Uttarakhand is a state located in the northern part of India. It was carved out of Himalayan and adjoining districts of Uttar Pradesh on 9 November 2000, becoming the 27th state of the Republic of India. It borders Tibet on the north, Nepal on the east, the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh to the south, Haryana on the west and Himachal Pradesh on the north west.
The region is traditionally referred to as Uttarakhanda in Hindu scriptures and old literature, a term which derives from Sanskrit uttara (उत्तर) meaning north, and khaṇḍa (खंड) meaning country or part of a country. It has an area of 20,682 sq mi (53,566 km²).
In January 2007, the name of the state was officially changed from Uttaranchal, its interim name, to Uttarakhand. The provisional capital of Uttarakhand is Dehradun which is also a rail-head and the largest city in the region. The small hamlet of Gairsen has been mooted as the future capital owing to its geographic centrality but controversies and lack of resources have led Dehradun to remain provisional capital. The High Court of the state is in Nainital.
Recent developments in the region include initiatives by the state government to capitalise on handloom and handicrafts, the burgeoning tourist trade as well as tax incentives to lure high-tech industry to the state. The state also has big-dam projects, controversial and often criticised in India, such as the very large Tehri dam on the Bhagirathi-Bhilangana rivers, conceived in 1953 and about to reach completion. Uttarakhand is also well known as the birthplace of the Chipko environmental movement, and a myriad other social movements including the mass agitation in the 1990s that led to its formation.
In the post-independence period, the Tehri princely state was merged into [Uttar Pradesh state, where Uttarakhand composed the Garhwal and Kumaon Divisions. Until 1998, Uttarakhand was the name most commonly used to refer to the region, as various political groups including most significantly the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (Uttarakhand Revolutionary Party est. 1979), began agitating for separate statehood under its banner. Although the erstwhile hill kingdoms of Garhwal and Kumaon were traditional rivals with diverse lingual and cultural influences due to the proximity of different neighbouring ethnic groups, the inseparable and complementary nature of their geography, economy, culture, language, and traditions created strong bonds between the two regions. These bonds formed the basis of the new political identity of Uttarakhand, which gained significant momentum in 1994, when demand for separate statehood (within the Union of India) achieved almost unanimous acceptance among the local populace as well as political parties at the national level. Most notable incident during this period was the Rampur Tiraha firing case on the night of 1 October 1994, which led to public uproar. On September 24, 1998 Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly passed the 'Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Bill', 1998, which eventually led to the creation of the state, eventually the Parliament passed the Indian Federal Legislation - Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2000, and thus on 9 November, 2000, Uttarakhand became the 27th state in the Republic of India.
However, the term Uttaranchal came into use when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central and Uttar Pradesh state governments initiated a new round of state reorganization in 1998 and introduced its preferred name. Chosen for its allegedly less separatist connotations, the name change generated enormous controversy among the rank and file of the separate state activists who saw it as a political act, however they were not quite as successful as Jharkhand state that successfully thwarted a similar move to impose the name Vananchal. Nevertheless, the name Uttarakhand remained popular in the region, even while Uttaranchal was promulgated through official usage.
In August 2006, India's Union Cabinet assented to the four-year-old demand of the Uttaranchal state assembly and leading members of the Uttarakhand movement to rename Uttaranchal state as Uttarakhand. Legislation to that effect was passed by the State Legislative Assembly in October 2006, and the Union Cabinet brought in the bill in the winter session of Parliament. The bill was passed by Parliament and signed into law by the President in December 2006. Since then, Uttarakhand denotes a state in the Union of India.