Gujarat A Journey
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Understanding Gujarat is no easy task. Like much of India, it is a complex state that has resisted homogeneity for centuries past. Intimate histories, conventions, clothes, crafts, beliefs, affiliations all of these change from district to district. What is now a state that we call Gujarat was the western wing of a vast empire spanning half the body of the subcontinent: under the powerful emperors like Chandragupt Maurya, Ashoka, Akbar. Then, it was split into many hundred of large kingdoms and tine princely estates, most of them controlled by the British when India became a colony . In 1947, the land was split into India and Pakistan and what remained on the Indian side of the border was a part of a large state, The Bombay Presidency. It was only in 1960 that a separate state called Gujarat was carved out on the basis of language. An overwhelming majority of people living within its borders, irrespective of religion or caste, speak Gujarati, although there are several tribes with their own distinct languages and several million who consider Kutchi their native tongue. Gujarat is one of the most urbanized and industrialized states in the country. It is also known to be a rich state, in that its average per capita income is nearly twenty percent higher that the national average. The state contributes nearly twenty percent of the industrial output in India. Many of the large industrial conglomerates are in the sectors such as pharmaceuticals and textiles. Gujarat is also known for its near-monopoly on the international diamond cutting-and-polishing business for being home to the world s largest ship-breaking yard, in Alamg. The success stories that have passed into the folklore of commerce include Dhirubhai Ambani, who set out with only few thousand rupess in his pocket but died one of India s, indeed the world s richest men. Another story is that of the milkmen and milkmaids from Anand who formed a dairy co-operative: Amul, which one of India s best known brands and one of the largest dairy producers in the world. Ultimately, to seek out the soul of any place, one must seek out its people. And it is not enough to look at them or take their pictures and draw them in into conversation. In a simple, unpretentious way, that is what this book has attempted. For you may hear about, read about, look at and still fail to comprehend the soul of a place unless you are willing to stand under a bright sun, open your eyes really wide and see the truths that are so plain that they appear unremarkable. Gujarat, A Journey