India is the world's largest democracy and according to UN estimates, its population is expected to overtake China's in 2028 to become the world's most populous nation.
As a rising economic powerhouse and nuclear-armed state, India has emerged as an important regional power.
But it is also tackling huge, social, economic and environmental problems.
Home to some of the world' s most ancient surviving civilizations, the Indian subcontinent - from the mountainous Afghan frontier to the jungles of Burma - is both vast and diverse in terms of its people, language and cultural traditions.
Indian broadcasting is flourishing and TV and radio outlets are proliferating.
There were more than 180 million TV homes by 2016, many of them connected to direct-to-home satellite and cable services. A TV digitisation drive is under way.
There are nearly 800 licensed satellite TV stations. Around half of these are news-based outlets, and news programmes often outperform entertainment output.
Doordarshan, the public TV, operates multiple services, including flagship DD1, which reaches hundreds of millions of viewers.
Multichannel satellite TV is a huge hit. Major platforms Dish TV, Tata-Sky, Sun Direct, Big TV and Airtel Digital TV have millions of subscribers. State-owned Doordarshan runs a free-to-air platform, DD Free Dish.
Music-based FM radio stations abound. But only public All India Radio can produce news programming. AIR stations reach more than 99% of the population.
India's press is lively and there are around 12,000 newspaper titles. Driven by a growing middle class, newspaper circulations have grown and new titles compete with established dailies.
Self-censorship is encouraged by prosecutions brought against journalists who are deemed to be overly critical of the government, says Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Violence against media workers is encouraged by a climate of impunity, says Freedom House.
There were more than 462 million internet users by 2016 (InternetLiveStats.com), making India the world's second largest online market after China.
But the online revolution has been slower to take hold in rural India.
Facebook is the leading social network. Twitter is used by celebrities, journalists and politicians. Some of them have a mass following.
There is no systematic filtering of the web. But the authorities have clashed with leading social networks over censorship of content deemed to be offensive.
Rules require internet companies to remove "disparaging" or "blasphemous" content if they receive a complaint from an "affected person".
The authorities routinely suspend internet services in Indian-administered Kashmir during times of tension.
For more media information contact Yvonne Foster: