This is for for you, the student (noun; a person who actively seek knowledge; vidyārthī)! By this definition, everyone is a student if you are “actively seeking knowledge.”

You will probably have studied about the three sectors of economic activity: (1) primary, (2) secondary, and (3) tertiary (meaning ‘third’). If you have not yet done so, find out about them!

Nowadays, though, there are two more sectors that are studied: (4) quaternary (meaning ‘fourth’), and (5) quinary (‘fifth’).

Whether you choose the traditional 3-sector system or the more recent 5-sector system, you can complete this exercise.

I have given an image here. Using this one image, you can develop some understanding of the geography of an informal economic activity. Informal economic activity refers to that part of the economy which is not formally documented. For example:

  • A vegetable vendor who sells vegetables at the side of the road, or pushes a cart along the streets to sell vegetables.
  • A person going along the streets of neighborhoods selling aluminium vessels in exchange for cash or old clothes.
  • A person going around collecting old newspapers.

(As an aside: listen to how they shout out their particular wares. It’s very interesting. They form their own distinct patterns and establish a temporary sound-scape that moves with them through the neighborhoods.)

So, here’s the image (click on it to get a larger version in a new tab):

Products on display at a street-side vendor’s location. (Image © 2017, The Institute of Geographical Studies)

Questions for you to answer:

  1. What is this product?
  2. Where might the raw material have come from?
  3. Given the definitions of the various sectors of an economy in your geography text book, which sector does:
    (a) the product represent?
    (b) the vending of it represent?
  4. Who are the likely end-users (NO! No pun intended; do not mock The Examiner!) of this product?
  5. Name the country, state, city, and locality (if possible) of the vending site.
  6. Give some geographic reasons for the location of that vending site.
  7. Raise one good geography question of your own. (Answering geography questions is great. It is greater still if you also learn how to ask good geography questions – that is how become a true vidyārthī. If you answered the previous questions well, and you ask a good geography question, it will fetch you the biggest prize: a fruit salad with ice cream of your choice at Art of Delight, Residency Road, Bengaluru).

Share this exercise with (other) vidyārthīs you may know.

Write your responses in an email and send them to me at

I will respond to them in a future article here and on the blog at

Yes, you are welcome to collaborate with anyone, but you must say whom you collaborated with – academic ethics.

Depending on what and how you write, I may also choose to include your responses (with your name) in the article and blog.

A version of this article appeared in the Deccan Herald Student Edition in July 2017

Featured image: © 2017, The Institute of Geographical Studies


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