Heritage-Social and Cultural Traditions

The social and religious traditions in a society are the products of three main factors— environments, personalities and social groups. The course of action that famous figures of history take and the environments and the society in which they are placed give birth to traditions, social, religious, economic or political. Such traditions develop gradually and imperceptibly during the course of time. Let us study some social traditions of our country.

Family: The family was the pivot of Indian society. Joint families were common. The relations between the members were cordial. They shared a common life and the entire property belonged to the family. The head of the family was highly respected. He could punish the wrong deeds of any family member. The decisions of the eldest male member were final even in the matters of marriage. But in the modern age, these traditions are fading away. Due to the changes in the life style of the people, the joint families are breaking. The eldest member of the family is no more shown the same respect.

Position of Women: In the early Vedic Age, the women enjoyed highly respectable position in the society. Among the composers of the Vedas, names of some ladies such as those of Ghosha and Sikata Nivavara are also mentioned. All the religious ceremonies were performed by the husband and wife together. Every mother was the mistress In the household matters. Marriage was a sacred ceremony. Women had the freedom in the choice of their partners, which is proved by the performance of Swayamvara. Polygamy was rare. Widow remarriage was not prohibited. Thus the standard of female morality was very high and women enjoyed an honourable position in the society.

But there was a marked decline in the position of women in the later Vedic Age. She could not inherit property. She could not take part in political activities. A daughter began to be looked ‘upon as a source of misery while a son was a light in the highest heaven. The practice of polygamy had increased their sorrows and miseries. Position of the women in the medieval age further deteriorated. She was generally treated as inferior. Her husband was her only hope and resource. If he died, she had to remain widow. Her only chance of happiness was to bear his son. Several high castes such as Rajputs committed female infanticide. There was the practice of purdah both among the Muslim and Hindu women. Early marriage was very common. The girls were given in marriage at the age of 7, 10 or at the most 12 years. The practice of Sati was not uncommon especially among the upper caste Hindu women.

Simple Life: In the ancient times, the Indians lived a very simple life. Most of the people were vegetarians. Their food consisted of parched grams, cakes, curd, and various vegetables and fruits. The rise of Jainism and Buddhism further encouraged the people to become vegetarians. Even today, most of the Hindus are vegetarians.

The people wore simple clothes. A dhoti and another sheet sufficed for men. Sirnilar1) a simple croset and dhoti were the dress of women. The dhoti or saree was artistically worn. The clothes were made of cotton or wool. The rich wore artistic clothes generally embroidered with gold.
People led a merry pastoral life. Men and women enjoyed themselves in festive assemblies with music and dance. Dicing, drinking and gambling were the common vices.

Caste System: In the early Vedic period, the caste system in its rigid form did not exist. The word Varuna distinguished the Aryans from the non-Aryans. The modem caste names Kshatriyas and Brahmans were used in different sense altogether. Kshatriya means strong, Vipra means wise and Brahman means merely a composer of hymns. In the same family, father, mother and sons followed different occupations. But in the later Vedic Age, the whole society was divided into four Varunas or castes— Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Sudras. The Brahmans occupied the highest place in the social organisation. Philosophers, scholars, teachers and priests were Brahmans. Next came the Kshatriyas. They were administrators, soldiers and leaders in war. The bulk of the people who were engaged in agriculture, industry trade and craft and cattle breeding were called Vaishyas. The lowest caste in the society was that of Sudras. They depended only on physical strength for their livelihood and served the other three classes. They were also looking after agriculture.
The most unfortunate feature of the Hindu society of the ancient times was the class of untouchables. They performed the menial and unclean jobs. They were criminals, hunters, fishermen, leather workers, sweepers, liquor venders etc. and were grouped as Chandals. They lived outside the villages or the towns, as their professions compelled them to do so. Gradually, distinct changes came in the social structure. The number of castes multiplied and caste rules were more rigidly observed. Now small occupational groups took the place of the older and bigger caste groups. The narrow outlook created by rigid caste system was a stumbling block in the growth of national spirit.

The Ashram system: An important tradition which began in ancient times was the Ashram System. The Grayhya Sutra and Dharam Shastras laid down a series of acts which an average man or woman was expected to perform in the whole span of his life. A man’s life, for instance, was divided into four Ashrams or periods, each of 25 years span. The first period (Brahmacharya) upto the age of 25 years was to be spent as a Brahmacharya. During this period, he was to undergo rigorous dis,cip line, learning various arts and crafts according to his tastes and requirements. During the second period called the Grahasth Ashram, a man was to live a householder’s life. He was to marry and look after his family. During the third period called the Vanprasth, he had to wean himself away from his wife and children and lead the life of a recluse. He was to render every type of social service to society and to make preparations for the Sanyas i.e. renunciation of the world. During the last period called Sanyas Ashram, he was to live as a hermit in the woods and meditate on God and attain Moksha or Nirvana.

These four Ashrams were laid down as an ideal way of leading life for human beings. There is ample evidence in the Vedic literature that some Aryans put into practice such a life. In fact, the best of the philosophical works in Sanskrit literature were produced by the ascetics and hermits who lived in the woods and meditated on the spiritual problems of life hereafter.

Asceticism: Another notable tradition of Indian society was the glorification of the ascetic way of life. An ascetic was a person who did not allow himself worldly pleasures. He believed that the life of
Tapas (austerity), Brahmacharya and detachment might lead to even greater results than the rituals and Yajnas. He renounced the worldly life and retired to the jungles to meditate on spiritual aspects of life.
This asceticism was widely preached in ancient times and it is practised by some even in the modem age.

Sanskrit language: Another important Indian tradition is reverence for the Sanskrit language. It developed in the Vedic age and deeply influenced all languages of India in vocabulary and structure. Its influence has gone so deep that scholars regard all other Indian languages as variations from the common language i.e. Sanskrit.

The earliest religion in India is Hinduism. It is rooted in the Vedas. It has developed throughout the centuries on the basis of the moral and religious ideas of many prophets, saints, philosophers and law givers of ancient
and medieval times. It is a synthesis of spiritual principles, moral precepts and practical rules of conduct. It is a way of life rather than a set creed. It is based on universal love, tolerance and sacrifice. In spite of multiplicity of gods such as Indra, Varuna, Agni, Vayu, Prithvi, Prajanaa, Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva etc. the Hindus believe in One Supreme God. The Supreme God is the creator of all, including the gods. Common belief in several hundreds of gods is an indication of the Hindu sense of tolerance and
belief in the all pervading nature of the Supreme Being. He is uncreated, self luminous, eternal spirit and the final cause of the Universe
and the power behind all force. To the Hindus, religion means the realisation of the Supreme.

Spirit: The study of scriptures, performance of rituals and practice of charity have no meaning without realising God. He is to rise above love and hatred, pleasure and pain, good and evil etc. Every man can do it by controlling his senses and the Hindu scriptures assert that every one including women and children can do it.

The personality of individual must be fully developed. A rich and vigorous life based on the four fold ideals— Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha must be pursued. Enjoyment of material goods and satisfaction of emotional and cultural need, is, therefore, inseparable part of true religious life. The Védas, the Puranas and the Epics prescribe optimistic and creative life. At the same time, man must not be a slave of passions and pleasures. Dedicating oneself to social service and upliftment of the common

Toleration: During the medieval period, in spite of the fundamental differences and tension between Hindus and Muslims, there began to flow a general current of mutual harmony and toleration in different spheres of life. In course of time, both the communities began to realise the futility of war and persecution. Gradually, a spirit of harmony and co-operation developed between them. The healthy spirit of mutual toleration found expression in the growing veneration of the Hindus for the Muslim saints. A desire for mutual understanding induced Muslims to study and translate the Hindu Sanskrit literature in the Muslim courts like those of Zainul abidin in Kashmir and Hussain Shah in Bengal. Muslim preachers and saints began to study Hindu philosophy like Yoga and Vedanta. A spirit of harmony, toleration and co-operation was visible in the growing attempts of some Muslim nobles to adopt Hindu customs while living in Hindu environment.

Tradition of Live and let live: Since times immemorial, India has been following a policy of coexistence or live and let live and not war with other countries. India sent its missions to other countries for moulding the civilization and culture of the vast regions in the continent of Asia which lie beyond the Himalayas and the sea. This cultural and colonial expansion of India beyond its natural frontiers is often termed as Greater India.

Preservation of Natural Heritage of India

In the modern age, man is playing havoc with his natural heritage. We have indiscriminately destroyed our forest wealth. In the earlier periods, large parts of our country were covered with forests. The enormous growth of population has led to the shrinkage of forest area. Extensive forest areas have been cleared for agriculture. Overgrazing of the cattle has led to the erosion of soil. Cutting of trees for timber and fuel have exhausted our forest resources. Deforestation has adversely affected climate of the country and eroded the soil. Deforestation causes floods and renders vast tracts of land waste and barren.

The government is taking some measures for preserving the existing forest areas. New forests are being developed in many parts of the country Grasslands are being regenerated. Improved methods of silviculture are being employed. The forest departments in different states are planting fast growing plants. Area under forests must be increased to increase forest wealth. The government has reserved some areas called Bio-reserves for the preservation and protection of the flora arid fauna of the country .

Some of them are:
1) Nilgiri Bio-reserve which has an area of 500 sq. km.
2) Nanda Devi Bio-reserve in Uttaranchal.
3) Nokrek in Meghalaya.
4) Andaman-Nicobar Bio-reserve.
5) Valley of Flowers in Uttaranchal
6) Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu
7) Thar desert in Rajasthan
8) Rann of Kutch in Gujarat
9) Kaziranga and Manas Park in Assam

The other problem of preserving natural heritage is-the conservation of the wildlife. India has a rich wildlife. It has about 81000 known species of animal life. It has 2500 species of fish and 1200 species of birds. But man has ruthlessly destroyed the wildlife in India. Many rare species have become extinct. Our rich wildlife heritage which took centuries to develop is disappearing speedily. We must preserve it. Many of the animals and wild beasts are found only in India such as swamp deer, the one horned rhinoceros, the bison, Kashmir stag, nilgais, the Bengal tiger etc. Indiscriminate hunting of the wildlife has brought these species to the verge of extinction. Wildlife is a gift of nature and is a thing of beauty. The Government has passed Wild Life Protection Act which provides for the protection and conservation of these species. The Government has set up National Parks, wildlife sanctuaries and zoological gardens. The Project Tiger has been started to protect the tigers. There are 16 Tiger reserves in the country. Some of them are

1)The Kanha National Park (Madhya Pradesh)
2)The Corbett National Park (Uttaranchal)
3)Sanjay National Park in Chhattisgarh

Importance of Natural Heritage of India

Our natural heritage, the land, mountains, rivers, fauna and flora and climate have always influenced the course of political, social, economic and cultural life of the people. The evolution of the history and culture of India cannot be understood if the influence of natural heritage is not studied.

The influence of the Himalayas on Indian history: The Northern Himalayan mountain range embracing Kashmir, Lahaul, Spiti, Tehri, Kumaun, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan is the highest in the country. This forms a sort of wall about 2400 km in length in the north of the country. The Himalaya “the great sentinel of the north” has greatly influenced the course of Indian history. It has always protected the sub-continent from great political and social convulsions from the north as also from cold Siberian winds.

The northern passes of the Himalayas are covered with snow throughout the year and hence no military invasion of India took place from this side. It is because of these snow covered passes that the Chinese and Indian people have separate histories of their own. Despite these hindrances, there had been some contact links between the two countries on the north and the south of these mountains. The travellers and traders braving great hurdles came to India through these passes. This ‘little movement’ is responsible for the mixture of Mongoloid blood among the people of Bhutan, Garhwal, Nepal and Assam. It was also through these passes that many Buddhist missionaries carried the message of the Buddha to China and Central Asiatic countries.

Similarly, the North-eastern ranges of Himalayas comprising Patkoi and the Naga hills running down to the Bay of Bengal have offered great hardships to the invaders.

The protective wall of the Himalayas has given to India a continuity of its civilization and social structure from the ancient times to the present day. The religious doctrines and beliefs, the rules of marriage, the rituals of burials and the organisation of social relations are not basically different from those described in the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. This continuity of Indian life is the supreme gift of the North Himalayan range.

Effects of the North-West ranges of the Himalayas: Unfortunately, the North-western ranges of the Himalayas are not very high and have no forests. The passes on this side of the Himalayas can be easily crossed. They have offered an easy access to the invaders of our country from times immemorial. These passes are the gateways through which the Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Turks, Mongols, the Duranis etc. penetrated into the plains of India. Some like the Aryans came to settle permanently in India, while the others like the Hunas and the Mongols came to loot and plunder the country They came through the passes or openings like Khyber, Gomal, Kurram, Tochi and Bolan. For the security of the country, it became necessary for the rulers of India to keep these gateways always well-guarded. Our history shows that whenever the government of India neglected the defense of this side, the country had to suffer heavy losses at the hands of the invaders.

The influence of the Indo-Gangetic plain: The Indo-Gangetic plain has a very fertile soil. Its wealth and prosperity have been the chief source of its fame and trouble. Being rich in agricultural production, it was bound to attract the attention of the people living in poor and barren regions of the north-west. It was due to this reason that since ancient days there had been a continuous migration of tribals from the west to this territory. The Aryans came to settle here. The Persians and the Greeks tried to occupy the Gangetic plains. The Hunas and Mongols also tried to penetrate these fertile and prosperous regions of India.

Influence of Rivers: The Rivers of the Indo-Gangetic plain also played an important part in the life of the people. First, it was in the valley of the Indus that the earliest civilization known in India as the civilization of Harappa and Mohanjodaro flourished. Secondly, the river system irrigated the wide plain and brought economic prosperity to it. Thirdly, the rivers serve as the natural barriers for checking the advance of the invaders, especially during the rainy season. For example, Alexander had great difficulty in crossing “very broad and deep rivers” which were in flood at the time of his invasion. The invaders generally launched expeditions of India from October onwards when the rivers could be crossed easily by boats. Lastly, historically all the rivers served as convenient administrative and political boundaries. During the Mughal period, rivers served as the boundaries of the Subas and the Sarkars.

Influence of Hills and Forests: The snow-fed lofty Himalayan ranges provided natural protection to the northern and eastern parts of the country from the invaders. It is also in the Himalayan ranges that some of the best hill stations of India like Muree (now in Pakistan), Shimla, Daihousie, Mussoorie, Nainital, Shillong aid Darjeeling are situated. The hills also provide medicinal arid aromatic plants which have wide range uses in the pharmaceutical and perfume industries. The Himalayas are the great source of economic prosperity and beauty of the landscape of the Punjab and the Gangetic plains.

The influence of Deccan Peninsula: The Deccan or the South Land is separated from the Northern India by the Vindhya and Satpura mountain ranges. This separation has been responsible in the past for great differences in the political, economic and cultural developments in the Northern and Southern India. While the Aryan civilization and culture were flourishing in the north, the people were leading the Dravidian way of life in the far south. It was because of these natural barriers— the Vindhya mountains, for centuries together the Aryan culture did not penetrate into the south. Similarly the Deccan enjoyed freedom from political and cultural conquest of Islam for several hundred years after the Muslim occupation of the north.

In one way, however, the separation of the country into two parts has benefited India many times. The Deccan, in times of trouble, always became a sort of safety zone for the culture of the north. When the Buddhism became a popular religion in the North, the Brahmanical religion and literature found their way into the South and were saved from extinction. After the resurrection of Hinduism in the North, the Brahmanical religion again became forceful. Similarly, when the Jams found it hard to stay in the Northern India, they took shelter in the South. In the same way when the Muslims occupied the Northern India, the Hindu religion and literature continued to be patronised by the Hindu rulers of the South.

Besides, the Eastern and the Western Coasts of the Deccan peninsula had been responsible for the great maritime activities of the South Indians. The rulers of the Deccan in ancient India encouraged people to go to the South East Asian countries to propagate their culture and civilization. Without the access to the sea, we could not have spread our culture and civilization in the South East Asia.

Impact of climate and other physical conditions: The climate and other physical conditions had also their impact on the habits and character o the people. The martial races were found chiefly in the hilly districts of the north west, the western coast and the desert regions of Rajputana where a livelihood can only be earned from the soil by hard labour. The low lying areas of the U.P., Bihar, Bengal have been inhabited by the peace-loving people. Besides, in the parts of the country where rainy season lasts for several months, there people were slack in their activities from July to October throughout the ancient and the medieval times.

Spirit of Toleration: India’s natural heritage, to a great extent, has also been responsible for the spirit of toleration among the people of India. Prof Humayun Kabir in his book “Our Heritage”, says, “the vastness of Indian lands, the great variety in landscape, climate and conditions of life prepared in the minds a spirit of readiness to accept differences”.

Unity of India: The natural heritage of India is also responsible for the unity of India. “Physical features,” observes, Humayun Kabir, “so sharply mark off India from the rest of Asia that attempts either to divide the country or to expand it beyond its natural frontiers have invariably failed.”

Vegetation and Wildlife in India

Vegetation in India

Ancient India was very rich in forests. There were forests of deodar, blue pine and oak in the Himalayas above the level of 5000 feet. A strong growth of chir pine was often found in the Himalayas between 3000 and 5000 feet. The hills in the north-western districts of the Punjab were covered with low scrubs including in some parts a dwarf palm and wild olive. The pipal, bor or banyan and shisham or tall were popular trees.

In the dry plains of Punjab, Eastern Rajasthan, Saurashtra, Southern Haryana, Maiwa Plateau, Kamataka Plateau the scrub jungles mostly consisted of jand, jal, karir, shisham, khaxr. These are hard
wood trees and are used for making agricultural implements, furnitures and carts.

Agricultural Products:  There were two harvests in the plains of the Northern India- the autumn or Kharif and the spring or the Rabi The important agricultural crops in the Northern plains were wheat,
rice, grams, barley, maize, bajra, sugarcane, cotton, mung, mash, moth, oilseeds, carrots, peas, beans, onions, turnips and melons.

In the fertile regions of North India, of the cultivated fruit, mango, mulberry peach, guava and pears were grown. In the Deccan, besides the foodgrams, the spices like black pepper, ginger, cardamom etc were grown.

Wildlife in India

In ancient India, wildlife was also rich and varied. Tigers were common in almost all parts of India till the nineteenth century. The famous Bengal tigers were found in the Sunderbans, the tidal forests. Leopards were to be found in low hills and sometimes they strayed into the plains. The Himalayan ranges had wild sheep, mountain goats, the Ibex and langoors. Wolves were seen occasionally and jackals were very common. The graceful little chikaras or ravine deers were found in sandy tracts and hogdeer near rivers. Nilgais were less common. Monkeys were found in the hills. Elephants and the rhinos were found in the Assam region.

Peafowis were seen in the Punjab and Rajasthan. The sisa and chikor were found in the hills. Quails frequented the ripening fields in April and the end of September. The green parrots, crows and vultures were familiar sight in all parts of the country. Crocodiles haunted the big rivers like the Ganges. Tortoises were also found in the rivers. Poisonous snakes like karats, the cobra and Russel’s viper were mostly found in Bengal. India had a variety of domestic animals. Cows and the buffaloes were the most important and goats, donkeys and horses were found in large numbers. Camels and pack animals were mostly found in Sindh and Rajasthan.

Major Rivers of India

We have read that the rivers constitute the life blood of our country. India is very often called “the land of rivers”.

Major rivers of the Northern India

Indus System: It is one of the largest river systems in the world. It comprises the rivers—Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Satluj.

The Ganges: It is the most sacred river of India. From olden times, the Ganges is the story of Indian civilization and culture. The Ganges begins its journey from Gomukh glacier near Gangotri. It enters the plains at Haridwar. It meets Jamuna river at Prayag (Allahabad). The Ganges is a 2525 km long river. Many important cities of India like Haridwar, Kanpur, Allahabad, Patna and Calcutta (Kolkata) are situated on its banks.

Brahmaputra is a very important river system. This river is 2880 km long. It flows parallel to the Himalayas in Tibet. It enters India in Arunachal Pradesh. There are frequent floods in this river which cause huge loss. After passing through Assam, it enters Bangla Desh. It is joined there by Padma river and forms a large delta.

Major rivers of the Deccan Peninsula
The rivers of the Deccan Peninsula are seasonal. These flow through narrow and deep valleys.

The rivers falling in the Arabian Sea

  • Narmada- it rises from Amarkantak Plateau in Madhya Pradesh. It does not form delta on the western coast.
  • Tapti rises near Betul in Mahadev hills. It flows through a rift valley. The other rivers which fall in it are Looni, Sabarmati and Mahi. It is 724 kilometres long and falls in the Arabian Sea.

Rivers failing into the Bay of Bengal

The Damodar River rises from Chhota Nagpur plateau and is 570 km long. A multipurpose project known as Damodar Valley Project (DVC) has been constructed on it. It has checked floods and generates electricity The Mahanadi rises from Amarkantak plateau. It is 857 miles long. It is a navigable river and forms a fertile delta. The Godavari rises from Western Ghats. It is 1440 km long and is the longest river in the Deccan. It forms a delta on the east coast.

The Krishna rises in Western Chats. It is 1400 km long. It is joined by two main streams : Bhima and Tungabhadra. The Cauvery rises in the Coorg district. It is 800 km long. This river is much useful for irrigation, navigation and hydro-power generation. This river has a very beautiful waterfall named Shivsamudram. The river forms a delta on the East Coast.

The Himalayan rivers of the North have some different characteristics from those of the Deccan peninsular rivers. In the first place, the rivers of the North viz, the Indus and Ganges and their tributaries derive water from the Himalayan snow fields and have regular flow of water. But the Peninsular rivers are seasonal. They get water from the rainfall. Secondly, the Northern rivers have a few waterfalls. These are, therefore, not so useful for hydel power generation. On the other hand, Deccan rivers have waterfalls and are used for hydel electric power. Thirdly, the Himalayan rivers have large basins and have extensive catchment areas. These can be used to store large volumes of water. But the Peninsular rivers have small basins and small catchment areas. They do not have large volumes of water. Fourthly, the Northern rivers flow through the plains, they irrigate large tracts of land. But the Peninsular rivers flow on the rocky lands They are not much useful for irrigation or navigation. Fifthly, many important towns have developed on the banks of the rivers in the Northern India. But very few towns are situated on the banks of the rivers in the peninsula.

Classification of The Landscape of India

The modern writers generally divide India’s landscape into four well-marked units.

A) The Himalayas

In the northern India lay the greatest and the highest mountains called the Himalayas. In the ancient times, they were called as Himavant meaning the “abode of the snow”. This snowy wall runs across the north India and is about 2500 kilometres in length. It stretched from Assam in the east to Afghanistan in the west. Its eastern branches include the Khasi, Lushai, Patkoi and Jaintia hills and extend upto the Bay of Bengal. These areas are covered with dense forests. Being of considerable heights, they separate Burma from India. The western branches of the Himalayas extend from North-west India to the Arabian Sea. These branches are known as Sulaiman and Kirthar Ranges. They separate India from Afghanistan and are not as high as the hills on the eastern side.

The Mountain Passes: A mountain pass is generally a narrow opening pierced by a river for its way to the plains. In the Himalayas, there are many large and small passes.

There are important passes in the Sulaiman ranges which connect India with Afghanistan. The Khyber is a low lying pass in the broad valley of the river Kabul. This pass commands the direct route from Kabul to Peshawar. It was the junction or meeting point of ancient trade routes. It was also through this gateway that most of the foreign traders and invaders entered India. The Kurram, Tochi and Gomal passes connected Derajat and Bannu with Central Afghanistan. The Bolan pass connected India with Kandhar. It was the centre of the caravan routes to Siestan and Persia.

B) The Indo-Gangetic Plain

 The other natural heritage of India is the Indo-Gangetic plain. It is about 2000 miles long and on the average, 200 miles broad. It lies between the foot of the Himalayas and the Arabian Sea in the west and the Bay of Bengal in the east. This plain is made of silt brought by the three great Himalayan rivers— Brahmaputra, Ganga and the Indus and their tributaries. These rivers have a regular flow of water from the Himalayan snow and some of their tributaries are navigable in the plains from the Bay of Bengal to Agra and from the Arabian Sea to Lahore. In fact, before the introduction of the railways, these river systems used to carry a large volume of trade and traffic.

The Indo-Gangetic Plain is divided into three unequal compartments. The Santhal Parganas cut Bengal from the main Gangetic plain. On the west, a little beyond Delhi, Rajputana desert separates the Indus basin from the Gangetic plains. The Gangetic plain is the most prosperous and populous region of India. Its people are handsome, healthy and mostly the descendants of the Aryans.

The Aravali mountain hills divide the Indo-Gangetic plain into two parts.

The Eastern Part of the Gangetic Plain: The territories lying in the east of the Aravali hills are called the Eastern Gangetic They contain Ganges, Yamuna, Chambal, Ghaghara and Brahmaputra. The biggest cities of India which were once the capitals of great empires and centres of culture and civilization are situated in this region. These important towns are Allahabad, Banaras, Lucknow, Kanpur, Pataliputra (Patna), Bhopal, Senchi, Calcutta (Kolkata) and Dacca. These territories have abundant rainfall and the land is very fertile. The chief agricultural products of this region are rice, wheat, sugarcane, tobacco etc. The Gangetic plains were also the centres of art, literature and religious movements.

The Western Part of the Gangetic Plain: The south-western ends of the Indo-Gangetic plains are called the plains of the Indus. Important rivers like Sindh, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Satluj flow through this region. The important towns in this region are Lahore, Multan, Gujranwala, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Ambala, Panipat, Delhi, Bikaner, Jaipur, Jodhpur etc. This region has comparatively low rainfall. But the streams, canals and wells provide enough water for irrigation of land. Large territories of Rajasthan and Sindh are deserts but the plains of the Punjab are fertile. The Jndus plains made less progress in art and literature as compared to the Gangetic plains. The density of population is also comparatively low in the plains of the Indus.

C) The Deccan Plateau (The South Land)

The Deccan is a triangular table-land rising abruptly in the west and sloping away towards the east. In this area, the chief rivers are, the Narmada, the Tapti, the Godavari and the Krishna. All the important rivers, with the exception of the Narmada and Tapti, flow westwards and fall into Arabian Sea. All the others flow into the Bay of Bengal. In the rainy season, all these rivers are often in flood and are not of much service as a means of irrigation. On the other hand, the rivers of the North viz, the Indus and the Ganges and their tributaries derive water from the Himalaya’s snow-fields and have a regular flow of water.

The Deccan table-land is separated from the North India by a number of natural barriers. The Vindhyas and the Satpuras with their outlying ranges form an important barrier towards the north. The valleys of the Narmada and Tapti rivers as well as the dense jungles lying south of Chhota Nagpur region constitute other barriers which were difficult to cross in ancient times. These barriers resulted in a tendency to keep the history of the rest of India apart from that of Deccan. The two—North and the South, had seldom been combined in one political and cultural bond. Most powerful Indian rulers like Ashoka, Samudragupta, Ala-ud-Din Khalji, Muhammad Tughlaq and even Aurangzeb could not succeed completely in subduing the Deccan.

D) The Coastlines

The Central table-land of Deccan is made of hard granite rock covered here and there with lava soil. This extends from the Vindhyas and Satpura mountains in the north to the Indian Ocean in the south. A greater p1rt of area between the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea is included in this region.

1) The Eastern Ghats: The area between the Central Plateau and the Bay of Bengal is called the Eastern Ghats. The region of the Eastern coast is formed by Godavari, Mahanadi, Krishna etc. These have enriched the soil of the Eastern Coast. The North-east winter monsoons give the area rainfall in winter and enable good cultivation.

2) Western Ghats: The narrow strip of land lying between the western heights of the Central and the Arabian Sea is called the Western Ghats. It is narrow at many places, not more than twenty miles wide. This has a rich soil and is always green with rice fields and coconut plants. The Narmada and the Tapti rivers in the north connect the Central Region with the Central Plateau.

3) The Southern end of the Peninsula: In the south of the western height of the peninsula lies the famous Paighat or “Gap of Coimbatore”. This pass connects the Malabar coast with Karnataka. This, Tamil country is watered by the Perinar and Kaveri rivers and is one of the most densely populated areas in the far south.

Natural Heritage of India

The course of human history in a country or a region is to a considerable measure influenced and shaped by its natural heritage which includes its landscape, rivers, vegetation and wildlife. A study of history and culture of this sub-continent of India clearly brings out the truth of the statement. These physical features have helped in moulding the characters and the lives of its people through the ages. We shall first study the natural heritage of India.

The sub-continent of India stretching from the Himalayas to the sea is known by various names. It was known in ancient time as Aryavarta— the land of the Aryans. In the Epic and Puranic Age, it was called Baratvarsha or the land of Bharata after the name of a Puranic king in Puranic literature. The Persians and the Greeks called it “India”, the name by which it is known even today. The Muslim writers, in the Middle Ages, called this country Hind or “Hindustan”, the land of the Hindus. Even today, India is known by various names as Bharat, Bharatvarsha and Hindustan. The English speaking people and the western countries call it India.

Our natural heritage is incomparable beauty of our landscape — mountains, rivers, forests, wildlife, waterfalls, tall and shady trees, lakes, springs, rocky sea shores, sandy sea shores and the sandy desert too.

Salient Features of Economic Reforms in India

Salient Features of Economic Reforms

  1. Liberalisation. The thrust of the policy is the freedom for the entrepreneur to enter any industry/trade/business. The approvals for any venture are almost automatic. The various relaxations allowed in the new economic policy enables the entrepreneurs to make their decisions.The regimes of control have been removed and the economic operations have been liberalised on all counts. That is why it is termed as policy of Economic Liberalisation.
  2. Globalisation of the Economy The new economic policy has the stress on globalising the Indian economy. Globalisation means the unification or integration of the domestic economy with the rest of the world.
  3. Market Friendly State. Under this new policy the role of the state is largely to ensure a smooth functioning of the market economy. Controlled economy has now largely been replaced by a free economy.

Benefits of the New Policy

New Economic Policy will be beneficial to the economy in several ways. Such as

(i) It will improve the efficiency in the use of resources.

(ii) The growth rate of the economy is also expected to go up.

Shortcomings of the New Policy

Main shortcomings are as under.

(i) It does not contain any institutional arrangement to ensure a proper functioning of the new system.

(ii) It suffers from inadequate and wrong perception of the totality.

(iii) It overlooks the demand side.

(iv) It is also feared that if proper safeguards were not taken, if may further widen the gap between the rich and the poor. Besides this, it may also increase our dependence on foreign MNCs and international financial institutions like IMF and World Bank.

Hence, the success of this new policy depends on our indigenous efforts in the right direction.