Country Focus Data: India
May 01, 2000
by Melissa Alexander
Demography: Population: 1 billion, 1.68% growth rate (1999 estimates); more than 10 official languages, with Hindi the primary language of 30% of the population and English a primary language for national, political and commercial communication; 80% Hindu religion.
Geography: In South Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal; terrain varies from northern Hima-layas mountains, rolling plain along the Ganges, upland plain in the south and desert in the west; tropical monsoon climate in the south, temperate in the north.
Government: Federal republic. Chief of state is President Kicheril Raman Naraya-nan, head of government is Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
Official agricultural agencies: Ministry of Agriculture, comprising of four departments: Agriculture and Cooperation, Agricultural Research and Education, Animal Husbandry and Dairying and Food Processing Industries.
Economy: Market, although government regulations continue in some sectors. Reforms begun in 1991 have reduced the public sector's role in the economy. Some 40% of the economy now is in private hands. Agriculture remains a key sector, accounting for 29% of G.D.P. in 1998-99 and employing 64% of the labor force. The service sector accounts for about 40% of G.D.P. India is a founding member of the W.T.O. and is gradually lifting trade restrictions to allow private sector participation in line with W.T.O. requirements.
G.D.P. per capita: U.S.$1,720 in 1998 (purchasing power parity); 5.4% growth rate (1998); 14% inflation.
Currency: Indian rupee. April 3, 2000 exchange rate: 43.6 rupees per U.S. dollar.
Exports: U.S.$32.17 billion (f.o.b., 1998), textile goods, gems and jewelry, engineering goods, chemicals.
Imports: U.S.$41.34 billion (c.i.f., 1998), crude oil and petroleum products, machinery, fertilizer.
Major crops/agricultural products: Rice, wheat, coarse grains, oilseeds, cotton, jute, tea.
Wheat: A record 70-million-tonne harvest is forecast for the 1999-00 season, with the five-year average output at 66.8 million tonnes and average total use at 66.7 million. Feed use is minimal, averaging only 340,000 tonnes a year. An annual average of 1.4 million tonnes has been imported in the past five years, with exports averaging 740,000 tonnes.
Rice: Rice is a long-standing food staple, and annual production in the five years beginning in 1995-96 averaged 82.8 million tonnes, milled basis. Rice consumption averaged 80.4 million tonnes. Since 1991, the government has sought to build export markets for rice, and rice shipments reached a record 4 million tonnes in 1994-95. Annual exports from 1995-96 to the current marketing year have averaged 2.7 million tonnes.
Transportation: Rail, 62,915 km, with about 41,000 1.676-m gauge and 18,500 1.000-m gauge; highways, 3.3 million km, 1.5 million paved; major ports are Calcutta, Chennai (Madras), Mumbai (Bombay), Cochin, Kandla.