Template:India infoboxThe Republic of India is a country in South Asia which comprises most of the Indian subcontinent. India has a coastline which stretches for over seven thousand kilometresTemplate:Ref, and shares its borders with Pakistan and AfghanistanTemplate:Mn on the northwest, the People's Republic of China, Nepal, and Bhutan on the north, and Bangladesh and Myanmar on the east. On the Indian Ocean, it is also adjacent to the island nations of the Maldives on the southwest, Sri Lanka on the south, and Indonesia on the southeast. India is the second most populous country in the world, with a population of over one billion, and is the seventh largest country by geographical area.

India is home to some of the most ancient civilisations (and a centre of important historic trade routes), including four major world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Formerly a part of the British Empire before gaining independence in 1947, during the past two decades the country has grown significantly, in its economic and military roles, regionally as well as globally.

The country's official name, India Template:IPA2, is derived from the Old Persian version of Sindhu, the historic local appellation for the river Indus; see Origin of India's name. The Constitution of India and general usage also recognises Bharat (Template:Lang-hi, Template:IPA2), which is derived from the Sanskrit name of an ancient Hindu king, whose story is to be found in the Mahabharata, as an official name of equal status. A third name, Hindustan (Template:Lang-hi, Template:IPA2), or land of the Hindus in Persian, was used from Mughal times onwards, though its contemporary use is unevenly applied due to domestic disputes over how representative it is as a national signifier.



Main article: History of India

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

From around 500 BC onwards, many independent kingdoms came into being. In the north, the Maurya dynasty, which included the Buddhist king Ashoka, contributed greatly to India's cultural landscape. From 180 BC, a series of invasions from Central Asia followed, with the successive establishment in the northern Indian subcontinent of the Indo-Greek, Indo-Scythian and Indo-Parthian kingdoms, and finally the Kushan Empire. From the 3rd century onwards the Gupta dynasty oversaw the period referred to as India's "Golden Age".

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

Following the Islamic invasions in the beginning of the second millennium, much of India was ruled by the Delhi Sultanate, and later, much of the entire subcontinent by the Mughal dynasty. Nevertheless, several indigenous kingdoms remained in or rose to power, especially in the relatively sheltered south.

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The Sanchi stupa in Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh built by emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC .
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A figurine of Vishnu, a Hindu god, in the Narasimha Avatar.

During the middle of the second millennium, several European countries, including the Portuguese, French, and English, who were initially interested in trade with India, took advantage of the fractured kingdoms to colonise the country. After a failed insurrection in 1857 against the British East India Company, popularly known as the First War of Indian Independence, most of India came under the direct administrative control of the crown of the British Empire. A prolonged and mostly non-violent struggle for independence, the Indian independence movement, followed, eventually led by Mahatma Gandhi, regarded officially as the father of modern India. On 1947-08-15 India gained independence from British rule, later becoming a republic on 1950-01-26.

As a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, India has had its share of sectarian violence and insurgencies in different parts of the country. Nonetheless, it has held itself together as a secular democracy barring a brief period from 1975 to 1977 during which the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a "state of emergency" with the suspension of civil rights. India has unresolved border disputes with China, which escalated into a brief war in 1962, and Pakistan which resulted in wars in 1947, 1965, and 1971. India was a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement. In 1974, India conducted an underground nuclear test, making it an unofficial member of the "nuclear club", which was followed up with a series of five more tests in 1998. Significant economic reforms beginning in 1991, have transformed India into one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

See also: Timeline of Indian history, Military History of India


Main article: Government of India

Template:National symbols of India The Constitution of India states India to be a sovereign, secular, democratic republic. India is a federal republic, with a bicameral parliament operating under a Westminster-style parliamentary system. It has a three branch system of governance consisting of the legislature, executive and judiciary.

The President, who is the head of state, has a largely ceremonial role. His roles include interpreting the constitution, signing laws into action and issuing pardons. He is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The President and Vice-President are elected indirectly by an electoral college for five-year terms. The Prime Minister is the head of government and has most of the executive powers. He (or she) is designated by legislators of the political party or coalition commanding a parliamentary majority. The constitution does not provide for a post of Deputy Prime Minister, but this option has been exercised from time to time.

The legislature of India is the bicameral Parliament which consists of the upper house known as the Rajya Sabha, or Council of States, the lower house known as the Lok Sabha, or House of the People, and the President. The 245-member Rajya Sabha is chosen indirectly through an electoral college and has a staggered six year term. The 552-member Lok Sabha is elected directly for a five year term, and is the determinative constituent of political power and government formation. Any Indian citizen above the age of eighteen is allowed to vote.

The executive arm consists of the President, Vice-President and the Council of Ministers (the Cabinet) headed by the Prime Minister. Any minister holding a portfolio must be a member of either house of parliament. In India's parliamentary system, the executive is subordinate to the legislature.

India's independent judiciary, consists of the Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice of India. The Supreme Court has both, original jurisdiction over disputes between states and the Centre, and appellate jurisdiction over the High Courts of India. There are eighteen appellate High Courts, having jurisdiction over a large state or a group of states. Each of these states has a tiered system of lower courts. A conflict between the legislature and the judiciary is referred to by the President. The Constitution also provides for independent organisations such as the Election Commission of India, Comptroller and Auditor General of India and the Attorney General of India.


Main article: Politics of India

Map of India.
Map of IndiaTemplate:Mn.

For most of its independent history, India's national government has been controlled by the Indian National Congress Party. Following its position as the largest political organization in pre-independence India, Congress, usually led by a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family, enjoyed nearly unchallenged dominance over national politics for over forty years. In 1977, a united opposition, under the banner of the Janata Party, won the election and formed a non-Congress government for a short period. Later, in 1996, the BJP, with its right wing ideology based on Hinduism became the largest single party, and established for the first time a serious opposition to the left wing ideology of Congress. In 1999, the BJP formed the National Democratic Alliance along with smaller parties and became the first non-Congress government to sustain the full five year term. The decade prior to 1999 was marked by short-lasting governments, with seven separate governments forming within that period.

In the 2004 Indian elections the Congress party returned to power after winning the largest number of seats, by a narrow margin. Congress formed a government in alliance with the Communist Party of India and with several mostly-regional parties. The NDA, led by the BJP, currently forms the main opposition. All governments formed since 1996 have required party coalitions, with no single majority party, due to the steady rise of regional parties at the national level. Template:See also4

States and Union Territories

Main article: States and territories of India

India is divided into twenty-eight states (which are further subdivided into districts), six Union Territories and the National Capital Territory of Delhi. States have their own elected government, whereas Union Territories are governed by an administrator appointed by the union government. Template:India states India had two scientific bases in AntarcticaDakshin Gangotri and Maitri, but has made no territorial claims. Template:See also

Geography and climate

Main article: Geography of India

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

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

India is home to several major rivers such as the Ganga (Ganges), the Brahmaputra, the Yamuna, the Godavari, and the Krishna. The rivers are responsible for the fertile plains in northern India which are conducive to farming.

The Indian climate varies from a tropical climate in the south to a more temperate climate in the north. Parts of India which lie in the Himalayan mountains have a tundra climate. India gets its rains through the monsoons. Template:See also4


Main article: Economy of India

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

India has an economy ranked as the tenth largest in the world in terms of currency conversion and fourth largest in terms of purchasing power parity. It recorded one of the fastest annual growth rate of around eight percent in 2003. Owing to its large population, however, India's per-capita income by purchasing power parity works out to be just US$ 3,262, ranked 120th by the World Bank. India's foreign exchange reserves amount to over US$ 143 billionTemplate:Ref. Mumbai serves as the nation's financial capital and is also home to both the headquarters of the Reserve Bank of India and the Bombay Stock Exchange. While a quarter of Indians still live below the poverty line, a large middle class has now emerged along with the growth of a promising IT industry.

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A hundred rupee note

The Indian economy has shed much of its historical dependence on agriculture, which now contributes to less than 25% of the GDPTemplate:Ref. Other important industries are mining, petroleum, diamond polishing, films, textiles, information technology services, and handicrafts. Most of India's industrial regions are centred around major cities. In recent years, India has emerged as one of the largest players in software and business process outsourcing services, with revenues of US$ 17.2 billion in 2004-2005Template:Ref. There are also a lot of small-scale industries that provide steady employment to many of its citizens in small towns and villages. While India receives only around three million foreign visitors a year, tourism is still an important source of its national income. Tourism contributes 5.3% of India's GDP. The actual employment generation, both direct and indirect, is estimated to be 42 million, or about 10% of India's work force. In monetary terms, it contributes about 4 billion US$ in foreign exchangeTemplate:Ref. India's major trading partners are the United States, Japan, China, the United Arab EmiratesTemplate:Ref.

India's main exports items include agricultural products, textile goods, gems and jewellery, software services and technology, engineering goods, chemicals and leather products while its main import commodities are crude oil, machinery, gems, fertilizer, chemicals. For the year 2004, India's total exports stood at US $69.18 billion while the imports were worth at US $89.33 billionTemplate:Ref. Template:See also


Main article: Demographics of India

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

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Hinduism is the largest professed religion in India. Pictured here is a temple in Goa.

India's literacy rate is 64.8%, with 53.7% of females and 75.3% of males being literate. The sex ratio is 933 females for every 1000 malesTemplate:Ref. Work Participation Rate (WPR) (the percentage of workers to total population) stands at 39.1%, with male WPR at 51.7% and female WPR at 25.6%Template:Ref. India's median age is 24.66 and has a growth rate of 22.32 births/1,000 populationTemplate:Ref.

Although 80.5% of the people are Hindus, India is also home to the second largest population of Muslims in the world (13.4%; see Islam in India) after Indonesia. Other smaller religious minorities include Christians (2.33%; see Christianity in India), Sikhs (1.84%), Buddhists (0.76%), Jains (0.40%), Ayyavazhi (0.12%), Jews (see Jews in India), Parsis, Ahmadi, and Bah�'�sTemplate:Ref.

India is home to two major linguistic families, those of the Indo-Aryan and Dravidian-derived languages. The Indian constitution recognises twenty-three official languagesTemplate:Ref. Hindi along with English are the languages used by the Central Government for official purposes. Two classical languages native to the land are Sanskrit and Tamil. The number of mother tongues in India is as high as 1652Template:Ref.

Template:See also3


Main article: Culture of India

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The Taj Mahal in Agra is India's most popular tourist destination.
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The Gumpa dance is a mystic dance celebrated by the Tibetan Buddhist community in Sikkim during the Buddhist New Year — Losar.

India has a rich and unique cultural heritage, and has actively preserved its established traditions throughout history. It has also absorbed customs from both invaders and immigrants. Many cultural practices and monuments, such as the Taj Mahal and other Islamic architecture, have been inherited from the rule of Mughal emperors.

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

Diwali, the festival of lights is celebrated by lighting small oil lamps everywhere in the house.
Diwali, the festival of lights is celebrated by lighting small oil lamps everywhere in the house.

Religion in India is very public, with many practices imbued with pomp and vitality accompanying their underlying spiritual qualities. A melting pot of many religions, India has rich festivals celebrated by one and all. The most widely known and popular celebrations include the Hindu festivals of Diwali, Holi, and Dussera. Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated by people belonging to all religions in Tamil Nadu.

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

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

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

Rice and wheat (in bread forms) are the staple foods in the country. The gastronomy of India is extremely diverse, as ingredients, spices and cooking methods all vary from region to region. The country is notable for its wide variety of vegetarian cuisine. Spicy food and sweets are popular in India. Traditional dress in India greatly varies across the regions in its colours and styles. The sari and salwar kameez are popular styles of dress for women. Traditional raiments for men are the kurta and dhoti. Template:See also4

Sports and games

Main article: Sports in India

Unlike other comparable countries, India is not a major sporting power. India's national sport is field hockey, although cricket is now the de facto national game due to its success and popularity in recent times. Though cricket's popularity is widespread, it is not the most popular sport in many states of India, particularly India's northeast states. India has had relatively little success in international events like the Olympics, where it garnered just a single medal in each of the previous three Olympics.

Some traditional indigenous sports are kabaddi, Kho Kho and gilli-danda, which are played in most parts of the country. Chess, carrom, polo, and badminton are some other games and sports that are said to have originated in India. Football (soccer) also finds a large viewer ship in almost the entire country, and is the most popular sport in many states of India. Formula 1 and Tennis are also becoming popular these days, though their reach is largely in urban areas.


Main article: Holidays in India

India has only three National Holidays. Other holidays pertaining to festivals, religious holidays and births of leaders are legislated by the individual states. Template:Official Holidays of India

India Photographs, Pictures, Illustrations and Clipart


See also

Template:Topics related to India



Countries in South Asia

Bangladesh | Bhutan | India | Maldives | Nepal | Pakistan | Sri Lanka


  1. Template:Note India facts and figures (, Embassy of India (
  2. Template:Note Forex reserves up by $1bn (, The Economic Times (, 2005-04-30
  3. Template:Note India Economy (, Travel Document Systems (
  4. Template:Note Services (, India in Business (
  5. Template:Note Destination India: An Unpolished Diamond (, Times of India Foundation (, Vivek Nair
  6. Template:Note US, UAE, UK, China, Japan among India's top trade partners (, The Indian Express (, 2005-01-02
  7. Template:Note CIA Factbook : India (
  8. Template:Note Provisional Population Totals 2001 Census (, Census of India ( (Official site)
  9. Template:Note Debating India – India's literacy rate (, Debating India (
  10. Template:Note India (, Index mundi ( – country profiles
  11. Template:Note Census of India 2001, Data on Religion (, Census of India ( (Official site)
  12. Template:Note Languages of India (, India image (
  13. Template:Note Manorama Year Book 2003 – pg 524 – ISBN 81-900461-8-7

India is also the letter I in the NATO phonetic alphabet.


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