Transportation and Telecommunications
Railroads: Track route length 62,458 in mid-1990s, fourth most heavily used system in world, both for passengers and freight; all government-owned and operated by Indian Railways. Some 14,600 kilometers double or multiple tracked; 11,000 kilometers electrified, 116,000 bridges; some high-speed routes; domestic production of most rolling stock and other components. Major government investment in modernization in 1990s. Full metro system in Calcutta, rapid transit system in Madras, and major system planned for New Delhi; Bombay served by suburban rail network.
Roads: Almost 2 million kilometers; 960,000 kilometers surfaced roads, and more than 1 million kilometers constructed of gravel, crushed stone, or earth. Fifty-three highways, almost 20,000 kilometers in total length, rated as national highways; carry about 40 percent of road traffic. Around 60 percent of all passenger traffic travels by road. Urban transit dominated by motor vehicles; increasing use of two- and three-wheel vehicles, automobiles, minibuses, buses, trucks. Large cities have major urban bus systems. Bullocks, camels, elephants, and other beasts of burden seen throughout India.
Maritime Transport: Eleven major ports and 139 minor ports. In 1995 three government-owned and between fifty and sixty privately owned shipping companies. Four major and three medium-sized shipyards, all government run, thirty-five smaller shipyards in private sector. Major coastal and ocean trade routes, more than 16,000 kilometers of inland waterways, more than 3,600 kilometers navigable by large vessels, although only about 2,000 kilometers used.
Airports: Two airlines (Air India and Indian Airlines) and one helicopter service (Pawan Hans) owned by government and six privately owned airlines; latter account for only 10 percent of domestic air traffic. Of 288 airports, 208 permanent-surface runways and two runways of more than 3,659 meters. Major international airports at Bombay (Mumbai), Delhi, Calcutta, Madras, and Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). International service also from Mamargao (Goa), Bangalore, and Hyderabad. Major regional airports at Ahmadabad, Allahabad, Pune, Srinagar, Chandigarh, Kochi (Cochin), Nagpur, and Thiruvananthapuram.
Telecommunications: National system controlled by government, with public corporations running service in New Delhi and Bombay; some basic telephone services opened to private-sector competition in 1994; telephone line density only 0.7 per 100 persons in 1994, among lowest of major nations of Asia. Submarine cables link India to Malaysia and United Arab Emirates. Paging, cellular phone service, and electronic mail being introduced. Government-owned radio (Akashvani) and television (Doordarshan) networks with extensive national and local coverage; private-sector television networks via cable and satellite becoming prolific.
Government and Politics
Government: Federal republic based on separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Central government known as union government. Constitution of 1950 in force but much amended; power concentrated in Parliament with upper house--Rajya Sabha (Council of States)--appointed by president and elected by state and territory assemblies and lower house--Lok Sabha (House of the People)--popularly elected. Supreme Court highest court of land; high courts in states.
Administrative Divisions: Twenty-five states with 476 districts, one national capital territory, six union territories. State governors appointed by president, chief minister member of popularly elected state assembly; central-government agencies prevalent at local levels. Constitution allows central control of state government (President's Rule) during time of emergency on recommendation of governor. Districts subdivided into taluqs or tehsils, townships that contain from 200 to 600 villages. Small, centrally controlled union territories with lieutenant governor or chief commissioner appointed by president.
Politics: With 354 million voters, some 14,700 candidates, more than 500 parties, and nearly 595,000 polling stations in April-May 1996 elections, India often called "world's largest democ-racy." Since independence, dominated by Indian National Congress (Congress--see Glossary) and its factions; occasional rule by minority-party and coalition governments; Janata Party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), communist parties, and several regional parties also important.
Foreign Relations: Member of United Nations (UN), South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Nonaligned Movement, and numerous other international organizations. Relations with all major nations based on principles of nonalignment.
Data as of September 1995