The People & Culture
The people of Baroda like to tell visitors that their city is a Sanskari Nagari, that is, a cultured city. By and large, the visitors agree. The city does indeed have rich cultural traditions. And todays Barodians have quite a full and hectic cultural life throughout the year.
The outstanding trait about Barodas cultural life is that it is remarkably cosmopolitan. And while there are hundreds of different identities, everyone participates in all activities. So, the culture of the city is not just history or heritage; it is dynamic, ever-changing and alive.
Yes, Baroda is one of Indias most cosmopolitan cities. Thanks to the vision and broadmindedness of the Gaikwads, the subsequent industrialisation, the proliferation of academic activities and a strategically important geographical location, Baroda has welcomed a wide variety of people from all over India and also from all over the world.
More or less every Indian community has an active identity in this city. And this happy co-existence is reflected in the social and cultural life of the people. In all of this, the sprawling and cosmopolitan MS University campus and the large number of local, national and foreign industries act as a catalysing and unifying force.
The average Barodian is open to the world and overflowing with hospitality, as the history and growth of the city aptly testify.
If you want to see Barodas cultural enthusiasm, you should visit this city during any festive occasion Navratri, Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi, Id, New Year, Uttarayan, Holi, campus fun fairs, etc. On any given day, some cultural activity or the other is going on in the city. Classical music and dance have their patrons, and so does the modern stage and pop culture. The culture and the traditions are both alive and being forever experimented with.
Can you expect anything less from a city which is blessed by its geography and its history, which is the home of a vibrant internationally renowned university and which is a key component of Indias industrial base? The people of Baroda have not only hung on to the cultural heritage, they embellish it as they exuberantly go on with their daily lives.
The official language of Gujarat is Gujarati, but Hindi, Marathi and English are also widely used in Baroda. State and local government offices in the city use both Gujarati and English, Central government offices use English and Hindi and industrial and commercial organisations use English. The medium of instruction at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (MSU) is English. The medium of instruction in the citys schools varies Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi, English, etc.
The cultural life is of course in many languages. And on the streets, in the markets and at other public places you can hear AKHA INDIA (the whole of India).
Industry & Commerce
Baroda enjoys a special place in the state of Gujarat. Till the early 1960s Baroda was considered to be a cultural and educational centre. The first modern factory (Alembic Pharmaceuticals) was established in Baroda in 1907 and subsequently companies such as Sarabhai Chemicals, Jyoti, etc., came up in the 1940s. By 1962 there were 288 factories employing 27510 workers. At that time, the dominant industrial groups were chemicals and pharmaceuticals, cotton textiles and machine tools.
In 1962, Baroda witnessed a sudden spurt in industrial activity with the establishment of Gujarat Refinery. Several factors like raw material availability, product demand, skillful mobilisation of human, financial and material resources by the government and private entrepreneurs have contributed to Baroda becoming one of Indias foremost industrial centres.
The discovery of oil and gas in Ankleshwar and North Gujarat led to the industrial development of Gujarat in a big way. The Baroda region is the largest beneficiary in the process of this industrialisation. Gujarat Refinery went into the first phase of production in 1965. The refinery being a basic industry made vital contributions on several fronts at the regional and national levels.
In Baroda various large-scale industries such as Gujarat State Fertilisers & Chemicals, Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited and Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Limited have come up in the vicinity of Gujarat Refinery and all of them are dependent on it for their fuel and feedstock. Other large-scale public sector units are Heavy Water Project and Gujarat Industries Power Company Limited. In addition to these public sector enterprises, a number of other large-scale enterprises have come up in the private sector. The products of these industries have wide applications in various sectors of the Indian economy.
The establishment of large industrial units in a region automatically brings into existence a number of smaller enterprises. Baroda is no exception and the city and the surrounding areas are today humming with industrial activity.
The industrialisation of Baroda has attracted entrepreneurs not only from Baroda but also from all over Gujarat and India. A large number of the entrepreneurs come with sound business backgrounds and the level of education and technical skills is exceptionally high.
Baroda is synonymous with education. The patronage of education started with Maharaja Sayajirao and the city has built further on the academic infrastructure established by him.
The present educational foundation rests on over 20 public schools and over 100 private schools. Towering benevolently over all is the Maharaja Sayajirao University, the jewel in the Baroda crown, so to speak. MSU is the only university in Gujarat with English as the medium of instruction. It has 13 faculties and 17 residential hostels, 4 of them for women students. The university caters to over 30,000 students.