Lifelines of Indian Economy
- Major Sea Ports
- International Trade
- Tourism as a Trade
Transport plays an important role in the economy. Because of transport raw materials reach the factory and finished
products reach to the consumer. The pace of development of a country depends upon the production of goods and services as
well as their movement over space. Therefore, efficient means of transport are pre-requisites for fast development.
- Apart from transport, the ease and mode of communications, like telephone and internet makes seamless flow of information
- Today, India is well-linked with the rest of the world despite its vast size, diversity and linguistic and socio-cultural
plurality. Railways, airways, water ways, newspapers, radio, television, cinema and internet, etc. have been contributing
to its socio-economic progress in many ways.
- The trades from local to international levels have added to the vitality of its economy. It has enriched our life and added substantially to growing amenities and
facilities for the comforts of life.
India has one of the largest road networks in the world, aggregating to about 2.3 million km at present. In India,
roadways have preceded railways. They still have an edge over railways in view of the ease with which they can be built
and maintained. The growing importance of road transport vis-à-vis rail transport is rooted in the following reasons;
- construction cost ofroads is much lower than that of railway lines,
- roads can traverse comparatively more dissected and undulating topography,
- roads can negotiate higher gradients of slopes and as such can traverse mountains such as the Himalayas,
- road transport is economical intransportation of few persons and relatively smaller amount of goods over short
- it also provides door-to-door service, thus the cost of loading and unloading is much lower,
- road transport is also used as a feeder to other modes of transport such as they provide a link between railway
stations, air and sea ports.
In India, roads are classified in the following six classes according to their capacity
Golden Quadrilateral: The government has launched a major road development project linking Delhi-Kolkata-
Chennai-Mumbai and Delhi by six-lane Super Highways. The North-South corridors linking Srinagar
(Jammu & Kashmir) and Kanyakumari (Tamil Nadu), and East-West Corridor connecting Silcher
(Assam) and Porbander (Gujarat) are part of this project. The major objective of these Super
Highways is to reduce the time and distance between the mega citiesof India. These highway
projects are being implemented by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).
National Highways: National Highways link extreme parts of the country. These are the primary road systems
and are laid and maintained by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD). A number of major
National Highways run in North-South and East-West directions.
State Highways: Roads linking a state capital with different district headquarters are known as State
Highways. These roads are constructed and maintained by the State Public Works Department (PWD) in
State and Union Territories.
District Roads: These roads connect the district headquarters with other places of the district. These roads
are maintained by the Zila Parishad.
Other Roads: Rural roads, which link rural areas and villages with towns, are classified under this category.
These roads received special impetus under the Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojana. Under this scheme
special provisions are made so that every village in the country is linked to a major town in the country
by an all season motorable road.
Border Roads: Apart from these, Border Roads Organisation a Government of India undertaking constructs and
maintains roads in the bordering areas of the country. This organisation was established in 1960 for the
development of the roads of strategic importance in the northern and northeastern border areas. These
roads have improved accessibility in areas of difficult terrain and have helped in the economic
development of these area.
The length of road per 100 sq. km of area is known as density of roads. Distribution of road is not uniform in the country.
Density of all roads varies from only 10 km in Jammu & Kashmir to 375 km in Kerala with the national average of 75 km
(1996-97). Road transportation in India faces a number of problems. Keeping in view the volume of traffic and passengers,
the road network is inadequate. About half of the roads are unmetalled and this limits their usage during the rainy season.
The National Highways are inadequate too. Moreover, the roadways are highly congested in cities and most of the bridges
and culverts are old and narrow.
Railways are the principal mode of transportation for freight and passengers in India. Railways also make it possible to
conduct multifarious activities like business, sightseeing, pilgrimage along with transportation of goods over longer
distances. Apart from an important means of transport the Indian Railways have been a great integrating force for more
than 150 years. Railways in India bind the economic life of the country as well as accelerate the development of the
industry and agriculture.
Rail Network: The Indian Railway have a network of 7, 031 stations spread over a route length of 63, 221km.
with a fleet of 7817 locomotives, 5321 passenger service vehicles, 4904 other coach vehicles and 228,
170 wagons as on 31st March 2004.
- The Indian Railways is the largest public sector undertaking in the country. The first train steamed off from Mumbai to
Thane in 1853, covering a distance of 34 km.
- The Indian Railway is now reorganised into 16 zones. The distribution pattern of the Railway network in the country has
been largely influenced by physiographic, economic and administrative factors.
The northern plains with their vast level land, high population density and rich agricultural resources provided the most
favourable condition for their growth. However, a large number of rivers requiring construction of bridges across their
wide beds posed some obstacles. In the hilly terrains of the peninsular region, railway tracts are laid through low hills,
gaps or tunnels. The Himalayan mountainous regions too are unfavourable for the construction of railway lines due to
high relief, sparse population and lack of economic opportunities.
Likewise, it was difficult to lay railway lines on the sandy plain of western Rajasthan, swamps of Gujarat, forested
tracks of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand. The contiguous stretch of Sahyadri could be crossed only
through gaps or passes (Ghats). In recent times, the development of the Konkan railway along the west coast has
facilitated the movement of passengers and goods in this most important economic region of India. It has also faced a
number of problem such as sinking of track in some stretches and land slides.
Today, the railways have become more important in our national economy than all other means of transport put together.
However, rail transport suffers from certain problems as well. Many passengers travel without tickets. Thefts and damaging
of railway property has not yet stopped completely. People stop the trains, pull the chain unnecessarily and this causes
heavy damage to the railway.
Pipeline transport network is a new arrival on the transportation map of India. In the past, these were used to transport
water to cities and industries. Now, these are used for transporting crude oil, petroleum products and natural gas from
oil and natural gas fields to refineries, fertilizer factories and big thermal power plants. Solids can also be
transported through a pipeline when converted into slurry. The far inland locations of refineries like Barauni, Mathura,
Panipat and gas based fertilizer plants could be thought of only because of pipelines. Initial cost of laying pipelines
is high but subsequent running costs are minimal. It rules out trans-shipment losses or delays.
There are three important networks of pipeline transportation in the country.
- From oil field in upper Assam to Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh), via Guwahati, Barauni and Allahabad. It has branches from
Barauni to Haldia, via Rajbandh, Rajbandh to Maurigram and Guwahati to Siliguri.
- From Salaya in Gujarat to Jalandhar in Punjab, via Viramgam, Mathura, Delhi and Sonipat. It has branches to connect
Koyali (near Vadodara, Gujarat) Chakshu and other places.
- Gas pipeline from Hazira in Gujarat connects Jagdishpur in Uttar Pradesh, via Vijaipur in Madhya Pradesh. It has
branches to Kota in Rajasthan, Shahajahanpur, Babrala and other places in Uttar Pradesh.
Waterways are the cheapest means of transport. They are most suitable for carrying heavy and bulky goods. It is a
fuel-efficient and environment friendly mode of transport. India has inland navigation waterways of 14,500 km in length.
Out of these only 3,700 km are navigable by mechanised boats.
The following waterways have been declared as the National Waterways by the Government:
The other viable inland waterways include the Godavari, Krishna, Barak, Sunderbans, Buckingham Canal, Brahmani, East-west
Canal and Damodar Valley Corporation Canal.
- The Ganga river between Allahabad and Haldia (1620 km)-N.W. No.1
- The Brahmaputra river between Sadiya and Dhubri (891 km)-N.W. No.2
- The West-Coast Canal in Kerala (Kottapurma-Komman, Udyogamandal and Champakkara canals-205 km) – N.W. No.3
With a long coastline of 7,516.6 km, India is dotted with 12 major and 181 medium and minor ports. These major ports
handle 95 per cent of India’s foreign trade. Kandla in Kuchchh was the first port developed soon after Independence to
ease the volume of trade on the Mumbai port, in the wake of loss of Karachi port to Pakistan after the Partition. Kandla
is a tidal port. It caters to the convenient handling of exports and imports of highly productive granary and industrial
belt stretching across the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Kolkata is an inland riverine port. This port serves a very large and rich hinterland of Ganga- Brahmaputra basin. Being a
tidal port, it requires constant dredging of Hoogly. Haldia port was developed as a subsidiary port, in order to relieve
growing pressure on the Kolkata port.
- Mumbai is the biggest port with a spacious natural and well-sheltered harbour. The Jawaharlal Nehru port was planned with
a view to decongest the Mumbai port and serve as a hub port for this region. Marmagao port (Goa) is the premier iron ore
exporting port of the country. This port accounts for about fifty per cent of India’s iron ore export.
- New Mangalore port, located in Karnataka caters to the export of iron ore concentrates from Kudremukh mines. Kochi is the
extreme south-western port, located at the entrance of a lagoon with a natural harbour.
- On the east coast, is the port of Tuticorin, in Tamil Nadu. This port has a natural harbour and rich hinterland. Thus, it
has a flourishing trade handling of a large variety of cargoes to even our neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka,
Maldives, etc. and the coastal regions of India.
- Chennai is one of the oldest artificial ports of the country. It is ranked next to Mumbai in terms of the volume of trade
- Vishakhapatnam is the deepest landlocked and well-protected port. This port was, originally, conceived as an outlet for
iron ore exports.
- Paradip port located in Orissa, specialises in the export of iron ore.
The air transport was nationalised in 1953. On the operational side, Indian Airlines, Alliance Air (subsidiary of Indian
Airlines), private scheduled airlines and non- scheduled operators provide domestic air services. Air India provides
international air services. Pawanhans Helicopters Ltd. Provides helicopter services to Oil and Natural Gas Commission in
its off- shore operations, to inaccessible areas and difficult terrains like the north-eastern states and the interior
parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal.
- Indian Airlines operations also extend to the neighbouring countries of South and south-east Asia and the Middle east.
- It can cover very difficult terrains like high mountains, dreary deserts, dense forests and also long oceanic stretches
with great ease.
Major Airlines in India:
- Air India
- Indian Airlines
- Jet Airways
Personal communication and mass communication including television, radio, press, films, etc. are the major means of
communication in the country.
Indian Post: The Indian postal network is the largest in the world. It handles parcels as well as personal
written communications. Cards and envelopes are considered first–class mail and are airlifted between stations covering
both land and air. The second–class mail includes book packets, registered newspapers and periodicals. They are carried
by surface mail, covering land and water transport. To facilitate quick delivery of mails in large towns and cities, six
mail channels have been introduced recently. They are called Rajdhani Channel, Metro Channel, Green Channel, Business
Channel, Bulk Mail Channel and Periodical Channel.
Telephone: India has one of the largest telephone networks in Asia. In order to strengthen the flow of
information from the grassroot to the higher level, the government has made special provision to extend
twenty-four hours STD facility to every village in the country. There is a uniform rate of STD facilities
all over India. It has been made possible by integrating the development in space technology with
Mobile Telephones: India is one of the fastest growing mobile network in the world. Mobile phones have
changed the way Indians conducted business. Now even low income group people like vegetable
vendors, plumbers and carpenters get better business because they are connected through mobile
Mass Comunication: Mass communication provides entertainment and creates awareness among people about
various national programmes and policies. It includes radio, television, newspapers, magazines,
books and films. All India Radio (Akashwani) broadcasts a variety of programmes in national,
regional and local languages for various categories of people, spread over different parts of the
country. Doordarshan, the national television channel of India, is one of the largest terrestrial
networks in the world. It broadcasts a variety of programmes from entertainment, educational to
sports, etc. for people of different age groups.
Newspapers: India publishes a large number of newspapers and periodicals annually. They are of different types
depending upon their periodicity. Newspapers are published in about 100 languages and dialects. Largest
number of newspapers published in the country are in Hindi, followed by English and Urdu.
Films: India is the largest producer of feature films in the world. It produces short films; video feature
films and video short films. The Central Board of Film Certification is the authority to certify both Indian
and foreign films.
Trade between two countries is called international trade. It may take place through sea, air or land routes. Advancement
of international trade of a country is an index to its economic prosperity. It is, therefore, considered the economic
barometer for a country.
Export: When the goods are sent to other country for sale it is called as export.
Import: When the goods come from other country to be sold in India it is called import.
Balance of Payment: This is the difference between export and import of a country. When export is higher than import then
this is a situation of favourable balance of payment. On the other hand when the import is hihger than export then this is
a situation of unfavourable balance of payment.
- Bulk imports as a group registered a growth accounting for 39.09 per cent of total imports. This group includes
fertilizers (67.01 per cent), cereals (25.23 per cent), edible oils (7.94 per cent) and newsprint (5.51 per cent).
- International trade has under gone a sea change in the last fifteen years. Exchange of commodities and goods have been
superseded by the exchange of information and knowledge.
- India has emerged as a software giant at the international level and it is earning large foreign exchange through the
export of information technology.
- Foreign tourist’s arrivals in the country witnessed an increase of 23.5 per cent during the year 2004 as against the year
2003, thus contributing Rs 21,828 crore of foreign exchange. Over 2.6 million foreign tourists visit India every year.
More than 15 million people are directly engaged in the tourism industry.
- Tourism also promotes national integration, provides support to local handicrafts and cultural pursuits. It also helps in
the development of international understanding about our culture and heritage.