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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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%).


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.


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.


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.


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%.


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.


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.


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%.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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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


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 for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


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!"


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.


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.


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.


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:

American Embassy School
Chandragupta Marg
New Delhi-110 021

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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


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.


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 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

--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

--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

--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


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.

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.


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.


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*

Mahavir Jayanti*


Buddha Purnima*

Khardad Sal*



Dussehra and Durga Puja*

Guru Nanak Jayanti*


Id al-Fitr*





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.


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


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.)


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.


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.

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Republic of India

Bharat Ganarajya



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).


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.


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.


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.


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 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.

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 ( 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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 .


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.


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.


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.


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.


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'.


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.


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.


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.


India has no territories or colonies.


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Payam Foroughi

Raissa Muhutdinova-Foroughi

Sujatha Naidu


New Delhi.


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.


Clothing, engineering goods, chemicals, leather products, gems and jewelry, cotton fiber, yarn, fabrics.


Chief imports of India are crude oil and petroleum products, machinery, gems, fertilizer, chemicals.


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.]


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.).]

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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of India
Region: East & South Asia
Population: 1,014,003,817
Language(s): English, Hindi, Bengali,Telugu, Marathi, Tamil,Urdu, Gujarati,Malayalam, Kannada,Oriya, Punjabi,Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, Sanskrit,Hindustani
Literacy Rate: 52%
Number of Primary Schools: 598,354
Compulsory Schooling: 8 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 3.2%
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 110,390,406
  Secondary: 68,872,393
  Higher: 6,060,418
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 100%
  Secondary: 49%
  Higher: 7%
Teachers: Primary: 1,789,733
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 47:1
  Secondary: 33:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 90%
  Secondary: 39%
  Higher: 5%

History & Background

Historical Evolution: Education always evolves out of historical and cultural contexts. India's current educational system is a product of centuries-old dualities that characterize the genius and decadence of an ancient but wounded civilization. Speaking to the UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education, India's Minister of Resource Development and Science and Technology, Murli Manohar Joshi, asserted the centrality of education to the Indian heritage. "Pursuit of integral knowledge and liberation, which has been a constant endeavor of Indian culture, is also the central objective of education," Joshi told the conference (1998). Joshi further addressed the connection between education and the preservation of culture:

Education is also visualized as an evolutionary force so that each individual is enabled to evolve from purely material consciousness towards superior planes of intellectual and spiritual consciousness. Education is also perceived as a bridge between the past, present, and the future and as a means by which the best of the heritage is transmitted to the new generations for its further progression. (Joshi 1998)

India has the world's oldest and largest education system. Its antiquity and diversity are reflected in the roots of cultural norms and institutions that go back to a distant and venerable past. It is believed that the world's first university was established in Takshila in 700 B.C. It was a center for higher learning that attracted about 10,500 students who studied nearly 60 subjects.

The ruins of Nalanda University, southeast of Patna, reflect India's prestigious status for the 10,000 pupils and 2,000 teachers who came there from all over the world between the fourth and twelfth centuries. Hieun-Tsang, the famed Chinese traveler-scholar, studied and taught at Nalanda. His writings offer a vivid and authentic account of India's political and social realities that prevailed around the fifth century. Nalanda saw the rise and fall of empires that built several shrines and monasteries. King Harshwardhan endowed a college of fine arts. Both Nagarujuna and Dinnagaa Mahayana philosopher and the founder of the school of logic, respectivelytaught here.

If Takshila and Nalanda are any testimony, educational standards and knowledge development had reached an epitome of excellence that subsequently vanquished in the wake of social and political changes. Caste, religion, gender, and class have always determined the content, context, and delivery of educational goals and programs. As attitudes toward these things change, so does education.

Population: India is home to roughly one-fifth of the global population and is the world's largest democracy. The latest provisional results of Census 2001 indicate that India has become the second most populous country in the world after China. In the decade between 1991 and 2001, India produced more people, but also a more even ratio of men to women and a higher literacy rate.

According to the Express News Service, the population of India in early 2001 was 1,027,015,247, reflecting a growth since 1991 of 181 million people. While the country's share of global population increased by 16.7 percent, its growth rate actually declined by 2.52 percent. The sex ratio was 944 females to 1,000 males, a significant increase from 1991. The largest states are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Bihar.

The News Service also reports that illiteracy began in 2001 to decline for the first time in over 50 years. Overall, 75.9 percent of males and 54.2 percent of females are literate, reflecting a decrease in the gap between male and female literacy. Literacy varies greatly by region: Kerala reports a literacy rate of 90.9 percent, while Bihar maintains a literacy rate of only 47.5 percent.

India as the world's largest educational system is both a model and case-in-point for planners and academics addressing the issues and problems of a developing nation. The system serves nearly 1 billion people with limited resources and unlimited demands.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

India's constitution and its Directive Principles of State Policy form the legal-constitutional foundation of national policy on education. Article 45 of the Directive Principle mandates that "the State shall endeavor to provide within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years." Article (i) provides for any citizen having a distinct language or script. Article 46 addresses the special care of the economic and educational interests of the underprivileged sections, particularly the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, making them an obligation of the state. (Scheduled Castes and Tribes are legally established ethnic subgroupsformerly called "untouchables," a term since outlawedwith specific educational and vocational privileges, special representation in parliament, and protection from discrimination, as outlined in the modern Indian constitution.)

The national education policy has evolved through the periodic evaluation of priorities and the subsequent development of plans to achieve those goals. Since the 1950s, India has followed a planned process of social and national development, incrementally implemented in a series of five-year plans. In 1968, in its Resolution on the National Policy on Education, expansion and quality, especially for education for girls, were emphasized. The actual National Policy on Education (NPE) was not formulated until 1986. It was updated in 1992 with a comprehensive policy framework, the Plan of Action, stipulating main responsibilities for organizing, implementing, and financing various proposals. In keeping with the policy objectives, "the targets for the Ninth Five Year Plan have been fixed under three broad parametersuniversal access, universal retention, and universal achievement" (Tiwari 2000).

Though education is in the concurrent list of the national constitution, the state governments play an important role in the planning and delivery of education, especially in the primary and secondary sectors. Joshi described to the UNESCO World Conference the particular responsibilities of the national (Union) government:

Under the Constitutional scheme, "education" is in the concurrent list, and the Union Government and States exercise joint responsibilities. As a result, while the role and responsibilities of the States in regard to education remains unaltered, the Union Government accepts a larger responsibility to reinforce the national and integrated character of education, to maintain quality and standards, to study and monitor the educational requirements of the country as a whole in regard to manpower for development, to cater to the needs of research and advanced study, to look after international aspects of education, culture and human resource development, and in general, to promote excellence at the tertiary level of the educational pyramid throughout the country (1998).

Educational SystemOverview

India contains about 888,000 educational institutions with an enrollment of about 179 million students. The elementary education system in India is the second largest in the world, with 149.4 million children of 6-14 years enrolled (about 82 percent of the children in that age group) and 2.9 million teachers.

As a democracy, India is committed in principle to compulsory and free education for all its people with special provisions for its underprivileged and traditionally oppressed people. The reality, however, is far from the desired outcome. Poverty and cultural deprivation leave millions of young minds without education. On the contrary, a very sophisticated infrastructure of elitist education modeled after the British private schools exists for the children of rich and influential people who continue to dominate the society in different sectors. Among the residential boarding schools designed exclusively for the elite are The Lawrence School, Lovedale; Kodaikanal International School, Kodaikanal; Rishi Valley School, Chittor; Montford Anglo Indian Boys School, Yercaud; Chinmaya International Residential School, Coimbatore; United World College, Pune; Dow Hill School, Kurseong; St. Paul's School, Darjeeling; The Lawrence School, Sanawar; Mayo College, Ajmer; Welham Girls' High School, Dehradun; and Colvin Tallukedar School, Lucknow.

Preprimary & Primary Education

Basic Principles: While "primary education provides the fundamentals of all formal learning" (Sharma 1997), preprimary learning may be called the foundation for both education and personal development. Little information exists on formal preprimary education in rural India, although the family and community function as a broader arena for holistic learning. In urban communities, the level of preprimary education corresponds directly to the factors of class and wealth. Only the rich and educated opt for kindergarten and Montessori schools, which abound in affluent neighborhoods, while poor, neglected, underprivileged children languish in the streets of Indian cities.

At least in terms of national priorities, primary education takes as a model a humanistic pedagogy, emphasizing the needs of the child over all means and methods of education. Neerja Sharma succinctly writes:

The buildings, school administration, teachers and personnel, syllabi and textbooks, furniture and uniforms exist because children need education. This truism has been recognized in the Program of Action of the National Policy on Education (1986) that states under its Implementation Strategies: The country's faith in its future generations will be exemplified in the system of elementary education, which will get geared around the centrality of the child (11). (1997)

A 1988 governmental reform of the primary curriculum set forth the principles that were to govern this type of education. Students were entitled to a "broad and balanced curriculum" including such diverse subjects as religious education, science, and technology. In addition, the standards for students' academic achievement were to be raised, and assessment methods were to serve "formative purposes" (Venkataiah 2000).

The implementation of these goals is somewhat confounded by the diversity of India's population and the complexity of its governance. In practice, primary education is a dilemma-ridden field where teachers, schools, communities, and states muddle through a rugged terrain without consensus. As a result, local, regional, and political influences override the foundational issues in pedagogical discourse. In particular, zealous religious groups have been divisive.

S. Venkataiah, a leader in primary and secondary education in India, argues that the legal force and the professional support, even the very goals, of the 1988 reform act created a problem of manageability: "One of the paradoxes was that there would have been no manageability problem without the principles embodied in the curriculum required by the 1988 Act" (2000). Venkataiah identifies three types of problems that arose for those charged with managing the curriculum at the school level: curriculum time allocation, teacher expertise, and resources in primary schools.

A further problem with meeting the expansive goals of the nationally determined curriculum of primary schools has been many teachers' shallow approach to education. "The dominating difficulty in the purpose of primary schools is the fact that 'knowing' is rated more highly than 'teaching,' despite the importance of the latter and its equally intimate connection with 'learning,"' writes Venkataiah (2000). Venkataiah adds:

The agency responsible for the National Curriculum advised the Government that the statutory curriculum would have to be slimmed down; the agency responsible for the national inspection arrangement reported that those schools that had nearly covered the statutory curriculum had done so only by encouraging superficial learning in their pupils. (2000)

Initiatives: Universalization of the entire educational system has been the main goal of government since independence. Formal and nonformal primary education, however, have been the main challenge to this goal. Universalization of Elementary Education (UEE) is fraught with systemic and socioeconomic factors that call for massive public education and advocacy. A total-literacy campaign is underway despite numerous barriers. Even provision of textbooks in poverty-ridden areas is a challenge. A comprehensive program seeks to target "i) teachers and all those involved in education of children; ii) students and parents of students, particularly non-literate parents; and iii) community opinion leaders" (Government of India 2001).

Residential education of girls, especially from broken homes and poor families, has lately received planners' attention. A program named after Mahatma Gandhi's wife, the Kasturba Gandhi Shiksha Yojana, has been funded with Rs. 2,500 million (rupees). Other financial incentives and scholarships for poor girls have been provided. All such programs, as recorded in the NPE-1986, "pay special attention to increasing girls' enrollment, improving educational outcomes, strengthening community involvement, and improving teaching and learning materials and providing in-service teacher training" (Government of India 2001). The status of some of these initiatives is discussed below.

Operation Blackboard: According to the government of India, the number of primary schools that have been transformed under this initiative with central assistance is 523,000. The main purpose of this program is to improve the environment in schools by providing basic facilities.

Decentralization: According to the government of India, the management of elementary education, as envisioned by the NPE, has emphasized direct community involvement in the form of Village Education Committees (VECs). The 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments provide for decentralization of the local self-government institutions, called Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs). PRIs have thus become pivotal in the delivery of education in rural and urban communities. The oppressed groupswomen, Scheduled Castes and Tribes, and minoritieshave especially found PRIs very helpful. This approach is essentially grass-roots educational policy and delivery.

Decentralization has been reinforced during the Eighth Five-Year Plan. The VECs, District Primary Education Program, and Lok Jumbish have been chiefly instrumental in this process. A Special Orientation Program for Primary Teachers has further reinforced support to primary level teachers. During 1992 to 1993 and 1995 to 1996, Rs. 8,163 million were allocated; the outlay for 1996 to 1997 was Rs. 2,910 million. More recent data is not available.

Mobilizing the village community to take responsibility for ensuring quality education for every child is the core strategy of both the Shiksha Karmi Project and Lok Jumbish and in their efforts to universalize and improve primary education. Community involvement has been crucial for the success of these projects.

Shiksha Karmi Project: The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency has assisted in the implementation of the Shiksha Karmi Project. The project aims at universalization and qualitative improvement of primary education in the remote and economically disadvantaged villages of Rajasthan with a focus on girls. The Shiksha Karmi Project has constituted VECs in 2,000 villages to promote community involvement in primary education and encourage village-level planning. The role of the VEC is to mobilize resources for maintenance, repair, and construction of school infrastructures. The VEC also helps in determining the school calendar and school-daytimings in consultation with the local community and Shiksha Karmis (educational workers). Shiksha Karmis are frequently used as substitutes to compensate for teacher absenteeism.

In addition to the more formal courtyard schools (Angan Pathshalas ), the Shiksha Karmi Project also runs nonformal classes called Prehar Pathshalas (schools of convenient timings). For girls' education, Angan Pathshalas are run in three blocks. As of 2001 the program covered over 150,000 students in 1,785 schools and 3,520 Prehar Pathshalas, involving over 4,271 Shiksha Karmis.

Lok Jumbish Project: Lok Jumbish is extended to 75 blocks covering a population of approximately 12 million in Rajastahan. The project involves government agencies, teachers, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and elected representatives to promote universalization of primary education. The seven guiding principles of Lok Jumbish are (a) a process rather than a product approach, (b) partnerships, (c) decentralized functioning, (d) participatory learning, (e) integration with the mainstream education system, (f) flexibility of management, and (g) multiple levels of leadership.

District Primary Education Program (DPEP): The objectives of DPEP, a major program to implement UEE, are

  • to provide all children with access to primary education either in the formal system or through the non-formal education (NFE) program;
  • to reduce differences in enrollment, dropout rates, and learning achievement among gender and social groups to less than 5 percent;
  • to reduce overall primary dropout rates for all students to less than 10 percent;
  • to raise average achievement levels by at least 25 percent over measured baseline levels; and
  • to ensure achievements of basic literacy and numeric competencies and a minimum of 40 percent achievement levels in other competencies by all primary school children.

The Government of India finances 85 percent of the project cost as a grant to the DPEP State Implementation Societies, and state governments provide the rest. As of 2001, the International Development Agency (IDA) of the World Bank had approved credit amounting to $260 million and $425 million under Phase I and Phase II of DPEP, respectively. The European Union is providing a grant of 150 million euros. The ODA (of the United Kingdom) is extending a grant of $80.21 million, and a grant from the Netherlands amounts to $25.8 million.

DPEP has been implemented in phases in different states beginning with 42 districts in the states of Assam, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamilnadu, and Madhya Pradesh. In the second phase, the program was launched in 80 districts of Orissa, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and in Phase I States. The main projects are summarized below to exemplify varied governmental objectives.

Bihar Education Project: The Bihar Education Project, launched in 1991, emphasized participatory planning to uplift the deprived sections of society, such as Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and women. A midterm review highlighted major achievements including (a) a strong Mahila Samakhya component; (b) organization of VECs and community involvement in program implementation at grassroots levels; and (c) nonformal education through NGOs.

Uttar Pradesh Basic Education Program: The government of Uttar Pradesh launched the World Bank project Education for All in June 1993. The project, operating in 12 districts as of 2001, is planned to expand its coverage to 15 districts under DPEP Phase II. It has an outlay of Rs. 7,288 million spread over 7 years. The IDA would provide a credit of $163.1 million, and the state government's share would be approximately 13 percent of the total project cost. About 40,000 teachers have been trained.

Andhra Pradesh Primary Education Project: The Andhra Pradesh Primary Education Project (APPEP), implemented in the south-central state of Andhra Pradesh, adopts a two-pronged strategy of improving classroom transaction by training teachers and giving a fillip to school construction activities. The Andhra Pradesh area has a female literacy rate of just 34 percent. The project has trained an estimated 80,000 teachers in 23 districts, and more than 3,000 teaching centers have become operational. The project is assisted by the UK's ODA with an estimated outlay of Rs. 1,000 million in the Eighth Five-Year Plan.

National Program of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (School Meal Program): Providing a free, nutritious cooked meal of 100 grams of food grains per school day to all children in classes I-V is an ambitious program in a country of 1 billion people. The program was launched in 1997 to 1998 to support UEE in achieving its goal of increasing enrollment, retention, and attendance in primary classes. In 1997 to 1998 the program covered nearly 110 million children in primary classes. Reportedly school enrollment and rates of retention have increased.

Secondary Education

Enrollment: Secondary education acts as a bridge between primary and higher education and is designed for students ages 14 to 18. Of the estimated 96.6 million people eligible, the enrollment figures of the 1997 to 1998 school year showed that only 27 million attended schools. Thus, two-thirds of the eligible population remains out of the school system. To educate children in schools at the secondary level, there are at present 110,000 institutions (1998 to 1999). With the emphasis on the universalization of elementary education and programs like District Primary Education Program, enrollment is expected to increase. Once this universalization takes place, more than 200,000 institutions will be needed at the secondary level.

Support Organizations: Secondary education is supported by several organizations under the administrative control of the Department of Education: National Council of Educational Research and Training, Central Board of Secondary Education, National Open School, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, Central Tibetan Schools Administration, Central Institute of Education Technology, and the State Institute of Education Technology. A brief introduction to some of these organizations and their programs is given below.

Central Board of Secondary Education: The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), a self-funded agency, was created by a special Resolution of the Government of India in 1929 to raise the standard of secondary education and to make the services of CBSE available to various educational institutions in the country. CBSE has seven committees: Finance, Curriculum, Examination, Results, Affiliation, Committee for Private Candidates, and Committees of Courses. The chairman of CBSE is also the Head of the Governing Body, which in turn reports to the Education Secretary. CBSE has six regional offices at Ajmer, Chandigarh, Chennai, Allahabad, Guwahati, and Delhi to ensure better communication and services. The number of schools affiliated with CBSE has gone up phenomenally from 309 in 1962 to more than 5,237 in 1999.

Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan: Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, an autonomous organization established in 1965, has a four-point mission for Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs): (a) to cater to the educational needs of children of transferable Central Government employees, including defense and paramilitary personnel, by providing a common program of education; (b) to pursue excellence and set the pace in the field of school education; (c) to initiate and promote experimentation and innovations in education in collaboration with other bodies such as CBSE and the National Council of Educational Research and Training; and (d) to develop the spirit of national integration and create a sense of "Indian-ness" among children. There are 874 KVs at work and a proposal is under consideration to open some more.

Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti: Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, through the institution of Navodaya Vidyalayas (NVs), seeks to (a) provide high-quality modern education up to the senior secondary stage to talented children predominantly from rural areas, without regard to their family's socioeconomic condition; (b) act as a trendsetter and pacesetter in the areas where NVs are located; and (c) serve, in each district, as a focal point for improvement in the quality of school education through sharing experiences and facilities. The program is competitive, as it is designed to serve 240 students at each unit. In 2001 there were only 404 NVs. Plans for the future, however, include an NV for each district.

Central Tibetan Schools Administration: The Central Tibetan Schools Administration was established to provide education for the Tibetan refugees in India. The Tibetan community, displaced from their native land, receives special modern education in harmony with their traditional system and culture. There are 87 schools in the country to serve Tibetans.

Centrally Sponsored Schemes: Secondary education is supported by a number of centrally sponsored "schemes":

  1. Vocationalization of secondary education;
  2. Integrated education for disabled children;
  3. Computer literacy and studies in schools (CLASS);
  4. Education technology;
  5. Improvement of science education in schools;
  6. Promotion of yoga in schools;
  7. Strengthening culture and values in schools;
  8. Strengthening boarding and hostel facilities for girls; and
  9. Environmental orientation to school education.

These "schemes" are designed to support local and regional schools in areas that are crucial for a fuller and developmentally complete education.

Higher Education

General Survey: Addressing the graduates of the Allahabad University in 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, said:

A university stands for humanism, for tolerance, for reason, for the adventure of ideas and for the search for truth. It stands for the onward march of the human race toward higher objectives. Universities are places of ideals and idealism. If the universities discharge their duties adequately, then, it is well with the nation and the people. (Quoted in Joshi 1998)

According to Joshi, although prior to independence the university system grew slowly, after independence the pace quickened. Evaluating India's progress towards these goals in higher education almost 20 years later, critic Robert Gaudino described the dueling motives controlling the growth of higher education in India, saying:

Higher education in India is less purposeful innovation than casual change, less inspired initiative than hastily assembled new departures, less far sighted planning than uneven movement. Irregular and unpremeditated as this moment may be, it is pushed forward by two clear, self-consistent, antagonistic impulses, two persuasions, each sure of itself but in tension with the other. One is the drive to democratize, to expand, to admit greater numbers; the other is the drive to professionalize, to raise the standards, to increase equipment and research in special fields. (1965)

Since then, despite dramatic changes, some of the fundamental challenges remain the same. Expansion and decentralization, not to mention increasing privatization, have opened up institutional gates to millions, but three basic issues continue to vex educational planners: diversity, excellence, and accountability.

India's higher education system, the largest in the world according to the Indian government, includes 237 universities, 10,600 colleges, 41 Deemed Universities, 7.1 million students, and 331,000 teachers. Among these, there are 12 science and technology universities, 7 open universities, 33 agricultural universities, 5 women's universities, 11 language universities, and 11 medical universities. Specialized schools of journalism, law, fine arts, social work, planning and architecture, and other studies are also a part of the Indian university system. The government expenditure on higher education was Rs. 42,126 million in 1996 to 1997, and it has increased since then.

Degrees Offered: The higher education continuum involves three levels: bachelor or undergraduate, master's or post-graduate level, and doctoral and predoctoral level. Diploma courses are also offered at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Bachelor's degrees in arts, commerce, and sciences involve 3 years of education after 12 years of primary and secondary school education. Honors and special courses are selectively offered. Professional baccalaureate degrees require four years of education in agriculture, dentistry, engineering, pharmacy, technology, and veterinary medicine; five years in architecture; five and a half years in medicine. Degrees are also offered in education, journalism, and library science. A bachelor's degree in law can be taken either as an integrated degree lasting five years or as a three-year course as a second degree. It normally takes two years to obtain a master's degree with or without research work. Engineering, technology, and medicine require the Graduate Aptitude Test and Combined Medical Test, respectively, for admission. A pre-doctoral program, Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.), is taken after completion of the master's degree. The Ph.D. is usually awarded two years after the M.Phil. or three years after the master's degree. Students are expected to write an original dissertation to earn doctoral degrees.

Administration: The central government regulates and funds policies and programs relating to higher education in the country. Through the University Grants Commission and other institutions, the government promotes higher education to help students achieve national and international recognition and to address the country's complex needs.

The University Grants Commission (UGC), established by an Act of Parliament in 1956, discharges the constitutional mandate of coordination, determination, and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination, and research. It also serves as a vital link between the Union, state governments, and the institutions of higher learning. It monitors developments in the field of collegiate and university education, disburses grants to the universities and colleges, advises central and state Governments on the measures necessary for the improvement of university education, and frames regulations such as those on the minimum standards of instruction.

Its composition comprises of the chairperson, vice-chairperson, and 10 other members appointed by the government. The chairperson is selected from among those who are not officers of the central government or any state government. Of the 10 members, 2 are representatives of the central government. Not less than 4 must be teachers in the universities. Others are selected from among eminent education specialists, academics, and experts in various fields. The chairperson is appointed for a term of 5 years or until the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. The vice-chairperson is appointed for a term of 3 years or until the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. The other members are appointed for a term of three years. The chairperson, vice-chairperson, and members can be appointed for a maximum of two terms.

Although a central funding body, UGC has no funds of its own. It receives grants from the central government to carry out the responsibilities assigned to it by law. It allocates and disburses full maintenance and development grants to all Central Universities, colleges affiliated to Delhi and Banaras Hindu Universities, and some of the institutions accorded the status of "Deemed to be Universities." State universities, colleges, and other institutions of higher education receive support only from the Plan grant for development schemes. In addition, the UGC provides financial assistance to universities and colleges under various schemes and programs for promoting relevance, quality, and excellence, as well promoting the role of social change by the universities.

Beyond the UGC, a number of professional councils are responsible for the recognition of courses, promotion of professional institutions, and provision of grants to undergraduate programs. The statutory professional councils include the All India Council for Technical Education, the Distance Education Council, the Indian Council for Agriculture Research, the Bar Council of India, the National Council for Teacher Education, the Rehabilitation Council of India, the Medical Council of India, the Pharmacy Council of India, the Indian Nursing Council, the Dentist Council of India, the Central Council of Homeopathy, and the Central Council of Indian Medicine.

Central Universities: Universities that are under the statutory control of the central government serve under the president of India, who is the Visitor of all Central Universities. As Visitor, the president nominates some members to the Executive Committee, the Board of Management, and the Court and Selection Committees of the university. The Department of Education provides secretariat service for appointment of the vice-chancellor, Executive Committee nominees, Court nominees, Selection Committee nominees, and so forth. A brief description of these central universities follows.

Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU): IGNOU was established in 1985 as an Open University to promotion the distance education system. It offered 43 programs during 1998. The total number of students registered for various programs was 163,000. Students supports services in 1998 consisted of 19 Regional Centers and 346 Study Centers. IGNOU programs telecast on the Doordarshan Network six days a week. Its jurisdiction is throughout the country, and study centers can be designed for overseas demands. The Distance Education Council has the responsibility for the coordination and maintenance of standards in open and distance education system in the country.

University Of Hyderabad: Also called "The Golden Threshold" (the residence of the late Sarojni Naidu), the University of Hyderabad serves as a city campus to promote post-graduate teaching and research. The university has eight schools and a Center for Distance Education offering post-graduate diplomas in five disciplines.

University Of Delhi: Established in February 1922 as a residential university, the University of Delhi has 14 faculties, 82 teaching departments, and 78 colleges spread over the national Capital Territory of Delhi. Indraprashtha Vishwavidhlaya has come up in Delhi as a new affiliating state university.

Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya (MGAHV): MGAHV came into existence in 1997 as an outcome of the Wardha Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya Act passed by the parliament in December 1996. As an international institution, four schools were proposed under this university.

Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University: Established as a state university in 1994 in Lucknow and recognized as a Central University in January 1996, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University seeks to provide instructional and research facilities in new and frontier areas of learning. Currently it has three schools and three centers: the School of Ambedkar Studies, School for Information Science and Technology, School for Environmental Studies, Center for Rural Technology, Center for Vocational Studies, and Center for Human Rights.

Pondicherry University (PU): PU has jurisdiction over the Union Territory of Pondicherry and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Established in 1985 as a teaching-cum-affiliating university, it has 6 schools, 16 departments, 2 post-graduate diplomas and 27 postgraduate courses, 17 M.Phil and 22 doctoral programs, and a 5 year integrated master's degree program in 2 disciplines. It also has a community college. Several institutions are affiliated to PU (13 are located in Pondicherry, 3 in Karaikal, 2 in Mahe, 1 in Yanam, and 3 in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands).

Visva Bharati: Founded by Rabindranath Tagore, Visva Bharati was incorporated as a Central University by the Visva Bharati Act of 1951. Its jurisdiction is restricted to the area known as Santiniketan in the district of Birbhum, West Bengal. It is unique in its inclusion of education from the primary level to post-graduate and doctorate levels as a unitary residential body. It has 12 institutes: 8 at Santiniketan, 3 at Sriniketan, and 1 in Calcutta. There were 6,336 students enrolled in 1997.

Jamia Millia Islamia, Jamia Nagar: Recognized as a Deemed University since 1962, it acquired the status of a Central University in December 1988 by an act of parliament. It has six faculties, eight centers and five schools. A.J. Kidwai Mass Communication Research Center provides training at the post-graduate level in mass communication, and produces educational material on different subjects for the UGC and INSAT Program. Admissions are made on the basis of merit adjusted through an admission test.

Aligarh Muslim University (AMU): AMU, established in 1920, is a leading residential institution. It has 92 departments, institutions, and centers grouped under 11 faculties. It maintains four hospitals, six colleges (including medical, dental, and engineering colleges), and two polytechnic schools. Six diploma courses are exclusively for women.

Banaras Hindu University (BHU): BHU came into existence in 1916 as a teaching and residential university in Varanasi. It consists of three institutions: the Institute of Medical Sciences, Institute of Technology, and Institute of Agricultural Sciences. It has faculties with 121 academic departments and 4 interdisciplinary schools. It maintains a constituent Mahila Mahavidyalaya and 3 school-level institutions, including a 1,000-bed modern/Ayurvedic hospital.

Jawahar Lal Nehru University (JNU): Primarily established with a post-graduate mission in education and research, New Delhi-based JNU has 7 schools consisting of 24 centers of studies and a separate center for biotechnology.

Maulana Azad National Urdu University: This university was established in 1998, with its main administrative office in Hyderabad. It has three regional offices in Delhi, Patna, and Bangalore. Its aim is to promote and develop the Urdu language and to impart vocational and technical education in Urdu through traditional and distance education.

Assam University: Established as a teaching-cumaffiliating university in 1994, Assam University commands jurisdiction over the districts of Cachar, Karimganj, Karhi, and Hailakandi in the state of Assam. It has 53 affiliated colleges, 24 Departments under 8 schools of studies, and 3 centers of studies.

Nagaland University: Established as a teaching-cumaffiliating university in 1994, Nagaland University serves the whole of the state of Nagaland. It has 39 affiliated colleges with campuses in Kohima, Lumami, and Medsiphema.

Tezpur University: As a non-affiliating unitary Central University set up in the state of Assam in 1994, Tezpur University seeks to offer employment-oriented and interdisciplinary courses, mostly at the post-graduate level. It has 11 departments under 4 schools of studies and 6 centers of studies.

North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU): Established in 1973, NEHU has a campus at Aizwal and a center in Tura with its headquarters in Shillong. Its jurisdiction is over the states of Meghalaya, Arunachal, and Mizoram. Six schools of studies include certain post-graduate departments and four centers of studies. It has 58 under-graduate colleges, 8 professional colleges, and is affiliated with the North-Eastern Regional Institute of Science and Technology (NERIST). It also has a Regional Sophisticated Instrumentation Center.

Specialized Institutes & Research Centers:

Inter-University Centers: Heavy investment in infrastructure has placed some facilities beyond the reach of individual universities. Under Section 12 of the UGC Act, the Commission has established the following Inter-University Centers (IUCs) to provide common facilities, service, and programs to universities:

  • Nuclear Science Center, New Delhi, 1984 (Accelerator-oriented research);
  • IUC for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune (State of the art instrumentation for research in astronomy);
  • Inter-University Consortium for the Department of Atomic Energy facilities, Indore, 1989;
  • Information and Library Network (INFLINET), Ahmedabad, 1996 (Networking of libraries through electronic media);
  • Consortium for Educational Communication, New Delhi, 1993 (To disseminate countrywide programs through television);
  • National Assessment & Accreditation Council, Bangalore, 1994 (To assess and accredit public and private institutions of higher learning) (Government of India 2001).

National Facilities: National Facilities represent India's cutting edge fields, such as science and technology, that are deemed essential for the country's future advancement. These centers are funded by UGC in selected universities:

  • Western Regional Instrumentation Centre, Bombay (Design and development of indigenous equipment and training of staff in instrumentation);
  • Regional Instrumentation Centre, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (Design and development of indigenous equipment and training of staff in instrumentation);
  • Crystal Growth Centre, Anna University, Madras (Research and dissemination of knowledge and organization of training program in crystal growth);
  • MST Radar Centre, Sri Venkateswara Tirupati (Studies in atmospheric dynamics to enable teachers to use MST/radar facility;
  • Eastern Center for Radio Astrophysics, Calcutta University (Research in astrophysics);
  • Japal-Rangapur observatory, Osmania University, Hyderabad (Science research observatory); and
  • Center for Science Education & Communication, New Delhi (Popularization of science).


Organization & Growth: In 2001 the Ninth Five-Year Plan was in process. Its main foci included measures for quality improvement, modernization of syllabi, renewal of infrastructure, extra-budgetary resource mobilization, and greater attention to issues in governance. Access and relevance would also receive attention. The plan placed a priority on the conferment of greater autonomy to deserving colleges and the professional upgrading of teachers through Academic Staff Colleges.

Emphasis is being placed on consolidation and optimal utilization of the existing infrastructure through institutional networking, restructuring, and expansion, so as to meet the demands of the traditionally underserved populations, with a focus on women and underprivileged groups. The Open University system, which has been growing in popularity and size, is striving to diversify its courses and offerings and to gain wider acceptability by upgrading its quality. The main focus of this effort is also to serve the educational needs of women and rural populations, including professional training of in-service employees (Government of India 2001).

Among other new initiatives is an emphasis on career orientation in higher education. Under a program launched in 1994 to 1995, a university or college could introduce 1 to 3 vocational courses to provide career orientation in 35 identified subjects. Attention to higher education for women is also a contemporary trend. According to Joshi, "A special emphasis has come to be laid on women's education. The number of women's colleges has recorded a substantial increase, and India has 1,195 women's colleges today. The enrollment of women at the beginning of 1997-1998 was 2.303 million, 34 percent of them being of the postgraduate level" (1998).

The growth of the system overall has also compelled the evolution of the universities' structure. Most of the universities are affiliating universities, which prescribe the affiliated colleges' course of study, hold examinations, and award degrees. Many of the universities, along with their affiliated colleges, have grown rapidly to the point of becoming unmanageable. Therefore, as per the NPE-1986, a scheme of autonomous colleges has been promoted. In the autonomous colleges, whereas the degree continues to be awarded by the university, the name of the college is also included. The colleges develop and propose new courses of study to the university for approval. They are also fully responsible for conduct of examination. There are at present 138 autonomous colleges in the country.

Additional trends and initiatives of the early twenty-first century include protective discrimination, diversification, a national eligibility test for the selection of qualified teachers, an emphasis on quality, and examination reforms.

Cultural Traditions: India's classic Vedic culture bequeathed a rich heritage of Vedas, which many Hindu scholars consider the fount of knowledge. This ancient belief system continues to inspire and guide dominant ideologies that determine educational policies. Thus universities and the UGC have clashed over the validity of subjects and sciences considered by some to be obsolete. An example is the 2001 dispute over the status of astrology.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

Expenditures: India's investment in education, despite competing priorities, has been increasing from 0.8 percent of the Gross National Product (GNP) in 1951 to 1952 to 3.3 percent in 1994 to 1995. The goal of reaching 6 percent GNP, stipulated in NPE-1986, has been an ongoing challenge and commitment.

NPE-1986 recognized this challenge, offering the following qualifications:

Since the actual level of investment has remained far short of that target, it is important that greater determination is shown now to find the funds for the programs laid down in this policy. While actual requirements will be computed from time to time on the basis of monitoring and review, the outlay on education will be stepped up to ensure that during the 8th Five-Year Plan and onwards it will uniformly exceed 6 percent of the national income. (NPE-1986, Paragraph 11.4)

Higher Education: Higher education has witnessed similar growth. According to Joshi, government expenditure on higher education rose from Rs. 172 million in 1950-1951 to Rs. 42,035 million in 1996-1997, although inflation and increases in the population of both the nation and the student body mitigate this increase. Joshi reviews the trends in spending over the last 50 years of the twentieth century:

On the whole, the trends suggest that higher education had a good start during the 1950s (with real growth of 7.5 percent per annum), and had its golden days during the 1960s, with the real expenditure increasing at an annual rate of growth of 11 percent; but it suffered significantly during the 1970s, with the rate of growth coming down to a meager 3.4 percent as educational planners aimed at consolidation of higher education instead of its rapid expansion; and showed some tendencies to recover during the 1980s. Though the growth in expenditure on higher education has been erratic during the 1980s, it had increased on the whole at a rate of growth of 7.3 percent per annum. The 1990s heralded an era of austerity and higher education suffered greatly. (1998)

Educational Research: The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), established in 1961, serves as a resource center in the field of school education and teacher education. It undertakes programs related to research, development, training, extension, and dissemination of educational innovations through various constituent departments at the headquarters in New Delhi and 11 field officers all over the country. Publication of school textbooks and other educational materials, such as teachers' guides or manuals, is its major function. NCERT also undertakes time-bound projects in pre-school education, education for girls, and education for Scheduled Castes and Tribes. NCERT has five constituent units in the field: (a) RIE at Bhubaneshwar, Ajmer, Mysore, and Bhopal; (b) the Central Institute of Education Technology (CIET); (c) NIE; and (d) PSSCIVE, Bhopal. A fifth RIE is proposed at Shillong. CIET is an important unit of NCERT; it is engaged in the production of satellite-based audio and video programs for elementary and secondary levels, which are aired on All India Radio and Doordarshan.

Nonformal Education

Governmental Programs: India's open universities, adult education programs, and widespread distance education cater to the needs of a diverse population. The Department of Education, since 1980, has been sponsoring nonformal education (NFE) for children of ages 6 to 14, especially those marginalized from the formal system for various reasons, especially poverty. In 2001, some 740 voluntary agencies were implementing NFE programs in 25 states. Another 85 agencies sanctioned 9,485 NFE centers during 2000 (Tiwari 2000).

The National Open School (NOS) was established in November 1989 as an autonomous registered society to examine and certify students up through pre-degree courses. NOS provides the following programs: (a) foundation course, (b) secondary education course, (c) senior secondary education course, (d) open vocational education program, (e) life enrichment program, and (f) basic education for Universal Elementary Education (UEE). NOS provides individualized support through a network of study centers. Also called Accredited Institutions, the 972 study centers serve about 400,000 students all over the country. The aforementioned Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) also provides distance education.

Community-based Learning: Traditional societies have thrived on their nonformal systems of education. Joshi writes: "Ancient records of the Indian tradition testify to the search for the Rishis and sages for higher knowledge (para vidya ), and their discoveries have been continuously transmitted to posterity and kept alive through its history, marked by periods of expansion, specialization, decline and renewal" (1998). Long before the bureaucratized western structures of schooling mushroomed in the "less developed" nations, India's nonformal education was enshrined in its familial and cultural units.

Students and educators in India thus usually share a common history and a legacy of collective wisdom. This learning process reinforces the curricular thrusts in structured settings. To isolate the two systems from each other is to fracture the whole learning process. There are fieldsfine arts, medicine, astronomy, and numerous other skillswhere knowledge has been transmitted from one generation to another within familial ties without any formal structures. One can argue that India's cultural continuity is indebted to this informal system of education.

Venkataiah calls this education beyond structured curricula "a collective alternative self-curriculum, for over the years it involves learning, in the neighborhood and more intensely in the playground, a succession of codes and adjustments and conventional learned responses through which children complement their development with collective experience" (2000).

Teaching Profession

Teaching traditionally was a priestly function ascribed to the people at the helm of a caste hierarchy. As society advanced, individual accomplishments replaced the higher-caste monopoly on teaching. The status of teachers, though materially lesser than other lucrative and rewarding professions like medicine, law, engineering, and civil services, has tremendously increased as salary and other benefits have been nationally upgraded at all levels.

While much can be written to credit and discredit the people involved in the calling of teaching, it must be realized that society has an obligation to uphold the dignity of a profession that it deems essential for progress. Education and its processes, however, do not exist in a vacuum. Public corruption, nepotism, and unfair assessment practices have paralyzed a system that is potentially capable of empowering the whole nation.

Student Unions and Teachers Associations abound. While their role is not always functional, their organizational strengths and weaknesses characterize what ails the academic world. However, they do serve as incubators for future leadership that will run the Indian democracy.


India's achievements during the post-Independence era are phenomenal. The progress India has made in educational, professional, scientific, and technological spheres can neither be underestimated nor adequately summarized in a brief essay.

India's vision for its education system is reflected in the resolution passed by the UNESCO-sponsored World Conference on Higher Education in Paris, which reads:

Ultimately, higher education should aim at the creation of a new societynonviolent and non-exploitativeconsisting of highly cultivated, motivated and integrated individuals, inspired by love for humanity and guided by wisdom. (Quoted in Tiwari 2000)

The gap between rhetoric and reality, however, is evident if one travels through India's vast cultural landscape. India is a land of contrasts. One finds impoverished schools and marginalized children as frequently as squalor and poverty. The ubiquity of deprivation, cruelty, and neglect outweighs the glamour and elegance of elite schools which nourish the chosen ones of the rich and influential classes.

The Indian educational system maintains its dynamism by interacting with international bodies that seek collaboration and partnership. India's collaborative endeavors with foreign universities and professionals, especially in the United States, Canada, most European countries, Russia, Japan, and many Afro-Asian countries, is a success story. The American Institute of Indian Studies, the U.S. Educational Foundation in India, and the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, to mention the main ones, organize bilateral programs of international significance.

India's goal of achieving universal access and achievement, noble as it seems, will ring hollow and hypocritical unless the barriers of inequality and injustice are demolished through a thoughtfully planned program of progressive education and equal opportunity. It takes a village to raise and to destroy a child. The plight of poor children has not received the attention it merits, while the culture of privilege looms large with ominous consequences. India's cultural conundrums are mirrored in an educational system that treats people with different backgrounds in different ways. True universal achievement will require more than self-congratulatory reports and self-righteous resolutions.


Gaudino, Robert L. The Indian University. Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1965.

Government of India. Department of Education. Available from

"Home away from home: Elite residential schools." India Tribune 42 (17 March 2001): 24-25.

Joshi, Murli M. "Higher Education in India: Vision and Action." Paper presented at the UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education in the Twenty-First Century, Paris, October 1998. Available from

Mohan, Brij. Democracies of Unfreedom: The U.S. and India. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996.

. "The metaphysics of oppression: Human diversity and social hope." Paper delivered to the Second Diversity Conference, University of South Carolina, November 2000.

Sharma, Neerja. Evaluating Children in Primary Education. New Delhi: Discovery Publishing House, 1997.

Tiwari, Satish, ed. "Education: Development and Planning." In Encyclopedia of Indian Government Series. New Delhi: Anmol Publications, 2000.

Venkataiah, S, ed. "Primary and Secondary Education." In Encyclopedia of Contemporary Education Series. New Delhi: Anmol Publications, 2000.

Brij Mohan

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India, officially Republic of India, republic (2005 est pop. 1,080,264,000), 1,261,810 sq mi (3,268,090 sq km), S Asia. The second most populous country in the world, it is also sometimes called Bharat, its ancient name. India's land frontier (c.9,500 mi/15,290 km long) stretches from the Arabian Sea on the west to the Bay of Bengal on the east and touches Pakistan (W); China, Nepal, and Bhutan (N); Bangladesh, which forms an enclave in the northeast; and Myanmar (E). New Delhi is India's capital and Mumbai (formerly Bombay) its largest city.


The southern half of India is a largely upland area that thrusts a triangular peninsula (c.1,300 mi/2,090 km wide at the north) into the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west and has a coastline c.3,500 mi (5,630 km) long; at its southern tip is Kanniyakumri (Cape Comorin). In the north, towering above peninsular India, is the Himalayan mountain wall, where rise the three great rivers of the Indian subcontinent—the Indus, the Ganges, and the Brahmaputra.

The Gangetic alluvial plain, which has much of India's arable land, lies between the Himalayas and the dissected plateau occupying most of peninsular India. The Aravalli range, a ragged hill belt, extends from the borders of Gujarat in the southwest to the fringes of Delhi in the northeast. The plain is limited in the west by the Thar (Great Indian) Desert of Rajasthan, which merges with the swampy Rann of Kachchh to the south. The southern boundary of the plain lies close to the Yamuna and Ganges rivers, where the broken hills of the Chambal, Betwa, and Son rivers rise to the low plateaus of Malwa in the west and Chota Nagpur in the east.

The Narmada River, south of the Vindhya hills, marks the beginning of the Deccan. The triangular plateau, scarped by the mountains of the Eastern Ghats and Western Ghats, is drained by the Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri rivers; they break through the Eastern Ghats and, flowing east into the Bay of Bengal, form broad deltas on the wide Coromandel Coast. Further north, the Mahanadi River drains India into the Bay of Bengal. The much narrower western coast of peninsular India, comprising chiefly the Malabar Coast and the fertile Gujarat plain, bends around the Gulf of Khambat in the north to the Kathiawar and Kachchh peninsulas. The coastal plains of peninsular India have a tropical, humid climate.

The Deccan interior is partly semiarid on the west and wet on the east. The Indo-Gangetic plain is subtropical, with the western interior areas experiencing frost in winter and very hot summers. India's rainfall, which depends upon the monsoon, is variable; it is heavy in Assam and West Bengal and along the southern coasts, moderate in the inland peninsular regions, and scanty in the arid northwest, especially in Rajasthan and Punjab.

The republic is divided into 29 states: Andhra Pradesh; Arunachal Pradesh; Assam; Bihar; Chhattisgarh; Goa; Gujarat; Haryana; Himachal Pradesh; Jammu and Kashmir (see Kashmir); Jharkhand; Karnataka; Kerala; Madhya Pradesh; Maharashtra; Manipur; Meghalaya; Mizoram; Nagaland; Odisha (Orissa); Punjab; Rajasthan; Sikkim; Tamil Nadu; Telangana; Tripura; Uttarakhand; Uttar Pradesh; and West Bengal (see Bengal). There are also seven union territories: the Andaman and Nicobar Islands; Chandigarh; Dadra and Nagar Haveli; Daman and Diu; Delhi; Lakshadweep; and Puducherry. Kashmir is disputed with Pakistan.

In 1991, India had 23 cities with urban areas of more than 1 million people: Ahmadabad, Bangalore (Bengaluru), Bhopal, Chennai (Madras), Coimbatore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kanpur, Kochi (see under Cochin), Kolkata (Calcutta), Lucknow, Ludhiana, Madurai, Mumbai, Nagpur, Patna, Pune, Surat, Vadodara (see under Baroda), Varanasi, and Vishakhapatnam.

People and Culture

India is the world's second most populous nation (after China). Its ethnic composition is complex, but two major strains predominate: the Aryan, in the north, and the Dravidian, in the south. India is a land of great cultural diversity, as is evidenced by the enormous number of different languages spoken throughout the country. Although Hindi (spoken in the north) and English (the language of politics and commerce) are used officially, more than 1,500 languages and dialects are spoken. The Indian constitution recognizes 15 regional languages (Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu). Ten of the major states of India are generally organized along linguistic lines.

Although the constitution forbids the practice of "untouchability," and legislation has been used to reserve quotas for former untouchables (and also for tribal peoples) in the legislatures, in education, and in the public services, the caste system continues to be influential. About 80% of the population is Hindu, and 14% is Muslim. Other significant religions include Christians, Sikhs, and Buddhists. There is no state religion. The holy cities of India attract pilgrims from throughout the East: Varanasi (formerly Benares), Allahabad, Puri, and Nashik are religious centers for the Hindus; Amritsar is the holy city of the Sikhs; and Satrunjaya Hill near Palitana is sacred to the Jains.

With its long and rich history, India retains many outstanding archaeological landmarks; preeminent of these are the Buddhist remains at Sarnath, Sanchi, and Bodh Gaya; the cave temples at Ajanta, Ellora, and Elephanta; and the temple sites at Madurai, Thanjavur, Abu, Bhubaneswar, Konarak, and Mahabalipuram. For other aspects of Indian culture, see Hindu music; Indian art and architecture; Indian literature; Mughal art and architecture; Pali canon; Prakrit literature; Sanskrit literature.


Economically, India often seems like two separate countries: village India, supported by traditional agriculture, where tens of millions live below the poverty line; and urban India, one of the most heavily industrialized areas in the world, with an increasingly middle-class population and a fast-growing economy (and also much poverty). Agriculture (about 50% of the land is arable) makes up some 20% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about 60% of the Indian people. Vast quantities of rice are grown wherever the land is level and water plentiful; other crops are wheat, sugarcane, potatoes, pulses, sorghum, bajra (a cereal), and corn. Cotton, tobacco, oilseeds, and jute are the principal nonfood crops. There are large tea plantations in Assam, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. The opium poppy is also grown, both for the legal pharmaceutical market and the illegal drug trade; cannabis is produced as well.

Fragmentation of holdings, inefficient methods of crop production, and delays in acceptance of newer, high-yielding grains were characteristic of Indian agriculture in the past, but since the Green Revolution of the 1970s, significant progress has been made in these areas. Improved irrigation, the introduction of chemical fertilizers, and the use of high-yield strains of rice and wheat have led to record harvests. The subsistence-level existence of village India, ever threatened by drought, flood, famine, and disease, has been somewhat alleviated by government agricultural modernization efforts, but although India's gross food output has been generally sufficient for the the needs of its enormous population, government price supports and an inadequate distribution system still threaten many impoverished Indians with hunger and starvation.

India has perhaps more cattle per capita than any other country, but their economic value is severely limited by the Hindu prohibition against their slaughter. Goats and sheep are raised in the arid regions of the west and northwest. Water buffalo also are raised, and there is a large fish catch.

India has forested mountain slopes, with stands of oak, pine, sal, teak, ebony, palms, and bamboo, and the cutting of timber is a major rural occupation. Aside from coal, iron ore, mica, manganese, bauxite, and titanium, in which the country ranks high, India's mineral resources, although large, are not as yet fully exploited. The Chota Nagpur Plateau of S Jharkhand and the hill lands of SW West Bengal, N Odisha, and Chhattisgarh are the most important mining areas; they are the source of coal, iron, mica, and copper. There are workings of magnesite, bauxite, chromite, salt, and gypsum. Despite oil fields in Assam and Gujarat states and the output (since the 1970s) of Bombay High offshore oil fields, India is deficient in petroleum. There are also natural-gas deposits, especially offshore in the Bay of Bengal.

Industry in India, traditionally limited to agricultural processing and light manufacturing, especially of cotton, woolen, and silk textiles, jute, and leather products, has been greatly expanded and diversified in recent years; it employs about 12% of the workforce. There are large textile works at Mumbai and Ahmadabad, a huge iron and steel complex (mainly controlled by the Tata family) at Jamshedpur, and steel plants at Rourkela, Bhilainagar, Durgapur, and Bokaro. Bangalore has computer, electronics, and armaments industries. India also produces large amounts of machine tools, transportation equipment, chemicals, and cut diamonds (it is the world's largest exporter of the latter) and has a significant computer software industry. Its large film industry is concentrated in Mumbai, with other centers in Kolkata and Chennai. In the 1990s the government departed from its traditional policy of self-reliant industrial activity and development and worked to deregulate Indian industry and attract foreign investment. Since then the service industries have become a major source of economic growth and in 2005 accounted for more than half of GDP; international call centers provide employment for an increasing number of workers.

Most towns are connected by state-owned railroad systems, one of the most extensive networks in the world. Transportation by road is increasing, with the improvement of highways, but in rural India the bullock cart is still an important means of transportation. There are international airports at New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Chennai. The leading ports are Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Kochi, and Vishakhapatnam. The leading exports are clothing and textiles, gems and jewelry, engineering products, chemicals, leather goods, computer software, cotton thread, and handicrafts. The chief imports are crude oil, machinery, gems, fertilizers, and chemicals. India's major trade partners are the United States, China, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Great Britain, and Switzerland.


India is a federal state with a parliamentary form of government. It is governed under the 1949 constitution (effective since Jan., 1950). The president of India, who is head of state, is elected for a five-year term by the elected members of the federal and state parliaments; there are no term limits. Theoretically the president possesses full executive power, but that power actually is exercised by the prime minister (head of the majority party in the federal parliament) and council of ministers (which includes the cabinet), who are appointed by the president. The ministers are responsible to the lower house of Parliament and must be members of Parliament.

The federal parliament is bicameral. The upper house, the Council of States (Rajya Sabha), consists of a maximum of 250 members; the great majority are apportioned by state—each state's delegates are chosen by its elected assembly—and 12 members are appointed by the president. In addition, one member represents the union territory of Puducherry. Members serve for six years, with one third retiring every other year. The lower house, the People's Assembly (Lok Sabha), is elected every five years, although it may be dissolved earlier by the president. It is composed of 545 members, 543 apportioned among the states and two chosen by the president. There is a supreme court consisting of a chief justice and 25 associate justices, all appointed by the president.

Administratively, India is divided into 28 states and seven union territories. State governors are appointed by the president for five-year terms. States have either unicameral or bicameral parliaments and have jurisdiction over police and public order, agriculture, education, public health, and local government. The federal government has jurisdiction over any matter not specifically reserved for the states. In addition the president may intervene in state affairs during emergencies and may even suspend a state's government.


The historical discussion that follows deals, until Indian independence, with the Indian subcontinent, which includes the regions that are now Bangladesh and Pakistan, and thereafter concentrates on the history of India.

From the Indus Valley to the Fall of the Mughal Empire

One of the earliest civilizations of the world, and the most ancient on the Indian subcontinent, was the Indus valley civilization, which flourished c.2500 BC to c.1700 BC It was an extensive and highly sophisticated culture, its chief urban centers being Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. While the causes of the decline of the Indus Valley civilization are not clear, it is possible that the periodic shifts in the courses of the major rivers of the valley may have deprived the cities of floodwaters necessary for their surrounding agricultural lands. The cities thus became more vulnerable to raiding activity. At the same time, Indo-Aryan peoples were migrating into the Indian subcontinent through the northwestern mountain passes, settling in the Punjab and the Ganges valley.

Over the next 2,000 years the Indo-Aryans developed a Brahmanic civilization (see Veda), out of which Hinduism evolved. From Punjab they spread east over the Gangetic plain and by c.800 BC were established in Bihar, Jharkhand, and Bengal. The first important Aryan kingdom was Magadha, with its capital near present-day Patna; it was there, during the reign of Bimbisara (540–490 BC), that the founders of Jainism and Buddhism preached. Kosala was another kingdom of the period.

In 327–325 BC, Alexander the Great invaded the province of Gandhara in NW India that had been a part of the Persian empire. The Greek invaders were eventually driven out by Chandragupta of Magadha, founder of the Mauryan empire (see Maurya). The Mauryan emperor Asoka (d. 232 BC), Chandragupta's grandson, perhaps the greatest ruler of the ancient period, unified all of India except the southern tip. Under Asoka, Buddhism was widely propagated and spread to Sri Lanka and SE Asia. During the 200 years of disorder and invasions that followed the collapse of the Mauryan state (c.185 BC), Buddhism in India declined. S India enjoyed greater prosperity than the north, despite almost incessant warfare; among the Tamil-speaking kingdoms of the south were the Pandya and Chola states, which maintained an overseas trade with the Roman Empire.

Indian culture was spread through the Malay Archipelago and Indonesia by traders from the S Indian kingdoms. Meanwhile, Greeks following Alexander had settled in Bactria (in the area of present-day Afghanistan) and established an Indo-Greek kingdom. After the collapse (1st cent. BC) of Bactrian power, the Scythians, Parthians, Afghans, and Kushans swept into NW India. There, small states arose and disappeared in quick succession; among the most famous of these kingdoms was that of the Kushans, which, under its sovereign Kanishka, enjoyed (2d cent. AD) great prosperity.

In the 4th and 5th cent. AD, N India experienced a golden age under the Gupta dynasty, when Indian art and literature reached a high level. Gupta splendor rose again under the emperor Harsha of Kanauj (c.606–647), and N India enjoyed a renaissance of art, letters, and theology. It was at this time that the noted Chinese pilgrim Hsüan-tsang visited India. While the Guptas ruled the north in this, the classical period of Indian history, the Pallava kings of Kanchi held sway in the south, and the Chalukyas controlled the Deccan.

During the medieval period (8th–13th cent.) several independent kingdoms, notably the Palas of Bihar and Bengal, the Sen, the Ahoms of Assam, a later Chola empire at Tanjore, and a second Chalukya dynasty in the Deccan, waxed powerful. In NW India, beyond the reach of the medieval dynasties, the Rajputs had grown strong and were able to resist the rising forces of Islam. Islam was first brought to Sind, W India, in the 8th cent. by seafaring Arab traders; by the 10th cent. Muslim armies from the north were raiding India. From 999 to 1026, Mahmud of Ghazna several times breached Rajput defenses and plundered India.

In the 11th and 12th cent. Ghaznavid power waned, to be replaced c.1150 by that of the Turkic principality of Ghor. In 1192 the legions of Ghor defeated the forces of Prithivi Raj, and the Delhi Sultanate, the first Muslim kingdom in India, was established. The sultanate eventually reduced to vassalage almost every independent kingdom on the subcontinent, except that of Kashmir and the remote kingdoms of the south. The task of ruling such a vast territory proved impossible; difficulties in the south with the state of Vijayanagar, the great Hindu kingdom, and the capture (1398) of the city of Delhi by Timur finally brought the sultanate to an end.

The Muslim kingdoms that succeeded it were defeated by a Turkic invader from Afghanistan, Babur, a remote descendant of Timur, who, after the battle of Panipat in 1526, founded the Mughal empire. The empire was consolidated by Akbar and reached its greatest territorial extent, the control of almost all of India, under Aurangzeb (ruled 1659–1707). Under the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal empire a large Muslim following grew and a new culture evolved in India (see Mughal art and architecture); Islam, however, never supplanted Hinduism as the faith of the majority.

The Arrival of the Europeans

Only a few years before Babur's triumph, Vasco da Gama had landed at Calicut (1498) and the Portuguese had conquered Goa (1510). The splendor and wealth of the Mughal empire (from it comes much of India's greatest architecture, including the Taj Mahal) attracted British, Dutch, and French competition for the trade that Portugal had at first monopolized. The British East India Company (see East India Company, British), which established trading stations at Surat (1613), Bombay (now Mumbai; 1661), and Calcutta (now Kolkata; 1691), soon became dominant and with its command of the sea drove off the traders of Portugal and Holland. While the Mughal empire remained strong, only peaceful trade relations with it were sought; but in the 18th cent., when an Afghan invasion, dynastic struggles, and incessant revolts of Hindu elements, especially the Marathas, were rending the empire, Great Britain and France seized the opportunity to increase trade and capture Indian wealth, and each attempted to oust the other. From 1746 to 1763, India was a battleground for the forces of the two powers, each attaching to itself as many native rulers as possible in the struggle.

India under British Rule

Robert Clive's defeat of the Nawab of Bengal at Plassey in 1757 traditionally marks the beginning of the British Empire in India (recognized in the Treaty of Paris of 1763). Warren Hastings, Clive's successor and the first governor-general of the company's domains to be appointed by Parliament, did much to consolidate Clive's conquests. By 1818 the British controlled nearly all of India south of the Sutlej River and had reduced to vassalage their most powerful Indian enemies, the state of Mysore (see Haidar Ali and Tippoo Sahib) and the Marathas. Only Sind and Punjab (the Sikh territory) remained completely independent.

The East India Company, overseen by the government's India Office, administered the rich areas with the populous cities; the rest of India remained under Indian princes, with British residents in effective control. Great Britain regarded India as an agricultural reservoir and a market for British goods, which were admitted duty free. However, the export of cotton goods from India suffered because of the Industrial Revolution and the production of cloth by machine. On the other hand, the British initiated projects to improve transportation and irrigation.

British control was extended over Sind in 1843 and Punjab in 1849. Social unrest, added to the apprehensions of several important native rulers about the aggrandizing policies of Governor-General Dalhousie, led to the bloody Indian Mutiny of 1857. It was suppressed, and Great Britain, determined to prevent a recurrence, initiated long-needed reforms. Control passed from the East India Company to the crown. The common soldiers in the British army in India were drawn more and more from among the Indians, and these troops were later also used overseas. Sikhs and Gurkhas became famous as British soldiers. Native rulers were guaranteed the integrity of their domains as long as they recognized the British as paramount. In 1861 the first step was taken toward self-government in British India with the appointment of Indian councillors to advise the viceroy and the establishment of provincial councils with Indian members. But the power of Britain was symbolized and reinforced when Queen Victoria was crowned empress of India in 1877.

India Moves toward Independence

With the setting up of government universities, an Indian middle class had begun to emerge and to advocate further reform. Among the leaders who organized the Indian National Congress in 1885 were Allan Octavian Hume, retired from the Indian Civil Service, Dadabhai Naoroji, Pherozeshah Mehta, and W. C. Bonnerjee. Later in the century, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Surendranath Banerjea, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Rabindranath Tagore, and Aurobindo Ghose also rose to prominence. The nationalist movement had been foreshadowed earlier in the century in the writings of Rammohun Roy.

Popular nationalist sentiment was perhaps most strongly aroused when, for administrative reasons, Viceroy Curzon partitioned (1905) Bengal into two presidencies; newly created Eastern Bengal had a Muslim majority. (The partition was ended in 1911.) In the early 1900s the British had widened Indian participation in legislative councils (the Morley-Minto reforms). Separate Muslim constituencies, introduced for the first time, were to be a major factor in the growing split between the two communities. Muslim nationalist sentiment was expressed by Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Muhammad Iqbal, and Muhammad Ali.

At the outbreak of World War I all elements in India were firmly united behind Britain, but discontent arose as the war dragged on. The British, in the Montagu declaration (1917) and later in the Montagu-Chelmsford report (1918), held out the promise of eventual self-government. Crop failures and an influenza epidemic that killed millions plagued India in 1918–19. Britain passed the Rowlatt Acts (1919), which enabled authorities to dispense with juries, and even trials, in dealing with agitators. In response, Mohandas K. Gandhi organized the first of his many passive-resistance campaigns. The massacre of Indians by British troops at Amritsar further inflamed the situation. The Government of India Act (late 1919) set up provincial legislatures with "dyarchy," which meant that elected Indian ministers, responsible to the legislatures, had to share power with appointed British governors and ministers. Although the act also provided for periodic revisions, Gandhi felt too little progress had been made, and he organized new protests.

Imperial conferences concerning the status of India were held in 1930, 1931, and 1932, and led to the Government of India Act of 1935. The act provided for the election of entirely Indian provincial governments and a federal legislature in Delhi that was to be largely elected. In the first elections (1937) held under the act, the Congress, led by Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, won well over half the seats, mostly in general constituencies, and formed governments in 7 of the 11 provinces. The Muslim League, led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, won 109 of the 485 Muslim seats and formed governments in three of the remaining provinces. Fearing Hindu domination in a future independent India, Muslim nationalists in India began to argue for special safeguards for Muslims.

World War II found India by no means unified behind Great Britain. There was even an "Indian national army" of anti-British extremists, led by Subhas Bose, which fought in Myanmar on the Japanese side. To procure India's more wholehearted support, Sir Stafford Cripps, on behalf of the British cabinet, in 1942 proposed establishing an Indian interim government, in which Great Britain would maintain control only over defense and foreign policy, to be followed by full self-government after the war. The Congress adamantly demanded that the British leave India and, when the demand was refused, initiated civil disobedience and the Quit India movement. Great Britain's response was to outlaw the Congress and jail Gandhi and other leaders. Jinnah gave conditional support to the war but used it to build up the Muslim League.

Independence and the India-Pakistan Split

The British Labour government of Prime Minister Attlee in 1946 offered self-government to India, but it warned that if no agreement was reached between the Congress and the Muslim League, Great Britain, on withdrawing in June, 1948, would have to determine the apportionment of power between the two groups. Reluctantly the Congress agreed to the creation of Pakistan, and in Aug., 1947, British India was divided into the dominions of India and Pakistan. The princely states were nominally free to determine their own status, but realistically they were unable to stand alone. Partly by persuasion and partly by coercion, they joined one or the other of the new dominions. Hyderabad, in S central India, with a Muslim ruler and Hindu population, held out to the last and was finally incorporated (1948) into the Indian union by force. The future of Kashmir was not resolved.

Nehru became prime minister of India, and Jinnah governor-general of Pakistan. Partition left large minorities of Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan and Muslims in India. Widespread hostilities erupted among the communities and continued while large numbers of people—about 16 million in all—fled across the borders seeking safety. More than 500,000 people died in the disorders (late 1947). Gandhi was killed by a Hindu fanatic in Jan., 1948. The hostility between India and Pakistan was aggravated when warfare broke out (1948) over their conflicting claims to jurisdiction over the princely state of Kashmir.

India became a sovereign republic in 1950 under a constitution adopted late in 1949. In addition to staggering problems of overpopulation, economic underdevelopment, and inadequate social services, India had to achieve the integration of the former princely states into the union and the creation of national unity from diverse cultural and linguistic groups. The states of the republic were reorganized several times along linguistic lines. India consolidated its territory by acquiring the former French settlements (see Puducherry) in 1956 and by forcibly annexing the Portuguese enclaves of Goa and Daman and Diu in Dec., 1961. In 1987, Goa became a separate state and Daman and Diu became a union territory. In world politics, India has been a leading exponent of nonalignment.

Problems on India's Borders

The republic's major foreign problems have been a border dispute with China that first surfaced in 1957 and continual difficulties with Pakistan. The Chinese controversy climaxed on Oct. 20, 1962, when the Chinese launched a massive offensive against Ladakh in Kashmir and in areas on the NE Indian border. The Chinese announced a cease-fire on Nov. 21 after gaining some territory claimed by India. In the late 1960s there was friction with Nepal, which accused India of harboring Nepalese politicians hostile to the Nepalese monarchy. In Aug., 1965, fighting between India and Pakistan broke out in the Rann of Kachchh frontier area and in Kashmir. The United Nations proclaimed a cease-fire in September, but clashes continued. India's Prime Minister Shastri, who succeeded Nehru after the latter's death in 1964, and Pakistan's President Ayub Khan met (1966) under Soviet auspices in Tashkent, USSR (now in Uzbekistan), to negotiate the Kashmir problem. They agreed on mutual troop withdrawals to the lines held before Aug., 1965.

Shastri died in Tashkent and was succeeded, after bitter debate within the Congress party, by Indira Gandhi, Nehru's daughter. The Congress party suffered a setback in the elections of 1967; its parliamentary majority was sharply reduced and it lost control of several state governments. In 1969 the party split in two: Mrs. Gandhi and her followers formed the New Congress party, and her opponents on the right formed the Old Congress party. In the elections of Mar., 1971, the New Congress won an overwhelming victory. Rioting and terrorism by Maoists, known as Naxalites, flared in 1970 and 1971. The situation was particularly serious in West Bengal.

In Pakistan, attempts by the government (dominated by West Pakistanis) to suppress a Bengali uprising in East Pakistan led in 1971 to the exodus of millions of Bengali refugees (mostly Hindus) from East Pakistan into India. Caring for the refugees imposed a severe drain on India's slender resources. India supported the demands of the Awami League, an organization of Pakistani Bengalis, for the autonomy of East Pakistan, and in Dec., 1971, war broke out between India and Pakistan on two fronts: in East Pakistan and in Kashmir. Indian forces rapidly advanced into East Pakistan; the war ended in two weeks with the creation of independent Bangladesh to replace East Pakistan, and the refugees returned from India. India's relations with the United States were strained because of U.S. support of Pakistan.

India in the Late Twentieth Century

In mid-1973, India and Pakistan signed an agreement providing for the release of prisoners of war captured in 1971 and calling for peace and friendship on the Indian subcontinent. Also in 1973, India's ties with the USSR were strengthened by a new aid agreement that considerably increased Soviet economic assistance; at the same time, relations with the United States improved somewhat. In 1974, India became the world's sixth nuclear power by exploding an underground nuclear device in the Thar Desert in Rajasthan state. Also in 1974, Gandhi's position was put under intense pressure by opponents who criticized her government for abusing its powers and in 1975 her 1971 election to the Lok Sabha was invalidated.

Despite the declaration of a state of emergency and the initiation of several relatively popular public policy programs, the opposition campaign and the growing power of her son Sanjay Gandhi contributed to a 1977 election defeat for Gandhi and the New Congress party at the hands of a coalition known as the Janata (People's) party. The Janata party soon became fractured, however, and in Jan., 1980, Indira Gandhi and her new Congress (Indira) party won a resounding election victory. Less than six months later Sanjay Gandhi, expected by many to be his mother's successor, was killed in a plane crash.

In 1982, Sikh militants began a terrorism campaign intended to pressure the government to create an autonomous Sikh state in the Punjab. Government response escalated until in June, 1984, army troops stormed the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Sikh's holiest shrine and the center of the independence movement. Sikh protests across India added to the political tension, and Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two Sikh members of her personal guard in October. The resulting anti-Sikh riots (some incited by local Congress party leaders) prompted the government to appoint Indira's eldest son, Rajiv Gandhi, prime minister. Rajiv moved quickly to end the rioting and thereafter pursued a domestic policy emphasizing conciliation among India's various conflicting ethnic and religious groups. In 1989 he was defeated by the Janata Dal party under the leadership of Vishwanath Pratap Singh.

While India's economic performance was generally stable in the 1980s, it experienced continuing problems politically, including border and immigration disputes with Bangladesh, internal agitation by Tamil separatists, violent conflicts in Assam, strife caused by the Sikh question, and continued antagonism between Hindus and Muslims. From 1987 to 1990, the Indian military occupied the northern area of Sri Lanka in an unsuccessful attempt to quell the Tamil separatist insurgency.

In 1990, Singh resigned as prime minister; Chandra Shekhar, leader of the Samajwadi Janata party (a Janata Dal splinter party), became prime minister with Congress's support, but he resigned after several months and elections were called. Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated during an election rally in 1991 and was succeeded as head of the Congress party by P. V. Narasimha Rao. The Congress party won the ensuing election and Rao became prime minister. He immediately instituted sweeping economic reforms, moving away from the centralized planning that had characterized India's economic policy since Nehru to a market-driven economy, greatly increasing its foreign investment and trade.

Religious conflict sparked by militant Hindus and exploited by Hindu political parties was a persistent problem in the 1980s and led to bloody riots in 1992. In early 1996 a bribes-for-favors corruption scandal dating back to the early 1990s, described by some as the worst since independence, hit the Rao administration. Several ministers were forced to resign, and the Congress party, which had governed the country for all but four years since 1947, found itself in crisis. Rao himself was rumored to be involved in the scandal, and the main opposition political group, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), was also implicated.

The May, 1996, general elections proved a debacle for the Congress party, which finished third, its worst ever electoral showing. The BJP won the most parliamentary seats but fell well short of a majority, and the government it formed lasted for less than two weeks. An uneasy coalition government of leftist, regional, and lower-cast parties was then formed under the prime ministership of H. D. Deve Gowda. In Deve Gowda's United Front government, lower-caste Indians, southerners, and religious minorities assumed more important roles than ever before, but the coalition was dependent on the tacit support of the Congress party. Less than a year later, in Apr., 1997, the leadership changed hands again, and I. K. Gujral became prime minister; he resigned seven months later. Following elections held early in 1998, the BJP and its allies won the most seats and BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee was named prime minister. His government fell after losing a vote of confidence in Apr., 1999, but following a solid victory in the elections in September, he formed a new coalition government.

In May, 1998, India detonated three underground nuclear explosions, after which the United States imposed economic sanctions. Two more blasts followed, and Pakistan followed suit by conducting its own nuclear tests. In May, 1999, India launched a military campaign against Islamic guerrillas who were occupying strategic positions in the Indian-held part of Kashmir, and who India denounced as being sponsored by Pakistan; the rebels withdrew by the end of July. Portions of W Gujarat (in W India) were devastated by an earthquake early in 2001.

Talks in July, 2001, between Vajpayee and Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's military ruler, ended sourly, without any progress concerning Kashmir. In September the economic sanctions imposed by the United States were removed, as the Bush administration pursued closer relations with India. Relations with Pakistan, in contrast, were further aggravated by the suicide bombing of Kashmir's state assembly building by Pakistani-supported militant Muslim guerrillas in October, and reached a crisis point and diplomatic break in December after guerrillas launched a terror attack on the Indian parliament. India insisted the Pakistan end all such attacks. The border with Pakistan was closed, and Indian troops were mobilized along it.

Tensions eased somewhat when Pakistan moved to shut down the groups responsible for most terror attacks in India (although most arrested militants were later released) and Musharraf subsequently announced (Jan., 2002) that Pakistan would not tolerate any groups engaging in terrorism. Localized Hindu-Muslim violence, centered mainly in Gujarat and unrelated to events in Kashmir, erupted in early 2002, and BJP members and the BJP government there was accused of complicitiy in the riots.

War with Pakistan again loomed as a possibility in May, 2002, when attacks by Muslim guerrillas once again escalated. The chance that such a conflict might turn into a nuclear confrontation prompted international efforts to defuse the crisis. A pledge by Musharraf to stop infilitration across the line of control in Kashmir led to the apparent end of active government sponsorship of such infilitration, although it did not stop it. The move eased the crisis, and in October the two nations began a troop pullback. Diplomatic relations were restored in May, 2003, and situation slowly improved during the rest of 2003 and the following year. Also in 2003, India signed a border pact with China that represented an incremental improvement in their relations; a new agreement two years later called for the two nations to define their disputed borders through negotiations.

Indian parliamentary elections in the spring of 2004 resulted in an unexpected victory for the Congress party, which subsequently formed a 20-party coalition government. Sonia Gandhi, Congress's leader, declined to become prime minister, perhaps in part because of concerns over her foreign birth. Instead, Manmohan Singh, a technocrat and former finance minister, led the new government. In Dec., 2004, India's SE coast and Andaman and Nicobar Islands were devastated by an Indian Ocean tsunami. More than 14,000 people died, and hundreds of thousands were made homeless. Maoist rebels, largely insignficant since the 1980s, became an increasing problem for the government in E India, especially in Chhattisgarh and neighboring states, beginning in 2004.

By Apr., 2005, relations with Pakistan had improved to the point that Pakistani president Musharraf visited India, and during the subsequent months the two nations increased cross-border transport links, including in Kashmir, and improved intergovernmental cooperation and trade relations. Although the devastation from the Oct., 2005, earthquake in N Pakistan was much greater there, Indian Kashmir, where more than 1,300 died, and other parts of India were also affected by the temblor. After the earthquake India and Pakistan eased border crossing restrictions in Kashmir.

In Mar., 2006, India reached an agreement with the United States that ended a U.S. moratorium on reactor fuel and components sales to India. Under the pact India agreed to open most of its nuclear reactors to international inspections for the first time. U.S. critics of the deal pointed out, however, that the Indian military was permitted to retain uninspected control of fast-breeder reactors, enabling it to increase its production of plutonium for nuclear weapons. The Communist allies of the Congress party also objected to the deal on the grounds that it infringed on India's sovereignty, and their objections to it threatened to bring down the government in 2007.

A series of bomb attacks on the Mumbai rail system on July 11, 2006, killed some 200 people and injured 700; it was initially unclear who mounted them, though the police suspected a Muslim terror group. The attack was the worst of several in 2006 and 2007. India-Pakistan peace talks were suspended as a result of the attack. In Sept., 2006, Indian police said that Pakistan's intelligence agency was involved in planning the attack, a charge Pakistan denied, but the Indian prime minister said the he would provide Pakistan with evidence of the agency's involvement. The peace talks resumed in Nov., 2006, and in Feb., 2007, an agreement intended to prevent an accidental nuclear war between the two nations was signed. The monsoons of 2007 brought serious flooding in parts of India, especially Assam, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh. Assam was particularly hard-hit, experiencing three waves of flooding that affected some 12 million people. The same states were hit by serious monsoon flooding in 2008 as well.

The first negotiations with Pakistan since a civilian government came to power there occurred in May, 2008, but after a July terror attack against its embassy in Afghanistan India accused Pakistan of continuing to support terrorist violence against it. In July, 2008, the Communists withdrew from the governing coalition after the prime minister decided to proceed with the nuclear pact signed with the United States. With the support of the pro-business Samajwadi party, other small parties, and independents, the Congress-led minority government survived a confidence vote later in July, ending months of indecision on the pact. The opposition, however, accused the government of attempting bribery to win the relatively close vote. In September the International Atomic Energy Agency approved lifting a ban on nuclear trade with India, and the U.S. Congress ratified the nuclear agreement with India.

In 2008 India again experienced a series of terrorist bombings in which a number of cities were struck several times in one day; those attacks were apparently the work of Indian Islamic militants. In November, however, Islamic terrorists from Pakistan attacked several sites in Mumbai, killing more that 170 people. India demanded that Pakistan take action against those it said were linked to the attacks, leading to increased tensions with Pakistan.

Maoist rebels, which by 2009 were operating over a large area in E and central India, launched significantly more serious attacks in 2009, leading the government to begin a major counterinsurgency offensive against them later in the year. In Feb., 2009, Pakistan acknowledged that the Mumbai attack was partially planned in and launched from Pakistan, and said that it had arrested of number of individuals in connection with the attack; in 2010 the Indian government accused Pakistan intelligence agency of being involved in the planning of the attack. Congress and its allies won an increased plurality in the May, 2009, parliamentary elections, and again formed a coalition government with Singh as prime minister.

Beginning in 2010, the government was tarnished by a series of scandals, including one involving the 2010 Commonwealth Games and another involving telecommunications licenses in which Singh was queried by the supreme court concerning what it termed months of alleged inaction. The situation led to protests in 2011, including a hunger strike in August by activist Anna Hazare, in favor of stricter anticorruption legislation, but political divisions stymied attempts to pass legislation before the end of the year. A bill ultimately was passed in Dec., 2013. Meanwhile, India and Pakistan agreed in Feb., 2011, to resume formal peace talks, which had been suspended since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, and in Apr., 2012, Pakistan's President Zadari made an unofficial visit to India.

A massive electrical power outage in July that affected half of India (the north, northeast, and east grids) highlighted the nation's generating capacity shortage; the nation's north grid failed two days in a row. In August a new scandal, concerning the sale of government coal fields on the basis of recommendations by the states, broke; the national auditor asserted that the government had lost large sums as a result of questionable sales. In Sept., 2012, the government launched reforms designed to increase investment in the economy.

Unseasonably early heavy rains in June, 2013, led to flash flooding and landslides that killed some 6,000 people in Uttarakhand state, in N India; more than 100,000 people were stranded and needed to be evacuated. The April–May, 2014, parliamentary elections resulted in a landslide victory for the BJP and its electoral alliance; the BJP alone won a majority of seats in what was the largest electoral victory since 1984. Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, became prime minister.


See J. Nehru, The Discovery of India (1946, repr. 1989); O. H. K. Spate et al., India and Pakistan: A General and Regional Geography (3d ed. 1967); D. N. Majumdar, Races and Cultures of India (4th ed. 1961, repr. 1973); A. L. Basham, ed., A Cultural History of India (1984); J. Brown, Modern India (1985); V. E. Smith, The Oxford History of Modern India (3d ed. 1985); G. Johnson et al., ed., The New Cambridge History of India (23 vol., 1987–); S. Muthiah, ed., A Social and Economic Atlas to India (1987); A. Singh, The Origins of the Partition of India, 1936–1947 (1987); P. Moon, The British Conquest and Dominion of India (1989); B. Jalan, India's Economic Crisis (1991); J. Heitzman and R. L. Worden, ed., India: A Country Study (5th ed. 1996); S. Khilnani, The Idea of India (1998); L. James, Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India (1999); D. Gilmour, The Ruling Caste (2006); Y. Khan, The Great Partition (2007); S. D. Sharma, China and India in the Age of Globalization (2009); I. Talbot and G. Singh, The Partition of India (2009); S. Wolpert, India and Pakistan (2010); P. French, India: A Portrait (2011); A. Giridharadas, India Calling (2011); R. Guha, ed., Makers of Modern India (2011); A. Vajpeyi, Righteous Republic: The Political Foundations of Modern India (2012); S. P. Cohen, Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum (2013); J. Dreze and A. Sen, An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions (2013).

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of India
Region (Map name): East & South Asia
Population: 1,029,991,145
Language(s): English, Bengali, Teluga, Marathi
Literacy rate: 52.0%
Area: 3,287,590 sq km
GDP: 456,990 (US$ millions)
Number of Daily Newspapers: 398
Total Circulation: 30,772,000
Circulation per 1,000: 50
Number of Nondaily Newspapers: 98
Total Circulation: 7,774,000
Circulation per 1,000: 13
Total Newspaper Ad Receipts: 35,624 (Rupees millions)
As % of All Ad Expenditures: 50.40
Number of Television Stations: 562
Number of Television Sets: 63,000,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 61.2
Number of Cable Subscribers: 39,112,150
Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 38.5
Number of Radio Stations: 312
Number of Radio Receivers: 116,000,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 112.6
Number of Individuals with Computers: 4,600,000
Computers per 1,000: 4.5
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 5,000,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 4.9

Background & General Characteristics

India is the world's largest democracy. Its mass media culture, a system that has evolved over centuries, is comprised of a complex framework. Modernization has transformed this into a communications network that sustains the pulse of a democracy of about 1.1 billion people. India's newspaper evolution is nearly unmatched in world press history. India's newspaper industry and its Westernizationor mondialisation as French would call itgo hand in hand. India's press is a metaphor for its advancement in the globalized world.

The printing press preceded the advent of printed news in India by about 100 years. It was in 1674 that the first printing apparatus was established in Bombay followed by Madras in 1772. India's first newspaper, Calcutta General Advertise, also known as the Hicky's Bengal Gazette was established in January 1780, and the first Hindi daily, Samachar Sudha Varshan, began in 1854. The evolution of the Indian media since has been fraught with developmental difficulties; illiteracy, colonial constraints and repression, poverty, and apathy thwart interest in news and media. Within this framework, it is instructive to examine India's press in two broad analytical sections: pre-colonial times and the colonial, independent press (which may, again be classified into two: preceding and following the Emergency rule imposed by Indira Gandhi's government in 1975). The post-Emergency phase, which continues at the present, may be the third independent phase of India's newspaper revolution (Jeffrey).

The Nature of the Audience

While a majority of the poor working people in rural and urban areas still remain oppressed and even illiterate, a significant proportion of peopleroughly about 52 percent of the population over 15 years of age were recorded as being able to read and write. That breaks down to 65.5 percent of males and an estimate of 37.7 percent of females. After the liberalization of the economy, the growth of industry, and a rise in literacy, the post-Emergency boom rekindled the world's largest middle class in news, politics, and consumerism. Since private enterprise began to sustain and pay off, mass communications picked up as a growth industry.

In 1976, the Registrar of Newspapers for India had recorded 875 papers; in 1995 there were 4,453. Robin Jeffrey comments:

"Newspapers did not expand simply because the technology was available to make Indian scripts live as they had not been able to live before. Nor did newspaper grow simply because more people knew how to read and write. They grew because entrepreneurs detected a growing hunger for information among ever-widening sections of India's people, who were potential consumers as well as newspaper readers. A race began to reach this audience advertising avenues were the prizes and these would come largely to newspapers that could convince advertisers that they had more readers than their rivals. Readers, meanwhile, were saying implicitly: 'We will read newspapers that tell us about ourselves and reflect our concerns." (48)

Common contenders for readership and advertising are: the National Herald, the Hindustan Times, Time, Illustrated Weekly, e Pioneer, and Filmfare.

Historical Traditions

"Newspaper history in India is inextricably tangled with political history," wrote A. E. Charlton (Wolseley 3). James Augustus Hicky was the founder of India's first newspaper, the Calcutta General Advertiser also known as Hicky's Bengal Gazette, in 1780. Soon other newspapers came into existence in Calcutta and Madras: the Calcutta Gazette, the Bengal Journal, the Oriental Magazine, the Madras Courier and the Indian Gazette. While the India Gazette enjoyed governmental patronage including free postal circulation and advertisements, Hicky's Bengal Gazette earned the rulers' wrath due to its criticism of the government. In November 1780 its circulation was halted by government decree. Hicky protested against this arbitrary harassment without avail, and was imprisoned. The Bengal Gazette and theIndia Gazette were followed by the Calcutta Gazette which subsequently became the government's "medium for making its general orders" (Sankhdher 24-32).

The Bombay Herald , The Statesmen in Calcutta and the Madras Mail and The Hindu, along with many other rivals in Madras represented the metropolitan voice of India and its people. While Statesman voiced the English rulers' voice, The Hindu became the beacon of patriotism in the South. The Hindu was founded in Madras as a counter to the Madras Mail.

Patriotic movements grew in proportion with the colonial ruthlessness, and a vehicle of information dissemination became a tool for freedom struggle. In the struggle for freedom, journalists in the twentieth century performed a dual role as professionals and nationalists. Indeed many national leaders, from Gandhi to Vajpayee, were journalists as well. Calcutta, Madras, Bombay and Delhi were four main centers of urban renaissance which nourished news in India. It was only during and after the seventies, especially after Indira Gandhi's defeat in 1977, that regional language newspapers became prevalent.

There were nationalist echoes from other linguistic regional provinces. Bengal, Gujarat, Tamil, Karalla, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh produced dailies in regional languages. Hindi and Urdu were largely instrumental in voicing the viewpoints and aspirations of both Hindus and Muslims of the Northern provinces. As communalism and religious intolerance increased before and after partition, Urdu remained primarily the language of Muslims, as Pakistan chose this language as its lingua franca. After partition, the cause of Urdu and its newspapers, suffered a setback as Hindu reactionaries began to recognize the association of Urdu with Islam and Pakistan.

Diversity and the Language Press

Naresh Khanna summarizes the trends in circulatory growth and decline varied in regional language papers during 1998-2000: In the three-year period from 1998-2000, circulation of dailies in the country increased marginally from 58.37 to 59.13 million copies. This represents a growth of 1.3 percent on the basis of data published by the Registrar of Newspapers for India in its annual reports. In this time, two distinct groups of newspapers emerge the first including five languages that have collectively grown in circulation by a healthy 5.65 percent and representing a combined circulation of 43.35 million copies. Amongst these newspapers, those in Malayalam and Bengali grew fastest at 12.9 percent and 12.8 percent respectively, while Hindi dailies grew by 5 percent and English dailies by 4.7 percent over the three-year period. Although Marathi newspapers increased circulation by 2.75 percent over the three years it would seem that they are in danger of falling out of this group and perhaps entering the phase of stagnation and circulation decline (Khanna 2002).

The second group of stagnating and declining circulations includes newspapers in seven languages with a combined circulation of 14.8 million copies in 2000. These dailies lost almost 1.8 million copies (10.62 percent) of their combined circulation in the last three years. Daily newspaper circulation plummeted most dramatically in Telugu, which fell from 2.28 million to 1.68 million copies, a fall of more than 26 percent. Urdu newspaper circulation fell by more than 12 percent and Tamil dailies' circulation declined by 10.8 percent with circulation of Gujarati dailies falling by 10.5 percent. Over the same period circulations of Oriya dailies declined by 2.8 percent and that of Punjabi dailies by 3.2 percent. Although over the three years Kannada newspapers show an insignificant fall in circulation they seem to have entered a period of stagnation and decline of their own. It would seem that in spite of new editions being added by Hindi, English, Malayalam and Bengali dailies, the print media is losing its dominance of advertising market share to television, radio and outdoor media (Khanna 2002).

Economic Framework

India's language newspapers enjoy a relatively new entrepreneurial prowess. A mutually convenient relationship between the owners and capitalists keeps a financial balance between local/regional and national spheres in both private and public sectors. "Like coral in a reef, newspapers grew and died in a process inseparable from the creation of a 'public sphere' in the classical liberal sense. Individual proprietors sometimes brought to their newspapers a crusader's zeal for a particular cause or a diehard's loathing for a rival" (Jeffrey 105). The Second Press Commission in 1982 tried to liberate the press from the monopoly houses. In 1995 the Audit Bureau of circulations had 165 newspapers as members, with a combined circulation of about 16 million copies a day. The top ten newspapers control roughly 50 percent of daily circulations in all languages. Bennett Coleman and the Indian Express own roughly 20 percent of daily circulations (Jeffrey 108).

While capitalists sustained national newspapers, the big houses, Dalmias, Jains, Goenka et al., monopolized and corrupted free journalism. The family and caste controlled small newspapers regionally maintain their freedom from big monopolies, thriving on their loyal supporters in north and south India. Diversity of ownership is reflective of cultural variation in India's multilingual landscape. Twenty-one newspapers control two-thirds of all circulations.

Press Laws

Much of India's legal framework is built upon its colonial legacy. Legal statutes and regulations have been undergoing certain changes as India's democracy grows. India's freedom came at a high cost. The country was divided. India's border conflicts with two hostile neighbors, which forced at least three large scale wars, eclipsed other political issues. The democratic process, corrupted by criminals, unscrupulous bureaucrats and politicians, created a social climate that widened social and economic inequality.

Freedom of speech and expression is a constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right of the Indian people. Article 19 (1; a) ensures the implicit freedom but Article 19 (2) qualifies this in explicit terms. The Parliamentary Proceedings (protection of Publication) Act of 1977 and the Prevention of Publication of Objectionable Matter (Repeal Act) of 1977 further reinforce and restrict these freedoms. While constitutional guarantees ensure freedom of the press and expression, press and media are obligated by a self-regulatory system of ethics that protect individuals and organizations from libelous behavior. "Freedom of the press is an institutional freedom," wrote Sachin Sen (19). The Press Council Bill of 1956, introduced in the Indian parliament, stipulated the establishment of the Press Council of India representing working journalists, the newspaper management, literary bodies and the Parliament. The Indian Press commission accepted the following postulate: "Democratic society lives and grows by accepting ideas, by experimenting with them, and where necessary, rejecting themThe Press is a responsible part of a democratic society" (quoted by Sen 42).

While The Central Press Accreditation Committee seeks to ensure quality and self-renewal, The Press Council of India was established in 1966 to uphold editorial autonomy. Restrictions on free speech were imposed after Indira Gandhi's infamous Emergency rule. The Press Council of India was abolished after editor George Verghese's criticisms of the Indira government. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting carefully regulates the press and its liberties. The Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) was enforced to intimidate reputedly autonomous newspapers in the seventies. The Press Council, resurrected in 1979, has no legal standing to impose penalties. The Indian press, generally believed as "managed," is a self-restrained institution generally reluctant to take on the governmental policies. All India Radio (AIR) and its management exemplify this "man-aged" system.

The Registrar of Newspapers

The Registrar of Indian newspapers, among these official and professional agencies, regulates and records the status of newspapers. Electronic news, Web sites, magazines and house publications, and a number of professional organizations (like Editors Guild of India, Indian Language Newspapers' Association, and All India Newspapers Editors' Conference etc.) enrich the self-renewal process of the news enterprise. Educational and training programs are gaining importance as professionalization of specialized fields is a prioritized activity under the privatization process.

The Office of the Registrar

The Office of the Registrar of Newspapers for India, popularly known as RNI came into being on July 1, 1956, on the recommendation of the First Press Commission in 1953 and by amending the Press and Registration of Books Act (PRB Act) 1867. The functions of RNI involve both statutory and non-statutory functions.

Statutory Functions The RNI compiles and maintains a register of newspapers containing particulars about all the newspapers published in the country; it issues certificates of registration to the newspapers published under valid declaration. It scrutinizes and analyzes annual statements sent by the publishers of newspapers every year under Section 19-D of the Press and Registration of Books Act containing information on circulation, ownership, etc. The RNI informs the District Magistrates about availability of titles to intending publishers for filing declaration and ensures that newspapers are published in accordance with the provisions of the Press and Registration of Books Acts. It verifies under Section 19-F of the PRB Act of circulation claims, furnished by the publishers in their Annual Statements and Preparation and submission to the Government on or before September 30 each year, a report containing all available information and statistics about the press in India with particular reference to the emerging trends in circulation and in the direction of common ownership units.

Non-Statutory Functions Non-statutory functions of the RNI include the formulation of a Newsprint Allocation Policyguidelines and the ability to issue Eligibility Certificates to the newspapers to enable them to import newsprint and to procure indigenous newsprint. The RNI assesses and certifies the essential needs and requirements of newspaper establishments to import printing and composing machinery and allied materials.

From April 1998 to February 1999, RNI scrutinized 18,459 applications for availability of titles, of which 7,738 titles were found available for verification, while in the remaining applications, titles were not found available. During the same period, 2,693 newspapers/periodicals were issued Certificates of Registration (2,145 fresh CRs and 548 revised CRs) and circulation claims of 1536 newspapers/periodicals were assessed.


Until 1994-95, newsprint allocation was regulated by the Newsprint Control Order (1962) and the Newsprint Import Policy announced by the government every year. Newspapers were issued Entitlement Certificates for importation and purchase from the scheduled indigenous newsprint mills. However, Newsprint Policy is modified every year depending upon the import policy of the government. Newsprint has been placed under 'Open General License' with effect from May 1, 1995, and all types of newsprint became importable by all persons without any restriction. Under the latest newsprint policy/guidelines for the import of newsprint issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, authentication of certificate of registration is done by the Registrar of Newspapers for India for import of newsprint, on submission of a formal application and necessary documentary evidence.

De-Blocking of Titles

For the first time in the history of RNI, a massive work of de-blocking 200,000 titles was undertaken. As per the decision, all such titles of newspapers were certified till December 31, 1995, and those publications which had not registered with RNI have been de-blocked.

The work of entering registered titles has been completed and the lists have been dispatched to state governments. Nearly 150,000 of unused titles have become available for allocation to other newspapers from January 1, 1999.

Printing Machinery

The RNI is the sponsoring authority for the import of printing machinery and allied materials at the concessional rate of custom duty available to the newspapers. During April 1998-February 1999, applications of four newspaper establishments were recommended for import of printing machinery and allied equipment.


Even though India is committed to the freedom of the press, censorship is not unknown to the media. With increased privatization and entrepreneurial advancements, colonial and bureaucratic censorship no longer exists. However, the nexus of criminal politics and unethical monopolies continue to threaten the freedom of press.

Nehru famously said: "I would rather have a completely free press with all the dangers involved in the wrong use of that freedom than a suppressed or regulated press" (quoted by Kamath 272). After 1977 people's interest and involvement in regional and national affairs increased dramatically. This development helped promote the dualism of India's patriotic passions marked by linguistic chauvinism and national unity.

State-Press Relations

Public Grievances

A Public Grievances Cell is functioning in the Main Secretariat of the Ministry headed by the Joint Secretary (Policy). In order to tone up the Grievance Redressal System of the Ministry, its time limits have been fixed for completion of various activities coming under the purview of the grievance redressal mechanism. Grievance Officers have been appointed in all the subordinate organizations of the Ministry who have been made responsible for timely redress of grievances. Keeping in view the need for effective monitoring of the progress in the grievance redressal, the Ministry has developed a computerized Grievance Monitoring System. The grievances received in the Ministry are sent to the concerned Grievance Officer in the attached subordinate offices of the Ministry. Periodical review meetings are held in the Ministry to ensure that the grievances are processed within a stipulated time limit.

Attitude Toward Foreign Media

India is a founding member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). UNESCO's main goal is to promote international cooperation in the field of education, science and technology, social sciences, culture and mass communication. In order to promote the communication capabilities of developing countries. The 21st Session of the General Conference of UNESCO in 1981 approved the establishment of an International Program for the Development of Communication (IPDC). India played a significant role in its inception and has been a member of the Inter-governmental Council (IGC) and also of the IPDC Bureau. India has played a leading role in its activities over the years. Being one of the founding members of IPDC, this Ministry has been a representative at the meetings of the General Conference of UNESCO and Bureau Session of IPDC.

India participated in the First South Asian Association for Regional Cooperarion (SAARC) Information Ministers Meeting held in Dhaka (Bangladesh) in 1998. The Meeting discussed the need for greater cooperation among media personnel, cooperation among news agencies, improving the programs under SAARC Audio Visual Exchange, and taking steps to project SAARC outside the region.

More indications of India's support of international cooperation is its participaton in the meeting of Asia-Pacific Regional Experts on the Legal Framework for Cyberspace from 8 to 10 September 1998 and the Third Regulatory Round Table for the Asia and the Pacific at Seoul from 14 to 16 September 1998 for finalizing the report on Trans-border Satellite Broadcasting.

News Agencies

News agencies provide regularity and authenticity to news. K.C. Roy is credited with establishing the first Indian news agency, which became The Associated Press of India (API). However, it soon became a British-controlled agency unwilling to report about the national freedom movement. The Free Press of India News Agency came into existence under the management of S. Sadanad who had served Reuters. The United Press of India, The Orient Press, The Globe News Agency, The NAFEN News Agency, The United News of India and a number of syndicates later came to serve the news business.

The Non-aligned News Agencies Pool (NANAP), formally constituted in 1976 for the purpose of correcting imbalances in the global flow of information, is an arrangement for exchange of news and information among the national news agencies of non-aligned countries, including Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. Its affairs are managed by a coordinating committee elected for a term of three years. India is at present a member of the coordinating committee. The cost of running the pool is met by the participating members. The Press Trust (PTI) continued to operate the India News Pool Desk (INDP) of the NANAP on behalf of the government of India. India continued to contribute substantially to the daily news file of the Pool Network. The reception of news into the Pool Desk during the year 1998-99 has been in the range of 20,000 words per day. INDP's own contribution to the Pool partners during the year has averaged 7,000 words per day.

The organization and structure of Indian news agencies has been undergoing a controversial transformation for quite sometime. This represents a mutual mistrust between privately owned news agencies and governmental structures. Their autonomy, believed to be crucial for objectivity and fairness, is based on their role as cooperatives and non-profit groups. News agencies in general are discouraged from taking any governmental favors. There is nothing in the Indian constitution, however, that can prevent government to nationalize its news agencies. There are four dominant news agencies in India: The Press Trust of India (PTI); the United News of India (UNI); the Hindustan Samachar (HS); and Samachar Bhatia (SB).

Broadcast Media

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, through the mass communication media of radio, television, films, the press, publications, advertising and traditional modes of dance and drama, plays a significant part in helping the people to have access to information. It fosters the dissemination of knowledge and entertainment in all sectors of society, striking a careful balance between public interest and commercial needs in its delivery of services. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is the highest body for formulation and administration of the rules, regulations and laws relating to information, broadcasting, the press and films. The ministry is responsible for international cooperation in the field of mass media, films and broadcasting, and interacts with its foreign counterparts on behalf of Government of India. The mandate of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is to provide:

  • News Services through All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan (DD) for the people
  • Development of broadcasting and television
  • Import and export of films
  • Development and promotion of film industry
  • Organization of film festivals and cultural exchanges
  • Advertisement and visual publicity on behalf of the Government of India
  • Handling of press relations to present the policies of Government of India and to seek feedback on government policies
  • Administration of the Press and Registration of Books Act of 1867 in respect of newspapers
  • Dissemination of information about India within and outside the country through publications on matters of national importance
  • Research, reference, and training to assist the media units of the Ministry to meet their responsibilities
  • Use of interpersonal communication and traditional folk art forms for information/publicity campaigns on public interest issues
  • International co-operation in the field of information and mass media

The main Secretariat of the Ministry is divided into three wings: the information wing, the broadcasting wing, and the film wing. The media units engaged in press and publicity activities include:

  • Press: 1) Press Information Bureau; 2) Photo Division; 3) Research Reference & Training Division; 4) Publications Division
  • Publicity: 5) Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity; 6) Directorate of Field Publicity; 7) Song and Drama Division
  • Regulation of the Press: 8) Registrar of Newspapers for India; 9) Press Council of India
  • Training: 10) Indian Institute of Mass Communication (Government of India, 2002)

Electronic News Media

Most Indian newspapers, magazines, and media outlets are easily accessible through the Internet. Internet Public Library (IPL) is a concise Internet source for information on Indian newspapers. The Web site lists about 120 online newspapers for India with access to each of those papers for reading.

The official Web site for the Library of Congress in New Delhi is also accessible on the Internet, where e-mail contact information is provided. This directory is published biennially. The directory includes newspapers published in India, the name and language of the newspapers, circulation, frequency of publication, and names and addresses for the publishers of each paper. Paper status is also included.

Internet Public Library's list of India's contemporary newspapers exists to enable instant access to existing information resources. Among them in 2002 were 62 Indian newspapers that were available online.

Education & TRAINING

The first diploma in Journalism was offered at Aligarh Muslim University in 1938 by the late Sir shah Muhammad Sulaiman, a Judge in India (Wolseley 224). Later on, after partition, universities in Punjab, Madras, Delhi, Calcutta, Mysore, Nagpur, and Osmania offered courses at undergraduate levels. Professional education in India is largely a need-based enterprise. Journalists and other mass communicators can perform without specialized training and skills, and can succeed without advanced degrees.


The media in India represents a confluence of paradoxes: tradition and modernity; anarchy and order; diversity and unity; conflict and cooperation; news and views; feudalism and democracy; the free market and monopoly.

Economic realities and relationships between press, television and those who own these engines of control and change will eventually determine the future of India's communication culture. India's complex cultural mosaic, especially linguistic and communal, strengthens its diversity. The media and press continue to play a dominant role in deconstructing the diversity discourse that sometimes flares up in explosive situations.

Capitalism, the press, and public hunger for news promote a culture of media that is fast replacing the legacy of a feudal/colonial system. While corporatization and state regulations can muffle free expression, the force of public interest and the market economy strive for greater freedom and openness. Both politics and capitalism thrive on the liberties of a democratic system that continues to evolve into a functional hybrid of chaos and order.

Significant Dates

  • 1990: Nikhil Wagle publishes a Mumbai evening tabloid Hamara Mahanagar, 'Our great city' (January)
  • 1991: Mahanagar is vandalized by a Shiva Sena gang
  • 1995: The politician-proprietor of a Telgu daily embroiled in controversy was murdered, allegedly by the People's War Group (December)
  • 1997: Dainik Bhaskar, the Bhopal-based Hindi daily opened a Jaipur edition, self-acclaimed its status as "India's Fastest Growing Newspaper"


Bhaskar, B.R.P. "Understanding the Language Press." Frontline, 2 March 2001.

Bhattacharjee, Arun. The Indian Press: Profession to Industry. Delhi: Vikas Publications, 1972.

Government of India. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting: Annual Report 2000-2001. Available from

Hamill, Pete. News Is a Verb. New York: The Ballantine Publishing Group, 1998.

Jeffrey, Robin. India's Newspaper Revolution. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000.

Joseph, Ammu, and Kalpana Sharma. Whose News? The Media and Women's Issues. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1994.

Kamath, M.V. Professional Journalism. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1980.

Khanna, Naresh. "Newspaper circulations in India 1998-2000." New Delhi, April 2002.

Mohan, B. Democracies of Unfreedom: The United States of America and India. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996.

Murthy, N. Krishna. Indian Journalism. Mysore: Prasaranga, University of Mysore, 1966.

India: A Wounded Civilization. London: Penguin Books, 1987.

Naipaul, V.S. India: A Million Mutinies Now. London: Minerva, 1990.

Natrajan, S. A History of Press in India. New York: Asia Publishing House, 1962.

Nehru, Jawaharlal. The Discovery of India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Parthasarthy, Rangaswami. Memoirs of a News Editor: Thirty Years With The Hindu. Calcutta: Naya Prokash, 1980.

Rau, M. Chalapathi. Journalism and Politics. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1984.

Sankhdher, B.M. Press, Politics, and Public Opinion in India: Dynamics of Modernization and Social Transformation. New Delhi: Deep & Deep Publication, 1984.

Segel, Ronald. The Crisis of India. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1965.

Wolseley, Roland E. Ed. Journalism in Modern India. Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1953.

Brij Mohan

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Many occult beliefs and practices stem from the complex religious and mystical concepts of India and her people. It might be said that the mysticism of the Hindus was a reaction against the austere religion and practical ceremonial of the sacred scriptures, the Vedas. If its trend were summarized it might justly be said that the Vedas point champion detachment; the pantheistic identification of the subject and object, worshiper and worship, aimed at ultimate absorption in the Infinite; inculcating transcendence from the material world through the most minute self-examination, the cessation of physical powers; and belief in the spiritual guidance of the guru or mystical adept.

For the Indian theosophist there is only one Absolute Being, the One Reality. However, in popular Hinduism, the pantheistic doctrine of Ekam advitiyam "the One without Second" supposes a countless pantheon of gods, great and small, and a rich demonology, but these should be understood ultimately as merely illusions of the soul and not realities. Upon the soul's coming to fuller knowledge, its illusions are totally dispelled. According to such a theory, to the ordinary man and woman the impersonality of the Absolute being is too remote, and they require a symbolic deity to bridge the gulf between the impersonal Absolute and the very material self, hence the numerous gods of Hinduism regarded by the initiated merely as manifestations of the Supreme Spirit.

In this way, even the everyday forms of temple idols can be seen as possessing higher meaning. As Sir Alfred Lyall stated,

"It [Brahminism] treats all the worships as outward visible signs of the same spiritual truth, and is ready to show how each particular image or rite is the symbol of some aspect of universal divinity. The Hindus, like the pagans of antiquity, adore natural objects and forces,a mountain, a river, or an animal. The Brahmin holds all nature to be the vesture or cloak of indwelling divine energy which inspires everything that produces all or passes man's understanding."

A life time of asceticism has from the remotest times been regarded in India as a true preparation for communion with the deity. Asceticism has been extremely prevalent especially in connection with the cult of the god Siva, who is in great measure regarded as the prototype of this class.

The yogis (disciples of the yoga philosophy) practice mental abstraction, and are popularly supposed to attain to superhuman powers. In some cases their extreme ascetic practices have resulted in madness or mental vacancy and many claimed paranormal powers, as in Spiritualism, have turned out to be jugglery and conjuring. Charlatans, of course, exist in all religions. The authentic prerequisites of the training of a yogi preclude such imposture and warn against the vanity of displaying supernatural powers.

The paramahamsas, that is "supreme swans," are believed to have achieved communion with the world-soul through spiritual disciplines and meditation. They are said to be equally indifferent to pleasure or pain, insensible to heat or cold, and incapable of satiety or want. The sannyasis are those who renounce the world and live as wandering monks or residents in an ashram or spiritual retreat. The dandis, or staff-bearers, are worshipers of Siva in his form of Bhairava the Terrible.

J. C. Oman in Mystics, Ascetics and Saints of India (1903) said of these sadhus or holy men,

" Sadhuism, whether perpetuating the peculiar idea of the efficacy of asceticism for the acquisition of far-reaching powers over natural phenomena, or bearing its testimony to the belief in the indispensableness of detachment from the world as a preparation for the ineffable joy of ecstatic communion with the Divine Being, has undoubtedly tended to keep before men's eyes, as the highest ideal, a life of purity, self-restraint, and contempt of the world and human affairs. It has also necessarily maintained amongst the laity a sense of the righteous claims of the poor upon the charity of the more affluent members of the community. Further, Sadhuism, by the multiplicity of the independent sects which have arisen in India has engendered and favoured a spirit of tolerance which cannot escape the notice of the most superficial observer."

Of the three main branches of Hinduism, the most esoteric is the Shaktas. The Shaktas are worshipers of the shakti or the female principle as a creative and reproductive agency. Each of the principal gods possesses his own Shakti, through which his creative acts are performed. The Shaktas or Tantrics developed an elaborate picture of the subtle anatomy of the individual, proposing that each person had a secondary body composed of spiritual/psychic energies. In Tantra, sexual energy in the yogi is manifested in a pure form as kundalini, a psycho-physiological force resting like a coiled snake at the base of the spine. When awakened, the kundalini travels up the spine to the several psychic centers called chakras and eventually to the top of the head. The rise of the kundalini to the highest chakra brings higher consciousness and spiritual enlightenment.

Tantrics usually can be divided into two distinct groups. The original self-existent gods were supposed to divide themselves into male and female energies, the male half occupying the right-hand and the female the left-hand side. From this conception we have the two groups of "right-hand" observers and "left-hand" observers. In distinction to the ascetic world-denying approach to the religious life, Tantra does not offer enlightenment as a result of denying the material world, but from using it. Tantric practice takes things specifically denied to the ascetic and accepts them as the means "of overcoming the world and gaining enlightenment. The righthand path does this symbolically, the left hand path actually eats denied food and participates in denied activities. Most controversial of all is sexual activity, for which tantrics have been most frequently criticized. The left-hand path of Tantra involves participation in sexual intercourse as a means of union with the goddess.

The right hand tantrism was expounded by Sri Aurobindo and Pandit Gopi Krishna. Lefthand tantrism has found a major exponent in Swami Satyananda Saraswati whose students have moved to the west.


Brahmanism is a system originated by the Brahmans, the sacerdotal caste of the Hindus, at a comparatively early date. It is the mystical religion of India par excellence, and represents the older beliefs of its peoples. It states that the numerous individual existences of animate nature are only so many manifestations of the one eternal spirit towards which they tend as their final goal of supreme bliss. The object of life is to prevent oneself sinking lower in the scale, and by degrees to raise oneself in it, or if possible to attain the ultimate goal immediately from such state of existence as one happens to be in.

The socio-religious Code of Manu concludes "He who in his own soul perceives the supreme soul in all beings and acquires equanimity towards them all attains the highest state of bliss." Mortification of animal instincts, absolute purity and perfection of spirit, were the moral ideals of the Brahman class. But it was necessary to pass through a succession of four orders or states of existence before any hope of union with the deity could be held out. These were: that of brahmacharin, or student of religious matters; grihastha, or householder; varnaprastha or hermit; and sannyasin or bhikshu, religious mendicant.

Virtually every man of the higher castes practiced at least the first two of these stages, while the priestly class took the entire course. Later, this was by no means the rule, as the scope of study was intensely exacting, often lasting as long as forty-eight years. The neophyte had to support himself by begging from door to door.

He was most often guided by a spiritual preceptor. After several years of his tuition he was married. It was considered absolutely essential that he should leave a son behind him to offer food to his spirit and to those of his ancestors. He was then said to have become a "house-holder" and was required to maintain the fire perpetually that he brought into his house upon his marriage day.

Upon growing older, the time arrived for him to enter the third stage of life. Having fulfilled his dharma (social and religious obligations) he now became aware of the transitory nature of the material life and found it necessary to become preoccupied with more eternal spiritual truth. He consequently cut himself off from family ties except (if she wished) his wife, who might accompany him, and went into retirement in a lonely place, carrying with him his sacred fire, and the instruments necessary for his daily sacrifices. Scantily clothed, the anchorite lived entirely on food growing wild in the forestroots, herbs, wild grain, and similar primitive nourishment. He was not permitted to accept gifts unless absolutely necessary. His time was spent in studying the metaphysical portions of the Vedas under the guidance of a guru, in making offerings, and in practicing austerities with the object of producing entire indifference to worldly desires.

In this way he fitted himself for the final and most exalted order, that of religious mendicant or bhikshu. This consisted solely of meditation. He took up his abode at the foot of a tree in entire solitude and only once a day at the end of his labors might he go near the dwellings of men to beg a little food. In this way he waited for death, neither desiring extinction nor existence, until at length it reached him, and was absorbed in the eternal Brahma.

The doctrines of Brahmanism are to be found in the vedanta philosophic system, which recognizes the Vedas, a collection of ancient Sanskrit hymns, as the revealed source of religious belief through the visions of the ancient rishis or seers. The Upanishads are later scriptures (after 1000 B.C.E.). The Vedas and Upanishads are the most widely accepted holy writings in India. A large number of later writings are also accepted by various groups as sacred scripture. Among the most popular of these later scriptures is the Bhagavad-Gita.

As before noted, the Hindu regarded the entire gamut of animated nature as being traversed by the one soul, which journeyed up and down the scale as its actions in its previous existence were good or evil. To the Hindu the vital element in all animate beings appears essentially similar, and this observation gave credence to the Brahmanical theory of reincarnation that took such a powerful hold upon the Hindu mind.


A large and intricate demonology appears as part of Hindu mythology. The gods were at constant war with demons. Vishnu slew more than one demon, but Durga appeared to have been a great enemy of the demon race. The asuras, probably a very ancient and aboriginal pantheon of deities, later became demons in the popular imagination, and the rakshasas may have been cloud-demons. They were described as cannibals, could take many forms, and were constantly menacing the gods. They haunted cemeteries, disturbed sacrifices, animated the dead, and harried and afflicted mankind in all sorts of ways. There were in fact somewhat similar to the vampires of Slavonic countriesassisting the conjecture that the Slavonic vampires were originally cloud-spirits.

We find the gods constantly harassed by demons, and on the whole may be justified in concluding that just as the Tuatha-dedanaan harassed the later deities of Ireland, so did these aboriginal gods lead an existence of constant warfare with the divine beings of the pantheon of the immigrant Aryans.

Popular Witchcraft & Sorcery

The popular witchcraft and sorcery of India resembles that of Europe. The Dravidian or aboriginal peoples of India have always been strong believers in sorcery, and it is possible that this is an example of the mythic influence of a conquered people. They are nonetheless extremely reticent regarding any knowledge they possess of it.

It seems possible that the demands made upon the popular religious sense by Brahmanism crushed the superstitions of the popular occult practices of the very early period, and confined the practice of minor sorcery, (malevolent magic), to the castes of Dravidian or aboriginal stock. Witchcraft seems most prevalent among the more isolated peoples like the Kols, Bhils, and Santals.

The nomadic peoples were also strong believers in sorcery, one of the most dreaded forms of which was the Jigar Khor, or liver-eater, of whom Abul Fazl (1551-1602) stated:

"One of this class can steal away the liver of another by looks and incantations. Other accounts say that by looking at a person he deprives him of his senses, and then steals from him something resembling the seed of a pomegranate, which he hides in the calf of his leg; after being swelled by the fire, he distributes it among his fellows to be eaten, which ceremony concludes the life of the fascinated person. A Jigar Khor is able to communicate his art to another by teaching him incantations, and by making him eat a bit of the liver cake. These Jigar Khors are mostly women. It is said they can bring intelligence from a long distance in a short space of time, and if they are thrown into a river with a stone tied to them, they nevertheless will not sink. In order to deprive any one of this wicked power, they brand his temples and every joint of his body, cram his eyes with salt, suspend him for forty days in a subterranean chamber, and repeat over him certain incantations."

The witch does not, however, devour the man's liver for two and a half days, and even if she has eaten it, and is put under the hands of an exorcizer, can be forced to substitute a liver of some animal in the body of the man whom she victimized. Folk tales also exist about witches taking out the entrails of people, sucking them, and then replacing them.

All this undoubtedly illustrates, as in ancient France and Germany, and probably also in the Slavonic countries, the manner in which the witch and vampire were believed to be essentially one and the same. In India the archwitch Ralaratri, or "black night" has the joined eyebrows, large cheeks, widely-parted lips, and projecting teeth, of the Slavonic werewolf and is a veritable vampire. But she also possesses the powers of ordinary witchcraft second-sight, the making of philters, the control of tempests, the evil eye, and so forth.

Witches also took animal forms, especially those of tigers, and stories of trials are related at which people gave evidence that they had tracked certain tigers to their lairs, which upon entering they had found tenanted by a notorious witch or wizard. For such witch-tigers the usual remedy was to knock out their teeth to prevent their doing any more mischief.

Strangely enough, the Indian witch, like her European prototype, was very often accompanied by a cat. The cat, said the jungle people, is aunt to the tiger, and taught him everything but how to climb a tree. Zalim Sinh, the famous regent of Kota, believed that cats were associated with witches, and imagining himself enchanted ordered that every cat should be expelled from his province.

As in Europe, witches were known by certain marks. They were believed to learn the secrets of their craft by eating offal of all kinds. The popular belief concerning them was that they were often very handsome and neat, and invariably applied a clear line of red lead to the parting of their hair. They were popularly accused of exhuming dead children and bringing them to life to serve occult purposes of their own. Witches could not die as long as they were witches and until (as in Italy) they could pass on their knowledge of witchcraft to someone else.

They recited charms backwards, repeating two letters and a half from a verse in the Quran. If a certain charm was repeated "forwards," the person employing it would become invisible to his neighbor, but if he repeated it backwards, he would assume whatever shape he chose.

A witch could acquire power over her victim by getting possession of a lock of hair, the paring of nails, or some other part of his body, such as a tooth. For this reason Indian people were extremely careful about the disposal of these particular body parts, burying them in the earth in a place covered with grass, or in the neighborhood of water, which witches universally disliked. Some people even cast the cuttings of their hair into running water.

Like the witches of Europe, these witches also made images of persons out of wax, dough, or similar substances, and tortured them with the idea that the pain would be felt by the person whom they desired to injure.

In India the witches" familiar was known as a bir or the "hero," who aided her to inflict injury upon human beings. The power of the witch was greatest on the 14th, 15th, and 29th of each month, and in particular on the Feast of Lamps (Diwali) and the Festival of Durga.

Witches were often severely punished amongst the isolated hill-folk and diabolical ingenuity was shown in torturing them. To nullify their evil influence, they were beaten with rods of the castor-oil plant and usually died in the process. They were often forced to drink filthy water used by couriers in the process of their work. If not, their noses were cut off, or they were put to death. It has also been reported that their teeth were often knocked out, their heads shaved and offal thrown at them. In the case of women, their heads were shaved and their hair was attached to a tree in some public place. They were also branded, had a ploughshare tied to their legs or were made to drink the water of a tannery.

During the Mutiny, when British authority was relaxed, the most atrocious horrors were inflicted upon witches and sorcerers by the Dravidian people. Pounded chili peppers were placed in their eyes to see if they would bring tears, and the wretched beings were suspended from a tree head downwards, being swung violently from side to side. They were then forced to drink the blood of a goat, and to exorcize the evil spirits that they had caused to enter the bodies of certain sick persons. The mutilations and cruelties practiced on them were severe; but one of the favorite ways of counteracting the spells of a witch was to draw blood from her, and the local priest would often prick the tongue of the witch with a needle and place the resulting blood on some rice and compel her to eat it.

In Bombay state, the Tharus people were supposed to possess special powers of witchcraft, so that the "Land of Tharus" is a synonym for witch-land. In Gorakhpur, witches were also very numerous and the half-gypsy banjaras, or grain-carriers, were notorious believers in witchcraft. In his Popular Religion and Folk-lore of Northern India (1896) William Crooke, who did much to elucidate India's popular mythology, stated regarding the various types of Indian witches:

"At the present day [ca. 1895] the half-deified witch most dreaded in the Eastern Districts of the North-western Provinces is Lona, or Nona, a Chamarin or woman of the currier caste. Her legend is in this wise. The great physician Dhanwantara, who corresponds to Luqman Hakim of the Muhammadans, was once on his way to cure King Parikshit, and was deceived and bitten by the snake king Takshaka. He therefore desired his sons to roast him and eat his flesh, and thus succeed to his magical powers. The snake king dissuaded them from eating the unholy meal, and they let the cauldron containing it float down the Ganges. A currier woman, named Lona, found it and ate the contents, and thus succeeded to the mystic powers of Dhanwantara. She became skilful in cures, particularly of snake-bite. Finally she was discovered to be a witch by the extraordinary rapidity with which she could plant out rice seedlings. One day the people watched her, and saw that when she believed herself unobserved she stripped herself naked, and taking the bundle of the plants in her hands threw them into the air, reciting certain spells. When the seedlings forthwith arranged themselves in their proper places, the spectators called out in astonishment, and finding herself discovered, Nona rushed along over the country, and the channel which she made in her course is the Loni river to this day. So a saint in Broach formed a new course for a river by dragging his clothes behind him

"Another terrible witch, whose legend is told at Mathura, is Putana, the daughter of Bali, king of the lower world. She found the infant Krishna asleep, and began to suckle him with her devil's milk. The first drop would have poisoned a mortal child, but Krishna drew her breast with such strength that he drained her life-blood, and the fiend, terrifying the whole land of Braj with her cries of agony, fell lifeless on the ground. European witches suck the blood of children; here the divine Krishna turns the tables on the witch.

"The Palwar Rajputs of Oudh have a witch ancestress. Soon after the birth of her son she was engaged in baking cakes. Her infant began to cry, and she was obliged to perform a double duty. At this juncture her husband arrived just in time to see his demon wife assume gigantic and supernatural proportions, so as to allow both the baking and nursing to go on at the same time. But finding her secret discovered, the witch disappeared, leaving her son as a legacy to her astonished husband. Here, though the story is incomplete, we have almost certainly, as in the case of Nona Chamarin, one of the Melusina type of legend, where the supernatural wife leaves her husband and children, because he violated some taboo, by which he is forbidden to see her in a state of nudity, or the like."

The aborigines of India lived in great fear of ghosts and invisible spirits, and a considerable portion of their time was given up to averting the evil influences of these. Protectives of every description littered their houses, and the approaches to them, and they wore numerous amulets for the purpose of averting evil influences. Regarding these, W. Crooke stated:

"Some of the Indian ghosts, like the ifrit of the Arabian Nights, can grow to the length of ten yojanas or eighty miles. In one of the Bengal tales a ghost is identified because she can stretch out her hands several yards for a vessel. Some ghosts possess the very dangerous power of entering human corpses, like the Vetala, and swelling to an enormous size. The Kharwars of Mirzapur have a wild legend which tells how long ago an unmarried girl of the tribe died, and was being cremated. While the relations were collecting wood for the pyre, a ghost entered the corpse, but the friends managed to expel him. Since then great care is taken not to leave the bodies of women unwatched. So, in the Punjab, when a great person is cremated the bones and ashes are carefully watched till the fourth day, to prevent a magician interfering with them. If he has a chance, he can restore the deceased to life, and ever after retain him under his influence. This is the origin of the custom in Great Britain of waking the dead, a practice which 'most probably originated from a silly superstition as to the danger of a corpse being carried off by some of the agents of the invisible world, or exposed to the ominous liberties of brute animals.' But in India it is considered the best course, if the corpse cannot be immediately disposed of, to measure it carefully, and then no malignant Bhut can occupy it.

"Most of the ghosts whom we have been as yet considering are malignant. There are, however, others which are friendly. Such are the German Elves, the Robin Goodfellow, Puck, Brownie and the Cauld Lad of Hilton of England, the Glashan of the Isle of Man, the Phouka or Leprechaun of Ireland. Such, in one of his many forms, is the Brahmadaitya, or ghost of a Brahman who has died unmarried. In Bengal he is believed to be more neat and less mischievous than other ghosts; the Bhuts carry him in a palanquin, he wears wooden sandals, and lives in a Banyan tree."

Psychical Research and Parapsychology

While Madame Blavatsky's Theosophist movement did find its way to India, the scientific study of psychical phenomena in India really belongs to the period following independence (1948). A small beginning took place in 1951 at the Department of Philosophy and Psychology of Benares Hindu University under Bhikhan L. Atreya, when parapsychology was included as a postgraduate subject, but it did not make much progress. Other Indian scholars such as C. T. K. Chari and S. Parthasarthy of Madras, and Prof. & Mrs. Akolkar of Poona did become interested in psychical phenomena. Prof. Chari took a special interest in scientific and statistical approaches and published papers in the Journal of the American Society of Psychical Research.

Another pioneer was K. Ramakrishna Rao, professor and head of the Department of Psychology and Parapsychology at Andhra University who worked for several years at Duke University, North Carolina, and then established the department at Andhra University and collaborated with B. K. Kanthamani. Rao subsequently became president of the Parapsychological Association for 1965 and 1978, and was later director of the Institute for Parapsychology, Durham, North Carolina.

In North India, Dr. Sampurananand first became interested in parapsychology when Education Minister, and later initiated study of the paranormal at the University of Lucknow in conjunction with Kali Prasad, head of the Department of Philosophy and Psychology. When Sampurananand was appointed Governor of Rajasthan, he helped to establish a department of parapsychology at the Rajasthan University at Jaipur, although this was subsequently closed. Since then, however, there has been interest in the subject for postgraduate degrees in Lucknow and Agra Universities.

In 1962-63, the Bureau of Psychology in Allahabad took up a research project in parapsychology, studying (ESP) Extra sensory perception in schoolchildren. The results were published in the International Journal of Parapsychology in the Autumn 1968 issue.

In 1964, Jamuna Prasad, president of the Indian Institute of Parapsychology, Allahabad, assisted Ian Stevenson who visited India to investigate reported cases of reincarnation first hand. A group of researchers took part in this project, which involved a Specific Trait Questionnaire designed to assess the possible impressions of past experiences carried over to another incarnation. With the formal establishment of the Indian Institute of Parapsychology, another valuable project on "Paranormal Powers Manifested During Yogic Training" was undertaken with a grant from the Parapsychology Foundation.

Of a slightly different nature was "Project Consciousness" inaugurated in December 1966 by Karan Singh, Minister of Health and Family Planning. This project, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bangalore, was largely concerned with exploration of the ancient Hindu concept of kundalini as a psycho-physiological force in humans related to sexual energy, and in a sublimated form, to levels of higher consciousness. Interest stemmed from the work of Pandit Gopi Krishna, one of several modern spiritual teachers who revived interest in the subject through his writing and teaching activity. The project languished after a change of government.

Indian publications concerned with parapsychology have included: Darshana International (quarterly journal of philosophy, psychology, psychical research, religion and mysticism); Psychics International (quarterly journal of psychic and yoga research); Parapsychology (an Indian journal of parapsychological research from the department of parapsychology; Rajasthan University, Jaipur), discontinued with the closure of the Department of Parapsychology at Rajasthan University; and the Journal of Indian Psychology (Andhra University).

The journal Kundalini (formerly Kundalini & Spiritual India ) was devoted to the study of consciousness evolution arising from the work of Gopi Krishna and embodying more the mystical realm than parapsychological. In this connection, a Central Institute for Kundalini Research was established at Srinagar, Kashmir, although it became inactive following the Gopi Krishna's death in 1984. The influence of the mysticism and gurus from India have been a strong influence in America for decades, particularly since the 1950s.


Abbott, John. The Keys of Power: A Study of Indian Ritual and Belief. London, 1932. Reprint, New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1974.

Atreya, B. L. An Introduction to Parapsychology. Banaras, India: International Standard Publications, 1957.

Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York: Paragon House, 1991.

Bernard, Theos. Philosophical Foundations of India. London: Rider, 1945.

Crooke, William. The Popular Religion and Folk-Lore of Northern India. Allahabad, India: Government Press, 1894. Reprint, 2 vols. London: A. Constable, 1896.

Garrison, Omar. TantraThe Yoga of Sex. New York: Causeway Books, 1973.

Gervis, Pearce. Naked They Pray. London: Cassell, 1956.

Gopi Krishna, Pandit. The Biological Basis of Religion & Genius. New York: Harper & Row, 1971.

. Kundalini: The Evolutionary Energy in Man. London: Stuart & Watkins, n.d. Reprint, Boulder, Colo.: Shambhala, 1967.

Oman, J. Campbell. Cults, Customs & Superstitions of India. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1908.

. The Mystics, Ascetics and Saints of India. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1903.

Sanyal, J. M., trans. The Srimad Bhagavatam. 2 Vols., New Delhi, India: Munshiram Manocharlal, 1973.

Washington, Peter. Madame Blavatsky's Baboon, A History of the Mystics, Mediums, and Misfits Who Brought Spiritualism to America. New York: Schocken Books, 1993.

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The Indian subcontinent covers an area of 1,269,346 square miles (3,287,590 square kilometers). It is the seventh largest country in the world, with a population that exceeds 1 billion, making it the second most populous country in the world after China. The Himalayan Mountains, the highest range in the world, separate most of northern India from the rest of Asia. The southern half is a triangular peninsula that stretches southward to the Tropic of Cancer and extends into the Indian Ocean. The Arabian Sea lies to the west of India, and the Bay of Bengal to the east of India (Census of India 2001) India has a rich cultural, social, historical, and religious heritage. The Indus Valley civilization that was established around 2500 b.c.e. was a rich, advanced, and prosperous civilization. Since that time, the Greeks, Persians, Turks, Mughals, and Europeans have collectively enhanced the religious beliefs, traditions, spirituality, and culture of India.

India is a secular and pluralistic society characterized by tremendous cultural and ethnic diversity. It is made up of twenty-eight states and seven union territories. There are eighteen different languages and more than 300 dialects spoken by the Indian people. Indians practice many religions. Hinduism is the dominant religion in India, but through the centuries Indians have learned to coexist with people of other faiths. A majority (83%) of Indians are Hindus, about 14 percent are Muslims, 2.4 percent are Christians, 2 percent are Sikhs, .7 percent are Buddhists, .5 percent are Jains, and there are smaller numbers of Bahai, Jews, and Zoarastrians (Observer Research Foundation 2001; India at a Glance 2001).

India is distinctive in the proportion of people living in rural and urban communities. In 1999, 72 percent of the residents lived in rural areas and 28 percent lived in urban communities. The proportion of rural-to-urban residents is high, although India is the tenth most industrialized country in the world (World Development Report 2002). The literacy profile of Indians has greatly changed from a mere 5.3 percent in 1901 to 36.13 percent in 1981, to 52 percent in 1991, to 65.38 percent in 2001. The literacy rate is higher (73%) in urban areas as compared to rural areas (44%). Also, males have a higher literacy rate (76%) compared to females (54%) (Mullatti 1995; Census of India 2001).

Indians identify themselves with a particular religion but also affiliate themselves with a specific geographical region or state in India. Religion specifies the form of worship and guides their dayto-day behavior, while the specific region generally identifies the language one speaks, the literature, art, music one prefers, the food one eats, and the clothing one wears (Segal 1991).

Because India is a secular and ethnically diverse society, there are religious, regional, cultural, social, and educational variations in structural and functional patterns of family life. Hence, it is difficult to generalize values, behaviors, attitudes, norms, mores, practices, traditions, and beliefs about family life from one community to all Indian communities. Because the large majority of Indians are Hindus, this chapter will primarily focus attention on family life in the Hindu community.

The Hindus believe in a multitude of gods and goddess that are an integral aspect of Hindu mythology. Hinduism is a major world religion, has approximately 800 million followers, and also has had a profound influence on many other religions during its long history that dates back to 1500 b.c.e. The ideal Hindu lifestyle is influenced by the teachings in the Upanishads, Vedas, Bhavadgita, Ramayana, and Mahabharata. These scriptures stress the importance of work, knowledge, sacrifice, and service to others and finally, the renunciation of worldly goods in later life (Chekki 1996). Hinduism is not an organized religion like Western religions (Nandan and Eames 1980), but rather a way of life. According to the Hindu ideology, a person's life consists of four stages that correspond with the human life-cycle stages. The first stage is the Brahamacharya ashram (apprenticeship)—this is the period of discipline and education. The second stage is the Grihastha ashram (household and family), devoted to marriage, parenthood, family, and establishment of a household. Stage three is the Vanaprastha ashram (gradual retreat) and is characterized by a gradual retreat and loosening of social, emotional, and material bonds. Finally, the goal of the fourth and final stage, the Sanyasa ashram (renouncement), is to seek solitude, indulge in meditation, prepare for death, and strive for salvation and wisdom (Chekki 1996; Seymour 1999).

Most Hindu households have a prayer platform or room that is considered the most sacred place in the home. Most devout Hindus are vegetarians. They pray, fast, and worship their deity at least once a day, especially on holy days and days of festivities. As part of the religious activities, Hindus take regular morning baths, recite and chant certain mantras, light incense, prepare specific food items, offer flowers to the deities, and worship ancestors.

Caste System

The rigid caste system, in existence for more than 1,500 years, is a unique social institution. The caste system has religious elements and is interwoven with the Hindu faith. Each member of the Hindu community belongs to one of the more than 2,000 castes and subcastes (O'Malley 1975; Vohra 1997). This caste system puts people into endogamous groups and different social strata. The people belonging to the highest caste are the Brahmins (the priestly class), followed by the Kshatriyas (the warriors and farmers), then the Vaishyas (the merchants, traders, and businessmen), and the Shudras, (the servants, workers, and laborers), who are considered the lowest caste. Below the Shudras are those people commonly known as untouchables, who are considered inherently impure and unholy (Seymour 1999).

The social position of each individual is fixed by heredity, not by personal qualifications, accomplishments, or material acquisitions. Membership in a caste dictates one's occupation, religious beliefs, alliances, and friendships (Mullatti 1992). Consequently, the caste system divides people into groups, and its most salient feature is mutual exclusiveness, because each caste considers other castes as separate communities. The caste system bonds people of the same caste together but at the same time splits up a society into divisions in which people eat, drink, socialize, and expect to marry within their own caste. Although the caste system was officially abolished, it continues to play a crucial role and is unchangeable in most of its essential features (Mullatti 1995).

Family Life and Family Values

In India the family is the most important institution that has survived through the ages. India, like most other less industrialized, traditional, eastern societies is a collectivist society that emphasizes family integrity, family loyalty, and family unity. C. Harry Hui and Harry C. Triandis (1986) defined collectivism, which is the opposite of individualism as, "a sense of harmony, interdependence and concern for others" (p. 244). More specifically, collectivism is reflected in greater readiness to cooperate with family members and extended kin on decisions affecting most aspects of life, including career choice, mate selection, and marriage (Hui and Triandis 1986; Triandis et al. 1988).

The Indian family has been a dominant institution in the life of the individual and in the life of the community (Mullatti 1992). For the Hindu family, extended family and kinship ties are of utmost importance. In India, families adhere to a patriarchal ideology, follow the patrilineal rule of descent, are patrilocal, have familialistic value orientations, and endorse traditional gender role preferences. The Indian family is considered strong, stable, close, resilient, and enduring (Mullatti 1995; Shangle 1995). Historically, the traditional, ideal and desired family in India is the joint family. A joint family includes kinsmen, and generally includes three to four living generations, including uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, and grandparents living together in the same household. It is a group composed of a number of family units living in separate rooms of the same house. These members eat the food cooked at one hearth, share a common income, common property, are related to one another through kinship ties, and worship the same idols. The family supports the old; takes care of widows, never-married adults, and the disabled; assists during periods of unemployment; and provides security and a sense of support and togetherness (Chekki 1996; Sethi 1989). The joint family has always been the preferred family type in the Indian culture, and most Indians at some point in their lives have participated in joint family living (Nandan and Eames 1980).

With the advent of urbanization and modernization, younger generations are turning away from the joint family form. Some scholars specify that the modified extended family has replaced the traditional joint family, in that it does not demand geographical proximity or occupational involvement and does not have a hierarchal authority structure (Nandan and Eames 1980; Mullatti 1995; Shangle 1995). This new family form encourages frequent visits; financial assistance; aid and support in childcare and household chores; and involvement and participation in life-cycle events such as births, marriages, deaths, and festival celebrations. The familial and kinship bonds are thus maintained and sustained. Even in the more modern and nuclear families in contemporary India, many functional extensions of the traditional joint family have been retained (Nandan and Eames 1980), and the nuclear family is strongly embedded in the extended kinship matrix. In spite of the numerous changes and adaptations to a pseudo-Western culture and a move toward the nuclear family among the middle and upper classes, the modified extended family is preferred and continues to prevail in modern India (Chekki 1996; Mullatti 1995; Segal 1998).

India is an extremely pronatalistic society, and the desire to have a male child is greatly stressed and is considered by some to be a man's highest duty, a religious necessity, and a source of emotional and familial gratification (Kakar 1981). Because male children are desired more than female children, they are treated with more respect and given special privileges. Male children are raised to be assertive, less tolerant, independent, self-reliant, demanding, and domineering (Kumar and Rohatgi 1987; Pothen 1993). Females, in contrast, are socialized from an early age to be self-sacrificing, docile, accommodating, nurturing, altruistic, adaptive, tolerant, and religious, and to value family above all (Kumar and Rohatgi, 1987; Mullatti, 1995). In rural areas, low-income women have always worked outside the home. In urban areas, there has been a substantial increase in the number of middle- and upper-class women working to supplement their husbands' incomes. In a traditional Indian family, the wife is typically dependent, submissive, compliant, demure, nonassertive, and goes out of her way to please her husband. Women are entrusted with the responsibility of looking after the home and caring for the children and the elderly parents and relatives.

Childrearing practices in India tend to be permissive, and children are not encouraged to be independent and self-sufficient. The family is expected to provide an environment to maximize the development of a child's personality and, within the context of the Hindu beliefs and philosophy, positively influence the child's attitudes and behaviors.

Adolescence and young adulthood are particularly stressful and traumatic stages in the lives of Indian youths. In one way, they desire emancipation and liberation from family but residing in the matrix of the extended family makes it difficult for them to assert themselves and exhibit any independence in thought, action, or behavior. Social changes are gradually occurring but arranged marriages are still the norm, and dating generally is not allowed. Furthermore, sex and sexuality issues are not openly discussed, sex education is not readily available, interrelationships with the opposite sex are discouraged, and premarital sex is frowned upon. In the traditional Indian family, communication between parents and children tends to be onesided. Children are expected to listen, respect, and obey their parents. Generally, adolescents do not share their personal concerns with their parents because they believe their parents will not listen and will not understand their problems (Medora, Larson, and Dave 2000).

Life expectancy for both Indian men and women is increasing. According to the 2001 Census of India, life expectancy was 61.9 years for men and 63.1 years for women (Census of India 2001). This has led to a significant increase in the population of elderly individuals. The elderly in India are generally obeyed, revered, considered to be fountains of knowledge and wisdom, and treated with respect and dignity by family and community members. Old age is a time when a person is expected to relax, enjoy solitude, retirement, pray, enjoy spending time with the grandchildren, and not worry about running the household or about finances because the oldest son is now in charge of the finances and family matters, and the oldest daughter-in-law is generally running the household. In most instances, the elderly care for their grandchildren and assist with cooking and household chores. Even adult children continue to consult their parents on most of the important aspects of life.

Mate Selection and Marriage

Marriage in India is regarded as one of the most significant life-cycle rituals and is a familial and societal expectation for Hindus. In traditional Hindu society, marriage was considered a sacrament and not a contract and therefore was expected to be for life. It is important to point out that vivaha (wedding) is generally obligatory for all individuals. According to Kanailal Kapadia (1966), the primary aim of a Hindu marriage is dharma praja (progeny, particularly sons) and rati (pleasure). Furthermore, marriage is regarded not only as a union of two individuals, but also as the union of two families, making them almost like blood relatives. Marriages are religiously, economically, politically, and socially oriented and they are generally arranged by the elders and extended family members (Chekki 1996; Sureender, Prabakaran, and Khan 1998).

Even in contemporary Indian society, Hindus consider marriage as a social and cultural obligation and a contract for life. Marriage is not viewed as a means to attain personal happiness nor as a means of sharing your life with a person you love. Instead, the basic qualities of family unity, family togetherness, family harmony, family cohesiveness, and sharing of common family goals, values, and a way of life are of significant importance, and personal considerations are secondary. That the couple is not in love with each other or that the two partners are not physically attracted to one another or the possibility that the two do not have too much in common are not considerations because love is expected to come after marriage (Medora 2002). It is customary for individuals to marry within their religion, caste, and subcaste.

Most marriages in India are arranged to a greater or lesser extent. Even among the educated middle- and upper-class families from urban areas, marriage is as much a concern of the families as it is of the individual (Mullatti 1995; Nanda 1995). Most Indian youths do not believe that they have the experience, knowledge, or wisdom to select a prospective mate. They also do not believe that it is essential to date many partners to pick the right spouse. The type of family that the prospective spouse comes from is given primary consideration, along with occupational and cultural compatibility. Educational and social class homogamy of the family are also qualities taken into consideration by the respective parents on both sides (Nanda 1995).

The last decades of the twentieth century brought an increasing trend to consult and get input from the children regarding their marriage. Typically, parents or kin select a prospective pool of eligible partners who have been screened by them first to ensure a similar social, cultural, educational, and economic background. One of the most common ways in which the partners are often selected is from among the children of friends and extended family who have a similar socioeconomic background (Medora 2002).

The use of matrimonial advertisements is increasing and thus becoming an integral part of the mate selection process (Banerjee 1999; Das 1980; Nanda 1995). Advertisements are placed in the newspaper because it is likely to attract a wide readership. Screening is first done on the basis of photographs. Next, the young adults are allowed to meet and talk over the phone, and occasionally go out with a chaperone who is usually an adult family member who accompanies the young couple while they are trying to determine the person with whom they are most compatible. While this exchange is occurring, marriage is foremost on the minds of both partners and all forms of premarital sex are discouraged (Medora 2002). After the couple go out a few times, the male generally proposes to the woman. If the woman accepts the proposal, the respective parents are informed about their children's decisions.

Before the engagement is announced to friends and the marriage finalized, most Hindu families consult an astrologer to ensure that the two prospective partners are well suited for each other (Sureender, Prabakaran, and Khan 1998). The astrologer matches the two horoscopes and predicts whether the couple will be compatible and happy, enjoy good health, enjoy financial success, and, most importantly, have children. Indians are fatalistic and believe their lives are predestined, their fates preordained, and that they are helpless as far as choice is concerned, and therefore they must succumb to the celestial forces of the universe (Gupta 1976).

Dowry System

An important consideration in the mate selection process is the giving of the dowry by the girl's parents to the boy's family. According to Leela Mullatti (1992), "the custom of dowry has taken the form of a market transition in all classes and castes irrespective of the level of education" (p. 99). The dowry system was initiated with the intention of providing security for a girl in case of adversity and unexpected circumstances after marriage. The parents gave whatever they could to their daughter (consequently to the groom's family) for this purpose. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, however, the custom had deteriorated to a point whereby the prospective groom and his family had become very greedy. They made tremendous demands, which if not met after marriage result in dowry deaths—burning girls alive if the dowry is insufficient, so that the boy can remarry another girl for a higher or better dowry (Mullatti 1995). The more educated a man is, the higher the family is in the caste and social hierarchy, the better his employment prospects, the higher is the expectation for dowry at the time of marriage. This makes it difficult for families with daughters who are highly educated to arrange marriages because the girls are required to have even more educated husbands (Seymour 1999).

Status of Single and Divorced Persons in India

An individual who remains single and never marries feels out of place, socially and culturally. Traditionally, single persons were supposed to be the responsibility of the extended family, and this tradition still continues. Remaining single is more acceptable for men than it is for women. When a woman is not married, it is assumed that there is something wrong with her; she may be very difficult to get along with, she may be uncompromising, and therefore she is single. Single men and women are not allowed to participate in religious festivities and marriage celebrations because it is considered unlucky, unholy, and inauspicious (Rao and Rao 1976). Traditionally, parents who could not find a suitable match for their daughters were ostracized and looked down on.

Divorce was not even a remote possibility or even thought of until recent times (Kakar 1998; Mullatti 1995). In India, there is a cultural, religious, and social stigma associated with divorce. Community disapproval is stronger for divorced women than it is for divorced men (Lessinger 2002).

Studies of divorced, separated, and deserted women show that a majority of them experience serious financial problems, and as a result, many of them are unable to provide food, clothing, and shelter for themselves and their children (Kumari 1989; Mullatti 1995; Pothen 1989).

After a divorce, Indian women also experience a multitude of problems in the social arena. Because there are very few divorced, separated, or single-parent families, minimal or little social support is available to them. Divorced Indian women encounter greater social barriers to dating and remarriage (Amato 1994; Mullatti 1995). Moreover, they are hesitant to make friends with men (either single or married) because the friendliness might be misinterpreted to mean that the woman is frivolous, immoral, and sexually permissive. As a matter of fact, a large proportion of divorced women reported problems with sexual harassment, in the workplace and on the social scene (Amato 1994; Mehta 1975; Pothen 1986). According to Paul Amato (1994), most Indians consider sexual relations outside of marriage as unacceptable for women, so most divorced women's sexual needs are unfulfilled unless she remarries, and remarriage for an Indian woman is relatively uncommon. It is, therefore, not surprising that a majority of Indian divorced women experience problems with loneliness (Choudhary 1988; Pothen 1986).

As a result of social stigmatization and familial ostracism, a majority of divorced women in India set up their own households and become self-sufficient (Choudhary 1988; Mehta 1975; Pothen 1989). Satya Leela (1991) found that one-fourth of separated and widowed mothers lived with relatives and only 5 percent were economically dependent on their families.

The doctrine of pativratya also makes it difficult for a woman to leave her husband; instead, an unhappily married woman is expected to accept her destiny—a notion strongly supported by the Hindu concept of predestination (Amato 1994). Amato further added that a divorcee with children generally was forced to make demands upon other male kin within the joint family, and this may interfere with a man's primary role obligation, that is, the economic support of his own spouse, children, and perhaps elderly parents. Hence, a woman without a husband (with the exception of a widowed mother) cannot be accommodated over the long term within the framework of the joint family structure without considerable compromise and tension.


Gradual changes have been ushered in by religious, social, and cultural reforms. Industrialization, urbanization, and technological advances have been instrumental in changing family structures, values, and lifestyles. Ganeswar Misra (1995) emphasized that middle- and upper-class families in urban areas were undergoing a dramatic transformation because the younger generation is questioning power issues, traditional roles, hierarchical relationships, obligations, loyalty, and deference for kinsmen and elderly.

With changing times, Indian family structure, functions, traditional division of labor, and authority patterns have altered, favoring more egalitarian relations between the husband and the wife and also a move toward more shared decision-making patterns between parents and children. Despite these changes, the fact remains that most individuals continue to value and give top priority to the family, and families continue to maintain strong kinship bonds and ties.

See also:Asian-American Families; Hinduism; Islam; Sikhism


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"india at a glance." (2001). in the census of india web site. available from

"land and the people." (2002). in the consulategeneral of india web site. available from

nilufer p. medora

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Baigan Bhartha (Eggplant Puree)................................. 60
Garam Masala (Spice Mixture) .................................... 60
Dal (Lentils)................................................................. 62
Palak Bhaji (Spicy Fried Spinach) ................................. 62
Tandoori Chicken (Spicy Barbecued Chicken) ............. 63
Tamatar Salat (Luscious Tomato Salad) ....................... 64
Fancy Rice................................................................... 65
Kheer (Sweet Rice Pudding) ........................................ 65
Chai (Indian Tea) ........................................................ 66
Vegetable Sandwich.................................................... 67
Mathis (Spicy Cookie) ................................................. 67


The Republic of India, Asia's second-largest country after China, occupies the largest part of the South Asian subcontinent, which it shares with Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. India's total area is 3.3 million square kilometers (1.3 million square miles). Among India's most serious environmental problems are land damage, water shortages, and air and water pollution (about 70 percent of India's water is polluted). Even in rural areas, the burning of wood, charcoal, and dung for fuel, coupled with dust from wind erosion during the dry season, creates an air pollution problem. Rice, the largest crop, is grown wherever the conditions are suitable.


Some of India's foods date back five thousand years. The Indus Valley peoples (who settled in what is now northern Pakistan) hunted turtles and alligator, as well as wild grains, herbs and plants. Many foods from the Indus period (c. 30001500 B.C.) remain common today. Some include wheat, barley, rice, tamarind, eggplant and cucumber. The Indus Valley peoples cooked with oils, ginger, salt, green peppers, and turmeric root, which would be dried and ground into an orange powder.

The Aryan-speaking peoples who entered India between 1500 and 1000 B.C used leafy vegetables, lentils, and milk products such as yogurt and ghee (clarified butter). The Aryans also used spices such as cumin and coriander. Black pepper was widely used by 400 A.D. The Greeks brought saffron, while the Chinese introduced tea. The Portuguese and British made red chili, potato and cauliflower popular after 1700 A.D.

Perhaps the biggest contributors to India's culinary heritage are the Muslim peoples from Persia and present-day Turkey, who began arriving in India after 1200. These peoples, known later as the Mughals, ruled much of India between 1500 and early 1800. They saw food as an art, and many Mughal dishes are cooked with as many as twenty-five spices, as well as rose water, cashews, raisins and almonds.

Baigan Bhartha (Eggplant Puree)


  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 onion
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
  • 1½ teaspoons vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric, ground ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (see recipe below)


  1. Wash and cut eggplant and tomato into small cubes and finely chop onion and ginger.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan for 1 minute.
  3. Add the onion and ginger and fry over medium to high heat, stirring constantly, until golden brown.
  4. Add the turmeric, chili powder, salt, and garam masala to saucepan. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Add the eggplant and tomato to saucepan. Stir well and cover pan with lid.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the eggplant and tomato are soft, stirring occasionally to prevent vegetables from sticking to pan.
  7. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and continue to cook over low heat, stirring often, until liquid evaporates. The dish is ready when the ingredients are blended together as a thick puree.
  8. Serve with rice, whole wheat bread, or tortillas.

Serves 6.

Garam Masala (Spice Mixture)


  • 2 teaspoons cardamom, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cloves, ground
  • Nutmeg, ground, to taste


  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Store in an airtight container and add to recipes as needed.


What Indians eat varies by region and religion. Northern Indians eat more flat breads, while those from southern India prefer rice. In coastal states, such as Kerala and Bengal, fish dishes are popular. Chicken and mutton (sheep) are eaten more often in mountain and plains regions. While many Hindus avoid eating beef, Muslims avoid pork. In addition, many Indiansparticularly Hindus, Buddhists, and Jainsare vegetarian.

Spices are used in many Indian dishes. When it is hot, spices such as chili peppers and garlic help the body sweat and cool it down. In colder weather, spices such as cloves, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, cardamom, and nutmeg help warm the body.

Indian cuisine is varied, but many dishes are cooked in a similar way. The preparation starts with frying onion, ginger, garlic or spices such as cumin seeds in oil at a high temperature. Meats, vegetables, flavorings such as yogurt, and spices such as turmeric then are added. The dish then simmers at a low heat until the ingredients are cooked. At the end of the preparation, leafy herbs such as cilantro and flavorings such as lemon juice are added.

This style of preparation may be linked to the traditional use of cow dung. For centuries, families would cook by placing a pan on top of patties made from cow dung. Like the charcoal used in modern-day barbecues, dung initially produces a high heat, but then burns slowly. Although middle-class and urban Indians have electric or gas stoves, many rural households still use cow dung (waste).

Dal (Lentils)


  • 1½ cups raw red lentils (other lentils may be substituted)
  • 4½ cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 or 2 small hot green chilies, to taste, minced
  • 1 teaspoon each: freshly grated ginger, ground cumin, and turmeric
  • Nutmeg, pinch
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Rinse the lentils and combine them with the water in a large, heavy saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until the lentils are quite mushy, about 40 minutes.
  3. Heat the oil and skillet; sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until golden.
  4. Add to the saucepan.
  5. Stir in the remaining ingredients.
  6. Cover and simmer over very low heat for 15 minutes.
  7. Serve hot.

Serves 4.

Palak Bhaji (Spicy Fried Spinach)


  • 1 pound fresh spinach
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin, ground
  • ½ teaspoon coriander, ground
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric, ground
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Wash the spinach well and remove stems.
  2. Finely chop the onion, garlic, and ginger.
  3. Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan over medium to high heat.
  4. Add the cumin seeds and fry for 30 seconds.
  5. Add the chopped onion and fry until golden, about 2 minutes.
  6. Next add the chopped garlic and ginger and fry for about 1 more minute.
  7. Add the ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, chili powder, and salt; mix well and add the spinach.
  8. Mix rapidly to coat with spicy mixture.
  9. Lower the heat to medium and add about ¼ cup water.
  10. Stir, cover with lid, and cook for about 5 minutes.

Serves 4-6.

Tandoori Chicken (Spicy Barbecued Chicken)


  • 2 pounds boneless chicken thighs or breasts, skin removed
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric, ground
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala (optional)
  • 1 lemon
  • Onion slices (optional)


  1. Prick each piece of chicken with a fork. Rub the pieces with salt and black pepper.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the yogurt, ground turmeric, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and garam masala. Mix well.
  3. Drop each piece of chicken into a bowl and coat with the yogurt mixture.
  4. Place the chicken in a glass baking dish and cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (The chicken can be refrigerated overnight).
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the chicken, uncovered, for about 30 to 40 minutes. (When pricked with a fork, the juice that runs out of the chicken should be clear.) When thoroughly cooked, place the chicken on a serving plate.
  6. Slice the lemon and squeeze the juice on top before serving. Top with the sliced onions if desired.

Serves 4 to 6.


Nearly every holiday in India requires a feast. The year's biggest festival is Diwali, which occurs in October or November. The actual date is set by the lunar calendar and varies from year to year. The festival's meaning varies by region and religious group. But some traditions are shared: old debts are paid off, homes are cleaned, new clothes are made or purchased, and an elab orate meal is prepared.

On Diwali and other festive occasions, India's Mughal heritage takes center stage. The Mughals saw eating as an art and a pleasure. Courtly chefs prepared food that tasted good, and delighted the senses of smell, sight and touch. Many Mughal dishes call for meat, but vegetarians incorporate the spices and nuts that Mugal cooking made popular. In addition, many purchase sweets such as ladhu and barfi at local shops, and distribute them among their relatives and friends. Many of these sweets also date to Mughal times, and use ingredients such as besan (chickpea flour), paneer (a white cheese), rose water, almonds, and sugars.

Many celebrate the start of spring with Holi. In the morning, people splash each other with colored water and smear one another with red, yellow, green, blue and orange powders. Many also drink bhang, a yogurt drink. After the festival, the old clothes are burned and halwa (a sweet dish made with wheat or rice flour, butter and sugar) is eaten. The day often ends with a feast and musical festivities. Halwa "cakes" are often served for breakfast on special occasions, such as birthdays.

Tamatar Salat (Luscious Tomato Salad)


  • 2 firm tomatoes
  • 3 green onions
  • ¼ cup mint leaves
  • 1½ Tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


  1. Dice the tomatoes, finely slice the green onions, and chop the mint leaves.
  2. Toss together in a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice, salt and sugar together.
  4. Pour the mixture over the tomatoes, onion and mint leaves.
  5. Mix thoroughly, but gently.
  6. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Serves 4.

Fancy Rice


  • ½ cup cilantro
  • 4 green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced or grated
  • ½ lemon
  • 1½ cups basmati or long-grain rice, washed and drained
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 2 cloves
  • ½ cup peas
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • Salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup cashews or slivered almonds, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Squeeze the lemon juice into the blender.
  3. Place the cilantro, green chilies, and remaining lemon rind in a blender and grind into a paste.
  4. Heat the butter in a saucepan and add the cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, stirring for 30 seconds.
  5. Add the rice and stir until coated with butter, then remove from heat.
  6. Add the peas, the paste from the blender, salt, nuts, and 4 cups of water.
  7. Mix well and transfer the rice mixture to an earthen pot or glass baking dish.
  8. Cover and bake until rice is cooked, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  9. Serve hot with yogurt.

Serves 6.

Kheer (Sweet Rice Pudding)


  • ½ cup basmati or long-grain rice
  • 4 cups milk
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
  • ¼ cup almonds, slivered


  1. Wash the rice and soak in water for 30 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Boil the milk in a large pan. Lower the heat and add the rice and cardamom seeds.
  3. Simmer on low heat until mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency, about 1½ to 2 hours.
  4. Stir every 5 to 10 minutes to prevent mixture from sticking to sides and bottom.
  5. When the mixture has thickened, remove from the heat. Let cool about 25 minutes, and then add the sugar and stir well.
  6. Add the raisins and almonds. Serve hot or cold.

Serves 4 to 6.


Indians eat several small meals a day. Many families begin the day at dawn with prayers. A light meal of chai (Indian tea) and a salty snack will follow. Breakfast usually takes place a couple of hours later, and may include a traditional Indian dish such as aloo paratha (a flatbread stuffed with potato and fried), or toast with eggs. Other popular breakfast dishes include halwa (made with ground wheat, butter, sugar and sliced almonds) or uppma, which is a spicier version of halwa.

Students often eat a mid-morning snack, such as a banana with juice or tea, at school. Lunch usually includes one or two cooked vegetable dishes, rice and chapati (a flat-bread that resembles a Mexican tortilla). Many students carry their lunches from home in containers known as tiffins. Many students also eat sandwiches.

An afternoon snack often is served around 5 or 6 P.M. It includes tea and namkeen (snacks or appetizers), and sometimes may involve a visit to a restaurant or street stall that sells spicy snacks such as samosa (a small turnover stuffed with potatoes and peas) or bhel puri (a combination of puffed rice, yogurt, tamarind sauce, and boiled potatoes). In addition, fruits such as mango, pomegranate, grapes, and melon may be served. Dinner traditionally is served quite late, and includes two or three vegetable dishes along with rice and chapati. In many households, both adults and children take a cup of hot milk, flavored with sugar and a touch of cardamom before going to sleep.

Chai (Indian Tea)


  • 1 teabag
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1 to 2 cardamom pods


  1. Place the teabag in a teacup or coffee mug.
  2. Add the milk, sugar, and cardamom pods.
  3. Boil water on the stove.
  4. Pour the boiling water in a teacup or coffee mug, stirring with a spoon.
  5. Allow to steep for 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Remove the teabag and serve.

Serves 1.

Vegetable Sandwich


  • Bread, thinly sliced
  • Tomatoes or cucumber, thinly sliced
  • Butter
  • Black pepper
  • Salt


  1. Place the 2 slices of bread on the counter and spread lightly with butter. Sprinkle the black pepper and salt lightly over the butter.
  2. Place the tomato or cucumber slices on 1 of the bread slices. Place the other slice on top and cut in half with a knife.


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ¼ teaspoon ajwain (or dried oregano)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Warm water
  • Oil, for deep frying


  1. In a large bowl, blend together the flour, salt, ajwain (or dried oregano) and black pepper.
  2. Add the oil and rub into the flour with fingers.
  3. Add water to the flour and continue mixing with fingers to create a smooth, flexible dough.
  4. With the thumb, index, and middle finger, break off pieces of the dough.
  5. Press until each piece is about ¼-inch thick.
  6. Prick each piece with a fork; let dry for 20 to 30 minutes.
  7. Heat the oil in deep-frying pan and drop the dough pieces into the oil and fry for about 3 minutes.
  8. Carefully remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Makes about 2 dozen.


About 22 percent of the population of India is classified as undernourished by the World Bank. This means they do not receive adequate nutrition in their diet. Of children under the age of five, about 53 percent are underweight, and more than 52 percent are stunted (short for their age). The government put into place a national system to distribute Vitamin A to children, which contributes to malnutrition and blindness.

India is one of the few countries where men, on the average, live longer than women. To explain this, it has been suggested that daughters are more likely to be malnourished and be provided with fewer health care choices. In a society where sons are favored over daughters, female infanticide is a mounting problem. In addition, hundreds of thousands of children are living and working on the streets. Child prostitution is widespread. Special measures are being taken by the government to rehabilitate juvenile prostitutes and convicts to help remedy the growing problem.

India's government has established an extensive social welfare system. Programs for children include supplementary nutrition for expectant mothers and for children under the age of seven, immunization and health programs, and prevocational training for adolescents. The government is also paying increasing attention to health, maternity, and childcare in rural India by sending out growing numbers of community health workers and doctors to areas in need.



Achaya, K.T. Indian Food: A Historical Companion Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Hospodar, Miriam Kasin. Heaven's Banquet: Vegetarian Cooking for Lifelong Health the Ayurveda Way E.P. Dutton, 1999.

Jaffrey, Madhur. Madhur Jaffrey's Spice Kitchen. Carol Southern Books, 1993.

Kirchner, Bharti. The Healthy Cuisine of India Lowell House, 1992.

Lethaby, Jo, editor. Indian Food and Folklore. (Laurel Glen, 2000).

Solomon, Charmaine. The Complete Asian Cookbook Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1992.

Web Sites [Online] Available (accessed March 4, 2001).

Sources for Special Ingredients

Most ingredients for Indian foods are available at grocery stores. Health food stores and ethnic stores that specialize in Indian, Pakistani or Middle Eastern cuisine often have special ingredients such as garam masala and premixed tandoori masala pastes.

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Official name : Republic of India

Area: 3,287,590 square kilometers (1,269,345 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Kanchenjunga (8,595 meters/28,208 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern

Time zones: 3:30 p.m. = noon GMT in West; 6:30 p.m. = noon GMT in East.

Longest distances: 3,214 kilometers (1,997 miles) from north to south; 2,933 kilometers (1,822 miles) from east to west

Land boundaries: 14,103 kilometers (8,744 miles) total boundary length; Bangladesh 4,053 kilometers (2,513 miles); Bhutan 605 kilometers (375 miles); China 3,380 kilometers (2,096 miles); Myanmar 1,463 kilometers (907 miles); Nepal 1,690 kilometers (1,048 miles); Pakistan 2,912 kilometers (1,805 miles)

Coastline: 7,000 kilometers (4,340 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)


India is located in the southern part of Asia and borders the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal. It occupies most of the South Asian continent and is one of the largest countries on Earth and one of the most heavily populated. India consists of twenty-eight states and seven union territories.


Part of the southern border with Bangladesh is undefined, as is part of the border with China in the northeast (the McMahon Line). Since their creation as independent countries in 1947, India and Pakistan have disputed ownership of the northern regions of Jammu and Kashmir, a simmering conflict that has broken into fighting between the neighbors in 1948, 1965, and 1971, and continues to be a source of sporadic conflict. China also occupies portions of northeastern Jammu and Kashmir that are claimed by India, which caused fighting in 1962. A line of control divides Jammu and Kashmir, excluding the eastern sector along the Siachen Glacier.


India experiences a variety of different climate conditions due to its great size and varying terrain. The Greater Himalayan region has a dry, subarctic climate, but the valleys and outer ranges are temperate or subtropical. The inland of the peninsula ranges from subtropical to temperate. The coasts of the peninsula are humid and tropical.

India's four seasons are determined by the monsoons, a pattern of winds sweeping across southern Asia. There is a dry, cool season (winter) from December through March; a hot season (spring) in April and May; the rainy season (summer) from June through September; and a less-rainy season (autumn) in October and November. India's north has frost in the cool season and temperatures as high as 49°C (120°F) in the hot season. As an example of South India's climate, the city of Chennai has an average temperature of 28°C (83°F). Temperatures for the entire nation reach an average high of 38° to 40°C (100° to 104°F) and dip to an average low of 10°C (50°F).

India's weather is characterized by intense, sudden changes, such as the onset of the monsoon, flash floods, or violent thunderstorms. Cyclones from the Indian Ocean often affect the coastal areas in April through June and September through December. Rainfall varies extremely in India, from the Thar Desert which receives less than 13 centimeters (five inches) yearly, to Cherrapunji in the northeastern mountains, known as the world's rainiest place, with an average of 1,270 centimeters (500 inches) per year. Rainfall for the entire nation of India averages 105 centimeters (41 inches). Snow falls in the Himalayan area, which also produces hailstorms that sweep down over the peninsula. Dust storms affect many regions of India.


One of the largest countries on Earth, as well as one of the most heavily populated, India is a nation of great geographic diversity. The extraordinary geographic variety of India can be divided into three main regions: the Himalayan mountain range of the north; the broad and flat alluvial plain of the Ganges River to the south of the mountains; and, even further south, the vast peninsula that juts into the Indian Ocean, creating the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, with small island chains offshore. India's mountainous northeastern region is nearly separated from the rest of the country by Bangladesh and Nepal. India's wonderfully diverse geographical features, encompassing everything from snowy peaks to desert to rainforest, are at risk from environmental damage, mostly due to population pressure. Many local groups have organized to fight pollution and protect wildlife.

Local political parties changed the names of several well-known Indian locations during the 1990s. Most noteworthy of these changes are the cities of Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Chennai (formerly Madras) and Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), and the state of Bangla (formerly West Bengal).


Seacoast and Undersea Features

India's peninsula juts into the Indian Ocean, with the Arabian Sea on the east and the Bay of Bengal on the west. The country is situated on vital maritime trade routes between the Middle East, Africa, and East Asia.

Sea Inlets and Straits

The Eight Degree Channel separates the Lakshadweep islands from the small island nation of the Republic of Maldives. Inlets of the Indian Ocean surrounding India include the Arabian Sea to the west, the Laccadive Sea between the Indian peninsula and the Maldives to the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal in the east. In the northwest, the Gulf of Kachchh and the Gulf of Khambhat are inlets of the Arabian Sea. In the southeast, the Palk Strait separates India from Sri Lanka.

Islands and Archipelagos

Two groups of islands belonging to India lie on each side of the southern tip of the country. The areas and populations of these island chains are very small.

The eastern group, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, formed from an undersea mountain range, are located in the Bay of Bengal. The total land area of these lightly populated islands is roughly 8,287 square kilometers (3,200 square miles).

In the Arabian Sea are the Laccadive, Minicoy, and Amindivi Islands. They are collectively named Lakshadweep. The total area of these small coral islands is only about 50 square kilometers (18.5 square miles). Most, although not all, of these low-lying small islands are occupied, and population density is high on the inhabited islands.

Coastal Features

Not far south of where the India-Pakistan border meets the ocean, the broad and short Kathiwar Peninsula projects into the Arabian Sea. To the north of this peninsula lies the Gulf of Kachchh, and the Gulf of Khambhat extends to the south and east. The Gulf of Kachchh includes a Marine National Park, which is an effort to protect coral reefs and wetland wildlife habitat. South of the Gulf of Kachchh, the coast continues, with few inlets and a flat sandy shore, to its southernmost point, Cape Comorin. The southern section of this coastline is known as the Malabar Coast.

The eastern coast of India, on the Bay of Bengal, begins in the northeast at the fragmented Ganges River delta and continues generally southwest before curving to the south, at which point it becomes known as the Coromandel Coast. The Gulf of Mannar indents India's southern tip, where Cape Comorin joins the two coasts of the immense Indian peninsula.


India's landscape contains a variety of lakessalt water and fresh water as well as natural and artificial.

Chilka Lake is the largest lake in India, with an area of 1,100 square kilometers (425 square miles). Wular Lake, in India-controlled Jammu and Kashmir, is India's largest freshwater lake (202 square kilometers/78 square miles). It contains large quantities of floating vegetation, and it is also an important source of fish and of irrigation water.


The Indus River, rising in the Tibetan Himalayas of China, flows through Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir before entering Pakistan. The Indus has five principal tributaries, also of Himalayan origin, that are of importance to India: the Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, Chenab, and Jhelum. These rivers drain part of the Indian state of Punjab, whose name is derived from panch ab, meaning five waters or rivers.

South of Punjab and east of the desert region of western India is the most revered and mightiest of India's rivers, the Ganges. The origin of the Ganges is identified in an ice cave about 48 kilometers (30 miles) north of Nanda Devi, almost on the border with China. The river is about 2,510 kilometers (1,560 miles) in length. The Yamuna, the major tributary of the Ganges, also rises in the Himalayas. The Ganges has shifted its course many times over the years, and as it approaches the border with Bangladesh it branches into many streams and rivers to the south. They are the beginnings of the enormous Ganges Delta, most of which is found within Bangladesh. After entering Bangladesh, the Ganges merges with the Brahmaputra River before emptying into the Bay of Bengal. Most of the course of the Brahmaputra is in China, but it enters India in its northeastern corner. The river then curves west and flows through northeast India in the Assam Valley along a narrow plain, before entering Bangladesh, where it merges with the Ganges.

South of the Gangetic Plain there are six major rivers. Four of these riversthe Mahanadi, the Godavari, the Krishna, and the Kâeriflow into the Bay of Bengal. Several of the rivers have waterfalls and cascades in their upper courses.

The Mahanadi River, which rises in Madhya Pradesh, is about 900 kilometers (560 miles) long and is an important source of irrigation water in Orissa state.

Only two major rivers of the peninsula flow into the Arabian Sea: the Narmada and the Tāpi. The Narmada rises in eastern Madhya Pradesh, flows through Gujarat State, then forms a thirteen-mile-wide estuary at the Gulf of Khambhat. The shorter Tāpi River follows a companion course south of the Narmada.


Below the state of Punjab and extending southwest along the Pakistani border is the sparsely populated Thar Desert. This desert covers most of the state of Rajasthan, and 3,000 square kilometers (1,158 square miles) of its terrain of sand dunes and flat thorn scrub is protected as the Thar Desert National Park.


The Gangetic (or Indo-Gangetic) Plain lies at the foot of the Himalayan mountain barrier, extending from Assam and the Bay of Bengal on the east into Pakistan and to the Arabian Sea on the west. Covering some 776,996 square kilometers (300,000 square miles), it extends roughly 2,414 kilometers (1,500 miles) from east to west. The entire region is very fertile and very densely populated.

Other grasslands in India include the Terai region in the low mountains along the border of Nepal, which includes savannah and alpine grassland types. Bamboo grasslands occur across the Himalayan foothills, especially in northeast India.

India's forest cover is estimated at approximately 19 percent of the country. Madhya Pradesh in the center of the country and Arunachal Pradesh in the extreme northeast are the states with the most forest cover. There is a great range of forest types, including alpine scrub in the Himalayan regions; temperate evergreen in Jammu and Kashmir and other hill areas; tropical rainforest in the Western Ghats, northeastern states, and islands; and man-groves in the Sundarbans on the Bay of Bengal and in Gujarat.


The name Himalaya, which means "abode of snow" in Sanskrit, is given to the tremendous system of mountain ranges, the loftiest in the world, that extends along the northern frontiers of Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Bhutan. The Himalayas are made up of three parallel ranges. The northernmost and highest are the Greater Himalayas. The world's tallest mountains are found in this range, with most peaks over 6,096 meters (20,000 feet). India's highest mountain is in this range, the five-peaked Kanchenjunga (8,595 meters/28,208 feet) on the border between Nepal and India. Other great peaks include Kamet (7,756 meters/ 25,447 feet) and Nanda Devi (7,817 meters/ 25,645 feet), which lie north of New Delhi and west of Nepal.

South of the Greater Himalayas is the Lesser Himalayas range. Their peaks are mostly between 1,524 and 3,657 meters (5,000 and 12,000 feet) in height; although some exceed 4,572 meters (15,000 feet). The Outer Himalayas are the southernmost and lowest of the three ranges, with peaks between 914 and 1,219 meters (3,000 and 4,000 feet) in height.

There are many other mountain ranges in India, although none nearly so large and high as the Himalayas. At the southern end of the country are the two mountain ranges called the Ghats. The Western and Eastern Ghats run parallel to the coasts and separate the interior plateau from the coastal plains. The mountains called the Western Ghats have an average elevation of 1,066 meters (3,500 feet). The Eastern Ghats are disconnected and much lower than the Western Ghats, averaging only about 610 meters (2,000 feet) in elevation.

The easternmost part of India, nearly separated from the rest of the country by Bangladesh, is very mountainous. The chief ranges here are the Barail Range and the Arakan Yoma Range along the border with Myanmar, whose highest peak is Saramati (3,866 meters/12,683 feet). These ranges are sometimes considered a southern extension of the Himalayas.


The Himalayan regions of Ladakh, Zanskar, and Sikkim possess many deep canyons, as do the hill regions, such as Madhya Pradesh at India's center. The Brahmaputra River cuts a deep gorge through the mountains of northeast India, as does the Ganges at its source in the Himalayas


The Silk Road is an ancient seven thousand-mile-long trading route that extended from east-central China through the present-day countries of India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. It essentially connected the region of the Yellow River Valley in China to the Mediterranean Sea. From there, costly Chinese silk could be transported throughout the Roman Empire. The Silk Road served not only as a transportation route for trade but also as a route of cultural exchange, as travelers and traders from different regions shared religious, political, and social beliefs and customs.


The largest of India's plateaus are the central Malwa Plateau between the Aravali and Vindhya Ranges, the Chota Nagpur in the northeast of the peninsula, and the Deccan Plateau. The name Deccan, which means "south," is often applied loosely to all the elevated land of southern India. More properly, however, it refers to the western portions of the irregular central plateau. The Deccan is actually not a single plateau but a series of plateaus topped by rolling hills and intersected by many rivers. The Deccan plateau system averages about 762 meters (2,500 feet) in elevation in the west and about 305 meters (1,000 feet) in the eastern parts.


India has a number of artificial lakes. In Tamil Nadu state, an extensive system of shallow irrigation reservoirs known as "tanks" has been maintained since the eighth century a.d. Nagarjuna Lake, on which the extensive Nagarjuna Dam is located, is the third-largest man-made lake in the world.



Dalal, Anita. India. Austin, TX: Raintree-Steck Vaughn, 2002.

Nicholson, Louise. India. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2002.

Shrinivasan, Radhika. India. Marshall Cavendish, 2002.

Web Sites (accessed March 18, 2003).

Indian Parliament Home Page. (accessed March 18, 2003).

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The establishment of a colonial relationship between Britain and India through the medium of a trading company had a long gestation period of over a century and a half. The complete formalization of this relationship, with the British crown assuming direct responsibility for the Indian dominions, took yet another century.

It was on the last day of the year 1600 that a charter granted by Queen Elizabeth I incorporated some 219 members under the title of The Governor and Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East Indies. This was the body that came to be known as the East India Company. The trade carried on by the company between Europe and Asia increased rapidly, and by the end of the seventeenth century, the value of this trade almost equaled that carried on by its principal rival, the Dutch East India Company. By about 1740, the English had decisively forged ahead of the Dutch, a lead they retained through the rest of the eighteenth century. It was, however, only in 1765 that the company became the instrument for establishing a colonial relationship between Britain and India.

Like other Europeans, the principal interest of the English in the East, initially at least, was to procure pepper and other spices for the European market. The first two voyages were, therefore, directed at Bantam in Java, where a trading station was established in 1602. But given the strong presence of the Dutch East India Company in the Indonesian archipelago, the English found it prudent to move gradually out of the region and concentrate on India. An imperial edict conferring formal trading rights on the company was obtained from the Mughal emperor and a trading station established at Surat in Gujarat in 1613. A station had earlier been established in Masulipatnam on the southeast coast of India in 1611. The company's trade extended into Bengal in the early 1650s with the establishment of a trading station at Hughli.

The spectacularly growing role of textiles and raw silk in the exports from Asia made India central to the company's trade, accounting for as much as 90 percent of the total exports from Asia at the turn of the eighteenth century. While the company, by and large, concentrated on Euro-Asian trade, its servants, acting in their private capacity together with a limited number of British citizens residing in the company's settlements in India, carried on a substantial amount of port-to-port trade within Asia.

The increase in the output of textiles and the other export goods in the subcontinent in response to the rising demand for these goods by the English and other East India companies would seem to have been achieved through a reallocation of resources, a fuller utilization of existing productive capacity and an increase over time in the capacity itself. The English and other European companies' trade would thus have become a vehicle for an expansion in income, output, and employment in the sub-continent. The principal underlying circumstance behind this positive state of affairs was the fact that the relationship between the Indian intermediary merchants and artisans on the one hand and the European trading companies including the English Company on the other had been entirely free of coercion and determined exclusively by the market forces of supply and demand. The growth of the Europeans' demand for Indian textiles and silk at a rate consistently higher than the rate of growth of their supply had increasingly turned the market into a sellers' market.

This scenario, however, underwent a substantive modification during the second half of the eighteenth century. It began when the English East India Company assumed political leverage in different parts of the subcontinent. The process began in southeastern India where the English and the French became allies of contestants for the succession of the Nawab of Arcot and the Nizam of Hyderabad. War ebbed and flowed across southern India with little intermission from 1746 until complete English victory brought the fighting to an end in 1761. British victory meant that the territories of the English-backed Nawab of Arcot became a client state of the English East India Company. Much more fundamental in importance was the incorporation of Bengal as a province under actual British rule. The 1765 Treaty of Allahabad was an outcome of the battle of Plassey in 1757 and that of Buxar in 1764. According to this treaty, the Mughal emperor conferred on the East India Company the diwani, or the responsibility for the civil administration of Bengal; at the same time, the wazir of Awadh accepted a British alliance and a British garrison. This settlement gave the British rule over some 20 million people in Bengal, together with access to a revenue of about £3 million, and it brought British influence nearly up to Delhi.

The acquisition of political leverage by the East India Company brought to an end the level playing field that the intermediary merchants and artisans doing business with it had hitherto enjoyed. Through an extensive misuse of its newly acquired political power, the company subjected suppliers and artisans to complete domination, imposing upon them unilaterally determined terms and conditions, which significantly cut into their margin of profit.

Seemingly paradoxically, while the East India Company's exports from India were undergoing a substantial increase during the second half of the eighteenth century, the import of bullion by the company into the subcontinent to pay for the goods purchased was practically coming to an end. The explanation lies in good measure in the substantial quantities of rupee receipts obtained by the company locally against bills of exchange issued to English and other private European traders, payable in London and other European capitals. Another source used for the purpose was the surplus from the provincial revenue of Bengal. Such a diversion of the revenue was obviously unethical, and indeed the Parliamentary Select Committee of 1783 indicted the company for these practices. By 1765, a sizeable territorial dominion had been established and the East India Company had become a regional Indian power of consequence. From this beginning, British power was to engulf the whole of the Indian sub-continent within a hundred years, with the crown assuming direct responsibility for the Indian dominions in 1858, following the Indian mutiny and the liquidation of the East India Company.

See also Colonialism ; Commerce and Markets ; Dutch Colonies: The East Indies.


Marshall, P. J. "The British in Asia: Trade to Dominion, 17001765." The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. 2, The Eighteenth Century. Edited by P. J. Marshall. Oxford, 1998.

. "The English in Asia to 1700." In The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. 1, The Origins of Empire, British Overseas Enterprise to the Close of the Seventeenth Century. Edited by Nicholas Canny. Oxford, 1998.

Prakash, Om. "The English East India Company and India." In The Worlds of the East India Company. Edited by H. V. Bowen, Margarette Lincoln, and Nigel Rigby. Rochester, N.Y., 2002.

. European Commercial Enterprise in Pre-Colonial India. Vol II.5 of The New Cambridge History of India. Cambridge, U.K., 1998.

Om Prakash

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India is a vast subcontinent, or landmass that is part of a continent but is considered an independent entity, that contains many varied geographical regions. The Himalayan mountain range, which includes the highest mountains in the world, stretches across the north of the country along its border with Tibet. Three of India's largest rivers originate in the Himalayas: the Indus, the Ganges, and the Brahmaputra. These rivers feed a vast flat plain at the foothills of the Himalayas called the Indo-Gangetic Plain. A lush rainforest covers the northeast. These fertile lands are home to farmers. The west of India is covered by the Thar Desert, home to desert nomads, people with no permanent residence who move from place to place usually with the seasons. The southern tip of India is much drier and less fertile, while most people fish for a living along the western and eastern coasts.

Origins of Indian civilization

Indian civilization is based on the cultures of peoples as varied as the country's geography. The first Indians lived in the Indus Valley civilization that flourished along the Indus River in modern-day Pakistan, from 2500 to 1600 b.c.e. Remains from the Indus Valley civilization that have been recovered by archeologists, scientists who study the physical remains of ancient cultures, indicate that the society was quite advanced, with well-built brick houses, buildings for storing grain, paved roads, a written language, and a citadel, or a fortress from which a city is ruled and protected. These peoples, called Dravidians, were invaded by a nomadic tribe called Aryans who eventually settled throughout present-day northern India. The cultures of these two different societies combined and created the Hindu religion, which has been the dominant cultural force in India for thousands of years and heavily influenced the habits of dress practiced by Indians. The blending of various cultures has become the hallmark of Indian civilization up to the present day.

Over the years, nomadic tribes and other invading peoples have continued to shape Indian civilization. The Mauryan Empire, which flourished in 250 b.c.e. and dominated northern India for about 140 years, had a large army, complex tax system, and an organized government. After witnessing the brutality of war, Emperor Ashoka, the last Mauryan leader, converted to Buddhism, a religion that encourages people to be accepting of differences among them and to live together peacefully. Ashoka's peaceful teachings and kindness continue to influence life in India.

The second great empire in Indian history was the Gupta Empire, which lasted from 319 to 550 c.e. The Guptas encouraged learning, especially in the arts and sciences. Under Gupta rule the world was discovered to be round and the mathematical concept of zero came into being. Another great change in Indian life occurred from the eighth to the sixteenth century when Muslims slowly invaded India and eventually conquered it to create the Mogul Empire, which ruled all of India and other areas for approximately two hundred years, from about 1500 to 1700 c.e. The Muslims strongly influenced the peoples of India; many converted to the Muslim religion and began wearing clothes that conformed to the Muslim religion's dress code. The Moguls did tolerate other religions, and they created a peaceful advanced society that fostered the arts and sciences.

Trading brings more change

Over the years the rulers of India nurtured the skills of many craftsmen. These craftsmen learned to create beautiful jewelry, weave fine cotton fabric and other more expensive materials, develop intricate dyeing and decorating practices to beautify fabric, and excel at making other products for trade, such as spices and tea. By 1498, when Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama (c. 14601524) reached India, Indian civilization had a great deal to offer other cultures. Europeans desired Indian spices and fabrics in particular. The East India Company of Britain controlled most of the trading in India by the 1600s. When the Mogul Empire ended and India was divided into many small kingdoms in 1700, trade with Europe did not stop. In fact, Britain continued to gain power in the region and by 1858 India had become a British colony.

Although Indians benefited from new railways, roads, and postal and telegraph services under British rule, living under British control frustrated many Indians. By the twentieth century many wanted to rule themselves. Mahatma Gandhi (18691948) inspired Indians to peacefully extract control of India from the British. India became an independent democracy in 1947 and was now the seventh-largest country in the world. At that time the Hindu majority dominated India and the Muslim minority created the countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Modern-day India

India continues to be home to very diverse peoples. Most people follow the Hindu religion; about 10 percent are Muslim; others are Buddhists, Christians, Jews, and other religions. India recognizes fifteen official languages, but nearly one thousand different dialects are spoken in the country. Indian society had been divided into four distinct social groups, called castes, since 1500 b.c.e. These castes were based on people's jobs: priests were considered the highest, most respected class, followed by warriors and princes, and then by merchants and farmers. The lowest caste was made up of people called the "untouchables," those who worked with sewage or garbage, among other "unclean" things. The caste system locked people into a certain position in society for life. If a person married outside of his or her caste, he or she would risk being shunned by family and friends. The Indian government outlawed the caste system in 1949 and has instituted policies to make up for the discrimination of the caste system's rules.

Although Indian culture has felt the effects of many outside influences, its distinctive costume traditions have lasted for thousands of years. The clothing styles worn from the earliest civilizations in India continue to be worn in modern times. The garments made in ancient India were woven of light fabric and wrapped around the body to create different styles. Although Indians knew how to sew before the Muslims invaded, it was Muslims who popularized the wearing of sewn garments, including trousers and jackets. Of course trade with the West also opened India to the cultures of Europe, and many modern-day Indians do wear clothes similar to Westerners, especially men working in Indian cities. Yet styles of thousands of years ago continue to influence Indian fashion to this day.


Cifarelli, Megan. India: One Nation, Many Traditions. New York: Benchmark Books, 1996.

"Excerpts: Evolution of Court Costume." . (accessed on July 24, 2003).

"A Historical Outline." . (accessed on July 24, 2003).

Kalman, Bobbie. India: The People. New York: Crabtree Publishing, 1990.

Watson, Francis, with Dilip Hiro. India: A Concise History. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2002.

Indian Clothing
Indian Headwear
Indian Body Decorations
Indian Footwear

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The founder's meeting of the Indian Psychoanalytic Society took place in Calcutta in 1922 with Girindrashekhar Bose, a young Bengali doctor who had read the English translations of Freud's work, in the chair. Of the fifteen original members, nine were college teachers of psychology or philosophy and five belonged to the medical corps of the Indian Army, including two British psychiatrists. In the same year, Bose wrote to Freud in Vienna. Freud was pleased that his ideas had spread to such a far-off land and asked Bose to write Ernest Jones, then President of the International Psychoanalytic Association, for membership of that body. Bose did so and the Indian Psychoanalytic Society, with Bose as its first president (a position he was to hold till his death in 1953) became a fully-fledged member of the international psychoanalytic community.

Cut off from the debate, controversy, and ferment of the psychoanalytic centers in Europe, and dependent upon often difficult to acquire books and journals for outside intellectual sustenance, Indian psychoanalysis was nurtured through its infancy primarily by the enthusiasm and intellectual passion of its progenitor. In the informal meetings of eight to ten people held on Saturday evenings at the president's housewhich was was to become the headquarters of the Indian Society after Bose's deathBose read most of the papers and led almost all the discussions.

Although psychoanalysis attracted some academic and intellectual interest in the 1930s and 1940s, mostly in Calcutta, the number of analysts was still small (fifteen) when in 1945 a second training center, under the leadership of an Italian expatriate, Emilio Servadio, was started in Bombay.

To judge from the record of publications of its members, the small Indian society was fairly active up through the 1940s. There was a persistent concern with the illumination of Indian cultural phenomena as well as attempts to register the "Indian" aspects of the patients' mental life. By the early 1950s, however, the interest in comparative and cultural aspects of mental life, as well as the freshness of the papers written by the pioneering generation of Indian psychoanalysts, was lost. Thereafter, most Indian contributions, to judge from the official journal of the Indian Society, have been neither particularly distinctive nor original.

In the public arena, psychoanalysis has generally had an indifferent, if not hostile, reception. At first glance, the Indian indifference to psychoanalysis seems surprising, given the fact that there has rarely been a civilization in human history that has concerned itself so persistently over the millennia with the nature of the "self" and with seeking answers to the question, "Who am I?" As a colonized people, however, reeling under the onslaught of a conquering European civilization that proclaimed its forms of knowledge and its political and social structures as self-evidently superior, Indian intellectuals in the early twentieth century felt the need to cling doggedly to at least a few distinctive Indian forms in order to maintain intact their civilization's identity. The Indian concern with the "self," its psycho-philosophical schools of "self-realization," often appearing under the label of Indian metaphysics or "spirituality," has become one of the primary ways of salvaging self-respect, even a means of affirming a superiority over a materialistic Western civilization. Psychoanalysis was seen to be a direct challenge to the Indian intellectual's important source of self-respect; it stepped on a turf the Indian felt was uniquely his own.

Another reason for the rejection of Freudian concepts had to do with their origins. Derived from clinical experience with patients growing up in a cultural environment very different from that of India, some of the concepts, when transposed, did not carry much conviction. The different patterns of family life and the role of multiple caretakers in India seemed to push in the direction of modifications of psychoanalytical theory. Similarly, Freudian views of religion, derived from the Judeo-Christian monotheistic tradition, with its emphasis on a father-god, had little relevance for the Indian religious tradition of polytheism where mother-goddesses often constituted the deepest sub-stratum of Indian religiosity.

Because of its relative isolation, Indian psychoanalysis has been decisively marked by the stamp of the first Indian analyst, Girindrashekhar Bose (1886-1953). Without experiencing the benefits of training analysis himself, it was Bose who "analyzed" the other members in a more or less informal manner. He developed a method of his own, similar to the active therapy and forced fantasy method of Sándor Ferenczi, which calls for a more active, didactic stance from the analyst, and which came dangerously close to what a lawyer is forbidden to do in the courtroom, namely "lead the witness," increasing the chances of suggestion. In hindsight, Bose's important contribution to psychoanalysis was less his "theory of opposite wishes" and more his questioning of some presumed psychoanalytic universals, based on his clinical experience. In his letters to Freud, Bose points out differences in the castration reactions of his Indian and European patients and notes that the desire to be a female is more easily unearthed in Indian male patients than in European. Since cultural relativism was not on the psychoanalytic agenda in the 1930s when Bose communicated his observations, they received little attention.

The question of cultural relativism versus the universality of many psychoanalytic concepts and theories is very much at the heart of contemporary analyst Sudhir Kakar's work. Based on clinical and cultural data from India, Kakar has highlighted the cultural aspects of the psyche in his many books and papers, trying to show that mental representations of the culture play a significant role in psychic life.

The Indian Psychoanalytic Society has published a journal, Samiksa, the Journal of the Indian Psychoanalytical Society, since 1946.

Sudhir Kahar


Hartnack, Christiane. (1990). Vishnu on Freud's desk: psychoanalysis in colonial India. Social Research., 57 (4), p. 921-949.

Kakar, Sudhir. (1996). Culture and psyche: Psychoanalysis and India. New York: Psyche Press.

Vaidyanathan, T.G. (1996). Hinduism and psychoanalysis: A reader. Delhi, Oxford University Press.

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India .

Country statistics


3,287,590sq km (1,269,338sq mi) 1,027,015,247

capital (population):

New Delhi (294,783)


Multi-party federal republic

ethnic groups:

Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian (Aboriginal) 25%, Other 3%


Hindi 30% and English (both official), Telugu 8%, Bengali 8%, Marati 8%, Urdu 5%, and many others


Hinduism 83%, Sunni Muslim 11%, Christian 2%, Sikh 2%, Buddhist 1%


Rupee = 100 paisa

Republic in s Asia. The Republic of India is the world's seventh- largest country, but the second most populous (after China). India can be divided into three geographical regions: n India is dominated by the Himalayas. The rivers Brahmaputra, Indus and Ganges rise in the Himalayas and form the fertile, alluvial central plains. A densely populated area, the plains include the capital, New Delhi. Calcutta lies in the Ganges delta. In the w is the Thar Desert and India's largest state, Rajasthan. Southern India consists of the large Deccan plateau, bordered by the Western and Eastern Ghats. India's largest city is Mumbai. See individual state and city articles

Climate and Vegetation

India has three main seasons: a cool season, from October to February; a hot season, between March and June; and the monsoon season, from mid-June to September. There are wide regional variations in temperature and rainfall. The Karakoram Range in the far n has permanently snow-covered peaks. The e Ganges delta has mangrove swamps. Between the gulfs of Kutch and Cambay are the deciduous forest habitats of the last of India's wild lions. The Ghats are clad in heavy rainforest.

History and Politics

One of the world's oldest civilizations flourished in the Lower Indus Valley, c.2500–1700 bc. In c.1500 bc, Aryans conquered India and established an early form of Hinduism. In 327–25 bc, Alexander the Great conquered part of nw India. Chandragupta founded the Maurya Empire. His grandson, Ashoka, unified India and established Buddhism in the 3rd century bc. The Chola established a s trading kingdom in the 2nd century ad. In the 4th and 5th centuries ad, n India flourished under the Gupta dynasty. The 7th century is the classical period of India's history. In 1192, the Delhi Sultanate became India's first Muslim kingdom. In 1526, Babur founded the Mogul Empire. In the 17th century, India became a centre of Islamic art and architecture under Shah Jahan (who built the Taj Mahal) and Aurangzeb.

In the 17th century, the Maratha successfully resisted European imperial ambitions in the guise of the East India Company. In 1757, Robert Clive established the British Empire (1757–1947). Growing civil unrest culminated in the Indian Mutiny (1857–58). Reforms failed to dampen Indian nationalism, and the Congress Party formed (1885). In 1906 the Muslim League was founded to protect Muslim minority rights. Following World War 1, ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi began his passive resistance campaigns. The Amritsar Massacre (1919) intensified Indian nationalism. In August 1947, British India was partitioned into India and the Muslim state of Pakistan. The ensuing mass migration killed more than 500,000 people. India became the world's largest democracy. Jawaharlal Nehru of the Congress Party was India's first prime minister. The long-running conflict with Pakistan over the status of Jammu and Kashmir began in 1948. In 1965 Nehru's daughter, Indira Gandhi, became prime minister. In 1971, India provided military support to create an independent Bangladesh. In 1974, India became the world's sixth nuclear power. In 1984, faced with demands for an independent Sikh state, troops stormed the Golden Temple in Amritsar. In October 1984, Sikh bodyguards killed Indira Gandhi in an act of revenge. Indira's son, Rajiv Gandhi, succeeded her. In 1984, more than 2500 Indians died at an insecticide plant at Bhopal in the world's worst industrial accident. Tamil militants assassinated Rajiv Gandhi during the 1990 election campaign.

Between 1947 and 1996, the Congress (I) Party ruled India for all but four years. In 1996, the United Front formed a coalition government. In 1998, the withdrawal of Congress (I) support led to fresh elections and the formation of a coalition government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In 1999 the BJP government fell, but was returned to power in elections later the same year. In 1999 more than 10,000 people died when a cyclone hit the e state of Orissa. In 2003, the Indian and Pakistani governments made a series of concessions to peace. The Cangress Part won a surprise victory in 2004 elections. In December 2004, some 9000 people on the south-east coast and islands died in the Indian Ocean tsunami.


India rapidly industrialized; manufacturing is its largest export sector. Rich in mineral resources, India is the third-largest producer of bituminous coal. Agriculture employs 62% of the workforce, and food crops account for 75% of cultivated areas. India is the world's second-greatest producer of rice, the third-largest producer of wheat, and the largest exporter of tea. In 1991, India abandoned command economics and introduced free-market reforms. Poverty and urban overcrowding are problems (2000 GDP per capita, US$2200).

Political map

Physical map


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The European quest for a direct sea link to the source of Indian spices had begun in the fifteenth century with the Portuguese voyages directed by Prince Henry the Navigator (13941460). Vasco da Gama (c. 14601524) had "discovered" the sea route to the pepper-rich Malabar Coast of India during his epic first voyage of 14971499, and for the next century the Portuguese had dominated the spice trade. The desire of France to share in this rich trade had begun as early as the reigns of Francis I (ruled 15151547) and Henry III (ruled 15741589). In 1527 a Norman ship reached Diu; the next year the Marie de Bon Secours was seized by the Portuguese; and in 1530 two French ships reached Sumatra. Yet it was only after the chaos of the Wars of Religion ended that the Compagnie des Mers Orientales was formed in November 1600 by merchants of Saint-Malo, Laval, and Vitré. Although two ships were sent to Asia, this company was soon moribund. In June 1604 Henry IV (ruled 15891610) issued letters patent granting a trading monopoly in Asia to a "Société . . . pour le voyage des Indes orientales." A promising beginning for this company, however, was soon undermined by a lack of private investment, Portuguese and Dutch opposition, the continued preeminence of continental foreign policy aims, and the internal strife of Louis XIII's (ruled 16101643) minority. In vain the crown attempted to instill new life into the project in July 1619 by transferring monopoly privileges to a reconstituted concern, the Compagnie des Moluques. Cardinal Richelieu (15851642) also tried his hand at creating a viable East India Company. Between 1633 and 1637 several ships were sent to Asia by a Société Dieppoise, and monopoly privileges were granted to a Compagnie d'Orient by letters patent of June 1642. Nevertheless the cardinal's scheme to colonize Madagascar (Isle Dauphine) eventually bankrupted the company. Private attempts to break into the trade between 1655 and 1662 under the auspices of the maréchal (marshal) de la Meilleraye and Nicolas Fouquet (16151680) were also failures.

Louis XIV's (ruled 16431715) finance minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert (16191683) was responsible for the greatest French attempt of the early modern period to break into the Asian trade. Colbert, a firm disciple of mercantilist theories, believed the key to the kingdom's economic prosperity rested in its ability to destroy the burgeoning trade of the Dutch East India Company while establishing a strong French presence in that trade. In 1664 he formed the Compagnie royale des Indes orientales, based on the Dutch model, with a formidable capital pool and the firm support of the king. During the next few years twenty ships were sent out and three million livres were spent on the project. As a result, Fort Dauphin on Madagascar was reoccupied and a factory was established at the Gujarati entrepôt of Surat. By 1669 Colbert had resolved on a more bellicose approach. A powerful royal fleet, the so-called Persian Squadron, consisting of nine well-armed ships and twenty-three hundred men, was dispatched under Viceroy Jacob Blanquet de La Haye in March 1670 to finally establish French power in India. Nevertheless, flawed command decisions in Asia and a lack of interest in the project on the part of Louis XIV after the beginning of the Dutch War in Europe in 1672 doomed this campaign. The only territorial legacy of 150 years of French efforts to establish a position in the Indian trade was the coastal town of Pondicherry, which La Haye received from Sher Khan Lodi in late 1672 in the midst of his campaigning on the Coromandel Coast of India. From 1674 to 1763, French efforts in India were consistently undermined by increased competition from the English East India Company, along with a lack of support from the French crown. The Royal East India Company was incorporated into John Law's grandiose Company of the Indies in 1719, and also shared in the collapse of his Mississippi scheme the following year. During the 1740s and 1750s, Joseph François Dupleix, governor in Pondicherry, skillfully exploited the declining power of internal Indian states to build significant French power in south and central India. Nevertheless, a lack of support from Paris resulted in his eventual defeat by the British under Robert Clive, followed by his recall in 1754. Bankruptcy resulted in the dissolution of the French East India Company in 1769.

See also British Colonies: India ; Colbert, Jean-Baptiste ; Mercantilism ; Trading Companies .


Ames, Glenn J. Colbert, Mercantilism and the French Quest for Asian Trade. DeKalb, Ill., 1996.

Cole, Charles Woosley. Colbert and a Century of French Mercantilism. 2 vols. New York, 1939.

Malleson, G. B. History of the French in India. Edinburgh, 1909.

Sen, Siba Pada. The French in India: First Establishment and Struggle. Calcutta, 1947.

Glenn J. Ames

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India, or Hindustan, was named by the Greeks after the Indus valley. Its dominant civilization was Hindu and Buddhist but, from the 11th cent., it was subject to successive waves of conquest from the Islamic north. The most famous of its conquerors were the Mughals, who established their empire in 1526. In the age of exploration, the first Europeans to arrive were the Portuguese who developed a sea-borne empire centred on Goa. In the early 17th cent., the Dutch displaced the Portuguese, but India was peripheral to their principal interests in Java. The English East India Company established its presence from the 1610s and concentrated on the textile trade. The French arrived in the 1660s. From the 1720s, the power of the Mughal empire started to decline. A series of regional successor states replaced it, in all but name, and extended war-frontiers against each other. In Europe, France and England also found themselves at war in this period and their respective companies carried on the conflict by constructing alliances with the successor states. Both were also drawn deeper into Indian politics by the prospects of wealth made from banking, monopolies, and trade with China. At first, the French under Dupleix had the upper hand. But, from the late 1740s, the English company's fortunes began to turn as Robert Clive won a series of military victories. The major threat posed by the French was eliminated after the battle of Wandewash in 1760. However, even before that, Clive had begun to lay the foundations for empire at the battle of Panipat in 1757, which made him the ‘kingmaker’ in Bengal, India's richest province. For the next thirty years, there was some hesitancy in British circles at building on these foundations. But, during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, the opportunity was seized and by 1818, with the defeat of the Maratha empire, the East India Company had gained supremacy. After the Indian mutiny of 1857, however, the company was abolished and sovereignty passed to the British crown. In the 19th cent., India was undoubtedly Britain's most important colony. It provided a free army, a field for capital investment and a captive market for British goods. After the First World War, both its military and economic status began to decline and a mass nationalist movement emerged under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. As early as 1920, the British began to clear the way for ‘responsible self-government’ and, by 1935, had drawn up plans for India's eventual conversion into a dominion. However, the Second World War cut short this programme of devolution and promoted an extremely hasty retreat. ‘Communal’ problems also arose between Hindus and Muslims to complicate withdrawal. British India was partitioned into the separate states of Pakistan and India, which became independent on 15 August 1947.

David Anthony Washbrook

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With a total population approaching 1 billion, India is the second most populous nation on earth after China. Collectively, the people of India are called Indians or Asian Indians. However, within its borders, there are dozens of ethnic and language groups with great diversity. These groups are mostly divided according to geographic region, making India seem more like a collection of countries than a single nation.

Among the largest of these groups are the (1) Andhras, a Hindu group in the southeast, (2) the Gonds, a large hill tribal group, (3) the Gujaratis, a Muslim group who inhabit western India, (4) the Marathas, a Hindu group that inhabit western India, (5) the Oriya, Hindus who inhabit eastern India, (6) Rajputs, Hindus who inhabit north and west India; and (7) the Tamils who practice Hinduism and Islam and inhabit southern India and Sri Lanka. This chapter has articles on all of these groups except the Tamils, who are profiled separately in the chapter on Sri Lanka in Volume 8. This chapter begins with an article on the people of India as a whole.

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Culture Name

Indian, Hindu, Bharati


Identification. India constitutes the largest part of the subcontinental land mass of South Asia, an area it shares with six other countries, including Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. It has highly variable landforms, that range from torrid plains, tropical islands, and a parched desert to the highest mountain range in the world.

Location and Geography. India, on the southern subcontinent of Asia, is bounded on the northwest by Pakistan; on the north by China and Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan; on the northeast by Bangladesh and Burma (Myanmar); and on the southwest and southeast by the Indian Ocean, with the island republics of Sri Lanka and the Maldives to the south. Excluding small parts of the country that are currently occupied by Chinese or Pakistani military forces, the area of the Republic of India is 1,222,237 square miles (3,165,596 square kilometers).

Demography. The 1991 census enumerated 846,302,688 residents, including 407,072,230 women, and 217 million people defined as urban dwellers. However, with a population growth rate estimated at 17 per one thousand in 1998, by May 2000 the national figure reached one billion. Life expectancy in the 1991 census was sixty years, and in 1997 it was estimated that almost 5 percent of the population was age 65 or older. The population is still primarily rural, with 73 percent of the population in 1997 living outside the cities and towns. In 1991, the largest urban centers were Bombay or Mumbai (12,596,243), Calcutta or Kolkata (11,021,915), Delhi (8,419,084), Madras or Chennai (5,421,985), Hyderabad (4,253,759), and Bangalore (4,130,288).

Linguistic Affiliations. There are four major language families, each with numerous languages. Indo-Aryan, a branch of Indo-European, covers the northern half of the country, and the Dravidian family covers the southern third. In the middle regions a number of tribal languages of the Munda or Austroasiatic family are spoken. In the northeastern hills, numerous Tibeto-Burman languages are spoken.

Symbolism. The national flag, which was adopted in 1947, is a tricolor of deep saffron, white, and green, in horizontal bands (with green at the bottom). In the center of the white band is a blue wheel, the chakra , which also appears on the lion column-capital of the Emperor Asoka at Sarnath. This carving, which is over 2,200 years old, is also a national emblem that is preserved in the Sarnath Museum. The sandstone carving features four lions back to back, separated by wheels (chakra, the wheel of law), standing over a bell-shaped lotus. The whole carving once was surmounted by the wheel of law. The national anthem is a song composed by Rabindranath Tagore in 1911 entitled Jana-gana mana. The nearly useless Saka-era calendar also may be considered a national symbol, adopted in 1957 and still often used officially alongside the Gregorian calendar.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. India has a history going back thousands of years and a prehistory going back hundreds of thousands of years. There was a long phase of Paleolithic hunting and gathering cultures parallel in time and characteristics with the Paleolithic peoples of Europe and East Asia. This was followed, eight thousand to ten thousand years ago, by the development of settled agricultural communities in some areas.

In 2700 b.c.e., the first genuinely urban civilization in the Indus Valley and western India emerged. After its disappearance around 1500 b.c.e., there was a bewildering variety of princely states and kingdoms, small and large, throughout the subcontinent, creating a long history of war and conquest that was punctuated by foreign invasions and the birth of some of the world's largest religions: Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, and Sikhism.

Despite the extent of the Empire of Asoka (272232 b.c.e.) and the Mughal Empire (15261707), it was left to the last foreign invaders, the British, to establish a unified empire that covered most of the subcontinent during its final century.

India was ruled by the British government after 1858 through a viceroy and a council, although several hundred "princely states" continued to maintain a measure of independence. The Indian National Congress, founded in 1885, slowly moved from a position of advisor and critic for the British administration toward demanding the transference of power to native Indian politicians. In 1930, the Indian National Congress, led by Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi, adopted a policy of civil disobedience with a view to achieving full national independence. It was to be a long struggle, but independence was achieved in 1947, with the condition that predominantly Muslim areas in the north would form a separate country of Pakistan. Mohammed Ali Jinnah was to be Pakastani's first prime minister, while Nehru became the prime minister of the Republic of India. The departure of the colonial authorities, including the British armed forces, was peaceful, but the splitting off of Pakistan caused a massive population movement and bloodshed on both sides as a result of "communal passions." A quarter century later, the eastern wing of Pakistan split from that country to become the independent country of Bangladesh.

National Identity. National identity is not a major political issue; regional identity and the mother tongue seem to be more important. There are still millions of illiterate people who seem hardly aware that they are Indians but can be vociferous in their support of chauvinistic regional politicians. Thus, India has been plagued with secessionist struggles since independence, the most prominent of which have been a Dravidistan movement in the south, an armed struggle among Kashmiri Muslims for a union of their state with Pakistan, a Khalistan movement among Panjabi Sikhs, and a guerilla movement seeking independence for all the Naga tribes in the northeast.

Ethnic Relations. India is home to several thousand ethnic groups, tribes, castes, and religions. The castes and subcastes in each region relate to each other through a permanent hierarchical structure, with each caste having its own name, traditional occupation, rank, and distinctive subculture. Tribes usually do not have a caste hierarchy but often have their own internal hierarchical organization. The pastoral and foraging tribes are relatively egalitarian in their internal organization.

India is no stranger to ethnic conflict, especially religious wars. Nevertheless, in most parts of the country there has long been a local intercaste and intertribal economy that commonly is based on barter or the exchange of goods and services; since this system has satisfied economic necessities at least partially, ethnic conflict commonly has been dampened or kept under control because of the mutual benefits these economic arrangements provide.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

In the Indus civilization of 2700 to 1500 b.c.e., India developed one of the earliest urban societies in the world, along with an extensive trading economy to support it.

The walled citadels in some early cities developed into elaborate palisades, walls, and moats to protect the multitude of Iron Age and medieval cities throughout much of the country. The towns and cities are of eight historic types: (1) ancient pilgrimage centers, such as Madurai; (2) local market towns, roughly one every 20 miles; (3) medieval fortified towns, such as Gwalior; (4) ancient and medieval seaports, such as Bharuch (Broach); (5) military cantonments first set up by the British, such as Pune; (6) modern administrative centers such as New Delhi; (7) new industrial centers, such as Jamshedpur; and (8) great modern metropoles such as Bombay (Mumbai) and Calcutta (Kolkata).

Architecture developed distinct regional styles that remain apparent. These styles reflect the relative influence of the medieval Tamil kingdoms, Persian and Turkic invaders in the north, Portuguese and British Christianity, and all the distinctive features of the religious monuments of Jainism, Buddhism, Islam, and medieval Hinduism.

The landscape is dotted with over half a million villages, and each region has distinctive forms of domestic architecture and village layout. Holy places of the various religions are commonly within villages and towns, but the numerous pilgrimage sites are not necessarily located there.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. About half the people eat rice as their staple, while the remainder subsist on wheat, barley, maize, and millet. There are thus major geographic differences in diet. Just as fundamental is the division between those who eat meat and those who are vegetarian. Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, and Christians all eat meat, with the important proviso that the first three groups do not consume pork. Lower-caste Hindus eat any meat except beef, whereas members of the higher castes and all Jains are normally vegetarian, with most even avoiding eggs.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Every caste, tribe, town, village, and religion has a panoply of traditional ceremonies that are observed with enthusiasm and wide participation. Most of these ceremonies have a religious basis, and the majority are linked with the deities of Hinduism.

Basic Economy. With a large proportion of the population being located in rural areas (73 percent), farming is the largest source of employment; for hundreds of millions of people, this means subsistence farming on tiny plots of land, whether owned or rented. In most parts of the country, some farmers produce cash crops for sale in urban markets, and in some areas, plantation crops such as tea, coffee, cardamom, and rubber are of great economic importance because they bring in foreign money.

In 1996, the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita was $380, and the GDP growth rate was almost 6 percent from 1990 to 1996. In that period, the average annual inflation was 9 percent. In 1994, national debt was 27 percent of GDP. Over the past half century the economy has been expanding slowly but at a steady rate on the basis of a wide range of industries, including mining operations. The United States has been the principal export market in recent years, receiving 17 percent of exports in 1995 and 1996. Clothing, tea, and computer software are three major categories of exports to the United States.

Land Tenure and Property. In an economy based on agriculture, the ownership of land is the key to survival and power. In most parts of the country, the majority of the acreage is owned by a politically dominant caste that is likely to be a middle-ranking one, not a Brahmin one. However, the various regions still have different traditions of land tenure and associated systems of land taxation.

India has only recently seen the last of the rural serfs who for centuries supplied much of the basic farm labor in some parts of the country. There are still numberless landless wage laborers, tenant farmers, and landlords who rent out their extensive lands, and rich peasants who work their own holdings.

Commercial Activities. India has had many traders, transport agents, importers, and exporters since the days of the Indus civilization four thousand years ago. Market places have existed since that time, and coinage has been in circulation among urban people for 2500 years.

In modern times, an expanding investment scene, combined with continuing inflation, has formed the background to an extensive import and export trade. The major industries continue to be tourism, clothing, tea, coffee, cotton, and the production of raw materials; in the last few years, there has been a surge in the importance of the computer software industry. Russia, the United States, Germany, and Great Britain are among the major importers of Indian products.

Major Industries. The modern infrastructure was created by the British administration in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The country still relies on a vast network of railroad track, some of it electrified. Railroads are a government monopoly. Roadways, many of them unsurfaced, total about 1.25 million miles. The first air service, for postal delivery, grew into Air India which, along with Indian Airlines, the internal system, was nationalized in 1953. In the 1980s a number of private airlines developed within the country, while international connections are provided by a multitude of foreign companies as well as Air India.

International Trade. The major trading partners are Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Political animosities have long ensured that trade with neighboring South Asian countries remains minimal, although there is now considerable transborder trade with Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Bhutan.

Division of Labor. The division of work is based on gender. Age also separates out the very old and the very young as people unable to perform the heaviest tasks. Those jobs are done by millions of adult men and women who have nothing to offer but their muscles. Beyond these fundamental divisions, India is unique in having the caste system as the ancient and most basic principle of organization of the society. Each of many hundreds of castes traditionally had one occupation that was its specialty and usually its local monopoly. Only farming and the renouncer's life were open to all.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. The caste system is more elaborate than that in any of the other Hindu or Buddhist countries. Society is so fragmented into castes that there can be twenty or thirty distinct castes within a village.

This society has a hierarchy of endogamous, birth-ascribed groups, each of which traditionally is characterized by one distinctive occupation and had its own level of social status. Because an individual cannot change his or her caste affiliation, every family belongs in its entirety and forever to only one named caste, and so each caste has developed a distinctive subculture that is handed down from generation to generation.

Hindu religious theory justifies the division of society into castes, with the unavoidable differences in status and the differential access to power each one has. Hindus usually believe that a soul can have multiple reincarnations and that after the death of the body a soul will be reassigned to another newborn human body or even to an animal one. This reassignment could be to one of a higher caste if the person did good deeds in the previous life or to a lower-status body if the person did bad deeds.

The highest category of castes are those people called Brahmins in the Hindu system; they were traditionally priests and intellectuals. Below them in rank were castes called Ksatriya, including especially warriors and rulers. Third in rank were the Vaisyas, castes concerned with trading and land ownership. The fourth-ranking category were the Sudras, primarily farmers. Below these four categories and hardly recognized in the ancient and traditional model, were many castes treated as "untouchable" and traditionally called Pancama. Outside the system altogether were several hundred tribes, with highly varied cultural and subsistence patterns. The whole system was marked not just by extreme differences in status and power but by relative degrees of spiritual purity or pollution.

A curious feature of the caste system is that despite its origins in the Hindu theory of fate and reincarnation, caste organization is found among Indian Muslims, Jews, and Christians in modern times. In the Buddhist lands of Korea, Japan, and Tibet, there are rudimentary caste systems, their existence signaled especially by the presence of untouchable social categories.

The major cities in modern timesBombay (Mumbai), Madras (Chennai), Calcutta (Kolkata), New Delhi, and Bangalorewere essentially residential creations of the British administrators. Architecturally, professionally, and in other ways, they are therefore the most Westernized cities in India today. In these cities and their suburbs, there is now a developed class system overlying and in many respects displacing the more traditional caste system. As a consequence, there are many modern cases of intercaste marriage in all the cities, although this practice remains almost unthinkable to the great majority of Indians.

Symbols of Stratification. There are many symbols of class differentiation because each caste tends to have its own persisting subculture. People's location in this stratification system thus can be gauged accurately according to the way they dress, their personal names, the way they speak a local dialect, the deities they worship, who they are willing to eat with publicly, the location of their housing, and especially their occupations. The combination of all these subcultural features can be a sure sign of where individuals and their families are situated in the caste hierarchy.

Political Life

Government. The national system of government is a liberal democratic federal republic, making India the largest democracy in the world. The country is divided for administrative purposes into twentyeight linguisticallybased states, plus a further seven small "Union Territories" administered directly by the central government in New Delhi, the national capital.

Leadership and Political Officials. The central parliament in New Delhi consists of the House of the People (Lok Sabha ) and the Council of States (Rajya Sabha ).

The states all have legislative assemblies (Vidhan sabha ) and legislative councils (Vidhan parishad ). Members of parliament and the state legislatures are selected in democratic elections. An exception to this procedure is that the Lok Sabha has two seats reserved for Anglo-Indian members, and of the 4,072 seats in all the state legislative assemblies, 557 have been reserved for candidates from the Scheduled Castes and a further 527 for candidates from the Scheduled Tribes. These provisions have ensured that the main minority populations have legislative representation and an interest in pursuing the electoral process. The Lok Sabha recently had sitting members from twenty one different parties. State legislatures also host a multiplicity of political parties.

The head of state is the president, and there is also a vice-president, neither elected by general franchise but instead by an electoral college. The president is aided by a council of ministers, and appoints the prime minister of each government. This prime minister is the leader of the dominant party or of a coalition of prominent parties and has been elected as a member of parliament. The president has the power to dissolve a government and order new elections or to dismiss a problematic state government and declare "president's rule."

Social Problems and Control. Indians have lived under the rule of law since ancient times. Hindu law was codified over two thousand years ago in the books called Dharmasastras. There is now one legal hierarchy throughout the land, with the Supreme Court at its head. Legal procedure is based on the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which was drafted in the mid-nineteenth century, and the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1973. The constitution promulgated in 1950 went further than any other South Asian country has gone in curtailing the influence of traditional legal systems that in practice applied only to the followers of a particular religion, whether Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or Parsi.

The huge legal profession helps push cases slowly through the complex apparatus of magistrates' and higher-level courts, sometimes creating the impression that litigation is a national sport. While fines and imprisonment are the most common punishments, the Supreme Court has upheld the legality of the death penalty.

Military Activity. Five wars with Pakistan and one with China since independence have provided training for several generations of soldiers. India thus has a strong program of national defense, with four national services: the army, navy, air force, and coast guard (since 1978). In 1996, these branches had 1,145,000 personnel. In 1998, the nation exploded a nuclear bomb as a test.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

Traditionally the family was responsible for the care of the poor, incapacitated, elderly, and very young. For rural populations this is still largely true. In recent decades, underfunded state governments, often with international help, have tried to create more jobs for the poor as a direct way of helping them. Beyond this, welfare organizations have helped, but they are largely private and often religious foundations with relatively little financing. The population in need of social welfare support is too vast for the facilities that are available, and these people are disproportionately concentrated in the cities.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

There are numerous nongovernmental organizations of social, political, religious, educational, or sporting natures. Every village, town, and caste and most temples have at least one associate formal organization and sometimes dozens. Beyond some attempts at registration, for example, of cooperative societies and charitable endowments, the government does not attempt to control organizations.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Gender provides the basis for a fundamental division of the work force, with perhaps only the lowest day-labor jobs and the most modern professions being regularly staffed by people of both genders.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. "Patriarchal" is the word most commonly used to describe the traditional Indian family and the gender relationships within it. This is true in all family systems except the defunct matrilineal system of the Nayar castes in Kerala. Within all branches of Hinduism, priests can only be male, though they may be boys. In Islam, the leaders of a prayer group are males. In Zoroastrianism and Roman Catholicism, only men can function as priests.

It is said that a woman must first obey her father, then her husband, and then her son; this seems to be the normal pattern as she goes through life. The opinion of the male head of household is especially important in the arrangement of marriages, because in most religious communities these are effectively marriages between two families. At such times, romantic preferences get little consideration. Since it is the male head who typically controls the family's finances, it is he who pays or receives a dowry at the time of a child's marriage. Although older women may be very influential behind the scenes, they wield little legal authority in property and marriage matters.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Although the different regions and religions have considerable variety in marital arrangements, the arranged marriage is a traditional feature of virtually every community; today, except among the urban middle classes, it still is widely practiced. Marriages that are not arranged by the couple's parents, often termed "love marriages," are looked down on as impulsive acts of passion. The more usual style of marriage unites a couple who have barely met beforehand. It is through the institution of arranged marriage and its correlate, caste endogamy, that parents exercise control not only over their adult children but also over the social structure and the caste system.

Generally, the country has two main types of marriage: a north Indian one in which the man must not marry a closely related cousin and a south Indian one in which a cross-cousin, whether the mother's brother's daughter or the father's sister's daughter, is the ideal spouse. Many south Indian castes also permit uncle-niece marriage. Maharashtra state has intermediate forms.

Domestic Unit. The residential unit is normally the household, but this unit varies widely in its structure, from housing a large extended family of three or four generations to a household made up of a lone widow. In large buildings with many rooms, it is common to find a number of discrete households, especially in cities; each of these households may be distinguished by its use of a common cooking hearth and perhaps by depending on a common source of funds. In crowded urban conditions, each room may constitute a separate household, as may each small grass hut in a roadside encampment.

Inheritance. The written will is largely unknown except in modern urban areas. The tradition has always been that sons inherit property and status from their fathers and that daughters can hope to receive a dowry at the time of their marriage. However, there is much local and caste variation in precisely who inherits. In some groups, the oldest son inherits everything and then makes an accommodation for his younger brother and provides his sisters' dowries. In other groups, the brothers may inherit equal shares, except that the youngest brother inherits the house. Other patterns occur, but in general, although modern law states that daughters should inherit equally with their brothers, this almost never happens except in Islamic families.

Kin Groups. The largest kin-based group is the caste, of which there are several thousand. A caste is an endogamous unit with its own traditional occupation and rank. It is made up of a number of clans, which are also kin-based but are exogamous and often intermarrying units. The clan in turn is made up of smaller and more localized groups called lineages, which are also exogamous. A caste may include hundreds of lineages of varying size and status, depending on how many generations of depth they claim. Major lineages commonly are composed of minor lineages, but the smallest are so localized that they are made up of a number of neighboring and closely related extended or nuclear families. Thus, a caste is endogamous, but all the kin-based units below it are exogamous and follow rigid rules about which clans or lineages are allowed to inter-marry.


Infant Care. Infant care is almost completely the responsibility of mothers, older siblings, and grandmothers. When the mother works in the fields or a factory, a grandmother commonly is the chief provider of daytime care for an infant. After about the age of two, older sisters spend much of their time in this activity.

Child Rearing and Education. In 1995, the government spent over 2 percent of its resources on education. Although the government's goal of eradicating illiteracy among people age fifteen to thirty five by the year 2000 has not been achieved, there has been a steady decrease in illiterary since the late nineteenth century. Among people above age six in 1991, 52 percent were literate, a 9 percent increase from 1981. Kerala state has the highest rates of literacy. However, nationally there remains a great sexual disparity: While 64 percent of men were literate in 1991, only 39 percent of women were. The central government is more interested in military power than in literacy, and millions of rural parents, especially Muslims, feel that the schooling of girls is a waste of time and money. Only the establishment of sixteen as the minimum legal age for marriage has made it possible for many girls to get their parents' reluctant permission to attend school.

While in earlier times missionary-run schools were important, especially in rural areas, in the last century local and state schools have educated the vast majority of students. Over the last half century universal school attendance for eight years, equal opportunities for female students, relevant vocational training, and improvement in the quality of classes and textbooks have been national goals, with an emphasis on free and compulsory education for everybody from ages six to fourteen. However, there has been a recent growth of privately run schools, many associated with religious organizations, which tend to do a better job but commonly charge fees.

Higher Education. There were 166 universities in 1996, including thirteen central universities which are the oldest, best known, and best funded. The rest are run by state governments or religious foundations. Funding, hiring professors, and setting educational standards in all universities are centralized through the University Grants Commission, which was established in 1956. About a hundred colleges throughout the country have an autonomous status, but others are branches of major universities within their states. In 1996 there were 6.4 million university students enrolled throughout the country, of whom 5.7 million were undergraduates and 2.2 million were women. There are 418 institutions that grant degrees in engineering and technology and 1,029 that award diplomas.

Adult education programs combat illiteracy, lack of knowledge about family planning, and inadequate understanding of new farming techniques. Such programs tend to be more accessible in urban areas. A major hurdle has been the language of university instruction. The central universities generally teach in English and produce graduates with internationally acceptable credentials, but most of the smaller universities teach in the local (state) language so that their students' skills are not easily transferable even to other parts of the country. The opportunities for graduate study overseas are much reduced for this category of students, and even the acquisition of up-to-date textbooks can be a problem.


Indians are usually very hospitable even when poor and go to considerable lengths to make a visitor feel comfortable. Women normally adopt a deferential attitude toward men, especially to their husbands and fathers-in-law. All the people tend to show deference to religious figures and government officials.


Religious Beliefs. In the 1991 census, 82 percent of the population was enumerated as Hindu. However, 12 percent of Indians are Muslim, a fact that makes this one of the largest Islamic nations in the world. The next largest religious category is Christians, who make up only over 2 percent of the population and are closely followed in number by Sikhs. The only other groups of numerical significance are the Buddhists (less than 1 percent) and the Jains (less than half a percent).

Rituals and Holy Places. The thousands of rituals and millions of shrines, temples, and other holy places of many faiths defy categorization here. For Hindus, large pilgrimage temples are the holiest centers, whereas for Muslims the tombs of saints (pir ) are the most important. For Buddhists, many of them overseas visitors, the sites associated with the Buddha are crucial.

Death and the Afterlife. While Muslims, Jews, and Christians pray that their individual souls will go to a paradise after death, Hindu ideas about the afterlife are very different. Muslims, Jews, and Christians bury their dead in cemeteries, as do most Zoroastrians today. However, Zoroastrians are noted for their Towers of Silence in Bombay and a few other cities: stone structures where corpses are exposed to the air and particularly to the vultures that congregate there.

Most Hindu communities have a fundamental belief in reincarnation. The basic idea is that one's soul can be reincarnated for an unknown number of rebirths and that what the soul is to be reincarnated into depends on the balance of one's sins and good deeds in past lives. This belief provides the justification for the inequities of the caste system: One is born into a particular caste, whether high or low, as a result of the accumulated virtues or sins of one's soul in a previous life. One can never hope to move out of one's caste in this life but may do so in the next reincarnation. Particularly evil individuals may be reincarnated as animals.

Hindus normally cremate the dead on a pile of logs, but the very poor may resort to burial. Extremely saintly figures may be buried in a sitting position, as are members of the Lingayat sect.

Medicine and Health Care

India has a tradition of medical healing, teaching, and research that goes back more than two thousand years to the two basic medical treatises written by Charaka and Sushruta. Today the country has four major medical systems as well as dozens of localized and tribal ones that depend on herbal treatments. The oldest of the four systems is still widely followed under the name of Ayurveda, meaning "science of long life". It is highly developed, with its own hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical factories, and medical textbooks. It depends primarily on non invasive herbal treatments. The diagnosis and treatment emphasize a holistic approach. Sidda is a distinct tradition that developed in south India and follows principles of physiology close to those of Ayurveda. Diagnosis depends on a careful reading of the pulse. Treatment is mostly herbal and psychological. A third medical tradition is called Unani. This system came to India with Muslim travelers and was developed under the patronage of the Mughals. It emphasizes holistic diagnosis and treatment, but the theory of human physiology is distinct. All three of these systems attribute disease to an imbalance between underlying constituents. The fourth and most widely favored system is biomedicine, or scientific medicine. It has been used in the cities for three centuries and is practiced in the best hospitals and training colleges. India has about 140 medical colleges.

Public health is a major concern of every state government because of the continuing incidence of epidemic diseases, high rates of infant mortality, and the need for family planning (usually sterilization) to control the growth of the population.

Secular Celebrations

Public holidays in most states include 1 January (Gregorian New Year), 26 January (Republic Day, when the constitution was adopted), 1 May (International Labor Day), 30 June, and 15 August (Independence Day), 2 October (Gandhi's birthday), 25 December (Christmas), and 31 December (New Year's Eve). Parsi New Year and Telugu New Year, both locally celebrated, fall at different times.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. Historically, the arts flourished under the support of two main categories of patron: the larger Hindu temples and the princely rulers of states both small and large. Over the last two centuries, the patronage of British residents and art collectors has become important. In independent India, a national art institute, the Lalit Kala Akademi, promotes the visual arts through lectures, prizes, exhibitions, and publications.

The government supports the Sahitya Akademi, which was set up in 1954 to promote excellence in literature; the National School of Drama (1959); and the Sangeet Natak Akademi (1953), which promotes dance.

Literature. India has some of the earliest literature in the world, beginning with Sanskrit, which may be the oldest literature in any Indo-European language. The Rig Veda is the oldest of the four Vedas, long religious texts composed in an early form of Sanskrit some time late in the second century b.c.e. It was followed by three other Vedas, all liturgical in character, and then by the principal Upanishads during the eighth through fifth centuries b.c.e.

The first significant secular document in Sanskrit was a sophisticated grammar that fixed the structure of the language, probably in the fourth century b.c.e. Then, during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya, the text of the great epic Mahabharata, the world's longest poem, was established around 300 b.c.e., although it continued to be developed until about 100 c.e. About 200 b.c.e. there emerged the second great Sanskrit epic, the Ramayana, which probably took on its final form four centuries later. Both epics incorporated material from extant folklore.

By roughly the third century b.c.e., the Tripitaka or Three Baskets, the Buddhist canon in the Pali language (closely related to Sanskrit), was fixed. It was soon to become the most influential body of literature in the eastern half of Asia and has remained so to the present day, especially in Chinese and Japanese translations.

In that era the image of the social structure of India was codified by two books. During the late fourth century Kautilya, who is said to have been the prime minister Chanakya, wrote the Arthasastra, a Treatise on the Good, which was rediscovered in 1909. Shortly thereafter came the compilation of Manu's Laws (Manusmrti). This treatise on religious law and social obligation described in detail a society, possibly a utopian one, in which there were four caste blocks, the varna, each of which had its own occupation, status, and religious duties. This book continued to exercise an immeasurable influence on Indian society for the next two thousand years and the varna model is still a popular image of Hindu caste society.

Around 150 c.e., there began in south India the Tamil Sangam, an academy of poets and philosophers that lasted for decades. While its history is shrouded, it set the stage for an outpouring of medieval poetry in Tamil, a Dravidian language. Some of this work was devotional, but much was secular in its appeal, including the first known work of Indian women writers. The most famous example of this poetry was the Purananuru, an anthology of four hundred poems praising Tamil rulers. Equally important, the Kural was a collection of moral maxims compiled by Tiruvalluvar in perhaps the third and fourth centuries. It has been likened to a Tamil Koran. At about the same time, there was a flowering of Sanskrit drama in the northerly parts of India. In the fourth or fifth century lived the greatest Sanskrit poet, Kalidasa. The best known plays that have survived from this era are Shakuntala and The Little Clay Cart, the former written by Kalidasa and the latter a comedy also perhaps written by him.

During the Middle Ages, science and philosophy flourished in Sanskrit texts. Perhaps the best known, if the least scientific, work was the Kama Sutra or a treatise on love by Vatsyayana, who wrote it in a legal style of Sanskrit in about the third century. The Middle Ages witnessed an outpouring of religious and philosophical literature not just in Sanskrit, which was still the prime liturgical and scholarly language, but also in a number of regional languages. Logic, metaphysics, devotional poetry, and commentary developed over the centuries.

In the period 8501330 there appeared an important new philosophical literature in Karnataka, beginning with the Kavirajamarga. This was Jain literature written in the medieval Kannada language. At the end of the twelfth century Lilavati was written by Nemichandra, the first novel in that language. It was followed by other allegorical novels, as well as Kesiraja's grammar of medieval Kannada.

Around 1020, another Dravidian literature, in Telugu, made its debut with the grammarian Nannaya Bhatta and the poet Nannichoda. At about that time the Malayalam language became differentiated from Tamil. A century later the oldest known manuscript was written in Bengali. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries Mukundaraj became the first man to write poetry in Marathi.

Early in the fifteenth century two poets brought Bengali literature into prominence: Chandidas and Vidyapati, with the latter writing in Sanskrit as well as Bengali. Contemporary with them were two Telugu poets, Srinatha and Potana, as well as the best-loved Hindi poet, Kabir (14401518). Kabir wrote in a medieval regional language closely related to Sanskrit. Although Kabir was a low-caste Hindu, he drew inspiration from Sufism and criticized the caste system, ritualism, and idolatry. He was followed in 1540 by the first important Muslim poet of India, Mohamed of Jais who wrote the allegorical poem Padmavat in Hindi. Contemporary with Kabir was one of the greatest of woman poets, the Rajput Mirabai, who wrote in both Hindi and Gujarati. A century before her, Manichand had written an important historical novel in Gujarati.

In 1574 the Hindi version of the Ramayana,by Tulsidas, appeared it was to be a forerunner of numerous versions of the Ramayana in regional languages.

At that time there was a strong Persian cultural influence in some parts of the country. One ruler of the Muslim province of Golconda (later Hyderabad) was Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah, a poet who wrote in both Persian and Urdu, which was a new form of Hindi containing many Persian words and written in an Arabic script.

In 1604, the Adi Granth, the canonical text of the Sikh religion, was established in Punjabi. Thirty years later there appeared, also in northwestern India, a book in Urdu prose, the Sab Ras of Vajhi. In more southern parts of the subcontinent the middle of the seventeenth century also saw the writing of the Kannada poem Rajasekhara, by Sadakshara Deva, the works of the Gujarati storyteller Premanand (16361734), and the influential Marathi poems of Tukaram (16071649).

With the arrival of the printing press in south India, Tamil literature underwent a renaissance. Arunachala Kavirayar wrote The Tragedy of Rama in 1728, and the Italian Jesuit Beschi wrote the Tamil poem Tembavani in 1724 under the pen name Viramamunivar (it was not published until 1853). Also of interest was the eighteenth century "Indian Pepys" Anandaranga Pillai, a Tamil living in the French colony of Pondicheåry. His lengthy diary has been published in Tamil, French, and English. Another outstanding Tamil poet and bard was Tyagaraja.

In the eighteenth century, there was a further flowering of Urdu poetry by Vali, Hatim, Sauda, Inch'a, and Nazir. By the time of Nazir, the British hegemony in India was well established, and along with it went the spread of regional printing presses, the opening of the first modern universities, and the increasing influence of European literary forms, especially in the English language. This influence is evident even in writers who published in their native languages. Bengal in particular experienced a great literary and intellectual renaissance in both English and Bengali, including the novels of Bankim Chandra Chatterji and India's first Nobel Prize Winner, the poet and dramatist Rabindranath Tagore. A parallel literary renaissance occurred in Hindi at the beginning of the twentieth century, with the first novels by Premchand. Tamil also began to produce novels with an English influence.

The twentieth century saw a continuation of this modernization, fueled by the ease of publication and the increasing size of the reading public. An unexpected development during that century was the emergence of numerous world-class and prizewinning novelists writing in English, and often not residing in India. Pre-eminent today are the London-based Salman Rushdie, from Bombay, and the Delhi-based Arundati Roy, from Kerala.

Graphic Arts. India has a multiplicity of visual arts extending back over four thousand years. Early painting has not survived, but urban architecture and some small sculptures have. Most of the thousands of stamp seals that have been found are masterpieces of glyphic art, showing the large animals of northwestern India in miniature relief.

The main visual arts arose in the context of religious worship. Sanskrit handbooks still survive stipulating the rules for the production of Hindu religious statues, temples, and paintings. Distinctive regional styles of temple architecture are a feature of the landscape and a clear marker of the presence of Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Christianity, and Hinduism in each part of the country. Within the Hindu temples there is a great variety of images of the deities, some skilfully carved in stone, some cast in bronze or silver, and some modeled in terra-cotta or wood.

Painting was an ancient accomplishment, although the climate has not been conducive to preservation. One can still see second and third-century wall paintings and monumental Buddhist sculptures in caves in Ajanta (Madhya Pradesh).

Despite Islamic prohibitions on the representation of the human face, painting and drawing flourished under the Moghul emperors. Realistic portraits, historical scenes, and botanical and zoological subjects were evoked with a sensitive line and a subtle pallet of colors during that period.

Painting in oils dates back two centuries, to the time when the first European portrait painters began to work in India. Today there are many professional graphic artists, some inspired by old Indian traditions and some by modern abstract expressionism. Art schools, public exhibitions, and coffee-table books are the means of reaching their public today, while religious patronage has practically evaporated.

Performance Arts. India has the largest film industry in the world. In 1996, 683 feature films were certified by the Board of Censors. Although television came to even rural India more than twenty years ago, the cinema remains the major popular visual art form. In 1996, India had 12,623 cinemas, with an attendance of ninety to one hundred million weekly. Radios are widespread, primarily as a source of light music, but not as a major source of information.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

India has long had government-sponsored national research organizations for the sciences, including the Archaeological Survey of India (1861), the Botanical Survey of India (1890), the Census of India (1867), the Ethnological Survey of India (1901, later the Anthropological Survey of India, 1946), the Geological Survey of India (1851), the Indian Forestry Service (1865), the Indian Medical Service (1786), the Indian Council of Medical Research (1912), the Indian Meteorological Department (1875), the Linguistic Survey of India, and the Zoological Survey of India. The antecedent of all these institutions was the Survey of India (1832), which did the first scientific mapmaking of the subcontinent. There has been an annual Indian Science Congress, a national conference, which began as the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science in 1876.

With independence, an overarching bureaucratic organization came into being, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, as well as an Atomic Energy Commission and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. To avoid centralization of these organizations in and around Delhi and Bombay, regional institutes of technology were set up in a number of large cities. The government also supports four national academies: the Indian National Science Academy in New Delhi, the Indian Academy of Sciences in Bangalore, the National Academy of Science in Allahabad, and the Indian Science Congress Association in Calcutta. Other centrally supported research councils include the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the Indian Council of Historical Research, the Indian Council of Philosophical Research, the Indian Council of Social Sciences Research, and the National Council of Educational Research and Training.


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