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Republic of India

Profile

Area: 3.29 million sq km.

Location: India is located in South Asia. It borders Pakistan in the west and northwest, China, Nepal and Bhutan in the north, and Myanmar and Bangladesh in the east. The Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar separate India from Sri Lanka in the south; the Republic of Maldives lies in the southwest. The marine border between India and Indonesia runs through the Grand Channel between the Great Nicobar islands of India and the Sumatra islands of Indonesia.

Capital: New Delhi (population over 16 million people)

Largest cities: Mumbai (Bombay, over 18.4 million), Kolkata (Calcutta, over 14.1 million), Chennai (Madras, over 8.6 million), Bangaluru (Bangalore, over 8.4 million), Hyderabad (over 7 million) and Ahmedabad (over 6.2 million).

Population: 1.34 billion (2017), growing by some 1.3 percent annually. The majority (68.8%) live in rural areas.

Main religious denominations: Hinduism (80.5%), Islam (13.4%), Christianity (2.3%) and Sikhism (1.9%), as well as Buddhism, Jainism and several others.

Official languages: Hindi and English.

National days: 15 August, Independence Day (1947); 26 January, Republic Day (1950)

Currency: Indian Rupee subdivided into 100 paise (71.40 Indian rupees for $1, as of 30 December 2019)

Government

Under the Constitution, India is a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic with a parliamentary system of government, which is federal in structure.

The Head of State is president indirectly elected for a term of five years by an electoral college consisting of members of both Houses of Parliament and members of legislative assemblies of the states. The president may not be a member of any party or deputy of the national parliament or the legislative assemblies of the states, or hold any other salaried positions. Under the Constitution, the president follows the recommendations of the cabinet. The incumbent president is Ram Nath Kovind (since 25 July 2017).

The vice president, who also holds the post of speaker of the upper house of parliament, is also elected for a five-year term. The current vice-president is Venkaiah Naidu (since 5 August 2017).

The legislative body of India is a parliament composed of the President of India and the two houses: the Rajya Sabha (Council of States with 254 members, including 233 elected ones and 12 appointed by the president) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People, 545 members, out of which 543 are elected and two are appointed by the president).

The 12 members of the Council of States are nominated by the president from among outstanding authors and members of the research and artistic communities. The rest are elected by the members of state legislative assemblies by proportional representation. The Rajya Sabha is a permanent body that cannot be dissolved by the president. One third of the members retire every second year and are replaced by newly elected members. Each member is elected for a term of six years.

Members of the House of the People (Lok Sabha) are directly elected by citizens of India, and two members are appointed by the president from the Anglo-Indian Community. The total elective membership is distributed among the states in such a way that the ratio between the number of seats allotted to each state and the population of the state is, so far as practicable, the same for all states. The constitutional term of office for the lower house is five years. The president has the right to dissolve it early on the Prime Minister’s recommendation.

Executive authority belongs to the Prime Minister of India, who is usually the leader of the parliamentary party supported by the majority of members of the House of the People.

On 26 May 2014, after the Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People’s Party or BJP) won the general election, the party leader, Narendra Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister of India. He was re-elected to the post following the April-May 2019 election, where the BJP won the majority of seats in the House of the People.

Administrative division. According to its constitution, India is a Union of States. It is a federation that consists of 28 states and nine union territories. This structure is based on the principle of common language. All states have elected legislatures and governments.