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General country information
India is a vast country (3.3m square kilometres) with a vast
population (1.1bn people), two thirds of which lines in rural
locations. Bounded by the Himalayas to the north, it occupies
a natural subcontinent.
India shares common borders with China (Tibet), Bhutan and Nepal
to the north, Pakistan to the north-west, and Burma to the north
east. To the east, almost surrounded by India, is Bangladesh.
Near India's southern tip, across the Palk Strait, is Sri Lanka.
The country has 28 states which vary greatly in size, population
and development. Each has its own government. There are also seven
Union Territories with their Lieutenant Governors or Administrators.
The official language is Hindi, written in the Devanagari script.
It is spoken by close to a third of the population as a first
language. English is an 'associated language'. In addition there
are 18 official state languages.
India has benefited greatly from the ‘global economy’
and the IT revolution and besides its traditional heavy industries,
is now a major player in IT and software development, and call
centre outsourcing. Even so 350m people remain in poverty.
India's largest cities are Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Delhi, Kolkata
(formerly Calcutta), Chennai (formerly Madras), Bangalore, and
The Foreign Office warns that there has been continued violence
in the Kashmir Valley between armed groups seeking secession from
India and against all travel to or through rural areas of Jammu
and Kashmir (other than Ladakh), and all but essential air travel
to Srinagar. It says there is a high level of conflict and terrorist
violence in Jammu and Kashmir (excluding Ladakh). ‘Jammu
City is somewhat safer but attacks still occur’.
It also advises against all travel in the immediate vicinity
of the border with Pakistan other than travel across the international
border at Wagah, and against all but essential travel to Imphal
(by air) and against all travel in the rest of Manipur and Tripura.
‘Kidnapping, banditry and insurgency are rife throughout
the north eastern region, particularly in Assam’.
Even in Mumbai British Nationals are advised to take care and
‘There is a high threat of terrorism throughout India’,
says the Foreign Office. ‘Attacks have targeted public places,
including places of worship. They could also target places frequented
by expatriates and foreign travellers’.
However, ‘over 600,000 British tourists visit India every
year’ and most are trouble free.
Between the months of December and April, flights leaving India
become very full. Passengers may find themselves 'bumped off'
flights even if they have confirmed seats. All international departures
must therefore be re-confirmed at least 72 hours before departure.
The Foreign Office warns that penalties for possession of drugs
can be severe. The penalties paedophile offences are also severe.
And visitors to India should also be aware that Indian family
law is very different from UK law and particular caution is needed
when, for example, child custody becomes an issue.
There are health risks with seasonal outbreaks of some illnesses.
Local medical facilities are ‘not comparable to those in
the UK, especially in more remote areas’, says the Foreign
Office. ‘However, in the major cities private medical care
is available, but is expensive’.
Travellers to India must obtain a visa before travelling. Foreign
nationals arriving in India on long term multiple entry visas
are required to register with the nearest Foreigners Regional
Registration Officer within 14 days of arrival. Overstayers are
fined and may be prosecuted or detained and later deported. They
may also need to appear in person at the Ministry of Home Affairs
Investors are strongly advised to seek legal advice before putting
money into immovable property or businesses in India. ‘There
have been several cases where verbal agreements were reneged on
and loopholes in agreements exploited to their disadvantage’,
says the Foreign Office.
Indian visas do not give any right of abode. This comes with
Indian citizenship. However, people resident outside India who
are ‘or foreign nationals who are ‘Persons of Indian
Origin’ may acquire property subject to compliance with
the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999 and related regulations.
Under the Act a person resident outside India can hold, own,
transfer or invest in Indian currency, security or any immovable
property situated in India if acquired, held or owned when that
person was a resident in India or it was inherited from a person
who was a resident in India.
Further any ‘Non-Resident Indian’ or ‘Persons
of Indian Origin’ may acquire immovable property in India
other than agricultural land or, plantation property or farm house
subject to obtaining the prior permission of the Reserve Bank.
Only short leasehold (under five years) property is exempt.
In addition to these restrictions state laws may impose other
stipulations. For example, in the former Portuguese colony of
Goa, now a state within the Republic of India, there are strict
rules governing the purchase of property non-Indian nationals.
‘Please ensure that you are familiar with the provisions
of the Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999 and the most recent
instructions issued by the Reserve Bank of India before entering
into any property purchase agreement’, says the Foreign
Office. ‘If the purchase is judged to violate local laws
(including if you purchase whilst on a tourist visa), you are
likely to lose all the money you have put in to the purchase,
and may even face possible prosecution from the State. It is wise
to engage a reputable local lawyer for advice before approaching
estate agents or private vendors’.
information - India
||Delhi, Mumbai, KolKata, Chennai,
age of population:
||Hindi (spokes by 30% of population)
plus 14 other officia llanguages. English is an associate
||Varied: Tropical monsoon
climate in south, temperate in north