US VISA TO INDIA

Facts and Information about India

US Visa to India:
Facts and Information about India

General

CAPITAL
New Delhi

FLAG
The national flag, adopted in 1947, is a tricolor of deep saffron, white, and green horizontal stripes. In the center of the white stripe is a blue wheel representing the wheel that appears on the abacus of Asoka’s lion capital.

ANTHEM
Jana gana mana (Thou Art the Ruler of the Minds of All People ).

MONETARY UNIT
The rupee (r) is a paper currency of 100 paise. There are coins of 5, 10, 20, 25, and 50 paise, and 1, 2, and 5 rupees, and notes of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500 rupees.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Metric weights and measures, introduced in 1958, replaced the British and local systems. Indian numerical units still in use include the lakh (equal to 100,000) and the crore (equal to 10 million).

HOLIDAYS
Republic Day, 26 January; Independence Day, 15 August; Gandhi Jayanti, 2 October. Annual events—some national, others purely local, and each associated with one or more religious communities—number in the hundreds. The more important include Shivarati in February; and Raksha Bandhan in August. Movable religious holidays include Holi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja, Dussehra, ‘Id al-Fitr, Dewali; and Christmas, 25 December.

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Location, Size, & Topography

The Republic of India, Asia’s second-largest country after China, fills the major part of the South Asian subcontinent (which it shares with Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh) and includes the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal and Lakshadweep (formerly the Laccadive, Minicoy, and Amindivi Islands) in the Arabian Sea. The total area is 3,287,590 sq km (1,269,345 sq mi), including 222,236 sq km (85,806 sq mi) belonging to Jammu and Kashmir; of this disputed region, 78,932 sq km (30,476 sq mi) are under the de facto control of Pakistan and 42,735 sq km (16,500 sq mi) are held by China. Comparatively, the area occupied by India is slightly more than one-third the size of the United States. China claims part of Arunachal Pradesh. Continental India extends 3,214 km (1,997 mi) n–s and 2,933 km (1,822 mi) e–w.

India is bordered on the n by the disputed area of Jammu and Kashmir (west of the Karakoram Pass), China, Nepal, and Bhutan; on the e by Myanmar, Bangladesh, and the Bay of Bengal; on the s by the Indian Ocean; on the w by the Arabian Sea; and on the nw by Pakistan. The total boundary length is 21,103 km (13,113 mi), of which 7,000 km (4,340 mi) is coastline.

India’s capital city, New Delhi, is located in the north central part of the country.

Three major features fill the Indian landscape: the Himalayas and associated ranges, a geologically young mountain belt, folded, faulted, and uplifted, that marks the nation’s northern boundary and effectively seals India climatically from other Asian countries; the Peninsula, a huge stable massif of ancient crystalline rock, severely weathered and eroded; and the Ganges-Brahmaputra Lowland, a structural trough between the two rivers, now an alluvial plain carrying some of India’s major rivers from the Peninsula and the Himalayas to the sea. These three features, plus a narrow coastal plain along the Arabian Sea and a wider one along the Bay of Bengal, effectively establish five major physical-economic zones in India.

Some of the world’s highest peaks are found in the northern mountains: Kanchenjunga (8,598 m/28,208 ft), the third-highest mountain in the world, is on the border between Sikkim and Nepal; Nanda Devi (7,817 m/25,645 ft), Badrinath (7,138 m/23,420 ft), and Dunagiri (7,065 m/23,179 ft) are wholly in India; and Kamet (7,756 m/25,447 ft) is on the border between India and Tibet.

The Peninsula consists of an abrupt 2,400-km (1,500-mi) escarpment, the Western Ghats, facing the Arabian Sea; interior low, rolling hills seldom rising above 610 m (2,000 ft); an interior plateau, the Deccan, a vast lava bed; and peripheral hills on the north, east, and south, which rise to 2,440 m (8,000 ft) in the Nilgiris and Cardamoms of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The Peninsula holds the bulk of India’s mineral wealth, and many of its great rivers—the Narbada, Tapti, Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri—flow through it to the sea. The great trench between the Peninsula and the Himalayas is the largest alluvial plain on earth, covering 1,088,000 sq km (420,000 sq mi) and extending without noticeable interruption 3,200 km (2,000 mi) from the Indus Delta (in Pakistan) to the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta (shared by India and Bangladesh), at an average width of about 320 km (200 mi). Along this plain flow the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Son, Jumna, Chambal, Gogra, and many other major rivers, which provide India with its richest agricultural land.

India is located in a seismically active region prone to destructive earthquakes. On 26 January 2001, a 7.7 magnitude earthquake hit northwest India with tremors felt through most of Pakistan as well. Over 20,000 people were killed and over 166,800 were injured. It was recorded as the deadliest earthquake of the year worldwide. The disastrous tsunami that struck Indonesia on 26 December 2004 also impacted India. The tsunami was caused by an underwater earthquake 324 km (180 mi) south of Indonesia’s Sumatra island. More than 100,000 people were affected and there were more than 10,000 casualties. On 8 October 2005, an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale, struck the Kashmir region. There were more than 140 aftershocks recorded; many measured 5 in magnitude. More than 1,300 were killed and at least 32,000 homes were destroyed.

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Climate

The lower east (Coromandel) and west (Malabar) coasts of the Peninsula and the Ganges Delta are humid tropical; most of the Peninsula and the Ganges-Brahmaputra Lowland are moist subtropical to temperate; and the semiarid steppe and dry desert of the far west are subtropical to temperate. The northern mountains display a zonal stratification from moist subtropical to dry arctic, depending on altitude.

Extremes of weather are even more pronounced than the wide variety of climatic types would indicate. Thus, villages in western Rajasthan, in the Thar (Great Indian) Desert, may experience less than 13 cm (5 in) of rainfall yearly, while 2,400 km (1,500 mi) eastward, in the Khasi Hills of Assam, Cherrapunji averages about 1,143 cm (450 in) yearly. Sections of the Malabar Coast and hill stations in the Himalayas regularly receive 250–760 cm (100–300 in) yearly; many areas of the heavily populated Ganges-Brahmaputra Lowland and the Peninsula receive under 100 cm (40 in).

Winter snowfall is normal for the northern mountains and Kashmir Valley, but for most of India, scorching spring dust storms and severe hailstorms are more common. The northern half of the country is subject to frost from November through February, but by May a temperature as high as 49°c (120°f) in the shade may be recorded. High relative humidity is general from April through September. Extratropical cyclones (similar to hurricanes) often strike the coastal areas between April and June and between September and December.

The monsoon is the predominant feature of India’s climate and helps to divide the year into four seasons: rainy, the southwest monsoon, June–September; moist, the retreating monsoon, October–November; dry cool, the northeast monsoon, December–March; hot, April–May. The southwest monsoon brings from the Indian Ocean the moisture on which Indian agriculture relies. Unfortunately, neither the exact times of its annual arrival and departure nor its duration and intensity can be predicted, and variations are great. In 1987, the failure of the southwest monsoon resulted in one of India’s worst droughts of the century.

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Population

The population of India reached one billion in March 2001. In 2005 the population was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 1,103,596,000, which placed it at number 2 (behind China) in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 4% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 36% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 105 males for every 100 females in the country. The projected population for the year 2025 was 1,363,000,000. The population density was 336 per sq km (869 per sq mi).

The US Census Bureau expected India’s population to surpass China’s by 2035. India’s population grew rapidly from the 1920s until the 1970s, mostly due to a sharp decline in the death rate because of improvements in health care, nutrition, and sanitation. In 1921, when India’s population stood at 251,321,213, the birth rate was 48.1 but the death rate was 47.2; by 1961, when the population reached 439,234,771, the birth rate was still high at 40.8, but the death rate had dropped by more than half to 22.8. The birth rate dropped from 41.1 in 1971 to 30.2 in 1990–91, presumably attributable to an aggressive program of family planning, contraception, and sterilization, but had little immediate impact on the compounded population growth rate, which averaged 2.1% in the 1980s and 1.9% in 1990–95. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 2005–10 was expected to be 1.7%. Despite the fact that the population growth rate had been steadily declining for several decades, the government in 2005 continued to seek ways to slow population growth. The government considers the rapid population growth a serious problem, particularly in relation to reducing poverty. The goal of the Indian government is to reach zero population growth by 2050 with a population of 1.3 billion.

The majority of people live in some 555,315 villages with fewer than 10,000 residents each. The UN estimated that just 28% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 2.38%. The capital city, New Delhi, had a population of 14,146,000 in that year. Other large urban areas and their estimated population were Mumbai (formerly Bombay) (18,336,000); Delhi (15,334,000); Calcutta (14,299,000); Chennai (Madras) (6,900,000); Bangalore (6,532,000); Hyderābād (6,145,000); Ahmadābad (5,897,000); Pune (4,485,000); Surat (3,671,000); Kānpur (3,040,000); Jaipur (2,796,000); Lucknow (2,589,000); and Nāgpur (2,359.000).

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Languages

The 1961 census recorded 1,652 different languages and dialects in India; one state alone, Madhya Pradesh, had 377. There are officially 211 separate, distinct languages, of which Hindi, English, and 15 regional languages are officially recognized by the constitution. There are 24 languages that are each spoken by a million or more persons.

The most important speech group, culturally and numerically, is the IndoAryan branch of the Indo European family, consisting of languages that are derived from Sanskrit. Hindi, spoken as the mother tongue by about 240 million people (30% of the total population), is the principal language in this family. Urdu differs from Hindi in being written in the Arabic Farsi script and containing a large mixture of Arabic and Farsi words. Western Hindi, Eastern Hindi, Bihari, and Pahari are recognized separate Hindi dialects. Other IndoAryan languages include Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kashmiri, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Rajasthani, and Sindhi. Languages of Dravidian stock are dominant in southern India and include Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam. A few tribal languages of eastern India, such as Ho and Santali, fit into the aboriginal Munda family, which predates the Dravidian family on the subcontinent. Smaller groups in Assam and the Himalayas speak languages of MonKhmer and Tibeto-Chinese origin.

English is spoken as the native tongue by an estimated 10–15 million Indians and is widely employed in government, education, science, communications, and industry; it is often a second or third language of the educated classes. Although Hindi in Devanagari script is the official language, English is also recognized for official purposes. According to government policy, Hindi is the national language; for that reason, Hindi instruction in nonHindi areas is being rapidly increased, and large numbers of scientific and other modern words are being added to its vocabulary. However, there has been considerable resistance to the adoption of Hindi in the Dravidian-language areas of southern India, as well as in some of the IndoAryanspeaking areas, especially West Bengal.

The importance of regional languages was well demonstrated in 1956, when the states were reorganized along linguistic boundaries. Thus, multilingual Hyderābād state was abolished by giving its Marathispeaking sections to Mumbai (formerly Bombay, now in Maharashtra), its Telugu sections to Andhra Pradesh, and its Kannada sections to Mysore (now Karnataka). The Malayalamspeaking areas of Madras were united with TravancoreCochin to form a single Malayalam state, Kerala. Madhya Bharat, Bhopal, and Vindhya Pradesh, three small Hindispeaking states, were given to Madhya Pradesh, a large Hindi state, which, at the same time, lost its southern Marathi areas to Mumbai (formerly Bombay) state. Many other boundary changes occurred in this reorganization. Mumbai state originally was to have been divided into Gujarati and Marathi linguistic sections but remained as one state largely because of disagreement over which group was to receive the city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay). In 1960, however, it, too, was split into two states, Gujarat and Maharashtra, on the basis of linguistic boundaries. In 1966, the government of India accepted the demand of the Punjabispeaking people, mainly Sikhs, to divide the bilingual state of Punjab into two unilingual areas, with the Hindispeaking area to be known as Haryana and the Punjabispeaking area to retain the name of Punjab.

India has almost as many forms of script as it has languages. Thus, all of the Dravidian and some of the IndoAryan languages have their own distinctive alphabets, which differ greatly in form and appearance. Some languages, such as Hindi, may be written in either of two different scripts. Konkani, a dialect of the west coast, is written in three different scripts in different geographic areas.

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Religion

India is the cradle of two of the world’s great religions, Hinduism and Buddhism. The principal texts of Hinduism—the Rig Veda (Verses of Spiritual Knowledge ), the Upanishads (Ways of Worship ), and the BhagavadGita (Song of the Lord )—were written between 1200 and 100 bc. The teachings of Buddha, who lived during the 6th–5th centuries bc, were first transmitted orally and then systematized for transmission throughout Asia. Jainism, a religion that developed contemporaneously with Buddhism, has largely been confined to India. The Sikh religion began in the 15th century as an attempt to reconcile Muslim and Hindu doctrine, but the Sikhs soon became a warrior sect bitterly opposed to Islam.

An estimated 82% of the population are Hindus. Hindus have an absolute majority in all areas except Nagaland, Jammu, and Kashmir, and the tribal areas of Assam. Sikhs account for about 2% of the population and are concentrated in the state of Punjab, which since 1980 has been the site of violent acts by Sikh activists demanding greater autonomy from the Hindudominated central government. Other religious groups include Muslims (12% of the population, mostly Sunni) and Christians (2.3%). Large Muslim populations are located in Utar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Jammu, and Kashmir. The northeastern states of Nagaland, Mizoram, and Meghalaya have Christian majorities. Buddhists, Jains, Parsis (Zoroastrians), Jews, and Baha’is make up less than 2% of the total population.

The caste system is a distinct feature of Hinduism, wherein every person either is born into one of four groups—Brahmans (priests and scholars), Kshatriyas (warriors and rulers), Vaisyas (shopkeepers, artisans, and farmers), and Sudras (farm laborers and menial workers)—or is casteless and thus untouchable. The untouchables are commonly known as Dalits or as Harijan (from the term used by Mahatma Gandhi). Although the constitution outlaws caste distinctions and discrimination, especially those applying to untouchability, progress in changing customs has been slow. Many Dalits have converted to other faiths in order to escape widespread discrimination in some areas; but several states have anticonversion laws in place for Dalits.

Freedom of worship is theoretically assured under the constitution; however, the government has the right to religious organizations that are considered to provoke public disorder. There are also a number of laws in place on both the federal and state level that regulate the activities of religious groups and even the right to religious conversions. There is a great deal of animosity between Muslims and Hindus, as well as Christians and Hindus; violent outbursts between these groups are not uncommon.

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History

India is one of the oldest continuously inhabited regions in the world. In Harappa, an area in the Indus Valley (now in Pakistan), between 3000 and 2000 bc, scores of thriving municipalities developed a distinct urban culture. This riverain civilization fell into decay around 1500–1200 bc, probably owing to the arrival of Aryan (Indo-European-speaking) invaders, who began entering the northern part of the subcontinent via Afghanistan. There followed over a thousand years of instability, of petty states and larger kingdoms, as one invading group after another contended for power. During this period, Indian village and family patterns, along with Brahmanism—one form of Hinduism—and its caste system, became established. Among the distinguished oral literature surviving from this period are two anonymous Sanskrit epics, the Ramayana (traditionally attributed to the legendary poet Valmiki) and the Mahabharata (the longest poem in the world, containing over 100,000 verses, including one of Hinduism’s more sacred texts, the Bhagavad-Gita ).

The South Asian subcontinent already had a population of about 30 million, of whom approximately 20 million lived in the Ganges Basin, when Alexander the Great invaded the Indus Valley in 326 bc. His successors were absorbed by the new Maurya dynasty (c.321–c.184 bc); under Chandragupta (r. c.321–c.297 bc), from his capital at Pataliputra (now Patna), the Mauryans subdued most of northern India and what is now Bangladesh. His successor, Asoka (r.273–232 bc), put all of India under unified control for the first time; an early convert to Buddhism, his regime was remembered for its sectarian tolerance, as well as for remarkable administrative, legal, and cultural achievements. Many Buddhist monuments and elaborately carved cave temples found at Sarnath, Ajanta, Bodhgaya, and other places in India date from the reigns of Asoka and his Buddhist successors.

In the years following Asoka, India divided again into a patchwork of kingdoms, as other invaders arrived from central and western Asia. In the process, Hinduism prevailed over Buddhism, which found wide acceptance elsewhere in Asia but remained widely practiced in India, its birthplace. Hindu kingdoms began to appear in what is presentday southern India after the 4th century ad. The era of the Gupta dynasty rule (ad 320–c.535) was a golden age of art, literature, and science in India. Hindu princes of the Rajput sub-caste, ruling in the northwest, reached their peak of power from ad 700 to 1000, although their descendants retained much of their influence well into British days.

In the 8th century, the first of several Islamic invaders appeared in the northwest; between 1000 and 1030, Mahmud of Ghaznī made 17 forays into the subcontinent. The first Muslim sultan of Delhi was Kutbuddin (r. c.1195–1210), and Islam gradually spread eastward and southward, reaching its greatest territorial and cultural extent under the Mughal (or Mogul) dynasty. “Mughal” comes from the Farsi word for Mongol, and the earlier Mughals were descendants of the great 14thcentury Mongol conqueror Timur (also known as “Timur the Lame” or Tamerlane), a descendant in turn of Genghis Khan. Much of the population of the subcontinent began converting to Islam during the Mughal period, however, which helped weave Islam into the social fabric of India.

One of the Timurid princes, Babur (r.1526–30), captured Kabul in 1504 and defeated the Sultan of Delhi in 1526, becoming the first of the Mughals to proclaim himself emperor of India. In 1560, Akbar (r.1556–1605), Babur’s grandson, extended the dynasty’s authority over all of northern India. Akbar also attempted to establish a national state in and it was Akbar who was the first of the Muslim emperors to attempt the establishment alliance with Hindu rajahs (kings). Though illiterate, he was a great patron of art and literature. Among his successors were Shah Jahan and his son Aurangzeb, who left their imprint in massive palaces and mosques, superb fortresses (like the Lahore fort), dazzling mausoleums (like the Taj Mahal at Agra), elaborate formal gardens (like those in Srinagar), and the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri (37 km/23 mi w of Agra). Under Aurangzeb (r.1658–1707), who seized his father’s throne, the Mughal Empire reached its greatest extent and then began its decline, largely the result of his repressive policies. The Hindu Marathas fought the Mughals and established their own empire in western India.

Vasco da Gama reached India’s southwest coast by sea in 1498, and for a century the Portuguese had a monopoly over the Indian sea. Although it continued to hold bits of Indian territory until 1961, Portugal lost its dominant position as early as 1612 when forces controlled by the British East India Company defeated the Portuguese and won concessions from the Mughals. The company, which had been established in 1600, had permanent trading settlements in Chennai (formerly Madras), Mumbai (formerly Bombay), and Calcutta by 1690. Threatened by the French East India Company, which was founded in 1664, the two companies fought each other as part of their nations’ struggle for supremacy in Europe and the western hemisphere in the 18th century. They both allied with rival Indian princes and recruited soldiers (sepoys ) locally, but the French and their allies suffered disastrous defeats in 1756 and 1757, against the backdrop of the Seven Years’ War (1756–63) raging in Europe. By 1761, France was no longer a power in India. The architect of the British triumph, later known as the founder of British India, was Robert Clive, later Baron, who became governor of the Company’s Bengal Presidency in 1764, to be followed by Warren Hastings and Lord Cornwallis in the years before 1800. The Company’s rule spread up the Gangetic plain to Oudh and Delhi, and eventually, to western India where the Maratha Confederacy, the alliance of independent Indian states that had succeeded the Mughal Empire there, was reduced to a group of relatively weak principalities owing fealty to the British in 1818.

The British government took direct control of the East India Company’s Indian domain during the Sepoy Mutiny (1857–59), a widespread rebellion by Indian soldiers in the company’s service, and in 1859, Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India. The succeeding decades were characterized by significant economic and political development, but also by a growing cultural and political gap between Indians and the British. Indian troops were deployed elsewhere in the world by the Crown in defense of British interests but without any recourse of Indian views.

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Independence

While the British moved gradually to expand local self-rule along federal lines, British power was increasingly challenged by the rise of indigenous movements challenging its authority. A modern Indian nationalism began to grow as a result of the influence of Western culture and education among the elite, and the formation of such groups as the Arya Samaj and Indian National Congress. Founded as an Anglophile debating society in 1885, the congress grew into a movement leading agitation for greater self-rule in the first 30 years of this century. Under the leadership of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (called the Mahatma, or Great Soul) and other nationalist leaders, such as Motilal and Jawaharlal Nehru, congress began to attract mass support in the 1930s with the success of noncooperation campaigns spearheaded by Gandhi and its advocacy of education, cottage industries, self-help, an end to the caste system, and nonviolent struggle. Muslims had also been politicized, beginning with the abortive partition of Bengal during the period 1905–12. And despite the INC leadership’s commitment to secularism, as the movement evolved under Gandhi, its leadership style appeared—to Muslims—uniquely Hindu, leading Indian Muslims to look to the protection of their interests in the formation of their own organization, the AllIndia Muslim League.

National and provincial elections in the mid-1930s, coupled with growing unrest throughout India, persuaded many Muslims that the power the majority Hindu population could exercise at the ballot box could leave them as a permanent electoral minority in any single democratic polity that would follow British rule. Sentiment in the Muslim League began to coalesce around the “two nation” theory propounded by the poet Iqbal, who argued that Muslims and Hindus were separate nations and that Muslims required creation of an independent Islamic state for their protection and fulfillment. A prominent attorney, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, led the fight for a separate Muslim state to be known as Pakistan, a goal formally endorsed by the Muslim League in Lahore in 1940.

Mahatma Gandhi, meanwhile, had broadened his demand in 1929 from self-rule to independence in 1929; in the 1930s, his campaigns of nonviolent noncooperation and civil disobedience electrified the countryside. In 1942, with British fortunes at a new low and the Japanese successful everywhere in Asia, Gandhi rejected a British appeal to postpone further talks on Indian self-rule until the end of World War II. Declining to support the British (and Allied) war effort and demanding immediate British withdrawal from India, he launched a “Quit India” campaign. In retaliation, Gandhi and most of India’s nationalist leaders were jailed.

The end of World War II and the British Labor Party’s victory at the polls in 1945 led to renewed negotiations on independence between Britain and the Hindu and Muslim leaders. Jawaharlal Nehru and the Congress leadership pressed anew for a single, secular nation in which the rights of all would be guarded by constitutional guarantees and democratic practice. But Jinnah and the Muslim League persevered in their campaign for Pakistan. In midAugust 1947, with HinduMuslim tensions rising, British India was divided into the two self-governing dominions of India and Pakistan, the latter created by combining contiguous, Muslimmajority districts in the western and eastern parts of British India, with the former, the new republic of India, consisting of the large remaining land mass in between. Partition resulted in one of the world’s largest mass movements of people: Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs who found themselves on the “wrong” side of new international boundaries sought to cross over. As many as 20 million people moved, and up to 3 million of these were killed as violence erupted along the borders. Gandhi, who opposed the partition and worked unceasingly for HinduMuslim amity, became himself a casualty of heightened communal feeling; he was assassinated by a Hindu extremist five months after Partition.

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Government

India is a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic. Its constitution, which became effective 26 January 1950, provides for a parliamentary form of government, at the center and in the states. The constitution also contains an extensive set of directive principles akin to the US Bill of Rights. Legislative acts and amendments have weakened some of those guarantees, while a number of decisions by the supreme court have left some weakened and others—like the commitment to secularism and to representative government—strengthened. Suffrage is universal at age 18.

The parliament, or legislative branch, consists of the president, the Council of States (Rajya Sabha), and the House of the People (Lok Sabha). The Rajya Sabha has a membership of not more than 250 members, of whom 12 are appointed by the president and the remainder indirectly elected by the state legislatures and by the union territories for six-year terms, with one-third chosen every two years. The Lok Sabha has 543 directly elected members (530 from the states, 13 from the union territories) and two members appointed by the president to represent the AngloIndian community. More than 22% of the seats are reserved for socalled “backward classes,” that is, schedule castes (formerly “Untouchables”) and scheduled tribes. The Lok Sabha has a maximum life of five years but can be dissolved earlier by the president. The next elections were to take place before May 2009.

The president and vice president are elected for five-year terms by an electoral college made up of the members of both parliamentary houses and the legislative assemblies of the states. Legally, all executive authority, including supreme command of the armed forces, is vested in the president, as head of state, who, in turn, appoints a council of ministers headed by a prime minister. The prime minister serves as the head of government. That individual is chosen by legislators of the political party, or coalition of parties, that commands the confidence of the parliament. The prime minister forms—and the president then appoints—the council of ministers, consisting of cabinet ministers, ministers of state, and deputy ministers to formulate and execute the government program. The vice president serves as president of the Rajya Sabha and usually succeeds the president at the end of the latter’s term.

By tradition, the presidency and vice presidency trade off between northerner and southerner, although a Muslim and a Sikh—nonregional identifications—have also held these positions. In July 2002, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was elected India’s 11th president, garnering 90% of the electoral college vote. He was the scientist responsible for carrying out India’s nuclear tests in 1998, and is a Muslim. His term was to last through 2007.

Elections at the state level are no longer timed to coincide with national elections, and their schedule has become erratic, as state governments have been more or less stable.

BJP party leader A.B. Vajpayee emerged from the May 1996 election as the new prime minister. In an 11-month period, he was succeeded by Deve Gowda, of the United Front and I.K. Gujral, a coalition candidate representing Congress and the United Front. Vajpayee returned to the prime minister’s position in 1999 and, despite a brief loss of power, retained the position until May 2004 when Congress regained power and chose Manmohan Singh to lead the governing coalition. The next election for prime minister was scheduled for May 2009.

The Republic of India is a union of states. The specific powers and spheres of influence of these states are set forth in the constitution, with all residual or nonspecified powers in the hands of the central government (the reverse of the US Constitution). The central government has the power to set state boundaries and to create and abolish states. The state governments are similar to the central government in form, with a chief minister and a cabinet responsible to the state legislature, which may be unicameral or bicameral. State governors, usually retired civil servants or politicians, are appointed by the president for a five-year term and act only on the advice of the state cabinet.

The constitution gives the president the power—on the advice of the prime minister—to dissolve a state legislature and dismiss a state government if no party commands the support of a majority or if the state’s constitutional machinery is incapable of maintaining order. The Lok Sahba, which must approve each six-month extension of direct rule, acts as the state legislature during its imposition, governing through the governor. Termed as “President’s Rule” in the constitution, this power derives from a provision for “Governor’s Rule” in the Government of India Act of 1935 and survives in the Pakistan constitution of 1973 in that form. It was invoked for the first time in 1959 by Prime Minister Nehru, and on the advice of Indira Gandhi, who was then Congress Party president; in power herself, she invoked the power repeatedly, often for partisan political purposes and, especially in the early 1980s, in the wake of ethnic/communal violence in Punjab, Assam, and Jammu and Kashmir. Limitations on its partisan use were imposed in a Supreme Court decision in spring 1994.

Under the States Reorganization Act of 1956, there were 14 states and five union territories, organized, where appropriate, on linguistic grounds. Through a gradual process of reorganization and division, two former union territories have become states while new union territories have been created (there were seven as of 2006), and the number of states has grown to 28.

Administratively, the states and union territories are divided into districts, under the control of senior civil servants who are responsible for collecting revenues, maintaining law and order, and setting development priorities. Districts are further divided into subdivisions, and subdivisions into taluks or tehsils. State government and lower levels of representative councils vary in organization and function, but all are based on universal adult suffrage. Large towns are each governed by a corporation headed by a mayor; health, safety, education, and the maintenance of normal city facilities are under its jurisdiction. Smaller towns have municipal boards and committees similar to the corporations but with more limited powers. District boards in rural areas provide for road construction and maintenance, education, and public health. The constitution provides for the organization of village councils (panchayats ), and nearly all the villages have been so organized. The panchayats are elected from among the villagers by all the adult population and have administrative functions and a judicial wing that enables them to handle minor offenses.

In the mid-1990s, there were several campaigns to form new states in India, carving new borders along factional lines in existing states. A promise by former Prime Minister Deve Gowda to create a new state in Uttar Pradesh in 1996 renewed separatist sentiments in several other states.

The Hindu nationalist party (BJP) proposed five new states in 1996, hoping to control their assemblies rather than fight political foes in larger entities. Both proposals ignore potentially chaotic consequences in favor of political gain; existing state boundaries were drawn on language differences, while there appeared to be no motive other than politics for the boundaries suggested by the new proposals. On its return to power in 1998, the BJP government succeeded in drafting bills that created three new states (Chhattisgarh, Uttaranchal, and Jharkhand), but put on hold its plans for making Delhi, presently a Union Territory, a state. Chhattisgarh, Uttaranchal, and Jharkhand became India’s three newest states in November 2000, raising the total from 25 to 28.

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Judicial System

The laws and judicial system of British India were continued after independence with only slight modifications. The supreme court consists of a chief justice and 25 associate judges, appointed by the president, who hold office until age 65. The court’s duties include interpreting the constitution, handling all disputes between the central government and a state or between states themselves, and judging appeals from lower courts.

There are 18 high courts, subordinate to but not under the control of, the supreme court. Three have jurisdiction over more than one state. Each state’s judicial system is headed by a high court whose judges are appointed by the president and over whom state legislatures have no control. High court judges can serve up to the age of 62. Each state is divided into districts; within each district, a hierarchy of civil courts is responsible to the principal civil courts, presided over by a district judge. The 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure, effective 1 April 1974, provides for the appointment of separate sets of magistrates for the performance of executive and judicial functions within the criminal court system. Executive magistrates are responsible to the state government; judicial magistrates are under the control of the high court in each state.

Different personal laws are administered through the single civil court system. Islamic law (Shariah) governs many noncriminal matters involving Muslims, including family law, inheritance, and divorce. There are strong constitutional safeguards assuring the independence of the judiciary. In 1993–94, the supreme court rendered important judgments imposing limits on the use of the constitutional device known as “President’s Rule” by the central government and reaffirming India’s secular commitment.

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Military

The Indian Armed Forces have a proud tradition, having provided one million soldiers during World War I and two million during World War II for combat in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. The armed forces are entirely volunteer and consist of a Strategic Forces Command, the regular army, navy, and air force, a territorial (reserve) army, and 16 different fulltime or reserve special purpose paramilitary units for border, transportation, and internal defense.

In 2005, active armed forces personnel totaled 1,325,000. The Army had 1,100,000 personnel, organized into 6 regional commands, a training command, and 11 corps headquarters, which included 3 armored divisions, 25 mechanized infantry battalions, 4 RAPID, 18 infantry divisions, 10 mountain divisions, 8 independent armored brigades, 8 independent infantry brigades, 2 artillery divisions, 4 air defense brigades, and 3 engineer brigades. The Army’s equipment included 3,978 main battle tanks, 190 light tanks, 110 reconnaissance vehicles, over 1,700 armored infantry fighting vehicles, more than 817 armored personnel carriers, and more than 12,675 artillery pieces. The Indian Navy had 55,000 active personnel, including 7,000 personnel in its aviation arm and 1,200 Marines. Major naval units included 19 tactical submarines, 1 aircraft carrier, 8 destroyers, 17 frigates, and 28 corvettes. The naval aviation forces had 34 combat capable aircraft that included 15 fighter ground attack and 17 antisubmarine warfare aircraft. The Air Force had 170,000 personnel and 852 combatcapable aircraft, including 386 fighters and 380 fighter ground attack aircraft. The Air Force also had 60 attack helicopters. There is also a Coast Guard of over 8,000 personnel, with 41 aircraft and 50 patrol vessels.

India’s Strategic Forces Command is responsible for the country’s strategic missile force which consists of 24 IRBMs and 45 SRBMs. As of 2002, it was suspected that India possessed 60 nuclear weapons and had the capability for producing more.

India’s paramilitary forces have 1,293,229 active personnel, which included a 208,422 person Border Security Force (BSF), a Central Industrial Security Force of 94,347, and a Central Reserve Police Force of 229,699, which were under the Ministry of Home Affairs. There was also a State Armed Police force of 450,000.

In 2005, the defense budget totaled $22 billion. India in that same year, supplied personnel to six UN peacekeeping operations.

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Economy & Income

As of 2006, India was the world’s twelfth-largest economy, and thirdlargest in Asia behind Japan and China, in nominal terms. Although in current dollars, India’s GDP was estimated at $758.9 billion in 2005, in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms—a calculation which takes into account the low price levels for goods and services in India compared to the United States—India’s effective GDP equaled $3.718 trillion. Annual per capita income, of course, remained very low—estimated at $693 in nominal terms and $3,395 in PPP terms in 2005—but its twelfth-place rank reflects the country’s remarkable record of steady growth: an annual growth average of 6.8% since 1994 with a 10% reduction in the proportion of the population living in poverty. Severe impediments and future challenges remain, however. Nearly two-thirds of the labor force is still employed or underemployed in agriculture, which constitutes 22% of the GDP. Industry contributes about 27% to GDP and employs some 17% of the labor force. Services account for about 23% of the labor force, and for 51% of GDP, up from a 12.8% share in 1980. India’s population growth dropped below 2% for the first time in four decades in 2001 (it averaged 1.5% over the 2001–05 period), but the growth rate for the workingage group 15 to 60 years olds continued to accelerate, presenting government policy makers with the need to accelerate job creation. Over 58% of the population is under the age of 20.

India is rich in mineral, forest, and power resources, and its ample reserves of iron ore and coal provide a substantial base for heavy industry. Coal is the principal source for generating electric power although hydroelectric and nuclear installations supply a rising proportion of India’s power needs. As well, anticipating a rapid growth in oil consumption in the near future, the government actively promotes oil exploration and development. Since 1997, under its New Exploration and Licensing Policy (NELP), foreign companies have been permitted to participate in upstream oil exploration, long restricted to Indianowned firms.

The Indian economy is a mixture of public and private enterprises. Under a planned development regime since independence, the public sector provided the impetus for industrialization and for absorption of sophisticated technology. Nevertheless, a large proportion of the total manufacturing output continued to be contributed by small, unorganized industries. In recent years, and especially since 1991, the government has placed greater emphasis on private enterprise to stimulate growth and modernization. Reflecting this policy shift, public enterprises accounted for only about 7% of the country’s GDP in 1999, down from 23% in the mid-1980s. In December 1999, the government created the Ministry of Disinvestment and announced plans to disinvest in 247 companies owned by the central government down to a 26% share in most companies, excluding only three strategic sectors altogether: railways, defense, and nuclear energy. In all, about $530 million was received from disinvestment in 2000/01. In 2002/03 total receipts from disinvestment were only about 28% ($717 million) of the Ministry’s projected target $2.5 billion. Sales included a strategic stake of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (VSNL), India’s premier international communications and internet service provider (ISP) company to the Tata Group, India’s largest conglomerate; a strategic stake in IBP, the national petroleum marketing company, to Indian Oil; a strategic stake in Indian Petrochemical Company Ltd. (IPCL) to the Indian company, Reliance Industries; and a strategic share of Maruti Udyog Ltd. (MUL), India’s top car maker, to Suzuki Maintenance Corporation (SMC) of Japan.

Following the proclamation of a state of emergency in June 1975, a 20-point economic reform program was announced. Price regulations were toughened, and a moratorium on rural debts was declared. A new campaign was mounted against tax evaders, currency speculators, smugglers, and hoarders. This program, which lapsed when Indira Gandhi was out of power (1977–80), was revised and incorporated into the sixth five-year plan (1980–85). The reforms were buttressed by a 30-month arrangement under the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility (EFF), from 9 November 1981 to 10 May 1984. After the collapse of world oil prices in 1986, India’s average annual growth increased to 6.2% on the latter half of the decade. This expansion was accompanied, however, by numerous persistent weaknesses: slow growth in formal sector employment, inefficiency and technological lags in the public sector, and increasing fiscal and balance of payments deficits, which by 1990 had produced double digit inflation. The oil shock accompanying the Persian Gulf War catalyzed an acute balance of payments crisis in early 1991.

Swift stabilization measures taken by the newly elected government, including two stand-by arrangements with the IMF, proved highly successful. By mid-1992, foreign exchange reserves had recovered to a comfortable margin and inflation declined from 13.1% in 1991–92 to 8.6% in 1993–94. Further reforms focused on trade liberalization, privatization, and deregulation helped push GDP growth to an average of 6.5% for the five years 1995 to 1999. Accelerating growth sparked a return of double-digit inflation, reaching 13.1% in 1998/99, but a currency devaluation of almost 12% helped bring inflation down to 3.4% in 1999. Economic growth slowed significantly in 2000/01 to around 4% reflecting both the global economic slowdown and also weak agricultural growth in India. The 2000/01 budget included a 30% increase on defense spending because of conflict with Pakistan, increasing the public debt. The central government’s fiscal deficit increased steadily from 1997/98 to 2001/02, from 4.9% of GDP to 6.1% of GDP. In 2001/02, however, growth recovered to around 5.5% largely due to a recovery in agriculture. In the more export-sensitive industrial sector, the growth rate was only 2.7%. In 2002/03 industrial growth recovered to an estimated 6.17%, while services increased 7.1%.

By mid-2005, India’s economy was booming. Industrial production had grown at its fastest rate in nine years, by 11.7% over the same period in 2004, including an increase in manufacturing of 12.5%. Exports were up by 19% on 2004, and imports by 30%. Economic growth was averaging 6.5% over the 2001–05 period, with inflation at 4%. The stock market in mid-2005 had risen by more than 50% in one year, and foreign exchange reserves were building. Real GDP growth was forecast at 7.8% in fiscal year 2005/06, but was predicted to fall to 7% in 2006/07 and to 6.5% again in 2007/08. High international oil prices and strong domestic demand were predicted to lead to a significant widening of the merchandise trade deficit over the 2006–08 period, but strong surpluses on services and transfers were forecast to limit the size of the current-account deficit.

Despite its shining economy in 2006, India was suffering a stalling of economic reforms that had laid the basis for its successes. These reforms were begun in 1991 under Finance Minister Manmohan Singh, who by May 2004 had become prime minister. The government, led by the Congress Party, by 2005 had proved unable to pursue additional liberalizing economic reforms, as it relied upon support from a group of Communist parties that opposed many such reforms. In June 2005, those parties forced the government to formally abandon plans to sell stakes in 13 state-owned companies to strategic investors. However, by implementing a large public-works project, the government insisted it was implementing plans to reduce rural poverty, help fix rural infrastructure, and give power and rights to the very poor. In addition to the lost revenue from potential privatizations, with such publicworks plans being envisioned, and the money it would take to fund them, the government faced budgetary concerns.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 India’s gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $3.7 trillion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $3,400. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 7.1%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 4.4%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 20.6% of GDP, industry 28.1%, and services 51.4%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $17.406 billion or about $16 per capita and accounted for approximately 2.9% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $942 million or about $1 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.2% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in India totaled $384.29 billion or about $363 per capita based on a GDP of $600.6 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 4.9%. It was estimated that in 2002 about 25% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.

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Livestock & Agriculture

In 2003, of the total land area of 297 million hectares (734 million acres), the net sown area was 169 million hectares (420 million acres), or about 57%. The irrigated area totaled 55.8 million hectares (137.9 million acres) in 2003. At least 10 million hectares (24.7 million acres) were redistributed under land reform programs during 1951–79. Agriculture employs about 60% of India’s population and contributes about 22% to GDP.

Agricultural production increased at an average annual rate of 2.9% during the 1970s, 3.1% during the 1980s, and 3.8% during 1990–98, mainly as the result of the “green revolution,” which has made India basically self-sufficient in grain output through the use of improved hybrid seeds, irrigation, and fertilizers. During 2002–04, crop production was up 0.1% from 1999–2001. Cereal production averaged over 104 million tons per year from 1979 to 1981; in 2003, production totaled 232 million tons. Rice leads all crops and, except in the northwest, is generally grown wherever the conditions are suitable. In 2004, 129 million tons of rice were produced on 42.3 million hectares (104.5 million acres). The combined acreage and production of other cereals, all to a large extent grown for human consumption, considerably exceed those of rice. These include jowar, a rich grain sorghum grown especially in the Deccan; wheat, grown in the northwest; and bajra, another grain sorghum grown in the drier areas of western India and the far south. A wheat crop of 72 million tons was harvested on 26.6 million hectares (65.8 million acres) in 2004. Vegetables, pulses, and oilseeds are the other main food crops. Oilseed production in 2004 included 5.1 million tons of cottonseed and 6.8 million tons of rapeseed.

Nonfood crops are mainly linseed, cotton, jute, and tobacco. The cotton crop in 2004/05 was 19 million bales (170 kg each) and was large enough to both supply the increasing demands of the domestic textile sector and provide export receipts. For centuries, India has been famous for its spices and today is one of the world’s largest producers, consumers, and exporters of a wide range of spices. Of the 63 spices grown in the country, black pepper, cardamom, ginger, turmeric, and chilles are the most economically important. Since World War II (1939–45), India has been the world’s largest producer of black pepper (51,000 tons in 2004). Pepper production is concentrated in the southern states of Kerlala (65%), Karnataka (20%), and Tamil Nadu (15%).

India was the world’s second leading producer (after Brazil) of sugarcane in 2004, with an output of 244.8 million tons. Production of raw sugar amounted to 14.2 million tons in 2004/05, enough to meet over 90% of domestic consumption. Tea, coffee, and rubber plantations contribute significantly to the economy, although they occupy less than 1% of the agricultural land (in hill areas generally unsuited to Indian indigenous agriculture), and are the largest agricultural enterprises in India. Tea, the most important plantation crop, is a large foreign exchange earner, with an export value of $377.7 million in 2004, based on exports of 174,728 tons. Production in 2004 was 850,800 tons, 26% of global production. It is grown mostly in Assam and northern Bengal, but also in southern India. Coffee (275,000 tons in 2004) is produced in southern India, and rubber (762,000 tons in 2004) in Kerala. Leaf tobacco production totaled 598,000 tons in 2004.

Because of the everpresent danger of food shortages, the government tightly controls the grain trade, fixing minimum support and procurement prices and maintaining buffer stocks. The Food Corp. of India, a government enterprise, distributes 12 million tons of food grains annually and is increasing its storage capacity.

The livestock population of India is huge and animals as a whole play an important role in the agricultural economy even though they often receive inadequate nourishment. Slaughter of cattle in India is prohibited in all but a few states since Hindus believe that cows and other animals may contain reincarnated human souls. The slaughter of buffaloes is not as offensive to the religious beliefs of Hindus, and buffaloes are slaughtered for meat.

In 2005 there were an estimated 185 million head of cattle, representing about 6% of the world’s total and more than in any other country. There are eight breeds of buffalo, 26 cattle breeds, and numerous crossbreeds. The bovine inventory in 2005 also included 98 million buffalo. Other livestock in 2005 included 120 million goats, 62.5 million sheep, 14.3 million hogs, 635,000 camels, 750,000 asses, 800,000 horses, and 430 million chickens. Bullocks (steers) and water buffalo are important draft animals. Dairy farming has made India self-sufficient in butter and powdered milk. Dairying in India is undertaken on millions of small farms, where one to three milk animals are raised on less than a hectare (2.5 acres), and yields consist of two to three liters of milk daily. To improve milk production, a dairy development program was begun in 1978 to build up the milch herd to 150 million cross-bred cows. Milk output in 2005 from over 35 million dairy cows was estimated at 38.5 million tons, second in the world. India also produced 38.5 million tons of buffalo milk that year. Egg production in 2005 was 2,492,000 tons. The production of cattle and buffalo hides and goat- and sheepskins is a major industry. About 51,400 tons of wool were produced in 2005. Silk production that year amounted to 17,500 tons, second highest after China. Animal dung is also used for fuel and fertilizer.

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Forestry

The major forests lie in the foothills of the Himalayas, the hills of Assam state, the northern highlands of the Deccan, the Western Ghats, and the Andaman Islands. Other forests are generally scrub and poor secondary growth of restricted commercial potential. India’s forests are mostly broad leaved; the most important commercial species are sal (10.9% of forest trees), mixed conifers (8.1%), teak (6.8%), fir (3.2%), chirpine (2.4%), and upland hardwood (2.4%). In 2000 there were 64,113,000 hectares (158,423,000 acres) of forestland, according to a satellite survey. About 40% of the forest area is highly degraded and devoid of wood producing trees.

India’s forests have historically suffered tremendous pressure from its large human and animal populations as a source of fuel wood, fodder, and timber. According to the government’s national forest policy, 33% of the land area should be covered by forest, but actual forest coverage is just 21.6%. About 138,000 hectares (341,000 acres) were planted annually during the 1980s under afforestation programs. During 1990–2000, the forested area grew by an annual average of 38,000 hectares (94,000 acres). Most forests (98%) are owned by state governments and are reserved or protected for the maintenance of permanent timber and water supplies. The government has prohibited commercial harvesting of trees on public land, except for mature, fallen, or sick trees. In order to help meet the fuel needs of much of the population, harvesting dead and fallen branches is permitted in government forests, but this policy is widely violated. About 94% of the total timber cut in 2004 was burned as fuel.

The total timber cut in 2004 was 322.7 million cu m (11.4 billion cu ft). Production that year included (in million of cubic meters): sawn wood, 11.9; paper and paperboard, 4.1; wood-based panels, 2.1; and wood pulp, 1.7. Other forestry products include bamboos, canes, fibers, flosses, gums and resins, medicinal herbs, tanning barks, and lac. Imports of forest products nearly totaled $1,075 million in 2004, and mainly consisted of newsprint, printing and writing paper, and recovered paper products.

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Mining

Well endowed with industrial minerals, India’s leading industries in 2003 included steel, cement, mining, and petroleum. Gems and jewelry were leading export commodities to the United States. The minerals industry of India produced more than 80 mineral commodities in the form of ores, metals, industrial minerals, and mineral fuels and is among the world’s leading producers of iron ore, bituminous coal, zinc, and bauxite. The country exploited 52 minerals—11 metallic, 38 nonmetallic, and 3 mineral fuels. In 2003, India also produced lead, monazite, selenium, silver, ilmenite, rutile, corundum, garnet, jasper, asbestos, barite (from the Cuddapah District mines, Andhra Pradesh), bromine, hydraulic cement, chalk, clays (including ball clay, diaspore, fireclay, and kaolin), feldspar, fluorspar, agate, zircon, graphite, kyanite, sillimanite, lime, magnesite, nitrogen, phosphate rock, apatite, ocher, mineral and natural pigments, pyrites, salt, soda ash, calcite, dolomite, limestone, quartz, quartzite, sand (including calcareous and silica), slate, talc, pyrophyllite, steatite (soapstone), vermiculite, and wollastonite.

Output of iron ore and concentrate totaled 85 million tons in 2003, up from 80 million tons in 2002. Iron ore reserves, estimated at 11,000 million tons of hematite ore containing at least 55% iron, were among the largest in the world. Principal iron ore output came from the rich fields along the Bihar-Orissa border, close to all major existing iron and steel works. Smaller amounts were mined in the Bababudan Hills of Karnataka and elsewhere. The joint venture Río Tinto Orissa Mining Ltd. studied a new mining project, in the Gandhamardan/Malanjtoli areas of Orissa, that had ore reserves of 800 million tons and could start in 2006, produce 25 million tons per year by its fifth year, and have an eventual capacity of 50 million tons per year.

India’s output of bauxite by gross weight was 10,002,000 million tons in 2003, up from 9,647,000 tons in 2002. Bauxite deposits were estimated at 2,300 million tons. The stateowned National Aluminium Co. Ltd. (Nalco), which doubled its mining capacity to 4.8 million tons per year, has been privatized by the government.

Production of zinc concentrates (zinc content) in 2003 was 162,000 metric tons, up from 234,300 metric tons in 2002.

Production of smelted gold in 2003 totaled 3,100 kg, while the output of mined and smelted silver totaled 53,600 kg in that same year. Gold and silver came largely from the Kolar fields of southeastern Karnataka, where the gold mines have reached a depth of more than 3.2 km and contained reserves of 55,000 kg of gold. The Geological Survey of India outlined three new gold resources—in the Dona block, Andhra Pradesh, 4.8 million tons averaging 1.9 grams per ton of gold; in the Banswar district, Rajasthan, 7.1 million tons averaging 2.96 grams per ton of gold; and in the Ghrhar Pahar block, Sidhi district of Madhya Pradesh, 3.3 million tons averaging 1.04 grams per ton of gold. The import duty on gold was reduced to curtail smuggling.

In 2003 diamond production (gem and industrial) totaled 60,000 carats, down from 62,000 carats in 2002. Industrial diamond output in 2003 totaled 44,000 carats, down from 45,000 carats in 2002, while gem diamond output totaled 16,000 and 17,000 carats for 2003 and 2002, respectively.

Content of manganese in mined ore produced was 620,000 tons in 2003. Manganese deposits were estimated at 154 million tons. Manganese was mined in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, the Nāgpur section of Maharashtra, northward in Madhya Pradesh, along the Bihar-Orissa border adjoining the iron ore deposits, along the MaharashtraMadhya PradeshRajasthan border, and in central coastal Andhra Pradesh.

Mineral production in 2003 included: 28,400 metric tons of mined copper ore, down from 31,500 metric tons in 2002; 1.8 million tons of gross weight chromite, compared to 1.9 in 2002; 2.3 million metric tons of gypsum; and 1,600 metric tons of crude mica, up from 1,500 metric tons in 2002. The bestquality mica came from Bihar.

There were extensive workable reserves of fluorite, chromite, ilmenite (for titanium), monazite (for thorium), beach sands, magnesite, beryllium, copper, and a variety of other industrial and agricultural minerals. However, India lacked substantial reserves of some nonferrous metals and special steel ingredients.

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Energy

India’s proven petroleum reserves and crude refining capacity were estimated at 5.4 billion barrels and at 2.1 million barrels per day, respectively, as of 1 January 2004. Oil production in 2003 was estimated at 819,000 barrels per day, of which crude oil accounted for 660,000 barrels per day. However, in that same year, demand for oil totaled an estimated 2.2 million barrels per day, requiring India to import an estimated net 1.4 million barrels per day, in 2003. While India’s future oil consumption is anticipated to reach 2.8 million barrels per day by 2010, the country is looking to expand its domestic production to offset its need to rely upon imports. Oil exploration and production are undertaken in joint ventures between government and private foreign companies. As of October 2004, oil accounted for roughly 30% of India’s energy consumption. India’s natural gas reserves were estimated at 30.1 trillion cu ft, as of 1 January 2004. In 2002, natural gas production and consumption each totaled an estimated 883 billion cu ft.

India’s recoverable coal reserves were estimated in 2001 at total 93 billion short tons. Production and consumption of coal in 2002, was estimated at 393 million short tons and 421 million short tons, respectively.

In 2002, India’s electric generating capacity was placed at 122.074 million kW, which included: 91.447 million kW of conventional thermal; 26.260 million kW of hydro; 2.860 million kW of nuclear; and 1.507 million kW for geothermal/other sources. Electric power output in 2002 totaled an estimated 547 billion kWh, of which: 478.213 kWh were generated by conventional thermal sources; 26.260 kWh by hydroelectric sources; 17.760 kWh by nuclear plants; and 4.093 kWh by geothermal/other sources. In 2002, India consumed 525.427 billion kWh of electricity, of which 1.520 billion kWh were imported.

A 380 MW nuclear power station, India’s first, was completed with US assistance in 1969 at Tarapur, near Mumbai (formerly Bombay). (The Tarapur plant has long been a center of controversy because of India’s alleged failure to observe international safeguards to prevent the diversion of nuclear materials for military purposes.) Another nuclear station, in Rajasthan, began partial operations in the early 1970s, and two more plants were added by the end of the decade. In 1996, India had 10 operating reactors with a combined capacity of 1,695 MW, and four more under construction with a planned capacity of 808 MW. In 1999, the 740 MW initial phase of the Dabhol LNGfired power plant began operation—LNG is liquefied natural gas.

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Industry

Modern industry has advanced fairly rapidly since independence, and the industrial sector now contributes 27% of the GDP. Large modern steel mills and many fertilizer plants, heavy-machinery plants, oil refineries, locomotive and automotive works have been constructed; the metallurgical, chemical, cement, and oilrefining industries have also expanded. Moreover, India has established its role in the high valueadded sectors of the “new economy” sectors of information technology (IT), computer hardware, computer software, media, and entertainment. Yet, though the total product is large, industry absorbs only about 17% of the labor force. Nine states—Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh—together account for most of Indian industry.

Industrial production expanded at an average annual rate of 5–6% between 1970 and 1990. Enforced austerity and demand management measures taken to stabilize rapidly worsening macroeconomic imbalances in 1991–92 slowed growth in the industry sector to 0% for that year. This was followed by a modest recovery to 1.9% growth in 1992–93, though declining to an estimated 1.6% in 1993–94, due to lingering effects of the earlier stabilization measures as well as poorer than expected demand in key export markets. In 1995–96, however, the industrial growth rate jumped 11.7%, led by a 13% increase in manufacturing output, the highest in 25 years. Growth in industrial production was 6.6% in 1997–98, but slowed to 4.1% in 1998/99 primarily due to the effects of the Asian financial crisis, but also in part to international sanctions imposed after its nuclear tests in 1998. A rebound evidenced in 6.6% growth in 1999–2000 was cut short by the global economic slowdown in 2001, and the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, including intensifying regional tensions with Pakistan. Growth in industrial production slowed, to 5.1% in 2000–01 and to 2.7% in 2001–02. As the economy improved by middecade, the industrial production growth rate stood at 7.4% in 2004, and had climbed to 11.7% by June 2005.

Under the planned development regime of past decades, government directives channeled much of the country’s resources into public enterprises. Private investment was closely regulated for all industries, discouraging investors from formal entry into the sector. However, industrial policy has shifted towards privatization and deregulation. Since 1991 government licensing requirements have been abolished for all but a few “controlled areas”: distillation and brewing of alcoholic drinks, cigars and cigarettes, defense equipment, industrial explosives, hazardous chemicals, and drugs and pharmaceuticals. Under the government disinvestment program announced at the end of 1999, only three sectors remain completely closed to private investment: defense, atomic energy, and railway transport. The oil industry was opened to joint foreign investment in 1997 under the New Exploration and Licensing Policy (NELP). The Ministry of Disinvestment was established in December 1999 to oversee the reduction of government shares in 247 stateowned companies. The first sale, in 2000, was 51% of the Bharat Aluminum Company, Ltd. to Sterlite Ltd. of India. In 2002, managerial control of Maruti Udyog Ltd. (MUL), India’s top carmaker, was transferred to Suzuki Maintenance Corporation (SMC) of Japan. Generally, the public sector units (PSUs) for which the government has found buyers in its disinvestment program have not been in the industrial or manufacturing sectors. Instead, the government has taken steps to make their operations more competitive. Credit and capital markets have also been greatly liberalized. Since 1992, all foreign companies have been on par with Indian companies in the area of foreign exchange solvency and on the stock market. With these reforms, private investment in industry is now proceeding at a steady pace, fostering increased competition in most of the mining and manufacturing sectors previously monopolized by parastatals.

Textile production dominates the industrial field, accounting for about 30% of export earnings while adding only 7–8% to imports. The textile industry employs approximately 35 million workers, making it the secondlargest employer in India after agriculture. On a broad level, the textile sector can be divided between the natural fiber segment (cotton, silk, wool, jute, etc.) and the manmade fiber segment (polyester filament yarn, blended yarns, etc.). Cotton accounts for about 60% of both domestic consumption and exports. In terms of operations, since the 1980s decentralized powerlooms have produced an increasingly large share of production as centralized mills have declined. In 1986, there were about 638,000 decentralized powerlooms in operation, and by 2002 these had increased 260% to about 1,662,000. Anticipating the globalization of the textile market in 2004, India’s National Textile Policy of 2000 pinpointed the weaving sector as the crucial link in the textile value chain (from fiber to fabric to garment to style) that needed to become more competitive. However, integrated mill operations, which perform spinning, weaving and processing in a central location, have stagnated and declined. Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Ahmadābad, and the provincial cities in southern India lead in cotton milling, which accounts for about 65% of the raw material consumed by the textile industry. Jute milling is localized at Calcutta, center of the jute agricultural area. India is the world’s number one jute manufacturer. On average, textile production was growing at about 5% a year by 2000, although in 2001–02, with demand damped by a series of negative events—economic recession in the United States, a global economic slowdown, the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the attack on India’s Parliament on 13 December 2001, and sectarian violence in Gujarat—growth fell to 2.6%, while textile exports fell 9%. However, beginning at the end of 2002 and continuing into the next three years, strong growth was evidenced. Textile exports had increased to $11.7 by 2004, an increase of some 5% over 2003. Estimates were that the textile sector would grow by 15–18% following the end of world textile quotas in 2005.

India is the world’s ninthlargest steel producer. Crude steel production reached 32.6 million tons in 2004. India’s steel production has more than doubled since 1990. In 2005, India’s steel production increased by 16.6% over 2004; with China, India led the global increase in steel production in 2005. The industry consists of seven large integrated mills and about 180 mini steel plants. The metallurgical sector also produced 818,000 tons of aluminum products in 2002. Automobile production, fed by both the steel and aluminum industries, has grown at an annual rates of close to 20% since liberalization in 1993, propelled by low interest rates, the expansion of consumer finance, and strong export demand. About 90% of vehicles produced are economy cars, and 10% are luxury cars and SUVs.

In the field of computers and consumer electronics, production has been boosted by the liberalization of technology and component imports. In consumer durables, production in many cases grew at doubledigit rates in 2001/02 (air conditioners, 25%; microwave ovens, over 20%; color TVs, over 15%; refrigerators, 12%; audio products and DVDs, 10%; washing machines, less than 5%), while computer production was up 36%. Computer software exports have grown as a compound growth rate of some 50% per year. The electronics market in India was worth $11.5 billion in 2004, and was projected to be the fastestgrowing electronics market in several succeeding years. Since 2004, the electronics industry growth rate was surging at close to 30%.

In the petrochemical sector, India has 18 refineries throughout the country with a total refinery capacity of more than two million barrels per day. Sixteen refineries are government owned, one is jointly owned, and one, the Reliance Industries refinery at Jamnagar in Gujarat State, is privately owned. Almost half India’s refinery capacity has been built since 1998, the government’s goal being self-sufficiency in refined petroleum products. India’s total refinery capacity should currently be enough to meet domestic demand, but because of operational problems it still has to import diesel fuel.

India’s cement industry is the second largest in the world, after China, with an installed capacity of some 135 million tons. Exports have been very limited and only to immediate neighbors. In the last decade, the government’s portion of cement consumption decreased from 50% to 35% as the domestic housing market has grown. However, government financed infrastructure projects have also helped sparked a growth in construction. In 2001/02, 106.9 million tons of cement were produced, of which 5.14 million tons were exported. Cement production—at a 10% growth rate—was expected to grow to $158.5 million tons by the end of 2006/07.

Like cement, India’s food processing industry is oriented mainly toward the domestic market. It is India’s fifth largest industry, with output reaching more than $30 billion. Structurally it consists of about 9000 operational units, accounts for about 6.3% of GDP, 13% of exports, and 18% of industrial employment (about 1.6 million workers).

India’s fertilizer industry is the third largest in the world and central to its efforts to increase agricultural productivity. Potassium-based nutrients must all be imported. Since 1992 the government has been gradually decontrolling the price of fertilizers.

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Customer service is hands down our highest priority and we strive to give each and every client and case the highest level of individual attention to detail.

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Indian Holi Festival image for one of many reasons to get an India Visa and experiance this and many other wonders for yourself.
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Where other agencies say they can't or simply won't, if there is a way (and more often than not there is), we go out of our way to get you the travel documents you need when you need them.

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Both ship to and return fed ex labels are conveniently auto generated and emailed to you through our secure online order form eliminating the risk of sending your documents to the wrong location and wasting critical time.
Simply gather your documents togeter, print the ship labels, drop your package at nearest FedEx location, and you are done.

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US Visa to India is a UVC company, a leader in the travel document industry since 1989. We are one of the few India visa service agencies that has representation in each of the cities where there is a Indian Embassy/Consulate. As a specialized India visa service agency, we have helped a great many travelers over the years obtain their Indian visas quickly and effortlessly. Because of our efficiency, reliability, and second to none service, we have earned the support and praise from our loyal and growing customer base who have in turn helped us grow from a small local Houston company to one with multiple branch and affiliate offices across the country.

So, with a fair number of other travel document services out there, why should you use US Visa to India?

Note: The Indian Embassy/Consulates and State Department forbid passport/visa service agencies to make material changes to applicants passport/visa application forms. If an application form is found to have been tampered with, the application will be denied and future submissions will be likely be heavily scrutinized and delayed.

Our Solution: When you apply through US Visa to India, you do not have to worry about submitting incorrect India visa or passport documents. When you complete the US Visa to India secure online order form, you will be prompted to upload your required travel documents for one of our travel document specialists to review. You will be promptly called or emailed back with either positive confirmation or detailed instruction as to what changes need to be made or which documents you may be missing. That make you feel secure or what???

Note: The Indian Embassy/Consulates now enforce strict jurisdictional rules for Indian visa processing. Applicants are required to apply at a particular location that has consular jurisdiction over the state they live in. Applications sent to a wrong office will be can be delayed or rejected and returned.

Our Solution: When you apply through US Visa to India, you do not have to worry about sending your documents to a wrong place. If you choose the shipping option to allow it on the US Visa to India secure online order form, you be emailed a Fed Ex ship label automatically directed to the correct office. You just simply print the label and head for the nearest Fed Ex location. Now how convenient is that???

Many agencies advertise a “concierge” or “white glove” service which is basically a hefty fee for giving your application priority over others. At US Visa to India, you don’t pay extra to get the attention and service you deserve. All our applicants are equally important to us and All our applicants receive priority one status. Thank you for visiting US Visa to India and we look forward to assisting you!!! US Visa to India - Staff & Management

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