Geography Chapter 7: Lifelines of National Economy

Facts that Matter

  1. The development of a country depends upon the production of goods and services as well as their movement to their destination. Transport plays an important role in the economy. Because of transport, raw materials reach to the factory or industry and finished products reach to the consumer. Transport has helped in both production and distribution of goods.
  2. Apart from transport, mode of communications, like telephone and internet makes flawless flow of information possible. Today, the world has been converted into a large village with the help of efficient and fast moving transport and developed communication system.
  3. Transport can be classified into land, water and air transport.


  1. India has one of the largest road networks in the world. Roadways have preceded railways. The growing importance of road transport in comparison with rail transport is because the construction cost of roads is much lower. It provides door to door services and thus the cost of loading and unloading is much lower. It is used as feeder to other modes of transport.
  2. In India, roads are classified in six classes according to their capacity—(i) Golden Quadrilateral Super Highways, (ii) National Highways (iii) State Highways, (iv) District Roads, (v) Other Roads and (vi) Border Roads.
  3. Roads can also be classified on the basis of the type of material used for their construction such as metalled and unmetalled roads. Metalled roads are all weather roads whereas unmetalled roads go out of use in the rainy season.
  4. Road density means the length of road per 100 sq. km of area. 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.


  1. The Indian railways have a network of 7,031 stations spread over a route length of 63,221 km with a fleet of 7817 locomotives, 5321 passenger service vehicles, 4904 other coach vehicles and 228,170 wagons as on 31 March, 2004. The Indian railways is the largest public sector undertaking of India. The first train steamed off from Mumbai to Thane in 1853, covering a distance of 34 km. It is organised into 16 railway zones.
  2. Railways are the prime mode of transportation for goods and passengers in India. Railways also make it possible to conduct varied activities like business, sightseeing and pilgrimage along with transportation of goods over longer distances.
  3. The distribution pattern of the railway network in the country has been largely influenced by physiographic, economic and administrative factors.
  4. The northern plains provide most favourable conditions having high population density, vast level land, and rich agricultural resources.
  5. 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. For example, many passengers travel without tickets.
  6. Pipeline transport network is a new arrival on the transportation map of India. Earlier it was used to transport water but these days it is used to transport crude oil, petroleum products and natural gas from oil and natural gas fields to refineries, fertiliser factories and big thermal power plants. Even solids can be transported through pipelines when converted into slurry.
  7. Initial cost of laying pipelines is high but subsequent running costs are minimal. It rules out trans-shipment losses or delays.
  8. 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.
  9. India has inland navigation waterways of 14,500 km in length. Out of these only 3,700 km are navigable by mechanised boats. The workable waterways include the Godavari, Krishna, Barak, Sunderbans, Buckingham canal, Brahamani, East-West canal and Damodar Valley Corporation Canal. The following waterways have been declared as the National

Waterways by the Government:

  1. The Ganga river between Allahabad and Haldia (1620 km)—N.W. No. 1.
  2. The Brahmaputra river between Sadiya and Dhubri (891 km)—N.W. No. 2.
  3. The West-Coast Canal in Kerala (Kottapurma-Komman, Udyogamandal and Champakkara canals-205 km)—N.W. No. 3.
  4. With a long coastline of 7,516.6 km., India is dotted with 12 major ports and 181 medium and minor ports. These ports handle 95% of India’s foreign trade.
  5. The name of some major ports are—Kandla, Mumbai, Vishakhapatnam, Paradip, Kolkata, etc. Mumbai is the biggest port with a spacious, natural and well-sheltered harbour.
  6. The air travel is the fastest mode of transport. It can cover difficult terrains and long oceanic stretches with great ease. The air transport was nationalised in 1953. Airways are of two types—Domestic and International.
  7. Air India provides international air services. Pawanhans Helicopters Ltd provides helicopter services to Oil and Natural Gas Corporation in its offshore operations, to the inaccessible areas and difficult terrains of north-eastern states and interior parts of J & K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
  8. Communication refers to exchange of ideas, messages, emotions, either written or oral, from one place to another. There are two ways of communication—personal communication and mass communication. Mass communication includes television, radio, press, films, etc.
  9. The Indian postal network handles parcels as well as personal written communications. The first-class mail includes cards and envelopes. They are carried by land and air transport. The second-class mail includes book packets, registered newspapers and periodicals. They are carried by surface mail, covering land and water transport.
  10. Six mail channels have been introduced by Indian postal network for quick delivery of mails in large towns and cities.
  11. India has one of the largest telephone networks in Asia. Special provisions have been made by the government by extending twenty-four hours STD facility to every village in the country to strengthen the flow of information.
  12. Mass Communication is a communication in which masses are communicated at the same time by one source. Mass communication provides entertainment and creates awareness among people about various national programmes and policies. It includes radio, television, newspapers, magazines, books and films.
  13. 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.
  14. Doordarshan is the national television channel of India. It is one of the largest terrestrial networks in the world. It broadcasts a variety of programmes from entertainment, education to sports, etc. for people of different age groups.
  15. India publishes a large number of newspapers and periodicals annually. Newspapers are published in about 100 languages and dialects. Largest numbers of newspapers published in the country are in Hindi, followed by English and Urdu.
  16. 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.
  17. The exchange of goods among people, states and countries is referred to as trade. The market is a place where such exchanges take place. Trade between two or more countries is termed as international trade but trade which occurs in a region within the same country is called local trade. It may take place through sea, air or land routes. Export and import are the components of trade. The difference between export and import is known as balance of trade.
  18. India has trade relations with all the major trading blocks and all geographical regions of the world. Among the commodities of export are the agricultural and allied products, ores and minerals, gems and jewellery, chemical and allied products, engineering goods and petroleum products. Major imports are petroleum and its products, pearls and precious stones, inorganic chemicals, coal, coke and briquettes and machinery.
  19. Tourism in India has grown substantially over the last three decades. Foreign tourists visit India for heritage tourism, economic tourism, adventure tourism, cultural tourism, medical tourism and business tourism. Rajasthan, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir and temple towns of South India are important destinations of tourists in India.
  20. Our country earns foreign exchange through tourism. More than 15 million people are directly engaged in the tourism industry.

Flow-Learning Diagram

Fig 1. Classification of means of transport

Words that Matter

1.      Density of roads: The length of road per sq km of area is known as density of roads.

2.      State Highways: Roads linking a state capital with different district headquarters are known as State Highways.

3.      District roads: Roads which connect the district headquarters with other places of the district are called district roads.

4.      Golden Quadrilateral Super Highways: These are six lane highways connecting major cities and ports of the country for speedy movement of goods and passengers.

5.      Rural roads: Roads which link rural areas and villages with towns are classified as rural roads.

6.      Border roads: Strategically important roads in the bordering areas of the country are called border roads.


Choose the correct Option:

1. The National Highway No. 1 is also known as ......... .

(a) Mahatma Gandhi Marg                                                                 (b) Sher Shah Suri Marg

(c) Golden Quadrilateral                                                                     (d) Jawaharlal Nehru Road

2. Trade carried in cities, towns and villages is called ......... .

(a) External trade                                                                                (b) Local trade

(c) Internal trade                                                                                 (d) International trade

3. The Indian national highways are maintained by the department of ......... .

(a) National Highway Authority of India                               (b) State Public Works Department

(c) Zila Parishad                                                                      (d) Central Public Works Department

4. Which one of the following organisations constructs Border roads in India?

(a) PWD                                                                                  (b) CPWD

(c) BRO                                                                                  (d) NHAI

5. World has become a global village due to which of the following?

(a) Transport and communication                                           (b) International trade

(c) Engineering Industry                                                         (d) Electronic industry

6. Which is the cheapest mode of transport in India?

(a) Waterways                                                                         (b) Roadways

(c) Railways                                                                            (d) Airways

7. Border Roads Organisation was established in

(a) 1950                                                                                   (b) 1955

(c) 1958                                                                                   (d) 1960

8. The longest highway of India is ......... .

(a) National Highway-8                                                          (b) National Highway-7

(c) National Highway-1                                                          (d) National Highway-15

9. The full form of NHAI is ......... .

(a) National Highway Academy of India                               (b) Northern Highway Authority of India

(c) New Highway Authority of India                                     (d) National Highway Authority of India

10. Delhi and Mumbai are connected by ......... .

(a) National Highway-15                                                        (b) National Highway-1

(c) National Highway-7                                                          (d) National Highway-8

11. The National Highway that covers most of Rajasthan is ......... .

(a) National Highway-15                                                        (b) National Highway-8

(c) National Highway-1                                                          (d) National Highway-2

12. The air transport was nationalised in the year ......... .

(a) 1947                                                                                   (b) 1950

(c) 1953                                                                                   (d) 1957

13. Which port is the major iron ore exporting port of the country?

(a) Mumbai port                                                                      (b) Marmagao port

(c) Paradip port                                                                       (d) Kandla port

14. The biggest port is

(a) Mumbai port                                                                      (b) Marmagao port

(c) New Mangalore port                                                          (d) Kandla port

15. The extreme south-western port is ......... .

(a) Tuticorin port                                                                     (b) Kochchi port

(c) New Mangalore port                                                          (d) None of the above

16. Which one is not an important destination of Foreign tourists in India?

(a) Madhya Pradesh                                                                (b) Goa

(c) Rajasthan                                                                           (d) Jammu and Kashmir

Ans. 1—(b) 2—(b) 3—(d) 4—(c) 5—(a) 6—(a) 7—(d) 8—(b) 9—(d) 10—(d) 11—(a) 12—(c)  13—(b) 14—(a) 15—(b) 16—(a)


  1. What is the major objective of the super Highways?
  2. What do you know about National Highways?
  3. Name the cities that are connected by National Highway No.1.
  4. What are known as State Highways?
  5. Name the authority that maintains State Highways.
  6. Why was Border Roads Organisation established in 1960?
  7. Why are metalled roads called all weather roads.
  8. Which port was the first port developed soon after the independence of India?
  9. Which type of port is Kandla?
  10. Where is New Mangalore port located?
  11. Which is the deepest landlocked and well protected port?
  12. Why was Haldia port developed?
  13. What are considered first-class mail by the Indian postal network?
  14. What comes under the category of second-class mail?
  15. Which authority certifies both Indian and foreign films?
  16. Name the places which are important destinations of foreign tourists in India.
  17. Which is a major commodity imported by India?
  18. Name the mode of transportation that reduces trains-shipment losses and delays in the supply of petroleum and gases?
  19. Which port is located in Orissa?
  20. Which state of India has highest density of roads?
  21. What is the length of inland waterways in India? How much waterway is navigable by mechanical boats?
  22. How many major ports does India have? Name any four points. What is the percentage of foreign trade handled by the major ports?


1.      Why is the importance of road transport in comparison to rail transport growing in India?


Why is road transport more useful than rail transport in India? Explain four reasons. (CBSE 2009)

2.      Name three major super highway projects. What is the main objective of these Super Highways? (HOTS)

3.      Distinguish between national highways and state highways.

4.      What are border roads? What is its importance?

5.      State some problems of road transport in our country.

6.      Mention the importance of water transport. Name three National Waterways of our country.


Explain a few advantages of waterways of India.


Name the National Waterways of India.  [CBSE 2005, 2009(F)]

7.      Why is air transport preferred in north-eastern states of India? (CBSE 2009)

8.      Name six mail channels introduced by Indian postal network.

9.      Define international trade. Why is it considered as economic barometer of a country? (CBSE 2011)

10.  Define balance of trade. Distinguish between favourable balance of trade and unfavourable balance of trade. (HOTS)

11.  Mention the importance of tourism as a trade.


12.  What is the importance of tourism?  [CBSE 2010(F), 2011]

13.  Why has the great plains more railways than the Himalayan mountains?  (HOTS)

14.  What do you mean by the density of the roads? Name the state with

a.       Highest density of roads

b.      Lowest density of roads                                                                     [CBSE 2010(F)]

15.  Explain the improvement made by the Indian Railways in its functioning.   [AI CBSE 2012]

16.  (i) Name two areas in India which are unfavourable for the construction of railway lines?

(ii) Why are certain area unfavourable for the construction of railway lines? Give two reasons.

17.  Which is the principal mode of transportation for freight and passengers? Mention any three problems of that means of transport. CBSE 2010(F), 2011]

18.  Explain the reasons for dense railway network in the North Indian plains.   [AI CBSE 2012]


1.      Analyse the physiographic and economic factors that have influenced the distribution pattern of the railway network in our country.  (CBSE 2015)

2.      Write a short note on Indian Railways discussing its importance, distribution pattern and problems faced by the Indian Railways.


How do physical and economic factors influence the distribution pattern of the Indian Railway network? Explain with examples. (AI CBSE 2009)

3.      What is mass communication? Throw light on different types of mass communication and its importance. (HOTS)


Explain the importance of ‘Radio’ and ‘Television’ as an effective means of mass communication in India. (CBSE 2005, 2009)

4.      Describe the importance of pipelines in India. Name three important networks of pipeline transportation in the country.

5.      Write any four characteristics of Kandla seaport.  (CBSE 2010)

6.      Write a short note on various kinds of roads in India.

7.      What is the meaning of road density? Describe any three major problems faced by road transportation in India. [CBSE 2010(F)]

8.      Why do roadways have an edge over railways? Explain.  (CBSE 2011, 2012)

9.      “Dense and efficient network of transport and communication is a pre-requisite for national and international trade.” Support the statement with four arguments.   (AI CBSE 2012)

10.  Describe any five major problems faced by road transport in India.              (AI CBSE 2013)

11.  What is importance of railway transport?                                                       (CBSE 2010(F))

12.  How do the physiographic and economic factors influence the distribution pattern of the India railway network? Explain with suitable examples. (CBSE 2004, AI CBSE 2009)

13.  State three points regarding the importance of pipelines in transportation. (CBSE 2005, 2010(C))

14.  Why is air transport an important means of transport in the north-eastern part of our country? Explain any four reasons. (CBSE 2011, AI CBSE 2013).

15.  Describe any five major problems faced by road transport in India. (CBSE 2013)


1.      Critically examine how roadways are more important than railways.

2.      What is the importance of super-highways in our national economy?

3.      Describe the factors affecting the distribution of railway network.

4.      What are the merits and demerits of pipelines?

5.      Explain the three important networks of pipelines in India.

6.      Suggest some measures to promote tourism in India.