Lifelines of National Economy I Notes

Lifelines of National Economy I Notes

Lifelines of National Economy

Transport plays a crucial role in the development of any economy. Modern means of transport have become the lifelines of our nation.


India has one of the largest networks of roadways in the world. The length of road per 100 sq km. of area is known as the density of roads. Kerala has the highest density of roads.

The network of roads in India is denser than the railways because of the following reasons:

  • Compared to the railways, the construction cost of roads is less.
  • It is easier to build roads in the hilly and forested regions.
  • Road transport is cheaper than the railways in the case of transport of goods over short distance. Cost of loading and unloading of goods is also less.
  • Roads provide door-to-door services unlike railways. Roads also link railway stations, airports and sea ports.

Classification of Roads in India

In India, roads are classified into six major categories.

  1. Golden Quadrilateral Superhighways
    The north–south corridors linking Srinagar and Kanyakumari, and the east–west corridors linking Silchar in Assam to Porbandar in Gujarat.
    A project is on to link Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai by six-lane superhighways.
    Link various important cities and reduce the time of travel and distance between mega cities.
    Maintenance Authority
    National Authority of India (NAI)
  2. National Highways
    National highways connect cities and states to one another. Sher Shah Suri Marg is called National Highway No. 1 and runs between Delhi and Amritsar.
    Connect various cities across one or more states.
    Maintenance Authority
    Central Public Works Department (CPWD)
  3. State Highways

    The state highways connect capital cities with district headquarters in a state.
    Connect various cities within a state.
    Maintenance Authority
    State Public Works Department (PWD)
  4. District Roads

    They connect district headquarters with other places in a district.
    Link various towns and cities in a district.
    Maintenance Authority
    Zilla Parishad
  5. Other Roads
    They connect various villages and towns.
    Connect villages to one and other and to towns.
    Crucial to the transport of agricultural products to markets.
    Maintenance Authority
    Local bodies and funds are also allocated by the Central and State Governments.
  6. Border Roads
    They are built along the borders of our country.
    Strengthen defences of the country.
    Maintenance Authority
    Border Road Organisation (works under the CentralGovernment)

Problems faced by Roads in India:

  1. Inadequate network of roads keeping in mind the huge population of the country.
  2. About half of the roads are not metalled and hence become unusable during the rainy season.
  3. Roads are congested in the cities.


Railways are an important means of transport for carrying passengers and goods over a long distance.
They bind the entire country together. They have contributed to the growth of the national economy by transporting agricultural and industrial products all over the country. The Indian Railways is organised into 16 zones.

Some problems faced by the railways in India are

  • It is difficult to lay railway lines over rivers. It can be done by building bridges which is costly.
  • It is extremely difficult to lay railway lines in hilly regions because of rugged terrains and steep slopes of the mountains.
  • It is not easy to construct railway lines on the sandy plains of Rajasthan, swampy areas of Gujarat and forested regions of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.
  • Many people travel without tickets causing loss to the Indian Railways. Damage and theft of railway property has also harmed the Indian Railways.

However, despite all the above problems, the railways have immensely contributed to the growth of our economy. More railway lines are being laid to link inaccessible parts of the country. For example, the development of Konkan Railway along the west coast has made the movement of people and goods easier in the region.


Waterways are the most important means of transporting bulky and heavy goods. It is a fuel-efficient and environmental friendly means of transport. Inland waterways connect rivers, canals, backwater and creeks within the country. The following waterways have been declared as national waterways by the Government:

  • River Ganga between Allahabad and Haldia
  • River Brahmaputra between Sadiya and Dhubri
  • The West Coast Canal in Kerala

Apart from the Ganga and Brahmaputra, the Godavari, Krishna, Buckingham Canal and East West Canal are important inland waterways.

Sea Ports

India is a peninsular country and has a long coast line. There are 12 major and 187 minor sea ports in the country. Some famous sea ports are

  • Mumbai is the biggest port. Jawaharlal Nehru Port was built in order to decongest the Mumbai port.
  • Mormugao Port in Goa is an important iron ore-exporting port in the country.
  • New Mangalore Port exports iron ore which is concentrated in the Kudremukh mines.
  • Kochi Port is located in the extreme southwestern part of the country. It has been developed alongside a natural harbour.
  • Tuticorin Port in Tamil Nadu has a natural harbour and exports cargos to our neighbouring countries.
  • Chennai is one of the oldest artificial ports of our country. It is next to Mumbai in terms of trading activities.
  • Vishakhapatnam is the deepest landlocked port.
  • Kolkata is an inland riverine port. Haldia Port was developed to reduce pressure of the Kolkata Port.


The airways is a fast-developing means of transport in India. Government-owned Indian Airlines and other private airlines provide domestic air services. Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd. provides helicopter services to Oil and Natural Gas Corporation for its off shore operations.

Advantages of Airways

  • It is the fastest means of communication. It has greatly reduced travelling time.
  • It can easily travel across mountainous regions, deserts, dense forests and great oceanic stretches.
  • During natural calamities such as floods or landslides, it helps in providing relief to affected people who inhabit difficult terrains.

The greatest disadvantage of air travel is that it is an expensive means of transport and is not within the reach of common people. Only in the northeastern parts of the country, special provisions are provided to the people.


Pipelines are used to transport crude oil, petroleum products and natural gas from fields to refineries, fertiliser factories and thermal power plants. The cost of laying pipelines is high, but the running costs are nominal. Three important networks of pipelines in the country are

  • From the oil fields in Upper Assam to Kanpur
  • From Salaya in Gujarat to Jalandhar in Punjab
  • From Hazira in Gujarat to Jagdishpur in Uttar Pradesh


  • Some important means of communication are television, radio, press, newspapers and telecom. The Indian postal network is the largest in the world. It handles parcels and written communications.
  • First class mail includes cards and envelopes and second class mail includes books and newspapers. Six mail channels have been opened to ensure quick transport of mails. They are Rajdhani channel, Metro channel, Green channel, Business channel, Bulk mail channel and Periodical channel.
  • India has one of the largest telecom networks in Asia. STD facilities have now been provided to even far-off villages.
  • Mass communication such as radio, TV and newspapers creates awareness among people about various policies of the state and country. Many programmes in local languages are broadcasted across various regions of the country.
  • Doordarshan is the national television channel of India and is one of the largest terrestrial networks in the world.
  • Several newspapers, magazines and periodicals are published in several local languages across the country.

International Trade

  • The exchange of goods across states and countries is known as trade. Trade between two countries is known as international trade.
  • International trade determines the economic prosperity of the country.
  • Balance of trade is the difference between the exports and imports of a country. When exports are more than imports, it is known as favourable balance of trade. When imports are more than exports, it is known as unfavourable balance of trade.
  • Major exports of India include agriculture and allied products, minerals and ores, gems and jewellery and coal. India mainly imports petroleum and petroleum products, pearls and precious stones, coal, coke and machinery. The IT industry of India earns a large amount of foreign exchange for the country.
  • Tourism is also an important industry. More than 5.78 million foreign tourists visited India in 2010. The tourism industry employs more than 15 million people in the country.
  • It also provides support to the handicrafts sector and promotes our culture.
  • Some important tourist states of India are Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Rajasthan and the temple towns of south India.