India Guide

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BACKGROUND

The civilization of India is one of the oldest civilizations in the World, spanning more than 4000 years and witnessing the rise and fall of several Empires, and projecting a unique assimilation of various cultures and heritage. The Country has always been portrayed as a land of spiritual integrity with professors of Philosophy, who have engineered the magnanimity of its nationalism. One of the oldest scriptures in the World, the four-volume Vedas that many regard as the repository of national thoughts, which have anticipated some of the modern scientific discoveries, has been created in the orb of this myth oriented Country. This strong affinity with religion and mythology has been reflected time and again through various art forms and performing arts, which are symbolical of the composite culture of India. Unity in diversity is another facet of the Country’s inherent nationalism, which had been fused by the feeling of national fervour incited by various foreign invasions that ever made its way to the Indian shores. Religious tolerance and cultural amalgamation have given shape to a uniquely secular Nation, which has created an impressive status of itself in the global arena.

GEOGRAPHY

Location: The Indian peninsula is separated from mainland Asia by the Himalayas. The Country is surrounded by the Bay of Bengal in the east, the Arabian Sea in the west, and the Indian Ocean to the south.
Geographic Coordinates: Lying entirely in the Northern Hemisphere, the Country extends between 8° 4′ and 37° 6′ latitudes north of the Equator, and 68°7′ and 97°25′ longitudes east of it.
Indian Standard Time: GMT + 05:30
Area: 3.3 Million sq km
Telephone Country Code: +91
Coastline: 7,516.6 km encompassing the mainland, Lakshadweep Islands, and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
Climate: The climate of India can broadly be classified as a tropical monsoon one. But, in spite of much of the northern part of India lying beyond the tropical zone, the entire country has a tropical climate marked by relatively high temperatures and dry winters. There are four seasons – winter (December-February), (ii) summer (March-June), (iii) south-west monsoon season (June-September), and (iv) post monsoon season (October- November).
Coastline: 7,516.6 km encompassing the mainland, Lakshadweep Islands, and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
Natural Resources: Coal, iron ore, manganese ore, mica, bauxite, petroleum, titanium ore, chromite, natural gas, magnesite, limestone, arable land, dolomite, barytes, kaolin, gypsum, apatite, phosphorite, steatite, fluorite, etc.
Environment – Current Issues: Air pollution control, energy conservation, solid waste management, oil and gas conservation, forest conservation, etc.
Environment – International Agreements: Rio Declaration on environment and development, Cartagena Protocol on biosafety, Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on climatic change, World Trade Agreement, Helsinki Protocol to LRTAP on the reduction of sulphur emissions of nitrogen oxides or their transboundary fluxes (Nox Protocol), and Geneva Protocol to LRTAP concerning the control of emissions of volatile organic compounds or their transboundary fluxes (VOCs Protocol).
Border Afghanistan and Pakistan to the north-west; China, Bhutan and Nepal to the north; Myanmar to the east; and Bangladesh to the east of West Bengal. Sri Lanka is separated from India by a narrow channel of sea, formed by Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar.

PEOPLE

Population: India’s population, as on 1 March 2001 stood at 1,028 million (532.1 million males and 496.4 million females).
Population Growth Rate: The average annual exponential growth rate stands at 1.93 per cent during 1991-2001.
Birth Rate: The Crude Birth rate according to the 2001 census is 24.8
Death Rate: The Crude Death rate according to the 2001 census is 8.9
Life Expectancy: 63.9 years (Males); 66.9 years (Females) (As of Sep 2005)
Sex Ratio: 933 according to the 2001 census
Nationality: Indian
Ethnic Groups: All the five major racial types – Australoid, Mongoloid, Europoid, Caucasian, and Negroid find representation among the people of India.
Religions: According to the 2001 census, out of the total population of 1.028 million in the Country, Hindus constituted the majority with 80.5 %, Muslims came second at 13.4%, followed by Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and others.
Languages: There are 22 National Languages have been recognized by the Constitution of India, of which Hindi is the Official Union Language. Besides these, there are 844 different dialects that are practiced in various parts of the Country.
Literacy: According to the provisional results of the 2001 census, the literacy rate in the Country stands at 64.84 per cent, 75.26% for males and 53.67% for females.

GOVERNMENT

Country Name: Republic of India; Bharat Ganrajya
Government Type: Sovereign Socialist Democratic Republic with a Parliamentary system of Government.
Capital: New Delhi
Administrative Divisions: 28 States and 7 Union Territories.
Independence: 15th August 1947 (From the British Colonial Rule)
Constitution: The Constitution of India came into force on 26th January 1950.
Legal System: The Constitution of India is the fountain source of the legal system in the Country.
Executive Branch: The President of India is the Head of the State, while the Prime Minister is the Head of the Government, and runs office with the support of the Council of Ministers who form the Cabinet Ministry.
Legislative Branch: The Indian Legislature comprises of the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) forming both the Houses of the Parliament.
Judicial Branch: The Supreme Court of India is the apex body of the Indian legal system, followed by other High Courts and subordinate Courts.
Flag Description: The National Flag is a horizontal tricolour of deep saffron (kesaria) at the top, white in the middle, and dark green at the bottom in equal proportion. At the centre of the white band is a navy blue wheel, which is a representation of the Ashoka Chakra at Sarnath.
National Days: 26th January (Republic Day) , 15th August (IndependenceDay)
2nd October (Gandhi Jayanti; Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday)


ECONOMY

Economy – Overview: Half a Century after gaining its independence, India has overcome all odds and achieved phenomenal standards of economic stability, courtesy the indomitable contributions of various sectors such as agriculture, tourism, commerce, power, communications, science & technology, etc., which have acted as the pillars of the Indian economy. India is today one of the six fastest growing economies of the world. The country is ranked fourth in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) in 2001. The business and regulatory environment is evolving and moving towards constant improvement.
GDP – Real Growth Rate: The second quarter (July-September) of the financial year 2007-08 registers a growth rate of 9 percent.
GDP – Purchasing Power Parity: India is the fourth largest economy, with US$ 3 trillion GDP in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) after USA, China, and Japan.
GDP – Composition by Sector: As of September 2007, the GDP per capita of the Country stood at US$ 543.
GDP – Composition by Sector: Services 56%, Agriculture 22%, and Industry 22% (As of September 2007).
Labour Force: According to the Report of the Committee on India Vision: 2020, India’s labour force has reached approximately 375 million in 2002.
Unemployment Rate: 9.1% (As of Sep 2007)
Population below Poverty Line: 26.10% as on 1999-2000
Inflation Rate: 4.1% as on July 2007.
Public Debt: The total Debt as on 31st March 2002 stands at Rs. 1372117.58 crores.
Exchange Rates: Check RBI website for daily exchange rates.
Agriculture Products: Rice, wheat, tea, cotton, sugarcane, potatoes, jute, oilseed, poultry, etc.
Industries: Steel, garments, petroleum, cement, machinery, locomotive, food processing, pharmaceutical products, mining, etc.
Currency (Code): Indian Rupee (INR)
Fiscal Year: 1st April to 31st March.

HISTORY

India’s first major civilization flourished for a thousand years from around 2500 BC along the Indus River valley. Its great cities were Mohenjodaro and Harappa (in what is now Pakistan), which were ruled by priests and held the rudiments of Hinduism. Aryan invaders swept south from Central Asia between 1500 and 200 BC and controlled northern India, pushing the original Dravidian inhabitants south.

The invaders brought their own gods and cattle-raising and meat-eating traditions, but were absorbed to such a degree that by the 8th century BC the priestly caste had reasserted its supremacy. This became consolidated in the caste system, a hierarchy maintained by strict rules that secured the position of the Brahmin priests. Buddhism arose around 500 BC, condemning caste; it drove a radical swathe through Hinduism in the 3rd century BC when it was embraced by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, who controlled huge tracts of India.

A number of empires, including the Guptas, rose and fell in the north after the collapse of the Mauryas. Hinduism underwent a revival from 40 to 600 AD, and Buddhism began to decline. The north of India broke into a number of separate Hindu kingdoms after the Huns’ invasion; it was not really unified again until the coming of the Muslims in the 10th and 11th centuries. The far south, whose prosperity was based on trading links with the Egyptians, Romans and southeast Asia, was unaffected by the turmoil in the north, and Hinduism’s hold on the region was never threatened.

In 1192 the Muslim Ghurs arrived from Afghanistan. Within 20 years the entire Ganges basin was under Muslim control, though Islam failed to penetrate the south. Two great kingdoms developed in what is now Karnataka: the mighty Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar, and the fragmented Bahmani Muslim kingdom.

Mughal emperors marched into the Punjab from Afghanistan, defeated the Sultan of Delhi in 1525, and ushered in another artistic golden age. The Maratha Empire grew during the 17th century and gradually took over more of the Mughals’ domain. The Marathas consolidated control of central India until they fell to the last great imperial power, the British.

The British were not, however, the only European power in India: the Portuguese had controlled Goa since 1510 and the French, Danes and Dutch also had trading posts. By 1803, when the British overwhelmed the Marathas, most of the country was under the control of the British East India Company, which had established its trading post at Surat in Gujarat in 1612.

The company treated India as a place to make money, and its culture, beliefs and religions were left strictly alone. Britain expanded iron and coal mining, developed tea, coffee and cotton plantations, and began construction of India’s vast rail network. They encouraged absentee landlords because they eased the burden of administration and tax collection, creating an impoverished landless peasantry – a problem which is still chronic in Bihar and West Bengal. The Uprising in northern India in 1857 led to the demise of the East India Company, and administration of the country was handed over to the British government.

Opposition to British rule began in earnest at the turn of the 20th century. The ‘Congress’ which had been established to give India a degree of self-rule, now began to push for the real thing. In 1915, Gandhi returned from South Africa, where he had practised as a lawyer, and turned his abilities to independence, adopting a policy of passive resistance, or satyagraha.

WWII dealt a deathblow to colonialism and Indian independence became inevitable. Within India, however, the large Muslim minority realized that an independent India would be Hindu-dominated. Communalism grew, with the Muslim League, led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, speaking for the overwhelming majority of Muslims, and the Congress Party, led by Jawaharlal Nehru, representing the Hindu population. The bid for a separate Muslim nation was the biggest stumbling block to Britain granting independence.

Faced with a political stand-off and rising tension, Viceroy Mountbatten reluctantly decided to divide the country and set a rapid timetable for independence. Unfortunately, the two overwhelmingly Muslim regions were on opposite sides of the country – meaning the new nation of Pakistan would be divided by a hostile India. When the dividing line was announced, the greatest exodus in human history took place as Muslims moved to Pakistan and Hindus and Sikhs relocated to India. Over 10 million people changed sides and even the most conservative estimates calculate that 250,000 people were killed. On 30 January 1948, Gandhi, deeply disheartened by Partition and the subsequent bloodshed, was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic.

Following the trauma of Partition, India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru championed a secular constitution, socialist central planning and a strict policy of nonalignment. India’s next prime minister of stature was Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi, who was elected in 1966. She is still held in high esteem. The Gandhis’ dynastic grip on Indian politics continued when her son, Rajiv was swept into power.Rajiv brought new and pragmatic policies to the country. Foreign investment and the use of modern technology were encouraged, import restrictions were eased and many new industries were set up. These measures projected India into the 1990s and out of isolationism, but did little to stimulate India’s mammoth rural sector. The BJP under Mr. Vajpayee came to power and by April 1999 PM Vajpayee had lost his majority and was forced into a vote of confidence, which he lost by one vote. Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi’s widow, was unable to secure a coalition and India was forced to the polls for the third time in as many years. The BJP was returned to government with a slimmer lead. In 2004, with fresh elections called, and the dominant BJP were ousted for the first time in almost 10 years. Sonia Gandhi declined the Prime Ministerial role, sending shockwaves through her party. Instead she nominated India’s first Sikh leader, an anti-corruption stalwart and economic reformist, Manmohan Singh, to lead the parliament to date.

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LINKS TO WEBSITES OF STATES & UNION T.s OF INDIA
MAHARASHTRA PUNJAB GUJARAT
ANDHRA PRADESH TAMIL NADU KARNATAKA
KERALA RAJASTHAN UTTAR PRADESH
MADHYA PRADESH WEST BENGAL JAMMU & KASHMIR
ORISSA HARYANA ASSAM
HIMACHAL PRADESH BIHAR SIKKIM
GOA ARUNACHAL PRADESH MEGHALAYA
MANIPUR NAGALAND DELHI STATE
LAKSHADWEEP DADRA & NAGAR HAVELI ANDAMANS
UTTARANCHAL JHARKHAND CHHATTISGARH
MIZORAM PONDICHERRY TRIPURA
1st April to 31st March.