Agriculture is the main economic activity in Monsoon Asia, but its incomes are generally very low, and are basically intended for subsistence. The techniques adopted are delayed, the use of fertilizers is very low, with fertilizer imports from some countries, such as India.
According to Intershippingrates, in Indochina, the Philippines , Malaysia , Indonesia and much of India and Bangladesh, there is an intensive gardening system (of the oriental type), where labor is abundant, employing great manual care, mobilized in small rural properties. For centuries, good yields have been obtained from irrigated rice farming without mechanization.
Although rice is the main agricultural product in the region, rice growing is not exactly a monoculture. The areas of hillsides and plateaus are sometimes occupied by dry rice, sometimes by tea and sorghum.
The sorghum, cereal originating in Africa – South of the Sahara (Sahel) and Sudan – find exceptional conditions for its culture in semi-arid regions, due to the fact of their growing season is short – three months – and provide two to three crops in single planting. It is used as fodder, both seeds and leaves, and also as human food.
In countries where agrarian reform has not been carried out – the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, etc. – land is almost always owned by large and medium-sized landowners, who lease or exploit it in partnership with farmers.
India is the largest agricultural producer in Monsoon Asia, although it still has to import food, due to its large population. Its most important products are rice, wheat, sorghum or millet, cotton, rubber, sugar cane, tea, peanuts, coffee and jute. The latter is grown in the delta of the Ganges and Bramaputra rivers, in the territories of India and Bangladesh.
Special mention should be made of the plantation carried out by the English and the Dutch in Malaysia and Indonesia, with various species of rubber-producing vegetables, which were taken from Brazil, from the end of the last century. Plantation results from the colonial penetration of European countries and in underdeveloped and tropical countries. These large investments put Malaysia and Indonesia in first and second place, respectively, in world rubber production.
The cattle of India is the world’s largest. One of the causes of its extraordinary growth was the ban on meat consumption, for religious reasons, in some regions. The cow is considered a sacred animal by several Hindu sects. Cattle are raised extensively, do not have permanent pastures and adequate food, and milk production is very low.
Mineral and Energy Resources
Although the hydraulic potential is very large, especially in the Himalayas and peninsular plateaus, only India and Pakistan have large hydroelectric plants and use dams for irrigation.
India and Israel, in the Middle East , are the countries that present the most advanced studies on solar energy and its use.
Indonesia is the largest oil producer in the region, part of OPEC and exports its product mainly to Japan.
Malaysia stands out as a major world producer of tin (cassiterite), as well as Thailand and Indonesia. India is highlighted in the exploration of iron ore, manganese, bauxite (aluminum), mica and atomic minerals, such as thorium and uranium. It is among the world’s largest diamond exporters. It presents smaller productions of mineral coal and oil, and others, insufficient, of tin, lead and copper.
Industrialization of India
Although the base of the Monsoon Asian economy is agriculture, industrialization is present in some isolated parts of the region. However, it is in India that we can observe high industrial growth.
During the English occupation, India was a mere exporter of raw materials, as competition from English products overshadowed the development of Indian handicrafts. With the independence of the Indian Union in 1947, India began its industrialization process, thanks to the abundance of its natural resources, the existence of numerous and cheap labor – albeit unskilled -, foreign capital and the market. internal consumer – although with low purchasing power, but which could be compensated by cheap labor.
A portion of the industries is the result of the Indian private initiative. There are large, modern industries, such as those in the steel region of the Damodar Valley (called “Ruhr” in India), where textile, mechanical and chemical industries also appear.
The textile industry is the most notable, using jute and cotton as raw materials. Jute products occur in Calcutta, while cotton products appear in Bombay, Madras and Delhi.
The steel industry is particularly concentrated on the coal deposits of the Damodar River Valley, relying on foreign capital, mainly from Germany, England and Russia.
The chemical industry (Madras) is still of little importance, as is the case with the mechanical industry, although it produces automobiles, bicycles, airplanes, ships, locomotives, wagons, sewing machines and radios.
In Bombay, India uses atomic energy, taking advantage of its large deposits of thorium.
In 2000, India became the world’s largest exporter of software. The computer program industry is concentrated in the southern city of Madras. The avant-garde role in the sector is explained by the spread of the English language and the country’s tradition in teaching exact sciences.
In a few decades, India achieved technological advances that allowed it to put satellites in orbit and detonate an atomic bomb in 1974.
India’s main “silicon valley” is located in Bangalore. The large number of university centers, together with programming centers for computers and pharmaceutical products, transformed the city of Hyderabad, located in the state of Andhra Pradesh, into a kind of Route 128 similar to the technological center of Boston (USA).
According to writer Gurcharan Dar, in his book India without Borders, in 20 years India will be the third world economic power, second only to China and the USA, with an average class of 250 million Indians.
For Dar, two sectors – information technology and agriculture – will lift India out of poverty.