Track the development of India since its independance. Consider the sustainability issues that it faces.
India celebrates its Independance day on the 15th of August, commemorating the day they gained Independance from British rule and its birth as a sovereign nation in 1947. I will be discussing the major sectors of India’s development and the sustainable issues in the last 50+ years. India has seen massive improvements to its agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, tourism and transport infrastructure, which have benifited hugely financially from its Independance.
India is the seventh largest and second most populated country in the world behind China, with a population of just over one billion. The population was estimated in 2007 at 1,129,866,154 people. It also has a total area of roughly 3.3 million square kilometers, 28 states and 7 union territories. The fact that Indias population rose by 21.34 percent between 1991 and 2001 indicates how rapid this growth has been. The sex ratio (number of females per thousand males) of population is 993. Although India occupies only 2.4 percent of the worlds land area, it supports over 15 percent of the worlds population. Almost 40 percent of Indians are under the age of 15. There are numerous factors which account for India’s rapidly growing population, most notably a high birth rate coupled with a rapidly declining death rate. The high birth rates were often attributed to the lack of education in terms of family planning, however as India progressed into a developed country throughout the twentieth century birth rates remained high.
This suggests that India’s high birth rate occurs as a result of tradition and culture rather than a lack of education. The declining death rates has occurred as India has become more developed and improved its healthcare system as well as sanitation. This has helped increase life expectancy. While India was predominantly a rural nation for centuries, in recent decades it has become increasingly urbanised as the employment prospects are brighter in urban areas which also contain a grater variety of services.
Over 65% of India’s labour force is focused on agriculture. The agricultural sector has developed sufficiently in terms of food production mostly. New machinery and improved farming methods were introduced as a result of the Independance. The majority of farming takes place in the Indus Ganges Valley where 90% of land area is cultivated. This means the land is very good for vegetation. The most popular type of farming here is subsistent farming this is where farmers only produce enough to sustain themselves. Farms here are small and owned by landlords this limits the amount of acres a farmer can grow on. Agriculture in this region is influenced by climate and relief. Relief is divided into 3 areas (1). Northern mountains (2). Indus Ganges Plain and (3). the Southern Plateau. The Northern mountains is the least popluar region for agriculture. The slopes are to steep and prohibit productive agriculture, also the soils are to thin to practice farming. The Indus Ganges Valley is the most popular area as it contains deep depressions and rivers. The rivers flood the land and deposit rich fertile alluvium which makes soils excellent for growing crops etc. Most soils are fertile laterites. Rice is the main crop in India 25% of all crops grown is rice, however this depends hugely on climate. India experiences a wet monsoon and a dry monsoon. Rice is planted during the wet monsoon. During the wet monsoon crops of wheat, barley and peas are grown. Cotton and tea are grown in the Southern Plateau. This food production has lead to the development of the agriculture sector for sure. India has the largest livestock population in the world. The Hindu religion prohibits slaughtering animals so cows overgraze the land.
The “Green Revolution” was also introduced as a renewable factor for agriculture in 1965. This is a sustainable approach to genetically modify seeds such as rice. This is a major advantage for food production in India as the genetically modified rice is resistant to many diseases. The Green revoulution introduced high yielding varities of seeds after 1965 and increased the use of fertilisers and irrigation, which provided the increase in production needed to make India self sufficient in food grains, thus improving the agriculture in India. Famine in India once accepted as inevitable, has not returned since the introduction of green revolution crops. The major benifits of the Green revolution were experienced mainly in the nothern and northwestern India between 1965 and the early 1980’s. The program resulted in a substantial increase in the production of food grains, mainly wheat and rice. The credit for this Green revolution goes to Indian scientists as well as to millions of Indian farmers who whole-hearthedly cooperated with the goverment to make India self sufficient in the matter of its food requirements.
The fishing industry has improved significantly since India gained Independance. Kerala is the most important fishing state of the Country. There are roughly 1.7 million full time fishermen in India. This sector has developed in terms of technology. Special advancements were introduced such as larger fishing boats, mechanised handling and modern processing units. Also ultrasound technology was brought in this allowed fishermen to target larger shoals of fish and increase their catch rate. Fishfarming along with shrimp production is promoted and encouraged for exporting to traders all around the world. Since the independance the goverment has been able to provide and support subsidies to poor fishermen who generally are above the age of 60 and cannot afford to provide for themselves.
India’s manufacturing sector has developed rapidly since 1947. At that time only 2% of the labour force were employed in industry. Since the Independance a number of factors have helped India’s industrialisation. The index of industrialisation has gone up from 7.9 in 1950-51 to 154.7 in 1999-2000. Electricity generation went up from 5.1 billion Kwh to 480.7 billion Kwh in the same period. The huge population provides a large domestic market and work force. As well as this the country has some important natural resources such as coal and iron ore. More than 60% of India’s electricity is generated in coal-burning power stations while HEP plants supply the bulk of the remainder. Finally, the large scale agricultural sector has led to the development of agri-industries such as fertilisers, machinery and food-processing. One of the main factors in the growth of industry in recent years has been the low wages which multinational companies can pay employees in the country. This has meant many industries have relocated to India, especially call-centre for many I.T. companies. India also has an increasing skill workforce. India now produces thousands of graduates per year. The manufacturing sector of India is relatively diversified with the bulk of employment in spinning, weaving, pottery making and the metal and woodwork industries. These are mainly small scale enterprises serving local markets. Products produced include clothing, textiles, rubber and tea.
Textiles and clothing is the single largest manufacturing industry in the region, producing cotton, wool, silk, and synthetic garments. Agricultural based industries are also common, with plants for oil-pressing, peanut shelling, sugar refining, and tea processing. Metal plants, such as iron and steel mills are located close to coal fileds. This is to save cost on transport. They can also locate close to rail or motorway on the outer suburbs of popular cities to provide easy access to the central business districts. Most of the raw metal plants are found close to coastlines because they require water as a natural resource to help sustain and cool the heated iron and steel. The Indian-owned Tata iron and steel plant is one of the largest in the world. Industry is still concentrated in four main regions in India. In Calcutta alot of India’s traditional industries of clothing and textiles are located. Alot of the heavy industries of iron and metal are also located here. Chennai and Bangalore attract the light engineering footloose industries eg computers. Footloose industries mean they are small portable companies that can locate close to nodal points in certain cities. This region has become known as “Silicon valley” of India. The computer sector is now growing at 30% per year. Mumbai is home to alot of food processing industries and textile industries. Also, electronics and pharmaceutical companies have set up here. In the North-West one finds chemical and engineering companies. Overall, the secondary sector is growing steadily and there is an increasingly modern nature in India’s manufacturing sector.
Although the transport infrastructure in India remains serverly underdeveloped in places, huge advances have been made in this country since the country gained independance. The dominant mode of transport is rail. Also India contains the longest rail network of any country in the world. There is more than 62000km of track been upgraded and steam engines are been replaced by electric trains. Railways transport nearly all of freight traffic. In urban areas, rail is also very important with Calcutta opening an underground railway system in 1989. The road network has also been increased in lenght and capacity. In India the network of tarred roads has increased from 110,000km in 1947 two more than 1,500,000km in 2002. There is however a small car population of approximately 5 per 1,000 people. Bus is the preferred mode of transport but often conditions on the buses are over crowded and dangerous.
Air transport is dominated by the goverment owned airlines. Air India opperates most of the international flights while Indian Airlines operates routes within India. India has many major ports which include Calcutta, Mumbai, Paradip and Chennai. These ports handle 95% of all imports and exports. The inland waterways are declining in importants. Only about about 30% of India’s waterways is still used for commercial purposes.
The Indian sub-continent offers a wealth of attractions for tourists and has possibly the most diverse range of atractions of any country of the world. The physical attractions vary hugely from north to south. In the extreme north one finds the spectacular slopes of the Himalayas, these are one of the country’s greatest tourist assets. Amoung the massive peaks and fertile valleys are located lush tea-plantations and hill staions. In the south of the country one finds the oppertunity for safari tours east and west of the Dccan Plateau.
As well as physical attractions, India boosts many cultural, religious, historical and architectural sights, such as the Taj Mahal at Agra, the numerous temples, the religious rituals at the river Ganges etc. High class tourism can also be seen at eclusive coastal resorts eg Goa. Despite these attractions, tourism industry in India remains underdeveloped and investment is needed to ensure the growth of this sector.
India’s main problem today concerning sustainability is pollution. The environmental problems in India are growing rapidly. The increasing economic development and a rapidly growing population that has taken the country from 300 million people in 1947 to more than one billion today. This is putting a strain on the enviornment, infrastructure, and the country’s natural resources. Industrial pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, rapid industrialisation, urbanisation, and land degradation are all worsening problems. Overexploitation of the country’s resources be it land or water and the industrialisation process has resulted environmental degradation of resources. Environmental pollution is one of the most serious problems facing humanity and other life forms on our planet today. India’s per capita carbon dioxide emmisions were roughly 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms) in 2007, according to the study. Thats small compared to China and the US, with 10,500 pounds (4,736 kilograms) and 42,000 pounds (19,278 kilograms) respectively that year. The study said that the European union and Russia also have more emmisions than India.
The World Health Organisation estimates that approximately about two million people die prematurely every year as a result of air pollution, while many more suffer from breathing aliments, hearth disease, lung infections and even cancer. Fine particles or microscopic dust from coal or wood fires and unfiltered diesel engines are rated as one of the most lethal forms of air pollution caused by industry, transport, household heating, cooking and ageing coal or oil fired powerstaions. The four main causes of air pollution is (1) emmisions from moving vehicles (2) thermal power plants (3) indusries and (4) refineries. The problem of indoor air pollution in rural areas and urban slums have dramatically increased since India gained its Independance.
Vehicle emissions are amongst the most deadly toxins hovering the atmosphere as we speak. Vehicle emissions in India are responsible for 70 percent of the country’s air pollution. The main gas produced by these vehicles is carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and tasteless toxic gas produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels eg oil, gas, coal, oil burners, solid fuel appliances etc. Carbon monoxide poisons by entering the lungs via the normal breathing mechanism and displacing oxygen from the bloodstream. Interruption of the normal supply of oxygen puts a risk at the fuctions of the heart, brain and other vital fuctions of the body. The major problem with goverment efforts to safeguard the environment has been enforcement at a local level, not with a lack of laws. Air pollution from vehicle exhaust and industry is a worsening problem for India. Exhaust from vehicles has increased eight-fold over levels of twenty years ago. Industrial pollution has risen four times over the same period. The economy has grown two and a half times over the past two decades but pollution control and civil services have not kept pace. Air quality is worst in the major populated cities like Calcutta, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai etc.
Lets not forget about river pollution in developing countries such as India. Contaminated and polluted water now kills more people that all forms of violence including wars. This is according to a United Nations report realeased on March 22 2010 on world water day that calls for turning unsanitary waste water into an environmentally safe economic resource. According to the report titled “sickwater” 90 percent of waste water discharged daily in developing countries is untreated. This contributes to the death of 2.2million people a year from infectious diseases caused by unsafe water drinking and poor hygiene. At least 1.8 million children younger than the age of five, believe it or not die every year from these water related diseases. Reports show that almost 80 percent of India’s waste ends up in the country’s rivers. Its disgusting really. Also with unchecked urban growth across the country combined with poor goverment ovesight means that the problem is only getting worse. A growing number of bodies of water in India are unfit for human use and are causing a serious problem for the developing side of the country. India is without doubt a developing country but needs to get a grip on the sustainable issues it faces.
India’s capital New Delhi has a body of water and is nothing more than a flowing garbage dump, with 57 percent of the city’s waste finding its way to Yamuna river. Its here where over 3 billion litres of waste are pumped into Delhi’s Yamuna each day. Only 55 percent of the 15 million Delhi residents are connected to the city’s sewage system. The remainder flush thier bath water, waste water and just about everything else down pipes into drains, with the majority of the pipes leading straight to the river Yamuna. According to the centre for science and environment, between 75 and 80 percent of the river’s pollution is the result of raw sewage. Combined with industrial runoff, the garbage thrown into the river totals over 3 billion litres of waste per day. This tells us that most of the river pollution in India comes from untreated sewage. Samples taken recently from the Ganges river near Varanasi show that levels of fecal coliform are present. This is a dangerous bacterium that comes from untreated sewage, were some 3,000 percent higher than what is considered safe for bathing. Its sad to think that most resisdents in India would consider the rivers a bathing area.
Im coming to the end of my essay but before I wrap it up I want to mention some of the facts on poverty in India considering poverty is a major factor which is not in favour of the developing country. Since its independance the issue of poverty within India has remained a prevalent concern. As of 2010 more than 37 percent of India’s population of 1.35 billion still lives below the poverty line. More than 22 percent of the entire rural population, and 15 percent of the urban population of India exists in this difficult physical and financial predicament.
The division of the resources, as well as wealth is uneven in India. This disparity creates different poverty ratios for different states. For instance states such as Delhi and Punjab have low poverty ratios. On the other hand almost half the population in states like Bihar and Orissa live below the poverty line. Poverty has many dimensions changing from place to place and across time. There are two inter related aspects of poverty, urban and rural poverty. The main causes of Urban poverty are predominantly due to impoverishment of rural peasantry that forces them to move out of villages to seek some subsistence living in the towns or cities. In this process they even lose the open space or habitat they had in villages albeit without food and other basic amenities. When they come out to the cities they get access to some food though other sanitary facilities including clean water still elude them. And they have to stay in the habitats that place them under sub human conditions. While a select few have standards living comparable to the richest in the world, the majority fails to get two meals a day.
Ive reached the end of my essay hope my opinion and facts about India help you understand the state their in! India has developed from an agricultural country into an urbanizied, industrialised country. However this has led to many problems for the country including poverty and environmenrtal damage. However it is definitly not to late for India to fix its problems and hopefully in the future we will see this happening.
References are as follows!!!
from the internet
books from the leaving cert geography and other sources were are great help.
Economic & Commercial Geography – Rupa Publications.
Geography of India – Gopal Singh
Dictionary of Geography – Penguin