Punjab is a state in northwest India. The Indian state borders the Pakistani province of Punjab to the west, Jammu and Kashmir to the north, Himachal Pradesh to the northeast, Haryana to the south and southeast, Chandigarh to the southeast and Rajasthan to the southwest. The total area of the state is 50,362 square kilometres (19,445 square miles). The population is 24,289,296 (2000). Punjab’s capital is Chandigarh, which is administered separately as a Union Territory since it is also the capital of neighbouring Haryana. Other major cities of Punjab include Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala. The state is home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations, the Indus Valley Civilization.
The Indian Punjab historically forms a part of the larger Punjab region, which includes the Pakistani province of Punjab, the Indian states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh and Delhi and the Union Territory of Chandigarh. Indian Punjab was trifurcated in the year 1966 leading to the formation of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
The word “Punjab” is a combination of the Persian words ‘panj’ Five, and ‘ab’ Water, giving the literal meaning of the Land of the Five Rivers. The five rivers after which Punjab is named are the Jhelum, the Chenab, the Ravi, the Beas and the Sutlej – all tributaries of the Indus River.
Agriculture is the largest industry in Punjab. Others include the manufacture of scientific instruments, electrical goods, machine tools, textiles, sewing machines, sports goods, starch, tourism, fertilizers, bicycles, garments, hosiery, and the processing of pine oil and sugar. Punjab is considered to have the best infrastructure in India , this includes road, rail, air and river transport links that are extensive throughout the region. Punjab also has the lowest poverty rate in India at 6.16% (1999-2000 figures), and has won the best state performance award, based on statistical data compiled by the Indian Government.
The Indian state of Punjab was created in 1947, when the Partition of India split the former Raj province of Punjab between India and Pakistan. The mostly Muslim western part of the province became Pakistan’s Punjab Province; the mostly Sikh and Hindu eastern part became India’s Punjab state. Many Hindus and Sikhs lived in the west, and many Muslims lived in the east, and so the partition saw many people displaced and much intercommunal violence. Several small Punjabi princely states, including Patiala, also became part of India. In 1950, two separate states were created; Punjab included of the former Raj province of Punjab, while the princely states were combined into a new state, the Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU). PEPSU consisted of the princely states of Patiala, Nabha, Jind, Kapurthala, Malerkotla, Faridkot and Kalsia. Himachal Pradesh was created as a union territory from several princely states and Kangra District. In 1956, PEPSU was merged into Punjab state, and several northern districts of Punjab in the Himalayas were added to Himachal Pradesh.
The capital of undivided Punjab province, Lahore, ended up in Pakistan after partition, so a new capital for Indian Punjab state was built at Chandigarh. On November 1, 1966, the mostly Hindu southeastern half of Punjab became a separate state, Haryana. Chandigarh was on the border between the two states, and became a separate union territory which serves as the capital of both Punjab and Haryana. Chandigarh was due to transfer to Punjab alone in 1986, but the transfer has been delayed pending an agreement on which parts of the Hindi speaking areas of Abohar and Fazilka, currently part of Firozpur District of Punjab, should be transferred to Haryana in exchange.
During the 1970s, the Green Revolution brought increased economic prosperity for the Sikh community in Punjab. However, a growing polarisation between the Congress led Indian government and the main political part of the Sikhs, the Shiromani Akali Dal, began to widen during the 1970s. The hostility and bitterness arose from what was widely seen by the Sikhs as increasing alienation, centarlization and discriminatory attitudes towards Punjab by the Government of India. This prompted the Shiromani Akali Dal to unanimously pass the Anandpur Sahib Resolution which among other things called for granting maximum autonomy for the Punjab and other states and limiting the role and powers of the Central Government. The Anandpur Sahib Resolution was rejected and dubbed as being of a hidden separatist agenda.
Discord had been developing after the rejection of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. A small section of Sikhs demanded an independent state of Khalistan. Some militant Sikh’s took to targeting Hindus, government officials and people opposed to their point of view which included a number of Sikhs. Bhindranwale along with his supporters sought shelter inside the Akal Takht. Fearing an attack on the Golden Temple, Bhindranwale, with help from Shabeg Singh heavily fortified the Temple. The Indian army finally assaulted the temple on the Harimandir Sahib Golden Temple to flush out armed militants in June, 1984. However, the operation was poorely planned and coordinated, resulted in heavy military and civilian casualties. As a result, the situation in Punjab deteriorated further and there was a rise in militancy. By the early 1990s, after many years of violence across Punjab, the militant’s struggle for Khalistan lost much of the sympathy, given after the assault on the sacred Golden temple, it had previously had from some Punjabi Sikhs and what little armed resistance remained was eliminated and forced underground.
Punjab’s economy was acutely affected by Punjab’s alienation from India in the 80s and early 90s. However in recent times, there have been serious attempts by both Central Government to diminish resentment and strong feelings of Punjabis over the issue. Punjab’s economy is now on the path to recovery.
Punjabi culture is one of self-dependence, self-reliance and hard work , which have made Punjabis statistically on average the wealthiest in India. These character traits comes from Punjab’s difficult history, particularly due to the number of outside invasions (Greeks, Persians, Scythians, Kushans, Turks, Mughals and Afghans).The heroism of the ancient residents of Punjab was highlighted during Alexander the Great’s invasion, most notably that of King Porus & his army at the Battle of the Hydaspes River. In a letter to his mother, Alexander wrote, “I am involved in the land of a leonine and brave people, where every foot of the ground is like a well of steel, confronting my soldier. You have brought only one son into the world, but everyone in this land can be called an Alexander.” Traditional historic Punjabi culture is renowned for its tolerance, progressive and logical approach to life. Punjabis customarily value and show great respect for their traditions and history. The state is the location of one of the world’s first and oldest civilizations, the Indus Valley Civilization, India’s first civilization.
Sikhism is the main religion of Indian Punjab and is practiced by about 60% of the population. Hinduism forms the prevalent minority religion, there is a small Muslim minority left (most of the Muslim population migrated to the Pakistani side after Partition). The holiest of Sikh shrines, the Golden Temple, is in the city of Amritsar, which is considered to be the holiest city in Sikhism. Amritsar is also a place of religious significance for Jains.
The Punjabi language, written in the Gurmukhi script (as opposed to Shahmukhi in Pakistan), is the prevalent language in the state
Tourism is a swiftly expanding area and many analysts predict huge potential. Tourism of Punjab is principally suited for the tourist interested in culture, civilization, spirituality and epic history. More specifically tourism is particularly suited for the person who is interested in epic history, the celebrated Punjabi culture, royal Punjabi palaces, historic battles and of course the world-renowned examples of Sikh Architecture, shrines and temples.
Punjab (the five rivers region) is one of the most fertile regions on earth. The region is ideal for wheat-growing. Rice, sugar cane, fruits and vegetables are also grown. Indian Punjab is called the “Granary of India” or “India’s bread-basket.” It produces 60% of India’s wheat, and 40% of India’s rice. In worldwide terms, this represents 1/30th or 3% of the world’s production of these crops, so Indian Punjab produces 2% of the world’s cotton, 2% of its wheat and 1% of the world’s rice. The largest grown crop is wheat. Other important crops are rice, cotton, sugarcane, pearl millet, maize, barley and fruit.
Business and Infrastructure
Punjab has the best infrastructure in all of India and as result it is becoming enormously attractive to foreign companies looking for bases and manufacturing zones for their Indian operations. The Indian National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) has ranked Punjab’s infrastructure as the best in India. Its road, rail, air and transport system is rated best in the country with ranking of 210 points compared to the national average of 100 in NCAER’s infrastructure index. It has highest per capita generation of electricity in India, which is 2.5 times the national average. All major Punjabi cities hugely benefit from this and having one of lowest tariff’s in India, including all of Punjab’s villages, which have been electrified and connected to the Punjabi electrical power grid since 1974.