The chapter notes will assist you in gaining an understanding of India's geographical range, location, and time zone. Students will get an understanding of the geographical characteristics that facilitated India's engagement with the rest of the world through trade and commerce, as well as its role as a responsible player in South Asia for India's neighbours.
India is home to one of the great ancient civilisations in the world. It has been an active participant in trade and movement throughout its history under various rulers and political setups. It also has a rich and diverse culture and heritage that has significantly contributed to the richness in world culture and history.
Since Independence from Britishers in 1947, it has achieved multifaceted socio economic progress in the field of agriculture, industry, technology and overall economic development.
India has 28 states and 8 Union Territories which are home to more than 1.3 billion people making it the second most populous country after China. It has diverse geographic features and is rich in many natural resources and biodiversity. Its geography presents it with opportunities and strengths along with vulnerabilities which it must protect.
Where is India Located?
India is the 7th largest country in the world by size and lies entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and Eastern Hemisphere . It is divided by the Tropic of Cancer (Latitude - 23° 30'N) in almost equal halves.
Its main land extends between latitudes 8°4'N and 37°6'N and longitudes 68°7'E and 97°25'E.
It is surrounded by ocean on 3 sides forming a peninsula and also boasts of several groups of islands.
The two major ones being:
Anadaman and Nicobar Islands in Bay of Bengal towards South East
Lakshadweep Islands in Arabian Sea towards the South West.
Which is the southernmost point of the Indian Union?
The southernmost point of the Indian Union is ‘Indira Point’. It lies on the Great Nicobar island and is only 150 km from Indonesia. It was greatly affected during the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Which is the northernmost point of the Indian Union?
The southern point of the Indian Union is 'Indira Col West' which is a mountain pass on the border of Siachen Glacier in the Karakoram range. It was named Indira in 1912 after the Indian goddess Lakshmi
What is the extent of the size of India?
India accounts for 2.4% of the world's total geographical area and is the 7th largest country in the world. India's landmass has an approximate area of 3.28 million square km (32,87,263 square km).
It shares a land boundary of about 15,200 km with its neighbours and the total length of the coast line of the mainland including Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands is 7,516.6 km.
Defining Indian Territory
The latitudinal and longitudinal extent of the mainland is about 30°. Despite this fact the east-west extent appears to be smaller than the north-south extent. It may be attributed to Mercator projections.
The northwest, north and north east part of India is bound by the young fold mountains of Himalayas. The Himalayas act as a barrier and act as a natural boundary between the Indian plains and the Tibetan plateau. It has some of the highest peaks in the world and extends a length of around 2400 km.
As we move southwards, India's territory extends into flood plains which are drained by the Indian system of rivers. It begins to taper into a peninsula south of 22°N latitude, and extends towards the Indian Ocean. The peninsula divides the Indian ocean into two seas, the Arabian Sea to the west and the Bay of Bengal on its east.
Time Zone of India
How does longitudinal extent influence the time zones?
The earth rotates 360° in 24 hours, which implies that two points separated by 15° will have a time difference of 1 hour.
Since the longitudinal extent of India is about 30°, It is being debated if a country like India with a vast longitudinal extent should have at least 2 time zones.
From Gujarat in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the East there is a time lag of about two hours. In order to normalise the time gap in India, the time along the Standard Meridian of India (82°30'E) passing through Mirzapur (in Uttar Pradesh) is taken as the standard time for the whole country.
The latitudinal extent influences the duration of the day and night, as one moves from south to north.
India and the World
India sits centrally in Asia with a southward extension into the Indian Ocean. It is located between West and East Asia and describes the Indian subcontinent region in South Asia.
Why is the Indian Ocean named after India?
The Indian Ocean provides routes that connect countries of Europe in the west to the countries in East Asia. These Trans Indian Ocean routes give India strategic importance with respect to its location. It sits at the crossroads between Africa, Asia and Australia and acts as a pivot in world trade. Around 80% of world's maritime oil passes through the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)
India has the longest coastline in the Indian Ocean and has an eminent position in the Indian Ocean that justifies the naming of an Ocean after it.
How does India's coasts help India maintain close contacts with the world?
The tapering 'Deccan Peninsula' protrudes into the Indian Ocean southward. The vast coastline on the western and eastern edges of the peninsula help India establish close contact with West Asia, Africa and Europe from the western coast and with Southeast and East Asia from the eastern coast.
India's Land Routes
India's oceans restricted its interaction with the world for a long time. But her contacts with the world are not only a result of her maritime features but also land routes that connect the Indian subcontinent to western and eastern Asia.
Ancient travellers used to travel to and from India through mountain passes that provided a passage for trade, exchange of ideas and commodities since long before India's maritime contacts.
These land routes provided for the spread of the ideas of the Upanishads and the Ramayana, the stories of Panchtantra, the Indian numerals and the decimal system to several parts of the world.
These routes were also used for trade in spices, muslin and other merchandise which were taken from India to different countries. On the other hand, the influence of Greek sculpture, and the architectural styles of domes and minarets from West Asia can also be seen in different parts of our country.
India's geography makes it an important player in South-Asian geopolitics. Its strategic position in South Asia makes it the anchor power and its neighbours.
Which countries share borders with India?
India shares its land boundaries with Pakistan and Afghanistan in the North-West.
- China (Tibet), Nepal and Bhutan in the North
- Myanmar and Bangladesh in the East.
- Sri Lanka and Maldives in the South across the sea.
Sri Lanka is separated from India by a narrow channel of sea formed by the Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar while Maldives Islands are situated to the south of the Lakshadweep Islands.