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India is the name given to the vast peninsula which the continent of Asia throws out to the south of the magnificent mountain ranges that stretch in a sword like curve across the southern border of Tibet.
The name Himavat in the above passage refers not only to the snow-capped ranges of the Himalayas but also to their less elevated offshoots - the Patkai, Lushai and Chittagong Hills in the east, and the Sulaiman and Kirthar ranges in the west.
As the juggernaut of world history rolled on, many civilisations rose and fell and passed into oblivion but the spirit of India remains eternal and invincible, unscathed by the onslaught of Time. The political map of ancient and medieval India was made up of countless kingdoms with fluctuating boundaries that rendered the country vulnerable to foreign invasions. Here is brief account of the History of India, which seeks to articulate the undying magic of the amazing nation that - in the words of American author Mark Twain - 'all men long to see, and having seen it once, would not give up that glimpse for all the wonders of the world'.
From around 1500 BC onwards, Aryan tribes from Afghanistan and Central Asia began to filter into northwest India.
As the Aryan tribes spread out across the Ganges plain, in the seventh century BC, many of them were grouped together into 16 major kingdoms.
Gradually these amalgamated into four large states, with Kosala and Magadha emerging to be the most powerful during the fifth century BC. The Mauryas were the first ruling dynasty to control large parts of North India and some parts of South India, as one territorial unit. Following the decline of the Mauryan Empire, a number of powerful kingdoms arose in central and south India, among them Satavahanas, Kalingas and Vakatakas hold precedence. The decline of the Guptas in North India, and the consequent rise of a large but ineffective number of regional powers made the political situation very fluid and unstable by the ninth century AD. These were felt in the form of 17 successive raids to North India, made by Mahmud of Ghazni between 1001 and 1025. The next Muslim ruler to invade India Mohammad Ghauri attacked India and after some futile resistance by the local leadership he founded a foreign empire in India. His was followed by the rule of the Khaljis and Tughlaq, also known as the Delhi Sultanate, who ruled over a large portion of North India and parts of South India until the coming in of the Lodis and Sayyids.
Defeating Lodis and Sayyids, the Mughals established, what came to be known as the most vibrant era of Indian History.
The Mughal Empire was massive, covering, at its height, almost the entire Indian subcontinent. The Danes and Dutch also had trading posts, and in 1672 AD, the French established themselves at Pondicherry, an enclave that they held even after the British had departed.
The British represented by the East India Company established their commercial control over vast areas in India, which very soon had an administrative dimension to it.
History of the Raj is one of constant struggle between the nationalists - who assumed different names, ideologies, backgrounds and methods - and the British and their repressive policies. People from the length and breadth of India followed the path set by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, where truth and ahimsa or non-violence were held supreme. Jawaharlal Nehru became independent India's first Prime Minister and Rajendra Prasad the country's first President. The founding fathers, under the leadership of B R Ambedkar, based governance of the country upon the free choice of its citizens. India embarked upon planning and began to address the issues like land reforms, improvement of agricultural marketing techniques and irrigation facilities. India started building a scientific foundation for all her programmes, whether it was agricultural research, pure scientific research or product designs for the craftsmen. The 'Green Revolution' of the sixties and the 'White Revolution' of the seventies brought about amazing results in agriculture and cooperative dairy farming. With the ninth-largest economy in the world by GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP), India is the second fastest growing economy in the world after China. Today, the country marches proudly as the second largest country in Asia and the seventh largest and second most populous country on Earth.
Located in the Southern part of Asia, India lies between 8°4' and 37°6' N Latitude and 68°7' and 97°25' E Longitude. India is blessed with diverse topography—from mountains to plains, to plateaus, deserts, coasts and islands. The Himalayas, which forms the Northern boundary of the country, consist of three parallel series of mountain range: the Himadri, Himachal and Shivaliks.
India is also fortunate in possessing a wide stretch of fertile lands, made up of the alluvial soil brought down in the form of fine silt by the mighty rivers. To the south of the Great Plains of Northern India lies the Great Plateau of Peninsular India, which is divided into three parts, namely the Malwa Plateau, the Chota Nagpur Plateau and the Deccan Plateau.
Towards the west of the Deccan Plateau lie the Western Ghats that comprise of the Sahyadri, the Nilgiri, the Annamalai and the Cardamom Hills.
Narrow coastal plains along the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal flank the Deccan Plateau on its eastern and western sides, respectively.
Towards the Western half of India lies a vast stretch of land that is divided by the Aravalli Mountains into two separate units. India is a vast country in the Southern portion of Asia which is bound by Indian Ocean on its south, Arabian Sea on its west and Bay of Bengal on its east and borders Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Bangladesh on its north, northwest, northeast and east.
India, known for unity in diversity, offers an awesome, creative burst of culture - a potpourri of religions, races and languages.
For times immemorial, India has remained a meeting ground between the East and the West, a treasure house of knowledge and wisdom. After assimilating and nurturing an incredible diversity of people and cultures for millennia, India culture remains an object of fascination for people the world over. Religions have co-existed and evolved together for many centuries in the country and are very central to the lives of the people, who have a remarkable openness to even foreign religions. The Constitution of India has guaranteed the freedom of worship and way of life to all its citizens. The battle between Ravana and Rama and the latter's victory are celebrated as Dussehra in many parts of India, 20 days before Deepawali. It is preceded by enactment of the story of the Ramayana by amateur groups of people in what is known as Ram Lila where all-night performances of the Ramayana from the beginning to the end are enacted; the actors are mainly young boys who perform the role of male as well as female characters. Lord Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu, is the divine core in the epic Mahabharata. The birth anniversaries of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and last of Gurus, are very important days and are celebrated with religious fervour and devotion. Then there is Holi, the festivals of colours when men, women and children drench one another with coloured water to celebrate the beauty of spring season, when flowers bloom and deck the earth. Throughout history, Indian languages and literature have exercised a great deal of influence on other great civilizations and intellectual development of the world at large. Although Hindi and English are the major languages in India, there are 22 official languages and countless other dialects. Indians engage themselves in spiritual pursuits to strike a balance between the needs of the body and of the soul. A rich, complex and deeply symbolic religion, Hinduism is called Sanatana Dharma or the eternal truth, tradition or religion. Lord Krishna love for Radha has been the inspiration for miniature painters of the Kangra or Pahari school of Painting, as also for the elaborate style of painting embellished with gold, known as the Tanjore styles from South India.
In ancient India, kitchen was considered like a place of worship where the fire God resided and nourished the whole family. Contrary to the popular perception, in traditional India, girls were placed under the guidance of learned Gurus, where, along with various s, they were also made to learn and practise varied forms of Indian music and dance to develop their artistic skills.
Before Independence, many village crafts languished as the British implemented the policy of lop-sided industrialisation. In the modern context, India occupies a special place as the home to Bollywood, one of the largest film industries around the world which represents a unique cultural identity of the nation. India, the world's largest democracy, has made tremendous strides in economic and social development in the past two decades. Governance in India has always been a critical issue for the governments since independence. Government service delivery system in India remains chaotic and a lot needs to be done in this regard.
The quality and effectiveness of service delivery today is directly linked to good governance practices and use of modern technology, especially ICT. With amendments in Constitutions through the 73rd and 74th Amendments, powers were transferred to Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and Local Bodies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi says, "one of the biggest benefits of good governance is that it does not look at welfare of any particular section of the people; it results in welfare of all. A long-established legal system has given India the underpinnings necessary for free enterprise to flourish.
High and inclusive growth is entwined with good governance and the Modi government is making efforts to take to it to the next level., the Union human resource development ministry wants to celebrate December 25 as 'good governance day', as on this day fall the birthdays of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Hindu Mahasabha leader Madan Mohan Malviya. India's diplomatic and strategic engagement with the Western countries has gone through radical changes in recent times. India's claim for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, as well as more responsibility in institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank is much dependent on good relation with the developed West.
The country is maintaining a balance with regard to bilateral relations with the United States and Russia.
US President Barack Obama was invited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the chief guest at India's Republic Day parade on 26 January 2015. While moving closure to the US, India never undermined its old and trusted friend Russia and recently it warmly welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin. The appurtenances of democracy - adult suffrage, a free media, an independent judiciary, the rule of law, the sanctity of property rights - are essential for inclusive growth which in turn strengthens democratic institutions. Elected legislature, executive, independent Judiciary and free media are four pillars of our democracy. Democracy has given Indians an institutional framework for the exercise of political choice and freedom to express dissent. The Law Commission of India under the aegis of the Ministry of Law & Justice in India is responsible for introducing India law reforms and implementation. For many, India of their dreams is a place for equal opportunities, where all the talented people are given equal opportunities for growth irrespective of their caste, gender and economic and social status.
While friendly ties with India and Pakistan as well as with India and other countries in the world become the priority for a majority, an improvement in living standards is the concern of all those who are Below Poverty Line at present. In India, democracy can be actualised in the true sense of the term if Indian politics can do away with casteism, vote bank politics, nepotism and criminalisation.
Indian Defence capability is ranked 4th in the world with the 2nd largest army at its command. In India, defence forces have grown from strength to strength after every major armed conflict and military operation in the past 60 years. India is the world's largest arms importer due to a stagnant defence-industrial base (DIB), which forces the armed forces to acquire 65 per cent of their requirements from abroad.
The Modi government has enhanced Foreign Direct Investment in defence sector from 26 per cent to 49 per cent and the move aims at increasing domestic production and less dependence on imports.
Seasoned journalist Rajdeep Sardesai's book ‘2014: The Election that Changed India' provides a perspective into how elections in India are now much more complex than the conventional tussle of ballots.
With the new government taking over this year, India seems to be back on course to getting back to the growth rates seen earlier in the best years. The Sensex has crossed record levels of 28,000 offering the best YTD Returns of 33.2%, after touching lows of 17,000 in September 2013 and is expected to rise even further by the end of the current fiscal. With the new government demonstrating serious intent in reforming the economy by initiating steps towards reforms in land acquisition laws, labour laws, introducing GST, increasing FDI in Insurance, Railways, Construction, Infrastructure and Defence. The fall in global commodity prices, especially crude oil has helped India improve its Balance of Payments situation. The Indian economy showed itself to be more robust than most of the other BRICS nations through the difficult years from 2010-2013. The agriculture and allied sectors have been erratic in growth rates and the period in question has not shown consistent growth or decline, in fact there have been sharp growth and decline in respective years. Agriculture and allied sectors have seen increasing interest from corporates who now see a growth opportunity in the sector, with the government adopting a more open policy to private sector investment in modernizing the sector.
The combined fiscal deficit (centre and state) had its best year in 2007-2008 when it reached -0.40% but has been rising ever since. However, with the RBI adopting measures to curb the deficit, 2013-2014, the deficit stood at -6.7%.
The RBI has been facing a challenge in trying to keep the Current Account Deficit (CAD) down to manageable levels. In a path breaking initiative, The Prime Minister has taken steps to introduce a power sharing grid amongst the SAARC countries that will ensure that the surplus power generated in one country is distributed to another country based on need. India is set to grow at a rapid pace from here and the power sector alone requires an investment upwards of US$250 billion over the next five years, with US$ 100 billion needed by the renewable sector alone.
Solar, wind and Hydro are major areas that are expected to witness major investments in a bid to shore up clean energy generation.
Wind energy, a part of the clean energy plan of the government, has received a boost with the government planning to invite bids worth Rs 20,000 crore in the coming fiscal that will see private players add another 3,000 mw of clean energy generated from wind.
Investment in power transmission has lagged behind with several south based states suffering from power transmission congestion. The new government has rightly identified critical areas of focus as project delivery, safety, passenger services including sanitation, cleanliness and catering, financial discipline, resource mobilization, IT initiatives, transparency & system improvements. The central government is keen to push forward introduction of high speed railways with international funding, fare and tariff rationalization and consolidation & expansion of dedicated freight projects. Green initiatives by the railways include utilizing station roof tops of stations, buildings and land under the railways for solar power generation to meet internal needs-to be executed under the PPP mode.
The new government is keen to modernize Civil Aviation and is keen to push development of short interstate air connectivity besides making India a major aviation hub. Airport modernization started under the UPA II is being further consolidated, after the new government took over this year.
The private aviation space continues to grow at a rapid pace with aircraft acquisition continuing by all operators and new ones like Air Asia and Vistara in the process of taking advantage of the opening up of civil aviation in India. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has come under much criticism on account of safety downgrade by the US based FAA and this continues to remain a matter of concern, as India races ahead with expansion of its skies. The National Highways Authority is responsible for managing a network of roads and highways that cover 92,851 kms.
The new government is now taking steps to speed up the Land Acquisition Law reform to ensure that the highway expansion can get back on to the fast track mode. The Indus Valley civilization was entirely unknown until 1921, when excavations in what would become Pakistan revealed the cities of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro (shown here).This mysterious culture emerged nearly 4,500 years ago and thrived for a thousand years, profiting from the highly fertile lands of the Indus River floodplain and trade with the civilizations of nearby Mesopotamia.
A well-planned street grid and an elaborate drainage system hint that the occupants of the ancient Indus civilization city of Mohenjo Daro were skilled urban planners with a reverence for the control of water.
Under a remote Maya palace in the ruined city of Uxul, archaeologists in Mexico have uncovered an ancient burial—and a rare royal cup. Below street level in Mexico City, archaeologists have found a jumble of bones dating to the 1480s. National Geographic explores how we can feed the growing population without overwhelming the planet in our food series.
Archaeologists and artists, armed with the latest tools and techniques, are bringing the life-size army of painted clay soldiers back to life.
Climb to the top of a life-size Tyrannosaurus rex for an up-close view of its teeth at this real-world Jurassic park.
Circling a patch of lonesome prairie, 38 old cars painted gray form a replica of England’s Stonehenge. Seven sensational scrap metal sculptures line this 32-mile stretch of highway in southwest North Dakota, including artist Gary Greff’s massive “Geese in Flight,” listed in the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest scrap metal sculpture. America’s oldest example of zoomorphic architecture, this 130-year-old, 65-foot pachyderm is actually a building that once served as a summer cottage. America's most famous mythical lumberjack, capable of felling entire forests with his powerful ax, has a long reach. Even a Druid would feel at home at this stoic Stonehenge replica, set on a tufted hillside in the Shenandoah Valley.
Created in 1974 by a group of artists, this graffiti-spattered homage to American road travel breaks the dusty Texas horizon with the force of an 18-wheeler. Get inspired for your next epic American road trip with guides, tips, and more from National Geographic.

More than 600 cliff dwellings made by the ancestral Pueblo people, also known as the Anasazi, are scattered throughout Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado (shown here). The ancient past comes to life in this screensaver gallery featuring Egyptian ruins, Maya relics, and views of Machu Picchu, Stonehenge, and the Great Wall of China.
Cairo's Egyptian Museum has opened its vaults—revealing stunning antiquities on display for the first time ever. Get travel tips, see photos, take a quiz and more with National Geographic's Ultimate Guide to Rome. Listen to the seers and the folklorists, to the waters of the perennial rivers and the echoes from the immortal gigantic mountains. Shaped like an irregular quadrilateral, this large expanse of territory we call India, deserves the name of a subcontinent. These go down to the Sea and separate India from the wooded valley of Irrawady, on the one hand, and the hilly tableland of Iran, on the other. Indian history follows a continuous process of reinvention that can eventually prove elusive for those seeking to grasp its essential character. This civilisation, which lasted for 1000 years, and is known as the Harappan culture, appears to have been the culmination of thousands of years of settlement.
Eventually these tribes were able to control the whole of Northern India, and many of the original inhabitants, the Dravidians, were pushed into south India. He left pillars and rock-carved edicts, which delineate the enormous span of his territory that covered large areas of the Indian subcontinent. Later on these regions saw the rise of some of the greatest dynasties of South India in the form of the Cholas, Pandyas, Cheras, Chalukyas and Pallavas.
This paved the way for the Muslim invasion into India during the early half of the eleventh century. Under him, large parts of India came under Muslim rule and very soon his successor Qutub-ud-din Aibak became the first of the sultans of Delhi.
This apart, the large number of forts, palaces, gates, buildings, mosques, baolis (water tank or well) gardens, etc, forms the cultural heritage of the Mughals in India. In other parts of India, however, a new trend of foreign invasion under the garb of commercial links had started from the 15th century AD onwards - first, with the arrival and gradual takeover of Goa by the Portuguese led by Vasco da Gama - between 1498 and 1510 AD; and then with the arrival, and the setting up of the first trading post at Surat, in Gujarat, by the East India Company.
The British rule in India was, however, formalised by the direct takeover of India by the British Crown, after the First War of Independence in 1857.
It sought to assimilate different linguistic regions and religious communities of India into a cohesive Nation-State while, at the same time, conferring substantial autonomy upon the diverse states of the Indian Union. The Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary started functioning long before such systems were recognised by international thinkers. Reducing dependency on the fickle monsoons was a major priority area since most of Indian agriculture is rain-fed. Moving over to scientific research and development, India raised her agricultural production to a consistent growth rate of three percent per annum. From world class infrastructure, mega cities, economic hubs, modern airports, swanky multiplexes, thriving retail centres, plush hotels, to knowledge and information technology parks, the country has everything to illustrate its rapid strides on the fast trajectory of modernisation and holistic development. The Tropic of Cancer divides the country into two equal parts in the Northern and Southern part, and the Vindhya Mountains cut right across the country, from West to East. Lying south of the Himalayas, these Great North Indian Plains consist of the Indus basin, Ganga-Brahmaputra basin, and the tributaries of these mighty river systems.
The Malwa plateau bounded by the Aravalli hills and the Vindhyas form the northern half of this peninsula. On the eastern side, this plateau merges into a layer of discontinuous low hills known as the Mahendra Giri hills, which comprise of the Eastern Ghats.
The Western coastal plains lying between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, further split into the Northern Konkan Coast and the Southern Malabar Coast.
The area to the west of the Aravalli comprises of the Thar Desert - made up of sand and interrupted by rocky hills and waterless valleys.
Physical India maps can serve as effective tools for understanding the geophysical and topological features of the Indian sub-continent. The roots of Indian culture and civilization can be traced back to more than 5,000 years ago with an unbroken continuity of traditions, customs and world-renowned schools of philosophy.
The Vedic culture and Vedic way of life have struck deep roots in India and are followed by people even today. This has allowed not just tolerance towards religions and beliefs, but the freedom to propound one's ideas and philosophies.
The objects of ethnic interest like unique Indian dresses, delectable Indian food recipes, sonorous Indian music and exotic Indian names evoke global interest on a continuous basis. All the major religions of the world like Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam and Christianity including their sects, are found and practised in India with complete freedom.
He was Guru Nanak Dev, whose teachings and those of the nine gurus who followed later are collected in the holy book of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib. Christian saints came to India many centuries ago and preached the doctrine of Christianity. The scriptures and works of literature of this era are replete with references to festivals.
This has ensured the rich kaleidoscope of festivals that are celebrated throughout the country.
Rama, the central figure in the epic Ramayana, went into exile for 14 years, accompanied by his wife Sita and brother Lakshman. Dussehra is the day when the effigies of Ravana, his brothers Meghnath and Kumbhakaran, are burnt.
While Goddess Durga is worshipped with great devotion in West Bengal, Lord Ganesha - acknowledged as the remover of obstacles - is the central figure in the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra.
It was he who gave the sermon of the Bhagwat Gita (the song Celestial) to Arjuna, one of the five Pandava brothers during their battle with the Kauravas at Kurukshetra. Processions are taken out, the scriptures are chanted, without a break, and the Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) are illuminated.
New Year's Day is April 13, celebrated as Baisakhi, which coincides with the harvesting of the wheat crop in Northern India, especially in Punjab. Christmas, commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ, transcends the barriers of faith to become an occasion for celebration of joy across the country.
The gem in the crown is, of course, the Kumbha Mela held at Haridwar, Prayag (Allahabad), Nashik and Ujjain. To know the real India, languages of different regions must be acquainted with, which can afford a great deal of information on India culture, traditions, history and folklore. Apart from producing numerous masterpieces of literature, India has taken rapid strides for promoting all branches of education.
Spiritual India, rich in holy places, traditions and beliefs, offers much for those seeking knowledge and awareness of the inner world. India has always been a votary of peace and non-violence as exemplified by the teachings of Buddha, Mahavira, Guru Nanak of Mahatma Gandhi in the recent past. While religion is more about rituals, spirituality is more to do with one's self, or the spirit.
The exotic Indian cuisine has never failed to attract natives as well as foreigners, perhaps for the reason that India has an unending variety of Indian recipes known for their unique flavour.
Especially after marriage, Indian women were supposed to wear intricate Indian jewellery, which is considered an auspicious symbol for their marital happiness. Post-Independence, there is a definite revival in general of traditions and of craft traditions, in particular.
Indian movies have been making waves across the world, besides doing well within the country.
The country aims to become a higher middle-income country by 2025 and that calls for even faster growth in the years to come. Neither the soviet style socialist path nor the free-market western capitalist economy appeared the best answer for the country. It is widely accepted that governance should be citizen-centric and we need alertness and responsiveness in every aspect of governance. But, as a vibrant democracy, India has a distinct advantage as it has an accountable government that is subject to transparent surveillance on multiple fronts, democratically elected legislatures, an independent judiciary and evolving regulatory watchdogs.
By transferring functions, fund and functionaries (3Fs), efforts are being made to transform the lives of people.
The government spends huge amount wages, pensions, interest payments, and agricultural subsidies and social sector schemes.
Although India's courts are notoriously inefficient, they at least comprise a functioning independent judiciary. India maintains solid bilateral relations with the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Russia. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's historical visit to the US resulted in strengthening of trade and strategic tie-up between the two countries. He became the first US President to get that honour and also the first one to visit India twice while in office.
India and Russia signed agreements in oil exploration, infrastructure, defence and nuclear energy including construction of 12 Russian-built nuclear units in India over the next two decades.
Borrowed from British model of Parliamentary democracy, India has adopted best practices from every one. This has acted as an indispensable safety valve in an inequitable milieu with great discrepancies in the distribution of power and wealth. It is part of the inheritance India received from the British after more than 200 years of their Colonial rule, and the same is obvious from the many similarities the Indian legal system shares with the English Legal System. The first Law Commission of Independent India was constituted in 1955 by the Government of India for democratic Indian law reforms in accordance with the directives laid down by the Constitution of India. India is witnessing a jobless growth even while it is very young country with regard to workforce. Lessening of economic disparity across various social strata in the country is another cherished goal.
The President of India himself serves as the Supreme Commander of Indian Armed Forces composed of Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force. In the current geopolitical context, India is faced with a complex array of internal as well as external security threats and the Indian Armed Forces are well-equipped to deal with them.
From Lok Sabha to local bodies, elections have become a part of our life and a strong tool for empowerment. The elections 2014, including some Assembly elections in states like Maharashtra and Haryana marked the unprecedented shift in poll campaign strategy and the role played by the Media & PR Network.
The international sentiment is very bullish on India and that confidence is reflected with India receiving in excess of US$ 15 billion in FII till the mid of November 2014.
Sensitive issues like deregulation of diesel have been initiated, while the coal and mining sector is being given an impetus through fresh auctions. The domestic financial investors have also shown marked improvement in sentiment with mutual funds that were net sellers in the last couple of years having turned net buyers this year. With modernization and increased credit flow to the sector, growth rates are likely to continue to improve in the next few years. India has rapidly grown in the services sector that has seen substantial investment in financial services, insurance, IT & business process outsourcing and backend support. While the weakening of the rupee was mostly welcomed by the exporters, especially the IT sector, the same hit the industry hard that was directly or indirectly impacted by it.
Delhi recorded the highest people density amongst all cities at 97.5% with Chandigarh recording the second highest.
The region already imports 30% of its requirement and having a grid will help all countries in the region. In a relief to major gas based power plants the government plans to provide major relief to help revive 16,000 mw of power. The government plans to auction eight major power transmission projects with a cumulative investment of Rs 53,000 crore. The railways has suffered from political interference and lack of adequate investment for years that has resulted in the entire infrastructure becoming strained to maintain, besides safety and efficiency standards falling to dangerous levels. The plan outlay under budgetary sources is placed at Rs 47,650 crore which is Rs 9,383 crore higher than the previous year.
However, the new government has not been able to take bold steps to open up the sector and is still grappling with policy issues related to privatization and operations.
Six airports have been identified for modernization, of which Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow and Guwahati will be developed under PPP mode and Kolkata and Chennai will be under fee-based management contracts from private operators.
The UPA II faltered after initiating a massive expansion of the highways and the last few years saw various projects being stalled on account of land acquisition issues and funding.
But just who occupied the ancient city in modern-day Pakistan during the third millennium B.C. Additional sculptures made from Detroit iron include “Ford Seasons,” representing seasonal changes to the landscape. If the excavation, which removed 50,000 cubic feet of stone, doesn’t move you, take in the petting zoo.
Lumber up the spiral stairs to Lucy’s towering howdah for elephantine views of the Atlantic Ocean. Baffling perhaps, but the towering industrial foam blocks make for a mystical roadside diversion. If you want some ice cream that’ll make you scream, head to this 40-foot-tall snack stand at the Boston Children’s Museum. The ten half-buried roadsters, slanted in a perfect row into an Amarillo cow pasture, have been featured in movies and referenced in songs.
Look at the personifications of prayer carved out of marble or stone, and lie under a banyan tree, and listen - Listen to India.
Ancient Geographers referred to India as being "constituted with a four-fold conformation" (chatuh samasthana samsthitam), "on its South and West and East is the Great Ocean, the Himavat range stretches along its north like the string of a bow".
Even today, when urban India is racing against time, in the caves of the snow-clad peaks, live hermits - seeking the divine.
The history of this astonishing sub continent dates back to five thousand years ago, when the inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilisation had developed an urban culture based on commerce and sustained by agricultural trade.
They came out of the North in about 1500 BC and brought with them strong cultural traditions.
The Mughals were also instrumental in establishing one of the most efficient administrative setups in India. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Bankim Chandra, Rabindranath Tagore, Subramanya Bharathi and Abul Kalam Azad were some of those who enthused people through their soul-stirring writings and songs to reach out to nationalism. Rajagopalachari, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Subhas Chandra Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sarojini Naidu are some of the great names associated with the freedom struggle. And within the Assembly Hall, Jawaharlal Nehru rose to make his famous "tryst with destiny" speech. It has been recognised as the largest democracy of the world, and an emerging global power. The Eastern coastal plains, on the other hand lie between the Eastern Ghats and the Bay of Bengal and like the Western plains are divided into two parts - the Coromandel Coast as the Southern part and the Northern Circars as the Northern part.
An India outline map clearly defines the geopolitical outline of the country and India political map can help better understand the political boundaries and sub-divisions of the country for all practical purposes.
Amongst the world's oldest, richest and most diverse cultures, India represents an amazing confluence of different creeds, religions, faiths and belief systems, further divided among castes, sects and sub-sects.
Apart from the Vedas, other important scriptures composed during Vedic times include the Upanishadas (enlightening commentaries on the Vedas), the shrutis and the smritis (storehouses of heard and remembered erudition and learning). It is believed that St Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Christ, came to India in the first century AD, and spent the rest of his life in India preaching.
These were the celebrations in honour of gods, rivers, trees, mountains, and seasons like spring, and monsoon.
Right from ancient times, India has enjoyed the unquestioned reputation of being the centre of excellence in education. Crafts are an intrinsic part of the religious and ritual traditions as craftsmen often worked for the temples and for providing the appurtenances necessary for worship.
An expansion of commercial cinema and a number of cross-over Indian movies have created a global craze for Indian actors and superstars.
With new government in place this year, India currently stands at the threshold of a unique opportunity regarding governance reforms.

It strives to craft a unique blend of its own socio-economic policies that would leverage its unique strengths and catapult it to centre-stage of the global economy. But mindset is changing as the government at the Centre has made it clear not only to its own wings but even to States that this chaos has to go with better use of information and communication technology. Modern technology is increasingly in demand at the government departments and organisations across the country, either due to the increasing pressure from the public or on the initiatives of bureaucrats and elected representatives.
Increased financial autonomy was supposed to be the game changer but we are still far behind from our cherished goals. If governance is policy driven, those who have to execute those policies will be clear in their mind as to their functions, and responsibility and accountability will follow.
India would be the third largest economy in the world by 2050 and a middle income country by 2025. The frame work of the current legal system has been laid down by the Indian Constitution and the judicial system derives its powers from it. One hopes that one day every youth of the country will get a job and employability would be achieved through large-scale skill development programmes.
Honest, politically free and committed bureaucracy is a dream of many, especially who are into social activism, whereas quick justice and judicial activism are seen as an end and not as means by many towards the 'India of my dreams'. Indeed this time, the Congress Party lost the election before it entered the electoral fray and the Modi as ‘factor' emerged there to establish a new identity.
In fact, India has been the star amongst BRICS nations in the recovery period, post the global slowdown. Policies pertaining to clearances from the Environment and Forests are being revised to ensure faster clearances of projects.
India is also witnessing rising investment in health services, clinical and pharmaceutical research, education and skill development.
With the global slowdown, the economy was strained with almost all infrastructure related activities coming to a standstill in the years 2010-2014. The forex assets, excluding gold, have been rising and stood at US$ 303.6 billion in 2013-2014. Governor Rajan took over as Governor at RBI in 2013 under the UPA II has had to take measures to bring the economy back to a growth path. One project will connect Chhattisgarh with Tamil Nadu through a 2,500 km long high capacity power evacuation link, costing Rs 26,820 crore. The railways, on account of passenger operations, has been losing Rs 25,000 crore annually and almost all arms of the railways require a massive inflow of investment if it has to keep a pace with the growth and achieve optimum operational efficiency. While the National Highways are just 1.7% of the total road network, they carry over 40% of the total road traffic. His trusty sidekick, Babe the Blue Ox, gets in on the action with colossal statues in Klamath, California, and Bemidji, Minnesota (pictured above). While not exactly a roadside attraction—it’s more a waterfront sight—the nearly 80-year-old icon has delighted lactose-loving families for ages.
Around 1150, though, they began to move their dwellings to the alcoves within the canyon walls. These, the youngest and tallest mountain ranges, feed the Ganga with never-ending streams of snow.
Not a surprise when you consider that even this century has seen some great philosophers like Ramana Maharishi, Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramhansa and J. Amongst the world's oldest, richest and most diverse cultures, India's unique ethos is rooted in its ethnic, cultural and religious diversity.
Persians, Greeks, Chinese nomads, Arabs, Portuguese, British and many others - the list of invaders who ruled India is long.
Although the Gupta Empire was not as large as the Maurya Empire, it kept North India politically united for more than a century from AD 335 to 455. By the early hours of morning, as the clouds sent a light drizzle to acknowledge the awakening, independent India was all set to transform from a colonial society into a liberal polity. Raman, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and Hargobind Khorana were recipients of the Nobel Prize, there were others with equal capabilities like Homi Bhabha, Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar, Jagdish Chandra Bose, Meghnad Saha Kothari, Krishnan, Vikram Sarabhai and Pal who concentrated their energies on creating the environment and infrastructure for further academic and developmental activities.
India is bounded by the Arabian Sea on its west and south west and the Bay of Bengal on its east and south east and the Himalayan Mountain ranges borders the country on its north. Chota Nagpur Plateau lies in the Eastern part of the peninsular and is the richest minerals producing region of India. The state of Gujarat lies to the east of this range and is one of the most prosperous regions in India. In the physical map of India, earthquake prone regions (high risk) can be located as Himalayan region, parts of North Indian plains and parts of Gujarat. His tomb, St Thomas Mount in Chennai, Tamil Nadu has become a place of pilgrimage for Christians in India. These were the times for prayers and meditation, and also for spectacle and procession - occasions to express pure joy with performances comprising music, dance and drama, and conducting fairs.
It was only after an epic battle that Rama vanquished Ravana, rescued Sita and returned home. In Eastern India, the New Year begins on April 14 and again it is a joyous occasion with singing and dancing by young men and women who don their best silken mekhalas (sarongs) and chaddars (an overwrap) and dance to the beat of the drum. So are the Nauchandi mela, held on the second Sunday after Holi in Meerut; and Sonepur Cattle Fair - Asia's biggest cattle fair, held on Kartik Poornima in Bihar's Sonepur, on the confluence of river Ganges and Gandak. In the past, the Takshila University flourished in the northwest and Nalanda University in the east of India.
The emergence of a whole new generation of Indian models in the India fashion industry has also made a great impact on the global media. Some of the organisations have successfully transformed their way of functioning and service delivery system with the help of modern technology. The Right to Information Bill was passed in 2005 in an effort to improve governance and public administration and eliminate corruption. Rational and inclusive growth oriented expenditure would lead us to a higher stage of advancement. The Indian electorate now numbers more than 800 million, making Indian elections the largest organised single political activity even in human history. Now a debate on the need to repeal obsolete laws has been set in motion in India with the government appointing a committee to look into the matter. States that were conventionally not the seat of power for BJP came under the umbrella with the hope of ‘acche din'.
The economy has begun to recover and is expected to post growth rate above 5% for the current period of 2014-2015) and the economy is expected to continue to increase the pace of growth through 2017. The industrial growth rate has been slow to post a recovery but current signs confirm that 2014-2015 will be better than the previous two years. What has been worrying is that the external debt too has been steadily rising and was at its peak at US$ 426 billion with the short term debt standing at US$ 92.7 billion. This reflects the growth potential for the same in India and by extension the massive investment required for the planned expansion of national and state highways. Most houses were quite small, but a few reached enormous proportions, housing up 250 people. The Himalayas are home to the people of Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. India shares its territorial border with Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The Spanish Catholic missionary, St Francis Xavier, also spent the greater part of his life in Goa.
The tradition of quality education is carried forward by modern Indian universities such as Delhi University (DU), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Jamia Millia University, Allahabad University, Visva-Bharati University and Vanasthali Vidya Peeth, to name a few. This Act widely known as ‘RTI' accords all citizens greater access to public documents than was earlier possible.
Accountability, access to information, political will for real devolution of powers at all levels would only make the desired change and would lead to good governance.
Modi assumed the mantle of power and right now, as things seem, we are seeing a rather unconventional mode of politics and governance. The curbs on gold import helped to bring down the CAD but by later 2014-2015, the Governor is under pressure to bring down interest rates to boost investment. The children population count stood at 164.5 million which represents a rise of 660,000 over the previous Census in 2001. Highlights within the basilica include the baroque altar baldachin designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, which stands over the traditional tomb of St. His triumphal return brought great joy to his people who illuminated the whole city to celebrate the occasion. Further, corruption investigations have increased significantly in many states and generally, there is fear among ‘corrupt' and ‘powerful' with regard to law. The year 2014 was something that triggered a series of changes in India and the trickle effect will possibly cover the entire 2015 to settle down and give a final picture. The male child (0-6 years) has increased between 2001 and 2011, while the female child in the same age group has decreased marginally. Peter; and Michelangelo's first and most famous sculpture of the "Pieta," a marble masterpiece of Jesus in the arms of his mother, Mary, after his crucifixion. India road map is an excellent tool for understanding the Indian transportation network, which includes an immense road network, covering almost whole of the sub-continent.
Every ten years, his relics are exposed to the public, and people from all over the world throng Goa to receive the benediction.
This tradition continues to this day as houses and cities throughout India are lit up every year (traditionally with small earthenware cups or diyas filled with oil) to commemorate the anniversary. Acclaimed for its classical harmony and composition, the statue was damaged in 1972 when a man claiming to be Jesus attacked it with a hammer. However, Indian rail network and air travel network have emerged as virtual engines of economic growth in the modern times even while falling behind the road network in terms of geographical reach. Indian politics was, since independence, dominated by vote banks politics based on religion, caste and other class factors and forces. Possehl, a National Geographic grantee, says it suggests an ideology based on cleanlinessWells were found throughout the city, and nearly every house contained a bathing area and drainage system.City of MoundsArchaeologists first visited Mohenjo Daro in 1911.
It has been displayed behind protective glass since.The adjoining (2) Vatican Museums (Viale Vaticano) showcase one of the world's great art collections with 2,500-year-old Etruscan vases sharing gallery space with ancient Greek masterpieces—including the famous "Laocoon and his Sons" and "Apollo Belvedere"—and works by everyone from Raphael to Leonardo da Vinci, Marc Chagall, and Auguste Rodin. Now ‘development' has become the catch word and youth want change, jobs not debate over Babri Mosque or any divisive issues. The crown jewel is Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, where every surface seems decorated with the artist's frescoed scenes from the Bible.The oval space fronting the Basilica, (3) Piazza San Pietro, is a baroque masterwork. Smart politicians have realised the change mind set of the youth and the graffiti is on the wall! Designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the 1600s to enable the greatest number of people to see the Pope when he gives his blessing from the basilica or from the Papal apartment, it features two semi-circular colonnades. The 284 columns and 88 pillars represent, according to Bernini, the "gathering of Christianity." In the piazza's center you'll notice an Egyptian obelisk.
Dating to the Ramses II dynasty, it was brought to Rome by the pillaging Roman emperor Caligula in 37 A.D.
A fun thing to do: Stand near the central obelisk (look for a stone that marks the exact spot), and gaze at the colonnade.
And, Possehl says, a changing river course doesn't explain the collapse of the entire Indus civilization.
You'll see each row of four columns line up perfectly to look like a single column.From Piazza San Pietro, proceed down the broad avenue across from the Basilica, Via della Conciliazione (commissioned by Mussolini to add grandeur to the site), to (4) Castel Sant'Angelo (Lungotevere Castello 50), a round-walled, battlemented structure that today serves as a museum. Within a hundred years the building was transformed into a fortress to help protect Rome from Germanic invaders. It got its current name in the sixth century—a time when a plague was devastating Rome—after Pope Gregory the Great had a vision of an angel hovering over the structure, sheathing its sword.
The vision was interpreted as heralding the end of the plague, and a statue of Archangel Michael, the rescuing angel, was placed on top of the structure (the present bronze statue dates to 1752). In 1277 the fortress was connected to the Vatican Palace with a covered walkway and became a refuge of choice for successive Popes. It also harbored special prisoners, including the acclaimed goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini, who was accused (apparently falsely) of embezzling pontifical gems. Exhibits in the museum today include weaponry and artifacts related to the building's long, colorful history.Cross the pedestrian (5) Bridge of Sant'Angelo, which dates back almost 2,000 years.
The 17th-century angels decorating the span were designed by Bernini.At the end of the bridge, bear left onto Via di Panico, then take your second left onto Via dei Coronari. A medieval-baroque feeling infuses this street that once teemed with rosary makers catering to Christian pilgrims.
Today it is a top destination for antiques in Rome, boasting some of the most prestigious shops. By far the most famous is the central fountain: Bernini's 17th-century Fountain of the Four Rivers, considered a baroque masterpiece. An allegory, the fountain represents the four great rivers of the four continents known at that time: the Danube in Europe, the Nile in Africa, the Rio de la Plata in South America, and the Ganges in Asia. The other notable landmark here, facing the central fountain, is the 17th-century (7) Church of Saint Agnes (Sant'Agnese) in Agony.
Built on the spot where Agnes, a Roman girl who converted to Christianity, was supposedly stripped naked in public—only to have her hair miraculously grow and cover her body—the church is in part the work of baroque architect Francesco Borromini. Legend has it that Bernini, who considered Borromini a competitor, found the facade so ugly that his statue of the Nile, the river god facing the church, covers his face in horror.Pause at the (8) Bar Tre Scalini (Piazza Navona 28), to the right of the church. You'll quickly reach Corso del Rinascimento, where you'll jog slightly left onto Via del Salvatore.
Follow Via del Salvatore across Via della Dogana Vecchia, and continue straight onto Via Giustiniani. An exceptionally accomplished piece of Roman engineering—attributed by some to Emperor Hadrian, by others to the master architect Apollodorus of Damascus—the Pantheon is essentially its dome, representing the heavens where the gods lived, on supporting walls.
To keep it from pushing the supporting walls out, the architects and builders devised some ingenious solutions. They made the supporting walls 19 feet thick to create a solid base, and incorporated a series of arches inside the concrete to add structural strength.
To reduce the weight of the dome, they mixed lighter materials—including hollow amphorae—into the dome's concrete.
They also designed the dome's interior as a series of recessed panels, which lessened the amount of concrete needed. It also provided both a real, and symbolic source of light (and, yes, rain) into the Pantheon.The supporting walls are adorned with statuary, ceremonial decorations, and the tombs of illustrious people, including the painter Raphael and the two 19th-century kings of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II and his son Umberto I. Today the Pantheon is a Catholic church open to the public, and occasionally hosts baptisms and weddings.Exiting the Pantheon, bear right onto Via del Seminario, then turn right and proceed to Piazza Sant'Ignazio. Pop into the church to check out the illusional 17th-century ceiling frescoes by Jesuit priest and artist Andrea Pozzo, which, though flat, appear to have depth.Backtrack a few steps to small Piazza di San Macuto and head down Via di Sant’Ignazio. Built by the Dominican order in the late 1600s, it was intended as a library for public use and today houses a remarkable collection of 400,000 books, ancient manuscripts, and other literary works.
The magnificent upstairs salone—reading room—which is open to the public, is attributed to the famous Roman architect Carlo Fontana.Continue to the end of the block, where you will enter the rectangular (12) Piazza del Collegio Romano. The imposing cream-colored palazzo here is the Collegio Romano, built to house Jesuit classrooms and offices. It became a noted center for the study of astronomy, where mathematicians worked with Galileo Galilei. Today the palazzo houses one of Rome's most prestigious public high schools, as well as the national Ministry of Culture. Spread out before you is Piazza Venezia, one of the busiest traffic squares in the city, and the huge white-marble (13) Altar of the Fatherland (also known as the monument to Vittorio Emanuele II), which commemorates the 19th-century unification of Italy.
This frothy white monument has earned various nicknames, including "wedding cake" and "typewriter."Walk into Piazza Venezia, with care—motorbikes, cars, and buses often fly through here trying to beat the traffic. The Pope allowed ambassadors from the Republic of Venice—at the time a sovereign state—to use part of the space, giving it its current name. In the 1930s it became the formal office of dictator Benito Mussolini, who was always partial to imperial settings.

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