How did geography affect the political and economic development of India?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Himalayan Mountains serve as India's northern border. This was important to keeping Chinese and Mongol invaders out of the country. India's climate is also good for growing various crops, including spices. India's spice trade was very important for fueling European demand for exploration during the Renaissance. India's coastal location...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The Himalayan Mountains serve as India's northern border. This was important to keeping Chinese and Mongol invaders out of the country. India's climate is also good for growing various crops, including spices. India's spice trade was very important for fueling European demand for exploration during the Renaissance. India's coastal location and close proximity to Africa and Southeast Asia also tied it to various trade networks, thus allowing the country to become rich in terms of trade. This trade would also make India a target for European exploitation, starting with the Portuguese in the 1500s and ending when Britain granted the nation its independence in 1947.

India has a long-contested border with Pakistan, another former British colony. The two nations contest the ownership of Kashmir. This region continues to serve as a flashpoint between the two nuclear-armed powers.

The Indus and Ganges rivers are very important in Indian culture. Their floods are often disruptive, but they also bring alluvial soil to floodplains.

The greatest asset of Indian geography is its long coastline on the Indian Ocean. India is the greatest power in the region and can serve as a stabilizing asset in South Asia as well as on the East African coast. India has a large population and the economic resources to be a major player in the area, thus serving as a counterweight to potential rivals such as China.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Indian culture and influence have historically extended beyond its present-day borders. Both to the east and to the west, Indian influences are easily discernible. For example, ancient Indian traders spread their culture all the way to modern Indonesia.

The earliest known Indian civilization was in western India and much of present-day Pakistan. The Indus valley civilization flourished from about 2600 BC to 1900 BC. Its size was larger than ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia. This early Indian civilization—and later ones as well—was dependent on rivers that flooded agricultural lands.

Invaders have used the Khyber Pass to enter India from the northwest for centuries. Alexander the Great's generals used it. Much later, it was coveted by the British who occupied India.

India's modern history was dominated by Western influences. At first, this activity was focused on India's coastal areas. The Portuguese reached India by sea by 1500. The British later followed and established a huge colony. India has changed the names of many of its cities in order to re-assert its own identity.

India's current economic growth is reliant on oil supplies. The country lacks petroleum of its own, and it will soon become the world's leading consumer of oil. Its use causes environmental problems in India, which has many of the world's most polluted cities. This dependence on foreign oil also makes India reliant on Saudi Arabia and other oil producers.

Modern India's chief security threat stems from its long border with Muslim Pakistan. This long and expensive conflict stunts India's economic growth. Both countries possess nuclear weapons, so maintaining peace is paramount.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are several geographical factors that have impacted the political and the economic development of India. India has several important geographical features. To the North, the Himalaya Mountains serve as a buffer from invasion. This has helped to create political stability in India, which is good, both politically and economically. The Indo-Gangetic Plain is a good area for farming. Most of India’s farming is done in this region.

There also are several important rivers in India. These are the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra Rivers. These rivers are an important source of transportation in India. These rivers also can aid with farming.

Since India is not landlocked, it is able to have access to other countries enabling India to trade with them. Many poor countries are landlocked and don’t have rivers that enable the transportation of products and people.

India also has several important resources. These include coal, iron ore, oil, and natural gas. These resources have helped India’s economy grow and develop.

There are several geographical features that have impacted India’s political and economic development.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This answer can be looked at many different ways, because a countries geography makes a huge difference.

1. The Himalayan mountains in the north of India act as a natural buffer from China. This is important, because China to the North has been a powerful country in history.  The natural break has caused both nations to be separate and free from war.

2. The Ganges river is one of the longest in the world and has been used to cultivate crops. The Ganges is the 7th longest in the world.

3. The Ganges river becomes all the most important, because India is also home to huge stretches of deserts. The Thar is also the 7th largest desert in the world.

4. Another important point is that India is not landlocked. So, it has had good contact with other people groups and developed a fishing industry.

5. India also have some good natural resources - oil, metals and natural gasses.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In a recent New York Times writing, India's geographic positioning in Asia was discussed to play a major role in its political reality.  Neighboring nations such as Pakistan, Myanmar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka have endured political strife, upheaval, and rebellions.  Such realities pose challenging elements to India, a nation seeking to continue to navigate its economic growth and political stability.  The looming threat of China, a nation where military conflict was present in 1962 and features an icy relationship even today, makes geographic challenges a very real and viable threat.  Add this to the conflict raging in the Jammu- Kashmir region in the North of India, and there seems to be much in the way of concern that is brought on by its geographic location.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team