India Semester Abroad

India Semester Abroad

University of Guelph

  An informal pre-departure orientation from a participant’s perspective.




Academic: Environment

UG India Semester 2008


























Geography and Climate

India has a total area of 3 287 263 sq km, including tropical islands, rainforest, desert, lush river valleys, dry plains, mountains, and everything in between. During the hot season, the temperature in much of India can be well over 40 degrees celsius. On the peaks of the Himalayas, the snow never melts. Even in Delhi, the temperature ranges 50 degrees celsius over the year.

For a basic introduction to India’s climate, geography, and wildlife, check out the Lonely Planet website.

Photo: You'll come across stunningly beautiful scenery as you cross India, like this river seen from the train.

Issues and Concerns

India’s environment is strained by a whole set of issues interacting with each other. Agriculture often leads to soil erosion and degradation, overgrazing, and pollution from agricultural inputs like pesticide, fertilizer, and herbicide. Widespread corruption in the government means that in practice there are few limits or guidelines for industrial effluents and emissions and rising numbers of automotive vehicles have increased air pollution, particularly in the largest cities. The tap water in most parts of India is not potable, and deforestation and desertification are threatening to further reduce the natural capacity of the environment to deal with population growth.

These problems are compounded by the widespread poverty of many Indians. How do you tell people to protect the environment when they can feed their children, find fuel, or afford store-bought construction materials?

Many of the most effective solutions have often come from grassroots organizations that facilitate an understanding of the crucial importance of the environment to daily survival. Once people understand how they interact with the environment, it is easier to create a sense of duty and responsibility for the earth that can be translated into sustainable use of resources.

Photo: This is a textile factory in Rajasthan. Notice the orange dye flowing away from the factory straight into the environment.




The People’s Commission on Environment and Development in India is an excellent resource looking at the specific needs of India’s ecology and discussing the special roles of Indian tribals and tourists in relation to the environment.

For a look at how Indians are fighting to protect their environment, read through this article about the Narmada Dam from the New Internationalist magazine. It offers a very comprehensive review to development issues, social activism, and environmental concerns in India.





Updated: 2006 November 16