India

Republic of India

President: Pranab Mukherjee (2012)

Prime Minister: Manmohan Singh (2004)

Land area: 1,147,949 sq mi (2,973,190 sq km); total area: 1,269,338 sq mi (3,287,590 sq km)

Population (2011 est.): 1,205,073,612 (growth rate: 1.312%); birth rate: 20.6/1000; infant mortality rate: 46.07/1000; life expectancy: 67.14

Capital (2009 est.): New Delhi, 21.72 million

Largest cities: Mumbai 19.695 million; Kolkata 15.294 million; Chennai 7.416 million; Bangalore 7.079 million (2009)

Monetary unit: Rupee

National name: Bharat

National name: Bharat

Principal languages: Hindi 41%, Bengali 8.1%, Telugu 7.2%, Marathi 7%, Tamil 5.9%, Urdu 5%, Gujarati 4.5%, Kannada 3.7%, Malayalam 3.2%, Oriya 3.2%, Punjabi 2.8%, Assamese 1.3%, Maithili 1.2%, other 5.9% note: English enjoys the status of subsidiary official language but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication; Hindi is the most widely spoken language and primary tongue of 41% of the people; there are 14 other official languages: Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Sanskrit; Hindustani is a popular variant of Hindi/Urdu spoken widely throughout northern India but is not an official language (2001 census)

Ethnicity/race: Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, Mongoloid and other 3% (2000)

Religions: Hindu 80.5%, Muslim 13.4%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.1% (2001)

National Holiday: Republic Day, January 26

Literacy rate: 61% (2005 est.)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2011 est.): $4.515 trillion; per capita $3,700. Real growth rate: 7.2%. Inflation: 6.8%. Unemployment: 9.8%. Arable land: 48.83%. Agriculture: rice, wheat, oilseed, cotton, jute, tea, sugarcane, potatoes; cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats, poultry; fish. Labor force: 487.6 million; agriculture 19%, services 54.7%, industry 26.3% (2010). Industries: textiles, chemicals, food processing, steel, transportation equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery, software, pharmaceuticals. Natural resources: coal (fourth-largest reserves in the world), iron ore, manganese, mica, bauxite, titanium ore, chromite, natural gas, diamonds, petroleum, limestone, arable land. Exports: $298.2 billion (2011 est.): petroleum products, precious stones, machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, vehicles, apparel. Imports: $451 billion (2011 est.): crude oil, machinery, gems, fertilizer, chemicals. Major trading partners: U.S., UAE, China, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Singapore (2011)

Member of Commonwealth of Nations

Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 35.09 million (2010); mobile cellular: 752 million (2010). Broadcast media: Doordarshan, India's public TV network, operates about 20 national, regional, and local services; large number of privately-owned TV stations are distributed by cable and satellite service providers; government controls AM radio with All India Radio operating domestic and external networks; news broadcasts via radio are limited to the All India Radio Network; since 2000, privately-owned FM stations are permitted but limited to broadcasting entertainment and educational content (2007). Internet hosts: 6.738 million (2010). Internet users: 61.338 million (2009).

Transportation: Railways: total: 63,974 km (18,927 km electrified) (2010). Roadways: total: 3,320,410 km (2009). Waterways: 14,500 km; note: 5,200 km on major rivers and 485 km on canals suitable for mechanized vessels (2012). Ports and harbors: Chennai, Jawaharal Nehru, Kandla, Kolkata (Calcutta), Mumbai (Bombay), Sikka, Vishakhapatnam. Airports: 352 (2012).

International disputes: China and India launched a security and foreign policy dialogue in 2005, consolidating discussions related to the dispute over most of their rugged, militarized boundary, regional nuclear proliferation, Indian claims that China transferred missiles to Pakistan, and other matters; recent talks and confidence-building measures have begun to defuse tensions over Kashmir, site of the world's largest and most militarized territorial dispute with portions under the de facto administration of China (Aksai Chin), India (Jammu and Kashmir), and Pakistan (Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas); in 2004, India and Pakistan instituted a cease fire in the Kashmir and in 2005, restored bus service across the highly militarized Line of Control; Pakistan has taken its dispute on the impact and benefits of India's building the Baglihar dam on the Chenab River in Jammu and Kashmir to the World Bank for arbitration; UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) has maintained a small group of peacekeepers since 1949; India does not recognize Pakistan's ceding historic Kashmir lands to China in 1964; disputes persist with Pakistan over Indus River water sharing; to defuse tensions and prepare for discussions on a maritime boundary, in 2004, India and Pakistan resurveyed a portion of the disputed boundary in Sir Creek estuary at the mouth of the Rann of Kutch; Pakistani maps continue to show Junagadh claim in Indian Gujarat State; discussions with Bangladesh remain stalled to delimit a small section of river boundary, to exchange 162 miniscule enclaves in both countries, to allocate divided villages, and to stop illegal cross-border trade, migration, violence, and transit of terrorists through the porous border; Bangladesh protests India's attempts to fence off high-traffic sections; dispute with Bangladesh over New Moore/South Talpatty/Purbasha Island in the Bay of Bengal deters maritime boundary delimitation; India seeks cooperation from Bhutan and Burma to keep Indian Nagaland and Assam separatists from hiding in remote areas along the borders; Joint Border Committee with Nepal continues to demarcate minor disputed boundary sections; India has instituted a stricter border regime to keep out Maoist insurgents and control illegal cross-border activities from Nepal.

Major sources and definitions

Native States

Flag of India

Geography

One-third the area of the United States, the Republic of India occupies most of the subcontinent of India in southern Asia. It borders on China in the northeast. Other neighbors are Pakistan on the west, Nepal and Bhutan on the north, and Burma and Bangladesh on the east.

The country can be divided into three distinct geographic regions: the Himalayan region in the north, which contains some of the highest mountains in the world, the Gangetic Plain, and the plateau region in the south and central part. Its three great river systems—the Ganges, the Indus, and the Brahmaputra—have extensive deltas and all rise in the Himalayas.

Government

Federal republic.

History

One of the earliest civilizations, the Indus Valley civilization flourished on the Indian subcontinent from c. 2600 B.C. to c. 2000 B.C. It is generally accepted that the Aryans entered India c. 1500 B.C. from the northwest, finding a land that was already home to an advanced civilization. They introduced Sanskrit and the Vedic religion, a forerunner of Hinduism. Buddhism was founded in the 6th century B.C. and was spread throughout northern India, most notably by one of the great ancient kings of the Mauryan dynasty, Asoka (c. 269–232 B.C.), who also unified most of the Indian subcontinent for the first time.

In 1526, Muslim invaders founded the great Mogul Empire, centered on Delhi, which lasted, at least in name, until 1857. Akbar the Great (1542–1605) strengthened and consolidated this empire. The long reign of his great-grandson, Aurangzeb (1618–1707), represents both the greatest extent of the Mogul Empire and the beginning of its decay.

British Exert Influence, Suppress Indians

Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer, landed in India in 1498, and for the next 100 years the Portuguese had a virtual monopoly on trade with the subcontinent. Meanwhile, the English founded the East India Company, which set up its first factory at Surat in 1612 and began expanding its influence, fighting the Indian rulers and the French, Dutch, and Portuguese traders simultaneously.

Bombay, taken from the Portuguese, became the seat of English rule in 1687. The defeat of French and Mogul armies by Lord Clive in 1757 laid the foundation of the British Empire in India. The East India Company continued to suppress native uprisings and extend British rule until 1858, when the administration of India was formally transferred to the British Crown following the Sepoy Mutiny of native troops in 1857–1858.

Gandhi Leads Challenge of British Rule

After World War I, in which the Indian states sent more than 6 million troops to fight beside the Allies, Indian nationalist unrest rose to new heights under the leadership of a Hindu lawyer, Mohandas K. Gandhi, called Mahatma Gandhi. His philosophy of civil disobedience called for nonviolent noncooperation against British authority. He soon became the leading spirit of the Indian National Congress Party, which was the spearhead of revolt. In 1919, the British gave added responsibility to Indian officials, and in 1935, India was given a federal form of government and a measure of self-rule.

In 1942, with the Japanese pressing hard on the eastern borders of India, the British War Cabinet tried and failed to reach a political settlement with nationalist leaders. The Congress Party took the position that the British must quit India. Fearing mass civil disobedience, the government of India carried out widespread arrests of Congress Party leaders, including Gandhi.

Independence Soured by Partition of India and Pakistan

Gandhi was released in 1944 and negotiations for a settlement were resumed. Finally, in Aug. 1947, India gained full independence. The victory was soured, however, by the partitioning of the predominantly Muslim regions of the north into the separate nation of Pakistan. The Muslim League, led by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, demanded a separate nation for the Muslim minority to prevent Hindu political and social domination. Indian Hindus, however, had hoped for a unified rather than balkanized Indian subcontinent. Lord Mountbatten as viceroy partitioned India along religious lines and split the provinces of Bengal and the Punjab, which both nations claimed. The partition of Pakistan and India led to the largest migration in human history, with 17 million people fleeing across the borders in both directions to escape the bloody riots occurring among sectarian groups. Armed conflict also broke out over rival claims to the princely states of Jammu and Kashmir.

Jawaharlal Nehru, nationalist leader and head of the Congress Party, was made prime minister. In 1949, a constitution was approved, making India a sovereign republic. Under a federal structure the states were organized on linguistic lines. The dominance of the Congress Party contributed to stability. In 1956, the republic absorbed former French settlements. Five years later, the republic forcibly annexed the Portuguese enclaves of Goa, Damao, and Diu.

Nehru died in 1964. His successor, Lal Bahadur Shastri, died on Jan. 10, 1966. Nehru's daughter, Indira Gandhi, became prime minister, and she continued his policy of nonalignment.

India Supports Independence Movement That Leads to the Creation of Bangladesh

In 1971, the Pakistani army moved in to quash the independence movement in East Pakistan that was supported by India, and some 10 million Bengali refugees poured across the border into India, creating social, economic, and health problems. After numerous border incidents, India invaded East Pakistan and in two weeks forced the surrender of the Pakistani army. East Pakistan was established as an independent state and renamed Bangladesh.

In May 1975, the 300-year-old kingdom of Sikkim became a full-fledged Indian state. Situated in the Himalayas, Sikkim was a virtual dependency of Tibet until the early 19th century. Under an 1890 treaty between China and Great Britain, it became a British protectorate and was made an Indian protectorate after Britain quit the subcontinent.

Indira Gandhi's Leadership Is Challenged

In the summer of 1975, the world's largest democracy veered suddenly toward authoritarianism when a judge in Allahabad, Indira Gandhi's home constituency, found Gandhi's landslide victory in the 1971 elections invalid because civil servants had illegally aided her campaign. Amid demands for her resignation, Gandhi decreed a state of emergency on June 26 and ordered mass arrests of her critics, including all opposition party leaders except the Communists.

Despite strong opposition to her repressive measures, particularly resentment against compulsory birth control programs, in 1977 Gandhi announced parliamentary elections for March. At the same time, she freed most political prisoners. The landslide victory of Morarji R. Desai unseated Gandhi, but she staged a spectacular comeback in the elections of Jan. 1980.

In 1984, Gandhi ordered the Indian army to root out a band of Sikh holy men and gunmen who were using the most sacred shrine of the Sikh religion, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, as a base for terrorist raids in a violent campaign for greater political autonomy in the strategic Punjab border state. The perceived sacrilege to the Golden Temple kindled outrage among many of India's 14 million Sikhs and brought a spasm of mutinies and desertions by Sikh officers and soldiers in the army.

Indira and Rajiv Gandhi Are Gunned Down

On Oct. 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two men identified by police as Sikh members of her bodyguard. The ruling Congress Party chose her older son, Rajiv Gandhi, to succeed her as prime minister for four years. While running for reelection, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on May 22, 1991, by Tamil militants who objected to India's mediation of the civil war in Sri Lanka.

The ruling Congress Party lost the parliamentary elections of May 1996, and its waning resulted in a period of political instability. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) then became the dominant force in politics, with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as prime minister.

India and Pakistan Test Nuclear Weapons

In May 1998, India set off five nuclear tests, surprising the international community, which widely condemned India's pronuclear stance. Despite international urging for restraint, Pakistan responded by conducting several nuclear tests of its own two weeks later. India has resisted signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty for nuclear weapons and has been slapped with sanctions by the U.S. and other countries. Less than a year later, in April 1999, both India and Pakistan tested nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.

Kashmir Continues to Test Relationship Between India and Pakistan

India and Pakistan have held various talks about the disputed territory of Kashmir, which is the issue at the base of their chronic antagonism and their displays of nuclear strength. India controls two-thirds of this Himalayan region, which is the only Indian state that is predominantly Muslim.

The Indian Air Force launched air strikes on May 26, 1999, and later sent in ground troops against Islamic guerrilla forces in Kashmir. India blamed Pakistan for orchestrating violence in Kashmir by sending soldiers and mercenaries across the so-called Line of Control that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Pakistan countered that the guerrillas were independent Kashmiri freedom fighters struggling for India's ouster from the region. Most international sources agreed with India's assumption that Pakistan was arming the soldiers. In Aug. 1999, Pakistan was forced to withdraw, but fighting continued sporadically during the coming year.

In Oct. 2001, violence again broke out in the region when a suicide bombing by a Pakistan-based militant organization killed 38 in India-controlled Kashmir. India retaliated with heavy shelling across the Line of Control. India, angered by Washington's sudden coziness with Pakistan following the Sept. 11 attacks, took the opportunity to point out that, while Pakistan might be helping the U.S. fight terrorism on the Afghan front, it was simultaneously supporting terrorism on its own borders with India. On Dec. 13, 2001, suicide bombers attacked the Indian parliament, killing 14 people. Indian officials blamed the deadly attack on Islamic militants supported by Pakistan.

Hope for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Kashmir was raised in Nov. 2002, when a newly elected coalition government in India-controlled Jammu and Kashmir vowed to reach out to separatists and to improve conditions in the state. But hopes were dashed in March 2003, following the slaughter of 24 Hindus in Kashmir. Officials blamed the massacre on Islamic militants. Days after the violence, both India and Pakistan test-fired short-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Two bombs exploded in Mumbai (Bombay) in August, killing more than 50 people and injuring about 150. Indian officials blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based militant Islamic group. But in Nov. 2003, India and Pakistan declared their first formal cease-fire in 14 years. The cease-fire applied to the entire Line of Control dividing Kashmir. Relations between the two countries have continued to thaw, though no real progress has been made.

Electoral Upset Brings Congress Party to Power

In one of the most dramatic political upsets in modern Indian history, the Indian National Congress Party, led by Sonia Gandhi, prevailed in parliamentary elections in May 2004, prompting Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to resign. Although the country prospered economically under Vajpayee's rule, a substantial number of India's poor felt they had not benefitted from India's economic growth. Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born widow of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, dealt a further shock to the country when she refused to become prime minister. The BJP had vociferously protested Gandhi's expected elevation to prime minister because of her foreign birth. The Congress Party instead chose former finance minister Manmohan Singh, who became India's first Sikh prime minister.

On Dec. 26, 2004, a tremendously powerful tsunami ravaged 12 Asian countries. Nearly 11,000 people perished in India.

President Bush announced in March 2005 that he would allow American companies to provide India with several types of modern combat weapons, including F-16 and F-18 fighter jets. The announcement was seen as an attempt to balance Bush's offer to sell Pakistan about two dozen F-16s.

India and the U.S. Reach Deal on Nuclear Technology

In March 2006, President Bush and Prime Minister Singh agreed to a controversial civil nuclear power deal that permitted the sale of nuclear technology to India despite the fact that India has never signed the international Nuclear Nonproliferation agreement. Since 1998, the U.S. has imposed sanctions on India for undertaking nuclear tests. Critics of the deal contend that allowing India to circumvent the international treaty will make it more difficult to negotiate with Iran and North Korea and their nuclear ambitions. In September 2008, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, comprised of representatives from 45 countries, voted in favor of the deal, bringing it a step away from implementation. The U.S. Congress approved the deal in Oct. 2008; it was the last hurdle for the implementation of the controversial agreement. India's Bharatiya Janata Party, which opposes the deal, called it a "nonproliferation trap." The deal could be scrapped if India uses the fuel for its weapons program.

Pratibha Patil, of the governing Congress party, was elected president in July 2007, becoming the country's first woman to hold the post. She defeated Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.

Prime Minister Singh survived a confidence vote in July 2008, taking 275 votes to the opposition's 256. Eleven members of Parliament abstained. He had lost the support of Communist parties as he sought to seal the deal that has the U.S. providing India with nuclear technology and fuel for civilian purposes.

Squirmishing along Kashmir's Line of Control broke out over the summer of 2008, after more than four years of relative calm. The problems arose after authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir transferred 99 acres of land to a trust that runs a Hindu shrine, called Amarnath. Muslims launched a series of protests. The government rescinded the order, which outraged Hindus. About 40 people were killed in the protests and counterdemonstrations, which involved several hundred thousand people. Despite the hostilities, a trade route between India and Pakistan across the line of control opened in October for the first time in 60 years.

Terrorists Attack Landmarks in Mumbai

Religious and ethnic clashes that pitted Muslims against Hindus and Hindus against Christians broke out throughout India in the summer and fall of 2008. The violence was exacerbated by a series of terrorist attacks largely blamed on Islamic militants, including one in the northern state of Assam that killed at least 64 people and wounded hundreds in October. In total, well over 200 people died in the attacks.

India launched its first unmanned spacecraft in October 2008 for a two-year mission to map a three-dimensional atlas of the Moon and search for natural resources on the Moon's surface.

About 170 people were killed and about 300 wounded in a series of attacks that began on Nov. 26 on several of Mumbai's landmarks and commercial hubs that are popular with foreign tourists, including two five-star hotels, a hospital, a train station, and a cinema. Indian officials said ten gunmen carried out the attack, which was stunning in its brutality and duration; it took Indian forces three days to end the siege. India's police and security forces were ill-prepared for such an attack, which many inside India are calling their own September 11. In fact, Indian sharpshooters were not equipped with telescopic sights, and therefore withheld firing in fear of killing hostages rather than terrorists. In addition, a 2007 report to Parliament warned that India's shores were particularly vulnerable. (The perpetrators reportedly arrived in Mumbai by boat.)

Indian and U.S. officials said they have evidence that the Pakistan-based militant Islamic group Lashkar-e-Taiba was involved in the attack. Lashkar-e-Taiba, which translates to Army of the Pure, was established in the late 1980s with the assistance of Pakistan's spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, to fight Indian control of the Muslim section of Kashmir. The accusation further strained an already tense relationship between the two countries. India's home minister in charge of security, Shivraj Patil, resigned after the tragedy. While Pakistani president Zardari first denied that Pakistani citizens were involved in the attack, in December, Pakistan officials raided a camp run by Lashkar-e-Taiba in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, and arrested several militants. Muhammad Ajmal Qasab, a Pakistani and the only attacker who survived the Mumbai attack, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death in May 2010 by an Indian court.

Between April 16 and May 13, 2009, India held general elections. The Indian National Congress won 206 seats and will lead a governing coalition called the United Progressive Alliance. The Bharatiya Janata Party came in second with 116 seats. Analysts attributed Congress's repeat victory to the party's ability to balance the concerns of poor farmers in the rural provinces and the urban middle class. Manmohan Singh remains the prime minister.

New Delhi's highest court overturned the ban on homosexuality in India in July 2009. Homosexuality was illegal in India since 1861. Court justices declared the old law to be a violation of human rights and equality outlined in India's constitution.

In 2011, Anna Hazare, a 74-year-old Indian activist went on two hunger strikes in his quest to force India's parliament to adopt legislation instituting an independent anticorruption agency called a Jan Lokpal, or ombudsman. The first strike, which garnered a great public following, ended after 13 days and an invitation to help draft a Lokpal bill. Mr. Hazare decided the legislation was too weak, which led to his second hunger strike in December, aborted after three days due to health concerns. On Dec. 27, a bill--still deemed unsatisfactory by Anna Hazare--was passesd in the lower house before being indefinately stalled in the upper house.

On July 13, 2011, Indian cities were put on high alert after three bombs exploded in Mumbai's business district during rush hour, killing 18 people and injuring more than 100. It was the worst terrorist incident in India's financial capital since a coordinated attack by gunmen in 2008.

India Tests a Long-Range Ballistic Missile

In April 2012, India successfully launched the Agni 5, a long-range ballistic missile that can reach Beijing and Shanghai, China, and can deliver a nuclear warhead. The exercise was seen as a response to China's recent investment in its military and its growing assertiveness on the military front. Some observers questioned if the move would spark an arms race in Asia. A week later, fuel was added to that speculation when Pakistan tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile that can also carry a nuclear warhead. While India and Pakistan are archrivals, both denied the tests were an act of brinkmanship, with Pakistan saying its exercise would "further strengthen and consolidate Pakistan's deterrence capabilities."

India was hit by the largest blackout in history in July 2012. More than half of India's population —700 million people living in 22 out of the country's 28 states—lost power for two days. Authorities think residents in the northern states exceeded their allotment of electricity during a drought. For the most part, Indians took the blackout in stride, as such events are not unusual in a country whose power grid is still in development.

Gang Rape Case Ignites National Protests

Protests spread throughout India in late Dec. 2012 when a 23-year-old woman died after being gang raped by several men in a moving bus in Delhi. The woman had to be flown to Singapore after three abdominal operations at a Delhi hospital, where her intestines were removed due to damage done by a metal rod during the attack. Police said the attackers would be charged with murder. Sonia Gandhi, president of the Congress Party, said in a rare television appearance, "As a woman, and mother, I understand how protestors feel. Today we pledge that the victim will get justice."

The trial for the five men accused of the gang rape began in late January 2013. The men were charged with robbery, gang rape, and murder. Lawyers for the men said they would all plead not guilty.

In early Feb. 2013, India's government approved new, stiffer laws for sexual violence against women. The new laws included the death penalty in certain cases. The laws were a direct response to the nationwide outrage over the gang rape case. Parliament also created a special court that would hear rape cases much more quickly than India's regular justice system. Reports of sexual assault and rape skyrocketed in 2013 which suggested more willingness to come forward about these crimes since the country's new laws.

Ram Singh, the apparent driver of the bus, was found hanging in his jail cell on March 11, 2013. Officials ruled his death as suicide, but Singh's family said he was killed. On Aug. 31, a 17-year-old participant was convicted for his part in the gang rape; he was sentenced to three years in a special juvenile correctional facility. On Sept. 13, Judge Yogesh Khanna had this to say: "In these times when crimes against women are on the rise, the court cannot turn a blind eye to this gruesome act," as he handed down a sentence of death by hanging for each of the four convicted men.

Tensions Rise at Border with Pakistan

The death of five Indian soldiers on patrol in Aug. 2013 has sparked a resurgence in violence along the mostly-quiet border (since the 2003 cease-fire) between India and Pakistan. Regularly occurring mortar fire has resulted in more deaths and a growing concern about the future of these two nuclear-armed countries.

Supreme Court Bans Gay Sex

On Dec. 11, 2013, the Indian Supreme Court reinstated an 1861 law banning gay sex. The ruling came after the court determined that the law had been improperly ruled unconstitutional by a lower court in 2009. The Supreme Court ruled that only Parliament had the power to change the 1861 law, which includes a decade long jail sentence for "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with man, woman or animal."

Following the verdict, protests were held across India and the world as part of a global day of rage. Facebook got involved in the protest, too, creating a Gay For a Day campaign that went viral on Dec. 12, 2013. On the same day, India's ruling Congress party spoke out against the Supreme Court's ruling. In a rare public statement, Sonia Gandhi, leader of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that heads up the ruling Congress party, said, "The High Court had wisely removed an archaic, repressive and unjust law that infringed on the basic human rights enshrined in our Constitution." Other leaders from India's finance minister to the country's law minister spoke out against the ruling, which was also condemned internationally.

2014 Election Is the World's Largest

India's 2014 general election was scheduled from April 7 through May 12, making it the longest election in the country's history. The election would take place in nine phases.

Projected to cost around $5 billion dollars, the election was also India's costliest election and the second most expensive in world history. Only the 2012 U.S. presidential election cost more, coming in at $7 billion, according to the U.S. Federal Election Commission. In terms of population, 814 million people would be eligible to vote, making it the world's largest election ever.

See also Encyclopedia: India .
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes: India
Registrar General (Census Information) www.censusindia.net/ ;
Department of Statistics (General Statistics) http://mospi.nic.in/ .


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