Fact Sheet

 

INDIA 

 

Background

The Indus Valley civilization, one of the oldest in the world, dates back at least 5,000 years. Aryan tribes from the northwest infiltrated onto the Indian subcontinent about 1500 B.C. Their merger with the earlier Dravidian inhabitants created the classical Indian culture. Arab incursions started in the 8th century; Turks and Afghans in the 10th and 11th centuries and European explorers began establishing footholds in India by the 16th century. Britain had assumed political control of virtually all-Indian lands by the 19th century. The British Indian Army played a vital role in both World Wars. Non-violent resistance to British colonialism led by Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru brought independence in 1947. Communal violence led to the subcontinent’s bloody partition into the secular state of India and the smaller Muslim state of Pakistan. A third war between the two countries in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan becoming a separate nation of Bangladesh. Despite impressive gains in economic investment and output, India faces pressing problems such as the ongoing dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir, massive overpopulation, environmental degradation, widespread poverty, inadequate physical and social infrastructure, limited non-agricultural employment opportunities, insufficient access to quality basic and higher education and accommodating rural-to-urban migration. In January 2011, India assumed a nonpermanent seat in the UN Security Council for the 2011-2013 term.

Location

Southern Asia: bordering the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Burma and Pakistan. Border countries include Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, China, Nepal and Pakistan.

Area:3,287,263 square kilometers. It is slightly more than 1/3 the size of the U.S.

Currency:Indian Rupee (INR)

Population: 1,173,108,018 (2010 est.)

Natural Resources: coal (fourth-largest reserve in the world), iron ore, manganese, mica, bauxite, titanium ore, chromite, natural gas, diamonds, petroleum, limestone

 

Agriculture: rice, wheat, oilseed, cotton, jute, tea, sugarcane, potatoes, cattle, water, buffalo, sheep, goats, poultry, fish

Industries: textiles, chemicals, food processing, steel, transportation equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery, software

Economy

India is developing into an open market economy, yet traces of its past autarkic policies remain. Economic liberalization, including industrial deregulation, privatization of state-owned enterprises and reduced controls on foreign trade and investment, began in the early 1990’s and has accelerated the country’s growth. This growth has averaged more than 7% per year since 1997 and reduced poverty by 10%. Its diverse economy encompasses traditional village farming, modern agriculture, handicrafts, a wide range of modern industries, and a multitude of services. Services are the major source of economic growth, accounting for half of India’s output with only one third of its labor force. About half of the work force is in agriculture, leading the UPA government to articulate an economic reform program that includes developing basic infrastructure to improve the lives of the rural poor and boost economic performance. The government in 2005 liberalized investment in the civil aviation, telecom, and construction sectors. Privatization of government-owned industries came to a halt in 2005, and continues to generate political debate. Continued social, political, and economic rigidities hold back needed initiatives. In 2010 the Indian economy rebounded robustly from the global financial crisis because of strong domestic demand and growth exceeded 8%. India is capitalizing on its large educated English-speaking population to become a major exporter of information technology services and software workers. An industrial expansion and high food prices fueled inflation which peaked about 11% in the first half of 2010, but has gradually decreased to single digits following a series of central bank interest rate hikes. New Delhi in 2010 reduced subsidies in fuel and fertilizers, sold a small percentage of its shares in some state-owned enterprises and auctioned off rights to radio band width for 3G telecommunications in part to lower the government’ s deficit.

Language

English enjoys associate status but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication. Hindi is the national language and primary tongue of 41% of the people. There are 14 other official languages: Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Sanskrit. Hindustani is a popular variant of Hindi/Urdu spoken widely throughout northern India but is not an official language.

Ethnic Groups

Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, Mongoloid and other 3%

Religions

Hindu 80.5%, Muslim, 13.4%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other 1.8%

Government

Federal Republic

Capital

New Delhi

Independence

15 August 1947 (from the United Kingdom)

National Holiday

Republic Day – 26 January (1950)

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