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24 September 2014
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India’s Manchester

A city built on textiles, where the streets bustle with traffic, one of the country’s top universities teaches the next generation and there’s a strong tradition of militant thinkers. It could only be Manchester, couldn’t it?


Ludhiana's Clock Tower
Ludhiana's Clock Tower

Well, no, it turns out that Ludhiana in India can stake the same claim, so it’s of little surprise that it’s known as the Manchester of the East.

Standing on the Sutlej River to the North West of India's capital New Delhi, Ludhiana’s the largest city in the Punjab district, a home to about 2.5 million people (there’s another similarity with Greater Manchester) and famed for its history of hosiery, textiles and, oddly enough, bicycles – so not quite everything’s the same!

Historically, it’s the textiles link that has caused Ludhiana to share it’s name with Manchester, but in the years since the rise of Indian hosiery and Mancunian cotton, other similarities have sprung up.

Ludhiana hero, Bhagat Singh
Ludhiana hero, Bhagat Singh

Like Manchester, Ludhiana has a history of free-thinkers. Where Mancunians took on the aristocracy over corn and the government over women’s and workers’ rights, Ludhiana gave birth to some of India’s best known freedom fighters, men like Bhagat Singh, who struggled to help free India from the British and won changes of the rights of prisoners by using hunger strike, and Hari Shivaram Rajguru, his friend and accomplice in freedom fighting activities.

Ludhiana even boasts a songwriter to rival Morrissey. Sahir Ludhianvi is known as one of Bollywood’s most important lyricists, a man reflecting the mood of his age (sound familiar, Stephen Patrick?) who wrote with poetry and forcefulness.

If that wasn’t enough to evidence, Ludhiana is also home to a top university. Things are a little different in India, though, where instead of the science community that comes from Manchester, the Punjab Agricultural University teaches the elite of the India’s experts in the field, though there is a scientific feel too at Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, one of the most respected engineering colleges in the region.

Given all that, maybe it’s time that over here in Manchester, we started calling ourselves the Ludhiana of the West!

last updated: 28/02/06
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