Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The Republic of India, located in the south of Asia
and comprising most of the Indian subcontinent, is the
second most populous country in the world and is the
world's largest democracy with over one billion people
and more than one hundred distinct languages.
The Indian economy is the fourth-largest in the world,
in terms of purchasing power parity.
The name India is derived from Sindhu, the local name
for the river Indus.
The country is called Bharat (pronounced as bhaarat;
after the wise and pious King Bharata of ancient times)
India borders Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Bhutan, Nepal
and Pakistan on land, with Sri Lanka and the Maldives
just across the Indian mainland in the Indian Ocean.
National motto: "Satyameva Jayate" (Sanskrit:
Truth Alone Triumphs)
Official language; Hindi (+17 other nat. lang.)
Capital; New Delhi
Largest City; Mumbai (Bombay)
President; APJ Abdul Kalam
Prime Minister; Atal Behari Vajpayee
Area; 3,287,590 kmē
Independence; - Date From the British Empire
August 15, 1947
Currency; Indian Rupee (INR)
Time zone; UTC +5.30
National anthem; Jana-Gana-Mana
National song; Vande Mataram
National game; Hockey? Cricket
Internet TLD; .IN
Phone Calling Code; 91
The Indus Valley civilisation (also called the Sindhu-Sarasvati
Tradition) is one of the oldest cultural traditions
in the world, that goes back to at least 3000 BC.
The rock art tradition of India has been traced to 40000
BC in the art in Bhimbetaka in Central India and other
According to the Aryan invasion theory, Aryan tribes
from the northwest of India invaded about 1500 BC, and
their merger with the earlier inhabitants created the
classical Vedic culture.
Arab incursions starting in the 8th century and Turkic
in the 12th were followed by incursions by European
traders beginning in the late 15th century.
It is noteworthy that the above-mentioned Aryan Invasion
Theory is now being widely challenged with the use of
modern & scientific tools such as satellite imagery
Events mentioned in the Vedic texts have been astronomically
calculated to date back to the 5th millennium BC.
By subjugating the Mughal empire in the 19th century,
the British Empire had assumed political control of
virtually all Indian lands.
Mostly non-violent resistance to British colonialism
under Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru
led to independence in 1947.
The subcontinent was divided into the secular state
of India and the smaller Muslim state of Pakistan.
Pakistan occupied two non-contiguous areas, and a civil
war between West and East Pakistan in 1971, in which
India eventually intervened, resulted in the sedition
of East Pakistan to form the separate nation of Bangladesh.
Fundamental concerns in India include the ongoing dispute
with Pakistan over Kashmir, massive overpopulation,
environmental degradation, extensive poverty, and ethnic
and religious strife, all this despite impressive gains
in economic investment and output.
India is a Union of states with an increasingly federal
Officially it is declared as The Sovereign Socialist
Secular Democratic Republic of India.
India has as head of state a president, whose duties
are largely ceremonial.
The president and vice president are elected indirectly
for 5-year terms by a special electoral college.
Their terms are staggered, and the vice president does
not automatically become president following the death
or removal from office of the president.
Executive power is centred in the Council of Ministers
(cabinet), led by the prime minister.
The president appoints the prime minister, who is designated
by legislators of the political party or coalition commanding
a parliamentary majority.
The president then appoints subordinate ministers on
the advice of the prime minister.
India's bicameral parliament consists of the upper house
called 'The Council of States' (Rajya Sabha) and the
lower House called 'The House of the People' (Lok Sabha),
both of which were established by the Constitution of
The Council of Ministers is responsible to the Lok Sabha.
The legislatures of the states and union territories
elect 233 members to the Rajya Sabha, and the president
appoints another 12.
The elected members of the Rajya Sabha serve 6-year
terms, with one-third up for election every 2 years.
The Lok Sabha consists of 545 members; 543 are directly
elected to 5-year terms.
The other two are appointed by the president.
States and territories
India is subdivided into 28 states, 6 union territories
and the national capital territory of Delhi:
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal
Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Chattisgarh, Dadra
and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat,
Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand,
Karnataka, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra,
Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Pondicherry,
Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttaranchal,
Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal.
Located on the Indian subcontinent, India consists roughly
of three major parts; in the north the massive Himalayas
mountain range (with the highest point being the Kanchenjunga
at 8,598 m) and the Indo-Gangetic plain (with deserts
in the western end), and in the south the extensive
The latter is part of a large peninsula in between the
Bay of Bengal to the east and the Arabian Sea to the
west, with both being part of the greater Indian Ocean.
India is home to several major rivers such as the Ganges,
the Brahmaputra, the Yamuna, the Godavari and the Krishna.
A small part of the upper course of the name-giving
Indus lies within Indian territory.
The Indian climate varies from tropical monsoons in
the south to more temperate climate in the north.
India's economy encompasses traditional village farming,
modern agriculture, handicrafts, a wide range of modern
industries, and a multitude of support services, including
In fact, India's software exports alone are around $10
However, a quarter of the population is still too poor
to be able to afford an adequate diet.
India's international payments position remained strong
in 2001 with adequate foreign exchange reserves, and
moderately depreciating nominal exchange rates.
As measured by GDP in US Dollars, India's 2002 output
of $481 billion ranked it 12th in the world.
As measured by GDP on Purchasing Power Parity basis,
India's 2002 figure of $2.66 trillion makes it the fourth
largest in the world.
Growth in manufacturing output has slowed, and electricity
shortages continue in many regions.
India has large numbers of well-educated people skilled
in the English language; India is a major exporter of
software services and software workers.
India is the second-most populous country in the world,
with only China having a larger population.
Language, religion, and caste are major determinants
of social and political organisation within the highly
diverse Indian population today.
Hindi, in the Devanagari script, is the only official
federal language and individual states and territories
have adopted 17 other co-official languages.
These are the Dravidian languages of Kannada, Malayalam,
Tamil, and Telugu, and the Indo-Aryan languages of Bengali,
Marathi, Urdu, Gujarati, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri,
Sindhi, Nepali, Konkani and the classical language of
Many other languages belonging to both groups are spoken
English, though only an associate or 'link' language,
is still widely in use in law and government, particularly
in the higher echelons.
Although 83% of the people are Hindus, India is home
to the world's second largest Muslim population.
Other smaller religious minorities include Christians,
Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, jews and Parsis.
The caste system once reflected Indian occupational
and religiously defined hierarchies.
Traditionally, there were four broad categories of castes
(varnas), though they consisted of thousands of castes
and subcastes, whose relative status varied from region
The caste system was an important social factor for
most Indians till the early 1900's.
The embracement of the lower castes into the mainstream
community was brought about by Mahatma Gandhi who called
them "Harijans" (people of God).
Presently, India has tough laws against discrimination
on the basis of caste.
There is a policy for the socio-economic upliftment
of the erstwhile lower castes, by the provision of free
education till graduation, reservation of admission
seats in institutions for higher education, a 50% quota
in government jobs and faster promotions.
However, caste remains a significant factor in the political
life of the country as well as in some social customs
such as marriage.
Indian culture is an expression of the numerous and
successive waves of influences in the subcontinent with
the Northern part of India being subjected to this more
than the South.
What follows constitutes just a small sample of a vast
In music, two important forms are the Carnatic and the
Hindustani, the former from South India, a much purer
form and the latter from North India deriving a lot
from Muslim influences.
In literature, oral and written forms prevail.
Apart from the Vedas which are a sacred form of knowledge,
there are other works such as the epics of Ramayana
and Mahabharatha, treatises such as Vaastu Shastra in
Architecture and Town planning and Artha Shastra in
Urdu poetry is an example of a linguistic synthesis.
The literature of the Sangam period in Tamil is renowned.
Many dance forms exist in India - Bharata Natyam, Odissi,
Kuchipudi, Kathak, Kathakali, etc., mostly they have
a narrative form, telling stories.
Other forms such as street theatre and puppetry are
Festivals can also be included as part of Indian culture
because they are a way of life in India.
There are many of them -Diwali, Vijayadasami, Pongal,
etc., they are not only religion-based but also include
those glorifying important stages in a person's life,
seasonal cycles, etc.
Indian science was advanced in ancient times - Aryabhatta
and Bhaskara were important scientists who studied planetary
The Arabic numerals are actually an Indian contribution.
Traditional dresses in India include the Sari (Saree),
Salwar Kameez, Dhoti and Kurta.
In cuisine, rice and wheat form the staple diet.
Some popular dishes include Thali- a full fledged meal,
Dosa, Idli and Chapati.
Movies are an integral part of everyday life in India,
most notably the Hindi, Tamil and Telugu for their commercial
bases, and Bengali and Malayalam for its artistic leanings.
Though each region has a specific culture, in recent
times there is a growing tendency to merge boundaries
and imbibe aspects from other regions.
Also, with increasing globalization, and due to the
liberalisation of the Indian economy in the early 90's,
there has been influence of Western culture.
So there is Indi-pop in music , Hinglish or Tanglish-
English flavoured with terms from local language used
most prominently in fields such as advertising, pizzas
with indigenous spices, experimental dance and theatre
forms, and so on.
The invasion of cable TV has spawned an entirely new
Apart from these historical and context specific forms,
what an Indian sees as important in Indian culture are
abstract qualities such as hospitality, family values,
acceptance and toleration of differences, resilience
As far as sports are concerned, though not India's national
sport, cricket is a very popular game today and India's
size has made it the game's financial powerhouse.
Some other popular sports - hockey, tennis, chess. (Chess
is supposed to have originated in India).
Some traditional indigenous games -kabaddi, gilli-danda.
This information was updated & correct in December
2003 E. & O.E.
All text is available under the terms of the GNU
Free Documentation License
Copyrights for details).
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