INDIA is one of the oldest civilisations with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. It has achieved multifaceted socio-economic progress during the last 52 years of its Independence.
India has become self-sufficient in agricultural production and is now the tenth industrialised country in the world and the sixth nation to have gone into outer space to conquer nature for the benefit of the people. It covers an area of 32,87,2631 sq km, extending from the snow-covered Himalayan heights to the tropical rain forests of the south.
As the seventh largest country in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give the country a distinct geographical entity.
Bounded by the Great Himalayas in the north, it stretches southwards and at the Tropic of Cancer, tapers off into the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west.
Lying entirely in the northern hemisphere, the mainland extends between latitudes 8°4' and 37°6' north, longitudes 68°7' and 97°25' east and measures about 3,214 km from north to south between the extreme latitudes and about 2,933 km from east to west between the extreme longitudes. It has a land frontier of about 15,200 km. The total length of the coastline of the mainland, Lakshadweep Islands and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, is 7,516.6 km.
Countries having a common border with India are Afghanistan and Pakistan to north-west, China, Bhutan and Nepal to north, Myanmar to the east and Bangladesh to the east of West Bengal. Sri Lanka is separated from India by a narrow channel of sea formed by the Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar.
The mainland comprises four regions, namely, the great mountain zone, plains of the Ganga and the Indus, the desert region and the southern Peninsula.
The Himalayas comprise three almost parallel ranges interspersed with large plateaus and valleys, some of which, like the Kashmir and Kullu valleys, are fertile, extensive and of great scenic beauty. Some of the highest peaks in the world are found in these ranges. The high altitudes limit travel only to a few passes, notably the Jelep La and Nathu La on the main Indo-
The plains of the Ganga and the Indus, about 2,400 km long and 240 to 320 km broad, are formed by basins of three distinct river systems - the Indus, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra. They are one of the world’s greatest stretches of flat alluvium and also one of the most densely populated areas on the earth. Between the Yamuna at Delhi and the Bay of Bengal, nearly 1,600 km away, there is a drop of only 200 metres in elevation.
The desert region can be divided into two parts - the great desert and the little desert. The great desert extends from the edge of the Rann of Kuchch beyond the Luni river northward. The whole of the Rajasthan- Sind frontier runs through this. The little desert extends from the Luni between Jaisalmer and Jodhpur up to the northern wastes. Between the great and the little deserts lies a zone of absolutely sterile country, consisting of rocky land cut up by limestone ridges.
The geological regions broadly follow the physical features and may be grouped into three regions: the Himalayas and their associated group of mountains, the Indo-Ganga Plain and the Peninsular Shield. The Himalayan mountain belt to the north and the Naga-Lushai mountain in the east, are the regions of mountain-building movement. Most of this area, now presenting some of the most magnificent mountain scenery in the world, was under marine conditions about 60 crore years ago. In a series of mountain building movements commencing about seven crore years ago, the sediments and the basement rocks rose to great heights. The weathering and erosive agencies worked on these to produce the relief seen today. The Indo-Ganga plains are a great alluvial tract that separates the
Rivers in India may be classified as : (i) Himalayan rivers; (ii) Peninsular rivers; (iii) Coastal rivers and (iv) rivers of the inland drainage basin. The Himalayan rivers are perennial as they are generally snow-fed and have reasonable flow throughout the year. During the monsoon the Himalayas receive very heavy rainfall and the rivers discharge the maximum quantity of water causing frequent floods. The Peninsular rivers are generally rain-fed and, therefore, fluctuate in volume. A large number of the streams are non-perennial. The coastal streams, especially on the west coast, are short in length and have limited catchment areas. Most of them are flashy and non-perennial. The Ganga sub-basin which is a part of the larger Ganga-Brahmaputra- Meghana basin is the largest in India receiving waters from an area which comprises about one-quarter of the total area of the country.
The Godavari in the southern Peninsula has the second largest river basin covering 10 per cent of the area of India. Next to it is the Krishna basin in the region, while the Mahanadi has the third largest basin. The basin of the Narmada in the uplands of the Deccan flowing to the Arabian Sea and of the Kaveri in the south falling into the Bay of Bengal are about the same size, though with different character and shape.
The climate of India may be broadly described as tropical monsoon type. There are four seasons: (i) winter (January-February), (ii) hot weather summer (March-May); (iii) rainy south-western monsoon (June-September) and (iv) post-monsoon, also known as north-east monsoon in the southern Peninsula (October-December). India’s climate is affected by two seasonal winds - the north-east monsoon and the south-west monsoon. The northeast monsoon commonly known as winter monsoon blows from land to sea whereas south-west monsoon known as summer monsoon blows from sea to land after crossing the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The south-west monsoon brings most of the rainfall during the year in the country. It is now possible to make forecast about the monsoon rains successfully with developed models and trained manpower.
With a wide range of climatic conditions from the torrid to the arctic, India has a rich and varied vegetation, which only a few countries of comparable size possess. India can be divided into eight distinct floristic regions, namely, the western Himalayas, the eastern Himalayas, Assam, the Indus plain, the Ganga plain, the Deccan, Malabar and the Andamans.
The Western Himalayan region extends from Kashmir to Kumaon. Its temperate zone is rich in forests of chir, pine, other conifers and broadleaved temperate trees. Higher up, forests of deodar, blue pine, spruce and silver fir occur. The alpine zone extends from the upper limit of the temperate zone of about 4,750 metres or even higher. The characteristic trees of this zone are high-level silver fir silver birch and junipers.
The eastern Himalayan region extends from Sikkim eastwards and embraces Darjiling, Kurseong and the adjacent tract. The temperate zone has forests of oaks, laurels, maples, rhododendrons, alder and birch. Many conifers, junipers and dwarf willows also occur here.
The Assam region comprises the Brahmaputra and the Surma valleys with evergreen forests, occasional thick clumps of bamboos and tall grasses.
The Indus plain region comprises the plains of Punjab, western Rajasthan and northern Gujarat. It is dry and hot and supports natural vegetation.
The Ganga plain region covers the area which is alluvial plain and is under cultivation for wheat, sugarcane and rice. Only small areas support forests of widely differing types.
The Deccan region comprises the entire table land of the Indian Peninsula and supports vegetation of various kinds from scrub jungles to mixed deciduous forests.
The Malabar region covers the excessively humid belt of mountain country parallel to the west coast of the Peninsula. Besides being rich in forest vegetation, this region produces important commercial crops, such as coconut, betelnut, pepper, coffee and tea, rubber and cashewnut.
The Andaman region abounds in evergreen, mangrove, beach and diluvial forests.
India possessing a tremendous diversity of climate and physical conditions, & has great variety of fauna numbering 81,251 species. Of these, insects constitute about 60,000, molluscs a little over 5,000, mammals 372, birds 1,228, reptiles 446, amphibians 204, and fishes 2,546.
The mammals include the majestic elephant, the gaur or Indian bisonthe largest of existing bovines, the great Indian rhinoceros, the gigantic wild sheep of the Himalayas, the swamp deer, the thamin spotted deer, nilgai, the four-horned antelope, the Indian antelope or black-buck - the only representatives of these genera.
Among the cats, the tiger and lion are the most magnificent of all; other splendid creatures such as the clouded leopard, the snow leopard, the marbled cat, etc., are also found.
Several birds, like pheasants, geese, ducks, mynahs, parakeets, pigeons, cranes, hornbills and sunbirds, inhabit forests and wet lands.
The salt water crocodile is found along the eastern coast and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The great Himalayan range has a very interesting variety of fauna that includes the wild sheep and goats, markhor, ibex, shrew and tapir. The panda and the snow leopard are found in the upper reaches of the mountains.
There are presently 84 national parks and 447 wildlife sanctuaries covering about 1.50 lakh sq km area which is nearly 4.5 per cent of the total geographical area of the country.
State and Union Teritories By Population Size :
1. Uttar Pradesh 13,91,12,287 16.44 16.18 1
2. Bihar 8,63,74,465 10.21 10.20 2
3. Maharashtra 7,89,37,187 9.33 9.16 3
4. West Bengal 6,80,77,965 8.04 7.97 4
5. Andhra Pradesh 6,65,08,008 7.86 7.82 5
6. Madhya Pradesh 6,61,81,170 7.82 7.62 6
7. Tamil Nadu 5,58,58,946 6.60 7.06 7
8. Karnataka 4,49,77,201 5.31 5.42 8
9. Rajasthan 4,40,05,990 5.20 5.00 9
10. Gujarat 4,13,09,582 4.88 4.97 10
11. Orissa 3,16,59,736 3.74 3.85 11
12. Kerala 2,90,98,518 3.44 3.71 12
13. Assam 2,24,14,322 2.65 2.90 13
14. Punjab 2,02,81,969 2.40 2.45 14
15. Haryana 1,64,63,648 1.94 1.89 15
16. Delhi 94,20,644 1.11 0.91 16
17. Jammu & Kashmir1 77,18,700 0.91 0.87 17
18. Himachal Pradesh 51,70,877 0.61 0.62 18
19. Tripura 27,57,205 0.33 0.30 19
20. Manipur 18,37,149 0.22 0.21 20
21. Meghalaya 17,74,778 0.21 0.19 21
22. Nagaland 12,09,546 0.14 0.11 23
23. Goa 11,69,793 0.14 0.15 22
24. Arunachal Pradesh 8,64,558 0.10 0.09 24
25. Pondicherry 8,07,785 0.09 0.09 25
26. Mizoram 6,89,756 0.08 0.07 26
27. Chandigarh 6,42,015 0.08 0.07 27
28. Sikkim 4,06,457 0.05 0.05 28
29. Andaman & Nicobar Islands 2,80,661 0.03 0.03 29
30. Dadra & Nagar Haveli 1,38,477 0.02 0.02 30
31. Daman & Diu 1,01,586 0.01 0.01 31
32. Lakshadweep 51,707 0.01 0.01 32