Essay: India in the Context of South Asia

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India is a giant among South Asian countries. South Asia comprises of the Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives – a total of 7 countries.

South Asia has a total area of about 4-488 million sq. km. Out of this India (3-287 million sq km) occupies 73.2% of the total area of South Asia. It is 4 times larger than Pakistan, which is the second largest in S. Asia and II thousand times larger than the tiniest Maldives.

Pakistan, whose area is 0-803 million sq km, is a poor second area wise, i.e., 17-8% of South Asia. The smallest or the tiniest country is Maldives, whose area is a little less than 300 sq km and occupies 0 006% area of S. Asia.

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Extent.

India is the largest so far as extent is concerned. From Kanyakumari 8°N to 37°N (Approximately), it covers a range of 29° latitudes while from west (Rann of Kachch) to east (Tri-junction) it covers a range of 29° longitudes. Tropic of Cancer almost bisects India.

The extent of Pakistan is 13° latitudes and 14° longitudes. It is situated in the semi-temperate region. Nearest to the Equator is Maldives, through which 5°N Parallel passes. Other countries are between India and Maldive’s latitudes.

Relief.

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Highest relief is found in Nepal and at Nepal-China border lays Mt. Everest (8848 m). The whole country except a few valleys is mountainous. Similar is Bhutan. Physiographic ally, Maldives is the lowest. It is near the sea-level whose many islands, out of a total of 2,000, submerged at the time of high tide.

India has the largest plain area followed by Pakistan and Bangladesh. India and Bangladesh have the most of marshy areas in their deltas. Rivers crises-cross the plains in India and Bangladesh, while other countries are mostly devoid of this feature.

Climate.

All these countries are situated in the monsoon region and hence have tropical climate. Pakistan’s northern parts, on account of the height, experience temperate climate. Similar is the case of Nepal and Bhutan.

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In fact the climate varies from Equatorial (Maldives) to harsh temperate in the north. Pakistan receives the lowest rainfall in South Asia.

Natural Vegetation.

India’s natural vegetation is varied from temperate pine, deodars to stunted trees, bushes and grassland. Pakistan, being on the fringe of monsoon regime, is comparatively arid and dotted with stony waste in the west.

Bangladesh is lush green due to heavy monsoon rains. India also has modified type of equatorial forests on the Western Ghats and some in the north-east.

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Agriculture.

India is a leader so far as agricultural products are concerned. Wheat production is more than 3 times than that of its second, the Pakistan. Rice production of India is 4 times higher than that of Bangladesh. Other countries of South Asia are agriculturally poor.

In the production of other cereals like maize, barley, millets, etc. India is ahead of other South Asian countries.

In the production of jute, Bangladesh used to lead but presently India is far ahead of Bangladesh. Jute production of India is two times that of Bangladesh. In fact India’s raw jute production is the highest and is around 50% of that of the world production.

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Bangladesh is second and Nepal is third in jute production. Other countries do not matter. So far as natural rubber is concerned India and Sri Lanka are worth mentioning. India’s production of rubber is about 11 times more than that of Sri Lanka.

Among oil seed crops, India is the largest producer of groundnuts in the world, averaging around one-third of the world’s production. Countries of South Asia do not find any significant place anywhere. In the production of linseed, soybean etc. India is the front-ranking producer in South Asia.

In the production of beverages, tea and coffee India again leaves other countries far behind. India is the largest producer of tea.

India is a dominant producer of tobacco in South Asia while other countries stand almost no where.

India is the leading producer of sugarcane in Asia while Pakistan is a poor second.

Fish Resources.

In South Asia, India is the dominant fishing nation. Here fish is caught along the sea coast, high seas, lakes, rivers and ponds.

A variety of edible fish are caught. It is an important part of diet of the people of South India. Fishing is an important activity in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Live Stock. India has over 200 million heads of cattle. These are oxen, cows, buffaloes, sheep, goats, camels, donkeys, horses, mules, poultry birds etc.

Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar have also sizeable number of livestock.

Energy Resources.

The main resources are coal, petroleum and electricity. The secondary resources are wood, animal waste, tide, wind and solar power countries of South Asia.

India has the largest resources of these while others are very poor. In fact all other countries arc fully dependent on imports. India is self-sufficient in coal but has to import about one-third of petroleum in order to meet its requirement.

Industrial Production.

The dominant industrial power in South Asia is India. The second one is Pakistan while the remaining five have still to develop and find a position of some significance.

The major industries of India are iron and steel, textile, machine tools, sugar, cement, fertilizers, electrical, electronics, automobiles, armament, cargo and naval ships, oil refining, agricultural machines, petrochemicals, chemicals, railway engines, rail coaches etc.

Transportation.

India is the largest country of South Asia and has a very elaborate system of rail, road, air and water transportation while other countries lag behind. Many countries do not have railway lines (i.e., Bhutan & Nepal). Nepal and Bhutan are land locked countries.

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