Gujarat has a reputation for people with shrewd business acumen and considerable financial talent. Gujaratis are extravagant and live lavishly. 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.
Gujarat is the westernmost state of India. It is bounded by the Arabian Sea to the West, the states of Rajasthan in 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.
The major cities in Gujarat are Ahmedabad, 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, 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.
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.
Sites of the Indus valley civilization and Harappan civilization have been found in the area now known as Gujarat. Gujarat has always known for its coastline. Its cities served as ports and trading centres in the Maurya and Gupta empires. Gujarat continue to flourish as an independent state until the Muslims arrived. The Sultanate of Gujarat was founded in the 13th century and it continued to exist till the 1576, when the Mughal emperor Akbar conquered it and annexed it to the Mughal empire. It continued to be a part 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. Britain 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 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. Portions were administered directly by Britain as part of Bombay Presidency, but most of what is now Gujarat was 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 devestating earthquake in 2001 claiming over 20,000 lives.
As of 2004, key figures in Gujarat politics are:
Gujarat is traditional stronghold of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Since Independence in 1947, The Congress Party ruled the United Gujarat and Maharashtra as Bombay State. After its creation in 1960, Congress continued to maintain its rule. During emergency and after its aftermath, the Congress lost the public support in the late 1970s. However, it continued to rule it till 1995. In the 1995 Assembly Polls, the Congress lost to the BJP and Keshubhai Patel came to power. His Government lasted only 2 years following a split in the BJP caused by Shankersinh Vaghela. It came back to power in 1998 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 person. In 2002 when riots broke out between hindus and muslims, Modi resigned only to be reelected by a huge margin in December 2002. Narendra Modi is since the Chief Minister. After the BJP loss in 2004 Lok Sabha Polls, Modi is increasingly blamed for his inability to stop the Gujarat riots. In 2004 Lok Sabha Polls, The BJP was curtailed from 21 to 14. The Congress gained from 5 to 12.
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.
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.
As Gujarat is a heavily industrialized state of India, it invites lots of outsiders, Residents mostly from North India, Bihar, and South India. Thousands of non-gujarati workers live in Gujarat.
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