India (IN)

India, officially known as the Republic of India (ISO: Bhārat Gaṇarājya), is situated in South Asia. It ranks as the seventh-largest country by area and holds the title of the most populous nation as of June 2023. Since gaining independence in 1947, it has stood as the world’s largest democracy. Geographically, India is bordered by the Indian Ocean to the south, the Arabian Sea to the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal to the southeast. It shares land boundaries with Pakistan to the west, China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north, and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. Additionally, India’s maritime neighbors include Sri Lanka and the Maldives, while the Andaman and Nicobar Islands share maritime borders with Thailand, Myanmar, and Indonesia.

Human presence in the Indian subcontinent dates back to at least 55,000 years ago when modern humans migrated from Africa. The region’s long history of occupation, initially as hunter-gatherers, has resulted in unparalleled genetic diversity, second only to Africa. Settled communities began emerging around 9,000 years ago in the western areas of the Indus river basin, eventually leading to the development of the Indus Valley Civilization by the third millennium BCE. The diffusion of an archaic form of Sanskrit from the northwest around 1200 BCE marked the beginning of Hinduism in India, as recorded in the Rigveda. Over time, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism flourished, shaping the social and cultural landscape of the subcontinent.

Throughout its history, India witnessed the influence of various religions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, particularly along its southern and western coasts. Muslim conquests from Central Asia established the Delhi Sultanate, integrating northern India into the networks of medieval Islam. The medieval period also saw the rise of empires like the Vijayanagara Empire in the south and the Mughal Empire in the north, leaving a lasting impact on Indian culture and architecture.

British colonial rule, which began in 1858, transformed India into a colonial economy while also laying the groundwork for modern education and governance. The struggle for independence, led by a nonviolent nationalist movement, culminated in the partition of British India in 1947, creating the independent nations of India and Pakistan.

Since becoming a federal republic in 1950, India has embraced democracy and pluralism, experiencing rapid economic growth and technological advancement. It has become a major player in information technology services and space exploration. However, challenges such as poverty, economic inequality, and environmental degradation persist.

India’s rich biodiversity, diverse culture, and ancient heritage continue to shape its identity on the global stage, making it a vibrant and dynamic nation in the 21st century.

The National Anthem

The national anthem of India, “Jana Gana Mana,” holds a significant place in the country’s history and cultural identity. Penned by the revered poet Rabindranath Tagore, the lyrics were originally composed in Bengali in 1911. Tagore’s profound words were chosen to represent the diverse fabric of India, with references to its various regions, rivers, and landscapes. The anthem was first sung during the Indian National Congress session in Calcutta on December 27, 1911, marking a poignant moment in India’s struggle for independence. It was officially adopted as the national anthem on January 24, 1950, when India became a republic.

India, often referred to as the land of diversity, is a tapestry of cultures, languages, and traditions woven together seamlessly. From the snow-capped Himalayas in the north to the sun-kissed beaches of the south, India’s geographical beauty is matched only by its vibrant people and rich heritage. With a history dating back thousands of years, India has been the birthplace of ancient civilizations, philosophical teachings, and groundbreaking scientific discoveries. Today, it stands as a modern powerhouse, blending age-old customs with cutting-edge technology and innovation. From bustling metropolises to serene rural landscapes, India captivates the hearts and minds of all who visit, leaving an indelible mark on their souls.

Jana Gana Mana
Adhinayaka Jay He
Bharata Bhagya Vidhata
Panjab Sindhu Gujarat Maratha
Dravida Utkala Banga
Vindhya Himachal Yamuna Ganga
Uchchala Jaladhi Taranga
Tava Subha Name Jaage
Tave Subha Aashish Mange
Gaahe Tava Jay Gaatha
Jana Gana Mangal Daayak Jay He
Bharat Bhagya Vidhata
Jay he Jay he Jay he
Jay Jay Jay Jay He

In Hindi

जन गण मन अधिनायक जय हे,
भारत भाग्य विधाता।
पंजाब सिन्धु गुजरात मराठा,
द्राविड़ उत्कल बंग
विंध्य हिमाचल यमुना गंगा,
उच्छल जलधि तरंग
तब शुभ नामे जागे,
तब शुभ आशिष मांगे
गाहे तब जय गाथा।
जन गण मंगलदायक जय हे,
भारत भाग्य विधाता।
जय हे, जय हे, जय हे, जय जय जय जय हे॥

Republic of India

Indian flag
Indian flag
State emblem of India
State emblem of India

Motto

Motto

National Song

National Song

Anthem

Anthem

Satyameva Jayate (Sanskrit)

Truth Alone Triumphs (English)

Vande Mataram (Sanskrit)

I Bow to Thee, Mother (English)

Jana Gana Mana (Hindi)

Thou Art the Ruler of the Minds of All People (English)

Capital

Map ID

Largest City

Map ID

Largest City Area

Map ID

Official Languages

National Language

Native languages

Demonym(s)

 New Delhi

28°36′50″N 77°12′30″E

 Mumbai

19°04′34″N 72°52′39″E

Delhi (metropolitan area)

28°36′36″N 77°13′48″E

Hindi, English

Hindi

447 +

Indian

Religion

  • 79.8% Hinduism
  • 14.2% Islam
  • 2.3% Christianity
  • 1.7% Sikhism
  • 0.7% Buddhism
  • 0.4% Jainism
  • 0.23% unaffiliated
  • 0.65% other

President

Droupadi Murmu

Vice-President

Jagdeep Dhankhar

 Prime Minister

Narendra Modi

Chief Justice

Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud

 Upper house

Lower house

Rajya Sabha

 Lok Sabha

National Language

Urdu

Independence from the United Kingdom

Dominion

15 August 1947

Republic

26 January 1950

Area / Population

Total

Water (%)

Population

Density

3,287,263 km2

9.60 %

1,428,627,663 1th (2023)

424.1/km2 (30th)

GDP (PPP) Total

Per capita

GDP (Nominal)

Per capita

Gini (2019)

HDI (2022)

Currency

Time zone

Date format

Driving side

Calling code

ISO 3166 code

Internet TLD

$13.119 trillion (3rd) 

$9,183 (127th)

 $3.732 trillion (5th)

$2,612 (139th)

35.7 Medium

0.644 Medium (134th)

Indian rupee (₹) (INR)

UTC+05:30 (IST)

dd-mm-yyyy

left

+91

 IN

.in 
بھارت .

Etymology

As per the Oxford English Dictionary (third edition 2009), the term “India” originates from the Classical Latin India, denoting South Asia and an ambiguous area to its east. This term evolved from Hellenistic Greek India (Ἰνδία), ancient Greek Indos (Ἰνδός), Old Persian Hindush (a province to the east within the Achaemenid Empire), and ultimately, its Sanskrit counterpart, Sindhu, meaning “river,” specifically referring to the Indus River and its densely populated southern basin. The ancient Greeks referred to the inhabitants as Indoi (Ἰνδοί), translating to “The people of the Indus.”

Additionally, the term Bharat (Bhārat; pronounced [ˈbʱaːɾət]) finds mention in both Indian epic poetry and the Constitution of India, being utilized in various forms across many Indian languages. Modernizing the historical name Bharatavarsha, initially pertaining to North India, Bharat gained prominence from the mid-19th century as a native designation for India. Hindustan ([ɦɪndʊˈstaːn]), on the other hand, is a Middle Persian term for India, which gained popularity by the 13th century and was widely used during the Mughal Empire era. Its meaning has varied, sometimes denoting a region comprising present-day northern India and Pakistan, or at times, referring to the entirety of India itself.

Historical Perspective

Ancient India

Around 55,000 years ago, Homo sapiens, the first modern humans, migrated from Africa to the Indian subcontinent, marking the beginning of human settlement in the region. Evidence of their presence dates back to approximately 30,000 years ago, indicating a long history of habitation. By 6500 BCE, signs of agriculture, urbanization, and trade began to emerge in areas like Mehrgarh in Balochistan, Pakistan, laying the foundation for the remarkable Indus Valley Civilization. Flourishing between 2500–1900 BCE, this urban culture, with centers such as Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, engaged in sophisticated crafts production and extensive trade networks.

During the period from 2000–500 BCE, significant transitions took place across the subcontinent, including the composition of the Vedas and the emergence of the caste system, which structured society into hierarchical groups. Meanwhile, in South India, evidence points to a shift towards sedentary life and the development of megalithic monuments. The late Vedic period witnessed the consolidation of states into major oligarchies and monarchies known as the mahajanapadas, alongside the rise of non-Vedic religious movements like Jainism and Buddhism. The Mauryan Empire, established by the kingdom of Magadha, emerged as a dominant power in the 3rd century BCE, promoting Buddhist ideals under the reign of Emperor Ashoka. In subsequent centuries, the Gupta Empire in North India fostered a golden age of cultural and scientific achievement, characterized by advances in literature, art, and mathematics.

Medieval India

During the Indian early medieval age, spanning from 600 to 1200 CE, the landscape was characterized by a patchwork of regional kingdoms and a tapestry of cultural diversity. Attempts at expansion by rulers such as Harsha of Kannauj often met with resistance, as seen in clashes with Chalukya rulers in the Deccan and Pala kings in Bengal. These conflicts highlighted the inability of any single ruler to establish a vast empire beyond their core region, leading to a decentralized political landscape. Meanwhile, societal changes were underway as pastoral communities, displaced by agricultural growth, found their place within the caste system, contributing to its regional variations.

Brihadeshwara temple, Thanjavur, completed in 1010 CE
Brihadeshwara temple, Thanjavur, completed in 1010 CE

In the 6th and 7th centuries, the emergence of devotional hymns in Tamil marked a cultural renaissance that reverberated throughout India, revitalizing Hinduism and influencing the development of modern Indian languages. The patronage of temples by royalty transformed capital cities into bustling economic centers, while temple towns sprung up across the land, driving urbanization. By the 8th and 9th centuries, South Indian culture and political systems began to influence Southeast Asia, facilitated by Indian merchants, scholars, and travelers. However, the 10th century saw the rise of Muslim Central Asian clans, leading to the establishment of the Islamic Delhi Sultanate in 1206. Despite disruptions to Indian elites, the sultanate’s rule largely respected the customs of its non-Muslim subjects, paving the way for a syncretic Indo-Islamic culture. Ultimately, these dynamics laid the groundwork for the indigenous Vijayanagara Empire, which embraced Shaivite tradition and exerted influence over peninsular India for centuries to come.

Early modern India

In the early 16th century, the landscape of northern India, predominantly under Muslim rule, witnessed a transformative shift with the rise of a new wave of Central Asian warriors. This period marked the ascent of the Mughal Empire, which, rather than eradicating local societies, adopted a strategy of administration that fostered harmony and stability. Through innovative administrative methods and an inclusive approach to governance, the Mughals established a centralized rule that united diverse regions under a Persianized cultural umbrella, epitomized during Akbar’s reign. Emphasizing loyalty to the emperor over tribal affiliations or religious identity, the Mughal Empire facilitated economic growth by implementing policies that incentivized agricultural productivity and standardized taxation in silver currency. This era of relative peace and prosperity fostered a flourishing of artistic and intellectual endeavors, propelling India’s cultural renaissance through vibrant expressions in painting, literature, textiles, and architecture.

A two mohur Company gold coin, issued in 1835, the obverse inscribed _William IV, King
A two mohur Company gold coin, issued in 1835, the obverse inscribed _William IV, King

By the dawn of the 18th century, India’s socio-political landscape saw a convergence of commercial and political interests, with European trading companies, notably the English East India Company, establishing footholds along the coastlines. With superior naval power, enhanced resources, and advanced military tactics, the East India Company gradually expanded its influence, particularly in the Bengal region, ultimately eclipsing rival European enterprises. Leveraging control over Bengal’s wealth and bolstering its military might, the Company extended its dominion over much of India by the 1820s. This period marked a pivotal juncture in India’s history, transitioning from a manufacturing hub to a supplier of raw materials for the British Empire, thus initiating India’s colonial era. As the East India Company increasingly intertwined with British governance, it ventured beyond economic realms into domains like education, social reform, and cultural influence, laying the groundwork for a new chapter in India’s trajectory under colonial rule.

Modern India

Historians often pinpoint the dawn of India’s modern era to a span between 1848 and 1885. The appointment of Lord Dalhousie as Governor General of the East India Company in 1848 served as a catalyst for pivotal changes crucial to shaping a modern state. These changes encompassed the consolidation and delineation of sovereignty, the implementation of population surveillance measures, and the promotion of citizen education. Rapid technological advancements, such as the introduction of railways, canals, and the telegraph, swiftly followed their adoption in Europe during this period. However, alongside these advancements, discontentment with the company’s policies burgeoned, culminating in the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Fueled by various grievances, including intrusive British-style social reforms and burdensome land taxes, the rebellion reverberated across northern and central India, challenging the very foundations of Company rule. Though quelled by 1858, the uprising led to the dissolution of the East India Company and the direct governance of India by the British government. The new administration declared a unitary state and initiated a gradual, albeit limited, British-style parliamentary system, while also safeguarding the interests of princes and landed gentry to stave off future unrest. This period laid the groundwork for the burgeoning public life across India, eventually culminating in the establishment of the Indian National Congress in 1885.

Jawaharlal Nehru sharing a light moment with Mahatma Gandhi, Mumbai, 6 July 1946
Jawaharlal Nehru sharing a light moment with Mahatma Gandhi, Mumbai, 6 July 1946

The latter half of the 19th century witnessed a surge in technological advancements and the commercialization of agriculture, accompanied by economic challenges. Many small-scale farmers found themselves at the mercy of distant markets, leading to increased vulnerability. Moreover, the era saw a rise in large-scale famines, exacerbating the plight of the populace. Despite the infrastructure development, largely funded by Indian taxpayers, industrial employment opportunities for Indians remained scarce. However, there were notable positive impacts as well: the promotion of commercial cropping, particularly in the newly irrigated Punjab region, resulted in enhanced food production for domestic consumption. The expansion of the railway network played a crucial role in providing relief during famines, significantly reducing the cost of transporting goods, and fostering the growth of nascent Indian-owned industries.

Following World War I, during which approximately one million Indians served, a new era unfolded in India. This period witnessed British reforms alongside repressive legislation, as well as heightened calls from Indians for self-rule, setting the stage for the emergence of a nonviolent movement of non-cooperation, with Mahatma Gandhi at its helm. Throughout the 1930s, gradual legislative reforms were implemented by the British, and the Indian National Congress achieved significant victories in subsequent elections. However, the following decade was fraught with challenges, including India’s involvement in World War II, the Congress’s intensified campaign for non-cooperation, and a surge in Muslim nationalism. These tumultuous events culminated in India’s independence in 1947, albeit tempered by the partition of the country into two separate states: India and Pakistan.

Central to India’s identity as an independent nation was the adoption of its constitution in 1950, establishing a secular and democratic republic. Despite gaining independence, India chose to remain a member of the Commonwealth, as outlined in the London Declaration, thus becoming the first republic within this association. Over the ensuing decades, economic liberalization, initiated in the 1980s, coupled with collaborations with the Soviet Union for technical expertise, propelled India’s transformation into one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, elevating its geopolitical influence. However, India continues to grapple with persistent challenges, including widespread poverty, religious and caste-based violence, Naxalite insurgencies inspired by Maoism, and separatist movements in regions like Jammu and Kashmir and Northeast India. Additionally, unresolved territorial disputes persist with both China and Pakistan. Despite its remarkable democratic freedoms, India still strives to achieve freedom from want for its marginalized populations, reflecting a goal yet to be fully realized amidst its recent economic strides.

Geography and Climate of India

India encompasses the majority of the Indian subcontinent, situated atop the Indian tectonic plate, which is a segment of the larger Indo-Australian Plate. The geological evolution of India commenced around 75 million years ago, when it was part of the southern supercontinent Gondwana. At that time, the Indian Plate embarked on a northeastward drift due to seafloor spreading, while simultaneously, the Tethyan oceanic crust to its northeast began to subduct under the Eurasian Plate. These processes, driven by convection in the Earth’s mantle, led to the formation of the Indian Ocean and eventually caused the Indian continental crust to collide with Eurasia, resulting in the majestic Himalayas. South of the Himalayas, a vast crescent-shaped trough emerged, rapidly filling with sediment carried by rivers, forming the Indo-Gangetic Plain.

The Tungabhadra, with rocky outcrops, flows into the peninsular Krishna river
The Tungabhadra, with rocky outcrops, flows into the peninsular Krishna river

The remaining portion of the Indian Plate constitutes peninsular India, the oldest and most geologically stable part of the country. Extending northward to the Satpura and Vindhya ranges in central India, this region includes the Western and Eastern Ghats flanking the Deccan Plateau to the west and east, respectively. The Deccan Plateau contains India’s oldest rock formations, some dating back over a billion years. Positioned north of the equator between approximately 6° 44′ and 35° 30′ north latitude and 68° 7′ and 97° 25′ east longitude, India boasts a coastline stretching 7,517 kilometers in length, comprising sandy beaches, rocky shores, and mudflats or marshy shores. The country is also blessed with major rivers like the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Godavari, and Krishna, each playing a vital role in India’s geography, culture, and economy. Additionally, India is home to two archipelagos: the Lakshadweep islands off the southwestern coast and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Andaman Sea, each contributing to the nation’s rich natural diversity.

The climate of India is significantly shaped by the Himalayas and the Thar Desert, which exert a profound influence on the seasonal monsoons crucial for the country’s economy and culture. The Himalayas act as a barrier against cold Central Asian winds, maintaining warmer temperatures across much of the Indian subcontinent compared to regions at similar latitudes. Meanwhile, the Thar Desert attracts the moisture-laden southwest summer monsoon winds, which bring the bulk of India’s rainfall between June and October. India exhibits four primary climatic categories: tropical wet, tropical dry, subtropical humid, and montane.

Over the past century, temperatures in India have risen by 0.7 °C (1.3 °F), a phenomenon largely attributed to climate change. The retreat of Himalayan glaciers has resulted in decreased flow rates of major rivers like the Ganges and Brahmaputra, impacting water resources and agriculture. Current projections suggest a significant increase in both the frequency and severity of droughts across India by the end of the present century, highlighting the urgent need for climate adaptation and mitigation measures.

Biodiversity

India is renowned as a megadiverse country, a designation reserved for 17 nations boasting exceptional biological diversity and harboring numerous species that are exclusively native or endemic to their regions. Within India’s borders, a staggering array of wildlife thrives, with the country serving as the habitat for 8.6% of all mammal species, 13.7% of bird species, 7.9% of reptile species, 6% of amphibian species, 12.2% of fish species, and 6.0% of flowering plant species. Notably, a third of India’s plant species are found nowhere else on Earth. Additionally, India hosts four of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots, regions characterized by significant habitat loss alongside high levels of endemism.

Official records indicate that India’s forest cover spans 713,789 square kilometers, constituting 21.71% of the nation’s total land area. This forested landscape can be categorized based on canopy density, with very dense forests covering over 70% of their area occupying 3.02% of India’s landmass. These forests are prominent in the tropical moist regions of the Andaman Islands, the Western Ghats, and Northeast India. Moderately dense forests, with canopy densities ranging from 40% to 70%, encompass 9.39% of India’s land area, predominating in the Himalayan coniferous forests, the moist deciduous sal forests of the east, and the dry deciduous teak forests of central and southern India. Open forests, with canopy densities between 10% and 40%, cover 9.26% of India’s land, with two natural zones of thorn forests historically existing in the Deccan Plateau and the western Indo-Gangetic plain. Among the diverse flora of the Indian subcontinent, notable indigenous trees include the revered neem (Azadirachta indica), widely utilized in rural herbal medicine, and the iconic peepul (Ficus religiosa), symbolizing spirituality and enlightenment, as depicted in ancient seals and religious scriptures.

Three of the last Asiatic cheetahs in India were shot dead in 1948 in Surguja district, Madhya Pradesh, Central India by Maharajah Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo. The young male cheetahs, all from the same litter, were sitting together when they were shot at night.
Three of the last Asiatic cheetahs in India were shot dead in 1948 in Surguja district, Madhya Pradesh, Central India by Maharajah Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo. The young male cheetahs, all from the same litter, were sitting together when they were shot at night.
India has the majority of the world's wild tigers, approximately 3,170 in 2022
India has the majority of the world's wild tigers, approximately 3,170 in 2022
A chital (Axis axis) stag in the Nagarhole National Park in a region covered by a moderately dense forest
A chital (Axis axis) stag in the Nagarhole National Park in a region covered by a moderately dense forest

Many of India’s species trace their ancestry back to Gondwana, the ancient supercontinent from which India drifted apart over 100 million years ago. The subsequent collision between India and Eurasia triggered a significant interchange of species. However, volcanic activity and shifts in climate led to the extinction of numerous indigenous Indian species. Later, mammals migrated into India from Asia through two zoogeographical corridors flanking the Himalayas, reducing the level of endemism among Indian mammals to 12.6%, contrasting sharply with 45.8% among reptiles and 55.8% among amphibians. Notable endemic species include the vulnerable hooded leaf monkey and the threatened Beddome’s toad found in the Western Ghats.

India is home to 172 species designated as threatened by the IUCN, accounting for 2.9% of all endangered species globally. Among these are iconic species such as the endangered Bengal tiger and the Ganges river dolphin. Critically endangered species include the gharial, the great Indian bustard, and the Indian white-rumped vulture, the latter nearly extinct due to the ingestion of diclofenac-treated cattle carcasses. The once-thriving ecosystems of Punjab, characterized by thorn forests interspersed with open grasslands grazed by blackbuck and preyed upon by the Asiatic cheetah, have been extensively altered by agriculture and human settlement. Today, both the blackbuck and the cheetah are severely endangered or extinct in India. The rampant encroachment on natural habitats in recent decades has posed a grave threat to Indian wildlife. In response, India has significantly expanded its system of national parks and protected areas since their inception in 1935. Legislation such as the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and Project Tiger has been implemented to safeguard vital ecosystems, complemented by the Forest Conservation Act of 1980. India boasts over five hundred wildlife sanctuaries, eighteen biosphere reserves (four of which are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves), and seventy-five wetlands registered under the Ramsar Convention, demonstrating its commitment to conservation efforts.

Government and Political Structure

US president Barack Obama addresses the members of the Parliament of India in New Delhi in November 2010
US president Barack Obama addresses the members of the Parliament of India in New Delhi in November 2010

India operates as a parliamentary republic with a diverse multi-party system, boasting six recognized national parties, including the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), alongside over 50 regional parties. The INC is typically regarded as centrist in Indian political discourse, while the BJP is positioned on the right-wing spectrum. Historically, the Congress enjoyed a majority in Parliament from India’s inception as a republic in 1950 until the late 1980s. However, since then, the political landscape has evolved, with the BJP gaining prominence and regional parties exerting significant influence, often necessitating the formation of multi-party coalition governments at the national level. As of 2023, India ranked as the 19th most electoral democratic country in Asia, according to the V-Dem Democracy indices.

The early years of the Republic of India witnessed the Congress securing successive victories in the first three general elections, led by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and later his daughter, Indira Gandhi. However, following public discontent over the state of emergency declared in 1975, the Congress was ousted from power in 1977, ushering in a brief stint for the Janata Party-led government. Subsequent years saw alternating periods of Congress and non-Congress rule, with coalitions forming and dissolving amidst shifting political alliances. The BJP’s ascendance in the late 1990s marked a significant departure from the Congress’s dominance, culminating in the party’s historic majority win in the 2014 general elections under the leadership of Narendra Modi. In the most recent 2019 general elections, the BJP emerged victorious once again, with Narendra Modi continuing his tenure as the incumbent prime minister, alongside Droupadi Murmu assuming office as India’s 15th president on July 25, 2022, after her election on July 22, 2022.

Government

India operates as a federation with a parliamentary system, functioning under the Constitution of India, which serves as the nation’s supreme legal document, establishing it as a constitutional republic. Federalism in India delineates the allocation of power between the central government and the states. Originally declared a “sovereign, democratic republic” upon the constitution’s enactment on 26 January 1950, India’s characterization was later amended in 1971 to designate it as “a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic.” Traditionally described as “quasi-federal” with a strong central authority and relatively weaker states, India’s governance structure has evolved towards greater federalism since the late 1990s due to various political, economic, and social transformations.

Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India, was designed by British architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker for the Viceroy of India, and constructed between 1911 and 1931 during the British Raj.
Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India, was designed by British architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker for the Viceroy of India, and constructed between 1911 and 1931 during the British Raj.

The Government of India comprises three branches: the Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary. The Executive branch is headed by the President, who serves as the ceremonial head of state, while the Prime Minister, supported by the Union Council of Ministers, holds the primary executive authority. The Legislature consists of a bicameral parliament, comprising the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People). The Judiciary comprises a three-tier unitary independent system, including the Supreme Court, 25 High Courts, and numerous trial courts, with the Supreme Court holding the highest authority in matters involving fundamental rights and disputes between states and the central government. Through its extensive powers, the Supreme Court ensures the adherence to the constitution and safeguards the rule of law in India.

National SymbolRepresentation
EmblemSarnath Lion Capital
AnthemJana Gana Mana
Song“Vande Mataram”
LanguageNone
Currency₹ (Indian rupee)
CalendarShaka
BirdIndian peafowl
FlowerLotus
FruitMango
MammalBengal tiger, River dolphin
TreeBanyan
RiverGanges

Administrative Divisions

India is a federal union consisting of 28 states and 8 union territories. Each state and certain union territories, including Jammu and Kashmir, Puducherry, and the National Capital Territory of Delhi, operate with elected legislatures and governments under the Westminster system. The central government directly administers the remaining five union territories through appointed administrators. The States Reorganisation Act of 1956 facilitated the linguistic reorganization of states. India boasts over a quarter of a million local government bodies at various levels, spanning from cities and towns to blocks, districts, and villages.

StatesUnion Territories
Andhra PradeshAndaman and Nicobar Islands
Arunachal PradeshChandigarh
AssamDadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu
BiharJammu and Kashmir
ChhattisgarhLadakh
GoaLakshadweep
GujaratNational Capital Territory of Delhi
HaryanaPuducherry
Himachal Pradesh 
Jharkhand 
Karnataka 
Kerala 
Madhya Pradesh 
Maharashtra 
Manipur 
Meghalaya 
Mizoram 
Nagaland 
Odisha 
Punjab 
Rajasthan 
Sikkim 
Tamil Nadu 
Telangana 
Tripura 
Uttar Pradesh 
Uttarakhand 
West Bengal 

Foreign Relations

During the 1950s, India staunchly supported decolonization efforts in Africa and Asia, while also spearheading the Non-Aligned Movement. Although initially enjoying friendly relations with neighboring China, India found itself embroiled in conflict with China in 1962, resulting in what was widely perceived as a humiliation. However, India successfully repelled a subsequent Chinese attack in 1967. Tensions with Pakistan, another neighbor, have led to four wars between the two nations, primarily over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Additionally, India intervened militarily in Sri Lanka in the late 1980s for peacekeeping purposes and in the Maldives in 1988 to thwart a coup attempt.

Jawaharlal Nehru at the Conference of Non-Aligned Nations held in Belgrade September 1961 with Nasser and Tito
Jawaharlal Nehru at the Conference of Non-Aligned Nations held in Belgrade September 1961 with Nasser and Tito

Following the 1965 war with Pakistan, India strengthened its ties with the Soviet Union, which became its major arms supplier by the late 1960s. Besides its enduring relationship with Russia, India has developed significant defense collaborations with Israel and France. Actively engaging in regional and global affairs, India has contributed substantially to UN peacekeeping missions and has participated in various international forums such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the World Trade Organization.

India’s foreign policy also extends to economic partnerships, particularly through its “Look East” policy aimed at bolstering ties with ASEAN nations, Japan, and South Korea. In response to China’s nuclear test in 1964 and its support for Pakistan during the 1965 war, India pursued its own nuclear weapons program, conducting tests in 1974 and 1998. Despite criticism, India has refrained from signing the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, citing concerns about their fairness. Adhering to a “no first use” nuclear policy, India is enhancing its nuclear capabilities as part of its Minimum Credible Deterrence doctrine, including the development of a ballistic missile defense shield and advanced fighter jets. Moreover, India is undertaking indigenous projects such as the Vikrant-class aircraft carriers and Arihant-class nuclear submarines.

Since the conclusion of the Cold War, India has bolstered its economic, strategic, and military collaboration with the United States and the European Union. In 2008, a landmark civilian nuclear agreement was inked between India and the United States. Despite India’s possession of nuclear capabilities and its non-membership in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it obtained waivers from both the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group. These waivers lifted previous constraints on India’s nuclear technology and trade, elevating it to the status of the sixth de facto nuclear power. Subsequently, India entered into agreements for civilian nuclear cooperation with Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India (left, background) in talks with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico during a visit to Mexico, 2016
Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India (left, background) in talks with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico during a visit to Mexico, 2016

The President of India serves as the supreme commander of the nation’s armed forces, which constitute the world’s second-largest military with 1.45 million active personnel. This force encompasses the Indian Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. The official defense budget for India in 2011 stood at US$36.03 billion, amounting to 1.83% of its GDP. For the fiscal year 2022–23, defense expenditure reached US$70.12 billion, marking a 9.8% increase from the previous fiscal year. India ranks as the world’s second-largest arms importer, accounting for 9.5% of global arms imports between 2016 and 2020. A significant portion of this expenditure is directed towards defense against Pakistan and countering the expanding influence of China in the Indian Ocean region.

India’s endeavors in space exploration include the launch of the South Asia Satellite by the Indian Space Research Organisation in May 2017, a gift to neighboring SAARC countries. Furthermore, in October 2018, India secured a US$5.43 billion agreement with Russia to procure four S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile defense systems, representing Russia’s most advanced long-range missile defense technology.

Economy of India

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), India’s economy in 2022 reached a nominal value of $3.46 trillion, making it the fifth-largest economy based on market exchange rates and the third-largest, around $11.6 trillion, by purchasing power parity (PPP). Over the past two decades, India has maintained an average annual GDP growth rate of 5.8%, with a peak of 6.1% during 2011–2012, establishing itself as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. However, in terms of nominal GDP per capita, the country ranks 139th globally, and 118th in GDP per capita at PPP.

Until 1991, India pursued protectionist policies rooted in socialist economics, characterized by extensive state intervention and regulation that isolated the economy from international markets. The severe balance of payments crisis in 1991 compelled India to embark on economic liberalization, progressively transitioning towards a free-market system by prioritizing foreign trade and direct investment inflows. India has been a member of the World Trade Organization since January 1, 1995.

Indicator201720182019
GDP (in Bil. US$PPP)Increase 8,276.9Increase 9,023.0Increase 9,540.4
GDP per capita (in US$ PPP)Increase 6,112.1Increase 6,590.9Increase 6,897.8
GDP (in Bil. US$nominal)Increase 2,702.9Increase 2,702.9
GDP per capita (in US$ nominal)Increase 1,958.0Increase 1,974.4
GDP growth (real)Increase 6.8%Increase 6.5%
Inflation rate (in Percent)Increase 3.6%Increase 3.4%
Unemployment (in Percent)Steady 5.4%Positive decrease 5.3%
Government debt (in % of GDP)Negative increase 69.7%Negative increase 70.4%

India boasts the world’s second-largest labor force, totaling 522 million workers as of 2017. The service sector constitutes 55.6% of GDP, followed by the industrial sector at 26.3% and agriculture at 18.1%. In 2022, India received foreign exchange remittances amounting to US$100 billion, the highest globally, thanks to 32 million Indians working abroad. Key agricultural products include rice, wheat, oilseed, cotton, jute, tea, sugarcane, and potatoes, while major industries encompass textiles, telecommunications, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, food processing, steel, transport equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery, and software.

India’s external trade has surged, accounting for 24% of GDP in 2006, up from 6% in 1985. By 2021, India stood as the world’s ninth-largest importer and sixteenth-largest exporter. Notable exports include petroleum products, textiles, jewelry, software, engineering goods, chemicals, and manufactured leather goods, while major imports comprise crude oil, machinery, gems, fertilizer, and chemicals. Petrochemical and engineering goods witnessed a substantial increase in their contribution to total exports, rising from 14% to 42% between 2001 and 2011. Additionally, India emerged as the world’s second-largest textile exporter after China in 2013.

With a consistent economic growth rate averaging 7.5% prior to 2007, India has significantly elevated its hourly wage rates during the early 21st century, lifting approximately 431 million people out of poverty since 1985. The country’s middle class is projected to expand to around 580 million by 2030. Despite ranking 68th in global competitiveness, India boasts strengths in financial market sophistication, banking, business sophistication, and innovation, surpassing several advanced economies. It is also recognized as a premier outsourcing destination, with seven of the world’s top 15 information technology outsourcing companies headquartered in India. As of 2023, India’s consumer market ranked as the world’s fifth-largest.

Fueled by growth, India’s nominal GDP per capita has steadily risen from US$308 in 1991, the onset of economic liberalization, to US$1,380 in 2010, and an estimated US$1,730 in 2016. Projections suggest it will reach US$2,466 by 2022. However, it has consistently lagged behind other developing Asian nations such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, and this trend is expected to continue in the foreseeable future.

A farmer in northwestern Karnataka ploughs his field with a tractor even as another in a field beyond does the same with a pair of oxen. In 2019, 43% of India's total workforce was employed in agriculture.
A farmer in northwestern Karnataka ploughs his field with a tractor even as another in a field beyond does the same with a pair of oxen. In 2019, 43% of India's total workforce was employed in agriculture.

In the 1980s, Bangalore emerged as the epicenter of India’s software development economy. The city attracted the first multinational corporations due to its abundant pool of skilled graduates, a result of the numerous science and engineering colleges in the surrounding region.

A 2011 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) anticipates that India’s GDP at purchasing power parity could surpass that of the United States by 2045. Over the next four decades, India’s GDP is forecasted to grow at an annual average rate of 8%, potentially making it the world’s fastest-growing major economy until 2050. Key drivers of this growth include a young and expanding working-age population, advancements in education and engineering skills leading to growth in the manufacturing sector, and a burgeoning middle-class propelling consumer market expansion.

The World Bank underscores the importance of India’s focus on public sector reform, transportation infrastructure, agricultural and rural development, labor regulation reforms, education, energy security, and public health and nutrition to fully realize its economic potential. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living Report 2017, which analyzed over 400 individual prices across 160 products and services, four of the world’s most economical cities were in India: Bangalore (3rd), Mumbai (5th), Chennai (5th), and New Delhi (8th).

Industries

India’s telecommunications sector stands as the world’s second-largest, boasting a subscriber base exceeding 1.2 billion and contributing 6.5% to the nation’s GDP. Surpassing the US after the third quarter of 2017, India emerged as the world’s second-largest smartphone market following China. The automotive industry in India, ranked as the world’s second-fastest-growing, experienced a remarkable surge in domestic sales by 26% during 2009–2010, along with a 36% increase in exports during 2008–2009. By 2022, India secured its position as the world’s third-largest vehicle market, overtaking Japan and trailing only China and the United States.

A tea garden in Sikkim. India, the world's second-largest producer of tea, is a nation of one billion tea drinkers, who consume 70% of India's tea output.
A tea garden in Sikkim. India, the world's second-largest producer of tea, is a nation of one billion tea drinkers, who consume 70% of India's tea output.

India’s IT industry, by the close of 2011, employed 2.8 million professionals, yielding revenues nearing US$100 billion, equivalent to 7.5% of the country’s GDP, and contributing 26% to merchandise exports. The pharmaceutical sector in India has emerged as a global powerhouse, boasting 3,000 companies and 10,500 manufacturing units. As of 2021, India ranks as the world’s third-largest pharmaceutical producer and the largest manufacturer of generic medicines. India supplies up to 50–60% of global vaccine demand, contributing to exports valued at up to US$24.44 billion. Domestically, the pharmaceutical market in India is estimated at up to US$42 billion. Additionally, India is among the top 12 biotech destinations globally, with the Indian biotech industry experiencing a growth rate of 15.1% in 2012–2013, elevating revenues from ₹204.4 billion to ₹235.24 billion (US$3.94 billion at June 2013 exchange rates).

Energy

India possesses an electrical power generation capacity of 300 gigawatts, with 42 gigawatts sourced from renewable sources. While the country’s reliance on coal contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, its renewable energy sector is gaining considerable traction. India currently accounts for approximately 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions, translating to roughly 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide per person annually, half the global average. Enhancing access to electricity and promoting clean cooking, particularly through the use of liquefied petroleum gas, are key energy priorities in India.

Socio-economic challenges

Despite experiencing economic growth in recent decades, India still grapples with socio-economic hurdles. In 2006, it harbored the largest population living below the World Bank’s international poverty line of US$1.25 per day. While this proportion declined from 60% in 1981 to 42% in 2005, it stood at 21% in 2011 under the World Bank’s revised poverty line. Additionally, 30.7% of Indian children under the age of five suffer from underweight conditions, while a 2015 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization revealed that 15% of the population experiences undernourishment. Efforts like the Midday Meal Scheme aim to alleviate these issues.

A 2018 report from the Walk Free Foundation estimated that close to 8 million people in India were ensnared in various forms of modern slavery, encompassing bonded labor, child labor, human trafficking, forced begging, and others. According to the 2011 census, there were 10.1 million child laborers in the country, marking a decline from 12.6 million in 2001.

Since 1991, economic inequality among India’s states has continued to widen. In 2007, the per-capita net state domestic product of the wealthiest states was 3.2 times that of the poorest. While corruption in India is perceived to have decreased, it remains a concern. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index, India ranked 78th out of 180 countries in 2018, with a score of 41 out of 100, showing improvement from 85th place in 2014. Epidemic and pandemic diseases have long been significant issues, including outbreaks of COVID-19 and cholera.

Demographics

In the 2011 provisional census report, India stood as the world’s second-most populous country with 1,210,193,422 residents. Over the decade from 2001 to 2011, its population increased by 17.64%, a slower pace compared to the previous decade’s growth of 21.54% (1991–2001). According to the 2011 census, there were 940 females for every 1,000 males, and the median age as of 2020 was 28.7. Notably, India’s population surged from 361 million in the first post-colonial census conducted in 1951, largely due to medical advancements over the past 50 years and increased agricultural productivity driven by the “Green Revolution.”

Language Families spoken in Asia
Language Families spoken in Asia

Life expectancy in India averages at 70 years, with women typically living 71.5 years and men 68.7 years. The country boasts around 93 physicians per 100,000 people. Urbanization has been a significant trend, with a 31.2% increase in urban residents between 1991 and 2001, although over 70% still resided in rural areas in 2001. However, the urban population share rose to 31.16% by the 2011 Census, indicating a slowing overall population growth rate, primarily due to a notable decline in rural growth since 1991. India’s urban landscape includes 53 million-plus urban agglomerations, with major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad leading in population size.

As of the 2011 census, the literacy rate stood at 74.04%, with a gender gap of 16.1 percentage points between rural and urban areas. Kerala emerged as the most literate state with 93.91% literacy, while Bihar lagged behind with 63.82%.

India is linguistically diverse, with several hundred languages spoken across the nation. Indo-Aryan languages, spoken by 74% of Indians, dominate, followed by Dravidian languages (24%) and Austroasiatic or Sino-Tibetan languages (2%). Although Hindi serves as the official language of the government due to its large number of speakers, English plays a crucial role in business, administration, and education, serving as a medium for higher education. Each state and union territory recognizes one or more official languages, with the constitution acknowledging 22 “scheduled languages.”

Regarding religion, Hinduism holds the largest share at 79.80% of the population, followed by Islam (14.23%). Other significant religious groups include Christianity (2.30%), Sikhism (1.72%), Buddhism (0.70%), Jainism (0.36%), and various others. India harbors the third-largest Muslim population globally, the most notable among non-Muslim majority countries.

Cultural Diversity

Indian cultural heritage spans over 4,500 years. The Vedic period (circa 1700 BCE – circa 500 BCE) witnessed the laying of the foundations of Hindu philosophy, mythology, theology, and literature, establishing enduring beliefs and practices such as dhárma, kárma, yóga, and mokṣa. India stands out for its religious diversity, encompassing Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam, Christianity, and Jainism as major religions. Hinduism, the predominant religion, has been influenced by various historical schools of thought, including the Upanishads, the Yoga Sutras, the Bhakti movement, and Buddhist philosophy.

A Sikh pilgrim at the Harmandir Sahib, or Golden Temple, in Amritsar, Punjab
A Sikh pilgrim at the Harmandir Sahib, or Golden Temple, in Amritsar, Punjab

Visual Art

India boasts an ancient tradition of art that has shared influences with Eurasia, particularly during the first millennium when Buddhist art disseminated alongside Indian religions to Central, East, and Southeast Asia, with the latter notably influenced by Hindu art. The remnants of this tradition date back to the third millennium BCE, with thousands of seals discovered from the Indus Valley Civilization, depicting animals and occasionally human figures. Notably, the “Pashupati” seal from Mohenjo-daro, Pakistan, unearthed in 1928–29, stands out as a significant artifact.

Following this era, there is a noticeable dearth of surviving art until the emergence of various forms of religious sculpture in durable materials and coins. The Mauryan art in North India marks the onset of the first imperial artistic movement. As Buddhist art spread across regions like Central, East, and Southeast Asia in the first millennium CE, it intertwined with Hindu art, shaping a distinct Indian style of sculpting the human figure characterized by smooth flowing forms conveying prana, or life force.

Gupta terracotta relief, Krishna Killing the Horse Demon Keshi, 5th century
Gupta terracotta relief, Krishna Killing the Horse Demon Keshi, 5th century

The early large-scale sculptures predominantly belonged to Buddhism, either excavated from Buddhist stupas or found in rock-cut reliefs at sites like Ajanta, Karla, and Ellora. Hindu and Jain sites emerged later in the artistic timeline. Despite the diversity of religious traditions, the prevailing artistic styles were generally shared among major religious groups, with sculptors likely catering to all communities.

The Gupta period, spanning approximately from 300 CE to 500 CE, is often hailed as a classical era whose influence endured for centuries. It witnessed a resurgence of Hindu sculpture, exemplified by the Elephanta Caves. While northern sculpture became somewhat rigid and formulaic after around 800 CE, the southern regions, under the Pallava and Chola dynasties, experienced a flourishing period of sculptural excellence in both stone and bronze, with iconic pieces like the large bronzes depicting Shiva as Nataraja.

Regarding painting, ancient examples are scarce, with the Ajanta Caves offering significant insights into courtly life scenes. However, it was evidently a highly developed art form, noted as a courtly accomplishment during the Gupta era. Painted manuscripts of religious texts emerged in Eastern India around the 10th century, predominantly Buddhist initially and later Jain. The Deccan painting, influenced by Persian styles and predating Mughal miniatures, alongside Mughal miniatures themselves, marked the advent of secular painting, emphasizing portraits and princely pursuits. This style extended to Hindu courts, particularly among the Rajputs, fostering various innovative approaches, notably in smaller courts.

The 19th century witnessed the emergence of Kalighat paintings, depicting gods and everyday life on paper, as urban folk art from Calcutta. This period also saw the rise of the Bengal School of Art, influenced by the art colleges established by the British, representing the first movement in modern Indian painting.

Architecture

A significant portion of Indian architecture, exemplified by iconic structures like the Taj Mahal, various Indo-Islamic Mughal creations, and South Indian architectural marvels, seamlessly blends indigenous traditions with foreign influences. Regional flavors characterize vernacular architecture across the country. Vastu shastra, translated as “science of construction” or “architecture,” attributed to Mamuni Mayan, delves into the interaction between natural laws and human habitats. Employing precise geometry and directional alignments, it mirrors cosmic principles as perceived by ancient scholars. In Hindu temple architecture, Vastu shastra finds expression through the Shilpa Shastras, foundational texts where the Vastu-Purusha mandala, symbolizing the “absolute,” holds prominence. The Taj Mahal, erected in Agra between 1631 and 1648 under the directive of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in honor of his wife, is hailed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as “the epitome of Muslim art in India and a globally revered masterpiece.” The Indo-Saracenic Revival style, pioneered by the British in the late 19th century, reflects a fusion of Indo-Islamic architectural elements.

The Taj Mahal from across the Yamuna river showing two outlying red sandstone buildings, a mosque on the right (west) and a jawab (response) thought to have been built for architectural balance
The Taj Mahal from across the Yamuna river showing two outlying red sandstone buildings, a mosque on the right (west) and a jawab (response) thought to have been built for architectural balance

Literature

The earliest literary endeavors in India, spanning from 1500 BCE to 1200 CE, were penned in Sanskrit. Notable works of Sanskrit literature include the Rigveda (circa 1500 BCE – circa 1200 BCE), the epics Mahābhārata (circa 400 BCE – circa 400 CE) and the Ramayana (circa 300 BCE and later), as well as Abhijñānaśākuntalam (The Recognition of Śakuntalā) and other dramas by Kālidāsa (circa 5th century CE) and Mahākāvya poetry. Tamil literature boasts the Sangam literature (circa 600 BCE – circa 300 BCE), comprising 2,381 poems by 473 poets, as its earliest achievement. From the 14th to the 18th centuries, India’s literary landscape underwent significant transformation due to the emergence of devotional poets like Kabīr, Tulsīdās, and Guru Nānak. This era showcased a diverse range of ideologies and expressions, marking a departure from classical traditions. In the 19th century, Indian writers delved into social issues and psychological portrayals, while the 20th century saw the influence of Rabindranath Tagore, a Bengali poet, author, and philosopher who was honored with the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Performing arts and media

India boasts a rich tapestry of musical traditions spanning various regions. Within classical music, there are two prominent genres: Hindustani in the north and Carnatic in the south, each with its own folk influences. Popular regional musical forms include filmi and folk, with the syncretic baul tradition being particularly renowned. Indian dance is equally diverse, encompassing folk and classical styles. Notable folk dances include bhangra, bihu, Jhumair, chhau, garba, dandiya, ghoomar, and lavani. Additionally, eight classical dance forms, featuring narrative and mythological elements, have been recognized by India’s National Academy of Music, Dance, and Drama.

India's National Academy of Performance Arts has recognised eight Indian dance styles to be classical. One such is Kuchipudi shown here
India's National Academy of Performance Arts has recognised eight Indian dance styles to be classical. One such is Kuchipudi shown here

Theatre in India integrates music, dance, and dialogue, drawing from Hindu mythology, medieval romances, and societal events. Various regional theatrical traditions exist, such as bhavai, jatra, nautanki, ramlila, tamasha, burrakatha, terukkuttu, and yakshagana. The National School of Drama in New Delhi serves as a premier institute for theatre training. The Indian film industry, particularly Bollywood, garners global attention, while regional cinemas thrive in languages like Assamese, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, Odia, Tamil, and Telugu.

Television broadcasting commenced in India in 1959 under state control, gradually expanding over two decades before transitioning to a more diversified landscape in the 1990s with the rise of satellite channels. Today, television holds a dominant position in Indian media, with over 554 million consumers, predominantly through satellite or cable connections, surpassing other forms of mass media such as the press, radio, and internet.

Society

Traditional Indian society is characterized by a hierarchical social structure, with the Indian caste system embodying much of this stratification and imposing various social restrictions across the Indian subcontinent. Social classes are delineated by numerous endogamous hereditary groups, often referred to as “jātis” or “castes.” India took significant steps towards social equality by abolishing untouchability in 1950 through the adoption of its constitution, followed by the implementation of anti-discriminatory laws and social welfare initiatives.

Mecca Masjid, Hyderabad
Mecca Masjid, Hyderabad

Family values hold great significance in Indian culture, with multi-generational patrilineal joint families being customary, although nuclear families are increasingly prevalent in urban areas. A vast majority of Indians have their marriages arranged by parents or elders, viewing marriage as a lifelong commitment, resulting in an exceptionally low divorce rate. However, child marriages, especially in rural regions, persist, with many girls marrying before reaching the legal age of 18. Female infanticide and more recently, female foeticide, have led to imbalanced gender ratios, with a significant number of women missing or receiving inadequate care. Despite government bans, the practice of sex-selective foeticide remains widespread, driven by a preference for male offspring in a patriarchal society. Dowry payments, though illegal, continue to be prevalent across all social classes, contributing to deaths, primarily through bride burning, despite stringent anti-dowry laws.

Indian festivals predominantly have religious roots, with notable ones including Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi, Thai Pongal, Holi, Durga Puja, Eid ul-Fitr, Bakr-Id, Christmas, and Vaisakhi.

Beautiful View Of Bahadurabad Chorangi, Karachi, Pakistan
Beautiful View Of Bahadurabad Chorangi, Karachi, Pakistan
The Tomb of Shah Rukn-e-Alam is part of Pakistan's Sufi heritage
The Tomb of Shah Rukn-e-Alam is part of Pakistan's Sufi heritage

Education

In the 2011 census, the literacy rate stood at approximately 73% for the population, with 81% for men and 65% for women. Contrasting with 1981, where the respective rates were 41%, 53% and 29%, and 1951, with rates of 18%, 27% and 9%, the progression showcases significant improvement. Even earlier, in 1921 and 1891, the rates were even lower. According to Latika Chaudhary, the scarcity of primary schools in 1911 hindered literacy growth, especially in diverse regions where private spending reduced statistically.

India boasts the world’s second-largest education system, with over 900 universities, 40,000 colleges, and 1.5 million schools. Notably, affirmative action policies reserve a substantial number of higher education seats for historically disadvantaged groups. The nation’s enhanced education system in recent decades has been widely acknowledged as a key driver of its economic progress.

Education in india
Education in india

Clothing

indian Clothing
indian Clothing

From ancient times to the onset of modernity, the predominant attire in India was the draped garment. For women, this took the form of the sari, a lengthy piece of cloth wrapped around the lower body and over the shoulder. Modern adaptations involve pairing it with an underskirt and blouse for a more secure fit. Men traditionally wore the dhoti, a shorter draped cloth for the lower body.

The use of stitched clothing became prevalent during Muslim rule under the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire. Introduced during this era were garments like shalwars, pyjamas, kurtas, and kameez, which are still commonly worn today. In southern India, draped garments remained in popular use for a longer duration.

Shalwars are typically wide at the waist, tapering down to a cuffed bottom, often pleated with a drawstring. They can also be narrow, known as churidars, or hemmed without cuffs, termed pyjamas. The kameez is a long tunic with side seams open below the waist, while the kurta is collarless, usually made of cotton or silk, and often adorned with embroidery.

In recent decades, fashion trends in India have evolved significantly. The sari, once everyday wear, is now more common at formal events. Young urban women prefer churidars or jeans over traditional shalwar kameez. In office settings, air conditioning has made sports jackets a year-round option for men. Formal occasions see men in bandgalas or Nehru jackets, while the dhoti, once symbolic of Indian nationalism, is rarely seen in urban areas.

Cuisine

A typical Indian meal centers around a plain cooked cereal, like steamed rice, chapati, idli, or dosa, accompanied by flavorful savory dishes. These dishes may include lentils, pulses, vegetables, and spices like ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and more. Sometimes, poultry, fish, or meat are also included. The meal is served on a thali, with the cereal at the center and accompaniments around it. Eating involves combining or pairing the cereal with the accompaniments, such as mixing rice and lentils or scooping curry with chapati. India boasts diverse vegetarian cuisines, influenced by geographical and cultural histories, with vegetarianism prominent in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism due to principles like ahimsa. Although meat consumption is widespread, it’s relatively low compared to other countries, with dairy being a preferred protein source. Mughal Empire brought significant cooking techniques to India, such as pilaf and marinating meat in yogurt, leading to dishes like biryani. Tandoori chicken’s popularity in Indian cuisine worldwide dates back to the 1950s, stemming from the Punjab region’s culinary traditions and entrepreneurial efforts after the 1947 partition of India.

Sports and recreation

Various traditional indigenous sports such as kabaddi, kho kho, pehlwani, gilli-danda, and martial arts like Kalarippayattu and marma adi continue to hold sway in India. Chess, often believed to have originated in India as chaturaṅga, has seen a surge in Indian grandmasters in recent times. Viswanathan Anand clinched the Chess World Champion title in 2007 and retained it until 2013, also claiming victory in the Chess World Cup in 2000 and 2002. In a notable moment in 2023, 18-year-old R Praggnanandhaa emerged as the runner-up in the Chess World Cup. Parcheesi finds its roots in Pachisi, another ancient Indian pastime, famously played on a grand marble court by the Mughal emperor Akbar the Great. Carrom, a tabletop game originating in India, also enjoys widespread popularity.

Girls play hopscotch in Jaora, Madhya Pradesh. Hopscotch has been commonly played by girls in rural India
Girls play hopscotch in Jaora, Madhya Pradesh. Hopscotch has been commonly played by girls in rural India

Cricket stands as the undisputed favorite among sports in India, with the Indian Premier League being a major domestic league. Other professional leagues include the Indian Super League for football and the Pro Kabaddi League. India boasts a stellar cricketing record, clinching two Cricket World Cups in 1983 and 2011, and securing victory as the inaugural T20 World Cup Champions in 2007. Additionally, India lifted the Champions Trophy twice, in 2002 and 2013, and emerged victorious in the only edition of the World Championship of Cricket in 1985.

India’s prowess in sports extends beyond cricket. With eight field hockey gold medals in the Summer Olympics, the nation has left an indelible mark on the international stage. Tennis has witnessed a surge in popularity owing to the improved performances of the Indian Davis Cup team and other tennis stars during the early 2010s. India boasts a formidable presence in shooting sports, clinching numerous medals at the Olympics, World Shooting Championships, and Commonwealth Games. Additionally, Indian athletes have excelled in badminton, with Saina Nehwal and P. V. Sindhu ranking among the top female players globally, as well as in boxing and wrestling.

Football enjoys significant popularity in regions like West Bengal, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and the northeastern states. India’s dominance in regional sporting events is evident, particularly in the South Asian Games, where the basketball team has emerged victorious in four out of five tournaments held to date. India has also played host to numerous international sporting extravaganzas, including the Asian Games in 1951 and 1982, various ICC Men’s and Women’s Cricket World Cup tournaments, the South Asian Games, the Men’s Asia Cup in 1990-91, the Chess World Cup in 2002, and the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017, among others. Notable annual events such as the Maharashtra Open, Mumbai Marathon, Delhi Half Marathon, and Indian Masters draw global participation. Although the Formula 1 Indian Grand Prix debuted in 2011, it was discontinued from the F1 calendar after 2014.

FAQ

FAQ

Most frequent questions and answers

1. What is the old name of India?

India’s ancient name, Bharat, is derived from the legendary King Bharata, a significant figure in Hindu mythology. It symbolizes the deep-rooted cultural heritage and historical significance of the land.

2. What is special about India?

India is a land of diversity, where myriad cultures, languages, and traditions coexist harmoniously. Its rich history dates back thousands of years, marked by remarkable achievements in art, science, and spirituality.

3. What are the 5 names of India?

India is known by various names reflecting its multifaceted identity. Some of these include Bharat, Hindustan, Aryavarta, Hind, and Bharatvarsha, each carrying its own historical and cultural connotations.

4. How big is India in KM?

Covering an area of approximately 3.287 million square kilometers, India stands as the seventh-largest country in the world, encompassing diverse landscapes ranging from majestic mountains to sprawling plains and picturesque coastlines.

5. Why is India called the golden bird?

India’s historical prosperity and abundance in resources led to it being referred to as the “golden bird.” Its wealth in precious metals, spices, and textiles attracted traders from around the world, contributing to its vibrant economy and cultural exchange.

6. Who named India first?

The term “India” finds its origin in the ancient Greek word “Indica,” used by Greek historians to refer to the land beyond the river Indus. However, the indigenous name Bharat holds deeper cultural significance and is widely acknowledged in Indian tradition.

7. Which food is famous in India?

Indian cuisine is celebrated globally for its rich flavors and diverse range of dishes. From aromatic curries and tandoori specialties to savory street food delights like samosas and chaat, Indian food offers a tantalizing culinary journey.

8. How many languages spoken in India?

India is a linguistic mosaic, with over 1,600 languages and dialects spoken across its vast expanse. While Hindi and English serve as the official languages, each state boasts its own regional language, contributing to India’s linguistic diversity.

9. What is the national animal of India?

The majestic Bengal tiger, renowned for its strength, agility, and regal demeanor, holds the esteemed position of being India’s national animal. As a symbol of power and conservation efforts, the tiger embodies India’s commitment to preserving its natural heritage.

Gallery