India's Deep North

By Razib Khan | August 20, 2010 5:11 pm

In my post Pakistan ~10 years on I alluded to the fact that despite India’s robust economic growth of the past ~15 years or so in the aggregate there is a wide range of state-by-state variation. It is conventional in the media to point out the massive caste/class divisions in India, but because of the lack of familiarity with the geography of that nation there’s less reference to the regional gulfs. But if you look at the state-level data they’re rather large. The total fertility in the northern gangetic states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is ~4, while that in the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu is ~2. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are not trivial states, rather, they’re the two most populous! Additionally, they’re a meaty portion of the South Asian “Cow Belt”, the cultural heart of the subcontinent. The first great historic polities of South Asia, that of the Maurya and Gupta, had their focus in what is today Bihar, while later on the Muslim dynasts famously operated from a base around the region of Delhi in Uttar Pradesh. In the Indian cultural geography these states are the heart of Āryāvarta.

Wikipedia has a set of pages which rank the states of India by various metrics. The tables themselves are illuminating, but for non-Indian readers I thought a series of thematic maps would be better. Additionally, I added one scatterplot.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Anthroplogy, Culture, Data Analysis
  • Thorfinn

    The “Deep North” is very diverse. Himanchal and Uttrakhand do well on both HDI and income; while Punjab, Haryana, and the western bit of Uttar Pradesh (“Jatland”) are high on income, but not HDI. Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have improved on some measures.

    Even breaking out by state leaves huge gaps. Parts of Southern and Western states — like Vidharba or Telangana — do as poorly as some regions in the north. The Eastern part of Uttar Pradesh and the Northern part of Bihar are even worse. Mercifully, Bihar is now growing ~10% a year now, and Uttar Pradesh is around ~7.

    One big problem this causes is that India’s demographic “dividend” is coming largely from the Center-North states; yet the growth is disproportionately Southern and coastal.

  • Razib Khan

    do you know online sources of the district level data? (tabular form?)

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention India’s Deep North | Gene Expression | Discover Magazine --

  • Yawnie

    Arundhati Roy sojourns with the Naxalites Gandhi, but with guns

  • Thorfinn

    Indicus Analytics is good, but a paid product.

  • omar

    Since India is still one country, doesnt this mean that the South and the West will see increasing numbers of migrants from the North? This could be a net benefit (cheap labor, redistribution of wealth, acquisition of new cultural habits by the migrants?) it will probably cause some local disturbances like the Shiv Sena’s anti-migrant actions? If India holds together, the end result may still be very robust growth….

  • omar

    btw, do you have similar maps of how China is not one nation but many, with very different indices of wealth and human development? You may have posted them in the past, but I dont remember one right now, so just wondering.

  • Pingback: Looking at India’s “Deep North” – Part I » Gene Expression()


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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