Cities in INDIA


Popular destinations INDIA



India (official Hindi name: Bharatiya Ganarajya, or abbreviated: Bharat, is a federated republic in South Asia and is located in the Indian subcontinent. India has an area of approximately 3.3 million km2.

India Satellite photoIndia Satellite photoPhoto: NASA in public domain

India is bordered to the north and northeast by Bangladesh (4053 km), Myanmar (1463 km), Bhutan (605 km), Nepal (1690 km), China (3380 km), and to the northwest by Pakistan (2912 km). India is sandwiched between the Bay of Bengal on the east, the Arabian Sea on the west and the Indian Ocean on the south. The total length of the coastline is approximately 7000 km. The distance from east to west is 2950 kilometers and from north to south 3250 kilometers. The territory of India also includes the Lakshadweep archipelago in the Arabian Sea and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal, more than 1,000 kilometers east of the mainland. In the far north are Jammu and Kashmir, over which territorial rights are claimed by both India and Pakistan.


Due to the many climate types and the size of the country, India has a huge variety of landscapes. India consists of three main areas: the Himalayas (Sanskrit: "land of snow"), the northern plain and the peninsula.

Northern India is dominated by the Himalayas, although only the western and eastern ends of this mountain range fall within the Indian borders. The Kanchenjunga (8,598 m) in Sikkim and the Nanda Devi (7,816 m) are the highest peaks in India. The Himalayas are bisected by beautiful valleys, such as the Kashmir valley.

Kanchenjunga, highest mountain in IndiaKanchenjunga, highest mountain in IndiaPhoto: Aaron Ostrovsky, CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

South of the Himalayas lies the great northern plain, with an average width of about 320 km and in some places more than five hundred kilometers wide. This plain is partially occupied taken by the basin of the rivers Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra.

These glacial rivers provide water for irrigation and a useful sludge layer annually. The thick layers of alluvium make the plains one of the most fertile agricultural areas in the world. Dikes or mud banks are the only notable features that interrupt the monotonous, flat landscape. In the northwest, in the state of Rajasthan, lies the extremely dry Thar desert, also known as the Indian Desert.

Deccan Plateau, IndiaDeccan Plateau, IndiaPhoto: Trusharn 512 CC 4.0 International no changes made

The most important part of the Indian peninsula is the dry Deccan plateau, with the highest peak in the south. The Deccan Plateau is separated from the Northern Plain by the Vindhya Mountains. To the west, the plateau rises to the maximum 1646 high Western Ghats, which run parallel to the west coast. The Deccan Plateau slopes gently to the east, where it ends in a low ridge, the up to 1,680 meters high Eastern Ghats. In the south, the Eastern and Western Ghats converge to form the Nilgiri Hills, reaching an altitude of 2,600 meters. East of the Eastern Ghats, the country descends to the wide coastal plain.

The peninsula's largest rivers, Cauvery, Godavari, Krishna, Mahanadi and Penner, all flow to the Bay of Bengal. Unlike the Himalayan rivers, these are (monsoon) rain rivers, resulting in a strongly varying amount of water.

Climate and Landscape

The climate of India is mainly determined by the dry northeast monsoon and the wet southwest monsoon, each of which is divided into two seasons, the former in the cold season and the hot season; the second in the rainy season and the retreating monsoon season. The cold season falls in January and February and is characterized by dry, sunny and fresh weather, with generally little wind. Only in the far north will there be some precipitation. The hot season falls from March to about mid-June. In central India, the average temperature in May is 35 °C, while temperatures above 50 °C are common. In the south it is cooler. The highest temperatures generally occur just before these rains take on a more general character at the onset of the rainy season. This happens on the west coast at the beginning of June and further inland gradually later, until it also rains in the northwest in July. The transition of the seasons is especially abrupt along the west coast. The wind picks up and it rains abundantly for a week.

Monsoon Rain IndiaMonsoon Rain IndiaPhoto: McKay Savage CC 2.0 Genericno changes made

Precipitation is especially strong in windy conditions and on the windward side of hills and mountains, often with annual totals above 2000mm up to the incredible annual precipitation of approx. 11m at Cherrapunji in the northeastern state of Meghalaya; the highest annual rainfall ever is nearly 23 meters in 1861! This is one of the wettest areas on Earth. From mid-September to late October, the monsoon first retreats to the north and northwest, last to the south and Bengal. Southwestern winds are gradually being replaced by northeasterly winds. Although the temperature sometimes rises after the rains have ended, it soon starts to drop until the next cold season arrives.

Precipitation varies widely from year to year. Tropical cyclones (approx. Ten per year) also contribute to the precipitation, especially along the east coast. They mainly occur during the transition period between southwest and northeast monsoons.

Snow falls in the Himalayas, and temperatures of -50 °C are measured in Ladakh, which is almost completely closed off from the outside by the snowfall.

Plants and Animals


India has a richly varied vegetation with about 15,000 species of plants. The vast forests that used to cover the Indian subcontinent have now largely disappeared due to the large-scale irresponsible logging of trees. Roughly a quarter of the total land area is covered with mainly scrubland instead.

Damp tropical forests occur between 450 and 1350 meter on the Western Ghats south of Bombay, and in Assam to an altitude of 900 meter. Where rainfall falls below 3000 mm, the humid tropical forest passes in dry tropical forest, which yields teak wood, among other things. Damar trees, sandalwood, reed, bamboo and date and coconut palms also grow here.

Extensive mangrove forests can be found along the sea coast and especially in Bengal. In addition, there are subtropical and temperate hill forests in the south (the Nilgiri and Palani Hills) and the north (the Himalaya). Between 1050 and 1500 meter in southern India, rainforest gives way to temperate wet forest.

Assam Plucking Tea IndiaAssam Plucking Tea IndiaPhoto: Akarsh Simha CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

In the Himalayas, there is a difference between the wetter east and the drier west. While moist hill forest with evergreen oaks, chestnuts and various rhododendron species predominates to the east, subtropical pine trees more to the west and different types of conifers grow at higher altitudes. In the east, abundant rainfall allows for the cultivation of tea, and Assam is India's foremost tea producer.

Much of Rajasthan consists of treeless desert. Only strong, drought-resistant shrubs and smaller plants survive in these hot desert regions. Alpine vegetation occurs in the Himalayas.


The animal world of India is very rich due to the vastness of the country and its many climate zones: there are 400 species of mammals, 500 species of reptiles and amphibians, 1,200 bird species and 30,000 insect species. The fauna is generally Asian in character and belongs to the oriental area. Important large mammals are the Indian elephant and the Indian rhinoceros; Furthermore, tiger, panther, many deer species (including the large sambar deer and the tiny mouse deer), a wild bovine (gaur), some antelope species (Nile Gau, Indian antelope, four-horned antelope), and a number of monkey species. Wild goat and sheep species are still found in the mountains.

Pygmy Pig IndiaPygmy Pig IndiaPhoto: A. J. T. Johnsingh, WWF-India and NCF CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The pygmy pig is the world's smallest and rarest wild boar. It is threatened with extinction and there are only a few small, isolated, wild populations left. Today, the pygmy pig is only found in Assam's border area between Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh. In fact, the only population of this species can be found in the Manas Tiger Reserve (Manas Wildlife Sanctuary) and the smaller Barnadi Wildlife Reserve (North West Assam) and nowhere else in the world. The dwarf pig is locally Nol Gahori or Takuri Borah in Assamese, Oma Takuri in Borean and Sano Banel in Nepali.

The bird world is also generally very rich, especially in fowl birds. The peacock is the national symbol of India. Cranes, storks, vultures and the black kite are ubiquitous. The plateau of Deccan and South India are home to the kingfisher and the remarkable hornbill. Bharatpur is the most important bird sanctuary in Asia. The park is home to 374 bird species, including 117 species of migratory birds. Parrots, kingfishers, woodpeckers, partridges, hawks, buzzards, owls and eagles live on the dry land; eighty species of ducks, seven species of storks, pelicans, cormorants, flamingos, ibises, herons and snake birds live in and around the ponds and marshes. The large Saras crane and the snow-white Siberian crane are special. Mammals that live here are the sambar deer, the nile gau, the mungo, a kind of civet, and the jackal.

Corbett Natioanal Park, IndiaCorbett Natioanal Park, IndiaPhoto: Bendale Kaustubh CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Corbett National Park is India's first game reserve, established in 1936. The river is home to the beak crocodile or gharial, the large swamp crocodile and river turtles. Wild boars, horse deer, black bears, chitals, deer, porcupines, rhesus monkeys and whelmen live on the land. Bird lovers will also get their money's worth, with the chance to see the black-necked stork, the Indian serpent eagle, the gray hornbill, the orange caterpillar and many waterfowl, pigeons, parakeets and kingfishers.

There are plenty of reptiles in India: the country is known for, among other things, the large number of venomous snakes and a related large number of snake bite deaths. Dangerous snakes are the cobra and the highly venomous krait. The gharial is striking, a fish-eating crocodile species that can grow up to six meters long.

Indian TigerIndian TigerPhoto: Mandeep Singh CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Due to the strong population pressure, land hunger and clear cut of the forest, the original animal world is threatened with extinction. A network of reserves has not always led to the desired result, because the reserved areas are often too small and fragmented. At present, many species are endangered in their survival in India: Indian lion, Bengal king tiger, Indian elephant, Indian rhinoceros, Nilgiritahr, some deer and antelope and dwarf pig.

The main reserves are Gir (Indian lion), Corbett NationalPark (tiger), Kanha National Park (deer and tiger) and Kaziranga National Park (Indian one-horned rhinoceros and elephant). In the northern state of Sikkim 4,000 plants grow, including many rare species. In the hills and mountains there are special animals such as the musk deer, the black bear, the endangered red panda and the very rare snow leopard. The hangul is a rare deer species found only in the Kashmir Valley and in isolated areas of the east. The Western Ghats are the natural habitat of the black langur. Herds of the Khur, the Indian wild donkey, live in the Thar Desert.


Indus culture and the arrival of the Aryans

Traces of human life on the Indian subcontinent go back about 40,000 years. Remains have been found from the Pleistocene and the Late Paleolithic (up to 30,000 years ago). Paintings at Bhimbetka near Bhopal are between 10,000 and 40,000 years old.

Seal Indus Culture, IndiaSeal Indus Culture, IndiaPhoto: Royroydeb CC 4.0 International no changes made

The Indus Valley was between 3000 and 1500 BC. the place where Indus culture (also called Harappa culture) flourished. It was an urban civilization with Lothal in Gujarat and Mohenjodaro and Harappa as main centers in modern-day Pakistan.

The cities were designed according to a system of straight streets and brick houses, and they also had a sewer and water supply system. The Indus civilization had a written language with pictograms and there was a lot of trade with neighboring countries.

From 1500 BC. Indus culture was attacked by Indo-Aryan groups and the area was colonized from the northwest. These groups are believed to have come from southern Russia or from Afghanistan. The middle and east of India were also captured and cities like Delhi and Benares arose during this period. These peoples mixed with the indigenous peoples under their rule, the caste system so typical of India was born. Also, the Vedas written in Sanskrit were written at this time, the sacred scriptures on which Hinduism is based.

The Aryan kingdoms were attacked by Alexander the Great between 327 and 324 BC. With a huge army, he conquered northern India and parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan; only southern India managed to resist him. Not until 274 BC. Ashoka, the grandson of Candragupta, managed to conquer the south. This battle went against the Kalingas and killed tens of thousands of civilians and soldiers. Shocked by this massacre, Ashoka converted to Buddhism and spread the religion to neighboring countries.

After his death, Ashoka's culturally advanced empire fell into disrepair. In 185 BC. the last ruler of the Maurya dynasty was killed and the empire fell into conflicting kingdoms. India's second important kingdom was Kushana, which had its heyday from the 1st century BC. until the 3rd century AD. It included Central Asia and Northern India and extended to Varanasi and Vaishali near Bhopal. The capitals were Peshawar (now in Pakistan) and Mathura. The greatest leader was the Buddhist convert Kanishka.

Gupta, Pallawa and Chola: the classic period

Scene from Ramayana Gupta period, IndiaScene from Ramayana Gupta period, IndiaPhoto: Hiart in the public domain

In the period 320-544, Northern India became a political unit and culture flourished. During this so-called Gupta period, Hinduism revived at the expense of Buddhism. The Gupta empire collapsed after 470 due to raids by Huns from Persia and Turkey and disintegrated into several empires. In the south, the battle between different Dravidian dynasties continued. The Pallawas controlled large parts of the south from the capital Kanchipuram, and in the 7th century and 8th century the Pallawa empire was at its peak.

Around 850, the empire was conquered by the Cholas, of whom Raja Raja I took the throne in 985. Under his rule, and that of Kulottunga I, the area of the Cholas extended to the north of Ceylon, Malaysia and parts of Sumatra. From about 1150 decay began and around 1250 the Chola empire was annexed by the Pandyas.

Islamists attack the north of India

The north was attacked by Muslims from Afghanistan from the beginning of the 11th century, and by 1192 the many kingdoms had fallen into the Islamic hands of Mohammed Ghur.After his death, he was succeeded by the general and ex-slave Qutb-ud-din, the sultan of Delhi. This slave dynasty was to rule the sultanate of Delhi until 1526, which covered most of northern India. Under the Tughluq Dynasty, the decay of the sultanate of Delhi began, and the area was conquered in 1398 by the ruthless conqueror Timur the Cripple (Timur-Lenk), the "scourge of God." In the south, Islam did not really gain ground and the Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar had an exceptional flowering period of 1350-1550.

The empire of the moguls

The sultanate of Delhi was conquered in 1526 by the Turkuran Babur. At the Battle of Panipat, the last Delhi sultan, Ibrahim Lodi, was defeated, and the opposing warriors of the Rajpots were also defeated by Babur. At that time Baboer was the founder and first emperor of the Mughal Empire. This empire grew increasingly powerful until 1707, brought India more political unity, and caused a tremendous revival of all kinds of art.

Baboer's son Hoemayoen was defeated in 1540 by the Afghan ruler Sher Shah, but after his death in 1554 Hoemayoen returned. Hoemayoen was succeeded by his 13-year-old son Akbar, who did amazingly well, and was not only a good soldier but also an art lover. In the early 17th century, he controlled all of North India, under the leadership of his regent Bairam Khan. His empire was ruled by government officials and local princes who, when they submitted, retained their rights and sometimes even had higher positions. In this way Akbar ensured unity in his empire and even religious differences were tolerated. He even founded a new religion: the Divine Faith, more or less a mixture of all essential elements from Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.

Taj Mahal IndiaTaj Mahal IndiaPhoto: Malpaniashutosh CC 4.0 Internationalno changes made

Akbar was succeeded by his son Jehangir who would rule until 1627. Jehangir was succeeded in that year by Shah Jahan, who further expanded the empire and boosted trade and economy. He also built the beautiful Taj Mahal in honor of his late wife.

In 1658, Shah Jahan was deposed by his son Aurengzeb. Under this monarch, the mogul empire reached its greatest extent, as large parts of southern India were also conquered. However, religious freedom was stopped under Aurengzeb and a period of Islamization followed with the persecution of infidels and the breaking down of Hindu temples. Rajpoeten and Marathen, both Hindu peoples, resisted violently, and together with the outbreak of a succession struggle and the increasing influence of Europe, the empire slowly collapsed.

European influences are spreading

The sea route to India via the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa had meanwhile been found in 1498 by the explorer Vasco da Gama. That same year, he landed on the southwest coast of India in Calicut, Kerala. After Goa was conquered in 1510, the Portuguese managed to maintain a trade monopoly in this region until the 17th century.

The other major seafaring nations also had their eyes on India. The Dutch established trading posts in South India, and the French owned several trading colonies in Pondicherry from 1672. The British East India Company gained most power and influence, with trading posts in Surat (1612), Chennai (1640), Mumbai (1688) and Calcutta (1690). Both the French and English companies were all involved in trade and did not interfere in domestic affairs.

Around 1750, the situation in India changed radically because of the problems between the great powers France and England in Europe. Self-interest was now paramount, and the battle between France and Britain peaked at the Battle of Plassey in Bengal (1757). The British defeated a huge Bangladeshi army supported by the French.

British supremacy

A hundred years later, about 60% of India's territory was under direct British control. The rest of the country was ruled by local monarchs and Maharajahs who had to recognize the sovereignty of the English.

In 1857 the Sepoy uprising, the "Mutiny", broke out, the first major uprising against the British rulers. Disaffected by British rule, the Sepoys, soldiers from the Indian regiments of the British Colonial Army, were supported by deposed Hindu princes and members of the Mogul dynasty. The uprising was crushed very harshly, and the government in Britain responded by handing over the government of a governor general in 1858, who was given the title of viceroy or "Raj." Queen Victoria then became Empress of India and the East India Company was completely ruled out. That same year, the last Mogul king, Bahadur Shah II, was deposed, bringing the Mogul empire to a definitive end.

Bahadur Shah Zafar, IndiaBahadur Shah Zafar, IndiaPhoto: Public domain

India was now part of the British Empire, with a viceroy as its chief administrator; the Indians were subjects of Queen Victoria. From 1840 to 1914, India was the main trading partner of the British, and the country received a fairly high degree of autonomy. In 1877, Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India.

Nationalistic feelings

The Indian elite developed a political consciousness in the second half of the 19th century and began to oppose the British colonial rulers. They also demanded more influence in the national government. All this was followed up in 1885 with the establishment of the India National Congress, which pushed for more influence of the population on the government of the country, for both Hindus and Muslims. Soon there was a radical current in the congress that did not shy away from violence either. In 1906, the Muslims separated and the All India Muslim League of Muslim League was established. The dispersion of the Hindus and the Muslims seemed to be a good development for British colonial politics.

By supporting the British during the First World War, the Indians hoped to become an independent Commonwealth country after the war. This effort was brutally repressed on April 13, 1919, when during a demonstration in Amritsar, Punjab state, the British killed 379 protesters for no reason and more than 1,200 were injured.

Gandhi and Nehru

This unfortunate action by the British sparked further nationalism, led by the charismatic Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi. After a law degree in England and a stay in South Africa, he returned to India in 1915.

He quickly gained a leading position in the independence movement and started a major campaign for "svaraj" or self-government in 1920. The campaign was characterized by nonviolent actions, which were therefore very difficult to combat by the British. They decided to arrest Gandhi anyway, and he was sentenced to six years' imprisonment, but he was released as early as 1924 because of his ill health.

Ghandi and Nehru, IndiaGhandi and Nehru, IndiaPhoto: Public domain

In 1930, Gandhi was appointed leader of a new campaign against the government's salt monopoly by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the President of Congress. In 1931, Gandhi participated on behalf of Congress in a round table conference in London on the future of his country. This conference yielded the "Government of India Act", actually no more than a cloth for the bleeding.

In World War II, a majority of Congress wanted to support the British in exchange for post-war independence. The British refused to accept this and Congress launched the "Leave India" action, which only resulted in the arrest of the leader of the action.

India independent, Pakistan secedes

After the war, the British nevertheless concluded that India's colonial status could no longer be maintained. However, the transfer of sovereignty was not so smooth due to the contrasts between Hindus and Muslims. At the time, Congress was dominated by Hindus who were in favor of an independent state for all Indians. The Muslim league led by Jinnah wanted its own Muslim state, Pakistan. In 1946, the country was divided into two states, India and Pakistan. The transfer of sovereignty took place on August 15, 1947 (Indian Independence Act), from which time Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan were two independent states. They both remained with the Commonwealth, and Lord Mountbatten acted as Governor General on behalf of Britain. Prime Minister of India became Congress leader Nehru. Independence was the signal for major migrations. Pakistan was overrun by Muslim refugees from India and India by Hindus from Pakistan. Problems mainly arose in the Indian state of Punjab and the Pakistani Bengal. In the end, millions of refugees clashed and about half a million deaths were counted.

At that time, there were about 500 principalities in India who joined India or Pakistan and maintained a high degree of independence. A problem arose from the wavering attitude of the Hindu prince of the predominantly Muslim Kashmir. Pakistan intervened militarily and the Indian reaction to this led to an Indian-Pakistani war in 1948. The United Nations intervened and arranged a truce, but the Kashmir issue would still govern the relationship between India and Pakistan to this day. On January 10, 1948, a shock went through the world when Gandhi was murdered. Mountbatten resigned on June 21, 1948. On January 26, 1950, the republic was proclaimed in New Delhi and the constitution was adopted.

In the 1950s, Nehru's India was able to mediate in the Korea conflict and the first Vietnamese war (Geneva Conference, 1954). Nehru refused to form a 'third neutral block', but India had an important voice in the United Nations between 1950 and 1960.

Period Indira Gandhi

In the early 1960s, India severely clashed with neighboring China. Both China and India claimed parts of Ladakh and eventually a Chinese invasion followed in 1962.

Regarding domestic politics, Nehru had many problems to solve with various States and the precarious economic situation. In 1961 India had permanently occupied the Portuguese areas of Goa, Daman and Diu (recognized by Portugal in 1974).

Nehru died in 1964 and was succeeded by Lal Bahadur Shastri, who immediately went to war with Pakistan over the wetland province of Rann van Kutsch and the Kashmir issue. In 1965, a second Pakistani-Indian war broke out, again questioning the status of Kashmir. The mediation by the Soviet Union led to the Tashkent armistice in January 1966. Shastri died on January 11, 1966 and the new prime minister became Indira Gandhi, the only daughter of Nehru and not related to Mahatma Gandhi. However, she did become the leader of a country facing major economic and social problems. In addition, a great famine broke out under her rule.

Indira Ghandi, IndiaIndira Ghandi, IndiaPhoto: Anil 946 CC 4.0 International no changes made

In 1971, a third war broke out between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. The 1971 elections were won by the Gandhi Indian National Congress due to its promise to end poverty. She became extra popular through the intervention of India in East Pakistan, where the independent state of Bangladesh was declared in December. All conflicts with Pakistan and China pushed India towards the Soviet Union, especially after China and the United States supported Pakistan. In 1971 India signed a treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union.

In the early 1970s, Indira Gandhi's popularity rapidly declined due to her authoritarian style of government and cases of corruption. The absence of land reforms promised by Indira Gandhi also led to mounting tensions in the states and undermined confidence in her party. In 1973-1974, five federal states were placed under presidential rule. To enhance India's prestige, the first underground nuclear bomb was detonated in 1974. In May 1975, Sikkim was annexed and declared a federal state. In order to gain more support, Gandhi confidently called new elections in 1977, which turned out to be disastrous for her Indian National Congress. A government call for forced sterilization to halt explosive population growth was also to blame for the election defeat.

The Janata party led by Morarji Desai now came to power (Prime Minister Charan Singh), a coalition of opposition parties. Without a good political program, the chaotic situation in India grew rapidly and it was not surprising that in the 1980 elections Indira Gandhi again gained a victory and became Prime Minister for the second time. In this new period of government, various ethnic conflicts arose again, especially in North and Central India.

Serious disturbances occurred particularly in Punjab, the home of the Sikhs. The Sikh majority felt disadvantaged and economically drained by the central government, without getting anything in return. The moderate Sikh party demanded self-government, more money and a number of things of a religious nature. Radical Sikhs even demanded an independent state called Khalistan. They enforced their claim through acts of terror against the Hindu middle class and later against all Hindus and even moderate Sikhs. The Golden Temple in Amritsar was the stronghold of the extremists and this temple was stormed by the Indian army on June 6, 1984, on the orders of Indira Gandhi. About 1,500 people, including many Sikhs, were killed in the fighting. This action indirectly cost Indira Gandhi her life: on October 31, 1984, she was murdered by two of her own Sikh bodyguards.

In response, the anger of the population turned to the Sikhs, and in New Delhi alone, 3,000 Sikhs were murdered. On November 13. 1984 the new prime minister announced general elections for December 24. Rajiv Ghandi's Indian National Congress victory was overwhelming (80% of seats).

Period Rajiv Gandhi

Indira Gandhi was succeeded as prime minister by her son Rajiv Gandhi. He became a beloved leader but he also failed to achieve reconciliation with the Sikhs, despite his willingness to be flexible towards separatists. An agreement was still made with the Akali Dal party - Punjab agreement - but the unrest and attacks continued and in 1986 Rajiv only just escaped an attack.

Rajeev Ghandi, IndiaRajeev Ghandi, IndiaPhoto: Bart Molendijk / Anefo CC 3.0 Netherlands no changes made

In the November 1989 elections, Rajiv Gandhi's Indian National Congress suffered a disastrous defeat as a result of a corruption scandal. Gandhi was relieved by V.P. Singh as prime minister of a minority government consisting of the Janata party, the right-wing Hindu party Bharatiya Janata (BJP) and the communists. However, Singh was also constantly confronted with ethnic violence in the Punjab, in Uttar Pradesh and of course Kashmir. At the end of 1989, an armed uprising by militant Muslims demanded secession from India in Kashmir. After only one year of government, the Singh government fell over the construction of a controversial Hindu temple in Ayodhya in November 1990, and the BJP eventually toppled the government.

Violence during the new elections bottomed out with the assassination attempt on Rajiv Gandhi. The perpetrator was a female member of the militant Tamil Tigers, whom Gandhi considered a traitor for his involvement in the civil war in Sri Lanka.

Period Rao

The elections were won by the Indian National Congress, but without a majority. Once again, they were forced to form a minority government led by the new Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao.

P.V. Narasimha Rao, IndiaP.V. Narasimha Rao, IndiaPhoto:Pranayraj 1985 CC 4.0 International no changes made

Under Rao rapid economic growth followed by liberalization. As a result, foreign investment rose sharply. For the poor section of the population, however, the situation hardly improved as subsidies were abolished and inflation kept rising.

Meanwhile things got a bit quieter in the Punjab, but Kashmir remained a minefield. At the end of 1992, the issue about the Rama Temple arose. Hindu fundamentalists stormed the Babar Mosque, which was completely destroyed and replaced by a Hindu temple. Then evrything escalated completely and thousands of Hindus and Muslims were killed across India. An earthquake in September 1993 killed more than 20,000 people.

Period Vajpayee

The big loser in the May 1996 elections was the ruling Congress party. After the BJP and the United Front, the party finished in third place, the worst defeat in the party's existence. Once again, there was another corruption scandal that harmed the Indian National Congress and caused ex-Prime Minister Rao to step down as President of the Indian National Congress. Especially the poor, who did not profit from the economic boom, did not vote for the Indian National Congress. The United Front, with Prime Minister Deve Gowda, again formed a minority government with the support of the Congress party. Just over a year later, that same Congress party overturned the government. In March 1998, President Narayanan, the first "untouchable" president, asked the leader of BJP nationalist Hindu party Atal Behari Vajpayee to form a new cabinet.

Vajpayee IndiaVajpayee IndiaPhoto: Deccan Herold (CC BY 2.0) no changes made

Kesri stepped down as the leader of the Indian National Congress in March 1998 in favor of Sonia Gandhi, widow of Rajiv Gandhi. Also in March 1998, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Shamir called on his Indian colleague Vajpayee to resume dialogue between the two countries. Repeatedly the government promised to continue its liberalization policy, but most laws and privatizations were held back by the strong left wing in parliament.

On 11 and 13 May 1998, India conducted five underground nuclear tests in the Rajasthan desert. The nuclear tests were preceded by militant language towards China and Pakistan. The supporters of the government supporters did not last long. Pakistani nuclear tests a few weeks later put an end to Indian superiority, and the sanctions promulgated by Western countries prompted India to sign the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in late 1998.

After the nuclear tests, relations between India and Pakistan deteriorated further, despite talks to improve relations. The first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Pakistan in ten years also marked the start of the first direct bus connection between the two countries, when Prime Minister Vajpayee followed his first bus ride from Delhi to Lahore with his entourage as honorary passengers. At the subsequent summit meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, it was agreed to take measures to reduce the risk of nuclear weapons accidents.

The September / October 1999 elections were won by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a new coalition of fourteen regional, Hindu and secular parties led by the BJP.

21st century

On January 26, 2001, an earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale struck Western India. The epicenter was at Bhuj, a city in Gujarat. More than 300 villages in the area were razed to the ground and the entire state was severely affected. More than 20,000 people died and even more people were left homeless.In 2001 the Vajpayee government was chased by a number of financial and corruption scandals and in the early months of 2002, the BJP suffered significant losses during four state elections. In February-April 2002, serious religious disturbances between Hindus and Muslims occurred in the state of Gujarat, killing approximately 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, and displacing 140,000.

In the state of Jammu & Kashmir, state elections were held in four phases in late September / early October. The preceding period was accompanied by a lot of violence, including about 400 deaths. The incumbent government of father and son Abdullah, the National Conference, lost heavily, but remained the largest party in parliament. The Indian National Congress and the People's Democratic Party formed a coalition government. At the beginning of July, some important changes were made to the national cabinet to strengthen the position of the BJP. On July 15, 2002, the Muslim A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was elected new President of India.

Sonia Ghandi, IndiaSonia Ghandi, IndiaPhoto: Public domain

The May 2004 parliamentary election was surprisingly won by the Indian National Congress of Sonia Gandhi, the widow of assassinated former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Prime Minister Vajpayee of the coalition government resigned and his decision to advance the elections by six months turned out to be disastrous.

The Indian National Congress (145 seats) and its allies (72 seats) together with the left parties (61 seats) took 278 out of 543 seats. Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party won 183 seats and other small parties and independents reached 69 seats. In total, 380 million people voted. To everyone's surprise and dismay, Sonia Gandhi quickly announced that she did not accept the premiership. In protest of Gandhi's refusal, all members of the party's central committee resigned. Gandhi, however, insisted, reportedly fearing an assassination attempt on her life and her Italian origins had prevented her from accepting the position.

The Indian National Congress then pushed forward 71-year-old technocrat Manhoman Singh, who took up the post and became India's new prime minister, while Sonia Gandhi remained as party leader. Singh promised, among other things, that he would maintain the existing economic reforms and called on investors not to abandon the land. He also pledged to make peace with neighboring Pakistan a priority and thereby indicated that he wanted to follow the path taken by his predecessor Vajpayee and Pakistani President Musharaff.

On Boxing Day in 2004, many countries, including India (especially Tamil Nadu province), in southern Asia were hit by a massive natural disaster. A seaquake occurred with a magnitude of 9.0 on the Richter scale. The quake's epicenter was off the west coast of Sumatra, near Aceh province. The quake created a wall of water that washed over the coast of India and many other countries. The waves of this so-called tsunami reached a height of ten meters in some places. In total, more than 125,000 were killed, including more than 15,000 in India.

Pratibha Patil, IndiaPratibha Patil, IndiaPhoto: Jaisigh Rathore CC 2.5 Generic no changes made

In July 2007, Pratibha Patil became the first woman to be elected President of India. The period 2005 to 2008 is characterized by a lot of violence and bomb attacks by extremists. In November 2008, attacks were carried out near Mumbai with more than 200 deaths. In May 2009, the Congress party of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wins the elections and almost wins the absolute majority. In May 2010, the only surviving attacker in Mumbai is convicted. In July 2012, Pranab Mukherdee is elected as the 13th President of India.

In December 2012, India was startled by a brutal rape case that caused the victim's death. Relatively much sexual violence takes place in India. The government is afraid that fewer female tourists will visit India. In September 2013, the perpetrators were sentenced to death.

In May 2014, Narendra Modi of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party wins the parliamentary elections by force majeure. In the years 2015 and 2016, India was negative in the news due to a number of gang rapes. In July 2017 Ram Nath Kovind becomes president, it is special because he is of a low caste. In 2019, leaked government documents show unemployment is rising at 6.1%, the highest rate since India began reporting these figures. Clashes with Pakistan are the result of an attack by extremists on the convoy of security forces in India-administered Kashmir. In 2020 and 2021 millions of inhabitants of India were infected with the Covid-19 virus.


Composition and spread

The population shows a great diversity in ethnic terms. There are two main groups: the Indians (Indo-Arians; approx. 72%) and the Melanids (Black Indians; approx. 25%); the former live in the Ganges plain, in Rajasthan and central Deccan, the latter in Southeast India (Tamil Nadu) and in the far northeast of Deccan. Wedoids live in the forests of Deccan. The Mongolians include many mountain peoples of the Himalayas and Northeast India.

In the course of the 20th century, a sharp decline in mortality has been recorded (estimated at 43 ‰ in 1911, 8.49 ‰ in 2002) as a result of better disease control and better, if not inadequate, famine control. stockpiling and building roads. The birth rate declined much less during this period (approx. 48 ‰ in 1911, approx. 23 ‰ in 2002). (Incidentally, the accuracy of the demographic figures is affected by the fact that many births and deaths are not recorded.) Strong population growth is one of the major problems facing the government. Since 1958, a lot of propaganda has been carried out by the government for birth control, especially in rural areas. This campaign intensified in the 1970s and also led to excesses (including forced sterilization). The campaign was relaxed after 1977.

In the period from 1990 to 1995, annual population growth was 1.8%, for the period 1995-2000, growth was estimated at 1.65%. In 2014, the growth rate was 1.25%. Life expectancy at birth in 2017 was 67.6 years for men and 70.1 years for women. In 2017, 27.3% of the population was under 15 years of age and only 6.2% was over 65 years of age.

India peopleIndia peoplePhoto: Yann in the public domain

The distribution of the population is very uneven. Overall, India is densely populated, but regional differences in population density are wide. With a population density of approximately 390 inhabitants per square kilometer, the country is one of the most populous countries in the world. Densely populated are the Ganges and Brahmaputra plains (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal) and the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Sparsely populated are the eastern mountain regions (Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland) and the arid regions (Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir). With a population of 150,000 and a population density of just over one inhabitant per km2, Ladakh is one of the least populated regions of India. Only about 33.5% of the population lived in cities in 2017, of which cities with more then a million inhabitants in particular have enormous housing problems.


In 2017, India had 1,281,935,911 inhabitants. Since May 11, 2000 at 8.44 in the morning, India officially had one billion inhabitants as the national census commission announced. India became, after China, the second country in the world where more than a billion people live. Largest cities (agglomerations) in 2017 are New Delhi (25.7 million), Mumbai (formerly Bombay 21 million inhabitants), Calcutta (11.8 million), Chennai (9.6 million) and Bangalore (10 million).

About 70 million Indians are still tribal. All these groups together are called Adivasi (original inhabitants). Today, India is home to more than 500 tribes who speak more than 40 languages and honor their ancient customs and religious practices. Most tribes live in the inaccessible densely forested areas of India, such as South Bihar, West Orissa, parts of Madhya Pradesh, the Andaman Islands and the Northeastern states.


India has about 850 languages and dialects, several of which have their own script. Due to the surface of the country and the isolation of many population groups due to climatic and landscape conditions, the great diversity of languages has survived. The division of India into federal states is therefore mainly based on language borders and a national language is therefore missing. Fifteen languages have been officially recognized by the Indian government.

India LanguagesIndia LanguagesPhoto:Jure Snoj CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The languages can be divided into three groups:

1. the languages of the indigenous peoples. These languages are mainly spoken in the mountainous and jungle regions of Central and Eastern India and in the northeastern states.

2. the Dravidian languages spoken in the south. The Dravidian language group includes 23 separate languages mainly spoken in the south. The four major Dravidian languages are Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannara.

3. the Aryan languages of the north. This includes Sanskrit and Hindi. Sanskrit is still spoken by a few thousand people. Hindi is the most widely spoken of the modern Indian languages, by about 40% of the population. Hindustani or Urdu is derived from Hindi and is mainly the language of the Muslims in North India. Punjabi is spoken by the Sikhs. Other Indo-Aryan languages include Assami (Assam), Bengali (Calcutta and environs), Oriya (Orissa), Gujarati (Gujarat), Marathi (Bombay and Maharashtra) and Kashmiri (Kashmir). Rajasthani and Bihari belong to Hindi language family.

English, the language of the former colonial ruler, is still widespread and is still used in government and parliament. Communication between residents of different federal states is also often in English.

The name India is derived from that of the river Indus (also: Indos), from Persian Hind and Sanskrit sindhu (= river, stream).



India is a country of freedom of religion and there is a separation between church and state. The five major world religions are therefore amply represented: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

Furthermore, India has Sikhism and Jainism, two religions that only occur in this country. One of the oldest religions in the world is also to be found in India, Mazdeism, the religion of the Parsis.


About 85% of the Indian population adheres to Hinduism, which means about a billion people. The framework for Hinduism are the four Vedas, religious texts written in Sanskrit. These Vedas were introduced c. 1000 BC. Hinduism is a very tolerant religion without dogmas, has no ecclesiastical organization, and has no founder. Hindus do adhere strongly to certain rules and customs. For example, the rigid caste system is still often applied and temples are only accessible to their own followers.

Hindu GodsHindu GodsPhoto: Public domain

The main rationale in Hinduism is the belief in "samsara", the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth or reincarnation. The law of "karma" then determines how you return to the next life. If you have closed your life positively, you will return to earth in a higher social rank. The ultimate goal is liberation from the cycle of rebirths. At the latest on his fifth birthday, people are included in the faith community by shaving the hair or "churakarma". Life ends with cremation or "antyeshtikarma".

Hinduism has many gods, but they are all manifestations of the three main gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. These three gods can be traced back to one principle: Brahman, symbol for the balanced cosmos, the All.

Brahma is the primal god and creator of the universe and the essence of things. He has four arms and four heads. The four Vedas are said to have come from the four mouths. The most famous Brahma temple is in Pushkar.

Vishnu is the god who protects life and maintains the cosmos. He has visited the earth in various, often animal, guises. His symbols are the shell and the discus and his vehicle is the "garuda", the mythical eagle. A popular form of Vishnu is Krishna, a youth playing the flute.

Shiva is both creator and destroyer. He has five faces, four arms and three eyes and, like Vishnu, has different manifestations. The companion of Shiva is Parvati, the goddess of the life force. The symbols of Shiva are the trident and the phallus or "lingam", the symbol of fertility. The followers of this god are the holy men or "sadhus".

Ganesh, the god of wisdom and prosperity, is the son of Shiva and Parvati. Ganesh has an elephant head and his vehicle is a mouse.


The founder of Buddhism is Sidharta Gautama (560-480 BC), who lived in what is now Nepal. At some point he came to understand that life is suffering, and it is characterized by illness, old age and death. He started living as an ascetic, but this did not bring him luck. Then he found out that the suffering is caused by the desire of man and his clinging to life. The solution was that man has to free himself from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Moderation became the magic word through which man can free himself and reach the state of bliss, the "nirvana".

India Bhudist templeIndia Bhudist templePhoto: Dennis Jarvis CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Buddhism has about seven million followers in India in the states of Sikkim and Maharashtra. Like Hinduism, Buddhism has no dogmas or ecclesiastical organization. Buddhism is more of a philosophy and attitude to life and has no gods, for example. In recent years, Buddhism has grown through the entry of "untouchables," the lowest caste, who are tired of the Hindu caste system.

Buddhism is divided into two currents: Hinayana Buddhism places the individual salvation of man first, Mahayana Buddhism focuses on universal salvation of all living entities. The teachings of Buddhism have been put in writing and are called Tripitaka or "Three Baskets".


The founder of Islam, Mohammed, was born in Mecca in the year 571. In 610, he had a divine vision in which the archangel Gabriel instructed him to spread the teaching of the one true god, Allah. After the death of Mohammed in 632, Islam spread at breakneck speed. India was attacked by Muslims from the 11th century and the Islamic Sultanate of Delhi was established in 1206. The peak of Muslim rule in India was the Mughal Empire (1526-1857). Due to the violent expressions of Islam, this religion soon clashed with Hinduism. The low point was the very violent division of India in 1947, when Islamic Pakistan separated from India.

(Sunni) Islam has about 120 million followers in India, making it the second religion in the country. It is noteworthy that India has more Muslim inhabitants than any Arab country. Most Muslims are located in Kashmir State.


The founder of Sikhism is the guru Nanak, who lived from 1469-1539. Sikhism has only one god, Hari, the creator of heaven and earth. Sikhism has no priests and has taken over things from both Hinduism and Islam, including reincarnation, cremation and karma.

Golden temple Amritsar Golden temple AmritsarPhoto: Lovedeepsingh CC 4.0 International no changes made

The most important temple for the Sikhs is the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Construction was started by Guru Arjun, who also recorded the teachings of Sikhism in a holy scripture, the "Granth Sahib". In response to Islam's persecution, a military organization, the Khalsa, was established. This marked the beginning of a long military tradition. From 1761 to 1849, the Sikhs had their own state, and in 1947 many Sikhs left Pakistan and settled in fertile Punjab. The Sikhs are currently striving for more autonomy or even independence.

Sikhism is the fourth religion in India with about 20 million followers. The Sikhs mainly live in the state of Punjab and the capital Delhi also has a large number of Sikhs.

Sikh men must have five "kakkars" or symbols introduced by Guru Gobind Singh to ensure that men would easily recognize each other as Sikh:

1.'kesha '(uncut hair)

2. "kangha" (ivory comb)

3. "kachha" (military underwear)

4. "kirtipan" (sword, dagger, or depiction thereof)

5. "kara" (steel bracelet)


The founder of Jainism was Vardhamana, who lived in the 5th century BC. Jainism originated in the state of Bihar in response to the stiffening in Hinduism. The name Jainism comes from the nickname of Vardhamana, Jina (victor).

Jainism, like Buddhism, which also has no gods, is not a real religion, but rather a philosophical system and a code of conduct. Soul and matter play an important role in the life of a jaina. After all, matter can penetrate the soul and thus influence the karma of man, and thus influence his reincarnation. The purpose of Jainism is to free the soul from matter and to break the unwholesome cycle of rebirths. Whoever achieves that will be a "kevalin", a redeemed one.

Jain Nuns, IndiaJain Nuns, IndiaPhoto: Grenavitar CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The gentle Jainas have a lot of respect for life. They are, of course, vegetarian, do not wear leather objects, and killing a living creature, even insects, is completely out of the question. In the first century AD. two movements emerged, the 'digambara' and the 'sivetambara'. The first rejected all matter and therefore walked around naked; the sivetambaraa are always dressed in white. Naked Jainas have disappeared from the streets.

The approximately 4 million Jainas mainly live in the metropolis of Mumbai and in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Gandhi was from Gujarat and was probably influenced by Jainism in his youth. Beautiful temples can be found in the Rajasthan cities of Jaisalmer and Ranakpur.

Mazdeism (parsism)

One of the oldest surviving religions in the world is Mazdeism, named after the god Ahura Mazda, the creator of heaven and earth and God of Light. The followers of this monotheistic religion are called parsis and the religion is known as parsism (the parsis are descended from Pars province in Persia). Mazdeism was adopted in the 6th century BC. founded by the prophet Zarathustra.

The symbol of Ahura Mazda is fire, and Ahriman, Lord of Darkness, is his eternal opponent. Man can positively influence the struggle between these two rivals through right words, thinking, and actions. The Avesta is the sacred scripture of the parsis.

Parsis worship Ahura Mazda in fire temples, where eternal fire is maintained. The dead are not buried or cremated, but are placed in the open air on "dakhma's" or Towers of Silence. The corpses are then eaten by vultures and birds of prey.

About 130,000 Parsis live in India, most of them in the Mumbai area in closed communities.


At the moment there are only about 5000 Jews living in a number of Indian cities. The most famous Jewish community is that of Kochi in Kerala state, which dates back to the sixth century BC. In recent years, many Jews have emigrated to Israel.


As early as the 1st century AD. the first Christians appeared in India. The real founder of Christianity in India is the Spanish Jesuit Francis Xavier, who arrived in the Portuguese colony of Goa in 1542. From Goa he undertook many mission trips through Asia.

The number of Roman Catholics consists of about 13 million persons and there is a Syrian Orthodox and a Latin movement.

Protestantism was introduced in the 17th and 18th centuries by Dutch and German missionaries, among others. There are currently about 5 million Protestants.

Most Christians live in the southern states of Goa and Kerala and in the northern states of Nagaland and Meghalaya.


Most of the inhabitants of Ladakh are adherents of Lamaism; "Lama" is the name of the monks of this religion and means "standing above all things."

Lamaism is a special form of Buddhism that was introduced in Tibet around 650. The religion flourished in the mid-8th century under the influence of the guru Padma Sambhava and entered Ladakh in the 10th century.

After a period of decline, the Tibetan reformer Tsjongkhapa founded the sect of the Gelugspa around 1400, which is currently the most important movement within Lamaism. Because of its clothing, this sect is called "yellow hats", another sect are the "red hats".

Dalai LamaDalai LamaPhoto: Yancho Sabev CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The yellow hats consider their highest priest, the Dalai Lama, as a reincarnation of the god-worshiped Avalokitesjvara. The principal Dalai lama was Ngagdbang-Lobsang (1617-1682). He was the fifth Dalai Lama and, in addition to spiritual authority, also gained worldly power over Tibet.

At the top of Lamaism is the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Rimpoche or Panchen Lama, who have only religious authority. After this come the Ashutuktu (bishops) and Lamas (teachers).

In 1959, China occupied Tibet and the Dalai Lama's secular power came to an end. He fled to India and founded an exile government, while the Panchen Lama was left in Tibet. The Dalai Lama travels around the world to publicize the Tibetan cause and find a political solution. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for these peaceful endeavors.

The Dalai Lama regularly visits Tibetan refugee camp Choglamsar, which has housed approximately 80,000 refugees from Tibet since 1959.


State structure

India is a parliamentary democracy with a federal form of government; characteristic is the great power of the central government. The Indian constitution is in part a continuation of British colonial law and has been amended dozens of times since 1950 in various ways.

The highest governmental body is the elected representative body of which, in addition, all ministers are still members and are accountable for it. The parliament consists of two Houses: the directly elected House of Commons or Lok Sabha and the indirectly elected House of Lords or Rajya Sabha. This House of Lords is a permanent body. The same two-chamber system usually exists at state level.

Obama in Indian ParliamentObama in Indian ParliamentPhoto:Public Domain

The House of Commons has 545 members and is elected directly every five years according to a district system. Two members are appointed by the President. A further 79 seats are reserved in the House of Commons for representatives of the casteless and 40 for members of indigenous peoples.

The House of Lords has 245 members elected by the parliaments of the federal states. Elections are held every two years for a third of the seats of the House of Lords. The voting age is eighteen.

The formal head of state of India is the president, who is elected once every five years by an electoral college composed of the National Assembly and the state parliaments. The president is eligible for re-election; he or she has a mainly ceremonial and representative function, except in times of instability. Then the president can take on the power of government, dissolve the parliament and call interim elections. However, yhe president needs the approval of the majority of ministers to do so. From 1997 to 2002, Shri K.R. Narayanan President, became the first casteless man in the history of India.

The cabinet, consisting of twenty cabinet ministers, twenty 'regular' ministers and twenty deputy ministers, forms the cabinet and especially the small cabinet committees (of which the prime minister is always chairman) are in charge of daily decision-making. The actual key figure in the system is the Prime Minister, who acts as leader of the parliamentary majority and of the Council of Ministers; Parliament can offer little independent counterplay and can only exert some influence in the event of serious internal division within the government. The leader of the largest party becomes prime minister and assembles the council of ministers.The powers of the federal states are constitutionally laid down in the State list, the powers of the central government in the Union list. The Competitor list mentions those areas in which both levels are competent; in disputes regarding competence, the central government almost always prevails. For the current political situation see chapter history.

Administrative division

The Federative Republic of India is administratively divided into 28 states and 6 union territories. Furthermore, there is a subdivision into districts, talugs or tehsils (consisting of several hundred villages), towns and villages. Large cities are run by corporations, led by an elected mayor.

Union territories are administered directly from New Delhi and the President appoints an administrator for each territory; he also appoints the governors of the federal states. In certain cases, the central government may take over the administration of individual states (as has been the case in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, and Assam). The federal states have administrative autonomy in the areas of agriculture, welfare, police and local transport. The federal government is responsible for matters such as defense, foreign policy, railways and postal services. Financially, the federal states are very dependent on the federal government.

India StatesIndia StatesPhoto: Planemad CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Finally, new government organizations (community development and panchayati raj) have been set up at local level, which must involve the population more strongly in the socio-economic construction of the country.

Since June 1, 2014, India gained a new state following the split of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, bringing it to 29 states. The new state is called Telangana and the people of Telangana wanted to split from Andhra Pradesh because they live in an economically less developed area and felt disadvantaged. The new state had about 35 million inhabitants in 2014 and the current capital Hyderabad will become the capital of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh until 2024.

Unie-territoriaCapital Cityinhabitants
Adamanen en NicobarenPort Blair365.000
Dadra en Nagar HaveliSilvassa225.000
Daman en DiuDaman en Diu160.000
StatesCapital City
Andhra PradeshHyderabad76.000.000
Arunachal PradeshItanagar1.115.000
DelhiNew Delhi14.000.000
Himachal PradeshShimla6.500.000
Jammu en KasjmirSrinagar11.000.000
Madhya PradeshBhopal61.000.000
MaharashtraMumbai (Bombay)98.000.000
Tamil NduChennai (Madras)63.000.000
Uttar PradeshLucknow170.000.000
UttaranchalDehra Dun9.000.000


The education system is very similar to the Western model. It consists of seven years of primary education, three years of middle school, two years of higher education and three years of university.

India school classIndia school classPhoto: Shimin k sam: CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Primary and secondary education are public and compulsory. However, not all children go to school. The parents have to pay for pens and uniforms themselves, and many simply do not have the money to do so. Often the children also have to help on the land or in the household. Approx. half of all children of school age leave primary school after four years. The number of illiterates is therefore still very high. About 40% of all people aged 15 years and older are illiterate. The differences between regions and between men and women are alarming. In states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, more than half of the population is illiterate, in Kerala; 20% of the population. Across India, about 30% of men are illiterate and more than 50% of women. In Rajasthan, there are almost no women who can read and write. Higher education is well developed with hundreds of universities and thousands of other higher education schools. Higher education education is practically only reserved for the wealthier.New Delhi has two major universities, Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Typical India

Caste System

Hinduism gives the caste system its ground for existence. Hinduism is in fact based on the Vedas, including hymns, but also rules for everyday life. Hinduism then assumes a fundamental inequality and Indian society is therefore divided into "better" and "lesser" Indians. In addition, two Hindu concepts are very important: karma and dharma. The concept of kharma explains that the Hindu was born in a certain caste because of his actions in a previous life. The concept of Dharma emphasizes that the Hindu should accept this place without protest and make the best of it.

India Caste SystemIndia Caste SystemPhoto: Giveaway 285 CC 4.0 International no changes made

Approx. 1500 years BC. Aryan tribes invaded northern India. In order to continue to function as rulers, they wanted to keep their race pure and separate themselves from the original population. The Aryans differed in three main castes:

-Brahmanas, priests

-skatrias, warriors and princes

-vaisyas, merchants

Below that were the shudras, workers and peasants, and pariahs who were not members of any caste. Pariahs included slaves and prisoners of war and are also known as harijans or untouchables. Over time, this subdivision became increasingly divided into many subcases. After independence in 1947, untouchability was officially lifted by the Legislative Assembly. However, the practice is very different. Due to the economic dependence on large landowners, the pariahs often work for nothing or for very low wages. In fact, they mainly have duties and hardly any rights. Otherwise, the caste system is becoming less important, especially in the big cities. The division into classes is increasingly based on economic relations and economic ownership. In the countryside, the division into castes is still prominent and will continue to be so for the time being.


Films were already shown in Mumbai (then Bombay) as early as 1896, and the film industry developed rapidly during the twentieth century. Since the 1950s, Mumbai has been the largest film city in the world with around 300 films a year, more than in Hollywood.

Filmposter Bollywood IndiaFilmposter Bollywood IndiaPhoto: Ryan CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Mostly popular Hindi films are made that attract large crowds. They are often hours-long spectacles with an emphasis on song, dance, romance, drama and action. The Hindi films are generally very stereotyped with a clear distinction between good and bad, with good always triumphing.

The movie stars earn ditches with money and live in the Beverly Hills of Munbai, Bandra. Some of them have gone into politics and even made it to prime minister of a state.

Quality films are mainly made in the film studios of Calcutta. Asia's largest film studio complex, MGR Film City, is located on the outskirts of Chennai. Here are 36 movie sets ready, and the movies are recorded and dubbed in Malajalam, Telugu and Hindi as well, but the Tamilcinema produces most of the movies.



Since independence in 1947, the government has been trying to develop certain sectors of the economy through five-year plans. The nationalized sector plays an important role and a lot of money is invested in this by the government. However, there is no tight schedule and the government's share of the national economy has fallen sharply in certain periods.

The import subsidy, followed as a development strategy since independence, gave way to liberalization in the mid-1980s. According to the seventh five-year plan, the share of the public sector will decrease by 5% compared to the sixth five-year plan.

In the 1980s there was a gradual growth of per capita income (1980-1995 an increase of 3%). In 1994, the national per capita income was $ 310. Inflation remained high during that period (almost 10% in 1985-1995), but could be reduced to 5.4% in 2002.

Although real economic growth rose to more than 10% in 1988-1989, it was only 4.5% in 1995-1996 and 4.3% in 2002, a sign of the instability of the Indian economy. Yet with these growth rates, India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. In the 21st century, India is experiencing an economic growth spurt. The growth percentages are high, although this seems to have weakened somewhat in recent years. The percentages for 2011,2012 and 2013 are successively 6.3%, 3.2% and 3.8%. After that, the percentage climbed back to 6.7% in 2017. GDP per capita was $ 7,200 in 2017.

Mumbai Financial and industrial center IndiaMumbai Financial and industrial center IndiaPhoto: Ville Hyvönen CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Reliable figures on unemployment cannot actually be obtained. It is estimated that around a third of the workforce is wholly or partially unemployed (officially 8.5% in 2017). The unemployment problem seems to be on the increase due to the high annual increase in the workforce of millions at a time.

The Indian economy is very diverse, with many regional and structural differences. On the one hand, India is one of the ten most industrialized countries in the world, with a high technological level in areas such as space travel, nuclear energy and satellite communications. On the other hand, a large part of the population still depends on often small-scale agriculture. The area around Mumbai has been an important industrial and commercial center for decades.

A kind of Indian "Silicon Valley" has developed around Bangalore. Many economic activities also take place around the cities of New Delhi and Madras. Poor states are Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and parts of East and Northeast India.

Important for the economic development of India is also the ever-increasing decentralization of the federal government to the federal states, which are also given more and more space to profile themselves. States such as Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat know how to interest international business.

Agricultural sector

India is still mainly an agricultural country, of which about 75% of the population lives in the countryside. The agricultural sector employs 47% of the labor force and contributes approximately 15.4% to gross national income (2017). Agricultural production today is mainly aimed at the domestic market. More than 80% of the agricultural area is used for the cultivation of food grains such as wheat and rice. India has two harvest seasons: the kharif, after the wet, hot summer (mainly rice, cotton and millet varieties), and the rabi, after the cool winter (mainly wheat, beans and potatoes).

Ricefields IndiaRicefields IndiaPhoto: Tierecke CC 2.5 Generic no changes made

Rice cultivation is characteristic of the wetter part of India: Assam, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, among others; wheat is main crop in the Punjab and in Haryana, millet on the Deccan. The main (export) commercial crops are cotton, jute and tea. Coffee, sugar, spices, nuts, tobacco and rubber are mainly crops for the domestic market.

The livestock has a low economic return, partly due to the religious custom of respecting the cow. There is hardly any systematic livestock farming: cattle are mainly used as draft animal and beast of burden. Dairy farming is only encouraged in the Punjab.

The agricultural businesses are generally small, especially in East India (Bihar); in the Punjab, the richest agricultural area in India, there are mainly (medium) large modernized companies; very large, extensive companies only occur in the drier, less fertile areas of Central India.Bosbouw en visserij

Approx. 20% of India's territory is covered by forest and about half of that is exploited. Sandalwood and teak are the main products. The government is trying to combat reforestation projects, not only due to excessive logging, in particular also due to erosion and salinisation of the soil.

India has claimed a 200-mile zone as territorial waters since 1977. About 80% of the fishing takes place along the west coast and there is freshwater fishing in Assam and South Maharashtra.

Mining and energy supply

India has important mineral resources, especially in the states of Bihar and Orissa. The iron ore reserves (± 20 billion tons) that are present there are among the largest in the world. Moreover, a lot of coal, manganese, limestone, dolomite, magnesite, apatite, phosphorite, mica, copper (± 422 million tons) and other ores are also found here. Manganese and iron ore are also mined in Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu; Karnataka owns gold mines and Kerala bauxite (± 2.7 billion tons) and uranium.

Petroleum is found in the northeast and west; Some of the necessary oil needs to be imported, but India hopes to be self-sufficient in the future. Private sector participation in mining is increasing, and interest in gold and diamond mines is attracting interest from abroad.

Thermal Power Station IndiaThermal Power Station IndiaPhoto: Getsuhas08 CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The energy supply remains one of the major challenges for India: in particular rural electrification is far from complete. Coal is the main source of energy and reserves are estimated to be around 200 billion tons. The hydropower plants are of less importance due to the large differences in the amount of rainfall per period. The largest hydroelectric power station is the Nagarjunasagardam (1,450 m long) in the Krishna River near the village of Nandikonda in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

In the field of nuclear energy, India has, technologically speaking, a high degree of independence, which stems from the fact that when India was able to manufacture nuclear bombs of its own, Western countries refrained from further cooperation in this field. After that India succeeded in developing a complete fuel cycle by building a reprocessing plant and a fast breeder reactor.

Industry in general

Industry's share of gross national product was 23% in 2017. The largest industrial area is located around Mumbai and Poona, with the cotton industry being the most prominent industry, as well as the chemical, petrochemical, electrical, automotive and plastic industries. Poona owns machine factories and Ahmedabad (Gujarat) textile industry; smaller centers in this area are Surat (cotton) and Baroda (petrochemical).

The second industrial area includes Calcutta and environs and the Bihar-Orissa-Madhya Pradesh border area along the Damodar River. The jute industry, as well as the metal processing industry, the paper industry, the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, dominate in Calcutta. The Damodar area is the center of mining and heavy industry.

A third important area is the south, with centers such as Bangalore, Coimbatore and Madras, including electrical engineering, aircraft construction, the steel industry, textiles, oil refineries and the leather industry.

There are also several large industrial cities across the country such as Vishakapatnam with shipbuilding, Hyderabad with machine factories, Benares with textile and locomotives, Bhopal with electrical engineering and chemical industry, Kanpur with leather and textile and in the Punjab Ludhiana, Jullundur and Amritsar with bicycles, sports equipment and textiles.

The film industry is also important; India is one of the largest film producers in the world and the main ones are Mumbai (Bollywood) Malayalam and Calcutta.

chemical and plastics industry

The market size for chemical products is large, with the main market segments being petrochemical intermediates (including ethylene, xylene, benzene, methanol, phenol), fertilizers (including urea and diammonium phosphate), industrial chemicals (including pigments, pharmaceuticals, lubricants, synthetic resin). Color - and dyes and agrochemicals.

Clothing and textile industry

The textile industry is the largest employer in India, as it employs approximately 120 million people. This very important economic sector provides almost 14% of total industrial production, 4% of GDP and more than a third of export earnings.

Textile Workers IndiaTextile Workers IndiaPhoto: Fabrics for fredom CC 2.0 Generic no changes

The Indian textile sector is strongly export oriented, approximately one third of the total production is destined for export. The government's goal is to create the conditions for an increase in India's textile and apparel exports to the tune of $ 50 billion. An important part of achieving this endeavor is to encourage foreign investment.

Machine industry and metal industry.

The main market segments are industrial installations and so-called process machinery machine tools, earthmoving and construction machines.

The main product groups are turbines, cement machines, boilers, chemical plants, electric generators and textile machines. The Indian government is still prominent in this sector.

The main suppliers of capital goods are Germany, the United States, Japan and Italy.

Steel Industry IndiaSteel Industry IndiaPhoto: P.K Niyogi CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The steel industry is concentrated in six large steel mills and approximately 180 smaller factories. Five of the major steel mills are state owned, all smaller steel mills are privately owned.

Transport equipment industry

In 1980, car production was opened up to foreign investment. Production subsequently increased enormously and at the moment about 600,000 cars and trucks are made per year. Competition in the small car market is fierce, with Maruti leading the market with approximately 335,000 units. A number of major international car manufacturers have entered into joint ventures.

India also manufactures the largest number of bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles and scooters in the world.


India imports machinery, iron, steel, petroleum products (accounting for 27.2% of total imports), cotton, chemicals, fertilizers, food grains and rice. Main suppliers are China, United Arab Emirates, United States, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia.

The main export items are precious stones, crafts, jewelery, textiles, cotton, jute, tea, iron ore, hides and skins for the leather industry, fresh fruits, nuts and sugar.

A relatively new, rapidly growing category of export items is the engineering products: railway wagons, refrigerators, electric cables and pipelines, diesel engines and cars, but exports declined in the early 1980s as a result of the recession in the developed countries. The main customers are the United States, China, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore.

Bank of IndiaBank of IndiaPhoto: Digamber in the public domain

Indian traders and entrepreneurs play a prominent role in Asia (Middle East, Southeast Asia); In addition, many Indians work as guest workers in the countries around the Persian Gulf and their earnings are a very important currency source for the country.

The trade balance has been almost always negative since the 1980s. In 2017, $ 452.2 billion was imported and $ 304.1 billion was exported.


The inadequate infrastructure is one of the major obstacles to India's economic development. The countryside in particular is not or hardly accessible by train or car. Railways, shipping and aviation are more important to the national economy than the road network, which has not yet been sufficiently developed.

In 2003, the road network was approximately 3 million km long, about half of which was paved. National highways cover approximately 58,000 kilometers, but this is only 2% of the total road network. The quality of the highways is generally not good due to poor maintenance. Nearly two thirds of the national trunk road network was single lane. In the past ten years, 13,000 kilometers of highways have been provided with more lanes.

The state's electrified rail network is the longest in Asia and the third longest in the world, at nearly 62,500 km. The railways are wholly state-owned and employ approximately 1.5 million workers.

As a shipping nation, India ranks high in the world in terms of tonnage. It has the largest merchant fleet among the former developing countries. Compared to ports in other parts of Asia, labor productivity is low and investment in ports is inadequate. This means that the average duration remains too long, as well as the waiting time before it can be moored.

Port Vigaz IndiaPort Vigaz IndiaPhoto: Nballa at the English language Wikipedia CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

India has 12 major ports, all run by the Port Trust of India, and approximately 150 smaller ports are run by state governments. Important ports on the west coast are Mumbai, Kandla, Nhava Sheva, Marmagao, Cochin and Mangalore. On the east coast are the major ports of Kolkata-Haldia, Chennai, Paradip, Tuticorin and Visakhapatnam.

The inland waterways have a total length of 13,500 kilometers, a fifth of which is easily navigable for larger ships. This type of transport mainly takes place in the states of Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal and Kerala.

Air transport is provided by the state-owned companies Air India (foreign flights) and Indian Airlines (domestic and neighboring countries in South Asia).

India has six international airports and several hundred other airports. Fewer than 100 airports are operational. The main airports are Palam (New Delhi), Santa Cruz (Mumbai), Dum-Dum (Kolkata) and Meenambakkam (Madras). The newly built Bangalore International Airport is the first Indian airport to become privately owned.

More than half of the total air traffic passes through the airports of Mumbai and New Delhi. Air traffic has grown by more than 125% in the past decade.

Holidays and Sightseeing

The tourism industry in India is not vital economically. It is India's fourth-largest source of export earnings, and more than nine million people find employment in this sector.

Approximately 3 million foreigners visit India every year. That in itself is not that much, because that number is even lower than the number of Indians who travel abroad annually. Negative points are the serious shortage of hotel accommodation, foreigners' fear of infectious diseases and the political tensions with Pakistan.

Jaipur India Jaipur IndiaPhoto: Sidharth jha CC 4.0 International no changes made

The most famous landmark of Idia is the Taj Mahal. This monument is located near the city of Agra. Emperor Shahjahan had this beautiful monument built out of love for his deceased wife. Shahjahan planned to have an exact copy built next to the white mausoleum as the final resting place for himself, but of black marble. But after the emperor's death in 1666, he was buried next to Mumtaz Mahal in the white tomb. Other attractions include the red fort near Delhi and the city of Jaipur which is nicknamed Pink City because the old center is made of pink sandstone.

Bangalore Bull TempleBangalore Bull TemplePhoto: Marc Smith CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Bangalore officially Bengaluru is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. The city is also known as the Garden City because of its beautiful parks and gardens. Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace was built in 1791. This nice two-storey, beautifully decorated wooden building, with carved columns, arches and balconies near the market. Today it is a museum that contains artifacts of art from the Hyder-Tipu period. Located near Mekhri Square and the station, Bangalore Palace (1862) was built as a smaller replica of Windsor Castle in England. Mayo Hall was designed in memory of Lord Mayo and is considered one of the finest designs of British architecture in Bangalore. The Bull Temple dates from the time of Kempe Gowda I and is reminiscent of the 16th century Dravidian style in architecture. It has a huge granite monolith from Nandi. The Basavangudi Shri Nimishamba Devi temple is built in the traditional Parashurama Kshetra architectural style and is a unique temple in Bangalore. The temple was built by the worshipers of Shri Nimishamba Devi. The ISKCON temple (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) is a harmonious and graceful building. The Krishna temple is a mix of modern technology and spiritual harmony and it occupies an area of seven hectares. It is a mix of traditional and modern architecture. Read more on the Bangalore page of Landenweb.

Mumbai, IndiaMumbai, IndiaPhoto: Avinash Anand CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Mumbai, formerly Bombay, is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. Mumbai is built on an archipelago of seven islands. The islands have been inhabited for over 2,000 years. Between the second century BC and the ninth century AD, the islands came under the control of successive indigenous dynasties. The islands were included in the independent Sultanate of Gujarat, which was established in 1407. Numerous mosques were built during the sultanate era. The city's architecture is a mix of Neo-Gothic style, Indo-Saracen art, Art Deco, and varied contemporary styles. Most of the buildings date from the British period, such as Victoria Terminus and Bombay University. These buildings were built in neo-gothic style. Bombay's architecture includes many European influences. Art Deco monuments can be found along Marine Drive. Mumbai has the second largest number of Art Deco buildings in the world after Miami. In the newer suburbs, modern buildings dominate the landscape. Mumbai has by far the largest number of skyscrapers in India. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and the Elephanta Caves are listed as World Heritage. Read more on the Mumbai page of landenweb.

Click the menu button at the top left of the screen for more information


Boon, H. / India : mensen, politiek, economie, cultuur
Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen/Novib

Caldwell, J.C. / India
Chelsea House

Chatterjee, M. / India
Dorling Kindersley

Dunlop, F. / India
Van Reemst

Nicholson, L. / India

Peterse, L. / India

Srinivasan, T. / India
Times Books

Te gast in India
Informatie Verre reizen

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated December 2021
Copyright: Team Landenweb