A two-year period of political turmoil followed the general election of 1996. Several short-lived alliances shared power at the centre. The BJP formed a government briefly in 1996; it was followed by two comparatively long-lasting United Front coalitions, which depended on external support. In 1998, the BJP was able to form a successful coalition, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the NDA became the first non-Congress, coalition government to complete a five-year term. Again in the 2004 Indian general elections, no party won an absolute majority, but the Congress emerged as the largest single party, forming another successful coalition: the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). It had the support of left-leaning parties and MPs who opposed the BJP. The UPA returned to power in the 2009 general election with increased numbers, and it no longer required external support from India's communist parties. That year, Manmohan Singh became the first prime minister since Jawaharlal Nehru in 1957 and 1962 to be re-elected to a consecutive five-year term. In the 2014 general election, the BJP became the first political party since 1984 to win a majority and govern without the support of other parties. The incumbent prime minister is Narendra Modi, a former chief minister of Gujarat. On 20 July 2017, Ram Nath Kovind was elected India's 14th president and took the oath of office on 25 July 2017.
Modern humans arrived on the Indian subcontinent from Africa no later than 55,000 years ago.Their long occupation, initially in varying forms of isolation as hunter-gatherers, has made the region highly diverse, second only to Africa in human genetic diversity. Settled life emerged on the subcontinent in the western margins of the Indus river basin 9,000 years ago, evolving gradually into the Indus Valley Civilisation of the third millennium BCE.By 1200 BCE, an archaic form of Sanskrit, an Indo-European language, had diffused into India from the northwest, unfolding as the language of the Rigveda, and recording the dawning of Hinduism in India.The Dravidian languages of India were supplanted in the northern regions.By 400 BCE, stratification and exclusion by caste had emerged within Hinduism,and Buddhism and Jainism had arisen, proclaiming social orders unlinked to heredity.Early political consolidations gave rise to the loose-knit Maurya and Gupta Empires based in the Ganges Basin.Their collective era was suffused with wide-ranging creativity, but also marked by the declining status of women, and the incorporation of untouchability into an organised system of belief. In South India, the Middle kingdoms exported Dravidian-languages scripts and religious cultures to the kingdoms of Southeast Asia.More Info
From August 26 to 29, Dorian produced damaging winds and heavy rain across the eastern Caribbean. In Barbados, winds reached 55 mph (89 km/h), downing trees and power lines. Isolated interruptions to power occurred on St. Lucia; no damage occurred otherwise in the nation. In Martinique, heavy rains—peaking at 102 mm (4.0 in) in Rivière-Pilote—and winds up to 61 mph (98 km/h) caused some damage, though overall damage was negligible. Heavy showers in Dominica left multiple communities without power and water. Rainfall extended north to Guadeloupe were accumulations reached 121 mm (4.8 in) in Matouba. Striking the Virgin Islands as an intensifying hurricane, Dorian brought strong winds and heavy rains to the region. Buck Island, just south of Saint Thomas, experienced sustained winds of 82 mph (132 km/h) and a peak gust of 111 mph (179 km/h). Wind gusts on Saint Thomas reached 75 mph (121 km/h). Island-wide blackouts occurred on Saint Thomas and Saint John, while 25,000 customers lost power on Saint Croix. The high winds downed trees across the islands. Along the coast, multiple boats broke from their moorings and washed ashore. Some flooding occurred on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Downed trees knocked out power to some residences on Virgin Gorda. Because the hurricane moved farther northeast than initially anticipated, its effects in Puerto Rico were relatively limited. A man in Bayamón died when he fell off his roof trying to clean drains in advance of the storm.More Info
In the 6th and 7th centuries, the first devotional hymns were created in the Tamil language. They were imitated all over India and led to both the resurgence of Hinduism and the development of all modern languages of the subcontinent. Indian royalty, big and small, and the temples they patronised drew citizens in great numbers to the capital cities, which became economic hubs as well. Temple towns of various sizes began to appear everywhere as India underwent another urbanisation. By the 8th and 9th centuries, the effects were felt in South-East Asia, as South Indian culture and political systems were exported to lands that became part of modern-day Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, and Java. Indian merchants, scholars, and sometimes armies were involved in this transmission; South-East Asians took the initiative as well, with many sojourning in Indian seminaries and translating Buddhist and Hindu texts into their languages.More Info
In the late Vedic period, around the 6th century BCE, the small states and chiefdoms of the Ganges Plain and the north-western regions had consolidated into 16 major oligarchies and monarchies that were known as the mahajanapadas. The emerging urbanisation gave rise to non-Vedic religious movements, two of which became independent religions. Jainism came into prominence during the life of its exemplar, Mahavira. Buddhism, based on the teachings of Gautama Buddha, attracted followers from all social classes excepting the middle class; chronicling the life of the Buddha was central to the beginnings of recorded history in India. In an age of increasing urban wealth, both religions held up renunciation as an ideal, and both established long-lasting monastic traditions. Politically, by the 3rd century BCE, the kingdom of Magadha had annexed or reduced other states to emerge as the Mauryan Empire. The empire was once thought to have controlled most of the subcontinent except the far south, but its core regions are now thought to have been separated by large autonomous areas. The Mauryan kings are known as much for their empire-building and determined management of public life as for Ashoka's renunciation of militarism and far-flung advocacy of the Buddhist dhamma.More Info
India contains 172 IUCN-designated threatened animal species, or 2.9% of endangered forms. These include the endangered Bengal tiger and the Ganges river dolphin. Critically endangered species include: the gharial, a crocodilian; the great Indian bustard; and the Indian white-rumped vulture, which has become nearly extinct by having ingested the carrion of diclofenac-treated cattle. The pervasive and ecologically devastating human encroachment of recent decades has critically endangered Indian wildlife. In response, the system of national parks and protected areas, first established in 1935, was expanded substantially. In 1972, India enacted the Wildlife Protection Act and Project Tiger to safeguard crucial wilderness; the Forest Conservation Act was enacted in 1980 and amendments added in 1988. India hosts more than five hundred wildlife sanctuaries and thirteen biosphere reserves, four of which are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves; twenty-five wetlands are registered under the Ramsar Convention.More Info
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