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Home » Cartography, Economic Geography, Featured, South Asia

New Maps of India—and of the Indian Economy

Submitted by on April 30, 2013 – 2:47 am 17 Comments |  
States of India MapNew political maps of India are now needed, as the state of Orissa has officially changed the English spelling of its name to “Odisha.” The new name, however, does not imply a change in pronunciation. As the Wikipedia notes, “… the name Orissa is closer to the actual Oriya pronunciation of the name, whereas Odisha is an intentionally archaising transcription.”

Although the change became official in November 2011, few maps of India show the now-official spelling. I have therefore made a new map of Indian states to reflect this change, which is posted here. As with many other GeoCurrents maps, it was constructed in Keynote (the Apple version of PowerPoint), and thus can easily be manipulated. Sometime next month, GeoCurrents will make this map, and a number of others, freely available in both Keynote and PowerPoint formats. Users can then easily change the color schemes, the place names, and so on, for all such maps. These maps can also be used for a variety of teaching exercises. In the second map posted here, for example, I have simply left the state names in place while scattering the state shapes; in Keynote, one can reassemble this map by dragging the shapes back to their proper places. Such a “jig-saw puzzle” approach to cartography can be an effective way for students to learn basic geography.

Indian States Scattered mapAfter making the political map of India, I decided that I might as well use it to illustrate recent socio-economic indicators for the country, up-dating an earlier (2010) GeoCurrents Atlas of Indian Development based on data readily available in Wikipedia. Today’s post includes two new maps of basic economic patterns; more maps will be forthcoming later in the week.

India per capita GDP by state 2005 mapIn the first map, the same “developmental divide” discussed in the 2010 GeoCurrents Atlas is still readily apparent. The north-central zone, including the Hindi-speaking heartland, still lags behind the rest of the country, and Bihar still stands in the bottom slot. India’s west and the south, meanwhile, still tend to score above the national average. This map does differ in several regards, however, from earlier depictions of Indian per capita GDP by state. Punjab, for example, is now only moderately above the national average (74,606 rupees per person in Punjab, versus 61,564 for India as a whole); when I first began teaching world geography in the late 1980s, Punjab was well above the national average. Punjab’s lagging position is probably related to the fact that its economy is still heavily agricultural. Substantial economic gains, on the other hand, have been made in such states as Tamil Nadu in the far Indian States by Per Capita GDP 2011 Mapsouth and Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the northeast. As we shall see in later posts, Tamil Nadu’s advances in social development have been even more striking. The relatively high levels of economic output in the Himalayan states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarkhand are also noteworthy, as these states are similar in many regard to neighboring Nepal, which is noted for its extremely low level of economic output. (The CIA World Factbook pegs Nepal’s per capita GDP at US $1,300, as opposed to US $3,900 for India as a whole.)

The patterns seen on the next map, which shows the expansion of state-level Gross Domestic Product from 2005 to 2011, are less familiar. Here we can see that deeply impoverished Bihar has actually been experiencing rapid growth in recent years, easily besting neighboring poor states and even out-performing the southern states that contain most of India’s major high-tech centers. Whether Bihar’s remarkable turn-around can be sustained, of course, remains to be seen. Certainly the state’s continued low ranking in regard to social indicators (to be examined later in the week) does not inspire much confidence.

As can also be seen on this map, western India’s industrial states of Gujarat and Maharashtra continue to forge ahead. This pattern may even be intensifying; preliminary reports for 2011 show Gujarat as having achieved a remarkable 20.79 percent rate of economic growth for the year (2011 figures for Maharashtra are not yet available). Gujarat’s rapid economic growth has political significance at the national level, as the state’s Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, is now seeking higher office. Modi first gained national attention as an arch Hindu-nationalist accused of complicity in deadly anti-Muslim rioting in 2002. In recent years, he has toned down his Hindutva rhetoric, and is instead basing his campaign on economic issues. By all accounts, Modi is utterly devoted to enhancing his state’s economic growth. Critics contend, however, that Gujarat has not exhibited the same level of progress on the social front.

Indian states by GDP growth 2005-2010 MapIndia’s most rapid economic growth in recent years, however, has occurred in several of its small, mountainous states of the far north. Some of the economic figures for these areas stagger the imagination. Sikkim, for example, supposedly saw a 48.21 percent expansion of its GDP in 2010 alone. Is such a rate of growth even possible? The Wikipedia article on the state credits tourism development, particularly that related to casinos and other forms of gambling, although it also mentions road-building, specifically the opening of Nathu La pass in July 2006, which connects India to Tibet. I suspect, however, that dam-building and electricity export to the rest on India are also major factors. Certainly Arunachal Pradesh in the far northeast, which China claims under the name “South Tibet,” has seen an explosion of hydroelectricity development in recent years. Many more dams are also slated for constructing here and elsewhere in the mountainous parts of India. Environmental opposition, however, is mounting, and some significant dam projects have recently been cancelled. In 2012, for example, Sikkim announced that it was scrapping plans for four new hydropower projects on the Teesta River. Considering India’s growing thirst for power, and the fact that it is burning ever-larger quantities of coal, such hydro projects are perhaps best viewed as environmentally ambiguous.


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  • Sikkim’s 48.21% figure might not be implausible for a very small state receiving heavy levels of investment. Equatorial Guinea has enjoyed only somewhat lower rates of economic growth earlier.

    • Good point, but Equatorial Guinea does have a lot of oil, which helps.

  • Investment or no, why is per capita GDP so high in Sikkim? Maybe they do have something up in the Himalayas besides “happiness.”

    • Bhutan has also been registering rapid economic growth of late, despite officially stressing “gross national happiness.” Dam building seems to be key there as well.

      • Well, if there are two things both regions have in abundance, they are water and changes in elevation. Thanks for explaining that.

  • Pingback: North India pulling down the Union | Brown Pundits()

  • TimUpham

    Chinese troops have camped out in an Indian-claimed area of Kashmir. Will they be able to resolve it, or will it be a repeat of 1962? Except, this time India has a much more sophisticated military, than what it had in 1962. India says it has long-range ballistic missiles, which can reach Beijing and Shanghai. Will the Chinese be intimidated or will their 1,000 more tanks, than what India has not scare them? Will a Chinese-Indian detente be as successful as the Soviet-American detente?

  • jeanweigel

    The rest of the states have changed considerably and got more technically and industrially advanced whereas Punjab has not undergone much of change. That’s the reason the per capita is just moderately above today.

    Read more about it

  • Vikram

    Where is the upper portion of Jammu & Kashmir?

  • Amod Shah


    • Harshith Bangera

      Yes, Jammu and Kashmir is shown. What is not shown is POK and Aksai Chin.

  • Sanika Joshi

    Your map of India is incomplete and inaccurate. You haven’t shown all of J&K. Either the fact checkers on this website aren’t doing their job properly, or you guys are seriously prejudiced.

  • Sk

    Complete Jammu is belongs to India, Your Map is showing wrong, can you please complete your MAP immediately, its looking Odd, when our area is left to Pakastanis



  • SAM

    To all who are questioning depiction of Map of India in this article.
    The one shown here is the correct map as some portion is taken over by Pakistan and some by China. Please be real. Our Govt. control’s part of land depicted in the map shown in the article.

    Just for the heck of it we could include Pakistan and China as a Indian territory in ‘Over Version’ of Map of India however that does not change the ground reality.

    Don’t believe me, just travel to the part of India which is omitted by the author and included by you guys.

    Peace 🙂 Yes, I’m an INDIAN and a Hindu to be specific in case you need to know!!

    • Thank you, SAM. If I had it to do over again, I would have noted the disputed territories in way way or another. Such disputed areas are found in many parts of the world, and it is difficult to treat them cartographically in a manner that does not anger one group or anonther



  • Nilesh Pandey

    Please remove this map immediately. This is unacceptable to show Indian map like this. I strongly register my protest.