Punjab

Introduction

Punjab is a state in northern India that shares an international border with Pakistan and internal borders with the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Rajasthan. It also shares the city of Chandigarh, a union territory, as its state capital with its neighboring state of Haryana.

The largest city within Punjab is the city of Ludhiana. The religion of Sikhism originated in Punjab and the city of Amritsar is home to the Gurdwara of Harmandir Sahib, also known popularly as the Golden Temple.

At the time of Independence (1947), Punjab occupied areas that spanned across what was to later become India and Pakistan. The region would be split between the two new countries, and the region would witness communal violence during the Partition period as populations migrated between the two new countries.

Present day Punjab, as it is organized today in India, also does not share the same boundaries as the Punjab of 1947. Most parts of modern day Punjab would fall under the state known as East Punjab, which included the complete state of modern day Haryana as well as parts of Himachal Pradesh. The state would gradually morph into its current day boundaries by 1966 however.

In 1950, the parts that now belong to Himachal Pradesh would be ceded. Meanwhile, there would be another state in the region called Patiala and East Punjab States Union, consisting of the princely states that had joined India post-1947. The two entities would be merged in 1956. Finally, Haryana would be organized as a new state in 1966, thus giving us the modern day state of Punjab.

Demographics

According to the 2011 Indian census, the population of Punjab is slightly more than 27.7 million people, with 52.8% of the population being male and 47.8% of the population being female. Punjab has a population density of 550 people per square kilometer. It’s literacy rate stands at 76.7% with males having an 81.5% literacy rate and females having a 71.3% literacy rate. Meanwhile, the urban-rural split of the population stands at 62.5-32.5%.

The major languages spoken in Punjab include Punjabi, Hindi and English. Punjab is the only Sikh majority state in India, with 57.6% of the population being Sikh and Hindus making up 38.4% of the population. Other religions include Islam and Christianity, with 1.9% of the population being Muslim and 1.3% of the population Christian.

Politics

Like the national system, the people of Punjab vote for their representatives, who then form a (unicameral) Parliament, known as the Vidhan Sabha, or the Punjab Legislative Assembly. The Punjab Vidhan Sabha consists of 117 seats for each of the states representatives.

The state’s governor is the de jure and constitutional head of the state. However, the Chief Minister position exercises the most influence as he is the head of the state government, and is usually the leader of the party with the most members in the Vidhan Sabha. The state governor invites the leading party to form a ruling government and the government’s term lasts a minimum of 5 years, but may be shorter if the Vidhan Sabha  members lose confidence in the Chief Minister.

The current chief minister is Parkash Singh Badal, who is the leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal (S.A.D.), the party with the largest number of seats in the Vidhan Sabha. The SAD, in order to gain a majority rules alongside the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) through a coalition. Historically, the BJP has never fared well in Punjab’s elections, with the Indian National Congress (I.N.C.) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (S.A.D) being the major parties in the state.

Economy

Punjab’s gross domestic product in the year 2014-15 was $57.7 billion. Punjab was a major factor during the Green Revolution and the agricultural sector remains an important part of Punjab’s economy. Despite only occupying a 1.5% of India’s territory, Punjab produces 17% of India’s wheat and 11% of India’s rice. The industrial sector also plays a massive role in Punjab’s economy, with the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) ranking it as the best state in India for infrastructure facilities. Punjab has also been declared as the state with the most ease of doing business in India, according to a study by the World Bank and KPMG.