U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
BACKGROUND NOTES: INDIA
PUBLISHED BY THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Official Name: Republic of India
Area: 3.3 million sq. km. (1.3 million sq. mi.); about the size of the
U.S. east of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
Cities: Capital--New Delhi (pop. 8.5 mil-lion). Other major cities--
Bombay (12.6 million), Calcutta (11.7 million), Madras (5.7 million),
Bangalore (4.6 mil-lion), Hyderabad (3.5 million), Ahmedabad (3.6
Terrain: Varies from Himalayas to flat river valleys.
Climate: Temperate to subtropical monsoon.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Indian(s).
Population (1993 est.): 891 million; urban 27%.
Annual growth rate: 2.1%.
Density: 271/sq. km.
Ethnic groups: Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, Mongoloid 2%, others.
Religions: Hindu 82.6%, Muslim 11.4%, Christian 2.4%, Sikh 2%, Jain
0.5%, Buddhist 0.7%, Parsi 0.2%.
Languages: Hindi, English, and 14 other official languages.
Education: Years compulsory--9 (to age 14). Literacy--48%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--81/1,000. Life expectancy--61 yrs.
Work force (est.): 306 million. Agriculture--67%. Industry and
commerce--19%. Services and government--8%. Transport and
Type: Federal republic.
Independence: August 15, 1947.
Constitution: January 26, 1950.
Suffrage: Universal over 21.
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: Congress (I), Bharatiya Janata Party, Janata Dal,
Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India--Marxist, and
numerous regional and small national parties.
Political subdivisions: 25 states(1), 7 union territories.
Flag: Saffron, white, and green horizontal bands with a blue spoked
GDP: $252 billion.
Real growth rate: 3.8%.
Per capita GDP: $284.
Natural resources: Coal, iron ore, manganese, mica, bauxite, chromite,
thorium, limestone, barite, titanium ore, diamonds, crude oil.
Agriculture (32% of GDP): Products--wheat, rice, coarse grains,
oilseeds, sugar, cotton, jute, tea.
Industry (27% of GDP): Products--textiles, jute, processed food, steel,
machinery, transport equipment, cement, aluminum, fertilizers, mining,
petroleum, chemicals, computer software.
Trade: Exports--$23 billion: crude oil, engineering goods, precious
stones, cotton apparel and fabrics, handicrafts, tea. Imports--$24
billion: petroleum, machinery and transport equipment, edible oils,
fertilizer, jewelry, iron and steel. Major partners--U.S., Russia,
Japan, Iraq, Iran, EU, Central and Eastern Europe.
Official exchange rate: 31.25 rupees=U.S. $1.
(1) 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. Pakistan and China also control parts of
Although India occupies only 2.4% of the world's land area, it supports
nearly 15% of the world's population. Only China has a larger
population. Forty percent of Indians are younger than 15 years old.
About 80% 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 16
languages as official; Hindi is the most widely spoken.
Although 83% of the people are Hindu, India also is the home of more
than 120 million Muslims--one of the world's largest Muslim populations.
The population also includes Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists,
The caste system reflects Indian historical and religiously defined
hierarchies. Traditionally, there are four castes identified, plus a
category of outcastes or untouchables. In reality, however, there are
thousands of subcastes, and it is with these subcastes that the majority
of Hindus identify. Despite economic modernization and laws countering
discrimination against the lower end of the class structure, the caste
system remains an important factor in Indian society.
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
During the second millennium B.C., pastoral, Aryan-speaking tribes
migrated from the northwest into the subcontinent. As they settled in
the middle Ganges 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 fourth and fifth 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 the Hindu Chola and
Vijayanagar Dynasties. During this time, the two systems--the
prevailing Hindu and the 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 Mahatma Gandhi transformed
the Indian National Congress political party into a mass movement to
campaign against British colonial rule. The party used both
parliamentary and non-violent resistance and non-cooperation to achieve
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 1989, the Janata Dal, a union of opposition parties, dislodged Rajiv
Gandhi's Congress (I) Party 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
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. He was the first Congress Party Prime Minister in
30 years who did not come from the Gandhi/Nehru family.
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 five-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 elected
members of the Rajya Sabha serve six-year terms, with one-third up for
election every two years. The Lok Sabha consists of 545 members; 543
are directly elected to five-year terms. The other 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 25 states(2) 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
Each state also has a presidentially appointed governor who may assume
certain broad powers during state government crises. 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, and introduce "grass-roots democracy"
at the village level, where 80% of the people live.
Principal Government Officials
President--Shankar Dayal Sharma
Vice President--Kicheril Raman Narayanan
Prime Minister--P.V. Narasimha Rao
Minister of External Affairs--Dinesh Singh
Ambassador to the U.S.--Siddhartha Shankar Ray
Ambassador to the UN--Mohammad Hamid Ansari
India maintains an embassy in the United States at 2107 Massachusetts
Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-939-7000) and consulates
general in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.
(2) This member 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
Prime Minister Rao began 1992 using consensus politics to bring along
his political rivals both within and outside Congress (I). He
instituted a series of economic reform measures, but the pace of these
reforms slowed late in the year, as public and institutional resistance
increased and a securities-trading scandal was uncovered in Bombay. Rao
started to abandon his consensus approach, accusing the Hindu-
nationalist BJP of fomenting Hindu-Muslim tensions, a charge the BJP
The growth of Hindu nationalism became a major issue in India during
1992 and 1993, especially following the demolition of the mosque at
Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. The mosque's destruction and ensuing riots
resulted in the deaths of over 1,000 persons, mostly Muslims, in various
parts of the country. These events not only threatened Rao's government
but raised questions about India's secular foundations.
Many BJP members supported the destruction of the Ayodhya mosque,
reflecting the belief of many Indians that Hindus have been victimized
by centuries of Muslim and British rule and that even after independence
the world fails to recognize the importance of India. Although the
BJP's support had been largely confined to the Hindi-speaking belt of
northern states, the party has been trying to expand its base in other
parts of India. It has been making inroads in the western states of
Gujarat and Maharashtra and in the southern state of Karnataka. BJP
policies include support for the deployment of nuclear weapons, a
tougher line with Pakistan, restricted foreign investment in the
economy, and a more "Hindu" educational system. The BJP, which had only
two of the 543 elected seats in parliament in 1984, became the leading
opposition party in mid-1993, with 119 seats.
Prime Minister Rao responded to the turmoil following the mosque's
destruction by dismissing the four BJP state governments (Uttar Pradesh,
Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Himachal Pradesh) and banning certain
radical Hindu and Muslim groups. Opposition leaders challenged these
moves with some success in court. In parliament, Congress (I) and its
allies now retain a slim majority, and non-BJP parties, which oppose new
elections, have supported Congress (I) in blocking BJP efforts to unseat
Rao with no-confidence motions.
The Ayodhya crisis forced Rao to concentrate on domestic politics; this
complicated attempts to initiate new and more far-reaching economic
reforms, although there already had been some successes. By late 1992,
aspects of Rao's economic reform--such as alleviating the foreign
exchange crisis and liberalizing some investment and trade regulations--
had been carried out. Despite the focus of much of the country on the
fallout from Ayodhya, senior government officials recognized the need to
redouble their efforts if they were to continue to reform the trade,
industrial, labor, and financial sectors. Current prospects for
economic growth are encouraging, with an increase projected for GDP and
expectations of higher industrial production and export growth.
Rao also has faced challenges from unrest in Punjab and Kashmir,
although the government was able to hold local elections in Punjab in
1993. The insurgency in Kashmir, however, continued in 1993, and
efforts to reach a political solution made little progress.
Congress (I), led by Narasimha Rao, governs nationally and in mid-1993
controlled almost one-half of the state assemblies; the party and its
allies had a slight parliamentary majority.
The Janata Party is one of the three remnants of the Janata government
that broke up in July 1979. Larger parts went with V.P. Singh, a former
Congress (I) Prime Minister, to form the Janata Dal 50 seats).
The Bharatiya Janata Party has become the most influential spinoff from
the former Janata coalition and is led by Lal Krishna Advani.
Descending from the earlier, urban Hindu-oriented Jana Sangh Party and
representing the nationalist right in the political spectrum, the BJP
has tried to broaden its base to attract non-Hindus and rural groups.
India has two important communist parties: the traditionally pro-Soviet
Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India--Marxist
(CPM), which broke with CPI in 1964 and is essentially independent.
Both parties join in the parliamentary process, and the CPM currently
holds power in western Bengal. There also are small, leftist splinter
groups, some of which advocate the violent overthrow of the government.
Regional parties based on ethnic or linguistic elements govern in Tamil
Nadu: AIADMK and DMK. Other regional parties include the Telegu Desam
Party, led by N.T. Rama Rao, in Andhra Pradesh and the Samajwadi Party
in Uttar Pradesh, led by Mulayan Singh Yadav. Yadav is trying to form a
coalition with the Bahiyan Samaj Party (BSP) and other opposition
parties to challenge the BJP's hold on India's most populous state.
Some northeastern states are governed by tribal-based parties.
The Indian population continues to grow at over 2% per year and was
estimated at 891 million in 1993. About 70% of the population depends
directly on agriculture; nearly one-third of the country is irrigated.
Almost 30% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Nevertheless, a large and growing middle class of some 150 million to
200 million has disposable income for consumer goods. India has an
increasingly modern industrial base with sophisticated industries in
electronics, avionics, and aluminum. However, infrastructure remains
inadequate, particularly in communications and power generation.
India entered into a standby arrangement with the International Monetary
Fund in October 1991 and introduced structural reforms aimed at reducing
the fiscal deficit and containing inflation. Trade policy was
liberalized in 1992, and customs duties were reduced dramatically--
particularly for capital goods.
India's GDP growth rate is projected at almost 4%. The government
floated a trade-related rupee in March 1993. In early 1993, India had
comfortable foreign exchange reserves of about $7 billion. Excise taxes
on consumer durables were reduced to encourage sales. The government
signed the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency Convention but has
yet to ratify it.
The total value of India's foreign trade in 1993-94 was over $40
billion, with a trade deficit of $1 billion. India's principal exports
are textiles (including garments), diamonds, chemicals, and engineering
products. Major imports are petroleum products (more than 25% of
total), machinery, iron and steel, and fertilizers.
India now officially welcomes foreign investment, offering quick
approvals to ventures of up to 51% foreign equity in 34 industries.
Higher levels of foreign equity are permitted, subject to approval by
the foreign investment board. Foreign investment is now welcome in the
energy sector, particularly power generation and oil exploration,
The U.S. is India's largest trade and investment partner. Principal
imports from the U.S. include sophisticated machinery and high-tech
products, aviation parts and avionics, fertilizers, steel scrap, and
chemicals. The government's more open economic policies offer new
opportunities for U.S. businesses, particularly in basic infrastructure
Total foreign assistance to India since 1979 amounts to more than $69
billion. From 1957 through 1993, the United States provided about $13.5
billion to India in various types of direct assistance aid. India's
external debt now exceeds $70 billion, with a debt service ratio greater
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 developing countries on issues
from trade to environmental protection.
The collapse of the former Soviet Union dramatically affected Indian
foreign policy. While India remains a leader among developing nations
and the Non-aligned Movement, it has sought to strengthen commercial and
political ties with a range of other countries and organizations,
including the United States, Japan, the European Union, and the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Prime Minister Rao's economic
reform program has given additional impetus to this effort.
India has always been an active member of the United Nations and
recently proposed expanding the Security Council beyond the five
permanent members. It has a long tradition of participating in UN
peace-keeping operations and most recently contributed personnel to UN
operations in Somalia, Cambodia, Mozambique, Kuwait, 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, since the 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 Kashmir's right 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 which called for
resolving peacefully, through bilateral negotiations, the problems
resulting from the war. 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
eight 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 Minister Rajiv Gandhi and
Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto concluded a pact not to attack
each other's nuclear facilities. Agreements on cultural exchanges and
civil aviation also were initiated.
Bilateral tensions still exist, primarily over Kashmir and nuclear
weapons pro-grams in both countries. It is believed that both India and
Pakistan could assemble a number of nuclear weapons in a relatively
short time frame.
SAARC. Certain aspects of India's relations within the subcontinent are
conducted through the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation
(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 and population control, narcotics, and terrorism. In
1993, India and its SAARC partners signed an agreement to lower tariffs
within the region over time.
China. After independence, India initially enjoyed cordial relations
with the communist government in Beijing. However, tension over their
disputed border led to conflict in 1962. After a month of fighting, in
which Chinese forces penetrated deep into Indian-claimed territory,
China proclaimed a cease-fire and generally withdrew to positions held
before the outbreak of hostilities, except in the Ladakh area of
Sino-Indian relations have gradually recovered. Although the border
dispute that provoked the war remains unsettled, both countries have
sought to reduce tensions along the frontier, expand trade, and
normalize relations. Border trade, for example, was resumed in 1992.
High-level visits have helped the normalization process. In December
1991, Chinese Premier Li Peng traveled to New Delhi, where he was
cordially received by Indian leaders. Indian Prime Minister Rao visited
China in 1993 and received a similarly warm reception. The two
countries are currently engaged in regular negotiations designed to
resolve bilateral disagreements.
India has allowed the Dalai Lama, a Buddhist spiritual leader from
Tibet, to live in India since 1959, when he fled into exile. India
officially limits his political activities. Since 1959, about 100,000
of his followers have joined him and reside in India.
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. Long-standing military relationships were
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
India has also established links with the other CIS republics, all of
which were recognized shortly after independence. India has paid
particular attention to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, both of which Prime
Minister Rao visited in May 1993.
Supreme command of India's armed forces--the third-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 non-involvement in
U.S.-India ties began improving in the 1980s, with expanding economic
ties and a dialogue on a range of issues. The end of the Cold War
offers unprecedented opportunities to further improve bilateral
relations and cooperate on numerous common interests. Collaboration in
science and technology, which began in the 1960s in agriculture, has
expanded to a broad range of areas. The U.S. and India also have begun
to collaborate on multilateral issues. India's term on the UN Security
Council (1990-92) led to close and productive consultation.
Peace and stability remain the top priority for American foreign policy
in South Asia. The U.S. is committed to promoting improved relations
between India and Pakistan, urging both to resolve their bilateral
disputes through peaceful negotiations. Proliferation of nuclear
weapons and missile technology poses a challenge to U.S.-India
relations. The two nations have shared interests in promoting
democracy, in combating terrorism and narcotics trafficking, and in
addressing environmental problems. The bilateral dialogue on human
rights has also intensified.
Trade and investment have grown, largely as a result of India's
sweeping economic reforms, which the United States strongly supports.
The U.S. is India's largest trading partner, with about $6 billion in
bilateral trade annually. The U.S. exported about $2.8 billion to India
in 1993. The United States is also the leading foreign investor in
India. India's newly emerging middle class is both an immense market
and a productive force.
India and the U.S. are slowly developing bilateral military
relationships, care-fully expanding personnel contacts and exchanges.
In 1992, the two countries inaugurated steering councils overseeing army
and navy relationships. Meanwhile, the Indian navy held exercises with
the U.S. and separately with other Western and regional navies.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Deputy Chief of Mission--Kenneth C. Brill
Public Affairs--Stephen F. Dachi
Political Affairs--Nancy Powell
Economic Affairs--M. Gordon Jones
Commercial Affairs--Jonathan M. Bensky
Agricultural Affairs--Daniel B. Conable
Scientific Affairs-- Paul Maxwell
Administrative Affairs--Cristobal R. Orozco
Consular Affairs--Richard P. Livingston
Director, USAID Mission--Walter G. Bollinger
Bombay--Charles A. Mast
Madras--Timothy P. Hauser
The U.S. embassy in India is located on Shanti Path, Chanakyapuri, New
Delhi 110021 (tel. 600651). Embassy and consulate working hours are
Monday to Friday, 8:30 A.M. to 5 P.M. Visa application hours are 8:30
A.M. to 11:30 A.M., Monday to Friday.
Climate and clothing: Summer clothing is suitable year round in the
south. In the north, lightweight woolens are necessary from mid-
December to mid-February.
Customs and currency: U.S. citizens must have a valid visa sufficient
for the number of entries and the length of stay desired. Foreign
currency (including travelers checks) must be declared to customs on
arrival if more than $10,000. Import and export of Indian currency are
Health: Tapwater is unsafe throughout India. In hotels and
restaurants, drink only bottled or carbonated water and avoid ice cubes.
Typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis, and diphtheria shots are recommended.
Health requirements change; check with your local public health service.
Telecommunications: Telephone service within India and to international
points can be irregular and slow. Telegraph service tends to be
unreliable. India is 101/2 hours ahead of eastern standard time.
Transportation: Many international air carriers provide service to New
Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras. Indian Airlines has flights to
many Indian cities. The railway system provides service throughout the
country. The 1,450-km. (900-mi.) trip from Delhi to Calcutta or Bombay
takes from 16 to 24 hours. The 2,470-km. (1,535-mi.) trip from Delhi to
Madras takes about 40 hours. It is possible to travel nearly everywhere
by road during the dry season; however, outside urban areas, the roads
are narrow and sometimes impassable during monsoons. Local
transportation includes buses, taxis, three-wheeled scooters, cycle
rickshaws, and horsedrawn tongas. Buses are overcrowded and service is
irregular. Taxis are plentiful in the larger cities.
Published by the United States Department of State -- Bureau of Public
Affairs -- Office of Public Communication -- Washington, DC -- July
1994 -- Managing Editor: Peter A. Knecht
Department of State Publication 7847 -- Background Notes Series --
This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without
permission; citation of this source is appreciated.
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing
Office, Washington, DC 20402.
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