First, its scale and diversity. With a population of more than a billion, the country presents some curious contrasts.
It has the world's 11th largest economy, yet it is home to more than a quarter of the world's poorest people.
It is the sixth largest emitter of carbon dioxide, yet hundreds of millions of its people have no steady electricity supply.
It has more than 250 universities which catered last year for more than 3.2 million science students, yet 39 per cent of adult Indians cannot read or write.