COUNTRY PROFILE - INDIA
India is a large country in South Asia which ranks second
in the world in population (998 million presently) after China, and is
expected to be one billion in June 2000. This constitutes about 16% of
the world population. About 72% of the Indian people live in rural area
in 557,000 villages. The country ranks 7th in the world in area. India
has great varieties and differences in its land and its people. The land
includes a desert, jungles and one of the world's rainiest areas. India
also has broad plaines, mountain rivers, tallest mountain systems in the
world, and tropical low-lands. The people of India belong to many ethnic
groups and religions, speaking 16 major languages and more than 1,000
minor languages and dialects. While Hindi is the principal official language,
English is practically an associated official language.
The country borders Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar
and Bangladesh. Most of the Northern India is lowland plains that includes
the valleys of the Ganges and the Brahmputra rivers. Himalaya rises in
the far North-Eastern parts of the country. Groups of rugged hills exist
in extreme eastern India near Myanmar and the eastern parts of Bangladesh.
The total geographical area of the country is 3287,263 sq. km.
According to Central Water Commission, about 8.5 M ha of
land in the country is waterlogged while about 2.46 M ha land is estimated
to be under inadequate drainage in irrigation commands. Similarly, out
of 5.5 M ha of land affected by salinity, about 3.06 M ha is estimated
to be affected due to irrigation related problems. Thus, the total affected
land area is 14 M ha under waterlogging and salinity of which 5.52 M ha
is caused by irrigation related problems and inadequate drainage.
India has three main land regions : (1) the Himalaya; (2)
the Northern Plains; and (3) the Deccan, or Southern Plateau.
The Himalaya, the highest mountain system in the
world, rises partly in China. It curves for about 2,410 kilometres from
northernmost India to northeastern India. The Himalaya is as much as 320
kilometres wide in some places. It includes India's tallest mountain,
Kanchenjunga which is 8,598 metres high. Many other Himalayan mountains
are more than 6,100 metres high. Many kinds of wildlife, including tigers,
monkeys, rhinoceroses, and several species of deer, live in the foothills.
The Northern Plains lie between the Himalaya and
the southern peninsula. They stretch across northern India for about 2,410
kilometres, and have an average width of about 320 kilometres. The Northern
Plains region includes the valleys of the Brahmaputra, Ganges, and Indus
rivers and their branches. The Brahmaputra and the Ganges are India's
longest and most important waterways. They rise in the Himalaya from the
constant mountain snows.
This region makes up the world's largest alluvial plain
(land formed of soil left by rivers). The soil ranks among the most fertile
in the world. The flatness of the plains makes them easy to irrigate.
Most of the Indian people live in this region.
The western part of the Northern Plains includes the Thar
Desert, the Rann of Kutch, which is often flooded by sea- and river-water,
and the Kathiawar Peninsula.
The Deccan, a huge plateau, forms most of the southern
peninsula. It slants up toward the west, where it meets the Western Ghats,
a rugged mountain range that is 1,500 metres high. This range falls sharply
to a narrow coastal plain. In the east, the Eastern Ghats, another range,
rises 610 metres at the edge of the Deccan. This range gradually slants
down to a coastal plain much wider than the one in the west. The Western
and Eastern Ghats meet at the southernmost point of the Deccan in the
Nilgiri Hills. The Vindhya, which is 1,200 metres high, and other mountain
ranges extend across India and separate the Deccan from the Northern Plains.
The Deccan has farming and grazing land, most of India's
ores, and forests filled with elephants and other large animals. Major
rivers in the region include the Cauvery, the Godavari, and the Krishna.
They flow eastward through the Deccan to the Bay of Bengal. The rivers
sometimes overflow in the rainy season.
Practically, the entire country except mountains, is hot
from the month of March to September. The early part of the hot season
is very dry, but from June onwards the monsoon rains bring relief from
the extreme dry heat. The temperatures are mild in North and Central India
from October to February. In far North, temperatures occasionally drop
below the freezing point. The southern India lacks the cool season but
October to February is not so hot as rest of the year. North-East and
West Coast receive heavy rainfall.
Agriculture and Food
Agriculture provides about a third of India's national
income. Against the total geographical area of 328.73 million ha, the
net sown area is 142.5 million ha which is about 77% of the cultivable
area in the country. During the period 1950-60, the food grain production
was achieved at a perennial rate of 3.3% per annum and during the period
of 1960-73, production was maintained at a rate of 2.6% per annum. The
foodgrain production during 1970-1995 increased from 108 million tonnes
in 1970 to 192 million tonnes in 1995 and the average foodgrain production
per hectare of area increased from 8.71 quintals per hectare to 15.48
quintals per hectare. The per capita production of foodgrains during the
period increased from 196 kg to 210 kg.
About 80 per cent of the farmland is used to grow India's
main foods - grains and pulses, the seeds of various pod vegetables, such
as beans, chickpeas, and pigeon peas. The major grain crops include rice,
wheat, millet, and sorghum. Rice leads all crops in land area. Only China
grows more rice than India. India has more cattle and buffalo than any
other country. These animals are not butchered for meat, but are important
to the economy because of the milk.
India grows more than half of the world's mangoes and leads
all countries in the production of cashews, millet, peanuts, pulses, sesame
seeds, and tea. The nation ranks second in the production of cauliflowers,
jute, onions, rice, sorghum, and sugar cane, and is a major producer of
apples, aubergines, bananas, coconuts, coffee, cotton, oranges, potatoes,
rapeseeds, rubber, tobacco, and wheat. India is also the world's largest
grower of betel nuts, which are palm nuts chewed as a stimulant by many
people in tropical Asia. It is also a leading producer of such spices
as cardamom, ginger, pepper, and turmeric.
In the past, India had to import much food. But improved
farming techniques and use of irrigation and high-yield grains have greatly
increased agricultural production. The government sponsors programmes
to teach farmers scientific farming methods. It also provides credit to
allow farmers to buy improved varieties of seeds and fertilizers. The
government encourages increased food production by paying farmers higher
prices for their crops. Despite a rapidly growing population, India now
produces enough food to meet most of its needs. But such disasters as
droughts and floods still sometimes cause food shortages in some areas.
The rainfall in India is confined to 3-4 months in a year
and varies from 100 mm in the western parts of Rajasthan to over 1000
mm in Cherrapunji in Meghalaya.
The rainy season lasts from the middle of June to September.
During this period, monsoons (seasonal winds) blow across the Indian Ocean,
picking up moisture. They reach India from the southeast and southwest,
bringing almost all the rain that falls on India. During the other two
seasons, monsoons blow from the north or northeast.
The southwest monsoons are of great importance to Indian
agriculture. If the monsoons bring enough rain to the country, crops will
grow. Sometimes they fail to arrive in time, and crops fail as a result.
Some monsoons drop too much rain, ruining crops and causing destructive
Rain falls most heavily in northeastern India. Some hills
and mountain slopes in this region receive an average of about 1,140 centimetres
of rain a year. The world's heaviest recorded rainfall for one year fell
at Cherrapunji. This city had 2,647 centimetres of rain from August 1860
to July 1861. The Thar, or Indian Desert in the northwestern part of the
country receives less than 25 centimetres of rain a year. Some sections
of the hot, sandy, and rocky, desert get only about 5 centimetres of rain
The principal water resources used in India constitute
surface waters through rivers and streams, and ground water. The entire
country has been divided into 20 river basins comprising 12 major and
8 medium and small rivers combined together to form river basin. It has
been estimated that out of total precipitation of about 400 Million Hectare
Meter (Mha m), the water availability is about 186.9 MHa m. The average
yearly utilisable water resources is estimated as below :
Surface water : 690 billion cubic meter (BCM)
Ground Water : 432 BCM
Total : 1122 BCM
The total live storage capacity of dams and reservoirs
in the country is about 177 BCM. Dams to create additional live storage
of 75 BCM are under various stages of construction. The dams under formulation/consideration
will provide an additional live storage of 132 BCM. The current stage
of utilisation of surface and ground water resources is about 70% and
30% respectively of the utilisable resources. The present pattern of utilisation
is shown below :
||Present Utilisation (1997)
Ultimate Irrigation Potential
At the end of 1996-97, Irrigation Potential created stood
at 91.8 Mha against 22.6 Mha in 1951. The ultimate irrigation potential
in the country is estimated to be 139.9 Mha of which 58.48 M ha will be
from major and medium surface water projects, 17.38 Mha by minor surface
water projects and 64.04 Mha by minor ground water schemes. The net sown
area in the country is 142.5 Mha, the gross cropped area is 230 Mha, the
gross irrigated area is 120 Mha and the gross irrigated area under food
and non-food crops is 90 Mha. The rainfed area in the country is 110 Mha
under which the gross area under food crops is 72 Mha.
Future Food Production
The demand for food in the future (year 2025) is estimated
to be on an average 345 million tonnes which will have to be met both
from rainfed and irrigated areas. Assuming the national average yield
of 1.25 tonnes per hectare from un-irrigated crops and 2.75 tonnes per
hectre for irrigated crops, the projected food production from irrigated
area will be 198 million tonnes while that from rainfed area will be 148
million tonnes. Thus, a total of 346 million tonnes food can be produced
in the country to meet the food requirement of the rising population.
Planned Development of Water Resources
In the initial period of water resources development, rapid
harnessing of water resources was the prime objective. The State Governments
were encouraged to expeditiously formulate and develop water resources
projects for specific purposes like irrigation, flood control, hydro-power
generation, drinking water supply, industrial and various other uses.
With the appointment of Planning Commission in 1950 and implementation
of Five Year Plans, agriculture development became a major objective of
consistent plan of action embarking all success on the national economy
stipulated by the requisite policy measures and institutional framework.
Environmental Protection Laws
Environmental Protection Laws have been inacted under the
Environment (Protection Act, 1986), Air (Prevention and Control Policy
Act, 1981) and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution Act, 1974),
Hazardous Waste Management and Handling Rules, 1989, Public Liability
Insurance Act (Insurance Act, 1991) and the National Environmental Tribunal
Act, 1995. The other Acts inacted are Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 and
Forests Conservation Act, 1980.
National Water Policy
The country adopted a comprehensive National Water Policy
in September 1987 which recognizes water as one of the crucial elements
in the development planning. After the adoption of National Water Policy
a number of issues and challenges have emerged in the development and
management of water resources.
India and ICID
India joined ICID as a founder member country in 1950 and
ever since India has been actively participating in the activities of
the Commission. The Central Office of the ICID is located in New Delhi,
India and functions under the direct supervision and guidance of Secretary
Late Dr. A.N. Khosla (1950-1954), and late Dr. N.D. Gulhati
(1960-1963) were the past Presidents of ICID from the Indian National
Committee. Secretary General Hon. Dr. K.K. Framji was also honoured with
the title of President Hon. for his long services to ICID. Sixteen past
Vice Presidents of ICID have also been from Indian National Committee. Presently, Mr. R.C. Jha, Chairman of Indian National Committee, which has its representation
on several work bodies of ICID.
Indian National Committee has organized the First IEC (1950,
Simla), Second IEC and 1st International Congress (1951, New Delhi), 4th
IEC (1953, New Delhi), 17th IEC and 6th International Congress (1966,
New Delhi), 3rd Afro-Asian Regional Conference (1982, New Delhi), 8th International Drainage Workshop (2000, New Delhi),
and 60th International Executive Council Meeting and 5th Asian Regional
Conference (2009, New Delhi).