India

Official Name: Republic of India (English); or Bharat (Sanskrit).

Area: 3.166.829 sqkm. 

Population: 1,138,316,276 (est. July, 10, 2007). 
Official Census result in 2001: 1.027 015 247 (more info about Census of India 2001). 

Uttar Pradesh with a population of more than 166 million holds distinction of being the most populous state in the country followed by Maharastra (97 million) and Bihar (83 million). The other large states, in terms of population size are West Bengal (80 million), Andhra Pradesh (76 million), Tamil Nadu (62 million), Madhya Pradesh (60 million), Rajasthan (57 million) and Gujarat (51 million). These states together account for 76 percent of the total population of the country.
The total number of Urban Agglomerations (UA) with more than one million populations is 35. Mumbai UA with 16.04 million population is the largest, followed by Kolkata UA (13.2 million) and Delhi UA (12.9 million).

Independent: 15 August, 1947, from Great Britain.

Languages: The Indian languages belong to four different linguistic families. A majority of the people speak Indo-European languages, to which belong e g Hindi, Bengali, Nepali, Marathi, Sindhi and Punjabi. These languages are spoken throughout Northern and Central India. 74 per cent of the population speak any of these languages who come out of the ancestral language Sanskrit.

The second major group – the Dravidian languages – are mostly spoken in Southern India. 24 per cent of the population speak Dravidian languages, to which belong Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam.

The third group – the Munda languages – belong to the Austro-Asiatic linguistic family, represented by a few million tribal people, amongst them the Santhals in Central and Eastern India. The fourth and last linguistic family represented in India is the Tibeto-Burman languages group, spoken by small communities in the Himalayas and in Northeastern India along the borders to China and Myanmar (Burma). Only two per cent of India´s population belong to these two latter linguistic families.
 

Till 2003, India had 18 official languages (now 22):

Hindi 402,2 Millions Bengali 83,0 Millions
Telugu 78,7 Millions Marathi 74,5 Millions
Tamil 63,2 Millions Urdu 51,8 Millions
Gujarati 48,5 Millions Kannada 39,0 Millions
Malayalam 36,2 Millions Oriya 33,5 Millions
Punjabi 27,9 Millions Assamese 15,6 Millions
Kashmiri 3–4 Millions Sindhi 2,5 Millions
Nepali 2,5 Millions Konkani 2,1 Millions
Manipuri 1,5 Millions Sanskrit 2 946 individuals

+ Other languages – 37,1 Millions.

South Asian languagesThese data are estimations based upon the proportional representation of native languages in the results of the 1991 Census, and calculated upon a total population of 1 000 Million people. No Census could be made in Kashmir in 1991, so for that state the estimations are based upon the results of the 1981 Census.

The Eighth Schedule to the Indian Constitution now contains a list of 22 scheduled languages – the 18 languages listed above, plus another four languages –BodoMaithiliDogri, and Santhali – that were added to the 8th Schedule via the 92nd Constitutional amendment in 2003. 
Article 343 of the Indian Constitution also allows for the continuation of use of the English language for official purposes in India, and as a link language. It still plays an enormous role in Indian society. Exact figures do not exist, but approximately two per cent of the Indian population uses English as their native tongue, which means 20 million people, and the total amount of Indians who speak and understand English is estimated to be more than 200 million.

At the time the constitution was enacted, inclusion in this list meant that the language was entitled to representation on the Official Languages Commission, and that the language would be one of the bases that would be drawn upon to enrich Hindi, the official language of the Union. The list has since, however, acquired further significance. The Government of India is now under an obligation to take measures for the development of these languages, such that "they grow rapidly in richness and become effective means of communicating modern knowledge." In addition, a candidate appearing in an examination conducted for public service at a higher level is entitled to use any of these languages as the medium in which he answers the paper.
Besides, individual states, whose borders are mostly drawn on socio-linguistic lines, are free to decide their own languages for internal administration and education. Thereby, several states have adopted official languages which are not among the 23 languages (incl. English) listed above. Examples include Kokborok in Tripura, Mizo in Mizoram, Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia in Meghalaya, and Frenchin Pondicherry.
In 2004, the government elevated Tamil to the newly created official status of ”Classical Language”, followed by Sanskrit in 2005. 

Religions: Hindus 80,5 p.c, Muslims 13,4 p.c, Christians 2,3 p.c, Sikhs 1,9 p.c, Buddhists 0,8 p.c, Jains 0,4 p.c, Other religions & persuasions – mainly tribal religions, but also including 69.601 Zoroastrian individuals – 0,6 p.c (according to Census of India 2001). The first Report on Religion based on the 2001 Census was released on 6 September 2004. The detailed statistics provide information on distribution of population by religion at India, state and district level. For the first time in Independent India, datasets are made available showing population in the age group 0 to 6 years, number of literates and category and type of workers among the major religious groups.

Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes: 16,48 p.c. and 8,08 p.c. respectively (according to Census of India 1991; excl Jammu & Kashmir). State with highest proportion of Scheduled Castes: Punjab, 28,3 p.c. State with highest proportion of Scheduled Tribes: Mizoram, 94,8 p.c.

Population growth rate: 1,606 p.c. (est. 2007)

Life expectancy at birth: 68.59 years (est. 2007)

Literacy rate: 61 p.c. (Census 2001)

GDP Purchasing power parity: 3,800 USD (est. 2006)

Population below poverty line: 25 p.c. (est. 2002)

Republic: Since 26 January 1950. India’s constitution is available on the Internet. Go for the constitution.

National Anthem: Jana gana mana (Music and Lyrics by Rabindranath Tagore).

Administration: Federal state, consisting of 29 States (Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttarakhand (2002–2006 called Uttaranchal), Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal)
and six Union Territories – Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry.

The State Governors are appointed by the president whereas the Chief Ministers are members of popularly elected State legislative assemblies. The Constitution allows central control of state government (President's Rule) during time of emergency on recommendation of governor. The centrally controlled Union Territories are led by Lieutenant Governors or Chief Commissioners, appointed by the President.

Capital: New Delhi.

Recent history: The Congress Party dominated Indian politics during several decades, right from Independence in 1947, primarily under the leadership of the Prime MinistersJawaharlal NehruIndira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, but the party lost during the 1990´s its leading position. India has instead since 1996 been ruled by coalition governments, 1996–98 by centre-left coalitions supported from the outside by the Congress(I), 1998–2004 by a government dominated by the hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP, that ruled along with a large number of regional parties in a coalition named NDA, National Democratic Alliance. 

On Friday 6 February 2004 the lower house of parliament was dissolved six months ahead of the scheduled general elections. Elections were then held in April–May 2004. The results were totally unexpected, the NDA government led by Prime Minister Atali Behari Vajpayee was defeated by a coalition led by the Congress Party, the United Progessive Alliance, UPA, supported by the leftist parties that also made a sensationally good result.
In the 2009 elections to Lok Sabha, held during April-May (the final results declared on May 16th), the Congress Party defended its position and will again form the government for the 15th Lok Sabha. 

The present political situation can be studied at the Indian parliament web site. Out of the 545 mandates in Lok Sabha, the Lower House of the Indian Parliament, 543 are elected. The remaining two seats are meant for representatives of the Anglo-Indian community, and they are nominated by the President of India.
Elections were last held in 2008. Current situation (Sept. 2010) partywise:

Sonia and Manmohan

United Progressive Alliance (UPA):
• Indian National Congress (INC) 208
• All India Trinamool Congress 19
• Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) 18
• Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) 9
• Jammu & Kashmir National Conference 3
• Jharkhand Mukti Morcha 2
• Muslim League Kerala State Committee 2
• All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen 1
• Kerala Congress (M) 1
• Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi 1

National Democratic Alliance (NDA):
• Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) 116
• Janata Dal (United) 20
• Shiv Sena 11
• Rashtriya Lok Dal 5
• Shiromani Akali Dal 4
• Telangana Rashtra Samiti 2
• Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) 1

Left Front:
• Communist Party of India (Marxist), CPI(M) 16
• Communist Party of India (CPI) 4
• All India Forward Bloc 2
• Revolutionary Socialist Party 2

Other parties:
• Samajwadi Party 22
• Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 21
• Biju Janata Dal 14
• All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam 9
• Telugu Desam 6
• Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) 4
• Janata Dal (Secular) 3
• All India United Democratic Front 1
• Bahujan Vikas Aaghadi 1
• Bodoland People’s Front 1
• Haryana Janhit Congress (BL) 1
• Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam 1
• Nagaland People’s Front 1
• Sikkim Democratic Front 1
• Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) 1
• Swabhimani Paksha 1

• Independents  8

= 543
+ 2 nominated Anglo-Indian seats
= Total 545

The percentage of votes for the national parties were as follows:
INC: 28.55 %
BJP: 18.80 %
BSP: 6.17 %
CPI(M): 5.33 %
NCP: 2.04 %
CPI: 1.43 %
RJD: 1.27 %

More information on the political situation in each of the 29 States (including Delhi) and six Union territories can be found on theIndian Government official web site.

Prime Minister since May 2004: Manmohan SinghIndian National Congress (INC)

President since July, 25, 2007: Pratibha Patil, candidate of the governing Congress party and its political allies. (Photo to the right

Other leading politicians on the government side (including Left Front allies):

Pratibha PatilSonia Gandhi, chairman, Indian National Congress, and convenor, United Progessive Alliance
Arjun SinghPranab MukherjeeShivraj Patil, and P. Chidambaram, Indian National Congress
Sharad Pawar, National Congress Party
Farooq Abdullah, Jammu & Kashmir National Conference

Mamata Bannerjee, Trinamul Congress
M Karunanidhi, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam – DMK

Important opposition politicians in the NDA alliance:

Lal Krishna Advani, BJP
George Fernandes, Janata Dal (United)

Other important opposition politicians:

Mulayam Singh Yadav, Samajwadi Party
Mayawati, and Kanshi Ram, Bahujan Samaj Party
Ms J Jayalalithaa, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam – AIADMK 
Laloo Prasad Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal
Ram Vilas Paswan, Lok Jan Shakti Party 
Harkishen Singh Surjeet, and Jyoti Basu, Communist Party of India (Marxist) – CPI(M)
Chandrababu Naidu, Telugu Desam Party
 

More information on India

 

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, India

India WWW Virtual Library

BBC News Country profile India

The Human Development Report 2009 data on India

The Planning commission of the Government of India offers a wealth of useful information on the country and its development.

The Library of Congress, USA, offers through its Country Studies Web site detailed Information on all Aspects of Countries round the Globe. Look for India. Information contained in the Country Studies On-Line is not copyrighted and thus is available for free and unrestricted use by researchers. As a courtesy, however, appropriate credit should be given to the series. Unfortunately, though, the information on India is not updated since September 1995.

World Bank Group/India: Constantly updated data reports, publications, statistics, projects etc, for India

CIA – The World Factbook: India

The Swedish Government’s Division for Democratic Issues, based at the Ministry of Justice, publishes yearly reports about the human rights situation in countries all over the World. Read the 2010 Report on the Human Rights Situation in India (in Swedish only).

The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice on safety aspects on travelling to India.