India Country Report
India's Bharatiya Janata Party-led government is unusually free of coalition politics and its pro-business prime minister remains hugely popular. Foreign direct investment premised on the expectation of substantial economic reform (and a shift to calculating GDP on a market prices basis) has made India the fastest growing major economy in recent years. A landmark goods and services tax was implemented from 1 July 2017 that promises to substantially simplify intra-Indian trade, and further liberalisation of capital-intensive sectors is likely. There are several intermittent protest movements that periodically disrupt traffic for hours in retail districts but rarely cause significant damage to commercial or government property.
Industrial action against government policies and alleged business excesses are frequent, especially in sectors like transport and textiles in which trade unions are strong. The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) much-touted labour code, which includes legislation to simplify labour compliance requirements for businesses, is unlikely to be passed in the one-year outlook given the heightened risk of labour strikes. Bribery demands during public procurement or while seeking contract clearances are frequent, particularly in the defence, shipping, and transport ministries, and in projects that involve land purchases. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's strong anti-corruption stance has been reflected in strengthened anti-corruption legislation and the blacklisting of firms engaging incorruption.
Improved police surveillance and preparedness of security forces have alleviated the risk of terrorism-related incidents in India. There is a rising threat from Islamic-state inspired cells following new statements issued by these groups in 2017 directly targeted at India. Furthermore, government and hospitality establishments, and public transport systems, especially in Delhi and Mumbai, remain targets of Pakistan-based militant groups. Despite the high risk, actual attacks are likely to be rare. Naxal activity continues to occur in states including Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Odisha, where they target miners' assets and construction sites over extortion demands. However, the number of attacks has been declining year on year.
The Kashmir dispute continues to strain relations with Pakistan. Skirmishes between the two countries have intensified since 2016, with both countries reporting an unprecedented number of ceasefire violations in 2017. Cross-border fighting along the Line of Control, and along the northern borders of Punjab and Rajasthan, is likely to increase in the one-year outlook. Full-scale military confrontation remains unlikely despite increasing rhetoric. However, a major militant attack in India would increase the likelihood of limited conflict. Increased militarisation of the Indian Ocean Region is straining India-China relations, even though military confrontation with China remains unlikely.
The Cauvery river water dispute is likely to trigger protests in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, with dispute tribunal expected to conclude in May 2018. Arson attacks against public transportation, blockades of all public transportation systems, and fighting with the police are likely during water protests. However, Bengaluru's IT hub and Chennai's automotive factories face little risk of damage. Jat protests in Haryana are likely to cause disruption along major highways to New Delhi; Jat leaders have hinted at organising mass protests after February 2018 if their demands are not met. Protests are likely to disrupt public transportation and local businesses.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Any traveler (except infants under nine months of age) arriving by air or sea without a yellow fever vaccination certificate will be detained in isolation for up to 6 days if that person:arrives within 6 days of departure from an area with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission, has been in such an area in transit (except those passengers and members of flight crews who, while in transit through an airport in an area with risk of YFV transmission, remained in the airport during their entire stay and the health officer agrees to such an exemption), arrives on a ship that started from or touched at any port in an area with risk of YFV transmission up to 30 days before its arrival in India, unless such a ship has been disinfected in accordance with the procedure recommended by WHO, or arrives on an aircraft that has been in an area with risk of YFV transmission and has not been disinfected in accordance with the Indian Aircraft Public Health Rules, 1954, or as recommended by WHO.
The following are regarded as countries and areas with risk of YFV transmission:
Africa: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo, and Uganda. Americas: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.
Note: When a case of yellow fever is reported from any country, that country is regarded by the government of India as a country with risk of yellow fever transmission and is added to the above list.
Hepatitis A : a vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B : a vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio : a booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Yellow Fever : a vaccine is available for children over the age of one year.
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Meningococcal Meningitis: For prolonged stays, or in case your travels will put you in close contact with a local population affected by an epidemic of the disease (for children over the age of two years).
Japanese Encephalitis: For stays of longer than one month in a rural zone during the rainy season (for children over the age of one). The vaccine is administered in a local medical facility.
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - chloroquine and proguanil (sometimes marketed as Paludrine ) or proguanil and atovaquone (sometimes marketed as Mepron); if traveling to Assam state, mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
As mentioned above, India is vulnerable to a number of natural risks. Monsoon season in the west and southwest lasts from June to September. West Bengal and Odisha states are particularly vulnerable to devastating cyclones (10,000 dead in 1999). Torrential rains can, among other things, disrupt transportation and cause significant flooding (e.g. 200 killed in Gujarat state in early August 2017; several hundred killed in Jammu and Kashmir in September 2014; 1.5 million people displaced and several hundred dead in October 2009 in Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh states).
India is also situated in a highly active and potentially devastating seismic zone (a 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit Bhuj, Gujarat, in January 2001, leaving 15,000 dead and 160,000 wounded). The December 2004 tsunami that hit the eastern coast of the country left 30,000 dead or missing.
Roads in India tend to be in disrepair, aging, and often very congested, although modernization work is planned. The rail system, while cheap and extensive, is not always reliable or safe (accidents, frequent robberies, regular delays). Regarding air travel, it should be noted that on May 22, 2010, an Air India flight from Dubai to Mangalore crashed while approaching Mangalore, leaving 166 dead.
Visas are needed before travel, for any purpose, to India. Arriving without a visa or with an incorrect one may result in detention on arrival, deportation, or being blacklisted. Planned accommodations should be licensed with Indian government authorities. Length of stay for e-visas have been increased from 30 to 60 days as of April 1, 2017. Business visas cannot be extended inside India.
Power shortages are common, such as the massive outage of July 30, 2012, that affected many states and left nearly 700 million Indians (one-tenth of the world's population) without electricity for several hours. Electricity production in the country is insufficient for its massive population and therefore rotating blackouts, which could pose an inconvenience for foreign travelers, are common.
In the north of the country (Ganges River Valley), summers begin in April, with temperatures reaching oppressive levels beginning in May. The monsoon arrives in June and stays until the end of September, during which period torrential rains are common. The climate is hot and dry from November until March. In mountainous regions, winters are harsh and summers are mild.
The center of the country is arid. Winters (November to March) are mild and dry. Sweltering heat arrives in April and monsoon season lasts from June until September. Outside of this period, rain is relatively rare and irregular.
In the south, the climate is hot and temperatures remain relatively constant throughout the year, rising as you approach the southern tip of the country. The western coast experiences a long rainy season (5-6 months) with heavy precipitation. In the southeast and the extreme south, the monsoon period lasts until November, or even December. The eastern coast is sometimes hit with cyclones (Bay of Bengal).
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