Punjab, a northern state of India, covers an area of 50,362 square kilometers that is 1.53% of India’s total geographical area making it the 20th largest Indian state. Punjab, comprising of 22 districts, is the 16th largest state in India based on population inhabiting approximately 30,141,373 people.
Punjabi, spoken widely by the local people, is the official language of the state. Being one of the most prosperous states of India, it gets its name from the five rivers – Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, Chenab, and Jhelum. The word ‘Punjab’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Panchanada’ meaning ‘the land of five rivers’.
Punjab is divided into three regions by the five rivers – Majha, Doaba, and Malwa. It is benefited from all the natural resources like abundant water and fertile soil, which makes it a prime location for agriculture. Punjab shares its capital, Chandigarh, with its neighboring state Haryana.
What is the history of Punjab?
Punjab, as we see it today, is just one-fourth of what it was before the partition of India. Today, Pakistani Punjab forms the major region of undivided Punjab. Looking back at the history of Punjab, it was home to a majority of Muslims along with a large minority of Sikhs and Hindus before 1947.
During the times of British India, in 1947, the Punjab province was partitioned into East Punjab belonging to India, and West Punjab belonging to Pakistan. Massive inter-communal violence was caused as people were displaced in large numbers. Sikhs and Hindus, who found themselves in Pakistan after the partition, soon migrated to India because of their fear and communal violence while a large number of Muslims fled from the partition violence and settled in Pakistan.
Several Punjabi princely states like Patiala integrated themselves with East Punjab in 1956 creating a new and enlarged Indian state – Punjab. 1st November marks the formation of the ‘New Punjab’ and is celebrated all across the state.
Punjab was known as Trigarta when it was ruled by the Katoch kings around 800-400 BCE while Sikhism originated during the 15th century in the Punjab region. In fact, today about the world’s 75% of the total Sikh population lives in Punjab. The Sikh empire stretched from the Khyber Pass in the west to Sindh in the south, to Kashmir in the north, and Tibet in the east. The empire’s religious demography was 80% of Muslims, 10% of Sikhs, and 10% of Hindus.
Political mismanagement and internal divisions severely hit the empire after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1839. Some eminent leaders in the army betrayed the Sikhs which eventually lead to its downfall.
Some Historical facts of Punjab are –
- Punjab in its present form was created after the separation of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh in October 1966.
- The Sikh religion gained its prosperity in the Punjab region during the 15th and 16th centuries.
- The foundation of the present city Amritsar was laid by Guru Ram Das.
- The Adi Granth was compiled by Guru Arjun Dev while his son Guru Hargobind trained his followers in military arts.
It was 1845 when the British set foot in Punjab and moved to Sutlej Frontier. Sikh and British troops were active in the First Anglo-Sikh war near Ferozepur. The territory between the Sutlej and the Beas along with Kashmir came under British rule when the war ended in 1846. Punjab was completely annexed by the British East India Company according to the Peace Treaty and the Treaty of Lahore while the minor Sikh ruler, Dalip Singh was pensioned off.
Jalianwala Bagh Massacre, the black day, took place at Amritsar in 1919. It ignited a spark in the Sikh hearts to revolt against the colonial rule. Punjab has never looked back since the partition of India in 1947. The Green revolution occurred in the 1960s that swept the land and changed its destiny. Punjab is growing every single day since then and today it is one of the most popular tourist destinations of India.
Punjab, in spite of suffering a huge setback in 1947, has made significant economic progress. Approximately Punjab makes up for about 15-20% of India’s wheat production and around 5% of the milk production in India is contributed by Punjab. It produces a total of about 15 million tons of wheat annually making it the chief producer of wheat.
A major agricultural initiative, the Green Revolution, has been amazingly taken forward by the people of Punjab. Even after accounting for less than 2.5% of the total Indian population, they have emerged as one of the most prosperous races. In fact, their per capita income is double the national average.
Being a perfect blend of urban and rural flavours, Punjab is undoubtedly one of the most exciting tourist sites. It has a rich religious legacy which is evident from the mesmerizing sight of the Golden Temple. Its dome is covered with gold which creates a beautiful reflection in the holy water of the Sarovar. The Summer Palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, now converted into a museum, preserves the ancient weapons of the Mughal times along with the portraits of the ruling dynasties.
According to the ‘State of the States Survey’ by India Today, Punjab remained the Best State for 4 consecutive years from 2007 to 2010 based on its infrastructure, consumer markets, and agriculture. Moreover, Punjab was declared the No. 1 State in the ‘State Competitiveness Awards, 2012’ by the Transition Economies.
One of the biggest investments in the State at that time was the investment in Sri Guru Gobind Singh Refinery with a total investment of $4 Billion.
- $4 Billion – investment in the Refinery.
- Rs. 1,300 crore – Downstream Industry Investment.
- Rs. 600 crore – Ancillary Units Investments
Present Day Punjab
Punjab is the largest producer of cotton and blended yarn in India. The value of its total textile industry is Rs. 30,000 Crores and approximately 95% of India’s woolen knitwear production takes place in Punjab. Ludhiana is the leading textile hub of Punjab and ranked No. 1 on the ‘ease of doing business’ parameter by the World Bank.
Punjab’s service sector encompasses trade, storage & transportation, real estate, public administration, financial services, etc. This sector has shown substantial growth in recent years. Today, it has become the largest component of Punjab’s economy.
Punjab has one of the most developed road networks in India. The state is also crossed by several national highways. Amritsar has an international airport while regular domestic services are available in Ludhiana and Chandigarh as well.
Punjab has also developed in the field of education. Along with the government, private institutions have also played an important role in the extension of education at all levels throughout the state. Education is mandatory and free of cost for children aged 6 to 11. Secondary education is also free of cost in some state schools. Some state universities of Punjab include Punjabi University in Patiala, Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar, Punjab University in Chandigarh, Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana, Punjab Technical University in Jalandhar, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, etc. Along with these, Punjab has more than 200 specialized colleges and technical institutions.
There is considerable development in the health and welfare sector of Punjab. It enjoys better health conditions than most other states in India. Hospitals connected with medical colleges and numerous dispensaries together make up a widespread health care network. Voluntary organizations and Government provides several aids in this sector. They also provide aid to the traditionally disadvantaged social groups with the help of scholarships, employment services, loans, and grants for business activities.
Talking of the framework, the state is divided into more than 12 districts which are clubbed together into several revenue divisions. A deputy commissioner heads each district while lower administrative units include blocks, circles, and villages along with police districts and police stations.
To conclude, Punjab is a state which a person should definitely visit, especially during the seasons of autumn and spring to witness the breathtaking beauty of its lush mustard fields.
Words are not enough to describe the beauty of this auspicious place. Popularly known as Shri Harimandir Sahib or Shri Darbar Sahib. The Golden Temple is located in Amritsar, Punjab. Shri Darbar Sahib, being the most popular Gurudwara for Sikhs, stands as a symbol of brotherhood and equality.