Chapter- 7 Lifeline of National Economy

Means of Transport:

  • Roadways
  • Railways
  • Pipelines
  • Inland
  • Overseas
  • Domestic airways
  • Public undertaking
  • Private airlines
  • International airways


  • India has one of the largest road networks in the world, aggregating to about 2.3 million km at present.

  • The growing importance of road transport vis-à-vis rail transport is rooted in the following reasons;

  • construction cost of roads is much lower than that of railway lines, (b) roads can traverse comparatively more dissected and undulating topography,

  • roads can negotiate higher gradients of slopes and as such can traverse mountains such as the Himalayas,

  • road transport is economical in transportation of few persons and relatively smaller amount of goods over short distances,

  • it also provides door-to-door service, thus the cost of loading and unloading is much lower,

  • road transport is also used as a feeder to other modes of transport such as they provide a link between railway stations, air and sea ports.

In India, roads are classified in the following six classes according to their capacity.

  • Golden Quadrilateral Super Highways: The government has launched a major road development project linking Delhi-Kolkata-Chennai-Mumbai and Delhi by six-lane Super Highways. The North-South corridors linking Srinagar (Jammu & Kashmir) and Kanyakumari (Tamil Nadu), and East-West Corridor connecting Silcher (Assam) and Porbander (Gujarat) are part of this project. The major objective of these Super Highways is to reduce the time and distance between the mega cities of India. These highway projects are being implemented by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).

  • National Highways: National Highways link extreme parts of the country. These are the primary road systems and are laid and maintained by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD). A number of major National Highways run in North-South and East-West directions. The historical SherShah Suri Marg is called National Highway No.1, between Delhi and Amritsar.

  • State Highways: Roads linking a state capital with different district headquarters are known as State Highways. These roads are constructed and maintained by the State Public Works Department (PWD) in State and Union Territories.

  • District Roads: These roads connect the district headquarters with other places of the district. These roads are maintained by the Zila Parishad. • Other Roads: Rural roads, which link rural areas and villages with towns, are classified under this category. These roads received special impetus under the Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojana.

  • Border Roads: Apart from these, Border Roads Organisation a Government of India undertaking constructs and maintains roads in the bordering areas of the country. This organisation was established in 1960 for the development of the roads of strategic importance in the northern and northeastern border areas. These roads have improved accessibility in areas of difficult terrain and have helped in the economic development of these areas.

Roads can also be classified on the basis of the type of material used for their construction such as:

  • Metalled roads
  • Un-metalled roads

The length of road per 100 sq. km of area is known as density of roads.


  • The first train steamed off from Mumbai to Thane in 1853, covering a distance of 34 km.

  • Railways are the principal mode of transportation for freight and passengers in India.

  • Railways also make it possible to conduct multifarious activities like business, sightseeing, and pilgrimage along with transportation of goods over longer distances.

  • Railways in India bind the economic life of the country as well as accelerate the development of the industry and agriculture. The Indian Railway has a network of 7,133 stations.

  • The northern plains with their vast level land, high population density and rich agricultural resources provided the most favourable condition for their growth.


  • These are used for transporting crude oil, petroleum products and natural gas from oil and natural gas fields to refineries, fertilizer factories and big thermal power plants. Solids can also be transported through a pipeline when converted into slurry and to transport water between different cities.

  • There are three important networks of pipeline transportation in the country.

  • From oil field in upper Assam to Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh), via Guwahati, Barauni and Allahabad. It has branches from Barauni to Haldia, via Rajbandh, Rajbandh to Maurigram and Guwahati to Siliguri.

  • From Salaya in Gujarat to Jalandhar in Punjab, via Viramgam, Mathura, Delhi and Sonipat. It has branches to connect Koyali (near Vadodara, Gujarat) Chakshu and other places.

  • Gas pipeline from Hazira in Gujarat connects Jagdishpur in Uttar Pradesh, via Vijaipur in Madhya Pradesh. It has branches to Kota in Rajasthan, Shahajahanpur, Babrala and other places in Uttar Pradesh.


  • 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. India has inland navigation waterways of 14,500 km in length. Out of these only 5685 km are navigable by mechanised vessels.

    The following waterways have been declared as the National Waterways by the Government:-
  • The Ganga river between Allahabad and Haldia (1620 km)-N.W. No.1

  • The Brahmaputra river between Sadiya and Dhubri (891 km)-N.W. No.2

  • The West-Coast Canal in Kerala (Kottapurma-Kollam, Udyogamandal and Champakkara canals-205 km) – N.W. No.3

  • Specified stretches of Godavari and Krishna rivers along with Kakinada Puducherry stretch of canals (1078 km) – N.W. No.4

  • Specified stretches of river Brahmani along with Matai river, delta channels of Mahanadi and Brahmani rivers and East Coast Canal (588 km) – N.W. No.5

Major Sea Ports

  • Kandla in Kuchchh was the first port developed soon after Independence to ease the volume of trade on the Mumbai port. It caters to the convenient handling of exports and imports of highly productive granary and industrial belt.

  • Mumbai is the biggest port with a spacious natural and well-sheltered harbour.

  • The Jawaharlal Nehru port was planned with a view to decongest the Mumbai port and serve as a hub port for this region.

  • Marmagao port (Goa) is the premier iron ore exporting port of the country. This port accounts for about fifty per cent of India’s iron ore export.

  • New Mangalore port, located in Karnataka caters to the export of iron ore concentrates from Kudremukh mines.

  • Kochchi is the extreme south-western port, located at the entrance of a lagoon with a natural harbour.

  • South-eastern port of Tuticorin, in Tamil Nadu. This port has a natural harbour and rich hinterland. Thus, it has a flourishing trade handling of a large variety of cargoes to even our neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Maldives, etc. and the coastal regions of India.
  • Chennai is one of the oldest artificial ports of the country. It is ranked next to Mumbai in terms of the volume of trade and cargo.

  • Vishakhapatnam is the deepest landlocked and well-protected port. This port was, originally, conceived as an outlet for iron ore exports.

  • Paradwip port located in Odisha specialises in the export of iron ore.

  • Kolkata is an inland riverine port. This port serves a very large and rich hinterland of Ganga- Brahmaputra basin.


  • The air transport was nationalised in 1953. Air India provides international air services.

  • Pawanhans Helicopters Ltd. provides helicopter services to Oil and Natural Gas Corporation in its off-shore operations, to inaccessible areas and difficult terrains like the north-eastern states and the interior parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

  • Indian Airlines operations also extend to the neighbouring countries of South and south-east Asia and the Middle East.


  • Personal communication and mass communication including television, radio, press, films, etc. are the major means of communication in the country.

  • The Indian postal network is the largest in the world. It handles parcels as well as personal written communications.

  • Cards and envelopes are considered first–class mail and are airlifted between stations covering both land and air.

  • The second–class mail includes book packets, registered newspapers and periodicals. They are carried by surface mail, covering land and water transport.

  • Rajdhani Channel, Metro Channel, Green Channel, Business Channel, Bulk Mail Channel and Periodical Channel have been introduced recently to facilitate quick delivery of mails in large towns and cities.

  • India has one of the largest telecom networks in Asia.

  • Government has made special provision to extend twenty-four hours STD facility to every village in the country. There is a uniform rate of STD facilities all over India. It has been made possible by integrating the development in space technology with communication technology.

  • Mass communication provides entertainment and creates awareness among people about various national programmes and policies. It includes radio, television, newspapers, magazines, books and films. All India Radio (Akashwani) broadcasts a variety of programmes in national, regional and local languages for various categories of people.

  • Doordarshan, the national television channel of India, is one of the largest terrestrial networks in the world. It broadcasts a variety of programmes from entertainment, educational to sports, etc. for people of different age groups.

  • 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.

International Trade

  • The exchange of goods among people, states and countries is referred to as trade. The market is the place where such exchanges take place. Trade between two countries is called international trade.

  • Local trade is carried in cities, towns and villages, state level trade is carried between two or more states.

  • Advancement of international trade of a country is an index to its economic prosperity.

  • Export and import are the components of trade.

  • The balance of trade of a country is the difference between its export and import. When the value of export exceeds the value of imports, it is called a favourable balance of trade. On the contrary, if the value of imports exceeds the value of exports, it is termed as unfavourable balance of trade.

  • India has emerged as a software giant at the international level and it is earning large foreign exchange through the export of information technology.

Tourism as a Trade

  • Foreign tourist’s arrivals in the country witnessed an increase of 11.8 per cent during the year 2010 as against the year 2009, contributing Rs 64,889 crore of foreign exchange in 2010.

  • More than 15 million people are directly engaged in the tourism industry.

  • Tourism also promotes national integration, provides support to local handicrafts and cultural pursuits.

  • It also helps in the development of international understanding about our culture and heritage.

  • Foreign tourists visit India for heritage tourism, eco-tourism, adventure tourism, cultural tourism, medical tourism and business tourism.