Africa–India relations - Wikipedia
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India is proud of its democratic record. Constitutional government and democratic freedoms have been safeguarded throughout its 60 years as an Independent country, except for an 18 month interlude inwhen Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency, suspending elections and human rights.
Current concerns in India include the corruption, poverty, over-population, environmental degradation, ongoing disputes with Pakistan and China, terrorism, and ethnic and religious strife. But the current comparison, at least among the educated elite, is over whether India will be able overtake to China in economic growth. At the same time the Indians, both Elite or otherwise, are very specific that they would want to achieve equitable and sustainable growth, unlike China and also not be reduced to dictatorship or communist rule for the sake of economic growth.
The President, indirectly elected, is the Head of State, but his or her position, while not entirely ceremonial, has limited powers.
The Parliament is bi-cameral. The Lok Sabha, the lower house, is directly elected by adult franchise, while the Rajya Sabha, or the upper house, is indirectly elected. The Lok Sabha is the more powerful of the two, primarily because a majority in the Lok Sabha is required to form a government and pass budgets. India has a vast number of political parties,recently got a highly stable government led by hugely popular Narendra Modi where a single party got absolute majority after a slew of coalition led governments in which no single party has secured a majority in the Lok Sabha, leading to unstable governments and raucous politics.
The transition of power has always been peaceful and always constitutional. India has a strong and independent judiciary Supreme Court of India is apex court, and each state has an highcourt.
India is also a Federal Republic, divided into states and union territories. Each of these have their own legislatures, with government run by a chief minister and a cabinet.
Street demonstrations and political agitations occur, as they do in any democracy, though there is also occasional low-level violence. A visitor has only a miniscule possibility of getting caught in these demonstrations. Daylight saving is not observed. Geography[ edit ] Mountains, jungles, deserts, and beaches, India has it all. It is bounded to the north and northeast by the snow-capped Himalayas, the tallest mountain range in the world.
In addition to protecting the country from invaders, they also feed the perennial rivers Ganga, Yamuna Jamuna and Sindhu Indus on whose plains India's civilization flourished. Though most of the Sindhu is in Pakistan now, three of its tributaries flow through Punjab. The other Himalayan river, the Brahmaputra flows through the northeast, mostly through Assam.
South of Punjab lies the Aravalli range which cuts Rajasthan into two. The western half of Rajasthan is occupied by the Thar desert. The Vindhyas cut across Central India, particularly through Madhya Pradesh and signify the start of the Deccan plateau, which covers almost the whole of the southern peninsula. The plateau is more arid than the plains, as the rivers that feed the area, such as the Narmada, Godavari and the Kaveri run dry during the summer.
Towards the northeast of the Deccan plateau is what used to be a thickly forested area called the Dandakaranya which covers the states of ChhattisgarhJharkhandthe eastern edge of Maharashtra and the northern tip of Andhra Pradesh.
This area is still forested and populated by tribal people. This forest acted as a barrier to the invasion of South India. India has a long coastline. Lakshadweep Islands Gulmarg In India, it rains only during a specific time of the year.
The season — as well as the phenomenon that causes it — is called the monsoon. There are two of them, the Southwest and the Northeast, both named after the directions the winds come from. The Southwest monsoon is the more important one, as it causes rains over most parts of the country, and is the crucial variable that decides how the crops will do. It lasts from June to September. The Southwest monsoon hits the west coast the most, as crossing the western ghats and reaching the rest of India is an uphill task for the winds.
The western coastline is therefore much greener than the interior. The Northeast monsoon hits the east coast between October and February, mostly in the form of occasional cyclones which cause much devastation every year. The only region that gets rains from both monsoons is North-Eastern India, which consequently experiences the highest rainfall in the world.
The North experiences some extremes of heat in Summer and cold in Winter, but except in the Himalayan regions, snow is almost unheard of. November to January is the winter season and April and May are the hot months when everyone eagerly awaits the rains.
There is also a brief spring in February and March, especially in North India. Opinions are divided on whether any part of India actually experiences an Autumn, but the ancients had certainly identified such a season among the six seasons or ritus - Vasanta - Spring, Greeshma - Summer, Varsha - Rainy, Sharat - Autumn, Shishira - Winter, Hemanta - "Mild Winter" they had divided the year into.
Culture[ edit ] India's rich and multi-layered cultures are dominated by religious and spiritual themes. While it is a mistake to assume that there is a single unified Indian culture, there certainly are unifying themes that link the various cultures. India's cultural heritage is expressed through its myriad of languages in which much great literature and poetry has been written.
It can be seen in its music - both in its classical Carnatic and Hindustani forms and in modern cinema music. India also has a vast tradition of classical and folk dances. Art and theatre flourish amongst the bustling cities of the country, against the backdrop of the ever expanding western influences. Vibrant processions are seen going on everywhere, especially during festivals.
Ganesh Chatutrthi processions in Mumbai, Dusshera in Mysore etc. Along with these, marriage and religious processions are also seen on the roads. You can see people dance, play music and drums, play with colors etc. Indians value their family system a lot. Typically, an Indian's family encompasses what would be called the extended family in the West. It is routine for Indians to live as part of the paternal family unit throughout their lives - i. The relationship is mutually self-supporting.
Parents may support their children for longer than is common in the West, brothers and sisters may support each other, and sons are expected to take care of their parents in their old age.
Nowadays, most indian families are becoming more nuclear. Naturally, the arrangements are not perfect and there are strains and breakups, especially by the time the third generation grows up. Also, it has now become common for children to move away from the parental house for education and employment. Nonetheless, it is fair to say that the joint family is still seen as the norm and an ideal to aspire to, and Indians continue to care about their family's honour, achievements and failures even while they are not living together.
Despite the weakening of the caste system, India remains a fairly stratified society. Indians care about a person's background and position in society as is the case elsewhere in the world. This attitude, when combined with the legacy of colonial rule, results in some rather interesting, if unfortunate consequences.
Paler skin is deemed desirable but there is no discrimination on the basis of color. Holidays[ edit ] There are three national holidays: In addition, there are four major nationwide festivals with shifting dates to be aware of: On the first day, people go to temples and light bonfires, but on the second, it's a waterfight combined with showers of coloured powder.
This is not a spectator sport: Alcohol and bhang cannabis are often involved and crowds can get rowdy as the evening wears on. Workers are given sweets, cash bonuses, gifts and new clothes. It is also new year for businessmen, when they are supposed to start new account books. In some places like West BengalDurga Puja is the most important festival.
In the north Dussehara celebrations take place and the slaying of Ravana by Lord Rama is ceremonially reenacted as Ram Lila. In Gujarat and South Indiait is celebrated as Navarathri where the festival is celebrated by dancing to devotional songs and religious observances like fasts extended over a period of 9 nights.
Eid-ul-Fitr, the largest religious holiday of the year for Indian Muslims, it celebrates the start of the holy month of Shawwal. Ramzan ends with the Eid-ul-Fitr festival extending over several days. Food is the highlight, and if you're lucky you'll be invited into a private home for a feast. Businesses close for at least a couple days if not a week. Diwali lighting Diwali DeepavaliOct-Nov — The festival of lights, celebrates the return of Lord Rama to the capital of his kingdom, Ayodhya after an exile of 14 years.
Probably the most lavish festival in the country, reminiscent to U. Houses are decorated, there is glitter everywhere, and if you wander the streets on Diwali night, there will be firecrackers going off everywhere including sometimes under your feet.
Religious holidays occur on different days each year, because the Hindu and Islamic festivals are based on their respective calendars and not on the Gregorian calendar. Most of them are celebrated only locally, so check the state or city you are visiting for information on whether there will be closures.
Different regions might give somewhat different names to the same festival. To cater to varying religious practices, offices have a list of optional holidays called restricted holidays by the government from which employees are allowed to pick two, in addition to the list of fixed holidays. This may mean thin attendance and delayed service even when the office is officially open.
Suggested reading[ edit ] A Goddess in the Stones: HoltIn "Goddess in the Stones", influential journalist and author Norman Lewis undertakes a jouney of miles in search of the old India. The India they saw: A compilation of intriguing travel tales and excerpts from travelogues by travellers, writers, pilgrims and missionaries.
Indian journals, March May Notebooks, diary, blank pages, writings. Travel diary written by the famous beat poet Allen Ginsberg. A History, John Keay; "A superb one-volume history of a land that defies reduction into simple narrative Without peer among general studies, a history that is intelligent, incisive, and eminently readable.
A Million Mutinies Now, V. Naipaul; "With this book he may well have written his own enduring monument, in prose at once stirring and intensely personal, distinguished both by style and critical acumen" -- K.
From that striking insight Mark Tully has woven a superb series of stories which explore everything from communal conflict in Ahmedabad to communism in Kolkata, from the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad probably the biggest religious festival in the world to the televising of a Hindu epic.
For anyone who wants to understand the culture of present India, this is a must read where the author cuts through the chaos and confusion letting you to see things more clearly. A guide to temples, holy sites festivals and traditions by Stephen Knapp Useful for the pilgrim traveler who wants to get the most out of his or her spiritual adventure and experience in India.
Touts[ edit ] Touts are ubiquitous, as in many developing countries, and where tourism is strategically promoted and you should assume that anyone 'proactively' trying to help you has a hidden agenda to part you from your money just like you experience in every other tourist place you visit. However, in areas hardly or not at all visited by tourists, it is not at all uncommon for people who go out of their way to 'proactively' help you without expecting anything in return.
During your travels in India, you will be deluged with touts trying to get you to buy something or patronize particular establishments. There are a myriad of common scams, which range from telling you your hotel has gone out of business of course, they'll know of one that's open with vacanciesto giving wrong directions to a government rail ticket booking office the directions will be to their friend's tour officeto trying to get you to take diamonds back to your home country the diamonds are worthless crystalto 'poor students' giving you a sightseeing for hours and then with pity make you buy school books for them tremendously overpriced from a bookstore with whom they are affiliated.
There will also be more obvious touts who "know a very good place for dinner", sell fake SIM cards even in officially looking establishmentor want to sell you a chess set on the street. No place in India is completely free of touts, but if you want an almost tout free experience, visit southern states especially Kerala.
Faced with such an assault, If you face any assault call police number immediatly the police service is often very fast in India, but it would be nice to call for help from people nearby. Advisers in the office provided channels of information and policy recommendations in addition to those offered by the Ministry of External Affairs. A subordinate part of the office—the Research and Analysis Wing RAW —functioned in ways that significantly expanded the information available to the prime minister and his advisers.
The RAW gathered intelligence, provided intelligence analysis to the Office of the Prime Minister, and conducted covert operations abroad. The prime minister's control and reliance on personal advisers in the Office of the Prime Minister was particularly strong under the tenures of Indira Gandhi —77 and —84 and her son, Rajiv —89who succeeded her, and weaker during the periods of coalition governments.
Observers find it difficult to determine whether the locus of decision-making authority on any particular issue lies with the Ministry of External Affairs, the Council of Ministers, the Office of the Prime Minister, or the prime minister himself.
Subrahmanyam in to head a special government task force to study 'Global Strategic Developments' over the next decade. Ministry of External Affairs[ edit ] The Ministry of External Affairs is the Indian government's agency responsible for the foreign relations of India. Sushma Swaraj is current Minister of External Affairs. Look East Policy[ edit ] Main article: During the cold war, India's relations with its South East Asian neighbours was not very strong.
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After the end of the cold war, the government of India particularly realised the importance of redressing this imbalance in India's foreign policy.
Consequently, the Narsimha Rao government in the early nineties of the last century unveiled the look east policy. Initially it focused on renewing political and economic contacts with the countries of East and South-East Asia. After the start of liberalisation, it was a very strategic policy decision taken by the government in the foreign policy. To quote Prime Minister Manmohan Singh "it was also a strategic shift in India's vision of the world and India's place in the evolving global economy".
When India gained independence infew Indians had experience in making or conducting foreign policy. However, the country's oldest political party, the Indian National Congresshad established a small foreign department in to make overseas contacts and to publicise its independence struggle.
From the late s on, Jawaharlal Nehruwho had a long-standing interest in world affairs among independence leaders, formulated the Congress stance on international issues. As a member of the interim government inNehru articulated India's approach to the world.
India's international influence varied over the years after independence. Indian prestige and moral authority were high in the s and facilitated the acquisition of developmental assistance from both East and West.
Although the prestige stemmed from India's nonaligned stance, the nation was unable to prevent Cold War politics from becoming intertwined with interstate relations in South Asia.
In the s and s India's international position among developed and developing countries faded in the course of wars with China and Pakistan, disputes with other countries in South Asia, and India's attempt to balance Pakistan's support from the United States and China by signing the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in August Although India obtained substantial Soviet military and economic aid, which helped to strengthen the nation, India's influence was undercut regionally and internationally by the perception that its friendship with the Soviet Union prevented a more forthright condemnation of the Soviet presence in Afghanistan.
In the late s, India improved relations with the United States, other developed countries, and China while continuing close ties with the Soviet Union. In the s, India's economic problems and the demise of the bipolar world political system forced India to reassess its foreign policy and adjust its foreign relations. Previous policies proved inadequate to cope with the serious domestic and international problems facing India.
The end of the Cold War gutted the core meaning of nonalignment and left Indian foreign policy without significant direction.