Punjab is a state in North India, forming part of the larger Punjab region. The Punjab province of British India was divided between India and Pakistan after 1947. Currently, the state capital is located in Chandigarh, a Union Territory and also the capital of the neighboring state of Haryana. Punjab is bordered by the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir to the north, Himachal Pradesh to the east, Haryana to the south/ southeast, Rajasthan to the southwest, and the Pakistani province of Punjab to the West. Punjab is the 15th most populous state in India with a population of close to 28 million people. Punjabi is the official language of the state.
In terms of religion, 58% of the population belongs to the Sikh faith, around 38% of the population practices Hinduism, and the remaining faiths include Islam, Christianity Jainism, Buddhism and Christianity (1.93%,1.26%, 0.16% and 0.12% respectively). Out of the total population of Punjab, 37.48% live in urban regions, and the urban population has increased by 37.48. The literacy rate in Punjab, as per the last census, stands at 75 % (male literacy at 80.44 % and female literacy at 70.73 %). Punjab has a consumption-based Human Development Index (HDI) at 0.667, placing it 4th among all states and territories of India.
Punjab is primarily an agrarian economy, and is considered a very fertile region, known as the “Granary of India”. The agriculture sector in the province is the largest contributor to the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). Subsequently, Punjab has a lower industrial output as compared to other states of India, and its industrial units may be broadly divided into agro-based industrial units, machinery units, and chemical units. Punjab produces around 10% of India’s cotton, 20% of India’s wheat, and 11% of India’s rice.
Punjab has the lowest level of hunger in India, and less than one-fourth of children below the age of five are underweight. Punjab’s Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) at constant prices for 2012-13 was 164, 602 crores, placing it at the 21st level. It’s GSDP at current prices for the same year was 285, 110 crores, placing it at the 21st level. In 2014-15, Punjabs economy was expected to grow at a slower pace of 5.32% when compared to 5.73% in the previous year. For the fiscal year 2015, Punjab has a debt of 113 crores, ranking it 10th in terms of debt, however Punjab ranks second in debt to GSDP ratio.
In recent years, however, Punjab has been facing stagnancy in the production and maintenance of agricultural outputs as a result of issues such as saturation in agriculture, erosion of soil health, overexploitation of scarce water resources, high levels of debt on farmers, and poverty.
Punjab has been witness to many instances, such as the partition of British India, the Punjabi Suba movement, the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, and Operation Bluestar. Before partition, politics in Punjab was dominated by the ‘Unionist Party’, headed by Sir Sikander Hyat Khan in the 1937 elections. Today, politics in Punjab is largely dominated by two political parties, the Shiromani Akalai Dal (Badal), and the Indian National Congress. More recently, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), formed in 2012, is gaining inroads in Punjab.
The current government in Punjab province is a coalition between the Akali Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The current governor of Punjab is Kaptan Singh Solanki (BJP), and the Chief Minister is Parkash Singh Badal (Badal). A survey tracking polls suggested a favourable sentiment for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the 2016 state elections, predicting 94-100 seats for the party out of a total 117.
Why Punjab Has Suffered Long, Steady Decline, Cato Institute
Punjab Human Development Report 2004, The United Nations Development Programme
Punjab, Population Census 2011
Is Sikh radicalism riding on politics to make a comeback in Punjab?