Punjab

Punjab ਪੰਜਾਬ is a state in northwest India. Punjab borders the West 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 kilometers (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 Ludhiana, Amritsar, Patiala and Jalandhar. The Indus Valley Civilization was one of the world's first and oldest civilizations. It centered around the ancient cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro located in the Pakistani province of Punjab and the Pakistani province of Sind, respectively.

The Indian Punjab historically forms a part of the larger Punjab region, which includes some parts of Afghanistan, the Pakistani province of Punjab and the North West Frontier Province, the Indian states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, parts of J&K 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.

Agriculture is the largest industry in Punjab. Others major industries include the manufacture of scientific instruments, electrical goods, financial services, machine tools, textiles, sewing machines, sports goods, starch, tourism, fertilizers, bicycles, garments, 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.

In the 1980s, Punjab was rocked by political and religious turmoil. Sikh fundamentalists began a campaign of terror, in large part supported by Pakistan, to form a Sikh state called Khalistan. During the turmoil, thousands of Hindus were forced to flee the state. The violence was eventually suppressed by the governments of Punjab and India.

 
Gallery
A night view of Shri Harimandar Sahab at Amritsar An inside view of Qila Mubarak at Bathinda Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib Entrance of Jallianawala Bagh.. Amritsar

History

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 eastern part became India's Punjab state. Many Sikhs and Hindus 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 the 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, mainly due to Pratap Singh Kairon, the late Sikh leader. However, a growing polarisation between the Indian National Congress led Indian government and the main political party 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, centralization 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 erroneously dubbed as being of a hidden separatist agenda by India's Congress Party, specifically to discredit the resolution.

Discord had been developing after the rejection of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. A small section of Sikhs demanded an independent state of Khalistan. A number of militants took to targeting officials and people opposed to their point of view which included a number of Sikhs. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale along with his supporters sought shelter inside the Akal Takht. Fearing an attack on the Harimandir Sahib, Bhindranwale, with help from Shabeg Singh heavily fortified the temple. The Indian army finally assaulted the Golden Temple to take out armed militants in June, 1984. However, the operation, Operation Bluestar was poorly planned and coordinated, leading to heavy military and civilian casualties.

As a result, the situation in Punjab deteriorated into anarchy with a rise in radicalised militancy. By the early 1990s, after many years of violence across Punjab, the militants' struggle for Khalistan had 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. In the following years there was concern over alleged human rights abuses conducted by the central and state government against radical Sikhs, and many human rights organisations were not allowed in the Punjab at the time.

The Indian BJP former leader stated that the Congress Party governments have been involved in creating terrorism in the Punjab. Recently, BJP national president Lal Krishna Advani, stated that it was his party which pressured Sikh Extremists to take a stand against the government. The policy to help the Congress Party by creating militants and moderates backfired resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocent people.

Punjab's economy was acutely affected in the 1980s and early 1990s. However in recent times, there have been serious attempts by the Central Government to diminish resentment and strong feelings of Punjabis over the issue. Punjab's economy is now on the path to recovery. However, corruption and violence continues to hamper the state.

Geography

Most of the Punjab is an alluvial plain, bounded by mountains to the North. Despite its dry conditions, it is a rich agricultural area due to the extensive irrigation made possible by the great river system traversing it. Punjab region temperature range from -2° to 40°C (MIN/MAX), but can reach 47°C (117°F) in summer and can touch down to -5°C in winter.

Tourism

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.

Famous Punjabi

The Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is a Punjabi. Two former Indian Prime Ministers include I K Gujral and Gulzarilal Nanda both of whom were also Punjabis. Another Punjabi to occupy the topmost post in India was the former President of India Giani Zail Singh. A former Chief of Army Staff of India, General General Joginder Jaswant Singh is a Punjabi, so is famous Nobel laureate Professor Har Gobind Khorana. The first Indian in Outer space is a Punjabi - Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma. The highest ranking office in the history of the Indian Air force was a Punjabi, Marshal of the Air Force of India - Arjan Singh (the highest rank ever given in the history of the Indian Air force). The first Indian-American Governor and new Governor Elect of Louisiana., USA Bobby Jindal (Rep) is also a Punjabi from his fathers parental lineage. In the entertainment sector, the giant Dalip Singh helps promote Punjab in the sphere of Professional wrestling. Indian cricket star Harbhajan Singh is from the Punjab from a village called Lamhbra on the outskirts of Jalandhar. Gurdas Mann and Hans Raj Hans are two of the most famous singers to come from the punjab. The first ever Asian Member of the US Senate, Dr. Dalip Singh Saund, was a Punjabi as was Kalpana Chawla, the famous US astronaut. Rajan Zed, Hindu leader, who recited the first Hindu prayer in United States Senate in Washington DC. Jeremy Varghese a famous sound technichian/musician who lives in Australia

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