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About India

The land of resource and opportunities

Brief History

The ancient Indian civilization known as the Indus Valley civilization is one of the oldest in the world. It dates back at least 5,000 years. The people of India have had a continuous civilization since 2500 B.C., when the inhabitants of the Indus River valley developed an urban culture based on commerce and sustained by agricultural trade. This civilization declined around 1500 B.C.. Ecological changes were perhaps the cause of the decline. Aryan tribes from the northwest invaded India in 1500 B.C. Their merger with the earlier inhabitants created the classical Indian culture. During the second millennium B.C., pastoral, Aryan-speaking tribes migrated from the north-west into the Indian sub-continent. As they settled in the middle Ganges River valley, they adapted to antecedent cultures.

The political map of ancient and medieval India was made up of myriad kingdoms with fluctuating boundaries. In the 4th and 5th centuries A.D., northern India was unified under the Gupta Dynasty. During this period, known as India's Golden Age, Hindu culture and political administration reached new heights.

Arab incursions started in the 8th century and Turkish invasion in the 12th century. Islam spread across India over a period of 500 years. In the 10th and 11th centuries, Turks and Afghans invaded India and established sultanates in Delhi. In the early 16th century, descendants of Genghis Khan swept across the Khyber Pass and established the Mughal (Mogul) Dynasty, which lasted for 200 years. From the 11th to the 15th centuries, southern India was dominated by Hindu Chola and Vijayanagar Dynasties. During this time, the two systems - the prevailing Hindu and Muslim - mingled, leaving lasting cultural influences on each other.

In the late 15th century the European traders entered India. By the 19th century, Britain had assumed political control of virtually all Indian lands. The first British outpost in South Asia was established in 1619 at Surat (in Gujarat) on the north-western coast. Later in the century, the East India Company opened permanent trading stations at Madras (now Chennai), Bombay (now Mumbai), and Calcutta (now Kolkata), each under the protection of native rulers.

The British expanded their influence from these footholds until, by the 1850s, they controlled most of present-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. In the late 1800s, the first steps were taken toward self-government in British India with the appointment of Indian councilors to advise the British Viceroy and the establishment of provincial councils with Indian members; the British subsequently widened participation in legislative councils. In 1857, a rebellion in north India led by mutinous Indian soldiers caused the British Parliament to transfer all political power from the East India Company to the Crown. Great Britain began administering most of India directly while controlling the rest through treaties with local rulers.

Beginning in 1920, the Indian leader Shri Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi transformed the Indian National Congress political party into a mass movement to campaign against British colonial rule. The party used both parliamentary and nonviolent resistance and non-cooperation to achieve independence. The non-violent resistance to British colonialism under Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru led to Indian independence in 1947. On August 15, 1947, India became a dominion within the Commonwealth, with Mr Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister. Enmity between Hindus and Muslims led the British to partition British India, creating East and West Pakistan, where there were Muslim majorities. The Indian sub-continent was divided into the secular state of India and the smaller Islamic state of Pakistan. A third war between India and Pakistan in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan becoming a separate nation known as Bangladesh. India became a Republic within the Commonwealth after promulgating its constitution on January 26, 1950.

Despite prolonged dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir, massive over population, environmental degradation, extensive poverty, illiteracy and ethnic and religious strife, India has its own inherent strengths. This has led to impressive gains in economic investment and output and the country has gained a reputed status in the World of Academics and Business. Despite severe economic disparities between the urban rich and the rural poor, the two have co-existed peacefully - which is an amazing trait of this country considering its size.

The Indian Democracy

After independence, the Congress Party, the party of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, ruled India under the influence first of Nehru and then his daughter Mrs. Indira Gandhi, and grandson Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, with the exception of two brief periods in the 1970s and 1980s. Prime Minister Nehru governed India until 1964. He was succeeded by Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri. In 1966, power passed to Nehru's daughter, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977. In 1975, beset with deepening political and economic problems, Mrs. Gandhi declared a state of emergency and suspended many civil liberties. Seeking a mandate at the polls for her policies, she called for elections in 1977, only to be defeated by Mr. Moraji Desai, who headed the Janata Party, an amalgam of five opposition parties.

In 1979, Desai's Government crumbled. Charan Singh formed an interim government, which was followed by Mrs. Gandhi's return to power in January 1980. On October 31, 1984, Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated, and her son, Rajiv Gandhi, was chosen by the Congress Party to take her place. His government was brought down in 1989 by allegations of corruption and was followed by V.P. Singh and then Chandra Shekhar.

In the 1989 elections, although Rajiv Gandhi and Congress won more seats in the 1989 elections than any other single party, he was unable to form a government with a clear majority. The Janata Dal, a union of opposition parties, was able to form a government with the help of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the right and the communists on the left. This loose coalition collapsed in November 1990, and the government was controlled for a short period by a breakaway Janata Dal group supported by Congress (I), with Chandra Shekhar as the Prime Minister. That alliance also collapsed, resulting in national elections in June 1991.

On May 27, 1991, while campaigning in Tamil Nadu on behalf of Congress (I), Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, apparently by Tamil extremists from Sri Lanka. In the elections, Congress (I) won 213 parliamentary seats and put together a coalition, returning to power under the leadership of Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao. This Congress-led government, which served a full 5-year term, initiated a gradual process of economic liberalization and reform, which has opened the Indian economy to global trade and investment. India's domestic politics also took new shape, as traditional alignments by caste, creed, and ethnicity gave way to a plethora of small, regionally based political parties.

The final months of the Rao-led government in the spring of 1996 were marred by several major political corruption scandals, which contributed to the worst electoral performance by the Congress Party in its history. The Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged from the May 1996 national elections as the single-largest party in the Lok Sabha but without enough strength to prove a majority on the floor of that Parliament. Under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the BJP coalition lasted in power 13 days. With all political parties wishing to avoid another round of elections, a 14-party coalition led by the Janata Dal emerged to form a government known as the United Front, under the former Chief Minister of Karnataka, H.D. Deve Gowda. His government lasted less than a year, as the leader of the Congress Party withdrew his support in March 1997. Inder Kumar Gujral replaced Deve Gowda as the consensus choice for Prime Minister of a 16-party United Front coalition.

In November 1997, the Congress Party in India again withdrew support for the United Front. New elections in February 1998 brought the BJP the largest number of seats in Parliament, viz. 182, but fell far short of a majority. On March 20, 1998, the President inaugurated a BJP-led coalition government with Vajpayee again serving as Prime Minister. On May 11 and 13, 1998, this government conducted a series of underground nuclear tests forcing U.S. President Clinton to impose economic sanctions on India pursuant to the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act.

In April 1999, the BJP-led coalition government fell apart, leading to fresh elections in September. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a new coalition led by the BJP gained a majority to form the government with Vajpayee as Prime Minister in October 1999.

The UPA formed the government subsequently after the 2004 general elections. Since it did not have a clear majority, it had to form a coalition with other smaller political parties. In the subsequent general elections in 2009 too, the situation was similar. The coalition government since 2004 always found it difficult to implement hard economic policies and the country has been in shambles since then with insignificant policy implementations.

Geography of India

India lies in the Northern Hemisphere. The mainland extends between latitudes 8o 4' and 37o 6' North, and longitudes 68o 7' and 97o 25' East. It measures about 3,200 km from North to South and about 23,000 km from East to West (longest distance). India is a land of lofty mountains, mighty rivers, extensive plains and wide plateaus. A vast land with such varied relief is inhabited by about 1.25 billion people. The country consists of three main physical divisions. They are the Great Mountains of the North, the Great Plains of Northern India and the Great Plateau of Peninsular India. The southern plateau is flanked by the narrow coastal strips which are a part and parcel of the peninsular land mass.

The Republic of India forms a natural sub-continent with the Himalayan mountain range in the North, the Arabian Sea in the West and the Bay of Bengal in the East. The bordering countries of India are - Pakistan, in the North-West; China, Bhutan and Nepal in the North-East; Bangladesh and Myanmar in the East; and Sri Lanka in the South.

Terrain: Upland plain (Deccan Plateau) in the South, flat to rolling plain along the Ganges, deserts in the West, Himalayas in the North.

Natural Resources: Coal (4th largest reserves in the world), Iron Ore, Manganese, Mica, Bauxite, Titanium Ore, Chromite, Uranium, Natural Gas, Diamonds, Petroleum, Limestone, Arable Land.

Economy - overview

India's economy encompasses traditional village farming, modern agriculture, handicrafts, a wide range of modern industries, and a multitude of support services. Over-population severely handicaps the economy and about a quarter of the population is too poor to be able to afford an adequate meal. Government controls have been reduced on imports and foreign investment, and privatization of domestic output has proceeded slowly. The economy has posted an excellent average growth rate of 6% since 1990, reducing poverty by about 10 percentage points. India dominates the South Asian sub-continent - near important Indian Ocean trade routes.

India has a large number of well-educated people skilled in the English language. It is a major exporter of software services and software workers. The information technology sector leads the strong growth pattern.

Indian Business Advantage

India's economic policies are designed to attract foreign capital inflows into India. It encourages Foreign businesses to enter into collaboration with Indian companies for transferring their technology to India and doing business jointly, taking advantage of the large English speaking and skilled man-power base that India provides and gaining from its large market size and diverse needs.

Policy initiatives taken over the last few years have resulted in significant inflows of foreign investment in all areas of business and economy.

Today, India is one of the most exciting emerging markets in the world. Skilled Managerial and Technical man-power that match the best available in the world and a middle class whose size exceeds the population of the USA or the European Union, provide India with a distinct cutting edge in global competition.

Opportunities for Investment

While looking at the prospect of doing business in India it would be worth while to see what options are available to a foreign company to invest in India. India has undergone a sea change in its outlook towards foreign investment and global collaborative ventures. Add to this the tremendous communication advantage due to the Internet and revolution in Telecom, and you really have an ideal and very conducive situation. It's no wonder that software and IT services have really taken off and given India a very respectable and demanding place in the World business.

India's economy continues to progress on a higher growth path, due to the continuous economic reforms irrespective of which ever political party forms the government. India is committed to implementing economic reforms fully, encouraging investment and technology inflows, and actively promoting and facilitating greater private sector participation in all sectors of the economy.

India is the second most populous country in the world and the 7th largest in terms of geographical area. It is the fourth largest economy in the world, and has the second largest GDP among developing countries, based on purchasing power parity. Economic indicators are promising. It is the world's largest democracy, with a long established and robust democratic federal system. India is home to lots of religions and is secular by nature.

India has a large market, and a growing middle class with substantial purchasing power. India has a long established legal and accounting system, an independent judiciary, a free and vibrant press and media, and a strong tradition of entrepreneurship. The use of English is wide spread in business and commerce. India's engineers, scientists, technicians, managers and skilled personnel are among the best in the world. The Information Technology sector continues to show robust growth. India's vast reservoir of knowledge workers has attracted many global companies to do business in India. Lately, India is also making in-roads in the bio-technology sector as well.

As India moves ahead with its economic reforms, opportunities await to be exploited in sectors such as energy, telecommunication, insurance and financial services, manufacturing, transportation, urban development, and other areas of infrastructure. Procedures are being simplified and streamlined to facilitate business.