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Geography Books for IAS Prelims

Geography has an important part of the topics to be covered for Prelims (Paper -I). It includes : –

Physical Geography (World & India) , Socio-Economic-Development , Environment / Ecology , Biodiversity & Climate Change.

The subject is substantially dynamic in nature , which have its relation with current affairs.

Moreover the nature of questions in last few years have become more general and contemporary , reducing dominance of conventional questions.

The text books for conventional part include :

  1. NCERT XI (Fundamental of Physical Geography)
  2. NCERT XI (India Physical Environment)
  3. NCERT XII (Fundamental of Human Geography)
  4. NCERT XII (India People and Economy)
  5. NCERT XII (Biology)
  6. Certificate of Physical & Human Geography (G.C.leong)

For the Dynamic part, contemporary sources as , New Paper (Hindu & Indian Express( ) PIB ( ) India Year Books ( )

The Question both conventional & Dynamic includes map orientation also Ex. Question on Golan Heights thus refer School Atlas : – Oxford or Orient Black swan

Ecosystem : Units of Sustainability

What are Ecosystems?

The grouping or assemblage of plants, animals, and microbes we observe when we study a natural forest, grassland, pond, coral reef, or other undisturbed area is referred to as the area’s biota (bio, living) or biotic community. Importantly, the plant portion of the biotic community includes all vegetation, from large trees down through microscopic algae. Likewise, the animal portion includes everything from large mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians through earthworms, tiny insects, and mites. Microbes encompass a large array of microscopic bacteria, fungi, and protozoans. Thus, one may speak of the biotic community as comprising a plant community, an animal community and a microbial community.

The particular kind of biotic community that we witness in a given area is, in large part, determined by abiotic (meaning non-living chemical and physical) factors, such as the amount of water or moisture present, temperature, salinity, and soil type. These abiotic conditions both support and limit the particular community. For example, a relative lack of available moisture prevents the growth of most species of plants, but supports certain species, such as cacti; we recognize such areas as deserts. Land with plenty of available moisture and suitable temperature supports forests. Obviously, the presence of water is the major factor that sustains aquatic communities.

The first step in investigating a biotic community may be to simply catalogue all the species present. Species are the different kinds of plants, animals, and microbes. Each species includes all those individuals that have a very strong similarity in appearance to one another, and which are distinct in appearance from other such groups (Robins and Mallard ducks for example). The similarity in appearance implies a close genetic relationship. Indeed, the biological definition of a species is the entirely of a population that can interbreed and produce fertile offspring, whereas members of different species generally do not interbred or, if they do, fertile offspring are not produced. Breeding is often impractical or impossible to observe, however, so for purposes of identification the aspect of appearance suffices.

In cataloguing the species of a community, one will observe that each species is represented by a certain population – that is, by a certain number of individuals that make up the interbreeding, reproducing group. The distinction between population and species is that the term population is used to refer only to those individuals of a certain species that live within a given area, whereas the term species is all inclusive – it refers to all the individuals of a certain kind, even though they may exist in different populations in widely separated areas.

Basis of koppen’s classification

In 1931, one of the most referred climate classification scheme was presented by Vladimir Koppen of Germany. His empirical classification was based on the analysis of annual temperature and precipitation values. As he was inspired majorly by De Candolle’s vegetative classification scheme, he incorporated vegetation as also one of the important basis. In 1936 he added, Altitude as the final basis for the classification scheme. The scholar used alphabetical symbol to denote out the types of climate prevailing in the world. These symbols were subcategorized into 3 groups precisely to detail out the characteristics of climate referred for a region.
Temperature has been the most prominent basis of the classification scheme. Out of the 6 major types of climates, 4 are based on temperature –
the ‘A’ type of climate – Tropical;
the ‘C’ type – subtropical;
the ‘D’ type – temperate and
the ‘E’ – polar type of climate.
These categories strongly represent the latitudinal divide of either hemisphere. Of these, it is ‘E’ type of climate which occupies 70° – 90° N & S is entirely detailed on temperature ground. ET – the tundra type of climate occupies the arctic coastal fringes, dominated by cP, mP and cA air masses. Winters are long and severe. There is a very short mild season which is not recognized as true summers. However it is in this mild season that surface ice thawing is experienced. The major zones of occurrence are arctic coast of N. America, Greenland coast, Arctic coast of Eurasia and Antarctica Peninsula. The EF – Forsted type of climate are the source regions of cA – cP air masses. These are recognized with vast, high ice sheets and over Polar Sea, ice of Arctic ocean. Mean temperature is always below freezing point. Temperature inversions are strongest. The strong net radiation deficit in winters at high surface altitudes intensifies the cold. Precipitation is always as snow, is small but accumulates as ablation is marginal.
The precipitation values have been used mostly to bring out the details of principal categories of climate.
‘A’ type of climate is subcategorized into 3 major groups based on precipitation amount and distribution.
Af type of climate is equatorial climate which occupies the region between 10° N to 10° S. It is dominated by warm, most maritime equatorial mE and mT air masses, yielding heavy convectional rainfall. Rainfall is copious in all the months with annual total being over 250 cm. Remarkably uniform temperature prevails throughout the year. The major regions of occurrence are Amazon lowlands, Congo basin, upper Guinea and East Indies. Am monsoonal type of climate occupies tropical east margins. Trade winds bring maritime tropical air mass from moist western sides of oceanic high pressure cells leading to heavy orographic rainfall along the coastal region. Shower activity is intensified only during high sun season. Temperatures are warm throughout the year but with marked annual cycle. The eastern sides of central and SE Brazil, Caribbean Island, Medagascar, Indo–China, Penensular India experiences this climate.
Aw – Savannah type of climate is continental interiors of tropics. The region experiences only summer rains with dry winters though amount of rain is not recognized to be more than 100cm. The savannah belt of central Africa, Carpentarian plains of Australia, Llanos of Venezuela, Campos of Brazil experiences this climate.
The ‘C’ type of climate also has been sub categorized into 3 categories.
The Cw type of climate is moist subtropical climate extending between 30–45°N and S along the east margins of continent. The mT air mass flowing out from the moist western sides of oceanic high pressure cells dominates the climatic conditions. Summer rains are quite concentrated. Winter precipitation by the mid latitude cyclones are also pronounced. Invasion of cP air mass during winters develops sub freezing conditions. The Northern Chinese plain, Piedmont (Appalachian) plains, Shikoku, Kyushu islands of Japan and Uruguay experiences the climate.
Cs – the Mediterranean climate is 30°-45° N and S along west margins of the continents. This typical wet winter – dry summer climate results from a seasonal alternation of pressure effectiveness of maritime and marginal water body. The mM air mass effectivity during winters proves the winter concentrated rains in the region. Elsewhere it is invading mP air mass that generate cyclonic storms generating ample rains. In summers, subsiding cT and mT air masses are dominant causing extreme drought like conditions. The major regions of occurrence are central and southern California, coastal zone bordering Mediterranean Sea, SW Australia and SW South Africa.
Cf type of climate is marine west coast type of climate extending between 45°-60° N and S, west margins of the continents. The on share prevailing westerlies, frequent cyclonic storms involving the cool moist mP air mass facilitates the condition. In this humid climate precipitation is copious in all months but with typical winter maxima winter temperatures are very mild compared with inland locations at equivalent latitudes. The regions with the climate are western coast of North America (British Colombia), Western Europe and British Isles, Victoria, Tasmania, New Zealand and Chile.
The ‘D’ type of climate is the temperate climate in the latitudinal stretch between 45°-70° N.
Dw type is the moist continental type. It is the zone of Arctic front seasonal temperature contrasts are strong, while day weather is highly variable. Ample precipitation throughout the year is increased in summer by the invading mT air mass. Cold winters are dominated by cP and cA air masses. Eastern parts of US, Northern Canada, Korea, Japan experiences this climate.
Df type is Taiga/Boreal type. Rainfall is well distributed throughout the year and this latitudinal climate zone is continental climate with long cold winters and short cool summers. This climate occupies the source region of cP air mass. Major areas are Northern Eurasia, Northern Canada.
Precipitation has also been taken to be the basis of one primary class of climate – B type. This dry type of climate has 2 subclasses.
BW type is the desert type extending in the tropical west margins and subtropical continental interiors. Bwh is the source area of cT air mass This subsiding air mass is stable and dry becoming highly heated at surface major regions –Sahara, Arabian Iran, Thar belt, western Australia, Namibia, Atacama and California. BWk is controlled by cT & cP air masses. Aridity is also included by the intermontane characteristics. Central Asia, North western China, Colombia plateau USA, Patagonia Plateau of Artgentina are the regions experiencing this climate.
The BS is the Steppe type of climate.Iit is experienced is the temperate continental interiors This type of climate is also dry mid latitude climate. It precisely occupies rain shadow position with respect to the coastal mountains mP air mass effectivity is strongly blocked and it is thus occupied majorly by cP air mass. Summer rain is caused by sporadic invasions of maritime air mass. Great Plains of USA, European interiors, Pampas of Argentina, Veldt, S. Africa and Downs Australia represents the climate.
Altitude is the ‘H’ type of climate. It is distinctive pattern climate as it represents variations with strong pattern in limited regional extension. The climate of a given highland area corresponds to the climate of the latitude. Thus higher latitude and lower latitude avails most diversity of climatic condition. However this is influenced by the maritime influence as well as the sun bearing slope.


North East India – heart of Act East Policy

The North Eastern Region of India comprises of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim. Located in the eastern most corner of India, the region is home to different indigenous communities reflecting diversity in lifestyles and social customs. The North Eastern Region comprises of about India’s 8% land area and around 3% of the population of the country.

Of the 6 international borders that India shares with its neighbours, the North Eastern Region shares borders with all except Pakistan. The North Eastern Region is cradled by the 5 Asian states namely – Nepal, Bhutan, China, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

The North Eastern Region of India lies in the convergence point between SAARC and ASEAN. That is, where SAARC ends, ASEAN begins, and therefore the strategic and topographic importance of the region is significant. The North Eastern Region of India is known for its huge reservoirs of rich natural resources as region is endowed with diverse biodiversity, fossil fuel, coal limestone, forest resources with exceptional variety of flora and fauna. The North Eastern Region encompasses 30% of India’s flora and more than 30% of the total water wealth of the country.

North East India is characterized by social, cultural, political, geographical and historical diversities. These diversities resulted in lack of integration and accumulation both intra region-wise and inter region-wise. Just like any other region or province of the country, North-East too was predominantly an agriculture based society with few home based small industries like weaving, metal works, and craftsmanship. The British annexed the North Eastern Region relatively very late and that too in a phased manner with least interference in socio-economic and cultural lives of the tribals who again varied culturally and linguistically distinctly. They were only interested in plantations, chiefly tea, forest products like precious timber, minerals and crude oil. The first oil refinery of the country was set up at Digboi, Assam to exploit the rich oil reserves of the North Eastern Region. The British did very little to improve the socio-economic conditions of North East. The British government, thus, did nothing much to contribute to the economic development of the region. The Mughals too could not impact this region as they failed in all their attempts to annexe this region, hold on to it and establish their rule, thereby, failing to link the north eastern region to the main heartland of their empire.

Lack of physical infrastructure, intra territorial conflicts, ethnic unrest and insurgency has prevented both public and private investments to take place, thus easing the scenario of backwardness to continue. Politically, the portion of the country on the eastern front and the eventual neglect of the North Eastern Region of India by the subsequent governments and some of its detrimental policies have deprived NER of its natural markets. Winds of liberalization that started flowing across the country in 1991 also could not benefit north east due to the same mentioned reasons. However, of late, it appears that efforts are being made to integrate the North eastern region with the Indian mainland and also there has been much talk about the potential of the North eastern region in contributing immensely to India’s Look East Policy due to its geographical proximity to East and South East Asia.

Initiated in 1991, India’s Look East Policy marked a strategic shift in India’s perspective of the world. It is not merely an external economic policy; it is also a strategic shift in India’s vision of the world India’s place in the evolving global economy. This Look East Policy, which has been upgraded to the Act East Policy in 2014, serves as a platform for deepening and strengthening its relationship with ASEAN and the East Asian economies. This policy can cause immense developmental benefits to the hitherto backward North East region. It can get India recognition as a regional power; it can act as a counterweight to China’s imperialistic and hegemonic designs. It will further strengthen India’s claims to the UN Security Council’s membership. It will counter China’s encircling of India through its Maritime silk Route and the One Belt One Road initiative.

The Act East Policy when acted upon has to have its centre of activity in the North Eastern Region only. This economic hub will cater to and impact more than 40% of the global population. North east India will not just be an economic centre or trade junction between India, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and ASEAN countries but also has the potential to generate additional revenue by exporting power to its power starved neighbours, given its tremendous hydroelectric potential. While 75% of the hydro potential of the country is claimed to come from the Himalayan river system – Indus-Ganga-Brahmaputra, more than 50% of the same comes from Brahmaputra and its tributaries. Therefore, it goes without saying that North Eastern Region is India’s future energy storehouse – that too clean and environment friendly energy. In this context, it is useful to mention that the centre has identified the ecologically fragile Arunachal Pradesh as the powerhouse of the country. According to an estimate of the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) and private power developers, this state bordering China has the potential to generate over 57000 MW of hydropower.

A big consolation for the North Eastern Region in the backdrop of its backwardness is that its Human Development Indicators have been consistently high on an average. The region has also done well in the social sector and more so in the spread of literacy. Female literacy especially has done quite well compared to national averages.

Hardly there is any other region in India, which is more suited to achieve economic growth and sustainability as the North Eastern Region. Bamboo not only has cultural significance in India in general and north east specially, but it is also the highest yielding renewable natural resource. Bamboo as a traded commodity has an excellent potential to contribute to inclusive development and sustainability, the major consumers being paper and pulp industry and the construction sector. Although India possess 45% of global bamboo growth, its share in global bamboo trade and growth is less than 5%. Bamboo, called ‘green gold’, is essentially a type of grass. But its classification as a tree for 90 years prevented the north east, which grows 67% of India’s bamboo from exploiting it commercially, unlike China, the only country with richer bamboo genetic resources. The allocation of Rs. 1290 crore for a restructured National Bamboo Mission in the recent budget has raised hopes for a range of bamboo based industries from food processing to construction.

The present government’s slogan – ‘Sab ka saath, Sab ka vikaas’, has affirmed its commitment to develop the North Eastern Region which has remained alienated from the mainland due to various historical, political, cultural and geographical reasons. It is a further heartening to notice that North eastern states have started to appreciate the commitments and initiatives of the centre. The recent election results in Tripura and Meghalaya, and the not very recent election results in Assam and Manipur could be deemed as North eastern Region’s approval of the centre’s development agenda.

North Eastern Region is equally potential in terms of viability and suitability, if not more, for industries like ITES, tea-based industry, food processing industry, crude oil and natural gas, petrochemical based industry, agro and forest, textile and handicrafts industries. All these being labour intensive industries will finally generate employment.

CII in a convention for entrepreneurs held in Guwahati, Assam, stated that – ‘there is little time to be lost considering the huge pool of natural resources and the quality of Human Resources. North east of India has the potential of being an important investment destination and centre for trade and business. Also very recently, the ADVANTAGE-ASSAM-global investors Summit 2018 also held in Guwahati, aimed at highlighting the geo-strategic advantages offered to the investors in Assam. Throughout the summit, the Prime Minister emphasized that India’s growth story would be further energized through balanced and fast paced growth of the North Eastern Region.

This revolutionary economic development of the North Eastern region is possible only if Act East Policy is acted upon firmly and fast. Our speed must take China for surprise and make every stakeholder country and economic participants watch with awe. Last but not the least, precondition for this to happen is that all must come together by bidding goodbye to trifle issues like territorial disputes, ethnic hatred, insurgency. Our political parties, both regional as well as national, should rise above their petty political and electoral gains and work together towards this noble end.

The backbone of Indian economy

MSMEs worldwide play a major role in propelling growth engine, sustaining livelihood and promoting equitable regional development. The MSME sector in India continues to prove remarkable resilience in the face of rambling global and domestic economies. Significance of MSMEs can be observed in the developing economies where this sector constitutes over 90% of total enterprises and greatly to industrial production, exports and employment generation. Thus, MSMEs play a key role in overall industrial economy of the country.

A distinctive feature of MSMEs is that a very large proportion of them are concentrated around likely 6000 clusters plus 1157 traditional industrial clusters, 301 handicrafts clusters, and 563 handloom clusters. According to the assessments of the Ministry of MSME, Government of India, the sector generates around 100 million jobs through over 46 million units situated throughout the geographical expanse of the country.

MSMEs are not more shielded in the controlled economy; the competitive pressure of free market is riding high. MSMEs are transforming into a new business environment characterized by the emergence of national and global supply chains where they share a symbiotic relationship with hefty corporations.

The apparent innovative capacity of MSMEs around the world for boosting economic growth and development at regional, national and global levels cannot be overemphasized. With its dexterity and dynamism, the sector has shown venerable innovativeness and malleability to survive economic shocks, even of the gravest nature.

Besides the wide range of services provided by the sector, the sector is further engaged in the engineering of over 6,000 products ranging from traditional to hi-tech items. The Indian MSME sector offers maximum opportunities for both self-employment and wage-employment outside the agricultural sector and contributes in constructing an inclusive and sustainable society in numerous ways through making of non-farm livelihood at meager cost, balanced regional development, gender and social balance, environmentally sustainable development etc.
In framework of persistent uncertainty in the agriculture sector because of substantial dependence on rain-fed irrigation, an alternative power pack, unutilized is micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). As MSMEs are usually labour-intensive, they have the ability to create more jobs to furnish to a fresh demographic country like India. Further, in view of the on-going implications of climate change, it is necessary that the MSME sector is prepared to engage millions who may be rendered unemployed in the agriculture sector.

The MSME sector in India claims of diversity in terms of its size, level of technology employed, range of products and services provided and target markets. MSME Tool Rooms have been credited to provide at least ten components that were used in India’s Mangalyaan (Mars Orbiter Mission probe), the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) most ambitious mission till date, which is the country’s first inter-planetary space mission. The sector has also contributed vital inputs for other space satellites such as the Chandrayaan. India’s second moon mission, Chandrayaan II, set to be launched in 2016-17, will have a soft land over a wheeled robotic vehicle to explore the landing area. India seeks to launch other ambitious projects like a global sea traffic monitoring system and an earth observation satellite, in cooperation with the EU. The projects envisage noteworthy contributions and merging opportunities from the Indian MSME sector.

Many more rewarding opportunities can be tapped by Indian MSMEs in the foundry industry, electronics industry, chemicals, leather, textiles, agro and food processing, pharmaceuticals, transport and tourism industries, etc. The globalization of industries has gradually drawn SMEs into global value chains through diverse types of cross-border activities. Many magnates are recognizing the opportunities that this dawn ushers and gaining entrée to global markets has become a tactical mechanism for their advanced development. These changes have risen as a result of the regime’s increased focus on the MSME sector, grander investments in research and development, technological upgradation, drive towards international alliances and dealings to boost competitiveness and impel growth.
In the case of prevailing as well as potential MSMEs, entrepreneurs face the problem of finance. The government and non-governmental organizations seeks out to finance and earmark resources for MSMEs, but these resources often do not reach the targeted audience. The successful launch of the Jan Dhan Yojana (JDY) could be used to direct monetary resources to targeted MSMEs. Still, access to bank finance may be testing for some MSMEs, and so there is a need to consider various substitutes of finance.
In the case of Japan, the government has imposed a cap on interest rates on loans that a moneylender extends to MSMEs. As money lenders continue to play an important role in India, it is worth considering whether money lenders could be brought under regulation now, given technological process, as achieved in the case of Japan, and an interest cap be imposed for lending to MSMEs.

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises constitute the backbone of an economy in maintaining an appreciable growth rate and in generating employment opportunities.

In India, commercial banks are mandated to lend to MSMEs. In such cases there is also a need to ensure that the public sector does not crowd out the private sector. Further, MSMEs generally suffer from poor conduct by major banks. In some case, mis-selling of financial products is a general complaint of entrepreneurs. This can take the shape of higher fee or interest rate, failure to explain exit costs, and sometimes threatening them with refusal to extend regular credit. Illustratively, weighted average lending rate of commercial banks, as reported in the RBI’s latest AR, is the highest for MSMEs when compared with loans extended to agriculture, large industry and infrastructure. Therefore, the role of financial education is very important for MSMEs in assessing appropriate start-up finance and in empowering them to use financial products and services to manage risks and other business needs.

Globally, medium-size enterprises in the manufacturing industry vary by meaning. In China, it is definite as those having investment ceiling of 300 million Yuan (at the current price level $44 million); in Thailand, it is with a ceiling on investment capital of upto 200 million Thai baths ($6 million); and EU defines medium enterprises as those of having turnover of 50 million, which is approximately $58 million.
In contrast, the investment limits for medium enterprises in the manufacturing sector in India as defined in 2006 was Rs. 10 crore, which was equivalent to $2.3 million then. Factoring for inflation, this figure stood at just Rs. 5.28 crore in 2016, or $0.8 million at the current exchange rate.
This incongruity is a constraining for enterprises in this sector to mature and partake in the value chain. With such a bare investment ceiling, Indian MSMEs are both expanding laterally or engaging themselves at the lower end of the value chain.

The Government could boost the spread of the investment limits of MSMEs to house the technological needs of the sector.
This would permit the enterprises to endure as MSMEs while also empowering them to grow. Some expanses (such as EU and China) have kept the ceiling on investment for medium enterprises at high levels, cheering capital infusion, technology upgradation, quality improvement, export orientation and employment generation.
It is essential to review the investment limits every three to four years, factoring inflation. Since industrial operations are generally capital intensive, investment ceiling for SMEs should be reviewed every so often.
There should be a wide differentiation within the two broad categories – manufacturing and services, while outlining MSMEs. Within these comprehensive categories, each sector would have need at a different level and size of investments.

The need of the hour is to specify a classification, which would study not only the capital employed, but also features such as turnover and number of people employed.

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