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Profile of Gujarat

Gujarat

Gujarat is located on the western coast of India Its rich history and geographical diversity has made it one of the most important provinces of India. The article tries to provide a glimpse into its geography, history, economy and the society of the state. Let's begin...

Geography of Gujarat

Gujarat, as we all know, is located on the western coast of India. It is bounded on the east by Madhya Pradesh; on the south by Maharashtra, Daman and Dadra Nagar Haveli; on the west by the Arabian Sea and on the north by Rajasthan. In addition it has the Sind Province of Pakistan lying to its northwest. It has a total area of 196,030 sq km, which is roughly 75,686 sq mile.

The state has a long coastline measuring about 1600 Km. Based on the topography, the state can be divided into three distinct regions such as Kutch, Saurashtra, and Alluvial Plain. Among them Saurashta is essentially a hilly area while Kutch is barren and rocky. The rest of Gujarat is flat land drained by number of rivers.

Rann of Kutch in Gujarat

Rann of Kutch on a Full Moon Night

Rann of Kutch is a large area consisting mainly of seasonal salt marshes. It is spread over parts of India and Pakistan and is located between Gulf of Kutch and mouth of River Indus. In India, it is mainly confined to the Kutch District of Gujarat.

It is believed that the area was originally a vast shallow of the Arabian Sea. At some point of time, due to geological movements, the area was isolated from the main water body and turned it into a vast lake. Later the lake dried up to form a flat desert of mudflats and salty clay. Today, this entire area, consisting of10,000 sq miles, has a varied eco-system. That may be due to the fact that the area has Thar Desert on one end and the Arabian Sea on the other. A ridge consisting of Jurassic sandstone runs through the centre of this area.

Essentially, Rann of Kutch is a clay desert with an average elevation of 15 m above the sea level.  During the monsoon, the area is filled with standing water with about 74 elevated plateaus scattered in different directions.  These plateaus are known as medaks. The vegetation on these medaks mainly consists of thorny scrubs. In spite of the harsh condition, these medaks are home to many species of birds and animals.

Today, Rann of Kutch is divided into two main parts; they are Great Rann of Kutch and Little Rann of Kutch. The area has three rivers draining into it and they are River Luni, River Banas and River Rupen. It is also believed that before it changed its course, River Indus flowed through this region. River Ghaggar, which now empties into the deserts in Rajasthan, also drained into the Rann of Kutch.

Wildlife Sanctuaries in Rann of Kutch

Wild Ass in Gujarat

Rann of Kutch has a number of wildlife sanctuaries and protected reserves. They are:

  • Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary: This sanctuary is located in the Little Rann of Kutch and is spread over 4954 km². It was established in 1972 to protect the endangered Indian Wild Ass. It also houses 32 other species of mammals belonging to 9 different orders, 29 species of reptiles, 4 species of amphibians, different types of birds etc.

  • Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary: This sanctuary is famous all over the world as a breeding ground for the flamingoes. Fossils of different trees and animals belonging to Jurassic as well as Cretaceous Era have been found in this region. The excavated city of Dholavira (of Harappa era) is also located close by.

  • Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary: it is the last remaining habitat of Cheetah in India. The sanctuary, consisting of desert vegetation, also houses 15 other endangered species.

  • Kutch Bustard Sanctuary: It has been the home of the Great Indian Bustard and was declared a sanctuary in 1992. Apart from 3 sub species of the Bustard, the sanctuary is a home to many other species of birds and animals. It has grassland vegetation dominated by spicy shrubs belonging to Ziziphus order.

  • Banni Grassland Reserve: It forms a grassland ecosystem along the southern end of the Rann of Kutch. The vegetation here mostly consists of salt tolerant low-growing graminoids. The area also have scattered tree cover. The sanctuary is home to a wide variety of animals such as Wild Ass, Nilgai, Chinkara, Black Buck, Wild Boar etc. It also supports 150 species of migratory as well as resident birds. If there is good rainfall, the area also becomes a breeding ground for the flamingos and cranes.

  • Chari Dhand Wetland: It is actually a seasonal wetland located on the edge of Bassi Grassland and consists mainly of marshy salt pans.  If there is a good monsoon the area becomes flooded with water and attracts thousands of birds such as flamingos, cranes, painted storks, spoonbills etc.

Kathiawar Peninsula in Gujarat

Sourashtra

Kathiawar peninsula is bounded on three sides by the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Kutch and the Gulf of Khambhat. Historically, the area is known as Sourashtra. It is approximately 432 Km long and 320 km wide. The coastal area has a lower elevation and is lined with limestone; the altitude increases as one moves towards the center.

Gulf of Khambhat and Gulf of Kutch

Peninsulas in GujaratIt is to be noted that Gulf of Khambhat is an inlet of the Arabian Sea, which divides the Kathiawar Peninsula from the south eastern part of the state. It is 80 miles in length and has major rivers like Sabarmati, Narmada, Tapi and Mahi draining into it. Earlier it was known as Gulf of Cambay.

Gulf of Kutch separate the peninsula from the Kutch District. It has a length of 99 miles and has River Rukmavati draining into it. Since the area experience extreme tidal wave, it offers a great potential for tidal energy generation. Marine National Park located here has great tourist potentials.

Soil Formation in Kathiawar Peninsula

The soil of the peninsula is mainly made up of basaltic rock, which has been formed by rapid cooling of volcanic lava. However, the southern part has alluvial soil and the northern edge is bordered by sandstone ridges. The ridges extend into the peninsula from the northeast.

Hills in Kathiawar Peninsula

Girnar HillThe central part of the peninsula is dotted with a range of isolated hills. These hills are extremely rugged and are covered with scrubs.  They have an average elevation of 180 meters, which is roughly 600 feet. However, the Gir Range of Hills is partially covered with forests of Sal and Dhak trees and is higher. Girnar Hills belonging to this range is a well-known holy place both for the Hindus and the Jains. It is located In Junagarh District. Gir Forest, the last refuge of the Asiatic lions, is also located in the same district.

Chotila Hills (1173 ft) located in Surendranagar District and Palitana in Bhavnagar district are two other important hills in this region. During the Mahabharata days, the area around the Chotila Hill was known as Panchal.

Rivers in Kathiawar Region

Although Kathiawar does not have any major river the area does have few seasonal streams flowing through it. Most of these rivers originate from the vicinity of Girnar Hills and flow in the west to east direction. Bhadar, Rohza, Shatarant, and Ghelo are some of them.

Political Divisions in Kathiawar

Kathiawar Peninsula has been divided into a number of districts; they are Porbandar, Jamnagr, Junagad, Rajkot, Amreli, Morvi, Surendranagar and Bhavnagar. Bhils and Dublas are the main tribes living here. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy and the major crops grown are cereal, groundnut and cotton. The area also has an advanced cottage industry. A few large scale industries producing textile and metal furniture have also been established here.

Physical Features of Gujarat

Sanctuary in GujaratThe topography is more or less plain in rest of Gujarat. The northeastern part of the state has a few low hills. Pavagadh Hills, located in the Panch Mahal district, is one of them. It rises 2600 ft (800 ft) above the surrounding plains and is the source of many rivulets such as Dhadhar, Vishwamitri and Surya. Among the three, Dhadhar is 124 Km long and has a catchment area of 4201 Sq Km.  The districts of Banas Kantha, Patan, Mahesna, Sabar Kantha, Panch Mahal, Dohar, Kheda, Anand, Vadudara and Chhota Udaipur fall in this region.

The south eastern part of Gujarat consisting of Bharuch, Narmada, Surat, Tapti, Navsari, Dang and Valsad districts is an extension of Western Ghats. The area receives the highest rainfall in the state. The Saputara Hills in the Dang district is an important hill in this region. It falls under the Sahyadri Range of the Western Ghats.

Hill Ranges in Gujarat

However, the three most important hill ranges in the state are Aravalli, Vindya and Satpura. Among them, Aravalli originates near Palanpur in Banaskantha District in Gujarat. It then runs through Rajasthan and Haryana to culminate at Raisina Hills in Delhi. It is the oldest fold mountain range in India.

Satpura Range in Gujarat

Ranges in GujaratSatpura hills on the other hand, rises in the south eastern part of Gujarat near the coast of the Arabian Sea. It then travels eastward across Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh to culminate in Chhattisgarh. For its most part, the Satpura range runs parallel to Vindya with River Narmada flowing in between them.  Rivers that have originated from this range are Narmada, Tapi, Mahanadi, Godavari etc. Among them only Narmada and Tapi flow through Gujarat.

Many reserve forests and game sanctuaries are located in the Satpura Range of Mountains. Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, located in the Narmada District of Gujarat, is one of them. It mainly consists of deciduous forests and houses different species of animals and birds. 575 species of flowering trees have also been recorded here.

Vindiya Range in Gujarat

It is to be noted that unlike Aravalli and Satpura, Vindya is not a single chain of mountains. It mainly consists of a number of hills and highlands located to the north of River Narmada. It originates in the eastern end of Gujarat near Chhota Udaipur District and then runs eastwards towards Madhya Pradesh.
In addition to that, a number of hill chains also connect it to Aravalli Hills near Champaner in the Panchmahal District of Gujarat.

Important Rivers in Gujarat

River SabarmatiGujarat has a number of rivers flowing throw it.  Among them, Sabarmati, Narmada and Tapti are the longest and most significant rivers of this region. Few other rivers flowing through the state are Aji, Mahi, Ghela, Rukmavati, Vishwamitri, West Banas, Damanganga, Kachch and Purna. Let us look into them one by one.

Sabarmati is one of the biggest rivers in Gujarat. It originates from the Dhebar Lake in the Aravalli Hills in the state of Rajasthan. It then runs for 371 Km in the south west direction to empty into Gulf of Khambhat. Wakal and Sei are two of its important tributaries. Dharoi Dam located in the Mehsana District is one of the major dams constructed on this river.  Among the cities built on the bank of Sabarmati, Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad are the most significant. While the former is the state’s political capital, the later is known as its financial headquarters. Sabarmati Ashram built by Mahatma Gandhi is also situated on the bank of his river.

Narmada is another major river in Gujarat. It originates from a small reservoir in the Amarkantak Hills in Madhya Pradesh and then travels west ward through the rift valley until it reaches Gujarat. In Gujarat, the river first flows between the Vadodara and Narmada districts. It then enters the Bharuch District and meets Gulf of Khambhat 30 km away from the city of Bharuch. The total length of the river is 1312 Km. The width of the river near the estuary is 21 Km and the tidal wave can be felt 32 Km upstream from Bharuch

River Tapi near SuratTapti River rises from the Satpura Range in Madhya Pradesh and flows through Maharashtra to reach Tapti District in Gujarat. It then moves further westward to cross the Surat District before draining into the Gulf of Khambhat. The two most important cities located on the bank of Tapti in Gujarat are Songarh (Tapti District) and Surat (Surat District). The most important tributary in Gujarat is the Nesu River; it joins Tapti in the Surat Distinct.

Mahi River originates in Madhya Pradesh near Sardarpur. It first moves northwest to flow through Rajasthan and then again flows southwest to enter Gujarat. Here it passes through Vadodara city and finally drains into Gulf of Khambhat.  

West Banas River is another river that has its source outside the state. It originates in Rajasthan and then flows through Banaskantha District and Patan District to empty into Little Rann of Kutch and so in a way, it is an inland river.

River Narmada in GujaratAji River is one of the main rivers in the Shourashtra of Gujarat. It originates from the Sardhara ridge in the Rajkot District and then runs westward for 250 Km before draining into Gulf of Kutch. The city of Rajkot is located on its bank. Another river that originates in the same district is Ghela. It starts from Jasdan hills in Rajkot district and empties into the Arabian Sea.

Rukmavati originates in Kutch district and then flows southwards to empty into the Arabian Sea close to the Gulf of Kutch. The ancient city of Mandvi is located on this river. Apart from these, some other significant rivers in Gujarat are River Dhadhar, River Ambika, River Daman Ganga, River Vishwanmitri, River Auranga, River Bhadar, River Bhurud, River Dai Minsar, River Keri, River Machchu, River Mindhola, River Shetrunji etc. 

Climatic Conditions in Gujarat

The summers in Gujarat are hot and dry. The day time temperature may reach up to 49 °C (120 °F) while at night the temperature never  goes below 30 °C (86 °F). However, the winters are pleasant with temperature varying from 29 °C (84 °F) to 12 °C (54 °F). The monsoon starts from the middle of June and continues till September.

Also Read:
Phyical Features of Ahmedabad | Geography of Veraval | Wildlife in Gandhinagar | Geography of Ahmedabad | Geography of Amreli | Geography of Bharuch | Geography of Godhra | Geography of Mehsana | Geography of Jamnagar | Geography of Morvi | Geography of Dwarka | Geography of Nadiad | Geography of Navsari | Geography of Gandhinagar | Geography of Porbandar | Geography of Rajkot | Geography of Surat | Geography of Wadhwan | Geography of Kalol | Geography of Palanpur | Geography of Vapi

History of Gujarat

Indus Valley

Many scholars are of the opinion that the known and continuous history of Gujarat began only in the 3rd century BC with the invasion of Chandragupta Maurya. While that is partly true, the archeological finds puts the actual date far behind. Excavations have revealed that advanced civilizations used to exist in different places of Gujarat in and around 3000 BC.  These sites bear distinct stamp of Indus Valley Civilization, which flourished in the same period in Mohenjodaro and Harappa.

Indus Valley Civilization and Gujarat

Among the Indus Valley sites that have so far been identified, Lothal in Ahmedabad District is most well known. However, the area was inhabited by a prosperous tribe even in the pre-harappan days.  This has been amply proved by the discovery of copper and ceramic vessels, beads, semi precious stones etc made in and around 2400 BC by the indigenous people of that region. It has also been proved that the natives grew different types of crops such as cotton and cereal in the neighboring area.

Some Other Centers of Indus Valley Civilization in Gujarat

Dholavira

Among all Indus Valley sites in Gujarat, Dholavira is said to be the oldest. The city, located in Kutch District, is believed to be a major centre for trade and commerce during the Harappan period. However, unlike Harappa and Mahenjodaro, the buildings here were mostly made out of stone. Rangpur, which lies between Gulf of Kutch and Gulf of Khambhat, was another centre of Indus Valley civilization. Here houses were mostly made of acacia wood and plates were decorated on the rims with beads.

Lothal during the Harappan Days

The economy of the town took a giant leap with the advent with the Harappans. They were attracted not only by the goods produced by the indigenous people but also by the fact that the city provided a safe harbor for their sea going vessels. However, they could not set up their hold over the town before a devastating flood destroyed the foundation of this village in 2350 BC. Lothal was then rebuilt by the Harappans and a new chapter began.

Lothal under Harappan rule was a planned city with houses built with sun-dried bricks. The city was divided into a citadel and a lower town. While the ruling class lived in the citadel lower town was inhabited by the commoners. The later was periodically extended to accommodate the enlarging community. Remains of a well planned dockyard and adjoining warehouses can be seen even today.

Other than the above mentioned places, there are fifty other sites where traces of Indus Valley Civilization have been found.  Following are few of the more important sites where remains of an advanced Indus Valley Civilization have been found in Gujarat:
  • Surkotada in Kutch District
  • Desalpur in Kutch District
  • Khirasara in Kutch District
  • Pabumath in Kutch District
  • Rozdi in Rajkot District
  • Kuntasi in Morvi District
  • Lakhabaval in Jamnagar District
  • Kerala- No-Dhoro, also known as Padri, in Bhavnagar District
  • Babarkot in Bhavnagar District
  • Gola Dhoro in Amreli District
  • Loteshwar in Mahesana District
  • Malwan in Surat District
  • Bhagatrov in Bharuch District

Gujarat Under Mauryan Rule

History of GujaratIt is not exactly known how the Indus Valley Civilization came to an end or what happened after that. If the mythological tales are to be believed the Yadavs from Mathura migrated to Gujarat in an unspecified period to set up their state at Dwarka; but there is no concrete proof of that. The first that we know of is the invasion by Chandragupta Maurya in the 3rd Century BC.

Chandragupta conquered a few small states in the peninsula region unifying them under one rule. He then appointed Pushyagupta as the Governor and left. Pushagupta ruled from 322 BC to 294 BC. He had his capital at Giringer, which is the present day Junagadh. He also built a dam for irrigation of farm lands on the Sudershan Lake.

Asoka Rulein GujaratAfter Chandragupta, his son Bidusara came to the throne of Magadha; but not much is known about his reign. However, we do know that Emperor Ashoka, who was the grandson of Chandragupta, conquered many more states and extended the domain in Gujarat. He also had canals dug from lake that Pushyagupta built. The stone edicts engraved by Emperor Ashoka at Junagadh stand even today.

With the death of Emperor Ashoka, the Mauryan Empire began to crumble and many small kingdoms began to raise their heads all over Gujarat. Later, Samprati Maurya, the grandson of Emperor Ashoka, inherited the western part of the empire and began to rule over Gujarat from his capital in Ujjain.

Gujarat under the Saka Rulers

The Sakas invaded Gujarat in the beginning of 1st Century AD and set up their kingdom here. They were actually a group of a nomadic tribe of Iranian origin known as Scythians. They ruled over Gujarat for 300 years and played an important part in shaping its destiny.

Sakas of Gujarat

One of the most important rulers of this dynasty was Rudradaman I.  He founded the Kardamaka Dynasty and ruled from 130 AD to 150 AD. An inscription dated 150 AD credits Rudradaman of supporting the local art and culture, reviving Sanskrit language and repairing dams and canals constructed by the Mauryan rulers. He also took up the title of Maha Kshtrapa.

The Saka kingdom was spread from Anupa from the banks of Narmada to Aparanta region bordering Punjab. Later, King Gautamiputra Satkarni of Satavahana Dynasty defeated King Nahapana of Kardamaka Dynasty and took a large part of Gujarat under his control. However, it was Chandragupta II of Gupta dynasty who finally defeated the Sakas and took hold of Gujarat.

Gujarat from 388 AD to 1299 AD

Sun Temple in Gujarat

Chandragupta Vikaramaditya conquered Gujarat in 388 AD and ruled over it till his death; thereafter his son Skandagupta came to the power. However, all of them ruled the state through their governors. Their influence started to decline from the middle of fifth century and by 470 AD the reign passed on to Senapati Bhatarka.

Bhatarka was actually an army general of the Gupta kings. He usurped the throne taking advantage of the weaknesses of later Guptas. Since he belonged to Maitraka caste both the state and the dynasty he established began to be known by that name. However, he and his son Dharasena used the title of Senapati (general). It was his grandson Dronasimha who first declared himself Maharaja.

Bhatarka shifted his capital from Giringar to Bhalavipur or Vallavi, located near present day Bhavnagar. The dynasty soon became very powerful. They ruled over most parts of Gujarat and adjoining Malwa until 767 AD. One of the greatest rulers of this clan was Shiladitya I. he was also known as Dharmadiyta. Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang described him to be an efficient, able and compassionate ruler. Shiladitya VII is believed to be the last known ruler of this clan.

In the 8th Century AD southern part of Gujarat was ruled by the Chalukya Dynasty. During their time, the Arabs tried to expand their base and conquer Gujarat. They were however, driven out by their General Pulakesi in 739 AD.

Solankis (960 AD to 1243 AD) were the next important rulers to rule over this state. During their reign Gujarat became a major center for trade and commerce. Their capital was located at present day Patan; then named Anhilwara. Destruction of Somnath Temple by Mahmud of Ghazni (1226 AD) is a major landmark during their reign. 

After the fall of Solankis in 1243, Vaghelas came to power in Gujarat.  Their capital was located at Dhokla in Ahmedabad District. Their reign came to an end when they were defeated by Alauddin Khilji in 1299.  With that ended the Rajput hold over Gujarat.

Gujarat under Muslim Rule


Muslim Era in Gujarat

Although we find presence of Muslim traders in Gujarat from an early era, they could establish themselves as a ruling class only after the demise of Karandev Vaghela at the hands of Alauddin Khilji. The Muslim rule in Gujarat then continued for 400 years until they were defeated by the Marathas in 1758.

Initially, Gujarat was ruled by Viceroys from Delhi. However, Timur’s invasion of Delhi in 1398 left the Sultanate devastated and weak. The then Viceroy Jaffar Khan Muzaffar seized this opportunity and declared himself independent. He thus became the first independent Sultan of Gujarat and began to be known in history as Muzaffar Shah. Ahmad Shah, one of his successors, established Ahmedabad, which later became the capital of Gujarat and remained so until India gained independence.

Mahmud Shah was another notable ruler of this clan. He subdued the Rajput chieftains and spread his base. He was an able ruler and under him Gujarat began to prosper once more.  However, it was during his reign that the Portuguese established their base at Diu. He tried o prevent that but was unsuccessful at the end.

Mughal rule in Gujarat was established with the defeat of Bahadur Shah at the hand of Emperor Akbar. For next 200 years the Mughals ruled over the state from Delhi. However, Gujarat remained an important outpost throughout the period. Shah Jahan, Dara Sikoh, Aurungzeb, his son Azam Shah etc were some of important personalities who were sent here as Viceroys.

Mughal rule began to weaken with the rise of Maratha power in Gujarat. Finally it ended in 1758.

Gujarat under Maratha Rule

In the beginning the rule of Marathas were established in the name of the Peshwa. However, as time passed and the hold of Peshwas began to weaken the leaders of the different Maratha clans decided to divide the land between themselves. For example, Maratha General Pilajirao Gaekwad consolidated his position in Baroda (present day Vadodara) and established his rule there. However, rivalry between different clans allowed the British East India Company to exploit this situation and make inroads into the state. 

Gujarat under British Rule

Marathas in Gujarat

By 16th century all foreign powers such as British, French, Dutch and Portuguese had set up bases along the coast of Gujarat. While Daman and Diu was a Portuguese stronghold, the British East India Company set up their base in Surat in 1614. Incidentally, it is the company’s first base in India.

The hold of the British East India Company over Gujarat increased after the Second Anglo Maratha War (1803 to 1805).  At that time, there were several independent princely states ruling in different parts of Gujarat. All such princely states were compelled to sign peace treaty with the British and accept subsidiary alliance with them. The Gaekwads of Baroda were also forced to join the Alliance and accept British supremacy in exchange of local self rule. 

Other than these princely states who accepted paramountcy of the British, there were several other districts such as Ahmedabad, Bharuch, Panch Mahals, Kaira and Surat, which came under direct British rule. The process was complete by 1819 and except for Baroda, the entire Gujarat state was put under Bombay Presidency. 

Gujarat and Satyagraha

Dandi March

Just as any other parts of India, Gujarat also produced many freedom fighters who led the struggle from the front. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, hailed as Mahatma Gandhi, needs no introduction.  Besides, there were Sardar Bhallavbhai Patel, Morarji Desai, Narhari Parikh, K. M. Munshi, Mohanlal Pandiya etc. The Salt Satyagraha led by Mahatma Gandhi is a major historical event of this era. The Satyagahas at Kheda, Borsad and Bardoli are some other memorable event in the pre independence period.

Gujarat from 1947 to 1960

India became independent on 15th August, 1947. Soon after, the government created three large units out of the entire area we now call Gujarat; they were Kutch, Saurashtra and Bombay. Among them, Saurashtra was created by amalgamating all the princely states located in Kathiawar peninsula. While Bombay state was created by integrating all the districts that fell under erstwhile Bombay Presidency with areas falling under the state of Baroda as well as other princely states located in eastern Gujarat.

The next major change took place in 1956. In this year, Suarshtra and Kutch along with some parts of Hyderabad State and Madhya Pradesh was amalgamated with Bombay State. However, Guajaratis were not satisfied with the arrangement and to satisfy their demand, Bombay state was bifurcates to form a separate Gujarat state for Gujarati speaking population. This happened on 1st 1960. The Maha Gujarat Movement led by Indula Yagnik acted as a major catalyst in the process.

Gujarat since 1960

Gandhinagar

Soon after the creation of a separate state, a legislative assembly consisting of 139 members was formed. Initially, Ahmedabad was the seat of both the legislature and the administration. In 1970, the capital was shifted to Gandhinagar. Jiv Raj Narayan Mehta of Congress Party was the first chief minister of the state. The successive governments have worked hard for the improvement of the state. Today, Gujarat is one of the most developed states in India

Also Read:
History of Ahmedabad | History of Amreli | History of Bharuch | History of Gandhinagar | History of Dwarka | Historic Events in Gandhinagar | History of Godhra | History of Mehsana | History of Jamnagar | History of Morvi | History of Junagarh | History of Nadiad | History of Palanpur | History of Patan | History of Porbandar | History of Rajkot | History of Surat | History of Wadhwan | History of Vadodara | History of Navsari | History of Veraval

Business and Economy of Gujarat

Cotton in Gujarat

Not long ago trade and commerce was the mainstay of the economy of Gujarat. Other than handicrafts, Industrial output of the state was negligible. Income from agriculture was also half of the national average. Neither the soil nor the climatic condition of the state was conducive to farming.  70% area in the state, especially Kutch and Suarashtra, has always been prone to draught. A few perennial rivers, which ran through the state, watered only a minor part of it. Therefore, only a minor percentage of the population earned their living from farming. However, with development of technology, all that has changed. Now the economy of the state is dependent as much on its industry as on agriculture and its allied sectors.

Business and Economy of GujaratAs we have already indicated, there has been a giant leap in the agricultural sector in the recent past. While the national growth in agriculture is merely 2.5% to 3%, Gujarat has maintained a consistent growth of 10% or more in last few years. This has been made possible because of the following steps taken up by the Government of Gujarat:
  • 49% of the total land area in Gujarat has been brought under cultivation
  • Irrigation facilities have been enlarged and more cultivable land brought under it
  • Farmers have been provided with training in scientific farming
  • They have also been empowered to take independent decision
  • Quality of infrastructure has been improved
  • Direct marketing for the agricultural produce has been established
  • Contract farming has been allowed

Today, more than 10,630,700 hectares of land in Gujarat is under cultivation. Farmers here grow three main types of crops; i.e. cotton, cereals such as wheat and fruits and vegetables. Other major produce includes rice, maize, bajra, groundnut, mustard, sesame, pigeon pea (tuhar dal), green gram (mug dal), sugarcane, isabgul, fennel, cumin, tobacco etc.

Factors contributing to the success of agriculture in Gujarat

Farming in GujaratOne of the main reasons behind the success of agricultural in Gujarat is its cropping pattern. The state has eight climatic zones each of which grow different types of crops. Researches carried out by the state universities have provided lot of input in this respect.

Adoption of cooperative systems has been another big help, especially in case of cash crops such as sugarcane. These cooperatives not only offer loans at low interest, but also provide all kinds of help in processing and marketing of the produce.

The third important factor that has played a positive role in improving agricultural output is the superior irrigation facilities. The government is not only trying to extend the irrigation coverage to larger area, but it is also keen to reduce water loss. In most places in Gujarat, a lot of water is lost due to evaporation.  As an experiment, the Government of Gujarat has fixed solar panels on top of a irrigation canal along a 750 meter stretch near Chandrasan village in Mehsana district. The project not only produces 1,600,000 of clean energy annually but also prevents evaporation of 9,000,000 of water.

The government of Gujarat has also taken adequate measure to improve the productivity of the soil. A database of the cultivable land has been created, which is updated from time to time. The farmers have been provided with Soil Health Card. Such cards provide permanent identification for specific plot of land and help to determine the health of the soil and amount of fertilizers it may require to produce specific crop.

Animal Husbandry and Dairy Farming in Gujarat

Dairy Farming in Gujarat

Along with agriculture, animal husbandry and dairy farming have also made a positive contribution to the state’s gross income. Buffalos, cows, goat, sheep and poultry are the main livestock raised by the farmers in Gujarat. Although egg and wool are produced in significant quantity the main livestock product sold in Gujarat is milk.

Dairy farming in Gujarat is mostly done under cooperative system. There are more than sixteen thousand milk societies in Gujarat, out of which around two thousand are run by women. Anand Milk Union Limited, popularly known as Amul is one of them. It was formed in 1946 as a dairy cooperative with the aim of stopping exploitation by agents of Polson Dairy, which had set up monopoly with the help of the British Government and bought milk from the farmers at an arbitrary price.

Today, Amul operates as a brand under Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. (GCMMF). It is jointly owned by around 2600000 milk producers and is worth more than 2.5 billion US dollars. Apart from liquid milk the company now produces powdered milk, butter, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream, chocolates etc. The White Revolution undertaken by this company made India one of the largest milk producing country in the world. It is now a role model for milk producers across the world.

Horticulture in Gujarat

In horticulture, Gujarat occupies the fifth position in India. Since 2012-2013, the state has recorded 8% increase in production of fruits, vegetables, spices and flowers. Among them, 4.5% growth has been registered in vegetable production, 12.6% in fruit production and 10.16% in production of flowers. Green house farming of many flowers and medical plants is also being encouraged by the government.

Mango, banana, sapota (chiku), lime, guava, pomegranate, papaya etc are some of the major fruits grown in Gujarat while potato, tomato, onion, garlic okra, beans, bitter gourd etc are the main vegetable crops grown here. Among the flowers we can mention roses (both local and hybrid), lily, marigold, jasmine and tuberose. Isubgul grown in Gujarat is another important export item.

Importance of horticulture in the economy of Gujarat can be gauged by the fact that area under this type of cultivation has increased by 4.5% within a very short period of time. It not only offers employment as well as enhanced income opportunity to the farmers, but also offers scope for subsidiary industry such as processing and canning.

Industries in Gujarat

Reliance Industries

Gujarat is blessed with varied types of industrial resources and that is why we find different types of industries located here. For example, world’s largest ship breaking yard is located in Alang in the Bhavnagar District. All most half of world’s discarded ships are brought here for recycling. These ships are anchored during high tide. The actual work of salvaging and scrapping is done during the low tide. The government has lately taken up a plan to upgrade the infrastructure so that it can meet the international standard.

Another big company operating in Gujarat is Reliance Industries. It has a crude processing unit having a capacity of 580,000 barrels per stream day (BPSD) located at Jamnagar. Apart from these two, the state has many other large and medium scale industries. For example, two of India’s three liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals are located in this state while two more are to be built soon. Besides, there is the Liquid Chemical Port Terminal at Dahej. It is one of its kinds in whole of India.

The sectors in which the industrial growth has mainly taken place are engineering, textiles, vegetable oil, cement, soda ash, ceramics, chemicals, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, gems and jewelry etc. It is to be noted that Gujarat supplies 91% of India’s soda ash requirement, 66% of salt requirement and 35% of chemical requirement. 

Important Industrial Cities in Gujarat

Textile Mill at AhmedabadIt may not be out of place to note that Ahmedabad was once hailed as the Manchester of India because of its textile industry. Abundant cotton and cheap labor induced many industrialists to set up cotton mills way back in the 19th century. Although this sector underwent a decline, a revival is also being witnessed now.  The government of Gujarat is making all efforts to bring back the days of glory to this sector. Denims and jeans produced by Arvind Mill are famous all over India.

Ahmedabad has also grown into a hub of chemical industry. Besides, Ankleshwar and Vapi are two other places where many such units are located. These units mainly produce dyes, pigments, pesticides and other agro chemical products.  Among them, Vapi needs special mention. Proximity to bigger cities and also the government’s liberal policies has helped to transform this city into one of the most important industrial town in Gujarat. There are around 1400 industries located in Vapi Industrial Estate alone. Alok Industries, Century Textiles, Welspun Terry Towels, GHCL and Raymonds Limited, Supreet Chemicals, Themis Chemicals, Arti Chemical, Sarna Chemicals, and Micro Inks Limited, United Phosphorus, Bayer Vapi Pvt Ltd etc are some of the major industries located in this area.

Other than that, Gujarat also has major industries located in Vadodara, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Surat, Morvi and Junagadh. Among them, Vadodara, formerly known as Boroda, enjoys special place. This erstwhile princely state had its first industry (Alembic Pharmaceuticals) established in 1907 and by 1962, the city was well entrenched in the industrial map of India. Few important industries located in Vadodora are Indian Oil Corporation, Gujarat Refinery, Indian Petro Chemical Corporation Ltd, Gujarat Alkalies and Chemical Ltd, Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals etc.

Jamnagar is known as the Oil City because it houses two major oil refineries; one of which belongs to the Reliance Industries and other to the Essar Oil. The city also has 10,000 small scale and 5,000 large industries producing brass items.

Industrial Plants in GujaratBhavnagar is another important industrial city in Gujarat. It has already been mentioned that world’s largest ship breaking industry is located at Alang, which is situated at a distance of 50 Km from the city. In addition, it has given rise to number of subsidiary industries such as oxygen bottling plants, induction furnaces, re-rolling mills etc. Besides, the city is also a hub for diamond cutting and polishing industry.  It has more than 6000 such units located in and around the city; they together employ more than 300,000 workers.  In addition, Bhavnagar district is the largest producer of salt in India. It also produces significant amount of marine chemicals and fiberglass reinforced Plastic. Some major industrial houses in this area are Alcock Ashdown, Excel, Sound Build Care PVT Ltd, Investment & Precision Castings Tamboli Castings Limited, Steel Cast Bhavnagar, Elite Chemicals etc.

It is to be noted that Bhavnagar with its 6000 diamond cutting and polishing units is only second in the line. The largest diamond industry is located in Surat.  A survey in 2005 had established that 92% of the world’s diamond cutting is done here. However, the city is also a hub for textile industry. Apart from a number of cotton mills being located here, the area is also the biggest producer of Man- Made-Fabric. Annually, it produces 9,000,000 meters of fabric.

Rajkot, on the other hand, has become the centre of the engineering industry.  CNC machines, auto components are some of the products produced here. Besides, the jewelry market in the city is well developed. It is also famous for manufacture of watch parts.

Cement Business in GujaratJunagadh is now a center for cement and ago industries. Abundant limestone in the nearby area makes the cement making industry a viable enterprise. The area also produces abundant oil seeds, groundnuts, cotton, wheat, mango, banana, onion and brinjal; consequently, we also find many agro based industries in this area. Agro Marine Exports, Mother Dairy Fruit & Vegetable PVT Ltd, Creative Castings Ltd, Austin Engineering and JSW Power Co are some of the important industrial houses in this district.

Other than the above mentioned cities, there are many more industrially rich towns in Gujarat. Ankleshwar for example has more than 1000 chemical manufacturing units and Morvi is the hub of ceramics and clock making industry. Industrial growth in Gujarat has indeed been extraordinary.

Factors Contributing to Industrial Growth in Gujarat

Surat DiamondsReasons behind such impressive industrial growth in Gujarat is not far to seek. The state is not only blessed with abundant natural resources; but the people here are also hard working and have a natural talent for entrepreneurship. Adequate supply of electricity, well developed roads and other infrastructural facilities are few other reasons for such development in the industrial sector in Gujarat.

Among the natural resources that have helped the state to achieve high scale of industrialization are petrol, calcium, gypsum, quartz, manganese, lignite, feldspar, bauxite, limestone, agate etc. Besides, the state grows enough quantity of cotton, groundnut, dates and sugarcane to support thriving agro industries.  

Other Faces of Economy in Gujarat

Along with agriculture and economy, Gujarat produces different types of handicrafts, which also plays an important part in the economy of the state. In fact, in some parts of the state, handicrafts are actually the backbone of the economy. Tourism too plays an important part in this respect. Crores of people come to visit this state every year thus bringing in the corresponding boost in the economy.
Also Read:
Industries of Ahmedabad | Economy of Ahmedabad | Business and Economy in Amreli | Business and Economy of Bharuch | Business and Economy in Bhuj | Industries in Bhuj | Business and Economy in Dwarka | Business and Economy in Morvi | Economy of Junagarh | Business and Economy in Jamnagar | Industries in Junagarh | Business and Economy of Kalol | Business and Economy in Vapi | Business in Mehsana | Industries in Mehsana | Business and Economy of Palanpur | Business of Wadhwan | Economy of Surat

Welfare Societies in Gujarat

It is a fact that Gujarat is an economically prosperous state. Yet, it is also true that people belonging to the schedule castes, scheduled tribes, and other under privileged classes also have a strong presence in the state. The authorities here are aware of it and more importantly, they are constantly working hard for their betterment.
 
The government has set up the Department of Social Justice especially for this purpose. The primary vision of the department is to empower people belonging to backward sections of society through various schemes. The focus is to ensure equal opportunity and social justice to the underprivileged class in the state.

Education Schemes run by Government of Gujarat

One of the prime educational schemes run by the government is the BCK- 76/136 Pre SSC Scholarship. Students whose parents have an annual income of less than Rs. 47,000 (for the rural areas), and Rs. 68,000 (for the urban areas) can apply under this scheme. Boys, who study from class V to VIII, get an annual scholarship of Rs 250. Once they reach standard IX, the amount increases to Rs 400. The female students registered under this scheme receive an annual scholarship of Rs 250, until standard V.  From standard VI to XI, her annual scholarship increases to Rs. 750.  Another scholarship offered by the government is BCK 77. It offers scholarship of Rs. 250 to young students from class I to IV belonging to the financially weaker section of society. The annual income limits for the parent is same for the BCK- 76/136.

Financial Assistance Offered by Government of Gujarat

The BCK Financial Assistance Scheme is aimed at encouraging self employment. Rural villagers whose income is less than Rs 27,000 fall in this category. The maximum annual income limit stands at Rs 36,000 for the urban population. Normally, 331/2% of the unit cost or Rs 10,000 is allocated to each applicant. For the most backward classes the amount can go up to 50%. Grants under this scheme are also available for cottage industry. However, there is also a separate scheme called BCKA 101A meant for the artists of the backward class. The income criterion is very much similar to the BCK program. However, under such scheme, the artist is given a onetime financial assistance of Rs 5.000.

NGOs in Gujarat

Societies in Gujarat

Gujarat also has number of NGOs offering assistance to the needy. Most of them work in a wide range of fields. Let us now have a look into few of them:

Kanted Foundation: It is one of the prime non government organizations, which operates from Ahmedabad. Their scope of work varies from animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries to old age care and allied sectors. Incidentally, they operate beyond Gujarat and have presence all over the country.

Address:
Kanted Foundation
C/O, Devnag Kanter
283/A, Nagorishala, Ratanpole, Kalupur
Ahmedabad
Pin code-380001
Telephone No- 079-2213-1411
Mobile No- 93270-18101
Fax- 079-2213 -3759

Sahyog Trust: Their main areas of operations are children, and dalit betterment. They have also done commendable work on food processing, nutrition and women empowerment. Their activities are however restricted to the state of Gujarat

Address:
Sahyog Building,
Chamunda Society, Mahiyal,
Diistrict: Sabarkantha
Gujarat – 383215
Telephone No- 027-7022-0950
Mobile No- 9898747605

Harsiddhi Foundation: They work on a whole range of issues. Prime amongst them are agricultural, education, literacy, food processing, health and family welfare. They also contribute handsomely for the cause of rural development and poverty alienation. Their operations are restricted to the state of Gujarat.

Address:
Harsiddhi Foundation.
47, Shree Ram Nagar Society
Nr.ST Nagar,
Opp Saint Arnold School.
Godhra – 389001
Telephone No- 026-7226-2568
Mobile No- 097245-01973

Adarsh Mahila Seva Sangh: They are an NGO operating from the state’s capital of Gandhinagar. Their scope of work includes agriculture, art and culture, disaster management, drinking water, education literacy etc. They operate mainly in Gujarat. Some of the major districts, where they operate are Ahmedabad, Banas Kantha, Surat, Gandhinagar and Valsad.

Address:
Plot No. 374/1, Sector No.22,
Shreyas Society, Gh-5 Corner,
Gandhinagar
Telephone No: 079-2324-1017, 079-2324-0794
Mobile Number- 93771- 50374

Orphanages in Gujarat

Other than NGOS, orphanages too play a meaningful role in the society. They are there to guide children who do not have parental guidance. Gujarat has many orphanages located all over the state. Here are some of them.
 
Mother Teresa Missionary of Charities
Mother Teresa Ashram
Makarpura RD
Makarpura
Opposite Novino Batteries
Vadodara - 390014
Phone no- + (91)-265-2643105
Working Hours- 8.30am to 12pm, 4pm to 6pm
Holiday- Thursday

Ahmedabad Women’s Action Group (Orphanage ID- 266)
Dr Ila Pathak
5 Professors Colony
Navrangpura,
Ahmedabad - 380009
Telephone- 079-2644-466/ 2791-0589

Andhjan Kalyan Trust (Orphanage ID- 270)
Praful N Vyas
Behind Jain Derasar
Station Plot
Dhoraji
Rajkot- 360 410
Gujarat
Phone- 91 2824 223502
Fax- 91 2824 227352

Old Age Homes in Gujarat

Old age is a crucial period. People start feeling helpless as one grows old. Fortunately, Gujarat has some of the best orphanages in the country. Here is a list of some of the major old age homes operating within the state.

Anand Dham:
Opposite Hanumanji Temple
Lambhvel, Anand
Gujarat
India- 388310
Phone - +91-2692-51384, 51998

2nd Innings The Retirement Resort:
It is a well planned project, where the authorities try to provide luxurious but hassle free living for elders.
Office Address:
104, Oscar Apartment,
Near Kala Mandir Jewelers,
Ghod Dod Road. Surat.
Phone: +91 898-0000-777
Email: info @ 2nd-innings.com

Home:

Survey Number: 210-211,
Moje Palsana,
Surat, Gujarat, India.

Jivandhara Vriddhashram
Padmavati Nagar, Indira Vibhag 2
Lambha Narol
New Maninagar
Ahmedabad
Phone- (079) 25737991/ (079) 25731998
Mobile- +(91) – 09099144564/ +(91)- 0940905647

Blind Institutions in Gujarat

Blind people too need special care. That is why plenty of institutions for the blind have come up in Gujarat. Let us look into some of them:

K K School & Home for Blind
51 Vidya Nagar
Andh Udyog Shala
Vidya Nagar
Bhavnagar,
Gujarat- 364001
Phone Number- +91 278 242 3917

Andha Kanya Vidhaylaya Lion Blinds Girls School
This organization caters to the needs of female blind students. For people wanting to contact, the details are mentioned below.

30 Goyagate Society
Opposite Yogini Vasant Devi Hospital
R.V Desia Rd
Pratapnagar
Vadodara- 390009
Phone No- (0265) 243 7354

School For The Blind
This is another major education centre for the blind. People inclined to contact can do so from the details given below.

Ashram RD Navarangpura H.O
Opposite- Times of India
Ahmedabad- 380009
Gujarat
Phone- (079) 26586138, 26579947

These were the major societies operating in Gujarat for the welfare of children, women and the society. For city-wise links, click on the below.
Also Read:
NGOs in Ahmedabad | Welfare Societies in Bharuch | Societies in Bhuj | NGOs in Bhuj | Social Services in Gandhinagar | NGOs in Rajkot | Welfare Societies in Patan | NGOs in Surat | Welfare Societies in Kalol | Welfare Societies in Rajkot | Welfare Societies in Porbandar | Women Welfare in Kalol | NGOs in Patan | Welfare Societies in Vapi | Welfare Societies in Mehsana | NGOs in Palanpur
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    Ambika from Bharuch 1402 Days ago

    a very nice article and thanks for giving all information about the gujarat state.

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