Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Republic of India; the Largest Democracy in the World

The Republic of India- the Flag
India (officially the Republic of India (Bharat Ganrajya),(Urdu: ہندوستان، بھارت) (Arabic: الهند) (Persian: ھند) is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the south-west, and the Bay of Bengal on the south-east, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north-east; and Burma and Bangladesh to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives; in addition, India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.
The Indus Valley Civilization
Home to the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history. 

Four world religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism—originated here, whereas Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Islam arrived in the 1st millennium CE and also helped shape the region's diverse culture. 

Gradually annexed by and brought under the administration of the British East India Company from the early 18th century and administered directly by the United Kingdom from the mid-19th century, India became an independent nation in 1947 after a struggle for independence that was marked by non-violent resistance led by Mahatma Gandhi. 

Emblem of India
The Indian economy is the world's tenth-largest by nominal GDP and third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). 

Following market-based economic reforms in 1991, India became one of the fastest-growing major economies; it is considered a newly industrialised country. However, it continues to face the challenges of poverty, corruption, malnutrition, inadequate public healthcare, and terrorism. 

A nuclear weapons state and a regional power, it has the third-largest standing army in the world and ranks eighth in military expenditure among nations. 

India is a federal constitutional republic governed under a parliamentary system consisting of 28 states and 7 union territories. India is a pluralistic, multilingual, and a multi-ethnic society.

It is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats. 

Satellite Image of the Indus River

The name India is derived from Indus, which originates from the Old Persian word Hinduš. The latter term stems from the Sanskrit word Sindhu, which was the historical local appellation for the Indus River. 

The ancient Greeks referred to the Indians as Indoi (Ινδοί), which translates as "the people of the Indus". The geographical term Bharat which is recognised by the Constitution of India as an official name for the country, is used by many Indian languages in its variations. 

The eponym of Bharat is Bharata, a theological figure that Hindu scriptures describe as a legendary emperor of ancient India. 

Hindustan was originally a Persian word that meant "Land of the Hindus"; prior to 1947, it referred to a region that encompassed northern India and Pakistan. It is occasionally used to solely denote India in its entirety. 

A Part of the Indo-Gangetic Plain
History of India:

The history of India begins with evidence of human activity of Homo sapiens, as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including Homo erectus from about 500,000 years ago. 

The Indus Valley Civilization, which spread and flourished in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent from c. 3300 to 1300 BCE in present-day Pakistan and northwest India, was the first major civilization in South Asia. A sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture developed in the Mature Harappan period, from 2600 to 1900 BCE. 

This civilization collapsed at the start of the second millennium BCE and was later followed by the Iron Age Vedic Civilization, which extended over much of the Indo-Gangetic plain and which witness the rise of major polities known as the Mahajanapadas. In one of these kingdoms, (Magadha), Mahavira and Buddha were born in the 6th or 5th century BCE and propagated their Shramanic philosophies. 

Coin of the Gupta Empire Era
Most of the subcontinent was conquered by the Maurya Empire during the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE. Various parts of India were ruled by numerous Middle kingdoms for the next 1,500 years, among which the Gupta Empire stands out. 7th-11th centuries saw the Tripartite struggle between the Pala Empire, Rashtrakuta Empire, and Gurjara Pratihara Empire centered around Kannauj. Southern India saw the rule of the Chalukya Empire, Chola Empire, Pallava Empire, Pandyan Empire, and Western Chalukya Empire. This period, witnessing a Hindu religious and intellectual resurgence, is known as the classical or "Golden Age of India". During this period, aspects of Indian civilization, administration, culture, and religion (Hinduism and Buddhism) spread to much of Asia, while kingdoms in southern India had maritime business links with the Roman Empire from around 77 CE. During this period Indian cultural influence spread over many parts of Southeast Asia which led to the establishment of Indianized kingdoms. The early medieval period Indian mathematics influenced the development of mathematics and astronomy in the Arab world and the Hindu numerals were introduced. 

A Coin of Muhammad bin Tughlaq
Muslim rule started in some parts of north India in the 13th century when the Delhi Sultanate was established in 1206 CE. The Delhi Sultanate ruled the major part of northern India in the early 14th century, but declined in the late 14th century, which saw the emergence of several powerful Hindu states like the Vijayanagara Empire, Gajapati Kingdom, Ahom Kingdom and Mewar dynasty. In the 16th century Mughal rule came from Central Asia to cover most of the northern parts of India. The Mughal Empire suffered a gradual decline in the early 18th century, which provided opportunities for the Maratha Empire and Sikh Empire to exercise control over large areas in the subcontinent. 

Beginning in the late 18th century and over the next century, large areas of India were annexed by the British East India Company. Dissatisfaction with Company rule led to the Indian Rebellion of 1857, after which the British provinces of India were directly administered by the British Crown and witnessed a period of both rapid development of infrastructure and economic stagnation. During the first half of the 20th century, a nationwide struggle for independence was launched with the leading party involved being the Indian National Congress which was later joined by Muslim League as well. 

A Large Migration Took Place after Partition
The subcontinent gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1947, after the British provinces were partitioned into the dominions of India and Pakistan and the princely states all acceded to one of the new states. 

Prehistoric Era 

Stone Age 

Isolated remains of Homo erectus in Hathnora in the Narmada Valley in central India indicate that India might have been inhabited since at least the Middle Pleistocene era, somewhere between 500,000 and 200,000 years ago. Tools crafted by proto-humans that have been dated back two million years have been discovered in the northwestern part of the subcontinent. The ancient history of the region includes some of South Asia's oldest settlements and some of its major civilisations. The earliest archaeological site in the subcontinent is the palaeolithic hominid site in the Soan River valley. Soanian sites are found in the Sivalik region across what are now India, Pakistan, and Nepal. 

30,000 Years Old Rock Painting in India
The Mesolithic period in the Indian subcontinent was followed by the Neolithic period, when more extensive settlement of the subcontinent occurred after the end of the last Ice Age approximately 12,000 years ago. The first confirmed semipermanent settlements appeared 9,000 years ago in the Bhimbetka rock shelters in modern Madhya Pradesh, India. Early Neolithic culture in South Asia is represented by the Bhirrana findings (7500 BCE) in Haryana, India & Mehrgarh findings (7000 BCE onwards) in Balochistan, Pakistan. 

Traces of a Neolithic culture have been alleged to be submerged in the Gulf of Khambat in India, radiocarbon dated to 7500 BCE. However, the one dredged piece of wood in question was found in an area of strong ocean currents. Neolithic agriculture cultures sprang up in the Indus Valley region around 5000 BCE, in the lower Gangetic valley around 3000 BCE, and in later South India, spreading southwards and also northwards into Malwa around 1800 BCE. The first urban civilisation of the region began with the Indus Valley Civilisation. 

Ghaggar River in Panchkula, Haryana, India
Bronze Age 

The Bronze Age in the Indian subcontinent began around 3300 BCE with the early Indus Valley Civilisation. It was centred on the Indus River and its tributaries which extended into the Ghaggar-Hakra River valley, the Ganges-Yamuna Doab, Gujarat, and southeastern Afghanistan. 

 The civilisation is primarily located in modern-day India (Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan provinces) and Pakistan (Sindh, Punjab, and Balochistan provinces). Historically part of Ancient India, it is one of the world's earliest urban civilisations, along with Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. Inhabitants of the ancient Indus river valley, the Harappans, developed new techniques in metallurgy and handicraft (carneol products, seal carving), and produced copper, bronze, lead, and tin. 

Archaeological Remains at the Lower Town of Lothal
The Mature Indus civilisation flourished from about 2600 to 1900 BCE, marking the beginning of urban civilisation on the subcontinent. The civilisation included urban centres such as Dholavira, Kalibangan, Rupar, Rakhigarhi, and Lothal in modern-day India, and Harappa, Ganeriwala, and Mohenjo-daro in modern-day Pakistan. The civilisation is noted for its cities built of brick, roadside drainage system, and multistoried houses. 

Vedic Period (500 BCE) 

The Vedic period is characterised by Indo-Aryan culture associated with the texts of Vedas, sacred to Hindus, which were orally composed in Vedic Sanskrit. The Vedas are some of the oldest extant texts in India and next to some writings in Egypt and Mesopotamia are the oldest in the world. The Vedic period lasted from about 900 to 500 BCE, laying the foundations of Hinduism and other cultural aspects of early Indian society. In terms of culture, many regions of the subcontinent transitioned from the Chalcolithic to the Iron Age in this period. 

A Map of North India in Late Vedic Period
Vedic society 

Historians have analysed the Vedas to posit a Vedic culture in the Punjab region and the upper Gangetic Plain. Most historians also consider this period to have encompassed several waves of Indo-Aryan migration into the subcontinent from the north-west. Vedic people believed in the transmigration of the soul, and the peepul tree and cow were sanctified by the time of the Atharva Veda. Many of the concepts of Indian philosophy espoused later like Dharma, Karma etc. trace their root to the Vedas. 

Early Vedic society consisted of largely pastoral groups, distinct to Harappan urbanisation having been abandoned. After the time of the Rigveda, Aryan society became increasingly agricultural and was socially organised around the four varnas, or social classes. In addition to the Vedas, the principal texts of Hinduism, the core themes of the Sanskrit epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are said to have their ultimate origins during this period. The Mahabharata remains, today, the longest single poem in the world. The events of Mahabharata happened in a later period than Ramayana.In fact, there are references of Ramayana in Mahabharata. The early Indo-Aryan presence probably corresponds, in part, to the Ochre Coloured Pottery culture in archaeological contexts. 

Ashokan Pillar at Vaishali, Bihar

Since Vedic times, "people from many strata of society throughout the subcontinent tended to adapt their religious and social life to Brahmanic norms", a process sometimes called Sanskritization. It is reflected in the tendency to identify local deities with the gods of the Sanskrit texts. 

The Kuru kingdom corresponds to the Black and Red Ware and Painted Grey Ware cultures and to the beginning of the Iron Age in northwestern India, around 1000 BCE, as well as with the composition of the Atharvaveda, the first Indian text to mention iron, as śyāma ayas, literally "black metal." The Painted Grey Ware culture spanned much of northern India from about 1100 to 600 BCE. The Vedic Period also established republics such as Vaishali, which existed as early as the 6th century BCE and persisted in some areas until the 4th century CE. The later part of this period corresponds with an increasing movement away from the previous tribal system towards the establishment of kingdoms, called mahajanapadas. 

A Manuscript of the Rigveda
Second Urbanization" (800-200 BCE) 

During the time between 800 and 200 BCE the Shramana-movement developed, from which originated Jainism and Buddhism. In the same period the first Upanishads were written. After 500 BCE, the so-called "Second urbanisation" started, with new urban settlements arising at the Ganges plain, especially the Central Ganges plain. The Central Ganges Plain, were Magadha gained prominence, forming the base of the Mauryan Empire, was a distinct cultural area, with new states arising after 500 BCE during the so-called "Second urbanisation". It was influenced by the Vedic culture, but differed markedly from the Kuru-Panchala region. It "was the area of the earliest known cultivation of rice in South Asia and by 1800 BCE was the location of an advanced neolithic population associated with the sites of Chirand and Chechar". In this region the Shramanic movements flourished, and Jainism and Buddhism originated. 

The Position of the Kuru Kingdom in Late Vedic Era
Mahajanapadas (600-300 BCE) 

In the later Vedic Age, a number of small kingdoms or city states had covered the subcontinent, many mentioned in Vedic, early Buddhist and Jaina literature as far back as 500 BCE. sixteen monarchies and "republics" known as the Mahajanapadas—Kashi, Kosala, Anga, Magadha, Vajji (or Vriji), Malla, Chedi, Vatsa (or Vamsa), Kuru, Panchala, Matsya (or Machcha), Shurasena, Assaka, Avanti, Gandhara,and Kamboja—stretched across the Indo-Gangetic Plain from modern-day Afghanistan to Bengal and Maharastra. This period saw the second major rise of urbanism in India after the Indus Valley Civilisation. 

Many smaller clans mentioned within early literature seem to have been present across the rest of the subcontinent. Some of these kings were hereditary; other states elected their rulers. The educated speech at that time was Sanskrit, while the languages of the general population of northern India are referred to as Prakrits. Many of the sixteen kingdoms had coalesced to four major ones by 500/400 BCE, by the time of Gautama Buddha. These four were Vatsa, Avanti, Kosala, and Magadha. 

A Basic Classification of the Vedanta Theologies
Upanishads and Shramana movements 

The 9th and 8th centuries BCE witnessed the composition of the earliest Upanishads. Upanishads form the theoretical basis of classical Hinduism and are known as Vedanta (conclusion of the Vedas). The older Upanishads launched attacks of increasing intensity on the ritual. Anyone who worships a divinity other than the Self is called a domestic animal of the gods in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. The Mundaka launches the most scathing attack on the ritual by comparing those who value sacrifice with an unsafe boat that is endlessly overtaken by old age and death. 

Increasing urbanisation of India in 7th and 6th centuries BCE led to the rise of new ascetic or shramana movements which challenged the orthodoxy of rituals. Mahavira (c. 549–477 BCE), proponent of Jainism, and Buddha (c. 563-483), founder of Buddhism were the most prominent icons of this movement. Shramana gave rise to the concept of the cycle of birth and death, the concept of samsara, and the concept of liberation. Buddha found a Middle Way that ameliorated the extreme asceticism found in the Sramana religions. 

Sculpture of Mahavira
Around the same time, Mahavira (the 24th Tirthankara in Jainism) propagated a theology that was to later become Jainism. However, Jain orthodoxy believes the teachings of the Tirthankaras predates all known time and scholars believe Parshva, accorded status as the 23rd Tirthankara, was a historical figure. The Vedas are believed to have documented a few Tirthankaras and an ascetic order similar to the shramana movement. 

Persian and Greek conquests 

In 530 BCE Cyrus the Great, King of the Persian Achaemenid Empire crossed the Hindu-Kush mountains to seek tribute from the tribes of Kamboja, Gandhara and the trans-India region. By 520 BCE, during the reign of Darius I of Persia, much of the northwestern subcontinent (present-day eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan) came under the rule of the Persian Achaemenid Empire. The area remained under Persian control for two centuries. During this time India supplied mercenaries to the Persian army then fighting in Greece. 

Alexander the Great
Under Persian rule the famous city of Takshashila became a centre where both Vedic and Iranian learning were mingled. The impact of Persian ideas was felt in many areas of Indian life. Persian coinage and rock inscriptions were adopted by India. However, Persian ascendency in northern India ended with Alexander the Great's conquest of Persia in 327 BCE. 

By 326 BCE, Alexander the Great had conquered Asia Minor and the Achaemenid Empire and had reached the northwest frontiers of the Indian subcontinent. There he defeated King Porus in the Battle of the Hydaspes (near modern-day Jhelum, Pakistan) and conquered much of the Punjab. Alexander's march east put him in confrontation with the Nanda Empire of Magadha and the Gangaridai Empire of Bengal. His army, exhausted and frightened by the prospect of facing larger Indian armies at the Ganges River, mutinied at the Hyphasis (modern Beas River) and refused to march further East. Alexander, after the meeting with his officer, Coenus, and learning about the might of Nanda Empire, was convinced that it was better to return. 

The Mahabodhi Temple in Magadha- Bihar
The Persian and Greek invasions had important repercussions on Indian civilisation. The political systems of the Persians were to influence future forms of governance on the subcontinent, including the administration of the Mauryan dynasty. In addition, the region of Gandhara, or present-day eastern Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan, became a melting pot of Indian, Persian, Central Asian, and Greek cultures and gave rise to a hybrid culture, Greco-Buddhism, which lasted until the 5th century CE and influenced the artistic development of Mahayana Buddhism. 

Maurya Empire (322–185 BCE) 

The Maurya Empire (322–185 BCE), ruled by the Mauryan dynasty, was a geographically extensive and powerful political and military empire in ancient India. The empire was established by Chandragupta Maurya in Magadha what is now Bihar. The empire flourished under the reign of Ashoka the Great. 

Stunning View of Herat, Afghanistan
At its greatest extent, it stretched to the north to the natural boundaries of the Himalayas and to the east into what is now Assam. To the west, it reached beyond modern Pakistan, annexing Balochistan and much of what is now Afghanistan, including the modern Herat and Kandahar provinces. The empire was expanded into India's central and southern regions by the emperors Chandragupta and Bindusara, but it excluded extensive unexplored tribal and forested regions near Kalinga which were subsequently taken by Ashoka. The Maurya Empire is regarded largest empire ruled by any Indian Ruler. 

Ashoka ruled the Maurya Empire for 37 years from 268 BCE until he died in 232 BCE. During that time, Ashoka pursued an active foreign policy aimed at setting up a unified state. However, Ashoka became involved in a war with the state of Kalinga which is located on the western shore of the Bay of Bengal. This war forced Ashoka to abandon his attempt at a foreign policy which would unify the Maurya Empire. 

The Maurya Empire under Ashoka the Great
During the Mauryan Empire slavery developed rapidly and a significant amount of written records on slavery are found. The Mauryan Empire was based on a modern and efficient economy and society. However, the sale of merchandise was closely regulated by the government. Although there was no banking in the Mauryan society, usury was customary with loans made at the recognized interest rate of 15% per annum. 

Ashoka's reign propagated Buddhism. In this regard Ashoka established many Buddhist monuments. Indeed, Ashoka put a strain on the economy and the government by his strong support of Buddhism. towards the end of his reign he "bled the state coffers white with his generous gifts to promote the promulgation of Buddha's teaching. As might be expected, this policy caused considerable opposition within the government. This opposition rallied around Sampadi, Ashoka's grandson and heir to the throne. Religious opposition to Ashoka also arose among the orthodox Brahmanists and the adherents of Jainism. 

Artistic Depiction of Chanakya
Chandragupta's minister Chanakya wrote the Arthashastra, one of the greatest treatises on economics, politics, foreign affairs, administration, military arts, war, and religion produced in Asia. Archaeologically, the period of Mauryan rule in South Asia falls into the era of Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW). The Arthashastra and the Edicts of Ashoka are primary written records of the Mauryan times. The Lion Capital of Asoka at Sarnath, is the national emblem of India. 

The time between 200 BCE and ca. 1100 CE is the "Classical Age" of India. It can be divided in various sub-periods, depending on the chosen periodisation. The Gupta Empire (4th-6th century) is regarded as the "Golden Age" of Hinduism, but a host of kingdoms ruled over India in these centuries. 

The Satavahana dynasty, also known as the Andhras, ruled in southern and central India after around 230 BCE. Satakarni, the sixth ruler of the Satvahana dynasty, defeated the Sunga Empire of north India. Afterwards, Kharavela, the warrior king of Kalinga, ruled a vast empire and was responsible for the propagation of Jainism in the Indian subcontinent. 

Map of Kushan Empire
The Kharavelan Jain empire included a maritime empire with trading routes linking it to Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Borneo, Bali, Sumatra, and Java. Colonists from Kalinga settled in Sri Lanka, Burma, as well as the Maldives and Maritime Southeast Asia. The Kuninda Kingdom was a small Himalayan state that survived from around the 2nd century BCE to the 3rd century CE. 

The Kushanas migrated from Central Asia into northwestern India in the middle of the 1st century CE and founded an empire that stretched from Tajikistan to the middle Ganges. 

The Western Satraps (35-405 CE) were Saka rulers of the western and central part of India. They were the successors of the Indo-Scythians and contemporaries of the Kushans who ruled the northern part of the Indian subcontinent and the Satavahana (Andhra) who ruled in central and southern India. 

Family Tree of the Kings of Chera Dynasty
Different dynasties such as the Pandyans, Cholas, Cheras, Kadambas, Western Gangas, Pallavas, and Chalukyas, dominated the southern part of the Indian peninsula at different periods of time. Several southern kingdoms formed overseas empires that stretched into Southeast Asia. The kingdoms warred with each other and the Deccan states for domination of the south. The Kalabras, a Buddhist dynasty, briefly interrupted the usual domination of the Cholas, Cheras, and Pandyas in the south. 

Southern India 

During this period the southern peninsular of India was at first ruled by the Satavahana dynasty and by the 3 Tamil kingdoms the Chola dynasty, Pandyan Dynasty and Chera dynasty. The Tamil Sangam literature flourished during this period. After the collapse of the Satavahana Dynasty in the 3rd century the Vakataka dynasty, the Pallava dynasty and the Kadamba dynasty emerged and dominated the major part of southern India until the 6th century. In the 6th century the famous Chalukya dynasty was established and dominated the major part of southern India until the 8th century. 

Map of Sunga Empire
Sunga Empire 

The Sunga Empire (Sanskrit: शुंग राजवंश) or Shunga Empire was an ancient Indian dynasty from Magadha that controlled vast areas of the Indian Subcontinent from around 187 to 78 BCE. The dynasty was established by Pusyamitra Sunga, after the fall of the Maurya Empire. Its capital was Pataliputra, but later emperors such as Bhagabhadra also held court at Besnagar, modern Vidisha in Eastern Malwa. Pushyamitra Sunga ruled for 36 years and was succeeded by his son Agnimitra. There were ten Sunga rulers. The empire is noted for its numerous wars with both foreign and indigenous powers. They fought battles with the Kalingas, Satavahanas, the Indo-Greeks, and possibly the Panchalas and Mathuras. Art, education, philosophy, and other forms of learning flowered during this period including small terracotta images, larger stone sculptures, and architectural monuments such as the Stupa at Bharhut, and the renowned Great Stupa at Sanchi. The Sunga rulers helped to establish the tradition of royal sponsorship of learning and art. The script used by the empire was a variant of Brahmi and was used to write the Sanskrit language. The Sunga Empire played an imperative role in patronizing Indian culture at a time when some of the most important developments in Hindu thought were taking place. 

A Jain Temple in Indo-Greek Kingdom, Near Taxila, Pakistan
Northwestern hybrid cultures 

The northwestern hybrid cultures of the subcontinent included the Indo-Greeks, the Indo-Scythians, the Indo-Parthians, and the Indo-Sassinids. The first of these, the Indo-Greek Kingdom, was founded when the Greco-Bactrian king Demetrius invaded the region in 180 BCE, extending his rule over various parts of present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan. Lasting for almost two centuries, the kingdom was ruled by a succession of more than 30 Greek kings, who were often in conflict with each other. 

The Indo-Scythians were a branch of the Indo-European Sakas (Scythians) who migrated from southern Siberia, first into Bactria, subsequently into Sogdiana, Kashmir, Arachosia, and Gandhara, and finally into India. Their kingdom lasted from the middle of the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century BCE.

Indo-Sassanian Coinage
Yet another kingdom, the Indo-Parthians (also known as the Pahlavas), came to control most of present-day Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, after fighting many local rulers such as the Kushan ruler Kujula Kadphises, in the Gandhara region. The Sassanid empire of Persia, who was contemporaneous with the Gupta Empire, expanded into the region of present-day Balochistan in Pakistan, where the mingling of Indian culture and the culture of Iran gave birth to a hybrid culture under the Indo-Sassanids. 

Satavahana Dynasty 

The Śātavāhana Empire (Telugu: శాతవాహన సామ్రాజ్యము, Śātavāhana Sāmrājyaṁ ?, Maharashtri: सालवाहण, Sālavāhaṇa) was a royal Indian dynasty based from Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh as well as Junnar (Pune) and Prathisthan (Paithan) in Maharashtra. The territory of the empire covered much of India from 230 BCE onward. The Satavahanas are credited for establishing peace in the country, resisting the onslaught of foreigners after the decline of Mauryan Empire. Sātavāhanas started out as feudatories to the Mauryan dynasty, but declared independence with its decline. They are known for their patronage of Hinduism and Buddhism which resulted in Buddhist monuments from Ellora (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) to Amaravati. The Sātavāhanas were one of the first Indian states to issue coins struck with their rulers embossed. They formed a cultural bridge and played a vital role in trade as well as the transfer of ideas and culture to and from the Indo-Gangetic Plain to the southern tip of India. 

Coin of Kujula Kadphises
Kushan Empire 

The Kushan Empire expanded out of what is now Afghanistan into the northwest of the subcontinent under the leadership of their first emperor, Kujula Kadphises, about the middle of the 1st century CE. By the time of his grandson, Kanishka, (whose era is thought to have begun c. 127 CE), they had conquered most of northern India, at least as far as Saketa and Pataliputra, in the middle Ganges Valley, and probably as far as the Bay of Bengal. 

They played an important role in the establishment of Buddhism in India and its spread to Central Asia and China. By the 3rd century, their empire in India was disintegrating; their last known great emperor being Vasudeva I (c. 190-225 CE). 

Augustus Coin Found in the Pudukottai Hoard, India
Roman trade with India 

Roman trade with India started around 1 CE, during the reign of Augustus and following his conquest of Egypt, which had been India's biggest trade partner in the West. The trade started by Eudoxus of Cyzicus in 130 BCE kept increasing, and according to Strabo (II.5.12.), by the time of Augustus, up to 120 ships set sail every year from Myos Hormos on the Red Sea to India. So much gold was used for this trade, and apparently recycled by the Kushans for their own coinage, that Pliny the Elder (NH VI.101) complained about the drain of specie to India: 
"India, China and the Arabian peninsula take one hundred million sesterces from our empire per annum at a conservative estimate: that is what our luxuries and women cost us. For what percentage of these imports is intended for sacrifices to the gods or the spirits of the dead?" —Pliny, Historia Naturae 12.41.84. 

Gold Coin of Gupta Era
The maritime (but not the overland) trade routes, harbours, and trade items are described in detail in the 1st century CE Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. 

Gupta rule - Golden Age 

The Classical Age refers to the period when much of the Indian subcontinent was reunited under the Gupta Empire (c. 320–550 CE). This period has been called the Golden Age of India and was marked by extensive achievements in science, technology, engineering, art, dialectic, literature, logic, mathematics, astronomy, religion, and philosophy that crystallized the elements of what is generally known as Hindu culture. The decimal numeral system, including the concept of zero, was invented in India during this period. The peace and prosperity created under leadership of Guptas enabled the pursuit of scientific and artistic endeavors in India. 

Statue of Aryabhata in IUCAA, Pune
The high points of this cultural creativity are magnificent architecture, sculpture, and painting. The Gupta period produced scholars such as Kalidasa, Aryabhata, Varahamihira, Vishnu Sharma, and Vatsyayana who made great advancements in many academic fields. Science and political administration reached new heights during the Gupta era. Strong trade ties also made the region an important cultural centre and established it as a base that would influence nearby kingdoms and regions in Burma, Sri Lanka, Maritime Southeast Asia, and Indochina. 

The Gupta period marked a watershed of Indian culture: the Guptas performed Vedic sacrifices to legitimize their rule, but they also patronized Buddhism, which continued to provide an alternative to Brahmanical orthodoxy. The military exploits of the first three rulers—Chandragupta I (c. 319–335), Samudragupta (c. 335–376), and Chandragupta II (c. 376–415) —brought much of India under their leadership. They successfully resisted the northwestern kingdoms until the arrival of the Hunas, who established themselves in Afghanistan by the first half of the 5th century, with their capital at Bamiyan. However, much of the Deccan and southern India were largely unaffected by these events in the north. 

Tungabhadra River at Hampi, India
Vakataka Dynasty 

The Vākāṭaka Empire (Marathi: वाकाटक) was a royal Indian dynasty that originated from the Deccan in the mid-third century CE. Their state is believed to have extended from the southern edges of Malwa and Gujarat in the north to the Tungabhadra River in the south as well as from the Arabian Sea in the western to the edges of Chhattisgarh in the east. They were the most important successors of the Satavahanas in the Deccan and contemporaneous with the Guptas in northern India. 

Empire of Harsha

Harsha Vardhana (Sanskrit: हर्षवर्धन) (c. 590–647), commonly called Harsha, was an Indian emperor who ruled northern India from 606 to 647 from his capital Kannauj. He was the son of Prabhakara Vardhana and the younger brother of Rajya Vardhana, a king of Thanesar, Haryana. At the height of his power his kingdom spanned the Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bengal, Odisha and the entire Indo-Gangetic plain north of the Narmada River. 

Harsha Pays Homage to Buddha
After the downfall of the prior Gupta Empire in the middle of the 6th century, North India reverted to small republics and small monarchical states ruled by Gupta rulers. 

Harsha was a convert to Buddhism. He united the small republics from Punjab to central India, and their representatives crowned Harsha king at an assembly in April 606 giving him the title of Maharaja when he was merely 16 years old.

Harsha belonged to Kanojia. He brought all of northern India under his control. 

The peace and prosperity that prevailed made his court a center of cosmopolitanism, attracting scholars, artists and religious visitors from far and wide. 

The Chinese traveler Xuan Zang visited the court of Harsha and wrote a very favorable account of him, praising his justice and generosity. 

An Old Kannada Inscription Dated 578 CE
Chalukya Dynasty 

The Chalukya dynasty (Kannada: ಚಾಲುಕ್ಯರು) was an Indian royal dynasty that ruled large parts of southern and central India between the 6th and the 12th centuries. During this period, they ruled as three related yet individual dynasties. The earliest dynasty, known as the "Badami Chalukyas", ruled from Vatapi (modern Badami) from the middle of the 6th century. The Badami Chalukyas began to assert their independence at the decline of the Kadamba kingdom of Banavasi and rapidly rose to prominence during the reign of Pulakesi II. The rule of the Chalukyas marks an important milestone in the history of South India and a golden age in the history of Karnataka. The political atmosphere in South India shifted from smaller kingdoms to large empires with the ascendancy of Badami Chalukyas. A Southern India based kingdom took control and consolidated the entire region between the Kaveri and the Narmada rivers. The rise of this empire saw the birth of efficient administration, overseas trade and commerce and the development of new style of architecture called "Chalukyan architecture". 

Natural Fortress at Vijatanagara
Medieval and Late Puranic Period 

The "Late-Classical Age" in India began after the end of the Gupta Empire and the collapse of the Harsha Empire in the 7th century CE, and ended with the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire in the south in the 16th century, due to pressure from Islamic invaders to the north. 

This period produced some of India's finest art, considered the epitome of classical development, and the development of the main spiritual and philosophical systems which continued to be in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. 

King Harsha of Kannauj succeeded in reuniting northern India during his reign in the 7th century, after the collapse of the Gupta dynasty. His kingdom collapsed after his death. 

Manichaean Priests
North Western Indian Buddhism weakened in the 6th century after the White Hun invasion, who followed their own religions such as Tengri, and Manichaeism. Muhammad bin Qasim's invasion of Sindh in 711 CE witnessed further decline of Buddhism. The Chach Nama records many instances of conversion of stupas to mosques such as at Nerun. 

In 7th century CE, Kumārila Bhaṭṭa formulated his school of Mimamsa philosophy and defended the position on Vedic rituals against Buddhist attacks. Scholars note Bhaṭṭa's contribution to the decline of Buddhism. His dialectical success against the Buddhists is confirmed by Buddhist historian Tathagata, who reports that Kumārila defeated disciples of Buddhapalkita, Bhavya, Dharmadasa, Dignaga and others. 

Ronald Inden writes that by 8th century CE symbols of Hindu gods "replaced the Buddha at the imperial centre and pinnacle of the cosmo-political system, the image or symbol of the Hindu god comes to be housed in a monumental temple and given increasingly elaborate imperial-style puja worship". Although Buddhism did not disappear from India for several centuries after the eighth, royal proclivities for the cults of Vishnu and Shiva weakened Buddhism's position within the sociopolitical context and helped make possible its decline. 

A Patihara Coin
Northern India From the 8th to the 10th century, three dynasties contested for control of northern India: the Gurjara Pratiharas of Malwa, the Palas of Bengal, and the Rashtrakutas of the Deccan. During this period, Indian rulers in spite for internal struggle, were able to avert the Islamic conquest of India, for example: In Battle of Rajasthan, alliance of Gurjar Emperor Nagabhata I of the Pratihara Dynasty with the south Indian Emperor Vikramaditya II of the Chalukya dynasty and many small kingdoms defeated armies of Umayyad Caliphate, thus maintaining kingdom of Hindu rulers till the end of millennium in India. 

The Sena dynasty would later assume control of the Pala Empire, and the Gurjara Pratiharas fragmented into various states. These were the first of the Rajput states, a series of kingdoms which managed to survive in some form for almost a millennium, until Indian independence from the British. The first recorded Rajput kingdoms emerged in Rajasthan in the 6th century, and small Rajput dynasties later ruled much of northern India. One Gurjar Rajput of the Chauhan clan, Prithvi Raj Chauhan, was known for bloody conflicts against the advancing Islamic sultanates. The Shahi dynasty ruled portions of eastern Afghanistan, northern Pakistan, and Kashmir from the mid-7th century to the early 11th century.
Portrait of Rajaraja Chola and his Guru
The Chalukya dynasty ruled parts of southern and central India from Badami in Karnataka between 550 and 750, and then again from Kalyani between 970 and 1190. The Pallavas of Kanchipuram were their contemporaries further to the south. With the decline of the Chalukya empire, their feudatories, the Hoysalas of Halebidu, Kakatiyas of Warangal, Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri, and a southern branch of the Kalachuri, divided the vast Chalukya empire amongst themselves around the middle of 12th century. 

The Chola Empire at its peak covered much of the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Rajaraja Chola I conquered all of peninsular south India and parts of Sri Lanka in the 11th century. Rajendra Chola I's navies went even further, occupying coasts from Burma to Vietnam, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Lakshadweep (Laccadive) islands, Sumatra, and the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia and the Pegu islands. Later during the middle period, the Pandyan Empire emerged in Tamil Nadu, as well as the Chera Kingdom in parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. By 1343, last of these dynasties had ceased to exist, giving rise to the Vijayanagar empire. 

Gulbarga Fort, Stronghold of the Bahamani Sultans
The ports of south India were engaged in the Indian Ocean trade, chiefly involving spices, with the Roman Empire to the west and Southeast Asia to the east. Literature in local vernaculars and spectacular architecture flourished until about the beginning of the 14th century, when southern expeditions of the sultan of Delhi took their toll on these kingdoms. The Hindu Vijayanagar Empire came into conflict with the Islamic Bahmani Sultanate, and the clashing of the two systems caused a mingling of the indigenous and foreign cultures that left lasting cultural influences on each other. 

Rashtrakuta Empire (8th-10th century) 

At its peak the Rashtrakuta Empire ruled from the Ganges River and Yamuna River doab in the north to Cape Comorin in the south, a fruitful time of political expansion, architectural achievements and famous literary contributions. The early kings of this dynasty were Hindu but the later kings were strongly influenced by Jainism. During their rule, Jain mathematicians and scholars contributed important works in Kannada and Sanskrit. 

The Kailasanatha Temple at Ellora, Built by Krishna 1
Amoghavarsha I was the most famous king of this dynasty and wrote Kavirajamarga, a landmark literary work in the Kannada language. Architecture reached a milestone in the Dravidian style, the finest example of which is seen in the Kailasanath Temple at Ellora. Other important contributions are the sculptures of Elephanta Caves in modern Maharashtra as well as the Kashivishvanatha temple and the Jain Narayana temple at Pattadakal in modern Karnataka, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Arab traveler Suleiman described the Rashtrakuta Empire as one of the four great Empires of the world. The Rashtrakuta period marked the beginning of the golden age of southern Indian mathematics. The great south Indian mathematician Mahāvīra (mathematician) lived in the Rashtrakuta Empire and his text had a huge impact on the medieval south Indian mathematicians who lived after him. 

Nalanda University Reached its Height under the Palas
Pala Empire (8th-12th century) 

The Pāla Empire (Bengali: পাল সাম্রাজ্য Pal Samrajyô) was an Indian imperial power, during the Classical period of India, that existed from 750–1174 CE. It was ruled by a Buddhist dynasty from Bengal in the eastern region of the Indian subcontinent, all the rulers bearing names ending with the suffix Pala (Modern Bengali: পাল pāl), which means protector. The Palas were often described by opponents as the Lords of Gauda. The Palas were followers of the Mahayana and Tantric schools of Buddhism. Gopala was the first ruler from the dynasty. The empire reached its peak under Dharmapala and Devapala. Dharmapala extended the empire into the northern parts of the Indian Subcontinent. The Pala Empire can be considered as the golden era of Bengal. Never had the Bengali people reached such height of power and glory to that extent. The rulers of the Pala Empire supported the Universities of Vikramashila and Nalanda which became the premier seats of learning in Asia. The Nalanda University which is considered one of the first great universities in recorded history, reached its height under the patronage of the Pala Empire.The empire of pala was considered as the mostly know imperial empire during the times of ancient India. 

Rajandra Chola 1
Chola Empire (9th-13th century) 

Medieval Cholas rose to prominence during the middle of the 9th century C.E. and established the greatest empire South India had seen. They successfully united the South India under their rule and through their naval strength extended their influence in the Southeast Asian countries such as Srivijaya. They dominated the political affairs of Lanka for over two centuries through repeated invasions and occupation. They also had continuing trade contacts with the Arabs in the west and with the Chinese empire in the east. 

 Rajaraja Chola I and his equally distinguished son Rajendra Chola I gave political unity to the whole of Southern India and established the Chola Empire as a respected sea power. Under the Cholas, the Tamil country reached new heights of excellence in art, religion and literature. In all of these spheres, the Chola period marked the culmination of movements that had begun in an earlier age under the Pallavas. Monumental architecture in the form of majestic temples and sculpture in stone and bronze reached a finesse never before achieved in India. 

Narmada River in Omkareshwar
Western Chalukya Empire 

The Western Chalukya Empire (Kannada:ಪಶ್ಚಿಮ ಚಾಲುಕ್ಯ ಸಾಮ್ರಾಜ್ಯ paśchima chālukya sāmrājya) ruled most of the western Deccan, South India, between the 10th and 12th centuries. Vast areas between the Narmada River in the north and Kaveri River in the south came under Chalukya control. During this period the other major ruling families of the Deccan, the Hoysalas, the Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri, the Kakatiya dynasty and the Southern Kalachuri, were subordinates of the Western Chalukyas and gained their independence only when the power of the Chalukya waned during the later half of the 12th century. The Western Chalukyas developed an architectural style known today as a transitional style, an architectural link between the style of the early Chalukya dynasty and that of the later Hoysala empire. Most of its monuments are in the districts bordering the Tungabhadra River in central Karnataka. Well known examples are the Kasivisvesvara Temple at Lakkundi, the Mallikarjuna Temple at Kuruvatti, the Kallesvara Temple at Bagali and the Mahadeva Temple at Itagi. This was an important period in the development of fine arts in Southern India, especially in literature as the Western Chalukya kings encouraged writers in the native language of Kannada, and Sanskrit. 

Muhammad b. Qasim Leading his Troops
The Islamic Sultanates 

After conquering Persia, the Arab Umayyad Caliphate incorporated parts of what is now Pakistan around 720. The Muslim rulers were keen to invade India, a rich region with a flourishing international trade and the only known diamond mines in the world. In 712, Arab Muslim general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered most of the Indus region in modern day Pakistan for the Umayyad empire, incorporating it as the "As-Sindh" province with its capital at Al-Mansurah, 72 km (45 mi) north of modern Hyderabad in Sindh, Pakistan. After several wars, the Hindu Rajas defeated the Arabs at the Battle of Rajasthan, halting their expansion and containing them at Sindh in Pakistan. The north Indian Emperor Nagabhata of the Pratihara Dynasty and the south Indian Emperor Vikramaditya II of the Chalukya dynasty defeated the Arab invaders in the early 8th century and protected whole India. Many short-lived Islamic kingdoms (sultanates) under foreign rulers were established across the north western subcontinent (Afghanistan and Pakistan) over a period of a few centuries. Additionally, Muslim trading communities flourished throughout coastal south India, particularly on the western coast where Muslim traders arrived in small numbers, mainly from the Arabian peninsula. This marked the introduction of a third Abrahamic Middle Eastern religion, following Judaism and Christianity, often in puritanical form. Later, the Bahmani Sultanate and Deccan sultanates, founded by Turkic rulers, flourished in the south. 

The Famous Charminar, Hyderabad India
The Vijayanagara Empire rose to prominence by the end of the 13th century as a culmination of attempts by the southern powers to ward off Islamic invasions. The empire dominated all of Southern India and fought off invasions from the five established Deccan Sultanates. The empire reached its peak during the rule of Krishnadevaraya when Vijayanagara armies were consistently victorious. 

The empire annexed areas formerly under the Sultanates in the northern Deccan and the territories in the eastern Deccan, including Kalinga, while simultaneously maintaining control over all its subordinates in the south. It lasted until 1646, though its power declined after a major military defeat in 1565 by the Deccan sultanates.

As a result, much of the territory of the former Vijaynagar Empire were captured by Deccan Sultanates, and the remainder was divided into many states ruled by Hindu rulers.
Delhi Sultanate under Various Dynasties
Delhi Sultanate 

In the 12th and 13th centuries, Turks and Afghans invaded parts of northern India and established the Delhi Sultanate in the former Rajput holdings. The subsequent Slave dynasty of Delhi managed to conquer large areas of northern India, approximately equal in extent to the ancient Gupta Empire, while the Khilji dynasty conquered most of central India but were ultimately unsuccessful in conquering and uniting the subcontinent. The Sultanate ushered in a period of Indian cultural renaissance. The resulting "Indo-Muslim" fusion of cultures left lasting syncretic monuments in architecture, music, literature, religion, and clothing. It is surmised that the language of Urdu (literally meaning "horde" or "camp" in various Turkic dialects) was born during the Delhi Sultanate period as a result of the intermingling of the local speakers of Sanskritic Prakrits with immigrants speaking Persian, Turkic, and Arabic under the Muslim rulers. The Delhi Sultanate is the only Indo-Islamic empire to enthrone one of the few female rulers in India, Razia Sultana (1236–1240). 

Map of Delhi Sultanate
A Turco-Mongol conqueror in Central Asia, Timur (Tamerlane), attacked the reigning Sultan Nasir-u Din Mehmud of the Tughlaq Dynasty in the north Indian city of Delhi. The Sultan's army was defeated on 17 December 1398. Timur entered Delhi and the city was sacked, destroyed, and left in ruins, after Timur's army had killed and plundered for three days and nights. He ordered the whole city to be sacked except for the sayyids, scholars, and the other Muslims; 100,000 war prisoners were put to death in one day. 

Vijayanagara Empire (14th-16th century) 

The Empire was established in 1336 by Harihara I and his brother Bukka Raya I of Sangama Dynasty. The empire rose to prominence as a culmination of attempts by the southern powers to ward off Islamic invasions by the end of the 13th century. The empire is named after its capital city of Vijayanagara, whose ruins surround present day Hampi, now a World Heritage Site in Karnataka,India. The empire's legacy includes many monuments spread over South India, the best known of which is the group at Hampi. The previous temple building traditions in South India came together in the Vijayanagara Architecture style. The mingling of all faiths and vernaculars inspired architectural innovation of Hindu temple construction, first in the Deccan and later in the Dravidian idioms using the local granite. South Indian mathematics flourished under the protection of the Vijayanagara Empire in Kerala. 

Kerala School of Astronomy and Mathematics
The south Indian mathematician Madhava of Sangamagrama founded the famous Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics in the 14th century which produced a lot of great south Indian mathematicians like Parameshvara, Nilakantha Somayaji and Jyeṣṭhadeva in medieval south India. Efficient administration and vigorous overseas trade brought new technologies such as water management systems for irrigation. The empire's patronage enabled fine arts and literature to reach new heights in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit, while Carnatic music evolved into its current form. The Vijayanagara Empire created an epoch in South Indian history that transcended regionalism by promoting Hinduism as a unifying factor. The empire reached its peak during the rule of Sri Krishnadevaraya when Vijayanagara armies were consistently victorious. The empire annexed areas formerly under the Sultanates in the northern Deccan and the territories in the eastern Deccan, including Kalinga, while simultaneously maintaining control over all its subordinates in the south. Many important monuments were either completed or commissioned during the time of Krishna Deva Raya. 

A Portrait of Babur
Mughal Empire 

In 1526, Babur, a Timurid descendant of Timur and Genghis Khan from Fergana Valley (modern day Uzbekistan)- the valley has produced, apart from great rulers like Babur, many Muslim scholars as well- swept across the Khyber Pass and established the Mughal Empire, covering modern day Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

However, his son Humayun was defeated by the Afghan warrior Sher Shah Suri in the year 1540, and Humayun was forced to retreat to Kabul. 

After Sher Shah's death, his son Islam Shah Suri and the Hindu king Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya, who had won 22 battles against Afghan rebels and forces of Akbar, from Punjab to Bengal and had established a secular Hindu rule in North India from Delhi till 1556.

Akbar's forces defeated and killed Hemu in the Second Battle of Panipat on 6 November 1556. 

The Taj Mahal, Built by Mughal King Shahjahan in Agra
The Mughal dynasty ruled most of the Indian subcontinent by 1600; it went into a slow decline after 1707. The Mughals suffered several blows due to invasions from Marathas and Afghans, causing the Mughal dynasty to be reduced to puppet rulers by 1757. The remnants of the Mughal dynasty were finally defeated during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, also called the 1857 War of Independence. This period marked vast social change in the subcontinent as the Hindu majority were ruled over by the Mughal emperors, most of whom showed religious tolerance, liberally patronising Hindu culture. The famous emperor Akbar, who was the grandson of Babar, tried to establish a good relationship with the Hindus. However, later emperors such as Aurangazeb tried to establish complete Muslim dominance, and as a result several historical temples were destroyed during this period and taxes imposed on non-Muslims. During the decline of the Mughal Empire, several smaller states rose to fill the power vacuum and themselves were contributing factors to the decline. In 1737, the Maratha general Bajirao of the Maratha Empire invaded and plundered Delhi . Under the general Amir Khan Umrao Al Udat, the Mughal Emperor sent 8,000 troops to drive away the 5,000 Maratha cavalry soldiers. Baji Rao, however, easily routed the novice Mughal general and the rest of the imperial Mughal army fled. In 1737, in the final defeat of Mughal Empire, the commander-in-chief of the Mughal Army, Nizam-ul-mulk, was routed at Bhopal by the Maratha army. This essentially brought an end to the Mughal Empire. In 1739, Nader Shah, emperor of Iran, defeated the Mughal army at the huge Battle of Karnal. After this victory, Nader captured and sacked Delhi, carrying away many treasures, including the Peacock Throne.
Flag of Mughal Empire
The Mughals were perhaps the richest single dynasty to have ever existed. During the Mughal era, the dominant political forces consisted of the Mughal Empire and its tributaries and, later on, the rising successor states - including the Maratha Empire - which fought an increasingly weak Mughal dynasty. The Mughals, while often employing brutal tactics to subjugate their empire, had a policy of integration with Indian culture, which is what made them successful where the short-lived Sultanates of Delhi had failed. Akbar the Great was particularly famed for this. Akbar declared "Amari" or non-killing of animals in the holy days of Jainism. He rolled back the jizya tax for non-Muslims. The Mughal emperors married local royalty, allied themselves with local maharajas, and attempted to fuse their Turko-Persian culture with ancient Indian styles, creating a unique Indo-Saracenic architecture. It was the erosion of this tradition coupled with increased brutality and centralization that played a large part in the dynasty's downfall after Aurangzeb, who unlike previous emperors, imposed relatively non-pluralistic policies on the general population, which often inflamed the majority Hindu population. 

The Darbaar of Maratha Empire
Post-Mughal Period 

Maratha Empire 

The post-Mughal era was dominated by the rise of the Maratha suzerainty as other small regional states (mostly late Mughal tributary states) emerged, and also by the increasing activities of European powers (see colonial era below).

There is no doubt that the single most important power to emerge in the long twilight of the Mughal dynasty was the Maratha Empire. 

The Maratha kingdom was founded and consolidated by Shivaji, a Maratha aristocrat of the Bhonsle clan who was determined to establish Hindavi Swarajya (self-rule of Hindu people). 

By the 18th century, it had transformed itself into the Maratha Empire under the rule of the Peshwas (prime ministers). 

Battle of Assey during the 2nd Anglo-Maratha War
Gordon explains how the Maratha systematically took control over the Malwa plateau in 1720-1760. They started with annual raids, collecting ransom from villages and towns while the declining Mughal Empire retained nominal control. However in 1737, the Marathas defeated a Mughal army in their capital, Delhi itself, and as a result, the Mughal emperor ceded Malwa to them. The Marathas continued their military campaigns against Mughals, Nizam, Nawab of Bengal and Durrani Empire to further extend their boundaries. They built an efficient system of public administration known for its attention to detail. It succeeded in raising revenue in districts that recovered from years of raids, up to levels previously enjoyed by the Mughals. The cornerstone of the Maratha rule in Malwa rested on the 60 or so local tax collectors (kamavisdars) who advanced the Maratha ruler '(Peshwa)' a portion of their district revenues at interest. By 1760, the domain of the Marathas stretched across practically the entire subcontinent. The defeat of Marathas by British in three Anglo-Maratha Wars brought end to the empire by 1820. The last peshwa, Baji Rao II, was defeated by the British in the Third Anglo-Maratha War. 

Golden Temple, is the Most Sacred Place for Sikhs
Sikh Empire (North-west) 

The Punjabi kingdom, ruled by members of the Sikh religion, was a political entity that governed the region of modern-day Punjab. The empire, based around the Punjab region, existed from 1799 to 1849. It was forged, on the foundations of the Khalsa, under the leadership of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780–1839) from an array of autonomous Punjabi Misls. He consolidated many parts of northern India into a kingdom. He primarily used his highly disciplined Sikh army that he trained and equipped to be the equal of a European force. Ranjit Singh proved himself to be a master strategist and selected well qualified generals for his army. In stages, he added the central Punjab, the provinces of Multan and Kashmir, the Peshawar Valley, and the Derajat to his kingdom. His came in the face of the powerful British East India Company. At its peak, in the 19th century, the empire extended from the Khyber Pass in the west, to Kashmir in the north, to Sindh in the south, and Himachal in the east. This was among the last areas of the subcontinent to be conquered by the British. The first and second Anglo-Sikh war marked the downfall of the Sikh Empire. 

Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace, Mysore, India
Other kingdoms 

There were several other kingdoms which ruled over parts of India in the later mediaeval period prior to the British occupation. However, most of them were bound to pay regular tribute to the Marathas. The rule of Wodeyar dynasty which established the Kingdom of Mysore in southern India in around 1400 CE by was interrupted by Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan in the later half of 18th century. Under their rule, Mysore fought a series of wars sometimes against the combined forces of the British and Marathas, but mostly against the British, with Mysore receiving some aid or promise of aid from the French. 

The Nawabs of Bengal had become the de facto rulers of Bengal following the decline of Mughal Empire. However, their rule was interrupted by Marathas who carried six expeditions in Bengal from 1741 to 1748 as a result of which Bengal became a vassal state of Marathas. 

Tomb of Muhammad Qutb Shah in Hyderabad, India
Hyderabad was founded by the Qutb Shahi dynasty of Golconda in 1591. Following a brief Mughal rule, Asif Jah, a Mughal official, seized control of Hyderabad and declared himself Nizam-al-Mulk of Hyderabad in 1724. It was ruled by a hereditary Nizam from 1724 until 1948. Both Mysore and Hyderabad became princely states in British India. Around the 18th century, the modern state of Nepal was formed by Gurkha rulers. 

Colonial Era (1500-1947) 

In 1498, Vasco da Gama successfully discovered a new sea route from Europe to India, which paved the way for direct Indo-European commerce. The Portuguese soon set up trading posts in Goa, Daman, Diu and Bombay. The next to arrive were the Dutch, the British—who set up a trading post in the west coast port of Surat in 1619—and the French. The internal conflicts among Indian kingdoms gave opportunities to the European traders to gradually establish political influence and appropriate lands. Although these continental European powers controlled various coastal regions of southern and eastern India during the ensuing century, they eventually lost all their territories in India to the British islanders, with the exception of the French outposts of Pondichéry and Chandernagore, the Dutch port of Travancore, and the Portuguese colonies of Goa, Daman and Diu. 

Flag of British East India Company 1801-1858
Company Rule in India 

In 1617 the British East India Company was given permission by Mughal Emperor Jahangir to trade in India. Gradually their increasing influence led the de jure Mughal emperor Farrukh Siyar to grant them dastaks or permits for duty free trade in Bengal in 1717. The Nawab of Bengal Siraj Ud Daulah, the de facto ruler of the Bengal province, opposed British attempts to use these permits. 

The First Carnatic War extended from 1746 until 1748 and was the result of colonial competition between France and Britain, two of the countries involved in the War of Austrian Succession. Following the capture of a few French ships by the British fleet in India, French troops attacked and captured the British city of Madras located on the east coast of India on 21 September 1746. Among the prisoners captured at Madras was Robert Clive himself. The war was eventually ended by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle which ended the War of Austrian Succession in 1748. 

Chin Qlich Khan Nizam-ul-Mulk Asif Jah
In 1749, the Second Carnatic War broke out as the result of a war between a son, Nasir Jung, and a grandson, Muzaffer Jung, of the deceased Nizam-ul-Mulk of Hyderabad to take over Nizam's throne in Hyderabad. The French supported Muzaffer Jung in this civil war. Consequently, the British supported Nasir Jung in this conflict. 

Meanwhile, however, the conflict in Hyderabad provided Chanda Sahib with an opportunity to take power as the new Nawab of the territory of Arcot. In this conflict, the French supported Chandra Sahib in his attempt to become the new Nawab of Arcot. 

The British supported the son of the deposed incumbent Nawab, Anwaruddin Muhammad Khan, against Chanda Sahib. In 1751, Robert Clive led a British armed force and captured Arcot to reinstate the incumbent Nawab.

The Second Carnatic War finally came to an end in 1754 with the Treaty of Pondicherry. 

Lord Clive and Mir Jafar after the Battle of Plassey
In 1756, the Seven Years War broke out between the great powers of Europe, and India became a theatre of action, where it was called the Third Carnatic War. Early in this war, armed forces under the French East India Company captured the British base of Calcutta in north-eastern India. However, armed forces under Robert Clive later recaptured Calcutta and then pressed on to capture the French settlement of Chandannagar in 1757. This led to the Battle of Plassey on 23 June 1757, in which the Bengal Army of the East India Company, led by Robert Clive, defeated the French-supported Nawab's forces. This was the first real political foothold with territorial implications that the British acquired in India. Clive was appointed by the company as its first 'Governor of Bengal' in 1757. This was combined with British victories over the French at Madras, Wandiwash and Pondichéry that, along with wider British successes during the Seven Years War, reduced French influence in India. Thus as a result of the three Carnatic Wars, the British East India Company gained exclusive control over the entire Carnatic region of India. The British East India Company extended its control over the whole of Bengal. After the Battle of Buxar in 1764, the company acquired the rights of administration in Bengal from Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II; this marked the beginning of its formal rule, which within the next century engulfed most of India and extinguished the Moghul rule and dynasty. The East India Company monopolized the trade of Bengal. They introduced a land taxation system called the Permanent Settlement which introduced a feudal-like structure in Bengal, often with zamindars set in place. By the 1850s, the East India Company controlled most of the Indian sub-continent, which included present-day Pakistan and Bangladesh. Their policy was sometimes summed up as Divide and Rule, taking advantage of the enmity festering between various princely states and social and religious groups. 

Map of India in 1857, the End of Company Rule
The Hindu Ahom Kingdom of North-east India first fell to Burmese invasion and then to British after Treaty of Yandabo in 1826. 

The rebellion of 1857 and its consequences 

The Indian rebellion of 1857 was a large-scale rebellion by soldiers employed by the British East India in northern and central India against the Company's rule. The rebels were disorganized, had differing goals, and were poorly equipped, led, and trained, and had no outside support or funding. They were brutally suppressed and the British government took control of the Company and eliminated many of the grievances that caused it. 

The government also was determined to keep full control so that no rebellion of such size would ever happen again. It favoured the princely states (that helped suppress the rebellion), and tended to favour Muslims (who were less rebellious) against the Hindus who dominated the rebellion. 

Lord Curzon as Viceroy of India
In the aftermath, all power was transferred from the East India Company to the British Crown, which began to administer most of India as a number of provinces; the John Company's lands were controlled directly, while it had considerable indirect influence over the rest of India, which consisted of the Princely states ruled by local royal families. There were officially 565 princely states in 1947, but only 21 had actual state governments, and only three were large (Mysore, Hyderabad and Kashmir). They were absorbed into the independent nation in 1947-48. 

British Raj (1858-1947) 


When the Lord Curzon (Viceroy 1899-1905) took control of higher education and then split the large province of Bengal into a largely Hindu western half and "Eastern Bengal and Assam," a largely Muslim eastern half. The British goal was efficient administration but Hindus were outraged at the apparent "divide and rule" strategy." When the Liberal party in Britain came to power in 1906 he was removed. 

The Flag of All-India Muslim League
The new Viceroy Gilbert Minto and the new Secretary of State for India John Morley consulted with Congress leader Gopal Krishna Gokhale. The Morley-Minto reforms of 1909 provided for Indian membership of the provincial executive councils as well as the Viceroy's executive council. The Imperial Legislative Council was enlarged from 25 to 60 members and separate communal representation for Muslims was established in a dramatic step towards representative and responsible government. Bengal was reunified in 1911. Meanwhile the Muslims for the first time began to organise, setting up the All India Muslim League in 1906. It was not a mass party but was designed to protect the interests of the aristocratic Muslims, especially in the north west. It was internally divided by conflicting loyalties to Islam, the British, and India, and by distrust of Hindus. 

Picture of Manchurian Plague Victims in 1910-11

During the British Raj, famines in India, often attributed to failed government policies, were some of the worst ever recorded, including the Great Famine of 1876–78 in which 6.1 million to 10.3 million people died and the Indian famine of 1899–1900 in which 1.25 to 10 million people died. The Third Plague Pandemic started in China in the middle of the 19th century, spreading plague to all inhabited continents and killing 10 million people in India alone. Despite persistent diseases and famines, the population of the Indian subcontinent, which stood at about 125 million in 1750, had reached 389 million by 1941. 

The Indian independence movement 

The numbers of British in India were small, yet they were able to rule two-thirds of the subcontinent directly and exercise considerable leverage over the princely states that accounted for the remaining one-third of the area. There were 674 of the these states in 1900, with a population of 73 million, or one person in five. In general, the princely states were strong supporters of the British regime, and the Raj left them alone. They were finally closed down in 1947-48. 

Jinnah and Gandhi in Bombay- September 1944
The first step toward Indian self-rule was the appointment of councillors to advise the British viceroy, in 1861; the first Indian was appointed in 1909. Provincial Councils with Indian members were also set up. The councillors' participation was subsequently widened into legislative councils. The British built a large British Indian Army, with the senior officers all British, and many of the troops from small minority groups such as Gurkhas from Nepal and Sikhs. The civil service was increasingly filled with natives at the lower levels, with the British holding the more senior positions. 

From 1920 leaders such as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi began highly popular mass movements to campaign against the British Raj using largely peaceful methods. Some others adopted a militant approach that sought to overthrow British rule by armed struggle; revolutionary activities against the British rule took place throughout the Indian sub-continent. The Gandhi-led independence movement opposed the British rule using non-violent methods like non-cooperation, civil disobedience and economic resistance. These movements succeeded in bringing independence to the new dominions of India and Pakistan in august 6th, 1947. 

Mountbatten with a Countdown Calender in Background
Independence and partition (1947-present) 

Along with the desire for independence, tensions between Hindus and Muslims had also been developing over the years. The Muslims had always been a minority within the subcontinent, and the prospect of an exclusively Hindu government made them wary of independence; they were as inclined to mistrust Hindu rule as they were to resist the foreign Raj, although Gandhi called for unity between the two groups in an astonishing display of leadership. The British, extremely weakened by the Second World War, promised that they would leave and participated in the formation of an interim government. The British Indian territories gained independence in 1947, after being partitioned into the Union of India and Dominion of Pakistan. Following the controversial division of pre-partition Punjab and Bengal, rioting broke out between Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims in these provinces and spread to several other parts of India, leaving some 500,000 dead. Also, this period saw one of the largest mass migrations ever recorded in modern history, with a total of 12 million Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims moving between the newly created nations of India and Pakistan (which gained independence on 15 and 14 August 1947 respectively). In 1971, Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan and East Bengal, seceded from Pakistan.

Dr. Anil Seal

In recent decades there have been four main schools of historiography regarding India: Cambridge, Nationalist, Marxist, and subaltern. The once common "Orientalist" approach, with its the image of a sensuous, inscrutable, and wholly spiritual India, has died out in serious scholarship. 

The "Cambridge School," led by Anil Seal, Gordon Johnson, Richard Gordon, and David A. Washbrook, downplays ideology. 

The Nationalist school has focused on Congress, Gandhi, Nehru and high level politics. It highlighted the Mutiny of 1857 as a war of liberation, and Gandhi's 'Quit India' begun in 1942, as defining historical events. More recently, Hindu nationalists have created a version of history for the schools to support their demands for "Hindutva" ("Hinduness") in Indian society.
Ranajit Guha
The Marxists have focused on studies of economic development, landownership, and class conflict in precolonial India and of deindustrialization during the colonial period. 

The Marxists portrayed Gandhi's movement as a device for the bourgeois elite to harness popular, potentially revolutionary forces for its own ends. 

The "subaltern school," was begun in the 1980s by Ranajit Guha and Gyan Prakash.

It focuses attention away from the elites and politicians to "history from below," looking at the peasants using folklore, poetry, riddles, proverbs, songs, oral history and methods inspired by anthropology. 

It focuses on the colonial era before 1947 and typically emphasizes caste and downplays class, to the annoyance of the Marxist school.

Topographic Map of India

India comprises the bulk of the Indian subcontinent and lies atop the minor Indian tectonic plate, which in turn belongs to the Indo-Australian Plate. India's defining geological processes commenced 75 million years ago when the Indian subcontinent, then part of the southern supercontinent Gondwana, began a north-eastward drift across the then-unformed Indian Ocean that lasted fifty million years. The subcontinent's subsequent collision with, and subduction under, the Eurasian Plate bore aloft the planet's highest mountains, the Himalayas. They abut India in the north and the north-east. In the former seabed immediately south of the emerging Himalayas, plate movement created a vast trough that has gradually filled with river-borne sediment; it now forms the Indo-Gangetic Plain. To the west lies the Thar Desert, which is cut off by the Aravalli Range.
Satpura Range in India
The original Indian plate survives as peninsular India, which is the oldest and geologically most stable part of India; it extends as far north as the Satpura and Vindhya ranges in central India. These parallel chains run from the Arabian Sea coast in Gujarat in the west to the coal-rich Chota Nagpur Plateau in Jharkhand in the east. To the south, the remaining peninsular landmass, the Deccan Plateau, is flanked on the west and east by coastal ranges known as the Western and Eastern Ghats; the plateau contains the nation's oldest rock formations, some of them over one billion years old. Constituted in such fashion, India lies to the north of the equator between 6° 44' and 35° 30' north latitude and 68° 7' and 97° 25' east longitude.

India's coastline measures 7,517 kilometres (4,700 mi) in length; of this distance, 5,423 kilometres (3,400 mi) belong to peninsular India and 2,094 kilometres (1,300 mi) to the Andaman, Nicobar, and Lakshadweep island chains. According to the Indian naval hydrographic charts, the mainland coastline consists of the following: 43% sandy beaches; 11% rocky shores, including cliffs; and 46% mudflats or marshy shores.
A Cruise in Godavari River, India
Major Himalayan-origin rivers that substantially flow through India include the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, both of which drain into the Bay of Bengal. Important tributaries of the Ganges include the Yamuna and the Kosi; the latter's extremely low gradient often leads to severe floods and course changes. Major peninsular rivers, whose steeper gradients prevent their waters from flooding, include the Godavari, the Mahanadi, the Kaveri, and the Krishna, which also drain into the Bay of Bengal; and the Narmada and the Tapti, which drain into the Arabian Sea. Coastal features include the marshy Rann of Kutch of western India and the alluvial Sundarbans delta of eastern India; the latter is shared with Bangladesh. India has two archipelagos: the Lakshadweep, coral atolls off India's south-western coast; and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a volcanic chain in the Andaman Sea.
The Kedar Range of the Himalaya
The Indian climate is strongly influenced by the Himalayas and the Thar Desert, both of which drive the economically and culturally pivotal summer and winter monsoons. The Himalayas prevent cold Central Asian katabatic winds from blowing in, keeping the bulk of the Indian subcontinent warmer than most locations at similar latitudes. The Thar Desert plays a crucial role in attracting the moisture-laden south-west summer monsoon winds that, between June and October, provide the majority of India's rainfall. Four major climatic groupings predominate in India: tropical wet, tropical dry, subtropical humid, and montane.


In India, major environmental issues include forest and agricultural degradation of land; depletion of resources such as water, minerals, forest, sand, and rocks; environmental degradation; public health issues; loss of biodiversity; loss of resilience in ecosystems; and livelihood security for the poor. According to data collection and environment assessment studies of World Bank experts, between 1995 and 2010, the progress India has made in addressing its environmental issues and improving its environmental quality has been among the fastest in the world.
Indra Gandhi National Park in Shola Forest

India lies within the Indomalaya ecozone and contains three biodiversity hotspots. One of 17 megadiverse countries, it hosts 8.6% of all mammalian, 13.7% of all avian, 7.9% of all reptilian, 6% of all amphibian, 12.2% of all piscine, and 6.0% of all flowering plant species. Endemism is high among plants, 33%, and among ecoregions such as the shola forests. Habitat ranges from the tropical rainforest of the Andaman Islands, Western Ghats, and North-East India to the coniferous forest of the Himalaya. Between these extremes lie the moist deciduous sal forest of eastern India; the dry deciduous teak forest of central and southern India; and the babul-dominated thorn forest of the central Deccan and western Gangetic plain. Under 12% of India's landmass bears thick jungle. The medicinal neem, widely used in rural Indian herbal remedies, is a key Indian tree. The luxuriant pipal fig tree, shown on the seals of Mohenjo-daro, shaded Gautama Buddha as he sought enlightenment.
Asiatic Lion in Gir Forest Gujrat, India
Many Indian species descend from taxa originating in Gondwana, from which the Indian plate separated more than 105 million years before present.

Peninsular India's subsequent movement towards and collision with the Laurasian landmass set off a mass exchange of species. Epochal volcanism and climatic changes 20 million years ago forced a mass extinction. Mammals then entered India from Asia through two zoogeographical passes flanking the rising Himalaya. Thus, while 45.8% of reptiles and 55.8% of amphibians are endemic, only 12.6% of mammals and 4.5% of birds are. Among them are the Nilgiri leaf monkey and Beddome's toad of the Western Ghats.

India contains 172 IUCN-designated threatened animal species, or 2.9% of endangered forms. These include the Asiatic lion, the Bengal tiger, and the Indian White-rumped Vulture, which, by ingesting the carrion of diclofenac-laced cattle, nearly went extinct.
The Indian Parliament, New Delhi, India
The pervasive and ecologically devastating human encroachment of recent decades has critically endangered Indian wildlife. In response the system of national parks and protected areas, first established in 1935, was substantially expanded. In 1972, India enacted the Wildlife Protection Act and Project Tiger to safeguard crucial wilderness; the Forest Conservation Act was enacted in 1980 and amendments added in 1988. India hosts more than five hundred wildlife sanctuaries and thirteen biosphere reserves, four of which are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves; twenty-five wetlands are registered under the Ramsar Convention.


India is the world's most populous democracy. A parliamentary republic with a multi-party system, it has six recognised national parties, including the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and more than 40 regional parties. The Congress is considered centre-left or "liberal" in Indian political culture, and the BJP centre-right or "conservative". For most of the period between 1950—when India first became a republic—and the late 1980s, the Congress held a majority in the parliament. Since then, however, it has increasingly shared the political stage with the BJP, as well as with powerful regional parties which have often forced the creation of multi-party coalitions at the centre.
Indian National Congress- the Flag
In the Republic of India's first three general elections, in 1951, 1957, and 1962, the Jawaharlal Nehru-led Congress won easy victories. On Nehru's death in 1964, Lal Bahadur Shastri briefly became prime minister; he was succeeded, after his own unexpected death in 1966, by Indira Gandhi, who went on to lead the Congress to election victories in 1967 and 1971. Following public discontent with the state of emergency she declared in 1975, the Congress was voted out of power in 1977; the then-new Janata Party, which had opposed the emergency, was voted in. Its government lasted just over three years. Voted back into power in 1980, the Congress saw a change in leadership in 1984, when Indira Gandhi was assassinated; she was succeeded by her son Rajiv Gandhi, who won an easy victory in the general elections later that year. The Congress was voted out again in 1989 when a National Front coalition, led by the newly formed Janata Dal in alliance with the Left Front, won the elections; that government too proved relatively short-lived: it lasted just under two years. Elections were held again in 1991; no party won an absolute majority. But the Congress, as the largest single party, was able to form a minority government led by P. V. Narasimha Rao.
Bharatiya Janata Party- the Flag
A two-year period of political turmoil followed the general election of 1996. Several short-lived alliances shared power at the centre. The BJP formed a government briefly in 1996; it was followed by two comparatively long-lasting United Front coalitions, which depended on external support. In 1998, the BJP was able to form a successful coalition, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the NDA became the first non-Congress, coalition government to complete a five-year term. In the 2004 Indian general elections, again no party won an absolute majority, but the Congress emerged as the largest single party, forming another successful coalition: the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). It had the support of left-leaning parties and MPs who opposed the BJP. The UPA returned to power in the 2009 general election with increased numbers, and it no longer required external support from India's communist parties. That year, Manmohan Singh became the first prime minister since Jawaharlal Nehru in 1957 and 1962 to be re-elected to a consecutive five-year term.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan (President House), New Delhi

India is a federation with a parliamentary system governed under the Constitution of India, which serves as the country's supreme legal document. It is a constitutional republic and representative democracy, in which "majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law". Federalism in India defines the power distribution between the federal government and the states. The government abides by constitutional checks and balances. The Constitution of India, which came into effect on 26 January 1950, states in its preamble that India is a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic. India's form of government, traditionally described as "quasi-federal" with a strong centre and weak states, has grown increasingly federal since the late 1990s as a result of political, economic, and social changes.
Manmohan Singh is the Indian Prime Minister since 2004
The federal government comprises three branches:

Executive: The President of India is the head of state and is elected indirectly by a national electoral college for a five-year term. The Prime Minister of India is the head of government and exercises most executive power. Appointed by the president, the prime minister is by convention supported by the party or political alliance holding the majority of seats in the lower house of parliament. The executive branch of the Indian government consists of the president, the vice-president, and the Council of Ministers—the cabinet being its executive committee—headed by the prime minister. Any minister holding a portfolio must be a member of one of the houses of parliament.

In the Indian parliamentary system, the executive is subordinate to the legislature; the prime minister and his council are directly responsible to the lower house of the parliament.
Rajya Sabha, India
Legislative: The legislature of India is the bicameral parliament. It operates under a Westminster-style parliamentary system and comprises the upper house called the Rajya Sabha ("Council of States") and the lower called the Lok Sabha ("House of the People"). The Rajya Sabha is a permanent body that has 245 members who serve in staggered six-year terms. Most are elected indirectly by the state and territorial legislatures in numbers proportional to their state's share of the national population. All but two of the Lok Sabha's 545 members are directly elected by popular vote; they represent individual constituencies via five-year terms. The remaining two members are nominated by the president from among the Anglo-Indian community, in case the president decides that they are not adequately represented.
The Supreme Court of India
Judicial: India has a unitary three-tier independent judiciary that comprises the Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice of India, 24 High Courts, and a large number of trial courts. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over cases involving fundamental rights and over disputes between states and the centre; it has appellate jurisdiction over the High Courts. It has the power both to declare the law and to strike down union or state laws which contravene the constitution. The Supreme Court is also the ultimate interpreter of the constitution.


India is a federation composed of 28 states and 7 union territories. All states, as well as the union territories of Puducherry and the National Capital Territory of Delhi, have elected legislatures and governments, both patterned on the Westminster model. The remaining five union territories are directly ruled by the centre through appointed administrators. In 1956, under the States Reorganisation Act, states were reorganised on a linguistic basis. Since then, their structure has remained largely unchanged. Each state or union territory is further divided into administrative districts. The districts in turn are further divided into tehsils and ultimately into villages.
Political Map of India
  1. Andhra Pradesh 
  2. Arunachal Pradesh 
  3. Assam 
  4. Bihar 
  5. Chhattisgarh 
  6. Goa 
  7. Gujarat 
  8. Haryana 
  9. Himachal Pradesh 
  10. Jammu and Kashmir 
  11. Jharkhand 
  12. Karnataka 
  13. Kerala
Dulhadeo Temple, Khajuraho, Madhya Pardesh, India
14. Madhya Pradesh
15. Maharashtra 
16. Manipur 
17. Meghalaya 
18. Mizoram 
19. Nagaland 
20. Odisha 
21. Punjab 
22. Rajasthan 
23. Sikkim 
24. Tamil Nadu 
25. Tripura 
26. Uttar Pradesh 
27. Uttarakhand 
28. West Bengal

Montage of New Delhi
Union territories 
  1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands 
  2. Chandigarh 
  3. Dadra and Nagar Haveli 
  4. Daman and Diu 
  5. Lakshadweep 
  6. National Capital Territory of Delhi 
  7. Puducherry 

Foreign Relations and Military 

Since its independence in 1947, India has maintained cordial relations with most nations. In the 1950s, it strongly supported decolonisation in Africa and Asia and played a lead role in the Non-Aligned Movement. In the late 1980s, the Indian military twice intervened abroad at the invitation of neighbouring countries: a peace-keeping operation in Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990; and an armed intervention to prevent a coup d'état attempt in Maldives. 

Manmohan Singh and Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev
India has tense relations with neighbouring Pakistan; the two nations have gone to war four times: in 1947, 1965, 1971, and 1999. Three of these wars were fought over the disputed territory of Kashmir, while the fourth, the 1971 war, followed from India's support for the independence of Bangladesh. After waging the 1962 Sino-Indian War and the 1965 war with Pakistan, India pursued close military and economic ties with the Soviet Union; by the late 1960s, the Soviet Union was its largest arms supplier.

Aside from ongoing strategic relations with Russia, India has wide-ranging defence relations with Israel and France. In recent years, it has played key roles in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the World Trade Organisation. The nation has provided 100,000 military and police personnel to serve in 35 UN peacekeeping operations across four continents. It participates in the East Asia Summit, the G8+5, and other multilateral forums. India has close economic ties with South America, Asia, and Africa; it pursues a "Look East" policy that seeks to strengthen partnerships with the ASEAN nations, Japan, and South Korea that revolve around many issues, but especially those involving economic investment and regional security.
INS Vikramaditya is the Indian Navy's Biggest Warship
China's nuclear test of 1964, as well as its repeated threats to intervene in support of Pakistan in the 1965 war, convinced India to develop nuclear weapons. India conducted its first nuclear weapons test in 1974 and carried out further underground testing in 1998. Despite criticism and military sanctions, India has signed neither the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty nor the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, considering both to be flawed and discriminatory. India maintains a "no first use" nuclear policy and is developing a nuclear triad capability as a part of its "minimum credible deterrence" doctrine. It is developing a ballistic missile defence shield and, in collaboration with Russia, a fifth-generation fighter jet. Other indigenous military projects involve the design and implementation of Vikrant-class aircraft carriers and Arihant-class nuclear submarines.
The US President Barack Obama at the Indian Parliament
Since the end of the Cold War, India has increased its economic, strategic, and military cooperation with the United States and the European Union. In 2008, a civilian nuclear agreement was signed between India and the United States. Although India possessed nuclear weapons at the time and was not party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it received waivers from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, ending earlier restrictions on India's nuclear technology and commerce. As a consequence, India became the sixth de facto nuclear weapons state. India subsequently signed cooperation agreements involving civilian nuclear energy with Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

The President of India is the supreme commander of the nation's armed forces; with 1.6 million active troops, they compose the world's third-largest military. It comprises the Indian Army, the Indian Navy, and the Indian Air Force; auxiliary organisations include the Strategic Forces Command and three paramilitary groups: the Assam Rifles, the Special Frontier Force, and the Indian Coast Guard. The official Indian defence budget for 2011 was US$36.03 billion, or 1.83% of GDP. For the fiscal year spanning 2012–2013, US$40.44 billion was budgeted. According to a 2008 SIPRI report, India's annual military expenditure in terms of purchasing power stood at US$72.7 billion, In 2011, the annual defence budget increased by 11.6%, although this does not include funds that reach the military through other branches of government. As of 2012, India is the world's largest arms importer; between 2007 and 2011, it accounted for 10% of funds spent on international arms purchases. Much of the military expenditure was focused on defence against Pakistan and countering growing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean.
Reserve Bank of India Headquarters, Mumbai

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as of 2013, the Indian economy is nominally worth US$1.758 trillion; it is the eleventh-largest economy by market exchange rates, and is, at US$4.962 trillion, the third-largest by purchasing power parity, or PPP. With its average annual GDP growth rate of 5.8% over the past two decades, and reaching 6.1% during 2011–12, India is one of the world's fastest-growing economies. However, the country ranks 140th in the world in nominal GDP per capita and 129th in GDP per capita at PPP. Until 1991, all Indian governments followed protectionist policies that were influenced by socialist economics. Widespread state intervention and regulation largely walled the economy off from the outside world. An acute balance of payments crisis in 1991 forced the nation to liberalise its economy; since then it has slowly moved towards a free-market system by emphasising both foreign trade and direct investment inflows. India's recent economic model is largely capitalist. India has been a member of WTO since 1 January 1995.
India has 2nd largest labour force in the world
The 486.6-million worker Indian labour force is the world's second-largest, as of 2011. The service sector makes up 55.6% of GDP, the industrial sector 26.3% and the agricultural sector 18.1%. Major agricultural products include rice, wheat, oilseed, cotton, jute, tea, sugarcane, and potatoes. Major industries include textiles, telecommunications, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, food processing, steel, transport equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery, and software. In 2006, the share of external trade in India's GDP stood at 24%, up from 6% in 1985. In 2008, India's share of world trade was 1.68%; In 2011, India was the world's tenth-largest importer and the nineteenth-largest exporter. Major exports include petroleum products, textile goods, jewellery, software, engineering goods, chemicals, and leather manufactures. Major imports include crude oil, machinery, gems, fertiliser, and chemicals. Between 2001 and 2011, the contribution of petrochemical and engineering goods to total exports grew from 14% to 42%.
GDP of India has risen rapidly since 1991
Averaging an economic growth rate of 7.5% for several years prior to 2007, India has more than doubled its hourly wage rates during the first decade of the 21st century. Some 431 million Indians have left poverty since 1985; India's middle classes are projected to number around 580 million by 2030. Though ranking 51st in global competitiveness, India ranks 17th in financial market sophistication, 24th in the banking sector, 44th in business sophistication, and 39th in innovation, ahead of several advanced economies, as of 2010. With 7 of the world's top 15 information technology outsourcing companies based in India, the country is viewed as the second-most favourable outsourcing destination after the United States, as of 2009. India's consumer market, currently the world's eleventh-largest, is expected to become fifth-largest by 2030.
A Roof Top Mobile Tower in Bangalore
India's telecommunication industry, the world's fastest-growing, added 227 million subscribers during the period 2010–11, and after the first quarter of 2013, India surpassed Japan to become the third largest smartphone market in the world after China and the U.S.

Its automotive industry, the world's second fastest growing, increased domestic sales by 26% during 2009–10, and exports by 36% during 2008–09. Power capacity is 250 gigawatts, of which 8% is renewable.

At the end of 2011, Indian IT Industry employed 2.8 million professionals, generated revenues close to US$100 billion equaling 7.5% of Indian GDP and contributed 26% of India's merchandise exports.

 The Pharmaceutical industry in India is among the significant emerging markets for global pharma industry. The Indian pharmaceutical market is expected to reach $48.5 billion by 2020. India's R & D spending constitutes 60% of Biopharmaceutical industry. India is among the top 12 Biotech destinations of the world.
About 60% children in Madhya Pardesh are malnourished
The Indian biotech industry grew by 15.1% in 2012-13, increasing its revenues from 204.4 Billion INR (Indian Rupees) to 235.24 Billion INR (3.94 B US$ - exchange rate June 2013: 1 US$ approx. 60 INR) Although hardly 2% of Indians pay income taxes.

Despite impressive economic growth during recent decades, India continues to face socio-economic challenges. India contains the largest concentration of people living below the World Bank's international poverty line of US$1.25 per day, the proportion having decreased from 60% in 1981 to 42% in 2005, and 25% in 2011 44% of India's children under the age of five are underweight, half the children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition, and in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkand, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh, which account for 50.04% of India's popultion, 70% of the children between the ages of six months and 59 months are anaemic.
Protests Against Corruption in Pune, India
The Mid-Day Meal Scheme attempts to lower these rates. Since 1991, economic inequality between India's states has consistently grown: the per-capita net state domestic product of the richest states in 2007 was 3.2 times that of the poorest. Corruption in India is perceived to have increased significantly, with one report estimating the illegal capital flows since independence to be US$462 billion. Driven by growth, India's nominal GDP per capita has steadily increased from US$329 in 1991, when economic liberalisation began, to US$1,265 in 2010, and is estimated to increase to US$2,110 by 2016; however, it has remained lower than those of other Asian developing countries such as Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, and is expected to remain so in the near future. While it is currently higher than Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and others.
Kolkata Metro is India's Oldest Metro
According to a 2011 PricewaterhouseCoopers report, India's GDP at purchasing power parity could overtake that of the United States by 2045.

During the next four decades, Indian GDP is expected to grow at an annualised average of 8%, making it potentially the world's fastest-growing major economy until 2050.

The report highlights key growth factors: a young and rapidly growing working-age population; growth in the manufacturing sector because of rising education and engineering skill levels; and sustained growth of the consumer market driven by a rapidly growing middle class.

The World Bank cautions that, for India to achieve its economic potential, it must continue to focus on public sector reform, transport infrastructure, agricultural and rural development, removal of labour regulations, education, energy security, and public health and nutrition.
A Population Density and Indian Railways Connectivity Map
Citing persistent inflation pressures, weak public finances, limited progress on fiscal consolidation and ineffectiveness of the government, rating agency Fitch revised India's Outlook to Negative from Stable on 18 June 2012. Another credit rating agency S&P had warned previously that a slowing GDP growth and political roadblocks to economic policy-making could put India at the risk of losing its investment grade rating. However, Moody did not revise its outlook on India keeping it stable, but termed the national government as the "single biggest drag" on business activity. 


With 1,210,193,422 residents reported in the 2011 provisional census, India is the world's second-most populous country. Its population grew at 1.76% per annum during 2001–2011, down from 2.13% per annum in the previous decade (1991–2001). The human sex ratio, according to the 2011 census, is 940 females per 1,000 males. The median age was 24.9 in the 2001 census. The first post-colonial census, conducted in 1951, counted 361.1 million people. 

Ahmadabad, India at Night
Medical advances made in the last 50 years as well as increased agricultural productivity brought about by the "Green Revolution" have caused India's population to grow rapidly. India continues to face several public health-related challenges. According to the World Health Organisation, 900,000 Indians die each year from drinking contaminated water or breathing polluted air. There are around 50 physicians per 100,000 Indians. The number of Indians living in urban areas has grown by 31.2% between 1991 and 2001. Yet, in 2001, over 70% lived in rural areas. According to the 2001 census, there are 27 million-plus cities in India; among them Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Pune are the most populous metropolitan areas. The literacy rate in 2011 was 74.04%: 65.46% among females and 82.14% among males. Kerala is the most literate state with 95.5% literacy; while Bihar the least with 67.8%. 

Jama Masjid of Delhi is India's Largest Masjid
India is home to two major language families: Indo-Aryan (spoken by about 74% of the population) and Dravidian (24%). Other languages spoken in India come from the Austroasiatic and Tibeto-Burman language families. India has no national language. Hindi, with the largest number of speakers, is the official language of the government. English is used extensively in business and administration and has the status of a "subsidiary official language"; it is important in education, especially as a medium of higher education. Each state and union territory has one or more official languages, and the constitution recognises in particular 21 "scheduled languages". The Constitution of India recognises 212 scheduled tribal groups which together constitute about 7.5% of the country's population. The 2001 census reported that Hinduism, with over 800 million adherents (80.5% of the population), was the largest religion in India; it is followed by Islam (13.4%), Christianity (2.3%), Sikhism (1.9%), Buddhism (0.8%), Jainism (0.4%), Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and the Bahá'í Faith. India has the world's largest Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Zoroastrian, and Bahá'í populations, and has the third-largest Muslim population and the largest Muslim population for a non-Muslim majority country.
Yoga had been originated in ancient India
Culture of India

The culture of India refers to the way of life of the people of India. India's languages, religions, dance, music, architecture, food, and customs differ from place to place within the country. The Indian culture, often labelled as an amalgamation of several cultures, spans across the Indian subcontinent and has been influenced by a history that is several millennia old. Many elements of India's diverse cultures, such as Indian religions, yoga, and Indian cuisine, have had a profound impact across the world.


India is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, collectively known as Indian religions. Indian religions, also known as Dharmic religions are a major form of world religions along with Abrahamic one. Today, Hinduism and Buddhism are the world's third and fourth-largest religions respectively, with over 2 billion followers altogether, and possibly as many as 2.5 or 2.6 billion followers.
Tipu Sultan Shahi Masjid in Kolkata- India
India is one of the most religiously diverse nations in the world, with some of the most deeply religious societies and cultures. Religion still plays a central and definitive role in the life of many of its people. According to a 2001 census of India, the religion of 80% of the people is Hinduism. Islam is practised by around 13% of all Indians. The country had over 23 million Christians, over 19 million Sikhs, about 8 million Buddhists and about 4 million Jains. Sikhism, Jainism and especially Buddhism are influential not only in India but across the world. Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and the Bahá'í Faith are also influential but their numbers are smaller. Atheism and agnostics also have visible influence in India, along with a self-ascribed tolerance to other people.
Aarti ritual in Hindu Worship
The Hindu religion has many schools, each with their own unique views. For example, according to Yogavasistha, a spiritual text of the Advaita school of Hindu religion, the values of the liberated (Hindi: जीवन्मुक्ति), self-actualised human being, may be summarised as follows: "Pleasures do not delight him; pains do not distress. Although engaged in worldly actions, he has no attachment to any object. He is busy outwardly, yet calm inwardly. He feels free from restrictions of scriptures, customs, age, caste or creed. He is happy, but his happiness does not depend on anything else. He does not feel needy, proud, agitated, troubled, depressed or elated. He is full of compassion and forgiveness even to those who mean him harm. He does the right thing, regardless of the pressures. He is patient, perseverant, and without any impurity in his heart. He is free of delusions, he does not crave for anything. His sense of freedom comes from his spirit of inquiry. The fruits of his inquiry are his strength, intellect, efficiency and punctuality. He keeps company of wise and enlightened persons. He is content."
There is significant historical discourse in India on the notion, relevance, and the existence and non-existence of God. Dharmakirti, for example, in the 7th century wrote in Pramanavarttikam:
 वेद प्रामाण्यं कस्य चित् कर्तृवादः स्नाने धर्मेच्छा जातिवादाव लेपः| संतापारंभः पापहानाय चेति ध्वस्तप्रज्ञानां पञ्च लिङगानि जाड्ये||
Believing that the Veda are standard (holy or divine), believing in a Creator for the world, Bathing in holy waters for gaining punya, having pride (vanity) about one's job function, Performing penance to absolve sins,
Are the five symptoms of having lost one's sanity. 
A Hindu bride during traditional wedding ceremony
Family Structure and Marriage 

For generations, India has had a prevailing tradition of the joint family system. It is a system under which extended members of a family – parents, children, the children’s spouses and their offspring, etc. – live together. Usually, the oldest male member is the head in the joint Indian family system. He makes all important decisions and rules, and other family members abide by them.

 In a 1966 study, Orenstein and Micklin analysed India's population data and family structure. Their studies suggest that Indian household sizes had remained similar over the 1911 to 1951 period. Thereafter, with urbanisation and economic development, India has witnessed a break up of traditional joint family into more nuclear-like families.
Joint family system is decreasing in India
Sinha, in his book, after summarising the numerous sociological studies done on Indian family, notes that over the last 60 years, the cultural trend in most parts of India has been an accelerated change from joint family to nuclear families, much like population trends in other parts of the world. The traditional large joint family in India, in the 1990s, accounted for a small percent of Indian households, and on average had lower per capita household income. He finds that joint family still persists in some areas and in certain conditions, in part due to cultural traditions and in part due to practical factors. Youth in lower socio-economic classes are more inclined to spend time with their families than their peers due to differing ideologies in rural and urban parenting.
Indians prefer arranged marriages
Arranged marriage 

For centuries, arranged marriages have been the tradition in Indian society. Even today, the majority of Indians have their marriages planned by their parents and other respected family-members. In the past, the age of marriage was young, especially in Rajasthan, but this is rising with modernisation and there are now laws which govern the age of marriage.

In most marriages the bride's family provide a dowry to the bridegroom. Traditionally, the dowry was considered a woman's share of the family wealth, since a daughter had no legal claim on her natal family's real estate. It also typically included portable valuables such as jewellery and household goods that a bride could control throughout her life. Historically, in most families the inheritance of family estates passed down the male line. Since 1956, Indian laws treat males and females as equal in matters of inheritance without a legal will. Indians are increasingly using a legal will for inheritance and property succession, with about 20 percent using a legal will by 2004.
Divorce rate is very low in India
In India, the divorce rate is low — 1% compared with about 40% in the United States. These statistics do not reflect a complete picture, though. There is a dearth of scientific surveys or studies on Indian marriages where the perspectives of both husbands and wives were solicited in-depth. Sample surveys suggest the issues with marriages in India are similar to trends observed elsewhere in the world. The divorce rates are rising in India. Urban divorce rates are much higher. Women initiate about 80 percent of divorces in India.
"Opinion is divided over what the phenomenon means: for traditionalists the rising numbers portend the breakdown of society while, for some modernists, they speak of a healthy new empowerment for women." 
Rituals of a Hindu wedding
Recent studies suggest that Indian culture is trending away from traditional arranged marriages. Banerjee et al. surveyed 41,554 households across 33 states and union territories in India in 2005. They find that the marriage trends in India are similar to trends observed over last 40 years in China, Japan and other nations. The study found that fewer marriages are purely arranged without consent and that the majority of surveyed Indian marriages are arranged with consent. The percentage of self-arranged marriages (called love marriages in India) were also increasing, particularly in the urban parts of India. A 2006 article reported that between 10 and 20 percent of marriages in urban India were self-arranged.

Wedding rituals 

Weddings are festive occasions in India with extensive decorations, colors, music, dance, costumes and rituals that depend on the religion of the bride and the groom, as well as their preferences. The nation celebrates about 10 million weddings per year, of which over 80% are Hindu weddings.
A Muslim Wedding in India
While there are many festival-related rituals in Hinduism, vivaha (wedding) is the most extensive personal ritual an adult Hindu undertakes in his or her life. Typical Hindu families spend significant effort and financial resources to prepare and celebrate weddings. The rituals and process of a Hindu wedding vary depending on region of India, local adaptations, resources of the family and preferences of the bride and the groom. Nevertheless, there are a few key rituals common in Hindu weddings - Kanyadaan, Panigrahana, and Saptapadi; these are respectively, gifting away of daughter by the father, voluntarily holding hand near the fire to signify impending union, and taking seven steps before fire with each step including a set of mutual vows. After the seventh step and vows of Saptapadi, the couple is legally husband and wife. Sikhs get married through a ceremony called Anand Karaj. The couple walk around the holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib four times. Indian Muslims celebrate a traditional Islamic wedding following customs similar to those practiced in the Middle East. The rituals include Nikah, payment of financial dower called Mahr by the groom to the bride, signing of marriage contract, and a reception. Indian Christian weddings follow customs similar to those practiced in the Christian countries in the West.
Typical Hindu greeting- Namaste

Namaste (Hindi), Namaskar (Marathi) or Namaskara (Kannada) or Namaskaram (Telugu, Malayalam), Vanakkam (Tamil),Nomoshkaar (Bengali), Nomoskar (Assamese) is a common spoken greeting or salutation, though becoming considered old-fashioned by some. Namaskar is considered a slightly more formal version than Namaste but both express deep respect. It is commonly used in India and Nepal by Hindus, Jains and Buddhists, and many continue to use this outside the (Indian subcontinent). In Indian and Nepali culture, the word is spoken at the beginning of written or verbal communication. However, the same hands folded gesture is made usually wordlessly upon departure. Taken literally, it means "I bow to you". The word is derived from Sanskrit (namah): to bow, obeisance, reverential salutation, and respect, and (te): "to you". As explained by an Indian scholar, in literal terms Namaste refers to 'Godliness in me bows to Godliness in you' or 'Divinity in me, salutes divinity in you'. In most Indian families, younger men and women are taught to seek the blessing of their elders by reverentially bowing to their elders. This custom is known as Pranāma.
Assalam O Alykum is Islamic Greeting
Other greetings include "Ami Aschi" (in Bengali),"Jai Shri Krishna", "Ram Ram", and Sat Shri Akal (Punjabi, used by followers of Sikhism), Jai Jinendra, a common greeting used across the Jain community,"Jai Bhim" used by Buddhist Converts in Maharashtra after B. R. Ambedkar and "Nama Shivaya", "Jai ambe", "Jai Sri Ram" and abow all the "Assalam O Alykum" is used by muslims as it is the greeting that has been given by Islam. etc.

These traditional forms of greeting are no longer used in the world of business and in India's urban environment. The handshake is the common form of greeting between men and men and also between women and women; the handshake is often long and soft. Men should greet Indian women with a slight nod unless the woman offers her hand for a short shake.
Decoration for the Thai Pongal festival

India, being a multi-cultural and multi-religious society, celebrates holidays and festivals of various religions.

The three national holidays in India, the Independence Day, the Republic Day and the Gandhi Jayanti, are celebrated with zeal and enthusiasm across India. In addition, many Indian states and regions have local festivals depending on prevalent religious and linguistic demographics.

Popular religious festivals include the Hindu festivals of Navratri, Diwali, Maha Shivratri, Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga puja, Holi, Ugadi, Rakshabandhan, and Dussehra. Several harvest festivals such as Sankranthi, Pongal, Raja sankaranti swinging festival, and Onam, "Nuakhai" are also fairly popular.
Eid-ul-Fitr Celebrations in India
Certain festivals in India are celebrated by multiple religions. Notable examples include Diwali, which is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, and Buddh Purnima, celebrated by Buddhists. Sikh Festivals, such as Guru Nanak Jayanti, Baisakhi are celebrated with full fanfare by Sikhs and Hindu. Adding colours to the culture of India, the Dree Festival is one of the tribal festivals of India celebrated by the Apatanis of the Ziro valley of Arunachal Pradesh, which is the easternmost state of India.

Islam in India is the second largest religion with over 135 million Muslims-(followers of Islam), The Islamic festivals which are observed and are declared public holiday in India are; Eid ul Fitr, Eid ul Adha-(Bakr Eid), Milad un Nabi, Muharram and Shab-e-Barat. Some of the Indian states have declared regional holiday's for the particular regional popular festivals; such as Arba'een, Jumu'ah-tul-Wida and Shab-e-Qadar.
Christmas in New Delhi, India
Christianity is India's third largest religion. With over 23 million Christians, of which 17 million are Roman Catholics, India is home to many Christian festivals. The country celebrates Christmas and Good Friday as public holidays.

Regional fairs are also common and festive in India. For example, Pushkar fair is one of the world's largest markets and Sonepur mela is the largest livestock fair in Asia.

Names and Language 

Indian names are based on a variety of systems and naming conventions, which vary from region to region. Names are also influenced by religion and caste and may come from the Indian epics.
Indian Meal (Thali)

Food is an integral part of every human culture. Chang notes that the importance of food in understanding human culture lies in its infinite variability - a variability that is not essential for species survival. For survival needs, people everywhere could eat the same and some simple food. But human cultures, over the ages, experiment, innovate and develop sophisticated cuisines. Cuisines become more than a source of nutrients, they reflect human knowledge, culture, art and expression of love.

Indian food is as diverse as India. Indian cuisines use numerous ingredients, deploy a wide range of food preparation styles, cooking techniques and culinary presentation. From salads to sauces, from vegetarian to meat, from spices to sensuous, from breads to desserts, Indian cuisine is invariably complex. Harold McGee, a favourite of many Michelin-starred chefs, writes "for sheer inventiveness with milk itself as the primary ingredient, no country on earth can match India."
Kheer is a traditional Indian sweet dish
According to Sanjeev Kapoor, a member of Singapore Airlines’ International Culinary Panel, Indian food has long been an expression of world cuisine. Kapoor claims, "if you looked back in India's history and study the food that our ancestors ate, you will notice how much attention was paid to the planning and cooking of a meal. Great thought was given to the texture and taste of each dish.” One such historical record is Mānasollāsa, (Sanskrit: मानसोल्लास, The Delight of Mind), written in the 12th century. The book describes the need to change cuisine and food with seasons, various methods of cooking, the best blend of flavours, the feel of various foods, planning and style of dining amongst other things.

India is known for its love for food and spices. Indian cuisine varies from region to region, reflecting the local produce, cultural diversity, and varied demographics of the country. Generally, Indian cuisine can be split into five categories - northern, southern, eastern, western, and north-eastern. The diversity of Indian cuisine is characterised by differing use of many spices and herbs, a wide assortment of recipes and cooking techniques. Though a significant portion of Indian food is vegetarian, many traditional Indian dishes also include chicken, goat, lamb, fish, and other meats. Fish-based cuisines are common in eastern states of India, particularly West Bengal.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Despite this diversity, some unifying threads emerge. Varied uses of spices are an integral part of certain food preparations, and are used to enhance the flavour of a dish and create unique flavours and aromas. Cuisine across India has also been influenced by various cultural groups that entered India throughout history, such as the Persians, Mughals, and European colonists.

Indian cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines across the globe. In most Indian restaurants outside India, the menu does not do justice to the enormous variety of Indian cuisine available - the most common cuisine served on the menu would be Punjabi cuisine (chicken tikka masala is a very popular dish in the United Kingdom). There do exist some restaurants serving cuisines from other regions of India, although these are few and far between. Historically, Indian spices and herbs were one of the most sought after trade commodities. The spice trade between India and Europe led to the rise and dominance of Arab traders to such an extent that European explorers, such as Vasco da Gama and Christopher Columbus, set out to find new trade routes with India leading to the Age of Discovery. The popularity of curry, which originated in India, across Asia has often led to the dish being labeled as the "pan-Asian" dish.
An Indian man with Dhoti and Shirt
Regional Indian cuisine continues to evolve. A fusion of East Asian and Western cooking methods with traditional cuisines, along with regional adaptations of fast food are prominent in major Indian cities.


Traditional clothing in India greatly varies across different parts of the country and is influenced by local culture, geography, climate and rural/urban settings. Popular styles of dress include draped garments such as sari for women and dhoti or lungi or panche (in Kannada) for men. Stitched clothes are also popular such as churidar or salwar-kameez for women, with dupatta (long scarf) thrown over shoulder completing the outfit. Salwar is often loose fitting, while churidar is a tighter cut. For men, stitched versions include kurta-pyjama and European-style trousers and shirts for men. In urban centres, people can often be seen in jeans, trousers, shirts, suits, kurtas and variety of other fashions.
Different styles of Sari
In public and religious places, Indian dress etiquette discourages exposure of skin and wearing transparent or tight clothes. Most Indian clothes are made from cotton which is ideal for the region's hot weather. Since India's weather is mostly hot and rainy, majority of Indians wear sandals.

Indian women perfect their sense of charm and fashion with make up and ornaments. Bindi, mehendi, earrings, bangles and other jewelry are common. On special occasions, such as marriage ceremonies and festivals, women may wear cheerful colours with various ornaments made with gold, silver or other regional stones and gems.

Bindi is often an essential part of a Hindu woman's make up. Worn on their forehead, some consider the bindi as an auspicious mark. Traditionally, the red bindi was worn only by married Hindu women, and coloured bindi was worn by single women, but now all colours and glitter has become a part of women's fashion. Some women wear sindoor - a traditional red or orange-red powder (vermilion) in the parting of their hair (locally called mang). Sindoor is the traditional mark of a married woman for Hindus. Single Hindu women do not wear sindoor; neither do over 100 million Indian women from religions other than Hindu and agnostics/atheists who may be married.
the popularity of Muslim clothing is increasing in India
India's clothing styles have continuously evolved over the course of the country's history. The 11th-century BCE Rig-veda mentions dyed and embroidered garments (known as paridhan and pesas respectively) and thus highlights the development of sophisticated garment manufacturing techniques during this period. In 5th century BCE, Greek historian Herodotus describes the richness of the quality of Indian cotton clothes. By the 2nd century AD, muslins manufactured in southern India were imported by the Roman Empire and silk cloth was one of the major exports of ancient India along with Indian spices. Stitched clothing in India was developed before the 10th century CE and was further popularised in the 15th century by Muslim empires in India. Draped clothing styles remained popular with India's Hindu population while the Muslims increasingly adopted tailored garments.
Gandhi had advocated the Khadi clothing in India
During the British Raj, India's large clothing and handicrafts industry was left paralysed so as to make place for British industrial cloth. Consequently, Indian independence movement leader Mahatma Gandhi successfully advocated for what he termed as khadi clothing — light coloured hand-woven clothes — so as to decrease the reliance of the Indian people on British industrial goods. The 1980s were marked by a widespread modification to Indian clothing fashions which was characterised by a large-scale growth of fashion schools in India, increasing involvement of women in the fashion industry and changing Indian attitudes towards multiculturalism. These developments played a pivotal role in the fusion of Indian and Western clothing styles.
Rigveda's manuscript in Devanagari
Languages and Literature 

The Rigvedic Sanskrit is one of the oldest attestations of any Indo-Aryan language, and one of the earliest attested members of the Indo-European language family. The discovery of Sanskrit by early European explorers of India led to the development of comparative Philology. The scholars of the 18th century were struck by the far reaching similarity of Sanskrit, both in grammar and vocabulary, to the classical languages of Europe. Intensive scientific studies that followed have established that Sanskrit and many Indian derivative languages belong to the family which includes English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Celtic, Greek, Baltic, Armenian, Persian, Tocharian and other Indo-European languages.
Language families in India and neighboring countries
The evolution of language within India may be distinguished over three periods: old, middle and modern Indo-Aryan. The classical form of old Indo-Aryan was sanskrit meaning polished, cultivated and correct, in distinction to Prakrit - the practical language of the migrating masses evolving without concern to proper pronunciation or grammar, the structure of language changing as those masses mingled, settled new lands and adopted words from people of other native languages. Prakrita became middle Indo-Aryan leading to Pali (the language of early Buddhists and Ashoka era in 200-300 BCE), Prakrit (the language of Jain philosophers) and Apabhramsa (the language blend at the final stage of middle Indo-Aryan). It is Apabhramsa, scholars claim, that flowered into Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi and many other languages now in use in India's north, east and west. All of these Indian languages have roots and structure similar to Sanskrit, to each other and to other Indo-European languages.
Old kannada inscription in India
Thus we have in India three thousand years of continuous linguistic history recorded and preserved in literary documents. This enables scholars to follow language evolution and observe how, by changes hardly noticeable from generation to generation, an original language alters into descendant languages that are now barely recognisable as the same.

Sanskrit has had a profound impact on the languages and literature of India. Hindi, India's most spoken language, is a "Sanskritised register" of the Khariboli dialect. In addition, all modern Indo-Aryan languages, Munda languages and Dravidian languages, have borrowed many words either directly from Sanskrit (tatsama words), or indirectly via middle Indo-Aryan languages (tadbhava words). Words originating in Sanskrit are estimated to constitute roughly fifty percent of the vocabulary of modern Indo-Aryan languages, and the literary forms of (Dravidian) Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. Tamil, although to a slightly smaller extent, has also been significantly influenced by Sanskrit. Part of the Eastern Indo-Aryan languages, the Bengali language arose from the eastern Middle Indic languages and its roots are traced to the 5th-century BCE Ardhamagadhi language.
The beautiful Nastaliq Caligraphy
Hindi is mutually intelligible with Urdu, both languages being standardised registers of Hindustani. Whilst Hindi is often associated with Hinduism, Urdu is generally associated with South Asian Muslims.

The main difference between the two is that Hindi is generally written in the Devanagari script, whilst Urdu is written in Nastaliq, but, when spoken colloquially, both are mutually intelligible. Mutual intelligibility decreases, however, in specialised contexts where Urdu has borrowed words from Persian and Arabic, whilst Hindi has done so from Sanskrit and English.

Tamil, one of India's major classical language, descends from Proto-Dravidian languages spoken around the third millennium BCE in peninsular India. The earliest inscriptions of Tamil have been found on pottery dating back to 500 BC. Tamil literature has existed for over two thousand years and the earliest epigraphic records found date from around the 3rd century BCE.
Ashoka's Edict at Gujarra, Madhya Pardesh
Telugu, one of India's major classical language, descends from South-Central Dravidian language spoken around the third millennium BCE in all over south India. Early inscriptions date from 620 AD and literary texts from the 11th century, written in a Telugu script adapted from the Bhattiprolu script of the early inscriptions. Another major Classical Dravidian language, Kannada is attested epigraphically from the mid-1st millennium AD, and literary Old Kannada flourished in the 9th- to 10th-century Rashtrakuta Dynasty. As a spoken language, some believe it to be even older than Tamil due to the existence of words which have more primitive forms than in Tamil. Pre-old Kannada (or Purava HazheGannada) was the language of Banavasi in the early Common Era, the Satavahana and Kadamba periods and hence has a history of over 2000 years. The Ashoka rock edict found at Brahmagiri (dated 230 BCE) has been suggested to contain a word in identifiable Kannada.

A tree of Austro-Asiatic Language
In addition to Indo-European and Dravidian languages, Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman languages are in use in India. Genomic studies of ethnic groups in India suggests the Austro-Asiatic tribals were likely the earliest settlers in India. India's language and cultural fusion is not only because of large migrations of Indo-Aryans from central Asia and west Eurasia through the northwest, the genome studies suggest a major wave of humans possibly entered India, long ago, through the northeast, along with tribal populations of Tibeto-Burman origins. Genome studies of Fst distances suggest the northeastern Himalayas acted as a barrier, in the last 5000 years, to human migration as well as to admixing. Languages spoken in this part of India include Austro-Asiatic (e.g. Khasi) and Tibeto-Burman (e.g. Nishi).
Urdu is considered one of the beautiful languages
According to the 2001 and 2011 India census, Hindi is the most spoken language in India, followed by Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil and Urdu. In contemporary Indian literature, there are two major literary awards; these are the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship and the Jnanpith Award. Eight Jnanpith awards have been awarded in Kannada, six in Hindi, five in Bengali, four in Malayalam, three each in Marathi, Gujarati, Urdu and Oriya and two each in Assamese, Telugu and Tamil.

Performing Arts 


India has had a long romance with the art of dance. Nātyaśāstra (Science of Dance) and Abhinaya Darpana (Mirror of Gesture) are two surviving Sanskrit documents, both estimated to be between 1700 to 2200 years old.
Bharata Natyam Dance from Tamil Nadu
The Indian art of dance as taught in these ancient books, according to Ragini Devi, is the expression of inner beauty and the divine in man. It is a deliberate art, nothing is left to chance, each gesture seeks to communicate the ideas, each facial expression the emotions.

Indian dance includes eight classical dance forms, many in narrative forms with mythological elements. The eight classical forms accorded classical dance status by India's National Academy of Music, Dance, and Drama are:
  1. Bharatanatyam of the state of Tamil Nadu
  2. kathak of Uttar Pradesh
  3. kathakali and mohiniattam of Kerala
  4. kuchipudi of Andhra Pradesh
  5. yakshagana of Karnataka
  6. manipuri of Manipur
  7. odissi (orissi) of the state of Odisha and 
  8. the sattriya of Assam.
Bhangra folk dance from Punjab
In addition to the formal arts of dance, Indian regions have a strong free form, folksy dance tradition.

Some of the folk dances include the
  • Bhangra of Punjab
  • The Bihu of Assam
  • The Zeliang of Nagaland
  • The Chhau of Jharkhand
  • The Qauwwalis, Birhas and Charkulas of Uttar Pradesh
  • The Jat-jatin, Nat-natin and Saturi of Bihar
  • The Ghoomar of Rajasthan
  • The Dandiya and Garba of Gujarat
  • The Kolattam of Andhra Pradesh
  • The Yakshagana of Karnataka 
  • Lavani of Maharashtra
  • Dekhnni of Goa
  • Karakattam, Oyilattam, and Mayilattam of Tamil Nadu. 

Recent developments include adoption of international dance forms particularly in the urban centres of India, and the extension of Indian classical dance arts by the Kerala Christian community, to tell stories from the Bible.
Indian Musical Instruments
Drama and Theatre 

Indian drama and theatre has a long history alongside its music and dance. Kalidasa's plays like Shakuntala and Meghadoota are some of the older dramas, following those of Bhasa. One of the oldest surviving theatre traditions of the world is the 2,000-year-old Kutiyattam of Kerala. It strictly follows the Natya Shastra. Nātyāchārya Māni Mādhava Chākyār is credited for reviving the age old drama tradition from extinction. He was known for mastery of Rasa Abhinaya. He started to perform the Kalidasa plays like Abhijñānaśākuntala, Vikramorvaśīya and Mālavikāgnimitra; Bhasa's Swapnavāsavadatta and Pancharātra; Harsha's Nagananda.


Music is an integral part of India's culture. Natyasastra, a 2000-year-old Sanskrit text, describes five systems of taxonomy to classify musical instruments. One of these ancient Indian systems classifies musical instruments into four groups according to four primary sources of vibration: strings, membranes, cymbals, and air. According to Reis Flora, this is similar to the Western theory of organology. Archeologists have also reported the discovery of a 3000-year-old, 20-key, carefully shaped polished basalt lithophone in the highlands of Odisha.
Tanpura, an Indian Musical Instrument
The oldest preserved examples of Indian music are the melodies of the Samaveda (1000 BC) that are still sung in certain Vedic Śrauta sacrifices; this is the earliest account of Indian musical hymns. It proposed a tonal structure consisting of seven notes, which were named, in descending order, as Krusht, Pratham, Dwitiya, Tritiya, Chaturth, Mandra and Atiswār. These refer to the notes of a flute, which was the only fixed frequency instrument.

The Samaveda, and other Hindu texts, heavily influenced India's classical music tradition, which is known today in two distinct styles: Carnatic and Hindustani music.

Both the Carnatic music and Hindustani music systems are based on the melodic base (known as Rāga), sung to a rhythmic cycle (known as Tāla); these principles were refined in the nātyaśāstra (200 BC) and the dattilam (300 AD).

The current music of India includes multiple varieties of religious, classical, folk, popular and pop music.
Paintings in Ajanta Caves, India
Prominent contemporary Indian musical forms included filmi and Indipop. Filmi refers to the wide range of music written and performed for mainstream Indian cinema, primarily Bollywood, and accounts for more than 70 percent of all music sales in the country. Indipop is one of the most popular contemporary styles of Indian music which is either a fusion of Indian folk, classical or Sufi music with Western musical traditions.

Visual Arts 


Cave paintings from Ajanta, Bagh, Ellora and Sittanavasal and temple paintings testify to a love of naturalism. Most early and medieval art in India is Hindu, Buddhist or Jain. A freshly made coloured flour design (Rangoli) is still a common sight outside the doorstep of many (mostly South Indian) Indian homes. Raja Ravi Varma is one the classical painters from medieval India.
Marble Sculpture in Rajasthan, India
Madhubani painting, Mysore painting, Rajput painting, Tanjore painting, Mughal painting are some notable Genres of Indian Art; while Nandalal Bose, M. F. Husain, S. H. Raza, Geeta Vadhera, Jamini Roy and B. Venkatappa are some modern painters. Among the present day artists, Atul Dodiya, Bose Krishnamacnahri, Devajyoti Ray and Shibu Natesan represent a new era of Indian art where global art shows direct amalgamation with Indian classical styles. These recent artists have acquired international recognition. Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, Mysore Palace has on display a few good Indian paintings.


The first sculptures in India date back to the Indus Valley civilisation, where stone and bronze figures have been discovered. Later, as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism developed further, India produced some extremely intricate bronzes as well as temple carvings. Some huge shrines, such as the one at Ellora were not constructed by using blocks but carved out of solid rock.
The Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur
Sculptures produced in the northwest, in stucco, schist, or clay, display a very strong blend of Indian and Classical Hellenistic or possibly even Greco-Roman influence. The pink sandstone sculptures of Mathura evolved almost simultaneously. During the Gupta period (4th to 6th centuries) sculpture reached a very high standard in execution and delicacy in modeling. These styles and others elsewhere in India evolved leading to classical Indian art that contributed to Buddhist and Hindu sculpture throughout Southeast Central and East Asia.


Indian architecture encompasses a multitude of expressions over space and time, constantly absorbing new ideas. The result is an evolving range of architectural production that nonetheless retains a certain amount of continuity across history. Some of its earliest production are found in the Indus Valley Civilisation (2600–1900 BC) which is characterised by well planned cities and houses. Religion and kingship do not seem to have played an important role in the planning and layout of these towns.
Sri Ranganathasvamy Temple in Tiruchirapalli, India
During the period of the Mauryan and Gupta empires and their successors, several Buddhist architectural complexes, such as the caves of Ajanta and Ellora and the monumental Sanchi Stupa were built. Later on, South India produced several Hindu temples like Chennakesava Temple at Belur, the Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu, and the Kesava Temple at Somanathapura, Brihadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur built by Raja Raja Chola, the Sun Temple, Konark, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam, and the Buddha stupa (Chinna Lanja dibba and Vikramarka kota dibba) at Bhattiprolu. Angkor Wat, Borobudur and other Buddhist and Hindu temples indicate strong Indian influence on South East Asian architecture, as they are built in styles almost identical to traditional Indian religious buildings.

The traditional system of Vaastu Shastra serves as India's version of Feng Shui, influencing town planning, architecture, and ergonomics. It is unclear which system is older, but they contain certain similarities. Feng Shui is more commonly used throughout the world. Though Vastu is conceptually similar to Feng Shui in that it also tries to harmonise the flow of energy, (also called life-force or Prana in Sanskrit and Chi/Ki in Chinese/Japanese), through the house, it differs in the details, such as the exact directions in which various objects, rooms, materials, etc. are to be placed.
The Historic Qutub Minar in Delhi, India
With the advent of Islamic influence from the west, Indian architecture was adapted to allow the traditions of the new religion. Fatehpur Sikri, Taj Mahal, Gol Gumbaz, Qutub Minar, Red Fort of Delhi are creations of this era, and are often used as the stereotypical symbols of India. The colonial rule of the British Empire saw the development of Indo-Saracenic style, and mixing of several other styles, such as European Gothic. The Victoria Memorial or the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus are notable examples.

Indian architecture has influenced eastern and southeastern Asia, due to the spread of Buddhism. A number of Indian architectural features such as the temple mound or stupa, temple spire or sikhara, temple tower or pagoda and temple gate or torana, have become famous symbols of Asian culture, used extensively in East Asia and South East Asia. The central spire is also sometimes called a vimanam. The southern temple gate, or gopuram is noted for its intricacy and majesty.
Doordarshan Bhawan, Delhi
Contemporary Indian architecture is more cosmopolitan. Cities are extremely compact and densely populated. Mumbai's Nariman Point is famous for its Art Deco buildings. Recent creations such as the Lotus Temple, and the various modern urban developments of India like Chandigarh, are notable.

Popular Media 


Indian television started off in 1959 in New Delhi with tests for educational telecasts. Indian small screen programming started off in the mid-1970s. At that time there was only one national channel Doordarshan, which was government owned. 1982 saw revolution in TV programming in India, with the New Delhi Asian games, India saw the colour version of TV, that year. The Ramayana and Mahabharat were some among the popular television series produced. By the late 1980s more and more people started to own television sets. Though there was a single channel, television programming had reached saturation. Hence the government opened up another channel which had part national programming and part regional. This channel was known as DD 2 later DD Metro. Both channels were broadcast terrestrially.
Poster of first Indian sound movie Alam Ara
In 1991, the government liberated its markets, opening them up to cable television. Since then, there has been a spurt in the number of channels available. Today, Indian small screen is a huge industry by itself, and has thousands of programmes in all the states of India. The small screen has produced numerous celebrities of their own kind some even attaining national fame for themselves. TV soaps are extremely popular with housewives as well as working women, and even men of all kinds. Some lesser known actors have found success in Bollywood. Indian TV now has many of the same channels as Western TV, including stations such as Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, HBO, FX, and MTV India.


Bollywood is the informal name given to the popular Mumbai-based film industry in India. Bollywood and the other major cinematic hubs (in Bengali Cinema, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, Punjabi and Telugu) constitute the broader Indian film industry, whose output is considered to be the largest in the world in terms of number of films produced and number of tickets sold.
A Portrait of Satyajit Ray
India has produced many cinema-makers like Satyajit Ray, K. Vishwanath, Bapu,Ritwik Ghatak, Guru Dutt, K. Vishwanath, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shaji N. Karun, Girish Kasaravalli, Shekhar Kapoor, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Shankar Nag, Girish Karnad, G. V. Iyer, Maniratnam, K. Balachandhar etc. (see Indian film directors). With the opening up of the economy in the recent years and consequent exposure to world cinema, audience tastes have been changing. In addition, multiplexes have mushroomed in most cities, changing the revenue patterns.

Sport in India:

There are a number of popular sports in India but cricket is the most popular. The country also has won eight Olympic gold medals in field hockey. India has hosted and co-hosted several international sporting events, including the 1951 and 1982 Asian Games, the 1987, 1996 and 2011 Cricket World Cup, the 2003 Afro-Asian Games, the 2010 Hockey World Cup and the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Major international sporting events annually held in India include the Chennai Open, Mumbai Marathon, Delhi Half Marathon, and the Indian Masters. In 2011, India hosted its first Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit, an Indian motor racing circuit in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Abhinav Bindra, the 1st Indian gold medalist in Olympics
The National Games of India is a national domestic sports event, which has been held in the country since 1924. India also is home to cricket's Indian Premier League (IPL), launched in 2008. According to Forbes magazine, IPL is the second-richest sports league after the NBA.

India at the Olympics

India first participated at the Olympic Games in 1900, with an athlete (Norman Pritchard) winning two medals in athletics. The nation first sent a team to the Summer Olympic Games in 1920, and has participated in every Summer Olympic Games ever since. India has also competed at several Winter Olympic Games since 1964. India has won a total of 20 Olympic medals. India won its first gold medal in men's field hockey in the 1928 Olympic Games. Abhinav Bindra became the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic Games, and India's first gold medal since 1980, when the men's field hockey team won the gold.
Shiva Keshavan, the 1st Indian to compete in Luge at Winter Olympic Games
India is remarkable among nations for having won very few Olympic medals, despite a population exceeding one billion, around half of them under the age of 25. Numerous explanations have been offered for the dearth, including poverty, malnutrition, widespread vegetarianism, neglected infrastructure, the lack of sponsorship, the theft of money and equipment, political corruption, institutional disorganisation, social immobility, the predominance of cricket, and other cultural factors.

According to several informal statistics, India is the country with the lowest number of total Olympic medals per capita (out of those countries which have won at least one medal).

In the Winter Olympic Games, India has seen four consecutive representations–Nagano (Japan, 1998), Salt Lake City (Utah, USA, 2002), Turin (Italy, 2006), and Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada, 2010) through Shiva Keshavan, who is the current Asian Champion in luge.
Major Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium, New Delhi
Field hockey

Field hockey was considered to be the national game of India, but this has been recently denied by the Government of India, clarifying on a Right to Information Act (RTI) filed that India has not declared any sport as the national game.

Until the mid-1970s, India dominated international field hockey, winning eight Olympic gold medals and won the men's Hockey World Cup held in 1975. Since then, barring a gold medal in the 1980 Olympics, India's performance in field hockey has been dismal, with other hockey-playing nations such as Australia, Netherlands and Germany improving their standards and catching up with India. Its decline is also due to the change in rules of the game, introduction of artificial turf, and internal politics in Indian field hockey bodies. The popularity of field hockey has also declined massively parallel to the decline of the Indian hockey team. In recent years, the standard of Indian hockey has gone from bad to worse, with the Indian hockey team not qualifying for the 2008 Olympics and finishing last in the 2012 Olympics. Currently, the Indian team is 11th in the rankings of the Fédération Internationale de Hockey sur Gazon (FIH, English:International Hockey Federation), the international governing body of field hockey and indoor field hockey.
The Logo of Hockey India League
India has hosted two Hockey World Cups–one in 1982 in Mumbai, and another in 2010 in Delhi, where they finished fifth and eighth respectively. India also hosted the annual Hockey Champions Trophy in 1996 and 2005.

Until 2008, the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) was the apex body for hockey in the country. However, following revelations of corruption and other scandals in the IHF, the federation was dissolved and de-recognised, and a new apex body for Indian hockey called Hockey India (HI) was formed on 20 May 2009, with support from the IOA and former hockey players. HI, recognised by the International Hockey Federation (FIH), has the sole mandate to govern and conduct all activities for both men's and women's field hockey in India. Although the IHF was reinstated in 2010, it is not recognised by the FIH. The IHF conducts a franchise-based tournament called World Series Hockey (WSH), with its first season conducted in 2012. However, it is not approved by HI or the FIH.
Pakistani team is the highest rival of Indian Cricket Team
HI also conducts a franchise-based tournament called the Hockey India League (HIL). Its first season was in 2013 and is inspired from the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI's) highly successful Indian Premier League. The tournament is recognised by the FIH, which has also decided to provide a 30-day window for the forthcoming seasons so that all top players can participate.


Cricket has a long history in India, having been introduced in the country during the British rule. It is the most popular sport by a wide margin in India and is often considered to be an unofficial religion in India. Cricket is played on local, national, and international levels, and enjoys consistent support from people in most parts of India. Its development has been closely tied in with the history of the country, mirroring many of the political and cultural developments around issues such as caste, gender, religion, and nationality. The Indian national cricket team played its first official match (a Test) in 1932 against England, and the team's performance since then has generally been mixed, sometimes enjoying stupendous success and sometimes suffering outright failure. The highest profile rival of the Indian cricket team is the Pakistani cricket team, though, in recent times, it has gained other rivals, including Australia, South Africa and England.
India won Cricket World Cup 2011
Although cricket is the most popular sport in India, it is not the nation's official national sport. India does not have a national sport. The governing body for cricket in India, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), was formed in December 1928 and is based in Mumbai. Today, BCCI is the richest sporting body in the world.

India has hosted or co-hosted a large number of multi-nation major international cricket tournaments, including the 1987 Cricket World Cup (co-hosted with Pakistan), the 1996 Cricket World Cup (co-hosted with Pakistan and Sri Lanka), the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy and the 2011 Cricket World Cup (co-hosted with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh).
Kapil Dev lifts the 1983 Cricket World Cup
The India national cricket team has won major tournaments, including the 1983 Cricket World Cup in England, the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa, the 2011 Cricket World Cup (which they won by beating Sri Lanka in the final at home), and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy, and has shared the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka. It had also briefly held the position of the No. 1 team in Tests. The domestic competitions include the Ranji Trophy, the Duleep Trophy, the Deodhar Trophy, the Irani Trophy, and the Challenger Series, all of which are not widely followed, despite cricket's popularity in the country. This parallels the global situation in cricket, where the international game is more widely followed than the domestic game in all major cricketing countries. In addition, the BCCI conducts the Indian Premier League, a domestic franchise-based Twenty20 competition, during March–April every year and is extremely popular.
Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata

Football was introduced to India during the British occupation. Although India has never been represented in any FIFA World Cup, it did qualify in 1950, though it did not take part, as they were not allowed to play barefoot. India was an Asian powerhouse in football in 1950s and in 1960s. During this golden era, India created history as the first Asian team to reach semi-finals in an Olympic football tournament in 1956 Summer Olympics at Melbourne and Neville D'Souza became the first Asian and Indian to score a hat-trick (record remains unbeaten) in an Olympic match. India also finished as runners-up in the 1964 AFC Asian Cup. But later on, the standard of football started to decline due to lack of professionalism and fitness culture. India currently ranks 148th in the FIFA rankings as of 28 November 2013.
Football is growing in popularity in Cricket-mad nation
Football is, nevertheless, widely popular both as a spectator sport, and as a participation sport. In some parts of the country such as Kerala, West Bengal, Goa and the Northeast, its popularity rivals that of cricket. The India national football team represents India in all FIFA tournaments. The Yuva Bharati Krirangan of Kolkata is the second largest non-auto racing stadium in the world.

In June 1937, at the Army Headquarters, Shimla, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) was formed at a meeting of the representatives of football associations of six regions where the game was very popular in those days. It is the governing body for football in India.

Domestic competitions for men's football include the I-League and the I-League 2nd Division in the Indian League System, the annual knock-out style Federation Cup (India) and the Indian Super Cup, for women's football the India women's football championship. However, it is the European football tournaments, such as the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga and the UEFA Champions League, which are very popular among Indian football fans, especially in metropolitan cities.
Basketball Court in Mumbai, India
The 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup will be the 17th tournament of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. FIFA revealed on 5 December 2013 (as part of their Executive Committee meets in Salvador, Brazil), that India will be the host.This will be the first time India will host an international football competition at world level.


Basketball is a popular sport in India, played in almost every school, although very few people follow it professionally. India has both men's and women's national basketball teams. Both teams have hired head coaches who have worked extensively with NBA players and now aim to popularise the game in India.
Geethu Anna Jose, Indian Basketball Player
The Young Cagers, as the national team is nicknamed, made one Olympic appearance in basketball, and appeared 20 times in the Asian Championship. India is currently ranked 58th in the world in basketball. The Indian national team had its best result at the 1975 Asian Championship, when the team finished ahead of teams including the Philippines, one of Asia's basketball strongholds. Internationally, one of the most recognised Indian basketball players has been Sozhasingarayer Robinson. Affiliated into the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) since 1936, India has one of Asia's longest basketball traditions.

 India's women had their best result at the recent 2011 FIBA Asia Championship for Women when they finished 6th. The team has several internationally known players including Geethu Anna Jose, who was invited to tryouts for the WNBA in 2011.
Mahesh Bhupathi is an Indian famous Tannis player

Tennis is a popular sport among Indians in urban areas. Tennis has gained popularity after the exploits of Vijay Amritraj. India's fortunes in Grand Slam singles have been unimpressive, although Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi have won many men's doubles and mixed doubles Grand Slam titles. Sania Mirza is the only notable Indian woman tennis player, having won a WTA title and breaking into the Top 30 WTA rankings. On the men's side, young Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri are flying India's flag on the ATP Tour. Yuki was the Australian Open junior singles champion in 2009.


Motorsport is a popular spectator sport in India, although there are relatively few competitors compared to other sports, due to the high costs of competing. On 1 February 2005, Narain Karthikeyan became India's first Formula One racing driver. On March 2007, he also became the first-ever Indian-born driver to compete in a NASCAR Series. He debuted in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the Kroger 250.
Buddh International Circuit, India
Force India F1 is a Formula One motor racing team. The team was formed in October 2007, when a consortium led by Indian businessmen Vijay Mallya and Michiel Mol bought the Spyker F1 team for €88 million. After competing in 29 races without a point, Force India won their first Formula One World Championship points and podium place when Giancarlo Fisichella finished second in the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix. New Delhi hosted the Indian Grand Prix in 2011 at Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, 50 km from New Delhi. Karun Chandhok was the test driver for Team Lotus & Narain Karthikeyan raced for HRT during the first half of the 2011 Formula One season. Karun Chandhok participated in Friday's practice session and Karthikeyan (stepping in for Daniel Ricciardo) raced at the 2011 Indian Grand Prix; it was the first time two Indian drivers associated with the same Formula One Grand Prix directly.
Prakash Padukone was an Indian Badminton player

Badminton is popular in India. Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal is currently ranked sixth in the world, and has been named the Most Promising Player of 2008 by the Badminton World Federation. This is the first-ever achievement by any Indian shuttler, after Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand, who both won the All England Open in 1980 and 2001 respectively. At the 2012 London Olympic Games, Nehwal won the bronze medal in the individual women's competition.


Golf is a growing sport in India. It is especially popular among the wealthier classes, but has not yet caught on with others due the expenses involved in playing. The most successful Indian golfer is Jeev Milkha Singh, who has won three titles during the European Tour, four during the Japan Golf Tour, and six during the Asian Tour. Although his current world ranking is 36th, his highest ranking has been 28th (in March 2009). Singh has won the Asian Tour Order of Merit twice. Other Indians who have won the Asian Tour Order of Merit are Jyoti Randhawa in 2002 (the first Indian to do so), and Arjun Atwal, who went on in 2010 to become the first India-born player to become a member of, and later win, the US-based PGA Tour.
Rambagh Palace Golf Course, Jaipur
There are numerous golf courses all over India, and a Professional Golf Tour of India. India's men's golf team won gold at the 1982 Asian Games, and silver at the 2006 Asian Games. Lakshman Singh won the individual gold at the 1982 Asian Games.


Boxing is a highly profiled sport in India, though India has not yet produced a world champion in any weight class, although it is a regular medal-holder at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. In November 2007, India's Mary Kom won the best boxer title and secured a hat-trick of titles. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Vijender Kumar won a bronze medal in the middleweight division, and Akhil Kumar and Jitender Kumar qualified for the quarterfinals. Akhil Kumar, Jitender Kumar, A.L. Lakra, and Dinesh Kumar each won a bronze medal at the 2008 World Championship. Vijender Kumar is current world no. 1 in the middleweight class. India's lone women boxer, M.C. Mary Kom, won the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Deepika Kumari is famous Archer from India

The game of archery has historical significance, as royals in the ancient days used to practice archery. Modern-day archery in India began in the early 1970s, before its introduction as an Olympic event in 1972, and it was formalised in 1973 when the Archery Association of India (AAI) came into existence. Since its inception, AAI has been promoting an organisation for the sport. India has been producing some world class players who are the medal hopefuls in international events of archery.


Kabaddi is a popular national sport in India, played mainly among people in villages. It is regarded as a team-contact sport and as a recreational form of combat training.
Kabaddi is one of the most popular sports in India
Two teams occupy opposite halves of a small field and take turns sending a raider into the other half to win points by tagging and wrestling members of the opposing team. The raider then attempts to return to his own half while holding his breath and chanting "kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi" during the whole raid. India has taken part in four Asian Games in kabaddi, and won gold in all of them. The four forms of kabaddi played in India are Amar, Sanjeevni, Huttuttoo, and Gaminee. Amar is generally played in Punjab, Haryana, America, Canada, and other parts of the world, mostly by Punjabi sportsmen. Sanjeevni is the most-played form of kabaddi in India and the world. This is the form generally used in international matches and played in Asian Games. Huttuttoo, a much tougher version of kabaddi, was played by men in Maharashtra State.

 India won the Kabaddi World Championship in 2007, beating Iran 29–19.
Wrestling in India has a glorious past

Considered one of the most ancient and oldest sports in the world, wrestling in India has a glorious past. The sport of wrestling began its journey in India several centuries ago, during the Middle Ages. Wrestling is among the most prestigious and oldest events in the Olympic Games. It was included in the Olympics in 708 BC. In ancient times, wrestling in India was mainly used as a way to stay physically fit. It was also used as a military exercise without any weapons. Wrestling in India is also known as dangal, and it is the basic form of a wrestling tournament. In India, wrestling is mostly known as Malla-Yuddha. There are mentions of wrestling in the ancient times, found in the Sanskrit epic of Indian history, Mahabharata. One of the premier characters in Mahabharata, Bhima, was considered to be a great wrestler. Other great wrestlers included Jarasandha, Duryodhana, and Karna. Another Indian epic, Ramayana, also mentions wrestling in India, describing Hanuman as one of the greatest wrestlers of that time. The 13th-century Malla Purana references a group of Gujarati Brahmin wrestlers known as Jyesthimallas.
Indian Volleyball Team

Volleyball is a popular recreation sport played all over India, both in rural and urban areas. India is ranked fifth in Asia, and 27th in the world. In the youth and junior levels, India came in second in the 2003 World Youth Championships. The Indian senior men's team is ranked 46th in the world. A major problem for the sport is the lack of sponsors.

Sports Broadcasting in India 

Local sporting events broadcasting is in a stagnant stage in India due to the mandatory sharing of sporting events of live feed and rights made by ordnance in favour of Prasar Bharathi. Thus, all sports broadcasters playout from outside the country, which only allows the capability to produce international events and fades the production, distribution, invention of the new local field of sporting events.

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