In this essay we will discuss about the branches of geography that have attracted more focus and emphasis and interest in the field of research.
Branches of Geography
- Essay on Administrative Geography
- Essay on Agricultural Geography
- Essay on Environment and Resource Development
- Essay on Geography of Health
- Essay on Geomorphology
- Essay on Gender Geography
- Essay on Political Geography
- Essay on Population Geography
- Essay on Social Geography
- Essay on Urban Geography
Essay # 1. Administrative Geography:
It is one of the emerging branches of Indian geography, though not fully expressive in the arena of geographical research and studies. Nevertheless, this branch is being greatly ’emphasised’ by the geographers of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi, including western UP Administrative geography is concerned with the spatial attributes of executive processes. Administrative geography finds all variety of public affairs and their management at the local level as of greatest relevance.
The public policy is emerging as the focal research agenda in administrative geography in India; and five broad themes of this branch could be identified in the research arena in India:
(i) Study of variations in quality of governance at the level of local government, this theme of study not only concentrates on governmental organisations and institutions, but also focuses on non-government, cooperative and household sector.
(ii) Study of inter-state differentials in devolution of powers to the bodies, highly commendable reforms in Indian polity and governance following the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments effected in 1992.
(iii) Administrative area reform, especially the reorganisation of states and districts in India
(iv) An examination of public policies in terms of their formulation, implementation, and impact.
(v) Study of territorial administrative units organised by private organisations, especially the private corporate sector.
An active interface of geography with public administration is critical. While the latter can suggest special terms such as administrative process, resource mobilisation, and development organisation, the former can conveniently demonstrate their earth-bounded character.
her imperative is to interact with the practitioners of administration and to impress upon them the relevance of spatial parameters of any public policy of administrative activity. Indeed professionalism will have to be a part of the training in administrative geography.
Gopal Krishan of the Department of Geography of the Punjab University, Chandigarh, is credited with having pioneered research works in this ‘neglected’ branch of geography by his publications, and other academic achievements in the field. At the moment, Suryakant of the same department and of the same university has been carrying forward the tradition of Gopal Krishan in the field of administrative geography.
Both have done some joint works and publications. In a democratic- federal institution, like ours, the development of Administrative geography appears to be an ‘applied’ necessity, particularly those aspects of this branch which are relevant to the problem of public policy.
Essay # 2. Agricultural Geography:
By contributing nearly one-fourth of the GDP and providing livelihood to around 70 per cent of the population, agriculture continues to be the backbone of the Indian economy. Spatially it is the most widespread economic pursuit claiming more than 40 per cent of the country’s total area.
Agricultural geography in India is as old as the country itself. During the last 60 years, geographers specialised in agricultural geography have emphasised the need to work on the various aspects and dimensions of the agricultural scenario of the country.
Geographers have raised several problems and tried to analyse them in different geographical regions of the country. Their main focus was on studies of agricultural productivity, efficiency and development, soil and water management, regional studies on crops and cropping intensity, land use and land cover and nutrition and food security.
Agricultural productivity, efficiency and development are the three interrelated aspects of agricultural performance, and have always been at the core of the studies covered under agricultural geography. Various measures and analytical frames have been evolved by Indian geographers to study these aspects from different perspectives. Achievements of agricultural geographers in these fields of study are noteworthy. However, studies on agricultural productivity and efficiency and milk production were mainly based at micro-level units of study.
The main focus was concentrated on field crops grown under different agro-climatic conditions. Several studies were germinated from climatic and soil data base and their correlation was sought with crop productivity and efficiency.
A section of geographers who have specialised in agricultural geography, attempted to concentrate their main focus on soil studies with respect to soil fertility, soil rating, soil erosion, degradation and its response to various crops. They derived their results with the help of modern techniques of remote sensing and GIS. Hydrological characteristics of water were also studied in relation to agriculture and water management.
A group of agricultural geographers in the country have mainly focused on planning aspect of cropping pattern for the optimum utilisation of land resources. Some have made detailed study of ecological impact of cropping pattern on the environment and on the quality of land, i.e. its fertility and potency for the future.
Ecological themes and approaches are becoming more and more common in the studies of agricultural geography. Lot of work has been done by Indian geographers in this dimension of agricultural geography.
Geographers in India have also focused intensively on land use and land cover. Ecological impacts of land use changes have also been studied in depth. The use of remote sensing and GIS techniques, in the study of spatial agricultural scenario has increased manifold. This has made possible to make comparative studies of spatial and temporal changes that the Indian agriculture has undergone in recent years.
Problems associated with nutrition and food security in recent years have drawn serious attention of agricultural geographers in India in line with social scientists throughout the globe. Several studies have been made to elucidate the concepts of vulnerability and food security that sought to develop theoretical frameworks to analyse the issues of food security. Studies on the nutritional pattern were done on the basis of standard nutrition units of both production and consumption in order to analyse the population-food balance for some specific region with ‘depressed economy’.
However, Indian agricultural geographers have given rather less emphasis on the role of socio- cultural factors on crop diversity and dynamics. Reflections of socio-cultural fabrics in agricultural practice and perception are extremely significant for the ‘landscape’ analysis. There is a need for such studies in agricultural geography. Such studies require to be made within the frameworks of landscape ecology, landscape chronology, and landscape morphology.
Although a number of Indian geographers have richly contributed to the development of agricultural geography, but the contributions of the late Md. Shafi of the Aligarh Muslim University deserve special mention here, because he pioneered research in this branch of geography in such a way as to have brought global recognition to Indian geographers.
He developed indigenous models and paradigms for further research works in agricultural geography. Another Indian geographer who also contributed richly to this branch of geography is Jasbir Singh of the Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra. He prepared an agricultural atlas of India that brought him world-wide recognition as an agricultural geographer.
Essay # 3. Environment and Resource Development:
Indian environment and ecosystem regions are getting enormous pressure due to rapid population growth, underdevelopment and careless application of developmental technology. Urgent environmental problems helped geographers for intensive research on how human beings developed with nature. Indian geographers are examining the spatio-temporal dimensions of natural, social, and human environment taking different critical regions of the country.
The major environmental issues include population growth dynamics, food and hunger, urbanisation and industrialisation, socio-economic disparities, poverty, diseases, gender, migration, extinction of plant and animals, deforestation, soil- erosion, desertification, natural disasters, toxic and nuclear waste, climatic changes, atmospheric pollution, water pollution, ozone depletion and land-use/cover change.
In spite of a lack of integrated techniques and approaches to sustainable resource use in the vulnerable ‘Indian’ environment, a section of Indian geographers have done commendable research works in this emergent branch of Indian geography.
The major thrust areas of research in this branch of knowledge (geography), emphasised by the Indian geographers are – environmental change and development, resource survey and inventory of vulnerable environment, forest and biodiversity, urban environment and climatic change, land and agricultural resources, water resources, wetland resources and mangroves, mountain environment, disaster management, environmental impact assessment, sustainable development of wastelands.
Ram Babu Singh, UGC Research Scientist ‘C’ (Professor) of the Department of Geography, University of Delhi, has richly contributed to the ‘identified’ thrust areas of Environment and Resource Development, through his scientific and paradigm-based studies.
Geographers in India in recent years have studied the dimension of environmental change with the objective of analysing and understanding peoples’ role as both the possible cause and target of environmental change as well as recognising the local issues and use of local field-based geographical studies supplemented by national, regional and local data. They have provided an indispensable contribution to analyse the key driving forces of land-use maintenance and change.
Their studies necessarily reflect the wide diversity of economic, social, cultural, and institutional practices and traditional knowledge at the local level. This aspect of study promotes interaction between local and regional communities, conflict prevention and resolution in critical environmental situations. This has direct implications for policy development and implementation in order to develop strong links between research community, policy-makers and environmental management experts.
Vulnerability provides a basis for analysing resource and environmental pressure. It depends on exposure and sensitivity to impacts and the ability to cope or adapt. Vulnerable environment is highly sensitive and responds rapidly to anthropogenetic intervention. The Resource Information System has been considered as multidimensional – attribute dimension, spatial and temporal dimensions. Indian geographic studies offer such compatibilities as they integrate multi-sector, multi-space and multi-period perspective.
The development of various kinds of models stimulates both the socio-economic and biophysical driving forces, interactions, feedbacks and their responses to environmental change.
In assessing environmental change and prediction of future of that environment in an integrated and holistic manner, there are a number of emerging research areas in Indian geography relating to environmental changes. Indian geography attempts to integrate physical and social aspects of surrounding, and thus plays an effective role in environmental management.
A section of Indian geographers with a sound knowledge of remote sensing and GIS have attempted to reconstruct landscape processes, environmental history for ecosystem, state and condition of environment and resource use, modeling of the dynamics of present-day landscapes, and analysis of causes and consequences of anthropogenic changes.
India’s metropolitan cities are experiencing rapid urbanisation at a much higher rate than the ‘non- metropolitan’ small cities. Most of the metropolitan cities are now confronted with the problem of urban environmental degradation. Metropolitan regions already posed not only severe environmental problems like pollution and congested housing, but also brought into sharp prominence the problems of adequate access to urban basic services and infrastructural facilities.
Keeping in view these environmental problems, geographers here have emphasised studies on critical issues which are:
(i) Environmental criticality,
(ii) Environmental endangerment,
(iii) Environmental impoverishment, and
(iv) Environmental sustainability.
Three types of researches are being conducted in urban environment:
(a) Urban planning and environment management strategies,
(b) Problems of integration of urbanisation into larger issues of regional development, and
(c) Resolution of urban ecological conflicts.
With rapid population growth, demand on land resources has been increasing, and as a result, the risk to land resource sustainability is also intensifying. This aspect has been taken by Indian geographers in their studies. As a result, agro-ecosystem research and education are being preferred by geographers in the country. A focus on agro-ecosystem in Indian geography now appears to be highly imperative, highlighting different agricultural ecosystems of India, agricultural input environment, ecologically based pest management and eco farming.
A growing research area is that which concerns itself with the availability of fresh water and conservation of surface water resources. A number of studies have been conducted to reveal the degradation of water resource in the Himalayas resulting from erosion, flooding and scarcity of water and degrading water quality. A large number of literature related to watershed management, micro watershed, integrated water resource management and different tools and techniques related to water conservation have been compiled to indicate the future problems of fresh water availability in the country.
Wetlands and mangroves are considered rich in biomass productivity. However, these are under serious threat for development of aquaculture, ponds, roads, and ports. India has a rich wealth of wetland ecosystem distributed in different geographical regions. India is estimated to have an area of about 6,000 sq. km under mangroves. Recently, a directory on wetlands in India has been published to provide information on location, area and ecological categorisation of wetlands. India is a signatory to the Convention on Wetlands of international importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention).
With regard to mountain environment, contribution has been made to the areas related to assessment and modeling of the interactive influence of topography and land surface heterogeneity on the spatial pattern of soil moisture, evapo-transpiration, runoff generation and erosion.
Disasters, be they natural or man-made, are the real constraints to development and a threat to the environment. The enormous economic losses from natural disasters and the massive relief expenditure make disaster reduction a condition for sustainable development.
Development programmes need to be designed in a way to reduce susceptibility to disaster. Disaster mitigation is required to be made a part of national development. However, this part of disaster is very limited in Indian research.
In India, environmental impact assessment is emerging as a measure for ensuring that environmental quality is fully taken into account in the decision-making processes of any developmental programme. Geographers, here, have attempted to evolve consensus and resolve conflict coming from different interested groups. Different stages of environmental assessment have been identified, studied and analysed by geographers.
Studies have been conducted on the problem of desertification, its location and ‘expanding’ extent with the help of satellite imageries and GIS data base, which were designed to reveal the extent of damage likely to occur to the local ecosystem. Studies have also been made on the negative part of the dry land farming in Rajasthan particularly. Development of wastelands and their sustainable management has become an important theme/area of research by Indian geographers.
To have a better understanding, Indian geographers have focused on how physical and human ecosystems operate and interact. However, there is a lack of integrated techniques and approaches to vulnerable environment. In recent years, integrated water management is emerging as an important tool for resource management.
Understanding complex resource-environmental interactions in space provides an important base for sustainable environmental planning and management. Indian geographers, nevertheless, have richly contributed to the field of environment and resource development.
Essay # 4. Geography of Health:
It is a developing and an emerging branch of Indian geography, and has been making significant studies in some universities of the country. It has progressed from studies in ecological association of diseases and attempts at disease mapping, to investigations into wider perspective of health and healthcare. Researches in India have been laying greater stress on changing environmental factors and its impact on health as a system and on healthcare. The focus of most researches being human welfare, various attempts have been made to adopt the cultural and structural approaches to address the problem of health and place.
During the period 1996-2008, the major areas of research in the geography of health lay confined to disease ecology focusing on diseases such as SARS, bird flu and HIV/AIDS (indicating a shift in studies from the traditional communicable diseases to more modern types of diseases); nutrition and health, emphasising the nutritional status of different societies and communities, and calorie intake patterns; maternal and child health focusing on infant mortality rate in different states, and the role of MCH services in reducing IMR, besides investigation into the reproductive and child healthcare status in different parts of the country; women health with the emphasis on health status of women in the light of malnutrition, anaemia, low birth weight of children, vulnerability to infectious diseases, lung and breast cancer due to exposure to air pollution, urinary tract infection due to poor sanitary conditions, and many more such diseases that women in India are increasingly subject to, healthcare and planning with focus on access to healthcare units (some modern quantitative techniques including the techniques of geo-information have been applied in the studies of healthcare planning); health and social well-being with the emphasis on the applicability of the model of social well-being from an interdisciplinary perspective to the geography of health; environment and health, focusing on the impact of air, noise, water, and land pollution on human health (a characteristic aspect of this thrust area has been the impact of climatic change on human health, particularly with respect to the incidence of malaria); urban environment and health. This thrust area necessarily focuses on the increasing incidence of non-communicable diseases related with changing lifestyles in the cities and resultant epidemiological transition.
Use of remote sensing and GIS techniques in the researches in the field of geography of health has been increasing. Some studies have used and applied GIS to explore relationship between malaria incidence and mosquito habitat. The purpose of the study is to develop a predictive model for malarial incidence.
Rais Akhtar of the University of Kashmir, Srinagar, Jayati Hazra of the University of Calcutta, Kolkata, and Jayashree De of the M.S. University Baroda, have pioneered this branch of geography.
Essay # 5. Geomorphology:
Early Indian geographers, who were trained in geology, had set forth the tradition of geomorphology in the country, and in the 1950s of the last century, a number of research papers of high international standard appeared in the various journals of geography within and abroad. H. L. Chibbar of the Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi and S. P. Chatterjee of the University of Calcutta, Kolkata, were the forerunners in promoting geomorphological studies in India. The main emphasis of geomorphological studies was on ‘denudation chronology’. Enayat Ahmad of Ranchi University, Ranchi, and R. P. Singh of Patna University, Patna, (he later moved to Magadh University, Bodh Gaya) also richly contributed to the development of geomorphology in the late 1950s and 1960s of the last century.
The relevance of geomorphology, however, declined in the following decades, because of increasing relevance of urban geography, economic geography and commercial geography, agricultural geography and land use, population geography, etc. Most of the geographers during the formative stage of the Indian federation had gone to Great Britain for their higher studies where they were mostly trained in different branches of human geography rather than physical geography.
On return to India, they attempted to set forth the tradition and/or heritage that they learned there. Since physical geography or, for that matter, geomorphology was missing in their curriculum; the founders of modern Indian geography did not attempt to give preference to physical geography and geomorphology.
For quite a long time, geomorphology remained more or less ‘hidden’ in the area(s) of research in India. Nevertheless, a few scholars continued with the geomorphological studies, but their number was insignificant, given the number of geographers engaged in research in different branches of human geography.
However, with the establishment of the Indian Institute of Geomorphologists in the 1990s with its centre at Allahabad, the preference for geomorphological studies started ‘resurrecting’ in India.
This institute also started publishing a journal, known as the Indian Journal of Geomorphology. The journal is exclusively meant for the publication of articles dealing with geomorphological phenomena, which are mostly case studies. Another journal which publishes a fairly good number of articles on geomorphological phenomena is named as Indian Journal of Landscape Systems and Ecological Studies. It is published from Kolkata.
The studies in geomorphology in India during 1996-2008 have mainly concentrated on four major themes:
(i) Fluvial geomorphology,
(ii) Desert geomorphology,
(iii) Coastal geomorphology, and
(iv) Tropical weathering and erosion.
In addition, some studies are based on the use of remote sensing techniques. In fluvial geomorphology, the foundation with drainage basin and network morphometric analysis continues even today. But in recent years, there has been a shift from single morphometric analysis to the study of channel forms and processes.
Many of the papers under this category are related to river hydrology, especially floods. Other themes in fluvial geomorphology include the channel characteristics of usually wide piedmont streams, temporal changes in channel morphology, identification of longitudinal profiles and large-scale geomorphic mapping.
In desert geomorphology, the major areas are:
(i) Wind erosivity and erodibility of terrain,
(ii) Mechanism of sand-drift,
(iii) Characteristics of sand-moving and dune-forming winds,
(iv) Trend and sites of old dunes,
(v) Characteristics of modern mobile barchan, barchanoids, and megabarchanoids dunes,
(vi) Resettling the former sites of streams in the Aravallies.
The study in coastal geomorphology necessarily emphasises on coastal landforms and processes. The vulnerability of the coast to erosive action, threat to the fragile mangrove ecosystems and the place deposits along the beaches are some of the topics covered in this section.
The studies on morphodynamics of tidal inlets, slumping of sea cliff are largely devoted to the coastal processes whereas some studies have been conducted on mud beach or lagoon to describe the morphological aspect of the given forms. Apart from these aspects of studies, another aspect of the study of coastal geomorphology is pivoted around the changes in sea level along the Indian coast. On the basis of large-scale mapping, several relict features on the eastern coast have been identified.
The major thrust areas under the theme tropical weathering and erosion are mainly concerned with:
(1) Erosion rate(s) in the river catchment area;
(2) Measurement of run-off and erosion rate;
(3) Evaluation of the rate of deforestation and agricultural expansion on sediment yield;
(4) Impact of human activities on soil erosion;
(5) The rate of erosion and badland development in lateritic terrain;
(6) Rate of weathering profile development and rate of denudation;
(7) Regolith formation, and
(8) Colluvial deposits resulting from mass movement and fluvial erosion of regolith on hill slopes.
Use and application of remote sensing techniques have been the focus of some studies in recent years. The major thrust areas where the use of remote sensing has been carried out in studies, include the study of abandoned channel flows over the coastal plains of northern Tamil Nadu, the study of identifying palaeo-valleys in the Luni river in the alluvial plain between Jodhpur and Pali; the study and interpretation of different types of depositional, denudation and structural landform assemblages in Assam. A geomorphological mapping of Assam was done with the help of remote sensing.
Similarly, Global Positioning System (GPS) was used to measuring the coordinates and elevation of sand dunes in Rajasthan. Savindra Singh of the Allahabad University, S. R. Basu and S. C. Mukhopadhyay of the University of Calcutta, V. S. Kale of the University of Pune and A. Kar, and others have been pioneering geomorphological studies in India for the past 20 years.
Essay # 6. Gender Geography:
It is a new, rather an emerging branch in Indian geography. Gender geography has witnessed a gradual yet cautious widening in the 1990s. By the year 2000, the field of this branch expanded enough to claim for itself its share of academic space in the discipline.
The development of this new branch of geography is necessarily confined to the universities of West-Central India, particularly Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University, Kurukshetra University, Jamia Milia Islamia, and so on. In these universities, gender-geography has been introduced as a full paper at the post-graduate and under-graduate levels.
The introduction of new courses that interrogate spatial pattern with reference to gender and the incremental volume of geographical research using gender as a category of analysis are major milestones marking the development of the branch.
From being almost implicit, rather invisible, gender as an analytical category has crept into almost every field of geographical enquiry. Research papers using gender include themes on health, development, workforce, participation, food security, conflict, disaster management, environmental issues, resources, micro-credit and policy planning among others.
Barring a few studies, the engagement of space with gender and vice versa remains largely glossed over by geographers. One of the major thrust areas of this branch of geography in India is that which reflects equating of site with space and sex with gender.
This thrust area of research has the largest number of works and publications. However, there is a paucity of studies and works on the themes of gendered experience of space, gendered spaces and spatialities of gender.
The intertwining or interweaving of space and sexuality is another optimistic thrust area that deserves mention, but research in this thrust area is not too expressive. Nevertheless, the contemporary research works in gender geography reveal a healthy methodological combination of qualitative methods along with the quantitative.
Saraswati Raju of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, has long been associated with gender geography. She has very richly contributed to the development of gender geography in the country. It will not be an exaggeration if she is called the ‘founder’ of gender geography in India.
Essay # 7. Political Geography:
As a field of higher research, political geography was relatively a late arrival. Nevertheless, this branch was very much in the syllabus curricula of a number of universities in the country. But it was a neglected branch. The reason was the lack of initiative on the part of the makers of modern Indian geography who preferred to establish those branches of geography which they learned in the universities of Great Britain.
The major thrust areas of research in political geography in India are mostly concerned with different aspects of politics of India, which have spatial expressions and attributes, both in terms of internal and external functions and relations.
The thrust areas of research and studies can be categorised as:
(i) Geography of federation— the Indian way,
(ii) Geography of integration with emphasis on raison d’ etre and state-idea of the Indian Union,
(iii) Concepts of Indian nation and nationality,
(iv) Geography of India’s foreign policy and non-alignment movement,
(v) Boundary studies and problem of boundaries,
(vi) Kashmir conflict and related issues,
(vii) Interstate and international water disputes, and
(viii) Geographical interpretation of India’s relations with the neighbours and with other countries.
Apart from these major thrust areas of research in political geography, a new research area in the branch has come into existence in the past few years, and that is ‘Electoral Geography’; or ‘Geography of Elections’. This is the only thrust area in political geography of India which has experienced quantification, theory formulation and spatial modeling and hypothesis testing.
R. D. Dikshit (M.D. University, Rohtak), C. P. Singh (University of Delhi), R. L. Dwivedi (Allahabad University), Swaranjeet Mehta (Panjab University, Chandigarh) and Ram Nandan Pd. Sinha (M.S. University, Baroda) pioneered and have been pioneering research in this field of geography. Ram Nandan Pd. Sinha of M.S. University, Baroda, is credited with having developed an alternative concept, called the concept of ‘Geosheeltics’—an antithesis of the concept of geopolitics. Geosheeltic is geography and politics mediated by the Sanskrit word ‘sheel’ meaning ‘righteousness’. Hence geosheeltic is geopolitics based on Gandhian philosophy of truth, non-violence, ethics and morality. The concept has been widely discussed in Israel, Korea, and Bangladesh.
Essay # 8. Population Geography:
It is a well-developed branch in India, experiencing the application of modern quantitative techniques in research methodology, besides qualitative studies and discourses. The development of this branch of geography in India took place in the 1960s when the department of geography, Punjab University, Chandigarh, started teaching and research in population geography.
The Punjab University, Chandigarh, is the pioneer in population geography in the country. Now, population geography is taught as optional and compulsory paper at the post-graduate and under-graduate levels, in almost all the universities of the country.
During the period of 1996-2008, population geography in India has undergone some philosophical/conceptual and methodological changes, and accordingly the areas of research have witnessed structural changes.
Concepts, theories, models and paradigms together constitute a major thrust area of population studies. Some post-modern concepts on population and space have been incorporated centre in population geography with the objective of applying Derrida’s models of deconstruction and fragmentation in some of the universal population theories.
Apart from this major area of research enquiry, population studies can be grouped under the following major areas of research:
(i) Studies on population density and distribution in terms of overpopulation.
(ii) Studies on vital rates with emphasis on fertility and mortality pattern (infant mortality also). Several studies in this area have been done to identify the areal differentials, rural-urban differentials and inter-urban differentials.
(iii) Studies on population growth – Such studies are based on census data to focus on the overall trend in population growth and also the decennial variation in relation to the prevailing fertility behaviour. Some regional studies have been conducted to assess the impact of population growth on the socioeconomic landscape of the regions.
Quantitative techniques have been applied to measure the extent of impact. Few studies have been made to evaluate and analyse the impact of growth in urban context and pressure of populations. In one of the studies, concerning the impact of population pressure, modern techniques like remote sensing, GIS and GPS have been applied and the result was highly appreciable.
(iv) Studies on migration have been numerically preponderant in population geography – Most of the studies are concerned with internal migration, notably rural-urban migration. However, some studies have been made on the Bangladeshi migrants in the north-eastern India. Some studies are concerned with the absence of the government policy on migration. Few studies have been done on implications and impacts of migration, and the behaviour of migrants.
(v) Studies on composition, working force and occupational structure have been conducted in the light of literacy differentials, spatio-temporal changes in the age and sex structure, trend in demographic behaviour of major religious groups in India. However, some studies have been made on occupational composition of SC and ST population, spatial pattern of primary, secondary and tertiary activities, regional dimensions of work-force and levels of social developments.
Apart from the aforesaid thrust are of research in population geography, some more areas have been identified such as gender issues, population/ethnic groups, population as resource, demographic profiles, human development, management of human resources and sustainable development where studies are being conducted, using quantitative techniques and samplings in order to arrive at concrete conclusions.
The credit of enhancing the relevance and prospect of population geography in India goes to the faculty members of the Punjab University, Chandigarh, particularly to G. S. Gosal, Gopal Krishan, R. C. Chandna, Swaranjeet Mehta and M. S. Gill of the Punjabi University, Patiala.
The department of geography, Punjab University publishes a journal on population studies – Population Geography. Population geography is, thus, a fast developing branch of systematic geography in India.
Essay # 9. Social Geography:
India with a vast geographical expanse and a huge population, presents a highly complex mosaic of society and culture evolving out of long-drawn historical process. It is a land of regionally- grouped socio-cultural-ethnic diversities with hardened cleavages.
The Indian society is largely plural in character and disaggregated also. A proper understanding of all the above facts of India’s ethnical and social realities is not possible without a critical examination of their specific spatial identities in national and regional settings.
Here lies the relevance and significance of the socio-spatial perspective at different spatial levels over time towards understanding the highly complex character of the social and cultural elements and other associated phenomena of the country both in entirety and in parts. It is in this background that the necessity of ‘developing’ social geography was urgently realised.
Social geography is the study of social phenomena and processes in their areal and/or spatial perspective. Social geography is a new branch, and a chronological review of its development in India suggests that it is still in its embryonic stage trying to come out of a rigid disciplinary boundary and control that stands in the way of its development.
A number of thrust areas, however, have been identified in the research works, conducted and carried out in this branch of geography, which include:
(i) Critical social theory and globalisation,
(ii) Social components and social structure,
(iii) Social order, cultural domain and societal process,
(iv) Social change in mega-urban regions;
(v) Tribe, displacement and ethnic conflict,
(vi) Caste and language, and social conflict;
(vii) Class struggle,
(viii) Gender studies,
(ix) Issues of social concern and social well-being, and
(x) Education and under-development.
Though the list of research publications is limited in the social geography, but the political happenings of contemporary social relevance in the country have attracted young geographers to be actively involved in the aforesaid thrust areas for enquiry, however, in spatial perspectives.
The ongoing process of globalisation to which India is now firmly committed appears to have been the driving force behind a large number of geographers interrogating the spatial impact of the changes manifesting on the wake of these changes.
Researchers in social geography in India have been alive to contemporary social problems of displacement, redistribution, class struggle, caste tension, ethnic strife, social exploitation. Mandalisation of Indian society with resultant social realignment has undoubtedly opened up a new vista for the development of social geography in the country.
Essay # 10. Urban Geography:
It is one of the most dynamic branches of Indian geography. Urban geography in India has been moving forward seemingly continuously in its philosophical perspectives and thematic contents. It has not merely captured the prevailing paradigms of geography, but has succeeded in injecting new paradigms.
This is rightly so because cities play critical role in spatial organisation and modernisation processes by contributing to regional and global economy. Teaching and research in the urban geography in India is as old as the teaching and research in the agricultural geography and land-use. Nevertheless, this branch of geography stands on sound foundation of research methodology
A survey of literature reveals that urban geography in India has been unfolding several new dimensions of thrust areas which include:
(i) Urbanisation, urban issues and analysis—trends and pattern—this is the most sought after thrust area in the branch. Here, the major emphasis is given on the processes, pattern, causes and trends in the light of suburbanisation, megalopalitanisation, counter urbanisation, and re-urbanisation. Apart from these trends of study, some attempts have been made to reconstruct trend of urbanisation in the historic past;
(ii) Urban environment-it is one of the most popular thrust areas of research as most of the cities are plagued by environmental problems. Most of the problems, which find research expression, are domestic in nature, with emphasis on air pollution, water pollution, toxic waste, and natural and human hazards. Studies have been conducted on the urban quality of life, and slum patterns. The quality of social environment has also emerged to be a part of this thrust area of research,
(iii) Question of urban sustainability/ eco-planning of cities—it is the most captivating theme for urban geographer because the question of urban sustainability has become a key issue in contemporary context. Sustainability has many variants and is being approached differently by different scholars. Major emphasis under this thrust area is given to the effective implementation of mission made approaches such as those designed to improve basic services to urban poor, infrastructure, integrated housing and slum development programme. Another dimension of research in the thrust area is that which concerns with the greening of city, maintaining bio-diversity and managing land degradation and eco-planning,
(iv) Urban governance—this area of research is necessarily concerned with water supply, conservancy, sanitation, services and other facilities and solid waste management, etc. Apart from these thrust areas of research, a few more areas of research in urban geography have emerged which necessarily include mega and million cities, small and intermediate cities, urban migration dynamics, socio-economic dimension, urban transport system, urban planning, urban political conflicts and so on.