Uttarakhand

INTRODUCTION

Known as Dev Bhoomi (land of Gods), Uttarakhand is a beautiful state located in the lap of the mighty Himalayas. After remaining a part Uttar Pradesh since independence, the mountainous region was finally carved out as a new state in 2000. Initially named Uttaranchal, the state’s name got changed to Uttarakhand in 2006. The inception of Uttarakhand was a result of long awaited grievances of the hill people who felt neglected under an already large Uttar Pradesh on economic as well as representational issues. Dehradun became the capital city of the new state.  

Geopolitically, Uttarakhand has a strategic location as it shares its eastern borders with Nepal and Northern borders with Tibet.  Uttarakhand is of immense spiritual significance as it houses numerous shrines, chief among them being the Chaar Dhaam (Four pilgrimages). These include Badrinath Temple, Kedarnath Temple, Gangotri (the source of river Ganges) and Yamunotri (the source of river Yamuna).

An interesting fact to be noted is that Uttarakhand became the first state to appoint Sanskrit as its official language.

DEMOGRAPHICS                                  

The 2011 census puts Uttarakhand’s population at 1.01 crores of which males and females are 5,137,773 and 4,948,519 respectively. Hindi and Sanskrit are the official state languages of Uttarakhand. 

The state consists of two regions, the Kumaon (eastern part) and the Garhwal (western part) regions where Kumaoni and Garhwali languages are spoken respectively.  Tourism and agriculture are the predominant economic activities in the state. Due to lack of sufficient opportunities, the state has witnessed a huge out-migration of youth.

Uttarakhand has a military past as in colonial times, the British recruited heavily from this region. Two infantry regiments of Indian Army (established by the British), the Garhwal Rifles and the Kumaoun Regiment stand as witness to the significance the British gave to martial qualities of the Uttarakhandis.

ECONOMY

Ever since its formation, Uttarakhand has seen significant changes in the economic domain. Uttarakhand is one of the fastest growing states in India, thanks to the massive growth in capital investments arising from conducive industrial policy and generous tax benefits . Significant economic activity undertook under the first full-term government of Uttarakhand under the leadership of the then Chief Minister N.D. Tiwari (2002-07). Between 2004-05 and 2014-15, Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) expanded at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 15.32 per cent to US$ 23.01 billion whereas the Net State Domestic Product (NSDP) expanded at a CAGR of 14.96 per cent to US$ 20.03 billion.

The legislative assembly of Uttarakhand consists of 71 seats. The Indian National Congress and Bharatiya Janta Party are the key political parties in the state.

CHIEF MINISTERS

N.D. Tiwari from the Indian National congress was the first (and till date the only) chief minister to complete a full term (2002-7). BJP won the 2007 elections, which appointed Major General (Retd.) B.C. Khanduri as the Chief Minister. Due to internal rivalries he resigned in 2009 paving way for Ramesh Pokhriyal who was removed in 2011 to bring Khanduri back. The BJP lost in the 2012 elections to the Congress party and Vijay Bahuguna was became the Chief Minister. The Bahuguna government drew widespread criticism due to poor handling of relief work following the devastating floods in June 2013. Bahuguna stepped down in early 2014 and Harish Rawat became the new Chief Minister.

RECENT POLITCIAL CRISIS

As the state goes to elections 2017, a political turmoil emerged. Following an open rebellion by the Members of Legislative Assembly of the ruling Indian National Congress on March 20th, the state’s governor gave Chief Minister 9 days to prove majority. However, just one day before the deadline (27th march) the BJP ruled union cabinet was quick to recommend Presidential rule, citing the present regime as ‘unconstitutional’.  The Chief Minister Harish Rawat was subsequently dismissed following which he approached the state’s High Court which ordered a floor test and quashed the President’s rule on April 29th. The centre appealed against Uttarakhand High Court’s order in the Supreme Court but on 6th May, the Supreme Court too ordered a floor test on May 10th. 

Further Reading

Understanding the Uttarakhand crisis
Uttarakhand Economic Assessment