: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia
. It is the second-most populous
country, the seventh-largest country
by land area, and the most populous democracy
in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean
on the south, the Arabian Sea
on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal
on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan
to the west; China
, and Bhutan
to the north; and Bangladesh
to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka
and the Maldives
; its Andaman and Nicobar Islands
share a maritime border with Thailand
arrived on the Indian subcontinent
from Africa no later than 55,000 years ago.
Their long occupation, initially in varying forms of isolation as hunter-gatherers, has made the region highly diverse, second only to Africa in human genetic diversity
] Settled life
emerged on the subcontinent in the western margins of the Indus river
basin 9,000 years ago, evolving gradually into the Indus Valley Civilisation
of the third millennium BCE.
(a) ; (b)
By 1200 BCE, an archaic form
, an Indo-European language
, had diffused
into India from the northwest,
(a) , ] unfolding
(e) Quote: "Although the collapse of the Indus valley civilization is no longer believed to have been due to an ‘Aryan invasion’ it is widely thought that, at roughly the same time, or perhaps a few centuries later, new Indo-Aryan-speaking people and influences began to enter the subcontinent from the north-west. Detailed evidence is lacking. Nevertheless, a predecessor of the language that would eventually be called Sanskrit was probably introduced into the north-west sometime between 3,900 and 3,000 years ago. This language was related to one then spoken in eastern Iran; and both of these languages belonged to the Indo-European language family. ... It seems likely that various small-scale migrations were involved in the gradual introduction of the predecessor language and associated cultural characteristics. However, there may not have been a tight relationship between movements of people on the one hand, and changes in language and culture on the other. Moreover, the process whereby a dynamic new force gradually arose—a people with a distinct ideology who eventually seem to have referred to themselves as ‘Arya’—was certainly two-way. That is, it involved a blending of new features which came from outside with other features—probably including some surviving Harappan influences—that were already present. Anyhow, it would be quite a few centuries before Sanskrit was written down. And the hymns and stories of the Arya people—especially the Vedas and the later Mahabharata and Ramayana epics—are poor guides as to historical events. Of course, the emerging Arya were to have a huge impact on the history of the subcontinent. Nevertheless, little is known about their early presence.";
as the language of the ''Rigveda
'', and recording the dawning of Hinduism
(a) ; ]
The Dravidian languages
of India were supplanted in the northern and western regions.
(a) ; (b)
By 400 BCE, stratification
had emerged within Hinduism,
had arisen, proclaiming social order
s unlinked to heredity.
Early political consolidations gave rise to the loose-knit Maurya
and Gupta Empire
s based in the Ganges Basin
(a) ; (b) ; (c) ; (d) ]
Their collective era
was suffused with wide-ranging creativity,
(a) ; (b)
but also marked by the declining status of women,
(a) ; (b) ; (c)
and the incorporation of untouchability
into an organised system of belief. In South India
, the Middle kingdoms
exported Dravidian-languages scripts and religious cultures to the kingdoms of Southeast Asia
In the early medieval era, Christianity
, and Zoroastrianism
put down roots on India's southern and western coasts.
(a) ; (b) ; (c)
Muslim armies from Central Asia
intermittently overran India's northern plains,
(a) ; (b)
eventually establishing the Delhi Sultanate
, and drawing northern India into the cosmopolitan networks of medieval Islam
(a) ; (b)
In the 15th century, the Vijayanagara Empire
created a long-lasting composite Hindu culture in south India.
In the Punjab
emerged, rejecting institutionalised religion.
The Mughal Empire
, in 1526, ushered in two centuries of relative peace,
leaving a legacy of luminous architecture.
Gradually expanding rule of the British East India Company
followed, turning India into a colonial economy, but also consolidating its sovereignty
(a) ; (b)
] British Crown rule
began in 1858. The rights promised to Indians were granted slowly,
[; (b) ]
but technological changes
were introduced, and ideas of education, modernity and the public life took root.
A pioneering and influential nationalist movement emerged, which was noted for nonviolent resistance and became the major factor in ending British rule.
In 1947 the British Indian Empire was partition
ed into two independent dominions
, a Hindu-majority Dominion of India
and a Muslim-majority Dominion of Pakistan
, amid large-scale loss of life and an unprecedented migration.
India has been a federal republic
since 1950, governed in a democratic parliamentary system
. It is a pluralistic
, multilingual and multi-ethnic society. India's population grew from 361 million in 1951 to 1.211 billion in 2011.
During the same time, its nominal per capita income
increased from US$64 annually to US$1,498, and its literacy rate from 16.6% to 74%. From being a comparatively destitute country in 1951,
India has become a fast-growing major economy
and a hub for information technology services
, with an expanding middle class.
It has a space programme
which includes several planned or completed extraterrestrial missions
. Indian movies, music, and spiritual teachings play an increasing role in global culture.
India has substantially reduced its rate of poverty, though at the cost of increasing economic inequality.
India is a nuclear-weapon state
, which ranks high in military expenditure
. It has disputes over Kashmir
with its neighbours, Pakistan and China, unresolved since the mid-20th century.
Among the socio-economic challenges India faces are gender inequality
, child malnutrition
and rising levels of air pollution
India's land is megadiverse
, with four biodiversity hotspots
Its forest cover comprises 21.4% of its area.
] India's wildlife
, which has traditionally been viewed with tolerance in India's culture
is supported among these forests, and elsewhere, in protected habitats
According to the ''Oxford English Dictionary
'' (third edition 2009), the name "India" is derived from the Classical Latin
''India'', a reference to South Asia
and an uncertain region to its east; and in turn derived successively from: Hellenistic Greek
''India'' ('' Ἰνδία''); ancient Greek
''Indos'' ('' Ἰνδός''); Old Persian
'', an eastern province of the Achaemenid empire
; and ultimately its cognate
, the Sanskrit
''Sindhu'', or "river," specifically the Indus river
and, by implication, its well-settled southern basin. The ancient Greeks
referred to the Indians as ''Indoi'' ('), which translates as "The people of the Indus".
The term ''Bharat
'' (; ), mentioned in both Indian epic poetry
and the Constitution of India
is used in its variations by many Indian languages
. A modern rendering of the historical name ''Bharatavarsha'', which applied originally to a region of the Gangetic Valley
''Bharat'' gained increased currency from the mid-19th century as a native name for India.
'' () is a Middle Persian
name for India, introduced during the Mughal Empire
and used widely since. Its meaning has varied, referring to a region encompassing present-day northern India and Pakistan
or to India in its near entirety.
By 55,000 years ago, the first modern humans, or ''Homo sapiens
'', had arrived on the Indian subcontinent from Africa, where they had earlier evolved.
[ Quote: "Modern human beings—''Homo sapiens''—originated in Africa. Then, intermittently, sometime between 60,000 and 80,000 years ago, tiny groups of them began to enter the north-west of the Indian subcontinent. It seems likely that initially they came by way of the coast. ... it is virtually certain that there were ''Homo sapiens'' in the subcontinent 55,000 years ago, even though the earliest fossils that have been found of them date to only about 30,000 years before the present. (page 1)"] [ Quote: "Y-Chromosome and Mt-DNA data support the colonization of South Asia by modern humans originating in Africa. ... Coalescence dates for most non-European populations average to between 73–55 ka."] [ Quote: "Scholars estimate that the first successful expansion of the ''Homo sapiens'' range beyond Africa and across the Arabian Peninsula occurred from as early as 80,000 years ago to as late as 40,000 years ago, although there may have been prior unsuccessful emigrations. Some of their descendants extended the human range ever further in each generation, spreading into each habitable land they encountered. One human channel was along the warm and productive coastal lands of the Persian Gulf and northern Indian Ocean. Eventually, various bands entered India between 75,000 years ago and 35,000 years ago (page 23)"]
The earliest known modern human remains in South Asia date to about 30,000 years ago. After 6500 BCE, evidence for domestication of food crops and animals, construction of permanent structures, and storage of agricultural surplus appeared in Mehrgarh
and other sites in what is now Balochistan, Pakistan
. These gradually developed into the Indus Valley Civilisation
, the first urban culture in South Asia, which flourished during 2500–1900 BCE in what is now Pakistan and western India. Centred around cities such as Mohenjo-daro
, and Kalibangan
, and relying on varied forms of subsistence, the civilisation engaged robustly in crafts production and wide-ranging trade.
During the period 2000–500 BCE, many regions of the subcontinent transitioned from the Chalcolithic
cultures to the Iron Age
ones. The Vedas
, the oldest scriptures associated with Hinduism
, were composed during this period, and historians have analysed these to posit a Vedic culture
in the Punjab region
and the upper Gangetic Plain
. Most historians also consider this period to have encompassed several waves of Indo-Aryan migration
into the subcontinent from the north-west. The caste system
, which created a hierarchy of priests, warriors, and free peasants, but which excluded indigenous peoples by labelling their occupations impure, arose during this period. On the Deccan Plateau
, archaeological evidence from this period suggests the existence of a chiefdom stage of political organisation. In South India
, a progression to sedentary life is indicated by the large number of megalith
ic monuments dating from this period, as well as by nearby traces of agriculture
, irrigation tanks
, and craft traditions.
In the late Vedic period, around the 6th century BCE, the small states and chiefdoms of the Ganges Plain and the north-western regions had consolidated into 16 major oligarchies and monarchies that were known as the ''mahajanapadas
''. The emerging urbanisation gave rise to non-Vedic religious movements, two of which became independent religions. Jainism came into prominence during the life of its exemplar, Mahavira
. Buddhism, based on the teachings of Gautama Buddha
, attracted followers from all social classes excepting the middle class; chronicling the life of the Buddha was central to the beginnings of recorded history in India. In an age of increasing urban wealth, both religions held up renunciation
as an ideal, and both established long-lasting monastic traditions. Politically, by the 3rd century BCE, the kingdom of Magadha
had annexed or reduced other states to emerge as the Mauryan Empire
. The empire was once thought to have controlled most of the subcontinent except the far south, but its core regions are now thought to have been separated by large autonomous areas. The Mauryan kings are known as much for their empire-building and determined management of public life as for Ashoka
's renunciation of militarism and far-flung advocacy of the Buddhist ''dhamma
The Sangam literature
of the Tamil language
reveals that, between 200 BCE and 200 CE, the southern peninsula was ruled by the Cheras
, the Cholas
, and the Pandyas
, dynasties that traded extensively with the Roman Empire
and with West
and South-East Asia
. In North India, Hinduism asserted patriarchal control within the family, leading to increased subordination of women. By the 4th and 5th centuries, the Gupta Empire
had created a complex system of administration and taxation in the greater Ganges Plain; this system became a model for later Indian kingdoms. Under the Guptas, a renewed Hinduism based on devotion, rather than the management of ritual, began to assert itself. This renewal was reflected in a flowering of sculpture
, which found patrons among an urban elite. Classical Sanskrit literature
flowered as well, and Indian science
, and mathematics
made significant advances.
The Indian early medieval age, 600 CE to 1200 CE, is defined by regional kingdoms and cultural diversity. When Harsha
, who ruled much of the Indo-Gangetic Plain from 606 to 647 CE, attempted to expand southwards, he was defeated by the Chalukya
ruler of the Deccan. When his successor attempted to expand eastwards, he was defeated by the Pala
king of Bengal
. When the Chalukyas attempted to expand southwards, they were defeated by the Pallava
s from farther south, who in turn were opposed by the Pandyas
and the Cholas
from still farther south. No ruler of this period was able to create an empire and consistently control lands much beyond their core region. During this time, pastoral peoples, whose land had been cleared to make way for the growing agricultural economy, were accommodated within caste society, as were new non-traditional ruling classes. The caste system consequently began to show regional differences.
In the 6th and 7th centuries, the first devotional hymns
were created in the Tamil language. They were imitated all over India and led to both the resurgence of Hinduism and the development of all modern languages of the subcontinent
. Indian royalty, big and small, and the temples they patronised drew citizens in great numbers to the capital cities, which became economic hubs as well. Temple towns of various sizes began to appear everywhere as India underwent another urbanisation. By the 8th and 9th centuries, the effects were felt in South-East Asia, as South Indian culture and political systems were exported to lands that became part of modern-day Myanmar
, and Java
. Indian merchants, scholars, and sometimes armies were involved in this transmission; South-East Asians took the initiative as well, with many sojourning in Indian seminaries and translating Buddhist and Hindu texts into their languages.
After the 10th century, Muslim Central Asian nomadic clans, using swift-horse
cavalry and raising vast armies united by ethnicity and religion, repeatedly overran South Asia's north-western plains, leading eventually to the establishment of the Islamic Delhi Sultanate
in 1206. The sultanate was to control much of North India and to make many forays into South India. Although at first disruptive for the Indian elites, the sultanate largely left its vast non-Muslim subject population to its own laws and customs. By repeatedly repulsing Mongol raiders
in the 13th century, the sultanate saved India from the devastation visited on West and Central Asia, setting the scene for centuries of migration
of fleeing soldiers, learned men, mystics, traders, artists, and artisans from that region into the subcontinent, thereby creating a syncretic Indo-Islamic culture in the north. The sultanate's raiding and weakening of the regional kingdoms of South India paved the way for the indigenous Vijayanagara Empire
. Embracing a strong Shaivite
tradition and building upon the military technology of the sultanate, the empire came to control much of peninsular India, and was to influence South Indian society for long afterwards.
Early modern India
In the early 16th century, northern India, then under mainly Muslim rulers, fell again to the superior mobility and firepower of a new generation of Central Asian warriors. The resulting Mughal Empire did not stamp out the local societies it came to rule. Instead, it balanced and pacified them through new administrative practices and diverse and inclusive ruling elites, leading to more systematic, centralised, and uniform rule. Eschewing tribal bonds and Islamic identity, especially under Akbar
, the Mughals united their far-flung realms through loyalty, expressed through a Persianised culture, to an emperor who had near-divine status. The Mughal state's economic policies, deriving most revenues from agriculture and mandating that taxes be paid in the well-regulated silver currency, caused peasants and artisans to enter larger markets. The relative peace maintained by the empire during much of the 17th century was a factor in India's economic expansion, resulting in greater patronage of painting
, literary forms, textiles, and architecture
. Newly coherent social groups in northern and western India, such as the Marathas
, the Rajputs
, and the Sikhs
, gained military and governing ambitions during Mughal rule, which, through collaboration or adversity, gave them both recognition and military experience. Expanding commerce during Mughal rule gave rise to new Indian commercial and political elites along the coasts of southern and eastern India. As the empire disintegrated, many among these elites were able to seek and control their own affairs.
By the early 18th century, with the lines between commercial and political dominance being increasingly blurred, a number of European trading companies, including the English East India Company
, had established coastal outposts. The East India Company's control of the seas, greater resources, and more advanced military training and technology led it to increasingly flex its military muscle and caused it to become attractive to a portion of the Indian elite; these factors were crucial in allowing the company to gain control over the Bengal region by 1765 and sideline the other European companies. Its further access to the riches of Bengal and the subsequent increased strength and size of its army enabled it to annexe or subdue most of India by the 1820s. India was then no longer exporting manufactured goods as it long had, but was instead supplying the British Empire
with raw materials. Many historians consider this to be the onset of India's colonial period. By this time, with its economic power severely curtailed by the British parliament and having effectively been made an arm of British administration, the company began more consciously to enter non-economic arenas like education, social reform, and culture.
Historians consider India's modern age to have begun sometime between 1848 and 1885. The appointment in 1848 of Lord Dalhousie
as Governor General of the East India Company set the stage for changes essential to a modern state. These included the consolidation and demarcation of sovereignty, the surveillance of the population, and the education of citizens. Technological changes—among them, railways, canals, and the telegraph—were introduced not long after their introduction in Europe
. However, disaffection with the company also grew during this time and set off the Indian Rebellion of 1857
. Fed by diverse resentments and perceptions, including invasive British-style social reforms, harsh land taxes, and summary treatment of some rich landowners and princes, the rebellion rocked many regions of northern and central India and shook the foundations of Company rule. Although the rebellion was suppressed by 1858, it led to the dissolution of the East India Company and the direct administration of India
by the British government. Proclaiming a unitary state
and a gradual but limited British-style parliamentary system, the new rulers also protected princes and landed gentry as a feudal safeguard against future unrest. In the decades following, public life gradually emerged all over India, leading eventually to the founding of the Indian National Congress
The rush of technology and the commercialisation of agriculture in the second half of the 19th century was marked by economic setbacks and many small farmers became dependent on the whims of far-away markets. There was an increase in the number of large-scale famines
, and, despite the risks of infrastructure development borne by Indian taxpayers, little industrial employment was generated for Indians. There were also salutary effects: commercial cropping, especially in the newly canalled Punjab, led to increased food production for internal consumption. The railway network provided critical famine relief, notably reduced the cost of moving goods, and helped nascent Indian-owned industry.
After World War I, in which approximately one million Indians served
, a new period began. It was marked by British reforms
but also repressive legislation
, by more strident Indian calls for self-rule, and by the beginnings of a nonviolent
movement of non-co-operation, of which Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
would become the leader and enduring symbol. During the 1930s, slow legislative reform was enacted by the British; the Indian National Congress won victories in the resulting elections. The next decade was beset with crises: Indian participation in World War II
, the Congress's final push for non-co-operation, and an upsurge of Muslim nationalism. All were capped by the advent of independence in 1947, but tempered by the partition of India
into two states: India and Pakistan.
Vital to India's self-image as an independent nation was its constitution, completed in 1950, which put in place a secular and democratic republic. It has remained a democracy with civil liberties, an active Supreme Court, and a largely independent press. Economic liberalisation, which began in the 1990s, has created a large urban middle class, transformed India into one of the world's fastest-growing economies
, and increased its geopolitical clout. Indian movies, music, and spiritual teachings play an increasing role in global culture. Yet, India is also shaped by seemingly unyielding poverty, both rural and urban; by religious
and caste-related violence
; by Maoist-inspired Naxalite insurgencies
; and by separatism in Jammu and Kashmir
and in Northeast India
. It has unresolved territorial disputes with China
and with Pakistan
. India's sustained democratic freedoms are unique among the world's newer nations; however, in spite of its recent economic successes, freedom from want for its disadvantaged population remains a goal yet to be achieved.
India accounts for the bulk of the Indian subcontinent, lying atop the Indian tectonic plate
, a part of the Indo-Australian Plate
. India's defining geological processes began 75 million years ago when the Indian Plate, then part of the southern supercontinent Gondwana
, began a north-eastward drift
caused by seafloor spreading
to its south-west, and later, south and south-east. Simultaneously, the vast Tethyan oceanic crust
, to its northeast, began to subduct
under the Eurasian Plate
. These dual processes, driven by convection in the Earth's mantle
, both created the Indian Ocean
and caused the Indian continental crust
eventually to under-thrust Eurasia and to uplift the Himalayas
. Immediately south of the emerging Himalayas, plate movement created a vast trough
that rapidly filled with river-borne sediment and now constitutes the Indo-Gangetic Plain
. Cut off from the plain by the ancient Aravalli Range
lies the Thar Desert
The original Indian Plate survives as peninsular India
, the oldest and geologically most stable part of India. It extends as far north as the Satpura
ranges in central India. These parallel chains run from the Arabian Sea coast in Gujarat in the west to the coal-rich Chota Nagpur Plateau
in Jharkhand in the east. To the south, the remaining peninsular landmass, the Deccan Plateau
, is flanked on the west and east by coastal ranges known as the Western
and Eastern Ghats
; the plateau contains the country's oldest rock formations, some over one billion years old. Constituted in such fashion, India lies to the north of the equator between 6° 44′ and 35° 30′ north latitude and 68° 7′ and 97° 25′ east longitude.
India's coastline measures in length; of this distance, belong to peninsular India and to the Andaman, Nicobar, and Lakshadweep island chains. According to the Indian naval hydrographic charts, the mainland coastline consists of the following: 43% sandy beaches; 11% rocky shores, including cliffs; and 46% mudflat
s or marshy shores.
India contains 172 IUCN
-designated threatened animal species
, or 2.9% of endangered forms. These include the endangered Bengal tiger
and the Ganges river dolphin
. Critically endangered
species include: the gharial
, a crocodilian
; the great Indian bustard
; and the Indian white-rumped vulture
, which has become nearly extinct by having ingested the carrion of diclofenac
The pervasive and ecologically devastating human encroachment of recent decades has critically endangered Indian wildlife. In response, the system of national parks
and protected areas
, first established in 1935, was expanded substantially. In 1972, India enacted the Wildlife Protection Act
and Project Tiger
to safeguard crucial wilderness; the Forest Conservation Act was enacted in 1980 and amendments added in 1988. India hosts more than five hundred wildlife sanctuaries
and thirteenbiosphere reserves
, four of which are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves
; twenty-five wetlands
are registered under the Ramsar Convention
Politics and government
India is the world's most populous democracy
. A parliamentary republic
with a multi-party system
, it has eightrecognised national parties
, including the Indian National Congress
and the Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP), and more than 40regional parties
. The Congress is considered centre-left in Indian political culture
, and the BJP right-wing
. For most of the period between 1950—when India first became a republic—and the late 1980s, the Congress held a majority in the parliament. Since then, however, it has increasingly shared the political stage with the BJP, as well as with powerful regional parties which have often forced the creation of multi-party coalition government
s at the centre.
In the Republic of India's first three general elections, in 1951, 1957, and 1962, the Jawaharlal Nehru
-led Congress won easy victories. On Nehru's death in 1964, Lal Bahadur Shastri
briefly became prime minister; he was succeeded, after his own unexpected death in 1966, by Nehru's daughter Indira Gandhi
, who went on to lead the Congress to election victories in 1967 and 1971. Following public discontent with the state of emergency
she declared in 1975, the Congress was voted out of power in 1977; the then-new Janata Party
, which had opposed the emergency, was voted in. Its government lasted just over two years. Voted back into power in 1980, the Congress saw a change in leadership in 1984, when Indira Gandhi was assassinated; she was succeeded by her son Rajiv Gandhi
, who won an easy victory in the general elections later that year. The Congress was voted out again in 1989 when a National Front
coalition, led by the newly formed Janata Dal
in alliance with the Left Front
, won the elections; that government too proved relatively short-lived, lasting just under two years. Elections were held again in 1991; no party won an absolute majority. The Congress, as the largest single party, was able to form a minority government
led by P. V. Narasimha Rao
A two-year period of political turmoil followed the general election of 1996. Several short-lived alliances shared power at the centre. The BJP formed a government briefly in 1996; it was followed by two comparatively long-lasting United Front
coalitions, which depended on external support. In 1998, the BJP was able to form a successful coalition, the National Democratic Alliance
(NDA). Led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee
, the NDA became the first non-Congress, coalition government
to complete a five-year term. Again in the 2004 Indian general election
s, no party won an absolute majority, but the Congress emerged as the largest single party, forming another successful coalition: the United Progressive Alliance
(UPA). It had the support of left-leaning parties and MPs who opposed the BJP. The UPA returned to power in the 2009 general election
with increased numbers, and it no longer required external support from India's communist parties
. That year, Manmohan Singh
became the first prime minister since Jawaharlal Nehru
to be re-elected to a consecutive five-year term. In the 2014 general election
, the BJP became the first political party since 1984 to win a majority and govern without the support of other parties. The incumbent prime minister is Narendra Modi
, a former chief minister
. On 20 July 2017, Ram Nath Kovind
was elected India's 14th president and took the oath of office on 25 July 2017.
India is a federation
with a parliamentary system
governed under the Constitution of India
—the country's supreme legal document. It is a constitutional republic and representative democracy
, in which "majority rule
is tempered by minority rights
protected by law
". Federalism in India
defines the power distribution between the union and the states
. The Constitution of India, which came into effect on 26 January 1950, originally stated India to be a "sovereign
, democratic republic
;" this characterisation was amended in 1971 to "a sovereign, socialist, secular
, democratic republic". India's form of government, traditionally described as "quasi-federal" with a strong centre and weak states, has grown increasingly federal since the late 1990s as a result of political, economic, and social changes.
The Government of India
comprises three branches:
: The President of India
is the ceremonial head of state
, who is elected indirectly for a five-year term by an electoral college
comprising members of national and state legislatures. The Prime Minister of India
is the head of government
and exercises most executive power
. Appointed by the president, the prime minister is by convention supported by the party
or political alliance
having a majority of seats in the lower house of parliament. The executive of the Indian government consists of the president, the vice president
, and the Union Council of Ministers
—with the cabinet
being its executive committee—headed by the prime minister. Any minister holding a portfolio must be a member of one of the houses of parliament. In the Indian parliamentary system, the executive is subordinate to the legislature; the prime minister and their council are directly responsible to the lower house of the parliament. Civil servants
act as permanent executives and all decisions of the executive
are implemented by them.
: The legislature of India is the bicameral parliament
. Operating under a Westminster-style
parliamentary system, it comprises an upper house called the Rajya Sabha
(Council of States) and a lower house called the Lok Sabha
(House of the People). The Rajya Sabha is a permanent body of 245members who serve staggered six-yearterms. Most are elected indirectly by the state and union territorial
legislatures in numbers proportional to their state's share of the national population. All but two of the Lok Sabha's 545members are elected directly by popular vote; they represent single-member constituencies
for five-yearterms. Two seats of parliament, reserved for Anglo-Indian
in the article 331, have been scrapped.
: India has a three-tierunitary independent judiciary
comprising the supreme court
, headed by the Chief Justice of India
, 25high courts
, and a large number of trial courts. The supreme court has original jurisdiction
over cases involving fundamental rights
and over disputes between states and the centre and has appellate jurisdiction
over the high courts. It has the power to both strike down union or state laws which contravene the constitution, and invalidate any government action it deems unconstitutional.
India is a federal union comprising 28 states
and 8 union territories
(listed below as 128 and AH, respectively). All states, as well as the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir
and the National Capital Territory of Delhi
, have elected legislatures and governments following the Westminster system of governance. The remaining five union territories are directly ruled by the central government through appointed administrators. In 1956, under the States Reorganisation Act
, states were reorganised on a linguistic basis. There are over a quarter of a million local government bodies at city, town, block, district and village levels.
Foreign, economic and strategic relations
In the 1950s, India strongly supported decolonisation in Africa
and played a leading role
in the Non-Aligned Movement
. After initially cordial relations with neighbouring China, India went to war with China in 1962
, and was widely thought to have been humiliated. India has had tense relations
with neighbouring Pakistan; the two nations have gone to war four times: in 1947
, and 1999
. Three of these wars were fought over the disputed territory of Kashmir
, while the fourth, the 1971 war, followed from India's support for the independence of Bangladesh
. In the late 1980s, the Indian military twice intervened abroad at the invitation of the host country: a peace-keeping operation
in Sri Lanka
between 1987 and 1990; and an armed intervention to prevent a 1988 coup d'état attempt
in the Maldives. After the 1965 war with Pakistan, India began to pursue close military and economic ties with the Soviet Union
; by the late 1960s, the Soviet Union was its largest arms supplier.
Aside from ongoing its special relationship with Russia
, India has wide-ranging defence relations with Israel
. In recent years, it has played key roles in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
and the World Trade Organization
. The nation has provided 100,000 military
personnel to serve in 35 UN peacekeeping operations
across four continents. It participates in the East Asia Summit
, the G8+5
, and other multilateral forums. India has close economic ties with countries in South America
, Asia, and Africa; it pursues a "Look East" policy
that seeks to strengthen partnerships with the ASEAN
, and South Korea
that revolve around many issues, but especially those involving economic investment and regional security.
China's nuclear test of 1964
, as well as its repeated threats to intervene in support of Pakistan in the 1965 war, convinced India to develop nuclear weapons. India conducted its first nuclear weapons test
in 1974 and carried out additional underground testing
in 1998. Despite criticism and military sanctions, India has signed neither the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
nor the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
, considering both to be flawed and discriminatory. India maintains a "no first use
" nuclear policy and is developing a nuclear triad
capability as a part of its "Minimum Credible Deterrence
" doctrine. It is developing a ballistic missile defence shield
and, a fifth-generation fighter jet
Other indigenous military projects involve the design and implementation of ''Vikrant''-class aircraft carriers
and ''Arihant''-class nuclear submarines
Since the end of the Cold War
, India has increased its economic, strategic, and military co-operation with the United States
and the European Union
. In 2008, a civilian nuclear agreement
was signed between India and the United States. Although India possessed nuclear weapons at the time and was not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it received waivers from the International Atomic Energy Agency
and the Nuclear Suppliers Group
, ending earlier restrictions on India's nuclear technology and commerce. As a consequence, India became the sixth de facto nuclear weapons state. India subsequently signed co-operation agreements involving civilian nuclear energy
with Russia, France, the United Kingdom
, and Canada
The President of India is the supreme commander of the nation's armed forces; with 1.395 million active troops, they compose the world's second-largest military
. It comprises the Indian Army
, the Indian Navy
, the Indian Air Force
, and the Indian Coast Guard
. The official Indian defence budget
for 2011 was US$36.03 billion, or 1.83% of GDP. For the fiscal year spanning 2012–2013, US$40.44 billion was budgeted. According to a 2008 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
(SIPRI) report, India's annual military expenditure in terms of purchasing power stood at US$72.7 billion. In 2011, the annual defence budget increased by 11.6%, although this does not include funds that reach the military through other branches of government. , India is the world's largest arms importer; between 2007 and 2011, it accounted for 10% of funds spent on international arms purchases. Much of the military expenditure was focused on defence against Pakistan and countering growing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean. In May 2017, the Indian Space Research Organisation
launched the South Asia Satellite
, a gift from India to its neighbouring SAARC
In October 2018, India signed a US$5.43 billion (over 400 billion) agreement with Russia
to procure four S-400 Triumf
surface-to-air missile defence systems, Russia's most advanced long-range missile defence
According to the International Monetary Fund
(IMF), the Indian economy in 2019 was nominally worth $2.9 trillion; it is the fifth-largest economy
by market exchange rates, and is around $11 trillion, the third-largest
by purchasing power parity
With its average annual GDP growth rate of 5.8% over the past two decades, and reaching 6.1% during 2011–2012, India is one of the world's fastest-growing economies
. However, the country ranks 139th in the world in nominal GDP per capita
and 118th in GDP per capita at PPP
. Until 1991, all Indian governments followed protectionist
policies that were influenced by socialist economics. Widespread state intervention and regulation
largely walled the economy off from the outside world. An acute balance of payments crisis in 1991
forced the nation to liberalise its economy
; since then it has moved slowly towards a free-market system by emphasising both foreign trade and direct investment inflows. India has been a member of WTO
since 1 January 1995.
The 513.7-million-worker Indian labour force
is the world's second-largest
, . The service sector makes up 55.6% of GDP, the industrial sector 26.3% and the agricultural sector 18.1%. India's foreign exchange remittances of US$70 billion in 2014, the largest in the world, were contributed to its economy by 25 million Indians working in foreign countries. Major agricultural products include: rice, wheat, oilseed, cotton, jute, tea, sugarcane, and potatoes. Major industries include: textiles, telecommunications, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, food processing, steel, transport equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery, and software. In 2006, the share of external trade in India's GDP stood at 24%, up from 6% in 1985. In 2008, India's share of world trade was 1.68%; In 2011, India was the world's tenth-largest importer
and the nineteenth-largest exporter
. Major exports include: petroleum products, textile goods, jewellery, software, engineering goods, chemicals, and manufactured leather goods. Major imports include: crude oil, machinery, gems, fertiliser, and chemicals. Between 2001 and 2011, the contribution of petrochemical and engineering goods to total exports grew from 14% to 42%. India was the world's second largest textile exporter after China
in the 2013 calendar year.
Averaging an economic growth rate of 7.5% for several years prior to 2007, India has more than doubled its hourly wage rates during the first decade of the 21st century. Some 431 million Indians have left poverty since 1985; India's middle classes are projected to number around 580 million by 2030. Though ranking 51st in global competitiveness
, , India ranks 17th in financial market sophistication, 24th in the banking sector, 44th in business sophistication, and 39th in innovation, ahead of several advanced economies. With seven of the world's top 15 information technology outsourcing companies based in India, , the country is viewed as the second-most favourable outsourcing destination after the United States. India's consumer market, the world's eleventh-largest
, is expected to become fifth-largest by 2030. Increasing access to electricity and clean cooking have been the priorities for energy in India
: the country's coal
is a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions by India
but the country's renewable energy
is competing strongly.
Driven by growth, India's nominal GDP per capita
increased steadily from US$329 in 1991, when economic liberalisation began, to US$1,265 in 2010, to an estimated US$1,723 in 2016. It is expected to grow to US$2,358 by 2020.
However, it has remained lower than those of other Asian developing countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, and is expected to remain so in the near future. Its GDP per capita is higher than Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan and others.
According to a 2011 PricewaterhouseCoopers
(PwC) report, India's GDP at purchasing power parity could overtake that of the United States by 2045. During the next four decades, Indian GDP is expected to grow at an annualised average of 8%, making it potentially the world's fastest-growing major economy until 2050. The report highlights key growth factors: a young and rapidly growing working-age population; growth in the manufacturing sector because of rising education and engineering skill levels; and sustained growth of the consumer market driven by a rapidly growing middle-class. The World Bank cautions that, for India to achieve its economic potential, it must continue to focus on public sector reform, transport infrastructure
, agricultural and rural development, removal of labour regulations, education
, energy security
, and public health
According to the Worldwide Cost of Living Report 2017 released by the Economist Intelligence Unit
(EIU) which was created by comparing more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services, four of the cheapest cities were in India: Bangalore
(5th) and New Delhi
India's telecommunication industry
, the world's fastest-growing, added 227 million subscribers during the period 2010–2011, and after the third quarter of 2017, India surpassed the US to become the second largest smartphone market in the world after China.
The Indian automotive industry
, the world's second-fastest growing, increased domestic sales by 26% during 2009–2010, and exports by 36% during 2008–2009. India's capacity to generate electrical power is 300 gigawatts, of which 42 gigawatts is renewable
At the end of 2011, the Indian IT industry
employed 2.8 million professionals, generated revenues close to US$100 billion equalling 7.5% of Indian GDP, and contributed 26% of India's merchandise exports.
The pharmaceutical industry in India
is among the significant emerging markets for the global pharmaceutical industry. The Indian pharmaceutical market is expected to reach $48.5 billion by 2020. India's R & D spending constitutes 60% of the biopharmaceutical
industry. India is among the top 12 biotech destinations in the world. The Indian biotech industry grew by 15.1% in 2012–2013, increasing its revenues from 204.4 billion (Indian rupee
s) to 235.24 billion (US$3.94 billion at June 2013 exchange rates).
Despite economic growth during recent decades, India continues to face socio-economic challenges. In 2006, India contained the largest number
of people living below the World Bank's international poverty line of US$1.25 per day. The proportion decreased from 60% in 1981 to 42% in 2005. Under the World Bank's later revised poverty line, it was 21% in 2011.
30.7% of India's children under the age of five are underweight. According to a Food and Agriculture Organization
report in 2015, 15% of the population is undernourished. The Mid-Day Meal Scheme
attempts to lower these rates.
According to a 2016 Walk Free Foundation
report there were an estimated 18.3 million people in India, or 1.4% of the population, living in the forms of modern slavery
, such as bonded labour
, child labour
, human trafficking, and forced begging, among others. According to the 2011 census, there were 10.1 million child labourers in the country, a decline of 2.6 million from 12.6 million in 2001.
Since 1991, economic inequality
between India's states has consistently grown: the per-capita net state domestic product
of the richest states in 2007 was 3.2 times that of the poorest. Corruption in India
is perceived to have decreased. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index
, India ranked 78th out of 180 countries in 2018 with a score of 41 out of 100, an improvement from 85th in 2014.
Demographics, languages, and religion
With 1,210,193,422 residents reported in the 2011 provisional census report
, India is the world's second-most populous country. Its population grew by 17.64% from 2001 to 2011, compared to 21.54% growth in the previous decade (1991–2001). The human sex ratio, according to the 2011 census, is 940 females per 1,000 males. The median age was 27.6 . The first post-colonial census, conducted in 1951, counted 361 million people. Medical advances made in the last 50 years as well as increased agricultural productivity brought about by the "Green Revolution
" have caused India's population to grow rapidly.
The average life expectancy in India is at 68 years—69.6 years for women, 67.3 years for men. There are around 50 physicians per 100,000 Indians. Migration from rural to urban areas has been an important dynamic in India's recent history. The number of people living in urban areas grew by 31.2% between 1991 and 2001. Yet, in 2001, over 70% still lived in rural areas. The level of urbanisation increased further from 27.81% in the 2001 Census to 31.16% in the 2011 Census. The slowing down of the overall population growth rate was due to the sharp decline in the growth rate in rural areas since 1991. According to the 2011 census, there are 53 million-plus urban agglomerations in India
; among them Mumbai
, in decreasing order by population.
The literacy rate in 2011 was 74.04%: 65.46% among females and 82.14% among males. The rural-urban literacy gap, which was 21.2 percentage points in 2001, dropped to 16.1 percentage points in 2011. The improvement in the rural literacy rate is twice that of urban areas. Kerala
is the most literate state with 93.91% literacy; while Bihar
the least with 63.82%.
India is home to two major language families
(spoken by about 74% of the population) and Dravidian
(spoken by 24% of the population). Other languages spoken in India come from the Austroasiatic
language families. India has no national language. Hindi
, with the largest number of speakers, is the official language of the government. English
is used extensively in business and administration and has the status of a "subsidiary official language"; it is important in education
, especially as a medium of higher education. Each state and union territory has one or more official languages, and the constitution recognises in particular 22 "scheduled languages".
The 2011 census reported the religion in India
with the largest number of followers was Hinduism
(79.80% of the population), followed by Islam
(14.23%); the remaining were Christianity
(0.36%) and others (0.9%).
India has the third-largest
Muslim population—the largest for a non-Muslim majority country.
Indian cultural history spans more than 4,500years. During the Vedic period
(), the foundations of Hindu philosophy
were laid, and many beliefs and practices which still exist today, such as ''dhárma
'', and ''mokṣa
'', were established. India is notable for its religious diversity
, with Hinduism
, and Jainism
among the nation's major religions. The predominant religion, Hinduism, has been shaped by various historical schools of thought, including those of the ''Upanishads
'', the ''Yoga Sutras
'', the ''Bhakti'' movement
, and by Buddhist philosophy
South Asia has an ancient tradition of art, which has exchanged influences with the parts of Eurasia
from the third millennium BCE Indus Valley Civilization
and northern India have been found, usually carved with animals, but a few with human figures. The "Pashupati" seal
, excavated in Mohenjo-daro
, Pakistan, in 1928–29, is the best known. After this there is a long period with virtually nothing surviving. Almost all surviving ancient Indian art thereafter is in various forms of religious sculpture
in durable materials, or coins. There was probably originally far more in wood, which is lost. In north India Mauryan art
is the first imperial movement. In the first millennium CE, Buddhist art
spread with Indian religions to Central
and South-East Asia
, the last also greatly influenced by Hindu art. Over the following centuries a distinctly Indian style of sculpting the human figure developed, with less interest in articulating precise anatomy than ancient Greek sculpture
but showing smoothly-flowing forms expressing ''prana'' ("breath" or life-force). This is often complicated by the need to give figures multiple arms or heads, or represent different genders on the left and right of figures, as with the Ardhanarishvara
form of Shiva and Parvati
Most of the earliest large sculpture is Buddhist, either excavated from Buddhist stupa
s such as Sanchi
, or is rock-cut relief
s at sites such as Ajanta
. Hindu and Jain sites appear rather later. In spite of this complex mixture of religious traditions, generally, the prevailing artistic style at any time and place has been shared by the major religious groups, and sculptors probably usually served all communities. Gupta art
, at its peak between about 300 CE and 500 CE, is often regarded as a classical period whose influence lingered for many centuries after; it saw a new dominance of Hindu sculpture, as at the Elephanta Caves
. Across the north, this became rather stiff and formulaic after about 800 CE, though rich with finely carved detail in the surrounds of statues. But in the South, under the Pallava
and Chola dynasties
, sculpture in both stone and bronze had a sustained period of great achievement
; the large bronzes with Shiva as Nataraja
have become an iconic symbol of India.
Ancient painting has only survived at a few sites, of which the crowded scenes of court life in the Ajanta Caves
are by far the most important, but it was evidently highly developed, and is mentioned as a courtly accomplishment in Gupta times. Painted manuscripts of religious texts survive from Eastern India about the 10th century onwards, most of the earliest being Buddhist and later Jain. No doubt the style of these was used in larger paintings. The Persian-derived Deccan painting
, starting just before the Mughal miniature
, between them give the first large body of secular painting, with an emphasis on portraits, and the recording of princely pleasures and wars. The style spread to Hindu courts, especially among the Rajputs
, and developed a variety of styles, with the smaller courts often the most innovative, with figures such as Nihâl Chand
. As a market developed among European residents, it was supplied by Company painting
by Indian artists with considerable Western influence. In the 19th century, cheap Kalighat painting
s of gods and everyday life, done on paper, were urban folk art
, which later saw the Bengal School of Art
, reflecting the art colleges founded by the British, the first movement in modern Indian painting
File:Bhutesvara Yakshis Mathura reliefs 2nd century CE front.jpg|Bhutesvara Yakshis, Buddhist reliefs from Mathura, 2nd century CE
File:MET DT5237 (cropped).jpg|Gupta terracotta relief, Krishna Killing the Horse Demon Keshi, 5th century
File:Elephanta Caves (27804449706) (cropped).jpg|Elephanta Caves, triple-bust (''trimurti'') of Shiva, tall,
File:Jahangir Receives Prince Khurram at Ajmer on His Return from the Mewar Campaign.jpg|''Jahangir Receives Prince Khurram at Ajmer on His Return from the Mewar Campaign'', Balchand,
File:Unknown, Kangra, India - Krishna Fluting to the Milkmaids - Google Art Project.jpg|''Krishna Fluting to the Milkmaids'', Kangra painting, 1775-1785
Architecture and literature
Much of Indian architecture
, including the Taj Mahal
, other works of Mughal architecture
, and South Indian architecture
, blends ancient local traditions with imported styles. Vernacular architecture
is also regional in its flavours. ''Vastu shastra
'', literally "science of construction" or "architecture" and ascribed to Mamuni Mayan
, explores how the laws of nature affect human dwellings; it employs precise geometry and directional alignments to reflect perceived cosmic constructs. As applied in Hindu temple architecture
, it is influenced by the ''Shilpa Shastras
'', a series of foundational texts whose basic mythological form is the ''Vastu-Purusha mandala'', a square that embodied the "absolute
". The Taj Mahal, built in Agra
between 1631 and 1648 by orders of Emperor Shah Jahan
in memory of his wife, has been described in the UNESCO World Heritage List
as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage". Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture
, developed by the British in the late 19th century, drew on Indo-Islamic architecture
The earliest literature in India, composed between 1500 BCE and 1200 CE, was in the Sanskrit
language. Major works of Sanskrit literature
include the ''Rigveda
'' (), the epics
'' ( ) and the ''Ramayana
'' ( and later); ''Abhijñānaśākuntalam'' (''The Recognition of Śakuntalā
'', and other dramas of Kālidāsa
( ) and ''Mahākāvya
'' poetry. In Tamil literature
, the Sangam literature
( ) consisting of 2,381 poems, composed by 473 poets, is the earliest work. From the 14th to the 18th centuries, India's literary traditions went through a period of drastic change because of the emergence of devotional poets
, and Guru Nānak
. This period was characterised by a varied and wide spectrum of thought and expression; as a consequence, medieval Indian literary works differed significantly from classical traditions. In the 19th century, Indian writers took a new interest in social questions and psychological descriptions. In the 20th century, Indian literature was influenced by the works
of the Bengali poet, author and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore
, who was a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature
Performing arts and media
ranges over various traditions and regional styles. Classical music
encompasses two genres and their various folk offshoots: the northern Hindustani
and southern Carnatic
schools. Regionalised popular forms include filmi
and folk music
; the syncretic
tradition of the ''baul
s'' is a well-known form of the latter. Indian dance
also features diverse folk and classical forms. Among the better-known folk dances
are: the ''bhangra
'' of Punjab, the ''bihu
'' of Assam, the ''Jhumair
'' and ''chhau
'' of Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal, ''garba
'' and ''dandiya
'' of Gujarat, ''ghoomar
'' of Rajasthan, and the ''lavani
'' of Maharashtra. Eight dance forms, many with narrative forms and mythological elements, have been accorded classical dance status
by India's National Academy of Music, Dance, and Drama
. These are: ''bharatanatyam
'' of the state of Tamil Nadu, ''kathak
'' of Uttar Pradesh, ''kathakali
'' and ''mohiniyattam
'' of Kerala, ''kuchipudi
'' of Andhra Pradesh, ''manipuri
'' of Manipur, ''odissi
'' of Odisha, and the ''sattriya
'' of Assam.
Theatre in India
melds music, dance, and improvised or written dialogue. Often based on Hindu mythology, but also borrowing from medieval romances or social and political events, Indian theatre includes: the ''bhavai
'' of Gujarat, the ''jatra
'' of West Bengal, the ''nautanki
'' and ''ramlila
'' of North India, ''tamasha
'' of Maharashtra, ''burrakatha
'' of Andhra Pradesh, ''terukkuttu
'' of Tamil Nadu, and the ''yakshagana
'' of Karnataka. India has a theatre training institute the National School of Drama
(NSD) that is situated at New Delhi
It is an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Culture
, Government of India
The Indian film industry
produces the world's most-watched cinema. Established regional cinematic traditions exist in the Assamese
, and Telugu
languages. The Hindi language film industry (''Bollywood'') is the largest sector representing 43% of box office revenue, followed by the South India
n Telugu and Tamil film industries which represent 36% combined.
Television broadcasting began in India in 1959 as a state-run medium of communication and expanded slowly for more than two decades. The state monopoly
on television broadcast ended in the 1990s. Since then, satellite channels have increasingly shaped the popular culture of Indian society. Today, television is the most penetrative media in India; industry estimates indicate that there are over 554 million TV consumers, 462 million with satellite or cable connections compared to other forms of mass media such as the press (350 million), radio (156 million) or internet (37 million).
Traditional Indian society is sometimes defined by social hierarchy. The Indian caste system
embodies much of the social stratification and many of the social restrictions found in the Indian subcontinent. Social classes are defined by thousands of endogamous
hereditary groups, often termed as ''jāti
s'', or "castes". India declared untouchability
to be illegal in 1947 and has since enacted other anti-discriminatory laws and social welfare initiatives.
Family values are important in the Indian tradition, and multi-generational patriarchal joint families have been the norm in India, though nuclear families are becoming common in urban areas. An overwhelming majority of Indians, with their consent, have their marriages arranged
by their parents or other family elders. Marriage is thought to be for life, and the divorce rate is extremely low, with less than one in a thousand marriages ending in divorce. Child marriage
s are common, especially in rural areas; many women wed before reaching 18, which is their legal marriageable age. Female infanticide in India
, and lately female foeticide
, have created skewed gender ratios; the number of missing women
in the country quadrupled from 15 million to 63 million in the 50-year period ending in 2014, faster than the population growth during the same period, and constituting 20 percent of India's female electorate.
[ Quote: "In the last 50 years of Indian democracy, the absolute number of missing women has increased fourfold from 15 million to 68 million. This is not merely a reflection of the growth in the overall population, but, rather, of the fact that this dangerous trend has worsened with time. As a percentage of the female electorate, missing women have gone up significantly — from 13 per cent to approximately 20 per cent]
Accord to an Indian government study, an additional 21 million girls are unwanted and do not receive adequate care.
[ Quote: "More than 63 million women are “missing” statistically across India, and more than 21 million girls are unwanted by their families, government officials say. The skewed ratio of men to women is largely the result of sex-selective abortions, and better nutrition and medical care for boys, according to the government’s annual economic survey, which was released on Monday. In addition, the survey found that “families where a son is born are more likely to stop having children than families where a girl is born”.]
Despite a government ban on sex-selective foeticide, the practice remains commonplace in India, the result of a preference for boys in a patriarchal society.
[ Quote: "Although it has been illegal nationwide for doctors to disclose the sex of a fetus since the 1994 Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, the ease of ordering cheap and portable ultrasound machines, especially online, has kept the practice of sex-selective abortions alive."]
The payment of dowry
, although illegal
, remains widespread across class lines. Deaths resulting from dowry
, mostly from bride burning
, are on the rise, despite stringent anti-dowry laws.
Many Indian festivals
are religious in origin. The best known include: Diwali
, Ganesh Chaturthi
, Thai Pongal
, Durga Puja
, Eid ul-Fitr
, and Vaisakhi
In the 2011 census, about 73% of the population was literate, with 81% for men and 65% for women. This compares to 1981 when the respective rates were 41%, 53% and 29%. In 1951 the rates were 18%, 27% and 9%. In 1921 the rates 7%, 12% and 2%. In 1891 they were 5%, 9% and 1%, According to Latika Chaudhary, in 1911 there were under three primary schools for every ten villages. Statistically, more caste and religious diversity reduced private spending. Primary schools taught literacy, so local diversity limited its growth.
Education system of India is the world's second largest higher education System. India had over 900 universities, 40,000 colleges
[HRD to increase nearly 25 pc seats in varsities to implement 10 pc quota for poor in gen category](_blank)
Economic Times, 16 January 2019.
and 1.5 million schools. In India's higher education system, a significant number of seats are reserved under affirmative action
policies for the historically disadvantaged. In recent decades India's improved education system is often cited as one of the main contributors to its economic development
[India achieves 27% decline in poverty]
''Press Trust of India'' via ''Sify.com'', 12 September 2008
The most widely worn traditional dress in India, for both women and men, from ancient times until the advent of modern times, was draped.
For women it eventually took the form of a sari
, a single long piece of cloth, famously six yards long, and of width spanning the lower body.
The sari is tied around the waist and knotted at one end, wrapped around the lower body, and then over the shoulder.
In its more modern form, it has been used to cover the head, and sometimes the face, as a veil.
It has been combined with an underskirt, or Indian petticoat
, and tucked in the waist band for more secure fastening, It is also commonly worn with an Indian blouse
, or choli
, which serves as the primary upper-body garment, the sari's end—passing over the shoulder—serving to obscure the upper body's contours and to cover the midriff.
For men, a similar but shorter length of cloth, the dhoti
, has served as a lower-body garment.
It too is tied around the waist and wrapped.
In south India, it is usually wrapped around the lower body, the upper end tucked in the waistband, the lower left free. In addition, in northern India, it is also wrapped once around each leg before being brought up through the legs to be tucked in at the back. Other forms of traditional apparel that involve no stitching or tailoring are the chaddar
(a shawl worn by both sexes to cover the upper body during colder weather, or a large veil worn by women for framing the head, or covering it) and the pagri
or a scarf worn around the head as a part of a tradition, or to keep off the sun or the cold).
Until the beginning of the first millennium CE, the ordinary dress of people in India was entirely unstitched.
The arrival of the Kushans
from Central Asia
, , popularised cut and sewn garments in the style of Central Asian favoured by the elite in northern India.
However, it was not until Muslim rule was established, first with the Delhi sultanate
and then the Mughal Empire
, that the range of stitched clothes in India grew and their use became significantly more widespread.
Among the various garments gradually establishing themselves in northern India during medieval and early-modern times and now commonly worn are: the shalwar
s and pyjama
s both forms of trousers, as well as the tunics kurta
In southern India, however, the traditional draped garments were to see much longer continuous use.
Shalwars are atypically wide at the waist but narrow to a cuffed bottom. They are held up by a drawstring or elastic belt, which causes them to become pleated around the waist.
The pants can be wide and baggy, or they can be cut quite narrow, on the bias
, in which case they are called churidar
s. The kameez is a long shirt or tunic.
The side seams are left open below the waist-line,), which gives the wearer greater freedom of movement. The kameez is usually cut straight and flat; older kameez use traditional cuts; modern kameez are more likely to have European-inspired set-in sleeves
. The kameez may have a European-style collar, a Mandarin-collar, or it may be collarless; in the latter case, its design as a women's garment is similar to a kurta.
At first worn by Muslim women, the use of shalwar kameez gradually spread, making them a regional style,
especially in the Punjab
, which traces its roots to Central Asian
s, has evolved stylistically in India as a garment for everyday wear as well as for formal occasions.
It is traditionally made of cotton or silk; it is worn plain or with embroidered decoration, such as chikan
; and it can be loose or tight in the torso, typically falling either just above or somewhere below the wearer's knees.
The sleeves of a traditional kurta fall to the wrist without narrowing, the ends hemmed but not cuffed; the kurta can be worn by both men and women; it is traditionally collarless, though standing collars
are increasingly popular; and it can be worn over ordinary pyjamas
, loose shalwars
s, or less traditionally over jeans
In the last 50 years, fashions have changed a great deal in India. Increasingly, in urban settings in northern India, the sari is no longer the apparel of everyday wear, transformed instead into one for formal occasions.
The traditional shalwar kameez is rarely worn by younger women, who favour churidars or jeans.
The kurtas worn by young men usually fall to the shins and are seldom plain. In white-collar office settings, ubiquitous air conditioning allows men to wear sports jackets year-round.
For weddings and formal occasions, men in the middle- and upper classes often wear bandgala
, or short Nehru jackets
, with pants, with the groom and his groomsmen
s and churidars.
The dhoti, the once universal garment of Hindu India, the wearing of which in the homespun and handwoven form of khadi
allowed Gandhi to bring Indian nationalism to the millions,
is seldom seen in the cities,
reduced now, with brocaded border, to the liturgical vestment
s of Hindu priests.
Indian cuisine consists of a wide variety of regional and traditional cuisines. Given the range of diversity in soil type, climate, culture, ethnic groups, and occupations, these cuisines vary substantially from each other, using locally available spices, herbs, vegetables, and fruit. Indian foodways
have been influenced by religion, in particular Hindu cultural choices and traditions.
They have been also shaped by Islamic rule, particularly that of the Mughals
, by the arrival of the Portuguese
on India's southwestern shores, and by British rule. These three influences are reflected, respectively, in the dishes of pilaf
; the vindaloo
; and the tiffin
and the Railway mutton curry
Earlier, the Columbian exchange
had brought the potato, the tomato, maize, peanuts, cashew nuts, pineapples, guavas, and most notably, chilli peppers
, to India. Each became staples of use. In turn, the spice trade
between India and Europe
was a catalyst for Europe's Age of Discovery
s grown in India, their choice, times, and regions of planting, correspond strongly to the timing of India's monsoons, and the variation across regions in their associated rainfall.
In general, the broad division of cereal zones in India, as determined by their dependence on rain, was firmly in place before the arrival of artificial irrigation.
[ Rice, which requires a lot of water, has been grown traditionally in regions of high rainfall in the northeast and the western coast, wheat in regions of moderate rainfall, like India's northern plains, and millet in regions of low rainfall, such as on the Deccan Plateau and in Rajasthan.] [
The foundation of a typical Indian meal is a cereal cooked in plain fashion, and complemented with flavourful savoury dishes.] The latter includes lentils, pulses and vegetables spiced commonly with ginger and garlic, but also more discerningly with a combination of spices that may include coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamon and others as informed by culinary conventions. In an actual meal, this mental representation takes the form of a platter, or thali, with a central place for the cooked cereal, peripheral ones, often in small bowls, for the flavourful accompaniments, and the simultaneous, rather than piecemeal, ingestion of the two in each act of eating, whether by actual mixing—for example of rice and lentils—or in the folding of one—such as bread—around the other, such as cooked vegetables.
A notable feature of Indian food is the existence of a number of distinctive vegetarian cuisines, each a feature of the geographical and cultural histories of its adherents. The appearance of ''ahimsa'', or the avoidance of violence toward all forms of life in many religious orders early in Indian history, especially Upanishadic Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, is thought to have been a notable factor in the prevalence of vegetarianism among a segment of India's Hindu population, especially in southern India, Gujarat, and the Hindi-speaking belt of north-central India, as well as among Jains. Among these groups, strong discomfort is felt at thoughts of eating meat, and contributes to the low proportional consumption of meat to overall diet in India. Unlike China, which has increased its per capita meat consumption substantially in its years of increased economic growth, in India the strong dietary traditions have contributed to dairy, rather than meat, becoming the preferred form of animal protein consumption accompanying higher economic growth.
In the last millennium, the most significant import of cooking techniques into India occurred during the Mughal Empire. The cultivation of rice had spread much earlier from India to Central and West Asia; however, it was during Mughal rule that dishes, such as the pilaf, [ developed in the interim during the Abbasid caliphate,] and cooking techniques such as the marinating of meat in yogurt, spread into northern India from regions to its northwest. To the simple yogurt marinade of Persia, onions, garlic, almonds, and spices began to be added in India. Rice grown to the southwest of the Mughal capital, Agra, which had become famous in the Islamic world for its fine grain, was partially cooked and layered alternately with the sauteed meat, the pot sealed tightly, and slow cooked according to another Persian cooking technique, to produce what has today become the Indian biryani, a feature of festive dining in many parts of India.
In food served in restaurants in urban north India, and internationally, the diversity of Indian food has been partially concealed by the dominance of Punjabi cuisine. This was caused in large part by an entrepreneurial response among people from the Punjab region who had been displaced by the 1947 partition of India, and had arrived in India as refugees. The identification of Indian cuisine with the tandoori chicken—cooked in the tandoor oven, which had traditionally been used for baking bread in the rural Punjab and the Delhi region, especially among Muslims, but which is originally from Central Asia—dates to this period.
Sports and recreation
Cricket is the most popular sport in India. Major domestic competitions include the Indian Premier League, which is the most-watched cricket league in the world and ranks sixth among all sports leagues.
Several traditional indigenous sports remain fairly popular, such as ''kabaddi'', ''kho kho'', ''pehlwani'' and ''gilli-danda''. Some of the earliest forms of Asian martial arts, such as ''Kalarippayattu'', ''musti yuddha'', ''silambam'', and ''marma adi'', originated in India. Chess, commonly held to have originated in India as ''chaturaṅga'', is regaining widespread popularity with the rise in the number of Indian grandmasters. ''Pachisi'', from which parcheesi derives, was played on a giant marble court by Akbar.
The improved results garnered by the Indian Davis Cup team and other Indian tennis players in the early 2010s have made tennis increasingly popular in the country. India has a comparatively strong presence in shooting sports, and has won several medals at the Olympics, the World Shooting Championships, and the Commonwealth Games. Other sports in which Indians have succeeded internationally include badminton (Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu are two of the top-ranked female badminton players in the world), boxing, and wrestling. Football is popular in West Bengal, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and the north-eastern states.
India has hosted or co-hosted several international sporting events: the 1951 and 1982 Asian Games; the 1987, 1996, and 2011 Cricket World Cup tournaments; the 2003 Afro-Asian Games; the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy; the 2010 Hockey World Cup; the 2010 Commonwealth Games; and the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Major international sporting events held annually in India include the Chennai Open, the Mumbai Marathon, the Delhi Half Marathon, and the Indian Masters. The first Formula 1 Indian Grand Prix featured in late 2011 but has been discontinued from the F1 season calendar since 2014. India has traditionally been the dominant country at the South Asian Games. An example of this dominance is the basketball competition where the Indian team won three out of four tournaments to date.
* Outline of India
* Robinson, Francis, ed. ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives'' (1989)
Foreign relations and military
*Blurton, T. Richard, ''Hindu Art'', 1994, British Museum Press,
*Craven, Roy C., ''Indian Art: A Concise History'', 1987, Thames & Hudson (Praeger in USA),
*Harle, J.C., ''The Art and Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent'', 2nd edn. 1994, Yale University Press Pelican History of Art,
*Michell, George (2000), ''Hindu Art and Architecture'', 2000, Thames & Hudson,
*Rowland, Benjamin, ''The Art and Architecture of India: Buddhist, Hindu, Jain'', 1967 (3rd edn.), Pelican History of Art, Penguin,
Official website of Government of India
Government of India Web Directory
''The World Factbook''. Central Intelligence Agency.
from ''UCB Libraries GovPubs''
from the BBC News
Indian State district block village website
Key Development Forecasts for India
from International Futures
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