Uttar Pradesh (उत्तर प्रदेश, اتر پردیش, IPA , translation: Northern Province), [often referred to as U.P.] is a state located in the northern part of India. With a population of over 190 million people, it is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity.
With an area of 93,933 sq mi (243,286 km²), Uttar Pradesh covers a large part of the highly fertile and densely populated upper Gangetic plain. It shares an international border with Nepal and is bounded by the states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar. The administrative and legislative capital of Uttar Pradesh is Lucknow and the financial and industrial capital is Kanpur. The state's high court is based at Allahabad. It is home to many historical cities like Agra and Varanasi.
Throughout its history, it was sometimes divided between petty kingdoms and at other times formed an important part of larger empires that arose on its east or west, including the Mauryan, Gupta, Kushan and Mughal empires. Uttar Pradesh has an important place in the culture of India; as it is considered to be the birthplace of Hinduism and has many important sites of Hindu pilgrimage. It also holds much of the heritage of the Mughal Empire, including both the famous Taj Mahal and the tomb of the great Mughal Emperor Akbar in Agra and Akbar's capital-palace in Fatehpur Sikri.
The Indo-Gangetic plain, that spans most of the state, has been the ancient seat of Hindu religion, learning and culture, the birth place of the Indo-Islamic syncretic culture of the medieval period, a center of nationalism during the colonial period and has continued to play a prominent role in Indian political and cultural movements. The state has a rich heritage of traditional crafts and cottage industries of various types that employ highly skilled craftsmen and artisans.
The ancient kingdom of Kosala in Ayodhya - where, according to Hindu legend, the divine king Rama of the Ramayana epic reigned - was located here. Krishna - another divine king of Hindu legend, who plays a key role in the Mahabharata epic and is revered as the eighth reincarnation (Avatara) of Hindu god Vishnu - was born in the city of Mathura. The aftermath of the Mahabharata war is believed to have taken place in the area between Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, during the reign of the Pandava king Yudhishtira. The revered Swaminarayan - mentioned in the Brahma Purana and Vishwaksena Samhita as the manifestation of God - was born in the village of Chhapaiya.
Control over this region was of vital importance to the power and stability of all of India's major empires, including the Mauryan (320-200 BC), Kushan (100-250 AD) and Gupta (350-600 AD) empires. After the Guptas, the Ganga-Yamuna Doab saw the rise of Kannauj. During the reign of Harshavardhana, the Kannauj empire was at its zenith: it covered an area extending from Afghanistan and Kashmir in the west to Bengal in the east and up to the Vindhyas in the south, with its capital at Kannauj. Even today many communities in various parts of India - from Kashmir, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Bihar to Bengal - boast of being descendants of migrants from Kannauj, reflecting its glory in the past..
Agra and Fatehpur Sikri were the capital cities of Akbar, the great Mughal Emperor of India. At their zenith, the Mughal empire covered almost the entire Indian subcontinent (including present day Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh), which was ruled at different times from Delhi, Agra and Allahabad. But, when the empire disintegrated, their last territory remained confined to the Doab region of Hindustan and Delhi. Other areas of Hindustan (U.P.) were now ruled by different rulers: Oudh was ruled by the Nawabs of Oudh, Rohilkhand by Afghans, Bundelkhand by the Marathas and Benaras by its own king, while Nepal controlled Kumaon-Garhwal. The state's capital city of Lucknow was established by the Muslim Nawabs of Oudh in the 18th century.
After the failed first freedom war or the Indian Rebellion of 1857, when the turmoil settled, the British made a major revamp, in desperation: they truncated the Delhi region from NWFP of Agra and merged it with Punjab, while the Ajmer-Merwar region was merged with Rajputana. At the same time, they included Oudh into the state. The new state was called the 'North Western Provinces of Agra and Oudh', which in 1902 was renamed as the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. It was commonly referred to as the United Provinces or its acronym UP.
In 1920, the capital of the province was shifted from Allahabad to Lucknow. The high court continued to be at Allahabad, but a bench was established at Lucknow. Allahabad continues to be an important administrative base of today's Uttar Pradesh and has several administrative headquarters.
Uttar Pradesh continued to be central to Indian culture and politics and was especially important in modern Indian history as a hotbed of both the Indian Independence Movement and the Pakistan Movement.
Sucheta Kripalani served as India's first woman chief minister from October 1963 until March 1967, when a two-month long strike by state employees caused her to step down. The confusion and chaos ended only with the defection of Charan Singh from the Congress with a small set of legislators; he set up a party called the Jana Congress, which formed the first non-Congress government in U.P. and ruled for over a year.
Fellow socialist Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna of the Bharatiya Lok Dal was chief minister for part of the 1970s. He was dismissed by the Central Government headed by Indira Gandhi, along with several other non-Congress chief ministers, shortly after the imposition of the Emergency, when Narain Dutt Tewari - later chief minister of Uttarakhand - became chief minister. The Congress Party lost heavily in 1977 elections, following the lifting of the Emergency, but romped back to power in 1980, when Mrs. Gandhi handpicked the man who would later become her son's principal opposition, V.P. Singh, to become Chief Minister.
Rainfall in the state ranges from 40–80 inches (1,000–2,000 mm) in the east to 24–40 inches (600–1,000 mm) in the west. About 90 percent of the rainfall occurs during the southwest monsoon, lasting from about June to September. With most of the rainfall concentrated during this four-month period, floods are a recurring problem and cause heavy damage to crops, life, and property, particularly in the eastern part of the state, where the Himalayan-origin rivers flow with a very low north-south gradient. Periodic failure of monsoons results in drought conditions and crop failure. In the Himalayan region, annual snowfall averaging 10 to 15 feet (3 to 5 metres) is common between December and March.
The largest district in terms of area is Lakhimpur Kheri. The largest district in terms of population is Allahabad followed by Kanpur Nagar (Census 2001).
Airways: The state has 4 important airports and 23 air strips. Cities that have nationally well connected domestic airports are Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow and Varanasi. Lucknow is the biggest and most important airport of the state.
Railways: Almost all the major as well as smaller cities of the state are linked through railways. It has largest railway network in the country; with a total length of 8,546 km (2006), it has the sixth largest railway density.
Roadways: The state has largest road network in the country, after Maharashtra. It boasts of 31 National Highways (NH), with a total length of 4,942 km (8.5% of total NH length in India). It has seventh highest road density in India (1,027 km per 1000 sq kms in 2002 ) and largest surfaced urban road network in the country (50,721 km, as on 2002). New express-ways are coming up between Agra and Noida and between Noida with Ballia.
Waterways: A long stretch of the river Ganges - from Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh) to Haldia (West Bengal) - has been declared as National Waterway (NW)-I and 600 km of the total NW-I lies in Uttar Pradesh.
Although, the state has a large and diversified transportation network, its condition and functioning need substantial improvement.
Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India with a population of over 190 million people as of July 1st 2008. If it were a separate country, Uttar Pradesh would be the world's fifth most populous nation, next only to China, India, the United States and Indonesia.
Uttar Pradesh forms part of the Hindi heartland of India, with Hindi and Urdu (which are mutually intelligible) being the principal and official languages of the state. While standard Hindi (Khari boli) is one the official languages, several important regional Hindi dialects are spoken in the state, including Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Braj, Bagheli and Bundeli, besides several local dialects that do not have a formal name.
Mayawati, having won 206 seats, took the oath of secrecy for the post of UP's next CM on 13 May 2007. She became Chief Minister for the fourth time. Along with her 19 cabinet rank ministers, 21 State Ministers Independent Charge were also sworn in by T. V. Rajeswar the Governor. Some of the prominent names are: Awadhpal Singh, Babu Singh Kushwaha, Badshah Singh, Nasimuddin Siddiqui, Rakesh Dhar Tripathi, Ratanlal Ahirwar and Sudhir Goyal. Former Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party stood second in State with 97 seats.
The image of politics in Uttar Pradesh has been tarnished in recent times by the extensive infiltration of people who are alleged to carry a questionable reputation or are prone to incite violence. But, in the last election, the Election Commission of India was perceived as having effectively managed to prevent booth-capturing and other abuse, through deployment of extremely strict security.
The state has a record of providing national leadership; eight of India's fourteen Prime Minister's were from Uttar Pradesh. They are: Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Choudhary Charan Singh, Vishwanath Pratap Singh, Chandra Shekhar and Atal Behari Vajpayee, who represents a UP constituency, though he was born in Gwalior.
The contemporary political scene is also interesting in the national context. Heirs-apparent to the Nehru-Gandhi family have adopted U.P. as their home state. Congress President Sonia Gandhi represents Rae Bareli and her son Rahul Gandhi Amethi, Sultanpur. Indira Gandhi's estranged daughter-in-law Maneka Gandhi is a BJP Parliamentarian from Pilibhit, while her son Varun Gandhi is expected to make his debut soon. Other prominent politicians include BJP leader and past Human Resources Development minister Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, SP leader and ex-Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, BSP leader and now fourth time Chief Minister Mayawati, BJP President and ex-Chief Minister Rajnath Singh, former BJP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh and ex-Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and later of Uttarakhand, Narayan Dutt Tiwari.
At the lowest tier of political pyramid, the state has a large number of village councils known as Panchayats just like the other states of India. One of the most developed Panchayats is Shahabad in Maharajganj District.
The State of U.P. has made investment over the years in all sectors of education and has achieved significant success in overcoming its wide spread educational backwardness and illiteracy. The increase in overall literacy rate is due to persistent efforts made by the state government to enroll and retain children in schools and to effectively implement the adult education programmes. The following is indicative of the gradual progress. As a result UP is Ranked amongst the first few states to have successfully implemented ‘Education For All’ policy.
In 1981, the literacy rate in UP was 28 percent and increased to 42 percent in 1991. In 1991, the adult literacy rate (percent literate among those aged 15 and above) was 38 percent and increased to 49 percent in 1998, an increase of 11 percentage points in the seven-year period. But, the differential between female and male literacy remained high: while in 1991, male literacy was 56 percent and female literacy 25 percent, eight years later in 1999, as per survey estimates, the male literacy became 73 percent and female literacy 43 percent (NFHS II).
One more notable feature in the state has been the persistence of higher levels of illiteracy in the younger age group, more so in females, especially in the rural areas. In the late 1980s, the incidence of illiteracy in the 10-14 age group was as high as 32% for rural males and 61% for rural females, and more than two-thirds of all rural girls in the 12-14 age group never went to school. Only 25% of the girls in 7+ age group were able to read and write in 1991 and this figure went down to 19% for rural areas: it was 11% for the scheduled castes, 8% for scheduled castes in rural areas and 8% for the entire rural population in the most educationally backward districts. In terms of basic or essential educational attainment (the completion of primary or secondary education), in 1992-1993, only 50% of literate males and 40% of literate females could complete the cycle of eight years of schooling (the primary and middle stages). Possibly, Bihar is the only state in India which lags behind U.P. in education.
The problems of state's education system are complex. Due to public apathy the public schools are run inefficiently. Privately run schools (including those run by Christian missionaries) are functional, but expensive and so beyond the reach of ordinary people.
In order to make the population totally literate, steps are being taken by the government to raise public participation, e.g. with the help of NGOs and other organizations. There are also special programmes, like the World Bank aided DPEP. As a result, progress in adult education has been made and the census of 2001 indicates a male literacy rate of 70.23% and a female literacy rate of 42.98%.
There are 866,361 Primary Schools, 8,459 higher secondary schools, 758 Degree College, 26 Universities in the state.
Uttar Pradesh has some of the best & the oldest educational institute of India such as Indian Institute of Technology (Kanpur), Indian Institute of Management (Lucknow), National Institute of Technology (Allahabad) and Asian Academy of Film & Television.
At the level of higher education and technical education, Uttar Pradesh has several renowned universities, among which are:
Some of the institutions in the state, highly prestigious in their fields of specialisation, are:
|Year||Gross State Domestic Product|
The production of foodgrains has increased from 14.5 million metric tons in 1960-61 to 42.5 million tons in 1995-96, showing an average annual growth rate of 3.1 percent, which is much higher than the population growth rate. At present, the new Uttar Pradesh state produces about 92% of the output of the old Uttar Pradesh state of prior to 1947 partition.
UP has also witnessed rapid industrialization in the recent past, particularly after the launch of policies of economic liberalization in the country. As of March 1996, there were 1,661 medium and large industrial undertakings and 296,338 small industrial units employing 1.83 million persons. The per capita state domestic product was estimated at Rs 7,263 in 1997-98 and there has been visible decline in poverty in the state. Yet, nearly 40 percent of the total population lives below the poverty line. Uttar Pradesh's gross state domestic product for 2004 was $339.5 billion by PPP and $80.9 billion by Nominal, making it the second largest economy in India after Maharashtra and a bigger economy than many of the world's big economic players like Israel, Switzerland and Hong Kong.
Uttar Pradesh is a major contributor to the national foodgrain stock. Partly this is due to the fertile regions of the Indo-Gangetic plain and partly owing to irrigation measures such as the Ganga Canal and tube-wells. Lakhimpur Kheri is a densely populated sugar producing district in the country. It is also home to 78% of national livestock population. It has been the most common producer of food grains in India since the 1950s due to high-yielding varieties of seed, greater availability of fertilizers and increased use of irrigation This chart shows the national share of major food commodities from Uttar Pradesh.
Uttar Pradesh has booming electronics industries, especially in UP-Delhi-NCR and Lucknow-Kanpur Corridor. It produces almost all types of durables.
Uttar Pradesh attracts a large number of visitors both national and international. There are two regions in the state where a majority of the tourists go:
In Agra itself, Dayal Bagh is a temple built in modern times that many visit. It is still under construction and would take an estimated one century for completion. Its life-like carvings in marble are unique in India. Also world famous is a 16th century capital city known as Fatehpur Sikri, built by the Mughal emperor Akbar near Agra.
Millions of tourists and pilgrims visit the cities of Allahabad, the land of the sangam Varanasi World's Oldest City, Mathura, birth Place of Lord Krishna and Ayodhya, birth place of Lord Ram as these are considered to be some of the holiest cities in India.
Every year, thousands gather at Allahabad to take part in the festival held on the banks of the Ganges, the Magh Mela. The same festival is organised on a larger scale every 12th year and is called the Kumbha Mela, where over 10 million Hindu pilgrims congregate — the largest gathering of human beings in the world.
Varanasi is widely considered to be one of the oldest cities in the world. It is famous for its ghats (bathing steps along the river), that remain bustling year round with devotees from all over India and beyond, who want to take a holy dip in the sacred Ganges River.
About 13 km from Varanasi is the historically important town of Sarnath. Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath after his enlightenment and hence it is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. Also at Sarnath are the Ashoka Pillar and the Lion Capital, both important archaeological artifacts with national significance.
Some areas require a special permit for non-Indians to visit.
However, the real beneficiaries of all these labour intensive traditional cottage industries are the middlemen and traders. The artisans and craftsmen, unorganized and exploited, continue to live at subsistence level only.
Kathak, a classical dance form, involving gracefully coordinated movements of feet along with entire body, grew and flourished in Uttar Pradesh. Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Awadh, was a great patron and a passionate champion of Kathak. Today, the state is home to two prominent schools of this dance form, namely, Lucknow Gharana and Banaras Gharana. The Bhatkande Music University at Lucknow is named after the great musician Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande.
In modern times, Uttar Pradesh has given to the world music legends like Anup Jalota, Baba Sehgal, Girija Devi, Gopal Shankar Misra, Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Kishan Maharaj, Naushad Ali, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Shubha Mudgal, Siddheshwari Devi, Talat Mehmood, Ustad Bismillah Khan etc. The legendary Ghazal singer Begum Akhtar belonged to Uttar Pradesh; she took this aspect of music to amazing heights. "Ae Mohabbat Tere anjaam pe rona aaya" is one of her best musical renditions of all times. It is also, incidentally, the birthplace of British pop legend Sir Cliff Richard.
The region's folk heritage includes songs called rasiya (known and especially popular in Braj), which celebrate the divine love of Radha and Shri Krishna. These songs are accompanied by large drums known as bumb and are performed at many festivals. Other folk dances or folk theater forms include: