AIDS in India
India is located in southern Asia and borders Pakistan, China,
Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Burma. With a total landmass of
3,287,590 square miles, it is slightly more than one-third the
size of the United States.
India is the birthplace of one of the world's oldest civilizations,
the Indus Valley Civilization, which emerged more than 5,000 years
ago. Since then, India has witnessed several waves of foreign
invaders, including the Aryan tribes in 1500 b.c., the Arabs in
the eighth century, the Turks in the 12th century, and European
traders beginning in the 15th century.
India became a colony of Great Britain in the early 1800s and gained its independence in 1947. In 1948, the Indian subcontinent was divided into the secular state of India and the Muslim state of Pakistan.
New Delhi is India's capital. Located in northern India, flanking the Yamuna River, it is home to 13.8 million people.
Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is India's industrial and financial capital, and also its largest city. Located in the central region of India's western coast, it has a population of approximately 18 million, making it the sixth-largest city in the world.
Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, is India's cultural capital
and home to 14 million people. It is located on India's eastern
coast, along the Ganges River.
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By ethnicity, Indians are 72 percent Indo-Aryan, 25 percent
Dravidian, and 3 percent Mongoloid and other.
By religion, Indians are 81.3 percent Hindu, 12 percent Muslim,
2.3 percent Christian and 1.9 percent Sikh. The other 2.5 percent
of the population includes Buddhists, Jains and Parsis.
India's population surged 21 percent from 1991 to 2001, and
as of 2003, it stands at more than 1 billion, making India the
world's second-most populated country, after China. India grows
by 16 million people every year (or 43,836 a day), just 2 million
less than the entire population of Australia.
India is home to 40 percent of the world's poor, and 28 percent
of its population lives below the poverty line. More than a
third live on less than a dollar a day, and 80 percent live
on less than two dollars a day.
India ranks 127th out of 175 countries on the United Nations
Human Development Index.
Less than half of India's population has sustainable access
to essential drugs, which is lower than the rate in Ethiopia.
The average life expectancy is 60 years for men and 62 years
for women. More than half of all children under the age of 4
are malnourished, and 30 percent of newborns are significantly
On a per-capita basis, India has one-fifth the number of doctors
that the United States has, and one-tenth the number that Cuba
has. The maternal mortality rate in India is 100 times greater
than in the developed world.
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India is a secular democracy with a federal form of government.
It is the world's largest democracy, with approximately 600
Executive power is exercised by the Council of Ministers, a
cabinet led by the office of the prime minister, who is elected
every five years. India's current prime minister is Dr. Manmohan
Singh, an Oxford-trained economist who is widely regarded as
the architect of India's economic reform program. Appointed
in May 2004, Singh is the first Sikh to hold this position.
India's bicameral parliament consists of a Lower House, known
as the Rajya Sabha (Council of States), with 543 members, and
an Upper House, known as the Lok Sabha (House of the People),
with more than 250 members.
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India's economy is driven by traditional village farming, modern
agriculture and a wide range of modern industries, including
textiles, cement, mining and software.
India's labor force is composed of 60 percent agricultural workers,
23 percent service workers and 17 percent industrial workers.
Agriculture accounts for 25 percent of India's gross domestic
product, industry 25 percent and services 50 percent.
In recent years, India has become a major exporter of software
and software services. Software exports, which grew by 30 percent
in 2003, now constitute 32 percent of India's total exports.
Information technology has helped India's economy grow by roughly
6 percent a year since 1990. Financial analysts predict that
software will account for 8 percent to 10 percent of India's
gross domestic product by 2008.
India is also a major exporter of chemicals, leather and textile
goods, and gems and jewelry. Its largest trading partners are
the United States, Great Britain, the United Arab Emirates,
Hong Kong, Germany and China.
India was the world's largest producer of mangoes, bananas and
cauliflower for 2002-2003.
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AIDS in India
More than 4.5 million people in India are infected with HIV,
making it the second-largest HIV-positive population in the
world, behind South Africa. Given India's large population,
a rise of just 0.1 percent in the prevalence rate would increase
the number of persons with AIDS by 500,000.
AIDS is most prevalent in the Indian states Andhra Pradesh,
Karnataka, Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland and Tamil Nadu, where
the infection rate is higher than 1 percent. Heterosexual sex
is responsible for 84 percent of new HIV infections in India.
The World Health Organization estimates that 330,000 new AIDS
cases occur in India each year and predicts that by 2033, AIDS
will account for 17 percent of all deaths in India and will
be a factor in 40 percent of deaths from infectious disease.
Health experts say mobile workers are at particularly high risk
for acquiring HIV and transmitting it to other people. For example,
truckers in India are up to 10 times more likely to have HIV
than are other workers. Truckers are away from their families
up to 80 percent of the time, and more than half report having
sex with prostitutes.
In a survey, 70 percent of commercial sex workers in India reported
that their main reason for not using condoms was that their
India has drafted a five-year nationwide intervention program
to combat the spread of HIV infection. The government has allotted
$320 million in funds for health, education and treatment programs.
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CIA Fact Book; Lonely Planet Guide: India; PBS; BBC; The Economist; India Times; UN AIDS; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_India; http://www.rediff.com/money/2004/apr/21india.htm