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Uttaranchal

CAPITAL DEHRADUN
PRINCIPAL LANGUAGE HINDI AND DIALECTS OF THE MOUNTAINEOUS BELT

On the 8th of November 2000, Uttaranchal became a full-fledged state of India with the formal induction of a separate State Government. The State is carved out of the Uttar Pradesh, which has the largest population in India. With this, the people of Uttaranchal have finally achieved their dream of running their own affairs for which they have been fighting for some decades now.

Uttaranchal is situated in the northwest portion of Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state. It occupies 17.3% of India’s total land area with 51,125 sq. km. It has a population of about 6.0 million at 94.4 per sq. km. It borders Tibet, Nepal, Himachal Pradesh, and the UP plains districts. Dehra Dun, the state’ capital is about 255 km away from India's capital, New Delhi.

13 districts comprise: Pithoragarh, Almora, Nainital, Bageshwar, Champawat, Uttar Kashi, Udham Singh Nagar, Chamoli, Dehra Dun, Pauri Garhwal, Tehri Garhwal, Rudraprayag and Haridwar (Urban).

The region is the melting pot of many ethnic groups and castes. The Jaunsaries, the Bhotias, the Bokshas, the Tharus and the Rajis live side by side in the most cordial manner. Most of the indigenous people are heterodox Hindus and Buddhists, while Sikh migrants from West Punjab have settled in the lowlands since 1947. A few Muslim groups are also native to the area.

The economic viability of the new state is worrying if anything in the present circumstances. Though it is endowed with rich natural resources, it is unable to tap them to its advantages. The result is that about 70% of its population lives under the poverty line as against the national average of 46%. Subsistence agriculture supports about 75% of the population while 71% of the land holdings are less than 1 hectare in size. To put this pathetic state of affairs in perspective, a survey was conducted recently which found that about 80% of the soldiers active at the Kargil front joined the armed forces to escape from the poverty at their home state.

Dividends can be reaped if the various rivers and streams of the state are utilized to produce hydro electricity. A source reveals that the state has the potential of generating about 40,000 MW of hydropower and that is enough to solve the massive power shortage of India to a substantial degree.

The state also holds out promises of becoming an attractive tourist spot. Already the region is raking in about 250 crores in annual earnings. However this sector is not fully exploited. The state definitely needs to invest in creating ski resorts and modern shooing malls to cater to the needs of the enthusiasts of adventure tourism and upscale tourists.

Another area where the state has to get its act together is the agro industries. Commercial production of fruits, medicinal plants and flowers on the lines of Himachal Pradesh will go a long way in boosting its revenue.