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India (i /ˈɪndiə/), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: भारत गणराज्य Bhārat Gaṇarājya; see also official names of India), is a country located in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, 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; Bhutan, the People's Republic of China and Nepal to the northeast; and Bangladesh and Burma to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives; in addition, India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.
Home to the ancient Indus Valley Civilization and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history.Four of the world's major religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism—originated here, while Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam arrived in the first millennium CE and shaped the region's diverse culture.Gradually annexed by the British East India Company from the early 18th century and colonised by the United Kingdom from the mid-19th century, India became an independent nation in 1947 after a struggle for independence which was marked by non-violent resistance and led by Mahatma Gandhi.
The Indian economy is the world's tenth largest economy by nominal GDP and fourth largest economy by purchasing power parity. Following market-based economic reforms in 1991, India has become one of the fastest growing major economies, and is considered a newly industrialized country; however, it continues to face the challenges of poverty, illiteracy, corruption and inadequate public health. A nuclear weapons state and a regional power, it has the third-largest standing army in the world and ranks tenth in military expenditure among nations.
India is a federal constitutional republic with a parliamentary democracy consisting of 28 states and 7 union territories. It is one of the 5 BRICS nations. India is a pluralistic, multilingual, and multiethnic society. It is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats.
1 Etymology
2 History
2.1 Ancient India
2.2 Early medieval and medieval India
2.3 Modern India
3 Geography
4 Biodiversity
5 Politics
5.1 Government
5.2 Administrative divisions
6 Foreign relations and military
7 Economy
8 Demographics
9 Culture
9.1 Society and traditions
9.2 Music, dance, theatre and cinema
9.3 Sport
10 See also
11 Notes
12 References
13 External links

Main article: Names of India
The name India is derived from Indus, which is derived from the Old Persian word Hindu, from Sanskrit सिन्धु Sindhu, the historic local appellation for the Indus River. The ancient Greeks referred to the Indians as Indoi (Ινδοί), the people of the Indus.The Constitution of India and usage in many Indian languages also recognises Bharat (pronounced [ˈbʱaːrət̪] ( listen)) as an official name of equal status. The name Bharat is derived from the name of the legendary king Bharata in Hindu scriptures. Hindustan ([ɦɪnd̪ʊˈst̪aːn] ( listen)), originally a Persian word for “Land of the Hindus” referring to northern India and Pakistan before 1947, is also occasionally used as a synonym for all of India.
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Main articles: History of India and History of the Republic of India
Ancient India

In the 3rd millennium BCE, the Indus Valley Civilization evolved into the largest ancient civilization of the world.
The earliest anatomically modern human remains found in South Asia are from approximately 30,000 years ago.[19] Near contemporaneous Mesolithic rock art sites have been found in many parts of the Indian subcontinent, including at the Bhimbetka rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh.Around 7000 BCE, the first known neolithic settlements appeared on the subcontinent in Mehrgarh and other sites in western Pakistan. These gradually developed into the Indus Valley Civilisation, the first urban culture in South Asia, which flourished during 2500–1900 BCE in Pakistan and western India.Centred around cities such as Mohenjo-daro, Harappa, Lothal, and Kalibangan, and relying on varied forms of subsistence, the civilisation engaged robustly in crafts production and wide-ranging trade.
During the period 2000 BCE–500 BCE, many regions of the subcontinent evolved from copper age to iron age cultures.The Vedas, the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, were composed during this period, and historians have analyzed these to posit a Vedic culture in the Punjab region and the upper Ganges Plain.Most historians also consider this period to have encompassed several waves of Indo-Aryan migration into the subcontinent from the northwest. The caste system, creating a social hierarchy, appeared during this period. In the Deccan, archaeological evidence from this period suggests the existence of a chiefdom stage of political organization.In South India, the large number of megalithic monuments found from this period, and nearby evidence of agriculture, irrigation tanks, and craft traditions suggest progression to sedentary life.
By the fifth century BCE, the small chiefdoms of the Ganges Plain and the northwest regions had consolidated into sixteen major oligarchies and monarchies called Mahajanapadas. The emerging urbanization as well as the orthodoxies of the late Vedic age created the religious reform movements of Buddhism and Jainism. Buddhism, based on the teachings of India's first historical figure, Gautam Buddha, attracted followers from all social classes;Jainism came into prominence around the same time during the life of its exemplar, Mahavira. In an age of increasing urban wealth, both religions held up renunciation as an ideal,and both established long-lasting monasteries.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 excepting the far south, but its core regions are now thought to have been separated by large autonomous areas.The Maurya kings are known as much for their empire building and determined management of public life as for Ashoka the Great's renunciation of militarism and his far flung advocacy of the Buddhist dhamma.
Paintings at the Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, sixth century
The Sangam literature of the Tamil language reveals that during the period 200 BCE–200 CE, the southern peninsula was being 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 during the same time, Hinduism asserted patriarchal control within the family. By the fourth and fifth centuries CE, the Gupta Empire had created a complex administrative and taxation system in the greater Ganges Plain that 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 and was reflected in a flowering of sculpture and architecture, which found patrons among an urban elite. Classical Sanskrit literature flowered as well, and Indian science, astronomy, medicine, and mathematics made significant advances,
Early medieval and medieval India
The Indian early medieval age (600 CE to 1200 CE) is defined by regional kingdoms and cultural diversity. When Harsha of Kannauj, who ruled much of the Ganges 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 Pallavas 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 his core region.During this time, pastoral peoples whose land had been cleared to make way for the growing agriculture economy were accommodated within caste society, as were new non-traditional ruling classes.The caste system consequently began to show regional differences.
In the sixth and seventh centuries CE, the first devotional hymns were created in the Tamil language.These were imitated all over India and led both to the resurgence of Hinduism and to the development of all the modern languages of the subcontinent. Indian royalty, big and small, and the temples they patronized 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 eight and ninth centuries, the effects were evident elsewhere as well as South Indian culture and political systems were being exported to Southeast Asia, in particular to what today are Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Java.Indian merchants, scholars, and sometimes armies were involved in this transmission, and 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 tenth century, Muslim Central Asian nomadic clans, using swift horse cavalry and raising vast armies united by ethnicity and religion, overran South Asia's north-western plains, which led 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.Moreover, by repeatedly repulsing the Mongol raiders in the thirteenth century, the Sultanate saved India from the destruction seen in west and central Asia, and set the scene for centuries of migration of fleeing warriors, scholars, mystics, merchants, artists, and artisans from that region into India, 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 to influence the society and culture of South India for long afterwards.
Mughal rule came from Central Asia to cover most of the northern parts of the subcontinent. Mughal rulers introduced Central Asian art and architecture to India. In addition to the Mughals and various Rajput kingdoms, several independent Hindu states, such as the Vijayanagara Empire, the Maratha Empire, and the Ahom Kingdom, flourished contemporaneously in southern, western, and northeastern India respectively. The Mughal Empire suffered a gradual decline in the early 18th century along with rise of the Marathas. The decline of Maratha Confederacy by defeats at Panipat and Anglo-Maratha Wars was followed by ascendancy of the Afghans, Balochis, the Sikhs over large areas in the west and northwest of the subcontinent and of the British East India Company over South Asia.
Modern India

The British Indian Empire in 1893
Beginning in the mid-18th century, India was gradually annexed by the British East India Company.Dissatisfaction with company rule led to the Indian Rebellion of 1857, after which India was directly administered by the British Crown and witnessed a period of both rapid development of infrastructure and economic decline.
During the first half of the 20th century, a nationwide struggle for independence was launched by the Indian National Congress and was later joined by the Muslim League. The subcontinent gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1947, after being partitioned into the dominions of India and Pakistan. On 26 January 1950, India became a republic, and a new constitution came into effect.

Mahatma Gandhi (right) was a prime political and ideological leader during the Indian Independence Movement. Jawaharlal Nehru (left) was India's first prime minister in 1947.
Since independence, India has faced challenges from religious violence, casteism, naxalism, terrorism and regional separatist insurgencies, especially in Jammu and Kashmir and northeast India. Since the 1990s terrorist attacks have affected many Indian cities. India has unresolved territorial disputes with the People's Republic of China which in 1962 escalated into the Sino-Indian War, and with Pakistan which resulted in wars in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999. India is a founding member of the United Nations (as British India) and the Non-Aligned Movement.
India is a state armed with nuclear weapons having conducted its first nuclear test in 1974, followed by another five tests in 1998. Beginning 1991, significant economic reforms have transformed India into one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, increasing its global clout.

Main article: Geography of India
See also: Geology of India

Topographic map of India.
India, the major portion of the Indian subcontinent, lies atop the Indian tectonic plate, a minor plate within the Indo-Australian Plate. India's defining geological processes commenced seventy-five million years ago when the Indian subcontinent, then part of the southern supercontinent Gondwana, began a northeastwards drift—lasting fifty million years—across the then unformed Indian Ocean.The subcontinent's subsequent collision with the Eurasian Plate and subduction under it gave rise to the Himalayas, the planet's highest mountains, which abut India in the north and the north-east. In the former seabed immediately south of the emerging Himalayas, plate movement created a vast trough which, having gradually been filled with river-borne sediment, now forms the Indo-Gangetic Plain. To the west lies the Thar Desert, which is cut off by the Aravalli Range .
The original Indian plate survives as peninsular India, the oldest and geologically most stable part of India and extends as far north as the Satpura and Vindhya ranges in central India. These parallel ranges 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 the coastal ranges, Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats respectively; the plateau contains the oldest rock formations in India, 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.

The Himalayas form the mountainous landscape of northern India. Seen here is Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir.
India's coast is 7,517 kilometres (4,700 mi) long; of this distance, 5,423 kilometres (3,400 mi) belong to peninsular India and 2,094 kilometres (1,300 mi) to the Andaman, Nicobar, and Lakshadweep Islands. According to the Indian naval hydrographic charts, the mainland coast consists of the following: 43% sandy beaches, 11% rocky coast including cliffs, and 46% mudflats or marshy coast.
Major Himalayan-origin rivers that substantially flow through India include the Ganges (Ganga) and the Brahmaputra, both of which drain into the Bay of Bengal.mportant tributaries of the Ganges include the Yamuna and the Kosi; the latter's extremely low gradient causes disastrous floods every year. Major peninsular rivers, whose steeper gradients prevent their waters from flooding, include the Godavari, the Mahanadi, the Kaveri, and the Krishna, which also drain into the Bay of Bengal;and the Narmada and the Tapti, which drain into the Arabian Sea.Among notable coastal features of India are the marshy Rann of Kutch in western India, and the alluvial Sundarbans delta, which India shares with Bangladesh. India has two archipelagos: the Lakshadweep, coral atolls off India's south-western coast; and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a volcanic chain in the Andaman Sea.
India's climate is strongly influenced by the Himalayas and the Thar Desert, both of which drive the monsoons.The Himalayas prevent cold Central Asian katabatic winds from blowing in, keeping the bulk of the Indian subcontinent warmer than most locations at similar latitudes. The Thar Desert plays a crucial role in attracting the moisture-laden southwest summer monsoon winds that, between June and October, provide the majority of India's rainfall. Four major climatic groupings predominate in India: tropical wet, tropical dry, subtropical humid, and montane.

Main article: Wildlife of India
See also: List of ecoregions in India

The Indian peacock is India's national bird and is found primarily in semi-desert grasslands, scrubs and deciduous forests of India.
Lying within the Indomalaya ecozone with three hotspots located within its area, India displays significant biodiversity.As one of the seventeen megadiverse countries, it is home to 7.6% of all mammalian, 12.6% of all avian, 6.2% of all reptilian, 4.4% of all amphibian, 11.7% of all fish, and 6.0% of all flowering plant species.Many ecoregions such as the shola forests exhibit high rates of endemism; overall, 33% of Indian plant species are endemic.
India's forest cover ranges from the tropical rainforest of the Andaman Islands, Western Ghats, and northeastern India to the coniferous forest of the Himalaya. Between these extremes lie the sal-dominated moist deciduous forest of eastern India; the teak-dominated dry deciduous forest of central and southern India; and the babul-dominated thorn forest of the central Deccan and western Gangetic plain. Important Indian trees include the medicinal neem, widely used in rural Indian herbal remedies. The pipal fig tree, shown on the seals of Mohenjo-daro, shaded Gautama Buddha as he sought enlightenment. Nearly 12% of India's landmass is covered by dense forests.
Many Indian species are descendants of taxa originating in Gondwana, from which the Indian plate separated a long time ago. Peninsular India's subsequent movement towards and collision with the Laurasian landmass set off a mass exchange of species. However, volcanism and climatic changes 20 million years ago caused the extinction of many endemic Indian forms.Soon thereafter, mammals entered India from Asia through two zoogeographical passes on either side of the emerging Himalaya.Consequently, among Indian species only 12.6% of mammals and 4.5% of birds are endemic, contrasting with 45.8% of reptiles and 55.8% of amphibians. Notable endemics are the Nilgiri leaf monkey and Beddome's toad of the Western Ghats. India contains 172, or 2.9%, of IUCN-designated threatened species. These include the Asiatic Lion, the Bengal Tiger, and the Indian white-rumped vulture, which nearly became extinct by ingesting the carrion of diclofenac-treated cattle.
In recent decades, human encroachment has posed a threat to India's wildlife; in response, the system of national parks and protected areas, first established in 1935, was substantially expanded. In 1972, India enacted the Wildlife Protection Act and Project Tiger to safeguard crucial habitat; in addition, the Forest Conservation Act was enacted in 1980.[93] Along with more than five hundred wildlife sanctuaries, India hosts thirteen biosphere reserves,four of which are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves; twenty-five wetlands are registered under the Ramsar Convention.

Main article: Politics of India

The Secretariat Building, in New Delhi, houses key government offices.
India is the most populous democracy in the world. A parliamentary republic with a multi-party system,it has six recognised national parties, including the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and more than 40 regional parties.The Congress is considered centre-left or "liberal" in Indian political culture, and the BJP centre-right or "conservative". 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 coalitions 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 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, and a new party, the Janata Party which had opposed the emergency was voted in. Its government proved short-lived, lasting just over three years. Back in power in 1980, the Congress saw a change in leadership in 1984, when Indira Gandhi was assassinated and 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 short-lived lasting just under two years. Elections were held again in 1991 in which no party won an absolute majority, but the Congress as the largest single party was able to form a minority government, led by P.V. Narasimha Rao.
The two years after the general election of 1996 were years of political turmoil, with several short-lived alliances sharing power at the centre. The BJP formed a government briefly in 1996; it was followed by two relatively longer-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), which under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, became the first non-Congress government to complete a full five-year term. In the 2004 Indian general elections, again no party won an absolute majority, but the Congress emerged as the largest single party, forming a successful coalition, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), with the support of left-leaning parties and MPs opposed to the BJP. The UPA coalition was returned to power in the 2009 general election, with increased numbers that ensured it no longer required external support from India's Communist parties.That year, Manmohan Singh became the first prime minister since Jawaharlal Nehru in 1957 and 1962 to be re-elected to a second consecutive five-year term.
Main articles: Government of India, Constitution of India, and Elections in India
National Symbols of India
Flag Tricolour
Emblem Sarnath Lion Capital
Anthem Jana Gana Mana
Song Vande Mataram
Animal Royal Bengal Tiger
Bird Indian Peacock
Aquatic animal Dolphin
Flower Lotus
Tree Banyan
Fruit Mango
Game Field hockey
Calendar Saka
River Ganges
India is a federation with a parliamentary system governed under the Constitution of India. 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 federal government and the states. The government is regulated by checks and balances defined by Indian Constitution, which serves as the country's supreme legal document. The Constitution of India, which came into effect on 26 January 1950,states in its preamble that India is 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 federal government is composed of three branches:
Executive: The President of India is the head of state elected indirectly by an electoral college for a five-year term. 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 holding the majority of seats in the lower house of parliament The executive branch of the Indian government consists of the president, the vice-president, and the council of ministers (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, with the prime minister and his council directly responsible to the lower house of the parliament.
Legislative: The legislature of India is the bicameral parliament, operating under a Westminster-style parliamentary system, and comprising the upper house called the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the lower called the Lok Sabha (House of People). The Rajya Sabha, a permanent body, has 245 members serving staggered six year terms.Most are elected indirectly by the state and territorial legislatures, their numbers in proportion to their state's population. All but two of the Lok Sabha's 545 members are directly elected by popular vote to represent individual constituencies for five-year terms.The remaining two members are nominated by the president from among the Anglo-Indian community, in case the president decides that the community is not adequately represented.
Judicial: India has a unitary three-tier judiciary, consisting of the Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice of India, 21 High 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 appellate jurisdiction over the High Courts. It is judicially independent] and has the power both to declare the law and to strike down union or state laws which contravene the constitution The Supreme Court is also the ultimate interpreter of the constitution.
Administrative divisions
Main article: Administrative divisions of India
India is a federation composed of 28 states and 7 union territories. All states, as well as the union territories of Puducherry and the National Capital Territory of Delhi, have elected legislatures and governments, both patterned on the Westminster model. The remaining five union territories are directly ruled by the Centre through appointed administrators. In 1956, under the States Reorganisation Act, states were reorganised on a linguistic basis. Since then, their structure has remained largely unchanged. Each state or union territory is further divided into administrative districts. The districts in turn are further divided into tehsils and ultimately into villages.
The 28 states and 7 union territories of India
Andhra Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh
Jammu and Kashmir
Madhya Pradesh
Tamil Nadu
Uttar Pradesh
West Bengal
Union Territories:
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Dadra and Nagar Haveli
Daman and Diu
National Capital Territory of Delhi

Foreign relations and military

Main articles: Foreign relations of India and Indian Armed Forces

India and Russia share an extensive economic, defence and technological relationship.Shown here is PM Manmohan Singh with President Dmitry Medvedev at the 34th G8 Summit.
Since its independence in 1947, India has maintained cordial relations with most nations. In the 1950s, it strongly supported the independence of European colonies in Africa and Asia and played a pioneering role in the Non-Aligned Movement.In the late 1980s, India made two brief military interventions at the invitation of neighbouring countries, one by the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka and the other, Operation Cactus, in the Maldives. However, India has had a tense relationship with neighbouring Pakistan, and the two countries have gone to war four times, in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999. The Kashmir dispute was the predominant cause of these wars, except in 1971 which followed the civil unrest in erstwhile East Pakistan.After the India-China War of 1962 and the 1965 war with Pakistan, India proceeded to develop close military and economic ties with the Soviet Union; by late 1960s, the Soviet Union had emerged as India's largest arms supplier.
Today, in addition to the continuing strategic relations with Russia, India has wide ranging defence relations with Israel and France. In recent years, India has played an influential role in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the World Trade Organization.The nation has provided 100,000 military and police personnel to serve in thirty-five UN peacekeeping operations across four continents. India is also an active participant in various multilateral forums, most notably the East Asia Summit and the G8+5.In the economic sphere, India has close relationships with the developing nations of South America, Asia and Africa. For about a decade now, India has also pursued a "Look East" policy which has helped it strengthen its partnerships with the ASEAN nations, Japan and South Korea on a wide range of issues but especially economic investment and regional security.

Jointly developed by Sukhoi and Hindustan Aeronautics, the Su-30 MKI "Flanker-H" is the Indian Air Force's prime air superiority fighter.
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 of its own.India conducted its first nuclear weapons test in 1974 and carried out further underground testing in 1998. Despite criticism and military sanctions, India has signed neither the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) nor the NPT, 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 also developing a ballistic missile defence shield and, in collaboration with Russia, a fifth generation fighter jet. Other major indigenous military development projects include Vikrant class aircraft carriers and Arihant class nuclear submarines.
Recently, India has also increased its economic, strategic and military cooperation 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 party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it received waivers from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), ending earlier restrictions on India's nuclear technology and commerce. As a consequence, India has become the world's sixth de facto nuclear weapons state.Following the NSG waiver, India was also able to sign civilian nuclear energy cooperation agreements with other nations, including Russia, France, the United Kingdom,and Canada.
With 1.3 million active troops, the Indian military is the third largest in the world. India's armed forces consists of an Indian Army, Navy, Air Force, and auxiliary forces such as the Paramilitary Forces, the Coast Guard, and the Strategic Forces Command.The President of India is the supreme commander of the Indian Armed Forces. The official Indian defence budget for 2011 stands at US$36.03 billion (or 1.83% of GDP).According to a 2008 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 per cent, although this does not include money that goes to the military through other branches of government.India has become the world's largest arms importer, receiving 9% of all international arms transfers during the period from 2006 to 2010. Much of the military expenditure is focused on defence against Pakistan and countering growing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean.

Main article: Economy of India
See also: Economic history of India, Economic development in India, and Transport in India

The Bombay Stock Exchange, in Mumbai, is Asia's oldest and India's largest stock exchange by market capitalisation.
According to the International Monetary Fund, India's nominal GDP stands at US$1.53 trillion, making it the tenth-largest economy in the world. In terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), India's economy is the fourth largest in the world at US$4.06 trillion.With its average annual GDP growing at 5.8% for the past two decades, India is also one of the fastest growing economies in the world. However, India's per capita income is US$1,000, and the country ranks 138th in nominal GDP per capita and 129th in GDP per capita at PPP among all countries of the world.
Until 1991, all Indian governments followed protectionist policies that were influenced by socialist economics. Widespread state intervention and regulation caused the Indian economy to be largely closed to the outside world. After an acute balance of payments crisis in 1991, the nation liberalised its economy and has since continued to move towards a free-market system, emphasizing both foreign trade and investment.Consequently, India's economic model is now being described overall as capitalist.
With 467 million workers, India has the world's second largest labour force. The service sector makes up 54% of the GDP, the agricultural sector 28%, and the industrial sector 18%. Major agricultural products include rice, wheat, oilseed, cotton, jute, tea, sugarcane, and potatoes.Major industries include textiles, telecommunications, chemicals, food processing, steel, transport equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery and software. By 2006, India's external trade had reached a relatively moderate proportion of GDP at 24%, up from 6% in 1985. In 2008, India's share of world trade was 1.68%; India was the world's fifteenth largest importer in 2009 and the eighteenth largest exporter. Major exports include petroleum products, textile goods, jewelry, software, engineering goods, chemicals, and leather manufactures.Major imports include crude oil, machinery, gems, fertiliser, chemicals

Tata Nano, the world's cheapest car.India is the world's number one producer of basic cars.
Averaging an economic growth rate of 7.5% during the last few years, India has more than doubled its hourly wage rates during the last decade. Moreover, since 1985, India has moved 431 million of its citizens out of poverty, and by 2030, India's middle class numbers will grow to more than 580 million. Although 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 7 of the world's top 15 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, currently the world's thirteenth largest, is expected to become fifth largest by 2030.Its telecommunication industry, the world's fastest growing, added 227 million subscribers during 2010–11.[178] Its automobile industry, the world's second-fastest growing, increased domestic sales by 26% during 2009–10, and exports by 36% during 2008–09.
Despite impressive economic growth during recent decades, India continues to face socio-economic challenges. India contains the largest concentration of people living below the World Bank's international poverty line of $1.25/day the proportion having decreased from 60% in 1981 to 42% in 2005. Half of the children in India are underweight, and 46% of children under the age of three suffer from malnutrition.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 increased significantly,with one report estimating the illegal capital flows since independence to be US$462 billion. Driven by consistent growth, India's nominal GDP per capita has steadily increased from U$463 in 2001 to U$1,176 by 2010, yet it remains lower than those of other Asian developing countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Iran.
According to a 2011 PwC report, India's GDP at purchasing power parity will overtake Japan's during 2011 and the United States by 2045. Moreover, during the next four decades, India's economy is expected to grow at an average of 8%, making the nation potentially the world's fastest growing major economy until 2050.The report also highlights some of the key factors behind high economic growth – a young and rapidly growing working age population; the growth of the manufacturing sector due to rising levels of education and engineering skills; and sustained growth of the consumer market because of a rapidly growing middle class. However, 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 and nutrition.
Main article: Demographics of India
See also: Ethnic groups of South Asia and List of most populous metropolitan areas in India
Population density map of India.
With 1,210,193,422 citizens reported in the 2011 provisional Census, India is the world's second most populous country. India's population grew at 1.76% per annum during the last decade, down from 2.13% per annum in the previous decade (1991–2001). The human sex ratio in India, according to the 2011 census, is 940 females per 1,000 males the lowest since independence. India's median age was 24.9 in the 2001 census.Medical advances of the last 50 years as well increased agricultural productivity brought about by the "green revolution" have caused India's population to grow rapidly.The percentage of Indian population living in urban areas has grown as well, increasing by 31.2% from 1991 to 2001.Despite this, in 2001 over 70% of India's population continued to live in rural areas.According to the 2001 census, there are 27 million-plus cities in India,with Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata being the largest.
India's overall literacy rate in 2011 is 74.04%, its female literacy rate standing at 65.46% and its male at 82.14%. The state of Kerala has the highest literacy rate, whereas Bihar has the lowest.India continues to face several public health-related challenges. According to the World Health Organization, 900,000 Indians die each year from drinking contaminated water or breathing polluted air.There are about 60 physicians per 100,000 people in India.
The Indian Constitution recognises 212 scheduled tribal groups which together constitute about 7.5% of the country's population.The 2001 census reported the religion in India with the largest number of followers was Hinduism, with over 800 million (80.5%) of the population recording it as their religion. Other religious groups include Muslims (13.4%), Christians (2.3%), Sikhs (1.9%), Buddhists (0.8%), Jains (0.4%), Jews, Zoroastrians and Bahá'ís. India has the world's third-largest Muslim population and the largest Muslim population for a non-Muslim majority country.
India is home to two major language families: Indo-Aryan (spoken by about 74% of the population) and Dravidian (spoken by about 24%). Other languages spoken in India come from the Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman language families. Neither the Constitution of India nor Indian law define a national language. Hindi, with the largest number of speakers, is the official language of the union.English is used extensively in business and administration and has the status of a 'subsidiary official language;' it is also important in education, especially as a medium of higher education. Every state and union territory has its own official languages, and the constitution recognises in particular 21 "scheduled languages".

Main article: Culture of India
The Taj Mahal in Agra was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his deceased wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site considered to be of "outstanding universal value".
India's cultural traditions date back to 8000 BCE and it has a recorded history for over 2,500 years.[With its roots based in the Indus Valley Civilisation, the Indian culture took a distinctive shape during the 11th century BCE Vedic age which laid the foundation of Hindu philosophy, mythology, literary tradition and beliefs and practices, such as dhárma, kárma, yóga and mokṣa. It has managed to preserve established traditions while absorbing new customs, traditions, and ideas from invaders and immigrants and spreading its cultural influence to other parts of Asia, mainly South East and East Asia.
Indian religions form one of the most defining aspects of Indian culture and the major religions practiced in India include which Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, Christianity and Jainism. The predominant religion, Hinduism, has been shaped by the various schools of thoughts based on the Upanishads, the Yoga Sutras, the Bhakti movement., and Buddhist philosophy (Buddhism originated in India in 5th century BCE)
Indian architecture represents the diversity of Indian culture. Much of it, including notable monuments such as the Taj Mahal and other examples of Mughal architecture and South Indian architecture, comprises a blend of ancient and varied local traditions from several parts of the country and abroad. Vernacular architecture also displays notable regional variation.
Indian cuisine is best known for its delicate use of herbs and spices and for its tandoori grilling techniques. The tandoor, a clay oven in use for almost 5,000 years in India, is known for its ability to grill meats to an 'uncommon succulence' and for the puffy flatbread known as the naan.The staple foods in the region are rice (especially in the south and the east), wheat (predominantly in the north)[216] and lentils. Many spices which are consumed world wide are originally native to the Indian subcontinent. Chili pepper which was introduced by the Portuguese is widely used in Indian cuisine.
The earliest literary writings in India, composed between 1,400 BCE and 1,200 AD, were in the Sanskrit language. Prominent works of this Sanskrit literature include epics such as Mahābhārata and Ramayana, the dramas of Kalidasa such as the Abhijñānaśākuntalam (The Recognition of Śakuntalā), and poetry such as the Mahākāvya.Developed between 600 BCE and 300 AD in Southern India, the Sangam literature consisting of 2,381 poems is regarded as a predecessor of Tamil literature. From the 14th century AD to 18th century AD, India's literary traditions went through a period of drastic change because of the emergence of devotional poets such as Kabīr, Tulsīdās and Guru Nānak. This period was characterised by varied and wide spectrum of thought and expression and 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. During the 20th century, Indian literature was heavily influenced by the works of universally acclaimed Bengali poet and novelist Rabindranath Tagore.
Society and traditions

One of the fourteen gopurams of the Meenakshi Temple complex in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Dedicated to Hindu God Shiva and his consort Meenakshi, the temple is considered to be the foremost religious and cultural center of Tamil people and is one of the holiest Hindu sites in India.
Traditional Indian society is defined by relatively strict social hierarchy. The Indian caste system describes the social stratification and social restrictions in the Indian subcontinent, in which social classes are defined by thousands of endogamous hereditary groups, often termed as jātis or castes.Several influential social reform movements, such as the Bramho Shômaj, the Arya Samāja and the Ramakrishna Mission, have played a pivotal role in the emancipation of Dalits (or "untouchables") and other lower-caste communities in India. However, the majority of Dalits continue to live in segregation and are often persecuted and discriminated against.
Traditional Indian family values are highly respected, and multi-generational patriarchal joint families have been the norm, although nuclear families are becoming common in urban areas. An overwhelming majority of Indians have their marriages arranged by their parents and other respected family members, with the consent of the bride and groom.Marriage is thought to be for life,and the divorce rate is extremely low.Child marriage is still a common practice, more so in rural India, with about half of women in India marrying before the legal age of 18.
Many Indian festivals are religious in origin. The best known include Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi, Thai Pongal, Holi, Durga Puja, Eid ul-Fitr, Bakr-Id, Christmas, and Vaisakhi.India has three national holidays which are observed in all states and union territories – Republic Day, Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti. Other sets of holidays, varying between nine and twelve, are officially observed in individual states.
Traditional Indian dress varies across the regions in its colours and styles and depends on various factors, including climate. Popular styles of dress include draped garments such as sari for women and dhoti or lungi for men; in addition, stitched clothes such as salwar kameez for women and kurta-pyjama and European-style trousers and shirts for men, are also popular.
Music, dance, theatre and cinema
Indian music covers a wide range of traditions and regional styles. Classical music largely encompasses the two genres – North Indian Hindustani, South Indian Carnatic traditions and their various offshoots in the form of regional folk music. Regionalised forms of popular music include filmi and folk music; the syncretic tradition of the bauls is a well-known form of the latter.
Indian dance too has diverse folk and classical forms. Among the well-known folk dances are the bhangra of the Punjab, the bihu of Assam, the chhau of West Bengal, Jharkhand , sambalpuri of Orissa , the 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 Orissa and the sattriya of Assam
Theatre in India often incorporates music, dance, and improvised or written dialogue. Often based on Hindu mythology, but also borrowing from medieval romances, and news of social and political events, Indian theatre includes the bhavai of state of Gujarat, the jatra of West Bengal, the nautanki and ramlila of North India, the tamasha of Maharashtra, the burrakatha of Andhra Pradesh, the terukkuttu of Tamil Nadu, and the yakshagana of Karnataka.The Indian film industry is the most watched film industry in the world.Established traditions exist in Assamese, Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Tamil, and Telugu language cinemas. South India's cinema industries account for more than 75% of total film revenues.
Main article: Sport in India

A 2008 Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket match being played between the Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders
India's official national sport is field hockey, administered by Hockey India. The Indian hockey team won the 1975 Hockey World Cup and 8 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze medals at the Olympic games, making it one of the world's most successful national hockey teams ever. Cricket, however, is by far the most popular sport;the India cricket team won the 1983 and the 2011 World Cups, 2007 ICC World Twenty20, and shared the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka. Cricket in India is administered by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and domestic competitions include the Ranji Trophy, the Duleep Trophy, the Deodhar Trophy, the Irani Trophy and the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy. In addition, BCCI conducts the Indian Premier League, a Twenty20 competition.
India is home to several traditional sports which originated in the country and continue to remain fairly popular. These include kabaddi, kho kho, pehlwani and gilli-danda. Some of the earliest forms of Asian martial arts, such as Kalarippayattu, Yuddha, Silambam and Varma Kalai, originated in India. The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and the Arjuna Award are India's highest awards for achievements in sports, while the Dronacharya Award is awarded for excellence in coaching.
Chess, commonly held to have originated in India, is regaining widespread popularity with the rise in the number of Indian Grandmasters.Tennis has also become increasingly popular, owing to the victories of the India Davis Cup team and the success of Indian tennis players. India has a strong presence in shooting sports, winning several medals at the Olympics, the World Shooting Championships and the Commonwealth Games. Other sports in which Indian sports-persons have won numerous awards or medals at international sporting events include badminton, boxing and wrestling Football is a popular sport in northeastern India, West Bengal, a, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
India has hosted or co-hosted several international sporting events, such as the 1951 and the 1982 Asian Games, the 1987, 1996, 2011 Cricket World Cups, the 2003 Afro-Asian Games, the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy, the 2010 Hockey World Cup and the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Major international sporting events annually held in India include the Chennai Open, Mumbai Marathon, Delhi Half Marathon and the Indian Masters. It will also host the first Indian Grand Prix in 2011 in Greater Noida.

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