U.S. Department of State
Background Notes:  India, November 1997
Released by Bureau of South Asian Affairs

Official Name: Republic Of India



Area: 3.3 million sq. km. (1.3 million sq. mi.); about 1/3 the size of 
the U.S.
Cities: Capital--New Delhi (pop. 9 million). Other major cities--Mumbai 
(formerly Bombay) (13 million), Calcutta (12 million), Chennai (formerly 
Madras)(6 million), Bangalore (5 million), Hyderabad (3.5 million), 
Ahmedabad (3.6 million).
Terrain: Varies from Himalayas to flat river valleys.
Climate: Temperate to subtropical monsoon.


Nationality: Noun and adjective--Indian(s).
Population: (1997 est.) 952 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%, Muslim 12%, Christian 2.5%, Sikh 2%, other groups 
including Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, etc. 1.5%.
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 years.
Work Force (est.): 306 million. Agriculture--67%. Industry and commerce-
-19%. Services and government--8%. Transport and communications--3%.


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: Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress (I), Janata Dal, 
Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India-Marxist, and numerous 
regional and small national parties.
Political subdivisions: 25 states*, 7 union territories.


GDP: $295 billion.
Real growth rate (1996-97): 6.8%.
Per capita GDP: $350.
Natural resources: Coal, iron ore, manganese, mica, bauxite, chromite, 
thorium, limestone, barite, titanium ore, diamonds, crude oil. 
Agriculture (29% 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. 
Trade: Exports--$33 billion: agricultural products, engineering goods, 
precious stones, cotton apparel and fabrics, handicrafts, tea. Imports--
$ 38.5 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.
Official exchange rate: 36.50 rupees = U.S. $1.00


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. 
Forty percent of Indians are younger than 15 years old. 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 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, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, and 

The caste system reflects Indian historical occupation and religiously 
defined hierarchies. Traditionally, there are four castes identified, 
plus a category of outcastes, earlier called "untouchables" but now 
commonly referred to as "dalits," the oppressed. 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 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 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 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 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 
Jawaharla 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.

Rao's Congress government served a full five-year term. This period 
marked the beginning of a gradual process of economic liberalization and 
reform, which has opened the Indian economy to the globe. India's 
domestic politics also took a new shape, as divisions of caste, creed, 
and ethnicity gave rise to a plethora of small, regionally based 
political parties. The final months of the Rao-led government in the 
spring of 1996 were noted for 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 parliament. Under Prime Minister Atal Behari 
Vajpayee, the BJP lasted 13 days in power. 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 for the Deve Gowda government in March 1997. Mr. 
Inder Kumar Gujral replaced Deve Gowda as the consensus choice for prime 
minister of a 16-party coalition in the United Front. 


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* 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 much of the population still lives.

Principal Government Officials

President--Kocheril Raman Narayanan
Vice President--Krishan Kant
Prime Minister--Inder Kumar Gujral
Minister of External Affairs--Portfolio held by Prime Minister 
Minister of State (External Affairs)--Mr. Salim Iqbal Shervani 
Minister of State (External Affairs)--Mrs. Kamala Sinha
Ambassador to the U.S.--Naresh Chandra
Ambassador to the U.N.--Kamalesh Sharma

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.


Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral took office in April 1997, in a 
reshuffling of the United Front coalition following the withdrawal of 
support by the Congress Party. He leads an extremely diverse and often 
unwieldy 16-party coalition government. This coalition reflects the 
ongoing transition in Indian politics away from the historically 
dominant and nationally based Congress Party and toward smaller, 
narrower-based regional parties. This process has been underway 
throughout much of this decade and appears to be the continuing trend of 
the future.

Political Parties

The Bharatiya Janata Party emerged as the single largest party in the 
Lok Sabha following the 1996 national elections, although its short-
lived government under Atal Behari Vajpayee could not prove a majority 
on the floor of parliament. Party President L.K. Advani continues to 
lead the party, although internal elections will take place in late 
1997. The Hindu-nationalist BJP draws its political strength from the 
Hindi belt in the northern and western regions of India. The party holds 
power in the states of Rajasthan, Maharashtra (in coalition with the 
Shiv Sena), Uttar Pradesh (in coalition with the Bahujan Samaj Party), 
and in Delhi. Long associated as the party of the upper caste and 
trading community, the BJP has made strong inroads into the lower caste 
vote bank in recent state assembly elections. 

The Congress (I) Party, led by Sitaram Kesri, supports the government 
from the outside (its members are not serving in the government, but the 
party supported the United Front in a confidence vote in parliament). 
Priding itself as a secular, centrist party, the Congress has been the 
historically dominant political party of India. Its performance in 
national elections has steadily declined, for a variety of reasons, and 
the party holds 141 seats in parliament. The Congress still rules in the 
states of Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Goa, and three of 
the smaller states in the northeast. However, 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.

The Janata Dal Party claims itself as a national party (Prime Minister 
Gujral is a member of the JD from the state of Bihar), but it holds 
significant strength in only the states of Bihar and Karnataka. It 
advocates a secular and socialist ideology and draws much of its popular 
support from Muslims, lower castes, and tribals. The party split in the 
state of Bihar in July 1997, with former Chief Minister Laloo Prasad 
Yadav resigning under corruption charges and forming his own Rashtriya 
Janata Dal. Nationally, the JD holds 45 seats in parliament.

India's two important communist parties: the Communist Party of India-
Marxist (CPM), which heads coalition governments in the states of West 
Bengal and Kerala, and the traditionally pro-Russian Communist Party of 
India (CPI). Both parties are constituents of the United Front coalition 
at the center. Both generally take anti-U.S. stands, although the CPM 
government in West Bengal has become surprisingly open to foreign 
investment and economic reforms in recent years.


India's population continues to grow at about 1.7% per year and is 
estimated at 952 million in 1997. While its GDP is low in dollar terms, 
India has the world's fifth largest economy in terms of purchasing power 
parity. About 62% of the population depends directly on agriculture. 

Industry and services sectors are growing in importance and account for 
29% and 42% of GDP, respectively, while agriculture contributes about 
29% of GDP. More than 35% of the population lives 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 a 
liberalized foreign investment regime, significant reductions in tariffs 
and other trade barriers, reform and modernization of the financial 
sector, a liberalized foreign exchange regime, and significant 
adjustments in government monetary and fiscal policies.

The reform process has had some very beneficial effects on the Indian 
economy. Real GDP growth has averaged close to 7% for the past three 
years. While GDP growth is projected by the government to be in the 6-7% 
range in the 1997-98 fiscal year, it will fall short of that target 
unless there is a significant increase in production during the second 
half of the year. Inflation has declined from double digits in 1995 to 
less than 4% (wholesale price index) in September 1997. Foreign 
portfolio and foreign direct investment flows have risen significantly 
since reforms began in 1991 and have contributed to healthy foreign 
currency reserves ($26 billion in September 1997) and a moderate current 
account deficit of about 1% of GDP (1996-97). India's economic growth 
is, however, constrained by inadequate infrastructure, cumbersome 
bureaucratic procedures, and high real interest rates. India will have 
to address these constraints on the economy and continue with economic 
reforms in other sectors to maintain the pace of economic growth.

India's trade has increased significantly since reforms began in 1991, 
reaching an estimated $71.5 billion in 1996-97, with a trade deficit of 
$5.4 billion. The U.S. is India's largest trading partner; bilateral 
trade in 1996-97 was about $9.5 billion. Principal U.S. exports to India 
are aircraft and parts, advanced machinery, fertilizers, ferrous waste 
and scrap metal, and computer hardware. An increasingly open trade 
regime offers significant trade opportunities for U.S. companies.

A liberalized regime also makes India an attractive place for foreign 
direct and portfolio investment. The U.S. is India's largest investment 
partner, with total U.S. direct investment estimated at $6-7 billion 
(market value) in 1996, and U.S. companies providing the lion's share of 
over $8 billion in foreign portfolio investment. Proposals for foreign 
direct investment generally receive quick approval from the Government 
of India. Automatic approvals are available in many sectors for 
investments involving up to 51% foreign equity, and investments of up to 
100% may be approved on a case-by-case basis. Foreign investment is 
particularly sought after in power generation, telecommunications, 
ports, roads, petroleum exploration, and processing and mining. 

India's external debt was about $90.5 billion in March 1997, down from a 
peak of $99 billion in March 1995. The country's debt service ratio has 
fallen to about 26.4 %. Bilateral assistance totaled about $950 million 
in 1996-97, with the U.S. providing $30.7 million. The World Bank has 
announced that it plans to double its lending in India to about $3 
billion per year. The Asian Development Bank is also active in India. 


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. India is 
now seeking a permanent seat on the UN Security Council in addition to 
other UN reforms. 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, 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 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 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 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 three-year 
pause. The prime ministers of India and Pakistan met twice and the 
foreign secretaries conducted three rounds of talks. In June of 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 U.N. resolutions calling for self-determination of the people of 
the state must be taken into account.

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, population control, narcotics, and terrorism.

SAARC has intentionally stressed these "core issues" and has not served 
as a forum for 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 to lower tariffs within 
the region over time. With the implementation of the South Asian 
Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA), SAARC now has set as a goal to 
finalize the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) by 2005.

China: Despite the historical suspicions that remain following the 1962 
border war between India and China and the continuing 
territorial/boundary disputes, their relations have improved in a 
gradual manner since 1988. Both countries have sought to reduce tensions 
along the frontier, expand trade and cultural ties, and normalize 

A series of high-level visits between the two nations has played a 
useful role in improving 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 Sino-Indian border. These measures 
include troop reductions and weapons limitations along the border.

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 supply relationships were 
similarly disrupted due to questions over financing, although Russia 
continues to be India's largest supplier of military systems and spare 

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 


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 
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 

The navy is much smaller, but it is relatively well-armed among the 
Indian Ocean navies, operating 1 aircraft carrier, 41 surface 
combatants, and 18 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 coast line 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 over 600 combat aircraft 
and more than 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 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 have also begun to collaborate 
on multilateral issues.

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 $9.5 billion in bilateral 
trade annually. The U.S. exported about $3.3 billion to India in 1996. 
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 

Indo-U.S. defense cooperation has improved significantly through this 
decade. The basis for cooperation is the Agreed Minute on Defense 
Relations signed in January 1995 by our Secretary of Defense and the 
Indian Minister of State for Defense. The Agreed Minute calls for three 
areas of cooperation: civilian-to-civilian policy discussions, service-
to-service interaction, and defense production and research. The U.S. 
shares a number of important security interests with India, and Indo-
U.S. defense relations are an important aspect of our overall bilateral 

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Ambassador - Vacant
Chargˇ d'Affaires - E. Ashley Wills
Public Affairs - Francis B. Ward
Political Affairs - Eric D. Tunis
Economic & Scientific Affairs - Alice A. Dress
Commercial Affairs - Carol Kim
Agricultural Affairs - Thomas A. Pomeroy
Administrative Affairs - Peter W. Bodde
Consular Affairs - Wayne S. Leininger
Director, USAID Mission - Linda Morse


Mumbai (formerly Bombay) - Franklin P. Huddle
Calcutta - Cheryl J. Sim
Chennai (formerly Madras) - Michele Sison

The U.S. Embassy in India is located on Shantipath, Chanakyapuri, New 
Delhi 110021 (tel. 91-11-6889033) (fax: 91-11-4190017). Embassy and 
consulate working hours are Monday to Friday, 8:30 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. 
Visa application hours are 8:30 A.M. to 10:00 A.M., Monday to Friday.


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the Overseas Security Advisory Council and Department's Bureau of 
Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs Trips for Travelers publication 
series, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a 
safe trip abroad, can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, 
U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-
7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250. 

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be 
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-

Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-
day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m. 
to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-
225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate 
of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648)

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers 
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization 
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water 
safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information 
for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is 
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 
20402, tel. (202) 512-1800. 

Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and 
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to 
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's 
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal 
Government Officials" listing in this publication). 

U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas 
are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country 
(see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" listing in this publication). 
This may help family members contact you in case of an emergency. 

Further Electronic Information: 

Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet, 
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy 
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch, 
the official magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings; 
Country Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of foreign 
service posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at 

U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a semi-annual basis 
by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the 
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of 
official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact 
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. 
Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or 
fax (202) 512-2250.

National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of 
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information. It is 
available on the Internet (www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the 
NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more information.

*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 also control parts of 

[end document]

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