India

Note: This column mainly includes countries along the Belt and Road and countries that have signed cooperation agreements with China on Belt and Road Initiative.

Official Name

Republic of India

Location

Southern Asia, south of the Himalayas, the southern peninsula bordering the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. India shares borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan to the north-west, China, Nepal and Bhutan to the north, Myanmar and Bangladesh to the east. Sri Lanka is separated from the southernmost tip of India by the narrow Palk Straits and the Gulf of Mannar.

Population

1.21 billion (2011 census)

Capital

New Delhi

Climate

Varied continental climate. Spring from March-April, summer from May-October, winter from November-February. Tropical monsoon fromJune-August, and post-monsoon or north-east monsoon season (Oct-Dec).Most of the rainfall is brought by the south-west monsoon. Owing to the geographical diversity of India, regional climatic conditions in the extreme north, east and west can be different.

Religion

Hindu 80.5%, Muslim 13.4%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other 1.8%,unspecified 0.1% (2001 census)

Administrative Division

There are 29 states and 6 union territories (UTs) besides the National Capital Territory of Delhi. The states are Andhra Pradesh, ArunachalPradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, HimachalPradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, MadhyaPradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa,Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh,Uttarakhand and West Bengal. The UTs are Andaman and Nicobar Islands,Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry.

Republic Day

26th January (The Indian Constitution was adopted and Republic formedon this day in 1950.)

Independence Day

15th August (The British Raj ended on this day in 1947.)

National Language

Hindi is the most widely spoken language and primary tongue of 41% of the people; there are 21 other official languages: Assamese, Bengali,Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam,Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi,Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. English enjoys associate status but is one of the most important languages for national political, and commercial communication.

National Calendar

Based on the Saka Era with Chaitra as its first month and a normal year of 365 days, the national calendar has a permanent correspondence with the Gregorian calendar with 1st Chaitra falling on 22nd March (21st March in leap years).

Polity

Constitution of India

The Constitution of India was enacted on 26th of January, 1950. Drafted on 26th of November, 1949 by the Constituent Assembly of India, the Indian Constitution laid the foundations for establishment of a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic of India. Today, there are 12 Schedules and 395 Articles in the Constitution of India. Amendments have been made to the Constitution time and again as per the need of the hour. Till 2006, there have been 94 Amendments made to the constitution.

The Preamble is one of the most significant parts of the Constitution of India. Focusing on the core objective of the Indian Constitution, the Preamble includes the following:

Equality - which connotes equal opportunity for one and all

Justice - which means fair judgment in the fields of politics, society and economy

Fraternity - which works towards keeping the integrity and strength of the country intact along with special stress on individual dignity

Liberty - which assures every citizen of India the freedom of speech and expression, religious independence and choice of going by one's own belief

Executive

The President is the constitutional head of the executive of the Union of India. The real executive power vests in a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as head. Article 74(1) of the Constitution provides that there shall be a Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister to aid and advise the President who shall, in exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice. The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha, the House of the People. In the states, the Governor, as the representative of the President, is the head of Executive, but real executive power rests with the Chief Minister who heads the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers of a state is collectively responsible to the elected legislative assembly of the state.

The Union Executive at the Centre consists of the President, the Vice-President and Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President. The President is elected by members of an Electoral College consisting of elected members of both Houses of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies of the states, with suitable weightage given to each vote. His/her term of office is five years. Executive power of the Union is vested in the President, and is exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with the Constitution. Supreme command of defence forces of the Union also vests in him. The President summons, prorogues, addresses, sends messages to Parliament and dissolves the Lok Sabha, promulgates Ordinances at any time, except when both Houses of Parliament are in session, makes recommendations for introducing financial and money bills and gives assent to bills, grants pardons, reprieves, respites or remission of punishment or suspends, and remits or commutes sentences in certain cases. When there is a failure of the constitutional machinery in a state, he can assume to himself all, or any of the functions of the government of that state. The President can proclaim emergency in the country if he is satisfied that a grave emergency exists, whereby security of India or any part of its territory is threatened, whether by war or external aggression or armed rebellion. When there is a failure of the constitutional machinery in a state, he/she can assume to himself all or any of the functions of the government of that state.

Legislature

The Parliament is the legislative arm of the Union. It is bicameral, consisting of two houses: the directly-elected 545-member Lok Sabha ("House of the People"), the lower house, and the 250-member indirectly-elected and appointed Rajya Sabha("Council of States"), the upper house. All the members of the Council of Ministers as well as the Prime Minister are members of Parliament. If they are not, they must be elected within a period of six months from the time they assume their respective office. The Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers are responsible to the Lok Sabha, individually as well as collectively.

The Lok Sabha (also titled the House of the People, by the Constitution) is the directly elected lower house of the Parliament of India. So far, there have been fourteen Lok Sabhas elected by the people of India. Each Lok Sabha is formed for a five-year term, after which it is automatically dissolved, unless extended by a Proclamation of Emergency which may extend the term in one-year increments. Allbills to be made into law require the consent of both the houses of parliament. However, in case of money bills, the Lok Sabha is the supreme authority. Similarly, m against the government can only be introduced and passed in the Lok Sabha.

The Rajya Sabha (meaning the "Council of States") is the upper house of the Parliament of India. Membership is limited to 250 members, 12 of whom are nominated by the President of India for their expertise in specific fields of art, literature, science, and social services. The members of the Rajya Sabha from each state are elected by the members of the Legislature or the Legislative Assembly of that state by means of proportional representation through the Single Transferable Vote System. The representatives of the Union Territories are chosen in such manner as may be decided or prescribed by the Parliament from time to time. Terms of office are for six years, with one third of the members facing re-election every two years.The Rajya Sabha meets in continuous session and, unlike the lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha, is not subject to dissolution.

The functions of Parliament are not only varied in nature, but considerable in volume. The time at its disposal is limited. It cannot make very detailed scrutiny of all legislative and other matters that come up before it. A good deal of its business is, therefore, transacted in committees. Both Houses of Parliament have a similar committee structure, with a few exceptions. Their appointment, terms of office, functions and procedure of conducting business are also more or less similar, and are regulated under rules made by the two Houses under Article 118(1) of the Constitution. Broadly, parliamentary committees are of two kinds-standing committees and ad hoc committees. The former are elected or appointed every year or periodically and their work goes on, more or less, on a continuous basis. The latter are appointed on an ad hoc basis as need arises, and they cease to exist as soon as they complete the task assigned to them. 

Judiciary

India has an independent and highly active judiciary. The Indian justice system consists of a unitary system at both state and federal level. The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court of India, High Courts at the state level, and District and Session Courts at the district level. Below District and Session Courts, there are courts of civil jurisdiction, known in different states as munsifs, sub-judges,civil judges and the like. Similarly, criminal judiciary comprises of chief judicial magistrate and judicial magistrates of first and second class.

The Supreme Court has original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction. Its exclusive original jurisdiction extends to all disputes between the Union and one or more states or between two or more states. The Constitution gives an extensive original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court to enforce Fundamental Rights. Appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court can be invoked by a certificate of the High Court concerned or by special leave granted by the Supreme Court in respect of any judgement, decree or final order of a High Court in cases both civil and criminal,involving substantial questions of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution. The President may consult the Supreme Court on any question of fact or law of public importance.

Although the proceedings in the Supreme Court arise out of the judgments or orders made by the Subordinate Courts, of late the Supreme Court has started entertaining matters in which interest of the public at large is involved, and the Court may be moved by any individual or group of persons either by filing a Writ Petition at the Filing Counter of the Court, or by addressing a letter to Hon'ble The Chief Justice of India highlighting the question of public importance for invoking this jurisdiction. Such a concept is known as Public Interest Litigation,or PIL and several matters of public importance have become landmark cases.

The Supreme Court of India comprises the Chief Justice and not more than 25 other Judges appointed by the President. Judges hold office till 65 years of age.

Political System

Every adult citizen of India can exercise his or her democratic rights in elections that are held at regular intervals. As like any other democracy, political parties represent different sections among the Indian society and regions. Both the executive branch and the legislative branch of the government are run by the representatives of the political parties who have been elected through the elections. Through the electoral process, the people of India choose which party or coalition of parties gets majority in the lower house and a government can be formed by that party or the coalition.

India has a multi-party system, with a number of national and regional parties. A regional party may gain a majority and rule a particular state. If a political party is recognized in four or more states and is either the ruling party or is in the opposition in these states, it is considered as a National Party. The Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Janata Dal, Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist) are the prominent National Parties in the Country. Some of these parties have existed before the independence of the country while few of these emerged in post independent years.  Telugu Desam in Andhra Pradesh, Asom Gana Parishad in Assam, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha in Bihar, Maharashtrwad Gomantak Party in Goa, National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir, Muslim League in Kerala, Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, Akali Dal in Punjab, All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu, Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and All-India Forward Block in West Bengal are the prominent state parties which are the major political players in their respective states. Formation of coalition governments reflects the transition in Indian politics away from the national parties toward smaller "Regional parties". 

Political parties are an established part of modern democracy and have to be registered with "The Election Commission of India". The Commission ensures inner party democracy in their functioning by insisting upon them to hold their organizational elections at periodic intervals. Political parties so registered with it are granted recognition at the State and National levels by the Election Commission on the basis of their poll performance at general elections according to prescribed criteria. The Election Commission also ensures a level playing field for the political parties in election fray, through strict observance by them of a Model Code of Conduct evolved with the consensus of political parties.

Economy

GDP(constant market prices) in 2014-15: Rs. 10656925  crore( Est.)

Per Capita Income (constantprices 2011-12) in 2014-15: Rs.88533 crore (Est.)

Per Capita Income (currentprices) in 2014-15: Rs.74,193 (Est.)

GAV composition by sectorduring 2014-15 (2011-12): Services 49.6%, Agriculture 18.7%, and Industry 31.7%

Forex Reserves: US$328.7 billion (for the end of Jan,2015)

Exports: US $ 310533.87 (April-March,2014-2015) 

Imports: US$ 447548.33 million (April- March 2014-15)

Cumulative FDI Inflows: US$350.9 Billion (April 2000 to November 2014)

Top Investing Countries: Mauritius, Singapore, U.K, Japan, Netherlands, U.S.A, Cyprus, Germany, France and Switzerland. 

Top Sectors Attracting highest FDI inflows: Services, Construction, Telecommunication, computer Software and Hardware, Drugs and Pharmaceuticals, Automobile industry, chemicals and power.

Agriculture 

In India,Agriculture still remains the predominant sector in termsof employment and livelihood with more than half of India's workforce engagedin it as a principal occupation. Agriculture still contributes significantly toexport earnings and is an important source of raw materials as well as ofdemand for many industries.

In 2013-14 India achieved a record food grain production of 264million tonnes (MT), beating the previous year's (2012-13) 257 MT, according todata provided by Department of Economics and Statistics (DES). The Indianagricultural services and the agricultural machinery sectors have cumulativelyattracted foreign direct investment (FDI) equity inflows to the tune of US$365.79 million in the period April 2000-September 2014, according to theDepartment of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).

Manufacturing 

Manufacturingis the backbone of the economy. Global competitiveness in manufacturing fostersgrowth, productivity and employment and strengthens the agriculture and servicesectors. India has the potential to become a manufacturing hub for textiles,automobiles,steel, metals and petroleum products for the world market. 

The General Index for the month of February 2015 stands at 181.3,which is 5.0% higher as compared to the level in the month of February 2014.The cumulative growth for the period April-February 2014-15 over thecorresponding period of the previous year stands at 2.8%.

Some of the importantitems showing high positive growth during the financial year are leather goods,non metallic mineral products, basic metal and alloy industries, textile.

Services 

Since thebeginning of the tenth five-year plan, industry and services have acted as twinengines propelling overall growth of the economy.Service sector growthcontinued to be broad based. Among the three subsectors of services, trade,hotels, transport and communication services continued to lead by growing atdouble-digit rates since 2003-2004. Impressive progress in the railwaypassenger network and production of commercial vehicles, rapid addition to theexisting stock of telephone connections, particularly mobiles, growth in thefinancial services (banking, insurance and real estate) and the constructionboom were some of the driving segments of the service sector.

Travel

India, with its diversity, its long history and rich culture, its geography and landscapes, its traditions, values and customs - has always been and will always be unique. India has attracted the attention of the world since time immemorial. Indian music, dances and a plethora of other art forms, Indian languages and literature, India’s religions and ancient philosophy, the practice of Yoga and Ayurveda,the numerous fairs and festivals, the infinite variety of Indian cuisine, chores and practices embedded in the daily Indian life - all have evolved over many centuries with the blending of the original elements with the best of the influences assimilated from outside.

It is therefore no wonder that India possesses tourist attractions of every kind and for everyone. One of the modern Seven Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal is just one of the 32 World Heritage Sites in India.The Himalayas, nestled with many scenic hill stations ranging from Srinagar and Shimla in the North to Darjeeling in the East provide cool retreats with majestic scenes of the youngest and highest mountain range in the world. The Golden Triangle of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur offers a glimpse into an important era in Indian history. The royal charms of Rajasthan and the ride on the ‘Palace on Wheels’are a tourist must-see.

The Buddhist circuit of Nalanda-Bodh Gaya-Sarnath and the sacred cities on the River Ganges have been popular destinations for those who seek to explore India’s contribution to world spirituality. The temples of India are standing tributes to India’s ancient craftsmanship.

The coastline of Western India is dotted with tourist spots. The beaches of Goa and Kerala have beckoned people from all over. The tea gardens of South India and its famed spices enchanted the Europeans centuries ago. The islands of Lakshadweep and Andamans & Nicobar bring out yet another facet of multifarious India.

Editor: lishen