About Uttar Pradesh

About UP

Often described as the ‘heartland’ of India, Uttar Pradesh is the country’s most populous state. With nearly one-sixth of the population, or 200 million people, as per the 2011 Census, the state has a population comparable to Brazil. Only four countries namely China, USA, Indonesia and Brazil have a population higher than that of Uttar Pradesh. With a population density of 828 people per square kilometre, UP is also one of the densest states in the country. Over the last decade, the population of the state has increased by over 25.8 percent. Out of the 200 million population of the state, nearly 78 percent lives in rural areas across nearly 100,000 villages. According to the 2011 Census, UP also has the largest rural population in India.

The state was created on 1 April 1937 as the United Provinces with the passing of the States Reorganization Act and was renamed Uttar Pradesh in 1950. Lucknow is the capital of Uttar Pradesh and Kanpur is the economic and industrial capital of Uttar Pradesh. On 9 November 2000, a new state, Uttarakhand, was carved from the mountainous Himalayan region of Uttar Pradesh. The state is now organized into 75 districts, 311 tehsils and 820 development blocks. The state has several historical, natural, and religious tourist destinations, such as the Taj Mahal, Varanasi, Piprahwa, Kaushambi, Ballia, Shravasti, Kushinagar, Lucknow, Chitrakoot, Jhansi, Allahabad, Meerut and Mathura.



Located in north India, the state is bordered by Rajasthan to the west, Haryana and Delhi to the north-west, Uttarakhand and Nepal to the north, Bihar to the east, Jharkhand to the south-east, and Madhya Pradesh to the south-west. With a total area of 243,290 sq km, equal to 6.88 percent of the total area of India, Uttar Pradesh is the fifth-largest state in the country. The state can be broadly divided into four economic regions of western, central, eastern and Bundelkhand with distinct socio-cultural livelihood systems. The first three regions fall in the Gangetic plains, while Bundelkhand forms part of the southern plateau. The highly productive western region is the most developed and has the highest per capita income among all regions. In contrast, eastern UP bordering Bihar has the lowest per capita income despite its fertile plains due to a very high population density and low occupational diversification.



Agriculture is the mainstay of the majority of the population in the state. It employs about two-thirds of the workforce and contributes about one-third to the state income. While wheat is the state’s principal food crop, sugarcane is the state’s main commercial crop, largely concentrated in the western and central belts of the state. About 70 percent of the country’s sugar comes from Uttar Pradesh. UP is also a major producer of vegetables, fruits and potatoes. However, the average yield of the major crops in the state is considerably lower than those in the agriculturally developed states of Punjab and Haryana. In addition, the average size of the landholding in the state is only 0.86 hectare1, and nearly 75.4 percent of the holdings fall in this category. This predominance of small landholdings constitutes a major obstacle in the development of capital formation, and is one of the prime reasons for the large-scale poverty in the state. The average land holding in the state is highest in Bundelkhand, followed by the western zone, and is lowest in the eastern zone, which is the most fertile zone. The excessive pressure on land has resulted in extensive stress on forests, which comprise less than six percent of the total geographical area in the state. However, water resources in the state are fairly developed in comparison to other states of India with more than three-fourths of the sown area under irrigation, mostly through tube wells.

Agro-based industries like sugar, vegetable oil along with cement are the three most important industries in the state. Employment opportunities in the secondary sector is limited and only 7.7 percent of the workforce is engaged in the manufacturing sector, while the industrial sector contributes 20 percent to the state income. UP also has a large base of small-scale industries with more than 1.7 million small-scale enterprises thriving in the state.

Human Development


According to the Uttar Pradesh Human Development Report 2003, despite allocation of large funds for various poverty alleviation programmes such as the Integrated Rural Poverty Alleviation Programme, Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana, etc, there has been little impact on poverty alleviation in the state. About 40.9 percent of the population still lives below the poverty line2, which is one of the highest in the country and below the national average of 37.2 percent. However, if factors beyond income are considered (Multidimensional Poverty), about 68.1 percent of the population in the state is poor3. According to the Uttar Pradesh Human Development Report 2003, among the four regions, the incidence of poverty was the lowest in the western region, while it was the highest in the central region.

On other human development indicators too, the state faces several challenges. For example, at 908 females per 1,000 males, the state has a very low sex ratio as compared to the national average of 940 females per 1,000 males. Similarly, its child sex ratio at 899 is much lower than the national ratio of 9144. The literacy rate at 69.72 percent is also a major challenge, particularly when measured against the national literacy rate of 74.04 percent. The gap between male literacy (79.24 percent) and female literacy (59.26 percent) is also quite significant.

Health indicators too are lower than the national average. This has largely been attributed to the state’s poor healthcare infrastructure and expenditure on health, which is the lowest in the country, according to the State Human Development Report. The proportion of women with BMI<18.5 (36 percent); underweight children (42.4 percent) and the under-five mortality rate (96.4 percent) are also higher than the national average5. Poor infrastructure and committed expenditure in terms of salaries leave little room for qualitative improvement in health and educational sectors.

The performance of the state in terms of basic household amenities such as improved drinking water facilities (at 87.5 percent) is marginally below the national average (91.2 percent). However, in terms of the percentage of households with no sanitation facilities, the state’s average (at 42.5 percent) is slightly better than the all-India average (49.2 percent)6. This, however, is not the case with respect to access to electricity. Only 31.9 percent of the households have electricity connection, while almost 67.4 percent used kerosene for lighting. In addition to this, more than 85 percent of the households still use biological wastes such as firewood, crop residue and cow dung cake as fuel for cooking. In view of all the above mentioned factors, the state has a very low HDI value of 0.380, much below the all-India value of 0.467 and one of the worst in the country. In fact, social development and economic growth in the state is hampered on multiple counts including inability to create gainful employment for its population.

According to the Planning Commission, Uttar Pradesh also has one of the lowest per capita power consumption of about 316 units. In addition to the low level of electricity consumption, UP is also characterized by very low level of accessibility, with only 32 percent of households having electricity facility as compared to the all-India average of 56 percent (Census, 2001). In addition to this, the power supply growth in the state has remained sluggish over the last 10 years. The overall shortage of power has remained within the range of 10-14 percent and shortages in peak periods ranging at even higher levels.

Furthermore, according to Census 2011, as many as 29.1 percent of the households in the state still have roof made up of grass, thatch, bamboo, wood, mud etc, 61 percent have walls made up of burnt bricks and 76 percent have used mud as floor material.


According to the India State of Forest Report 2011, the forest cover in the state, based on interpretation of satellite data of Oct 2008 to Jan 2009, is 14,338 sq km which is 5.95 percent of the state’s geographical area. In terms of forest canopy density classes, the state has 1,626 sq km area under very dense forest, 4,559 sq km area under moderately dense forest and 8,153 sq km area under open forest. The state has one national park and 23 wildlife sanctuaries covering 5,712 sq km which constitutes 2.37 percent of the state’s geographical area. The oldest wildlife sanctuary of the country, the Chandraprabha wildlife sanctuary is located in Uttar Pradesh. 

1Government of Uttar Pradesh website

2Tendulkar Committee Report 2009, Planning Commission

3MPI data and updates fir 2011, OPHI

4Census of India 2011


6NSS 65th Round