(Disaster Management)General Studies Paper 1General Studies Paper 3 (Geography of India & World)
Question:- 59. ‘Climate change is real, climate change is here!’. Discuss the socio-economic impacts of climate change with respect to the diverse geography of India. Answer in 250 words.
Sep 07, 2022



Climate change is one of the biggest problems mankind faces today. India is especially at a vulnerable position due to the presence of a long coastline and majority of activities – agriculture, industry etc. dependent on monsoon.

Many studies have stated that the inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ), a narrow band of tropical heavy rainfall, is moving steadily north and it is predicted that by the end of the century, the ITCZ will migrate towards eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean, even as the atmosphere in Earth’s northern hemisphere heats up.

Not just this, The Global Climate Risk Indices for the past few years has ranked India as the worst-affected country due to heat waves.

The following the are perceived impacts of climate change in India:

  1. 1.Southern India/ Coastal India:
  • -Southern states of India may witness heavier and more frequent rainfall and warmer summer. E.g. Kerala was pounded by extremely heavy rainfall for two years in succession (also the devastating Kerala floods) while monsoon in the state has been slowly decreasing over the last half century.
  • -A combination of extreme rainfall and weakening monsoon is expected to increase droughts.
  • -India, with its 7,517 km coastline will face significant threats from rising seas. Across six Indian port cities – Chennai, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Surat and Vishakhapatnam -28.6 million people will be exposed to coastal flooding if sea levels rise 50cm. This can have devastating effects and push people inwards towards land hence, causing problems of migration and overpopulation in certain pockets.
  • -The intensity and frequency of tropical cyclones is rising. Previous years have had other devastating cyclones like Amphan, Titli, and Gija. Drought years have led to massive declines in agriculture production. There are estimates that agricultural yields will start falling by the 2040s.
  • -With the loss of forests and ecosystems such as mangroves and coral reefs, several ecosystem product provisioning will decline. Ecosystem services provided by forests and mangroves such as climate moderation, water filtration, and clean air may reduce due to global warming-induced climate change.
  • -River-water sharing issues may rise even more.


  1. 2.Western states are likely to shift to high climatic regimes, with cities reeling from the ‘urban heat island’ effect. Desertification would increase as desert shifts towards states of Haryana, MP, Punjab etc. With decreasing levels of groundwater, this will lead to food shortages and rise in unemployment as people will move out of agriculture.


  1. 3.Central region: Over the last two decades, areas like Maharashtra are experiencing problems triggered by climate changes – back-to-back droughts in the Marathwada and Vidarbha region, three cyclones on the Konkan coasts in the last two years, unseasonal rainfall and hailstorms. The drought in Marathwada before the Covid-19 pandemic triggered a widespread migration to cities. Such events are expected to rise even further.


  1. 4.Northern India:
  • -Glaciers in the Himalayan ranges have been retreating. Alterations in glacial caps will affect the downstream population of the Indus, Ganges and the Brahmaputra plains.
  • -These direct implications of global warming-induced meteorological and hydrological changes will have their bearing on the society and economic growth of India. Climate change and poverty are part of a vicious cycle as each entity reinforces the effects of the other.
  • -Crop yields will go down – higher infestations by pests. It would not be an extrapolation to link farmers’ suicides to climate change.
  • -Hydel power plants may undergo an erratic supply of electricity generation due to the reduced flow of rivers. Thermal plants of India that guzzle up freshwater supplies may also face electricity generation issues.


  1. 5.North-east:
  • -Changing rainfall pattern affects the flow of rivers, extent of snow cover and health of mountain springs, which in turn have an impact on livelihoods, especially agriculture and fishing, forest flora growth, animal and bird habitat (and behaviour) and other ecosystem aspects.
  • -Mountain Springs which are the major sources of water in the region are drying up almost everywhere. Water availability is a concern.
  • -Changes in biodiversity and climate indicators of most places. Mango has started growing in cold Upper Siang
  • -There is some evidence of the changing course of rivers from several districts in Assam such as Lakhimpur and Dhemaji, where the Subansiri, Dibang (tributaries of Brahmaputra) and Brahmaputra rivers are changing courses in unexpected ways.
  • -The economy of North-Eastern (NE) region of India predominantly depends on farming, where only 12% of geographical area is available for cultivation out of which more than 85% is rain fed. Climate change has become a major concern in agriculture today, as farmers in many regions are struggling to cope with changing temperatures and rainfall pattern.




India is also reeling under malnutrition and child-stunting. Increasing temperatures will enhance vector-borne diseases such as malaria and diarrheal infections- the prominent causes of child mortality — declining worker productivity, rising cardiovascular diseases, and deaths.

Climate change threatens to disrupt natural resource systems, thereby adversely impacting populations (farmers, fisherfolks, and Adivasi communities) dependent on these ecosystems. The inability of the vulnerable sections to effectively mitigate climate-change-induced impacts makes them worse off.

It’s high time that we not only battled climate change but also planned for it – regional climate change action plans , researching the changing monsoon patterns, switching to cleaner and more reliable sources of energy are the way to go ahead.