(Top) A pre-14th century CE manuscript of the Rigveda, which was composed from 1500 BCE to 1200 BCE and subsequently orally transmitted. (Bottom) The "Battle at Lanka," a scene from the Sanskrit epic Ramayana—composed between 700 BCE and 200 CE—was illustrated by Sahibdin, an artist of the 17th century.
By 55,000 years ago, the first modern humans, or Homo sapiens, had arrived on the Indian subcontinent from Africa, where they had earlier evolved.
The earliest known modern human remains in South Asia date to about 30,000 years ago. After 6500 BCE, evidence for domestication of food crops and animals, construction of permanent structures, and storage of agricultural surplus appeared in Mehrgarh and other sites in what is now Balochistan. These gradually developed into the Indus Valley Civilisation, the first urban culture in South Asia, which flourished during 2500–1900 BCE in what is now Pakistan and western India. Centred around cities such as Mohenjo-daro, Harappa, Dholavira, and Kalibangan, and relying on varied forms of subsistence, the civilisation engaged robustly in crafts production and wide-ranging trade.
During the period 2000–500 BCE, many regions of the subcontinent transitioned from the Chalcolithic cultures to the Iron Age ones. The Vedas, the oldest scriptures associated with Hinduism, were composed during this period, and historians have analysed these to posit a Vedic culture in the Punjab region and the upper Gangetic Plain. Most historians also consider this period to have encompassed several waves of Indo-Aryan migration into the subcontinent from the north-west. The caste system, which created a hierarchy of priests, warriors, and free peasants, but which excluded indigenous peoples by labeling their occupations impure, arose during this period. On the Deccan Plateau, archaeological evidence from this period suggests the existence of a chiefdom stage of political organisation. In South India, a progression to sedentary life is indicated by the large number of megalithic monuments dating from this period, as well as by nearby traces of agriculture, irrigation tanks, and craft traditions.
Clockwise from upper left: (a) A map of the rough extent of the empire of Ashoka, ca 250 BCE; (b) The map of India, ca 350 CE; (c) Cave 26 of the rock-cut Ajanta Caves, fifth century CE
In the late Vedic period, around the 6th century BCE, the small states and chiefdoms of the Ganges Plain and the north-western regions had consolidated into 16 major oligarchies and monarchies that were known as the mahajanapadas. The emerging urbanisation gave rise to non-Vedic religious movements, two of which became independent religions. Jainism came into prominence during the life of its exemplar, Mahavira. Buddhism, based on the teachings of Gautama Buddha, attracted followers from all social classes excepting the middle class; chronicling the life of the Buddha was central to the beginnings of recorded history in India. In an age of increasing urban wealth, both religions held up renunciation as an ideal, and both established long-lasting monastic traditions. Politically, by the 3rd century BCE, the kingdom of Magadha had annexed or reduced other states to emerge as the Mauryan Empire. The empire was once thought to have controlled most of the subcontinent except the far south, but its core regions are now thought to have been separated by large autonomous areas. The Mauryan kings are known as much for their empire-building and determined management of public life as for Ashoka's renunciation of militarism and far-flung advocacy of the Buddhist dhamma.
The Indian early medieval age, 600 CE to 1200 CE, is defined by regional kingdoms and cultural diversity. When Harsha of Kannauj, who ruled much of the Indo-Gangetic Plain from 606 to 647 CE, attempted to expand southwards, he was defeated by the Chalukya ruler of the Deccan. When his successor attempted to expand eastwards, he was defeated by the Pala king of Bengal. When the Chalukyas attempted to expand southwards, they were defeated by the Pallavas from farther south, who in turn were opposed by the Pandyas and the Cholas from still farther south. No ruler of this period was able to create an empire and consistently control lands much beyond his core region. During this time, pastoral peoples, whose land had been cleared to make way for the growing agricultural economy, were accommodated within caste society, as were new non-traditional ruling classes. The caste system consequently began to show regional differences.
In the 6th and 7th centuries, the first devotional hymns were created in the Tamil language. They were imitated all over India and led to both the resurgence of Hinduism and the development of all modern languages of the subcontinent. Indian royalty, big and small, and the temples they patronised drew citizens in great numbers to the capital cities, which became economic hubs as well. Temple towns of various sizes began to appear everywhere as India underwent another urbanisation. By the 8th and 9th centuries, the effects were felt in South-East Asia, as South Indian culture and political systems were exported to lands that became part of modern-day Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, and Java. Indian merchants, scholars, and sometimes armies were involved in this transmission; South-East Asians took the initiative as well, with many sojourning in Indian seminaries and translating Buddhist and Hindu texts into their languages.
After the 10th century, Muslim Central Asian nomadic clans, using swift-horse cavalry and raising vast armies united by ethnicity and religion, repeatedly overran South Asia's north-western plains, leading eventually to the establishment of the Islamic Delhi Sultanate in 1206. The sultanate was to control much of North India and to make many forays into South India. Although at first disruptive for the Indian elites, the sultanate largely left its vast non-Muslim subject population to its own laws and customs. By repeatedly repulsing Mongol raiders in the 13th century, the sultanate saved India from the devastation visited on West and Central Asia, setting the scene for centuries of migration of fleeing soldiers, learned men, mystics, traders, artists, and artisans from that region into the subcontinent, thereby creating a syncretic Indo-Islamic culture in the north. The sultanate's raiding and weakening of the regional kingdoms of South India paved the way for the indigenous Vijayanagara Empire. Embracing a strong Shaivite tradition and building upon the military technology of the sultanate, the empire came to control much of peninsular India, and was to influence South Indian society for long afterwards.
Early modern India
Clockwise from upper left: (a) India in 1525 at the onset of Mughal rule; (b) India in 1605 during the rule of Akbar; (c) A distant view of the Taj Mahal from the Agra Fort
In the early 16th century, northern India, then under mainly Muslim rulers, fell again to the superior mobility and firepower of a new generation of Central Asian warriors. The resulting Mughal Empire did not stamp out the local societies it came to rule. Instead, it balanced and pacified them through new administrative practices and diverse and inclusive ruling elites, leading to more systematic, centralised, and uniform rule. Eschewing tribal bonds and Islamic identity, especially under Akbar, the Mughals united their far-flung realms through loyalty, expressed through a Persianised culture, to an emperor who had near-divine status. The Mughal state's economic policies, deriving most revenues from agriculture and mandating that taxes be paid in the well-regulated silver currency, caused peasants and artisans to enter larger markets. The relative peace maintained by the empire during much of the 17th century was a factor in India's economic expansion, resulting in greater patronage of painting, literary forms, textiles, and architecture. Newly coherent social groups in northern and western India, such as the Marathas, the Rajputs, and the Sikhs, gained military and governing ambitions during Mughal rule, which, through collaboration or adversity, gave them both recognition and military experience. Expanding commerce during Mughal rule gave rise to new Indian commercial and political elites along the coasts of southern and eastern India. As the empire disintegrated, many among these elites were able to seek and control their own affairs.
Clockwise from top left: (a) India under British East India Company rule in 1795; (b) India in 1848; (c) A two mohur gold coin issued by the Company in 1835 with the bust of William IV, King on the obverse, and the face value in English and Persian, on the reverse
By the early 18th century, with the lines between commercial and political dominance being increasingly blurred, a number of European trading companies, including the English East India Company, had established coastal outposts. The East India Company's control of the seas, greater resources, and more advanced military training and technology led it to increasingly flex its military muscle and caused it to become attractive to a portion of the Indian elite; these factors were crucial in allowing the company to gain control over the Bengal region by 1765 and sideline the other European companies. Its further access to the riches of Bengal and the subsequent increased strength and size of its army enabled it to annex or subdue most of India by the 1820s. India was then no longer exporting manufactured goods as it long had, but was instead supplying the British Empire with raw materials. Many historians consider this to be the onset of India's colonial period. By this time, with its economic power severely curtailed by the British parliament and having effectively been made an arm of British administration, the company began more consciously to enter non-economic arenas like education, social reform, and culture.
Historians consider India's modern age to have begun sometime between 1848 and 1885. The appointment in 1848 of Lord Dalhousie as Governor General of the East India Company set the stage for changes essential to a modern state. These included the consolidation and demarcation of sovereignty, the surveillance of the population, and the education of citizens. Technological changes—among them, railways, canals, and the telegraph—were introduced not long after their introduction in Europe. However, disaffection with the company also grew during this time and set off the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Fed by diverse resentments and perceptions, including invasive British-style social reforms, harsh land taxes, and summary treatment of some rich landowners and princes, the rebellion rocked many regions of northern and central India and shook the foundations of Company rule. Although the rebellion was suppressed by 1858, it led to the dissolution of the East India Company and the direct administration of India by the British government. Proclaiming a unitary state and a gradual but limited British-style parliamentary system, the new rulers also protected princes and landed gentry as a feudal safeguard against future unrest. In the decades following, public life gradually emerged all over India, leading eventually to the founding of the Indian National Congress in 1885.
The rush of technology and the commercialisation of agriculture in the second half of the 19th century was marked by economic setbacks and many small farmers became dependent on the whims of far-away markets. There was an increase in the number of large-scale famines, and, despite the risks of infrastructure development borne by Indian taxpayers, little industrial employment was generated for Indians. There were also salutary effects: commercial cropping, especially in the newly canalled Punjab, led to increased food production for internal consumption. The railway network provided critical famine relief, notably reduced the cost of moving goods, and helped nascent Indian-owned industry.
Vital to India's self-image as an independent nation was its constitution, completed in 1950, which put in place a secular and democratic republic. It has remained a democracy with civil liberties, an active Supreme Court, and a largely independent press. Economic liberalisation, which began in the 1990s, has created a large urban middle class, transformed India into one of the world's fastest-growing economies, and increased its geopolitical clout. Indian movies, music, and spiritual teachings play an increasing role in global culture. Yet, India is also shaped by seemingly unyielding poverty, both rural and urban; by religious and caste-related violence; by Maoist-inspired Naxalite insurgencies; and by separatism in Jammu and Kashmir and in Northeast India. It has unresolved territorial disputes with China and with Pakistan. The India–Pakistan nuclear rivalry came to a head in 1998. India's sustained democratic freedoms are unique among the world's newer nations; however, in spite of its recent economic successes, freedom from want for its disadvantaged population remains a goal yet to be achieved.
The original Indian Plate survives as peninsular India, the oldest and geologically most stable part of India. It extends as far north as the Satpura and Vindhya ranges in central India. These parallel chains run from the Arabian Sea coast in Gujarat in the west to the coal-rich Chota Nagpur Plateau in Jharkhand in the east. To the south, the remaining peninsular landmass, the Deccan Plateau, is flanked on the west and east by coastal ranges known as the Western and Eastern Ghats; the plateau contains the country's oldest rock formations, some over one billion years old. Constituted in such fashion, India lies to the north of the equator between 6° 44' and 35° 30' north latitude[h] and 68° 7' and 97° 25' east longitude.
India's coastline measures 7,517 kilometres (4,700 mi) in length; of this distance, 5,423 kilometres (3,400 mi) belong to peninsular India and 2,094 kilometres (1,300 mi) to the Andaman, Nicobar, and Lakshadweep island chains. According to the Indian naval hydrographic charts, the mainland coastline consists of the following: 43% sandy beaches; 11% rocky shores, including cliffs; and 46% mudflats or marshy shores.
The Indian climate is strongly influenced by the Himalayas and the Thar Desert, both of which drive the economically and culturally pivotal summer and winter monsoons. The Himalayas prevent cold Central Asian katabatic winds from blowing in, keeping the bulk of the Indian subcontinent warmer than most locations at similar latitudes. The Thar Desert plays a crucial role in attracting the moisture-laden south-west summer monsoon winds that, between June and October, provide the majority of India's rainfall. Four major climatic groupings predominate in India: tropical wet, tropical dry, subtropical humid, and montane.
Many Indian species have descended from those of Gondwana, the southern supercontinent from which India separated more than 100 million years ago. India's subsequent collision with Eurasia set off a mass exchange of species. However, volcanism and climatic changes later caused the extinction of many endemic Indian forms. Still later, mammals entered India from Asia through two zoogeographical passes flanking the Himalayas. This had the effect of lowering endemism among India's mammals, which stands at 12.6%, contrasting with 45.8% among reptiles and 55.8% among amphibians. Notable endemics are the vulnerablehooded leaf monkey and the threatenedBeddom's toad of the Western Ghats.
In the Republic of India's first three general elections, in 1951, 1957, and 1962, the Jawaharlal Nehru-led Congress won easy victories. On Nehru's death in 1964, Lal Bahadur Shastri briefly became prime minister; he was succeeded, after his own unexpected death in 1966, by Nehru's daughter Indira Gandhi, who went on to lead the Congress to election victories in 1967 and 1971. Following public discontent with the state of emergency she declared in 1975, the Congress was voted out of power in 1977; the then-new Janata Party, which had opposed the emergency, was voted in. Its government lasted just over two years. Voted back into power in 1980, the Congress saw a change in leadership in 1984, when Indira Gandhi was assassinated; she was succeeded by her son Rajiv Gandhi, who won an easy victory in the general elections later that year. The Congress was voted out again in 1989 when a National Front coalition, led by the newly formed Janata Dal in alliance with the Left Front, won the elections; that government too proved relatively short-lived, lasting just under two years. Elections were held again in 1991; no party won an absolute majority. The Congress, as the largest single party, was able to form a minority government led by P. V. Narasimha Rao.
Legislature: The legislature of India is the bicameralparliament. Operating under a Westminster-style parliamentary system, it comprises an upper house called the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and a lower house called the Lok Sabha (House of the People). The Rajya Sabha is a permanent body of 245members who serve staggered six-yearterms. Most are elected indirectly by the state and union territorial legislatures in numbers proportional to their state's share of the national population. All but two of the Lok Sabha's 545members are elected directly by popular vote; they represent single-member constituencies for five-yearterms. The remaining twomembers are nominated by the president from among the Anglo-Indian community, in case the president decides they are not adequately represented.
Clockwise from top: (a) A farmer in northwestern Karnataka ploughs his field with a tractor even as another in a field beyond does the same with a pair of oxen. In 2018, 44% of India's total workforce was employed in agriculture. (b) Women tend to a recently planted rice field in Junagadh district in Gujarat. 57% of India's female workforce was employed in agriculture in 2018. (c) India is the world's largest producer of milk, with the largest population of cattle. In 2018, nearly 80% of India's milk was sourced from small farms with herd size between one and two, the milk harvested by hand milking.
The 513.7-million-worker Indian labour force is the world's second-largest, as of 2016[update]. 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, were 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 manufactured leather goods. 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 world's second largest textile exporter after China in the 2013 calendar year.
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, as of 2010[update], 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. With seven of the world's top 15 information technology outsourcing companies based in India, as of 2009[update], the country is viewed as the second-most favourable outsourcing destination after the United States. India's consumer market, the world's eleventh-largest, is expected to become fifth-largest by 2030. However, barely 2% of Indians pay income taxes.
Driven by growth, India's nominal GDP per capita increased steadily from US$329 in 1991, when economic liberalisation began, to US$1,265 in 2010, to an estimated US$1,723 in 2016. It is expected to grow to US$2,358 by 2020. However, it has remained lower than those of other Asian developing countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, and is expected to remain so in the near future. Its GDP per capita is higher than Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and others.
A panorama of Bangalore, the centre of India's software development economy. In the 1980s, when the first multinational corporations began to set up centres in India, they chose Bangalore because of the large pool of skilled graduates in the area, in turn due to the many science and engineering colleges in the surrounding region.
According to a 2011 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) 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.
A tea garden in Sikkim. India, the world's second largest-producer of tea, is a nation of one billion tea drinkers, who consume 70% of India's tea output.
India's telecommunication industry, the world's fastest-growing, added 227 million subscribers during the period 2010–2011, and after the third quarter of 2017, India surpassed the US to become the second largest smartphone market in the world after China.
The Indian automotive industry, the world's second-fastest growing, increased domestic sales by 26% during 2009–2010, and exports by 36% during 2008–2009. India's capacity to generate electrical power is 300 gigawatts, of which 42 gigawatts is renewable. At the end of 2011, the Indian IT industry employed 2.8 million professionals, generated revenues close to US$100 billion equalling 7.5% of Indian GDP, and contributed 26% of India's merchandise exports.
The pharmaceutical industry in India is among the significant emerging markets for the global pharmaceutical industry. The Indian pharmaceutical market is expected to reach $48.5 billion by 2020. India's R & D spending constitutes 60% of the biopharmaceutical industry. India is among the top 12 biotech destinations in the world. The Indian biotech industry grew by 15.1% in 2012–2013, increasing its revenues from ₹204.4 billion (Indian rupees) to ₹235.24 billion (US$3.94 billion at June 2013 exchange rates).
Female health workers about to begin another day of immunisation against infectious diseases in 2006. Eight years later, and three years after India's last case of polio, the World Health Organization on 11 February 2014 declared India to be polio-free.
Despite economic growth during recent decades, India continues to face socio-economic challenges. In 2006, India contained the largest number of people living below the World Bank's international poverty line of US$1.25 per day. The proportion decreased from 60% in 1981 to 42% in 2005. Under the World Bank's later revised poverty line, it was 21% in 2011.[k] 30.7% of India's children under the age of five are underweight. According to a Food and Agriculture Organization report in 2015, 15% of the population is undernourished. The Mid-Day Meal Scheme attempts to lower these rates.
According to a 2016 Walk Free Foundation report there were an estimated 18.3 million people in India, or 1.4% of the population, living in the forms of modern slavery, such as bonded labour, child labour, human trafficking, and forced begging, among others. According to the 2011 census, there were 10.1 million child labourers in the country, a decline of 2.6 million from 12.6 million in 2001.
The population density of India by natural divisions, based on the Indian census of 1901
Population density of India by each state, based on the Indian census of 2011
The prevailing religions of South Asia based on district-wise majorities in the 1901 census
The language families of South Asia
With 1,210,193,422 residents reported in the 2011 provisional census report, India is the world's second-most populous country. Its population grew by 17.64% from 2001 to 2011, compared to 21.54% growth in the previous decade (1991–2001). The human sex ratio, according to the 2011 census, is 940 females per 1,000 males. The median age was 27.6 as of 2016[update]. The first post-colonial census, conducted in 1951, counted 361 million people. Medical advances made in the last 50 years as well as increased agricultural productivity brought about by the "Green Revolution" have caused India's population to grow rapidly.
The average life expectancy in India is at 68 years—69.6 years for women, 67.3 years for men. There are around 50 physicians per 100,000 Indians. Migration from rural to urban areas has been an important dynamic in India's recent history. The number of people living in urban areas grew by 31.2% between 1991 and 2001. Yet, in 2001, over 70% still lived in rural areas. The level of urbanisation increased further from 27.81% in the 2001 Census to 31.16% in the 2011 Census. The slowing down of the overall population growth rate was due to the sharp decline in the growth rate in rural areas since 1991. According to the 2011 census, there are 53 million-plus urban agglomerations in India; among them Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad, in decreasing order by population. The literacy rate in 2011 was 74.04%: 65.46% among females and 82.14% among males. The rural-urban literacy gap, which was 21.2 percentage points in 2001, dropped to 16.1 percentage points in 2011. The improvement in the rural literacy rate is twice that of urban areas.Kerala is the most literate state with 93.91% literacy; while Bihar the least with 63.82%.
India is home to two major language families: Indo-Aryan (spoken by about 74% of the population) and Dravidian (spoken by 24% of the population). Other languages spoken in India come from the Austroasiatic and Sino-Tibetan language families. India has no national language.Hindi, with the largest number of speakers, is the official language of the government.English is used extensively in business and administration and has the status of a "subsidiary official language"; it is important in education, especially as a medium of higher education. Each state and union territory has one or more official languages, and the constitution recognises in particular 22 "scheduled languages".
Television broadcasting began in India in 1959 as a state-run medium of communication and expanded slowly for more than two decades. The state monopoly on television broadcast ended in the 1990s. Since then, satellite channels have increasingly shaped the popular culture of Indian society. Today, television is the most penetrative media in India; industry estimates indicate that as of 2012[update] there are over 554 million TV consumers, 462 million with satellite and/or cable connections, compared to other forms of mass media such as the press (350 million), radio (156 million) or internet (37 million).
Traditional Indian society is sometimes defined by social hierarchy. The Indian caste system embodies much of the social stratification and many of the social restrictions found in the Indian subcontinent. Social classes are defined by thousands of endogamous hereditary groups, often termed as jātis, or "castes". India declared untouchability to be illegal in 1947 and has since enacted other anti-discriminatory laws and social welfare initiatives. At the workplace in urban India, and in international or leading Indian companies, caste-related identification has pretty much lost its importance.
Family values are important in the Indian tradition, and multi-generational patriarchal joint families have been the norm in India, though nuclear families are becoming common in urban areas. An overwhelming majority of Indians, with their consent, have their marriages arranged by their parents or other family elders. Marriage is thought to be for life, and the divorce rate is extremely low, with less than one in a thousand marriages ending in divorce.Child marriages are common, especially in rural areas; many women wed before reaching 18, which is their legal marriageable age.Female infanticide in India, and lately female foeticide, have created skewed gender ratios; the number of missing women in the country quadrupled from 15 million to 63 million in the 50-year period ending in 2014, faster than the population growth during the same period, and constituting 20 percent of India's female electorate. Accord to an Indian government study, an additional 21 million girls are unwanted and do not receive adequate care. Despite a government ban on sex-selective foeticide, the practice remains commonplace in India, the result of a preference for boys in a patriarchal society. The payment of dowry, although illegal, remains widespread across class lines.Deaths resulting from dowry, mostly from bride burning, are on the rise, despite stringent anti-dowry laws.
The most widely worn traditional dress in India, for both women and men, from ancient times until the advent of modern times, was draped. For women it eventually took the form of a sari, a single long piece of cloth, famously six yards long, and of width spanning the lower body. The sari is tied around the waist and knotted at one end, wrapped around the lower body, and then over the shoulder. In its more modern form, it has been used to cover the head, and sometimes the face, as a veil. It has been combined with an underskirt, or Indian petticoat, and tucked in the waist band for more secure fastening, It is also commonly worn with an Indian blouse, or choli, which serves as the primary upper-body garment, the sari's end, passing over the shoulder, now serving to obscure the upper body's contours, and to cover the midriff.
For men, a similar but shorter length of cloth, the dhoti, has served as a lower-body garment. It too is tied around the waist and wrapped. In south India, it is usually wrapped around the lower body, the upper end tucked in the waistband, the lower left free. In addition, in northern India, it is also wrapped once around each leg before being brought up through the legs to be tucked in at the back. Other forms of traditional apparel that involve no stitching or tailoring are the chaddar (a shawl worn by both sexes to cover the upper body during colder weather, or a large veil worn by women for framing the head, or covering it) and the pagri (a turban or a scarf worn around the head as a part of a tradition, or to keep off the sun or the cold).
From top left to bottom right (a) Women (from l. to r) churidars and kameez, with back to the camera; in jeans and sweater; in pink Shalwar kameez shopping; (b) a boy in kurta with chikan embroidery; (c) girls in the Kashmir region in embroidered hijab; (d) a tailor in pagri and kameez working outside a fabric shop
Until the beginning of the first millennium CE, the ordinary dress of people in India was entirely unstitched. The arrival of the Kushans from Central Asia, circa 48 CE, popularised cut and sewn garments in the style of Central Asian favoured by the elite in northern India. However, it was not until Muslim rule was established, first with the Delhi sultanate and then the Mughal Empire, that the range of stitched clothes in India grew and their use became significantly more widespread. Among the various garments gradually establishing themselves in northern India during medieval and early-modern times and now commonly worn are: the shalwars and pyjamas both forms of trousers, as well as the tunics kurta and kameez. In southern India, however, the traditional draped garments were to see much longer continuous use.
Shalwars are atypically wide at the waist but narrow to a cuffed bottom. They are held up by a drawstring or elastic belt, which causes them to become pleated around the waist. The pants can be wide and baggy, or they can be cut quite narrow, on the bias, in which case they are called churidars. The kameez is a long shirt or tunic. The side seams are left open below the waist-line,), which gives the wearer greater freedom of movement. The kameez is usually cut straight and flat; older kameez use traditional cuts; modern kameez are more likely to have European-inspired set-in sleeves. The kameez may have a European-style collar, a Mandarin-collar, or it may be collarless; in the latter case, its design as a women's garment is similar to a kurta. At first worn by Muslim women, the use of shalwar kameez gradually spread, making them a regional style, especially in the Punjab region.
A kurta, which traces its roots to Central Asian nomadic tunics, has evolved stylistically in India as a garment for everyday wear as well as for formal occasions. It is traditionally made of cotton or silk; it is worn plain or with embroidered decoration, such as chikan; and it can be loose or tight in the torso, typically falling either just above or somewhere below the wearer's knees. The sleeves of a traditional kurta fall to the wrist without narrowing, the ends hemmed but not cuffed; the kurta can be worn by both men and women; it is traditionally collarless, though standing collars are increasingly popular; and it can be worn over ordinary pyjamas, loose shalwars, churidars, or less traditionally over jeans.
In the last 50 years, fashions have changed a great deal in India. Increasingly, in urban settings in northern India, the sari is no longer the apparel of everyday wear, transformed instead into one for formal occasions. The traditional shalwar kameez is rarely worn by younger women, who favour churidars or jeans. The kurtas worn by young men usually fall to the shins and are seldom plain. In white-collar office settings, ubiquitous air conditioning allows men to wear sports jackets year-round. For weddings and formal occasions, men in the middle- and upper classes often wear bandgala, or short Nehru jackets, with pants, with the groom and his groomsmen sporting sherwanis and churidars. The dhoti, the once universal garment of Hindu India, the wearing of which in the homespun and handwoven form of khadi allowed Gandhi to bring Indian nationalism to the millions,
is seldom seen in the cities, reduced now, with brocaded border, to the liturgicalvestments of Hindu priests.
Indian cuisine consists of a wide variety of regional and traditional cuisines. Given the range of diversity in soil type, climate, culture, ethnic groups, and occupations, these cuisines vary substantially from each other, using locally available spices, herbs, vegetables, and fruit. Indian foodways have been influenced by religion, in particular Hindu cultural choices and traditions. They have been also shaped by Islamic rule, particularly that of the Mughals, by the arrival of the Portuguese on India's southwestern shores, and by British rule. These three influences are reflected, respectively, in the dishes of pilaf and biryani; the vindaloo; and the tiffin and the Railway mutton curry. Earlier, the Columbian exchange had brought the potato, the tomato, maize, peanuts, cashew nuts, pineapples, guavas, and most notably, chilli peppers, to India. Each became staples of use. In turn, the spice trade between India and Europe was a catalyst for Europe's Age of Discovery.
The cereals grown in India, their choice, times, and regions of planting, correspond strongly to the timing of India's monsoons, and the variation across regions in their associated rainfall. In general, the broad division of cereal zones in India, as determined by their dependence on rain, was firmly in place before the arrival of artificial irrigation. Rice, which requires a lot of water, has been grown traditionally in regions of high rainfall in the northeast and the western coast, wheat in regions of moderate rainfall, like India's northern plains, and millet in regions of low rainfall, such as on the Deccan Plateau and in Rajasthan.
The foundation of a typical Indian meal is a cereal cooked in plain fashion, and complemented with flavorful savory dishes. The latter includes lentils, pulses and vegetables spiced commonly with ginger and garlic, but also more discerningly with a combination of spices that may include coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamon and others as informed by culinary conventions. In an actual meal, this mental representation takes the form of a platter, or thali, with a central place for the cooked cereal, peripheral ones, often in small bowls, for the flavorful accompaniments, and the simultaneous, rather than piecemeal, ingestion of the two in each act of eating, whether by actual mixing—for example of rice and lentils—or in the folding of one—such as bread—around the other, such as cooked vegetables.
A notable feature of Indian food is the existence of a number of distinctive vegetarian cuisines, each a feature of the geographical and cultural histories of its adherents. The appearance of ahimsa, or the avoidance of violence toward all forms of life in many religious orders early in Indian history, especially Upanishadic Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, is thought to have been a notable factor in the prevalence of vegetarianism among a segment of India's Hindu population, especially in southern India, Gujarat, and the Hindi-speaking belt of north-central India, as well as among Jains. Among these groups, strong discomfort is felt at thoughts of eating meat, and contributes to the low proportional consumption of meat to overall diet in India. Unlike China, which has increased its per capita meat consumption substantially in its years of increased economic growth, in India the strong dietary traditions have contributed to dairy, rather than meat, becoming the preferred form of animal protein consumption accompanying higher economic growth.
In the last millennium, the most significant import of cooking techniques into India occurred during the Mughal Empire. The cultivation of rice had spread much earlier from India to Central and West Asia; however, it was during Mughal rule that dishes, such as the pilaf, developed in the interim during the Abbasid caliphate, and cooking techniques such as the marinating of meat in yogurt, spread into northern India from regions to its northwest. To the simple yogurt marinade of Persia, onions, garlic, almonds, and spices began to be added in India. Rice grown to the southwest of the Mughal capital, Agra, which had become famous in the Islamic world for its fine grain, was partially cooked and layered alternately with the sauteed meat, the pot sealed tightly, and slow cooked according to another Persian cooking technique, to produce what has today become the Indian biryani, a feature of festive dining in many parts of India.
In food served in restaurants in urban north India, and internationally, the diversity of Indian food has been partially concealed by the dominance of Punjabi cuisine. This was caused in large part by an entrepreneurial response among people from the Punjab region who had been displaced by the 1947 partition of India, and had arrived in India as refugees. The identification of Indian cuisine with the tandoori chicken—cooked in the tandoor oven, which had traditionally been used for baking bread in the rural Punjab and the Delhi region, especially among Muslims, but which is originally from Central Asia—dates to this period.
During a twenty-four-year career, Sachin Tendulkar has set many batting records in cricket. The picture shows him about to score a record 14,000 runs in test cricket while playing Australia in Bangalore on 10 October 2010.
Girls play hopscotch in Juara, Madhya Pradesh. Hopscotch has been commonly played by girls in rural India.
Cricket is the most popular sport in India. Major domestic competitions include the Indian Premier League, which is the most-watched cricket league in the world and ranks sixth among all sports leagues.
^"[...] Jana Gana Mana is the National Anthem of India, subject to such alterations in the words as the Government may authorise as occasion arises; and the song Vande Mataram, which has played a historic part in the struggle for Indian freedom, shall be honoured equally with Jana Gana Mana and shall have equal status with it."(Constituent Assembly of India 1950).
^"The country's exact size is subject to debate because some borders are disputed. The Indian government lists the total area as 3,287,260 km2 (1,269,220 sq mi) and the total land area as 3,060,500 km2 (1,181,700 sq mi); the United Nations lists the total area as 3,287,263 km2 (1,269,219 sq mi) and total land area as 2,973,190 km2 (1,147,960 sq mi)."(Library of Congress 2004).
^" A Chinese pilgrim also recorded evidence of the caste system as he could observe it. According to this evidence the treatment meted out to untouchables such as the Chandalas was very similar to that which they experienced in later periods. This would contradict assertions that this rigid form of the caste system emerged in India only as a reaction to the Islamic conquest.
^"Shah Jahan eventually sent her body 800 km (500 mi) to Agra for burial in the Rauza-i Munauwara ("Illuminated Tomb") – a personal tribute and a stone manifestation of his imperial power. This tomb has been celebrated globally as the Taj Mahal."
^The northernmost point under Indian control is the disputed Siachen Glacier in Jammu and Kashmir; however, the Government of India regards the entire region of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, including the Gilgit-Baltistan administered by Pakistan, to be its territory. It therefore assigns the latitude 37° 6' to its northernmost point.
^ abc"National Symbols | National Portal of India". India.gov.in. Archived from the original on 4 February 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2017. The National Anthem of India Jana Gana Mana, composed originally in Bengali by Rabindranath Tagore, was adopted in its Hindi version by the Constituent Assembly as the National Anthem of India on 24 January 1950.
^(a) "Kashmir, region Indian subcontinent", Encyclopaedia Britannica, archived from the original on 13 August 2019, retrieved 15 August 2019, Kashmir, region of the northwestern Indian subcontinent ... has been the subject of dispute between India and Pakistan since the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947.; (b) Pletcher, Kenneth, "Aksai Chin, Plateau Region, Asia", Encyclopaedia Britannica, archived from the original on 2 April 2019, retrieved 16 August 2019, Aksai Chin, Chinese (Pinyin) Aksayqin, portion of the Kashmir region, ... constitutes nearly all the territory of the Chinese-administered sector of Kashmir that is claimed by India; (c) C. E Bosworth (2006), "Kashmir", Encyclopedia Americana, Scholastic Library Publishing, p. 328, ISBN978-0-7172-0139-6, KASHMIR, kash'mer, the northernmost region of the Indian subcontinent, administered partly by India, partly by Pakistan, and partly by China. The region has been the subject of a bitter dispute between India and Pakistan since they became independent in 1947
^Dyson, Tim (2018), A Population History of India: From the First Modern People to the Present Day, Oxford University Press, p. 1, ISBN978-0-19-882905-8 Quote: "Modern human beings—Homo sapiens—originated in Africa. Then, intermittently, sometime between 60,000 and 80,000 years ago, tiny groups of them began to enter the north-west of the Indian subcontinent. It seems likely that initially they came by way of the coast. ... it is virtually certain that there were Homo sapiens in the subcontinent 55,000 years ago, even though the earliest fossils that have been found of them date to only about 30,000 years before the present. (page 1)"
^Fisher, Michael H. (2018), An Environmental History of India: From Earliest Times to the Twenty-First Century, Cambridge University Press, p. 23, ISBN978-1-107-11162-2 Quote: "Scholars estimate that the first successful expansion of the Homo sapiens range beyond Africa and across the Arabian Peninsula occurred from as early as 80,000 years ago to as late as 40,000 years ago, although there may have been prior unsuccessful emigrations. Some of their descendants extended the human range ever further in each generation, spreading into each habitable land they encountered. One human channel was along the warm and productive coastal lands of the Persian Gulf and northern Indian Ocean. Eventually, various bands entered India between 75,000 years ago and 35,000 years ago (page 23)"
^Muir, Hugh (13 July 2009), "Diary", The Guardian Quote: "Members of the Indian armed forces have the plum job of leading off the great morning parade for Bastille Day. Only after units and bands from India's navy and air force have followed the Maratha Light Infantry will the parade be entirely given over to ... France's armed services."
^Kapoor, Mudit; Shamika, Ravi (10 February 2014). "India's missing women". The Hindu. Retrieved 17 November 2019. Quote: "In the last 50 years of Indian democracy, the absolute number of missing women has increased fourfold from 15 million to 68 million. This is not merely a reflection of the growth in the overall population, but, rather, of the fact that this dangerous trend has worsened with time. As a percentage of the female electorate, missing women have gone up significantly — from 13 per cent to approximately 20 per cent
^The Associated Press (30 January 2018). "More than 63 million women 'missing' in India, statistics show". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 November 2019. Quote: "More than 63 million women are “missing” statistically across India, and more than 21 million girls are unwanted by their families, government officials say. The skewed ratio of men to women is largely the result of sex-selective abortions, and better nutrition and medical care for boys, according to the government’s annual economic survey, which was released on Monday. In addition, the survey found that “families where a son is born are more likely to stop having children than families where a girl is born”.
^Srinivasan, Radhika; Jermyn, Leslie; Lek, Hui Hui (2001), India, Times Books International, p. 109, ISBN978-981-232-184-8 Quote: "Girls in India usually play jump rope, or hopscotch, and five stones, tossing the stones up in the air and catching them in many different ways ... the coconut-plucking contests, groundnut-eating races, ... of rural India."
Srivastava, V.C. (2008), "Introduction", in V.C. Srivastava; Lallanji Gopal (eds.), History of Agriculture in India (up to c.1200 AD), History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization, Volume V Part 1, General Editor: D.P. Chattopadhyaya, Concept Publishing Co, ISBN978-81-8069-521-6
Medora, N. (2003), "Mate Selection in Contemporary India: Love Marriages Versus Arranged Marriages", in Hamon, R. R.; Ingoldsby, B. B. (eds.), Mate Selection Across Cultures, SAGE Publications, pp. 209–230, ISBN978-0-7619-2592-7