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India (Pronunciation [ˈɪndiÌ¯É ™ n]) is a state in South Asia that covers most of the Indian subcontinent. India is a federal republic that is formed by 28 federal states and also includes eight federal territories. The proper name of the republic is in the two nationally valid official languages Bharat Ganarajya (Hindi) and Republic of India (English). The modern democratic and secular Indian republic has existed since 1949 and the Constitution of India has been in force since 1950.

The Himalaya forms the natural northern border of India, in the south the Indian Ocean encloses the national territory. India borders with Pakistan, the Chinese Autonomous Region of Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Other neighboring states in the Indian Ocean are Sri Lanka and the Maldives. In terms of land area, India is the seventh largest country in the world.

The area of ​​India has been civilized at least since the Bronze Age Indus civilization. With over 1.393 billion inhabitants (May 2020), the Indian state is the second most populous country in the world after the People's Republic of China (1.4 billion at the end of 2018) and thus the most populous democracy in the world. If population growth remains high, India could overtake China as early as 2022. However, due to progressive modernization, education, prosperity and urbanization, the birth rate has been falling since the early 1980s. The capital of India is New Delhi, part of the metropolis Delhi; other metropolitan areas are Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Pune.

Despite constitutional freedom of religion, Indian society is determined by the religious hierarchical caste system. By far the largest religious group are the Hindus, followed by Muslims, Christians and the Sikhs, Buddhists and Jaina, who have historically come from India. According to the Human Development Index (HDI), India achieved the status of â € œMedium Human Developmentâ € and in 2019 it was ranked 129Â out of 189Â worldwide (compared to PRC at 85th place). In economic terms, India is an emerging country and belongs to the O5 and BRICS countries and the group of the twenty most important industrial and emerging countries (G20). Despite its still low per capita income, India is already the third largest or fifth largest economic power in the world (adjusted for purchasing power or nominal) and in 2015 it was the fastest growing economy in the G20 group for the first time.

origin of the name

The name India is derived from the river Indus. Whose name goes through the mediation of ancient Greek (Indos) and Old Persian (HinduÅ¡) on the Sanskrit word sindhu with the meaning "river" back. The European sailors referred to all of South and Southeast Asia as India. Terms such as Island india (â € œInsulindeâ €) and the state name Indonesia. Also the name East India was used to distinguish it from the as West Indies designated islands of the Caribbean, which Christopher Columbus discovered on the search for the sea route to India. During the colonial period, the name was gradually reduced to the present-day areas of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, in order to finally take on its current meaning when the Indian state was founded.

From the Persian form Hind respectively Hindustan also derive the name Hindu and the name of the language Hindi here. The official name of India in most national languages ​​(e.g. Hindi BhÄ rat) comes from the Sanskrit term BhÄ rata ab, which means "(land) of Bharata" and refers to a mythical ruler.

Geography and national nature

Landscape structure

With 3,287,490 square kilometers, India is the seventh largest country in the world. It stretches in a west-east direction from the 68th to the 97th eastern longitude for around 3000 kilometers. From north to south, between the 8th and 37th degrees north latitude, the extension is around 3200 kilometers. India borders with six states: Pakistan (2,912 kilometers), China (Tibet Autonomous Region; 3,380 kilometers), Nepal (1,690 kilometers), Bhutan (605 kilometers), Myanmar (1,463 kilometers) and Bangladesh (4,053 kilometers). In total, the limit length is thus 14,103 kilometers. Since the northern part of the disputed Kashmir has been under Pakistani control since 1949 (ceasefire after the Kashmir conflict), India no longer has a common border with Afghanistan. The country's coast is around 7,000 kilometers long.

The natural border in the north and northeast forms the Himalayas, the highest mountains in the world, which are separated in the far northwest by the high valley of the Indus from the Karakoram and the Ladakh range in front of it. To the south of the Himalayas are the broad, fertile river plains of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. In the west, the river lands of the Ganges merge into the Thar desert, which is bounded by the Aravalli Mountains to the east and south. To the south of it lie the marshes of the Rann von Kachchh and the Kathiawar peninsula. Northeast India, including the Brahmaputra plain, is only connected by a narrow corridor between Bangladesh and Nepal or Bhutan with the rest of the country. The northeast region is shielded by the Patkai or Purvachal mountains of Myanmar, which are up to 3800 meters high, and the almost 2000 meter high Khasi mountains of Bangladesh.

The highlands of Dekkan occupy most of the wedge-shaped Indian peninsula jutting out into the Indian Ocean. The Vindhya and Satpura mountains shield the Deccan from the Ganges plain in the north. In the west it is bordered by the Western Ghats, which are up to 2,700 meters high, and in the east by the flatter Eastern Ghats. Both mountain ranges meet in the south, where the peninsula tapers to Cape Komorin. The Western Ghats drop steeply to the Konkan and Malabar coasts along the Arabian Sea. The Eastern Ghats merge into the wider eastern coastal plains on the Bay of Bengal.

India also includes three island groups off the Indian subcontinent. The coral atolls of Lakshadweep, which includes the archipelagos of the Laccadives and Amindives as well as the island of Minicoy, are located around 300 kilometers west of the Malabar coast. To the south-east of the peninsula, between 1000 and 1600 kilometers from the Indian mainland, extend the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which also mark the eastern border of the Bay of Bengal.

The highest point of India is the mountain Kangchendzönga with 8586 meters height. It's in the far west of Sikkim; The border with Nepal runs over it. The highest mountain lying completely on Indian territory is the Nanda Devi with 7822 meters. Before the then Kingdom of Sikkim joined the Indian Union in 1975, this was also the highest mountain in India. The deepest point is the Kuttanad Depression, two meters below sea level, on the Malabar coast.

Rivers and lakes

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

India's longest and most important river is the Ganges (Ganga), which has its source in the Himalayas. Its longest tributaries are the Yamuna and the Gomti; the Chambal is a tributary of the Yamuna. The Brahmaputra, the upper reaches of which in turn separates the Himalayas from the Transhimalayas and which flows through the country in the northeast, joins the Ganges and forms a huge delta in front of the confluence with the Bay of Bengal. India in the west has a share in this; the greater part of the Ganges delta lies on the territory of the neighboring state of Bangladesh. Almost a third of the area of ​​India belongs to the catchment area of ​​the Ganges and Brahmaputra.

In the extreme north, the Indus crosses the Union territory of Ladakh in a south-east-north-west direction.

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

Despite its size, India has few large natural lakes. For the purpose of irrigation and electricity generation, some huge reservoirs were built across the country. The largest are Hirakud Reservoir (746 square kilometers) in Odisha, Gandhi Reservoir (648 square kilometers) in Madhya Pradesh, and Govind Ballabh Pant Reservoir (465 square kilometers) on the border between Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.


The continental drift theory states that India was part of the southern continent of Gondwana until the end of the Jurassic. In the Cretaceous it tore off the continental floe of Antarctica and drifted across the entire Tethys Ocean towards the south of the Eurasian plate in an extremely short 50 million years. The meeting of the two continents was estimated to have occurred around 43 to 64 million years ago at the beginning of the Paleogene. In the resulting joint "crumple zone" of these crustal movements, the Himalayas and neighboring mountain systems were pushed back (unfolding of the former continental margins) and the highlands of Tibet were raised.

Although individual parts of the crust have now welded together, the Indian plate continues to move northwards, so that the Himalayas rise a few millimeters each year - as do other folded mountain ranges on earth, of which it is one of the youngest. The river plains in front of it were created by sediment deposits in the Pleistocene. The rock formations of the Dekkan are more diverse. Most of the Proterozoic formations in the south and east, the volcanic Dekkan Trapp in the west and north-west, which formed in the Cretaceous period, and unformed cratons in the north-east and north, which are among the oldest parts of the earth's crust.

Natural disasters

India is repeatedly hit by various natural disasters, particularly floods that can occur throughout the country during the summer monsoon due to extreme amounts of rainfall. During the dry season or when there are no monsoons, however, droughts often occur. Cyclones and the resulting tidal waves, especially on the east coast, often cost many lives and cause devastating damage. There is also an increased risk of earthquakes in some areas, namely in the Himalayas, the Northeast States, West Gujarat and the region around Mumbai. On December 26, 2004, a seaquake in the Indian Ocean caused a devastating tsunami that claimed 7793 lives and wreaked havoc on the east coast and on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.


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

The amount of precipitation in the whole country is significantly influenced by the Indian monsoon. The south-west or summer monsoon sets in in most parts of the country in June and brings heavy rainfall until September or October, depending on the region. Due to the very different topography, the distribution of precipitation is extremely uneven. The heaviest downpours come on the west coast, in the Western Ghats, on the slopes of the Himalayas and in north-east India. It is driest in the Thar. The north-east or winter monsoon winds coming from Central Asia between October and June hardly bring any moisture, so in most areas 80 to over 90% of the annual total amount of precipitation falls during the summer months. Only the southeast receives rain during the northeast monsoon as the air currents over the Bay of Bengal absorb moisture.


According to the size of the country and the different climatic conditions in the individual parts of the country, India has a great variety of landscapes. The flora of India ranges from high mountain vegetation in the Himalayas to tropical rainforests in the south. Large parts of the original vegetation cover have been destroyed today; instead, India is predominantly characterized by cultivated landscapes. Only about a fifth of the country is still forested, although official information on this varies and also includes degraded areas and open forests. For 2015, a forest area of ​​701,700 km² is given: 21.3% of the country's area (3,287,300 km²). In 2001 the values ​​were still 768,400 km² and 23.4% - in 14 years India's forest area shrank by 9.5%.

In the lower parts of the Himalayas there are still extensive forests. Since the precipitation on the slopes of the mountains decreases from east to west, there are evergreen subtropical and temperate humid and rainforests in the Eastern Himalayas, which become lighter and drier to the west. Deciduous forests with oaks and chestnuts predominate; characteristic of the Eastern Himalayas are rhododendrons. Conifers dominate the higher elevations, especially cedars and pines. The steppe and desert-like high valleys in Ladakh and other parts of the western Inner Himalayas merge into the dry highlands of Tibet. The vegetation limit is around 5000 meters.

The north-east, which is difficult to access, is partly still densely forested. Semi-evergreen wet forests there enable particularly high amounts of precipitation.

The vast majority of the Ganges plain, the Dekkan, and the adjoining foothills were formerly covered by monsoon forests; today there are only remnants of it, mostly in mountain regions. In contrast, the plains, which are used intensively for agriculture, are practically free of forests. Monsoon forests shed foliage during dry periods. Depending on the amount of precipitation and the length of the dry period, a distinction is made between wet and dry forests. Forests that receive between 1500 and 2000 millimeters of annual precipitation are usually referred to as deciduous wet forests. They predominate in the north-east of the Deccan, Odisha and West Bengal, and in the lee of the Western Ghats. When it rains between 1000 and 1500 millimeters per year, one speaks of deciduous dry forests; these dominate in India. Because of the thinner tree tops, monsoon forests have thick undergrowth. The characteristic tree species of the north is the sal (Shorea robusta), in the central and western Deccan highlands it is the teak tree (Tectona grandis) and the south of the peninsula is dominated by sandalwood trees (Santalum album). Bamboo species are widespread.

In the drier parts of India, such as Rajasthan, Gujarat, the western edge of the Ganga lowlands or the central Deccan, the especially medicinal, endemic neem trees grow. In the arid climate, open thorn forests have developed, which in the Thar desert change into semi-desert vegetation with isolated thorn bushes.

In the damp Western Ghats there are still relatively large contiguous parts of the original, evergreen or semi-evergreen wet forests. They are characterized by the floor structure typical of tropical rainforests. Some of the tall tree species on the top floor shed their leaves depending on the season, while the species below are evergreen. Epiphytes such as orchids and ferns are found in great variety.

Mangroves, saltwater-resistant tidal forests, are only common on the east coast of India. The Sundarbans in the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta have the densest mangrove populations in the country. Further tidal forests are found in the mouth deltas of Mahanadi, Godavari and Krishna.


Thanks to the diversity of its landscape, there is an extremely diverse fauna to be found in India. It is estimated that there are around 350 species of mammals, 1200 birds, 400 reptiles and 200 amphibians.However, many species only occur in retreat areas such as forests, swamps, and mountain and hill countries. In addition, more than 2500 species of fish live in Indian waters.

India's largest species of mammal is the Indian elephant, which is probably best known besides the king tiger. The tiger was threatened with extinction for a long time, but the establishment of tiger sanctuaries enabled the populations to recover. Yet there are only a few thousand specimens in the wild. In addition to the tiger, there are other big cats in India, including leopards and lions. The latter can only be found in the Gir National Park in Gujarat, the last refuge of the Asiatic lion. The rare snow leopard lives in the high mountain regions of the Himalayas. The best known and most widespread of the smaller carnivores is the mongoose.

The Indian rhinoceros only live in swamp and jungle areas in Assam, especially in the Kaziranga National Park.

In contrast, artifacts are widespread. These include wild boars, muntjaks, sambars, axis deer, pig deer, barasinghas, water buffalo, gaur and several species of antelope.

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

Monkeys are also common in India. Rhesus monkeys are sacred to Hindus, should not be molested and have therefore even spread in cities. In the south of the country it is being replaced by the somewhat smaller Indian hat monkey. The ones spread all over India Hanuman-Langurs are also considered sacred. There are also other species of langur and macaques.

Some Indian half donkeys still live in the arid regions of the northwest, mainly in the Dhrangadhra game reserve in the Kleiner Rann of Kachchh. In the humid east of the country, on the other hand, there are tropical rainforest species such as white-browed gibbons and clouded leopards. Mammals also worth mentioning are the red dogs, striped hyenas, Bengal foxes, which mainly inhabit grasslands, and sloth bears, which prefer dense forests. The Ganges dolphin is occasionally found in the Ganges, Brahmaputra and their tributaries.

India's bird world is extremely diverse with over 1200 indigenous species - more than in all of Europe. In addition, there are countless migratory birds from North Asia in winter. The peacock is considered the national bird and is widespread. Pigeons, crows, weaver birds, woodpeckers, pittas, drongos, parakeets, nectar birds and orioles are also common. Storks, herons, cranes, ibises and kingfishers live in wetlands. Among the birds of prey, Egyptian and Bengal vultures were the most common. While the latter was still ubiquitous in the 1980s, it has been inadvertently almost completely eradicated by a veterinary drug, along with two closely related species.

Around half of all reptile species native to India are snakes such as the spectacled snake, the king cobra and the tiger python. Marsh crocodiles can also be found in wetlands. The shy, fish-eating gharial is very rare. A special feature is the occurrence of chameleons in southern India and Sri Lanka, which are otherwise absent in South Asia.

Nature and environmental protection

With a very large variety of species and biodiversity (especially in a narrow strip on the humid tropical southwest coast), an extremely large number of endemic species, genera and families of plants and animals, and diverse ecosystems, India is becoming one of these megadiversity countries Calculated on earth. In addition, due to the high risk situation, the rainforests of the Western Ghats are listed as a biodiversity hotspot.

India has extensive environmental protection legislation, but in many cases it is poorly implemented. Almost 5% of the country's area are designated as nature reserves, the number of which amounts to almost 600, including 92 national parks.

Water scarcity is one of India's greatest environmental problems. Dams and artificial irrigation systems are intended to ensure the water supply in arid areas. Excessive irrigation is one of the main reasons for the falling water table in many places; In addition, an estimated 60% of agricultural land is affected by soil erosion, salinization or waterlogging. In addition, there is logging, excessive irrigation and fertilization. The water supply situation for many households in rural areas has improved since the early 1980s; nevertheless, only a few households have sewage disposal. Polluted and contaminated water contributes significantly to the development and spread of infectious diseases; only 16% of the population of India have access to sanitary facilities. NGOs like the Water Literacy Foundation and government agencies like that Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation strive to improve the situation.

Air pollution is very high, especially in the Indian metropolises. Factories, small industry, power plants (including numerous coal-fired power plants), traffic and private households emit numerous air pollutants, including large amounts of fine dust. According to a study by the World Health Organization, Delhi was the dirtiest city in the world in terms of air quality in 2014. Calcutta was the first city to open a metro network in 1984, and Delhi followed in 2002. Mumbai and Chennai have a comparatively well-developed train network. Trucks, buses, over 5,000 diesel locomotives, auto rickshaws, private cars, motorcycles and mopeds contribute to air pollution. The number of cars per 1000 inhabitants is considered to be very low. The CO2-Emissions have increased significantly in the past; The causes were, among other things, the population growth, advancing industrialization and increasing traffic. In 2015, India was the country with the third largest greenhouse gas emissions worldwide; it emitted 1.6 tons per capita. India signed the Paris Agreement on October 2, 2016.

The inadequate technical systems in factories often lead to impairments or avoidable emissions. In 1984, in Bhopal, the pesticide factory of the American Union Carbide (UCC) emitted highly toxic gases (Bhopal disaster). Within days, 7,000 people died, 15,000 more died of long-term effects, and thousands suffered chronic health problems.

Protected areas

Across India there are a total of 868 nature and landscape conservation areas in March 2019 (PA: Protected areas), with a share of 5% of India's total geographic area of ​​3,287,000 square kilometers (including the parts of Kashmir administered by India) â € “an increase of 11,000 km² or 0.35% since 2009:


Prehistory and Classical Age

The Indus Valley civilization, mostly located in what is now Pakistan, was one of the world's early advanced cultures, with its own script, the Indus script, which has not yet been deciphered. Around 2500 BC there were planned cities like Harappa, with a sewer system, seaports and baths, while southern India is believed to be even less developed. Further to the east there are other archaeological complexes such as the so-called copper hoard culture. From 1700 BC, the disintegration of the Indus civilization set in for reasons unknown until now.

A very important period for the further development of India was the Vedic period (around 1500 to 500 BC), in which the foundations of today's culture were created. Far less is known about political developments than about religious and philosophical developments. Towards the end of the Vedic period, the Upanishads were created, which in many ways form the basis of the religions Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism that originated in India. During this time, urbanization in the Ganges plain and the rise of regional kingdoms such as Magadha fall.

From the 6th century BC onwards, Buddhism developed and, alongside Hinduism, was the main stream of thought in India for around 500 years. In the 4th century BC, the Maurya Empire was the first Indian empire to emerge, which under Ashoka ruled almost the entire subcontinent. After numerous expeditions of conquest, Ashoka turned to Buddhism, which he sought to spread in his own country and as far as Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. In the 3rd century BC Prakrit and Tamil Sangam literature flourished in southern India. During this time, the three Tamil dynasties Chola, Pandya and Chera ruled southern India. After the death of Ashoka, the Maurya empire gradually split up again into countless small states, which could only be reunited by the Gupta in the 4th century AD to form a large empire in northern India, whose empire was in the early 6th century also as a result of the attacks by the Hunas went down. With Buddhism, India exerted a significant cultural influence on the entire area of ​​Central and East Asia. The spread of Hinduism and Buddhism through Indochina to what is now Indonesia shaped the history and culture of these countries. The last great promoter of Buddhism in India is Harshavardhana, whose rule in northern India in the 7th century marked the transition to the Indian Middle Ages.

Indian Middle Ages and Mughal times

Arab conquests in the 8th century brought Islam to northwest India. When the Arabs tried to advance into Gujarat and beyond, they were defeated by the Indian king Vikramaditya II of the western Chalukya dynasty. From the 8th century to the 10th century, the three dynasties Rashtrakuta, Pala and Pratihara ruled over a large part of India and fought among themselves for supremacy in northern India. The Chola and Chalukya dynasties ruled southern India from the 10th century to the 12th century. However, the dominance of Muslim states in the north and the Islamization of large parts of the population there did not occur until the invasions of Central Asian Islamic powers from the 12th century. The Delhi Sultanate even briefly extended its power to the south, but its cultural influence remained limited to the north. The Mongol invasion of 1398 weakened the sultanate, so that the Hindu regional empires strengthened again. The Muslim rulers were only able to recover in the 16th century with the establishment of the Mughal Empire, which became the determining force in the north for around 200 years and which lasted until 1857. Outstanding rulers such as Akbar I, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb not only extended the borders of the empire to the Deccan, but also created a functioning administration and state and promoted the arts. The philosophical education was also high and came from the competing schools in Delhi and Lucknow. While Delhi especially called for a return to early Islamic teachings, logic, law and philosophy, especially Aristotelianism, were taught in Lucknow. During their time, Hindu royalty only existed in southern India, such as Vijayanagar. In the late 17th century the Hindu Maratha Empire was founded, which overran the Mughal Empire in the 18th century and conquered a large part of northern India. Weakened by the Marathan attacks, the empire was greatly destabilized after Aurangzeb's death. The decline in internal security and the poor networking between the center and the provinces resulted in political decentralization, which in turn went hand in hand with economic reorientation. Regional markets were strengthened and a new social group of successful traders emerged. It also changed India intellectually: the call for social equality was loud. They maintained close contact with Europe and stood in stark contrast to the hierarchical-elitist baristocracy of the country. Thus, the 18th century in India became a time of upheaval, in which regional rulers, European trading powers and the weakened Mughal vied for supremacy over the country.

European colonial rule and independence movement

After Vasco da Gama had discovered the sea route to India in 1498 and thus the lucrative Indian trade became accessible to Europeans, Portugal began to conquer or build smaller coastal bases from 1505 to control the trade routes (cf. Portuguese-India). In the 17th century, other European powers also got involved in India, of which the British were able to prevail in the end. From 1756 on, the British East India Company subjugated (British East India Company) from its port bases in Calcutta (today: Kolkata), Madras (today: Chennai) and Bombay (today: Mumbai) from large parts of India. The pre-existing influence of the European colonial powers Portugal, the Netherlands and France was largely eliminated by it. Loyal princes retained states with limited sovereignty such as Hyderabad, Bhopal, Mysore or Kashmir. In 1857/58 parts of the population of northern India rose up in the Sepoy revolt against the rule of the East India Company. After the rebellion was put down, it was disbanded and India was placed under the direct control of Great Britain. The British monarchs also carried the title from 1877 (until 1947) Empress of India or. Emperor of India (Emperor (in) of India).

In 1885 the Indian National Congress (Congress Party) founded. At first he did not demand the independence of India, but only more political say for the indigenous population. Its members were predominantly Hindus and Parsees. The Muslim upper class kept their distance, as their spokesman Sayyid Ahmad Khan feared that they would be forced out of the administration by the introduction of the majority principle. Instead, the Muslim League was founded in 1906 to represent the interests of Muslims.

The most extensive division of politics into religious groups was mainly due to the fact that in the 19th and 20th centuries, uniform religions (Hinduism, Islam, ...) with specific content and fixed delimitations emerged from different faith communities with flowing transitions outwardly developed. In the search for a unifying idea in a colony with many different peoples, faith offered itself as a connecting (always existing) authority. Even so, it wasn’t all religious nationalism, and that too could be very different in its claim to absoluteness.

During World War I, the vast majority of the population was loyal. Annoyed that the British were involved in the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, many Muslims joined the independence movement.

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

The non-violent resistance to British colonial rule, especially under Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, led to independence in 1947. At the same time, the colonial power decreed the division of the colony of British India, which encompasses almost the entire Indian subcontinent, into two states, the secular Indian Union and the smaller Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The British thus fulfilled the demands of the Muslim League and its leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah, which had been growing louder since the 1930s, for a separate nation-state with a Muslim majority.

Developments since independence

The division led to one of the largest movements of displacement and flight in history. About 10 million Hindus and Sikhs have been displaced from Pakistan and about 7 million Muslims from India. 750,000 to a million people were killed.

The princely states bound to the British by protection treaties had already declared their accession to the Indian Union before independence. Only two stood seriously in the way of the principals' integration process. The Muslim ruler of the almost exclusively Hindu Hyderabad was brought down by an invasion of Indian troops. In Kashmir, the Maharajah, even a Hindu with a predominantly Muslim population, delayed his decision. After Muslim fighters had invaded his country, he finally decided to join India, which then occupied most of the former principality. Pakistan regarded the accession as illegal, which led to the First Indo-Pakistani War for Kashmir (1947-1949). Since then, the Kashmir conflict has been simmering in the border region, which also resulted in the Second Indo-Pakistani War in 1965 and the Kargil War in 1999.

On November 26, 1949, India joined the Commonwealth of Nations and on January 26, 1950, the constitution, drawn up primarily by Bhimrao Ambedkar, came into force through which India became a republic. In 1962, border disputes led to a brief war with the People's Republic of China, the so-called Indo-Chinese Border War. Indian support for an independence movement in what was then East Pakistan led to a third Indian war against Pakistan in 1971, with the subsequent partition of Pakistan and the establishment of the new, also Islamic state of Bangladesh.

Domestically, under Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister 1947 to 1964, and then until the beginning of the 1970s, the Congress Party decided to consider the young, independent democracy. At best, opposition parties could exert their influence at the state or local level. It was only when Nehru's daughter Indira Gandhi, who became Prime Minister in 1966, centralized the party and tried to expand her own position of power, that the opposition managed to form at the federal level. A court in Allahabad found Gandhi guilty of some irregularities in the 1971 elections in 1975. Instead of following the resignation demands of her political opponents, she declared a state of emergency and ruled by decree until 1977. Fundamental democratic rights such as freedom of the press and freedom of assembly were severely restricted. The growing dissatisfaction of the population with the de facto dictatorial regime expressed itself in 1977 in a clear electoral defeat of Indira Gandhi. For the first time between 1977 and 1979, the government of India was not the congress party, but a coalition led by the Janata Party.

In the 1980 elections, Indira Gandhi managed to return to power. During their second term of office the conflict came to a head in Punjab, where Sikhist separatists were calling for a state of their own. When militant Sikhs holed up in the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Indira Gandhi ordered them in 1984 Operation Blue Star at. Indian troops stormed the temple and ended its occupation. This led to bloody riots, culminating in the murder of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Her son Rajiv Gandhi took over government affairs, but was unable to effectively implement the reform projects he had planned. A bribery scandal in connection with the Swedish armaments company Bofors damaged his reputation to such an extent that the opposition won a clear victory over Gandhi's Congress Party in 1989. After a two-year hiatus, however, she came back to power from 1991 to 1996. The government of P. V. Narasimha Rao initiated the economic opening and foreign policy reorientation of the country, which had been socialist since Nehru. The reform program included the privatization of state-owned companies, the lifting of trade restrictions, the removal of bureaucratic investment barriers and tax cuts. The economic reforms were carried out by later governments.

Hindu nationalism has seen a significant upswing since the 1980s. The dispute over the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh), which was built in place of an important Hindu temple, developed into one of the decisive domestic political issues. In 1992, Hindu extremists destroyed the Muslim place of worship, which led to serious riots in large parts of the country. The political arm of the Hindu nationalists, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led a ruling coalition between 1998 and 2004 and appointed Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the head of government. In 2004, however, she was surprisingly defeated by the newly established Congress Party under Sonia Gandhi. The widow of Rajiv Gandhi, who was murdered during the election campaign in 1991, resigned from the office of Prime Minister after protests by the opposition because of her Italian descent. Instead, Manmohan Singh took over this position, who as Minister of Finance under Rao had played a key role in shaping the economic liberalization of India. In the 2009 election, the Congress party was able to increase its majority and Singh remained Prime Minister until 2014. In the 2014 election, the opposition BJP achieved a landslide victory and its top candidate Narendra Modi was elected Prime Minister.

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

There has been a rapprochement between India and Pakistan in recent years. So prisoner exchanges took place and connections were opened in the Kashmir region.

Terrorism and Ethnic Conflict

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

But not only in Kashmir, but also in other parts of India, there have been repeated terrorist attacks, such as the Kashmiri separatists or Islamic terrorist organizations Laschkar-e Taiba were attributed. The worst series of attacks to date took place on March 12, 1993, when ten bomb explosions on the stock exchange and hotels in Mumbai, as well as trains and gas stations, killed 257 people and injured 713 people. In December 2001, Islamists stormed the parliament in New Delhi, killing 14 people. There were 52 dead in August 2003 when two taxis laden with explosives exploded in Mumbai. After three bomb explosions in markets in New Delhi in October 2005, 62 people died. In March 2006, 20 people were killed in a double attack on the train station and a temple in the city of Varanasi. Bomb attacks on trains in Mumbai in July 2006 killed around 200 people and injured more than 700 people. On February 18, 2007, two incendiary bombs exploded on the â € œFriendship Expressâ €, the only train connection between India and Pakistan, 100 kilometers north of Delhi. At least 65 people were killed.

On August 25, 2007, there were two bomb explosions in Hyderabad, killing at least 42 people and injuring many more. A third bomb was found and defused. It was not known at first what aim the assassin (s) had with the bombings in well-frequented leisure locations. (With almost 40%, Hyderabad has the highest Muslim population of any Indian metropolis.)

A series of bombings rocked India in 2008. On July 25, two bombs exploded in front of police stations and six more bombs exploded in Bengaluru (Bangalore). Two people were killed and six injured in the eight bombings in 15 minutes. A series of explosions of 16 bombs within 90 minutes in the metropolis of Ahmedabad in the west Indian state of Gujarat left at least 130 dead and over 280 injured on July 26, 2008. A suspected Muslim terrorist group Indian mujahideen, probably a splinter group of the radical Islamic Laschkar-e Taiba, confessed to the terrorist attacks in Ahmedabad. The attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 resulted in 17 explosions, attacks with automatic weapons and hostage-taking in ten different locations in the city by a group of around ten attackers in the Indian metropolis of Mumbai within a short period of time Groups split up. According to the Indian authorities, there were at least 239 injured and 174 dead.

Following a citizenship reform enacted in December 2019, which granted religiously persecuted refugees, with the exception of Muslims, quicker asylum in India, there were strong protests by the Muslim population in India in the same month and at the beginning of 2020.



According to the 2011 census, India's population is 1,210,569,573. This makes India the most populous country in the world after the PR China. The population density is 388 inhabitants per square kilometer (Germany: 231 per square kilometer). Nevertheless, the population is extremely unevenly distributed. It is mainly concentrated in fertile areas such as the Gangetic Plain, West Bengal and Kerala, while the Himalayas, the mountainous regions of the northeast and drier regions in Rajasthan and the Deccan have only a low population density. In Bihar, an average of 1,106 people live in one square kilometer, while in Arunachal Pradesh there are only 17.

On May 11, 2000 India's population officially passed the billion mark. While it took from 1920 - at that time India had 250 million inhabitants - 47 years to double the population, from 1967 to 2000 it was only 33 years. Population growth has slowed only slightly in the last few decades and is currently 1.4% per year, which corresponds to an annual population increase of 15 million people. This means that India is currently recording the greatest absolute growth of any country in the world. However, the relative growth is only slightly above the world average.

It is estimated that the population growth in India will hardly slow down in the next few decades, and India will have replaced the People's Republic of China as the most populous country on earth by 2025. Due to progressive modernization, education, prosperity and urbanization, the birth rate is already falling, but the population growth is not explained by the increased birth rate, but by the increased lifespan over the last few decades. This is due, among other things, to an improvement in health care. In terms of mortality, India had already caught up with Germany in 1991 (10 per 1000); for 2006 it is estimated at 8.18 per 1000. However, the birth rate remained high (1991: 30 per 1000) and is gradually falling (2016: 19.3 per 1000). The fertility rate fell from 5.2 children per woman (1971) to 3.6 (1991); in 2013 it was 2.3.

The average age of the Indian population in 2015 was 26.7 years, while the average life expectancy for men was 66.2 years (in 1971 it was only 44 years) and for women 69.1 years (in 1971 it was only 46 years). By comparison, in Germany it is 78 years for men and 83 years for women. A third of the population is younger than 15 years. India is also one of the countries in which there are significantly more men: According to the 2011 census, there are 943 women for every 1,000 men. This excess of men is contributing to destabilization in some regions of the country, as Henrik Urdal of the Harvard Kennedy School shows.

Over the past thirty years, 60% of India's urbanization has been driven by natural population growth (in the cities). Immigration (from rural areas) contributed to one fifth of the urban population growth. Another fifth of the growth is evenly distributed between the formation of new cities through statistical reclassification and through the expansion of borders or sprawl. This means that India now has 46 cities with more than one million inhabitants (as of: 2011 census). The Mumbai metropolitan area alone now has a population of more than 28 million, a larger population than all of Australia. Nevertheless, the urban population represents a minority with a share of the total population of only 31.2% (2011 census). With the economic development, the urbanization of India is advancing rapidly and every year the population is growing Population of India by almost 10 million. Almost all economic output is generated in the cities of India.

Slum formation is a big problem in India's cities. In Mumbai's Dharavi slum, an estimated 1 million people live in a confined space under catastrophic conditions, making it the largest slum in the world. Urbanization in India is much less planned than, for example, in China, and an estimated 30% of the urban population live in unplanned dwellings and slums, a total of over 90 million people.

An estimated 25 million Indian citizens and individuals of Indian origin (Non-resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin) to live abroad. While English-speaking western countries such as the USA, Great Britain and Canada primarily attract well-trained skilled workers, many Indians are employed as "cheap workers" in the Gulf states (especially the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia), less often in higher positions. During the British colonial era, Indians were recruited to work in other colonies, so many people of Indian descent live in Malaysia, South Africa, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, Fiji, Guyana and Singapore. As a rule, they are citizens of the respective country. Remittances from foreign children to their relatives in India are an important economic factor.

The following shows the population of India between 1700 and 2050 (2025 and 2050 are forecasts) - note changes in the area over time: Figures up to 1875 are calculated according to the area of ​​British India (including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan), from 1900 in the present borders of the Republic of India:

Ethnic composition

India is a multiethnic state whose ethnic diversity can easily be compared with that of the entire European continent. About 72% of the population are Indo-Aryans. 25% are Dravids who mainly live in southern India. Other ethnic groups account for 3%, especially the Tibeto-Burmese, Munda and Mon-Khmer peoples in the Himalayan region as well as the northeast and East Indies.

8.6% of the population belong to the indigenous tribal population, who call themselves Adivasi, although ethnically very heterogeneous. The Indian constitution recognizes more than 600 tribes as so-called Scheduled Tribes at. They are mostly outside the Hindu caste system and, despite existing protective laws, are severely socially disadvantaged. The Adivasi have high proportions of the population in the northeast region (especially in Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura, Sikkim) as well as in the eastern and central Indian states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh. Because of the social discrimination, radical left groups like the Maoist Naxalites enjoy strong backing from parts of the Adivasi.In addition, there are separatist movements of various peoples - such as the Mongolian Naga, Mizo and Bodo, but also the Indo-Aryan Assamese - in north-east India, where tensions between the indigenous population and immigrant Bengali, mostly illegal immigrants, arise Bangladesh, create additional potential for conflict.

In 2017, according to official figures, 0.4% of the population were born abroad. The number of illegally immigrated Bangladeshis in India is estimated at up to 20 million. The 100,000 or so Tibetans in exile living in India who have fled their homeland since the Chinese occupation of Tibet in the 1950s are officially recognized as refugees and have a residence permit. In addition, around 60,000 Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka live on Indian territory.

Languages ​​and scripts

Well over 100 different languages ​​are spoken in India, belonging to four different language families. In addition to the two national official languages ​​Hindi and English, the Indian constitution recognizes the following 21 languages: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Marathi, Meitei, Nepali, Oriya, Panjabi, Santali, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. Most of these languages ​​also serve as official languages ​​in the states where they are spoken by a majority of the population. English is the language of administration, teaching and business. Of the constitutional languages, 15 belong to the Indo-Aryan, four to the Dravidian (Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam), two to the Tibetan Burmese or Sino-Tibetan language family (Bodo, Meitei) and one each to the Austro-Asian (Santali) and Germanic (English) .

Recently there have been attempts to revive the use of Sanskrit. Sanskrit is a classic language that is no longer used as a first or mother tongue. It has a similar status in India as Latin is in Europe. It is also one of the officially recognized constitutional languages, but is not used anywhere as an official language. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has made Sanskrit the third language taught in the schools it regulates. In these schools, Sanskrit lessons are compulsory for the fifth to eighth grades.

A decision is made every 15 years about maintaining the status of English as the official language. English remains a prestige language and is only spoken fluently by a privileged minority of the population. When people from different linguistic communities meet, they speak either Hindi or English to one another in the north, one of the Dravidian languages ​​or English in the south.

In addition to the constitutional languages, Hindustani, the "predecessor" of Hindi and Urdu that is widespread in northern India, and Rajasthani as a generic term for the dialects of Rajasthan and Mizo, are also worth mentioning. Bihari is the generic term for the dialects in Bihar, which also includes Maithili, Bhojpuri and Magadhi.

Most languages ​​have different writing systems. While a common script is used for Hindi, Marathi, Nepali, Konkani and Sanskrit (Devanagari), Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Gujarati, Oriya, Panjabi and Santali are each characterized by their own script. Another script (Bengali script) is used for Bengali, Asamiya and Meitei. Urdu is written in Arabic script, Kashmiri and Sindhi are written in Arabic script or also in Devanagari.



Four of the major religions emerged on the Indian subcontinent: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Islam came into the country through trade and conquests by the Mughal Empire, Christianity through early proselytizing in the first century, and then through colonialism, Zoroastrianism (Parsism) through immigration. India therefore offers an extraordinarily rich religious landscape. Although Buddhism was the preferred religion for centuries, Hinduism never died out and was able to maintain its position as the dominant religion in the long term. In the Middle Ages, Indian traders and seafarers brought Hinduism to Indonesia and Malaysia. Although India is still a Hindu country, India has the third largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia and Pakistan (about 140 million), and after Iran the second largest number of Shiites.

According to the 2011 census, the religions are distributed as follows: 79.8% Hindus, 14.2% Muslims, 2.3% Christians, 1.7% Sikhs, 0.7% Buddhists, 0.4% Jains and 0 , 7% others (for example traditional Adivasi religions, Baha'i, or Parsees). A total of 0.2% of Indians stated that they did not belong to any religion or that they did not belong to a religion in the census.

The roots of Hinduism lie in the Veda (literally: knowledge), religious texts, the oldest layer of which is dated to around 1200 BC. The term "Hinduism" did not become common practice until the 19th century. It connects many currents with similar beliefs and histories, which are particularly in agreement with the teachings of karma, the cycle of rebirths (samsara) and the pursuit of salvation. He knows no single religious founder, no uniform creed and no central religious authority. The main popular directions are Shaivism, Vishnuism and Shaktism. In addition, the Indian folk religion is regionally and locally widespread. Religious teachers (gurus) and priests are very important to personal belief.

The Adivasi (natives) often resisted the missionary attempts of the major religions and sometimes kept their own religion. The indigenous peoples of India have some things in common with Hinduism, such as a belief in reincarnation, an external variety of gods, and a type of caste system. It is not uncommon for local or tribal deities to be simply incorporated into the Hindu pantheon - an approach that has historically contributed to the spread of Hinduism. Especially today there is a strong tendency towards "Hinduization" (in Indology "Sanskritization"), social customs of the Hindus and their forms of religious practice are being adopted.

Today Buddhism is especially popular as Neo-Buddhism among the "untouchables" (Dalit), especially in the state of Maharashtra ("Bauddha"). In this way the Dalit try to escape the discrimination of the caste system. More than 10% of the Indian population belong to the Dalit caste. This movement was brought into being by the lawyer Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891â € “1956), who himself belonged to an untouchable caste. There are also smaller groups of Tibetan Buddhists in the Himalayan regions of Ladakh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, as well as the Tibetan community in exile in Dharamsala, the seat of the incumbent Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile. From the point of view of fundamentalist Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Christians also belong to the untouchables, which according to this definition would comprise around 240 million people and thus almost 20% of the Indian population.

The Parsees, who mainly live in Mumbai today, form a small, predominantly wealthy and influential community (around 70,000 people). Not least because of their pronounced social commitment, they play an important role in Indian society despite the small population. In Europe they are known for their burial practices ("Towers of Silence"). The Jainas are also often wealthy, being mostly merchants and traders because of their beliefs that forbid the killing of living things. Parsis and Jainas mostly belong to the middle and upper classes.

The majority of Indian Muslims are Sunni, and there are more than 20 million Shiites in India. There are also smaller faiths within Islam: Dar ul-Ulum in Deoband in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, to which the Afghan Taliban, among others, refer, albeit in a radically abbreviated interpretation, is more fundamentalist. The situation of Muslims in India is difficult. They are poorer and less educated than the average. They are underrepresented in politics and civil service. It should be noted, however, that the former President of India, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, was a Muslim. The number of Muslims in India is growing faster than the rest of the population and by 2050 India could have over 300 million Muslim residents.

The Sikhs are mainly native to northwest India (Punjab). Their position in society is shaped by their success, especially in the military sector, but also in political life. Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a Sikh.

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

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

  • Religions according to the 2001 census

Religious conflicts

Laicism, the separation of state and religion, is one of the most essential principles of the Indian state and is anchored in its constitution. For centuries, different faiths have mostly co-existed peacefully. Nevertheless, there are sometimes regionally limited, religiously motivated disputes.

During the partition of India in 1947 and the Bangladesh war in 1971, there were massive riots between Hindus and Muslims. Riots between adherents of the two faiths break out in India again and again at certain time intervals. One point of conflict is still Kashmir, the predominantly Muslim population of which, in some cases, violently advocates independence or annexation to Pakistan. They have been fueled since the late 1980s by burgeoning Hindu nationalism (Hindutva) and Islamic fundamentalism. One of the high points of the clashes was the storming and destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh) by extremist Hindus in December 1992, as the Islamic place of worship had once been built on the site of an important Hindu temple that served as the Should mark Rama's birthplace. The most recent riots occurred in Gujarat in 2002, when 59 Hindu activists (kar sevaks) were burned in one go. As a result of the escalating violence, around 2,000 people died, mostly Muslims. The political situation in Kashmir has cost the lives of more than 29,000 civilians since 1989 due to the activities of Islamist terrorists.

Conflicts also arose with other religions. The demands of Sikhist separatists for an independent Sikh state called "Khalistan" culminated in 1984 when Indian troops stormed the Golden Temple in Amritsar (Operation Blue Star) and the murder of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her own Sikh bodyguards. In total, more than 3,000 Sikhs were killed in the riots in 1984.

There have been pogroms against Christians in some states. In the second half of 2008, at least 59 Christians were killed in religiously motivated unrest in Orissa. In its answer to a parliamentary question on December 4, 2008, the German government names the following extent of violence against Christians in Orissa (Odisha): 81 Christians have died, 20,000 people are in refugee camps, and 40,000 more are in forests hidden. 4,677 houses, 236 churches and 36 other church facilities were destroyed.

Social problems

According to the World Bank, 44% of India's residents now have less than one US dollar a day to spend. Even if the nutritional situation has improved significantly since the 1970s, more than a quarter of the population is still too poor to be able to afford adequate nutrition. Undernourishment and malnutrition, such as a lack of vitamins, is a widespread problem, especially in rural areas, where the proportion of the poor is particularly high. The regional breakdown of the problem can be clearly seen in the hunger index for India, the state of Madhya Pradesh particularly catches the eye. In 2007, 46% of children in India were malnourished; according to UNICEF figures, 2.1 million children in India die before the age of five every year. Child labor is mainly done in the countryside, as many farming families do not have enough income to survive. Heavily indebted farmers often have to not only sell their farmland, but also pledge their services to the landlords. This phenomenon, known as debt bondage, remains one of the greatest obstacles in the fight against poverty to this day. In 2006, an estimated 17,000 farmers committed suicide because of high levels of debt. The poor living conditions in rural areas cause many people to move to the cities (urbanization). The country's sprawling metropolises are hardly in a position to provide enough jobs for the immigrants. The result is high unemployment and underemployment. Almost a third of the population of the megacities live in slums. Dharavi in ​​Mumbai is the largest slum in Asia with more than a million people.

According to the 2011 census, 16.6% of the Indian population become the so-called untouchables (Scheduled Castes) calculated, 8.6% belong to the Indian tribal population (Adivasi, officially Scheduled Tribes). Since both groups are exposed to abuse (discrimination, economic exploitation, sometimes persecution and violence) by other caste Indians, the Indian constitution provides for the promotion of the socially disadvantaged in the form of quotas. About this â € œpositive discriminationâ € are in universities, vocational institutions and parliaments up to 50% of the places for the Scheduled castes (Members of the lower castes) reserved. The caste question occupies a highly explosive position in Indian domestic politics. An extension of the quotas to lower castes at the suggestion of the controversial Mandal Commission sparked violent protests from members of the upper castes and led to the overthrow of Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh.

Inadequate school education and advice on reproductive health issues meant that the number of people infected with HIV rose rapidly from the 1980s and 1990s, since the first cases of infection became known in 1986. In 2008, around 2.27 million Indians between the ages of 15 and 49 carried the virus. The number of infected people is third in the world after South Africa and Nigeria. In the years after 2002 there was a decrease in the number of infected people. In 2002, 0.45% of the adult Indian population was infected, 0.34% in 2007 and 0.29% in 2008. The transmission routes of the HI virus are given for 2009/10 with 87.1% between heterosexuals.The widespread unprotected sex with prostitutes is mainly responsible for this. The transmission from mother to child is 5.4% and between homosexuals 1.5%. Drug addicts account for 1.5% of the total number of transmission cases.

Position of woman

In Indian society, which is shaped by patriarchal law, women are still very disadvantaged despite the legal equality of the sexes (see below on women's suffrage).

Dowry issue

Traditionally, women were given a dowry at the wedding to help them build their own household. Although this has been forbidden by law since 1961, such a dowry is still often required from the bride's parents for purely economic reasons. In some cases the required "dowry" exceeds the annual income of the bride's family. Occasionally, so-called dowry murders occur when the bride's relatives were unable to meet the high demands of marriage. These dowry-The problem contributes to a not inconsiderable degree to the fact that girls are usually less viewed than boys or even considered undesirable.

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

Abortion of female fetuses

In India, significantly more female fetuses are aborted than males: According to the 2011 census, there were only 914 girls per 1000 boys (47.75% = 109 boys to 100 girls) â € “per year In 2001 there were 927 girls (48.11%, 108: 100; both under 7 years of age). In the total population in 2011 there were 940 female Indians for every 1000 male (48.45%, 106: 100) â € “in 2001 there were 933 women (48.27%, 107: 100).

Sexualized violence

According to a study by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, India was the most dangerous country for women worldwide in 2018. India was ranked 1 in 3 of 6 areas within the 10 most dangerous countries (including the USA and Saudi Arabia): cultural oppression and abuse of women, sexual violence against women, and human trafficking and forced prostitution. In 2016, 40,000 rapes were reported in India.

Women indexes

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

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) determined the index of gender-specific inequality for 2018 (GII: Gender Inequality Index) among 162 countries: India ranked 122nd with only 39% women with secondary education (men: 63.5%) and 23.6% labor force participation (men: 78.6%). In the index of gender-specific development (GDI: Gender Development Index) India ranked 153 out of 166 countries: there was a 75.5% difference in per capita income alone ($ 2,625 annual income versus $ 10,712 men).

Politics and the State

Political system

Under the 1950 Constitution, India is a parliamentary democracy. India is the largest democracy in the world by number of citizens. The Indian Parliament is the legislative power and consists of two chambers: the Lower House (Lok Sabha) and the Upper House (Rajya Sabha). The House of Commons is elected for five years on the principle of majority voting. Every citizen who has reached the age of 18 is entitled to vote. The House of Lords is the representation of the states at the national level. Its members are elected by the parliaments of the states.

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

The country's party landscape is extremely diverse (see list of political parties in India). Many parties are restricted to certain states, but there is always the need to form coalitions. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was a coalition that, at the beginning of its reign in 1998, consisted of 13 parties (led by the BJP).

The President as head of state is elected for a five-year term by a committee of federal and state representatives. Ram Nath Kovind has held the office since 2017. The constitution provides that states under President's rule can be provided if the country is considered â € œungovernableâ €. This has been the case in several states in the past. However, the office of president is predominantly characterized by ceremonial or representative tasks, and political power rests with the prime minister. Usually the Prime Minister gives the President an appropriate â € œ adviceâ € which is usually followed. Most recently, after the unrest in Ayodhya in 1993, Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao dismissed all four BJP state governments from office and omitted the states President's rule put. The president is also the chief of the armed forces.

The head of government in the states and in three of the eight Union territories is the chief minister, who is elected by the parliament of the respective area.

Administrative structure

India is in 28 states States) and eight Union Territories Union Territories), which are divided into a total of over 600 districts. Districts) subdivide. In some states, multiple districts become divisions. Divisions) summarized. The districts are subordinate to parallel and partly overlapping Tehsils (or Talks), Blocks and Subdivisions. The lowest administrative level is represented by the villages themselves, sometimes in so-called Hoblis can be summarized.

While the Union Territories are administered by the central government in New Delhi, each state has its own parliament and government. A state government has the Chief Minister before, which, however, formally appointed one by the Indian President governor with largely representative tasks is subordinate. The latter are used when applying the President's rule the government business transferred.

Local government is the responsibility of the larger cities with several hundred thousand inhabitants Municipal Corporations, in smaller towns Municipalities. In the rural area, the three-tier Panchayati Raj applied. This system includes elected councils (Panchayats) at village and block level, but also at district level. Local government responsibilities vary from state to state.

Before independence, India comprised both independent princely states under British supervision and British provinces (English Presidencies) ruled by British colonial administrators. After independence, the former princely states were ruled by an appointed governor, while the former provinces were ruled by an elected parliament and governor. In 1956 the States Reorganization Act the differences between former provinces and principalities and created unified states with an elected regional government. When the states were reorganized, the respective native language of the residents was used as the basis for drawing the boundaries. On May 1, 1960, the previous state of Bombay was divided into the new ethnic states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. In 2000 three new states were created: Jharkhand from the southern parts of Bihar, Chhattisgarh from the eastern parts of Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand (until 2006 Uttaranchal) from the north-western part of Uttar Pradesh. On June 2, 2014, parts of the state of Andhra Pradesh became the new 29th state of Telangana; its capital is Hyderabad. On October 31, 2019, the state of Jammu and Kashmir was dissolved and divided into the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu were merged into Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu on January 28, 2020.


The following list shows the 28 federal states of India, their abbreviations correspond to the ISO standard (31766-2: IN) â € “where the license plate differs, it is appended in brackets:

Union Territories


The capital of India is New Delhi within the borders of Delhi, which is the second largest city in the country with around 11 million inhabitants and the second largest agglomeration with more than 16 million inhabitants. Delhi is the cultural hub of the northern Hindi-speaking community. India's largest city and economic center, however, is Mumbai (Bombay). The metropolis on the west coast has more than 12.5 million inhabitants, in the agglomeration around 18 million. In third place is Bengaluru (Bangalore). Numerous high-tech companies are located in the 8.5 million city in the southern Dekkan highlands, which has earned it the nickname "Silicon Valley of India". The fourth largest city is Hyderabad, also in southern India, with a population of 6.8 million, followed by Ahmedabad in the west of India with a population of 5.6 million. Chennai (Madras), the seventh largest city in India with 4.7 million inhabitants, is known as the cultural center of southern India and especially of the Tamils. Calcutta, the most important metropolis in the east, ranks eighth with 4.5 million people. It is considered the intellectual center.

The following list shows the 20 largest urban areas according to the 2011 India Census:

Legal system

The history of modern Indian law began with the establishment of the British East India Company in 1600.

Women's suffrage

In 1950 a comprehensive right to vote for women was introduced. The history of this goes back to the 19th century: According to reports from 1900, the participation of women in local elections in Bombay was given an addition to Bombay Municipal Act