World Country India

About the world country India, its location, size, population, and who is in power.



Location: Large central portion of the Indian subcontinent in southern Asia, plus islands in the eastern Indian Ocean. Size: 1,269,340 sq. mi. (3,287,590 sq. km.). Population: 683,810,051 (72% Indo-Aryan, 25% Dravidian; 84% Hindu, 11% Muslim, 2% Sikh).

Who Really Rules: India, the world's largest parliamentary democracy, is currently governed by Indira Gandhi and her branch of the Indian National Congress (Congress party). Though deposed by the Janata electoral coalition in 1977, Gandhi's party swept the 1980 national elections, picking up two thirds of the seats in Parliament with 42% of the popular vote. The new government wasted little time in passing a new national security law which allows anyone to be jailed for a year without trial.

Although the caste system has been outlawed, the Hindu elite is still in control of business, the government bureaucracy, and the Congress party. Armed with the help of the Soviet Union, India is the major military power in the Indian Ocean region. As a major trading partner and aid recipient of the capitalist West, however, India's foreign policy is independent.

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: Nearly surrounded by Burma, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Tibet (China), the seven Indian states of the northeast are home to 23 million people.

In Assam, the most populous state in the region, Bengali immigrants (from Bangladesh as well as from West Bengal) may already outnumber the native Assamese, who fear the influx of outsiders. Though the Communist party that rules Tripura has strong followings among the tribal population and the Bengali majority, communal violence broke out there in 1980. Similar conflicts have arisen in Meghalaya.

There is also interfaith violence in the three eastern states of Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram, but the Indian central government is more concerned about secessionists. None of the native peoples--Nagas, Meitis, and Mizos--recognized their post--W.W. II absorption into India, and the predominantly Christian Nagas and Mizos have been engaged in sporadic guerrilla warfare ever since. In the late 1970s Meiti rebels took up armed struggle as well. All three movements appear to be left-wing and have received training in China.

Sikkim, an independent kingdom until annexed by India in 1975, is separated from the rest of the region by an arm of the state of West Bengal. There is tension between the Nepalese, the 70% of the population whose forebears arrived in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the indigenous Bhutias and Lepchas. All three ethnic groups resent recent arrivals from the Indian lowlands, and they are suspicious of the Indian central government.

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