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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.
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.
Following market-based economic reforms in 1991, India became one of the fastest-growing major economies and is considered a newly industrialised country.
However, it continues to face the challenges of poverty, corruption, malnutrition, and inadequate public healthcare.
A nuclear weapons state and regional power, it has the third largest standing army in the world and ranks fifth in military expenditure among nations.
India is a federal republic governed under a parliamentary system and consists of 29 states and 7 union territories.