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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 : “Truth alone triumphs”
official language Hindi and English
(official languages ​​of the Union)
22 other officially recognized languages ​​serve partly as official languages ​​at the regional level.
capital city New Delhi
form of government and 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/pop. (nom.)
  • GDP/pop. (PPP)
  • $2.59 trillion ( 5th )
  • $8.68 trillion ( 3rd )
  • $1,876 ( 146th )
  • $6,283 ( 131st )
Human Development Index 0.645 ( 131st ) (2019)
currency Indian rupee (INR)
independence 15 August 1947
(by 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
telephone area code +91
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Physical-political map of India
Physical-political map of India
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India (pronounced [ ˈɪndi̯ən ]) is a country in South Asia , encompassing most of the Indian subcontinent . India is a federal republic made up of 28 states and eight self- governing territories . The proper name of the republic in the two national official languages is Bhārat Gaṇarājya ( Hindi ) and Republic of India ( English ). The modern democratic and secular Indian Republic has existed since 1949. India's constitution has been in force since 1950 .

The Himalayas form the natural northern border of India, in the south the Indian Ocean encloses the national territory. India borders Pakistan , the Chinese Tibet Autonomous Region , Nepal , Bhutan , Myanmar and Bangladesh . Other neighboring countries 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 since at least the Bronze Age Indus High Civilization. With more than 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. Capital of India is New Delhi , part of metropolitan Delhi ; other metropolitan areas are Mumbai , Kolkata , 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 Jains historically from India . According to the Human Development Index (HDI), India achieves medium human development status , ranking 129th out of 189 in the world in 2019 (compared to 85th place in PRC). Economically, India is considered an emerging country . It is one of the O5 and BRICS countries and the group of the twenty most important industrialized and emerging countries (G20). Despite its low per capita income, India is the third largest and fifth largest economy in the world (purchasing power adjusted and nominal) and was the fastest growing economy in the G20 group for the first time in 2015.

origin of the name

The name India is derived from the Indus River . Its name in turn goes back to the Sanskrit word sindhu meaning "river" via the mediation of ancient Greek (Indos) and ancient Persian (Hinduš) . European seafarers referred to all of South and Southeast Asia as India. Terms such as the island of India (“ Insulinde ”) and the state name Indonesia bear witness to this . The term East Indies was also used to distinguish them from the Caribbean islands known as the West Indies , which Christopher Columbus discovered while searching for a sea route to India. During the colonial period , the term was gradually reduced to today's areas of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh , and finally assumed its current meaning when the Indian state was founded.

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

geography and national nature

landscape outline

India topographic map
The Kangchenjunga , with 8586 m India's highest mountain
Thar Desert in Rajasthan
In the backwaters of Kerala

At 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 east longitude over around 3000 kilometers. From north to south, between the 8th and the 37th degree north latitude, the expansion is around 3200 kilometers. India borders six countries: Pakistan (2912 km), China ( Tibet Autonomous Region ; 3380 km), Nepal (1690 km), Bhutan (605 km), Myanmar (1463 km) and Bangladesh (4053 km). In total, the border length is 14,103 kilometers. Since the northern part of disputed Kashmir has been under Pakistani control since 1949 (post -Kashmir conflict truce ), India no longer shares a border with Afghanistan . The country's coast is around 7,000 kilometers long.

The natural border in the north and north-east is formed by the Himalayas , the highest mountain range in the world, which is separated from the Karakorum and the Ladakh Range in the extreme north-west by the high valley of the Indus . South of the Himalayas are the broad, fertile plains of the rivers Ganges and Brahmaputra . To the west, the river land of the Ganges merges into the Thar Desert , which is bordered on the east and south by the Aravalli Mountains . South of this lie the swamps of the Rann of Kachchh and the Kathiawar Peninsula . Northeast India, including the Brahmaputra plain, is connected to the rest of the country only by a narrow corridor between Bangladesh and Nepal or Bhutan. The north-east region is shielded by the up to 3800 meter high Patkai - or Purvachal Mountains of Myanmar and the almost 2000 meter high Khasi Mountains of Bangladesh.

The Deccan Highlands occupy most of the Indian Peninsula that juts out into the Indian Ocean in the shape of a wedge . 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 2700 meters high , and in the east by the flatter Eastern Ghats . Both mountain ranges meet in the south, where the peninsula tapers to Cape Comorin . The Western Ghats drop steeply to the Konkan and Malabar coasts along the Arabian Sea . The Eastern Ghats merge into the broader eastern coastal plains on the Bay of Bengal .

India also includes three island groups off the Indian subcontinent . About 300 kilometers west of the Malabar Coast lie the coral atolls of Lakshadweep , which includes the Laccadive and Amindive island groups and Minicoy Island . Southeast of the peninsula, between 1000 and 1600 kilometers from the Indian mainland, extend the Andaman and Nicobar Islands , which also mark the eastern border of the Bay of Bengal.

The highest point in India is Mount Kangchenjunga at 8586 meters. It is in the extreme west of Sikkim ; the border with Nepal runs across it . The highest mountain lying entirely on Indian territory is the Nanda Devi with 7822 meters. Before the then Kingdom of Sikkim joined the Union of India 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

Important rivers in India

All of India's major rivers have their source in one of the subcontinent's three main watersheds : the Himalayas, the central Indian Vindhya and Satpura Mountains, or the Western Ghats.

India's longest and most important river is the Ganges (Ganga), which rises 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 in turn separates the Himalayas from the Trans -Himalayas and flows through the country to the north-east, joins the Ganges to form a vast delta before flowing into the Bay of Bengal . India has a share in this in the west; most of the Ganges delta lies on the territory of the neighboring state of Bangladesh. Almost a third of India's area belongs to the catchment area of ​​the Ganges and Brahmaputra.

In the extreme north, the Indus crosses the Union Territory of Ladakh in a southeast-northwest direction .

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

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


Displacement of the Indian plate

The continental drift theory states that India was part of the southern continent of Gondwana until the late Jurassic . In the Cretaceous period , it broke away from the Antarctic continental shelf and drifted across the entire Tethys Ocean towards the south of the Eurasian Plate in a geologically extremely short 50 million years . The meeting of the two continents took place approximately 43 to 64 million years ago at the beginning of the Palaeogene . In the resulting common "crumple zone" of these crustal movements , the Himalayas and neighboring mountain systems were thrust up ( folding of the former continental margins) and the Tibetan plateau was uplifted.

Although individual parts of the crust have welded together in the meantime, the Indian plate is still moving northwards, so that the Himalayas are rising by a few millimeters every year - just like other fold mountains on earth, of which it is one of the youngest. The river plains upstream of it were formed by Pleistocene sedimentary deposits . The rock formations of the Deccan are more diverse . The majority are Proterozoic formations to the south and east, Cretaceous Deccanic volcanic traps to the west and northwest, and unformed cratons to the northeast and north, which are some of the oldest parts of the Earth's crust .

natural disasters

India is constantly plagued by various natural disasters, especially floods that can occur during the summer monsoon due to extreme rainfall across the country. On the other hand, droughts are common during the dry season or in the absence of monsoon rains . Cyclones and the resulting tidal waves, especially on the east coast, often cost many lives and cause devastating damage. There is also an increased risk of earthquakes in some areas , namely in the Himalayas , the north-eastern states, western Gujarat and the region around Mumbai . On December 26, 2004, a seaquake in the Indian Ocean caused a devastating tsunami that claimed 7,793 lives on the east coast and on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and caused severe devastation.


Annual rainfall in India

With the exception of the mountainous regions, north and central India has a predominantly subtropical continental climate , while the south and coastal areas have a more maritime tropical climate. In the north, for example, considerable temperature fluctuations occur over the course of the year. In the northern lowlands, December and January are between 10 and 15 °C; in the hottest time between April and June, maximum temperatures of 40 to over 50 °C are possible. In the south, on the other hand, it is (relatively constant) hot all year round.

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


Leaves and fruits of the teak tree

In accordance with 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 rain forests 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 forested, although official figures vary and also include degraded areas and open forests . A forest area of ​​701,700 km² is specified for 2015: 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 layers of the Himalayas there are still extensive forests. Since the precipitation on the slopes of the mountains decreases from east to west, evergreen subtropical and temperate wet and rain forests are found in the eastern Himalayas , which become lighter and drier to the west. Deciduous forests with oaks and chestnuts predominate; characteristic of the eastern Himalayas are rhododendrons . At higher elevations, conifers dominate , particularly cedar and pine . The steppe- and desert-like high valleys in Ladakh and other parts of the western inner Himalayas merge into the arid highlands of Tibet. The vegetation line is about 5000 meters.

The north-east, which is difficult to access, is still densely forested in places. Semi-evergreen moist forests are possible there, particularly due to high amounts of precipitation .

By far the largest part of the Ganges plain , the Deccan and the bordering mountain ranges used to be covered by monsoon forests; today there are only remnants of it, mostly in mountainous regions. In contrast, the intensively used agricultural plains are practically forest-free. 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 moist forests. They predominate in the north-eastern Deccan, Odisha and West Bengal and in the lee of the Western Ghats . With rainfall between 1000 and 1500 millimeters per year one speaks of deciduous dry forests; these dominate in India. Because of the thinner treetops, 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 Ganges lowlands or the central Deccan, the endemic neem trees , which are used in particular for medicinal purposes, grow . In the arid climate, open thorn forests have developed, which in the Thar desert turn into semi-desert vegetation with isolated thorn bushes.

In the wet Western Ghats there are still relatively large contiguous portions of the original evergreen or semi-evergreen wet forests. They are characterized by the storey structure typical of tropical rainforests . Some of the tall tree species on the top tier are seasonally deciduous, while species growing 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 country's densest mangrove stands. Other tidal forests are found in the Mahanadi , Godavari , and Krishna estuarine deltas .


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

Thanks to its landscape diversity, India has an extremely diverse animal world. It is estimated that around 350 species of mammals , 1200 birds , 400 reptiles and 200 amphibian species are native there. However, many species only occur in retreat areas such as forests, swamps, mountainous and hilly regions. Indian waters are also home to more than 2,500 species of fish .

India's largest mammal species is the Indian elephant , which is probably also the best known along with the Bengal tiger . The tiger was threatened with extinction for a long time, but the population was able to recover through the establishment of tiger sanctuaries. However, there are only a few thousand specimens in the wild. Besides the tiger, other big cats live in India, including leopards and lions . The latter are found exclusively in Gir National Park in Gujarat , the Asiatic lion's last retreat. The rare snow leopard inhabits the high mountainous regions of the Himalayas . The best known and most widespread of the smaller carnivore species is the mongoose .

The Indian rhino now lives only in swamp and jungle areas in Assam , especially in Kaziranga National Park .

On the other hand, even-toed ungulates are widespread . These include wild boar , muntjacs , sambars , axis deer , hog deer , barasinghas , water buffalo , gaur and several antelope species .

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

Monkeys are also common in India. Rhesus monkeys are considered sacred by Hindus and must not be molested, so they have even spread to cities. In the south of the country it is replaced by the slightly smaller Indian hat monkey . Distributed throughout India, the Hanuman langurs are also considered sacred. There are also other types of langurs and macaques .

A few Indian half donkeys still live in the arid areas of the northwest, mainly in the Dhrangadhra Game Reserve in the Little Rann of Kachchh . In the humid east of the country, on the other hand, species of tropical rainforest live, such as white -browed gibbons and clouded leopards . Other mammals of note are the red dog , striped hyena , Bengal fox , which mainly inhabits grasslands, and sloth bears, which prefer dense forests . In the Ganges , Brahmaputra and their tributaries, the Ganges dolphin can still occasionally be found .

India's bird life is extremely diverse with over 1200 native species - more than in all of Europe. There are also countless migratory birds from North Asia in winter . The peacock is considered the national bird and is widespread. Pigeons , crows , weaver birds , woodpeckers , pittas , drongos , parakeets , sunbirds and orioles are also common . Wetlands are home to storks , herons , cranes , ibises , and kingfishers . Dirty and Bengal vultures were the most common of the raptors . However, while the latter was still ubiquitous in the 1980s, it has been accidentally nearly wiped out, along with two closely related species, by a veterinary drug.

About half of all reptile species native to India are snakes , such as the spectacled snake , king cobra , and Burmese python . Marsh crocodiles are also 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 southern Asia.

nature and environmental protection

Increasing traffic volumes contribute to air pollution in major cities

With a very large variety of species and biodiversity (especially in a narrow strip on the humid tropical south-west coast), a large number of endemic species, genera and families of plants and animals as well as diverse ecosystems , India is counted among the megadiverse countries on earth. In addition, due to the high level of risk, the rainforests of the Western Ghats are managed 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 is designated as nature reserves , which number almost 600, including 92 national parks .

Water scarcity is one of India's biggest environmental problems. Dams and artificial irrigation systems should ensure the water supply in dry areas. Excessive irrigation is one of the main reasons for falling water tables in many places ; In addition, an estimated 60% of agricultural land is affected by soil erosion , salinization or waterlogging . In addition, there is deforestation, excessive irrigation and fertilization.

Water and sanitation in India have improved drastically since the 1980s. While almost the entire population of India now has access to toilets, many people still lack access to clean water and sanitation infrastructure. Various government programs at the national, state, and local levels have resulted in rapid improvements in sanitation and drinking water supplies. Some of these programs are still running.

Polluted and contaminated water contributes significantly to the development and spread of infectious diseases . NGOs like the Water Literacy Foundation and government agencies like the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation are trying to improve the situation. In 1980, rural sanitation coverage was estimated at 1%, reaching 95% in 2018. The proportion of Indians with access to improved water sources has increased significantly, from 72% in 1990 to 88% in 2008.

At the same time, local government institutions tasked with providing drinking water and sanitation are seen as weak and lack the financial resources to carry out their duties. Furthermore, only two Indian cities have a continuous water supply and according to a 2018 estimate, around 8% of Indians still lack access to improved sanitation.

Air pollution is particularly high in the Indian metropolises. Factories, small industry, power plants (including numerous coal-fired power plants ), traffic and private households emit numerous air pollutants , including large amounts of particulate matter . According to a study by the World Health Organization , Delhi was the dirtiest city in the world in terms of air quality in 2014. Kolkata was the first city to launch a metro network in 1984, followed by Delhi 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. CO 2 emissions have increased significantly in the past; Causes included population growth , progressive industrialization and increasing traffic. In 2015, India was the country with the third highest 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, highly toxic gases escaped from the American Union Carbide (UCC) pesticide factory in Bhopal ( Bhopal disaster ). Within days, 7,000 people died, 15,000 more died of long-term effects, and thousands suffered chronic health problems.

protected areas

Across India, as of March 2019, there are a total of 868 Protected Areas (PA: Protected Areas ), accounting for 5% of India's total geographic area of ​​3,287,000 square kilometers (including Indian-administered parts of Kashmir ) - an increase of 11,000 km² or 0.35% since 2009:

protected areas 2019 2009 surface 2009 0portion0 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 Pillar in Delhi is attributed to the Gupta period

The Indus Valley Civilization , located largely in modern -day Pakistan , was one of the world's early advanced civilizations , with its own script, the previously undeciphered Indus Script . Around 2500 BC There existed planned cities like Harappa , with sewers , seaports and baths, while southern India is thought to have been less developed. Further east, other archaeological complexes make themselves felt, such as the so-called Copper Hoard culture . From 1700 BC The Indus culture began to disintegrate for reasons that are still unknown.

A very important period for the further development of India was the Vedic period (about 1500 to 500 BC), in which the foundations of today's culture were laid. Far less is known about the political development than about the religious and philosophical development. Towards the end of the Vedic period, the Upanishads were created, which in many ways form the basis of the religions of Hinduism , Buddhism and Jainism that arose in India . This period saw urbanization in the Gangetic plains and the rise of regional kingdoms such as Magadha .

From the 6th century BC Buddhism developed, which for around 500 years represented the main spiritual current in India alongside Hinduism. In the 4th century B.C. The Maurya Empire was the first Indian empire to emerge, which under Ashoka ruled almost the entire subcontinent. After numerous conquests, Ashoka turned to Buddhism, which he tried to spread in his own country and as far as Sri Lanka , Southeast Asia and the Middle East . In the 3rd century B.C. Prakrit literature and Tamil Sangam literature flourished in southern India. During this period southern India was ruled by the three Tamil dynasties of Chola , Pandya and Chera . After the death of Ashoka, the Maurya empire gradually disintegrated again into countless small states, which were only reunited by the Gupta in the 4th century AD to form a large empire in northern India, whose empire collapsed in the early 6th century, also as a result of the attacks the Hunas went down. With Buddhism, India exerted a major 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 major promoter 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 Period

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

Arab conquests in the 8th century brought Islam to Northwest India. When the Arabs attempted 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 of Rashtrakuta , Pala and Pratihara ruled much of India and fought among themselves for supremacy in northern India. In southern India, the Chola dynasty and the Chalukya dynasty ruled from the 10th century to the 12th century. However, the dominance of Muslim states in the north and the Islamization of large parts of the population there only came with the invasions of Central Asian Islamic powers from the 12th century. The Delhi Sultanate even briefly extended its power to the south, but its cultural influence in the north remained limited. The Mongol invasion of 1398 weakened the sultanate so that the Hindu regional empires regained strength. The Muslim rulers were only able to recover in the 16th century with the founding of the Mughal Empire , which became the dominant force in the north for around 200 years and 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 system and promoted the arts. The philosophical education was also high and emanated from the competing schools in Delhi and Lucknow . While Delhi particularly called for a return to early Islamic teachings, Lucknow taught logic, law and philosophy, especially Aristotelianism . During their time, Hindu kingdoms existed only in southern India, such as Vijayanagar . In the late 17th century the Hindu Maratha Empire was established, which in the 18th century overran the Mughal Empire and conquered much of northern India. Weakened by Maratha attacks, the empire was severely destabilized after Aurangzeb's death. The decline in internal security and poor networking between the center and the provinces resulted in political decentralization , which in turn was accompanied by economic reorientation. Regional markets were strengthened and a new social group of successful traders emerged. They also reshaped India intellectually: the call for social equality became louder. They maintained close contact with Europe and stood in stark contrast to the country's hierarchical-elitist hereditary aristocracy. Thus, 18th-century India became a time of upheaval as regional rulers, European trading powers and the weakened Mughal struggled for supremacy over the country.

European colonial rule and independence movement

The Secundra Bagh near
Lucknow stormed by the British during the Sepoy Rebellion , photographed by Felice Beato , March 1858

After Vasco da Gama had discovered the sea ​​route to India in 1498 , making the lucrative Indian trade 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 became involved in India, of which the British eventually prevailed. From 1756 onwards, the British East India Company (British East India Company) subdued large parts of India from their port bases in Calcutta (today: Kolkata), Madras (today: Chennai) and Bombay (today: Mumbai). It largely eliminated the previous influence of the European colonial powers of Portugal, the Netherlands and France. Loyal princes retained states with limited sovereignty such as Hyderabad , Bhopal , Mysore or Kashmir . In 1857/58 parts of the population of North India rose up against the rule of the East India Company in the Sepoy Rebellion . After the rebellion was crushed, it was disbanded and India placed under direct British control . From 1877 (until 1947) the British monarchs also bore the title Empress of India or Emperor of India .

Colonial flag of British India

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

The most extensive 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 demarcations developed from different religious communities with smooth 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, nationalism was not exclusively religious, and even this could vary greatly in its claim to absoluteness.

Nonviolent Resistance: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on the Salt March of 1930

During World War I , the vast majority of the population remained loyal. Angered that the British were involved in the division of the Ottoman Empire , many Muslims now also joined the independence movement.

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

Nonviolent resistance to British colonial rule , most notably 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 encompassed 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 their own nation state with a Muslim majority in the population.

Developments since independence

The division led to one of the largest expulsion and refugee movements in history. About 10 million Hindus and Sikhs were expelled from Pakistan, about 7 million Muslims from India. 750,000 to a million people lost their lives.

The princely states , which were bound to the British by protective treaties , had declared their accession to the Indian Union even before independence. Only two seriously stood in the way of the Principality's incorporation process. The Muslim ruler of almost exclusively Hindu Hyderabad was overthrown by an incursion by 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 considered accession illegitimate, leading to the First Indo-Pakistani War over Kashmir (1947 to 1949). Since then, the Kashmir conflict has been smoldering 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 drafted primarily by Bhimrao Ambedkar came into force, making India a republic. Border disputes led to a brief war with the People's Republic of China in 1962, known as the Indo-China Border War . Indian support for an independence movement in what was then East Pakistan led to India's third war against Pakistan in 1971, which resulted in the 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 new states created in 1960-2014:
1962: Nagaland , separation from Assam 1966: Haryana , separation from Punjab and small portions of Himachal Pradesh 1971: Himachal Pradesh , from a Union Territory 1972: Meghalaya , separation from Assam 1972: Tripura , from Union Territory 1972: Manipur , from Union Territory 1975: Sikkim , previously Indian Protectorate 1975: Arunachal Pradesh , from Union Territory 1987: Mizoram , from Union Territory (until 1971 to Assam) 1987: Goa , from Union Territory 2000: Chhattisgarh , severance of Madhya Pradesh 2000: Jharkhand , Separation of Bihar 2000: Uttarakhand , Separation of Uttar Pradesh 2014: Telangana , Separation of Andhra Pradesh

Indira Gandhi with US President Richard Nixon (1971)

Domestically, under Jawaharlal Nehru , Prime Minister from 1947 to 1964, and then until the early 1970s, the Congress party dominated the young, independent democracy. At best, opposition parties could exert influence at state or local level. It was only when Nehru's daughter Indira Gandhi , who became prime minister in 1966, centralized the party and attempted to expand her own position of power, that the opposition was able to form at federal level. In 1975, a court in Allahabad found Gandhi guilty of some irregularities in the 1971 elections . Instead of following the demands of her political opponents for his resignation, 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 increasing dissatisfaction of the population with the de facto dictatorial regime was expressed in Indira Gandhi's clear electoral defeat in 1977 . Between 1977 and 1979, therefore, for the first time not the Congress Party but a coalition led by the Janata Party provided the Indian government.

In the 1980 elections , Indira Gandhi returned to power. During her second term of office, the conflict in Punjab came to a head , where Sikhist separatists were demanding a state of their own. In 1984, when Sikh militants were holed up in the Golden Temple in Amritsar , Indira Gandhi ordered Operation Blue Star . Indian troops stormed the temple and ended its occupation. Bloody riots then broke out, culminating in the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Her son Rajiv Gandhi took over the business of government, but was unable to effectively implement the reform plans he had planned. A bribery scandal in connection with the Swedish arms company Bofors finally damaged his reputation to such an extent that the opposition was able to win a clear victory over Gandhi's congress party in 1989 . However, after a two-year hiatus, she regained power from 1991 to 1996. The government of PV Narasimha Rao initiated the economic opening and foreign policy reorientation of the country, which has been socialist since Nehru. The reform program included, among other things, the privatization of state-owned companies, the lifting of trade restrictions, the elimination of bureaucratic barriers to investment and tax cuts. Economic reforms were continued by later governments.

Hindu nationalism has been on the rise since the 1980s . The controversy over the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya ( Uttar Pradesh ), which was built on the site of an important Hindu temple, developed into one of the defining domestic political issues. In 1992, Hindu extremists destroyed the Muslim place of worship, which led to serious riots in large parts of the country. The political wing of the Hindu nationalists, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led a coalition government between 1998 and 2004, with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as prime minister. In 2004 , however, she was surprisingly defeated by the newly formed Congress Party under Sonia Gandhi . The widow of Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated during the 1991 election campaign, resigned as prime minister after protests by the opposition because of her Italian descent. Instead, Manmohan Singh , who, as finance minister under Rao, had played a key role in shaping India's economic liberalization, took over this position. 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 their lead candidate , Narendra Modi , was elected prime minister.

Today, the fundamental problems of India, despite the significant economic upswing, are still widespread poverty , severe overpopulation , increasing environmental pollution , and ethnic and religious conflicts between Hindus and Muslims . Added to this is the ongoing dispute with Pakistan over the Kashmir region . The Indian-Pakistani antagonism is particularly explosive due to the fact that both countries are nuclear powers . India conducted its first nuclear weapons test in 1974. Pakistan responded to further nuclear weapons tests in 1998 with its own nuclear weapons tests.

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

terrorism and ethnic conflicts

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

But not only in Kashmir, but also in other parts of India, there were repeated terrorist attacks that were attributed to Kashmiri separatists or Islamist terrorist organizations such as Lashkar-e Taiba . The worst series of attacks to date occurred on March 12, 1993 , when ten bomb blasts hit the Mumbai Stock Exchange, hotels , trains and gas stations, killing 257 and injuring 713. In December 2001, Islamists stormed the Parliament in New Delhi , killing 14 people. 52 people died in August 2003 when two taxis loaded 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 died in a double attack on the train station and a temple in the city of Varanasi . Bomb attacks on trains in Mumbai in July 2006 killed around 200 people and injured more than 700 people. On February 18, 2007, two firebombs 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, two bomb blasts occurred in Hyderabad, killing at least 42 people and injuring many more. A third bomb was found and defused. It was not initially known which goal the assassin or the assassins were pursuing with the bombings in well-frequented leisure areas. (At almost 40%, Hyderabad has the highest proportion of Muslims in the Indian metropolis.)

A series of bomb attacks shook India in 2008. On July 25, two bombs exploded in front of police stations and six other bombs in Bengaluru (Bangalore). Within 15 minutes, the eight bombings killed two people and injured six people. A series of 16 bomb explosions within 90 minutes in the metropolis of Ahmedabad in the western Indian state of Gujarat on July 26, 2008 claimed at least 130 lives and over 280 injured. A suspected 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. During the attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 , there were 17 explosions, attacks with rapid-fire weapons and kidnappings in ten different locations in the Indian metropolis of Mumbai within a short period of time by a group of around ten attackers who split up into several groups had. According to the Indian authorities, at least 239 were injured and 174 dead.

After a citizenship reform enacted in December 2019, which grants faster asylum in India to religiously persecuted refugees, with the exception of Muslims, 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 southern India for decades (blue: fewer 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

In 2019 the population of India was 1,380,004,000. This makes India the most populous country in the world after the People's Republic of China. The population density is 388 inhabitants per square kilometer (Germany: 231 per square kilometer). However, the population is very unevenly distributed. It is concentrated primarily in fertile areas such as the Ganges plains , West Bengal and Kerala , while the Himalayas , the mountainous areas of the north-east and drier regions in Rajasthan and the Deccan have only a sparse population density. In Bihar , for example, an average of 1106 people live per square kilometer, while in Arunachal Pradesh there are only 17.

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

According to estimates, population growth in India will hardly slow down in the coming decades, and India will have overtaken the People's Republic of China as the most populous country in the world by 2025. Although the birth rate is already falling as a result of progressive modernization, education , prosperity and urbanization , the population growth is not explained by an increased birth rate, but by the increased lifespan in recent 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 fell 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 males was 66.2 years (it was only 44 years in 1971) and for females it was 69.1 years (it was only 46 years in 1971). In Germany, for comparison, it is 78 years for men and 83 for women. A third of the population is younger than 15 years. India is also one of the countries where there are significantly more men: According to the 2011 census, there are 943 women for every 1000 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 (urban) population growth. Immigration (from rural areas) accounted for a fifth of urban population growth. Another fifth of the growth is split evenly between the formation of new cities through statistical reclassification and through expanding borders or sprawl. India now has 46 cities with more than one million inhabitants (as of the 2011 census). The metropolitan area of Mumbai alone now has over 28 million inhabitants and is therefore a larger population than the whole of Australia . Nevertheless, the urban population is a minority, accounting for only 31.2% of the total population (2011 census). With economic development, urbanization in India is progressing rapidly and the urban population of India is growing by almost 10 million every year. Almost the entire 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 cramped conditions in dire conditions, making it the largest slum in the world. Urbanization in India is much less planned than e.g. For example, in China, and an estimated 30% of the urban population live in unplanned housing and slums, totaling 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-educated specialists, in the Gulf States (especially the United Arab Emirates , Kuwait and Saudi Arabia ) many Indians are employed as "cheap labour", rarely in higher positions. During the British colonial period, Indians were recruited as laborers in other colonies, hence many individuals of Indian descent live in Malaysia , South Africa , Mauritius , Trinidad and Tobago , Fiji , Guyana and Singapore . They usually have the citizenship of the respective country. Remittances from Indians abroad to their relatives in India represent an important economic factor.

Below are the population of India between 1700 and 2050 (2025 and 2050 are forecasts ) - note changes in area over time: Figures up to 1875 are calculated from the territorial boundaries of British India (including Bangladesh , Myanmar and Pakistan ), from 1900 in today's borders of the Republic of India:

18th century resident 19th century resident 20th century resident 21st century resident
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 2025 1,451,829,000
2050 1,658,978,000

ethnic composition

Beggar in Jaipur

India is a multi-ethnic country whose ethnic diversity is easily comparable to that of the entire European continent. About 72% of the population are Indo-Aryans . 25% are Dravidians living mainly in southern India. Other ethnic groups account for 3%, above all Tibeto-Burmese, Munda and Mon-Khmer peoples in the Himalayan region as well as Northeast and East India .

8.6% of the residents 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 are socially disadvantaged despite existing protective laws. The Adivasi have large population shares in the north-east region (especially in Mizoram , Nagaland , Meghalaya , Arunachal Pradesh , Manipur , Tripura , Sikkim ) and in the east and central Indian states of Jharkhand , Chhattisgarh , Odisha and Madhya Pradesh . Due to social discrimination, left-wing 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 Mongoloid Naga , Mizo and Bodo , but also the Indo-Aryan Assamese  – in north-east India, where tensions between the local population and immigrant Bengalis, 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 illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in India is estimated at up to 20 million. The approximately 100,000 exile Tibetans living in India who fled their homeland since the Chinese occupation of Tibet in the 1950s are officially recognized as refugees and have a residence permit. Furthermore, about 60,000 Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka live in 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 administrative, teaching and business language. Of the constitutional languages, 15 belong to the Indo- Aryan , four to the Dravidian (Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam), two to the Tibeto-Burman and Sino - Tibetan language families (Bodo, Meitei) and one each to the Austroasiatic (Santali) and Germanic (English).

Recently there have been attempts to revive the use of Sanskrit. Sanskrit is a classic language, no longer used as a first or mother tongue, which has a similar status in India as Latin does in Europe. It is also one of the officially recognized constitutional languages, but is never used 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 instruction is compulsory for grades five through eight.

A decision is made every 15 years on maintaining the status of English as an official language. English continues to be considered a prestige language and is only spoken fluently by a privileged minority of the population. When people from different language communities meet, they speak either Hindi or English in the north, 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 Devanagari.



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

Four of the major religions emerged in the Indian subcontinent : Hinduism , Buddhism , Jainism , and Sikhism . Islam came as a result of trade and conquest by the Mughal Empire , Christianity through early proselytizations in the first century and then colonialism , Zoroastrianism (Parsism) due to immigration into the country. India therefore offers an extraordinarily rich religious landscape. Although Buddhism was the religion of choice for centuries, Hinduism never died out and has maintained its position as the dominant religion over the long term. In the Middle Ages, Indian traders and seafarers brought Hinduism as far as Indonesia and Malaysia . Although India remains a predominantly Hindu country to this day, India has the world's third-largest Muslim population (about 140 million) after Indonesia and Pakistan , and the second-largest Shia population after Iran .

The religions are distributed according to the 2011 census as follows: 79.8% Hindus, 14.2% Muslims, 2.3% Christians, 1.7% Sikhs, 0.7% Buddhists, 0.4% and 0.7 Jains % other (e.g. traditional Adivasi religions, Bahai or Parsi ). A total of 0.2% of Indians in the census reported no religious affiliation or reported no religion.

The roots of Hinduism lie in the Veda (literally: knowledge), religious texts whose oldest layer dates back to around 1200 BC. is dated. However, the term "Hinduism" did not become commonplace until the 19th century. He combines many currents with similar beliefs and histories, agreeing particularly on the teachings of karma , the cycle of reincarnation ( samsara ) and the quest for salvation . He knows no single founder of a religion, no uniform creed and no central religious authority. The main popular directions are Shaivism , Vishnuism and Shaktism . In addition, the Indian folk religion is widespread regionally and locally. Religious teachers ( gurus ) and priests are of great importance for personal faith.

The Adivasi (native people) often resisted the missionary attempts of the major religions and partially retained 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 assimilated into the Hindu pantheon - an approach that historically helped spread 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 adopted.

Buddhism is popular today, especially 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 belongs 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 as well as 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 about 240 million people and thus almost 20% of the Indian population.

The Parsis , now residing mostly in Mumbai , form a small, mostly wealthy and influential community (about 70,000 people). Not least because of their pronounced social commitment, they play an important role in Indian society despite the small population. They are known in Europe for their burial customs (“ Towers of Silence ”). The Jainas are also often wealthy as they are predominantly merchants and traders due to their belief which forbids the killing of living beings. Parsees and Jains mostly belong to the middle and upper classes.

The majority of Indian Muslims belong to the Sunni branch , and more than 20 million Shiites live in India. In addition, there are smaller denominations within Islam: The Dar ul-Ulum in Deoband in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh is more fundamentalist and is referred to by the Afghan Taliban , among others , albeit in a radically shortened interpretation. The situation of Muslims in India is difficult. They are poorer and less educated than the average. They are underrepresented in politics and 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 primarily native to north-western India ( Punjab ). Their position in society is shaped by their success, especially in the military sphere, but also in political life. Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a Sikh.

Cross of the Thomas Christians

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

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

religious conflicts

Laicism , the separation of state and religion , is one of the most important principles of the Indian state and is enshrined in its constitution. For centuries, different faiths have mostly coexisted 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 again and again in India at certain intervals. A point of conflict is still Kashmir , whose predominantly Muslim population sometimes violently advocates independence or union with Pakistan . They have been fueled since the late 1980s by burgeoning Hindu nationalism (Hindutva) and Islamic fundamentalism. One of the highlights of the clashes was the storming and destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya ( Uttar Pradesh ) by Hindu extremists in December 1992, as the Islamic place of worship was once built on the site of an important Hindu temple meant to mark the birthplace of Rama . The latest riots occurred in Gujarat in 2002 when 59 Hindu activists (kar sevaks) were burned to death on a train. About 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, died as a result of the escalating violence. The political situation in Kashmir has claimed the lives of over 29,000 civilians since 1989 due to the activities of Islamist terrorists.

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

In some states there have been pogroms against Christians. In the second half of 2008, at least 59 Christians were killed in religiously motivated unrest in Orissa . In its response to a parliamentary question of December 4, 2008, the German government states the following extent of violence against Christians in Orissa (Odisha): 81 Christians have lost their lives, 20,000 people are in refugee camps, and 40,000 more are hiding in the forests. 4677 houses, 236 churches and 36 other church institutions were destroyed.

Social problems

CPI(M) communist party demonstration in Agartala ( Tripura )
Landfill, Yamuna River Slum, Delhi (Image: Manuel Rivera-Ortiz )

According to the World Bank , 44% of Indians now live on less than $1 a day. 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. Malnutrition and malnutrition such as vitamin deficiencies is a widespread problem, especially in rural areas, where the proportion of poor people is particularly high. The regional distribution of the problem can be clearly seen in the hunger index for India , with the state of Madhya Pradesh being particularly striking. 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 the countryside, since the income of many farming families is not sufficient to survive. Highly indebted farmers often not only have to sell their farmland, but also pawn their services to the landlords. This phenomenon, known as debt bondage , remains one of the greatest obstacles in the fight against poverty. 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 migrate to the cities ( urbanization ). The country's sprawling metropolises are hardly in a position to provide sufficient jobs for immigrants. The result is high unemployment and underemployment . Almost a third of the inhabitants of megacities live in slums. With more than a million people, Dharavi in Mumbai is the largest slum in Asia.

According to the 2011 census, 16.6% of the Indian population belong to 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 also persecution and violence ) by other caste Indians, the Indian constitution provides support for the socially disadvantaged in the form of quotas. Through this “positive discrimination” up to 50% of the places in universities, vocational training 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. In 1990, an extension of quotas to lower castes at the suggestion of the controversial Mandal Commission provoked violent protests from members of the upper castes and led to the overthrow of Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh .

Insufficient school education and advice on reproductive health issues meant that the number of people infected with HIV increased 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. This puts the number of infected people in third place worldwide behind South Africa and Nigeria . In the years after 2002, a percentage decrease in the number of infected people was recorded. 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 main reason for this is the widespread unprotected sex with prostitutes. Mother-to-child transmission is 5.4% and between homosexuals 1.5%. Drug addicts account for 1.5% of the total number of cases of transmission.

position of woman

In Indian society, which is characterized by paternal rights, women are still very disadvantaged , despite legal gender equality (see below on women's suffrage ).

dowry issue

Traditionally, women were given a dowry ( English dowry ) at the wedding to set up their own household. Although this has been forbidden by law since 1961, such a dowry is still often demanded of 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 after the marriage. This dowry problem contributes to a not inconsiderable extent to the fact that girls are usually regarded less than boys or are even considered undesirable.

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

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

abortion of female fetuses

In India significantly more female fetuses are aborted than male: according to the 2011 census there were only 914 girls for every 1000 boys (47.75% = 109 boys to 100 girls) - in 2001 there were still 927 girls (48.11%, 108 :100; each under 7 years). In the total population in 2011 there were 940 female Indians for every 1000 males (48.45%, 106:100) - in 2001 there were 933 females (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 . Within the top 10 most dangerous countries (including the US and Saudi Arabia ), India ranked 1st in 3 out of 6 areas: cultural oppression and abuse of women, sexualized violence against women, and human trafficking and forced prostitution . In 2016, 40,000  rapes were reported in India.

women indices

In the World Economic Forum 's Global Gender Gap Report 2020 , which measures equality between men and women in 153 countries, India ranks only 112th with a gender gap of 33.2%: women only achieve two-thirds of the status of men in economic and educational, health and political participation .

In 2018, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) determined the index of gender-specific inequality (GII: Gender Inequality Index ) among 162 countries: India was ranked 122 with only 39% women with secondary school education (men: 63.5%) and 23.6% labor force participation (men: 78.6%). In the Gender Development Index (GDI ), India 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

Under 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 House of Commons 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 represents the states at the national level. Its members are elected by the state parliaments.

In the 2020 Democracy Index  of the British magazine The Economist , India ranks 53rd out of 167 countries and is therefore considered an "incomplete democracy". In  the Freedom in the World  2017 country report by the US  non-governmental organization  Freedom House  , the country's political system is rated as "free". However, according to the report, India faces problems in respecting civil rights and in some areas such as B. the Indian part of Kashmir freedom of opinion and basic democratic rights are only insufficiently guaranteed.

The party landscape in the country is extremely diverse (see list of political parties in India ). Although many parties are limited to certain states, there is always a need to form coalitions. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was a 13-party coalition (led by the BJP ) at the start of its government in 1998.

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

The head of government in the states and in three out of eight union territories is the chief minister , who is elected by the legislature of the respective territory.

administrative division

India is divided into 28 states and eight union territories , which are divided into a total of over 600 districts . In some states, several districts are combined into divisions . The tehsils (or taluks ), blocks and subdivisions are subordinate to the districts in parallel and partly overlapping . The lowest level of administration is represented by the villages themselves, which can sometimes be grouped into 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 the Municipalities in smaller cities . In rural areas, the three-stage Panchayati Raj is applied. 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 ) governed by British colonial administrators. After independence, the former princely states were governed by an appointed governor, while the former provinces were governed by an elected parliament and governor. In 1956, the States Reorganization Act eliminated the distinctions between former provinces and principalities and created unitary states with an elected regional government. When the federal states were reorganized, the native language of the residents was used as the basis for drawing the boundaries. On May 1, 1960, the former 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 northwestern part of Uttar Pradesh . On June 2, 2014, parts of the state of Andhra Pradesh were formed as 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 . 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 deviates from this, it is appended in brackets:

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

Union Territories

abbr. union territory
29 ON Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Islands)
30 CH Chandigarh
31 DH [DD] Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu
32 DL Delhi (Capital Territory)
33 JK Jammu and Kashmir
34 L.A 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. Bengaluru (Bangalore) follows in third place . Numerous high -tech companies are based in the 8.5 million city in the southern Deccan highlands, which has earned it the nickname "India's Silicon Valley". 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 South India and especially of the Tamils . Calcutta , the most important metropolis of the East, is in eighth place 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 resident rank city state resident
1 Bombay Maharashtra 18.414.288 11 Kanpur Uttar Pradesh 2,920,067
2 Delhi Delhi (Territory) 16,314,838 12 Lucknow Uttar Pradesh 2,901,474
3 Calcutta West Bengal 14.112.536 13 Nagpur Maharashtra 2,497,777
4 Chennai Tamilnadu 8,696,010 14 Ghaziabad Uttar Pradesh 2,358,525
5 Bengaluru Karnataka 8,499,399 15 indoors Madhya Pradesh 2,167,447
6 Hyderabad Telangana 7,749,334 16 Coimbatore Tamilnadu 2,151,466
7 Ahmedabad Gujarat 6,352,254 17 cooking Kerala 2,117,990
8th Pune Maharashtra 5,049,968 18 patina Bihar 2,046,652
9 Surat Gujarat 4,585,367 19 kozhikode Kerala 2,030,519
10 jaipur Rajasthan 3,073,350 20 Thrissur Kerala 1,854,783

legal system

Karnataka State High Court in Bengaluru

The history of modern Indian law began with the founding of the British East India Company on New Year's Eve 1600.

women's suffrage

In 1950 comprehensive women's suffrage was introduced. However, 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 amendment to the Bombay Municipal Act (1888): house owners were then allowed to vote regardless of gender. But there is evidence that some women voted in Bombay City Council elections many years earlier.

In 1918 the National Congress of India supported the introduction of active women's suffrage, and the constitutional reforms of 1919 allowed the provincial legislatures to decide on the introduction themselves. The province of Madras, where the anti-Brahmin party was in the majority, was the first to give women the right to vote in 1921; other provinces followed. Women who held the right to vote at the provincial level were also allowed to vote in 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 woman Congress President. In 1935 the Government of India Act , which came into force in 1937, further extended suffrage for both sexes. It stipulated that women could vote if they met one of several conditions: property ownership, a certain level of education that included literacy, or the status of a wife if the man was eligible to vote.

The amendment of another provision indicated an important change in understanding of what was meant by civil rights: some seats in provincial legislatures were reserved for women; Men could not take on these mandates. These regulations guaranteed that women were actually elected. The regulation also meant that women ran for mandates in excess of this quota and ensured that capable women could demonstrate their skills as MPs and ministers. In 1937 the first elections were held under these new rules. 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 advance, the right to vote was tied to property ownership. Because many Indians did not own land, relatively few men and many fewer women gained the right to vote as a result of the 1919 reforms.

India gained independence in 1947 – until then there had been no universal suffrage for either women or men. In 1949 the Constituent Assembly drew up a new constitution. Women MPs, who themselves had 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 for universal voting rights for all adults. But in the parts of the country that became Pakistan when partitioned, women had to wait years for universal suffrage.

See above for the current status 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 highest 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 the states and the central government fall under its jurisdiction. It is also the highest appellate body in the country. 21 state high courts are subordinate to the Supreme Court .

From the third legal level (district level), a distinction is made between civil and criminal courts . Civil litigation falls within the jurisdiction of the city ​​civil courts in the metropolitan districts , which are analogous to the district courts of the rural districts. The session 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 adjudication of simple disputes of the lowest level takes place in the Panchayati Rajs of the villages (Gram Panchayat) .

As a result of colonial British legal practice, common law is still widely applied in India today, relying not solely on statutes but to a large extent on authoritative judgments of high courts of precedent . The language of the courts is English, but negotiations can also be conducted in the respective regional official language at the lower levels.

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

domestic policy

During the struggle for independence, the National Congress was formed, which wanted to end British colonial rule. 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, mostly led by the Nehru Gandhi family , dominated the country's politics with only two brief interruptions.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Indian People's Party, symbol: lotus flower ) only managed to gain broad support with nationalist slogans in connection with the planned "re"construction of the Ram Janmabhumi Temple in place of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya . 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 policy of the BJP is dominated by the Hindu nationalist Hindutva movement , which - also with the participation of paramilitary groups such as the National Volunteer Corps ( Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh , RSS for short) - the Hinduization of India and in its extreme excesses aimed at expelling the Muslim and Christian population. From 1998 to 2004, the BJP provided the government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee , who was considered to be more moderate, as prime minister.

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

In the 2004 general election , the opposition Congress Party led by Sonia Gandhi won an unexpected victory. Surprisingly for her party coalition, she declined to take the post of Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh was sworn in as Prime Minister on May 22, 2004. In the parliamentary elections of 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, his Bharatiya Janata Party winning 31% of the vote by a wide margin.

foreign policy

Locations of Indian Diplomatic Missions (2008)
States with diplomatic representation in India (2008)

For four decades, Indian foreign policy was characterized by engagement in the Non-Aligned Movement and the “special friendship” with the Soviet Union, which Jawaharlal Nehru in particular promoted. The three guiding principles of Indian non-alignment were to stay away from military alliances with American or Soviet participation, to meet foreign policy challenges appropriately and entirely from an Indian perspective, and to maintain friendly relations with all countries. India did not see itself as equidistant, but sought to play a leading role within the non-aligned movement until the war against China in 1962. This was expressed, for example, in the dispatch of peacekeeping troops to the Gaza Strip in 1956 and the Congo in 1961, and in the condemnation of Franco-British intervention in the Suez Crisis . It also condemned Soviet action at the start 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 relations with the USA improved; in March 2000 US President Bill Clinton visited India. The USA now tried harder to win India as a strategic partner. With regard to the Kashmir conflict , the USA now more strongly supported India's stance. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 , India sided unreservedly with the United States.

Today, India's foreign policy goals are primarily characterized by efforts to gain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council . India uses China as a benchmark and is striving for an upgrade in 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 United Nations Security Council .

India conducted two nuclear weapons tests , the first in 1974 under Indira Gandhi , the second in May 1998 under Atal Bihari Vajpayee . Two weeks later, on May 28, Pakistan detonated a nuclear test for the first time. Neither India nor Pakistan have signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty . Relations between the two countries have been strained by the Kashmir conflict since the end of the colonial era. The battles in Kargil in 1999 were a final highlight of the “Ice Age” between India and Pakistan.

A peace process began in 2004; but it stalled in 2008 after attacks in Mumbai , India, with 166 dead. India blames Pakistani Islamists for the crime. In 2010 and 2011, the two foreign ministers met.

Although the nuclear tests in May 1998 were always justified with reference to the Chinese threat (China's 1962 attack), India's primary aim with the tests is probably an international status upgrade and an attempt to underpin equality with China. India is engaged in significant conventional rearmament , as are China and other Asian countries such as Pakistan.

In fact, India and China are now on rather friendly terms. Increasing trade links 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 in political relations. However, border disputes still persist over the Chinese-occupied part of Kashmir ( Aksai Chin ) and most of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh .

There has been disagreement with Bangladesh over water distribution issues for decades. Border course and traffic were also controversial for a long time. Up until the 2015 India-Bangladesh border treaty , there were more than 150 enclaves on either side of the border , including a "slice of Indian land within Bangladeshi territory, which is itself entirely surrounded by an Indian possession, which in turn is within Bangladesh" (as of May 2015 ). Another problem is the illegal immigration of many Bangladeshis to India. On June 6, 2015 an agreement was signed according to which Bangladesh received 111 Indian enclaves and India in return 52 Bangladeshi ones on its territory. This created a "regulated border". 53,000 residents of the affected areas were able to decide which of the two states they want to belong to.

India is one of the founding members of the United Nations , as well as a member of numerous other international organizations including the Commonwealth , International Monetary Fund , World Bank and World Trade Organization (WTO). India is a member of the Group of Twenty Major Developed and Emerging Countries and the G33 . It plays a key role in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). In 2017, India was admitted to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization along with Pakistan . India applied for membership of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation but was rejected due to a veto by Pakistan, despite India being the third most Muslim country in the world.

India's relations with the EU are based on a comprehensive political declaration and action plan for a strategic partnership , which were adopted at the EU-India Summit in autumn 2005 and have been gradually implemented since then. This is intended to formally put relations with India on a par with those with the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia and China. In the future, the aim is to exploit the potential for joint cooperation and exchange even more. This applies in particular to the areas of conflict prevention, combating terrorism and strengthening human rights.


Regional distribution of literacy skills according to the 2011 census

India has compulsory education from 6 to 14 years and the Indian Parliament unanimously voted in 2002 to include the right to education in the constitution. During this period, attendance at public schools is free. 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 primary school is followed by middle school from the sixth to the eighth grade, then the higher schools and finally the colleges and universities . In general, in the past the state has paid particular attention to the promotion of higher education institutions, which has tended to reinforce the elitist character of the education system, which dates back to 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 median length of schooling for those aged 25 and over increased from 3 years in 1990 to 6.3 years in 2015. The current educational expectation is already 11.7 years. Although almost all children – at least boys – are actually enrolled in school today, the number of dropouts is increasing in the higher grades. Especially in rural areas, many children receive only an extremely rudimentary basic education. Secondary schools and higher educational 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 still 64.8%, in 1951 it was only 18.3%.

Since the education system is largely the responsibility of the federal states, there are correspondingly large regional differences. This is expressed most clearly in the very unequal illiteracy rate. While in Kerala , the state with the highest literacy rate, it was only 6.1% in 2011, it was almost six times higher in the financially poorest state, Bihar , at 36.2%. Another problem is the discrimination against girls, whose school enrollment rate is lower than that of boys (average 2000 to 2004: boys: 90%, girls: 85%). At institutions of higher education, the proportion of women is generally significantly lower than that of men. A major weak point is also the vocational school system, which has not been very developed up to now, but which is growing rapidly. India had 750 universities and 41,435 colleges with a total of 28.5 million students in 2016. After the People's Republic of China, India is the country with the most students. The Indian Institute of Science Bangalore and Indian Institute of Technology Ropar are among the top 400 institutions worldwide according to the Times Higher Education ranking of 2019 .

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:

Literacy rates in the censuses since 1951
(1951 to 1971: people aged ≥ 5 years, from 1981: people aged ≥ 7 years)
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%

*  excluding Assam
**  excluding Jammu and Kashmir


Data on Health (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 per 1000 births
Note: "Births" = live births   Source: Indexmundi;  Kerala: UNDP

Health care is predominantly state-run, although there are also many private hospitals. Although health care in rural areas has improved significantly, 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 hygiene conditions, such as lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and 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 higher life expectancy than women. In recent years, this has reversed. Child mortality (under 5 years old) in India was 3.7% in 2018 (it was 24.2% in 1960).

Because of the low costs and 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 development of life expectancy across India 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 taking on an increasingly ominous proportions 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. As of April 25, 2021, numerous states began flying medical supplies to India.

Armed Forces and Defence

Indian Army Main Battle Tank ( T-90 )

India's military is made up of volunteers and 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 groups , which are deployed primarily in internal conflicts . Adding the latter, only China's military has a larger troop strength. The Indian Armed Forces had 3,264 main battle tanks, 733 warplanes, 199 helicopters, 21 warships and 17 submarines in 2005. In 2004, India was the second largest arms buyer in the world with a 10% share of all arms purchases; a quarter of all Russian arms exports went to India. Military spending in 2016 was $55.9 billion, or 2.5% of gross domestic product . India thus had the world's fifth-highest military budget.

India has been an official nuclear power since 1974 . It has self-developed short-range missiles , as well as medium-range missiles with ranges of 700-8000 km. In 2012, 84 nuclear warheads were available. To date, India has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but according to its nuclear doctrine, waives nuclear first strike . As of 2004, India's only overseas military base is Farkhor Air Base in Tajikistan . There is also a military agreement with Mozambique that provides anchor rights and supplies for Indian warships. Close military ties also exist with Mauritius . The Indian Air Force controls Mauritian airspace and cooperates with the Indian Navy (as of 2007).

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


Market shares of India in the commodity market
(production 2002–2004)
raw material percent
cattle and buffalo
iron ore
Gross national product per capita in India by state 2011
GNP per capita in India by state (2011)

India is a managed economy that has been progressively deregulated and privatized since 1991 . Since then, economic growth has accelerated significantly. According to many observers, the performance of the Indian economy has meanwhile reached a top international level 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 , above all 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 state intervention and the slow political decision-making processes. Protecting inefficient state-owned companies from competition remains a stumbling block. Widespread corruption is also a stress factor . In addition, labor market regulations, which, for example, make it very difficult to lay off workers, continue to affect the investment climate. Foreign investors are thus deterred. India is also losing a large number of qualified workers abroad ( brain drain ). On the other hand, it is the largest beneficiary of emigrant remittances abroad 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 intensified 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 much domestically oriented. Their share of the global 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 indicate that there is still considerable potential for growth. In 2016, exports of goods and services accounted for just over 19.2% of gross domestic product, and imports for 20.6%.

India's medium and long-term growth prospects are often judged to be very favourable. Some studies predict that India will grow even faster than China in the future. Apart from the great need to catch up, especially in the area of ​​infrastructure, the age structure of the population in particular speaks for continued 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 expected aging of the population in Europe and also in China will start much later in India. Growth pillars will also be the already large supply of qualified workers and the ever closer integration into the global economy.

The high currency reserves and relatively low foreign debt should strengthen the confidence of foreign investors in the development of the Indian economy. So far, foreign direct investment in India has been low in international comparison, especially with China. Narendra Modi's government, which is seen 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 move up 30 places compared to the previous year and was among the top 100 countries for the first time.

There is potential for conflict in the sometimes high level of poverty, the unequal distribution of income and the high level of unemployment. India had 104 billionaires in 2017, making it the fourth highest number of billionaires in the world behind the US, China and Germany, while over 20% of the population lived in extreme poverty and 96.2% of Indians had private wealth of less than US$10,000 -owned dollars. So far, however, India has had a remarkably high degree of social stability.

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

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 seven percent annually, adjusted for inflation. Despite the significantly accelerated growth, the official unemployment rate at that time was still 9% - although a considerable number of unemployed people who are not recorded by the statistics is to be expected. The total number of employees in 2017 is estimated at 521.9 million. A large part of them work in the informal sector. 24.5% of the workforce is female, which means that women still have a relatively low labor market participation.

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

However, against the background of the favorable overall economic development, India's creditworthiness is being rated increasingly better by the leading agencies for assessing credit risks . At the beginning of August 2006, after the rating agency Moody's , the agency Fitch also raised its rating of the Indian government's borrowing to the lowest so-called investment grade .

In the course of India's increasing international economic integration, 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, globally active Indian capital market, high levels of private debt, rising unemployment figures and falling domestic demand and export figures. Government stimulus packages were put in place to combat the crisis, including infrastructure programs, tax cuts and subsidies for the export industry.

India's economy has regained momentum in recent years. Economic growth was 7.9% in the 2015 financial year. In 2016, the gross domestic product was around 2,251 billion US dollars in the same period, the nominal GDP per capita around 1,723 US dollars. Inflation fell from around 10% at times to around 5% in 2018. According to experts, if the population continues to grow, India will probably not only be the most populous country in the world by the middle of the century, 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 lives below the poverty line of 1 US dollar per capita and 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, in international comparison, for example with China, is still very strongly characterized by agriculture. 59.4% of the population are employed in agriculture . The rural population forms the poorest part of the population. So far, it has primarily been the population of the cities who have benefited from the economic upswing, where an affluent middle class of often highly qualified specialists has formed. This harbors social conflict material. The deselection of the last government in 2004 is largely explained by the rural population's dissatisfaction with economic development.

However, the share of agriculture in the gross domestic product is declining sharply. While it still contributed 56% in 1956, 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.

Major technical advances have been made since independence, most notably in the course of the so-called “ Green Revolution ” since the mid-1960s. The large-scale introduction of high-yield varieties, the use of fertilizers and pesticides , the partial mechanization of agriculture and the expansion of irrigation areas have contributed to the country being able to provide itself with food as far as possible today. Nevertheless, India's agriculture is still comparatively inefficient. In rural areas, many people are underemployed , and extensive industrialization of agriculture is still to come in large parts of the country. Only in the Punjab , the " granary of India", is it already more advanced.

The most important is the cultivation of cereals , especially rice . Its main growing areas are in the fertile river plains of the north, along the coasts and in the eastern Deccan . India is the second largest rice producer in the world after China . About a fifth of global revenue comes from India. 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 Deccan, as well as Gujarat and Bihar . In drier areas, such as Rajasthan , Gujarat and large parts of the Deccan, millet dominates . Maize and barley play a lesser role. The cultivation of legumes , potatoes , onions , oilseeds (especially peanuts , soybeans , sesame , rapeseed , coconuts ), mangoes and bananas also contributes to food production .

The main commercial crops are cotton , sugarcane , tea , tobacco , coffee , jute , cashews , spices (mainly chili , pepper , cardamom , ginger , coriander , turmeric , cinnamon , garlic ) and betel nuts .

Indian animal husbandry is not very efficient, despite having the largest cattle population in the world with 222 million animals (as of 2002). A total of 20% of Indians are vegetarians , so depending on the region, meat production is not always the priority. Milk and dairy products are produced in large quantities for this purpose .


After the successful increase in agricultural yields, fishing began to be promoted in the 1980s . Parallel to the “Green Revolution”, the term “ Blue Revolution ” was coined for this. After initially supplying small fishermen with outboard motors , the development of a modern trawl fleet began . Although this led to a significant increase in yields, it also led to overfishing on many stretches of coast. India's most important fishing grounds are on the west coast, where around 70% of the catch is obtained. In 2001, India ranked seventh in the world with a catch of 3.8 million tons. Fish and shrimp are now exported in large quantities. Shrimp farming is particularly encouraged. Around half of the shrimp now comes from aquacultures , which have been established primarily on the east coast since the 1990s.

Traditional inland fishing in rivers, ponds and lakes is particularly important in eastern and north-eastern India . Commercial farming of fish, especially carp , is now also being established in the area around Delhi .

mining and natural resources

India has abundant deposits of high-grade iron and manganese ores , bituminous coal , bauxite and chromium . The largest deposits of raw materials are in East India, most notably Jharkhand , Chhattisgarh and Odisha . Iron ore, which the country ranked fourth in the world for production 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 aluminium , 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 better quality and cheaper imported coal. Coal is the country's most important energy source. The reserves of crude oil and natural gas are far from sufficient to cover the constantly increasing demand. Significant oil deposits are found only in Assam , Gujarat, 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 India's industrial
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 Graphs

During colonial rule, the development of industry - with the exception of the textile industry , which was important from an early stage  - was hindered rather than encouraged. After independence, the expansion of capital-intensive key industries was particularly encouraged. These 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, following the example of the Soviet Union , the state relied on the expansion of key industries by means of five-year plans . In 2001, 21.9% of the working population worked in the industrial sector. According to the World Bank, the added value of industry was 28.8% of gross domestic product in 2016, which means that India's industrial production is now one of the largest in the world. A growth engine in the industrial sector is the deregulation in the energy, chemical and raw materials markets. Growth impulses also come from the rapidly increasing domestic demand for durable consumer goods.

The textile industry is still one of the largest and most important sectors of the economy in India thanks to the huge domestic demand and production for export. Leather is produced and processed in large quantities, both industrially and manually. Since Hindus consider the handling and processing of animal carcasses to be unclean work, most leather workers are Muslims or “ untouchables ”. Child labor is also common in the industry. Many employees are often exposed to unhealthy working conditions, and companies have repeatedly undermined the statutory minimum wage in the past. Trade union activities are also suppressed. In addition to these more traditional industries, iron and steel production, machine, motor vehicle and chemical industries dominate. Among them, the state share is particularly high. However, the proportion of private companies has increased since the liberalization of the economy in the 1980s and especially in the early 1990s. The Indian pharmaceutical industry is among the largest and most advanced among the developing countries . Due to the 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 amended its patent laws. An important driver of the economic upswing in recent years is the information technology sector, which can be assigned partly to the industrial sector 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 manufacture of hardware is also experiencing a rapid upswing. With double-digit annual growth rates, biotechnology is also gaining in importance.

Industrial production is concentrated in a few large urban areas. The major industrial zones are the Mumbai - Pune , Ahmedabad - Vadodara - Surat , Delhi , Kanpur - Lucknow , Chennai , Kolkata - Asansol , Punjab and East Jharkhand metropolitan areas .

Cutting - edge technology is mainly located in the south of the country: The center of the information technology industry is Bengaluru , while Hyderabad has established itself as a new growth center for biotechnology , especially with the founding of the Genome Valley biotechnology center .


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 already provided by services in 2016. India has achieved significant market positions, especially 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 by 2007 more than a third of all computer services came from here. These services are also increasingly provided 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 of 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 power, India's foreign trade links are rather small. This is to a large extent due to the strong domestic market orientation in the decades after independence. However, since the opening of the economy in the early 1990s, which among other things resulted in the lifting of many import restrictions, foreign trade has experienced a significant upswing. Between 1991 and 2004, the exchange of goods with other countries more than quadrupled.

India is a major exporter of raw materials and finished goods, but also labor and services. Software products and software developers come from India ; it has a large number of well-trained specialists. The main exports are textiles , clothing, cut and processed gemstones , jewellery , chemicals , petroleum products, leather goods and software products. India 's main imports are crude oil, electronics, precious stones (e.g. diamonds), machinery, precious metals , chemicals and fertilizers .

According to initial information from the Federal Statistical Office, trade between India and Germany once again increased significantly 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 for 3.3 billion euros, 39.7% more than in the first seven months of 2005. By 2016, the total rose Trade volume to 17.4 billion euros, which puts India in 24th place 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 / Import (2016/17)    Exports / Export (2016/17)
# country U.S-$ portion # country U.S-$ portion
1 China People's Republic People's Republic of China (excluding Hong Kong) 61.3 billion 16.0% 1 United States United States 42.3 billion 15.3%
2 United States United States 22.1 billion 5.8% 2 United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates 31.2 billion 11.3%
3 United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates 21.4 billion 5.6% 3 Hong Kong Hong Kong 14.1 billion 5.1%
4 Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 20.0 billion 5.2% 4 China People's Republic People's Republic of China (excluding Hong Kong) 10.2 billion 3.7%
5 Switzerland Switzerland 17.2 billion 4.5% 5 Singapore Singapore 9.6 billion 3.5%
6 Indonesia Indonesia 13.4 billion 3.5% 6 United Kingdom United Kingdom 8.6 billion 3.1%
7 Korea South South Korea 12.6 billion 3.3% 7 Germany Germany 7.2 billion 2.6%
8th Iraq Iraq 11.7 billion 3.1% 8th Bangladesh Bangladesh 6.7 billion 2.4%
9 Germany Germany 11.5 billion 3.0% 9 France France 5.4 billion 1.9%
10 Iran Iran 10.5 billion 2.7% 10 Nepal Nepal 5.4 billion 1.9%
Other 181.0 billion 47.3% Other 135.8 billion 52.9%
India India : total imports 382.7 billion 0100.0% India India : total exports 276.5 billion 0100.0%


Tourism has become one of the most important foreign exchange earners in India. In 2014, India saw a bigger tourist influx than ever before, with 7.6 million foreign visitors. However, there are also many foreigners of Indian origin who live mainly in North America and Great Britain and regularly pay longer visits to their relatives in India. Nonetheless, in 2014 the tourism sector generated $10.7 billion in revenue from the arrival of foreign guests. There are a total of 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India as of July 2019  , including 30 World Heritage Sites, 7 World Natural Heritage Sites and 1 Mixed Cultural and Natural Heritage Site . By far the most visited tourist attraction is the white tomb Taj Mahal in the northern Indian city of Agra . Other popular destinations are in the north of 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 very south of the state of Kerala with its backwaters under coconut palms. In addition to culture, beach and nature tourism, adventure holidays such as trekking or rafting and health tourism ( yoga , Ayurveda ) are becoming increasingly important.

state budget

In 2016, the national budget included expenditure equivalent to US $283.1 billion , compared with income equivalent to US$200.1 billion. This resulted in a budget deficit of 3.6% of GDP and a national debt of US$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 passed a resolution to introduce a uniform Goods and Services Tax (GST) across the 29 states to promote seamless movement of goods. The resolution still has 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 intended to bring about a uniform sales tax across India 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 behind China and the USA. India also had the third largest CO 2 emissions in the world, which are also growing rapidly.

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

The current energy demand of 560 kilowatt hours per inhabitant and year is one of the lowest in the world. Half of the energy comes from coal , a quarter from oil , gas and hydroelectric power , and a fifth comes from burning dung , firewood and other materials.

India ranks fourth in the world in terms of wind energy development. In February 2021, the capacity of the installed wind turbines was 38.789  GW (2017: 32.8 GW; 2020: 38.625 GW, which was 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 wind energy capacity would be increased to 60 GW by 2022. Solar energy has also been significantly expanded since the early 2010s. In the fall of 2011, just 45 megawatts of photovoltaic capacity was installed, but the 20 gigawatt mark was reached as early as March 2018 due to the strong expansion. The nationwide goal 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 was achieved in early 2021 with large hydroelectric power plants, and 92.97 GW with the other renewables.

In 2011, nuclear energy accounted for around 3.7% of the electrical power supply . In August 2012, six nuclear power plants with 21 reactor units and a total gross installed capacity of 5780 MW were connected to the grid in India. Six more reactor blocks with a total gross output of 4300 MW are under construction. Since India has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, numerous countries are very reluctant to participate in the construction. To date, India has agreed to cooperate with Russia, the European Union and Canada on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy (see also the list of nuclear reactors in India ).

India is the third largest consumer of oil in the world and had a requirement of 4.1 million barrels per day (as of 2015). India relies on oil imports, which are expected 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 still underdeveloped land infrastructure in many places, air transport is playing an increasingly important role. The main hubs for domestic flights are Delhi ( Indira Gandhi International Airport ), Mumbai ( Mumbai Airport ), Kolkata ( Kolkata Airport ) and Chennai ( Chennai Airport ), as key points of their respective regions. Flight connections between the largest cities in India exist several times a day. A major difficulty is the small size and poor connections of the increasingly congested airports. Air traffic used to be dominated by the two state airlines Air India (international flights) and Indian Airlines (domestic flights). There are now several private airlines that have already captured a market share of 40% within India.

rail transport

India's first train ran between Mumbai and Thane on 16 April 1853 . Just four decades later, the railway connected all important parts of the country. Even today, it still plays an important role in the transport of goods and people. Almost 30% of freight and 15% of passenger traffic is handled by rail. The Indian State Railways ( Indian Railways ) is divided into 16 regional companies and employs 1.6 million people, more than any other state-owned company in the country. There are 7200 train stations. However, the superlatives can hardly hide the sometimes desolate condition of the railway network. The main problems are the uneven and large-meshed development of the country, the mostly outdated technology, and a low degree of electrification by today's standards : only 19,000 of the total 64,000 kilometers of route length (as of 2011) are electrified. The rail network consists of 54,257 kilometers of broad-gauge tracks measuring 1,676 millimeters, the remaining 10,000 kilometers are spread over three different narrow- gauge gauges.

India's railway network is the second longest, just behind China, but by no means the densest in Asia. On a global scale, India's railway network ranks fifth. The state puts its main focus on the electrification and the double-track expansion of the main lines, the conversion of meter gauge lines into broad gauge and the modernization of technical facilities. In fact, the expansion of the railway can hardly keep up with the increasing demands of population and industrial growth, which contributes to the rapid development of road transport. An attempt to make rail passenger transport more attractive is the Shatabdi Express trains , which connect the three metropolitan areas of Chennai , Mumbai and New Delhi with important 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 the Middle East due to its geographical location , and because its immediate neighbors only play a subordinate role in the mutual exchange of goods for economic or political reasons, foreign trade is almost exclusively conducted via seaports . India's twelve largest ports account for around 90% of the transhipment of goods in overseas traffic. There are also many medium-sized and smaller ports, but they are not suitable for large ships and container handling and are therefore almost exclusively used by coastal ships.

road traffic

The most important means of transport in India today is the road . As early as the 1970s, road transport overtook the railways for goods and passenger transport. Today, around 70% of goods transport and even 85% of passenger transport is done by road. India's road network covers around 3.3 million kilometers, of which only about half is paved. Most important are the National Highways, which cover more than 40,000 miles. They connect the largest cities in the country with each other. The main artery is the Grand Trunk Road , which runs from Amritsar on the Pakistani border via Delhi to Calcutta . In fact, the vast majority of the national highways only have two lanes and are often in a catastrophic condition. The more than 130,000 kilometers of state highways in the states, which meet very different standards and are sometimes only single lane in poorer states, remain problematic .

In 2013, a total of 238,562 people lost their lives on Indian roads, making India the second-highest number of road fatalities in the world after the People's Republic of China. For comparison: In Germany there were 3,540 road deaths in the same year. The reasons for the high level of insecurity are the inadequate infrastructure and reckless driving.

Traffic drives on the left in India .


India's Telecoms 2005
telephone lines 67.25 per 1000 inhabitants
Mobile phones 0350.51 per 1000 inhabitants
radios 227.69 per 1000 inhabitants
television sets 680.07 per 1000 inhabitants
computer 25.68 per 1000 inhabitants
Internet users 21.13 per 1000 inhabitants
CIA World Factbook: India 2005

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

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

A so-called Public Call Office (PCO) can often be seen in the streets . These are public phones, usually operated from a small street stall. This is usually not a payphone, but a normal telephone, for the use of which you pay personally. From the usual PCO, only national calls (STD) are possible, which is why special, international PCOs have to be visited for international calls (ISD).

In 2016, 462 million or 34.8% of the population used the internet in India making India the second most internet-user country in the world after China. In 2021 it was already 624 million or 45% of the population.


Lavishly embroidered cloth of the Meqwar, Kachchh District (Gujarat) decorated with broken mirrors

Indian culture is one of the oldest and most diverse cultures on earth. It was formative for the whole 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 had a decisive influence on the culture of the country. The almost unmanageable variety 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 images of others and formulated so-called cultural standards of behavior.

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


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

The architecture of India reflects the various cultural influences that shaped the country. In addition to palace and fortress buildings, the sacral architecture stands out.

In the earliest times wood, clay and fired bricks were used as building materials. The oldest surviving remains of Indian architecture are from the Indus Civilization , which spread mainly to the area of ​​present-day Pakistan , but also to Gujarat and the Indian part of Punjab .

The oldest fully preserved structures are Buddhist stupas . Stupas are dome-shaped structures standing on a rectangular platform. A relic is usually kept inside. In fact, the stupa developed from burial mounds, as were 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 ) emerged, as in the caves of Ajanta and Ellora ( Maharashtra , 2nd century BC to 7th century AD). With the decline of Buddhism in India, except for the Himalayan region , starting in the 10th century, the development of Buddhist architecture came to an end. It was continued in East and Southeast Asia as well as Sri Lanka and Tibet .

Jain architecture developed at the same time as Buddhist architecture . Jain temples are mostly open to the outside to let in light. They also have particularly artistic, filigree stone carvings. Among the finest examples are the temples of Ranakpur (15th century) in Rajasthan and the myriad edifices of the pilgrimage city ​​of Palitana in Gujarat . Independent stylistic elements developed in southern India. The impressive monolithic statue of an ascetic in Shravanabelagola ( Karnataka ) from the 10th century is famous .

Until the first centuries after Christianity, only less durable building materials, above all wood and clay, were used for Hindu temples. However, the first stone temples took up the style of their predecessors. In principle, each component has a symbolic meaning. All Hindu temples symbolize the cosmos, while the temple tower represents the mythological Mount Meru. Nevertheless, from the 7th century onwards, two different main styles emerged, which differ most clearly in the shape of the tower. The North Indian Nagara style is characterized by the beehive-shaped tower over the sanctum called Shikhara . In southern India, the Dravidian style dominates , characterized by a stair-stepped tower called a vimana . Later, the stylistically similar gopuram (also gopura ) above the entrance gate emerged as another feature . Outstanding Nagara-style monuments include the 10th-century Mukteshvara Temple at Bhubaneswar ( Odisha ), the 13th-century Sun Temple of Konark (Odisha), and the 10th-11th-century Temple District of Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh). Century. The most famous Dravidian temples are in the Tamil cities of Thanjavur ( Brihadishvara Temple , 11th century) and Madurai ( Minakshi Temple , 16th-17th centuries). Numerous sacred and secular buildings have been preserved in Hampi (Karnataka). Early precursors of the Dravidian style from the 7th and 8th centuries are 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 the place of Hindu temples or even incorporated parts of them. The most famous structure of this period is the Qutb Minar (12th century) minaret in Delhi . Over time, Islamic architecture mixed with Hindu elements to create an independent Indian-Islamic architecture that flourished under the Mughals . Magnificent Mughal architecture produced some of the most important buildings in India, such as the Taj Mahal in Agra ( Uttar Pradesh ), which Shah Jahan had built in the 17th century as a tomb for his wife, or the palaces of Fatehpur Sikri . Artistic buildings were also erected in other Muslim states in India, such as the Gol Gumbaz mausoleum in Bijapur (Karnataka) from the 17th century.

The British colonial era gave new impetus to Indian architecture from the 19th century. The Indo-Saracenic style emerged from the fusion of European, Islamic and Indian elements . Examples include the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai , most of the Indian High Courts buildings and also countless buildings in the former colonial capital Kolkata . In Goa there are churches and monasteries from the Portuguese colonial era, the most important of which are in Velha Goa . Newer palace buildings by Indian rulers, such as the Amba Vilas in Mysuru (Karnataka), were also influenced by Europe.

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


Rabindranath Tagore , 1913 Nobel Laureate in Literature (1909 recording)

Indian literature is one of the oldest in the world. However, it should be noted that there has never been just 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 . Among the most outstanding Sanskrit works are the Vedas from the 13th to the 5th centuries BC. the Upanishads (about 700 to 500 BC), and the two great epics , the Mahabharata and the Ramayana . They deal with mythological-religious themes of Hinduism . In addition, many other important works emerged in the most diverse fields, such as religion , philosophy , statecraft and science . With the rise of Buddhism from the 5th century BC, Pali became an important literary language, which among other things produced the writings of Theravada Buddhism.

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

In the Middle Ages, Islam became a new intellectual movement that had a major influence on Indian literature. Sanskrit lost more and more importance. New languages ​​such as Hindustani , Bengali , Punjabi and Marathi emerged from it and the Middle Indian Prakrit languages , all of which developed their own literary traditions. Religious poetry of Hinduism was now written in the regional languages ​​that could be understood by the people and increasingly devoted themselves to bhakti , the devotional worship of God. Outstanding representatives of this new literature include Tulsidas , Kabir and Mirabai in Hindi, Dnyaneshwar in Marathi and Narasinh Mehta in Gujarati .

The merging of Islamic-Persian and Indian elements in Urdu poetry is remarkable . Some of the most beautiful love poetry was written in this language, which eventually became the court language of the Mughals and flourished from the 17th century. The Ghazels of the poet Mirza Ghalib and the works of Muhammad Iqbal , who is particularly revered in Pakistan today, achieved the greatest fame .

In the 19th century, Western influence on Indian literature increased. Under these circumstances, Bengali literature in particular experienced an upswing. Its best-known representative is certainly Rabindranath Tagore , who is revered today as a national poet and is 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.

The contemporary literature of India not only encompasses all the major written languages ​​of the country, but also deals with a wide range of subjects. Famous modern authors include 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 splits into two main directions: Hindustani and Carnatic music . Hindustan music comes from northern India and is heavily influenced by the Persian culture. Carnatic music is the dominant classical style of South India. However, both are based on the essential concepts of raga and tala . The raga represents the basic melodic structure. Every raga is based on a certain sequence of tones that convey an emotional mood. It is played to a certain tala, a kind of meter system that indicates the rhythm of the piece of music. Typical instruments include stringed instruments such as the sitar , veena , sarod , tanpura , and sarangi , as well as wind instruments ( flute , shehnai ). The tabla , for example, or – in South India – the mridangam serve as rhythm instruments . The sitar player and composer Ravi Shankar is considered the most famous interpreter of classical Indian music.

Besides classical music, India has rich folk music traditions in different parts of the country. The Bhangra music from the Punjab or 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 entire population and has characteristics of both western and folk and classical Indian music. Catchy catchy tunes from popular movies are particularly popular. Among the most successful and well-known singers of Indian film music are Lata Mangeshkar , Kishore Kumar , Mohammed Rafi , Manna Dey and Asha Bhosle .


Dances have always played an important role in Hinduism, both as a danced version of prayer and to depict mythological themes. So it is not surprising that in India an enormous variety of classical dances, most of which bear traits of drama, have developed. Dance is one of the most highly 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 classic styles, the Bharatanatyam stands out, a unique dance of Tamil origin but now appreciated throughout India. Similar to it is the Kuchipudi dance from Andhra Pradesh , but with more theatrical components. One of the most expressive forms of dance theater originated in Kerala with male -performed kathakali . Mohiniyattam , a women's singles dance, also originated in Kerala. Odissi is the classic temple dance of Odisha . The North Indian Kathak was also originally a temple dance, but was exposed to Islamic influences under the Mughal rulers and developed into a courtly dance. The Manipuri from Manipur in north-east India , on the other hand, shows influences from the Burmese culture and regional characteristics. It is presented in the group.

In addition, a variety of regional folk dances exist in India . These are performed on a wide variety of occasions, such as weddings, regional festivals, at harvest or at the beginning of the monsoon . Well-known are the Bhangra from Punjab and the Garba from Gujarat .


Although sculpture has long been considered the higher art form in India, there was a highly developed tradition of painting early on. Apart from prehistoric paintings and decorated ceramics from the Indus culture , the earliest examples are from the Gupta period . The Buddhist rock paintings in the Ajanta Caves are considered to be masterpieces of this era. Later works at Ajanta, as well as Hindu , Jain and Buddhist depictions at the Caves of Ellora , continued the Gupta style.

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

With the emergence of Islam from the 12th century, painting gradually gained importance as a courtly 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, which is why portraits of important personalities of the empire as well as depictions of courtly life and important historical events predominate. Miniature painting also flourished in other Islamic parts of India. This is how an independent style developed at the courts of the Deccan sultanates .

The Mughal style also influenced the emergence of Rajput painting in 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 . Depictions from the life of Krishna were particularly popular . Due to the large number of Rajput princely courts, various painting schools emerged. Each school developed its own special features, but they all have large-scale drawings and bright colors in common. 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. Landscape depictions with only a few figures are characteristic.

Western influences during the British colonial period brought about revolutionary changes. By the late 19th century, traditional Indian painting was in decline. Instead, painters like Raja Ravi Varma tried to emulate European styles, most notably Realism . Only after the turn of the century did traditional stylistic 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 continues and develops Indian traditions. The best known 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 elaborately painted. Madhubani painting from Bihar is particularly well known . The art of the Indian tribal population is also gaining increasing recognition.


Film is undoubtedly one of the most important parts of modern day Indian culture. With more than 1000 productions a year, 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 yields the 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. Bengali , Kannada , Tamil , Telugu and Malayalam cinema are also very popular and have great mass appeal. The main characteristics of 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 be a box-office hit. Actors are expected to be able to dance, while professional singers will provide vocal performances. The mixture of comic, romantic, dramatic and action elements is also striking.

In addition, the auteur cinema also finds a lot of recognition. The two Bengali directors Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen are internationally known .


The India men's national hockey team at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, gold medal winners

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 national hockey team has so far won eight gold, one silver and two bronze medals at Summer Olympics . India won the 1975 Men's World Field Hockey Championships and finished second in the 1973 Men's World Field Hockey Championships . India has also hosted this tournament three times: in 1982 , 2010 and 2018 .

Originating in England, cricket is by far the most popular sport. The Indian national cricket team has won the Cricket World Cup twice: in 1983 and 2011 , and also finished second in the 2003 Cricket World Cup . The 1987 , 1996 and 2011 Cricket World Cups were held in India, among others, and the 2023 Cricket World Cup will be hosted again in India. 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 1984 , 1988 , 1990 , 1995 , 2010 , 2016 and 2018 Asia Cups . The Indian Premier League (IPL) is considered the most popular cricket league in the world and attracts spectators primarily 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, the IPL is hardly noticed there. In November 2021, India was named to host the T20 World Cup 2026 (with Sri Lanka), the Champions Trophy 2029 and the Cricket World Cup 2031 (with Bangladesh).

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

Narain Karthikeyan from Chennai was India's first Formula 1 driver. From 2011 to 2013 the Indian Grand Prix was held at the Buddh International Circuit ; Sebastian Vettel won all three races. As early as 2007, Force India was formed as 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 India's best-known and most successful tennis players .

Indian athletes have won a total of 28 medals at the Olympic Games . India was undisputedly dominant with its national hockey team from 1928 to 1964; in these 8 games you won 7 times gold and once silver. Abhinav Bindra became 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 1951 and 1982 South Asian Games were also held in India.


The body positions ( asanas ) of yoga, which is around 2000 years old, are the most well-known 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 one. 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 that embrace holistic health and spiritual experience far more than Western practices.


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 question of a uniform cooking culture. Rather, ingredients and eating habits differ from each other as much as in Europe. In general, meat is less important than in western cuisine. The most consumed type of meat is chicken. Meat dishes are still most popular with Muslims , who, however, do not eat pork, while some Hindus are completely vegetarian . Most of them, like the Sikhs  , strictly reject beef. Jainas are strictly forbidden to even eat any animal food. As frying fats, vegetable oils are far more common than animal fats.

In addition to rice , various types of white bread (roti) serve as a staple food in North and West India , the most common variant of which is chapati , an unleavened flatbread made from whole wheat flour. In contrast, the naan bread common in the Northwest is baked with yeast. In southern and eastern India, rice is the most important food. Legumes such as lentils , chickpeas , pigeon peas , urd beans and mung beans are common as side dishes . The word " curry ", known in the western world as a spice mixture and 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 heavily seasoned sauce. In fact, the spice mixtures called masala are indispensable in Indian cuisine, but their recipe and use varies considerably depending on the region. Seasoned sweet and sour chutneys made from vegetables and fruit are often served with curries . Dairy products, such as ghee (clarified butter) and yoghurt , 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 some states, alcohol is not available at all.

holidays and festivals

National holidays are Republic Day on January 26 , the day the Constitution came into force in 1950, and Independence Day on August 15, which commemorates the end of British colonial rule in 1947. committed. However, the latter is not celebrated as lavishly as Republic Day, on which a large parade takes place in Delhi , which is inspected by the President. The birthday of pro-independence leader Mohandas Karamchand (“Mahatma”) Gandhi on October 2 ( Gandhi Jayanti ) and several religious festivals are also national public holidays. Religious festivals are extremely important in India. The main Hindu celebrations include the Diwali festival of lights , Dashahara (the day of Rama 's victory over the demon Ravana ), the spring festivals of Holi and Vasant Panchami , Ganesh Chaturthi in honor of Ganesha , Raksha Bandhan (the festival of the "protective bond" between siblings) as well as many other pujas in honor of individual deities. For example, 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 Jains is the birthday of their respective founder of the faith ( Nanak Dev or Buddha or Mahavira ). Christians mainly celebrate Easter and Christmas .

There is also a vast number of regional festivals. During the harvest season, rural areas celebrate thanksgiving festivals such as Pongal in Tamil , Lohri in Punjab or Onam in Kerala (round in 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 today Kerala's culture and tradition takes center stage. In late February to early March, a seven-day dance festival takes place against the backdrop of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Khajuraho Temples .


According to the 1950 constitution, freedom of expression and freedom of the press apply in India , although these are restricted in crisis areas such as Kashmir and parts of north- east India . However, due to its pluralistic society, India has an extremely diverse media landscape.

In the 2017 Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders , India ranked 130th out of 180 countries, beating neighboring Pakistan (139) and Bangladesh (146). Four journalists were killed in India in 2017. According to the Reporters Without Borders report, the deaths of the victims are directly related to their journalistic activities.

print media

India's first newspaper, the English -language Bengal Gazette, appeared in Calcutta in 1780 . India today has an extremely diverse press landscape. The Indian press is considered critical, and the range of topics is extraordinarily wide. About 55,000 newspapers and magazines are published in the country - more than in any other country in the world - with a total circulation of over 140 million. These include more than 5,000 daily newspapers. Most print media is published in Hindi , which accounts for 45% of the total press market. English -language newspapers account for 17%. The rest is divided into 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 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
4 Malayala Manorama Malayalam 8.565 million
5 Daily thanthi tamil 8.156 million
6 Rajasthan Patrika Hindi 7.665 million
7 The Times of India English 7.254 million
8th Amar Ujala Hindi 7.071 million
9 Mathrubhumi Malayalam 6.136 million
10 locomotive mat 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
4 Saras Salil , Women's Magazine Hindi 1.174 million
5 India Today (Hindi) Hindi 1.151 million
6 Samanya Gian Darpan Hindi 1.094 million
7 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 held by the state-owned All India Radio , which broadcasts in 24 languages ​​and can be received throughout the country, has long since been broken by the increasing number of private VHF stations. In the big cities, private radio stations have already overtaken state radio.


Television was first introduced in the Delhi area on September 15, 1959. However, regular programming has only existed since 1965. Color television was introduced on the occasion of the Asian Games in New Delhi in 1982. In the same year it began broadcasting television programs via satellite .

Initially reserved for a small, wealthy minority, television saw rapid growth 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 faced with numerous private satellite and cable broadcasters . The latter find their audience mainly among the younger urban population. Around half of the approximately 100 million television households now have a cable connection. The private channels with the most viewers are STAR Plus , Sony Entertainment Television, Sab TV, India TV, Colors 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 spread of Internet cafes . The larger of the Indian daily newspapers have an online version on the Internet. The number of social media users is 153 million and is still quite small compared to the size of the population, but shows a very high growth rate of over 45% compared to the previous year, and the number of users is constantly increasing.

publishing and the book market

Around 90,000 titles in over 18 languages ​​are published each year by 12,000 publishers. India is the third largest market for English-language publications, benefiting greatly from the removal of an investment-restricting law. Increasingly, publishing work is being outsourced from developed countries to India (according to ValueNotes with a turnover of INR 122 billion) mainly from the manufacturing, English and online departments, particularly in the area of ​​scientific, technical and medical literature.

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

See also

Portal: India  - Overview of Wikipedia content related to India


overview displays


  • 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 West's image of India (until 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 and others 2012, ISBN 978-3-631-61178-4 .
  • Hermann Kulke: Indian history until 1750. (= Oldenbourg outline of history. 34). Munich 2005, ISBN 3-486-55741-6 .
  • Hermann Kulke, Dietmar Rothermund : History of India. From the Indus culture to today. current. 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). Publisher Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn and others 2005, ISBN 3-8252-2694-8 .
  • Bernd Rosenheim: The World of the Buddha. Early Sites of Buddhist Art in India. Publisher 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 ). 2nd, through edition. CH Beck Verlag, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-406-59717-6 .


  • Olaf Ihlau: World Power India. The new challenge of 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 inner weaknesses, 13 cultural-political essays. Verlag Der Neue Morgen, Rudolstadt 2012, ISBN 978-3-95480-021-6 .


Comprehensive overview with bibliographical 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 images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: India  - meaning explanations, word origin, synonyms, translations
Wikiquote: India  – Quotes
Wikisource: India  - sources and full texts
 Wikinews: India  - in the news
Wikimedia Atlas: India  - geographic and historical maps
Wikivoyage: India  - Travel Guide

government and governmental organizations

country information




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