Gujarat (Hindi: गुजरात) is the most industrialized state in India after Maharashtra and is located in western India, bordered by Pakistan to the northwest and Rajasthan to the north. Its capital is Gandhinagar, a planned city close to Ahmedabad, the former state capital and the commercial center of Gujarat.
The state of Gujarat was created on May 1, 1960, out of the northern, predominantly Gujarati-speaking portion of the state of Bombay. The southern, predominantly Marathi-speaking portion of Bombay state became Maharashtra.
Gujarat has a reputation for people with shrewd business acumen and considerable financial talent. Gujaratis are extravagant, live lavishly and have spread around the globe. They are considered to have the highest standard of living in India.
Gujarat has given to India two of its biggest leaders in the Indian Independence Movement, Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Gujaratis have also made their mark in the arts and the sciences, although they are comparatively few in number when compared to the number of businessmen and entrepreneurs.
Adminstrative divisions of Gujarat
Gujarat comprises of 25 districts. The districts are :
Gujarat is the westernmost state of India. It is bounded by the Arabian Sea to the west, by the state of Rajasthan to the north and northeast, by Madhya Pradesh to the east, and by Maharashtra to the south and southeast.
The relief is low in the most part of the state. The climate is mostly dry, and even desertic in the north-west.
Gujarat has about 1600 km of coastline, which a third of India's coast line and the longest coastline of all Indian states. This coastline includes of Gulf of Kutch and Gulf of Cambay.
The major cities in Gujarat are Ahmedabad, Vadodara (Baroda), Surat, and Rajkot. Ahmedabad is the largest city in the state and the sixth largest in India. Other important cities in the south of Gujarat are Nadiad, Jamnagar , Ankleshwar, Bharuch, Navsari , Vapi , and Valsad ; in the north are Bhuj and Dwarka.
Gujarat is home to several National Parks, including Gir National Park (Girnar), near Junagadh, Velavadar National Park in Bhavnagar District, Vandsa National Park in Bulser District, and Marine National Park on the Gulf of Kutch in Jamnagar District. The last remaining Asian lions, famous for their dark black manes, live in Girnar.
There are also a number of wildlife sanctuaries and nature preserves, including Balaram-Ambaji, Barda, Jambughoda, Jessore, Kachchh Desert, Nal Sarovar, Narayan Sarovar, Paniya, Purna, Rampura, Ratanmahal, Schoolpaneshwar, and Wild Ass.
Situated on the western coast of India, the name of the state is derived from Gujjaratta, which means the land of the Gujjars. It is believed that a tribe of Gujjars migrated to India around the 5th century. The real cultural history of these people, however, is believed to have begun much earlier. Sites of the Indus valley civilization and Harappan civilization have been found in the area now known as Gujarat. Gujarat has always been known for its coastline. Its cities, chiefly Bharuch, served as ports and trading centres in the Maurya and Gupta empires.
After the fall of the Gupta empire in the sixth century, Gujarat flourished as an independent Hindu kingdom. The Maitraka dynasty, descended from a Gupta general, ruled from the sixth to the eighth centuries from their capital at Vallabhi , although they were ruled briefly by Harsha during the seventh century. The Arab rulers of Sind sacked Vallabhi in 770, bringing the Maitraka dynasty to an end. A branch of the Pratihara clan ruled Gujarat after the eighth century. In 775 the first Parsi (Zoroastrian) refugees arrived in Gujarat from Iran.
The Solanki clan of Rajputs ruled Gujarat from c. 960 to 1243. Gujarat was a major center of Indian Ocean trade, and their capital at Anhilwara (Patan) was one of the largest cities in India, with population estimated at 100,000 in 1000. After 1243, the Solkanis lost control of Gujarat to their feudatories, of whom the Vaghela chiefs of Dholka came to dominate Gujarat. In 1292 the Vaghelas became tributaries of the Yadava dynasty of Devagiri in the Deccan.
In 1297-8 Ala-ud-din , Sultan of Delhi, destroyed Anhilwara and incorporated Gujarat into the Delhi Sultanate. After Timur's sacking of Delhi at the end of the 14th century weakened the Sultanate, Gujarat's Muslim governor Zafar Khan Muzaffar asserted his independence, and his son, Sultan Ahmed Shah (ruled 1411-1442), established Ahmedabad as the capital. Cambay eclipsed Bharuch as Gujarat's most important trade port. The Sultanate of Gujarat remained independent until 1576, when the Mughal emperor Akbar conquered it and annexed it to the Mughal empire. It remained a province of the Mughal empire until the Marathas conquered it in the 18th century.
Portugal was the first European power to arrive in Gujarat, acquiring several enclaves along the Gujarati coast, including Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The British East India Company established a factory in Surat in 1614, which formed their first base in India, but it was eclipsed by Mumbai after the British acquired it from Portugal in 1668. In the eighteenth century Britain wrested control of much of Gujarat from the Marathas during the Second Anglo-Maratha War, and incorporated it into British India. Gujarat was part of Bombay Presidency, with several districts ruled directly by British officials, and most of what is now Gujarat divided into dozens of princely states, including that of the Maratha Gaekwads of Vadodara (Baroda), ruled by local rulers who acknowledged British sovereignty.
Gujarat after Indian Independence
After Indian independence and the partition of India in 1947, the new Indian government grouped the former princely states of Gujarat into three larger units; Kutch, Saurashtra, which united many of the princely states on the Kathiawar peninsula, and Bombay state, which included much of western and central India, including many former princely states in what is now eastern Gujarat. In 1956, Bombay state was enlarged to include Kutch, Saurashtra, and parts of Hyderabad state and Madhya Pradesh in central India. The northern part of the newly-enlarged Bombay state spoke Gujarati, while the rest of the state was mostly Marathi-speaking. Agitation by Marathi nationalists led to the split of Bombay state on linguistic lines; on May 1, 1960, it became the new states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. The first capital of Gujarat was Ahmedabad; the capital was moved to Gandhinagar in 1970.
Gujarat was hit with a devastating earthquake on January 26, 2001 at 9:00am claiming a staggering 20,000 lives, injuring another 200,000 people and severely affecting the lives of 40 million Gujaratis. The economic and financial loss to Gujarat and India was deeply felt for years to come.
As of 2004, key figures in Gujarat politics are:
Narendra Modi, Chief Minister
- Shankersinh Vaghela
- Keshubhai Patel
- Sureshbhai Mehta
Gujarat is traditional stronghold of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). After independence in 1947, the Congress Party ruled the Bombay state (which included present-day Gujarat and Maharashtra). Congress continued to govern Gujarat after the state's creation in 1960. During and after India's State of Emergency of 1975-1977, public support for the Congress Party eroded, but it continued to hold government until 1995. In the 1995 Assembly Polls, the Congress lost to the BJP and Keshubhai Patel came to power. His Government lasted only 2 years. The fall of that government was provoked by a split in the BJP led by Shankersinh Vaghela . BJP returned to power in 1998 state assembly polls and has won most of the subsequent polls. In 2001, following the loss of 2 assembly seats in the bypolls, Keshubhai Patel resigned and handed over power to Narendra Modi, a hard line pro-Hindutva profile. Narendra Modi is since then the Chief Minister of the state.
In February 2002 riots broke out following an attack in Godhra on a train when transporting VHP activists returning from Ayodhya. According to several human rights organizations, the Hindutva movements, such as RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal, played an important part in organizing pogroms against the Muslim minority. Between February and August more than 2000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed and about 100 000 had to flee their homes. Furthermore, there were numerous claims from the Indian media that the BJP-led state government and the police not only failed to stop the riots, but actively encouraged them. Modi himself, explained the reasons behind the riots as an issue of "action and reaction".
He later dissolved the Legislative assembly and called for elections in December the same year. In those elections Modi was voted back with an absolute majority (more then 67% of seats). However, the BJP suffered a set-back in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls. The BJP seats were reduced from 21 to 14. The Congress gained the 7 seats, increasing their numbers from 5 to 12.
It is one of India's most prosperous states, having a per-capita GDP significantly above India's average. Major resources produced by the state include cotton, peanuts, dates, sugarcane, and petrol.
Surat, a city by the Gulf of Khambat, is rated one of India's cleanest cities and a hub of global diamond trade. Much of its diamond trade is controlled by a handful of families professing the Jain faith.
Also on the Gulf of Khambat, 50 kilometers southeast of Bhavnagar, is the Alang Ship Recycling Yard, the world's largest.
Anand is host to Amul dairy, one of the largest milk product producers of the world. Gujarat is the largest producer of milk in India.
Gujarat is home to an Indian Institute of Management, located in the city of Ahmedabad. The institute has been rated as the best in Asia by Asiaweek and one of the best in the world. Its graduates work in high positions for Fortune 500 companies and other major companies throughout the world.
Its primary language is Gujarati. The majority of its residents are Hindus, with significant percentages following Islam, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity.
As Gujarat is a heavily industrialized state of India, it attracts lots of outsiders, mostly from North India, Bihar, and South India. Thousands of non-Gujarati workers live in Gujarat.
Its main tourist sites include Palitana , Diu, Kutch, Jamnagar , Junagadh, and Rajkot.
- Official portal of Gujarat Government http://www.gujaratindia.com/
- Nature at it's Worst, Gujarat Earth Quake http://www.cwsteam.com/gujarat/
- History of Gujarat http://www.webindia123.com/GUJARAT/history/history.htm
- More information about history of Gujarat http://www.1upindia.com/states/gujarat/history.html
Last updated: 02-08-2005 07:19:27
Last updated: 04-25-2005 03:06:01