I live in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh.

I know the image of a ‘cow worshipper, with saffron tilak on the forehead, wearing bhagwa (orange) clothes and chewing tobacco-type’ of a person appeared in your mind when you read Uttar Pradesh, or even Lucknow itself.

Being their female counterpart, probably something like this flashed before your eyes.

I absolutely hate the fact that a ‘UP-Bihar type‘ image is hyphenated with Lucknow.

Don’t get me wrong, but don’t you hate it when people from other countries just assume that India is kuccha houses with no toilets, especially when you live in metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore because you know there are big cities, not just kuccha houses?

Similarly, I don’t like it when people think that Lucknow, being a part of UP, is just a village, filled with illiterate people.

In reality, Lucknow – the City of Nawabs, is an amazing city with a syncreatic culture of Hindu-Muslim unity.  And yes, it is a city, not a village.

Figures Talk

Human Development Index or HDI – a combined numeric mean of life expectancy, education, and per capita income- is one such indicator. The higher the HDI out of which 1 is the highest and 0 is the lowest.

Economic indices like HDI is a legitimate ground to check the level of development.

In 2011, HDI of Lucknow was 0.717 while that of India as a whole was 0.547. Similarly, Lucknow people are not just labours, like portrayed by state ministers to blame lack of jobs, literacy rate of Lucknow in 2011 was 79%, while the national average was 70%.

You see, these indices, like many other were well above the national average.

A little History

People say its name has some relation with Lord Ram’s brother, Lakshman (of Ramayana).

Mythologies apart – Oudh (Awadh) flourished under the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar; Lucknow was its capital .

At this point in history, the reign of the Nawabs over Oudh started in the 19th century when the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah appointed Nawab Sadat Khan Burhan-ul-Mulk as the Governor of Oudh.

Being the capital of Oudh (Awadh), Lucknow was the royal seat of the Nawabs. The Lucknawi culture flourished under their imperial patronage.

The present day Lucknawi culture (read aadab, tehzeeb, kathak, chicken and kebabs), is a reminiscent of their times.

For instance, they patronized:

  • Art and architecture which led to the development of a unique architecture style of domes and arches like seen in Mughal architecture.
Bara Imambara
  • Dance – Kathak was performed in courts.
  • Food – Lucknow is a heaven for food lovers because the Nawab’s chefs developed delicious Awadhi cuisine like biryani, kebab, nahari-kulche, roomali roti, etc
  • Craftsmanship, because of which Chickenkari, Zardozi work developed and are still world famous.

The Nawabs invested a great deal in polishing their language and mannerisms, which led to the development of a distinct language and culture, filled with aadab and tehzeeb.

Also, they were of Persian origin so Persian words creeped in the regular discourse. Hence the saying, ‘Lucknavi boli me tehzeeb aur nazakat hoti hai’.

But Lucknow is not stuck in its past, modern day Lucknow is a blend of a fair degree of modernization with a touch of those Nawabi days. For instance, you will find high rise apartments or shopping malls with older architecture styles like ‘jali’ work.

Jali Work on wooden windows

Modern Day Infrastructure and Facilities

Like any other city, Lucknow has:

  • Good schools – public schools, private schools, missionary schools or international schools, you name it. Lucknow is actually considered to be good for schooling.
La Martiniere College
  • Roads! People still think there aren’t any roads in Lucknow, but I hate to break it to them, Lucknow has well connected roadways and some of these roads are very beautiful.
  • High rise apartments, beautiful and modern buildings and parks, good hospitals, nightlife, big companies, and everything else you’d expect a city to have.

Also Read: This Village In Lucknow Completed Big B’s Promised College After It Was Left Abandoned

Why this image?

Uttar Pradesh is a huge state with a population of 200 million people while that of Lucknow is barely 2.8 million, i.e. 1% of the state.

Being a drop in the ocean, averaging weighs down the numeric value of indicators of the state as a whole because the indicators of UP stand well below the national average.

This is nothing new. For instance, Kerala’s literacy rate was already 93% back in 2011, which was much above the national average of 70%.

Yet, whenever people think Kerala, an Indian state, they will assume the national average, not the enviable 93% of Kerala.

Why are capitals better?

Capital cities, being the capital, are political centres. This gives the political parties an incentive to develop and allocate more funds at the place of their lodging.

Secondly, capitals are usually geographically ideal for economic development as they are located at key places like beside rivers or port or at geographic centres.

Then because of political will, available infrastructure and geographical setting, more economic development and investment takes place which leads to better development.

The paradox of capitals is very common. For instance, Delhi, Mumbai is better than rest of India and not every place in the USA is New York.


Perception management is not the answer.  There are many tier 2 cities that have better living standard but are under the shadow of their respective states.

This is not a rat race. It is better to develop the entire country, district by district, than by calling people of certain states by names.

Image Credits: Google Images

Source: Research Gate, Wikipedia,

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