For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.

PROFILE

OFFICIAL NAME:
Republic of India

Geography
Area: 3.29 million sq. km. (1.27 million sq. mi.); about one-third the size of the U.S.
Cities: Capital--New Delhi (pop. 12.8 million, 2001 census). Other major cities--Mumbai, formerly Bombay (16.4 million); Kolkata, formerly Calcutta (13.2 million); Chennai, formerly Madras (6.4 million); Bangalore (5.7 million); Hyderabad (5.5 million); Ahmedabad (5 million); Pune (4 million).
Terrain: Varies from Himalayas to flat river valleys.
Climate: Alpine to temperate to subtropical monsoon.

People
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Indian(s).
Population (2003 est.): 1.05 billion; urban 27.8%.
Annual growth rate: 1.6%.
Density: 319/sq. km.
Ethnic groups: Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, Mongoloid 2%, others.
Religions: Hindu 81.3%, Muslim 12%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other groups including Buddhist, Jain, Parsi 2.5%.
Languages: Hindi, English, and 16 other official languages.
Education: Years compulsory--9 (to age 14). Literacy--55.2%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--61/1,000. Life expectancy--63 years.
Work force (est.): 39.2%416 million. Agriculture--63%; industry and commerce--22%; services and government--11%; transport and communications--4%.

Government
Type: Federal republic.
Independence: August 15, 1947.
Constitution: January 26, 1950.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers (cabinet). Legislative--bicameral parliament (Rajya Sabha or Council of States and Lok Sabha or House of the People). Judicial--Supreme Court.
Political parties: Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress (I), Janata Dal (United), Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India-Marxist, and numerous regional and small national parties.
Political subdivisions: 28 states,* 7 union territories.
Suffrage: Universal over 18.

Economy
GDP: $501.8 billion (2002).
Real growth rate (2002-03-): 4.3-%.
Per capita GDP: $480.
Natural resources: Coal, iron ore, manganese, mica, bauxite, chromite, thorium, limestone, barite, titanium ore, diamonds, crude oil.
Agriculture (25% of GDP): Products--wheat, rice, coarse grains, oilseeds, sugar, cotton, jute, tea.
Industry (29% of GDP): Products--textiles, jute, processed food, steel, machinery, transport equipment, cement, aluminum, fertilizers, mining, petroleum, chemicals, computer software.
Services and Transportation (49% of GDP) Trade: Exports--$34 billion: agricultural products, engineering goods, precious stones, cotton apparel and fabrics, handicrafts, tea. Imports--$42 billion: petroleum, machinery and transport equipment, edible oils, fertilizer, jewelry, iron and steel. Major trade partners--U.S., EU, Russia, Japan, Iraq, Iran, central and eastern Europe.

PEOPLE
Although India occupies only 2.4% of the world's land area, it supports over 15% of the world's population. Only China has a larger population. Almost 33% of Indians are younger than 15 years of age. About 70% of the people live in more than 550,000 villages, and the remainder in more than 200 towns and cities. Over thousands of years of its history, India has been invaded from the Iranian plateau, Central Asia, Arabia, Afghanistan, and the West; Indian people and culture have absorbed and changed these influences to produce a remarkable racial and cultural synthesis.

Religion, caste, and language are major determinants of social and political organization in India today. The government has recognized 18 languages as official; Hindi is the most widely spoken.

Although 81% of the people are Hindu, India also is the home of more than 126 million Muslims--one of the world's largest Muslim populations. The population also includes Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, and Parsis.

The caste system reflects Indian occupational and religiously defined hierarchies. Traditionally, there are four broad categories of castes (varnas), including a category of outcastes, earlier called "untouchables" but now commonly referred to as "dalits." Within these broad categories there are thousands of castes and subcastes, whose relative status varies from region to region. Despite economic modernization and laws countering discrimination against the lower end of the class structure, the caste system remains an important source of social identification for most Hindus and a potent factor in the political life of the country.

HISTORY
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., probably due to ecological changes.

During the second millennium B.C., pastoral, Aryan-speaking tribes migrated from the northwest into the subcontinent. 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.

Islam spread across the subcontinent 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.

The first British outpost in South Asia was established in 1619 at Surat on the northwestern coast. Later in the century, the East India Company opened permanent trading stations at Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta, 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 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.

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. Beginning in 1920, Indian leader Mohandas K. 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 noncooperation to achieve independence.

On August 15, 1947, India became a dominion within the Commonwealth, with 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. India became a republic within the Commonwealth after promulgating its Constitution on January 26, 1950.

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 and grandson, with the exception of two brief periods in the 1970s and 1980s.

Prime Minister Nehru governed the nation until his death in 1964. He was succeeded by Lal Bahadur Shastri, who also died in office. In 1966, power passed to Nehru's daughter, 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 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, was chosen by the Congress (I)--for "Indira"--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 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 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 again withdrew support for the United Front. New elections in February 1998 brought the BJP the largest number of seats in Parliament--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-a new coalition led by the BJP-gained a majority to form the government with Vajpayee as Prime Minister in October 1999.

The Kargil conflict in 1999 and an attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 led to increased tensions with Pakistan. Amid increased cries from Hindu nationalists to build a temple on a disputed site in Ayodhya, in February 2002 a mob of Muslims attacked the train carrying Hindu volunteers returning from Ayodhya to the state of Gujarat and 57 were burnt alive. The response was riots against Muslims throughout the state, killing more than 900 people, according to Government of India estimates, and leaving over 100,000 homeless. This lead to harsh scrutiny of the provincial government's efforts to contain the riots.

Through this, the BJP has remained in power for over 5 years, the longest time for a party other than the Congress Party to hold power in India.

GOVERNMENT
According to its Constitution, India is a "sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic." Like the United States, India has a federal form of government. However, the central government in India has greater power in relation to its states, and its central government is patterned after the British parliamentary system.

The government exercises its broad administrative powers in the name of the president, whose duties are largely ceremonial. The president and vice president are elected indirectly for 5-year terms by a special electoral college. Their terms are staggered, and the vice president does not automatically become president following the death or removal from office of the president.

Real national executive power is centered in the Council of Ministers (cabinet), led by the prime minister. The president appoints the prime minister, who is designated by legislators of the political party or coalition commanding a parliamentary majority. The president then appoints subordinate ministers on the advice of the prime minister.

India's bicameral parliament consists of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People). The Council of Ministers is responsible to the Lok Sabha.

The legislatures of the states and union territories elect 233 members to the Rajya Sabha, and the president appoints another 12. The members of the Rajya Sabha serve 6-year terms, with one-third up for election every 2 years. The Lok Sabha consists of 545 members and serve 5-year terms; 543 are directly elected, and two are appointed.

India's independent judicial system began under the British, and its concepts and procedures resemble those of Anglo-Saxon countries. The Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and 25 other justices, all appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister.

India has 28 states* and 7 union territories. At the state level, some of the legislatures are bicameral, patterned after the two houses of the national parliament. The states' chief ministers are responsible to the legislatures in the same way the prime minister is responsible to parliament.

Each state also has a presidentially appointed governor who may assume certain broad powers when directed by the central government. The central government exerts greater control over the union territories than over the states, although some territories have gained more power to administer their own affairs. Local governments in India have less autonomy than their counterparts in the United States. Some states are trying to revitalize the traditional village councils, or panchayats, which aim to promote popular democratic participation at the village level, where much of the population still lives.

Principal Government Officials
President--A.P.J. Abdul KalamBR> Vice President--Bhairon Singh Shekhawat
Prime Minister--Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Home Minister, Deputy Prime Minister--Lal Krishna Advani
Minister of External Affairs--Yashwant Sinha
Minister of State (External Affairs)--Vinod KhannaBR> Ambassador to the U.S.--Lalit Mansingh
Ambassador to the UN--Vijay K. Nambiar

India maintains an embassy in the United States at 2107 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-939-7000, fax 202-265-4351, email indembwash@indiagov.org) and consulates general in New York, Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco.

POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took office in October 1999 after a general election in which a BJP-led coalition of 13 parties called the National Democratic Alliance emerged with an absolute majority. The coalition reflects the ongoing transition in Indian politics away from the historically dominant and national-based Congress Party toward smaller, narrower-based regional parties. This process has been underway throughout much of the past decade and is likely to continue in the future with the smaller parties aligning with either the Congress or the BJP.

The Bharatiya Janata Party emerged as the single-largest party in the Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament) elections in September 1999. The BJP currently leads a coalition government under Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee. Party President Venkaiah Naidu was elected by the Party National Executive in May 2002. The Hindu-nationalist BJP draws its political strength mainly from the "Hindi belt" in the northern and western regions of India. The party holds power in the states of Gujarat, Jharkand, Goa, Arunachal Pradesh, Orissa--in coalition with the Biju Janata Dal--and in Haryana--in coalition with the Indian National Lok Dal). Popularly viewed as the party of the northern upper caste and trading communities, the BJP has made strong inroads into the lower caste vote bank in recent national and state assembly elections. In trying to increase its appeal, a Dalit southerner, Banguru Laxman, became party president until March 2001, when he was accused of corruption and quit the position. He was succeeded by Jana Krishnamurty followed by current party president Venkaiah Naidu. The party also must balance the competing interests of members such as Hindu nationalists, who are advocating construction of a temple on a disputed site in Ayodhya, and those who see the BJP as the party of economic and political reform.

The Congress (I) Party, led by Sonia Gandhi (widow of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi), holds the second-largest number of seats in the Lok Sabha. Priding itself as a secular, centrist party, the Congress has been the historically dominant political party in India. Its performance in national elections has steadily declined during the last decade. The political fortunes of the Congress have suffered badly as major groups in its traditional vote bank have been lost to emerging regional and caste-based parties, such as the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party. Still, the Congress Party has a strong hold of power at the state level; since 1999 they have gained power in 14 states and share power in one additional state.

The Janata Dal (United) Party claims to be a national party but currently holds significant strength only in Karnataka and Bihar. It advocates a secular and socialist ideology and draws much of its popular support from Muslims, lower castes, and tribals.

The next general election will be held in 2004.

ECONOMY
India's population continues to grow at about 1.8% per year and is estimated at 1 billion. While its GDP is low in dollar terms, India has the world's 13th-largest GNP. About 62% of the population depends directly on agriculture for their livelihood.

Industry and services sectors are growing in importance and account for 26% and 49% of GDP, respectively, while agriculture contributes about 25% of GDP. More than 25% of the population live below the poverty line, but a large and growing middle class of 150-200 million has disposable income for consumer goods.

India embarked on a series of economic reforms in 1991 in reaction to a severe foreign exchange crisis. Those reforms have included liberalized foreign investment and exchange regimes, significant reductions in tariffs and other trade barriers, reform and modernization of the financial sector, and significant adjustments in government monetary and fiscal policies.

The reform process has had some very beneficial effects on the Indian economy, including higher growth rates, lower inflation, and significant increases in foreign investment. Real GDP growth was 4.3% in 2002-03, down from 5.6% in the 2001-02 fiscal year. Growth in 2003-04 is expected to be around 6.5%. Foreign portfolio and direct investment flows have risen significantly since reforms began in 1991 and have contributed to healthy foreign currency reserves ($71 billion in January 2003) and a small current account surplus (2002). India's economic growth is constrained, however, by inadequate infrastructure, cumbersome bureaucratic procedures, and high real interest rates. India will have to address these constraints in formulating its economic policies and by pursuing the "second generation" of reforms to maintain recent trends in economic growth.

India's trade has increased significantly since reforms began in 1991, largely as a result of staged tariff reductions and elimination of nontariff barriers. The outlook for further trade liberalization is mixed. India eliminated quantitative restrictions on imports of about 1,420 consumer goods in March 2002 to meet its World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments. On the other hand, the government has imposed "additional" import duties of 5% on most products. The 10% tariff surcharge imposed 3 years ago has been repealed. The United States is India's largest trading partner; bilateral trade in 2002 was about $10.9 billion and may reach as high as $13 billion in 2003. Principal U.S. exports to India are aircraft and parts, advanced machinery, fertilizers, ferrous waste and scrap metal, and computer hardware. Major U.S. imports from India include textiles and ready-made garments, agricultural and related products, gems and jewelry, leather products, and chemicals.

Significant liberalization of its investment regime since 1991 has made India an attractive place for foreign direct and portfolio investment. The United States is India's largest investment partner, with total inflow of U.S. direct investment estimated at $2 billion (market value) in 1999. U.S. investors also have provided an estimated 11% of the $18 billion of foreign portfolio investment that has entered India since 1992. Proposals for direct foreign investment are considered by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board and generally receive government approval. Automatic approvals are available for investments involving up to 100% foreign equity, depending on the kind of industry. Foreign investment is particularly sought after in power generation, telecommunications, ports, roads, petroleum exploration and processing, and mining.

India's external debt was up to $101 billion in 2002, almost unchanged from the previous year. The country's debt service ratio has fallen to about 17%. Bilateral assistance has been about $1 billion annually in recent years, with the United States providing about $164 million in development assistance in fiscal year 2002. The World Bank had approved loans worth about $2.19 billion for India in 2002.

FOREIGN RELATIONS
India's size, population, and strategic location give it a prominent voice in international affairs, and its growing industrial base, military strength, and scientific and technical capacity give it added weight. It collaborates closely with other developing countries on issues from trade to environmental protection. The end of the Cold War dramatically affected Indian foreign policy. India remains a leader of the developing world and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and hosted the NAM Heads of State Summit in 1997. India is now also seeking to strengthen its political and commercial ties with the United States, Japan, the European Union, Iran, China, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. India is an active member of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IORARC).

India has always been an active member of the United Nations and now seeks a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. India has a long tradition of participating in UN peacekeeping operations and most recently contributed personnel to UN operations in Somalia, Cambodia, Mozambique, Kuwait, Bosnia, Angola, and El Salvador.

Bilateral and Regional Relations
Pakistan. India's relations with Pakistan are influenced by the centuries-old rivalry between Hindus and Muslims which led to partition of British India in 1947. The principal source of contention has been Kashmir, whose Hindu Maharaja chose in 1947 to join India, although a majority of his subjects were Muslim. India maintains that his decision and the subsequent elections in Kashmir have made it an integral part of India. Pakistan asserts Kashmiris' rights to self-determination through a plebiscite in accordance with an earlier Indian pledge and a UN resolution. This dispute triggered wars between the two countries in 1947 and 1965.

In December 1971, following a political crisis in what was then East Pakistan and the flight of millions of Bengali refugees to India, Pakistan and India again went to war. The brief conflict left the situation largely unchanged in the west, where the two armies reached an impasse, but a decisive Indian victory in the east resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.

Since the 1971 war, Pakistan and India have made only slow progress toward normalization of relations. In July 1972, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto met in the Indian hill station of Simla. They signed an agreement by which India would return all personnel and captured territory in the west and the two countries would "settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations." Diplomatic and trade relations were re-established in 1976.

After the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, new strains appeared in India-Pakistan relations; Pakistan supported the Afghan resistance, while India implicitly supported Soviet occupation. In the following 8 years, India voiced increasing concern over Pakistani arms purchases, U.S. military aid to Pakistan, and Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. In an effort to curtail tensions, the two countries formed a joint commission. In December 1988, Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto concluded a pact not to attack each other's nuclear facilities. Agreements on cultural exchanges and civil aviation also were initiated.

In 1997, high-level Indo-Pakistani talks resumed after a 3-year pause. The Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan met twice, and the foreign secretaries conducted three rounds of talks. In June 1997, the foreign secretaries identified eight "outstanding issues" around which continuing talks would be focused. The dispute over the status of Jammu and Kashmir, an issue since partition, remains the major stumbling block in their dialogue. India maintains that the entire former princely state is an integral part of the Indian union, while Pakistan insists that UN resolutions calling for self-determination of the people of the state must be taken into account.

In September 1997, the talks broke down over the structure of how to deal with the issues of Kashmir and peace and security. Pakistan advocated that separate working groups treat each issue. India responded that the two issues be taken up along with six others on a simultaneous basis. In May 1998 India, and then Pakistan, conducted nuclear tests. Attempts to restart dialogue between the two nations were given a major boost by the February 1999 meeting of both Prime Ministers in Lahore and their signing of three agreements. These efforts were stalled by the intrusion of Pakistani-backed forces into Indian-held territory near Kargil in May 1999 (that nearly turned into fullscale war), and by the military coup in Pakistan that overturned the Nawaz Sharif government in October the same year. In July 2001, Mr. Vajpayee and General Pervez Musharraf, leader of Pakistan after the coup, met in Agra but talks ended after 2 days without result.

After an attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001, India-Pakistan relations cooled further as India accused Pakistanis of being involved in the attacks. Tensions increased, fueled by killings in Jammu and Kashmir, peaking in a troop buildup by both sides in early 2002. Since then however, Prime Minister Vajpayee's speech to the new government in Kashmir has initiated a move toward more normal relations. Currently, India and Pakistan are working on improving political and economic ties through increased diplomacy and discussing freer trade regulations.

SAARC. Certain aspects of India's relations within the subcontinent are conducted through the SAARC. Its members are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Established in 1985, SAARC encourages cooperation in agriculture, rural development, science and technology, culture, health, population control, narcotics, and terrorism.

SAARC has intentionally stressed these "core issues" and avoided more divisive political issues, although political dialogue is often conducted on the margins of SAARC meetings. In 1993, India and its SAARC partners signed an agreement gradually to lower tariffs within the region. Forward movement in SAARC has slowed because of the tension between India and Pakistan and the SAARC summit scheduled for 1999 was not held until January 2002. The next one also has been delayed and is scheduled for January 2004.

China. Despite suspicions remaining from the 1962 border conflict between India and China and continuing territorial/boundary disputes, Sino-Indian relations have improved gradually since 1988. Both countries have sought to reduce tensions along the frontier, expand trade and cultural ties, and normalize relations.

A series of high-level visits between the two nations has helped to improve relations. In December 1996, Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited India on a tour of South Asia. While in New Delhi, he signed, with the Indian Prime Minister, a series of confidence-building measures along the disputed border, including troop reductions and weapons limitations.

Sino-Indian relations received a setback in May 1998 when India justified its nuclear tests by citing potential threats from China. These accusations followed criticism of Chinese "aggressive actions" in Pakistan and Burma by Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes. However, in June 1999, during the Kargil crisis, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh visited Beijing and stated that India did not consider China a threat. Relations between India and China are on the mend, and the two sides handled the move from Tibet to India of the Karmapa Lama in January 2000 with delicacy and tact.

Continuing the trend of friendly relations, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao invited Prime Minister Vajpayee to visit China in June 2003. They recognized the common goals of both countries and made the commitment to build a "long-term constructive and cooperative partnership" to peacefully promote their mutual political and economic goals without encroaching upon their good relations with other countries.

New Independent States of the Former Soviet Union. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) had major repercussions for Indian foreign policy. Substantial trade with the former Soviet Union plummeted after the Soviet collapse and has yet to recover. Longstanding military supply relationships were similarly disrupted due to questions over financing, although Russia continues to be India's largest supplier of military systems and spare parts.

Russia and India have decided not to renew the 1971 Indo-Soviet Peace and Friendship Treaty and have sought to follow what both describe as a more pragmatic, less ideological relationship. Russian President Yeltsin's visit to India in January 1993 helped cement this new relationship. The pace of high-level visits has since increased, as has discussion of major defense purchases.

DEFENSE
Supreme command of India's armed forces--the second-largest in the world-- rests with the president, but actual responsibility for national defense lies with the cabinet committee for political affairs under the chairmanship of the prime minister. The Minister of Defense is responsible to Parliament for all defense matters. India's military command structure has no joint defense staff or unified command apparatus. The Ministry of Defense provides administrative and operational control over the three services through their respective chiefs of staff. The armed forces have always been loyal to constitutional authority and maintain a tradition of noninvolvement in political affairs.

The army numbers about 1.1 million personnel and fields 34 divisions. Designed primarily to defend the country's frontiers, the army has become heavily committed to internal security duties in Kashmir and the Northeast.

The navy is much smaller, but it is relatively well-armed among Indian Ocean navies, operating one aircraft carrier, 26 other principal surface combatants, and 16 submarines. The fleet is aging, and replacement of ships and aircraft has not been adequately funded. India's Coast Guard is small and is organized along the lines of the U.S. Coast Guard. With India's long coastline and extensive Exclusive Economic Zone, the navy and Coast Guard work hard to patrol the waters dictated by India's economic and strategic interests.

The air force, the world's fourth-largest, has more than 700 combat aircraft and over 500 transports and helicopters. The air force takes pride in its ability to fly low and fast, as well as to operate in the extremes of temperature and altitude ranging from the Thar Desert to the Siachen Glacier. The air force has enhanced the capability of its fighter force with the addition of the multi-role Sukhoi 30, and it hopes to replace much of its Mig-21 fleet with the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft currently under development.

U.S.-INDIA RELATIONS
India's nuclear tests in May 1998 seriously damaged Indo-American relations. President Clinton imposed wideranging sanctions pursuant to the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act. The United States encouraged India to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) immediately and without condition. The U.S. also called for restraint in missile and nuclear testing and deployment in both India and Pakistan. The nonproliferation dialogue initiated after the 1998 nuclear tests has bridged many of the gaps in understanding between the countries.

The sanctions were lifted in late September 2001. President Bush met Prime Minister Vajpayee in November 2001, and the two leaders expressed a strong interest in transforming the U.S.-India bilateral relationship. High-level meetings between the countries increased in 2002, and new areas of cooperation are a hallmark of a rapidly expanding relationship. Both leaders met again in the fall of 2002 and 2003 and expressed satisfaction with the increasing levels of contact and cooperation

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Robert O. Blake (acting)
Deputy Chief of Mission -Robert O. Blake
Public Affairs--Michael H. Anderson
Political Affairs--Geoffrey R. Pyatt
Economic Affairs--Lee H. Brudvig-
Scientific Affiars--Dr. Marco Di Capua
Commercial Affairs--John Peters-r
Agricultural Affairs--Chad Russell-
Administrative Affairs--Steven J. White
Consular Affairs--William Bartlett-
USAID Mission, Director--Walter E. North

Consuls General
Mumbai (formerly Bombay--Angus T. Simmons
Kolkata (formerly Calcutta--George N. Sibley
Chennai (formerly Madras--Richard D. Haynes

The U.S. Embassy in India is located on Shantipath, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110021 (tel. 91-11-2419-8000) (fax: 91-11-24190017). Embassy and consulate working hours are Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Visa application hours are Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

*This number includes the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The United States considers all of the former princely state of Kashmir to be disputed territory. India, Pakistan, and China each control parts of Kashmir.

NOTE
Travel: Please consult Consular Affairs
Business Information: Please consult the Department of Commerce

[This is a mobile copy of India (11/03)]