The god Shiva called rice Vrihi, in Sanskrit. India is one of the original centres of rice cultivation. The rice harvesting area in India is the world's largest. Indian rice cultivation is found in all states, but West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Bihar are the major producing states.
The early Kharif growing season lasts from March-May to June-October; the mid-Kharif season from June-October to November-February, and the Rabi season from November-February to March-June.
About 600 improved varieties of indica rice have been released for cultivation since 1965, but Basmati rice is still planted over large areas. Rice-based production systems provide the main income and employment for more than 50 million households.
Rice is the staple food for 65% of the total population in India. The Indian population was about 1 billion people in 2000 and is still growing at a high rate (1.7% per year). Although the country exports several varieties of rice, many scientists have expressed concern that current Indian rice production techniques cannot sustain the growing domestic population. India has a large number of rice dishes and many of them are very simple to prepare. Indian pilaf rice is very flavourful and fluffy when cooked with Basmati rice.