India country profile

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India

India is the world's largest democracy and, according to UN estimates, its population is expected to overtake China's in 2028 to become the world's most populous nation.

As a rising economic powerhouse and nuclear-armed state, India has emerged as an important regional power. But it is also tackling huge, social, economic and environmental problems.

Home to some of the world's most ancient surviving civilisations, the Indian subcontinent - from the mountainous Afghan frontier to the jungles of Burma and the coral reefs of the Indian Ocean - is both vast and varied in terms of people, language and cultural traditions.

REPUBLIC OF INDIA: FACTS

  • Capital: New Delhi

  • Area: 3,287,263 sq km

  • Population: 1.44 billion

  • Languages: Hindi, English, plus local languages

  • Life expectancy: 68 years (men) 71 years (women)

LEADERS

President: Droupadi Murmu

Image source, Indian Presidency

Droupadi Murmu was sworn in as president in July 2022. A teacher and former governor of Jharkhand State, she is the first person from a tribal community to serve as India's head of state. She is a member of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party. The presidency is largely ceremonial, but can play a significant role if, for example, no party wins an outright majority in elections.

Prime Minister: Narendra Modi

Image source, Getty Images

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Narendra Modi was elected for a third term as India's prime minister in June 2024.

Mr Modi's BJP-led National Democratic Alliance won the general election with 293 seats, a much lower margin than predicted by exit polls. The election saw a resurgence of India's opposition, which won 234 seats.

Mr Modi is only the second Indian leader to win a third consecutive term after the country's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

Polls had projected outright victory for his Hindu Nationalist BJP party, which has ruled India for a decade, but it lost its parliamentary majority and Mr Modi's bloc relied on two key allies, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Janata Dal (United) JD(U), to cross the 272-seat mark needed to form the government.

During the election, critics accused Mr Modi and his party of using hate speech, attacking the country's Muslim minority, and jailing opposition figures.

Following the election result, Mr Modi said his alliance was "committed to the principle of "sarva panth sambhava" (religious equality).

KASHMIR

The Himalayan region of Kashmir has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan for over six decades.

Since India's partition and the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two wars over the Muslim-majority territory, which both claim in full but control in part.

Today it remains one of the most militarised zones in the world. China administers parts of the territory.

MEDIA

Image source, AFP

India has a burgeoning media industry, with broadcast, print and digital media experiencing tremendous growth.

There are around 197 million TV households, many of them using satellite or cable. FM radio stations are plentiful but only public All India Radio can produce news.

The press scene is lively with thousands of titles. India has the second largest number of internet users in the world, after China.

TIMELINE

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,

Indian nationalist leader Mahatma Gandhi with Viceroy of India Lord Mountbatten and his wife in 1947

Some key dates in India's history:

2500 BC - India is home to several ancient civilisations and empires.

1600s - The British arrive and establish trading posts under The British East India Company - by the 1850s they control most of the subcontinent.

1858 - India comes under direct British rule.

1920 - Nationalist leader Mahatma Gandhi heads a campaign of non-violent protest against British rule which eventually leads to independence.

1947 - India is split into two nations at independence - Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan.

1971 - India and Pakistan go to war over East Pakistan, leading to the creation of Bangladesh.

1974 - India conducts its first underground nuclear test.

1990s - Government initiates a programme of economic liberalisation and reform, opening up the economy to global trade and investment.

2014 - Hindu nationalist BJP party scores biggest election victory by any party in 30 years.

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