Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh
/mud"yeuh preuh daysh", prah"desh/
a state in central India. 48,230,000; 171,201 sq. mi. (443,411 sq. km). Cap.: Bhopal.

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State (pop., 2001 prelim.: 60,385,118), central India.

It is bordered by the states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, and Gujarat. Occupying an area of 119,016 sq mi (308,252 sq km), it is India's second largest state. Its capital is Bhopal. It is the source of some of the most important rivers of India, including the Narmada, the Tapi, the Mahanadi, and the Wainganga. It was part of the Mauryan empire of the 4th–3rd centuries BC and was ruled by numerous other dynasties. Under Islamic control from the 11th century, it was annexed by the Mughal Empire in the 16th century. It was under Maratha rule by 1760 and passed to the British early in the 19th century. The state was formed after India gained its independence in 1947; its boundaries were altered in 1956. In 2000 the eastern portion of the state was made into the new state of Chhattisgarh. Though Madhya Pradesh is rich in mineral resources, its economic mainstay is agriculture.

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      state of India, extending over 114,705 square miles (297,085 square km). As its name implies—madhya means “central” and pradesh means “region” or “state”—it is situated in the heart of India. The state has no coastline and no international frontier. The capital is Bhopāl.

      In November 2000 the new state of Chhattīsgaṛḥ was formed from Madhya Pradesh's eastern provinces. Encompassing 56,510 square miles (146,361 square km), with its capital at Raipur, the new state forms the eastern border of Madhya Pradesh, which also is bounded to the south by Mahārāshtra, to the west by Gujarāt, to the northeast by Rājasthān, and to the north and northeast by Uttar Pradesh.

Physical and human geography

The land
      Madhya Pradesh lies over a transitional area between the Indo-Gangetic Plain in the north and the Deccan Plateau in the south. Its physiography is characterized by low hills, extensive plateaus, and river valleys.

      The elevation of Madhya Pradesh ranges from 300 to 3,900 feet (100 to 1,200 metres). In the northern part of the state the land rises generally from south to north, while in the southern part it increases in elevation toward the west. Important ranges include the Vindhya Range and the Kaimur Hills, located in the west and the north, which rise in places to 1,500 feet (460 metres); and the Sātpura (Satpura Range), Mahādeo (Mahadeo Hills), and Maikala ranges (Maikala Range), in the south, which have elevations of more than 3,000 feet. The Dhūpgarh Peak (4,429 feet [1,350 metres]), near Pachmarhi in south-central Madhya Pradesh, is the state's highest point. Northwest of the Vindhya Range is the Mālwa Plateau (Malwa Plateau) (1,500 to 2,000 feet, or 460 to 610 metres). Other features are the Bundelkhaṇḍ Plateau, north of the Vindhyas; the Madhya Bharat Plateau, in the extreme northwest; and the Baghelkhaṇḍ Plateau, in the northeast. The Chhattīsgaṛḥ Plain, in the east, and the Daṇḍakāranya region, in the extreme southeast, are now part of Chhattīsgaṛḥ state.

Drainage and soils
      Madhya Pradesh contains the source of some of the most important peninsular rivers: the Narmada, the Tāpi (Tāpti), the Mahānadi, and the Wainganga (a tributary of the Godāvari). The Chambal forms the state's northern border with Rājasthān and Uttar Pradesh. Other rivers include tributaries of the Yamuna and the Son (itself a tributary of the Ganges).

      Soils in Madhya Pradesh can be classified into two major groups. Fertile black soils are found in the Mālwa Plateau, the Narmada valley, and parts of the Sātpuras. Less fertile red-to-yellow soils are spread over much of eastern Madhya Pradesh.

      The climate in Madhya Pradesh is governed by a monsoon weather pattern. The distinct seasons are summer (March to May), winter (November to February), and the intervening rainy months of the southwest monsoon (June to September). The summer is hot, dry, and windy, with an average temperature of at least 85 °F (29 °C) in all parts of the state; in some places the temperature reaches as high as 118 °F (48 °C). Winters are usually pleasant and dry, and in December and January there is considerable rainfall over the northern part of the state.

      The average annual rainfall is about 44 inches (1,117 mm). In general, precipitation decreases westward and northward, from about 60 inches (1,524 mm) or more in the east to 32 inches (813 mm) in the west. The Chambal valley in the north receives less than 30 inches of rainfall per year.

Plant and animal life
      According to official statistics, about one-third of the state's total area is forested. Satellite imagery, however, has revealed that the proportion is closer to one-fifth, suggesting a rapid loss of forest cover. A much smaller percentage of Madhya Pradesh consists of permanent pasture or other grazing land. The main forested areas include the Vindhya Range, the Kaimur Hills, the Sātpura and Maikala ranges, the Baghelkhaṇḍ Plateau, and the Daṇḍakāranya region. The most valuable trees are teak, sal, bamboo, salai, and tendu. Salai yields a resin used for incense and medicine. Tendu leaves are used for rolling bidi (country cigarettes), for which Jabalpur (Jubbulpore) and Sāgar (Saugor) are well-known centres.

      The forests abound in wild animals, such as tigers, panthers, bison, chital (spotted deer), bears, wild buffalo, sambhar (deer), and black bucks, as well as many species of birds. The state has a number of national parks and many wildlife sanctuaries, of which the best known are Kanha National Park, in the Mandla and Bālāghāt districts, for swamp deer; Bāndhogarh National Park, in the Shahdol (Sahdol) district, for the rare white tiger; and the Shivpuri (Madhav) National Park, where there is a bird sanctuary. The Kanha and Indrāvati national parks also have wildlife sanctuaries for tigers, and the national Chambal sanctuary has been established for the conservation of crocodiles. For protection and development of forests, including tree plantation, several forest committees have been formed by the state government.

The people
      More than 20 percent of the people in Madhya Pradesh are officially classified as members of Scheduled Tribes. Among these tribes are the Bhīl, Baigā, Goṇḍ, Korkū, Kol, Kamar, and Māriā.

      More than three-fourths of the population is rural, but the distribution of this population is very uneven. Densely populated regions are confined to the Mahānadi valley, the upper Wainganga valley, the lower Chambal valley, and the Narmada valley, as well as scattered patches on the Mālwa Plateau in western Madhya Pradesh.

      The principal urban centres are found in the Jabalpur, Chhindwāra, and Hoshangābād districts, located in the western and central parts of the state. The most significant urban growth, however, has taken place in the mineral-rich but underdeveloped districts of the southeast and east (especially Durg, Raipur, Shahdol, and Surguja), largely because of the massive public-sector investments in this area. The major urban agglomerations are Indore, Jabalpur, Gwalior, Bhopāl, Ujjain, Raipur, Durg-Bhilainagar, Sāgar, and Bilāspur. These cities have a relatively well-developed industrial base. Gwalior, Ujjain, and Sāgar are also well-known educational centres.

      Hindi (Hindi language), the official state language, is also the language most widely spoken. Eastern Hindi, represented by the Awadhī, Baghelī, and Chhattīsgaṛḥī dialects, is spoken in Baghelkhaṇḍ, Sātpura, and Chhattīsgaṛḥ and in the upper Narmada valley. Bundeli, a Western Hindi dialect, is spoken in the central and northwestern districts of Madhya Pradesh; Mālvī, recognized by some as a Western Hindi dialect, is the speech of western Madhya Pradesh. The Bhīl speak Bhīlī, and the Goṇḍ speak Goṇḍī.

      The second most important language, in terms of numbers of speakers, is Marāṭhī. Urdu, Oṛiyā, Gujarātī, and Punjābī are each spoken by sizable numbers. Also spoken are Telugu, Bengali, Tamil, and Malayālam.

      Most of the people are Hindus. There are, however, sizable minorities of Muslims, Jainas, Christians, and Buddhists. There is also a small Sikh population.

The economy
      Agriculture is the basis of Madhya Pradesh's economy. Less than half of the land area is cultivable, however, and its distribution is quite uneven because of variations in topography, rainfall, and soils. The main cultivated areas are found in the Chambal valley, the Mālwa Plateau, the Rewa Plateau, and the Chhattīsgaṛḥ Plain. The Narmada valley, covered with river-borne alluvium, is another fertile area.

      Agriculture in Madhya Pradesh is characterized by low productivity and the use of traditional methods of cultivation. As only about 15 percent of the sown area is irrigated, the state's agriculture is largely dependent on rainfall and often suffers from drought and the poor moisture content of its red-to-yellow soils. Much of the irrigation in Madhya Pradesh—carried out chiefly by means of canals, wells, and tanks (village lakes or ponds)—has been developed through medium-size or small projects executed during the central government's successive five-year plans.

      The most important crops are rice, wheat, sorghum ( jowār), corn (maize), pulses (legumes such as peas, beans, or lentils), and peanuts (groundnuts). Rice is grown principally in the east, where there is more rainfall, while in western Madhya Pradesh wheat and sorghum are more important. The state is the largest soybean producer in India. Other crops include linseed, sesame, sugarcane, and cotton, as well as inferior millets, which are grown in hilly areas. The state is a large producer of opium (in the western district of Mandasor, near Rājasthān) and marijuana (in the southwestern district of Khandwa [East Nimar]).

      Livestock and poultry farming are prominent in Madhya Pradesh. The state contains about one-seventh of the nation's livestock (cows, buffaloes, goats, sheep, and pigs). There are several centres for improving the quality and stock of these animals, such as those for artificial insemination and cross-breeding of oxen in Bhopāl and of goats in Bilāspur and Dhār.

Resources and power
      Madhya Pradesh is rich in minerals, though these resources have not yet been fully exploited. There are large reserves of coal and important deposits of iron ore, manganese ore, bauxite, limestone, dolomite, copper, fireclay, and kaolin (china clay). Diamond reserves at Panna are of particular interest.

      The state is well endowed with potential hydroelectric power. Main hydroelectric projects (jointly developed with other states) are the Babanthadi with Mahārāshtra, the Ban Sāgar with Bihār and Uttar Pradesh, the Chambal Valley with Rājasthān, the Narmada Sāgar with Gujarāt and Rājasthān, and the Rājghāt and Urmil with Uttar Pradesh. The Hasdeo Bango, Bargi, and Birsinghapur thermal power projects are also within the state. The Narmada Sāgar project has been a source of controversy because of its potential for damaging the environment.

      Overall, Madhya Pradesh remains an industrially underdeveloped state. In 1981 the Madhya Pradesh Industrial Development Corporation Ltd. was established to improve the infrastructure in the state's identified growth centres. Before this planned development took place, western Madhya Pradesh was the main industrial area—primarily producing consumer goods—but there are now many centres of large- and medium-scale industries, including Indore, Gwalior, Bhopāl, Ujjain, and Jabalpur. The principal heavy industries are government-sponsored and include the iron and steel plant at Bhilainagar, the newsprint mill at Nepanagar, the cement factory at Katni and Mandasor, and the heavy electrical factory at Bhopāl (Bhopal). As part of the planned development, industrial estates have been established at Indore, Gwalior, Bhopāl, Raipur, Bhilainagar, and Jabalpur. Other modern industries—such as microelectronics and the manufacture of high-tech optical fibres—have been set up. In the private sector there are cement works, paper mills, sugar mills, and textile mills (cotton, wool, silk, and jute), as well as sawmills and flour and oil mills. There are also plants that manufacture fertilizer, synthetic fibres, and chemicals, in addition to some general engineering industries.

      Although there are many registered small-scale industrial units in the state, they account for only about 4 percent of the total units in India. Given the size and population of Madhya Pradesh, this percentage is quite small. The handloom industry, however, is flourishing, and there is considerable production of traditional crafts, such as the hand-weaving of saris in Chanderi, carpet weaving and pottery making in Gwalior, and gold and silver thread embroidering in Bhopāl.

      Madhya Pradesh has a number of important tourist attractions. Some of the most famous are the Gwalior fort, Kanha National Park, the Khajurāho temples, Chāchai Falls (Rewa), the ruined city of Māndu (associated with the legendary love story of Rupmati and Baz Bahadur, the last Afghan ruler of Māndu), and Pachmarhi, the state's only hill station.

      In comparison with other Indian states, Madhya Pradesh is poorly served with transport and communications facilities. The main railroads that pass through the state were originally laid down to connect the ports of Chennai (Madras), Mumbai (Bombay), and Kolkata (Calcutta) with their hinterlands. Important railway junctions include Bhopāl, Ratlām, Khandwa, Bilāspur, and Katni. Also connecting the state with other parts of India are airports at Bhopāl, Gwalior, Indore, Raipur, Jabalpur, Rewa, Bilāspur, and Khajurāho, as well as several national highways. The state, however, has a low density of roads. Scanty transport facilities in the remote areas have hindered the development of the state's rich resources. The construction of bridges across the Narmada and other rivers has greatly helped the development of all-weather traffic routes.

Administration and social conditions
      The constitutional head of state is the governor, who is appointed by the president of India. The governor is aided and advised by the Council of Ministers, headed by a chief minister, which is responsible to the elected Legislative Assembly (Vidhān Sabhā). The Legislative Assembly fluctuates in size from election to election.

      The state has been divided administratively into 12 divisions and 45 districts. Each division is headed by a commissioner and each district by a collector. The collector exercises both executive and magisterial power. There is also a High Court presided over by a chief justice.

      Since the State Panchayat (village council) Act of 1962, local administration has been entrusted to village pañcāyats. In addition, periodic Grievances Redressal Camps are held to solve local problems.

      Malaria, which was formerly endemic throughout the state, has been largely eradicated. Diseases common in Madhya Pradesh are filariasis (a parasitic disease of the blood), tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, and leprosy. Dysentery is also a common problem. Besides general hospitals and dispensaries, there are several eye hospitals, mental hospitals, and sanatoriums and clinics for the treatment of tuberculosis. Gwalior has a cancer research centre. There are antirabies inoculation centres in every district and several venereal-disease clinics.

      More than one-third of the state's population is literate. There are schools for primary, middle, and high school education, as well as schools for polytechnics, industrial arts, and crafts. Madhya Pradesh has 12 state universities; among these, the schools located at Sāgar and Ujjain are the oldest and best-known, while the music school at Khairāgarh is one of the finest in India. Jabalpur also has an agricultural university. An institute of journalism and public relations has been established at Bhopāl.

      The government has undertaken several social-welfare programs, including adult literacy classes and various schemes directed toward the special problems of rural youths and people in Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. There are also a number of programs for women and girls, such as informal clubs called mahilā mandals, schemes for helping rural women with problems of motherhood, and the Dattak Putri (“Adopt a Girl”) Education Scheme. Grants-in-aid are given to social welfare and physical welfare institutions, while the Directorate of Panchayats and Social Welfare runs rescue homes, beggars' homes, and leprosy clinics. Scholarships are granted to crippled children, and there is a scheme to give aid to old people needing care. The government also runs schools for the deaf and dumb.

Cultural life
 There are a number of temples, fortresses, and cave works in Madhya Pradesh that have left fascinating evidence for historical studies, both on the area's prehistory and on local dynasties and kingdoms. One of the earliest monuments was the stupa (Buddhist mound forming a memorial shrine) at Bhārhut (Bharhut) (c. 175 BC), near Satna, the remains of which are now in the Indian Museum at Kolkata. Another such monument is the stupa at Sānchi (Sānchi sculpture) (eight miles southwest of Vidisha), originally constructed by Aśoka, emperor of India from about 265 to 238 BC; additions to the stupa were made by the Śuṅga kings. The Bāgh caves near Mhow, adorned with paintings on Buddhist topics, merit special mention; the Udayagiri caves (Brahmanical and Jaina monasteries) near Vidisha exhibit art and rock-cut architecture. Among the temples known throughout the world for their erotic art are those at Khajurāho (Khajuraho) in the Chhatarpur district in the north of the state; dating from AD 1000, they were built by the Candellā kings. The temples at Gwalior and in its vicinity should also be mentioned. The palaces and mosque at Māndu (near Dhār), the majestic Bāndhogarh fort built in the 14th century, and the Gwalior fort—perhaps the most impressive of the residences of the former princes of Madhya Pradesh—represent other notable architectural achievements.

      Although the people of Madhya Pradesh have been exposed in varying degrees to outside influences, many of the tribal traditions remain vital and strong, and a great deal of tribal mythology (myth) and folklore (folk literature) has been preserved. The pardhān (bards of the Goṇḍ) still sing of the legendary deeds of Lingo-pen, the mythical originator of the Goṇḍ tribe. The Pandwāni is the Goṇḍ equivalent of the Mahābhārata (one of the two great Hindu epics), while the Lachmanjati legend is the Goṇḍ equivalent of the Rāmāyaṇa, the other great epic. All tribes have myths and legends regarding their origin. There are songs for the ceremonies of birth and marriage, while various dance styles have songs to accompany them. Folktales, riddles, and proverbs are other features of the cultural heritage. Tribal people in Bastar have a unique institute, known as the Ghotul, for young people to meet and select their mates.

      The state has several well-known annual cultural events, such as Kalidas Samāroh (for performing and fine arts) in Ujjain, Tansen Samāroh (music) in Gwalior, and a dance festival in Khajurāho, where artists from all over India participate. In Bhopāl there is a unique multifaceted cultural complex, the Bhārat Bhavan, which functions as a meeting ground for artists from various fields. Located along the Bhopāl Lake, this sprawling complex houses a museum, a library, an open-air theatre, and a number of conference halls. The state has important yearly religious melas (gatherings) in Mandasor and Ujjain, as well as the religious Dashhara festival in the Bastar region.

      The history of Madhya Pradesh can be traced from very early times. Several remains of prehistoric cultures, including rock paintings and stone and metal implements, have been found in rivers, valleys, and other areas.

      One of the earliest states that existed in the territory of present Madhya Pradesh was Avanti, with its capital at Ujjain. Located in the western part of Madhya Pradesh, this state was part of the Mauryan empire (4th–3rd century BC) and was later known as Mālwa (Malwa). Because of the fertile black soils located in the western half of Madhya Pradesh, settlers from different parts of India migrated to this region. Three important migratory routes—from the western coast, from the Deccan Plateau, and from Srāvastī in the north—met at Mālwa.

200 BC to 1900
      Among the various dynasties that ruled part or all of Madhya Pradesh between the 2nd century BC and the 16th century AD were the Śuṅgas (185 to 73 BC), who ruled in eastern Mālwa; the Andhras (Sātavāhanas; 1st or 3rd century BC–3rd century AD); the Kṣatrapas (2nd–4th century AD); and the Nāgas (2nd–4th century AD). The whole of Madhya Pradesh lying north of the Narmada River formed part of the Gupta empire (4th–5th century AD) and was the scene of a power struggle against the nomadic Hūṇas and Kalacuris, the latter of whom occupied part of Mālwa for a brief period. Yaśodharman was an important Mālwan king who wrested power from the Hūṇas in the 6th century. Mālwa was annexed by the emperor of northern India, Harṣa (Harṣavardhana), during the first part of the 7th century.

      By the 10th century the Kalacuris rose again to occupy eastern Madhya Pradesh, including the Narmada valley; their contemporaries were the Paramāras at Dhār in what is now the western region, the Kachwāhās at Gwalior in the north, and the Candellas at Khajurāho, about 100 miles southeast of Jhānsi. Later the Tomaras ruled at Gwalior, and the tribal Goṇḍs ruled over several districts.

      The Muslim invasion of the area began in the 11th century. The Hindu domains of Gwalior were incorporated into the Delhi sultanate in 1231 by the sultan Shams-ud-Dīn Iltutmish. Later, in the early 14th century, the Khaljī sultans of Delhi overran Mālwa, which was subsequently annexed into the Mughal Empire by Akbar (ruled 1556–1605), the greatest of the Mughal emperors. Marāṭhā power extended into Mālwa at the beginning of the 18th century, and a large part of what is now Madhya Pradesh had come under Marāṭhā rule by 1760. With the defeat of the peshwas (hereditary Marāṭhā chief ministers who centralized Marāṭhā rule) in 1761, the Sindia dynasty of the Marāṭhās was established at Gwalior in the north and the Holkar dynasty (also Marāṭhā) at Indore in the southwest.

Since 1900
      In the early 19th century the area suffered growing disorder when Pindari robber bands, composed of horsemen formerly attached to armies of Marāṭhā chiefs, began to raid towns and villages from their hideouts in central India. The Pindaris, who received the tacit protection of the Sindia and Holkar dynasties, had formed these autonomous bands beginning in the late 18th century, when the Marāṭhā federation was weakening from internal dissension and from the growing military presence of the British. By 1818 British armies were able to suppress not only the Pindaris but also the various Marāṭhā dynasties. That year the Saugor and Nerbudda territories, containing much of northern Madhya Pradesh (including Gwalior and Indore of the Sindia and Holkar dynasties), were ceded to the emerging British Empire.

      During the next 40 years the British consolidated their control over the area. In the early 1830s British armies were required to suppress the thugs (thug) (Hindi ṭhag), a fraternity of assassins and plunderers (dating from at least the 14th century) who were roaming across central India. By 1854 all of Madhya Pradesh had fallen under British control. The present borders began to take shape in 1861, when the Saugor and Nerbudda territories and the Nāgpur territory to the south were merged to create the Central Provinces; in 1903, with the addition of the Muslim territory of Berār (Berar), the area was renamed the Central Provinces and Berār. This administrative unit, however, did not include parts of the north and west of the present state (Mālwa, Bundelkhaṇḍ, and Baghelkhaṇḍ), which from 1854 formed sections of the Central India Agency. The Muslim state of Bhopāl, situated between the Central India Agency and the Central Provinces and Berār, remained a protectorate of the British.

      When India became independent in 1947, the new states of Madhya Bharat and Vindhya Pradesh were carved out of the old Central India Agency. Three years later, in 1950, the Central Provinces and Berār was renamed Madhya Pradesh. With the States Reorganization Act of 1956, Madhya Pradesh was reorganized along linguistic lines and assumed its present boundaries. The act transferred the southern Marāṭhī-speaking districts of Madhya Pradesh to the Bombay state (now in Mahārāshtra) and merged several Hindi-speaking areas—the states of Bhopāl and Vindhya Pradesh, as well as most of Madhya Bharat—with Madhya Pradesh, until 2000, when its eastern provinces became the new state of Chhattīsgaṛḥ.

Nagarajan Panchapagesan Ayyar Saraswati Raju

Additional Reading
Pranab Kumar Bhattacharyya, Historical Geography of Madhya Pradesh from Early Records (1977), traces the historical evolution of the state, its physiography, river system, and political organization. Dom Moraes, Answered by Flutes: Reflections from Madhya Pradesh (1983), is an illustrated general work. Rama Yagya Singh, The Malwa Region: Rural Habitat System, Structure, and Change (1978), discusses the historical processes of evolution and transformation of rural settlement. H.L. Shukla, Social History of Chhattisgahr (1985), covers sociocultural, administrative, and ethnic structures along with language and literature. N.P. Pandey, Geography of Transportation (1990), is an integrated study with special reference to western Madhya Pradesh. G.M. Joshi, Tribal Bastar and the British Administration (1990), traces the course of the British policy toward the Bastar administration.Saraswati Raju

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Universalium. 2010.

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