Republic of India
India (IAST: Bhārat), also called the Republic of India (IAST: Bhārat Gaṇarājya),[e] 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. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast. It shares land borders with Pakistan to the west;[f] China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives. India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.
The Indian subcontinent was home to the urban Indus Valley Civilisation of the 3rd millennium BCE—one of the world’s earliest civilisations. In the following millennium, the oldest scriptures associated with Hinduism began to be composed. Large-scale urbanisation occurred on the Ganges in the first millennium BCE leading to the Mahajanapadas, and Buddhism and Jainism arose. Early political consolidations took place under the Maurya, Satavahana and Gupta empires; the later peninsular Middle Kingdoms influenced cultures as far as Southeast Asia. In the medieval era, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Islam arrived, and Sikhism emerged, all adding to the region’s diverse culture. Much of the north fell to the Delhi sultanate; the south was united under the Vijayanagara Empire. The country was unified in the 17th century by the Mughal Empire. In the 18th century, the subcontinent came under the Maratha Empire and in the 19th under the British East India Company, later shifting to British crown rule. A nationalist movement emerged in the late 19th century, which later, under Mahatma Gandhi, was noted for nonviolent resistance and led to India’s independence in 1947.
In 2017, the Indian economy was the world’s sixth largest by nominal GDP and third largest by purchasing power parity. Following market-based economic reforms in 1991, India became one of the fastest-growing major economies and is considered a newly industrialised country. However, it continues to face the challenges of poverty, corruption, malnutrition, and inadequate public healthcare. A nuclear weapons state and regional power, it has the second largest standing army in the world and ranks fifth in military expenditure among nations. India is a federal republic governed under a parliamentary system and consists of 29 states and 7 union territories. India is widely recognised for its wide cinema, rich cuisine and lush wildlife and vegetation. It is a pluralistic, multilingual and multi-ethnic society and is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Indian economy in 2017 was nominally worth US$2.611 trillion; it is the sixth-largest economy by market exchange rates, and is, at US$9.459 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 has been a member of WTO since 1 January 1995.
The 513.7-million-worker Indian labour force is the world’s second-largest, as of 2016. The service sector makes up 55.6% of GDP, the industrial sector 26.3% and the agricultural sector 18.1%. India’s foreign exchange remittances of US$70 billion in 2014, the largest in the world, contributed to its economy by 25 million Indians working in foreign countries. 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%. India was the second largest textile exporter after China in the world in the calendar year 2013.
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, the world’s eleventh-largest, is expected to become fifth-largest by 2030. However, hardly 2% of Indians pay income taxes.
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, to an estimated US$1,723 in 2016, and is expected to grow to US$2,358 by 2020; however, it has remained lower than those of other Asian developing countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, and is expected to remain so in the near future. However, it is higher than Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and others.
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.
According to the Worldwide Cost of Living Report 2017 released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) which was created by comparing more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services, four of the cheapest cities were in India: