2009 SCO & BRIC Summits > SCO Observer States


Updated: 2009-06-11 15:44


The Republic of India is a country in South Asia, with a population of more than one billion. It is the second most populous country in the world and occupies the major portion of the Indian subcontinent. The capital is New Delhi.

The Constitution of India came into force on January 26, 1950, almost three years after it gained independence from British rule on 15 August 1947. It proclaims fundamental rights of all citizens irrespective of their race and religion, opinion and sex. It also proclaims freedom of speech, religious freedom, freedom of assembly, freedom of movement and travel, freedom of property acquisition and freedom of occupation or profession.

The President of India is the head of state, elected indirectly by an electoral college for a five-year term. The Prime Minister is the head of government and exercises most executive powers. Appointed by the President, the Prime Minister is by convention supported by the party or political alliance holding the majority of seats in the lower house of Parliament. The executive branch consists of the President, Vice-President, and the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister.

The Legislature of India is a bicameral Parliament, which consists of the upper house called the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the lower house called the Lok Sabha (House of People).

India has a unitary three-tier judiciary, consisting of the Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice of India, 21 High Courts, and a large number of trial courts.

The main political parties include Indian National Congress (INC), Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People’s Party, BJP), Communist Party of India (Marxist), Samajvadi Party, Janata Dal (unified) and many others.

India is the seventh largest country by geographical area, covering 329 million sq km. It shares borders with Pakistan in the west, with China, Nepal and Bhutan in the northeast, with Bangladesh and Myanma in the east. Besides, India has sea borders with Maldives in the southwest, with Sri Lanka in the south and with Indonesia in the southeast. The disputable territory of State Jammu and Kashmir shares its border with Afghanistan.

India is a native land to many ancient civilizations and a crossing point of important historical trading routes. Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism originated from India.

India consists of 28 states (that in turn are divided into districts), six union territories and National Capital Territory of Delhi. Each state has its own elected government while the union territories are governed by the administrators appointed by the central government. However, several union territories have their own elected governments.


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