Secondary Activities [UPSC Geography Notes]

Secondary activities involve manufacturing processes and construction (infrastructure) industries. It is concerned with transforming raw materials into valuable products, e.g., conversion of iron ore into steel, making yarn out of cotton, etc. The secondary sector depends on the primary sector for the raw materials necessary for production. The value added through the transformation of raw materials into finished goods generates greater profitability which leads to faster growth in developed countries.  People engaged in secondary activities are called blue-collar workers.

In this article, you can read all about secondary activities from the UPSC exam perspective.

Secondary Activities – Manufacturing Industries

These are geographically located manufacturing units that transform raw materials into finished goods of high value for sale in local or distant markets.

Characteristics of modern large-scale manufacturing

The following are the characteristics of modern large-scale manufacturing –

  1. Specialisation of skills/Methods of production – It involves the production of large quantities of standardised parts by each worker performing only one task repeatedly, making the worker specialised in that skill.
  2. Mechanisation – The industries use machines for the production processes. Automation is the advanced stage of mechanisation wherein, human thinking during the manufacturing process is not required.
  3. Technological Innovations – Modern technology and constant innovations are done through research and development strategy for quality control, eliminating waste and inefficiency and combating pollution. 
  4. Organisational Structure and Stratification – Modern manufacturing is characterised by complex machine technology, vast capital, extreme specialisation, and division of labour. Large organisations and executive bureaucracy. 
  5. Uneven Geographic Distribution – The manufacturing industries are concentrated in regions rich in minerals and other resources. Modern manufacturing industries cover less than 10% of the world’s land area and these nations have become the centres of economic and political power. 

Industrial Locations 

Industries should be located at places where the production costs are minimum in order to maximise profits. The following factors influence industrial locations:

  1. Access to market- “Market” means people who have a demand for the manufactured goods and also have the ability to purchase (purchasing power) from the sellers at a place. The purchasing power of the people of developed regions of Europe, North America, Australia and Japan is very high. The thickly populated regions of south and south-east Asia also provide good markets.
  2. Access to raw materials – Industries based on cheap, bulky and weight-losing materials (ores) are located close to the source of raw materials like sugar, steel and cement industries. Perishable goods are also located closer to the source of raw materials; agro-processing and dairy products are processed close to the sources of farm produce or milk supply respectively.
  3. Access to labour supply – Labour supply is also an important factor in the location of industries. However, increased mechanisation, automation and flexibility of industrial processes have decreased the dependence of industries on labour. 
  4. Access to sources of energy – Industries requiring more power are situated close to the source of energy supply like the aluminium industry. Coal, hydroelectricity, and petroleum are the sources of energy for many industries.
  5. Access to transportation and communication facilities – Efficient transportation and communication are essential for the development of industries. Western Europe and Eastern North America have a highly developed transportation system which has led to the growth and development of industries in these regions. 
  6. Government policies – Government adopts regional policies to promote balanced economic development and hence set up industries in particular areas. 
  7. Access to Agglomeration Economies/link between industries – It refers to the benefits derived from the linkages that exist between different industries. 

Classification of Manufacturing Industries

Industries are classified on the basis of :

  1. Size
  2. Raw materials/Inputs
  3. Products/Outputs
  4. Ownership 
  1. Classification on the basis of size – 

On the basis of size, industries are classified into-

a) Household or Cottage Industries – 

  • The smallest manufacturing unit.
  • Simple tools and local raw materials are used by the artisans.
  • Products are made at home with the help of family members or part-time labourers.
  • Products are consumed in the same household, sold in local markets, or for barter.
  • Products manufactured in this sector include foodstuffs, fabrics, mats, shoes, pottery, jewellery, artefacts, etc.

b) Small Scale Industries – 

  • These are characterised by simple power-driven machines, local raw material and semi-skilled labour.
  • It provides employment and increases local purchasing power.
  • India, Indonesia, China and Brazil have developed labour-intensive small-scale manufacturing units.

c) Large Scale Industries –

  • It involves mass production, multiple raw materials, huge energy, specialised workers, advanced technology, mass production and large capital.
  • Large-scale industrial regions are broadly classified into two types-
    • Traditional large-scale industrial regions which are thickly clustered in a few, more developed countries.
    • High technology large-scale industrial regions which are diffused to less developed countries.
  1. Classification on the basis of raw materials/inputs – 

On the basis of raw materials industries are classified into:

a) Agro-based Industries – 

  • The industries procure raw materials from the fields and farms which are processed into finished products like fruit juices, oil, beverages, sugar, rubber, textiles, etc.
  • Food processing is a part of agro-based industries. It includes canning, producing cream, fruit processing and confectionery, drying, fermenting and pickling.

b) Mineral-based Industries – 

  • Here minerals are used as raw materials. 
  • Ferrous metallic minerals (for iron and steel industries), non-ferrous metallic minerals (for aluminium, copper and jewellery industries), and non-metallic minerals (for cement and pottery industries) are used. 

c) Forest-based Industries – Forests provide timber for the furniture industry, wood, bamboo and grass for the paper industry and Lac for the lac industry.

d) Animal-based Industries – Industries that depend on animal products include leather, woollen textile and ivory (made from the tusks of elephants) industries.

  1. Classification on the basis of output/product-

Output/Product industries are of two types-

a) Basic Industries – The industries that produce raw materials to be used in other industries are called basic industries. For example, iron and steel forms the base for other industries, and therefore, it is called the basic industry. It provides raw materials for other industries such as machine tools used for further production.

b) Non-Basic industries/Consumer Goods Industries – These industries produce goods which are directly consumed by the consumer e.g., industries manufacturing soaps and detergents, bread and biscuits. 

  1. Classification on the basis of ownership-

Based on the ownership, industries are grouped into-

a) Public Sector Industries – These are owned and managed by the governments. In India, these industries are called Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs). Mixed economies have both Public and Private Sector Enterprises. Socialist economies have mostly state-owned industries. 

b) Private Sector Industries – These are owned and managed by private organisations. In Capitalist economies, industries are generally owned by private investors. 

c) Joint Sector Industries – These are managed by Joint Stock Companies or established and managed by private and public sectors together. 

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Image Source: NCERT

Traditional Large Scale Industrial Regions –

Also called smokestack industries as they emit huge smoke and pollute the environment. These are heavy industries, mostly located near coal fields and involved in metal smelting, heavy engineering, chemical manufacturing or textile production. These are recognised by a high proportion of employment, high density of housing with poor services and unhealthy environment (waste, pollution, etc). The worldwide fall in demand may result in problems of unemployment and emigration due to the closure of such industries.

The Ruhr Coal-field, Germany – The Ruhr region is responsible for 80% of Germany’s total steel production. However, the future prosperity of the Ruhr region is based less on the products of coal and steel and more on the new industries like the huge Opel car assembly plant, new chemical plants, universities, etc.

Secondary Activities – Iron and Steel Industry

The steel industry is a basic industry and forms the base of all other industries. Iron is extracted from iron ore by smelting process in a blast furnace with carbon (coke) and limestone. The molten iron is cooled and moulded to form pig iron which is then converted into steel by adding strengthening elements like manganese. 

  • Iron and steel industry is a heavy industry – Its raw materials, as well as products both, are heavy. These are traditionally located close to the sources of raw materials.
  • Iron and steel industries are capital intensive and are located in advanced countries of North America, Europe and Asia. In India, the important centres include Jamshedpur, Rourkela, Bhilai, Bokaro, Durgapur, Salem, Visakhapatnam, Kulti- Burnpur and Bhadravati. 
  • Mini steel mills – These are less expensive than heavy steel industries. Here, scrap metal is the main input (raw material) and can be located near markets where scrap metals are in abundance. 

Cotton Textile Industry – 

  • It has three sub-sectors – handloom, powerloom and mill sector. 
    • The handloom sector requires small capital investment, is labour intensive and provides employment to semi-skilled workers. It includes spinning, weaving, and finishing the fabrics. 
    • The powerloom sector uses machines and is less labour intensive. Here, the production is significantly more.
    • The cotton textile mill sector is highly capital intensive and produces fine clothes in bulk.
  • India, China, Pakistan, the U.S.A, Egypt, and Uzbekistan produce more than half of the world’s raw cotton.

High-Technology Industries – 

  • Also called high-tech, is the latest generation of manufacturing activities. It involves intense research and development (R & D) strategy leading to the manufacturing of products of an advanced scientific and engineering character.
  • The workforce consists of highly skilled professionals, is called ‘white collar’, and they outnumber the production labour (blue collar).
  • Robotics, computer-aided design (CAD) and manufacturing, and the constant development of new chemicals and pharmaceutical products are examples of a high-tech industry.
  • High-tech industries which are regionally concentrated, self-sustained and highly specialised are called technopolies. For example, Silicon Valley near San Francisco and Silicon Forest near Seattle.

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