The Country (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Located between 7.5° and 36° north latitude and 65° to 97.5° east longitude, India borders the regions of Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar (Burma), with Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, China’s Xinjiang Province, and Tajikistan in close proximity. India includes the Andaman-Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal and the Lakshadweep archipelago in the Arabian Sea. With a warm, humid climate and plentiful rivers, this region has seen continuous human habitation for more than ten thousand years and is home to a very diverse population of more than one billion people. Himalayan peaks in the northern part of the country rise well above 8,000 meters and slope down to the fertile northern Indus-Ganga-Brahmaputra plain. The Deccan plateau in south-central India is bordered by the Eastern and Western Ghats mountain ranges along the respective coasts, the Vindhya-Satpuras to the north, and the Nilgiris in the South. Key resources in addition to ones already listed include aluminum, titanium, petroleum, natural gas, diamonds, limestone, and small reserves of uranium. Agriculture and dairy farming employ more than 60 percent of the workforce.
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Sunshine (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
India receives an average of three hundred days of annual sunshine, giving a theoretical solar power reception of 5 quadrillion kilowatt-hours per year. Dense population in most of India means that a good percentage of incident solar power can be captured at the point of use. The western Thar Desert and the dry Deccan plateau of central India are suited to large solar plants. India plans to use solar power to eliminate more than 60 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year by 2020.
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Coastal Resources (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
India has a total of more than 7,000 kilometers of coastline, including the Andaman-Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands. Fishing and salt extraction employ more than six million people. The backwaters of Kerala on the southwest coast and the river deltas in the Rann of Kachchh and the Sunderbans in Bengal are unique ecosystems, enabling special rice crops and fishing. These resources sustain a large seafood industry that also specializes in prawns and shrimp. India produces 9.4 million metric tons of coconuts a year, putting the country in third place behind the Philippines and Indonesia. Coconut and other palm-based industries are major employers in the coastal states.
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Hydroelectric Potential (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
The Deccan plateau is relatively dry, while the coasts and northern plains receive heavy rains from the southwest monsoon (June to August) and the northeast monsoon (November to December), and the northern plains receive Himalayan snowmelt through spring and summer. In 2007, nearly 25 percent of Indian electricity came from hydroelectric projects, and India ranked fifth in the world in hydroelectric potential. Viable potential is estimated at 84 gigawatts at 60 percent load factor, corresponding to 149 gigawatts installed capacity. This is distributed as follows: the Indus basin in the northwest, 34 gigawatts; the Brahmaputra basin in the northeast, 66 gigawatts; the Ganga basin in the north, 21 gigawatts; the Central Indian River system, 4 gigawatts; the west-flowing rivers of southern India, 9 gigawatts; and the east-flowing rivers of southern India, 15 gigawatts.
Major hydroelectric projects are the Damodar Project, serving Jharkhand and West Bengal; Bhakra Nangal Dam on the Sutlej River, serving Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan; Hirakud Dam on the Mahanadi River in Orissa; on the Kosi River in Bihar; on the Chambal River, serving Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan; Thungabhadra Dam, serving Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh; Nagarjuna Sagar Dam on the Krishna River in Andhra Pradesh; Narmada Dam, serving Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Rajasthan; Indira Gandhi Canal, connecting the Beas and Sutlej rivers and serving Punjab,...
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Arable Land and Agriculture (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
The northern Gangetic Plain, spanning Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Punjab, and the eastern and western coastal strips of India have rich alluvial soil suitable for cultivation. The large Maharashtra-Gujarat region has black soil, suitable for cultivation of cotton and other crops that do not demand as much water as rice. Tropical rain forests and deciduous forests occur in the coastal and northeastern regions and in the Andaman-Nicobar Islands. Temperate forests and grasslands are found in the foothills of the Himalayas between 1,000 and 3,000 meters, rising to alpine and tundra regions above 3,600 meters. Terraced cultivation is practiced extensively in the mountains.
As of 2009, India was second in the world in agricultural output. In 2007, the share of agriculture in the Indian GDP was less than 17 percent, having fallen from its 30 percent share in the mid-1990’s. However, the industry still employed more than 60 percent of the total Indian workforce. India is the world’s leading producer of coconuts, tea, black pepper, turmeric, ginger, and cashew nuts. With the world’s largest number (more than 280 million) of cattle, it is also the leading producer of dairy milk, though per-unit productivity is low. India is the second largest producer of wheat, rice, sugar, peanuts (called “groundnuts” in India), and freshwater fish and the third largest producer of tobacco. India produces 10 percent of the...
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Textile Fibers (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Textiles from natural fibers have been one of India’s largest industries for both the domestic market and exports for many centuries. The black soil of the Deccan plateau is suited to cotton cultivation. The silk industry employs more than 6 million people in Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and West Bengal. Silk output is almost 16,000 metric tons per year and is tied into a village industry and urban marketing system that achieves superlative levels of artistry, craftsmanship, and quality, highly attuned to changing fashions and customer preferences.
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Coal (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
India has the world’s fourth largest coal reserves (197 billion metric tons, or 7 percent of the world total), of which 102 billion are believed to be recoverable, but produces the third largest amount. Production is 403 million metric tons per year. Open-cast methods are used to mine the 64 billion metric tons located within a depth of 300 meters. Coal generates 67 percent of India’s total primary energy consumption. Noncoking coal constitutes 85 percent of reserves, and coking coal the rest. High ash content of 15 to 45 percent means low calorific value for Indian coal. Coal deposits are spread over the states of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, and Meghalaya. Lignite (60 percent carbon) resources are present in Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu.
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Iron Ore (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Iron-ore deposits of 22 billion metric tons, amounting to 20 percent of the world total, are estimated to be in India. These are found in the states of Orissa, Jharkhand, Andhra, Karnataka, West Bengal, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh and in two locations each in Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu. India produced nearly 47 million metric tons of finished steels and 4.4 million metric tons of pig iron in 2008, putting the country in seventh place among steel-producing nations. However, roughly two-thirds of iron ore is used for export, primarily to China, South Korea, and Japan. This is a controversial issue in India as domestic demand and the Indian steel industry expand.
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Thorium (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
The black sands of southern Kerala beaches contain large deposits of thorium, which is a low-grade nuclear fuel. This deposit has been known since Germany tried to ship out large quantities of black sand for its nuclear weapon program prior to World War II. India is estimated to have the world’s third largest reserves of thorium. With the civilian nuclear deal with the United States and Nuclear Suppliers Group, uranium imports are projected to enable India to irradiate the thorium and set up a “third-stage thorium cycle” in which thorium becomes a primary energy source for electric power reactors, making India self-sufficient in nuclear energy and eliminating the need for uranium imports. Because thorium is much more abundant than uranium worldwide, the Indian thorium reactor approach is watched with great interest as a possible breakthrough technology for nuclear power.
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Oil and Natural Gas (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
As of 2007, India had 5.6 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, second to China in the Asia-Pacific region. New resources have been identified in the Bay of Bengal and in the Rajasthan desert. Production in 2007 was 810,000 to 850,000 barrels per day. Thus, more than 70 percent of oil demand must be met by imports, mainly from the Middle East. petroleum dependence has had a primary destructive effect on Indian economic growth, with “oil shocks” in the 1970’s and 1980’s draining foreign exchange revenues and forcing steep loss of value of the Indian rupee by as much as 90 percent between 1972 and 2000.
Domestic production of natural gas is 52 billion cubic meters per year, a sudden growth in production from 30,000 cubic meters per year because of new fields in the Krishna-Godavari basin. According to the Oil and Gas Journal, India had 1 trillion cubic meters of confirmed natural gas reserves as of 2007.
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Other Resources (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
India contributes 60 percent of the world supply of mica, used as a nonconductor in electrical switchgear manufacturing. Major mica-producing regions are Jharkhand, Bihar, Andhra, and Rajasthan. Bauxite and other aluminum-ore reserves are estimated at more than 2 billion metric tons, out of a global estimate of 75 billion metric tons. India produced more than 700,000 metric tons of aluminum (spelled as aluminium in India) in 2001. India is known to have more than 16 percent of the world’s ilmenite reserves, but production of titanium is very low. The catastrophic tsunami of December, 2004, exposed substantial offshore deposits along the Tamil Nadu coast. Sitting on approximately 20 percent of the world’s resources, India is the world’s fifth largest producer of manganese. Deposits are found in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.
Medicinal herbs are a major natural resource for India. Empirical experience over thousands of years has been codified through the ayurveda medicinal knowledge base. As modern diagnostics open up genetic engineering and nanoscience, the importance of these various natural resources is beginning to be understood.
Finally, the fauna of India serve as natural attractions to a growing tourism industry, complementing geographic attractions such as the Himalayas, the Sunderbans river delta, the Nilgiri and Kerala mountains, and the...
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Further Reading (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Abdul Kalam, A. P. J., with Y. S. Rajan. India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium. New York: Viking, 1998.
Ali, N. Natural Resource Management and Sustainable Development in North-East India. New Delhi: Mittal, 2007.
Mukhopahdyay, Durgadas. “Indigenous Knowledge and Sustainable Natural Resource Management in the Indian Desert.” In The Future of Drylands: International Scientific Conference on Desertification and Dryland Research, edited by Cathy Lee and Thomas Schaaf. Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Springer, 2008.
Parikh, Kirit S. Natural Resource Accounting: A Framework for India. Mumbai: Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, 1993.
Pearce, Fred. When the Rivers Run Dry: Water—The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-first Century. Boston: Beacon Press, 2006.
Rao, R. Rama. India and the Atom. New Delhi: Allied, 1982.
Sachs, Jeffrey D. The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time. New York: Penguin, 2005.
Singh, Amrik. The Green Revolution: A Symposium. New Delhi: Harman, 1990.
Sur, A. K. Natural Resources of India. Vadodara: Padmaja, 1947.
Varma, C. V. J., and B. L. Jatana. A Century of Hydro Power Development in India. New Delhi: Central Board of Irrigation and Power, 1997.
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History and Political Context (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
Great Britain’s colonial occupation of India destroyed and replaced the region’s traditional, cottage-based textile, metal, and crafts industries with plantations and infrastructure to export raw materials and mined ores through a few ports to the factories of the British Empire. By the early 1900’s, India had a desperately poor subsistence economy that was dependent on the monsoons and experienced frequent famines when crops failed. The world wars necessitated steel plants to be located in India to build railways and armaments to supply the war effort, and a few entrepreneurs such as the Tatas and Birlas won access to the capital needed to create heavy industry.
Upon independence in 1947, India boosted irrigation, agriculture, education, public transport, and heavy industry through a series of central five-year plans. Capital and technology came from the United Kingdom, United States, West Germany, and the Soviet Union. Public-sector plants produced steel, cement, fertilizers, chemicals, aluminum, titanium, railway equipment, heavy electricals and electronics, aircraft, ships, and refined oil. Democratic governments tried to invest scarce resources in education and to improve the desperately poor standard of living of the entire population, with the result that a socialist economy with top-tier tax rates as high as 90 percent and many restrictions on private enterprise evolved and stagnated. Free primary...
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Impact of Indian Policies on Climate Change (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
Energy shortage and Akshay Urja (inexhaustible energy). As of 2007, India had proven resources of 668 billion liters of oil and 1 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. National consumption was 98 billion liters of oil and 31 billion cubic meters of gas per year, mostly imports. Recoverable coal reserves were 92 billion metric tons, consumed at 434 million metric tons per year. Installed electric capacity in 2004 was 131 gigawatts, consumed at 588 billion kilowatt-hours per year. Total energy consumption was 16.3 quadrillion kilojoules. Coal accounted for 53 percent of energy consumption, oil accounted for 33 percent, natural gas 8 percent, and hydroelectricity 5 percent. Kerosene, a staple fuel for cooking and lighting of rural and lower-income homes, and diesel fuel for trucks were heavily subsidized. Over 56 percent of Indian homes and some 112,000 villages still lacked grid access to electric power.
India has a central ministry for renewable energy (RE). In 2008, the RE industry turnover was $500 million, with about $3 billion in investments. The government aimed to electrify eighteen thousand villages by 2012, with a 10 percent RE contribution. Micro-hydel plants of 2 to 25 megawatts exploit mountain streams and account for 2,500 megawatts, lighting many remote villages. By 2008, 3.94 million family-level biogas plants and over 2.15 million square meters of solar collectors had...
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India as a GHG Emitter (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
Home to more than 16 percent of the world’s population, India accounts for only 4.9 percent of the world’s GHG emissions. This places it in fifth place, behind the United States (22.2 percent), China and Taiwan (18.4 percent), the European Union (14.7 percent), and Russia (5.6 percent) and followed by Japan (4.6 percent) and Germany (3.1 percent). The average Indian’s carbon footprint is 0.87 metric ton per year, compared to the average American’s 18.1 metric tons, the average Australian’s 25.5 metric tons, and the average Chinese’s 2.5 metric tons. The Indian carbon footprint is growing rapidly and expected to reach the level of today’s China by 2030.
Low carbon footprint but high air pollution. Southern and central India are in the tropical climate zone, and even in the northern plains winter home heating is rarely needed. Residential air conditioning is generally impractical because of power shortages in summer. Houses built to resist summer heat and monsoon rains have efficient throughflow ventilation. Windows are kept open.
Most Indians live in small villages. The cities are densely populated, with few zoning restrictions. Many people can walk or ride bicycles or scooters to work. Commuters use public transportation heavily. Long-distance travel is mostly by rail or bus. The Indian staple diet is organically grown, mostly in small farms, and consists of grain, vegetables,...
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Summary and Foresight (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
India has signed and ratified most of the United Nations treaties related to climate change, including the Kyoto Protocol, but understanding Indian progress requires a deeper perspective. This vast, densely populated nation has a common culture but a diverse population. The vibrant democracy holds regular, free elections and frequent, vociferous, and even violent protests. In every city, dozens of newspapers in English and Indian languages present diverse viewpoints, and hundreds if not thousands of political parties span the entire spectrum. The Internet has caught on rapidly. The transistor radio and newspaper are now supplemented by satellite television even in the villages, and Indians are connected to a worldwide diaspora through bicycle-delivered email, but also cell phones, text messaging, and voice-over-Internet.
In the 1980’s, the Panchayati Raj law devolved many powers from the central government to elected village Panchayats (originally meaning an assembly of five or more wise people). Grassroots movements draw power partially from an ancient native respect for nature, partially from a fear of foreign enslavement, and partially from the class war ambitions of the communist parties. Skepticism about big corporations has evolved into critical examination of large-scale development and its effects on the environment. Intense and sophisticated opposition ostensibly based on concern for people displaced from...
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Further Reading (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
Abdul Kalam, A. P. J., and Y. S. Rajan. India, 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium. New York: Penguin Books, 1998. Former president Dr. Abdul Kalam, an aerospace engineer, sets out his ambitious dream of India becoming a developed nation by 2020. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand Indian aspirations and plans.
Lala, R. M. Beyond The Last Blue Mountain: A Life of J. R. D. Tata. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. Through the biography of a leading industrialist, this book lays out the history of Indian technological development and heavy industry from the insider perspective of the largest industrial house in India.
Sharma, S., S. Bhattacharya, and A. Garg. “Greenhouse Gas Emissions from India: A Perspective.” Current Science 90, no. 3 (February 10, 2006): 326-334. Deals with the methods and data used in estimating inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, and hence the results on growth rate of GHG emissions in India.
Shukla, P. R. “India’s GFG Emission Scenarios: Aligning Development and Stabilization Paths.” Current Science 90, no. 3 (February 10, 2006): 384-396. Gives different scenarios of economic growth and incorporation of sustainable technologies. The values used are very conservative, with carbon footprints well beyond those reported by U.S. or Indian sources in 2008.
Srinivasan, M. R. From Fission to Fusion: The Story of India’s Atomic...
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