Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir

Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir

This article deals with ‘ Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir .’ This is part of our series on ‘Internal Security’, an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


The origin of the Jammu and Kashmir insurgency can be traced back to the partition of India when Pakistan attacked Kashmir to capture it. Since then, India and Pakistan have fought three wars on this.

Many terrorist organizations are active in Kashmir.

  • JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammed): Formed by Masood Azhar with the stated objective of uniting Kashmir with Pakistan. JeM was behind various terrorist activities, including the attack on Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly.
  • HM (Hizbul Mujahideen)
  • HuM (Harkat-ul-Mujahideen) 
  • LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba)

Reasons for Upsurge

The unrest in Kashmir is not a new incident. The Valley has been the victim of such violence for many years. It started in 1947 with the State’s accession to India but worsened at the end of the 1980s (1988)  with the rise in the militant insurgency. Reasons are

  • Geographical: The presence of an envious neighbour in the form of Pakistan, which incites the sentiments of the Kashmiri people.
  • Historical background: The demand for a plebiscite has been there since 1947, which the people feel is their legal right as per the instrument of accession. However, due to the actions of Pakistan and changed conditions since 1950, a plebiscite cannot be performed in the Valley. It has enraged generations of Kashmiri people.  
  • Economic reasons 
    • Unemployment is a significant reason for youth frustration. Tourism has been down due to the disturbed security situation. 
    • Kashmir has limited industries and enterprises. Due to harsh weather conditions, there are limited days of productive work.
  • Mujahideen Infiltration: After the victory over the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, Mujahideen fighters, with the aid of Pakistan, slowly infiltrated Kashmir to spread a radical Islamist ideology. 
  • Political Reasons : 
    • Perceptions of the domination of politics in the State by one or two families (i.e. Abdullahs and Muftis) 
    • The immediate reason was the widely perceived rigging of state elections in 1987. 
    • Laws like AFSPA, regular curfews, presence of armed forces, allegations of human rights violations
    • Use of pellet guns on the protestors, including children. 
  • Weakening of Decentralization: History shows that Pakistan has tried to foster an anti-India jihad in Jammu and Kashmir since 1947 but without much success until the late 1980s. In the 1980s, they succeeded because, till that time, Article 370 of the Constitution had been rendered a dead letter.  
  • Social Cause/Wahhabization of Kashmiris: Increasing radicalization has choked the more tolerant Sufi tradition and introduced a new Wahhabi culture in the Valley.
  • New Generation raised in troubled times: The present generation of Kashmir was raised during troubled times that started in the 1990s. Hence, they feel alienated from the political establishment.
  • Social Media: The new generation having access to the internet has been radicalized by anti-India propaganda spread on the internet. Messaging apps such as Telegram and WhatsApp have helped the militants to mobilize the crowds and indulge them in stone-pelting incidents. 
  • “Doval Doctrine” which posits that under no circumstance should the State be seen as yielding, either tangibly or symbolically

Ways to address the problem

Multi-pronged approach consisting of Security, Development and Engagement (with all stakeholders is required). Although the government is looking after the first two, Engagement with Kashmiris is almost missing. As a result, the people of Kashmir feel alienated.

Methods to control Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir
  • Dialogue: Provide political healing touch to Kashmir using Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Principles of “Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat” (Kashmir-ness, humanity, democracy). Pursue dialogue with the separatists under the ambit of Insaniyat, which was supposed to be more accommodating than the Indian Constitution.
  • Take comprehensive confidence-building measures.
  • Development, especially economic development of the Valley in the field of Tourism, Timber industry, Saffron development, Fruits etc. 
  • Youth engagement & job creation: Although the government is already running various schemes like Nai Manzil, USTAAD etc., only creating more jobs will help take youth away from radical elements. 
  • Tight security and proper border management to stop infiltration
  • Stop the use of pellet guns: TVSN Prasad Committee report recommended the use of alternatives like PAVA (Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide) Shells for crowd management instead of Pellet guns. PAVA Shell is chilli-based non-lethal ammunition which can temporarily immobilize and paralyze a victim.
Pellet gun issue in Jammu and Kashmir
Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir
  • Take steps for nation-building: Kashmiri youth feels alienated and, for many reasons, don’t see themself as part of the Indian nation. Some instances like discrimination faced by Kashmiri youth in mainland India alienate them further. Government should take steps towards their integration.
  • Control on Irresponsible Media: The situation has worsened due to the presence of social media, incitement by local media and irresponsible coverage by national media. 

Terror Financing

Terror Financing

This article deals with ‘ Terror Financing .’ This is part of our series on ‘Internal Security’, an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


Terrorism Finance is termed as the ‘lifeblood of terrorism’, one of the most important factors in sustaining its continuing threat.

How are Terrorists funded?

Terror Financing
  • In the Northeastextortion, drug trafficking and gun running are the fundamental basis for funding terrorism.
  • In Jammu and Kashmir, external funds from Pakistan and Gulf countries, along with counterfeit currency, are the primary sources of finance. 
  • Maoist terror movements rely on extortion, robberies of banks and drug trafficking for their funds. 

Funding of International Terrorist Organisation

  • ISIS: They use (1) control of Oil Fields, (2) Selling Antiques in Black markets, (3) Paying Cadres in the form of Sex Slaves (Yazidi & non-Sunni women) etc., to fund their operations. 
  • Taliban: They rely on the drug trade apart from funding from Pakistan’s ISI.
  • Petrodollars of Saudis fund various Islamic terrorist organizations. 
  • Some countries use terrorism as state policy and fund terrorists (like Pakistan and Iran (funding Hezbollah)).
  • Terrorist organizations use the loopholes in digital security and the “anonymity” provided by blockchain technology to access finances.

What world is doing to combat it?

Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

  • Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was established in 1989 by the Group of Seven (G-7) Summit in Paris.
  • FATF is the global money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing watchdog. The inter-governmental body sets international standards that aim to prevent these illegal activities.
  • Membership: FATF comprises 37 member jurisdictions and 2 regional organizations (Gulf Co-operation Council and European Commission). 
  • India joined the FATF in 2010.
  • FATF maintains two lists, i.e. Grey List and Black List, to deal with money laundering.

Sanctions Regime

  • UNSC Resolution 1267 and UNSC Resolution 1373 form the bedrock of the financial sanctions regime for terrorist organizations and individuals.

Steps taken by India

  • Member of FATF: India has been a member of FATF since 2010.  
  • India has passed laws like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) to combat Terrorist Financing and Money Laundering. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act was recently amended with the provision that producing, smuggling or circulating high-quality counterfeit Indian currency is now designated as a terrorist act.
  • Demonetization & improved safety features: The government targeted the fake currency notes in circulation, an important source of terror financing.  
  • Making terrorist finance an offence: Under TADA and POTA, holding property derived or obtained from any terrorist activity or acquiring them through terrorist funds is an offence. 
  • A dedicated Terror Funding and Fake Currency (TFFC) Cell has been established in NIA.
  • Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU)- IND has been established in India to deal with terror financing.

Terrorism in India

Terrorism in India

This article deals with ‘ Terrorism in India.’ This is part of our series on ‘Internal Security’, an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


  • Terrorism has no globally accepted definition because one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. Palestinian militants call Israel terrorists, Kurdish militants call Turkey terrorists, and the nation-states call the militants who oppose their regimes “terrorists.”
  • In general terms, terrorism is any violent activity done by a non-state actor against common people or their property for political purposes.
  • The motivation behind terrorist acts can be political, ideological or religious. 
  • What do Terrorists try to achieve through such activities?
    1. Revenge: Eg – Bombay blasts in revenge for Ayodhya Mosque demolition
    2. To invoke a reaction.
    3. To become famous.

Characteristics of Terrorism

  • Terrorism is always associated with violent activities. 
  • It operates on the principle of instilling fear in the minds of people.
  • It is always driven by a certain ideology.
  • Their motivation includes revenge, anger, jihad, self-righteousness and exclusiveness. 
  • They use public statements for propaganda, justification and branding.

Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism  (CCIT)

  • One of the significant challenges in combating terrorism is there is no internationally accepted definition of Terrorism. 
  • To fill this lacuna, CCIT was drafted by India in 1996.
  • It includes the following major objectives:
    1.  To have a universal definition of terrorism that all 193 members of the UNGA will adopt into their criminal law.
    2. To ban all terror groups and shut down terror camps.
    3. To prosecute all terrorists under special laws.
    4. To make cross-border terrorism an extraditable offence worldwide. 


It is yet to be adopted by the UN General Assembly because of various challenges. These challenges include 

  • Difference in threat perception: E.g., Hezbollah is considered a threat by Israel and Saudis but not by Iran, who considers them Freedom fighters. Similar is the case with many other organizations like East Turkestan Movement, Lashkar etc.
  • Some states (like Pakistan) use terrorism as state policy and will not allow this.
  • Other problems 
    • US: Concerned that its armed interventions without a UN mandate can declare its soldiers terrorist.
    • OIC: Concerned that it will undermine groups fighting for self-determination of Palestine and Kashmir and declare them terrorists.

Different Types of Terrorism

Terrorism in India

Leftist Terrorism

  • Leftist ideology believes that the existing social relations and socio-politico state structures in the capitalist society are exploitative in character, and a revolutionary change through violent means is essential.
  • Examples of Leftist Terrorism include 
    1. Naxalism in India 
    2. Red Brigades of Italy
    3. 17th November Movement of Greece
    4. People’s Revolutionary Army and Motoneros of Argentina

Rightist Terrorism

  • Right-wingers are conservative. These people either want the status quo or to return to a specific time in the past that they feel should be conserved. When Right Wingers resort to terrorist activities to achieve their objectives, this is known as Rightist Terrorism.
  • Examples include 
    1. ISIS: Want to establish Muslim Caliphate
    2. Ku Klux Klan in the USA to establish White Supremacy

State Sponsored Terrorism

  • When nation-states incorporate terrorism as a deliberate tool of foreign policy to achieve certain defined foreign policy goals, it is known as State Sponsored Terrorism.
  • Examples include 
    1. Pakistan is using Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahidin etc., against India by permitting them to establish safe houses, train on their soil and provide significant financial contributions to them. 
    2. Iran is supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon against Israel.
    3. During the cold war, US and USSR used this strategy on a massive scale. E.g., the US sponsored the Taliban militarily and financially to achieve its goals in Afghanistan.

State Terrorism

  • When the government systematically uses terror mechanisms to control its population, it is known as State Terrorism.
  • Examples include 
    1. Reign of Terror by Jacobins during the French Revolution
    2. Violence by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds.
    3. The recent killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, allegedly by Saudi government agents

Cyber Terrorism

  • Cyber Terrorism is an unlawful attack against computers, networks and the information stored therein to intimidate a state and its people. In simple words, it is the convergence of terrorism and cyberspace.

Ethno-Nationalist Terrorism

  • They either emphasize the establishment of a separate state or the advancement of one ethnic group over others.
  • For example 
    1. LTTE in Sri Lanka.
    2. Insurgent groups in North-East India.
    3. Irish Republican Army in the UK 
    4. Kurdish groups active in Turkey and Iraq


  • The attempt by drug traffickers to coerce government policies through systematic intimidation or the use of violence.
  • For example, Narco-Terrorism is carried out by various Cartels in Mexico and Latin America.


  • It is the deliberate release of viruses, bacteria, or other biological agents used to cause illness or death in people, animals, or plants
  • E.g., During World War I, Germany used Bacillus Anthracis and Burkholderia Mallei against their enemies’ livestock and military personnel.


  • Insurgency is the struggle between a non-ruling group and the ruling group, where the non-ruling group uses political resources and violence. Insurgency aims to gain enough strength to have a regular army strong enough to conquer the ruling group. 
  • Although Insurgency and Terrorism are used interchangeably, there are differences 
    • Insurgents usually target only combatants and not non-combatants. Terrorists deliberately target combatants as well as non-combatants. 
    • Insurgents seek territorial control by establishing “liberated areas”. Terrorists do not seek territorial control. 
    • Insurgents try to create the paraphernalia of a seeming State in the areas controlled while Terrorists don’t. 
    • Insurgent work quite visibly on a regular basis. Terrorist does not let their presence be felt in their area of operation.
  • Examples of Insurgency 
    • Purely insurgent groups. E.g., North-East Insurgent Groups, Irish Republican Army (in the UK) and Euskadi ta Askatasuna (fighting for freedom of Basque in Spain).
    • Purely terrorist groups. E.g., Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)
    • Mix of the two. E.g., Maoists and LTTE (which fought a war against Sri Lankan armed forces from the 80s till the 2009 war for the formation of Tamil State in Sri Lanka)

Causes of Terrorism

Terrorism is the outcome of various reasons including


  • They are a group of people who desire to break away from the union government and form a terrorist group to achieve this objective.
  • For example Kashmiri Terrorist Groups, Khalistani groups, Naga Insurgents etc. 

Feeling of alienation and discrimination

  • Discrimination of a particular group (ethnic or religious) can lead that group to take up arms and indulge in terrorist activities.
  • For example 
    1. Rohingya National Army in Myanmar due to discrimination of Rohingyas by Buddhists.
    2. LTTE in Sri Lanka where Tamils revolted against the majority Sinhalese.
    3. Muslims in European countries like France and UK, where such social misfits frequently resort to Lone Wolf Attacks


  • Religion is the major cause of terrorism. However, any religion doesn’t preach terrorism per se. But some spiritual leaders do preach this.
  • For example 
    1. Global Salafi and Wahabi ideologies preached by Saudi-backed spiritual leaders  
    2. Myanmar’s Buddhist Monk named Ashin Wirathu started Islamophobic 969 movement, which led to riots against Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state
    3. Khalistani movement and organizations like Babar Khalsa aim to create Sikh majority nation-state
    4. Hindu fundamentalist/terrorists carried out incidents like the burning alive of an Australian Christian missionary and his children in 1999, the Samjhauta Express bombings of 2007, the Ajmer Dargah attack of 2007, the Malegaon blasts of 2008 and the Mecca Masjid bombing of 2007.

Unequal distribution of resources

  • Unequal distribution of resources is the main cause behind Left Wing Terrorism. 
  • For this reason, followers of Karl Marx, Lenin and Mao, popularly known as Naxalites in India, frequently take up arms against the state.

Regional disparities

  • Neglect of a particular region and use of its resources for the development of metropole can lead locals to take up arms to attack the state, and its machinery in the region, often creating their own structure of bureaucracy. 
  • E.g., Various terrorist organizations in the North East such as NSCN (Nagaland), Mizo National Front (Mizoram) etc.


  • In the absence of jobs, unemployed youth frequently take up arms. 

Envious and jealous neighbours

  • India has envious neighbours in the form of Pakistan and China, which are ever ready to foment disturbances in India.
  • China funds and supports the Maoists and various insurgent groups active in the North-East. Along with that, it frequently stops India’s attempts to designate individuals involved in planning and orchestrating acts of terror in India, such as Masood Azhar, as a global terrorist under the UNSC Resolution.
  • How Pakistan use terrorism as state policy is dealt with in detail below. 

Pakistan = Sponsor of Terrorism in India

Deep State in Pakistan has nurtured Islamic Radical Groups (Mujahideen) as strategic assets to be used against its adversaries (especially India). This strategy has been increasingly adopted after the success of US-funded Mujahideen in Afghanistan against the USSR in the late 1980s.



After failing in two conventional wars, Pakistan adopted the path of sub-conventional/proxy war with the motto of ‘bleeding India with a thousand cuts‘. Hence, they started to fund various local insurgent groups to strengthen the secessionist demand of different groups in India.

Causes of Terrorism in India


  • Support and Fund Punjab Insurgency: In the 1980s, they started to fund the Khalistan movement to create a sovereign buffer state between India and Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Encourage terrorism in Kashmir: In the late 1980s, Pakistan started to fund and train Kashmiris to indulge in terrorism by tapping into the anti-India sentiment of the Kashmiri population. Terrorists were trained in Pakistani Occupied Kashmir and financed by the ISI and Pakistani military. 


After the Ayodhya incident in 1992, there was a subsequent rise in reactionary activities all over the country, providing a ripe opportunity for the ISI to further its objective of spreading terrorism and communalism in India.

2000 onwards

  • The rise in reactionary right-wing extremist activities in the form of bomb blasts in Malegaon, Ajmer Sharif Dargah, Samjhauta express etc., allowed ISI to exploit the communal fault lines in our society and ensure that the Muslim community remains vulnerable to mobilisation, recruitment and radicalization.

Effects of Terrorism

  1. Terrorist activities damage the life and property at the location of the attack.
  2. Due to terrorist activities, consumers’ confidence dips, and the country’s economy is pushed toward recession.
  3. It negatively impacts the business as commercial activities in such regions go down. 
  4. Governments are forced to increase their spending in the defence sector, and as a result, social welfare spending suffers.
  5. Rise of xenophobia against the community whose members indulge in terrorist activities. E.g., European Muslims face xenophobia due to Islamic terrorist groups. 
  6. Survivors of terrorist attacks are forced to pass through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  7. It gives legitimacy to the government to pass Counter-terrorism legislation (like TADA and UAPA) that infringes on individual freedom and personal privacy.
  8. Due to terrorism, the tourism industry suffers drastically, as seen in Kashmir valley.

Apparatus to Counter Terrorism in India

Intelligence gathering

  • State Police and Central Intelligence Agencies (RAW and IB) are involved in intelligence gathering.
  • NATGRID has been set up after 26/11.

Neutralising Terrorists

  • State Police is the first respondent in case of terrorist operations.
  • In Jammu and Kashmir, and North-East, Army is also involved in counter-terrorism operations. 
  • National Security Guards (NSG) are also used to neutralize highly specialized terrorist attacks like airplane hijacks and hostage rescue operations.


  • National Investigation Agency (NIA) was formed under the NIA Act of 2008 to investigate terrorist activities (after the Mumbai terrorist attacks)


  • In the past, prosecuting terrorists was a prolonged process. However, with the 2019 amendment to the NIA Act, Sessions Courts can now be designated as Special Courts for the purpose of trying Scheduled Offenses under the NIA Act.
Apparatus to Counter Terrorism in India

Steps taken in the recent past to combat Terrorism

1. Strengthened Legislations

NIA (Amendment) Act, 2019

  • Under the amendment, the NIA is empowered to investigate offences related to 
    1. Human Trafficking
    2. Offences related to counterfeit currency  
    3. Manufacture or sale of prohibited arms
    4. Cyber-terrorism
    5. Offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908
  • The NIA will have the authority to look into specified offences committed outside of India, subject to international agreements and other nations’ internal laws.
  • Enables the central government to designate session courts as special courts for NIA trials.


Parliament has passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019 with provisions like

  • Individuals can now be designated as terrorists on certain grounds (Earlier, only Organizations could be declared Terrorist Organisations).
  • Empowers the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Director General to authorize the seizure or attachment of property while the case is under investigation.

2. Institutional framework strengthened

  • NATGRID has become the one-stop destination for security and intelligence agencies to access databases related to immigration entry and exit, banking and telephone details of a suspect on a “secured platform”.

3. International Steps

  • Christchurch Call To Action: It outlines collective, voluntary commitments from governments and online service providers intended to address the issue of violent extremist content online.

Way forward to end terrorism in India

To tackle the menace of terrorism, a multi-pronged approach is needed, which includes

  • Socio-economic development is a priority so that vulnerable sections of society don’t fall prey to the propaganda of terrorists.
  • The administration needs to be responsive to the legitimate grievances of people so that these are redressed promptly and cannot be exploited by terrorist groups.
  • Good governance to provide clean, corruption-free and accountable administration at all levels
  • Government agencies should respect the rule of law and human rights. If the existing laws cannot deal with an extraordinary situation, new laws may be enacted so that law enforcement agencies do not resort to extra-legal or illegal methods.
  • International Cooperation becomes crucial as terrorism is a global threat and cannot be handled by nations acting in silos. As a first measure, the international community should develop a globally accepted definition of terrorism.

Introduction to Indian Climate

Introduction to Indian Climate

This article deals with ‘Introduction to Indian Climate.’ This is part of our series on ‘Geography’, which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

General Observation

  • India has an extraordinary variety of climates ranging from Tropical to Alpine.  
  • The climate of India can be broadly described as Tropical Monsoon Type.

It is most affected by two seasonal winds.

South-West Monsoon Blow from sea to land after crossing the Indian ocean, Arabian sea & Bay of Bengal.
Bring most of the rainfall in the country.
North-East  Monsoon They blow from land to sea.
Cause rainfall only on the Coromandal coast.

The whole of India can be broadly divided into two climatic zones.

North India Continental Climate with winters freezingly cold & summers with extremely high temperature
South India Equable Climate, i.e. same temperature throughout the year

Factors affecting Climate in India

1. Longitudinal Extend

Since the Tropic of Cancer passes through the middle of India. Hence, 

  • Northern India lies in the subtropical & temperate zone
  • Southern India falls in the tropical zone. 
Introduction to Indian Climate

2. Distance from Sea

  • Places situated near the sea have Equable Climates. A large area of India, especially the Peninsular region, is not very far from the sea. This part of the country does not have a very clearly marked winter, and the temperature is almost equal throughout the year. Kerala, situated on the coast, has an annual range of temperatures less than 3° C. 
  • On the other hand, places situated away from the sea have Continental climates. In areas of central and north India, summers are hot, and winters are cold. 

3. Altitude

  • Every 1000 metres of elevation gain results in a 6.5°C drop in temperature. Hence, places situated at higher altitudes are cooler than places on the plains.

4. Mountain Ranges

4.1 Himalayan Mountains

  1. The Himalayas acts as a barrier to the freezing cold wind blowing from central Asia and keep the Indian subcontinent warm compared to Central Asia.
  2. The Himalayas compel the South-West monsoon to shed whole rainfall in India.

4.2 Western Ghats

  • Significant rainfall happens on the western slopes of the Western Ghats. In contrast, the eastern slopes & Deccan plateau receive very little rain as they lie in the rainshadow region of Western Ghats.

5. Direction of Surface Winds

  • Summer: winds blow from sea to land, bringing widespread rain.
  • Winter: winds blow from land to sea, and hence, they are dry & cold.

6. Upper-Air Circulation

They affect Indian Climate in the following ways 

  • The onset of the South-West Monsoon is driven by the shift of the Sub-Tropical Westerly Jet (STWJ) from the plains of India towards the Tibetan plateau (explained in the next article in detail). 
  • Sub-Tropical Westerly Jet (STWJ) reaches India after passing over the Mediterranean Sea, where rainfall occurs during winters. These winds bring cyclonic disturbances to Northern India, causing rain in Northern India during winters known as Western Disturbances. 
  • The Tropical Easterly jet streams that blow over Peninsular India (approx. 14° N during summer) cause tropical depressions during the South-West and retreating monsoon.
Tropical Easterly jet streams

Rare Earth Metals

Rare Earth Metals

This article deals with ‘Introduction to Mineral Resources of India.’ This is part of our series on ‘Geography’, which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


Rare Earth Metals
  • Rare Earth Metals include 15 lanthanides with Atomic numbers 57 to 71 and two non-lanthanide metals, i.e. Scandium and Yttrium.
  • As they frequently occur in the same ore deposits as the lanthanides and have comparable chemical characteristics, scandium and yttrium are also regarded as rare-earth elements. But they have different electronic and magnetic properties.
  • Although they are termed Rare Earth elements, they are not so rare in occurrence. However, 
    • They tend to occur together and are difficult to separate from one another. 
    • Along with that, they do not occur in concentrated form and are dispersed throughout the world. It makes their extraction difficult and economically unviable. 
    • They are also hazardous to extract due to their radioactive nature.  
  • Two main ores from which Rare Earth Metals can be extracted are Monazite and Bastansite.

Uses of Rare Earth Metals

  • They are used in various high-end electronic devices due to their useful magnetic, chemical and spectroscopic properties.
  • They have the unique property to accept and discharge electrons, enabling them to be used in electronic devices, rechargeable batteries & fluorescent lighting.  
  • Due to their spectroscopic properties, they are used as fluorescent and as the main component in night vision glasses.
  • Due to their magnetic properties, they are used in electromagnetic circuits and also to make powerful and stable magnets.
  • Military uses 
    • They are used in night-vision glasses & precision-guided weapons. 
    • They are the critical component in making ultra-hard alloys used in making armoured vehicles.
  • Some Rare Earth Metals and their uses 
    1. Scandium: Television and fluorescent lamps
    2. Yttrium: Treat cancer and rheumatoid arthritis 
    3. Lanthanum: Night vision glasses 
    4. Neodymium: Guidance systems and wind turbine motors
    5. Europium: Fluorescent lamps 
    6. Samarium: Powerful permanent magnets which are stable even at high temperature
    7. Cerium: Space program, especially space shuttles

Global Distribution

  • There are two main sources of Rare Earth Metals
    • Bastnasite deposits in China and the United States constitute the largest percentage  
    • Monazite deposits found in Australia, Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Thailand.  
  • China is the world leader, accounting for around 97% of world production. India, Brazil, Australia, the USA, Russia, Thailand and Malaysia comprise the rest. 
  • In 2023, large deposits of rare earth metals were found in Sweden. Until then, no rare earth deposits have been reported from the continent.
  • Rare earth metals are also being recycled from e-waste. 

Indian Distribution

  • India has 3% of world reserves. 
  • The main source in India is monazite which is found in the form of sand on the beaches of Kerala. 
  • The Geological Survey of India recently found a high concentration of rare earth elements in western Rajasthan.  

Introduction to Mineral Resources of India

Introduction to Mineral Resources of India

This article deals with ‘Introduction to Mineral Resources of India.’ This is part of our series on ‘Geography’, which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

Mineral Resources

  • Minerals are aggregates of two or more than two elements having a definite chemical composition and atomic structure & formed by the inorganic process.
  • The development of the entire secondary sector is based on minerals. India has vast deposits of minerals. 
  • In the earth’s crust, they are in the form of ore. They are extracted, processed & then utilised for the economic benefit of society.

Minerals have certain characteristics

  • These are unevenly distributed over space. 
  • There is an inverse relationship between the quality and quantity of minerals, i.e., high-quality minerals are less in quantity than low-quality minerals. 
  • All minerals are exhaustible over time. These take a long to develop geologically, and they cannot be replenished immediately at the time of need. Thus, they have to be conserved & not misused as they do not have a second crop.

Classifications of Mineral Resources

Classification into Metallic and Non-Metallic Minerals

Introduction to Mineral Resources of India

Classification into Renewable and Non-Renewable Minerals

1. Renewable Resources

  • Resources which can be renewed or replenished fast
  • They are always available & not affected by human activities.
  • E.g., Solar Energy, Wind Energy etc.

2. Non-Renewable Resources

  • These have been built over a large geological time.
  • They need to be used judicially & in a planned way.
  • Fossil fuels, iron, gold etc.

Distribution of Minerals in India

  • Minerals are mainly associated with metamorphic & igneous rocks of Peninsular India. The vast alluvial plain tract of north India is devoid of minerals of economic use. 
  • Mineral resources provide the country with the necessary base for industrial development.
  • Each mineral region is associated with a prior geological activity.

Geological Events which led to the formation of Minerals

3 Geological events happened in India due to which minerals are found in those areas.

1. Shield Regions

  • These were mountains millions of years ago but have now eroded to plateaus.
  • Metallic Minerals are found in large quantities, particularly in Chotanagpur Plateau & Dharwad Plateau.  
  • Reason for minerals: Volcanic Activity when it passed over Reunion Island.
Shield Regions and Minerals in India

2. Rift Valley during Gondwana Time

  • During Gondwana times, the rifting along Damodar & Mahanadi led to large-scale forest submergence. Over the years, this has resulted in the formation of Coal deposits.
  • The main regions where these are found are  
    • Damodar Valley
    • Mahanadi Valley
    • Godavari and Wardha Valley
Rift Valley during Gondwana Time

3. Marine transgression during Tertiary time

  • Petroleum reserves are found at sites of marine transgression.
  • These regions Include
    1. Gulf of Khambat and Gulf of Kutch. 
    2. Brahmaputra-Shillong Shelf
    3. Bengal-Bangladesh Shelf
    4. KG Basin 
Marine transgression during Tertiary time

5 Mineral rich Regions of India

There are 5 mineral-rich regions in India where most minerals are concentrated.

1. Northern-Eastern Belt

  • It is the richest mineral region of India.
  • It consists of following 
    1. Chotanagpur Plateau
      • Kyanite (100% of India’s reserves)
      • Iron (90% of India’s reserves)
      • Chromium (90% of India’s reserves)
      • Mica (75% of India’s reserves)
      • Coal (70% of India’s reserves)
      • Others: Manganese, Copper and Limestone 
    2. Assam 
      1. Petroleum Reserve
      2. Lignite Coal
Northern-Eastern Belt

2. Central Belt

It is found in the Chhattisgarh region

  • It is an extension of the Chotanagpur Plateau.
  • Iron and limestone are found here.
  • Coal is found here due to the Godavari-Wardha valley rifting.
Central Belt

3. South-East Region

In this region, the following minerals are found

  • East Karnataka (Hospet Bellary Region): Iron
  • Andhra (Cuddapah & Kurnool): Iron
  • Andhra (Nellore): Mica, Manganese and Coal
  • Telangana: Bauxite
  • Tamil Nadu (Neyveli): Lignite coal
South-East Region

4. South-West Region

In this region, the following minerals are found

  • Karnataka Dharwar: Iron, manganese, and limestone are found here 
  • Goa: Iron is found here 
  • Maharashtra (Ratnagiri): Iron is found here.   
  • Kerala has deposits of Monazite and Thorium and Bauxite clay.
South-West Region

5. North-West region

In this region, the following minerals are found

  • Petroleum 
    • Rajasthan: Barmer 
    • Gujarat: Gulf of Kutch 
  • Building material 
    • Rajasthan is rich in building stones, i.e. sandstone, granite, and marble. Gypsum and Fuller’s earth deposits are also extensive. Dolomite and limestone provide raw materials for the cement industry.
  • From Lakes
    • Salt from Playa lakes of Rajasthan. 
    • Lake Sambhar and Lake Didwana of Rajasthan – contain gypsum & borax deposits.

India State of Forests Report

India State of Forests Report

This article deals with the ‘India State of Forests Report.’ This is part of our series on ‘Geography’, which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

India State of Forests Report, 2021

  • The Forest Survey of India (FSI) released the India State of Forest Report for 2021.
  • FSI undertakes a biennial assessment of the country’s forest resources.

Definition of Forest

  • According to FSI, all lands more than 1 hectare with a tree canopy of more than 10%, irrespective of the land usage, ownership or legal status of the land. 
  • The assessment is done using satellite data. The efficiency of this system is around 95%. 

Types of Forest Cover

There are three types of Forest cover.

  1. Very Dense Forest: Tree canopy density of more than 70%
  2. Moderately Dense: Tree canopy density between 40% and 70%
  3. Open Forest: Tree canopy density of more than 10%

Issues with the System

  • Plantations are also included in forest area, although they don’t provide the full benefits of forests and lacks biodiversity. 
  • Satellite data is not foolproof. 

Key Highlights of the report

India State of Forests Report

1. Forest and Tree Cover at the National level

  • India’s total Forest and Tree Cover is 80.9 million hectares, i.e. 24.62% of the Indian geographical area. 
  • It is an increase of 2,261 compared to the State of Forest Report of 2019.

2. Forest Cover in States

  • The states with the largest forest cover are Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.   
  • In terms of forest cover as a percentage, the top three States are Mizoram (85.41%), Arunachal Pradesh (79.63%), Meghalaya (76.33%) 
  • Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha witnessed the highest increase in forest cover. 
  • Arunachal, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Sikkim are the states showing the maximum loss in forest cover.

3. Mangroves

  • The total mangrove cover in India is 4,992 sq. km. 
  • It has observed a net increase of 17 sq. km in the mangrove cover as compared to the 2019 assessment. 
  • The mangrove cover in the country is  0.15% of the country’s total geographical area
  • West Bengal has 42.45% of India’s mangrove cover, followed by Gujarat and the A&N Islands.  

From 2017 Report

4. Forest Fires

  • 21.40% of the country’s forest cover is high to extremely fire-prone. 
  • Most fire-prone forest areas are found in the north-eastern region and the central part of the country. 

5. Biodiversity

  • Maximum tree diversity is found in tropical evergreen forests of Western Ghats (Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka) followed by north-eastern states. 

Types of Vegetations in India

Types of Vegetations in India

This article deals with ‘Types of Vegetations in India.’ This is part of our series on ‘Geography’, which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


  • Natural vegetation refers to a plant community unaffected by man, directly or indirectly.
  • Climate, soil and landform characteristics are the important environmental controls of natural vegetation.

1. Tropical Evergreen Forest

  • Tropical Evergreen Forests are found in areas with 
    1. 200 cm or more annual rainfall
    2. Annual temperature of more than 22°C 
    3. Rainfall is distributed throughout the year.
  • These forests never shed their leaves; therefore, they are called evergreen forests.
  • The temperatures in these regions are high enough to promote constant growth, and water is always sufficient. The only physical limitation for vegetation growth is light, which sets a competition between adjacent species for light. Due to this reason, Tropical evergreen forests are dense, vertically stratified and multi-layered
    • The tallest trees, to ensure maximum sunlight goes up to the height of 60 meters and have a branched canopy. They receive maximum sunlight. 
    • Vegetation layers closer to the ground consisting of shrubs and creepers receive very low sunlight due to darkness in this area.       
  • Vegetation in this region consists of 
    • Trees: Rosewood, Mahogany, Aini, Ebony, Ironwood, Cinchona (bark used to make quinine), and Cedar (all hardwoods). Their height is up to 60 meters, and their bark is up to 5 m thick.
    • Dense undergrowth: Bamboo, Fern, Canes & Climbers 
Types of Vegetations in India
  • Though this is a hardwood type of vegetation, due to high density, lack of pure strands and swampy ground conditions, it is not easy to exploit these forests. Also, due to the lack of transportation facilities, their full economic benefits have not yet been realised.
  • They are found in 
    1. Western Ghats in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala
    2. Parts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra
    3. Andaman-Nicobar Islands
    4. Plain areas of West Bengal and Odisha
    5. North-Eastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and Meghalaya 
Tropical Evergreen Forest (Areas in India)

2. Tropical Deciduous Forest

  • Tropical Deciduous Forests develop in areas with  
    1. 70 to 200 cm annual rainfall
    2. Annual temperature of about 27°C  
    3. But there is a distinct dry and wet season.
  • The characteristic feature of the Deciduous forest: This vegetation sheds its leaves due to stress during the long dry season, which occurs at the time of low sun and cool temperatures.
Tropical Deciduous Forest
  • Vegetation in this region consists of 
    1. Teak and Sal are the most important trees.
    2. Rosewood, Kusum, Pipal, Neem, Teak, Eucalyptus, Mahua, Amla, and Tendu are also found. 
  • They are found in regions having tropical monsoon climates i.e. 
    1. Great Plains: Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal
    2. Central India: Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, 
    3. South India: Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu 
Tropical Deciduous Forest

3. Scrubs and Thorny Forests

  • Scrubs and thorny forests are found in areas with 
    1. Annual rainfall of less than 70 cm. 
    2. Annual temperature of about 27°C  
  • In such regions, Xerophytic vegetation is found, which has the following characteristic features to conserve moisture.  
    1. Long roots to extract moisture 
    2. Thick barks to store water
    3. Waxy leaves, thorns and small leaves to avoid evapotranspiration
  • Vegetation in this region consists of 
    • Trees: Kikar, Babul , Pipal, Palm, Khejri , Ber, Neem etc.
    • Xerophytes like Cactus
    • Grasses like Munj, Tussocky etc.
  • These forests are found in 
    1. West of Aravallis in Rajasthan
    2. South Punjab and South Haryana
    3. Gujarat
    4. Interior rain shadow areas of the Deccan Plateau
Scrubs and Thorny Forests

4. Mountain or Montane Forest

This type of vegetation is found in India in the Himalayas in the north and Nilgiri hills in the south. 

4.1 Himalayan Montane Forests

  • All type of vegetation available worldwide is found in the Himalayan region. The Himalayan mountains exhibit a succession of vegetation, ranging from tropical to tundra, with changes in altitude 
  • The natural vegetation found on hill slopes is affected by the difference in temperature and rainfall with increasing height. 

Upto 1000 m

  • Mixed trees of deciduous vegetation are found, like Sal and Teak.

1000 to 2500 m

  • There is a decrease in temperature and an increase in precipitation. Hence,  wet-temperate vegetation is found here, which consists of evergreen broad-leaf trees such as Deodar (highly durable wood used in construction),  Chinar and Walnut (in Kashmir and used in handicrafts) etc.

2500 to 4000 m

  • With an increase in temperature and a decrease in precipitation, this region contains Alpine vegetation and pastures. Pointed-leafed coniferous trees like pine, spruce, rhododendrons etc., are found here. 
  • Pastures of this region are used extensively by tribes like Gujjars, Bakarwals, Bhotiyas and the Gaddis.

Above 4000 m

  • These areas are above the snowline, and Tundra vegetation is found in this region, containing mosses, lichens, natural grasses and flowers. 
Himalayan Montane Forests

4.2 South Indian Montane Forests

  • These forests are found in three distinct regions of Peninsular India viz; the Vindhyas, the Western Ghats and the Nilgiri.
  • It is different from the Himalayas because 
    1. They are closer to the tropics
    2. Their height is only 3000 m above the sea level at max 

Two different types of vegetation are found in accordance with increasing height

Lower regions

  • Subtropical vegetation is found in this region

Higher regions

  • Temperate vegetation is found here.
  • In Nilgiris, Annamalai and Palani Hills, these Temperate forests are known as Sholas
  • Shola forest has a high degree of endemism, i.e. concentration of species that are not found anywhere else in the world. 
  • Shola forests on the higher reaches of the Western Ghats are like “patches of forests floating in a sea of grassland.”

5. Littoral and Swamp Forests

  • This vegetation is found in the deltaic areas of rivers like the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Krishna, Cauvery, Godavari and Mahanadi. 
Mangroves in India
  • Here, seawater at the time of tides keeps entering the deltaic areas. Due to this, the soil becomes marshy and saline, and normal vegetation can’t survive there. A special type of salt-tolerant plant called Mangroves is found here, which has adapted itself to survive in these conditions with features like 
    1. aerial roots (roots above ground for breathing)
    2. stilt roots (roots below water to hold tree against tides) and 
    3. vivipary (special technique of germination) 
  • The Sundari tree is also found in abundance. Therefore, the Ganga-Yamuna delta is known as the Sundarbans delta. Sundari tree provides valuable timber for making boats.
  • This type of vegetation is also called mangroves or Sundarbans vegetation.
Properties of Mangroves

Side Note: Importance of Mangroves

  • It provides Buffer Zone between the land and sea.
  • Mangroves protect coastal land from erosion. 
  • Mangroves serve as the natural defence against cyclones and other calamities that threaten the environment.
  • Many living species, including invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and even mammals like tigers, can be found in mangroves.
  • Huge volumes of carbon dioxide are removed from the atmosphere by mangrove forests, and their preservation can help to control and combat climate change.
  • Mangroves clean the air by absorbing pollutants in the air and cleanse the water by absorbing contaminants and dangerous heavy metals.
  • Mangroves are a potential source of recreation and tourism.

Side Note: Causes of degradation of Mangroves

1. Natural Causes

  • Cyclones, typhoons, and strong wave action damage mangroves
  • Attack of insect pests such as wood borers and caterpillars (which eat the mangrove foliage and damage the wood).

2. Human Causes

  • Human Encroachment: The increasing human population in coastal areas results in increased pressure on mangrove ecosystems in many countries, including India.
  • Oil spills and other accidents: As happened recently in Sundarbans

Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC)

  • It was launched at CoP-27 (Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt (2022)).
  • The initiative is led by UAE and Indonesia. India is also one of its founding members.
  • It aims to raise awareness about the potential benefits of mangroves as a climate change solution and their role in reducing global warming.

Soil Erosion

Soil Erosion

This article deals with ‘Soil Erosion ’ This is part of our series on ‘Geography’ which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here


The removal of the top 15 to 30 cm thick layer of soil by natural agents such as water, wind, glaciers and human activities is called soil erosion.

Agents of Soil Erosion

Wind and water are the most powerful agents of soil erosion

  1. Wind Erosion: It is the most potent agent of soil erosion in arid and semi-arid regions 
  2. Water Erosion: In areas with heavy rainfall and steep slopes, water erosion becomes significant

Types of Erosion

a. Sheet Erosion

  • In this type of erosion, a thin sheet (layer) of soil is eroded uniformly from a large area by wind or running water.
  • It is not easily noticeable but is harmful since it removes the finer and more fertile topsoil.

b. Rill Erosion

  • During heavy rainfall, water flows in the form of narrow channels along the slope of the land. Many finger-shaped grooves are formed over the surface.

c. Gully Erosion

  • It is an extreme type of rill erosion.
  • In areas of the steeper slope, Rills deepen with rainfall to form ravines, cut the agricultural lands into small fragments and make them unfit for cultivation. 
  • A region with a large number of ravines is called a badland topography. It is widespread in the Chambal basin.   

Soil Erosion

Reasons of Erosion

Human-Induced Reasons 

  • Deforestation: Deforestation is one of the major causes of soil erosion. Plants keep soils bound in locks of roots and, thus, prevent erosion. 
  • Brick making: Top layer of soil used in making bricks. 
  • Overgrazing: Loss of grass cover exposes soil to erosion. 
  • Faulty Agro-practice: Like Shifting Agriculture or Ploughing along the slope with no barrier to the movement of loose soil particles by wind and water 

Natural Reasons 

  • Water & Wind erosion
  • Landslides, Volcanic eruptions and flooding
  • Side-cutting of river banks

Implications of Erosion

  • Eroded materials are carried down to rivers, lowering the river’s carrying capacity and causing frequent floods.
  • It leads to the loss of topsoil, which is the most fertile. Hence, the productivity of the soil is reduced.
  • Soil erosion from agricultural land causes eutrophication in ponds, tanks, oceans & other water bodies. 
  • Events of landslide increase. 
  • Natural hideouts to carry out nefarious activities are formed in the case of Gully Erosion (Chambal Valley is famous for dacoits).

Methods to prevent Soil Erosion

Methods to prevent soil erosion can be divided into structural and non-structural solutions.

a. Structural Solutions

1. On the Slopes

  • Construction of retaining wall along slopes. 

2. On the Coastal Areas

  • Using Tripods & Tetrapods: Wave action is held back & erosion is prevented 
Methods to prevent Soil Erosion

3. On the Rivers

  • Strengthening slopes of river banks using stone pitching or wire netting.

b. Non-Structural Solutions

1. Afforestation

  1. Vegetation holds the soil particles firmly and restricts soil erosion.
  2. Creating windbreaks: Trees are planted in rows to create windbreaks to reduce the velocity of winds in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh.
  3. Agroforestry: Tree plantations on the sides of agricultural field act as barriers to fast-moving winds

2. Along Slopes

  • Terrace farming: Slows the speed of the water
  • Contour bunding: Barriers at the edge of the slope are created to slow down water.
Methods to prevent Soil Erosion

3. Agricultural practices

  • Relay farming: Multiple crops are grown in the same field, and the field is never left open. It is practised in Uttarakhand.
  • Strip farming: The field has a layer of one crop and then of another.
  • Avoiding overgrazing of grasslands

4. Other Solutions

  • Allowing indigenous plants to grow along the river banks. 
  • Encouraging biological diversity by planting several different types of plants together.

Soils of India

Soils of India

This article deals with ‘Soils of India ’ This is part of our series on ‘Geography’ which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here


Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) divides the soils of India into the following eight major groups

Soils of India
Soils of India (percentage of different soils)

1. Alluvial Soil

  • 22.16% of the total area of India consists of Alluvial soil. 
  • Alluvial soil formation results from the deposition of soil carried downstream by rivers originating from the Himalayas and southern plateau
  • Their texture is sandy loam to clay.
  • Their colour varies from ash grey to light grey.
  • Their profile shows no marked differentiation
  • Chemical Composition
    1. These soils are rich in potash, phosphoric acid, lime and carbon compounds 
    2. But they are deficient in nitrogen and humus. (they need urea for cultivation)

They are of two types

Khadar Found in the floodplains of the rivers and contain fresh alluvial.  
They are rich in kankar or nodules of impure CaCO3.
Bhangar They are found well above flood plains and contain old alluvial
Khadar and Bhangar
  • They are found in 
    • Plains of Ganga-Indus river valleys of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Eastern Rajasthan, Bihar, West Bengal
    • Brahmaputra and Surma valleys of Assam
    • Mahanadi valley of Orissa
    • Narmada and Tapti valleys of Madhya Pradesh 
    • Deltaic areas of Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery in the South
  • Crops grown in it includes Rice, Wheat, Sugarcane and Oilseeds

2. Black Soil

  • 29.69% of the total area of India consists of black soil. 
  • They are also known as ‘Regur Soil’. 
  • Black soil has formed due to the disintegration of basalt volcanic rocks of the Deccan Traps
  • The black colour of these soils is due to the presence of iron and aluminium. 
  • Their texture is clayey
  • Chemical composition 
    1. They are rich in iron, potash, aluminium, lime and magnesium. 
    2. But they are deficient in nitrogen, phosphorus and organic matter.
  • They have two unique properties.
    1. Self-Ploughing Nature: It has high clay content & as a result, cracks are developed when it is dry & becomes sticky when wet. Cracks allow air to reach depth. Aeration, usually done by ploughing the field, happens naturally. 
    2. It has a high water retention ability. Hence, it is suitable for cotton cultivation. (Note: cotton grows in dry areas because a dry climate is required for boll formation, but roots need a good water supply, which is ensured by the high clay content of black soil) .
  • They are found in 
    1. Maharashtra and Malwa plateaus,
    2. Kathiawar peninsula
    3. Kaimur hills
    4. Telangana and Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh 
    5. Northern part of Karnataka
  • Crops grown in it include Cotton (most important), Millet, Tobacco and Sugarcane.

3. Red Soil

  • 28% of the total area of India consists of Red soil. 
  • These soils have been formed by the disintegration of ancient crystalline and metamorphic rocks like granites and gneisses.  
  • The red colour of these soils is due to the presence of iron.
  • Their texture is sandier and less clayey.
  • Chemical composition 
    1. They are rich in iron, magnesium, aluminium and potash.
    2. But they are deficient in humus, nitrogen and phosphorous.
  • They practically encircle the entire black soil region of the Deccan plateau on all sides and are found in 
    1. Whole of Tamil-Nadu,
    2. Parts of Karnataka
    3. North-east Andhra Pradesh
    4. Orissa
    5. South Bihar,
    6. eastern Madhya Pradesh 
    7. North-eastern hilly states.
    8. Aravalli mountain regions of Rajasthan.
  • They are found in arid regions with low rainfall. But under irrigation, these soils provide good production with the application of ammonia, superphosphate, and compost fertilizers.
  • Since they are rich in magnesium, iron and aluminium, so can produce excellent crops like bajra, pulses, cotton, tobacco, jowar and fruits.

4. Laterite Soil

  • 2.62% of the total area of India consists of laterite soil. 
  • These are soils of warm wet tropical regions, where due to heavy rain (more than 200 cm), lime, silica and salts are leached away, and oxides of iron and aluminium are left behind.
  • The word laterite means brick type. It is named so because it hardens like Brick when dry. However, it is soft when it’s wet. 
  • They are red in colour due to the presence of Iron oxide.
  • Their texture is heavy loam and clay.
  • Chemical Composition 
    1. They are rich in Iron and Aluminium oxides and hence are acidic.
    2. But they are poor in nitrogen, lime, potash, phosphorus and organic matter. The Humus content of the soil is removed fast by bacteria that thrive well in high temperatures.
  • These are found on 
    1. Hills of Satpura and Vindhya 
    2. Eastern Ghats region of Orissa,
    3. Hills of Western Ghats of Karnataka
    4. South Maharashtra
    5. Malabar in Kerala 
    6. North & Eastern parts of the Shillong plateau in the northeastern states
  • It is not very suitable for agriculture because of its high iron content. But it is suitable for crops that need iron for growth, i.e. Tapioca, Cashew nuts, Coffee and Rubber.

5. Arid and Desert Soils

  • 6.13% of the total area of India consists of Arid and Desert Soils. 
  • They are also called Sierozem soils.
  • They are formed under arid & semi-arid conditions, high temperatures and accelerated evaporation when the soil becomes dry.
  • Their texture is sandy.
  • Chemical Composition 
    1. They contain a high proportion of salts
    2. But they are deficient in humus, nitrogen & moisture.
  • As a result of the “Kankar” layer formation in the bottom layers, water infiltration doesn’t happen. But in case water is made available by irrigation, the soil moisture is easily accessible to the plants their sustained plant growth
  • They are found in
    1. Rajasthan
    2. Northern Gujarat  
    3. Southern Punjab and Haryana (Desert soil reaches here from Rajasthan under the influence of sand storms, in the form of ‘Bhur’ soils)
  • With irrigation facilities, crops like bajra, jowar, cotton, wheat, sugarcane, and some vegetables can be grown.

6. Forest and Mountain Soils

  • 7.94% of the total area of India consists of Forest and Mountain soil. 
  • As the name suggests, this type of soil is found in the mountains. 
  • The thickness of the upper layer is very low on mountain slopes, although it can be up to 2 metres in valleys and gently sloping hillsides. These are less developed immature soils.
  • Their colour and character change with height.   
    1. Up to an elevation of 1800 metres: brown-coloured, acidic forest soils are found due to the decomposition of deciduous vegetation. 
    2. Between 1800 and 3000 metres: Low temperatures and poorly decomposed coniferous vegetation convert these soils into grey-brown podzolic soils. 
    3. Above 3000 mAlpine meadow soils occur above the timberline. These are shallow, dark in colour and sandy-loam or sandy-silica in texture. The organic matter is not decomposed in these soils due to a sharp fall in temperature.
  • These are found in 
    1. Lower and middle ranges of the Himalayas, especially in Assam, Ladakh, Lahaul –Spiti, Kinnaur, Darjeeling, Dehradun, Almora, Garhwal etc 
    2. Nilgiri hills in the south.
  • These soils can be used to grow Coffee, tea, maize, potato, fruits and various types of spices
  • Apart from that, forestry and lumbering activities are also done here. 

7. Saline and Alkaline Soils

  • 1.29% of the total area of India consists of Saline and Alkaline soil. 
  • They are also known as Usara soils.
  • These soils can be formed due to many reasons in
    • In the interior areas, saline soils originate due to bad drainage, over-irrigation or canal seepage. It causes water logging, and the capillary action transfers injurious salts from the subsurface to the topsoil.
    • In dry agricultural areas, relying on excessive irrigation. Such conditions promote capillary action resulting in the deposition of salts in the top layer.
    • In coastal areas, saline soils form due to Sea water intrusion. 
  • Their structure ranges from sandy to loamy. 
  • Chemical Composition
    1. They have excessive amounts of sodium, potassium & magnesium. It makes such soils infertile, and they can’t support vegetative growth.
    2. They lack nitrogen and calcium. 
  • They are found in
    • Deltas of the Eastern coast, Sundarbans of West Bengal and Western Gujarat due to seawater intrusions  
    • Areas of Green Revolution like Punjab (locally called Kallar or Thur), Haryana and Uttar Pradesh

8. Peaty and Marshy Soil

  • 2.17% of the total area of India consists of Peaty and Marshy soil. 
  • Such soils are found in areas with heavy rainfall, high humidity, and good vegetation growth. Hence, excessive dead organic matter is present in such areas, providing humus and organic content to the soil. Organic matter in such soils can range between 40 to 50 per cent.
  • This soil is heavy and black in colour. 
  • They are found in 
    1. Sundarbans Delta
    2. Coastal areas of Orissa
    3. South-Eastern coastal parts of Tamil Nadu
    4. Central Bihar 
    5. Almora district of Uttar Pradesh