The Booming Economy of Punjab
By Dr Srimal Fernando, Asia Correspondent
Shri Prakash Singh Badal
The Indian state of Punjab is one of the most vibrant and dynamic states in the whole of India. Situated in the northwest of the country Punjab is called the “Land of Five Rivers”. This unique piece of land covers an area of 50,362 square kilometers. The state's 27 million inhabitants (Estimates 2011) spread across twenty two districts are well known for its socio-economic achievements. Agriculture continues to be the bedrock of the Punjab economy and earned its reputation as the “Granary of India”. By South Asian standards, the economy of the state has a diverse and rich resource base. Poverty has been reduced over the past 30 years, and a social safety net put into place. There are a number of popular people and celebrities that have already made their presence felt in different streams and activities. Among them is the incumbent Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, one of the internationally acclaimed personalities from Punjab. Another personality is Shri Prakash Singh Badal who has been the Chief Minister of the state since 2007. His party, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), together with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been, once again, elected to power by winning the 2012 assembly elections in the state. Shri Prakash Singh Badal has been the Chief Minister of Punjab for a record-breaking fifth time. The states major economic resources are its fertile land, the irrigation systems and its well-educated, technically sound population. These factors have contributed to achieve higher levels of productivity and a better competitiveness level in the global economy.
The economy of the state depends heavily on agriculture, industrial exports and tourism .The state is endowed with vast agricultural resources. Being an agricultural state the majority of its workers are engaged in farming and animal husbandry. The state produces most of India's grains than any other state in the country. Wheat, rice, sugarcane, cotton, fodder are the vital economic indicators of Punjab's agrarian society. The state has two crop seasons “Rabi”, the spring harvest season and the “Kharif” the autumn harvest season. The rice produced in the state is marketed and processed in different types of rice mills. There are about 2,200 grain hullers mostly in rural areas of the state. The Punjab sugarcane industry has undergone a major overhaul during the last five decades. The sugar production too has increased in recent years. Morinda Co-operative sugar mill is one of the largest sugar crushing mills in the state with a daily crushing capacity of 4,000 tones. Animal husbandry has been an essential part of Punjab’s economic life. The dairy industry of the state is part of a long and proud agricultural tradition of the state. Punjab is one of the largest milk producing areas of India with a capacity of 10 per cent of the country’s total production capability. Moga, is one of the largest milk processing plants in the state with a total production capacity of 435 thousand liters of milk.
Punjab is one of the most industrialized states in India. The state has a large manufacturing sector serving both the local and exports sectors. The large and small scale factories are scatted in all parts of the state. The majority of the industrial workers are engaged in small scale industries that make up 160,000 units (Estimates 2010). Large and medium business units are four hundred in number (Estimates 2010). The state's diverse industries range from Steel Rolling, scientific instruments, agricultural goods, electrical goods, bicycles, garments, machine tools, textiles, sewing machines to manufacturing of sports goods. Over the past few years the industrial sector employed over a million. The state has positioned itself as a key destination for operations of multinational companies in a variety of industries. In recent years, the state has successfully attracted many big-names and reputed global companies such as Nippon, Hitachi, Fujitsu, Nestle, Glaxo, Smithkline and Motorola. The state economy has witnessed rapid growth in the bicycles manufacturing industry. Today the state of Punjab is the largest bicycles manufacturer in India. Handicrafts and cottage industries of the state have been extremely popular. Punjab has more than 39,000 (Estimates 2010) small cottage industries providing widest avenues for the state’s labours.
Both modern and ancient culture is visible all over the state. Punjab’s natural and historical attractions appeal to many visitors from all parts of the world. Moreover, the fast growing tourism sector is another major pillar in the overall economic field of the state. According to the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board (PHTPB) the state has been ranked the fourteenth tourism destination in India from twenty eighth position.The first planned city of India is the state’s capital; Chandigarh. It is a bustling affluent metropolis with glitzy shopping malls, boutiques and colorful markets which houses the intellectual elite as well as the seat of government. It serves as the capital of two states, Punjab and Haryana .The pilgrimage to the holiest of Sikh shrines, the Golden Temple of Amritsar is regarded as the holiest city of Sikhism. It attracts millions of Sikhs from all over the world. Punjab's educational system and technical training is considered to be the best in India. The state has achieved universal literacy of more than 71 percent. The state's high proportion of tertiary graduates and its performance as a modern technological society with thirteen universities promotes high quality of professional education. Currently the state is ranked seventh in terms of education amongst the states of India. The state has a large potential for hydroelectricity, thermal and renewable energy. The state is constructing several power plants with the vision of becoming a state with a power surplus by 2013. As one of the fastest growing economies in the country, the state of Punjab has a unique prospect to position itself on a path of continuing sustainable economic prosperity for its entire people.