Gujarat - Introduction @ whatisindia.com

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Saturday, April 14, 2007


 

Gujarat


 

Quick Information

State Area (Sq. Km.)

196,024

State Capital

Gandhinagar

Major Language(s)

Gujarati

Number of Districts

26

Population

50,596,992

Males

26,344,053

Females

24,252,939

Growth Rate 1991-2001

22.48 %

Density

258 per sq. km.

Urban Population

37.35 %

Sex Ratio (Females per 1000 Males)

921

Literacy Rate

69.97 %

Males

80.50 %

Females

58.60 %

Legislature

Legislative Assembly

Judicature

High Court, Ahmedabad

Governor

Sri Nawal Kishore Sharma

Address

Raj Bhawan Sector-20, Gandhinagar-382020, Gujarat, India.
Permanent Address: B-50, Janata Colony, Jaipur- 302004 (Rajasthan).
Tel.No.(0141) 2601723

Office No.

079-3243171/2/3

Residence No.

 (02712) 3243171  To  3243173

Chief Minister

Sri Narendra Modi

Address

Chief Minister Niwas, Sec-20, Gandhinagar

Office No.

079-3232611 to 18

Residence No.

079-3243721 to 723

Fax

079-3222101

email

cm@gujaratindia.com
Chief secretary Sri Sudhir Mankad , IAS/GJ : 71

Address

Sachivalaya, Gandhinagar-10.

Office No.

(079) 23220372, (079) 23221105

Residence No.

26445275

Fax

23243330, 23250305

  

  

General Information

Gujarat 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 become one of the fastest-growing states in the country; as of 2002, Gujarat had an average per capita income of Rs. 7500 (Current 1992 prices), compared to Rs. 6400, the average for all Indian states.

Gujarat has gave India two of the most prominent leaders in the independence movement, Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Though his birthplace is disputed, it is certain that the Gujarati language was also the mother-tongue of the "father of Pakistan", Quaid-e Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Gujaratis have also been active in the arts and the sciences; Vikram Sarabhai, a Gujarati, was the father of India's space program. They are, however, mostly noted for their entrepreneurial spirit.

Location

Located in western India, Gujarat is bounded north by Pakistan and Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh in the east, Maharashtra in the south-east and Arabian Sea in the west.

Geography

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 deserted 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.

Cities

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.

Natural Areas

Gujarat is home to several National Parks, including Gir Forest 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 Anjal, Balaram-Ambaji, Barda, Jambughoda, Jessore, Kachchh Desert, Khavda, Nal Sarovar, Narayan Sarovar, Paniya, Purna, Rampura, Ratanmahal, and Schoolpaneshwar.

History

Pre-Colonial History

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 6th century, Gujarat flourished as an independent Hindu kingdom. The Maitraka dynasty, descended from a Gupta general, ruled from the 6th to the 8th centuries from their capital at Vallabhi, although they were ruled briefly by Harsha during the 7th 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 the year 1000.  In 1026, the famous Somnath temple in Gujarat was destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni.  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 Khilji, 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 1411-42), 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 eastern and central Gujarat in the 18th century; Western Gujarat (Kathiawar and Kutch) were divided among numerous local rulers.

Colonial Gujarat

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.  The Company wrested control of much of Gujarat from the Marathas during the Second Anglo-Maratha War.  Many local rulers, notably the Maratha Gaekwads of Baroda (Vadodara), made a separate peace with the British, and acknowledged British sovereignty in return for retaining local self-rule.

Gujarat was placed under the political authority of Bombay Presidency, with the exception of Baroda state, which had a direct relationship with the Governor-General of India.  From 1818 to 1947, most of present-day Gujarat, including Kathiawar, Kutch, and northern and eastern Gujarat were divided into dozens of princely states, but several districts in central and southern Gujarat, namely Ahmedabad, Broach (Bharuch), Kaira, Panch Mahals, and Surat, were ruled directly by British officials.

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; Saurashtra, which included the former princely states on the Kathiawar peninsula, Kutch, and Bombay state, which included the former British districts of Bombay Presidency together with most of Baroda state and the other former princely states of eastern Gujarat.  In 1956, Bombay state was enlarged to include Kutch, Saurashtra, and parts of Hyderabad state and Madhya Pradesh in central India.  The new state had a mostly Gujarati-speaking north and a Marathi-speaking south.  Agitation by Marathi nationalists for their own state led to the split of Bombay state on linguistic lines; on 1 May 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.

 

References:
Manorama Year Book 2007
http://www.gujaratindia.com

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