The hearth of our religious history, icons and cultural heritage beginning from the Ganga-Yamuna doab to Middle Ganga Plains, in the geographical context of our nation, neither north nor east, neither mountainous nor littoral, just a long and broad stretch of vast plains – a gift of the Holy river and Holy Mother, she is fondly called by her sons and daughters as Ma Ganga.
The Britishers called it North Western Provinces in the beginning when their boundary ended near Punjab but when Afghanistan adventure began in the name of establishing a ‘scientific frontier’ and certain territories nearby Afghanistan were indeed captured, they found a new boundary and named those territories as North Western Frontier Provinces or NWFP comprising mainly of Pathans as a community. This added to the confusion in the name of the two provinces. Hence it was decided that North Western Provinces would be renamed as United Provinces of Agra and Oudh which included Rohilkhand, Northern Bundelkhand, Eastern areas of Varanasi, Gorakhpur and nearby districts and the districts south and west of the Kingdom of Nepal. Allahabad was made the centre of British rule for this new and large province. The name was abbreviated as U.P. Later, after Indian independence it was named as Uttar Pradesh keeping the abbreviation same.
The electorates of UP are standing on a ‘political frontier’ today in which the situation of the state is in dire need of going north in the context of economic growth and prosperity with some western deviations granted so that the old name ‘North Western’ Provinces lends the state a meaning of growth, development and overall socio-economic prosperity this time.
Skirting through the recent political history of the state I will focus on areas in which UP can raise its level up and keep going north so that it achieves its full potential. These 3 sectors I call the 3S of UP representing the 3 traditional sectors of Economics viz. Primary, Secondary and Tertiary. So, the primary sector is represented by sugarcane, secondary by saree, tertiary by Software and rightly so, Sugarcane belt of Western UP, Saree of Benares and adjoining areas and Software of Noida and Greater Noida.
A resource rich UP and a land blessed by Ma Gange, the overall prosperity she provides, I think, all it requires a grand will and exceptionally good governance. The largest population in the country can also be compelled to be perceived as surplus human capital which is a great asset for a galloping economy if nurtured well.
The young voters have deciphered the new agenda as they underline the symbols of Development and are looking for a big change and expect opportunities to grow in all the sectors rather than concentrated on one sector. The 3S model comes in handy because all these 3 sectors viz. Sugarcane, Saree and Software are in great need for reforms with the former two requiring more. With geographically vast and diverse UP, I think the growth pole strategy should be revisited before the youth of the Sugarcane and Saree sector get disillusioned because of lack of opportunities and bump into Software Sector that will create duress on the service sector and a huge imbalance in the economy of the state.
This transformation requires the emergence of a leader who may be a ‘cult’ figure but of a different sort in which the leader is identified with strong willingness to bring development and people are willing to participate. I call this new variant of ‘Cultism’ that has an example of Singaporean Leadership and the kind of achievement that was brought in together by their people and government coming together. Their leadership possessed a unique blend of democratic and authoritarian traits. Time has come to get rid of the usual cultism that emerges out of caste for which UP is well known for and that has not served well for the state. Only a strong mandate can give the government a strong will to go ahead with task of mega transformation. This new variant of cultism convinces the young voters of United Provinces.
The aspiring leaders have to shape their agenda and manifesto in tune with these expectations and should downplay caste and religious equations that are fast approaching their expiry dates which historically for a long period of time have dominated the electoral discourses in all corners of UP. It is high time we capitalize on Sugarcane, Saree and the Software Sectors and create a million jobs and a billion opportunities before the imbalance and deficits stare us in our face. Let us give this campaign the colour of the rising Sun that symbolises rising UP.