Case study - development in an emerging country - India - Edexcel A brief introduction to India

India is a new emerging economy (NEE) that is experiencing rapid economic development. This is leading to social and cultural changes.

A brief introduction to India

A map of India including major cities

India is now the second most populous nation on the planet, with an estimated 1.4 billion inhabitants in 2022 and it's estimated that India will overtake China as the most populous country in 2026. Estimates suggest that India will become the second largest economy by 2050. India is an example of a country that has become richer. Estimates suggest that it had grown to become the fifth largest economy in 2020 and is projected to be the third largest world economy after China and the USA by 2025. India is an example of a country that has become richer. India has the third largest army in the world and is known as the largest democracy in the world, consisting of 28 states and 8 union territories (as of 2020).

India has many different ethnic and religious groups - Hinduism is the dominant religion, yet the country has substantial minority populations of Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs. It has a varied climate ranging from tropical in the south to a temperate and then alpine climate in the north.

More guides on this topic

  • Contrasts in development between countries - Edexcel

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India's Context

India's Context, figure 1

India is located in south Asia and is bordered by other countries like Pakistan in the west, China and Nepal in the north to north eastern part, Bhutan in the north east and Burma in the west.


India's Context, figure 1

India's Context, figure 1

geography case study india

Netherhall School GCSE Geography Case Studies

Case study 2 – regional disparity – india.

India’s wealth isn’t equally shared within India, it varies between the richest state Maharashtra, and the poorest state, Bihar.

India map 1


Maharashtra is India’s richest core region with the highest GDP – it is the urban core. Maharashtra’s economic growth has come from:

  • Services – Graduates from Mumbai’s universities often find jobs with large TNCs. Large TNCs invest in the area due to the abundance of skilled workers.
  • Manufacturing – There are many factories in Maharashtra which produce goods that can be sold for a profit (it is on the coast so is good for trading).
  • Entertainment – Mumbai has the world’s largest film industry, Bollywood.

Bihar is India’s poorest state – it is a rural periphery. There is very little investment into Bihar and they are stuck in a cycle of poverty. The reasons Bihar is so under developed are:

  • It is a caste-based society so people in the lowest castes can’t work so stay impoverished.
  • Very low literacy rates due to poor schooling. A lack of skilled workers means TNCs won’t invest.
  • Women are mainly uneducated with very low literacy rates.

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Mumbai ​ a case study of a major city in an lic  

Importance of mumbai.

  • Mumbai is the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra.
  • Mumbai contributes 40% of Maharashtra state’s income.
  • Mumbai provides employment opportunities. Over 3 million people commute to Mumbai each day for work.
  • Mumbai accounts for 6% of India's GDP (GDP is the value of all goods and services)
  • Mumbai is the financial capital of India, being home to the Mumbai Stock Exchange, India’s leading stock and share market. 
  • Mumbai port is India’s main port on the Arabian Sea. It handles approximately 60% of all of India’s sea trade.
  • Mumbai has a diverse manufacturing sector (producing items such as metals, chemicals, cars, and electronics) and accounts for 25% of India’s industrial production. Mumbai also has a strong and growing information technology (IT) sector.
  • Mumbai is a transport hub with transport links to all of the major industrial cities in India. Mumbai airport handles most of the country’s international flights and a large proportion of its domestic service.
  • Mumbai is home to Indian companies such as the Tata Group.
  • Mumbai is also one of the few cities in India to include a national park, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
  • A large number of international companies have branches in Mumbai, including Bank of America, Johnson and Johnson, Volkswagen and Walt Disney.
  • Mumbai is home to India’s film industry, known as Bollywood. The Bollywood market is enormous. It is the largest film market in the world in terms of both films released and tickets sold, with more than four billion tickets sold each year.
  • Mumbai has air transport links to many world cities.
  • Mumbai is the world's 29th largest city in the world by GDP. 
  • Mumbai is popular with international tourists. Mumbai made $3.3 billion from visitors who stayed overnight in the city in 2015.

Causes of Mumbai's growth


  • ​There are many employment opportunities in Mumbai. For example, in Dharavi slum there are an estimated 16,000 small factories employing over a quarter of a million people.
  • 80% of Mumbai’s waste is recycled - a figure the west would be proud of. This provides employment opportunities, with thousands of people working to collect, sort and recycle huge quantities of industrial waste.
  • Mumbai has a flourishing manufacturing industry producing electronic items, jewellery and textiles. Incomes in the city are higher and more reliable than in rural areas
  • Mumbai is the centre of the Hindi movie industry, Bollywood, with many media concerns, e.g. television and satellite networks and publishing houses, which employ huge numbers of people.
  • There is a relatively high employment rate in Mumbai compared to rural areas of Maharashtra state. For example, 85% of people in the slum of Dharavi have a job within the slum.
  • Dharavi slum has a large, unskilled and informal workforce. There are thousands of small businesses producing products such as food, clothes, shoes, pottery and suitcases, some of which are exported all over the world. Dharavi produces billions of dollars a year for the local economy.  
  • There are better education opportunities in Mumbai than in rural areas of Maharashtra state. The city runs more than 1,000 primary and secondary schools, with free education up to certain ages. Consequently, literacy rates in Mumbai are high (89.7%).
  • Most people in Mumbai have at least some access to an electricity and water supply.
  • Access to healthcare is easier in Mumbai than in surrounding rural areas of Maharashtra state.
  • Mumbai has one of the best city transport systems in India. An estimated 7.5 million people ride on Mumbai trains every day.
  • There is a high sense of community spirit in the densely populated poorer areas of the city such as Dharavi slum. In addition, local community groups have been set up to help support each other.
  • Due to Mumbai’s dramatic increase in population there is a housing shortage. In addition, many of the poorest inhabitants of the city cannot afford to rent housing so end up living in overcrowded illegal squatter settlements.
  • An estimated 40% of people in Mumbai live in squatter settlements. Squatter settlements are areas of poor-quality housing, lacking in amenities such as water supply, sewerage and electricity, which have been developed illegally.
  • Mumbai is home to the second largest slum in Asia, Dharavi slum. Dharavi slum is home to nearly 1 million people in just 2.39 km2.  It was initially an area of temporary shelter, but is now a permanent feature. 
  • In many parts of Mumbai access to basic services is limited.
  • Many properties have access to an electricity supply, but this has often been set up haphazardly and poses health and safety risks.
  • Mumbai has severe water shortages. Water is rationed. Standpipes often come on for 2 hours at 5.30 am and are shared between many people via communal taps.
  • Water pipes often run close to sewer lines.  Leakages lead to contamination of water and the spread of water-borne diseases.  In Dharavi, children play amongst sewerage waste.  Doctors deal with 4,000 cases a day of typhoid and diphtheria.
  • The rapid growth of slum areas has put enormous pressure on sanitation systems with hundreds of people sharing a single toilet.
  • Satisfying the growing demand for health services and education in Mumbai is a real challenge. The youthful population means that there is a constantly rising demand for school places and maternity services.
  • The poor environmental conditions in squatter areas means that the risk of disease is high, putting increasing pressure on health services.
  • For example, Mumbai’s busiest public medical centre, Sion Hospital, which stands on the southeast border of Dharavi slum, is under-resourced and struggles to deal with the number of patients.
  • School drop-out rates are high.  Many youngsters, particularly in slum areas, are unable to pursue their education as they must find a job to bring in some money to support their family.  There are inadequate resources and declining standards in public institutions.
  • The growing demand for skilled labour has meant that opportunities for unskilled workers are increasingly limited and wages are low. This can lead to rising crime rates as people turn to illegal activities in order to survive.
  • Crime rates in Mumbai are high.  Nearly one third of the population have been victims of crime.  Corruption is rife and 22.9% of citizens have been exposed to bribery.
  • Urbanisation is the main cause of unemployment.  Economic growth has not been fast enough to create sufficient jobs for all of the available workforce.
  • Underemployment is common (people paid less than they should be for the task that they do, with poor working standards).
  • Rapid urbanisation has caused increasing volumes of both human and industrial waste. Dealing with the waste is difficult and expensive. The lack of sanitation systems in some parts of the city means that sewage often pollutes rivers.
  •  The growth of unregulated industry add to the problems of air and water pollution. Factories use the Mithi River to dump untreated waste.
  •  Air pollution has caused dangerously high levels of PM10, which can cause asthma, bronchitis and cancer. Levels in Mumbai are 132 mg/m3 (the WHO’s recommendation is 20 mg/m3).
  • Many people in Mumbai live far from their place of work and are dependent on public transport. There are too few suburban train and bus networks to meet demand, so buses and trains are usually crammed.  Roads are overcrowded with vehicles.  The movement of traffic is very slow.  Peak traffic times can last several hours.

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Mumbai Case Study

geography case study india

What is the location and importance of Mumbai?


Why is Mumbai growing?

What are Mumbai’s social and economic opportunities?

What challenges have been caused by urban growth in Mumbai?

How is urban planning improving the quality of life for the urban poor in Mumbai?

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