U.S. Department of State
Background Notes:  India, September 1998

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 
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: 1.8%.
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.
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, for Indira), 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. 
Suffrage: Universal over 21.


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. 


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 40% 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 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 Parsis. 

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 


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 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 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 
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 

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 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. 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 5-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. 

In November 1994, the Congress Party again withdrew support for the United Front and the President called for elections. In the February 1998 elections, the BJP again received 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, the government of Prime Minister Vajpayee conducted a series 
of underground nuclear tests. U.S. President Clinton imposed economic sanctions 
on India pursuant to the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act.


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 elected 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; 543 are directly elected to 5-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 parliament. 

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--Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Minister of External Affairs--Portfolio held by Prime Minister 
Minister of State (External Affairs)--Vasundara Raje Scindia
Ambassador to the U.S.--Naresh Chandra
Ambassador to the UN--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 Atal Bihari Vajpayee took office in March 1998 after a general 
election in which no single party emerged with an absolute majority. He leads a 
diverse and unwieldy 13-party coalition government. 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 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 
(lower house of parliament) elections in February 1998. The BJP currently leads 
a coalition government under Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee. Party President 
Kushabhau Thakre was elected by the Party National Executive in April 1998. 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, Gujarat, Maharashtra (in coalition with the Shiv Sena), Uttar Pradesh (in coalition with several small parties), Himachal Pradesh (in coalition with Himachal Vikas Congress) 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 Sonia Gandhi (wife 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 Congress still rules in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Goa, and three of the smaller states in the northeast. 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 to be a national party. Former Prime Minister Gujral is a member of the JD from Bihar. During the 1998 elections, the party strength in the Lok Sabha shrank from 40 seats to 6. In fact, the party currently holds significant strength only in 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 Rastriya Janata Dal which now rules the state under the leadership of his wife, Rabri Devi.


India's population continues to grow at about 1.8% 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 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 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, 
including higher growth rates, lower inflation, and significant increases in 
foreign investment. Real GDP growth averaged about 7% for three consecutive 
fiscal years, but fell to just over 5% in the 1997-98 fiscal year. Growth in the 1998-99 fiscal year will be adversely affected by sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other countries in the wake of India's nuclear tests in May 1998. Other factors of concern include the after-effects of the Asian currency crisis, a decline in the value of the rupee, rising domestic inflation, and a general slowdown in domestic industrial production. Foreign portfolio and direct investment flows have risen significantly since reforms began in 1991 and have contributed to healthy foreign currency reserves ($24.4 billion in June 1998) and a moderate current account deficit of about 1.5% (1997-98). 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 and the impact of economic sanctions in formulating its economic policies and by pursuing further 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 will have to 
eliminate quantitative restrictions on imports of about 2,700 consumer goods 
over the next several years to meet its WTO commitments. On the other hand, the 
government has imposed "additional" import duties of 9% on most products over 
the past 2 years. The U.S. is India's largest trading partner; bilateral trade 
in 1997-98 was about $10.5 billion. 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 U.S. is 
India's largest investment partner, with total U.S. direct investment estimated 
at $6-7 billion (market value) in 1996. U.S. investors have also provided an 
estimated 60% of the $9 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 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 $93 billion in September 1997, down from a peak 
of $99 billion in March 1995. The country's debt service ratio has fallen to 
about 21.4 %. Bilateral assistance totaled about $950 million in 1996-97, with 
the U.S. providing $30.7 million. Several donors, including the U.S., Japan, and  a number of European countries, have stopped or reduced future aid flows in  reaction to India's nuclear tests, however. Loans from international financial institutions, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, are also likely to be put on hold as a result of sanctions. The World Bank had planned to  approve loans worth about $3 billion for India in 1998. 


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 

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 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 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 3-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 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 the issues be treated by separate working groups. India responded that the two issues be taken up along with six others on a simultaneous basis. Following the nuclear tests in both countries in May 1998, attempts have been made to restart the talks.

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 relations. 

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. 

Sino-Indian relations received a set back in May 1998 when India blamed its 
nuclear tests on potential threats from China. These accusations followed 
criticism of Chinese "aggressive actions" in Pakistan and Burma by Indian 
Defense Minister George Fernandes. 

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 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. 


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 Northeast. 

The navy is much smaller, but it is relatively well-armed among the Indian Ocean navies, operating one 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. 


India's nuclear tests in May 1998 seriously damaged Indo-American relations. 
President Clinton imposed wide-ranging sanctions pursuant to the 1994 Nuclear 
Proliferation Prevention Act. The United States has encouraged India to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty immediately and without condition. The U.S. has also called for restraint in missile and nuclear testing and deployment in both India and Pakistan.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials 

Ambassador--Richard F. Celeste
Deputy Chief of Mission--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--Waylon Beeghly
Administrative Affairs--Peter W. Bodde
Consular Affairs--Wayne S. Leininger
USAID Mission, Director--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 
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.


The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides Travel 
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Consular Information Sheets exist for all countries and include information on 
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Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate information quickly 
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Consular Information Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet 
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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.

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Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for 
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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). Registering 
with the embassy may help you to replace lost identity documents or 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 http://www.state.gov.

U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on an 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, including Country 
Commercial Guides. 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.

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