In this article, You will read Regional Imbalances & Concept of Balanced Growth – for UPSC (Human Geography – Geography Optional).

Regional Imbalances

  • Regional imbalance is defined as a state of disequilibrium in terms of economic and social criteria existing between two regions over the landscape.
  • It is a condition in which an economy fails to extend benefits equally to all regions in the country or class in society.
  • This uneven economic development is either due to historical processes like colonialization or due to socio-economic processes.
  • It exists both in capitalist and socialist countries, for example, capital concentration in West Europe and North America.
  • Regional imbalance can be spatial (inter-regional imbalance such as Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Western Uttar Pradesh, intraregional such as Uttar Pradesh and Punjab) or social (class differentiation such as regions with the dwellings of the people from lower cast may be less developed than that of the higher cast)
  • Regional Imbalance has two dimensions
    • Regional disparity and development
    • Class differentiation
  • Regional imbalance can further be classified into
    • Inter-Regional imbalance (Eastern and Western India)
    • Intra-Regional imbalance (Vidarbha and Western Maharashtra, Coastal Andhra Pradesh is more developed, in USA North East area is more developed)
  • Natural resources and geographical factors like location and accessibility are not homogenous. The landscape never follows the “principle of isomorphism”. Regional imbalances are the result of such heterogeneous character of the physical nature of the earth.
  • At one place it has all the natural advantages while others may have a disadvantage or physical constraints to growth.
  • However, the spread of human phenomenon introduces even more variability by its technological application and difference across the landscape in terms of socio-economic growth are aggravated and disequilibrium sets on with a typical characteristics flow pattern where a segment of earth or region attracts resources, people, factors of production and involve into a gigantic economic force by extracting and desertifying the surrounding (e.g. Bhilai region has attracted factors of production and has emerged as a developed town, but the surrounding areas have been desertified in terms of growth and development).

Thus, Regional imbalance refers to the disequilibrium or disparity in terms of resource, productive economic growth, an assemblage of factors of production between two or more regions, culminating into development disparities, regional consciousness, and generating a flow pattern towards the developed region and polarisation, agglomeration and fused economic growth.

Concept of balanced growth
  • Balanced growth means equitable development in various sectors of the economy.
  • In a true sense, it means a balance between economic and human development where economic growth compliments human development.
Harrod’s equation
  • According to Harrod, if in a country, the growth rate of per capita income, economic output, and resources are equal, the Balanced Growth is said to exist.
    • Gy=Go=Gr
  • Balanced Growth has two dimensions i.e. spatial (e.g. inter-regional imbalance such as Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Western Uttar Pradesh, intra-regional such as Uttar Pradesh and Punjab) and social (e.g. class differentiation such as regions with the dwellings of the people from lower cast may be less developed than that of the higher cast)

Types of Disparities/Imbalances

They are:

  • Global Disparity:
    • The term global disparity describes the disparities that exist between nations. Each country is at a different level of development, which causes a disparity between countries. Some counties have been endowed with resources in abundance, while there are countries that are extremely poor in resources.
  • Inter-State Disparity:
    • Like global disparities, there are also exist disparities between the states in India. Interstate disparities or regional disparities or regional imbalances refer to a situation where a per capita income, standard of living, consumption situation, industrial and agriculture development are not uniform in different parts of a given region. The backwardness of the state could be the result of either regional diversity or disparity.
  • Intra-State Disparity:
    • Intrastate disparity refers to disparity within the state. Intra-regional disparities in development can be identified through macro indicators of development like allocation of resources, quality of governance, agrarian structure, income, consumption patterns, and estimates of poverty.
  • Rural-Urban disparity:
    • The rural-urban disparity has been prevalent in India for ages. Rural areas are considered backward areas in terms of availability of the basic infrastructure – roads, electricity, water and sanitation facilities, schools and hospitals, etc. In contrast, these facilities are mostly available in urban areas. It is because of the absence of such facilities that rural areas lag behind urban areas in terms of the basic indicators of development – poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, etc.
Types of Regional imbalances/Regional classification of the world

In 1911, 1st regionalization was provided which divided world into

  • Developed: It includes Anglo-America, Western Europe, Australia, etc. where all measures of economic development found to be high.
  • Quasi developed: These are the regions with a high resource base and development has only intensified in the 20th century. E.g. Eastern Europe, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, etc.
  • Underdeveloped: It includes countries of Africa, India, China, etc.

Classification based on population and resource by Ackerman

  • E.A. Ackerman (1970) has used three basic criteria for formulating the world’s regional scheme of population /resource ratio. These criteria were -Population factor, resource factor, and technology factor. He suggested a five-fold classification of the world into population/resource regions:
    • The United States of America Types: About one-sixth of the world’s people live in technology-source areas with low population/resource ratios, as in much of North America, Australia, and New Zealand and the erstwhile Soviet Union
    • European Type/Russian Type: One-sixth live in technology-source areas with high population/resource ratios, where industrialization and technology have permitted an expansion of resources through international trade. Most of Europe and Japan fall in this category
    • Egyptian Type: Roughly one-half live-in areas which are technology deficient with high population/resource ratios, as in India, Pakistan, and China. This type epitomizes some of the most severe population problems.
    • Brazilian Type: One-sixth live in technology-deficient areas with low population/resource ratios, as in much of Latin America, Africa and South-East Asia, where resources sometimes remain unused because of the problems of developing difficult environments.
    • Arctic-Desert Type: The largely uninhabited ice caps, tundra’s, and deserts are mostly technology-deficient and offer little food-producing potential at the moment.

After the 2nd World War, the world got divided into North-South blocks. It’s a geopolitical term that explains the developed north and developing south. The division is summarized below:

  • North
    • Secondary and tertiary activity
    • Colonialists
    • Net exporter of goods and services
    • Importer of raw materials
  • South
    • Primary or primitive activities.
    • They are former colonies and exploited by colonialist countries.
    • Net importer of processed goods
    • Exporter of raw materials.

On the basis of the present world scenario and physical, social, economic, and cultural landscape of present world classification is done on the primary scale as:

  • Developed countries
    • New World (Australia)
    • Occidental (Europe, North America)
  • Less Developed countries
    • Old oriental realm
    • South Asian region and new oriental region
    • Meso African region
old oriental realms

Relative characteristics of developmental disparities

  • Less developed
    • Low per capita income, scarce capital
    • Uneven distribution of wealth in individual countries
    • Primary industries like farming, forestry, mining, fishing, etc. occupy an important role in the national economy
    • A lion’s share of the population is engaged in agriculture (over 70%)
    • Intensive subsistence farming is practiced. Agriculture is characterized by inefficient methods and unemployment or pseudo employment. The yield is low.
    • Most of the people live in rural areas (more than 70% of the total population in some cases)
    • High birth and death rates. High dependency ratio. Population growth is high.
    • Hunger and malnutrition are all-pervasive.
    • Diseases of the infection, respiratory and parasitic types are common. Health care services are poor.
    • Overcrowding, poor housing facilities, underdeveloped public and sanitation systems prevail.
    • A high level of illiteracy prevails which further prevents economic development.
    • Gender disparity is high. Women are accorded an inferior status in society.
  • Developed
    • High per capita income, capital is easily available.
    • Wealth evenly distributed within individual countries.
    • Manufacturing and service industries are predominant in economies.
    • Agriculture employs an insignificant percentage of the population.
    • Extensive subsistence farming is practiced. Agriculture is efficient and mechanized. The yield is high.
    • Most of the people live in urban areas (more than70%)
    • Both birth and death rates are low. High life expectancy.
    • The supply of a balanced diet is adequate. Obesity due to overeating is a common problem.
    • Incidence of the disease is rare. Health care services are highly efficient
    • Adequate housing facilities, sanitation exits. The Man-land ratio is high.
    • Highly efficient and integrated educational infrastructure exists.
    • The level of women’s emancipation is higher than that in developing countries.

Factors leading to regional imbalance

Regional Imbalances & Concept of Balanced Growth
Factors leading to regional imbalance
  • Historical factors
    • History of development played a great role in the development of certain regions. E.g. in India Bombay, Calcutta, Madras are classic examples.
    • The backwash effect thereafter showed its impact (backwash effect refers to sucking of resources by developed area from nearby areas rendering them backward whereas spread effect refers to the spread of development from more developed area to nearby areas). North-West India including Delhi has a long agricultural and industrial history of development.
    • Further, this region remained the seat of power since medieval times. A sound work culture involved in this region.
    • The Zamindari system in Bihar with a large suppressed class has its own role in the backwardness of the state.
  • Physical factors:
    • Physical factors include climate, soil, natural resource endowments, hydrology, location, accessibility.
    • Plains invite civilization, mountains push them away, deserts deny them and coasts augment them. River valleys act as cradles of civilization.
    • Availability of groundwater, river water, river transport, fertile land, and fertile soil always attracted man’s settlement and development.
    • Attitude of people, work ethos, risk-bearing capacity also play an important role. E.g. Green revolution succeeded in North-Western India and not in Eastern parts. The enterprising nature of Gujaratis, Marwaris, Jains led to the development of industries and business in their region.
    • Vidal De La Blache says that “river basins have functional homogeneity and are the gravity centers of civilization where nature is protective and supportive to man”.
    • Soil is the most important natural resource.
    • Most river valleys and coastal areas have harbored most of humanity.
  • Economic factors: economic factor includes
    • Low wage rate
    • Poor land man ratio
    • Low standard of living
    • Low per capita income
    • Poor per capita consumption
    • Trade pattern
    • Industrialization
    • Agriculture pattern and development
    • Transport network
    • In India, the industries are concentrated in few regions which have led to regional imbalances.
  • Demographic factors: demographic factors include
    • High dependency ratio
    • Low wage rate
    • Unemployment
    • Negative sex ratio
    • Young age ratio (age structure pyramid)
  • Socio-cultural factors: It includes
    • Primitive mode of living (tribes)
    • Inward outlook of society
    • Low acceptability of innovation
    • Poor education facility
    • Poor health facility
  • Political factors:
    • The planned period after independence in terms of government policies led to regional imbalances.
    • Government policies also play a major role such as the 2nd Five Year Plan called for the development of industries in the backward areas for their regional development, Green revolution also led to regional imbalances since it succeeded in North-Western India and not in Eastern parts.
    • Geopolitics leading to war, cutting off supplies (oil crisis) also leads to draining of countries resources which in turn leads to reduced government expenditure for the development of backward areas leading to regional imbalances.
  • Religion factors:
    • Religion dogma and the religious perceptions which induce the cultural values and govern the social ethos are also responsible for regional imbalances.

Consequences of Regional Imbalances in India

  • Inter-States and Intra State Agitations: Uneven regional development or regional imbalances lead to several agitations within a State or between the States.
    • The erstwhile combined State of Andhra Pradesh can be cited as the best example of the consequences of
      intrastate regional imbalance in terms of development, which has lead to several agitations for separate Telangana State for several decades from 1969 – 2014 finally it is formed as a separate State as the 29th State of India.
  • Migration: Migration takes from backward areas to the developed areas in search of livelihood. For example, migration from rural to urban. Because urban areas will provide a better quality of life and more job opportunities when compared to rural.
  • Social Unrest: Differences in prosperity and development lead to friction between different sections of the society causing social unrest. For example Naxalism. Naxalites in India function in areas that have been neglected for long time for want of development and economic prosperity.
  • Pollution: Centralization of industrial development at one place leads to air and sound pollution.
  • Housing, Water Problem: The establishment of several industries at one place leads to a shortage of houses as a result rental charges will increase abnormally. For example, Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, and Hyderabad and overpopulation lead to the water crisis.
  • Frustration among Rural Youth: In the absence of employment opportunities in rural and backward areas leads to frustration especially among educated youth.
  • Under-Developed Infrastructure: Rural and backward areas do not have 24 hours power, proper houses, safe drinking water, sanitation, hospitals, doctors, telephone, and internet facilities.
  • Aggregation of the imbalance: Once an area is prosperous and has adequate infrastructure for development, more investments pour in neglecting the less developed regions. So an area which is already prosperous develops further. For example, the rate of growth of metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad is higher compared to other metro cities of India.

Advantages of developed region

  • Natural advantage: It includes location, climate, soil, hydrology, natural resource endowment, accessibility, etc.
  • Acquired advantage: It includes the development of infrastructure, the establishment of industries, transportation and communication network, etc.
  • Comparative advantage: It includes nearness to market (e.g. Western UP is near to Delhi which offers it a competitive advantage over Eastern UP)
  • Cumulative advantage: It includes the development of social sectors, economic sector, industrialization, urbanization, centralization of factors of production, institutional growth and in-migration of skilled and unskilled labour.
  • Agglomerative advantage: It includes the traits like capital investment, development of the number of heavy and basic industries and related complementary industries (Here establishment of one industry paves the way for the development of other industries by providing them with common facilities such as power, transport, labour, etc. thus, showing agglomerative effect).

Economic structure and imbalance

  • A country based on the primary sector is usually underdeveloped. The primary sector cannot generate income and production of a high order which leads to the low purchasing power of people.
  • Regions heavily dependent on the secondary and tertiary sectors have high demand, high income, and high export potential, which leads to the advancement of the economy. Thereafter the quaternary and quinary sector develops.
  • Productivity and imbalance If the efficiency of labor is more then it will increase the productivity in an economy. Good health of workers is directly proportional to high productivity and growth of a region
  • Case Study
    • Kalahandi district of Orissa is rich in mineral resources around it such as iron ore bauxite etc which has attracted many industries in the region. But the neighboring areas are still backward giving rise to regional imbalance.
    • Similarly, the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra is backward even though Western Maharashtra is developed.


  • Identification of the Backward Areas and Allocation of funds
  • Need for Investments in Backward Areas
  • Good Governance – the better the governance, the less would be the disparities in country.
  • Political Will – Political will is vital for the balanced regional development i.e. to remove regional imbalances in a country.
  • Incentives: Incentives should be provided for promoting investments in the backward regions.
  • Promoting New Financial Institution in Backward Region.
  • Setting Up of Regional Boards: As per Article 321 D of the Indian Constitution, Regional Boards with necessary legal powers, funds should be instituted to remove regional disparities in the States.
  • Growth Corridors comprised of education zones, agricultural zones, and industrial zones should be operationalized for the rapid development of backward areas in the states.
  • Strict restrictions on usage of productive agricultural lands for non-agricultural purposes to be implemented. If required, permissions for non-agricultural usage should be granted only after the farmers have been guaranteed a better life.
  • Usage of natural resources for the development of tribal areas to be implemented.
  • Composite criteria for identifying backward areas (with the Mandal/Block as a unit) based on indicators of human development including poverty, literacy, and infant mortality rates, along with indices of social and economic infrastructure should be developed by the NITI Aayog.
  • Devolution of funds: Union and State Governments should adopt a formula for Mandal/Block-wise devolution of funds targeted at more backward areas.
  • Strengthening of local governments and making them responsible and accountable.
  • A system of rewarding States (including developed States) achieving a significant reduction in intra-State disparities should be introduced.
  • Additional funds for Infrastructure.
  • A greater share of the central pool of funds should be allocated to backward states.
  • Launching of Special Area Programmes like Desert Development Programme, Drought Prone Area Programme, etc.
  • Propagation and use of improved dry farming technology.
  • Provision of infrastructural facilities in backward districts.
  • Development of forward and backward linkages in the backward regions.
  • Special grants are to be given to the backward and tribal areas.
  • Schools to be opened providing free and compulsory education to remove illiteracy.
  • Hospitals and dispensaries to be set up to give medical care to the people.
  • Water facilities to be provided for domestic purposes and agriculture.
  • Cottage and small industries are to be promoted to provide employment opportunities.
  • Roads and railway lines have to be laid down to link different places.
  • Government must speed up developmental works in backward areas.


  • Regional imbalance is a threat to the goal of inclusive growth and reduction of poverty. The growing regional disparities have dampened the speed of further economic reforms and hence may pose a barrier to India‟s future economic growth.
  • Regional disparities will result in regional tensions, which in turn may lead to popular agitations and at some times militant activities also.
  • Regional disparities in economic and social development which exist within some of the States due to the neglect of certain backward regions have created and creating demand for separate States like in the past for separate Telangana and now and then for Vidarbha and for Bodo land.
  • As such, there is a strong need for strengthening good governance in the backward areas. Towards this end, it is necessary that the local bodies in the backward areas are empowered and strengthened to reduce the regional imbalances in the country.

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Thnqq for such valuable content.

Asim B

Thank u for providing this type of notes for free but Please (request to you) provide straight to the point notes and skip the unnecessary content.Jai Hind…..

Last edited 10 months ago by Asim B
Mohit Manhas

baba u r the best


I really want to say thanks from my heart for your effort. It is actually beyond the price.


sir how religion cause regional imbalance can u give some eg ??

Rickta Roy

religion is one of the factors for population explosion e.g. in some religions there’s a want for male children for the last ritual to be carried on that lead to the birth of more child until a couple gets a baby boy. It may cause overpopulation, and less scope for health and education–the deterioration of human capital. e.g. in U.P., Bihar, and Bengal which are agriculturists have wanted, male children. While Kerela has a good family planning program and a positive sex ratio!

P.S. no factor influences anything in isolate. Intermingling of factors actually causes differentiation.

Last edited 1 month ago by Rickta Roy