India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. It has achieved multifaceted socio-economic progress during the last 59 years of its Independence. India has become self-sufficient in agricultural production, and is now the tenth industrialized country in the world and the sixth nation to have gone into outer space to conquer nature for the benefit of the people. It covers an area of 32,87,263 sq km, extending from the snow-covered Himalayan heights to the tropical rain forests of the south. As the seventh largest country in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give the country a distinct geographical entity. Bounded by the Great Himalayas in the north, it stretches southwards and at the Tropic of Cancer, tapers off into the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west.