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भारत गणराज्य (Hindi)
Republic of India (English)

Bharat Ganarajya (Hindi)
Republic of India
Flag of india
Coat of arms of india
flag emblem
Motto : सत्यमेव जयते Satyameva Jayate
Sanskrit : "Only the truth wins"
Official language Hindi and English
(official languages ​​of the Union)
22 other officially recognized languages ​​serve partly as official languages ​​at regional level.
Capital New Delhi
State and form of government parliamentary federal republic
Head of state President
Ram Nath Kovind
Head of government Prime Minister
Narendra Modi
surface 3,287,263 ( 7th ) km²
population 1,380,004,000 ( 2nd ) (2020)
Population density 407 ( 18th ) inhabitants per km²
Population development   +1.14% (2018) per year
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 2.59 trillion ( 5. )
  • $ 8.68 trillion ( 3. )
  • 1,876 USD ( 146. )
  • 6,283 USD ( 131. )
Human Development Index 0.645 ( 131st ) (2019)
currency Indian rupee (INR)
independence August 15, 1947
(from the United Kingdom )
National anthem Jana Gana Mana
National holiday January 26 ( Republic Day )
August 15 ( Independence Day )
October 2 ( Gandhi Jayanti )
Time zone UTC + 5: 30
License Plate IND
ISO 3166 IN , IND, 356
Internet TLD .in
Phone code +91
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Physical-political map of India
Physical-political map of India
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India (pronunciation [ ˈɪndi̯ən ]) is a state in South Asia that comprises most of the Indian subcontinent . India is a federal republic that is formed by 28 federal states and also includes eight federal territories . The proper name of the republic is in the two nationally valid official languages Bharat Ganarajya ( Hindi ) and Republic of India ( English ). The modern democratic and secular Indian republic has existed since 1949, and the constitution of India has been in force since 1950 .

The Himalaya forms the natural northern border of India, in the south the Indian Ocean encloses the national territory. India borders with Pakistan , the Chinese Autonomous Region of Tibet , Nepal , Bhutan , Myanmar, and Bangladesh . Other neighboring states in the Indian Ocean are Sri Lanka and the Maldives . In terms of land area, India is the seventh largest country in the world .

The area of ​​India has been civilized at least since the Bronze Age Indus civilization . With over 1.393 billion inhabitants (May 2020), the Indian state is the second most populous country in the world after the People's Republic of China (1.4 billion at the end of 2018) and thus the most populous democracy in the world. If population growth remains high , India could overtake China as early as 2022. However, due to ongoing modernization, education , prosperity and urbanization , the birth rate has been falling since the early 1980s. The capital of India is New Delhi , part of the metropolis Delhi ; other metropolitan areas are Mumbai , Calcutta , Chennai , Bengaluru , Hyderabad , Ahmedabad and Pune .

Despite constitutional freedom of religion, Indian society is determined by the religious hierarchical caste system . By far the largest religious group are the Hindus , followed by Muslims , Christians and the Sikhs , Buddhists and Jaina from India . According to the Human Development Index (HDI), India achieved the status of " medium human development " and was ranked 129 out of 189 worldwide in 2019 (compared to the PRC at 85). In economic terms , India is an emerging country and is one of the O5 and BRICS countries and the group of the twenty most important industrial and emerging countries (G20). Despite its low per capita income, India is the third largest or fifth largest economic power in the world (adjusted for purchasing power or nominal) and in 2015 it was the fastest growing economy in the G20 group for the first time.

origin of the name

The name India is derived from the Indus river . Its name goes back to the Sanskrit word sindhu , which means "river", through the mediation of ancient Greek (Indos) and ancient Persian (Hinduš) . The European sailors referred to all of South and Southeast Asia as India. Terms such as island India (" Insulinde ") and the state name Indonesia are evidence of this . The name East Indies was also used to distinguish it from the Caribbean islands known as the West Indies , which Christopher Columbus discovered while looking for the sea route to India. During the colonial period , the name was gradually reduced to the present-day areas of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh , in order to finally take on its current meaning when the Indian state was founded.

The name Hindu and the name of the language Hindi are also derived from the Persian form Hind or Hindustan . The official name of India in most national languages ​​(e.g. Hindi Bhārat ) comes from the Sanskrit name Bhārata , which means "(land) of Bharata " and refers to a mythical ruler.

Geography and national nature

Landscape structure

Topographic map of India
The Kangchenjunga , at 8,586 m India's highest mountain
Thar Desert in Rajasthan
In the backwaters of Kerala

With 3,287,490 square kilometers, India is the seventh largest country in the world. It extends in a west-east direction from the 68th to the 97th degree of longitude to the east for around 3000 kilometers. From north to south, between the 8th and 37th degrees north, the extension is around 3200 kilometers. India borders with six states: Pakistan (2,912 kilometers), China ( Tibet Autonomous Region ; 3,380 kilometers), Nepal (1,690 kilometers), Bhutan (605 kilometers), Myanmar (1,463 kilometers) and Bangladesh (4,053 kilometers). Overall, the limit length is thus 14,103 kilometers. Since the northern part of the disputed Kashmir has been under Pakistani control since 1949 (ceasefire after the Kashmir conflict ), India no longer has a common border with Afghanistan . The country's coast is around 7,000 kilometers long.

The natural border in the north and northeast forms the Himalaya , the highest mountain range in the world, which is separated in the far northwest by the high valley of the Indus from the Karakoram and the Ladakh range in front of it. To the south of the Himalayas are the broad, fertile river plains of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers . In the west, the river country of the Ganges merges into the Thar desert , which is bordered by the Aravalli Mountains in the east and south . To the south of it lie the marshes of the Rann von Kachchh and the Kathiawar peninsula . Northeast India, including the Brahmaputra plain, is only connected by a narrow corridor between Bangladesh and Nepal or Bhutan with the rest of the country. The north-east region is shielded by the Patkai or Purvachal mountains of Myanmar, which are up to 3800 meters high, and the almost 2000 meters high Khasi mountains of Bangladesh.

The highlands of Dekkan occupy most of the Indian peninsula, which protrudes into the Indian Ocean in a wedge shape. The Vindhya and Satpura mountains shield the Deccan from the Ganges plain in the north. In the west it is bordered by the Western Ghats , which are up to 2,700 meters high , and in the east by the flatter Eastern Ghats . Both mountain ranges meet in the south, where the peninsula tapers to Cape Komorin . The Western Ghats drop steeply to the Konkan and Malabar coasts along the Arabian Sea . The Eastern Ghats merge into the wider eastern coastal plains on the Bay of Bengal .

With India also has three of the Indian subcontinent offshore island groups . About 300 kilometers west of the Malabar coast are the coral atolls of Lakshadweep , which includes the archipelagos of the Laccadives and Amindives as well as the island of Minicoy . To the southeast of the peninsula, between 1,000 and 1,600 kilometers from the Indian mainland, stretch the Andaman and Nicobar Islands , which also mark the eastern border of the Bay of Bengal.

The highest point in India is the mountain Kangchenjunga with a height of 8,586 meters. It is located in the far west of Sikkim ; The border with Nepal runs over it . The highest mountain lying completely on Indian territory is the Nanda Devi with 7822 meters. Before the then Kingdom of Sikkim joined the Indian Union in 1975, this was also the highest mountain in India. The lowest point is the Kuttanad Depression on the Malabar Coast, two meters below sea level .

rivers and lakes

Major rivers in India

All major rivers in India originate in one of the three main watersheds of the subcontinent: in the Himalayas, in the central Indian Vindhya and Satpura mountains or in the Western Ghats.

India's longest and most important river is the Ganges (Ganga), which has its source in the Himalayas. Its longest tributaries are the Yamuna and the Gomti ; the Chambal is a tributary of the Yamuna. The Brahmaputra , whose upper reaches separate the Himalayas from the Transhimalayas and which flows through the country in the northeast, unites with the Ganges and forms a huge delta in front of the confluence with the Bay of Bengal . India in the west has a share in this; The majority of the Ganges Delta lies on the territory of the neighboring state of Bangladesh. Almost a third of the area of ​​India belongs to the catchment area of ​​the Ganges and Brahmaputra.

In the extreme north, the Indus crosses the Union territory of Ladakh in a south-east-north-west direction .

The Dekkan highlands are drained by several major rivers. The Narmada and Tapti flow into the Arabian Sea, while Godavari , Krishna , Mahanadi and Kaveri flow into the Bay of Bengal.

Despite its size, India has few large natural lakes. For the purpose of irrigation and electricity generation , some huge reservoirs were built across the country . The largest are the Hirakud Reservoir (746 square kilometers) in Odisha , the Gandhi Reservoir (648 square kilometers) in Madhya Pradesh and the Govind-Ballabh-Pant Reservoir (465 square kilometers) on the border between Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh .


Displacement of the Indian plate

The theory of continental drift states that India was part of the southern continent of Gondwana until the end of the Jurassic . In the Cretaceous it tore off the continental clod of Antarctica and drifted across the entire Tethys Ocean towards the south of the Eurasian plate in an extremely short 50 million years . The meeting of the two continents took place an estimated 43 to 64 million years ago at the beginning of the Paleogene . In the resulting joint “crumple zone” of these crustal movements , the Himalayas and neighboring mountain systems were postponed ( unfolding of the former continental margins) and the highlands of Tibet were raised.

Although individual parts of the crust have now welded together, the Indian plate is still moving north today, so that the Himalayas rise by a few millimeters every year - as do other folded mountain ranges on earth, of which it is one of the youngest. The river plains in front of it were created by sediment deposits in the Pleistocene . The rock formations of the Dekkan are more diverse . Most of the Proterozoic formations in the south and east, the volcanic Dekkan-Trapp in the west and north-west , formed in the Cretaceous period, and unformed cratons in the north-east and north, which are among the oldest parts of the earth's crust .

Natural disasters

India is repeatedly hit by various natural disasters, particularly floods that can occur throughout the country during the summer monsoon due to extreme amounts of rainfall. On the other hand, droughts often occur during the dry season or when there are no monsoons . Also cyclones and consequent tidal waves, especially on the east coast, often cost many lives and wreak havoc. There is also an increased risk of earthquakes in some areas , namely in the Himalayas , the northeastern states , western Gujarat and the region around Mumbai . On December 26, 2004, a seaquake in the Indian Ocean caused a devastating tsunami that claimed 7793 lives and wreaked havoc on the east coast and on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands .


Annual rainfall in India

Except mountain regions prevails in northern and central India mainly subtropical continental climate in the south and in coastal areas, however, a more maritime embossed tropical climate. In the north, for example, there are sometimes considerable temperature fluctuations over the course of the year. In the northern lowlands the temperature is 10 to 15 ° C in December and January; in the hottest period between April and June, maximum temperatures of 40 to over 50 ° C are possible. In the south, on the other hand, it is hot all year round (relatively constant).

The amount of rainfall throughout the country is significantly influenced by the Indian monsoon . The southwest or summer monsoon sets in in most parts of the country in June and brings heavy rainfall until September or October, depending on the region. Due to the very different topography , the distribution of precipitation is extremely uneven. The heaviest downpours are on the west coast, in the Western Ghats , on the slopes of the Himalayas and in northeast India . It is driest in the Thar . The northeast or winter monsoon winds coming from Central Asia between October and June hardly bring any moisture, so in most areas 80 to over 90% of the total annual rainfall falls during the summer months. Only the southeast receives rain even during the northeast monsoon as the air currents over the Bay of Bengal absorb moisture.


Leaves and fruits of the teak tree

According to the size of the country and the different climatic conditions in the individual parts of the country, India has a great variety of landscapes. The flora of India ranges from high mountain vegetation in the Himalayas to tropical rainforests in the south. Large parts of the original vegetation cover have been destroyed today; instead, India is predominantly characterized by cultural landscapes. Only about a fifth of the country is still forested, although official information on this varies and also includes degraded areas and open forests . For 2015, a forest area of ​​701,700 km² is given: 21.3% of the country's area (3,287,300 km²). In 2001 the values ​​were still 768,400 km² and 23.4% - in 14 years India's forest area shrank by 9.5%.

In the lower elevations of the Himalayas there are still extensive forests. Since the precipitation on the slopes of the mountains decreases from east to west, there are evergreen subtropical and temperate wet and rainforests in the eastern Himalayas , which become lighter and drier towards the west. Deciduous forests with oaks and chestnuts predominate; Rhododendrons are characteristic of the Eastern Himalayas . At higher altitudes dominate coniferous trees , particularly cedar and pine . The steppe and desert-like high valleys in Ladakh and other parts of the western Inner Himalayas merge into the dry highlands of Tibet. The vegetation limit is around 5000 meters.

The north-east, which is difficult to access, is partly still densely forested. Semi- evergreen wet forests there enable particularly high amounts of precipitation .

By far the largest part of the Ganges plain , the Dekkan and the adjoining mountain ranges were formerly covered by monsoon forests; today there are only remnants of it, mostly in mountain regions. In contrast, the plains, which are used intensively for agriculture, are practically free of forests. Monsoon forests shed foliage during dry periods. Depending on the amount of precipitation and the length of the dry period, a distinction is made between wet and dry forests . Forests that receive between 1500 and 2000 millimeters of annual precipitation are usually referred to as deciduous wet forests. They predominate in the northeastern Deccan, Odisha and West Bengal as well as in the lee of the Western Ghats . With precipitation between 1000 and 1500 millimeters per year one speaks of deciduous dry forests; these dominate in India. Because of the thinner tree tops, monsoon forests have dense undergrowth . The characteristic tree species of the north is the Sal (Shorea robusta), in the central and western Deccan highlands it is the teak tree (Tectona grandis) and the south of the peninsula is characterized by sandalwood trees (Santalum album). Bamboo species are widespread.

In the drier parts of India, such as Rajasthan , Gujarat , the western edge of the Ganga lowlands or the central Deccan, the especially medicinal, endemic neem trees grow . In the arid climate, open thorn forests have developed, which in the Thar desert change into semi-desert vegetation with isolated thorn bushes.

In the humid Western Ghats there are still relatively large contiguous parts of the original, evergreen or semi-evergreen wet forests. They are characterized by the floor structure typical of tropical rainforests . Some of the tall tree species on the top floor shed their leaves depending on the season, while the species below are evergreen. Epiphytes such as orchids and ferns come in great variety.

Mangroves , saltwater-resistant tidal forests , are only common on the east coast of India. The Sundarbans in the Ganges- Brahmaputra Delta have the densest mangrove populations in the country. Further tidal forests are found in the mouth deltas of Mahanadi , Godavari and Krishna .


A king or Bengal tiger in Kanha National Park , India's "national
animal "

Thanks to the diversity of its landscape, there is an extremely diverse fauna to be found in India. It is estimated that around 350 mammals , 1200 birds , 400 reptiles and 200 amphibians are native to the area. However, many species only occur in retreat areas such as forests, swamps, mountain and hill countries. In addition, more than 2500 species of fish live in Indian waters .

India's largest species of mammal is the Indian elephant , which is probably best known alongside the Bengal tiger . The tiger was threatened with extinction for a long time, but the establishment of tiger protection areas allowed the populations to recover. Yet there are only a few thousand specimens in the wild. In addition to the tiger, there are other big cats living in India, including leopards and lions . The latter can only be found in the Gir National Park in Gujarat , the last refuge of the Asiatic lion. The rare snow leopard lives in the high mountain regions of the Himalayas . The best known and most widespread of the smaller carnivores is the mongoose .

The Indian rhinoceros only live in swamp and jungle areas in Assam , especially in the Kaziranga National Park .

In contrast, artifacts are widespread . These include wild boar , barking deer , sambars , spotted deer , hog deer , Barasinghas , water buffalo , gaur and several antelope species .

The equine species are represented by the kiang in the Himalayas and the khur, a subspecies of the Asiatic donkey , in the semi-desert of Gujarat.

Even monkeys are common in India. Rhesus monkeys are sacred to Hindus , are not allowed to be molested and have therefore even spread in cities. In the south of the country it is being replaced by the somewhat smaller Indian hat monkey . The Hanuman Langurs, which are widespread throughout India, are also considered sacred. There are also other species of langur and macaques .

Some Indian half donkeys still live in the arid regions of the northwest, mainly in the Dhrangadhra game reserve in the Kleiner Rann of Kachchh . In contrast, tropical rainforest species such as white-browed gibbons and clouded leopards live in the humid east of the country . Further noteworthy mammals are the Dhole , striped hyenas , Bengalfüchse which inhabit mainly grasslands and dense forests preferring sloth bears . The Ganges dolphin is occasionally found in the Ganges , Brahmaputra and their tributaries .

India's bird world is extremely diverse with over 1200 indigenous species - more than in all of Europe. In addition, there are countless migratory birds from North Asia in winter . The peacock is considered the national bird and is widespread. Also are often pigeons , crows , weaver birds , woodpeckers , Pittas , Drongos , parakeets , sunbirds and Orioles . Storks , herons , cranes , ibises and kingfishers live in wetlands . Among the birds of prey , the Dirt and Bengal vultures were the most common. While the latter was still ubiquitous in the 1980s, it has been inadvertently almost completely wiped out by a veterinary drug along with two closely related species.

Around half of all reptile species native to India are snakes such as the spectacled snake , the king cobra and the tiger python . Marsh crocodiles can also be found in wetlands . The shy, fish-eating gharial is very rare . A special feature is the occurrence of chameleons in southern India and Sri Lanka, which are otherwise absent in South Asia.

Nature and environmental protection

Growing traffic contributes to air pollution in large cities

With a very large variety of species and biodiversity (especially in a narrow strip on the humid tropical southwest coast), an extremely large number of endemic species, genera and families of plants and animals as well as diverse ecosystems , India is counted among the megadiversity countries on earth. In addition, due to the high risk situation, the rainforests of the Western Ghats are listed as a biodiversity hotspot .

India has extensive environmental protection legislation, but in many cases it is poorly implemented. Almost 5% of the country's area are designated as nature reserves , the number of which amounts to almost 600, including 92 national parks .

Water scarcity is one of India's major environmental problems. Dams and artificial irrigation systems are intended to ensure the water supply in dry areas. Excessive irrigation is one of the main reasons for the falling water table in many places ; In addition, an estimated 60% of the agricultural land is affected by soil erosion , salinization or waterlogging . In addition, there is deforestation, excessive irrigation and fertilization. The water supply situation for many households in rural areas has improved since the early 1980s; nevertheless, only a few households have sewage disposal. Polluted and contaminated water is a major contributor to the development and spread of infectious diseases ; only 16% of India's residents have access to sanitation. NGOs like the Water Literacy Foundation and government agencies like the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation are trying to improve the situation.

The air pollution is very high, especially in the major Indian cities. Factories, small industry, power plants (including numerous coal-fired power plants ), traffic and private households emit numerous air pollutants , including large amounts of fine dust . According to a study by the World Health Organization , Delhi was the dirtiest city in the world in terms of air quality in 2014. Calcutta was the first city to open a metro network in 1984, and Delhi followed in 2002 . Mumbai and Chennai have a comparatively well-developed train network. Trucks, buses, over 5,000 diesel locomotives , auto rickshaws , private cars, motorcycles and mopeds all contribute to air pollution. The number of cars per 1000 inhabitants is considered to be very low. The CO 2 emissions have increased sharply in the past; The causes were, among other things, population growth , advancing industrialization and increasing traffic. In 2015 India was considered the country with the third largest greenhouse gas emissions worldwide; it emitted 1.6 tons per capita. India signed the Paris Agreement on October 2, 2016 .

The inadequate technical systems in factories often lead to impairments or avoidable emissions. In 1984, in Bhopal , the pesticide factory of the American Union Carbide (UCC) emitted highly toxic gases ( Bhopal disaster ). Within days, 7,000 people died, 15,000 more died of long-term effects, and thousands suffered chronic health problems.

Protected areas

In March 2019 there were a total of 868 protected areas in nature and landscape protection (PA: Protected Areas ) across India, with a share of 5% of India's total geographic area of ​​3,287,000 square kilometers (including the parts of Kashmir administered by India ) - an increase of 11,000 km² or 0.35% since 2009:

Protected areas 2019 2009 surface 2009 0proportion of0 2009
National parks in India 104 99 40,501 km² 39,442 km² 1.23% 1.20%
Game reserves 550 512 119,776 km² 113,395 km² 3.64% 3.45%
Conservation Reserves 87 45 4,286 km² 1,260 km² 0.13% 0.04%
Community reserves 127 5 525 km² 21 km² 0.02% <0.01%
Protected Areas (PAs) 868 661 0165,088 km² 154,118 km² 5.02% 4.67%


Prehistory and Classical Age

The rustproof iron column in Delhi is ascribed to the Gupta period

The Indus Valley civilization , mostly located in present-day Pakistan , was one of the early advanced cultures in the world, with its own script, the as yet undeciphered Indus script . Around 2500 BC There were planned cities like Harappa , with a sewer system , seaports and baths, while it is believed that conditions in southern India were even less developed. Further to the east, other archaeological complexes are noticeable, such as the so-called copper hoard culture . From 1700 BC For reasons unknown until now, the Indus civilization began to decay.

A very important period for the further development of India was the Vedic period (around 1500 to 500 BC), during which the foundations of today's culture were created. Far less is known about political developments than about religious and philosophical developments. Towards the end of the Vedic period, the Upanishads were created, which in many ways form the basis of the religions Hinduism , Buddhism and Jainism , which originated in India . During this time, urbanization in the Ganges plain and the rise of regional kingdoms such as Magadha fall .

From the 6th century BC Buddhism developed, which for around 500 years, alongside Hinduism, was the main intellectual movement in India. In the 4th century BC With the Maurya Empire , a major Indian empire emerged for the first time in BC , which under Ashoka ruled almost the entire subcontinent. After numerous campaigns of conquest, Ashoka turned to Buddhism, which he sought to spread in his own country and as far as Sri Lanka , Southeast Asia and the Middle East . In the 3rd century BC The Prakrit literature and the Tamil Sangam literature flourished in southern India. During this time, the three Tamil dynasties Chola , Pandya and Chera ruled southern India . After the death of Ashoka, the Maurya empire gradually split up again into countless small states, which could not be reunited by the Gupta again into a large empire in northern India until the 4th century AD , their empire in the early 6th century also as a result of the attacks the Hunas went down. With Buddhism, India exerted a significant cultural influence on the entire area of ​​Central and East Asia. The spread of Hinduism and Buddhism via Indochina to what is now Indonesia shaped the history and culture of these countries. The last great patron of Buddhism in India is Harshavardhana , whose rule in northern India in the 7th century marked the transition to the Indian Middle Ages.

Indian Middle Ages and Mughal times

The Taj Mahal was by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal built

Arab conquests in the 8th century brought Islam to northwest India. When the Arabs tried to advance into Gujarat and beyond, they were defeated by the Indian King Vikramaditya II of the Western Chalukya dynasty. From the 8th century to the 10th century, the three dynasties Rashtrakuta , Pala and Pratihara ruled over a large part of India and fought among themselves for supremacy in northern India. In southern India, the Chola and Chalukya dynasties ruled from the 10th century to the 12th century. However, the dominance of Muslim states in the north and the Islamization of larger parts of the population there did not occur until the invasions of Central Asian Islamic powers from the 12th century onwards. The Sultanate of Delhi even briefly expanded its power to the south, but its cultural influence remained limited to the north. The Mongol invasion of 1398 weakened the sultanate, so that the Hindu regional empires strengthened again. The Muslim rulers were only able to recover in the 16th century with the establishment of the Mughal Empire , which became the determining force in the north for around 200 years and which lasted until 1857. Outstanding rulers such as Akbar I , Jahangir , Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb not only extended the borders of the empire to the Deccan , but also created a functioning administration and state and promoted the arts. The philosophical education was also high and came from the competing schools in Delhi and Lucknow . While Delhi particularly called for a return to the early Islamic teachings, logic, law and philosophy, especially Aristotelianism , were taught in Lucknow . Hindu kingdoms only existed in southern India during their time, for example in Vijayanagar . In the late 17th century the Hindu Maratha Empire was founded, which overran the Mughal Empire in the 18th century and conquered a large part of northern India. Weakened by the attacks of the Marathas, the empire was considerably destabilized after Aurangzeb's death. The decline in internal security and the poor networking between the center and the provinces resulted in political decentralization , which in turn went hand in hand with economic reorientation. Regional markets were strengthened and a new social group of successful traders emerged. It also shaped India intellectually: the call for social equality became loud. They maintained close contact with Europe and stood in stark contrast to the hierarchical-elitist herbaristocracy of the country. Thus, the 18th century in India became a time of upheaval, in which regional rulers, European trading powers and the weakened Mughal vied for supremacy over the country.

European colonial rule and independence movement

The Secundra Bagh near
Lucknow , which was stormed by the British during the Sepoy uprising , photo by Felice Beato , March 1858

After Vasco da Gama had discovered the sea ​​route to India in 1498 and thus the lucrative Indian trade became accessible to Europeans, Portugal began to conquer or build smaller coastal bases to control the trade routes from 1505 (cf. Portuguese-India ). In the 17th century, other European powers also got involved in India, of which the British were able to prevail in the end. From 1756 to the subdued British East India Company (British East India Company) from their bases Harbor Calcutta (now Kolkata), Madras (now Chennai) and Bombay (now Mumbai) in large parts of India. The pre-existing influence of the European colonial powers Portugal, Netherlands and France was largely eliminated by it. Loyal princes retained states with limited sovereignty such as Hyderabad , Bhopal , Mysore or Kashmir . In 1857/58 parts of the population of northern India rose up against the rule of the East India Company in the Sepoy revolt . After the uprising was put down, it was dissolved and India was placed under direct control of Great Britain . From 1877 (until 1947) the British monarchs also carried the title Empress of India or Emperor of India ( Kaiser (in) von India ).

British India colonial flag

In 1885 the Indian National Congress (Congress Party) was founded in Bombay . At first he did not demand the independence of India, but only more political say for the local population. Its members were predominantly Hindus and Parsees . The Muslim upper class kept their distance, as their spokesman Sayyid Ahmad Khan feared that the introduction of the majority principle would force them out of the administration. Instead, the Muslim League was founded in 1906 to represent the interests of Muslims.

The broadest possible division of politics into religious groups was mainly due to the fact that in the 19th and 20th centuries, uniform religions (Hinduism, Islam, ...) with specific content and fixed boundaries developed out of different faith communities with flowing transitions. In the search for a unifying idea in a colony with many different peoples, faith offered itself as a connecting (always existing) authority. Nevertheless, there was not only religious nationalism, and this too could be very different in its claim to absoluteness.

Nonviolent Resistance: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on the 1930 Salt March

During the First World War , the vast majority of the population behaved loyally. Annoyed that the British were involved in the division of the Ottoman Empire , many Muslims now joined the independence movement.

In the Second World War , India took part on the side of Great Britain with an initially 200,000-strong volunteer army, which grew to over two million soldiers in the course of the war. At the end of the war, more than 24,000 Indian soldiers had died, over 11,000 were missing and two million people had starved to death (see Bengal Famine in 1943 ). On the other hand, there were also efforts, especially driven by Subhash Chandra Bose , to fight for the freedom of India with an Indian volunteer army in alliance with the Axis powers against the British colonial power.

The non-violent resistance to British colonial rule , especially under Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru , led to independence in 1947. At the same time, the colonial power decreed the division of the colony of British India , which encompasses almost the entire Indian subcontinent, into two states , the secular Indian Union and the smaller Islamic Republic of Pakistan . The British thus fulfilled the demands of the Muslim League and its leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah, which had been growing louder since the 1930s, for a separate nation-state with a Muslim majority.

Developments since independence

The division led to one of the largest displacement and flight movements in history. About 10 million Hindus and Sikhs have been displaced from Pakistan and about 7 million Muslims from India. 750,000 to a million people were killed.

The princely states bound to the British by protection treaties had already declared their accession to the Indian Union before independence. Only two stood seriously in the way of the integration process of the principalities. The Muslim ruler of the almost exclusively Hindu Hyderabad was brought down by an invasion of Indian troops. In Kashmir , the Maharajah , himself a Hindu with a predominantly Muslim population, delayed his decision. After Muslim fighters invaded his country, he finally decided to join India, which then occupied most of the former principality. Pakistan viewed accession as illegal, which led to the First Indo-Pakistani War for Kashmir (1947-1949). Since then, the Kashmir conflict has been simmering in the border region , which also resulted in the Second Indo-Pakistani War in 1965 and the Kargil War in 1999 .

On November 26, 1949, India joined the Commonwealth of Nations and on January 26, 1950, the constitution drawn up mainly by Bhimrao Ambedkar , through which India became a republic, came into force. In 1962, border disputes led to a brief war with the People's Republic of China, the so-called Indo-Chinese Border War . Indian support for an independence movement in what was then East Pakistan led to a third war between India and Pakistan in 1971, with the subsequent partition of Pakistan and the founding of the new, also Islamic state of Bangladesh .

Even after the States Reorganization Act of 1956, discussions about the territorial reorganization of the states continued. The map shows the newly established states between
1960 and 2014 : 1962: Nagaland , separation from Assam 1966: Haryana , separation from Punjab and small parts of Himachal Pradesh 1971: Himachal Pradesh , from a union territory 1972: Meghalaya , separation from Assam 1972: Tripura , from a union territory 1972: Manipur , from a union territory 1975: Sikkim , previously Indian protectorate 1975: Arunachal Pradesh , from a union territory 1987: Mizoram , from a union territory (until 1971 to Assam) 1987: Goa , from a union territory 2000: Chhattisgarh , separation from Madhya Pradesh 2000: Jharkhand , separation from Bihar 2000: Uttarakhand , separation from Uttar Pradesh 2014: Telangana , separation from Andhra Pradesh

Indira Gandhi with US President Richard Nixon (1971)

Domestically, under Jawaharlal Nehru , Prime Minister 1947 to 1964, and then until the beginning of the 1970s, the Congress Party decided to consider the young, independent democracy. At best, opposition parties could exert their influence at the state or local level. Only when Nehru's daughter Indira Gandhi , who became Prime Minister in 1966, centralized the party and tried to expand her own position of power, did the opposition succeed in forming at the federal level. A court in Allahabad found Gandhi guilty of some irregularities in the 1971 elections in 1975 . Instead of following the demands of her political opponents to resign, she declared a state of emergency and ruled by decree until 1977. Basic democratic rights such as freedom of the press and freedom of assembly were severely restricted. The growing dissatisfaction of the population with the de facto dictatorial regime was expressed in 1977 in a clear electoral defeat by Indira Gandhi . For the first time between 1977 and 1979, the government of India was not the congress party, but a coalition led by the Janata Party .

In the 1980 elections , Indira Gandhi managed to return to power. During her second term of office, the conflict in Punjab came to a head , where Sikhist separatists were calling for a state of their own. When militant Sikhs holed up in the Golden Temple in Amritsar , Indira Gandhi ordered Operation Blue Star in 1984 . Indian troops stormed the temple and ended its occupation. Thereupon bloody riots broke out, culminating in the murder of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Her son Rajiv Gandhi took over the government, but was not able to effectively implement the reform projects he had planned. A bribery scandal in connection with the Swedish armaments company Bofors damaged his reputation to such an extent that the opposition won a clear victory over Gandhi's congress party in 1989 . After a two-year hiatus, however, she came back to power from 1991 to 1996. The government of PV Narasimha Rao initiated the economic opening and foreign policy reorientation of the country, which had been socialist since Nehru. The reform program included the privatization of state-owned companies, the lifting of trade restrictions, the removal of bureaucratic investment barriers and tax cuts. The economic reforms were continued by later governments.

Hindu nationalism has seen a significant upswing since the 1980s . The dispute over the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya ( Uttar Pradesh ), which was built in place of an important Hindu temple, developed into one of the decisive domestic political issues. In 1992, Hindu extremists destroyed the Muslim house of worship, which led to serious riots in large parts of the country. The political arm of the Hindu nationalists, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led a government coalition between 1998 and 2004 and provided the head of government with Atal Bihari Vajpayee . In 2004, however, she was surprisingly defeated by the newly established Congress Party under Sonia Gandhi . The widow of Rajiv Gandhi, who was murdered during the election campaign in 1991, resigned from the office of Prime Minister after protests by the opposition because of her Italian descent. Instead, Manmohan Singh took over this position, who as Minister of Finance under Rao had played a key role in shaping the economic liberalization of India. In the 2009 election , the Congress party was able to increase its majority and Singh remained Prime Minister until 2014. In the 2014 election , the opposition BJP achieved a landslide victory and its top candidate Narendra Modi was elected Prime Minister.

Today India's fundamental problems, despite the significant economic upswing, are still widespread poverty and severe overpopulation , increasing environmental pollution and ethnic and religious conflicts between Hindus and Muslims . In addition, there is the ongoing dispute with Pakistan over the Kashmir region . The Indian-Pakistani conflict is particularly explosive due to the fact that both states are nuclear powers . India first carried out a nuclear weapon test in 1974 . Pakistan responded to further nuclear weapon tests in 1998 with its own nuclear weapons tests.

In recent years there has been a rapprochement between India and Pakistan. Prisoner exchanges took place and connections were opened in the Kashmir region.

Terrorism and Ethnic Conflict

Since 1986, various groups in the predominantly Muslim Kashmir have been using violent means to fight for the independence of their region or to join Pakistan ( Kashmir conflict ). There are repeated attacks in the region on institutions of the Indian state, for example in October 2001 on the regional parliament of Jammu and Kashmir in Srinagar , on the armed forces stationed in Kashmir or against Hindu villagers and pilgrims.

However, not only in Kashmir, but also in other parts of India, there have been repeated terrorist attacks attributed to Kashmiri separatists or Islamist terrorist organizations such as Lashkar-e Taiba . The worst series of attacks to date took place on March 12, 1993 , when ten bomb explosions on the stock exchange and hotels in Mumbai, as well as trains and gas stations, killed 257 people and injured 713 people. In December 2001, Islamists stormed the parliament in New Delhi , killing 14 people. There were 52 dead in August 2003 when two taxis laden with explosives exploded in Mumbai. After three bomb explosions in markets in New Delhi in October 2005, 62 people died. In March 2006, 20 people were killed in a double attack on the train station and a temple in the city of Varanasi . When bomb attacks on trains in Mumbai in July 2006, around 200 people were killed and more injured over 700 people. On February 18, 2007, two incendiary bombs exploded on the "Friendship Express", the only train connection between India and Pakistan, 100 kilometers north of Delhi. At least 65 people were killed.

On August 25, 2007, there were two bomb explosions in Hyderabad, killing at least 42 people and injuring many more. A third bomb was found and could be defused. At first it was not known what the aim of the bomber (s) was pursuing with the bomb attacks in well-frequented leisure locations. (At almost 40%, Hyderabad has the highest proportion of Muslims in the Indian metropolises.)

A series of bomb attacks rocked India in 2008. On July 25, two bombs exploded in front of police stations and six more bombs exploded in Bengaluru (Bangalore). Two people were killed and six injured in the eight bomb attacks within 15 minutes. A series of 16 bombs exploded within 90 minutes in the metropolis of Ahmedabad in the western Indian state of Gujarat left at least 130 dead and over 280 injured on July 26, 2008. An allegedly Muslim terrorist group, the Indian Mujahideen , presumably a splinter group of the radical Islamic Lashkar-e Taiba , claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Ahmedabad. The attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 resulted in 17 explosions, attacks with automatic weapons and hostage-taking in ten different parts of the city by a group of around ten attackers who were divided into several groups in the Indian metropolis of Mumbai had. According to the Indian authorities, there were at least 239 injured and 174 dead.

Following a citizenship reform enacted in December 2019, which grants religiously persecuted refugees, with the exception of Muslims, more rapid asylum in India, there were strong protests by the Muslim population in India in the same month and at the beginning of 2020 .



Population density of Indian states
Average fertility rates in India. The north Indian states of the so-called "Hindi belt" have had a significantly higher population growth than the states of South India for decades (blue: less than 2 children / woman, red: more than 2 children / woman)
Population pyramid India 2016: India's median age was 27.6 years
Indian woman in traditional clothing
Children in Delhi

According to the 2011 census, India's population is 1,210,569,573. This makes India the most populous country in the world after the PR China. The population density is 388 inhabitants per square kilometer (Germany: 231 per square kilometer). Nevertheless, the population is extremely unevenly distributed. It is mainly concentrated in fertile areas such as the Ganges plain , West Bengal and Kerala , while the Himalayas , the mountainous regions of the northeast and drier regions in Rajasthan and the Deccan have only a low population density. In Bihar, for example, an average of 1,106 people live in one square kilometer, while in Arunachal Pradesh there are only 17.

On May 11, 2000 India's population officially exceeded the billion mark. While it took 47 years for the population to double from 1920 - when India had 250 million inhabitants - it was only 33 years from 1967 to 2000. Population growth has slowed only slightly in the last few decades and is currently 1.4% per year, which corresponds to an annual population increase of 15 million people. This means that India is currently recording the greatest absolute growth of all countries in the world. However, the relative growth is only slightly above the world average.

It is estimated that India's population growth will hardly slow down in the next few decades, and India will have replaced the People's Republic of China as the most populous country on earth by 2025. Progressive modernization, education , prosperity and urbanization are already reducing the birth rate , but the population growth is not explained by an increased birth rate, but by the increased lifespan over the past few decades. This is due, among other things, to an improvement in health care. In terms of mortality , India had already caught up with Germany in 1991 (10 per 1000); for 2006 it is estimated at 8.18 per 1000. However, the birth rate remained high (1991: 30 per 1000) and is gradually falling (2016: 19.3 per 1000). The fertility rate decreased from 5.2 children per woman (1971) to 3.6 (1991); in 2013 it was 2.3.

The average age of the Indian population in 2015 was 26.7 years, while the average life expectancy for men was 66.2 years (in 1971 it was only 44 years) and for women 69.1 years (in 1971 it was only 46 years). In Germany, for comparison, it is 78 years for men and 83 years for women. A third of the population is younger than 15 years. India is also one of the countries in which there are significantly more men: According to the 2011 census, there are 943 women for every 1,000 men. This surplus of men contributes to destabilization in some regions of the country, as Henrik Urdal of the Harvard Kennedy School shows.

Over the past thirty years, 60% of India's urbanization has been driven by natural population growth (in the cities). Immigration (from rural areas) contributed to one fifth of urban population growth. Another fifth of the growth is evenly distributed between the formation of new cities through statistical reclassification and the expansion of borders or sprawls. India now has 46 cities with more than one million inhabitants (as of the 2011 census). The Mumbai metropolitan area alone now has a population of more than 28 million, a larger population than all of Australia . Nevertheless, the urban population is a minority with a share of the total population of only 31.2% (2011 census). With economic development, India's urbanization is progressing rapidly and India's urban population is growing by almost 10 million annually. Almost all economic output is generated in the cities of India.

The emergence of slums is a major problem in India's cities. In Mumbai's Dharavi slum , an estimated 1 million people live in a confined space under catastrophic conditions, making it the largest slum in the world. Urbanization in India is much less planned than z. B. China, and an estimated 30% of the urban population live in unplanned dwellings and slums, a total of over 90 million people.

An estimated 25 million Indian citizens and persons of Indian origin ( Non-resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin ) live abroad. While English-speaking western countries such as the USA , Great Britain and Canada primarily attract well-trained skilled workers, in the Gulf States (especially the United Arab Emirates , Kuwait and Saudi Arabia ) many Indians are employed as “cheap workers”, and less often in higher positions. During the British colonial era, Indians were recruited to work in other colonies, so many people of Indian descent live in Malaysia , South Africa , Mauritius , Trinidad and Tobago , Fiji , Guyana and Singapore . As a rule, they are citizens of the respective country. Remittances from foreign children to their relatives in India represent an important economic factor.

Below is the population of India between 1700 and 2050 (2025 and 2050 are projections ) - note changes in the area over time: Figures up to 1875 are calculated according to the area of British India (including Bangladesh , Myanmar and Pakistan ), from 1900 in the present borders of the Republic of India:

18th century Residents 19th century Residents 20th century Residents 21st century Residents
1700 137,026,000 1800 255,000,000 1901 1.238,396,327 2001 1,028,737,436
1725 140,413,000 1825 256,469,000 1925 1.263,071,000 2005 1,094,985,000
1750 155,212,000 1850 283,496,000 1950 1.350,445,000 2011 1,210,569,573
1775 198,344,000 1875 300,963,000 1975 1.600,763,000 2017 1,339,180,000
1800 255,000,000 1900 271,306,000 2000 1,014,003,800 2025 1,451,829,000
2050 1,658,978,000

Ethnic composition

Beggar in Jaipur

India is a multiethnic state whose ethnic diversity can easily be compared with that of the entire European continent. About 72% of the population are Indo-Aryans . 25% are Dravids who live mainly in southern India. Other ethnic groups account for 3%, especially the Tibeto-Burmese, Munda and Mon-Khmer peoples in the Himalayan region as well as the northeast and East Indies .

8.6% of the population belong to the indigenous tribal population, who call themselves Adivasi , although they are ethnically highly heterogeneous. The Indian constitution recognizes more than 600 tribes as so-called Scheduled Tribes . They are mostly outside the Hindu caste system and, despite existing protective laws, are severely socially disadvantaged. The Adivasi have high proportions of the population in the northeast region (especially in Mizoram , Nagaland , Meghalaya , Arunachal Pradesh , Manipur , Tripura , Sikkim ) as well as in the eastern and central Indian states of Jharkhand , Chhattisgarh , Odisha and Madhya Pradesh . Due to social discrimination, radical left groups such as the Maoist Naxalites enjoy strong support from parts of the Adivasi. In addition, there are separatist movements of various peoples - such as the Mongolian Naga , Mizo and Bodo , but also the Indo-Aryan Assamese  - in northeast India, where tensions between the indigenous population and immigrant Bengali, mostly illegal immigrants from Bangladesh , create additional potential for conflict.

In 2017, according to official figures, 0.4% of the population was born abroad. The number of illegally immigrated Bangladeshis in India is estimated at up to 20 million. The 100,000 or so exiled Tibetans living in India , who have fled their homeland since the Chinese occupation of Tibet in the 1950s, are officially recognized as refugees and have a residence permit. In addition, around 60,000 Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka live on Indian territory.

Languages ​​and scripts

The language families of India

Well over 100 different languages ​​are spoken in India, belonging to four different language families. In addition to the two national official languages Hindi and English , the Indian constitution recognizes the following 21 languages: Assamese , Bengali , Bodo , Dogri , Gujarati , Kannada , Kashmiri , Konkani , Maithili , Malayalam , Marathi , Meitei , Nepali , Oriya , Panjabi , Santali , Sanskrit , Sindhi , Tamil , Telugu and Urdu . Most of these languages ​​also serve as official languages ​​in the states where they are spoken by a majority of the population. English is the language of administration, teaching and business. Of the constitutional languages, 15 belong to the Indo-Aryan , four to the Dravidian (Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam), two to the Tibetan Burmese or Sino- Tibetan language family (Bodo, Meitei) and one each to the Austro-Asian (Santali) and Germanic (English).

Recently there have been attempts to revive the use of Sanskrit. Sanskrit is a classic language that is no longer used as a first or mother tongue. It has a similar status in India as Latin is in Europe. It is also one of the officially recognized constitutional languages, but is not used anywhere as an official language. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has made Sanskrit the third language taught in the schools it regulates. In these schools, Sanskrit lessons are compulsory for the fifth to eighth grades.

A decision is made every 15 years about maintaining the status of English as the official language. English is still considered a prestige language and is only spoken fluently by a privileged minority of the population. When people from different linguistic communities meet, they speak either Hindi or English in the north, and one of the Dravidian languages ​​or English in the south.

In addition to the constitutional languages, Hindustani , the "predecessor" of Hindi and Urdu that is widespread in northern India, Rajasthani as a generic term for the dialects of Rajasthan and Mizo, are also worth mentioning. Bihari is the generic term for the dialects in Bihar, which also includes Maithili, Bhojpuri and Magadhi .

Most languages ​​have different writing systems. While a common script is used for Hindi, Marathi, Nepali, Konkani and Sanskrit ( Devanagari ), Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Gujarati, Oriya, Panjabi and Santali are each characterized by their own script . Another script ( Bengali script ) is used for Bengali, Asamiya and Meitei . Urdu is written in Arabic script , Kashmiri and Sindhi are written in Arabic script or also in Devanagari.



Belonging to the religious communities
religion percent
Source: 2011 census
Hindu temple in Mysuru

Four of the major religions emerged on the Indian subcontinent : Hinduism , Buddhism , Jainism and Sikhism . The Islam came as a result of trade and conquest by the Mughal Empire , the Christianity by early proselytizing in the first century and then by the colonialism , the Zoroastrianism (Zoroastrianism) due to immigration into the country. India therefore offers an extraordinarily rich religious landscape. Although Buddhism was the preferred religion for centuries, Hinduism never died out and was able to maintain its position as the dominant religion in the long term. In the Middle Ages, Indian traders and sailors brought Hinduism to Indonesia and Malaysia . Although India is still a Hindu-influenced country, India has the third largest Muslim population in the world (around 140 million) after Indonesia and Pakistan , and the second largest number of Shiites after Iran .

According to the 2011 census, the religions are distributed as follows: 79.8% Hindus, 14.2% Muslims, 2.3% Christians, 1.7% Sikhs, 0.7% Buddhists, 0.4% Jainas and 0.7% % others (for example traditional Adivasi religions, Baha'i or Parsees ). A total of 0.2% of Indians indicated no religious affiliation in the census or indicated that they were not religious.

The roots of Hinduism lie in the Veda (literally: knowledge), religious texts, the oldest layer of which dates back to around 1200 BC. Is dated. However, the term "Hinduism" did not become common practice until the 19th century. It combines many currents with similar beliefs and histories, which are particularly in agreement with the teachings of karma , the cycle of rebirths ( samsara ) and the pursuit of salvation . He knows no single religious founder, no uniform creed and no central religious authority. The main popular directions are Shaivism , Vishnuism and Shaktism . In addition, the Indian folk religion is regionally and locally widespread. Religious teachers ( gurus ) and priests are very important for personal belief.

The Adivasi (natives) often resisted the missionary attempts of the major religions and sometimes kept their own religion. The indigenous peoples of India have some things in common with Hinduism , such as a belief in reincarnation , an external variety of gods, and a type of caste system. Not infrequently, local or tribal deities are simply incorporated into the Hindu pantheon - an approach that has historically contributed to the spread of Hinduism. Especially today there is a strong tendency towards “Hinduization” (in Indology “Sanskritization”), social customs of the Hindus and their forms of religious practice are being adopted.

Today Buddhism is especially popular as Neo-Buddhism among the "untouchables" ( Dalit ), especially in the state of Maharashtra ("Bauddha"). In this way the Dalit try to escape the discrimination of the caste system . More than 10% of the Indian population belong to the Dalit caste. This movement was brought into being by the lawyer Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891-1956), who himself belonged to an untouchable caste. There are also smaller groups of Tibetan Buddhists in the Himalayan regions of Ladakh , Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh as well as the Tibetan exile community in Dharamsala , the seat of the incumbent Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile . From the point of view of fundamentalist Hindus, Muslims , Buddhists and Christians also belong to the untouchables, which according to this definition would comprise around 240 million people and thus almost 20% of the Indian population.

The Parsees , who mainly live in Mumbai today, form a small, predominantly wealthy and influential community (around 70,000 people). Not least because of their pronounced social commitment, they play an important role in Indian society despite the small population. In Europe they are known for their burial practices (" Towers of Silence "). The Jainas are also often wealthy as they are predominantly merchants and traders because of their beliefs that forbid the killing of living beings. Parsis and Jainas mostly belong to the middle and upper classes.

The majority of Indian Muslims are Sunni , and there are more than 20 million Shiites in India. In addition, there are smaller denominations within Islam: Dar ul-Ulum in Deoband in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, to which the Afghan Taliban , among others , refer, albeit in a radically abbreviated interpretation, is more fundamentalist . The situation for Muslims in India is difficult. They are poorer and less educated than the average. They are underrepresented in politics and the civil service. It should be noted, however, that the former President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam , was a Muslim. The number of Muslims in India is growing faster than the rest of the population and by 2050 India could have over 300 million Muslim residents.

The Sikhs are mainly native to northwest India ( Punjab ). Their position in society is shaped by their success, especially in the military field, but also in political life. Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a Sikh.

Cross of the Thomas Christians

In 53 AD, an apostle of Jesus , Thomas , is said to have come to India and founded several Christian communities there along the southern Malabar coast. The " Thomas Christians " in Kerala trace their origins back to the Apostle Thomas. Portuguese missionaries introduced Roman Catholicism in the late 15th century and spread it along the west coast, for example in Goa , so that Roman Catholics now make up the largest proportion of India's Christian population. Although the British showed little interest in proselytizing, many tribal peoples in the northeast ( Nagaland , Mizoram , Meghalaya , Manipur , Arunachal Pradesh ) converted to the Anglican Church or other Protestant denominations. More recently, members of untouchable castes and Adivasi have also converted to Christianity in order to escape the injustice of the caste system.

When India gained independence, around 25,000 Jews were still living in India . After 1948, however, most of them left their homeland for Israel . Today the number of Jews remaining in India is estimated at 5,000 to 6,000, the majority of whom live in Mumbai .

Religious Conflicts

The secularism that separation of state and religion , one of the most essential principles of the Indian state and is enshrined in its constitution. For centuries, different faiths have coexisted, mostly peacefully. Nevertheless, there are sometimes regionally limited, religiously motivated disputes.

During the partition of India in 1947 and the Bangladesh war in 1971, there were massive riots between Hindus and Muslims. Riots between followers of the two faiths break out in India again and again at certain time intervals. One point of conflict is still Kashmir , whose predominantly Muslim population is violently advocating independence or annexation to Pakistan . They have been fueled since the late 1980s by burgeoning Hindu nationalism (Hindutva) and Islamic fundamentalism. One of the high points of the clashes was the storming and destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya ( Uttar Pradesh ) by extremist Hindus in December 1992, as the Islamic place of worship was once built on the site of an important Hindu temple that was to mark the birthplace of Ramas . The most recent riots occurred in Gujarat in 2002 when 59 Hindu activists (kar sevaks) were burned on a train. As a result of the escalating violence, around 2,000 people were killed, mostly Muslims. The political situation in Kashmir has cost the lives of over 29,000 civilians since 1989 due to the activities of Islamist terrorists.

Conflicts also arose with other religions. The demands of Sikhist separatists for an independent Sikh state called " Khalistan " culminated in the storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar by Indian troops ( Operation Blue Star ) and the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her own Sikh bodyguards. In total, more than 3,000 Sikhs were killed in the riots in 1984.

There have been pogroms against Christians in some states . In the second half of 2008, at least 59 Christians were killed in religiously motivated unrest in Orissa . In its answer to a parliamentary question on December 4, 2008, the German government names the following extent of violence against Christians in Orissa (Odisha): 81 Christians have died, 20,000 people are in refugee camps, and 40,000 others are hiding in forests. 4,677 houses, 236 churches and 36 other church facilities were destroyed.

Social problems

Slum in Mumbai
Demonstration of the communist party CPI (M) in Agartala ( Tripura )
Garbage dump, Yamuna River slum, Delhi (Image: Manuel Rivera-Ortiz )

According to the World Bank , 44% of India's residents now have less than one US dollar a day to spend. Even if the nutritional situation has improved significantly since the 1970s, more than a quarter of the population is still too poor to be able to afford adequate nutrition. Under - and malnutrition such as vitamin deficiency is primarily in rural areas is a widespread problem, where the proportion of the poor is particularly high. The regional breakdown of the problem can be clearly seen in the hunger index for India ; the state of Madhya Pradesh is particularly noticeable here. In 2007, 46% of children in India were malnourished. According to UNICEF , 2.1 million children die before the age of five in India every year. Child labor is mainly done in rural areas, as many farming families do not have enough income to survive. Heavily indebted farmers often not only have to sell their arable land, but also pledge their services to the landlords. This phenomenon, known as debt bondage , remains one of the greatest obstacles in the fight against poverty to this day. In 2006, an estimated 17,000 farmers committed suicide because of high levels of debt. The poor living conditions in rural areas cause many people to move to the cities ( urbanization ). The sprawling metropolises of the country are hardly able to provide enough jobs for the immigrants. The result is high unemployment and underemployment . Almost a third of the inhabitants of the megacities live in slums. Dharavi in Mumbai is the largest slum in Asia with more than a million people .

According to the 2011 census, 16.6% of the Indian population are counted among the so-called Untouchables ( Scheduled Castes ) , 8.6% belong to the Indian tribal population ( Adivasi , officially Scheduled Tribes ). Since both groups are exposed to abuse ( discrimination , economic exploitation , sometimes persecution and violence ) by other caste Indians, the Indian constitution provides for the promotion of the socially disadvantaged in the form of quotas. This “positive discrimination” means that up to 50% of the places in universities, vocational institutions and parliaments are reserved for the Scheduled Castes (members of the lower castes). The caste question occupies a highly explosive position in Indian domestic politics. An expansion of the quotas to lower castes at the suggestion of the controversial Mandal Commission sparked violent protests from members of higher castes in 1990 and led to the overthrow of Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh .

Inadequate school education and advice on reproductive health issues meant that the number of people infected with HIV rose rapidly from the 1980s and 1990s, since the first cases of infection became known in 1986. In 2008, around 2.27 million Indians between the ages of 15 and 49 carried the virus. The number of infected people is third in the world behind South Africa and Nigeria . In the years after 2002, there was a percentage decrease in the number of infected people. In 2002, 0.45% of the adult Indian population was infected, 0.34% in 2007 and 0.29% in 2008. The transmission routes of the HI virus for 2009/10 are given as 87.1% between heterosexuals. The widespread unprotected sex with prostitutes is mainly responsible for this. Transmission from mother to child is 5.4% and between homosexuals 1.5%. Drug addicts account for 1.5% of the total number of transmission cases.

Position of woman

In Indian society, which is shaped by patriarchal law , women are still very disadvantaged despite the legal equality of the sexes (see below on the right to vote for women ).

Dowry issue

Traditionally, women have been the wedding a dowry ( English dowry given to setting up its own budget). Although this has been forbidden by law since 1961, such a dowry is still often required from the bride's parents for purely economic reasons. In some cases the required “trousseau” exceeds the annual income of the bride's family . Occasionally, so-called dowry murders occur when the bride's relatives were unable to meet the high demands of the marriage. This dowry problem contributes to a not inconsiderable extent to the fact that girls are usually viewed less than boys or even considered undesirable.

The practice of demanding dowry also promotes exploitative working conditions such as the Sumangali principle (child labor), as poor parents willingly give their daughters to recruiters in the hope of a dowry they have earned themselves.

Gender distribution among children aged 0 to 1 in India in 2011 - according to the number of boys per 100 girls:
101–103 103–107 125–130 India-wide average: 110 India- wide average under 7 years: 109 Total Indian population: 106

Abortion of female fetuses

In India, significantly more female fetuses are aborted than males: According to the 2011 census, there were only 914 girls for every 1000 boys (47.75% = 109 boys for 100 girls) - in 2001 there were 927 girls (48.11%, 108 : 100; each under 7 years). In the total population in 2011 there were 940 female Indians for every 1000 male (48.45%, 106: 100) - in 2001 there were 933 female (48.27%, 107: 100).

Sexualized violence

According to a study by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, India was the most dangerous country for women in the world in 2018 . Among the 10 most dangerous countries (including the USA and Saudi Arabia ), India ranked first in 3 of 6 areas: cultural oppression and abuse of women, sexual violence against women, and human trafficking and forced prostitution . In 2016, 40,000  rapes were reported in India .

Women indices

In the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 of the World Economic Forum , which measures equality between men and women in 153 countries, India only ranks 112th with a gender gap of 33.2%: women reach only two thirds of the level of men in economic and social life educational aspects as well as health and political participation .

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) determined the index of gender-specific inequality (GII: Gender Inequality Index ) among 162 countries for 2018 : India was in 122nd place with only 39% women with secondary education (men: 63.5%) and 23.6% labor force participation (men: 78.6%). In terms of the Gender Development Index (GDI: Gender Development Index ), India was ranked 153rd out of 166 countries: there was a 75.5% difference in per capita income alone ( $ 2,625  annual income versus $ 10,712 for men).

Politics and state

Political system

According to the 1950 Constitution , India is a parliamentary democracy . India is the largest democracy in the world by number of citizens. The Indian Parliament is the legislative power and consists of two chambers: the Lower House ( Lok Sabha ) and the Upper House ( Rajya Sabha ). The lower house is elected for five years according to the principle of majority voting. Every citizen who has reached the age of 18 is entitled to vote. The House of Lords is the representation of the states at the national level. Its members are elected by the parliaments of the states.

In the Democracy Index  2020, the British magazine The Economist India-ranked 53 of 167 countries and is considered as an "incomplete democracy." In the country report  Freedom in the World  2017 by the US  non-governmental organization  Freedom House  , the country's political system is rated as “free”. However, according to the report, there are civil rights issues in India and some areas such as For example, in the Indian part of Kashmir , freedom of expression and basic democratic rights are inadequately guaranteed.

The country's party landscape is extremely diverse (see list of political parties in India ). Many parties are limited to certain states, but the need to form coalitions continues to arise. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was a coalition that at the beginning of its reign in 1998 consisted of 13 parties (led by the BJP ).

The President as head of state is elected for a five-year term by a committee of federal and state representatives. Ram Nath Kovind has held the office since 2017 . The constitution provides that states can be placed under President's rule if the country is considered "ungovernable". This has been the case in several states in the past. However, the office of president is predominantly characterized by ceremonial or representative tasks; political power rests with the prime minister. Usually, the Prime Minister gives the President appropriate “advice”, which is usually followed. Most recently, Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao had all four BJP state governments removed from office after the unrest in Ayodhya in 1993 and the countries placed under President's rule . The president is also the chief commander in chief of the armed forces .

The head of government in the states and in three of eight Union territories is the chief minister , who is elected by the parliament of the respective area.

Administrative structure

India's 28 states (Engl. States ) and eight union territories (Engl. Union Territories divided), resulting in more than 600 districts (Engl. Districts divide). In some states, several districts to be divisions (Engl. Divisions ) are summarized. The Tehsils (or Taluks ), blocks and subdivisions are subordinate to the districts in parallel and partly overlapping . The lowest administrative level is represented by the villages themselves, which can sometimes be grouped together in so-called hoblis .

While the Union Territories are administered by the central government in New Delhi , each state has its own parliament and government. The government of a state is headed by the Chief Minister , who is formally subordinate to a governor appointed by the Indian President with largely representative tasks. Government business is transferred to the latter when the President's rule is applied .

Local government is the responsibility of the municipal corporations in larger cities with several hundred thousand inhabitants, and of the municipalities in smaller cities . The three-tier Panchayati Raj is used in rural areas . This system includes elected councils (panchayats) at village and block level, but also at district level. Local government responsibilities vary from state to state.

Before independence, India comprised both independent princely states under British supervision and British provinces (English presidencies ) ruled by British colonial administrators. After independence, the former princely states were ruled by an appointed governor, while the former provinces were ruled by an elected parliament and an elected governor. In 1956, the States Reorganization Act eliminated the differences between former provinces and principalities and created unitary states with an elected regional government. When the states were reorganized, the respective native language of the residents was used as the basis for drawing the boundaries. On May 1, 1960, the previous state of Bombay was divided into the new ethnic states of Gujarat and Maharashtra . In 2000, three new states emerged: Jharkhand from the southern parts of Bihar , Chhattisgarh from the eastern parts of Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand (until 2006 Uttaranchal) from the north-western part of Uttar Pradesh . On June 2, 2014, parts of the state of Andhra Pradesh became the new 29th state of Telangana ; its capital is Hyderabad . On October 31, 2019, the state of Jammu and Kashmir was dissolved and divided into the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh . The union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu were merged into Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu on January 28, 2020 .


The following list shows the 28 states of India , their abbreviations correspond to the ISO standard ( 31766-2: IN ) - where the license plate differs from it, it is appended in brackets :

Abbr. State
1 AP Andhra Pradesh
2 AR Arunachal Pradesh
3 AS Assam
4th BR Bihar
5 CT [CG] Chhattisgarh
6th GA Goa
7th GJ Gujarat
8th MR Haryana
9 HP Himachal Pradesh
10 JH Jharkhand
11 KA Karnataka
12th KL Kerala
13th MP Madhya Pradesh
14th MH Maharashtra
Abbr. State
15th MN Manipur
16 ML Meghalaya
17th MZ Mizoram
18th NL Nagaland
19th OR [OD] Odisha (until 2011: Orissa)
20th PB Punjab
21 RJ Rajasthan
22nd SK Sikkim
23 TN Tamil Nadu
24 TG [TS] Telangana
25th TR Tripura
26th UT [UA, UK] Uttarakhand
27 UP Uttar Pradesh
28 WB West Bengal (West Bengal)

Union Territories

Abbr. Union Territory
29 AT Andaman and Nicobar Islands
30th CH Chandigarh
31 DH [DD] Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu
32 DL Delhi (Capital Territory)
33 JK Jammu and Kashmir
34 LA Ladakh
35 LD Lakshadweep (islands)
36 PY Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry)


The Gateway of India in Mumbai (2016)

The capital of India is New Delhi within the borders of Delhi , which is the second largest city in the country with around 11 million inhabitants and the second largest agglomeration with more than 16 million inhabitants . Delhi is the cultural hub of the northern Hindi-speaking community. However, India's largest city and economic center is Mumbai (Bombay). The metropolis on the west coast has more than 12.5 million inhabitants, in the agglomeration around 18 million. Third is Bengaluru (Bangalore). Numerous high-tech companies are located in the 8.5 million city in the southern Dekkan highlands, which has earned it the nickname “Silicon Valley of India”. The fourth largest city is Hyderabad, also in southern India, with 6.8 million inhabitants, followed by Ahmedabad in western India with 5.6 million inhabitants. Chennai (Madras), the seventh largest city in India with 4.7 million inhabitants, is known as the cultural center of southern India and especially of the Tamils . Calcutta , the most important metropolis in the east, ranks eighth with 4.5 million people. It is considered the intellectual center.

The following list shows the 20 largest urban areas according to the 2011 India Census :

rank city State Residents rank city State Residents
1 Mumbai Maharashtra 18,414,288 11 Kanpur Uttar Pradesh 2,920,067
2 Delhi Delhi (territory) 16,314,838 12th Lucknow Uttar Pradesh 2,901,474
3 Calcutta West Bengal 14,112,536 13th Nagpur Maharashtra 2,497,777
4th Chennai Tamil Nadu 8,696,010 14th Ghaziabad Uttar Pradesh 2,358,525
5 Bengaluru Karnataka 8,499,399 15th Indore Madhya Pradesh 2,167,447
6th Hyderabad Telangana 7,749,334 16 Coimbatore Tamil Nadu 2,151,466
7th Ahmedabad Gujarat 6,352,254 17th Kochi Kerala 2,117,990
8th Pune Maharashtra 5,049,968 18th Patna Bihar 2,046,652
9 Surat Gujarat 4,585,367 19th Kozhikode Kerala 2,030,519
10 Jaipur Rajasthan 3,073,350 20th Thrissure Kerala 1,854,783

Legal system

The Karnataka State High Court in Bengaluru

The history of modern Indian law began with the establishment of the British East India Company in 1600.

Women's suffrage

In 1950 a comprehensive right to vote for women was introduced. The history of this goes back to the 19th century: According to reports from 1900, the participation of women in local elections in Bombay was made possible with an addition to the Bombay Municipal Act (1888): Homeowners were then allowed to vote regardless of gender. There is evidence, however, that some women voted in the Bombay city council elections many years earlier.

In 1918 the Indian National Congress supported the introduction of active women's suffrage, and the constitutional reforms of 1919 allowed the legislative assemblies in the provinces to decide on the introduction. Madras Province, in which the Anti-Rahman Party had a majority, was the first to give women the right to vote in 1921; other provinces followed. Women who had the right to vote at the provincial level were also allowed to vote in the elections to the Central Legislative Assembly.

In 1926 women were also given the right to stand as a candidate. In 1926, Sarojini Naidu became the first female Congress President. In 1935, the Government of India Act , which came into force in 1937, further extended the right to vote for both sexes. It stipulated that women could vote if they met one of several conditions: real estate, a certain level of education that included reading and writing, or the status of a wife if the man was eligible to vote.

The change in another provision indicated an important shift in understanding what was meant by civil rights: some seats in the legislative assemblies of the provinces were reserved for women; Men could not take on these mandates. These rules guaranteed that women were actually elected. The rule also meant that women applied for mandates beyond this quota, and ensured that capable women could demonstrate their skills as members of parliament and ministers. The first elections based on these new rules took place in 1937. Of the 36 million eligible voters, six million were women.

By the end of 1939, all provinces had introduced women's suffrage . Although this was a fundamental step forward, the right to vote was tied to land ownership. Since many Indians did not own land, relatively few men and even fewer women were given the right to vote as a result of the reforms of 1919.

India gained independence in 1947 - until then there had been no universal suffrage for either women or men. In 1949 the Constituent Assembly drafted a new constitution. Female MPs who had themselves benefited from the quota system spoke out against the continuation of this practice. The new constitution, which came into force on January 26, 1950, provided universal active and passive suffrage for all adults. But in the parts of the country that became Pakistan when it was partitioned, women had to wait years for universal suffrage.

See above for the current position of women

Separation of powers

Since there is a separation of powers in India, the judiciary is strictly separated from the legislative and executive branches . The country's supreme court is the Supreme Court in New Delhi, with 26 judges appointed by the President. It is chaired by the Chief Justice of India. Disputes between states and the central government fall under its jurisdiction. It is also the highest court of appeal in the country. Subordinate to the Supreme Court are 21 high courts of the states.

From the third legal level (district level), a distinction is made between civil and criminal courts . Civil litigation in the Metropolitan Districts falls under the jurisdiction of the City Civil Courts, which correspond to the District Courts of the rural districts. The Sessions Courts are responsible for criminal law in urban and rural districts . There are also special courts for special areas such as family and commercial law. The jurisdiction of simple disputes of the lowest level takes place in the Panchayati Rajs of the villages (Gram Panchayat) .

As a result of British legal practice during the colonial period, common law is still widely used in India today , which is based not only on laws, but to a large extent on authoritative judgments by high courts in precedent cases. The language of the court is English, but the lower levels can also be used in the respective regional official language.

A special feature in otherwise secular India is its legislation in family and inheritance law, which maintains its own regulations for Hindus (this also applies to Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists), Muslims, Christians and Parsees (see marriage in Hinduism # Legislation and Islamic Marriage # India ).

Domestic politics

During the struggle for independence, the National Congress was formed, which wanted to end the colonial rule of the English. After independence in 1947, the Congress Party became the strongest party and formed the first government under Jawaharlal Nehru . Until the mid-1990s, the Congress Party dominated the country's politics, mostly under the leadership of the Nehru Gandhi family , with only two brief interruptions.

It was only in connection with the planned “re-establishment” of the Ram Janmabhumi Temple in place of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Indian People's Party, symbol: lotus blossom ) was able to gain broad support with nationalist slogans. This culminated in the march on Ayodhya and the demolition of the mosque, which led to violent riots and attacks across the country , especially against Muslims, with many deaths. The polarizing and pro-Hindu-oriented policies of the BJP is dedicated to the Hindu nationalist Hindutva - movement , which - with the involvement of paramilitary groups such as the National Volunteer Corps ( Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh , shortly RSS) - the Hinduization India and in their extreme excesses aims to expel the Muslim and Christian population. From 1998 to 2004, the BJP provided the government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee , who is considered to be more moderate, as prime minister.

After an attack on a train with pilgrims in 2002, massacres began in Gujarat , which the BJP ruling there only fought half-heartedly. These unrest then caused a certain rethinking of moderate Hindus, especially since the vision of a Shining India ("Radiant India") upheld by the Indian People's Party has brought large sections of the population, who have not benefited from the boom of recent years, whether the ambitious goals rather skeptical.

In the 2004 general election , the opposition Congress Party under Sonia Gandhi achieved an unexpected victory. Surprisingly for her party coalition, she refused to take over the post of prime minister, Manmohan Singh was sworn in as prime minister on May 22, 2004. In the parliamentary elections in 2009 , the party coalition of the United Progressive Alliance, led by the Indian National Congress, was able to significantly expand its parliamentary support, so that Manmohan Singh was re-elected Prime Minister. In the 2014 election , Narendra Modi was elected Prime Minister, and his Bharatiya Janata Party won 31% of the vote by a large margin.

Foreign policy

Locations of the diplomatic missions of India (2008)
States with diplomatic representation in India (2008)

For four decades, Indian foreign policy was shaped by its involvement in the movement of the non-aligned states and the “special friendship” with the Soviet Union, which Jawaharlal Nehru in particular promoted. The three guidelines of Indian non-alignment were to stay away from military alliances with American or Soviet participation, to meet foreign policy challenges properly and completely from an Indian perspective and to pursue friendly relations with all countries. India did not see itself as equidistant, but sought the leadership role within the non-aligned movement until the war against China in 1962. This was expressed, for example, in the deployment of peacekeeping troops in the Gaza Strip in 1956 and in the Congo in 1961, as well as in the condemnation of the Franco-British intervention in the Suez Crisis . It also condemned the Soviet approach at the beginning of the Korean War in 1950 and 1956 as unacceptable interference.

After the end of the Cold War , India reoriented itself. The historically rather difficult relationship with the USA improved; in March 2000, visited US President Bill Clinton India. The US now made greater efforts to secure India as a strategic partner. With regard to the Kashmir conflict , the US now gave more support to India's stance. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 , India sided with the United States without reservation.

Today India’s foreign policy goals are primarily characterized by its efforts to obtain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council . India uses China as a benchmark and aims to upgrade its status. Due to its size and civilizational importance, India claims the same rank as China, which is represented as a recognized nuclear power with a permanent seat on the Security Council of the United Nations .

India carried out two nuclear weapons tests , the first in 1974 under Indira Gandhi and the second in May 1998 under Atal Bihari Vajpayee . Two weeks later, on May 28, Pakistan set off a nuclear test for the first time. Neither India nor Pakistan have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty . Relations between the two states have been strained by the Kashmir conflict since the end of the colonial era . The last climax of the "Ice Age" between India and Pakistan was the fighting in Kargil in 1999.

A peace process started in 2004; But it stalled in 2008 after attacks in Mumbai, India, with 166 deaths. India blames Pakistani Islamists for the crime. The two foreign ministers met in 2010 and 2011.

The nuclear tests in May 1998 were always justified with reference to the Chinese threat (attack by China in 1962), but India is primarily pursuing an international status upgrade with the tests and trying to underpin equality with China. India is engaging in significant conventional armaments , as are China and other Asian countries such as Pakistan.

In fact, India and China are now rather on friendly terms. Increasing trade ties and the mutual recognition of the status quo in Tibet by India in 2003 and Sikkim by China in 2004 have contributed to a noticeable relief of the political situation. However, border disputes over the Chinese-occupied part of Kashmir ( Aksai Chin ) and most of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh still persist .

There has been disagreement with Bangladesh over water distribution issues for decades. The course and traffic of the border are also controversial in some cases. There are almost 200 enclaves , including a "piece of Indian land within Bangalore territory, which itself is completely surrounded by Indian possessions, which in turn lie within Bangladesh" (as of May 2015). The illegal immigration of many Bangladeshis to India is also considered a burden . An agreement was signed on June 6, 2015, according to which Bangladesh will receive 111 Indian enclaves and India in return 52 Bangladeshi on its territory. This creates a “regulated limit”. 53,000 residents of the affected areas can decide which of the two states they want to belong to.

India is a founding member of the United Nations and a member of numerous other international organizations, including the Commonwealth , the International Monetary Fund , the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO). India is a member of the group of the twenty most important industrialized and emerging countries and the G33 . It plays a key role in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). In 2017 India was accepted into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization together with Pakistan . India applied for membership in the Organization for Islamic Cooperation , but was rejected due to a Pakistani veto, although India is the country with the third most Muslims in the world.

India's relations with the EU are based on a comprehensive political declaration and action plan for a strategic partnership that were adopted at the EU-India summit in autumn 2005 and have been implemented gradually since then. This is intended to put relations with India on a formal level with those with the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia and China. In the future, the aim is to make even greater use of the potential for joint cooperation and exchange. This also applies in particular to the areas of conflict prevention, the fight against terrorism and the strengthening of human rights.


Regional distribution of reading and writing skills according to the 2011 census

In India, school attendance is compulsory for ages 6-14, and the Indian Parliament unanimously decided in 2002 to include the right to education in the constitution. Attendance at public schools is free of charge during this period. In total, there were 315 million students in India, more than in any other country (as of the 2011 census). The school system comprises four main levels: the five-year elementary school is followed by the middle school from the sixth to eighth grade, then the higher schools and finally the colleges and universities . In general, in the past the state paid particular attention to the promotion of higher educational institutions, which tended to reinforce the elitist character of the educational system from the colonial era. Nevertheless, many members of the middle and upper classes prefer private institutions to state institutions, especially when it comes to higher education.

In India, the mean school attendance of all persons over 25 increased from 3 years in 1990 to 6.3 years in 2015. The current educational expectation is already 11.7 years. Today almost all children - at least boys - actually go to school, but the number of dropouts is increasing in the higher grades. In rural areas in particular, many children therefore only receive an extremely rudimentary basic education. Secondary schools and higher education institutions, on the other hand, are usually only available in cities. After all, great progress has been made in literacy since independence. In 2011 the national average literacy rate was 74.0% (men: 82.1%, women: 65.5%). In 2001 it was 64.8%, in 1951 it was only 18.3%.

Since the education system is largely incumbent on the states, there are correspondingly large regional differences. This is most evident in the very unequal illiteracy rate. While it was only 6.1% in 2011 in Kerala , the state with the highest literacy rate, in the financially poorest state of Bihar it was almost six times as high at 36.2%. Another problem is the disadvantage of girls, whose school enrollment rate is lower than that of boys (average 2000 to 2004: boys: 90%, girls: 85%). At higher educational institutions, the proportion of women is generally significantly lower than that of men. Another major weak point is the hitherto underdeveloped vocational school system, which, however, is rapidly growing. In 2016 India had 750 universities and 41,435 colleges with a total of 28.5 million students. After the People's Republic of China, India is the country with the most university students. According to the Times Higher Education ranking of 2019, the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore and Indian Institute of Technology Ropar make it into the top 400 institutions worldwide.

The following list shows the India-wide development of literacy from 1951 to 2011; in 1901 5.1% of the population could read and write, a proportion that rose to 16.1% by 1941:

year Literacy
1951 18.33% 21.16% 08.86%
1961 28.30% 40.40% 15.35%
1971 34.45% 45.96% 21.97%
1981 43.57% 56.38% 29.76%
1991 52.21% 64.13% 39.29%
2001 64.83% 75.26% 53.67%
2011 74.04% 82.14% 65.46%


Health data (2005)
Area India Kerala
Life expectancy 64.35 years 73 years
Birth rate 22.32 per 1000 inhabitants 18 per 1000 inhabitants
Death rate 8.28 per 1000 inhabitants 6 per 1000 inhabitants
Infant mortality 56.29 per 1000 births 14 out of 1,000 births
Note: “Births” = live births   Source: Indexmundi;  Kerala: UNDP

Most of the health care system is state-run, although there are also many private hospitals. Although rural health care has already improved considerably, particularly through first aid stations in villages, there is still a large urban-rural divide. In many villages there are no medical facilities. The situation is made worse by poor hygienic conditions, such as a lack of access to clean drinking water and sanitary facilities, as well as malnutrition . Similar conditions prevail in urban slums. Diseases such as malaria , filariasis , tuberculosis and cholera are still a major problem in some regions. Despite all the difficulties and obstacles, life expectancy at birth rose from 53.3 years in 1980 to 67.6 years (men: 66.2 years, women: 69.1 years) in 2015. India used to be one of the few countries in the world where Men had a longer life expectancy than women. In the last few years this has been reversed. The infant mortality rate (under 5 years) in India was in 2018 at 3.7% (1960 was still 24.2%).

Because of the low costs and the good quality of medical treatment in specialized hospitals, medical tourism from North American and European industrialized countries is becoming more and more important.

The following list shows the India-wide development of life expectancy from 1950 to 2015 (source: UN-DESA ):

Period Expectation (years) Period   Expectation (years)  
1950-1955 36.6 1985-1990 56.7
1955-1960 39.7 1990-1995 59.2
1960-1965 42.7 1995-2000 61.6
1965-1970 46.0 2000-2005 63.5
1970-1975 49.4 2005-2010 65.6
1975-1980 52.5 2010-2015 67.6
1980-1985 54.9

COVID-19 pandemic in India

The COVID-19 pandemic is becoming increasingly threatening in India. At the end of February 2021, only 13,000 new infections were registered. Then a new wave began; on April 24, 2021, over 340,000 new infections were registered per day. The health system is overwhelmed. The shortage of medical oxygen for ventilators developed into a very special problem. From April 25, 2021, numerous countries began flying medical supplies to India.

Armed Forces and Defense

Indian Army Main Battle Tank ( T-90 )

India's military is made up of volunteers; there is no conscription . The official armed forces are the third largest in the world. They comprise 1.3 million soldiers, of which 1.1 million serve in the army , 150,000 in the air force and 53,000 in the navy . In addition, there are 800,000 reservists and 1.1 million men in paramilitary units used primarily in internal conflicts . If you add the latter, only China's military has a larger troop strength. The Indian armed forces had 3,264 battle tanks, 733 combat aircraft, 199 helicopters, 21 warships and 17 submarines in 2005. In 2004 India was the world's second largest arms buyer, accounting for 10% of all arms purchases; a quarter of all Russian arms exports went to India. Military spending in 2016 was $ 55.9 billion, equivalent to 2.5% of gross domestic product . India had the fifth highest military budget in the world.

India has officially been a nuclear power since 1974 . It has self-developed short-range missiles as well as medium- range missiles with ranges of 700 to 8000 km. In 2012, 84 nuclear warheads were available. To date, India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but according to its nuclear doctrine, it has refrained from carrying out a nuclear first strike . India's only military base abroad has been the Farkhor air base in Tajikistan since 2004 . In addition, there is a military agreement with Mozambique that provides for anchorage rights and supplies for Indian warships. There are also close military ties with Mauritius . The Indian Air Force controls the Mauritian airspace and there is a cooperation with the Indian Navy (status 2007).

Since independence, the Indian military has shown little interest in exerting political influence. It is subordinate to the civil administration; the military supreme command is held by the President .


Market shares of India in the raw materials market
(production 2002-2004)
raw material percent
Cattle and buffalo
Iron ore
GDP per capita in India by state, 2011
GDP per capita in India by state (2011)

India is a managed economy that has been increasingly deregulated and privatized since 1991 . Since then, economic growth has accelerated significantly. According to many observers, the efficiency of the Indian economy has now reached top international levels in some sectors (information technology, pharmaceuticals).

The growth of production in the Indian economy is hampered in particular by deficiencies in the often outdated infrastructure , especially by bottlenecks in the energy supply, which lead to frequent power outages. Despite the liberalization of the economy that began in 1991, industry and the banking sector in particular continue to suffer from frequent government intervention and slow political decision-making processes. The protection of inefficient state-owned companies from competition remains a stumbling block. Widespread corruption is also a negative factor . In addition, labor market regulations, which, for example, make it harder to lay off workers, are still having a negative impact on the investment climate. Foreign investors are thus deterred. India is also losing a large number of skilled workers abroad ( brain drain ). On the other hand, it is the biggest beneficiary of remittances from emigrants in the world. In 2016 they amounted to US $ 62.7 billion and thus contributed almost 3% of economic output.

India's integration into the world economy has increased in recent years. The country is increasingly benefiting from the advantages of the international division of labor and globalization . However, the Indian economy is still very strongly oriented towards the domestic economy. Their share in the world economy is still just under 3%, although imports and exports have grown strongly in recent years. The low shares of exports and imports in the gross domestic product still signal considerable growth potential. In 2016, exports of goods and services only accounted for a good 19.2% of gross domestic product and imports 20.6%.

The medium and long-term growth prospects in India are often judged to be very favorable. Some studies assume that India will grow even faster than China in the future. Apart from the great pent-up demand, especially in the area of ​​infrastructure, the age structure of the population in particular speaks in favor of sustained strong economic growth. The high proportion of young people in the population will ensure a high proportion of people of working age in the coming decades. The "aging" of the population, which is to be expected in Europe and also in China, will set in much later in India. The already large supply of qualified workers and the increasing integration into the world economy will also be the driving force behind growth.

The high currency reserves and relatively low foreign debt should increase the confidence of foreign investors in the development of the Indian economy. So far, foreign direct investment in India has been low by international standards, especially with China. Narendra Modi's government, viewed as economically liberal, is trying to attract foreign investment with reforms and initiatives such as the Make-in-India campaign. In 2017, India was ranked 100th out of 190 countries in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index . India was able to improve by 30 places compared to the previous year and was among the top 100 countries for the first time.

The sometimes great poverty, the unequal distribution of income and the high unemployment harbor potential for conflict. India had 104 billionaires in 2017, making it the fourth highest number of billionaires in the world after the United States, China and Germany, while over 20% of the population lived in extreme poverty and 96.2% of Indians had a private fortune of less than US $ 10,000 -Dollars owned. So far, however, India has had a remarkable level of social stability.

In the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum , which measures a country's competitiveness, India was ranked 40th out of 137 countries in 2018. In 2018, India ranked 130th out of 180 countries in the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal's Economic Freedom Index . After the Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International in 2016 was India with 176 countries together with Belarus , the People's Republic of China and Brazil ranked 79, with 40 of a maximum of 100 points.

Current macroeconomic development

Development of GDP (real)
and inflation  (according to the World Bank )
year GDP inflation
2005 + 9.3% + 6.1%
2006 + 9.3% + 4.2%
2007 + 8.6% + 6.4%
2008 + 3.9% + 8.3%
2009 + 8.5% + 10.9%
2010 + 10.3% + 11.9%
2011 + 6.6% + 8.8%
2012 +5.5% + 9.3%
2013 + 6.4% + 10.9%
2014 + 7.4% + 6.6%
2015 + 8.0% + 4.9%
2016 + 8.2% + 4.9%
2017 + 7.2% + 2.5%
2018 + 7.0% + 4.9%

From 2005 to 2015, India's gross domestic product (GDP) grew by around six to 7% annually, adjusted for inflation. Despite the significantly accelerated growth, the official unemployment rate at that time was still 9% - with a considerable number of unemployed who are not recorded by the statistics is to be expected. The total number of employees is estimated at 521.9 million for 2017. A large part of them work in the informal sector. 24.5% of the workforce are female, which means that women still have a relatively low participation in the labor market.

The development of public finances also remains unsatisfactory. The general government budget deficit moves with a slight downward trend between nine and 10% of the gross domestic product. Around half of this is due to the central government deficit.

However, the creditworthiness of India is being assessed increasingly better by the leading agencies for assessing credit risks against the background of the favorable macroeconomic development. Following the rating agency Moody's , at the beginning of August 2006 the agency Fitch also raised its rating of the Indian state's borrowing to the lowest so-called investment grade .

In the course of India's increasing international economic ties, the country was also affected by the global economic crisis from 2008 onwards. The steady annual economic growth collapsed. The reasons given are the young, global Indian capital market, high private debt, rising unemployment figures and falling domestic demand and export figures. To combat the crisis, government stimulus packages were launched, including infrastructure programs, tax cuts and subsidies for the export industry.

India's economy has regained momentum in recent years. Economic growth in the 2015 budget year was 7.9%. The gross domestic product in the same period in 2016 was around 2.251 billion US dollars, the nominal GDP per capita around 1.723 US dollars. The inflation dropped from time to time about 10% to about 5% in 2018. For further growing population of India will be according to experts until mid-century, probably not only the most populous country on earth, but also the third largest economy in the world (after the USA and China ). Nevertheless, India continues to struggle with high levels of poverty among the population. Around 30% of the population currently still live below the poverty line of US $ 1 per capita per day.


Main crops in the regions of India

The change in the economic structure from agriculture to industry and the service sector, which can be observed worldwide, is also taking place in India, which, however, is still very much influenced by agriculture in international comparison, for example with China. 59.4% of the population are employed in agriculture . The rural population makes up the poorest part of the population. So far, it has mainly been the population of the cities that has benefited from the economic upswing, where a wealthy middle class has often formed highly qualified specialists. This harbors social conflict. The fact that the last government was voted out of office in 2004 is largely explained by the rural population's dissatisfaction with economic development.

The share of agriculture in the gross domestic product is falling sharply. In 1956 it contributed 56%, according to the World Bank it was around 17.4% in 2016. The dependence of annual economic growth on weather conditions is correspondingly high. Unfavorable harvesting conditions can noticeably affect it.

Great technical advances have been made since independence, especially in the wake of the so-called “ Green Revolution ” that began in the mid-1960s. The large-scale introduction of high-yielding varieties, the use of fertilizers and pesticides , the partial mechanization of agriculture and the expansion of the irrigation areas have all contributed to the fact that the country is now largely self-sufficient in terms of food. Nevertheless, India's agriculture is still comparatively inefficient. Many people are underemployed in rural areas and large parts of the country are still to come to industrialization. Only in Punjab , the “ breadbasket of India”, is it already further advanced.

The most important is the cultivation of cereals , especially rice . Its main cultivation areas are in the fertile river plains of the north as well as along the coasts and in the eastern Deccan . India is the world's second largest rice producer after China . India accounts for about a fifth of global revenues. India also ranks second in the world for wheat , the second most important crop. Wheat is mainly grown in the northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh , but also in the north and northwest of the Deccan, as well as Gujarat and Bihar . In drier regions such as Rajasthan , Gujarat and large parts of the Deccan, millet dominates . Corn and barley play a lesser role. The cultivation of pulses , potatoes , onions , oilseeds (especially peanuts , soybeans , sesame , rapeseed , coconuts ), mangos and bananas also contribute to food production .

The most important commercial crops are cotton , sugar cane , tea , tobacco , coffee , jute , cashew nuts , spices (especially chilli , pepper , cardamom , ginger , coriander , turmeric , cinnamon , garlic ) and betel nuts .

Indian cattle breeding is not very efficient, despite the world's largest cattle population with 222 million animals (as of 2002). A total of 20% of Indians are vegetarians , so meat production is not always in the foreground depending on the region. For this, milk and dairy products are produced in large quantities.


After the successful increase in agricultural yields, the promotion of fishing began in the 1980s . In parallel to the “Green Revolution”, the term “ Blue Revolution ” was coined for this purpose . After small fishermen were initially supplied with outboard motors , the construction of a modern trawl fleet began . Although this led to a significant increase in yields, it also led to overfishing of many stretches of coast. India's most important fishing grounds are on the west coast, where around 70% of the catch is made. In 2001 India ranked seventh in the world with a catch of 3.8 million tons. Today, fish and shrimp are exported in large quantities. The shrimp farming is particularly encouraged. Around half of the shrimp come from aquacultures that have been established since the 1990s, especially on the east coast.

Traditional inland fishing in rivers, ponds and lakes is particularly important in the east and northeast of India . The commercial breeding of fish, especially carp , is now establishing itself in the area around Delhi .

Mining and Natural Resources

India has abundant deposits of high quality iron and manganese ores , hard coal , bauxite and chromium . The largest raw material deposits are in the East Indies, especially Jharkhand , Chhattisgarh and Odisha . Iron ore, which the country ranked fourth in the world in 2003 with 100 million tons, is also found in Goa , Karnataka and Tamil Nadu . With over ten million tons, India is the fifth largest producer of bauxite, the most important raw material for aluminum , which is mainly mined in coastal areas of Gujarat and Maharashtra as well as in Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand. In the case of copper , India is still dependent on imports despite the increased yield.

Although India is the world's third largest producer of hard coal, it covers part of its needs with higher quality and cheaper imported coal. Hard coal is the country's most important energy source. The deposits of crude oil and natural gas are nowhere near enough to meet the steadily increasing demand. There are significant oil deposits only in Assam , Gujarat, in the Gulf of Khambhat and off the coast of Maharashtra. Own production only covers a third of consumption. Natural gas deposits are found in the Gulf of Khambhat and have only been exploited since the 1980s.


Development of steel production
as a key figure for industrial
growth in India
year metric tons the previous year
1995 22.0 million -
1997 24.4 million + 3.4%
1999 24.3 million + 3.4%
2001 27.3 million +1.5%
2003 31.8 million + 9.4%
2005 38.1 million + 16.9%0
2007 53.1 million + 7.3%
2008 55.1 million + 3.7%
2012 76.7 million + 4.3%
2018 106.5 million -
Source: ISI For 2008:
Steel Industry / Tables and Graphics

During colonial rule, the development of industry - with the exception of the textile industry  , which was important at an early stage - was rather inhibited than encouraged. After independence, therefore, the expansion of capital-intensive key industries was particularly accelerated. This included steel , machine and chemical industries . The production of consumer goods was neglected and should be covered by small industries. In order to achieve the ambitious goals, one relied on the development of the key industries by the state by means of five-year plans , following the example of the Soviet Union . In 2001, 21.9% of the working population were employed in industry. According to the World Bank, the added value of industry in 2016 was 28.8% of the gross domestic product, making India's industrial production one of the largest in the world. A growth engine in the industrial sector is the deregulation on the energy, chemical and raw materials markets. The rapidly increasing domestic demand for durable consumer goods is also providing impetus for growth.

Thanks to the huge domestic demand and production for export, the textile industry is still one of the largest and most important industries in India. Leather is produced and processed in large quantities both industrially and by hand. Since Hindus view the touching and processing of animal carcasses as unclean work, most employees in the leather industry are Muslims or " untouchables ". In addition to these more traditional industries, iron and steel production, machine, automotive and chemical industries dominate. Among them, the state share is particularly high. However, the share of private companies has increased since the liberalization of the economy in the 1980s and especially the early 1990s. The Indian pharmaceutical industry is one of the largest and most advanced among the developing world . Because of Indian patent protection legislation, which pharmaceuticals were only subject to to a limited extent, there were repeated disputes with the industrialized countries , above all the United States of America . In the meantime, India has adapted its patent laws. An important driver of the economic upturn in recent years is the information technology sector, which can be assigned partly to the industrial and partly to the service sector. The software sector in particular has developed into an important branch of the economy . Many Indian cities now have "software parks". The production of hardware experienced rapid expansion. With double-digit annual growth rates, biotechnology is also gaining in importance.

Industrial production is concentrated in a few large urban areas. The most important industrial zones are the metropolitan areas of Mumbai - Pune , Ahmedabad - Vadodara - Surat , Delhi , Kanpur - Lucknow , Chennai , Calcutta - Asansol as well as the Punjab and the east of Jharkhand .

The advanced technology is mainly located in the south of the country: the center of the information technology industry is Bengaluru , as a new growth center of biotechnology has Hyderabad established, especially with the establishment of the Biotechnology Center Genome Valley .


The contribution of services to overall economic production in India is unusually high for a developing country . Around 53.8% of the gross domestic product was generated by services in 2016. India has achieved significant market positions, particularly in services in the field of information technology, other engineering services, research and development work and administrative tasks. In 2005 India became the world's leading exporter of software and IT services, and in 2007 more than a third of all computer services came from here. These services are also increasingly being carried out on behalf of foreign customers and are often referred to as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) or Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO). Examples are call centers and healthcare services.

Foreign trade

Development of foreign trade in India  ( World Bank )
year Import of goods Export of goods
U.S-$ growth U.S-$ growth
2013 465.4 billion −8.1% 314.8 billion + 7.8%
2014 462.9 billion + 0.8% 322.7 billion +1.8%
2015 392.9 billion −5.9% 267.4 billion −5.3%
2016 359.1 billion + 2.3% 264.9 billion + 4.5%
2017 448.4 billion 299.3 billion
2018 510.7 billion 325.6 billion

In relation to its economic strength, India's foreign trade links are rather low. This is largely due to the strong domestic market orientation in the decades after independence. However, since the economic opening in the early 1990s, which among other things also resulted in the lifting of many import restrictions, foreign trade has seen a significant upturn. Between 1991 and 2004 the exchange of goods with other countries more than quadrupled.

India is an important exporter of raw materials and finished products, but also of workers and services. Software products and software developers come from India ; it has a large number of well-trained professionals. The most important export goods are textiles , clothing, cut and processed precious stones , jewelry , chemicals , petroleum products, leather goods and software products. India mainly imports crude oil, electronic products, precious stones (ex: diamonds), machinery, precious metals , chemicals and fertilizers .

According to initial information from the Federal Statistical Office, trade between India and Germany grew significantly again in the first seven months of 2006. Germany imported goods worth 2.4 billion euros, 30.5% more than in the same period last year, and exported goods worth 3.3 billion euros, 39.7% more than in the first seven months of 2005. By 2016, the total increased Trade volume rose to 17.4 billion euros, making India 24th among Germany's most important trading partners.

The following lists show the scope and trading partners of India's foreign trade (source: Reserve Bank of India ):

Imports / imports (2016/17)    Exports / Export (2016/17)
# country U.S-$ proportion of # country U.S-$ proportion of
1 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China (excluding Hong Kong) 61.3 billion 16.0% 1 United StatesUnited States United States 42.3 billion 15.3%
2 United StatesUnited States United States 22.1 billion 5.8% 2 United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates 31.2 billion 11.3%
3 United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates 21.4 billion 5.6% 3 Hong KongHong Kong Hong Kong 14.1 billion 5.1%
4th Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 20.0 billion 5.2% 4th China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China (excluding Hong Kong) 10.2 billion 3.7%
5 SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland 17.2 billion 4.5% 5 SingaporeSingapore Singapore 9.6 billion 3.5%
6th IndonesiaIndonesia Indonesia 13.4 billion 3.5% 6th United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 8.6 billion 3.1%
7th Korea SouthSouth Korea South Korea 12.6 billion 3.3% 7th GermanyGermany Germany 7.2 billion 2.6%
8th IraqIraq Iraq 11.7 billion 3.1% 8th BangladeshBangladesh Bangladesh 6.7 billion 2.4%
9 GermanyGermany Germany 11.5 billion 3.0% 9 FranceFrance France 5.4 billion 1.9%
10 IranIran Iran 10.5 billion 2.7% 10 NepalNepal Nepal 5.4 billion 1.9%
Others 181.0 billion 47.3% Others 135.8 billion 52.9%
IndiaIndia India : total imports 382.7 billion 0100.0% IndiaIndia India : total exports 276.5 billion 0100.0%


The tourism has become one of the most important currencies developed bringer of India. In 2014, India saw a greater influx of tourists than ever before, with 7.6 million foreign visitors. However, this also includes many foreigners of Indian origin who live mainly in North America and Great Britain and regularly pay longer visits to their relatives in India. That said, the tourism sector generated $ 10.7 billion in revenue in 2014 from the arrival of foreign guests. As of July 2019, there are a total of 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India  , including 30 World Heritage Sites, 7 World Natural Heritage Sites and 1 mixed cultural and natural heritage . By far the most visited tourist attraction is the white tomb Taj Mahal in the north Indian city of Agra . Other popular destinations in the north are the state of Rajasthan with its deserts and camels, the capital New Delhi , the former Portuguese colony of Goa on the west coast and in the far south the state of Kerala with its backwaters under coconut trees. In addition to cultural, beach and nature tourism, adventure vacations such as trekking or rafting and health tourism ( yoga , Ayurveda ) are also becoming increasingly important.

State budget

The state budget in 2016 comprised expenditures equivalent to US $ 283.1 billion , which was offset by revenues equivalent to US $ 200.1 billion. This resulted in a budget deficit of 3.6% of GDP and national debt was $ 1,177 billion or 52.3% of GDP.

In 2014, the share of government spending (as a percentage of gross domestic product) was in the following areas:

On August 2, 2016, the House of Lords decided to introduce a uniform goods and services tax (GST) instead of the previously regional tax rates in the 29 states in order to promote the seamless movement of goods. The resolution has yet to be ratified by the states and should come into force in spring 2017. At the end of March 2017, the Indian President Pranab Mukherjee signed the laws that are to bring an India-wide uniform value added tax into effect from July 1, 2017.



Daily oil consumption in India and Southeast Asia, barrels per day

India has the third largest energy consumption in the world after China and the USA. India also had the third largest CO 2 emissions worldwide, which are also growing rapidly.

In 2014, 79.2% of Indian households had an electricity connection (70.0% in rural areas, 98.3% in cities). However, frequent power outages continue to affect the availability of electricity.

The current energy requirement of 560 kilowatt hours per inhabitant and year is one of the lowest in the world. Half of the energy supply of coal , a quarter of oil - gas and hydropower , a fifth is by burning cattle dung , covered firewood and other materials.

India ranks fourth in the world in terms of wind energy development . In February 2021, the installed wind power plants had a capacity of 38.789  GW (2017: 32.8 GW; 2020: 38.625 GW, that is 5.2% of the global wind power capacity). In the run-up to the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015 , the government announced that it would expand wind energy capacity to 60 GW by 2022. The solar energy will be expanded significantly since the early 2010s. In the fall of 2011, just 45 megawatts of photovoltaic capacity were installed, and the 20 gigawatt mark was already reached in March 2018 thanks to the significant expansion. The nationwide target is 100 GW of installed capacity by 2022. Of this, 39.54 GW had been achieved by February 2021. Overall, India had set itself the goal of expanding renewable energies to 225 GW by 2022. Of this, 46.06 GW were achieved in early 2021 with large hydropower plants, and 92.97 GW with other renewables.

In 2011, nuclear energy accounted for around 3.7% of the electricity supply. In August 2012, there were six nuclear power plants in India with 21 reactor blocks and a total installed capacity of 5780 MW on the grid. Six more reactor blocks with a gross total output of 4,300 MW are under construction. Since India did not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty , many countries are very reluctant to participate in the construction. So far India has agreed to cooperate with Russia, the European Union and Canada for the peaceful use of nuclear energy (see also the list of nuclear reactors in India ).

India is the third largest consumer of crude oil worldwide and had a demand of 4.1 million barrels per day (as of 2015). India is dependent on oil imports, which are likely to increase sharply in the future due to India's growing population and economy. The largest Indian petroleum companies are Reliance Industries and Indian Oil Corporation .


air traffic

Due to the huge distances within India and the land infrastructure that is still underdeveloped in many places, air traffic is playing an increasingly important role. The main hubs for domestic flights are Delhi ( Indira Gandhi International Airport ), Mumbai ( Mumbai Airport ), Calcutta ( Kolkata Airport ) and Chennai ( Chennai Airport ) as the core points of their respective regions. There are flight connections between the largest cities in India several times a day. The small size and poor connections of the increasingly congested airports represent a major difficulty. In the past, air traffic was dominated by the two state airlines Air India (international flights) and Indian Airlines (domestic flights). There are now several private airlines that have already conquered a 40% market share within India.

Rail transport

India's first train ran between Mumbai and Thane on April 16, 1853 . Just four decades later, the railroad connected all the important parts of the country with one another. It still plays an important role in the transport of goods and people today. Almost 30% of freight and 15% of passenger traffic are handled by rail. The Indian State Railways ( Indian Railways ) is divided into 16 regional companies, employs 1.6 million people more employees than any other state-owned enterprises in the country. There are 7200 train stations. However, the superlatives can hardly hide the sometimes desolate state of the rail network. The main problems are the uneven and large-meshed development of the country, the mostly outdated technology, and a low level of electrification for today's standard : only 19,000 of the total of 64,000 kilometers of route (as of 2011) are electrified. The rail network consists of 54,257 kilometers of broad-gauge tracks measuring 1676 millimeters, the remaining 10,000 kilometers are spread over three different narrow-gauge widths.

India's rail network is the second longest just behind China, but by no means the densest in Asia. India's rail network ranks fifth on a global scale. The state is primarily focusing on electrification and the double-track expansion of the main lines, the conversion of meter-gauge lines into broad-gauge lines and the modernization of technical facilities. In fact, the expansion of the railroad can hardly keep pace with the increasing demands of population and industrial growth, which contributes to the rapid development of road traffic. One attempt to make rail passenger transport more attractive are the Shatabdi express trains , which connect the three metropolises of Chennai , Mumbai and New Delhi with major cities and economic regions .

Maritime transport

Modernization of the road network: The approximately 100 km long Mumbai Pune Expressway , a prestige project, was completed in 2002

Since India is cut off from its trading partners in the neighboring regions of East , Southeast and Near East due to its geographical location, and since its immediate neighbors only play a subordinate role in the mutual exchange of goods for economic or political reasons, foreign trade is carried out almost exclusively via seaports . Around 90% of overseas cargo handling takes place in India's twelve largest ports. There are also many medium-sized and smaller ports that are not suitable for large ships and container handling and are therefore almost only used by coastal ships.

Road traffic

The most important traffic route in India today is the road . As early as the 1970s, road traffic overtook the railways in terms of freight and passenger transport. Today around 70% of goods transport and even 85% of passenger traffic are carried out on the road. India's road network covers around 3.3 million kilometers, only about half of which is paved. Most important are the National Highways, which cover over 65,000 kilometers. They connect the largest cities in the country with each other. The main artery is the Grand Trunk Road , which leads from Amritsar on the Pakistani border via Delhi to Calcutta . In fact, the vast majority of the national highways are only two-lane and often in a catastrophic state. The more than 130,000 kilometers of state highways in the states remain problematic, as they meet very different standards and are sometimes only single-lane in poorer states.

In 2013, a total of 238,562 people were killed in Indian road traffic, making India, behind the People's Republic of China, the country with the second highest number of road fatalities in the world. For comparison: In Germany there were 3,540 deaths in road traffic in the same year. The reasons for the high level of uncertainty are the inadequate infrastructure and inconsiderate driving style.

In India there is left-hand traffic .


India's Telecommunications 2005
Telephone connections 67.25 per 1000 pop.
Mobile phones 0350.51 per 1000 inh.
Radios 227.69 per 1000 pop.
Televisions 680.07 per 1000 pop.
computer 25.68 per 1000 pop.
Internet users 21.13 per 1000 pop.
CIA World Factbook: India 2005

In India, more people already have a mobile phone than a landline. In June 2006, the number of cell phone users exceeded the 100 million mark. In 2011 there were already 900 million cell phones in use. Coverage was over 70% and India was the second largest market for mobile phones in the world.

The spread of telecommunications and computers in India is still characterized by a strong urban-rural divide.

Often you can see a so-called Public Call Office (PCO) in the streets . These are public telephones that are usually operated from a small street stall. In most cases, this is not a coin-operated telephone, but a normal telephone that is personally used for payment. Of the usual PCOs, only national calls (STD) are possible, which is why special international PCOs must be visited for international calls (ISD).

In 2016, 462 million or 34.8% of the population used the Internet in India, making India the country with the second most Internet users in the world after China.


Elaborately embroidered cloth of the Meqwar, decorated with shards of mirror, Kachchh district (Gujarat)

The Indian culture is one of the oldest and most diverse cultures of the world. It was formative for all of South and Southeast Asia . Faith has always played a prominent role in India, the country of origin of several religions ( Hinduism , Buddhism , Jainism , Sikhism ) and has thus also decisively shaped the country's culture. The almost unmanageable diversity of languages ​​and peoples has also produced regional peculiarities and peculiarities. But foreign influences such as Islam or European colonial powers also left their mark. India has an enormous cultural diversity and regional or local identities, customs and cultures can differ greatly.

Various cultural scientists have dealt with the typical Indian mentality , compared self-image and external images and formulated so-called cultural standards of behavior from this .

Indian clothing and jewelry: bindi , dhoti , kurta , lungi , mehndi , salwar kamiz , sari


Great Stupa of Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh)
Konark Sun Temple (Odisha)
Victorian St. Paul's Cathedral in Calcutta
Lotus Temple in New Delhi

In the architecture of India, the various cultural influences that have shaped the country reflect, resist. In addition to palaces and fortresses, the sacred architecture stands out in particular.

In the earliest times, wood, clay and burned bricks were used as building materials. The oldest surviving remains of Indian architecture come from the Indus culture , which spread mainly in the area of ​​today's Pakistan , but also in Gujarat and the Indian part of Punjab .

The oldest completely preserved structures are Buddhist stupas . Stupas are dome-shaped buildings standing on a rectangular platform. A relic is usually kept inside . In fact, the stupa developed from burial mounds, as they were already common in Vedic times. Each part of the stupa has a symbolic meaning, as a whole it represents the world mountain Meru . The most outstanding example is the Great Stupa of Sanchi ( Madhya Pradesh ) from the 3rd century BC. Furthermore, Buddhist monasteries with prayer halls ( Chaitya Hall) and living cells for monks ( Vihara ) were built, as in the caves of Ajanta and Ellora ( Maharashtra , 2nd century BC to 7th century AD). With the decline of Buddhism in India, with the exception of the Himalayan region , from the 10th century onwards, the development of Buddhist architecture came to an end. It was continued in East and Southeast Asia as well as Sri Lanka and Tibet .

At the same time as Buddhist architecture, Jain architecture emerged. Jain temples are mostly open to the outside to let in light. They also have particularly artistic, filigree stone carvings. The most beautiful examples include the temple of Ranakpur (15th century) in Rajasthan and the countless buildings in the pilgrimage town of Palitana in Gujarat . Independent style elements developed in South India. The impressive monolith statue of an ascetic in Shravanabelagola ( Karnataka ) from the 10th century is famous .

For Hindu temples were up in the first centuries AD only little lasting building materials, especially wood and clay, is used. However, the first stone temples took up the style of their predecessors. Basically every component has a symbolic meaning. All Hindu temples symbolize the cosmos, while the temple tower represents the mythological Mount Meru. Nevertheless, two different main styles emerged from the 7th century, which differ most clearly in the shape of the tower. The North Indian Nagara style is characterized by the beehive-shaped tower above the sanctum, known as the Shikhara . In South India, the Dravida style dominates , which is characterized by a staircase rising tower called Vimana . Later, the stylistically similar gopuram (also gopura ) emerged as a further feature above the entrance gate. Outstanding architectural monuments in Nagara style are the Mukteshvara Temple in Bhubaneswar ( Odisha ), built in the 10th century , the Sun Temple of Konark (Odisha) from the 13th century and the temple district of Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh) from the 10th and 11th centuries . Century. The most famous Dravida temples are in the Tamil cities of Thanjavur ( Brihadishvara Temple , 11th century) and Madurai ( Minakshi Temple , 16th to 17th centuries). Numerous sacred and secular buildings have been preserved in Hampi (Karnataka). Early forerunners of the Dravida style from the 7th and 8th centuries can be found in Mamallapuram (Tamil Nadu).

With the advance of Islam into northern India from the 12th century, Indo-Islamic architecture emerged . Early mosques were often built in place of, or even included parts of, Hindu temples. The most famous building of this time is the Qutub Minar minaret (12th century) in Delhi . Over time, Islamic architecture mixed with Hindu elements to form an independent Indian-Islamic architecture that flourished under the Mughals . The magnificent Mughal architecture has produced some of the most important buildings in India, such as the Taj Mahal in Agra ( Uttar Pradesh ), which Shah Jahan had built as a tomb for his wife in the 17th century, or the palaces of Fatehpur Sikri . Ornate buildings were also built in other Muslim states in India, such as the Gol Gumbaz mausoleum in Bijapur (Karnataka) from the 17th century.

The British colonial era gave Indian architecture new impulses from the 19th century. The Indo-Saracen style emerged from the amalgamation of European, Islamic and Indian elements . Examples of this are the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai , most of the buildings in the Indian High Courts and countless buildings in the former colonial capital of Calcutta . In Goa there are churches and monasteries from the Portuguese colonial times, the most important of them in Velha Goa . Newer palace buildings by Indian rulers, such as the Amba Vilas in Mysuru (Karnataka) , were also under European influence .

Among the modern architecture of India, the planned city of Chandigarh by the architect Le Corbusier , the campus of the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad (Gujarat) and the lotus-shaped Bahai temple in New Delhi stand out.


Rabindranath Tagore , winner of the 1913 Nobel Prize for Literature (photo from 1909)

Indian literature is one of the oldest in the world. However, it should be noted that at no time has there been only one “Indian” literature, but on the contrary, many literatures of the countless ancient and modern languages ​​of India.

The oldest works were written in Sanskrit , Pali and Tamil . The Vedas from the 13th to 5th centuries BC are among the most outstanding Sanskrit works . BC, the Upanishads (around 700 to 500 BC) and the two great epics Mahabharata and Ramayana . They deal with mythological and religious themes from Hinduism . In addition, many other important works were created in a wide variety of fields, such as religion , philosophy , statecraft, and science . With the rise of Buddhism from the 5th century BC, Pali became an important literary language that, among other things, produced the writings of Theravada Buddhism.

In South India, Tamil was the first to develop into a classical literary language. The oldest works were created around 2000 years ago. Sangam literature dates from the heyday of early Tamil . In addition to heroic works about kings and wars, it primarily contains love poetry . Later, Kannada , Telugu and Malayalam emerged as important written languages.

In the Middle Ages, a new intellectual current emerged with Islam , which exerted a great influence on the literature of India. Sanskrit became less and less important. New languages ​​such as Hindustani , Bengali , Punjabi and Marathi emerged from it and the Central Indian prakrit languages , all of which developed their own literary traditions. Religious poems of Hinduism were now written in the regional languages, which could also be understood by the people, and were increasingly devoted to the bhakti , the devotional worship of God. Outstanding representatives of this new literature include Tulsidas , Kabir and Mirabai in Hindi, Dnyaneshwar in Marathi or Narasinh Mehta in Gujarati .

The amalgamation of Islamic-Persian and Indian elements in Urdu poetry is remarkable. Some of the most beautiful love poems were written in this language, which eventually became the court language of the Mughals and flourished from the 17th century. The ghosts of the poet Mirza Ghalib and the works of Muhammad Iqbal, who is now especially venerated in Pakistan , achieved the greatest fame .

Western influence on Indian literature increased in the 19th century. Under these circumstances, Bengali literature in particular experienced an upswing. Its best-known representative is undoubtedly Rabindranath Tagore , who is revered today as a national poet and so far the only Indian to have received the Nobel Prize for Literature . Two of his poems later became the national anthems of India and Bangladesh . Since the early 20th century, many Indian writers have also used English for their works.

Contemporary Indian literature not only encompasses all of the major written languages ​​in the country, but also covers a wide range of subjects. Famous modern authors are Salman Rushdie , Arundhati Roy , RK Narayan , Mulk Raj Anand , Rohinton Mistry , Ruskin Bond , Amrita Pritam , Mahasweta Devi , Vikram Seth , Amitav Ghosh , Anita Desai and Dom Moraes .


Indian classical music is divided into two main directions: Hindustan and Carnatic music . Hindustan music comes from northern India and is heavily influenced by the Persian cultural area. Carnatic music is the predominant classical style of South India. Both are based on the essential concepts of raga and tala . The raga represents the basic melodic structure. Each raga is based on a certain sequence of notes that convey a mood of feeling. It is played to a certain tala, a kind of clock system that specifies the rhythm of the piece of music. Typical instruments include stringed instruments such as sitar , vina , sarod , tanpura and sarangi, as well as wind instruments ( flute , shehnai ). The tabla or - in South India - the mridangam , for example, serve as rhythm instruments . The sitar player and composer Ravi Shankar is considered the most famous interpreter of Indian classical music.

In addition to classical music, India has rich folk music traditions in different parts of the country. The Bhangra music from Punjab and the Bengali Baul musicians are well known. Today traditional folk music is more limited to rural areas.

Indian pop music, on the other hand, enjoys the greatest popularity among the general population and has characteristics of both western and traditional and classical Indian music. Catchy catchy tunes from popular movies are particularly well received. The most successful and well-known singers of Indian film music include Lata Mangeshkar , Kishore Kumar , Mohammed Rafi , Manna Dey and Asha Bhosle .


In Hinduism , dances have always played an important role, on the one hand as a danced version of prayer , on the other hand to represent mythological themes. So it is not surprising that an enormous variety of classical dances, most of which have drama traits, has developed in India. Dance is one of the most developed art forms in India. Even the smallest movements and facial expressions often have a symbolic meaning. Classical dances are usually based on literary foundations. Among the classical styles, the Bharatanatyam stands out, a single dance originally Tamil but now valued throughout India. The Kuchipudi dance from Andhra Pradesh is similar to it , but it has more theatrical components. One of the most expressive forms of dance theater originated in Kerala with the Kathakali practiced by men . Mohiniyattam , an individual dance for women, also comes from Kerala. Odissi is the classic temple dance of Odishas . The north Indian Kathak was originally a temple dance, but under the Mughal rulers it was exposed to Islamic influences and developed into a courtly dance. The Manipuri from the north-east Indian Manipur , on the other hand, has influences from the Burmese culture and regional peculiarities. It is presented in the group.

In addition, there is a wide variety of regional folk dances in India . These are presented on a wide variety of occasions, for example at weddings, regional festivals, at the harvest or at the beginning of the monsoons . The Bhangra from Punjab and the Garba from Gujarat are very well-known .


Although sculpture was long considered the higher art form in India, there was a highly developed tradition of painting from an early age. Apart from prehistoric paintings and ornate ceramics from the Indus culture , the earliest examples date from the Gupta period . The Buddhist rock paintings in the Ajanta Caves are considered masterpieces of this era. Later works in Ajanta as well as Hindu , Jain and Buddhist representations in the caves of Ellora continued the Gupta style.

Rāgā Srī, King of Love, with pages. Deccan style, around 1595

With the appearance of Islam from the 12th century, painting gradually gained importance as court art in the Persian tradition. It reached the peak of its development with the Mughal style of the 16th to 18th centuries. Miniature painting in particular flourished. Almost exclusively worldly things were depicted, so portraits of important personalities of the empire as well as depictions of court life and important historical events predominate . Miniature painting also flourished in other Islamic parts of India. An independent style developed at the courts of the Dekkan sultanates .

The Mughal style also influenced the emergence of Rajput painting at the courts of the many princely states of Rajasthan . However, this was mainly devoted to Hindu themes, such as the illustration of the great Hindu epics Mahabharata and Ramayana . Representations from the life of Krishna were particularly popular . Due to the large number of Rajput royal courts, various painting schools emerged. Each school developed its own peculiarities, but they all have in common the large-scale drawing and bright colors. Figures were often depicted without shadows.

The Pahari School developed in the western Himalayas in the 18th century . It too is dominated by Hindu motifs. Landscapes with only a few figures are characteristic.

Western influences during the British colonial era brought about revolutionary changes. By the late 19th century, traditional Indian painting was in decline. Instead, painters like Raja Ravi Varma tried to imitate European styles, especially realism . Only after the turn of the century did traditional style elements find their way back into the works of Indian artists, including the Bengali school around Abanindranath Tagore .

Modern painting in India takes up western art movements, but also carries on Indian traditions and develops them further. The most famous modern artist is Maqbul Fida Husain .

In addition, there has always been a strong tradition of folk painting in India. In the country houses are often lavishly painted. The Madhubani painting from Bihar is particularly well known . The art of the Indian tribal population is also gaining increasing recognition.


The film is undoubtedly one of the most important components of modern day Indian culture. With more than 1000 productions annually, the Indian film industry is the largest in the world. The cultural, especially linguistic, diversity is therefore also reflected in this genre. Each of the major regional languages ​​has its own film industry. The Hindi film produces most productions. It is produced in Mumbai and is known as "Bollywood" for its commercial cinema. Shah Rukh Khan , Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukerji are popular and famous Bollywood actors. Even the Bengali , Kannada - Tamil , Telugu - and Malayalam cinema are very popular and have great mass appeal. The main characteristics of the entertainment films are similar in all regional productions. The films, often more than three hours long, contain many music and dance scenes, without which no commercial film would be complete. Sometimes the film music is published in advance. If it is a success, there is a high probability that the film will also become a box-office hit. Actors are expected to be able to dance while professional singers do the vocal performances. The mix of funny, romantic, dramatic and action elements is also striking.

In addition, the author's cinema has also been widely recognized. The two Bengali directors Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen are internationally known .


The Indian men's national hockey team at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, winner of the gold medal

Many of the sports practiced in India originated in England and spread during British colonial rule.

The second most popular sport is hockey , which is considered the national sport of India and is also the most successful Olympic sport for India : The Indian men's hockey team has so far won eight gold, one silver and two bronze medals at the Summer Olympics . India won the men's field hockey world championship in 1975 and finished the 1973 men's field hockey world championship in second place. India has also hosted this tournament three times: 1982 , 2010 and 2018 .

Cricket , which originated in England, is by far the most popular sport. The Indian national cricket team has won the Cricket World Cup twice so far: 1983 and 2011 , and the 2003 Cricket World Cup finished in second place. The Cricket World Cups 1987 , 1996 and 2011 were held in India, among others, and the 2023 Cricket World Cup will be held in India again. The national team also won the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa, shared the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka and won the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy , as well as the Asia Cups of 1984 , 1988 , 1990 , 1995 , 2010 , 2016 and 2018 . The Indian Premier League (IPL) is the most popular cricket league in the world and attracts mainly spectators from the Indian subcontinent, but also from South Africa, the British Isles and the Caribbean. Due to the time difference to Australia and New Zealand and the nightly transmission, however, the IPL is hardly noticed there.

In some parts of the country such as Goa , Kerala or West Bengal , football is also very popular.

Narain Karthikeyan from Chennai was India's first Formula 1 driver. From 2011 to 2013 the Indian Grand Prix was held on the Buddh International Circuit ; Sebastian Vettel won all three races. As early as 2007, Force India established its own Indian Formula 1 team.

India has produced some of the best chess players in the world, including former world chess champion Viswanathan Anand . Rohan Bopanna is one of the most famous and successful tennis players in India.

Indian athletes won a total of 28 medals at the Olympic Games . India was the undisputed dominant country with its national hockey team from 1928 to 1964; in these 8 games you won 7 gold and 1 silver. Abhinav Bindra was the only individual athlete to win another gold medal for the country. Norman Pritchard , Khashaba Jadhav , Leander Paes , Karnam Malleswari , Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore , Sushil Kumar and Vijender Kumar also won medals (3x silver, 5x bronze) for India.

In 2010 the Commonwealth Games were held in New Delhi. The South Asian Games in 1951 and 1982 were also held in India.


The postures ( asanas ) of yoga, which is around 2000 years old, are the most popular part of yoga in the West (cf. Hatha Yoga ). Autogenic training and other related types of exercise are derived from it. Yoga prepares meditation and complements religions, although it is not itself. An example: The sun salutation (also sun prayer) is a dynamic sequence of movements, which also corresponds to the symbolic Indian sun worship ( Surya ). Asanas and Ayurveda are part of ancient Indian practices which, far more than Western ones, include holistic health and spiritual experience.


Curry with naan bread

Indian cuisine reflects both the regional diversity and the different historical and religious influences of the country. There can therefore be no talk of a uniform cooking culture. Rather, ingredients and eating habits differ from one another just as much as in Europe. In general, meat is less important than in western kitchens. The most commonly eaten type of meat is chicken. Meat dishes are still most popular with Muslims , but they do not eat pork, while some Hindus are entirely vegetarian . Most of them - like the Sikhs  - strictly reject beef . Jainas are strictly forbidden from consuming any animal-based food. Vegetable oils are far more common as frying fats than animal fats.

In the North and West Indies, various types of white bread (roti) are used as staple food in addition to rice , the most common variant of which is chapati , an unleavened flatbread made from whole wheat flour. In contrast, naan bread , which is widespread in the northwest, is baked with yeast. In the South and East Indies, rice is the most important food. Side dishes are legumes such as lentils , chickpeas , pigeon peas , black grams and mung bean common. The word “ curry ”, which is known in the western world as a mixture of spices and is regarded as a symbol of Indian cuisine, is a term in India for the preparation method of a large number of vegetarian or meat-based dishes in an often strongly seasoned sauce. In fact, the spice mixes called masala are indispensable in Indian cuisine, but their recipe and use vary considerably depending on the region. Spiced sweet and sour chutneys made from vegetables and fruits are often served with curries . Dairy products, such as ghee (clarified butter) and yogurt , are also common ingredients in many dishes and sauces.

Popular drinks include coffee , tea , masala chai (milk tea with spices), fruit juices and milk-based drinks such as lassi (a yogurt drink). Alcoholic beverages are rejected by many Indians for religious reasons. In fact, in some states, alcohol is generally not available.

Holidays and celebrations

As national days of be Republic Day ( Republic Day ) on January 26, the day of entry into force of the Constitution in 1950, and the Independence Day ( Independence Day reminds) on August 15, at the end of British colonial rule in 1947, committed. The latter, however, is not celebrated as lavishly as Republic Day, on which a large parade takes place in Delhi , which is approved by the President. The birthday of the leader of the independence movement Mohandas Karamchand ("Mahatma") Gandhi on October 2nd ( Gandhi Jayanti ) as well as several religious festivals are national public holidays. Religious festivals are extremely important in India. The most important Hindu celebrations include the festival of lights Diwali , Dashahara (the day of the victory of Rama over the demon Ravana ), the spring festivals Holi and Vasant Panchami , Ganesh Chaturthi in honor of Ganesha , Raksha Bandhan (festival of the "protective connection" between siblings) and many more pujas in honor of individual deities. Muslims celebrate the festival of sacrifice ( Id al-Adha ) at the climax of the pilgrimage ( Hajj ) to Mecca and Id al-Fitr at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan . The most important holiday of the Sikhs , Buddhists and Jainas is the birthday of their respective believer ( Nanak Dev or Buddha or Mahavira ). Christians especially celebrate Easter and Christmas .

There is also a vast number of regional festivals. During harvest time, rural areas celebrate harvest festivals such as the Tamil Pongal , Lohri in Punjab or Onam in Kerala (around Kochi ), while people in other parts of the country celebrate Makar Sankranti on the same day . The Onam Festival was initially religious in nature, but now the focus is on the culture and tradition of Kerala. From the end of February to the beginning of March, a seven-day dance festival takes place against the backdrop of the Khajuraho temples, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site .


According to the Constitution of 1950, freedom of expression and the press apply in India , even if these are restricted in crisis areas such as Kashmir and parts of northeast India . Due to its pluralistic society, however, India has a very diverse media landscape.

In the 2017 press freedom list published by Reporters Without Borders , India was ranked 130th out of 180 countries, better than its neighbors Pakistan (139) and Bangladesh (146). Four journalists were killed in India in 2017. According to the Reporters Without Borders report, the victims' deaths are directly related to their journalistic activities.

Print media

India's first newspaper, the English-language Bengal Gazette, appeared in Calcutta in 1780 . Today India has an extremely diverse press landscape. The Indian press is considered critical, and the range of topics is extraordinarily wide. Around 55,000 newspapers and magazines appear in the country - more than in any other country in the world - with a total circulation of over 140 million. These include more than 5000 daily newspapers. Most of the print media is published in Hindi , which accounts for 45% of the total press market. English-language newspapers have a 17% share. The rest is spread across over 100 languages ​​and dialects.

The main news and press agencies are Press Trust of India (PTI) and United News of India (UNI).

The following list shows the 10 most widely read daily newspapers in India in 2013, according to the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) - the largest English-language newspaper is The Times of India with over 7 million readers (compare the list of Indian newspapers ):

daily newspaper language reader
1 Dainik Jagran Hindi 15.527 million
2 Hindustan Hindi 14.246 million
3 Dainik Bhaskar Hindi 12.857 million
4th Malayala Manorama Malayalam 8.565 million
5 Daily Thanthi Tamil 8.156 million
6th Rajasthan patrika Hindi 7.665 million
7th The Times of India English 7.254 million
8th Amar Ujala Hindi 7.071 million
9 Mathrubhumi Malayalam 6.136 million
10 Lokmat Marathi 5.601 million
... The Hindustan Times English 4,335 million
... The Hindu English 1.473 million
... Mumbai Mirror English 1.084 million
magazine language reader
1 Vanitha Malayalam 02.762 million
2 India Today (English) English 1.532 million
3 Pratiyogita Darpan Hindi 1.457 million
4th Saras Salil , women's magazine Hindi 1.174 million
5 India Today (Hindi) Hindi 1.151 million
6th Samanya Gyan Darpan Hindi 1.094 million
7th Manorama Thozil Veedhi Malayalam 1.012 million


Until the early 1990s, radio was the dominant electronic medium. With almost 200 million listeners, however, it now only reaches half as many people as television. The monopoly of the state-owned All India Radio , which broadcasts in 24 languages ​​and can be received throughout the country, has long been broken by the increasing number of private FM stations . In the big cities, private radio stations have already overtaken state radio.

watch TV

The television was first introduced on September 15, 1959 Delhi area. However, a regular program has only existed since 1965. On the occasion of the Asian Games in New Delhi in 1982, color television was introduced. In the same year television programs began to be broadcast via satellite .

At first, television was reserved for a small, affluent minority, but saw a rapid increase in viewership in the 1980s and is now by far the most popular mass medium in India. The state television Doordarshan , which held a monopoly position until 1991, is now countered by numerous private satellite and cable broadcasters . The latter find their audience mainly among the younger urban population. Around half of the 100 million or so television households now have a cable connection. The private channels with the highest audience are STAR Plus, Sony TV and Zee TV .


The Internet is widespread among the Indian middle and upper classes. In 2016, 34% of the population had access to the Internet. However, the number of users is increasing rapidly, not least thanks to the Internet cafés that are becoming increasingly widespread. The larger Indian daily newspapers have an online version on the Internet. The number of social media users is 153 million and is still quite small in relation to the size of the population, but has recorded a very high growth rate of over 45% compared to the previous year, and the number of users is rising continuously.

Publishing and book market

Around 90,000 titles in over 18 languages ​​are published by 12,000 publishers every year. India is the third largest market for English-language publications, which has benefited greatly from the elimination of a law restricting investments. Publishing work is increasingly being relocated to India, especially from the manufacturing, English and online departments, from industrialized countries (according to ValueNotes with a turnover of INR 122 billion), particularly in the field of scientific, technical and medical specialist literature.

Two of the world's largest book fairs are held annually in India, the Kolkata Book Fair in Calcutta and the New Delhi World Book Fair in New Delhi .

See also

Portal: India  - Overview of Wikipedia content on India


Overview representations


  • Arthur Llewellyn Basham: The wonder that was India. Volume 1: A survey of the history and culture of the Indian sub-continent before the coming of the Muslims. Volume 2: From the coming of the Muslims to the British conquest: 1200-1700. Sidgwick & Jackson, London 1954/1987, ISBN 0-283-35457-7 .
  • Helmut Gregor: The image of India in the West (up to the end of the 13th century). Vienna 1964.
  • Andreas Hilger , Corinna R. Unger (Eds.): India in the world since 1947. National and transnational perspectives . Lang, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2012, ISBN 978-3-631-61178-4 .
  • Hermann Kulke: Indian history until 1750. (= Oldenbourg floor plan of history. 34). Munich 2005, ISBN 3-486-55741-6 .
  • Hermann Kulke, Dietmar Rothermund : History of India. From the Indus culture to today. Actual Special edition. Verlag CH Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-54997-7 .
  • Michael Mann: History of India. From the 18th to the 21st century. (= UTB. 2694). Publishing house Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn u. A. 2005, ISBN 3-8252-2694-8 .
  • Bernd Rosenheim: The world of the Buddha. Early Buddhist Art Sites in India. Verlag Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 2006, ISBN 3-8053-3665-9 .
  • Shashi Tharoor: A Little History of India. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 3-89331-635-3 .
  • Michael Witzel : Ancient India. (= CH Beck knowledge ). 2., through Edition. CH Beck Verlag, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-406-59717-6 .


  • Olaf Ihlau: World power India. The new challenge from the west. Siedler Verlag, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-88680-851-3 .
  • Harald Müller: World Power India - How the rapid rise challenges us. S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 3-596-17371-X .
  • Clemens Six: Hindi - Hindu - Hindustan. Politics and Religion in Modern India. 2nd Edition. Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-85476-212-6 .
  • Christian Wagner: The political system of India. An introduction. Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 3-531-90248-2 .
  • Klaus Voll: Global Asian superpower? Indian foreign and security policy between 2000 and 2005. Weißensee Verlag, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-89998-075-1 .
  • Anant Kumar: India a world power with internal weaknesses, 13 cultural-political essays. Verlag Der Neue Morgen, Rudolstadt 2012, ISBN 978-3-95480-021-6 .


Comprehensive overview with references:

For colonial India:

  • Swami Vivekananda: The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. Reprint. Mayavati Memorial Edition, Advatia Ashrama, Calcutta 1991/1992.
  • Christian W. Troll: Sayyid Ahmand Khan. A Reinterpretation of Muslim Theology. Vikas Publ. House, New Delhi 1978.



travel Guide

Web links


Commons : India  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: India  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikiquote: India  - Quotes
Wikisource: India  - Sources and Full Texts
 Wikinews: India  - in the news
Wikimedia Atlas: India  geographical and historical maps
Wikivoyage: India  Travel Guide

Government and government organizations

Country information



Individual evidence

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