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MHI-08: History of Ecology and Environment : India

MHI-08: History of Ecology and Environment : India

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

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Assignment Code: MHI-08/AST/TMA/2022-23

Course Code: MHI-08

Assignment Name: History of Ecology and Environment: India

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor




1. Write a note on the Coastal lowlands of India. 20

Ans) The Indian coastline has 6,100km of mainland coastline. Andaman, Nicobar, and Lakshadweep are also included. There are 13 UTs and states along India’s coastline. The Arabian Sea borders the western coastal lowlands, while the Bay of Bengal borders the eastern coastal plains. India is a peninsular country as it is surrounded on three sides by the sea. The coastal plains of India merge at Kanyakumari. Long-distance mountain ranges and water features flank the Indian coastal plains on either side. The coastal regions of India serve as vital hinterlands for the country’s major ports. In addition to tice, the fertile and rich soil of the Indian coastal plains allows for the development of a variety of crops.


Coastal Plain

A low-lying flat expanse of land near the sea shore is known as a coastal plain. A low-relief continent surrounded on one side by the sea or an ocean and on the other by hills is known as a coastal plain. As a result, they are hemmed in by the shoreline on the seaward side and the highlands on the landward side. As one travels from the sea to the highlands, the elevation of the land area gradually rises in a sequence of flat-land terraces divided by scraps or hills with altitudes ranging from 100 to 300 metres.


Formation of Coastal Plain

From the standpoint of geography, the narrative of India’s coastal plains and how they form is fascinating. Being part of a supercontinent called Gondwanaland was India. It existed 140 million years ago. The Indian tectonic landmass became alone as the supercontinent split. It journeyed for millions of years towards the Eurasian plate and thus joined with it. Thus, India’s regular and mostly straight coastline is the result of the Cretaceous period breakup of Gondwanaland. This not only gave rise to the coastline in the south but also to the coastal plains of India.


Eastern Coastal Plains

The eastern coastal lowlands span from West Bengal to Tamil Nadu, passing via Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Important rivers like Mahanadi, Krishna, Godavari, and Cauveri have deltas in the eastern coastal plain. Agriculturally, the deltas are exceedingly fertile and productive. The Krishna River delta has gained the moniker “South India’s Granary” as a result of this.


The eastern coast is divided into three sections:

  1. Utkal coast

  2. Andhra coast

  3. Coromandel coast


Western Coastal Plains

From Kerala to Gujarat, they pass through Karnataka, Goa, and Maharashtra. The western coastal plains stretch for around 1,500 kilometres with widths varying from 10 to 25 kilometres. Near the coast of Mumbai, the West Continental Shelf is at its widest. Oil is abundant in this area. The Malabar Coast is a famous tourist destination because of its gorgeous lagoons.


The four portions of the western shore are as follows:

  1. Kachchh and Kathiawar coast

  2. Konkan coast

  3. Kanara coast

  4. Malabar coast


Significance of Indian Coastlines

  1. The coastal plains of India are largely covered by excellent soils that are ideal for agriculture.

  2. Large and small ports of Indian coastlines help in trade and investment.

  3. For coastal residents, fishing has become a necessary activity.

  4. Coastal and marine ecosystems, as well as a vast array of mangroves, coral reefs, estuaries, and lagoons, abound in India’s coastal plains, providing good tourism options.

  5. Indian coastal lines are one of the primary forms of transportation, and oil exchanges are conducted exclusively over the ocean channel.

  6. India’s coastlines aid in exchanging as well as utilising such shorelines for our financial development.

  7. The shoreline can be used to produce fish, pearls, and salt.


2. Discuss the various principles defining the Water Rights in India. 20

Ans) A user's right to utilise water from a water source, such as a river, stream, pond, or supply of groundwater, is referred to as a water right in the context of water law. Such systems are typically not complicated or contentious in places where there is a substantial supply of water and few consumers. Such methods are frequently the cause of legal and violent conflict in other places, particularly in dry regions where irrigation is used. While some systems employ separate principles for each, others treat surface water and ground water in the same way.


Due to the dependence upon clean water, many nations, states and municipalities have enacted regulations to pre-emptively protect water quality and quantity. This right of a government to regulate water quality is premised upon protecting downstream navigable waters from contamination which are publicly owned and include the right to receive these waters undiminished under both the riparian and appropriation doctrines under the Clean Water Act.[


Principles have historically defined water rights:

Riparian Doctrine: The idea that people only had a private property right to water if their land bordered a river was reasonable as long as persons who lived away from the river could meet their needs in other ways. But because of the shift in needs and usage, it is no longer practical.


The Prior Appropriation Theory: According to this notion, the public owns water in its natural state. In actuality, it is a fitting variation of the riparian hypothesis that favours the original owners of appropriation rights over all future users.


The Territorial Sovereignty Theory: This viewpoint holds that the owner enjoys unrestricted user rights. Extrapolating this idea of private property to the full realm of natural resources results in the ideas of territorial sovereignty.


The Equitable Apportionment Theory: Since equity is a legal or judicial concept, it serves as a foundation for legal interpretation. It states respect all claimants as equal right holders and distribute resources according to their unique needs through just legal mechanisms.


The Equitable Utilisation Theory: According to this, resources should be allocated equally so that everyone can make the most use of them after taking into account all relevant factors. Its foundation is laid down in (Article 5 of) the Helsinki regulations' guidelines for the equitable use of water resources.


The Community Interest Theory: Between bonus vacans and public-juris, or between no one's property and everyone's property, the English common law created a distinction in 1851. Water resources, which are to be exploited by multiple people along their course, are appropriate examples of things that belong to everyone. This theory's distributional principle permits the groups that participate in the distribution to be characterised as communities in a variety of ways, such as groups specific to a certain culture or geographic location. Otherwise, the equitable use hypothesis serves as the foundation.


The Public Trust Theory: It emphasises that one should regard natural resources a common property and the sovereign or the state as its sole trustee rather than relying solely on the idea of private property to establish the principles of distributive justice. According to this view, the state, which controls the natural water as a trustee, has a duty to distribute or use the water in a way that respects everyone's rights to their natural habitat while also protecting the public's and the environment's interests.


3. Write a note on the regional spread of early agriculture in India. 20

Ans) The regional spread of early agriculture in India are:



Baluchistan serves as the Indus system's boundary region. This area was first affected by the agricultural spillover from West Asia via Afghanistan before it reached the Indus system. We are consequently interested in the environmental circumstances in this area since they are likely to have contributed to the development of agriculture there. like Bridget and Allchin said. Water for people and animals was obviously a top priority given the site location, where the annual rainfall averages less than 10 inches and falls primarily in the winter. The winter westerlies, which frequently bring moisture in the form of snow to the Near East and on across the Iranian Plateau to the Punjab and Western Sindh, also fall within their range.


Indus System

The major Indus river channel passes over a sizable alluvial flood plain that is extremely fertile following the annual deluge from June to September. Without any ploughing or manuring of the ground, the wheat and barley that were sowed at that time ripen by the next spring. Since the river's banks and those of its tributary channels are uncultivated, they must have once supported a substantial gallery forest. These trees must have made extremely appealing hunting grounds because they were once teeming with game. In the Quetta valley, Mehrgarh is situated on the Bolan River's banks, about 150 kilometres away. Three distinct phases of settlement, all of which may be categorised as Neolithic settlements, are visible at the excavation site.


Northern Valleys

The Kashmir region has provided the most conclusive evidence of early cultivation in this area. There are two main locations in Kashmir that provide us with pertinent physical proof of early cultivation. We learn about the residents of pits from Burzahom, a town close to Srinagar. Sometimes, these homes' floors and walls were both coated with mud. There are also a few deeper trenches that were likely accessed by steps. However, it is noteworthy that there hasn't been any direct proof of cultivation in Burzahom. The second location where this type of evidence has been found is at Gufkral. The Kashmir valley culture "appears as a local adaptation to the peculiar environment of the mountains, with its people having rich sources of food from hunting and from agriculture.



Due to its history as a location with heavy monsoon rains, the area East of the Indus area differs environmentally from the Indus area. This region has had Mesolithic communities for a very long time, and the advent of agriculture has frequently been a continuation of this civilization. There are two prominent locations, Koldihwa and Mahagara, that produce intriguing early agricultural evidence. Irfan Habib has disputed the idea that Koldihwa and Mahagara were the first locations to plant rice. According to him, the dates of the Koldihwa-Mahagara sites have been misinterpreted, and Chopani Mando in the Belan Valley, south of Allahabad, between the Tons and Son rivers, is where rice cultivation is first documented.

Peninsular India

The sites discovered in the Karnataka region provide the majority of the evidence for early agriculture in this portion of the country. These locations, which are also referred to as "Ash-mounds," can be found in Utnur, Kupgal, Kodekal, and Pallavoy. There is evidence to imply that these sites were not influenced by outside forces and that their Neolithic cultures emerged on their own.





4. Write a note on the Environmental Discourse on Industrialism 20

Ans) The Industrial Revolution was a significant event. It heralded the end of biological regimes and the beginning of an industrialization process that opened up far more opportunities for the utilisation of natural resources. The emergence of technology that had far-reaching effects and industrialization together unleashed processes that fundamentally transformed the way people currently perceive the natural world. According to Fernand Braudel, "A Jungle Book could have been written about practically any region of the world up until the eighteenth century." However, within a century after that, crying voices could be heard asking, "How green was my valley?"


The industrialization of England was ground-breaking. It was a unique situation that put England in a position of prominence. There, a strange confluence of factors led to the start of the complicated process of industrialization. Agriculture, demographics, inland transportation, technology, trade, and industry were the main sectors that had been heavily industrialised. In actuality, neither the private nor public spheres of life in England were spared from industrialization. We can therefore obtain insight into how English colonisers formed their impressions of the environment by knowing industrialization and how it operated in that country.


The background given by agriculture was essential for the industrial transformations to take place. Perhaps the first stage where noticeable changes were noticeable was when experiments with soil utilisation and the introduction of various crops were made. Liming and marling the soil improved its fertilising properties, and crop rotation was tested as a method of reviving the various soil layers. The introduction of industrial and mechanised technology in agriculture only happened towards the middle of the nineteenth century.


Changes in agriculture, according to Braudel, "come not so much from machines or wonder crops as from new methods of land use, new timetables for ploughing, new forms of crop rotation that eliminated fallow and encouraged grazing, a useful source of fertiliser and therefore a remedy for soil exhaustion, attention to new strains of crops, selective breeding of sheep and cattle, and specialised farming for higher yields, all with results that varied according to region, to natu The end result was a system that the nineteenth century would have referred to as "high farming."


A pioneering development in the industrial sector was the substitution of coke for charcoal as a fuel. Coke was most prominently used in blast furnaces to produce pig iron. Roughly 1760, the cost of producing iron using coke-fired blast furnaces was about £2 per tonne higher than that of charcoal-fired smelting. The cotton industry, where a production boom started to emerge by the end of the eighteenth century, represented the other big transformation. India was intimately involved in this. I'll use Braudel's brief observations once again because they are so important to our discussion: "The cotton revolution, initially in England but very soon all over Europe, began by copying Indian industry, went on to take revenge by catching up with it, and then outstripped it." Producing fabrics of equivalent quality while charging less was the goal. The only way to do this effectively compete with Indian textile workers was to deploy machines.


Success did not materialise right away though. That had to wait until the invention of the water-frame by Arkwright and the mule by Crompton, which made it feasible to make yarn that was equally as strong and fine as the Indian product and that could be used to weave fabric made completely of cotton. It was a very large market indeed, covering England and the British Isles, Europe, the coast of Africa, where black slaves were exchanged for lengths of cotton.


5. Exploitation of environmental resources defines the Colonial environmental agenda. Comment 20

Ans) According to Guha, "the British had set up an authoritarian forest service that attempted to exploit timber for imperial demands by enclosing the forests and barring the people from utilising them as a resource-base. This led to a variety of protests in the late 19th century, as well as nationalist-led protests in the forests during the Gandhian era. After India gained independence in 1947, the demonstrations persisted with no significant improvements, eventually giving rise to the Chipko movement.


Guha held the British in particularly low regard, holding them accountable for both stealing the forests from the people and creating the institutional framework for their economic exploitation. The British researcher Richard Grove challenged this assertion, arguing that the initial "greens" in India were actually colonial officials. He believed that colonial forest policy had its origins in an enlightened understanding of environmental issues, one that was especially developed by a remarkable group of Scottish physicians serving in the colonies.


These physicians initially sought to understand the relationship between climate and health but quickly gained expertise in botany and ecology. They pushed for state-led forest protection because they believed there was a direct link between deforestation and environmental desiccation. From the middle of the 19th century onward, active management and control of forests was implemented thanks to their push.


The positions taken by both the proponents and the opponents make it clear that the colonial environmental agenda, which was reflected in the British forest policy in India, was founded on the notion that forest resources were priceless natural resources over which the state had complete proprietary rights. The natural conclusion from this premise was that groups claiming traditional ownership of woods were not justified in doing so and should have their claims disregarded in order to safeguard the forest. The specifics of the forest policy would demonstrate this.


Prior to the Industrial Revolution, substantial usage of wood as a forest product had already started in England. However, this process accelerated in the middle of the eighteenth century as a result of the widespread usage of charcoal as a fuel for blast furnaces. Large areas had been stripped of all forest cover by the third quarter of the eighteenth century, signalling a dire scenario for the world's forests. Quality wood was urgently needed because the famed English oak forests had been overused to the point where even their traces had started to disappear. The maritime industry had been under constant strain due to battles between colonial powers over who could get the biggest piece of the world's wealth.


Therefore, having a colony in India was quite advantageous for England. Obtaining wood for shipbuilding was one of the main demands placed on English colonisers. In this case, Indian teak was found to be a high-quality, long-lasting product. The value of Indian wood can be seen in the widespread belief that England's victory over Napoleon was made possible by a steady supply of teak wood from India. "In the early nineteenth century, and following its defeat of the Marathas, the East India Company burnt to the ground teak plantations in Ratnagiri fostered and grown by the great Maratha admiral Kanhoji Angre," according to Gadgil and Guha.


The development of Indian railways was another element contributing to the exploitation of forests. Garhwal and Kumaon's sub-Himalayan woods were entirely destroyed. The policy of removing trees without properly evaluating the need for sleepers also contributed to the devastation. A significant portion of the cut trees really started to rot at the cutting site. Forests were also destroyed as a result of the English colonial power's revenue strategy orientation.

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