India: Key Facts

by Melissa Alexander
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Capital: New Delhi

Demography: Population 1.03 billion, 1.55% growth rate (2001 estimates); English widely spoken, Hindi and 15 others are official languages; Hindu (81.3%), Muslim (12%), Christian (2.3%) religions.

Geography: Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, between Myanmar and Pakistan; climate varies from temperate in north to tropical monsoon in south; upland plain in south, flat to rolling plain along Ganges River, deserts in west, Himalayas in north.

Government: Federal republic. Chief of state is President Kocheril Raman Narayanan, head of government is Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Official agricultural agencies: Ministry of Agriculture under Minister Ajit Singh; Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution under Minister Shanta Kumar.

Economy: Ranges from traditional village farming to modern industry. Some 35% of the population live below the poverty line. India’s international payments position remained strong in 2000 with adequate foreign exchange. Extensive regulation of products and markets, distortions in the market for land and widespread government business ownership hamper stronger growth. Agriculture contributes about one-third of the Gross Domestic Product, with 67% of the work force employed in the sector.

G.D.P. per capita: U.S.$2,200 (purchasing power parity), 6% growth rate, 5.4% inflation, unemployment not available (2000 estimates).

Currency: Indian rupee. Feb. 9, 2002 exchange rate: 48.68 rupees per U.S. dollar.

Exports: U.S.$43.1 billion (f.o.b., 2000), textiles, gems, jewelry, engineering goods, chemicals, software services.

Imports: U.S.$60.8 billion (f.o.b., 2000), crude oil, machinery, fertilizer.

Major crops/agricultural products: Wheat, rice, cotton, oilseeds, jute, tea, sugarcane.

Wheat: Production in the past five years averaged 70 million tonnes annually, ranging from 75.8 million in 2000-01 to 66 million in 1998-99. Imports averaged 1 million tonnes, ranging from 2.2 million in 1998 to 46,000 in 2000. Exports ranged from zero in 1997 and 1998 to 3 million in 2001-02. Ending stocks in 2001-02 are put at 27 million tonnes, up from 5 million in 1997.

Rice: Five-year milled production averaged 86.7 million tonnes in a consistent range. Total use averaged 81.9 million tonnes, and exports averaged 2.5 million. 2001-02 ending stocks are put at 20.6 million tonnes, double the 1997 amount.

Transportation: Highways, 3,319,644 km, 1,517,077 km paved; railroads, 63,693 km, about 70% 1.676-m gauge; Chennai, Kandla, Kolkata, Mumbai are major ports.

Internet: Country code, .in; 43 service providers; 4.5 million users (2000 estimates).