The Union Territory of New Delhi is the administrative center of India, and has been since the British moved the capital from Kolkata in 1931. Enveloped mostly by Haryana and partly by Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi is only 1,483 sq km in area but, in 2014, became the second most populous city in the world after Tokyo.


As of 2014, Delhi has an estimated 25 million inhabitants, a number expected to double in the next 15 years. In 2011, 1.7 million people in Delhi resided in slums.

Delhi’s sex ratio stood at 868 per 1000 males in 2014, putting it below the national average. However, the literacy rate in the national capital is above the average of 74.4%: 86.2% of the state’s population is literate, and 80.8% of women have basic literacy.

Delhi remains, however, a city that is plagued by safety issues for women. In 2014, there were 2,096 reported cases of rape, making it the least safe city in India for women.

Delhi houses a very diverse population, drawn from all over the country. The most widely spoken languages are Hindi, Punjabi, Bihari and Haryanvi.


The 2014-15 Economic Survey put Delhi’s Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) at Rs. 451,154 cr. Delhi’s economy is dominated by the tertiary sector (primarily banking, financial services, IT and tourism), which contributes about 90% to the GSDP. The population of Delhi is also one of the wealthiest in the nation, with a per capita income of 2.41 lakh, which is three times the national average.

To fuel its economy and population, Delhi is investing in energy reform: cutting transmission losses and investing in solar energy. A new Solar Photo Voltaic (SPV) Power Plant of 2.14 MWp has been commissioned and installed at Indira Gandhi International Airport


Delhi is the seat of the Central Government and historically, there has been considerable tension between it and the state government. There was a period of roughly four decades when the Delhi Assembly and the office of Chief Minister of Delhi was abolished (allegedly) partly due to these tensions and partly due to the States Reorganization Act (1956) that classified Delhi as a Union Territory without legislative rights. These powers were returned to Delhi under The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act (1991) with the restoration of the Delhi Legislative Assembly and Council of Ministers. Between 1993 and 1998, BJP held the state. From 1998 to December 2014, Congress’ Sheila Dixit held the office, making her the longest-serving Chief Minister to date.

The 2013 State Assembly elections saw a near-tie between BJP and the newly-formed Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), followed by the Congress at a distant third, resulting in a hung assembly. Arvind Kejriwal (AAP) came to power with Congress support but resigned shortly after due to the non-passage of the Lokpal Bill. Kejriwal returned to power in 2015 with an overwhelming majority, however tensions with the BJP at the center continue.

Suggested Reading

Rana Dasgupta, Capital: The Eruption of the Delhi (Canongate Books, 2014)

Sanjay Kumar, Changing Electoral Politics in Delhi: From Caste to Class (SAGE Publications India, 2013)

William Dalrymple, City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi (Penguin, 2003)