India as one of the oldest civilisations of the world and with a rich cultural heritage has achieved multifaceted socio-economic progress during the last 66 years after independence. It has become self-sufficient in agricultural production and is today the tenth industrialised country in the world and the sixth nation to have gone into outer space orbit to conquer nature for the benefit of its people.
India covers an area of 32,87,263 sq km, extending from the snow-covered Himalayan heights to the tropical rain forests in the south. As the seventh-largest country of the world, it stands apart from the rest of Asia. Bounded by the Great Himalayas on the north, it stretches southwards and at the Tropic of Cancer, tapers off into the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west.
The mainland comprises four regions, namely the great mountain zone, the Gangetic plains and the Indus, the desert region, and the southern peninsula.
The river systems can be classified into (a) Himalayan Rivers, (b) Deccan Rivers, (c) Coastal Rivers, and (d) Rivers of the inland drainage basin. Since the Himalayan Rivers are formed by the melting of snow and glaciers, they flow throughout the year and receive heavy rainfall. The Deccan Rivers are rain-fed and fluctuate in volume. Many of these are non-perennial. The Coastal streams have a limited catchment area and are usually of short duration. Most of them are non-perennial. The streams of the inland drainage basin of western Rajasthan are few and far apart and a majority of them are of an ephemeral kind.
The climate of India is broadly described as tropical monsoon type with four clearly defined seasons: winter (January-February), summer (March-May), ,rainy south-western monsoon (June-September) and post-monsoon (October-December), which is also known as the north-east monsoon in the southern peninsula.
The Indian climate is affected by two seasonal winds: the north-east monsoon, commonly known as winter monsoon, which blows from land to sea and the south-west monsoon, also known as summer monsoon, which blows from sea to land after traversing through the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal is the south-west monsoon that brings most of the rainfall during the year.
India has rich and varied vegetation. India can be divided into eight distinct florist regions, namely the eastern and the western Himalayas, Assam, the Indus plain, the Gangetic plain, the Deccan, Malabar and the Andamans. India is rich in flora. According to the available data, India ranks tenth in the world and fourth in Asia in plant diversity. Having so far surveyed 70% of the geographical area, the Botanical Survey of India has found over 46,000 species of plants. The vascular flora comprises 15,000 species. The Zoological Survey of India, which surveys the faunal resources of India, has identified a great variety of fauna numbering over 89,000 species.
India’s population as on 1st March, 2011 stood at 1,210 million. India accounts for a meagre 2.4 per cent of the world surface area of 135.79 million sq km. Yet, it supports and sustains a whopping 16.7 percent of the world population. The population density of India in 2011 was 272 per sq km. India is the second-most populous state of the world after China. India ranks 11th in the list of 15 biggest economies of the world as of 31st March 2011, but it does not figure in the list of 10 countries with the highest GDP per capita, nor for that matter does it figure in the list of the world’s largest exporters.
India does figure in the list of 10 largest importers having imported goods worth 488.60billion dollars in 2011. However, India takes the number one position when it comes to inward remittances. It received remittances to the extent of 64 billion dollars in 2011.
India ranks second in sending its students abroad for higher studies. India is the third-largest producer of coal, but it is nowhere when it comes to producing natural gas. Sadly, India also does not figure anywhere in the list of the countries with the most heritage sites. Italy takes first place with 47 heritage sites and South Korea occupies the last position with 10 sites.
India is missing from this list. A person aged seven and above, who can both read and write with understanding in any language is treated as literate in our country. A person who can only read but cannot write is not literate.
The results of 2011 Census show that there has been an increase in literacy in India. The literacy rate in the country is 74.04%, 82.14% for males and 65.46% for females.
Kerala continues to hold its premier position with its literacy rate of 93.91%, closely followed by Lakshadweep at 92.28%.
Bihar with 63.82% ranks last in the country, preceded by Arunachal Pradesh at 66.95%. Some of the contrasting facts of life revealed in Census 2011 are—while half of all Indians do not have a toilet at home, well over half own a mobile phone. Similarly, where millions have access to state-of-the-art technologies and consumer goods, they do not have proper shelter over their head.
Only 46.9% of the 246.6 million households have toilets. The lack of sanitary facilities continues to be a big concern for the country.
The Indian society is overwhelmingly made up of nuclear families. This is a drastic change from just a generation ago. They have more access to electricity and get their information from television than from radio. Less than a third of the population has access to treated drinking water. Two-thirds of households continue to use firewood, crop residue, cow-dung cakes or coal for cooking, thus putting their women at significant health hazards. Seventeen per cent still fetch drinking water from a source located more than 500 metres in rural areas or 100 metres in urban centres. For 45 per cent of the population, bicycle continues to be the primary mode of transport. That in a nutshell is a little picture of India.