSO:Stephen Ames
ICASS Chair:Ron Olsen
IMO:James L. Cleveland
INS:Joseph Galoski
IPO:Robert Hall
IRS:Laura Livingston
ISO:Sherril Pavin
ISSO:Sherril Pavin
LAB:Loren Holt-Hansen
LEGATT:David Ford
MLO:Mark Ericson
PAO:Michael Anderson
RSO:Nace Crawford
State ICASS:Michael Anderson
Last Updated: 2/1/2005

MUMBAI (CG) Address: 78, Bhulabhai Desai Rd., Mumbai, India; Phone: 91-22-2363-3611; Fax: 91-22-2363-0350; Workweek: Mon–Fri 8:15 am-5:00 pm; Website: http://usembassy.state.gov/mumbai

CG:Angus T. Simmons
CG OMS:Mirtea Starkey
PO:Angus T. Simmons
POL:William Klein
COM:Richard Rothman
CON:Joseph Pomper
MGT:James Leaf
CLO:Joan Luethi
ECO:Rebecca Frerichs
GSO:Phyllis DeSmet-Howard
ISO:Bill Mains
PAO:Linda Cheatham
RSO:Scott Messick
Last Updated: 1/11/2005

CHENNAI (C) Address: 220 Mount Rd, Chennai 600 006, India; Phone: 91-44-2811-2000; Fax: 91-44-2811-2020; INMARSAT Tel: 00-873-383133034#; Workweek: Mon–Fri 0830-1700; Website: http://chennai.usconsulate.gov

CG:Richard Haynes
CG OMS:Sumita Gupta
PO:Richard Haynes
POL:Robert King
COM:Bruce Quinn
CON:Michael D Thomas
MGT:Kelly Buenrostro
CLO:Nina Robinson
GSO:Mary Lou Gonzales
IPO:James J Foster
ISO:James J Foster
ISSO:James J Foster
PAO:Ravi Candidai
RSO:Dominick Sabruno
Last Updated: 1/29/2005

KOLKATA (C) Address: 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, Calcutta 700071; Phone: 91-33-2282-3611; Fax: 91-33-2282-2335; Workweek: Mon–Fri, 0800 hours-1700 hours; Website: http://calcutta.usconsulate.gov

CG:George N. Sibley
CON:Sarah A. Nelson
MGT:William L. Smith
IMO:James L. Cleveland
IPO:Robert A. Hall (New Delhi)
ISO:Sherril L. Pavin (New Delhi)
PAO:Susan M. Shultz
RSO:Dominic A. Sabruno (Chennai)
Last Updated: 9/24/2004

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

February 1, 2005

Country Description: India is the world's largest democratic republic. It is a country with a very diverse population, geography and climate. Tourist facilities varying in degree of comfort and amenity are widely available in the major population centers and main tourist areas.

Entry/Exit Requirements: U.S. citizens require a passport and visa to enter and exit India for any purpose. Visitors, including those on official U.S. government business, must obtain visas at an Indian Embassy or Consulate abroad prior to entering the country as there are no provisions for visas upon arrival. Those arriving without a visa are subject to immediate deportation. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India are unable to assist when U.S. citizens arrive without visas. Each visitor should carry photocopies of the face page of the traveler's U.S. passport and the page which contains the Indian visa in order to facilitate obtaining new U.S. passports from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate and exit visas from the Indian government, in the event of theft or loss of the passport. For the most current information on entry requirements, please contact the Embassy of India at 2536 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 939-9849 or 939-9806 or the Indian Consulate in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, or Houston or http://www.indianembassy.org. Outside the United States, inquiries should be made at the nearest Indian embassy or consulate. A list of Indian consulates and embassies can be found at http://passport.nic.in/missions.htm. See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on India and other countries, available at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/brochures/brochures_1229.html.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated additional screening procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of the relationship such as an original birth certificate and family photographs. A photocopy of the passport of the absent parent(s) or legal guardian and their notarized written consent may also be necessary to facilitate entry/departure.

Foreign citizens who visit India to study, do research, work or act as missionaries, as well as all travelers planning to stay more than 180 days are required to register within 14 days of arrival with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office where they will be staying. FRRO maintains offices in New Delhi, Mumbai (Bombay), Chennai (Madras) and Kolkata (Calcutta), and recently opened an additional office in Amritsar. In smaller towns the local police headquarters will normally perform this function. The address and telephone number of each major FRRO office can be found at http://www.airportsindia.org.in/aai/immigration/immigration.htm. General information regarding Indian visa and immigration rules can be found at the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs website for its Bureau of Immigration at http://www.immigrationindia.nic.in.

Dual Nationality: In 2003, India passed a bill that allows persons of Indian origin in sixteen countries, including the United States, to apply for a form of dual citizenship known as "Overseas Citizens." Persons who have dual nationality as citizens of both India and the U.S. are subject to all Indian laws. Moreover, dual nationals also may be subject to other laws and regulations that impose special obligations on Indian citizens, such as taxation. In some instances such as arrest, dual nationality may hamper U.S. Government efforts to provide assistance abroad. Information on how to apply under the new law can be found on the Indian embassy's website at http://www.indianembassy.org under Passport and Visa information and the link to "Overseas Citizenship." Additional general information about dual nationality is available at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1753.html.

Safety and Security: There are occasional terrorist bombing incidents in various parts of India, especially in Jammu and Kashmir. These bomb blasts have occurred in public places as well as on public transportation, such as trains and buses, in markets and in other public areas, resulting in deaths or injuries. In October 2004 over 35 people were killed in separate bombing incidents in a train station and market in Dimapur, capital of the Northeastern state of Nagaland. These attacks have been attributed to separatist terrorists. In 2003, terrorists set off several bombs in Mumbai (Bombay), including on public transportation, at a public market and at the Gateway of India, a popular tourist destination, leaving over 50 people dead and 160 injured. The motive for these blasts has not been clearly established. In December 2000, terrorists attacked Delhi's Red Fort, another major tourist attraction, leaving three Indians dead, and in December 2001, terrorists attacked the Indian Parliament. In September 2002, terrorists attacked the Swaminarayan temple complex in Gandhinagar, the administrative capital of Gujarat state. Over 30 people were killed and 70 injured. Foreign visitors have been injured in some of these attacks. There is no indication that these attacks are directed against U.S. citizens or other foreigners, however, terrorist groups, some of which are linked to Al-Qaeda and have been previously implicated in attacks against U.S. citizens, are active in India and have attacked and killed civilians. U.S. citizens should exercise particular vigilance when in the vicinity of government installations, visiting tourist sites, or attending public events throughout India.

Visitors should exercise caution when swimming in open waters along the Indian coastline, particularly during the monsoon season. Every year, several people in Goa, Mumbai and other areas drown due to the unusually strong undertow. It is important for visitors to heed warnings posted or advised at beaches and avoid swimming altogether during the monsoon season.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement and Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

Up-to-date information about safety and security issues can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers out-side the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

Specific Areas of Instability and Terrorism:

JAMMU and KASHMIR: The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid travel to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, with the exception of visits to the Ladakh region and its capital, Leh. A number of terrorist groups operate in the state, and security forces are active throughout the region, particularly along the Line of Control (LOC) separating Indian and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, and are visible in the primary tourist destinations in the Kashmir Valley – Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pahalgam.

Since 1989, as many as 60,000 people (terrorists, security forces, and civilians) have been killed in the Kashmir conflict, including almost 1,000 civilians in 2003 alone. Many terrorist incidents take place in the state's summer capital of Srinagar, but the majority occurs in rural areas.

Foreigners are particularly visible, vulnerable, and definitely at risk. Occasionally, even the Ladakh region of the state has been affected by terrorist violence, but incidents there are rare. The last such case was in 2000, when terrorists in Ladakh's Zanskar region killed a German tourist. The Indian government prohibits foreign tourists from visiting the Kargil area of Ladakh along the LOC. U.S. Government employees are prohibited from traveling to the state of Jammu and Kashmir without permission from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

In 1999, the terrorist organization Harakat-ul Mujahideen issued a ban on U.S. citizens, including tourists, visiting Kashmir, but has not followed up on this threat. In 1995, the terrorist organization Al Faran kidnapped seven Western tourists, including two U.S. citizens, who were trekking in Kashmir valley. One of the hostages was brutally murdered, another escaped, and the other five — including one U.S. citizen — have never been found. Srinagar has also been the site of a great deal of violence, including car bombings, market bombings, hand grenade attacks that miss their targets and kill or injure innocent bystanders, and deaths resulting from improvised (remote controlled) explosive devices (IEDs). In recent years, several tourists, including at least one U.S. citizen, have been fatally shot or wounded in Srinagar. The 2002 state elections were marred by multiple terrorist attacks that killed some 800 people, a large percentage of whom were innocent civilians. Some terrorist violence also marred the national parliamentary polls in April/May 2004.

INDIA-PAKISTAN BORDER: The State Department recommends that U.S. citizens avoid travel to border areas between India and Pakistan, including within the states of Gujarat, Punjab, and Rajasthan, and the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir. A ceasefire along the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir began on November 26, 2003 and a dialogue between the two countries aimed at easing tensions continues. Both India and Pakistan maintain a strong military presence on both sides of the LOC. The only official India-Pakistan border crossing point is between Atari, India, and Wagah, Pakistan. A Pakistani visa is required to enter Pakistan. The border crossing is currently open. However, travelers are advised to confirm the current status of the border crossing prior to commencing travel.

Both India and Pakistan claim an area of the Karakoram mountain range that includes the Siachen glacier. The ceasefire in Kashmir that took effect in November 2003 has also been in effect on the glacier. U.S. citizens traveling to or climbing peaks in the disputed areas face significant risks. The disputed area includes the following peaks: Rimo Peak; Apsarasas I, II, and III; Tegam Kangri I, II and III; Suingri Kangri; Ghiant I and II; Indira Col.; and Sia Kangri.

Travelers may check with the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi for information on current conditions. (Please see the section on Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations below.)

NORTHEAST STATES: Sporadic incidents of violence by ethnic insurgent groups, including the bombing of buses and trains, are reported from parts of Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, and Meghalaya, most recently in October of 2004 when over 35 people were killed in separate bombing incidents in a train station and market in Dimapur, capital of state of Nagaland. While U.S. citizens have not been specifically targeted, visitors are cautioned not to travel outside major cities at night. Security laws are in force, and the central government has deployed security personnel to several Northeast states. Travelers may check with the U.S. Consulate in Calcutta for information on current conditions. (Please see the section on Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations below.)

EAST CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN INDIA: Left-wing Maoist extremist groups called "Naxalites" are active in the region and U.S. citizens should exercise appropriate caution. The Naxalites have a long history of conflict with state and national authorities, including attacks on police and government officials. The Naxalites have not specifically targeted U.S. citizens, but have attacked symbolic targets that have included American companies. Groups claiming to be Naxalites have blackmailed American organizations, and in one instance a small bomb that exploded at an American corporation's production site was thought to have been part of an extortion plot. Two Naxalite groups, The Maoist Communist Center of India (MCCI), and the People's War Group (PWG) were added to the list of "Other Terrorist Organizations" in the U.S. State Department Publication, "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003." They merged in October 2004 into one organization under one leadership, and regional affiliates are active in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and West Bengal.

RESTRICTED AREAS: Advance permission is required from the Indian Government (from Indian diplomatic missions abroad) or for U.S. citizens currently in India, from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in New Delhi, to visit the states of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, parts of Kulu district and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, border areas of Jammu and Kashmir, some areas of Uttaranchal, the area west of National Highway No. 15 running from Ganganagar to Sanchar in Rajasthan, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the Union Territory of the Laccadives Islands (Lakshadweep). In addition, U.S. citizens who visit the Tibetan Colony in Mundgod, Karnataka, must obtain a permit from MHA before visiting. U.S. citizens may contact the MHA at: (011)(91)(11)2469-3334 or 2301-3054. Tourists should exercise caution while visiting Mahabillipuram. The Indira Gandhi Atomic Research Center, Kalpakkam, is located directly adjacent to the site and is not clearly marked as a restricted and dangerous area.

Civil Disturbances: Demonstrations can occur spontaneously and pose risks to travelers' personal safety and disrupt transportation systems and city services. In response to such events, Indian authorities occasionally impose curfews and/or restrict travel. Political rallies and demonstrations in India have the potential for violence, especially immediately preceding and following elections. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid demonstrations and rallies. In addition, religious and inter-caste violence occasionally occurs unpredictably. In early 2002, violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat resulted in at least 950 deaths according to official figures. While such violence rarely targets foreigners, mobs have attacked Indian Christian workers.

Missionary activity has aroused strong reactions in some areas — usually rural — and in January 1999, a mob murdered an Australian missionary and his son in the eastern state of Orissa. In January 2003, a visiting U.S. citizen was attacked in Kerala by Hindu activists who accused him of preaching to the local community, although he held a tourist, not missionary, visa. Nevertheless, the principal risk for foreigners is that they could become inadvertent victims.

U.S. citizens should read local newspapers and contact the U.S. Embassy or the nearest U.S. Consulate for further information about the current situation in areas where they wish to travel.

During the Dassera and the Diwali festivals, U.S. citizen travelers to Calcutta and Eastern India should exercise additional caution. Large and sometimes unruly crowds gather on these holidays, especially in the immediate vicinity of the Pandals (elaborately decorated temporary structures). Such concentrations heighten the risk of petty theft, accidental injury, groping, and crowd disturbances. Transportation, even for emergency purposes, is more difficult during the holiday season, and travelers may become disoriented amidst large, flowing crowds. The United States Consulate General in Calcutta is available to assist U.S. citizens in emergencies, should they arise.

Crime: Petty crime, especially theft of personal property, is common, particularly on trains or buses throughout the country. Pickpockets can be very adept, and women have reported having their bags snatched, purse-straps cut or the bottom of their purses slit without their knowledge. Theft of U.S. passports is quite common, particularly in major tourist areas. Violent crime, especially directed against foreigners, has traditionally been at relatively low levels, although in recent years there has been an apparent increase in violent attacks directed against foreign tourists, including robbery, murder, and sexual assault. These attacks have mainly been directed at women traveling alone, but men have also been victimized. U.S. citizens, particularly women, are cautioned not to travel alone in India. So-called "Eve Teasing" or verbal and sometimes physical harassment of single Indian women is not unusual. There have been more reports in the past year of foreign women being harassed in this manner. Because U.S. citizens' purchasing power is comparatively large relative to that of the general population, travelers also should always exercise modesty and caution in their financial dealings in India to reduce the chance of being a target for robbery or other serious crime. Gangs and criminal elements operate in several major cities in India and have sometimes targeted unsuspecting businessmen for ransom. Visitors are strongly cautioned not to travel alone and to be aware of their environment and belongings, especially when taking night trains or buses.

Major airports, train stations and tourist sites are often used by touts (confidence men) and scam artists looking to prey on visitors, often by creating a distraction. Taxi drivers and others, including train porters, may solicit travelers with "come-on" offers of cheap transportation and/or hotels. Travelers accepting such offers have often found themselves the victims of scams, including offers to assist with "necessary" transfers to the domestic airport, disproportionately expensive hotel rooms, unwanted "tours" to houseboats in Kashmir, unwelcome "purchases," and even threats when the tourists try to decline to pay. The Embassy generally suggests U.S. citizens use pre-paid taxis. However, the murder and robbery of an Australian woman traveling alone in a pre-paid taxi contracted at the New Delhi airport in early 2004 demonstrates the need for caution even when using such taxis to be sure they are properly licensed. Many hotels have courtesy cars that can be arranged in advance to pick up passengers at the airport, which may be another relatively secure alternative. Arriving passengers in New Delhi will find a tourist office at the airport to assist with onward transportation and travel arrangements.

Travelers should also exercise care when hiring transportation and/or guides and use only well known travel agents to book trips. Some scam artists have lured travelers by displaying their name on a sign when they leave the airport. Another popular scam is to drop money or to squirt something on the clothing of an unsuspecting traveler and during the distraction to rob them of their valuables. Individual tourists have also been given drugged drinks or tainted food to make them more vulnerable to theft, particularly at train stations. Even food or drink purchased in front of the traveler from a canteen or vender could be tainted. To protect against robbery of personal belongings, it is best not to accept food or drink from strangers.

Some vendors sell rugs or other expensive items that may not be of the quality promised. Travelers should deal only with reputable businesses and should not give their credit cards or money unless they are certain that goods being shipped to them are the goods they purchased. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it is best avoided. Most Indian states have official tourism bureaus set up to handle traveler's complaints. The internet addresses for these offices are available at http://www.tourismofindia.com/foot/links.htm.

Travelers should be aware of a number of other scams that have been perpetrated against foreign travelers, particularly in the Jaipur area. The scams generally target younger travelers and involve suggestions that money can be made by privately transporting gems or gold (both of which can result in arrest) or by taking delivery abroad of expensive carpets, supposedly while avoiding customs duties. The scam artists describe profits that can be made upon delivery of the goods. Most such schemes require that the traveler first put up a "deposit" to either show "sincerity" or as a "down payment" or as the "wholesale cost." All travelers are strongly cautioned that the schemes invariably result in the traveler being fleeced. The "gems" or "gold" are always fake, and if they were real, the traveler could be subject to arrest. Such schemes often pull the unsuspecting traveler in over the course of several days and begin with a new "friend" who offers to show the traveler the sights so that the "friend can practice his English." Offers of cheap lodgings and meals also can place the traveler in the physical custody of the scam artist and can leave the traveler at the mercy of threats or even physical coercion.

While violent crime involving U.S. citizens is relatively rare in India, in recent years two U.S. citizens were murdered in the Haridwar/Rishikesh region of Uttaranchal state Several other foreigners have also been attacked in Uttaranchal. In addition, an American citizen was found murdered in 2003 on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai highway. Crime and violence have also increased in the popular hiking and rafting destination of Kulu/Manali, where the number of foreign backpackers and tourists has been growing and where drugs are readily available, but can occur in any part of India. Foreigners are the targets of criminal activities primarily because of the disproportionately large sums of money they are thought to carry.

U.S. citizens should be aware that there have been unconfirmed reports of inappropriate sexual behavior by a prominent local religious leader at an ashram or religious retreat located in Andhra Pradesh. Most of the reports indicate that the subjects of these approaches have been young male devotees, including a number of U.S. citizens.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance. The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and find an attorney if needed.

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlets "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers to South Asia" for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlets are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, or via the Internet at http://bookstore.gpo.gov/sb/sb-302.html.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. See our information on Victims of Crime at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1748.html.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Adequate to excellent medical care is available in the major population centers, but is usually very limited or unavailable in rural areas. Visitors to India should pay special attention to safe food and water precautions, and steps the traveler can take to avoid contracting malaria. Visitors planning to hike in the mountainous areas of northern India should pay attention to the risk of altitude illness.

Indian health regulations require all travelers arriving from Sub-Saharan Africa or other yellow-fever areas to have evidence of vaccination against yellow fever. Travelers who do not have such proof are subject to immediate deportation or a six-day detention in the yellow-fever quarantine center. U.S. citizens, who transit through any part of sub-Saharan Africa, even for one day, are advised to carry proof of yellow fever immunization.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web-site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning India is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Travel by road in India is dangerous. A number of U.S. citizens have suffered fatal traffic accidents in recent years. Travel at night is particularly hazardous. Buses, patronized by hundreds of millions of Indians, are convenient in that they serve almost every city of any size. However, they are usually driven fast, recklessly, and without consideration for official rules of the road. Accidents are quite common. Trains are somewhat safer than buses, but train accidents still occur more frequently than in developed countries.

In order to drive in India, one must have either a valid Indian drivers license or a valid international drivers license. Because of difficult road and traffic conditions, many Americans who visit India choose to hire a local driver.

On Indian roads, the safest driving policy is to assume that other drivers will not respond to a traffic situation in the same way you would in the United States. For instance, buses often run red lights and merge directly into traffic at yield points and traffic circles. Cars, auto-rickshaws, bicycles and pedestrians behave only slightly more cautiously. Indian drivers tend to look only ahead and often consider themselves responsible only for traffic in front of them, not behind or to the side. Frequent use of one's horn or flashing of headlights to announce one's presence is both customary and wise. It is usually preferable to have a licensed experienced driver who has a "feel" for road and driving conditions.

Outside major cities, main roads and other roads are poorly maintained and congested. Even main roads often have only two lanes, with poor visibility and inadequate warning markers. On the few divided highways one can expect to meet local transportation traveling in the wrong direction, often without any lights on. Heavy traffic is the norm and includes (but is not limited to) over-loaded trucks and buses, scooters, pedestrians, bullock and camel carts, horse or elephant riders en route to weddings, and free-roaming livestock. Traffic in India moves on the left. It is important to be alert while crossing streets and intersections, especially after dark as traffic is coming in the "wrong" direction (i.e., from the left). Travelers should remember to use seatbelts in both rear and front seats where available, and to ask their drivers to maintain a safe speed.

If a driver hits a pedestrian or a cow, the vehicle and its occupants are at risk of being attacked by passersby. Such attacks pose significant risk of injury or death to the vehicle's occupants or at least of incineration of the vehicle. It can thus be unsafe to remain at the scene of an accident of this nature, and drivers may instead wish to seek out the nearest police station.

Visit the website of India's national tourist office at http://www.tourismofindia.com for information concerning Indian driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance.

Emergency Numbers: The following emergency numbers work in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta:

Police 100
Fire Brigade 101
Ambulance 102 (Note that this number often does not work in Calcutta).

Piloting Civil Aircraft: Civil aircraft have been detained a number of times for deviating from approved flight plans. U.S. citizens piloting civil aircraft in India must file any changes to previous flight plans with the appropriate Indian authorities and may not over-fly restricted airspace.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of India as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of India's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Customs Regulations: Indian customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from India of items such as firearms, antiquities, electronic equipment, currency, ivory, gold objects, and other prohibited materials. Even transit passengers require permission from the Government of India to bring in such items. Those not complying risk arrest and/or fine and confiscation of these items. If charged with any alleged legal violations by Indian law enforcement, it is recommended that an attorney review any document prior to signing. The Government of India requires the registration of antique items with the local police along with a photograph of the item as well. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of India in Washington or one of India's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.

Indian customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information call (212) 354-4480, e-mail [email protected], or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. For example, certain comments or gestures towards women or about religion that are legal in the United States may be considered a criminal violation in India, subjecting the accused to possible fines or imprisonment. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Indian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in India are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

A number of U.S. citizen men who have come to India to marry Indian nationals have been arrested and charged with crimes related to dowry extraction. Many of the charges stem from the U.S. citizen's inability to provide an immigrant visa for his prospective spouse to travel immediately to the United States. The courts sometimes order the U.S. citizen to pay large sums of money to his spouse in exchange for the dismissal of charges. The courts normally confiscate the American's passport, and he must remain in India until the case has been settled. There are also cases of U.S. citizen women of Indian descent whose families force them against their will into marriages to Indian nationals.

Foreign visitors planning to engage in religious proselytizing are required by the 1956 Foreigners Act to have a "Missionary" visa. A 1995 Central Government order defines "inappropriate" religious activity to include speaking at religious meetings to which the general public is invited. Foreigners with tourist visas who engage in missionary activity are subject to deportation and possible criminal prosecution. The states of Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Arunachal Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh have additional legislation regulating conversion from one religious faith to another. U.S. citizens intending to engage in missionary activity may wish to seek legal advice regarding this legislation.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a photocopy of their U.S. passports with them at all times (maintaining the original document in a safe place), so that evidence of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available in the unlikely event they are questioned by local officials. In accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, Indian authorities must allow U.S. citizens to contact a U.S. Consular Officer if arrested or detained in India.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in India are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within India. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is located at Shanti Path, Chanakyapuri 110021; telephone (91)(11)2419-8000; fax; (91)(11)2419-0017. The Embassy's Internet home page address is http://usembassy.state.gov/delhi.html.

The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai (Bombay) is located at Lincoln House, 78 Bhulabhai Desai Road, 400026, telephone (91)(22) 2363-3611; fax (91)(22) 2363-0350. The Internet home page address is http://mumbai.usconsulate.gov.

The U.S. Consulate General in Calcutta (now often called Kolkata) is at 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, 700071; telephone (91)(33) 2282-3611 through - 3615; fax (91)(33)2282-2335. The Internet home page address is http://calcutta.usconsulate.gov.

The U.S. Consulate General in Chennai (Madras) is at 220 Anna Salai, Gemini Circle, 600006; telephone (91) (44) 2811-2000; fax (91)(44)2811-2027. The Internet home page address is http://chennai.usconsulate.Gov.

International Adoption

January 2005

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: Information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign counsel.

Before You Leave the U.S. U.S. immigration and visa laws provide for advance approval of an adoption petition on Form I-600A by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (BCIS) office that has jurisdiction over your place of domicile. This form may be filed before you locate a specific child for adoption. Taking this step generally reduces the amount of time adoptive parents must wait to bring the child to the United States after a particular child is chosen.

Complying with Indian Law: Hindus may adopt a child pursuant to the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act LXXVIII of 1956.

Indian law has no provisions for foreigners to adopt Indian children, but under the Guardian and Wards Act of 1890, foreigners may petition an Indian District Court for legal custody of a child to be taken abroad for adoption. Following a 1984 Indian Supreme Court decision, non-Indians are required to work through an adoption agency in their home country that is licensed in accordance with local law and appears on a list of agencies approved by the Indian government. Only an Indian agency recognized and listed by the Indian Government may make children available for adoption by foreigners.

You may wish to contact an Indian attorney to assist you in obtaining custody. Lists of attorneys are available online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Obtaining the Child's Immigrant Visa: Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family

After the Child Arrives in the U.S.: The actual adoption of the child will take place in the U.S., according to the laws of the state in which you are domiciled. Each state has its own laws governing adoption of children. Your stateside adoption agency or local child welfare bureau can help you with this final step.

Questions: Specific questions regarding adoption in India may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in India. You may also contact the Office of Children's Issues, SA-29, 2201 C Street, NW, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-2818; Phone: 1-888-407-4747; Fax: (202) 312-9743.

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INDIA

Republic of India

Bharat Ganarajya

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

India is located in the south of the Asian continent, bordering the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The country is slightly more than one-third the size of the United States. The country's territory is measured at nearly 3.3 million square kilometers (1.3 million square miles) extending from the snow-capped Himalayan Mountains in the north to tropical forests in the south. India shares more than 14,000 kilometers (8,800 miles) of borders with 7 neighboring countries. To the northwest are Afghanistan and Pakistan; to the north are China, Bhutan, and Nepal; and to the east are Burma (also known as Myanmar) and Bangladesh. A narrow channel of sea formed by the Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar separates another neighbor, Sri Lanka, an island nation with which southeast India shares strong cultural ties. The Indian mainland consists of 4 regions, namely the Himalayan Mountains, the plains of the Ganges and the Indus, and the southern desert. The Himalayas, which contains the highest peaks in the world, consists of 3 almost parallel ranges dotted with large plateaus and valleys, some of which, like Kashmir and Kullu valleys, are vast, fertile, and of great natural beauty. The plains of the Ganges and the Indus, about 2,400 kilometers (1500 miles) long and on average about 280 kilometers (175 miles) wide, are formed by the basins of 3 river systems of the Indus, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra Rivers. These fertile basins are among the most densely populated areas in the world. India is composed of 25 states and 7 union territories. The top 5 most populated states are Uttar Pradesh (140 million people), Bihar (86 million), Maharashtra (79 million), West Bengal (68 million), and Andhra Pradesh (67 million). The top 3 most populated union territories are New Delhi (10 million), Pondichery (800,000), and Chandigarh (650,000).

POPULATION.

The population of India is estimated to have passed the 1 billion mark in May 2000 (1,014,000,000; July 2000 estimate). For centuries, India has been a land of startling contrasts. Maharajahs and millionaires, snake charmers and poor farmers, beauty queens and burnt brides, and a population explosion juxtaposed with high child and maternal mortality. The billionth citizen of this ancient land entered a country with 40 political parties and 24 official languages, each spoken by at least a million people. A cultural preference for male children (who are thought to bring prosperity to a household) has resulted in a significant gender disparity with 927 females to every 1,000 males. The 2 relatively prosperous northern states of Haryana and Punjab have the largest gender disparities. Only Keralathe socialist -run statehas a gender balance of 1 to 1. Feticide (the killing of a fetus), infanticide (the killing of an infant) or, later in life, forced suicide are still the lot of some Indian girls and young women. Though India was among the first countries to adopt population-control policies, those efforts have largely failed. The population continues to grow at the rate of 1.8 percent per year, and by 2025 India will likely overtake China as the world's most populated country, with a projected population of 1.42 billion. A newly established National Population Policy may lead to a reduction in the rate of population growth and to a stabilized population of slightly more than 1.5 billion by 2045. The immediate aims of the policy are to address the unmet needs of the health-care infrastructure , including the family-planning services, and to integrate delivery of basic reproductive and child health care. Special emphasis will be put in containing population growth in the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, which currently constitute about 45 percent of the total population of India.

CASTE SYSTEM.

The caste system (a centuries-old traditionally rigid social hierarchy which allows little social mobility), though not officially sanctioned today, continues to divide Indian society. The caste system has a historical basis in the economic organization of Indian society, with different peoples or castes allocated to various occupations. Many Hindus believe that people are born into a particular social status based on their experiences in past lives and that good deeds can help a person scale the rungs of caste, allowing movement up to a higher caste upon reincarnation in the next life. The caste system continues to be a strong force, especially in rural India. In many Indian villages, for example, one's caste influences what food one cooks or what sari one wears (the garment worn primarily by women in southern Asia made up of several yards of lightweight cloth). The dalits or "untouchables" are people of traditionally poor households who may be peasants, laborers, or servants (and their ancestors as well). Up to this day, many dalits are forced into menial and undesired occupations, such as cleaning restrooms, sweeping streets, and disposing of the deadall considered "unclean" by orthodox Hindus. In the urban areas, the caste system is less obvious, though it is still defended by many as a way to uphold social order. In recent years, the government has taken serious measures to stamp out such age-old discriminatory practices. It has, for example, enacted affirmative action measures that recognize that some groups in society, such as the dalits, have been left far behind and have suffered on account of the practice and custom of caste differentiation.

OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY

India's economy encompasses a wide range of activities, anywhere from traditional village farming to the production of modern military hardware such as tanks. A full two-thirds (67 percent) of India's labor force of more than 450 million people is employed in agriculture, which accounts for about 23 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). Another 26 percent of the GDP is accounted for by industry and 47 percent by services. The CIA World Factbook estimated the division of the GDP to be slightly different, indicating agriculture at 25 percent, industry at 24 percent, and services at 51 percent in 2000. Although India's human development indicators are among the worst in the world, the country has also a large number of highly qualified professionals, as well as several internationally established industrial groups. Reforms since 1991 in production, trade, and investment have provided new jobs and opportunities for Indian businesspersons. An estimated 300 million consumers are considered to be middle class. In past decades, India attempted to develop its industry as part of an effort to attain self-sufficiency, and as a result, the economy had remained closed to foreign investors. Recent liberal reforms, however, have opened some sectors to interested foreign investors. Currently, cars, motor scooters, electronic goods, and computers are manufactured by foreign firms and joint ventures .

During the 6-year period from 1996 to 2001, services have had the highest growth rate among the various sectors of the economy with an average of 8 percent growth rate per year, while the overall economy during the same period grew by an average rate of 6 percent per year. Despite the impressive economic performance of the past few years, however, several factors have hindered an even more impressive performance. The repercussion of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the falling of world commodity prices, and the effects of sanctions after India conducted its first nuclear weapons tests in the late 1990s have all dampened further increases in the GDP. Other factors negatively affecting the GDP are the still slow process of market liberalization , limited access to investment capital, and reduced demand for manufactured goods. Infrastructure weaknesses such as poor transportation networks and erratic and insufficient power supplies have also limited increased growth and investment. Furthermore, for the past 2 decades, India's economy has been facing continuous problems of national budget deficits , much of it as a result of subsidies to inefficient state-owned industries. The majority of these state sector enterprises are debt-ridden and overstaffed.

There has, nevertheless, been a slow but steady trend in favor of market liberalization. As a result of the government's efforts and its membership obligations in the World Trade Organization (WTO), sectors of the economy such as power, steel, oil refining and exploration, road construction, air transport, telecommunications, ports, mining, pharmaceuticals, and banking have to a variety of degrees been liberalized. Since 1991, the exchange-rate regime has also been liberalized. This initially led to a 22 percent devaluation of the Indian rupee against the U.S. dollar. Furthermore, the leading political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has promoted the restructuring of state industry in favor of foreign and domestic competition. Despite these reforms, however, India's economy is still mostly closed. Foreign firms, due to historically disappointing experiences with India's bureaucracy and high taxes and tariffs , have been relatively reluctant to invest in the country. On the whole, there remains strong resistance to further market liberalization and globalization (increasing integration of the national economy and culture with the rest of the world, especially Western Europe and the United States) on the part of much of the population, such as the followers of the Hindu nationalist movement. Yet the fundamentals of the economy, including the savings rate (household savings is estimated at 19 percent of income), national reserves (about US$24 billion in 1997), inflation rate , and foreign debt (about US$94 billion in 2001) are considered to be healthy and improving.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION

India is considered by many to be the largest democracy in the world. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and his Satyagraha (a unique non-violent campaign), India declared independence from British rule on 15 August 1947. Free India's first prime minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who founded the Indian National Congress, described the moment as a "tryst with destiny." Since independence, India has developed as a multiparty democracy. The Indian National Congress that led India to independence in 1947 was the largest party, governing in coalition with minor centrist parties. It was later known as the Congress Party and ruled the nation until the 1990sto some extent through the use of corruption and intimidation. Over the years, a number of parties were formed, and the major opposition to the Congress Party comes from the BJP, which among its followers has some strong Hindu nationalists, who believe that India should not be a multi-ethnic state.

India has a federal system with 25 states and various territories. The constitution separates the powers of the government into 3 branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The relationship between the legislative and executive branches follows the parliamentary model of Great Britain. The initiative and responsibility for executive leadership rests with the office of the prime minister, not with the president. Neither of these offices is gained by direct popular vote, however. The president is the head of state for a 5-year term and is elected by an electoral college composed of members of parliament and state legislatures. The president's role is so limited by the constitution that he or she has rare opportunities to determine national policy. The president can, however, upon the advice of the prime minister, declare a state of emergency and suspend both national and state governments, an executive tool that has been used far more frequently than the framers of India's constitution envisioned. In general, the president serves as more of a symbolic head of state. The prime minister has the primary responsibility to lead the country and is officially invited by the president to form a government and lead it. In order to remain in power, the prime minister must enjoy the support of a majority of the 545-member Lok Sabha (People's House). The president normally looks first to the leadership of the majority party to nominate its candidate for prime minister. Legislative power is vested in the bicameral (2-chamber) parliament, which consists of a 245-member of Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha. The majority of the members of the Rajya Sabha are chosen by the state legislatures; the president selects the remainder. The members of the Lok Sabha are directly elected and serve for 5 years. According to the constitution, a new election must be held at least every 5 years. If none is called before that time, parliament is automatically dissolved. India has an independent judiciary, which is headed by a Supreme Court, the highest court in the land. The president appoints its chief justice and justices. The Supreme Court acts as the court of final appeal.

The Union (federal) government of India is responsible for developing and implementing various domestic and foreign policies and sets its economic policies in consultation with representatives of the states and various other representative bodies of businesses, farmers, and labor.

The government generates most of its revenues from taxes. For the fiscal year ending 31 March 2000, the total revenue generated through taxes for the central government came to about Rs3.28 trillion (US$73 billion). The main sources of Union tax revenues are customs duties , excise taxes , corporate taxes, and income taxes . Non-tax revenues largely comprise interest receipts, including interest paid by the railways and telecommunications, dividends and profits. The main sources of revenue for state governments are also taxes and duties, in addition to grants received from the central government. Property taxes are the mainstay of local finance. In recent years, tax rates imposed by the government have been cut. The current peak income tax rate of 30 percent and corporate tax rate of 35 percent, for example, are low compared to most industrial countries. Furthermore, the peak customs duty rate has been cut to 35 percent with a promise to move towards the East Asian average rate of 20 percent.

INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS

INFRASTRUCTURE.

Infrastructure covers a wide spectrum in India and includes transportation, power generation and distribution, telecommunications, postal facilities, and urban infrastructure. Historically, the responsibility for providing infrastructure services has been vested with the Indian government. This has been due to a number of reasons including high capital requirements, long gestation periods, high financial risks, and low rates of return. Fiscal shortages and technological innovations have challenged the old paradigm of a government monopoly in infrastructure development. Some amount of private involvement in the maintenance and formation of infrastructure, therefore, has been taking place.

Communications
Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
India N/A 121 69 18.8 1 0.2 2.7 0.18 2,800
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
China N/A 333 272 40.0 19 1.6 8.9 0.50 8,900
Pakistan 23 98 88 0.1 1 1.9 3.9 0.22 80
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium (http://www.isc.org) and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

Transportation in India includes roads, railways, aviation, and coastal shipping. The road network of India totals 2.7 million kilometers (1.3 million miles), making it one of the largest national networks in the world. Only 40 percent of the road system is paved, however. Nearly 63,000 kilometers (39,000 miles) of railroads are in operation in India, transporting millions of passengers and millions of tons of freight daily. Nearly 13,000 kilometers (8,000 miles) of Indian railroads function by electricity. Coastal shipping is an energy efficient and comparatively cheaper means of transportation, especially for bulk cargo. The country has the largest merchant shipping fleet among the developing countries. India has 14,500 kilometers (9,000 miles) of navigable waterways, which includes rivers, canals, backwaters, and creeks. Only about one-quarter of those waterways are navigable by large vessels, however. There are 11 major ports and 139 minor ports along the Indian coastline. The civil aviation sector is comprised of both private and public lines. Air India, Indian Airlines, Alliance Air (a subsidiary of Indian Airlines), and various private air taxis provide domestic and international air services. There are 343 airports, with two-thirds having paved runways.

POWER.

With respect to energy, India is a net importer. Among other fuels, it imports nearly US$8 billion worth of petroleum annually. Though India constitutes nearly 17 percent of the world population, it consumes only about 3 percent of the world's total energy, or 12.2 quadrillion BTUs (British Thermal Units, a common means of expressing energy as the production of heat) per year. On a per capita basis (12 million BTUs), Indians consume more than 5 times less energy per year than the average world citizen (65 million BTUs) and 28 times less than the average American (352 million BTUs). With increasing economic development, however, these figures are likely to rise significantly in the near future. Some 75 percent of India's electricity comes from thermal power plants, which use coal or atomic energy to boil water and in turn produce electricity. India has large domestic coal reserves and is the third largest coal-producing country in the world, behind China and the United States. More than half (55 percent) of all energy consumption in India is produced by coal. Another third (31 percent) of energy needs is met by petroleum, and 7 percent by natural gas (the country consumes about 8 billion cubic feet per year). Some 4 percent of energy needs are met by renewable and traditional fuels (wood, for instance), 3 percent by hydropower, and a mere 1 percent by atomic power (India operates 14 atomic reactors with a combined annual generating capacity of about 2,700 megawatts). The consumption of natural gas is expected to more than triple by 2010, reaching 2.7 trillion cubic feet per year. Despite increased reliance on natural gas, coal will continue to be the dominant fuel for power generation in India. The country's consumption of nearly 350 million tons in 1999 will likely increase by more than 40 percent by 2010, reaching just short of half a billion tons. Proven coal reserves are estimated to be more than 80 billion tons. Much of India's coal reserves, however, are not anthracite (which is clean-burning coal), forcing the government to import some anthracite coal from Australia and New Zealand, much of it for use in the steel industry.

Various government agencies oversee energy policy in India, including the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, the Ministry of Coal, the Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources, and the Ministry of Power. The Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) was set up in 1993 to oversee petroleum exploration programs, develop plans for the state-owned oil enterprises and private companies, and oversee efficient utilization of gas fields. Continued economic development and population growth are driving energy demand faster than India's capacity for energy supply. Electricity in India reaches about 80 percent of the country. The country faces an electricity shortage conservatively estimated at 11 percent and as high as 18 percent during peak demand. As a result, electricity blackouts are common. Furthermore, industry cites power supply as 1 of the biggest limitations on progress. One estimate projects 8 to 10 percent annual growth in energy demand over the next 15 years. Most of this energy will probably be imported via ship and pipeline. Oil consumption, for example, may increase by 60 percent by 2010, climbing to approximately 3.1 million barrels per day (b/d). Currently, as little as 750,000 b/d of oil is produced domestically, the majority of which is from the Bombay High, Upper Assam, Cambay, Krishna-Godavari, and Cauvery basins. The Bombay High Field is India's largest producing field, generating an average of about 230,000 b/d. The potential for discoveries of offshore oil reserves, particularly in deep water, is high. So far, exploration has taken place in only one-quarter of India's 26 sedimentary basins. India's offshore basins cover approximately 380,000 square kilometers (147,000 square miles). India's off-and onshore basins are estimated to contain as much as 30 billion tons of hydrocarbon reserves. To satisfy the growth in energy consumption, the country is also increasing its nuclear power capability via the construction of new reactors. Although India is trying to encourage greater foreign participation in its atomic power program, its failure to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT, an international treaty that prohibits signatories from testing nuclear weapons) has inhibited investment and technical support from Western firms. Russia has taken advantage of this scenario and has been awarded permission to construct two 1,000 megawatt (MW) reactors at Kudankulam in southern India scheduled to begin service in 2006 and 2008. India would like to increase its atomic power capability by 2.7 times to 7,300 MW by 2007.

The country also has vast hydroelectric potential. Estimates place India's hydroelectric potential at 86,000 MW, a mere one-quarter of which is being utilized. India plans to build the world's largest hydroelectric plant on the Brahmaputra River. The dam is expected to have a capacity of 21,000 MW and cost US$23 billion and be operational by 2012. Furthermore, special attention is being paid to alternative energy sources such as wind, solar photo-voltaic (PV) technologies, and biomass. India has abundant wind resources, ranking fifth in the world in the number of wind power installations; wind power installed capacity as of June 2000 was 1,175 MW. The Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources has identified 192 potential sites for wind stations with a total estimated potential of 20,000 MW. The ministry also estimates India's energy potential from biomass at nearly 20,000 MW, 3,500 MW being from co-generation plants using bagasse (a fibrous plant residue left over after the extraction of juice from sugarcane) from sugar mills. Plans are also in the works to create a national electricity grid, which would provide for easy power sharing among regions and even neighboring countries. An impediment to the construction of large power plants has been scrutiny by public interest groups, which have rightly cited the potential damage to the environment caused by large hydroelectric dams.

COMMUNICATIONS.

India has probably the least adequate telephone system among industrializing countries. In 1996, for instance, it had only 12 million telephones. The equivalent of 3 out of every 4 villages have no telephone service and only 5 percent of Indian villages have long-distance service. Poor telephone service significantly impedes India's commercial and industrial growth and penalizes the country in global markets. Recently, several satellite earth stations (including 8 Intelsat and 1 Inmarsat) and submarine cables to Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were put into service for long-distance communications.

ECONOMIC SECTORS

The Indian economy presents a mixture of the traditional and modern. Prior to 1947, the major sectors were agriculture, forestry, fishing, and textile manufacturing. Currently, village farming, state agriculture, energy, manufacturing, mining, services, and a flourishing information technology are the chief economic sectors of India. Though agriculture employs the most people (186 million), the service sector, with a labor force of 57 million, contributes the most to the country's income, accounting for nearly half of India's GDP. Industry and manufacturing expanded rapidly during the 1990s, and information technology is a sector with very high expectations. The information technology sub-sector of software experienced 70 percent growth in 1999. The CIA World Factbook estimated that agriculture accounted for 25 percent, industry for 24 percent, and services for 51 percent of GDP in 2000.

The Indian economy is currently at a difficult stage. Despite the initiatives taken by the government in deepening structural reforms and accelerating the privatization process, some problems of growth will likely be faced in the near future. Because of irregular rainfall for the second successive year, for example, agricultural growth was low or absent in 2000. Industrial growth also slowed, and despite some efforts to open the economy to private and foreign businesses, the sentiment for new investment has not improved. The persistence of high international oil prices and the slowdown of the global economy have compounded the problem. Although the major industries of Gujarat have fortunately escaped the worst effects of the recent massive earthquake, the impact of dislocations on the various sectors of the economy cannot be ignored.

AGRICULTURE

India's agriculture is composed of many crops, with the foremost food staples being rice and wheat. Indian farmers also grow pulses, potatoes, sugarcane, oilseeds, and such non-food items as cotton, tea, coffee, rubber, and jute (a glossy fiber used to make burlap and twine). India is a fisheries giant as well. A total catch of about 3 million metric tons annually ranks India among the world's top 10 fishing nations. Despite the overwhelming size of the agricultural sector, however, yields per hectare of crops in India are generally low compared to international standards. Improper water management is another problem affecting India's agriculture. At a time of increasing water shortages and environmental crises, for example, the rice crop in India is allocated disproportionately high amounts of water. One result of the inefficient use of water is that water tables in regions of rice cultivation, such as Punjab, are on the rise, while soil fertility is on the decline. Aggravating the agricultural situation is an ongoing Asian drought and inclement weather. Although during 2000-01 a monsoon with average rainfall had been expected, prospects of agricultural production during that period were not considered bright. This has partially been due to relatively unfavorable distribution of rainfall, leading to floods in certain parts of the country and droughts in some others.

Despite the fact that agriculture accounts for as much as a quarter of the Indian economy and employs an estimated 60 percent of the labor force, it is considered highly inefficient, wasteful, and incapable of solving the hunger and malnutrition problems. Despite progress in this area, these problems have continued to frustrate India for decades. It is estimated that as much as one-fifth of the total agricultural output is lost due to inefficiencies in harvesting, transport, and storage of government-subsidized crops.

INDUSTRY

India's policy of economic self-reliance after independence led to a surge in industrial activity, although much of it was inefficient. Indian industry currently, which includes the sectors of manufacturing, textiles, chemicals, food processing, construction, mining, energy, and IT, contributes about 30 percent of the country's GDP and employs 18 percent of the whole labor force. Among the Indian industry's successes are electronics and software manufacturing. Software engineering has been growing by around 50 percent per year, with as much as 80 percent of software production being exported, earning an estimated US$4 billion in 2000 out of a total export earnings of US$37.5 billion.

MANUFACTURING.

According to the Central Statistical Organization of India, the manufacturing sector was expected to grow by 6.4 percent in 2001, slightly down from the 6.8 percent growth a year earlier. A combination of higher oil prices, a weak national currency, and an easing of import restrictionsin compliance with India's membership in the WTOis thought to be having some initially negative effects on domestic manufacturing.

ENERGY.

Indian consumption of natural gas grew from 17 billion cubic meters in 1995 to 34 billion cubic meters in 2000 and is projected to reach nearly 85 billion cubic meters in 2020. This is one of the fastest-ever increases in fuel demand by Indian customers. Most of the increase is due to a projected increase in the demand for natural gas for power generation. Almost 70 percent of India's limited natural gas reserves are found in the Bombay High basin and the state of Gujarat. The Indian government has been avidly encouraging the construction of gas-fired electric power plants, especially in coastal regions where they can be easily supplied with liquefied natural gas (LNG) by sea. Given that domestic gas supply is not likely to keep pace with demand, India will have to import most of its gas requirements, either via pipeline or LNG tankers, making it potentially one of the world's largest gas importers. The dominant commercial fuel in India, however, continues to be coal. Coal accounts for more than half of India's energy demand, and 70 percent of coal consumption is used for power generation. Coal consumption is projected to increase to 465 million short tons in 2010, a 26 percent increase from 1998. India's coal industry is the world's third largest, and most of the country's coal demand is satisfied by domestic supplies.

MINING.

The mining industry has grown substantially since independence, with the value of minerals mined exceeding US$10 billion today. Still, mining accounts for only about 2 percent of India's GDP. India has been extracting a range of minerals. Among others, it produces significant amounts of coal, iron ore, bauxite, copper, gold, diamonds, limestone, and chromite. India has among the world's largest reserves of iron ore (more than 19 billion tons) and is one of the world's lowest-cost sources. Most of India's iron orethe largest being in the privately owned mines in the state of Goais exported to South Korea and Japan. India's bauxite reserve is approximately 2.7 billion tons or 8 percent of the world total. Given this, and bauxite's critical role in the production of aluminum, India has tentative plans to expand its aluminum production. Copper reserves are estimated at more than 410 million tons, yet India has been importing copper as well. Reserves of lead and zinc are estimated at 360 million tons. Foreign investors have shown interest in mining gold in partnership with the government at a mine in Kolar. The main mining industry remains, however, the production of steaming coal for power generation.

SERVICES

Services play a significant role in the economy of India, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the GDP or about US$200 billion per year. Services include the sectors of telecommunications, airlines, banking, construction, and small-scale enterprises. Some components of the services sector are also in the public sector .

FINANCIAL SERVICES.

Although some form of banking, mainly of the money-lending type, has been in existence in India for thousands of years, it was only a little over a century ago that Western-style banking was introduced to the country. Indian households account for nearly 90 percent of the national savings. Whereas in 1980, as little as 10 percent of all savings of Indian households were held in financial form (as in bank deposits, shares, and insurance policies) rather than physical form (as in money under mattresses). As of 2001, that figure has surpassed 50 percent. In addition, although the percentage of people who own company shares or have invested in mutual funds is still low as compared to more affluent and Western countries, those numbers are also on the rise. Government banks still play an important role and own more than four-fifths of the banking business. However, private (especially foreign) banks are gradually taking up an increasing share of the financial market. There are an estimated US$400 billion worth of private savings in India, some 44 percent of which is in bank deposits, another 5 percent in mutual funds, and less than 25 percent in postal savings and pension funds. Despite considerable openness in the Indian economy, increasing liberalization of the financial sector is hindered by that fact that nearly 30 percent of assets are considered to be non-performing. This is due to an excessive number of loans having been extended to businesses and individuals through political pressure rather than economic merit. As a result, the rate of bankruptcy of financial institutions has been high, which in turn has forced interest rates to be high as well. As a result of these and other factors, Indian industry's access to proper credit has been limited.

Market liberalization in India has led to the sale of shares of private and some public companies to domestic and international bidders. Currently, there are more than 6,000 companies listed on India's largest stock market, the Bombay Stock Exchange, but only about 8 percent of them are actively traded. The stock market has attracted a good amount of international institutional equity investment, such as foreign pension schemes and mutual funds. However, the Indian stock market, not unlike others worldwide, has had periods of intense volatility. In 2000, for example, market capitalization fell by 62 percent in 6 months, from US$265 billion in February to US$100 billion in August.

TOURISM.

Due to its wealth of cultural and recreational facilities, India has had a large tourism industry. Tourism is India's fourth largest foreign currency earner. The top states for tourist attractions are Kerala, Delhi, and Assam. The state of Kashmir used to have a thriving tourism industry; however, the number of tourists has sharply declined due to political unrest and extremist activities over the border dispute with Pakistan. Overall, India's tourism in the past decade has been growing at an average rate of about 7 percent yearly. With about 2.25 million people per year, India's international visitors constitute less than 0.5 percent of world's total number of international tourists. (Top world tourism countries such as France and Spain receive as many as 50 million visitors and generate tens of billions of dollars from tourism annually.) The income generated from tourism in India is estimated to be a mere 1 percent of total world spending of international tourists or US$3 billion per year. Indeed, more Indians travel abroad (3 million per year) than tourists visit India. India's tourism industry is hampered by an international perception of India as being very poor, politically unstable, and requiring precautions against epidemic diseases, despite the attractions of its beautiful historic sites, rich and varied cultures, and appetizing cuisine. The Taj Mahal, for instance, is regarded as one of the architectural marvels of the world. The country also attracts backpackers and adventurers who come for the local festivals, to ride on India's famous railroads, or to see the holy Ganges River.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

For decades after independence in 1947, India embarked on a program of autarky (national economic self-sufficiency) which included import substitution policies. By 1991, however, a sluggish economy combined with the forces of globalization led to a more open Indian economy. There was simultaneously a gradual rise in exports, imports, foreign direct investment (FDI), and overall economic growth. In the 1990s, exports of goods and services rose from 6.2 percent to 8.2 percent of total output. By the end of the decade, however, growth in exports began to level off due to reduced international demand, especially with India's main economic partners, the United States and the European Union (EU). Indian exports were further hit by serious competition from east Asian countries, which had recently experienced depreciated domestic currencies, which led to a decline in global prices for their manufactured goods. As a result, exports of Indian textiles, chemicals, machinery, electronic goods, and automotive parts all began to decline.

As compared to a couple of decades earlier, however, the size of India's foreign trade has noticeably expanded, both in absolute terms and relative to the country's GDP. Exports have again picked up since 1999, when they showed a 13 percent growth. Imports have also ballooned, showing an average of 20 percent growth per year during 1992-2000. Total exports in 2001 are expected to be near US$46 billion and total imports at US$51 billion. Petroleum constitutes the largest import item at more than US$6 billion and accounts for 14 percent of total imports in 1999. Petroleum imports may be as high as US$17 billion in 2001. Gems and jewelry constitute the single largest export item, accounting for 16 percent of exports and earning about US$4.5 billion in 1999. The top 3 export destinations of Indian goods were the United States, Britain, and Germany, which together

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): India
Exports Imports
1975 4.355 6.381
1980 8.586 14.864
1985 9.140 15.928
1990 17.975 23.642
1995 30.764 34.522
1998 32.881 42.201
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

constituted one-third of total Indian exports in 1999. In turn, the top 3 import sources were the United States, Britain, and Belgium, together constituting 21 percent of total imported items.

In 2001, FDI in India was expected to near US$4 billion. To further seek buyers for Indian products, Indian companies have also major plans for investing abroad. Several Indian information technology companies, for example, have plans to outsource some of their production to China, where labor is as much as 20 percent cheaper. Furthermore, India's largest car manufacturer, Mahindra and Mahindra, may soon be entering the European market via the production of tractors in the Czech Republic. One Indian investment that is already operating abroad is a US$180 million fertilizer plant in the Persian Gulf nation of Dubai.

MONEY

India has pursued a conservative policy in the expansion of its money supply during the past 2 decades. Money was thought to have grown by a relatively high rate of 15 percent during 2000-01, however. The reserve bank of India is the sole authority for issuing the national currency. It formulates and administers monetary policy with a view to ensuring stability in prices while promoting increased production of goods and services via the deployment of credit. The reserve bank's monetary policy

Exchange rates: India
Indian rupees (Rs) per US$1
Jan 2001 46.540
2000 44.942
1999 43.055
1998 41.259
1997 36.313
1996 35.433
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

also plays an important role in maintaining the stability of the exchange value of the Indian rupee. Furthermore, the reserve bank is in charge of the borrowing program of the government from both domestic and international lenders. High levels of exports have led to a comfortable balance of payments situation in recent years, which in turn has put at the disposal of the reserve bank, aside from the nation's gold reserves, as much as US$38 billion of cash reserves in 2001. The total money supply in India (which includes the various deposits in commercial banks, the reserve bank, and the currency in the hands of the public) is estimated to have grown by 60 percent since 1995 and to have been a bit more than Rs3 trillion (US$66 billion) in 2000.

POVERTY AND WEALTH

At the time of India's independence famine and severe malnutrition were periodic occurrences, and life expectancy was only about 30 years. Due to improvements in health care and agriculture, by 1970 life expectancy had reached 50 years, and by 1993 it was 61 years. Infant mortality fell from 137 per 1,000 live births in 1970 to 71 in 1993. In agriculture and food production, India has also made great progress. While it was a nation dependent on food imports to feed its population after independence, it is now largely self-sufficient in food production. It has done so, to an extent, by enacting policies that have favored impoverished working-class citizens and farmers.

Despite improvements, by 1994 it was still estimated that 1 in every 3 Indians lived in what could be categorized as absolute povertya total of 310 million people. In essence, more Indians were estimated to be poor than the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, though starvation is something of a distant memory, a large part of the Indian population remains too poor to afford an adequate diet. According to the Indian Institute of Population Sciences, more than half of all children under the age of 4 suffer from different degrees of malnourishment. Diseases such as diarrhea, diphtheria (caused by bacteria leading to inflammation of the heart and nervous system), pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus (also known as lock-

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
India 222 231 270 331 444
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
China 138 168 261 349 727
Pakistan 274 318 385 448 511
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: India
Lowest 10% 3.5
Lowest 20% 8.1
Second 20% 11.6
Third 20% 15.0
Fourth 20% 19.3
Highest 20% 46.1
Highest 10% 33.5
Survey year: 1997
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

jaw), and measles, long done away with in many countries, can still be found among some poor communities in India. Furthermore, due to iron deficiency, as much as 87 percent of all pregnant women are thought to be anemic.

Inter-and intra-state discrepancies in terms of education and overall well-being also remains large. The poorest quintile (one-fifth or 20 percent) of the population is estimated to have 2.5 times more incidence of infant mortality, double the fertility rate, and a 75 percent higher rate of child malnutrition than the average figures for India. The south and west of India have traditionally been better off relative to the north and east. Furthermore, irrigated plains are richer than primarily rain-fed regions. For a variety of reasons, some states such as Maharashtra, Goa, Delhi, and Gujarat have been able both to provide better infrastructure, such as power supply and telecommunications, to their peoples and likewise attract a significantly higher FDI than other states. Kerala has a high literacy rate and access to health care even though its GDP per capita is less than the Indian average. Kerala's fertility rate dropped to 1.8 children per woman in 1991, which is below the replacement level; in the same year, literacy in Kerala was over 90 percent, compared to India's average of 51 percent. Kerala's infant mortality in 1996 was 13 deaths per 1,000 live births; in all of India the number was 72 per 1,000 births. Schools and health clinics are available throughout the state, and newspapers are also available in most villages. There is also a strong commitment to equal rights for women in Kerala, where women occupy significant government positions. Kerala's elected communist government, together with an emphasis on local control, participation in government, and investment projects are all thought to be important factors for Kerala's better quality of life. Those especially vulnerable throughout India continue to be rural women, the disabled, and people of lower castes.

Poverty in many developing countries is more predominant in rural areas. Though that has also been true in India, the gap between rural and urban India was closing during the 1980s due to the continuing effects of state-sponsored expansion of irrigated agriculture and the green revolution. (This was the substantial increase in the production of food grainssuch as rice and wheatbegun in the 1960s as a result of the introduction of improved plant varieties, better farming, and the application of newly-developed pesticides and herbicides.) By the early 1990s, however, India began to show signs of "Malthu-sian overload": Thomas R. Malthus (1766-1834) theorized that population tends to grow faster than its means of subsistencefood and other resourcesand unless population growth is checked, it will inevitably lead to widespread poverty. The increases in food production brought about by the green revolution were not able to keep pace with the rate of population growth. This discrepancy was especially evident in the rural areas, where the majority of the people are farmers living off the land. The gap between rural and urban India since the early 1990s, therefore, began to widen again. Poverty, however, is not purely a phenomenon of rural areas. In recent years, for example, as a result of the population increase and the lack of sufficient waste disposal infrastructure, the city of Calcutta has seen an increase in the waterborne and communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, a problem exacerbated during the rainy season.

Illiteracy remains a major problem as well. The number of illiterate Indians actually rose in the 1980s. In the 1990s, successful government programs began once again to reduce illiteracy. Progress has been very slow, though. If India continues to reduce illiteracy by its current rate of approximately 2.8 percent per year, it is estimated that it would still take 16 years for it to reach the literacy rate of 90 percent, a rate which neighboring Sri Lanka currently holds. Even then, there would still remain 120 million illiterate Indians. Likewise, while fertility dropped from 6.0 children per child-bearing woman in the early 1980s to 3.8 in 1992, maternal mortality is a high of 430 per 100,000 live births, 23 percent more than the average of 350 for low and middle income countries.

Overall, though the per capita income in India is higher than in some of its neighbors, it remains very low compared to economically developed countries. India's per capita income of US$2,077 per year is 121 percent that of neighboring Pakistan. Yet, India's per capita income is still 67 percent that of China's, 9 percent that of Canada's, and only 7 percent that of the United States'.

WORKING CONDITIONS

The liberalization policies of the Indian government, begun in 1991, assisted in opening up the economy to domestic and international competition. Autarkic policies of the past decades had limited foreign investment and prioritized the growth of domestic industry through import substitution and public ownership of much of the means of production. Emphasis on self-reliance had eventually led to an economic crisis, which did not help to improve working conditions for the majority of the Indian labor force. During this period, many skilled and unskilled workers among the population had opted for better employment opportunities in other countries.

Despite the benefits of economic liberalization, it has not quickly solved the problem of unemployment and other social and economic ills. Short-and long-term job losses as a result of competition, for example, have been common, especially among the unprofitable firms. One of the main areas of employment for many of the poor has been the cotton textile industry with its traditional concentration of mills in the cities of Bombay, Ahmedabad, and Coimbatore. Along with mills that use the most advanced technology to process raw cotton and form cotton fiber, there also have existed a large number of small-scale workshops and households that use traditional handlooms (the type used by Mahatma Ghandi) and rely on manual labor for the processing of cotton. India's market liberalization led to the foreclosure of much of the traditional handloom cotton industry and resulted in nearly 2.3 million workers losing their jobs. Many of these workers have remained unemployed. Managers of the modern mills attribute this to the older age of hand-loom workers and their inflexibility or inability to adjust to the mechanized cotton mills.

As opposed to neighboring China, trade unions in India play a very prominent role in the business community. Every industry has a trade union that advocates the rights and employment opportunities of its members. Trade unions strive to obtain the best deal for their members in terms of wages, working conditions, acceptable remuneration, and welfare packages. As much as 92 percent of the labor force in India is unionized. Some of the laborers of the cotton industry have gained employment in the textile industry, which with its labor force of 39 million is among the largest unionized industries.

Women constitute an important segment of the Indian labor force whose working conditions have not made significant progress. Despite some noticeable advances for a small percentage of women, women as a whole have been relegated largely to agricultural and menial pursuits that pay the lowest wages. In some ways, as the overall economy has grown, the situation of working women in India has even deteriorated. In 1911, for example, three-quarters of the working women of India were agricultural workers; in 1991, the proportion was over 80 percent. Nearly 70 percent of the population as a whole derives its livelihood from land resources, and women contribute an estimated 55 to 66 percent of the total farm labor force.

COUNTRY HISTORY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

2500 B.C. Inhabitants of the Indus River Valley develop an urban culture based on commerce and sustained by agricultural trade. This new activity leads to some ecological changes in the region.

1000-600 B.C. The caste system is established.

400-500. Northern India is unified under the Gupta dynasty which leads to new heights for the Hindu culture and politics.

1100s. Indian subcontinent is invaded by the Turks and Persians who establish their empires at Delhi. The descendants of Genghis Khan sweep across the Khyber pass and established the Moghul empire which lasts for 2 centuries.

1619. The first British outpost is established in Surat. Later, the East India Company opens trading stations at Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta.

1850. Great Britain expands its influence and controls most of the provinces of India (present-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) through direct rule and treaties established with local rulers.

1920. Indian leader Mohandas K. Gandhi transforms the Indian National Congress Party into a mass movement to campaign against British colonial rule. This change is achieved through parliamentary acts, non-violence, and non-cooperation.

1947. India achieves independence from the UK and is divided into 2 nations: India and Pakistan. The new Commonwealth nation of India is led by Jawaharlal Nehru as prime minister.

1961. India becomes a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement, which among other tasks, seeks solutions for global economic problems.

1966. Indira Gandhi, daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, becomes India's first female prime minister.

1975. Citing political and economic turmoil, Prime Minister Gandhi declares a state of emergency and the suspension of civil liberties in India. She loses power in the election of 1977 to Moraji Desai of the Janata Party.

1979. After the downfall of the Desai government, Charan Singh forms the interim government followed by a return of Indira Gandhi to power in 1980.

1984. Indira Gandhi is assassinated on 31 October. Rajiv Gandhi, her son, is chosen by the Indian congress as her successor.

1991. Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated by Tamil extremists which results in a sympathy vote for the Congress Party. P. V. Narashima Rao becomes prime minister. Under his leadership, the government serves a full 5-year term and initiates various economic liberalization reforms opening the Indian economy to global trade and investment.

1998. The president approves of a BJP-led coalition government. India conducts a series of underground nuclear tests in May, leading to United States-led economic sanctions in an attempt to force India to sign and abide by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

1999. The BJP-led coalition government falls apart, leading to fresh elections. The BJP forms a coalition with the National Democratic Alliance Party, with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as prime minister.

2001. On 13 December, Kashmiri separatists attack the Indian parliament building. Thirteen people are killed in the attack, including the five separatists. The separatists' ties to Pakistan lead India to accuse Pakistan of being behind the attack, which brings hostile relations between the two countries to a boiling point.

FUTURE TRENDS

There are many future challenges that India will need to address in order for it to be a more prosperous country. Government corruption, the population explosion, the issue of Kashmir and other potentially vigorous separatist movements, relations with Pakistan, nuclear arms, the growing gap between the rich and poor, and last but not least, ecological devastation are among the issues that the Indian government will need to address seriously.

The government sector in India is known to be among the most bloated and overstaffed in the world. Furthermore, nearly all transactions with government agencies, from acquiring one's passport to obtaining a birth certificate, often require some amount of bribe. Stealing and skimming services, such as electricity, is common. In New Delhi, for example, as much as 51 percent of electricity is "lost" in transmission, much of it stolen by relatively prosperous urban households. Increasing efforts by the government to minimize waste, corruption, and grand and petty theft would be beneficial.

Population growth will likely not subside for several more decades. The high rate of growth of the population has negative effects on the well-being of people. The number of Indians consuming diets with fewer than 1,900 kilocalories (kcal) per day, for example, has quadrupled since the early 1970s. (Many nutritionists assert that a diet of at least 2,600 kcal per day is necessary to maintain body weight.) During the same period, total food grain production in India has doubled. High rates of fertility are thought to be indirectly proportional to economic well-being of households, as well as the level of education of parentsespecially mothers. In essence, the more prosperous a household and the more educated the mothers, the fewer children couples have.

The success of government education and public health programs, however, depends not only on more spending but also on improving the quality of services. There is a need to phase out a number of anti-poverty programs and direct some of the savings to ensure quality education, which is more effective in reducing poverty over the long-term. For the poor to take advantage of the new educational opportunities, however, their health status needs to improve. Targeting government spending to primary education, reducing communicable diseases, improving water and sanitation, and reducing household insecurity through public works programs would do much to reduce poverty. The government should invest in health care and education, especially for children in grades 1 though 8. According to the United Nations, current spending on education takes up about 13.4 percent of the central and local government budget as compared to an average of 17.5 percent for all low-income countries. Without substantial increases in spending on education and health care, the gap between the rich and poor is likely to remain and intensify.

Improving relations with neighboring Pakistan is also a determinant of improvement of people's lives in India. Much of the dispute between the 2 countries is over Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan claim ownership to the entire Kashmir region. India is thought to have stationed nearly half a million troops in the state of Jammu-Kashmir along the Pakistani border. According to human rights reports, as many as 60,000 people have died in Jammu-Kashmir due to fighting between Indian troops and Kashmiri nationalists. Relations with Pakistan could also improve if a pipeline agreement that envisions pumping natural gas from Iran to India through Pakistan goes through. The proposed deal would allow India to increase its consumption of natural gas to as much as 85 billion cubic meters (3 trillion cubic feet) by 2020 and for Pakistan to collect up to US$600 million of transit fees. However, the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament by Kashmir separatists based in Pakistan placed the pipeline and future relations with Pakistan in serious jeopardy.

DEPENDENCIES

India has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Abram, David et al. India: The Rough Guide. London: Rough Guides Ltd., 1996.

Bradnock, Robert. India Handbook. Chicago: Passport Books, 1996.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Finance: India. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, February 2001.

. Country Forecast: India. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, May 2001.

. Country Profile: India. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2000.

. Country Report: India. London: Economist Intelligence Unit May 2001.

"Environmental Clean-up For Calcutta." Asian Development Bank. <http://www.adb.org/Documents/News/2000/nr2000156.asp>. Accessed June 2001.

"Family Planning Success Based on Equity: Human Development, Health and Governance in the Indian State of Kerala." Harvard School of Public Health. <http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/grhf/SAsia/suchana/1299/h027.html>. Accessed October 2001.

Government of India. India 1996: A Reference Annual. New Delhi: Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1997.

International Telecommunication Union. World Telecommunication Development Report: Mobile Cellular 1999. Geneva: ITU, 1999.

Ministry of Finance. Government of India. "The Economic Survey of India, 1997." The Indian Economy Overview. <http://ieo.org/es009.html>. Accessed June 2001.

Office of Fossil Energy. "An Energy Overview of India." U.S. Department of Energy. <http://www.fe.doe.gov/international/indiover.html>. Accessed June 2001.

"Sustainable Development Information Service: Global Trends." World Resources Institute. <http://www.wri.org/wri/trends/rx4healt.html>. Accessed October 2001.

United Nations Development Program. "Human Development Report 2000." <http://www.undp.org/hdro/HDR2000.html>. Accessed June 2001.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <http:// www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/in.html>. Accessed October 2001.

Wolpert, Stanley. India. Berkley: University of California Press, 1991.

World Bank Group. India: Policies to Reduce Poverty and Accelerate Sustainable Development. Washington: The World Bank, 2000.

World Bank Group. World Development Indicators 2000. Washington: The World Bank, 2000.

Payam Foroughi

Raissa Muhutdinova-Foroughi

Sujatha Naidu

CAPITAL:

New Delhi.

MONETARY UNIT:

Rupee (Rs). Rs1 equals 100 paise. Coins are in denominations of Rs1, 2, and 5, and 10, 25, and 50 paise. Paper currency is in denominations of Rs5, 10, 20, and 50.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Clothing, engineering goods, chemicals, leather products, gems and jewelry, cotton fiber, yarn, fabrics.

CHIEF IMPORTS:

Chief imports of India are crude oil and petroleum products, machinery, gems, fertilizer, chemicals.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$497 billion (2001 est. of real GDP at market exchange rates). [The CIA World Factbook estimated the GDP at PPP to be US$2.2 trillion in 2000.]

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$46.0 billion (2001 est.). Imports: US$54.9 billion (2001 est.). [The CIA World Factbook estimated exports at US$43.1 billion in 2000 (f.o.b.) and imports at US$60.8 billion (f.o.b.).]

views updated

INDIA

Compiled from the January 2004 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.




Official Name:
Republic of India




PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
DEFENSE
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-INDIA RELATIONS
TRAVEL


PROFILE


Geography

Area: 3.29 million sq. km. (1.27 million sq. mi.); about one-third the size of the U.S.

Cities: Capital—New Delhi (pop. 12.8 million, 2001 census). Other major cities—Mumbai, formerly Bombay (16.4 million); Kolkata, formerly Calcutta (13.2 million); Chennai, formerly Madras (6.4 million); Bangalore (5.7 million); Hyderabad (5.5 million); Ahmedabad (5 million); Pune (4 million).

Terrain: Varies from Himalayas to flat river valleys.

Climate: Alpine to temperate to subtropical monsoon.


People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Indian(s).

Population: (2003 est.) 1.05 billion; urban 27.8%.

Annual growth rate: 1.6%.

Density: 319/sq. km.

Ethnic groups: Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, Mongoloid 2%, others.

Religions: Hindu 81.3%, Muslim 12%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other groups including Buddhist, Jain, Parsi 2.5%.

Languages: Hindi, English, and 16 other official languages.

Education: Years compulsory—9 (to age 14). Literacy—55.2%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—61/1,000. Life expectancy—63 years.

Work force: (est.) 416 million. Agriculture—63%; industry and commerce—22%; services and government—11%; transport and communications—4%.


Government

Type: Federal republic.

Independence: August 15, 1947.

Constitution: January 26, 1950.

Branches: Executive—president (chief of state), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers (cabinet). Legislative —bicameral parliament (Rajya Sabha or Council of States, and Lok Sabha or House of the People). Judicial—Supreme Court.

Political parties: Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress (I), Janata Dal (United), Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India-Marxist, and numerous regional and small national parties.

Political subdivisions: 28 states, 7 union territories.

Suffrage: Universal over 18.


Economy

GDP: $501.8 billion (2002).

Real growth rate: (2002-03) 4.3%.

Per capita GDP: $480.

Natural resources: Coal, iron ore, manganese, mica, bauxite, chromite, thorium, limestone, barite, titanium ore, diamonds, crude oil.

Agriculture: (25% of GDP) Products—wheat, rice, coarse grains, oilseeds, sugar, cotton, jute, tea.

Industry: (29% of GDP) Products—textiles, jute, processed food, steel, machinery, transport equipment, cement, aluminum, fertilizers, mining, petroleum, chemicals, computer software.

Services and transportation: 49% of GDP.

Trade: Exports—$34 billion: agricultural products, engineering goods, precious stones, cotton apparel and fabrics, handicrafts, tea. Imports—$42 billion: petroleum, machinery and transport equipment, edible oils, fertilizer, jewelry, iron and steel. Major trade partners—U.S., EU, Russia, Japan, Iraq, Iran, central and eastern Europe.




PEOPLE

Although India occupies only 2.4% of the world's land area, it supports over 15% of the world's population. Only China has a larger population. Almost 33% of Indians are younger than 15 years of age. About 70% of the people live in more than 550,000 villages, and the remainder in more than 200 towns and cities. Over thousands of years of its history, India has been invaded from the Iranian plateau, Central Asia, Arabia, Afghanistan, and the West; Indian people and culture have absorbed and changed these influences to produce a remarkable racial and cultural synthesis.


Religion, caste, and language are major determinants of social and political organization in India today. The government has recognized 18 languages as official; Hindi is the most widely spoken.


Al though 81% of the people are Hindu, India also is the home of more than 126 million Muslims—one of the world's largest Muslim populations. The population also includes Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, and Parsis.


The caste system reflects Indian occupational and religiously defined hierarchies. Traditionally, there are four broad categories of castes (varnas), including a category of outcastes, earlier called "untouchables" but now commonly referred to as "dalits." Within these broad categories there are thousands of castes and subcastes, whose relative status varies from region to region. Despite economic modernization and laws countering discrimination against the lower end of the class structure, the caste system remains an important source of social identification for most Hindus and a potent factor in the political life of the country.




HISTORY

The people of India have had a continuous civilization since 2500 B.C., when the inhabitants of the Indus River valley developed an urban culture based on commerce and sustained by agricultural trade. This civilization declined around 1500 B.C., probably due to ecological changes.


During the second millennium B.C., past oral, Aryan-speaking tribes migrated from the northwest into the subcontinent. As they settled in the middle Ganges River valley, they adapted to antecedent cultures.

The political map of ancient and medieval India was made up of myriad kingdoms with fluctuating boundaries. In the 4th and 5th centuries A.D., northern India was unified under the Gupta Dynasty. During this period, known as India's Golden Age, Hindu culture and political administration reached new heights.


Islam spread across the subcontinent over a period of 500 years. In the 10th and 11th centuries, Turks and Afghans invaded India and established sultanates in Delhi. In the early 16th century, descendants of Genghis Khan swept across the Khyber Pass and established the Mughal (Mogul) Dynasty, which lasted for 200 years. From the 11th to the 15th centuries, southern India was dominated by Hindu Chola and Vijayanagar Dynasties. During this time, the two systems—the prevailing Hindu and Muslim—mingled, leaving lasting cultural influences on each other.


The first British outpost in South Asia was established in 1619 at Surat on the northwestern coast. Later in the century, the East India Company opened permanent trading stations at Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta, each under the protection of native rulers.


The British expanded their influence from these footholds until, by the 1850s, they controlled most of present-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. In 1857, a rebellion in north India led by mutinous Indian soldiers caused the British Parliament to transfer all political power from the East India Company to the Crown. Great Britain began administering most of India directly while controlling the rest through treaties with local rulers.


In the late 1800s, the first steps were taken toward self-government in British India with the appointment of Indian councilors to advise the British viceroy and the establishment of provincial councils with Indian members; the British subsequently widened participation in legislative councils. Beginning in 1920, Indian leader Mohandas K. Gandhi transformed the Indian National Congress political party into a mass movement to campaign against British colonial rule. The party used both parliamentary and nonviolent resistance and noncooperation to achieve independence.


On August 15, 1947, India became a dominion within the Commonwealth, with Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister. Enmity between Hindus and Muslims led the British to partition British India, creating East and West Pakistan, where there were Muslim majorities. India became a republic within the Commonwealth after promulgating its Constitution on January 26, 1950.


After independence, the Congress Party, the party of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, ruled India under the influence first of Nehru and then his daughter and grandson, with the exception of two brief periods in the 1970s and 1980s.


Prime Minister Nehru governed the nation until his death in 1964. He was succeeded by Lal Bahadur Shastri, who also died in office. In 1966, power passed to Nehru's daughter, Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977. In 1975, beset with deepening political and economic problems, Mrs. Gandhi declared a state of emergency and suspended many civil liberties. Seeking a mandate at the polls for her policies, she called for elections in 1977, only to be defeated by Moraji Desai, who headed the Janata Party, an amalgam of five opposition parties.


In 1979, Desai's Government crumbled. Charan Singh formed an interim government, which was followed by Mrs. Gandhi's return to power in January 1980. On October 31, 1984, Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated, and her son, Rajiv, was chosen by the Congress (I)—for "Indira"—Party to take her place. His Congress government was brought down in 1989 by allegations of corruption and was followed by opposition coalition governments headed by V.P. Singh and then Chandra Shekhar.



In the 1989 elections Rajiv Gandhi and Congress won more seats than any other single party, but he was unable to form a government with a clear majority. The Janata Dal, a union of opposition parties, then joined with the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the right and the communists on the left to form the government. This loose coalition collapsed in November 1990, and the Congress (I), supported by a breakaway Janata Dal group, returned to power for a short period, with Chandra Shekhar as Prime Minister. That alliance also collapsed, resulting in national elections in June 1991.

On May 27, 1991, while campaigning in Tamil Nadu on behalf of Congress
(I), Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, apparently by Tamil extremists from Sri Lanka. In the elections, Congress
(I) won 213 parliamentary seats and returned to power at the head of a coalition, under the leadership of P.V. Narasimha Rao. This Congress-led government, which served a full 5-year term, initiated a gradual process of economic liberalization and reform, which opened the Indian economy to global trade and investment. India's domestic politics also took new shape, as the nationalist appeal of the Congress Party gave way to traditional alignments by caste, creed, and ethnicity leading to the founding of a plethora of small, regionally based political parties.


The final months of the Rao-led government in the spring of 1996 were marred by several major political corruption scandals, which contributed to the worst electoral performance by the Congress Party in its history. The Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged from the May 1996 national elections as the single-largest party in the Lok Sabha but without a parliamentary majority. Under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the subsequent BJP coalition lasted only 13 days. With all political parties wishing to avoid another round of elections, a 14-party coalition led by the Janata Dal formed a government known as the United Front, under the former Chief Minister of Karnataka, H.D. Deve Gowda. His government collapsed after less than a year, when the Congress Party withdrew his support in March 1997. Inder Kumar Gujral replaced Deve Gowda as the consensus choice for Prime Minister at the head of a 16-party United Front coalition.


In November 1997, the Congress Party again withdrew support from the United Front. In new elections in February 1998, the BJP won the largest number of seats in Parliament—182—but fell far short of a majority. On March 20, 1998, the President inaugurated a BJP-led coalition government with Vajpayee again serving as Prime Minister. On May 11 and 13, 1998, this government conducted a series of underground nuclear tests, forcing U.S. President Clinton to impose economic sanctions on India pursuant to the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act.

In April 1999, the BJP-led coalition government fell apart, leading to fresh elections in September. The National Democratic Alliance—a new coalition led by the BJP—gained a majority to form the government with Vajpayee as Prime Minister in October 1999.


The Kargil conflict in 1999 and an attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 led to increased tensions with Pakistan. Hindu nationalists have long agitated to build a temple on a disputed site in Ayodhya. In February 2002, a mob of Muslims attacked a train carrying Hindu volunteers returning from Ayodhya to the state of Gujarat, and 57 were burnt alive. Over 900 people were killed and 100,000 left homeless in the resulting anti-Muslim riots throughout the state. This led to accusations that the state government had not done enough to contain the riots, or arrest and prosecute the rioters.


The BJP has remained in power for over five years, the longest time for a party other than the Congress Party to hold power in India.




GOVERNMENT

According to its Constitution, India is a "sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic." Like the United States, India has a federal form of government. However, the central government in India has greater power in relation to its states, and its central government is patterned after the British parliamentary system.


The government exercises its broad administrative powers in the name of the president, whose duties are largely ceremonial. A special electoral college elects the president and vice president indirectly for 5-year terms. Their terms are staggered, and the vice president does not automatically become president following the death or removal from office of the president.

Real national executive power is centered in the Council of Ministers (cabinet), led by the prime minister. The president appoints the prime minister, who is designated by legislators of the political party or coalition commanding a parliamentary majority. The president then appoints subordinate ministers on the advice of the prime minister.


India's bicameral parliament consists of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People). The Council of Ministers is responsible to the Lok Sabha.


The legislatures of the states and union territories elect 233 members to the Rajya Sabha, and the president appoints another 12. The members of the Rajya Sabha serve 6-year terms, with one-third up for election every 2 years. The Lok Sabha consists of 545 members, who serve 5-year terms; 543 are directly elected, and two are appointed.


India's independent judicial system began under the British, and its concepts and procedures resemble those of Anglo-Saxon countries. The Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and 25 other justices, all appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister.


India has 28 states* and 7 union territories. At the state level, some of the legislatures are bicameral, patterned after the two houses of the national parliament. The states' chief ministers are responsible to the legislatures in the same way the prime minister is responsible to parliament.


Each state also has a presidentially appointed governor, who may assume certain broad powers when directed by the central government. The central government exerts greater control over the union territories than over the states, although some territories have gained more power to administer their own affairs. Local governments in India have less autonomy than their counterparts in the United States. Some states are trying to revitalize the traditional village councils, or panchayats, to promote popular democratic participation at the village level, where much of the population still lives.


Principal Government Officials
Last Updated: 1/23/04


President: Kalam, Abdul

Vice President: Shekhawat, Bhairon Singh

Prime Minister: Vajpayee, Atal Bihari

Dep. Prime Min.: Advani, Lal Krishna

Principal Sec. to the Prime Minister's

Office: Mishra, Brajesh

National Security Adviser: Mishra,

Brajesh

Min. of Agriculture: Singh, Rajnath

Mini. of Agro & Rural Industries: Gautam, Sangh Priya

Min. of Chemicals & Fertilizers: Dhindsa, Sukhdev Singh

Min. of Civil Aviation: Hussain, Syed Shahnawaz

Min. of Coal & Mines: Kum, Mamata Banerjee

Min. of Commerce & Industry: Jaitley, Arun

Min. of Communications & Information Technology: Shourie, Arun

Min. of Consumer Affairs, Food, & Public Distribution: Yadav, Sharad

Min. of Defense: Fernandes, George

Min. of Development of North Eastern Region: Thakur, C.P., Dr.

Min. of Disinvestment: Shourie, Arun

Min. of Environment & Forests: Baalu, T.R.

Min. of External Affairs: Sinha, Yashwant

Min. of Finance & Company Affairs: Singh, Jaswant

Min. of Food Processing Industries: Shanmugham, N.T.

Min. of Health & Family Welfare: Swaraj, Sushma

Min. of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises: Mohite, Subodh

Min. of Home Affairs: Advani, Lal Krishna

Min. of Human Resource Development: Joshi, Murli Manohar, Dr.

Min. of Information & Broadcasting: Prasad, Ravi Shankar

Min. of Information & Technology: Mahajan, Pramod

Min. of Labor: Verma, Sahib Singh

Min. of Law & Justice: Jaitley, Arun

Min. of Non-Conventional Energy Sources: Munda, Kariya

Min. of Ocean Development: Joshi, Murli Manohar, Dr.

Min. of Parliamentary Affairs: Swaraj, Sushma

Min. of Personnel, Public Grievance & Pensions: Advani, Lal Krishna

Min. of Petroleum & Natural Gas: Naik, Ram

Min. of Planning: Vajpayee, Atal Bihari

Min. of Power: Geete, Anant Gangaram Min. of Railways: Kumar, Nitish

Min. of Road Transport & Highways: Khanduri, B. C., Maj. Gen. (Ret.)

Min. of Rural Development: Rana, Kanshi Ram

Min. of Science & Technology: Joshi, Murli Manohar, Dr.

Min. of Shipping: Sinha, Shatrughan

Min. of Small-Scale Industries: Thakur, C. P., Dr.

Min. of Social Justice & Empowerment: Jatiya, Satya Narayan

Min. of Statistics & Program Implementation: Vajpayee, Atal Bihari

Min. of Steel: Tripathi, Braj Kishore

Min. of Textiles: Hussain, Shahnawaz Min. of Tourism & Culture: Jagmohan,

Min. of Tribal Affairs: Oram, Jual

Min. of Water Resources: Sethi, Arjun Charan

Min. of Youth Affairs & Sports: Verma, Vikram

Min. Without Portfolio: Banerjee, Mamata

Governor, Reserve Bank: Jalan, Bimal Nayan

Ambassador to the US: Mansingh, Lalitendu

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Nambiar, Vijay



India maintains an embassy in the United States at 2107 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-939-7000, fax 202-265-4351, email [email protected]) and consulates general in New York, Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco.




POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took office in October 1999 after a September 1999 general election in which a BJP-led coalition of 13 parties called the National Democratic Alliance emerged with an absolute majority. The coalition reflects the ongoing transition in Indian politics away from the historically dominant and national-based Congress Party toward smaller, narrower-based regional parties. This process has been underway throughout much of the past decade and is likely to continue in the future with the smaller parties aligning with either the Congress or the BJP.

The Bharatiya Janata Party emerged as the single-largest party in the September 1999 Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament) elections. The BJP currently leads a coalition government under Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee. Party President Venkaiah Naidu was elected by the Party National Executive in May 2002. The Hindu-nationalist BJP draws its political strength mainly from the "Hindi belt " in the northern and western regions of India. The party holds power in the states of Gujarat, Jharkand, Goa, Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Orissa—in coalition with the Biju Janata Dal—and in Haryana—in coalition with the Indian National Lok Dal. Popularly viewed as the party of the northern upper caste and trading communities, the BJP has made strong inroads into the lower caste vote bank in recent national and state assembly elections. In trying to increase its appeal, a Dalit southerner, Banguru Laxman, became party president until March 2001, when he was accused of corruption and quit the position. He was succeeded by Jana Krishnamurty, followed by current party president Venkaiah Naidu. The party also must balance the competing interests of members such as Hindu nationalists, who are advocating construction of a temple on a disputed site in Ayodhya, and those who see the BJP as the party of economic and political reform.


The Congress (I) Party, led by Sonia Gandhi (widow of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi), holds the second-largest number of seats in the Lok Sabha. Priding itself as a secular, centrist party, the Congress has been the historically dominant political party in India. Its performance in national elections has steadily declined during the last decade. The political fortunes of the Congress have suffered badly as major groups in its traditional vote bank have been lost to emerging regional and caste-based parties, such as the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party. Delivering a blow to the Congress Party's standing as severe as it was unexpected, elections in five states in November 2003 reduced the number of Congress ruled states from
14.5 to 11.5 – the Congress shares power with the People's Democratic Party in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.


The Janata Dal (United) Party claims to be a national party but currently holds significant strength only in Karnataka and Bihar. It advocates a secular and socialist ideology and draws much of its popular support from Muslims, lower castes, and tribals.


The next general election will be held in 2004.




ECONOMY

India's population continues to grow at about 1.8% per year and is estimated at 1 billion. While its GDP is low in dollar terms, India has the world's 13th-largest GNP. About 62% of the population depends directly on agriculture for their livelihood.


Industry and services sectors are growing in importance and account for 26% and 49% of GDP, respectively, while agriculture contributes about 25% of GDP. More than 25% of the population live below the poverty line, but a large and growing middle class of 150-200 million has disposable income for consumer goods.


India embarked on a series of economic reforms in 1991 in reaction to a severe foreign exchange crisis. Those reforms have included liberalized foreign investment and exchange regimes, significant reductions in tariffs and other trade barriers, reform and modernization of the financial sector, and significant adjustments in government monetary and fiscal policies.

The reform process has had some very beneficial effects on the Indian economy, including higher growth rates, lower inflation, and significant increases in foreign investment. Real GDP growth was 4.3% in 2002-03, down from 5.6% in the 2001-02 fiscal year. Growth in 2003-04 is expected to be around 6.5%. Foreign portfolio and direct investment flows have risen significantly since reforms began in 1991 and have contributed to healthy foreign currency reserves ($71 billion in January 2003) and a small current account surplus (2002). India's economic growth is constrained, however, by inadequate infrastructure, cumbersome bureaucratic procedures, and high real interest rates. India will have to address these constraints in formulating its economic policies and by pursuing the "second generation" of reforms to maintain recent trends in economic growth.


India's trade has increased significantly since reforms began in 1991, largely as a result of staged tariff reductions and elimination of non-tariff barriers. The outlook for further trade liberalization is mixed. India eliminated quantitative restrictions on imports of about 1,420 consumer goods in March 2002 to meet its World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments. On the other hand, the government has imposed "additional" import duties of 5% on most products. The 10% tariff surcharge imposed 3 years ago has been repealed. The United States is India's largest trading partner; bilateral trade in 2002 was about $10.9 billion and may reach as high as $13 billion in 2003. Principal U.S. exports to India are aircraft and parts, advanced machinery, fertilizers, ferrous waste and scrap metal, and computer hardware. Major U.S. imports from India include textiles and ready-made garments, agricultural and related products, gems and jewelry, leather products, and chemicals.

Significant liberalization of its investment regime since 1991 has made India an attractive place for foreign direct and portfolio investment. The United States is India's largest investment partner, with total inflow of U.S. direct investment estimated at $2 billion (market value) in 1999. U.S. investors also have provided an estimated 11% of the $18 billion of foreign portfolio investment that has entered India since 1992. Proposals for direct foreign investment are considered by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board and generally receive government approval. Automatic approvals are available for investments involving up to 100% foreign equity, depending on the kind of industry. Foreign investment is particularly sought after in power generation, telecommunications, ports, roads, petroleum exploration and processing, and mining.


India's external debt was up to $101 billion in 2002, almost unchanged from the previous year. The country's debt service ratio has fallen to about 17%. Bilateral assistance has been about $1 billion annually in recent years, with the United States providing about $164 million in development assistance in fiscal year 2002. The World Bank had approved loans worth about $2.19 billion for India in 2002.




DEFENSE

Supreme command of India's armed forces—the second largest in the world—rests with the president, but actual responsibility for national defense lies with the cabinet committee for political affairs under the chairmanship of the prime minister. The minister of defense is responsible to parliament for all defense matters. India's military command structure has no joint defense staff or unified command apparatus. The Ministry of Defense provides administrative and operational control over the three services through their respective chiefs of staff. The armed forces have always been loyal to constitutional authority and maintain a tradition of noninvolvement in political affairs.


The army numbers about 1.1 million personnel and fields 34 divisions. Designed primarily to defend the country's frontiers, the army has become heavily committed to internal security duties in Kashmir and the Northeast.


The navy is much smaller, but it is relatively well armed among Indian Ocean navies, operating one aircraft carrier, 26 other principal surface combatants, and 16 submarines. The fleet is aging, and replacement of ships and aircraft has not been adequately funded. India's Coast Guard is small and is organized along the lines of the U.S. Coast Guard. With India's long coastline and extensive Exclusive Economic Zone, the navy and Coast Guard work hard to patrol the waters dictated by India's economic and strategic interests.


The air force, the world's fourth largest, has more than 700 combat aircraft and over 500 transports and helicopters. The air force takes pride in its ability to fly low and fast, as well as to operate in the extremes of temperature and altitude ranging from the Thar Desert to the Siachen Glacier. The air force has enhanced the capability of its fighter force with the addition of the multi-role Sukhoi 30, and it hopes to replace much of its MiG-21 fleet with the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft currently under development.




FOREIGN RELATIONS

India's size, population, and strategic location give it a prominent voice in international affairs, and its growing industrial base, military strength, and scientific and technical capacity give it added weight. It collaborates closely with other developing countries on issues from trade to environmental protection. The end of the Cold War dramatically affected Indian foreign policy. India remains a leader of the developing world and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and hosted the NAM Heads of State Summit in 1997. India is now also seeking to strengthen its political and commercial ties with the United States, Japan, the European Union, Iran, China, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. India is an active member of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

India has always been an active member of the United Nations and now seeks a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. India has a long tradition of participating in UN peacekeeping operations and most recently contributed personnel to UN operations in Somalia, Cambodia, Mozambique, Kuwait, Bosnia, Angola, and El Salvador.


Bilateral and Regional Relations

Pakistan. The January 2004 SAARC summit marked a historic breakthrough, with India and Pakistan agreeing to resume a composite dialogue on all issues including Kashmir.


India and Pakistan have been locked in a tense rivalry since the partition of the subcontinent upon achieving independence from Great Britain in 1947. The principal source of contention has been Kashmir, whose Hindu Maharaja chose to join India, although a majority of his subjects were Muslim. India maintains that his decision and the subsequent elections in Kashmir have made it an integral part of India. This dispute triggered wars between the two countries in 1947 and 1965.


In December 1971, following a political crisis in what was then East Pakistan and the flight of millions of Bengali refugees to India, Pakistan and India again went to war. The brief conflict left the situation largely unchanged in the west, where the two armies reached an impasse, but a decisive Indian victory in the east resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.


Since the 1971 war, Pakistan and India have made only slow progress toward normalization of relations. In July 1972, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto met in the Indian hill station of Simla. They signed an agreement by which India would return all personnel and captured territory in the west and the two countries would "settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations." Diplomatic and trade relations were re-established in 1976.

After the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, new strains appeared in India-Pakistan relations; Pakistan supported the Afghan resistance, while India implicitly supported Soviet occupation. In the following 8 years, India voiced increasing concern over Pakistani arms purchases, U.S. military aid to Pakistan, and Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. In an effort to curtail tensions, the two countries formed a joint commission. In December 1988, Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto concluded a pact not to attack each other's nuclear facilities. Agreements on cultural exchanges and civil aviation also were initiated.


In 1997, high-level Indo-Pakistani talks resumed after a 3-year pause. The Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan met twice, and the foreign secretaries conducted three rounds of talks. In June 1997, the foreign secretaries identified eight "outstanding issues" around which continuing talks would be focused. The dispute over the status of Jammu and Kashmir, an issue since partition, remains the major stumbling block in their dialogue. India maintains that the entire former princely state is an integral part of the Indian union, while Pakistan insists that UN resolutions calling for self-determination of the people of the state must be taken into account.


In September 1997, the talks broke down over the structure of how to deal with the issues of Kashmir and peace and security. Pakistan advocated that separate working groups treat each issue. India responded that the two issues be taken up along with six others on a simultaneous basis. In May 1998 India, and then Pakistan, conducted nuclear tests. Attempts to restart dialogue between the two nations were given a major boost by the February 1999 meeting of both Prime Ministers in Lahore and their signing of three agreements. These efforts were stalled by the intrusion of Pakistani-backed forces into Indian-held territory near Kargil in May 1999 (that nearly turned into full scale war), and by the military coup in Pakistan that overturned the Nawaz Sharif government in October the same year. In July 2001, Mr. Vajpayee and General Pervez Musharraf, leader of Pakistan after the coup, met in Agra, but talks ended after 2 days without result.


After an attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001, India-Pakistan relations cooled further as India accused Pakistanis of being involved in the attacks. Tensions increased, fueled by killings in Jammu and Kashmir, peaking in a troop buildup by both sides in early 2002.


Prime Minister Vajpayee's April 18, 2003 speech in Kashmir revived bilateral efforts to normalize relations. After a series of confidence building measures, Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Musharraf met on the sidelines of the January 2004 SAARC summit in Islamabad and agreed to commence a composite dialogue addressing outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, including Kashmir.


SAARC. Certain aspects of India's relations within the subcontinent are conducted through the SAARC. Its members are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Established in 1985, SAARC encourages cooperation in agriculture, rural development, science and technology, culture, health, population control, narcotics, and terrorism.


SAARC has intentionally stressed these "core issues" and avoided more divisive political issues, although political dialogue is often conducted on the margins of SAARC meetings. In 1993, India and its SAARC partners signed an agreement gradually to lower tariffs within the region. Forward movement in SAARC had slowed because of the tension between India and Pakistan, and the SAARC summit scheduled for 1999 was not held until January 2002. In addition to the boost to the process of normalizing India's relationship with Pakistan, the January 2004 SAARC summit in Islamabad produced an agreement to establish a South Asia Free Trade Area. SAARC members will reduce tariffs on intra-regional trade over a period of 8 years following the ratification of the accord, with least developed countries allowed the most time to adjust.

China. Despite suspicions remaining from a 1962 border conflict between India and China and continuing territorial/boundary disputes, Sino-Indian relations have improved gradually since 1988. Both countries have sought to reduce tensions along the frontier, expand trade and cultural ties, and normalize relations.


A series of high-level visits between the two nations has helped to improve relations. In December 1996, Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited India on a tour of South Asia. While in New Delhi, he signed, with the Indian Prime Minister, a series of confidence-building measures along the disputed border, including troop reductions and weapons limitations.


Sino-Indian relations received a setback in May 1998 when India justi-fied its nuclear tests by citing potential threats from China. These accusations followed criticism of Chinese "aggressive actions" in Pakistan and Burma by Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes. However, in June 1999, during the Kargil crisis, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh visited Beijing and stated that India did not consider China a threat. Relations between India and China are on the mend, and the two sides handled the move from Tibet to India of the Karmapa Lama in January 2000 with delicacy and tact.


Continuing the trend of friendly relations, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao invited Prime Minister Vajpayee to visit China in June 2003. They recognized the common goals of both countries and made the commitment to build a "long-term constructive and cooperative partnership" to peacefully promote their mutual political and economic goals without encroaching upon their good relations with other countries. In Beijing, Prime Minister Vajpayee proposed the designation of special representatives to discuss the border dispute at the political level, a process that is still under way.

New Independent States of the Former Soviet Union. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the emergence of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) had major repercussions for Indian foreign policy. India's formerly substantial trade with the former Soviet Union plummeted after the Soviet collapse and has yet to recover. Longstanding military supply relationships were similarly disrupted due to questions over financing, although Russia continues to be India's largest supplier of military systems and spare parts.


Russia and India have decided not to renew the 1971 Indo-Soviet Peace and Friendship Treaty and have sought to follow what both describe as a more pragmatic, less ideological relationship. Russian President Yeltsin's visit to India in January 1993 helped cement this new relationship. The pace of high-level visits has since increased, as has discussion of major defense purchases.




U.S.-INDIA RELATIONS

The United States has undertaken a transformation in its relationship with India based on the conviction that U.S. interests require a strong relationship with India. The two countries are the largest democracies, committed to political freedom protected by representative government. India is also moving toward greater economic freedom. The two have a common interest in the free flow of commerce, including through the vital seas lanes of the Indian Ocean. They also share an interest in fighting terrorism and in creating a strategically stable Asia.


Differences remain, including over India's nuclear weapons programs and over the pace of India's economic reforms. But while in the past these concerns may have dominated U.S. thinking about India, today the U.S. starts with a view of India as a growing world power with which it shares common strategic interests. Through a strong partnership with India, the two countries can best address differences and shape a dynamic future.


In late September 2001, President Bush lifted the sanctions that were imposed under the terms of the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act following India's nuclear tests in May 1998. The nonproliferation dialogue initiated after the 1998 nuclear tests has bridged many of the gaps in understanding between the countries. President Bush met Prime Minister Vajpayee in November 2001, and the two leaders expressed a strong interest in transforming the U.S.-India bilateral relationship. High-level meetings and concrete cooperation between the two countries increased during 2002 and 2003. The U.S. and India announced on January 12, 2004, the Next Steps in the Strategic Partnership, both a milestone in the transformation of the bilateral relationship and a blueprint for its further progress.


Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

New Delhi (E), Shanti Path, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110021, Tel
[91] (11) 2419-8000; Fax 2419-0017; COM Fax 2331-5172; USAID Tel 2419-8000, US AID Fax 2419-8454; 2419-8612.

AMB: Robert D. Blackwell
AMB OMS: Betty C. Taylor
DCM: Walter E. North, Acting
POL: Geoffrey R. Pyatt
ECO: Lee A. Brudvig
ORA: William M. Phillips, III
COM: John E. Peters
CON: William M. Bartlett
MGT: Steven J. White
RSO: Nace B. Crawford
IMO: Dennis R. Thatcher
LEGATT: David Ford
CUS: James L. Dozier
DEA: Alan G. Santos
LOC: Laila Mulgaokar
AID: Walter E. North
CDC/GAP: Dora L. Warren
DAO/USDR: COL Steven B. Sboto, USA
ODC: LTC Danny S. Denney, USA
AGR: Chad R. Russell
DHS: Kathy A. Redman
FAA: Howard Nesbitt (res. Singapore)
FAA/CASLO: Joseph G. Ochoa, III (res. Singapore)
IRS: Stanley Beesley (res. Tokyo)


Mumbai (CG), Lincoln House, 78 Bhulabhai Desai Rd. Mumbai 400026, Tel [91] (22)


3-3611through 3618; CONGEN Fax 2363-0350; PAO Tel 2262-4590, Fax 2262-4595; COM Tel 2265-2511, COM Fax 2262-3850.

CG: Angus T. Simmons
POL/ECO: Scott B. Ticknor
COM: Richard Rotham
CON: Joseph M. Pomper
MGT: Maria E. Brewer
PAO: Linda C. Cheatham
ISO: Mark A. Brewer
ITO: Sergio Ramirez


Calcutta (CG), 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, Calcutta 700071, Tel [91] (33) 2282-3611 thru 15, and 2282-5757, CONGEN Fax 2282-2335; CONGEN Internet [email protected]; COM Fax 2288-1207; COM Internet [email protected]; PAO Tel 2288-1200; PAO Fax 2288-1616; PA Internet [email protected]

CG: George N. Sibley
CON: Sarah A. Nelson
MGT: William L. Smith
PAO: Susan Shultz


Chennai (CG), 220 Anna Salai, Chennai 600006, Tel [91] (44) 2811-2000; Fax 2811-2020; CON Fax 2811-2032; COM Tel 2811-2036, PAO Fax 2811-2050; CDC Fax 2811-2080; FCS Bangalore:Hotel Windsor Manor & Towers, Rm No. 1034-1037, 25 Sankey Road, Bangalore 560 052, Tel (91)
(80) 2220-6401, Fax 2220-6405; FCS Hyderabad: # 555, 'E" Level, Taj Residency Hotel, Road #1, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad 500 034; Tel (91) (40) 2330-5000, Fax 2330-0130.

CG: Richard D. Haynes
CG OMS: Sumita Gupta
MGT: Charles C. Schenck
POL/ECO: John Gorkowski
COM: Bruce Quinn
PAO: Ravi S. Candadai
IPO: James J. Foster


Last Modified: Friday, October 10, 2003




TRAVEL


Consular Information Sheet
November 3, 2003

Country Description: India is the world's largest democratic republic. It is a country with a very diverse population, geography and climate. Tourist facilities varying in degree of comfort and amenity are widely available in the major population centers and main tourist areas.

Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens require a passport and visa to enter and exit India for any purpose. Visitors, including those on official U.S. government business, must obtain visas at an Indian Embassy or Consulate abroad prior to entering the country. There are no provisions for visas upon arrival. Those arriving in India without a visa bearing the correct validity dates and number of entries are subject to immediate deportation on the return flight. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India are unable to assist when U.S. citizens arrive without visas. For further information on entry requirements, please contact the Embassy of India at 2536 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 939-9849 or 939-9806 or the Indian consulate in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, or Houston. The Internet address of the Embassy of India is www.indianembassy.org/. Outside the United States, inquiries should be made at the nearest Indian embassy or consulate. A list of Indian consulates and embassies can be found at http://passport.nic.in/missions.htm.


In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the absent parent(s) or legal guardian. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.


Foreign citizens who visit India to study, do research, work or act as missionaries, as well as all travelers planning to stay more than 180 days are required to register within 14 days of arrival with the Foreigners Registration office where they will be staying. Upon registration, such long-term visitors will be given a list of approved laboratories where they are expected to undergo HIV/AIDS testing.


Safety/Security: All visitors to India can help ensure their safety by familiarizing themselves with the information provided below and by exercising appropriate caution whenever they travel.


To obtain updated safety information, visitors may wish to check the U.S. Embassy's website at http://usembassy.state.gov/delhi.html/ or contact the Embassy or nearest Consulate General.


Over the years, there have been occasional terrorist bombing incidents in various parts of India, predominantly in Jammu and Kashmir. These bomb blasts have occurred in public places as well as on public transportation such as trains and buses. In late 2002 and in 2003, there were several bomb blasts in Mumbai (Bombay), including on public transportation, at a public market and at the Gateway of India. The motive for these blasts has not been clearly established. In December 2000, terrorists attacked Delhi's Red Fort, a major tourist attraction, leaving three Indians dead, and in December 2001, terrorists attacked the Indian Parliament. Nine policemen, one Parliament staff member and five terrorists died in the incident. In September 2002, terrorists attacked the Swaminarayan temple complex in Gandhinagar, the administrative capital of Gujarat state. Over 30 people were killed and 70 injured.

Foreign visitors have been injured in some of these attacks. No reliable pattern has emerged, nor is there any indication that these attacks are directed against U.S. citizens or other foreigners. However, terrorist groups, some of which are linked to Al-Qaeda and have been previously implicated in attacks against U.S. citizens, are active in India and have attacked and killed civilians. U.S. citizens should exercise particular vigilance when in the vicinity of government installations, visiting tourist sites, or attending public events throughout India.


U.S. citizens should also be alert to suspicious packages in public places and avoid crowds, political demonstrations, and other manifestations of civil unrest.


For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Inter net website at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.


The Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers, who are unable to use tollfree numbers such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during the se hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.


Jammu and Kashmir: The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid travel to the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir. A number of terrorist groups operate in Jammu and Kashmir, and military movements continue along the Line of Control separating Indian and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.

Since 1989, more than 60,000 people have been killed in the Kashmir conflict, including more than 1,000 civilians in 2002 alone. The state's summer capital of Srinagar is particularly susceptible to terrorist attacks. In March 2003, unidentified gunmen killed 24 Hindu Pandits, including 11 women and 2 children, in the southern Kashmiri town of Shopian. In October 2001, a bomb exploded at the Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly complex, killing 38 people and injuring over 100 others. The few tourists who go to these areas are quite visible and vulnerable and definitely at risk. Occasionally, even the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir has been affected by terrorist violence. In 2000, Kashmiri terrorists in Ladakh's Zanskar region killed a German tourist. U.S. Government employees are prohibited from traveling to the state of Jammu and Kashmir without permission from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.


In 1999, the terrorist organization Harakat Ul Mujahideen issued a ban on U.S. citizens, including tourists, visiting Kashmir. In 1995, the terrorist organization Al Faran kidnapped seven Western tourists, including two U.S. citizens, who were trekking in Kashmir valley. One of the hostages was brutally murdered, another escaped, and the other five-including one U.S. citizen-have never been found. Srinagar has also been the site of a great deal of violence, including car bombings, market bombings, and land-mine deaths. In recent years, several tourists, including at least one U.S. citizen, have been fatally shot or wounded in Srinagar. In May 2000, a land-mine explosion south of Srinagar killed a minister for the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Also in May 2000, rocket-propelled grenades fired at a government building in Srinagar killed a government employee and wounded others. In late 2002, elections, which were generally considered free and fair, were held in Jammu and Kashmir, but they were marred by multiple terrorist attacks that often killed or injured innocent civilians.


India-Pakistan Border: The State Department recommends that U.S. citizens avoid travel to all border areas between India and Pakistan, including the border regions within the states of Gujarat, Punjab, and Rajahstan, and the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan maintain a strong military presence on both sides of the Line of Control in Kashmir. The only official India-Pakistan border crossing point is between Atari, India, and Wagah, Pakistan. A Pakistani visa is required to enter Pakistan. The border crossing is currently open. However, travelers are advised to confirm the current status of the border crossing prior to commencing travel.


Both India and Pakistan claim an area of the Karakoram mountain range that includes the Siachen glacier. The two countries have military outposts in the region, and armed clashes have occurred. Because of this situation, U.S. citizens traveling to or climbing peaks anywhere in the disputed areas face significant risk of injury and death. The disputed area includes the following peaks: Rimo Peak; Apsarasas I, II, and III; Tegam Kangri I, II and III; Suingri Kangri; Ghiant I and II; Indira Col.; and Sia Kangri.


Northeast States: Sporadic incidents of violence by ethnic insurgent groups, including the bombing of buses and trains, are reported from parts of Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, and Meghalaya. While U.S. citizens have not been specifically targeted, visitors are cautioned not to travel outside major cities at night. Security laws are in force, and the central government has deploy ed security personnel to several Northeast states. Travelers may check with the U.S. Consulate in Calcutta for information on current conditions. (Please see the section on Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations below.)


East Central and Southern India: U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in rural areas of East Central and Southern India should be aware of the left-wing extremist groups called "Naxalites" and exercise appropriate caution. The Naxalites have a long history of conflict with state and national authorities, including attacks on police and government officials. The Naxalites have not specifically targeted U.S. citizens, but have attacked symbolic targets that have included American companies. Groups claiming to be Naxalites have blackmailed American organizations, and in one instance a small bomb that exploded at an American corporation's production site was thought by the authorities to have been part of an extortion plot.

Restricted Areas: Permission from the Indian Government (from Indian diplomatic missions abroad or in some cases from the Ministry of Home Affairs) is required to visit the states of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, parts of Kulu district and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, border areas of Jammu and Kashmir, some areas of Uttaranchal, the area west of National Highway No. 15 running from Ganganagar to Sanchar in Rajahstan, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the Union Territory of the Laccadives Islands. U.S. citizens who visit the Tibetan Colony in Mundgod, Karnataka, must obtain a permit from the Ministry of Home Affairs in New Delhi before visiting. U.S. citizens may contact the Ministry of Home Affairs at: (011)(91)2469-3334 or 2301-3054.


Civil Disturbances: Urban demonstrations pose risks to travelers' personal safety and can disrupt transportation systems and city services. In response to such events, Indian authorities occasionally impose curfews and/or restrict travel. Political rallies and demonstrations in India have the potential for violence, especially immediately preceding and following ele