IYB-2015, LAND AND THE PEOPLE

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INDIA is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend and the great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.’—Mark Twain.

India has a unique culture and is one of the oldest and greatest civilizations of the world. It stretches from the snowcapped Himalayas in the North to sun drenched coastal villages of the South and the humid tropical forests on the south-west coast, from the fertile Brahmaputra valley on its East to the Thar desert in the West. It covers an area of 32,87,263 sq. km.

Lying entirely in the northern hemisphere, the mainland extends between latitudes o 8 4′ and o 37 6′ north, longitudes 68 o7′ 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 & Nicobar Islands is 7,516.6 km.

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.

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 little desert extends from the Luni between Jaisalmer and Jodhpur up to the northern west. Between the great and the little zone of absolutely sterile country, consisting of rocky land, cut up by limestone ridges.

The Peninsular Plateau is marked off from the plains of the Ganga and the Indus by a mass of mountain and hill ranges varying from 460 to 1,220 metres in height. Prominent among these are the Aravali, Vindhya, Satpura and Ajanta.

Credits: Wiki

The southern point of plateau is formed by the Nilgiri Hills where the Eastern and the Western Ghats meet. The Cardamom Hills lying beyond may be regarded as a continuation of the Western Ghats.

RIVER SYSTEMS

The river systems of India can be classified into four groups viz., (i) Himalayan rivers, (ii) Deccan rivers, (iii) Coastal rivers, and (iv) Rivers of the inland drainage basin.

Credits: Wiki

The Himalayan rivers are formed by melting snow and glaciers and therefore, continuously flow throughout the year. The Deccan rivers on the other hand are rain-fed and therefore fluctuate in volume. Many of these are non perennial. The Coastal streams, especially on the west coast are short in length and have limited catchment areas. Most of them are non-perennial. The streams of inland drainage basin of western Rajasthan are few and far apart. Most of them are of an ephemeral character.

The main Himalayan river systems are those of the Indus and the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna system. The Indus, which is one of the great rivers of the world, rises near Mansarovar in Tibet and flows through India and thereafter through Pakistan and finally falls into the Arabian sea near Karachi. Its important tributaries flowing in Indian territory are the Sutlej (originating in Tibet), the Beas, the Ravi, the Chenab and the Jhelum.

The principal tributes of Brahmaputra in India are the Subansiri, Jia Bhareli, Dhansiri, Puthimari, Pagladiya and the Manas. The Brahmaputra in Bangladesh fed by Teesta, etc. finally falls into Ganga. The Barak river, the head stream of Meghna, rises in the hills in Manipur.

The Godavari in the southern Peninsula has the second largest river basin covering 10 percent of the area of India. Next to it is the Krishna basin in the region and the Mahanadi is another large basin of the region. 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.

FLORA : India is rich in flora. Available data place India in the tenth position in the world and fourth in Asia in plant diversity. From about 70 per cent geographical area surveyed so far, over 46,000 species of plants have been described by the Botanical Survey of India (BSI), Kolkata. The vascular flora, which forms the conspicuous vegetation cover, comprises 15,000 species.

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.

Wiki

The Western Himalayan region extends from Kashmir to Kumaon. Its temperate zone is rich in forests of chir, pine, other conifers and broad-leaved 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 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, 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 deferring types. The Deccan region comprises the entire table land of the Indian Peninsula and supports vegetation of various kinds from shrub 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, tea, rubber and cashewnut. The Andaman region abounds in evergreen, mangrove, beach and diluvial forests. The Himalayan region extending from Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh through Sikkim, Meghalaya and Nagaland and the Deccan Peninsula is rich in endemic flora, with a large number of plants which are not found elsewhere.

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Ethno-botanical study deals with the utilisation of plants and plant products by ethnic races. A scientific study of such plants has been done by BSI. A number of detailed ethno-botanical explorations have been conducted in different tribal areas of the country.

FAUNAL RESOURCES OF INDIA : India is very rich in terms of biological diversity due to its unique bio location, diversified climate conditions and enormous ecodiversity and geodiversity.

India’s immense biological diversity encompasses ecosystems, populations, species and their genetic make-up. This diversity can be attributed to the vast variety in physiography and climatic situations resulting in a diversity of ecological habitats ranging from tropical, sub-tropical, temprate, alpine to desert. According to world biogeographic classification, India represents two of the major realms (the Palearctic and Indo-Malayan) and three biomes (Tropical Humid Forests, Tropical Dry/Deciduous Forests and Warm Deserts/Semi Deserts).

India holds a unique position with the priority of conservation of natural resources and sustainable development. Infact, within only about 2% of world’s total land surface, India is known to have over 7.50% of the species of animals that the world holds and this percentage accounts nearly for 94037 species so far known, of which insects alone include 61,375 species. It is estimated that about two times that number of species still remains to be discovered in India alone.

DEMOGRAPHIC BACKGROUND

CENSUS : Census 2011 was the 15th Census of India since 1872.

It as held in two phases:

Population : Persons-1210.7 million; Males 623.2 million; and Females- 587.5 million.

Density of Population 2001-2011: Density in 2001:325 and density in 2011- 382, difference being 17.5 (density is defined as the number of persons/sq km.)

Gender composition of Population 2011: Overall sex ratio at the National level has increased by 7 points since census 2001 to reach 943 at census 2011. This is the highest sex ratio recorded since census 1991.

As per the census 2011, literates constituted 73.0 percent of the total population aged seven and above and illiterates formed 27.0 per cent. Literacy rate has gone up from 64.8 per cent in 2001 to 73.0 per cent showing an increase of 8.2 percentage points. It is encouraging to note that out of total of 202,810,720 literates added during the decade, female 104,660,657 outnumber male 98,150,063.

POPULATION : The population of India as on March 1st, 2011 stood at 1,210.7 million (623.2 million males and 587.5 million females). India accounts for a meagre 2.4 per cent of the world surface area of 135.79 million sq.km. Yet, it support and sustains a whopping per cent of the world population.

POPULATION DENSITY : One of the important indices of population concentration is the density of population. It is defined as the number of persons per sq.km. The population density of India in 2011 was 382 per sq km -decadal growth 17.54 per cent.

The density of population increased in all States and Union Territories between 1991 and 2011. Among major states, Bihar is the most thickly populated state with (a population density of) 1,106 persons per sq.km. followed by West Bengal 1,028 and Kerala 860.

SEX RATIO : Sex ratio, defined as the number of females per thousand males is an important social indicator to measure the extent of prevailing equality between males and females in a society at a given point of time. The sex ratio from 1901-2011 has registered a 10 point increase at census 2011 over 2001; however, child sex ratio has declined to 919 per thousand male.

LITERACY : For the purpose of census 2011, a person aged seven and above, who can both read and write with understanding in any language, is treated as literate. A person, who can only read but cannot write, is not literate. In the censuses prior to 1991, children below five years of age were necessarily treated as illiterates.

The results of 2011 census reveal that there has been an increase in literacy in the country. The literacy rate in the country is 73.0 per cent, 80.9 for males and 64.6 for females. Kerala retained its position by being on top with a 94 per cent literacy rate, closely followed by Lakshadweep (86.66 per cent). Bihar with a literacy rate of 61.8 per cent ranks last in the country. Kerala also occupies the top spot in the country both in male literacy with 96.1 per cent and female literacy with 92.1 per cent. On the contrary, Bihar has recorded the lowest literacy rates both in case of males (71.2 per cent) and females (51.5 per cent).

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