Mahal Resources on Education in India

General Information about India


 Transnational Issues 
Few countries in the world have such an ancient and diverse culture as India's. Stretching back in an unbroken sweep over 5000 years, India's culture has been enriched by successive waves of migration which were absorbed into the Indian way of life. It is this variety which is a special hallmark of India. Its physical, religious and racial variety is as immense as its linguistic diversity. Underneath this diversity lies the continuity of Indian civilization and social structure from the very earliest times until the present day.


Location: Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Burma and Pakistan

Geographic coordinates: 20 00 N, 77 00 E

Map references: Asia

total: 3,287,590 sq km
land: 2,973,190 sq km
water: 314,400 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly more than one-third the size of the US

Land boundaries:
total: 14,103 km
border countries: Bangladesh 4,053 km, Bhutan 605 km, Burma 1,463 km, China 3,380 km, Nepal 1,690 km, Pakistan 2,912 km

Coastline: 7,000 km

Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: varies from tropical monsoon in south to temperate in north

Terrain: upland plain (Deccan Plateau) in south, flat to rolling plain along the Ganges, deserts in west, Himalayas in north

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Kanchenjunga 8,598 m

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

Land use:
arable land: 56%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 4%
forests and woodland: 23%
other: 16% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 480,000 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: droughts, flash floods, severe thunderstorms common; earthquakes

Environment—current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; overgrazing; desertification; air pollution from industrial effluents and vehicle emissions; water pollution from raw sewage and runoff of agricultural pesticides; tap water is not potable throughout the country; huge and rapidly growing population is overstraining natural resources

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography—note: dominates South Asian subcontinent; near important Indian Ocean trade routes


Population: 1,000,848,550 (July 1999 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 34% (male 175,463,726; female 165,722,164)
15-64 years: 61% (male 318,004,920; female 295,245,556)
65 years and over: 5% (male 23,571,270; female 22,840,914) (1999 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.68% (1999 est.)

Birth rate: 25.39 births/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Death rate: 8.5 deaths/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Net migration rate: -0.08 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.03 male(s)/female
total population: 1.07 male(s)/female (1999 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 60.81 deaths/1,000 live births (1999 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 63.4 years
male: 62.54 years
female: 64.29 years (1999 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.18 children born/woman (1999 est.)

noun: Indian(s)
adjective: Indian

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

Religions: Hindu 80%, Muslim 14%, Christian 2.4%, Sikh 2%, Buddhist 0.7%, Jains 0.5%, other 0.4%

Languages: English enjoys associate status but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication, Hindi the national language and primary tongue of 30% of the people, Bengali (official), Telugu (official), Marathi (official), Tamil (official), Urdu (official), Gujarati (official), Malayalam (official), Kannada (official), Oriya (official), Punjabi (official), Assamese (official), Kashmiri (official), Sindhi (official), Sanskrit (official), Hindustani (a popular variant of Hindi/Urdu spoken widely throughout northern India)
note: 24 languages each spoken by a million or more persons; numerous other languages and dialects, for the most part mutually unintelligible

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 52%
male: 65.5%
female: 37.7% (1995 est.)


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of India
conventional short form: India

Data code: IN

Government type: federal republic

Capital: New Delhi

Administrative divisions: 28 states and 7 union territories*; Andaman and Nicobar Islands*, Andhra Pradesh , Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh*, Chattisgarh, Dadra and Nagar Hav eli*, Daman and Diu*, Delhi*, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Lakshadweep*, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtr a, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Pondicherry*, Punjab, Rajastha n, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal

Independence: 15 August 1947 (from UK)

National holiday: Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Republic, 26 January (1950)

Constitution: 26 January 1950

Legal system: based on English common law; limited judicial review of legislative acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Kicheril Raman NARAYANAN (since 25 July 1997); Vice President Krishnan KANT (since 21 August 1997)
head of government: Prime Minister Atal Behari VAJPAYEE (since 19 March 1998)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister
elections: president elected by an electoral college consisting of elected members of both houses of Parliament and the legislatures of the states for a five-year term; election last held 14 July 1997 (next to be held NA July 2002); vice president elected by both houses of Parliament; election last held 16 August 1997 (next to be held NA August 2002); prime minister elected by parliamentary members of the majority party following legislative elections; election last held NA March 1998 (next to be held NA March 2003)
election results: Kicheril Raman NARAYANAN elected president; percent of electoral college vote—NA; Krishnan KANT elected vice president; percent of Parliament vote—NA; Atal Behari VAJPAYEE elected prime minister; percent of vote—NA

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament or Sansad consists of the Council of States or Rajya Sabha (a body consisting of not more than 250 members, up to 12 of which are appointed by the president, the remainder are chosen by the elected members of the state and territorial assemblies; members serve six-year terms) and the People's Assembly or Lok Sabha (545 seats; 543 elected by popular vote, 2 appointed by the president; members serve five-year terms)
elections: People's Assembly—last held 16 February through 7 March 1998 (next to be held NA March 2003)
election results: People's Assembly—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—BJP 178, Congress (I) Party 141, CPI/M 32, SP 20, ADMK 18, RJD 17, Telugu Desam 12, SAP 12, CPI 9, BJD 9, Akali Dal factions 8, Trinamool Congress 7, SHS 6, DMK 6, Janata Dal Party 6, BSP 5, RSP 5, independents and others 44, vacant 8, appointed by the president 2

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judges are appointed by the president and remain in office until they reach the age of 65

Political parties and leaders: Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP [Kushabhau THAKRE, president, L. K. ADVANI, A. B. VAJPAYEE]; Congress (I) Party [Sonia GANDHI, president]; Janata Dal Party [Sharad YADAV, president, I. K. GUJRAL]; Janata Dal (Ajit) [Ajit SINGH]; Rashtriya Janata Dal or RJD [Laloo Prasad YADAV]; Communist Party of India/Marxist or CPI/M [Harkishan Singh SURJEET]; Tamil Maanila Congress [G. K. MOOPANAR]; Dravida Munnetra Kazagham or DMK (a regional party in Tamil Nadu) [M. KARUNANIDHI]; Samajwadi Party or SP [Mulayam Singh YADAV (president), Om Prakash CHAUTALA, Devi LAL]; Telugu Desam (a regional party in Andhra Pradesh) [Chandrababu NAIDU]; Communist Party of India or CPI [Indrajit GUPTA]; Revolutionary Socialist Party or RSP [Tridip CHOWDHURY]; Asom Gana Parishad [Prafulla Kumar MAHANTA]; Congress (Tiwari) [Arjun SINGH and N. D. TIWARI]; All India Forward Bloc or AIFB [Prem Dutta PALIWAL (chairman), Chitta BASU (general secretary)]; Muslim League [G. M. BANATWALA]; Madhya Pradesh Vikas Congress [Madhavro SCINDIA]; Karnataka Congress Party [S. BANGARAPPA]; Shiv Sena or SHS [Bal THACKERAY]; Bahujan Samaj Party or BSP [Kanshi RAM]; Communist Party of India/Marxist-Leninist or CPI/ML [Vinod MISHRA]; Akali Dal factions representing Sikh religious community in the Punjab; National Conference or NC (a regional party in Jammu and Kashmir) [Farooq ABDULLAH]; Bihar Peoples Party [Lovely ANAND]; Samata Party or SAP (formerly Janata Dal members) [George FERNANDES]; Indian National League [Suliaman SAIT]; Kerala Congress (Mani faction) [K. M. MANI]; All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam or ADMK [leader NA]; Biju Janata Dal or BJD [leader NA]; Trinamool Congress [leader NA]

Political pressure groups and leaders: various separatist groups seeking greater communal and/or regional autonomy; numerous religious or militant/chauvinistic organizations, including Adam Sena, Ananda Marg, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

International organization participation: AfDB, AsDB, BIS, C, CCC, CP, ESCAP, FAO, G- 6, G-15, G-19, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA (observer), IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, MIPONUH, MONUA, NAM, OAS (observer), OPCW, PCA, SAARC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNITAR, UNMIBH, UNOMIL, UNOMSIL, UNU, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Naresh CHANDRA
chancery: 2107 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008; note—Embassy located at 2536 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 939-7000
FAX: [1] (202) 483-3972
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, New York, and San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Richard F. CELESTE
embassy: Shanti Path, Chanakyapuri 110021, New Delhi
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [91] (11) 688-9033, 611-3033
FAX: [91] (11) 419-0017
consulate(s) general: Calcutta, Chennai (Madras), Mumbai (Bombay)

Flag description: The flag is a horizontal tricolor in equal proportion of deep saffron (orange) on the top, white in the middle and dark green at the bottom. The ratio of the width to the length of the flag is two is to three. In the centre of the white band, there is a wheel in navy blue to indicate the Dharma Chakra, the wheel of law in the Sarnath Lion Capital. Its diameter approximates the width of the white band and it has 24 spokes. The saffron stands for courage, sacrifice and the spirit of renunciation; the white, for purity and truth; the green for faith and fertility.


Economy—overview: India's economy encompasses traditional village farming, modern agriculture, handicrafts, a wide range of modern industries, and a multitude of support services. 67% of India's labor force work in agriculture, which contributes 25% of the country's GDP. Production, trade, and investment reforms since 1991 have provided new opportunities for Indian businesspersons and an estimated 300 million middle class consumers. New Delhi has avoided debt rescheduling, attracted foreign investment, and revived confidence in India's economic prospects since 1991. Many of the country's fundamentals—including savings rates (26% of GDP) and reserves (now about $30 billion)—are healthy. Even so, the Indian Government needs to restore the early momentum of reform, especially by continuing reductions in the extensive remaining government regulations. India's exports, currency, and foreign institutional investment were affected by the East Asian crisis in late 1997 and 1998; but capital account controls, a low ratio of short-term debt to reserves, and enhanced supervision of the financial sector helped insulate it from near term balance-of-payments problems. Exports fell 5% in 1998 mainly because of the fall in Asian currencies relative to the rupee. Energy, telecommunications, and transportation bottlenecks continue to constrain growth. A series of weak coalition governments have lacked the political strength to push reforms forward to address these and other problems. Indian think tanks project GDP growth of about 4.5% in 1999. Inflation will remain a worrisome problem.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$1.689 trillion (1998 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 5.4% (1998 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$1,720 (1998 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 25%
industry: 30%
services: 45% (1997)

Population below poverty line: 35% (1994 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 4.1%
highest 10%: 25% (1994)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 14% (1998 est.)

Labor force: NA

Labor force—by occupation: agriculture 67%, services 18%, industry 15% (1995 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $42.12 billion
expenditures: $63.79 billion, including capital expenditures of $13.8 billion (FY98/99 budget est.)

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

Industrial production growth rate: 5.5% (1997)

Electricity—production: 404.475 billion kWh (1996)

Electricity—production by source:
fossil fuel: 80.35%
hydro: 17.8%
nuclear: 1.83%
other: 0.02% (1996)

Electricity—consumption: 406.02 billion kWh (1996)

Electricity—exports: 130 million kWh (1996)

Electricity—imports: 1.675 billion kWh (1996)

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

Exports: $32.17 billion (f.o.b., 1998)

Exports—commodities: textile goods, gems and jewelry, engineering goods, chemicals, leather manufactures

Exports—partners: US 19%, Hong Kong 6%, UK 6%, Japan 6%, Germany 5% (1997)

Imports: $41.34 billion (c.i.f., 1998)

Imports—commodities: crude oil and petroleum products, machinery, gems, fertilizer, chemicals

Imports—partners: US 10%, Belgium 7%, UK 7%, Germany 7%, Saudi Arabia 6%, Japan 6% (1997)

Debt—external: $93 billion (1998)

Economic aid—recipient: $1.604 billion (1995)

Currency: 1 Indian rupee (Re) = 100 paise

Exchange rates: Indian rupees (Rs) per US$1—42.508 (January 1999), 41.259 (1998), 36.313 (1997), 35.433 (1996), 32.427 (1995), 31.374 (1994)

Fiscal year: 1 April—31 March


Telephones: 12 million (1996)

Telephone system: mediocre; local and long distance service provided throughout all regions of the country, with services primarily concentrated in the urban areas; major objective is to continue to expand and modernize long-distance network in order to keep pace with rapidly growing number of local subscriber lines; steady improvement is taking place with the recent admission of private and private-public investors, but demand for communication services is also growing rapidly
domestic: local service is provided by microwave radio relay and coaxial cable, with open wire and obsolete electromechanical and manual switchboard systems still in use in rural areas; starting in the 1980s, a substantial amount of digital switch gear has been introduced for local- and long-distance service; long-distance traffic is carried mostly by coaxial cable and low-capacity microwave radio relay; since 1985, however, significant trunk capacity has been added in the form of fiber-optic cable and a domestic satellite system with 254 earth stations; cellular telephone service in four metropolitan cities
international: satellite earth stations—8 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) and 1 Inmarsat (Indian Ocean Region); four gateway exchanges operating from Mumbai, New Delhi, Calcutta, and Chennai; submarine cables to Malaysia, UAE, Singapore, and Japan

Radio broadcast stations: AM 153, FM 91, shortwave 62 (1998 est.)

Radios: 111 million (1998 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 562 (82 stations have 1 kW or greater power and 480 stations have less than 1 kW of power) (1997)

Televisions: 50 million (1999 est.)


total: 62,915 km (12,307 km electrified; 12,617 km double track)
broad gauge: 40,620 km 1.676-m gauge
narrow gauge: 18,501 km 1.000-m gauge; 3,794 km 0.762-m and 0.610-m gauge (1998 est.)

total: 3,319,644 km
paved: 1,517,077 km
unpaved: 1,802,567 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: 16,180 km; 3,631 km navigable by large vessels

Pipelines: crude oil 3,005 km; petroleum products 2,687 km; natural gas 1,700 km (1995)

Ports and harbors: Calcutta, Chennai (Madras), Cochin, Jawaharal Nehru, Kandla, Mumbai (Bombay), Vishakhapatnam

Merchant marine:
total: 311 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 6,627,497 GRT/11,038,723 DWT
ships by type: bulk 126, cargo 63, chemical tanker 11, combination bulk 2, combination ore/oil 3, container 12, liquefied gas tanker 10, oil tanker 76, passenger-cargo 5, short-sea passenger 1, specialized tanker 2 (1998 est.)

Airports: 341 (1998 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 230
over 3,047 m: 11
2,438 to 3,047 m: 48
1,524 to 2,437 m: 82
914 to 1,523 m: 70
under 914 m: 19 (1998 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 111
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 50
under 914 m: 51 (1998 est.)

Heliports: 17 (1998 est.)


Military branches: Army, Navy (including naval air arm), Air Force, various security or paramilitary forces (includes Border Security Force, Assam Rifles, and Rashtriya Rifles)

Military manpower—military age: 17 years of age

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 269,339,985 (1999 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 158,141,508 (1999 est.)

Military manpower—reaching military age annually:
males: 10,661,786 (1999 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $10.012 billion (FY98/99)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 2.7% (FY98/99)

Transnational Issues

Disputes—international: boundary with China in dispute; status of Kashmir with Pakistan; water-sharing problems with Pakistan over the Indus River (Wular Barrage); a portion of the boundary with Bangladesh is indefinite; dispute with Bangladesh over New Moore/South Talpatty Island

Illicit drugs: world's largest producer of licit opium for the pharmaceutical trade, but an undetermined quantity of opium is diverted to illicit international drug markets; major transit country for illicit narcotics produced in neighboring countries; illicit producer of hashish and methaqualone; cultivated 2,050 hectares of illicit opium in 1997, a 34% decrease from 1996, with a potential production of 30 metric tons, a 36% decrease from 1996



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