INDIA'S ANCIENT AND DIVERSE CULTURE, sweeping back at least 5000 years, with successive waves of migration absorbed into the fabric of Indian life, has enriched it time and again to make a multi-cultural nation with a rich diversity of languages, customs, cuisines, religions, literature and arts. Within this kaleidoscope of immense variety there is a thread of continuity that has determined Indian civilisation and social structure.
Passage to India|
Dateline of Events
The Republic of India, which lies across the Tropic of Cancer, comprises most of the Indian sub-continent. India is the largest democracy in the world, the seventh largest country by area, with the second largest population. Located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere, it is bound by Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal border its coastline.
Secular India is home to Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and several other religious traditions. Hinduism, the dominant faith, is practiced by over 80% of the population. Besides Hindus, Muslims are the most prominent religious group and after Indonesia, India has the second largest population of Muslims in any country.
Seventy percent of the population lives in rural India with agriculture and agro-based small industry providing the major occupation. A wide variety of crops and vegetables are grown that has made it a surplus food producing country. Animal husbandry, dairy, poultry and the fishery industry are also well developed.
India, with its well-diversified economy, initiated a process of liberalisation through a restructuring process, which has created a new spirit of economic freedom with faster growth rates. The series of ambitious economic reforms aimed at deregulating the country and stimulating foreign investment was rooted in a political consensus that spans her diverse political parties. India's stable and committed democracy has no fundamental conflict between its political and economic systems. Its political institutions have fostered an open society with a balance of collective and individual rights and an environment supportive of free economic enterprise. India's dynamic and highly competitive private sector has long determined the prevailing economic activity, accounting for over 75% of its Gross Domestic Product. India is one of the most exciting emerging markets in the world with skilled managerial and technical manpower that match the best available in the world.
A free and vibrant press, a judiciary which can and does overrule the government, a sophisticated legal system, albeit accused of being exceedingly slow, and a zealous intelligentsia which actively participates in debating ideas and issues in open forums, are hallmarks that distinguish India.
India rewards the traveller with her timeless landscapes, spectacular architecture, monumental history, cultural kaleidoscope and undeniable aura of romance and mysticism. India is a vast land of contrasts that blend, of harmony in variance. To explore India is to discover unending secrets to the mystery of life, to enjoy India is to celebrate the very fact of living.
Compiled by Romola Butalia
Editor: Romola Butalia   (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.