Republic of India or Bharat Ganarajya with an area of 2973190 sq. km is the seventh largest country in the world and occupies the greater part of South Asia. The second most populous country in the world, after China, every sixth citizen of the World is an Indian. The Himalayan Ranges (the loftiest mountain ranges in the world stretching about 2500 kms) in in the north, the Deccan peninsular region in the south (surrounded by the Arabian sea, Indian ocean and Bay of Bengal) and the Indo Gangetic plane( around the holy river Ganga) are the three basic structural units that form the relief features of present-day India.
A constitutional Republic, India represents a distinctive, diverse population comprising of thousands of ethnic groups and more than 100 spoken languages though Hindi and English remain the most spoken ones. The capital city New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata are the cosmopolitan cities while Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad rank amongst the fastest growing high technology centres in the World.
Archaeological evidence indicates that a highly sophisticated urbanized culture-the Indus civilization thrived in the north- western part from 2600 to 2000 BC and is primarily associated with Hinduism. Buddhism and Jainism are the two other religions which originated in India. Throughout its history India touted as ‘the golden sparrow’, was intermittently plundered and looted by incursions, adding Islam and Christianity (British rule) to its diverse heritage. Throughout the centuries the residents of the subcontinent developed a rich intellectual life, the evidence evident in contributions to the fields like mathematics, astronomy, architecture, literature, music and other fine arts.
Contemporary India exhibits a physical prosperity and a cultural conglomerate as seen in its modernised infrastructure, highly diversified industrial base, especially in its pool of scientific and engineering personnel which is the largest in the world, advanced agricultural expansion, rich and cultural vibrant export of performing arts like music, dance and cinema, rich literature, fine arts. ‘The Taj Mahal’ in Agra is listed as one of the seven wonders of the world and the presence of 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites easily makes India a traveller’s delight. For the shopaholics, there is everything to satiate every one’s palate, be it the aromatic spices to fantastic fabrics, gems to jewels, arts and crafts, embroideries to knitwork, Ayurvedic products, tantalising tea varieties to name a few. For those wanting to indulge their taste buds, an entire lifetime is insufficient even to sample the rich and varied cuisine available in India, be it traditional, fusion or fast-food.
From a Chess follower or a player’s perspective, India is the birth country of chess, traced back to 600CE when it was played with the Sanskrit name ’Chaturanga’, meaning the four wings of the then Indian army – infantry, cavalry, elephantry and chariotry.