India: Location, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, size, population, and government of the country India.



Location--India makes up the bulk of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia. It is bounded by Pakistan on the west, China, Nepal, and Bhutan on the north, and Burma on the east. In the southeast, India surrounds Bangladesh on 3 sides. It faces the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, and juts south into the Indian Ocean. The Andaman and Nicobar islands, an Indian territory, form an arc between Burma's Irrawaddy Delta and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Size--1,261,810 sq. mi. (3,268,900 sq. km.).

Population--Over 600,000,000: (by language) Hindi, 30.4%; Telegu, 8.6%; Bengali, 7.7%; Marathi, 7.6%; Tamil, 7%; Urdu, 5.3%; Gujarati, 4.6%; Kannada, 4%; Malayalam, 3.9%; Bihari, 3.8%; Oriya, 3.6%; Rajasthani, 3.4%; Punjabi, 2.5%; Assamese, 1.5%; Santali, 0.7%; other, 5.4%. Religion: 82.7% Hindu, 11.2% Muslim, 2.6% Christian, 1.9% Sikh, 0.7% Buddhist, 0.5% Jain, 0.4% other.

Who Rules--India is a federation of 22 states and 9 union territories. The Central Government operates the union territories, while the states normally govern themselves. However, the Central Government has the power to suspend state governments and impose "presidential rule." India's chief of state is the President, elected by an electoral college consisting of elected members of the Federal Parliament and state assemblies.

The Federal Parliament has 2 houses. The upper house, the Council of States, has limited powers. The lower house, the House of the People, is similar to the British House of Commons. Seventy-five seats in the House of the People are reserved for "former" untouchables. Thirty-seven are reserved for the tribespeople.

Following independence the Congress party dominated virtually all of the state legislatures, but gradually it has lost its grip, facing defeat in 1967 at the hands of ethnic or leftist united fronts in key provinces. When these governments have not governed according to the Central Government's standards, the Federal Government has imposed presidential rule.

Who REALLY Rules--Congress, since its formation, has been the organ of upper-class and middle-class Indian nationalists, including British-trained administrators. It remains dominated by these groups.

Though the Congress under Jawaharlal Nehru sought to develop India as an economically independent nation, it was unwilling to threaten the position of the upper classes. Instead of taxing agriculture and professional income, the Government borrowed money from abroad.

Western creditors, notably the U.S., the U.K., West Germany, and the World Bank, dominate India's economic planning--especially in agriculture--through the Aid-India Consortium, which they and other public creditors established in 1958.

The Soviet Union, also a major creditor, attempts to counterbalance Western influence by subsidizing India's oil industry and industrial sector. Furthermore, Russian military support for India (against Pakistan) has also given the Russians sizable influence over Indian foreign policy.

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