India is a sovereign country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second most populous country, and the most populous liberal democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the west, and the Bay of Bengal on the east, India has a coastline of over 7500 kilometers. It borders Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia.
Home to the Indus Valley civilization and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was recognized for its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history. Four major world religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism originated here, while Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism arrived in the first millennium CE and shaped the region's variegated culture. Gradually annexed by the British East India Company from the early eighteenth century and colonized by the United Kingdom from the mid-nineteenth century, India became a modern nation-state in 1947 after a struggle for independence that was marked by widespread use of nonviolent resistance as a means of social and political protest.
With the world's twelfth largest economy by market exchange rates and the fourth largest in purchasing power, India has made rapid economic progress in the last decade. Although the country's standard of living is projected to rise sharply in the next half-century, it currently battles high levels of poverty, illiteracy, persistent malnutrition, and environmental degradation. In addition to being a pluralistic, multi-lingual, and multi-ethnic society, India is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats and national parks.
Frequently Asked Questions About India
1. What is the current currency exchange rate?
The currency of India is the Rupee, which is divided into 100 paise. The Rupee comes in denominations of Rs.5, Rs.10, Rs.20, Rs.50, Rs.100, Rs.500 and Rs.1000. The printing of notes in the denominations of Re.1 and Rs.2 has been discontinued as these denominations have been coinised. However, such notes issued earlier are still in circulation. The current exchange rate is US$1 = INR 65.
2. What is the population and main language used?
There are over 1.2 billion Indians today and the number is growing every year. English is commonly used in all business transactions. Ten years ago, the United States was the country with the largest English-speaking population. Today, India has taken over that status. With roughly a third of its population – or more than 330 million – possessing English language capability, India has more people speaking the language than the US and UK combined However, the main spoken languages are Hindi and Urdu. India also has 25 other major regional languages!
3. What is the climate like?
India has a tropical climate with three main seasons:
Summer season: April to Mid-June
Monsoon season: Late June to September
Winter season: October to March
4. What is the proper clothing to wear in India’s climate? I also hear that Indians are a more conservative lot especially compared to people in Western countries. What kind of clothes would be acceptable?
During the winter months of October to March, light woolen clothes would be preferred. For the rest of the year, it can be very hot, so light, tropical clothing is advised. Shorts, minis and tank tops are unadvisable unless you're on a beach. In small towns and cities especially, people may tend to stare if you expose too much skin. Safe clothing would be trousers, peddle pushers, capris, skirts, tops and shirts. India has great cottons, which are trendy and affordable. Buy yourself some. Women could try wearing a salwar kameez, which is very cool and comfortable and could even improve the attitude of people towards them – salwar kameez are quite acceptable in Business meetings. Business attire is appropriate for business visits. We suggest that you plan to wear the same suit more than once to conserve suitcase space. Bring at least one pair of comfortable shoes!
5. What are the usual business hours in India?
Offices: 0930-1700 Mon-Fri, 0930-1300 Sat
Shops: 0930-2000 Mon-Sat
6. How safe is drinking water in India?
If you are from America or any other country, you may not be used to drinking the water here. Hence, we advise that you pick up a bottle of mineral water, which is cheap and widely available and usually provided in hotel rooms. Order the same when you are at a restaurant. As far as possible, avoid drinking any kind of water or juices from roadside carts and vendors; and, avoid ice at outside places!
7. How should I tip waiters at restaurants / hotels?
In restaurants or hotels, a 10% service charge is often added to bills, in which case there is no need to tip. In smaller places, where tipping is optional, you need only tip a maximum of 10 percentage of your bill. It is customary to tip waiters, porters, guides and drivers.
8. How safe is it to eat non-vegetarian food in India?
Food is safe if eaten in a good hotel or restaurant.
Available: wonderful chicken and lamb dishes are offered.
Unavailable: India, being a primarily Hindu country, beef and pork are not easily available.
9. What is the economy of India like?
The economy of India is the fourth largest in the world as measured by purchasing power parity, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of around US $4 trillion. When measured in USD exchange-rate terms, it is the twelfth largest in the world, with a GDP of US $1000 billion. India is the fastest growing major economy in the world.
Although two-thirds of the Indian workforce still earns their livelihood directly or indirectly through agriculture, services are a growing sector and are playing an increasingly important role in India's economy. The advent of the digital age, and the large number of young and educated populace fluent in English, is gradually transforming India as an important 'back office' destination for foreign companies for the outsourcing of their customer services and technical support.
India faces a burgeoning population and the challenge of economic and social inequality. Poverty remains a serious problem, although it has declined significantly since independence, mainly due to the green revolution and economic reforms.
10. How much money should I budget for meals?
$40 US per day should be sufficient to cover both lunch and dinner (without alcoholic beverages).
Mumbai is the commercial capital of India, a city of entrepreneurs, concrete towers, clubs, cricket, Bollywood and more. After the Portuguese gained possession of the islands in 1534, they renamed it Bom Bahia, for the natural harbor, which served as a safe haven for its ships. In 1661, Charles II of England received the islands of Bombay as dowry when he married Princess Catherine of Braganza. The city became a hotbed of political activity during the struggle for independence, hosting the First Indian National Congress in 1885. Nearly fifty years later, the Quit India movement was launched in Bombay. In the mid-'90s, the city was rechristened Mumbai. Today, Mumbai is the country's financial and cultural center. It is also home to a thriving film industry. It is seen by the teeming masses, who flock there to live and work, as a place where opportunities abound. Its inhabitants, an amalgam of great wealth and abject poverty, are swept into the endless maelstrom of activity that characterizes this city of dreams. Population: Around 14 million
It is rare to come across a place that welcomes the 21st century with an 'adaab'. Hyderabad is one such place. There is so much here to awe the senses. From the magnificent food to the majestic monuments, from its terrific landscapes to a populace steeped in respect and tradition. Consisting of the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, Hyderabad is also the capital of the state of Telangana. Once the largest princely state in India, Hyderabad had its own flag, currency, railway, and postal system, before being incorporated into the Indian nation. With a rich history, Hyderabad boasts of some fine examples of Qutab Shahi architecture - the Jami Masjid, the Mecca Masjid, Toli Masjid and of course, the impressive symbol of Hyderabad, the Charminar. A unique feature of the city is that it is the only city in the south, where the major language spoken is Urdu. Home to the Nizams, reportedly, the world's richest royals, Hyderabad is also home to famous folk arts like shadow puppetry and kuchipudi dance. Population: Around 8 million.
Chennai (Madras) is known as the Gateway of Southern India. The East India Company developed Madras as one of the major trading centers in India. Chennai has a blend of Dravidian and Gothic architecture in its buildings. The city might have grown but it hasn't lost its traditional grace and charm. The Tamil society might have incorporated English culture but the Dravidian roots are strong as ever. Chennai is the epitome of tradition, culture and life-style of Southern India. But like the rest of India, Chennai has over the years, developed its share of urban style and modernity. Accommodation and transportation are cheap and efficient. It is very likely that the temples you will visit in Chennai is unlike any other you have seen before. Visit the 4.5 km long Golden Marina beach - one of the longest beaches in the world. Today, Chennai is the fourth largest city in India and commands a major share in the trade from the South. Population: Around 8 million.
Bengaluru is one of Asia's fastest growing cities. Situated at an altitude of 920 meters above sea level, Bengaluru is the principal administrative, cultural, commercial and industrial center of the state of Karnataka. Spread over an area of 2190 square kilometers, Bengaluru enjoys a pleasant and equable climate throughout the year. Tree-lined streets and abundant greenery made it the 'Garden City' of India. Since the early 1980s, Bengaluru has seen a major technology boom and is now home to more than 250 high-tech companies, including homegrown giants like Wipro and Infosys. The erstwhile garden city has now become the 'Silicon Valley' of India. The people in the city are warm, hospitable and friendly. Bengaluru is generally regarded as a place that most visitors like to chill out in. Along with the modern day pubs, discos and hangouts, one can still see remnants of the older Bengaluru. All in all, it is a lovely city to visit. Population: Around 8 million
Kolkata also known by its former official name of Calcutta, is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Located on the east bank of the Hooghly River, it is the principal commercial, cultural, and educational centre of East India, while the Port of Kolkata is India's oldest operating port and its sole major riverine port. Many people from Kolkata—among them several Nobel laureates—have contributed to the arts, the sciences, and other areas. West Bengal's share of the Bengali film industry is based in the city, which also hosts venerable cultural institutions of national importance, such as the Academy of Fine Arts, the Victoria Memorial, the Asiatic Society, the Indian Museum and the National Library of India. Among professional scientific institutions, Kolkata hosts the Agri Horticultural Society of India, the Geological Survey of India, the Botanical Survey of India, the Calcutta Mathematical Society, the Indian Science Congress Association, the Zoological Survey of India, the Institution of Engineers, the Anthropological Survey of India and the Indian Public Health Association. Population: Around 14 million
New Delhi (Delhi)
Living testament to the glory of the Mughal days, patron of palaces and tombs and the capital of India, New Delhi is all of this and more. Situated about 160 kilometers south of the Himalayas and on the west bank of the Yamuna River, a tributary of the Ganges, Delhi has the distinction of being the historic hub of politics. Delhi is as modern or ancient as you want it to be. Today's Delhi is cosmopolitan, modern and fun loving. With feasts for art and theatre lovers, concerts for the musically inclined and food that can make a gourmet cry with delight, Delhi is a place with something for everyone. People from all parts of the country inhabit Delhi. There are different cultural pockets with Punjabis being the most dominant section here. The most common languages spoken here besides English are Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu. Population: Approximately 12 million