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Punjab ( , ) is a state in northwest Indiamarker. The Indian state borders the Pakistani province of Punjabmarker to the west, Jammu and Kashmirmarker to the north, Himachal Pradeshmarker to the northeast, Chandigarhmarker to the east, Haryanamarker to the south and southeast and Rajasthanmarker to the southwest. The total area of the state is 50,362 square kilometres (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 Mohalimarker, Ludhianamarker, Amritsarmarker, Patialamarker and Jalandharmarker.

The Indian Punjab historically forms a part of the larger Punjab region, which includes the Pakistani province of Punjabmarker and the North-West Frontier Provincemarker, the Indian states of Haryanamarker and Himachal Pradeshmarker, parts of Jammu and Kashmirmarker and the Union Territory of Chandigarhmarker, which boasts the highest per capita income and Human Development Index in India.. Indian Punjab was trifurcated in the year 1966 leading to the formation of Haryanamarker and Himachal Pradeshmarker.

Agriculture is the largest industry in Punjab, it is the largest single provider of wheat to India. 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 Indiamarker , 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. According to the India State Hunger Index 2008, Punjab has the lowest level of hunger in India.


The word "Punjab" is a combination of the Persian words panj Five, and āb Water, giving the literal meaning of the "Land of Five Rivers". The five rivers after which Punjab is named are the Beas, Jhelummarker, Chenabmarker, Ravimarker and Sutlejmarker.


Typical Punjabi Landscape in April
Punjab extends from the latitudes 29.30° North to 32.32° North and longitudes 73.55° East to 76.50° East. It covers a geographical area of 50,362 km2 which is 1.54 % of country’s total geographical area.

Due to the presence of a large number of rivers, most of the Punjab is a fertile plain. The southeast region of the state is semi-arid and gradually presents a desert landscape. A belt of undulating hills extends along the northeastern part of the state at the foot of the Himalayas.

Most of the part of the state is an alluvial plain,which is irrigated by extensive canal system. Punjab's arid southern border edges on the Thar, or Great Indian, Desert. The Siwalik Range rises sharply in the north of the state.

The soil characteristics are influenced to a very limited extent by the topography, vegetation and parent rock. The variation in soil profile characteristics are much more pronounced because of the regional climatic differences.

Punjab is divided into three distinct regions on the basis of soil types. The regions are:
  1. South-Western Punjab
  2. Central Punjab
  3. Eastern Punjab

Punjab falls under seismic zones II, III, and IV. Zones II and III are referred to as Low Damage Risk Zone while zone IV referred to as high damage risk zone.


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.

Climatically, Punjab has three major seasons as under:

  • Hot weather (April to June) when temperature rises as high as 110F.

  • Rainy season (July to September). Average rainfall annual ranges between 96 cms sub-mountain region and 46 cms in the plains.

  • Cold weather (October to March). Temperature goes down as low as 40F.


Undivided Punjab
The golden throne of Punjab
The Indian state of Punjab was created in 1947, when the Partition of India split the former Raj province of Punjab between Indiamarker and West Pakistanmarker. The mostly Muslim western part of the province became West Pakistan's Punjab Province; the mostlySikh 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 Patialamarker, 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, Nabhamarker, Jindmarker, Kapurthalamarker, Malerkotlamarker, Faridkotmarker and Kalsia. Himachal Pradesh was created as a union territory from several princely states and Kangra districtmarker. In 1956, PEPSU was merged into Punjab state, and several northern districts of Punjab in the Himalayasmarker were added to Himachal Pradeshmarker.

The capital of the undivided Punjab province, Lahoremarker, ended up in West Pakistan after partition, so a new capital for Indian Punjab state was built at Chandigarhmarker. On November 1, 1966, the mostly Hindu southeastern half of Punjab became a separate state, Haryanamarker. Chandigarh was on the border between the two states, and became a separate union territory which serves as the capital of both Punjab and Haryanamarker. 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 Aboharmarker and Fazilkamarker, currently part of Firozpur District of Punjab, should be transferred to Haryanamarker 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.

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 Sahibmarker, 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 Templemarker, 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 . Two notable attacks in Punjab were in 1991 and 1987, both attacks involving militants .

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.

Present issues

In recent times, there is growing concern in the state about the immigration of labourers from other Indian states such as Uttar Pradeshmarker and Biharmarker. Around 10% of Punjab's population is now made up of migrants from these states. The Sikhs are concerned that they will soon become a minority in the state, and allege that the unchecked immigration is encouraged by the government. The pro-Khalistan organization Dal Khalsa has blamed the problems like rising crime rate and unemployment on immigration. On the other hand the leaders like Tarsem Jodha have stated that immigration is vital to Punjab's economy since the landlords of Punjab have always relied on immigrants for labour.

In the last few decades, the disputes between the Jat and the Dalit castes have caused much violence in Punjab. In the Talhan riots, Dalit Sikhs were brutally suppressed by Jats allegedly with the police help over the management of the local Gurdwara. The daughter of the Dalit activist Bant Singh was raped by a group of Jats, and he was beaten up leading to amputation of his limbs. Dera Sacha Sauda claims to be a pro-Dalit organization, but Jat Sikhs regard it as a conspiracy aimed at diluting the Sikh identity. There have been many cases of violence between the two groups. Another example is the breakaway sect of a godman called Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawala. The followers of Bhaniarwala are mostly Dalits who claim to be Sikhs. However, mainstream Sikhs have accused him of modifying the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred book of the Sikhs. They have accused him of blasphemy, alleging that his 2,400-page "Bhavsagar Samundar Amar Bani" contains blasphemous references to Sikhism.

According to the World Drug Report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 2007, Punjab is the World’s No 1 transit point for opium. According to the Akali leader Late Captain Kanwaljeet Singh, Punjab finds itself bypassed as neighbouring states are prospering due to the services book, while industrialisation in Punjab has not happened in a planned manner due to “a crucial decade lost in militancy.”

Flora and Fauna


Except in the hills, Punjab contains comparatively little that is indigenous. There are no natural forests in the plains; extensive tracts occur covered only with grass, shrubs and bushes. The mango is largely cultivated in the south-east of the Punjab and attains a high degree of perfection about Multan and Hoshiarpur. Cultivated fruit trees are abundant, such as orange, pomegranate, apple, peach, fig, mulberry, quince, apricot, almond, and plum. One tree species that is indigenous to the region, the shisham tree (Dalbergia sissoo) is the official state tree.

Except in the hills, Punjab contains comparatively little that is indigenous. There are no natural forests in the plains; extensive tracts occur covered only with grass, shrubs and bushes. The mango is largely cultivated in the south-east of the Punjab and attains a high degree of perfection about Multan and Hoshiarpur. Cultivated fruit trees are abundant, such as orange, pomegranate, apple, peach, fig, mulberry, quince, apricot, almond, and plum.

There are a number of wetlands, bird sanctuaries and zoological parks all over Punjab. These include the Hari-ke-pattan National Wetland and Wildlife Sanctuary at Amritsar, the Kanjli Wetland, the Kapurtala Sutlej Water Body Wetland, the Ropar Zoological Park, Chhatbir, Bansar Garden, Sangrur, the Aam Khas Bagh, Sirhind, the Ram Bagh Garden, the Shalimar Garden, Kapurthala and the Baradari Garden at Patiala.

There are a number of wetlands, bird sanctuaries and zoological parks all over Punjab. Among the notable poisonous snakes are the cobra and a small snake called the sangehur. Alligators are also common in local rivers. The silkworm is reared with great skill and industry, and bees produce abundant wax and honey. Camels thrive in the hot southern plains, and herds of buffaloes on the grazing lands adjoining the rivers. Horses of excellent quality are reared in the north-east part of the country.

Among poisonous snakes the most remarkable are the cobra, and a small snake, the sangehur, the bit of which causes instantaneous death. The rivers are infested with alligators, and fish of various species abound. The silkworm is reared with great skill and industry, and bees produce abundant wax and honey. Camels thrive in the hot southern plains, and herds of buffaloes on the grazing lands adjoining the rivers. Horses of excellent quality are reared in the north-eastOther mammals like the smooth-coated otter, hog deer, wild boar, flying fox, wildcat, squirrel, fruitbat, and mongoose can be seen in the wild and in reserves.

A variety of mammals like the Smooth Indian Otter, Hog Deer, Wild Boar, Flying Fox, Wildcat, Squirrel, Fruitbat, Common Mongoose can be seen in Zoological Park Chhatbir.

The goshawk, (Accipter Gentilis), is the state bird of Punjab, while the black buck (Antilope cervicapra), is the state animal.


Religion No. of people % of total
Total population 24358999 100%
Sikhs 14592387 59.91%
Hindus 8997942 36.94%
Muslims 382045 1.57 %
Christians 292800 1.20 %
Buddhists 41487 0.17 %
Jains 39276 0.16 %
Others 8594 0.04 %

Sikhism is the most practiced faith in Punjab, and roughly 60% of the population belongs to the Sikh faith. 37% of the population practices Hinduism with other Sikh Sects. Other faiths include Islam, Buddhism, Christianity and Jainism.

The holiest of Sikh Shrines, the Shri Harmandir Sahib Ji (or Golden Templemarker), is in The Holy city of Amritsarmarker. The Sri Akal Takht Sahib Ji which resides within the Golden temple complex is the temporal seat of Sikhs. Of the five Takhts (Temporal Seats) of Sikhism, three are in Punjab. Anandpur Sahibmarker is where Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji created the Khalsa on Vaisakhi. During major holidays on the Sikh calendar (such as Vaisakhi, Hola Mohalla, Gurpurb or Diwali), many Sikhs gather and march through virtually every city, town and village in Punjab. Sikhism is so common in fact, that at least one Sikh Gurdwara can be found in every village, town and city (in various styles and sizes).

The Punjabi language, written in the Gurmukhi script is the official and most commonly used language in the state. The other language which is spoken in Punjab is Hindi, the widely spoken language across India.


NIPER Mohali research blocks

Punjab is served by 16 public institutes in higher education (listed below). All the major arts, humanities, science, engineering, law, medicine, veterinary science, and business courses are offered, leading to first degrees as well as postgraduate awards. Punjab Agricultural University is one of the world's leading authorities in agriculture. It was instrumental and played vital role in Punjab's Green Revolution in the 1960s-70s.

The current Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh was educated at Panjab University, Chandigarh and Oxford and Cambridge in UK.

Professor Har Gobind Khorana, famous Nobel laureate & biotechnologist was educated at Panjab University.

Christian Medical College, Ludhiana has been training doctors since 1894, and has been a pioneering institution of higher education in north India.( The First ever full face and scalp transplant in the world was performed here is among the other firsts that CMC Ludhiana's contribution to Punjab and North India,(


Punjabi Agriculturalist.
Quark, Mohali
According to the India State Hunger Index 2008, Punjab has the lowest level of hunger in India. Less than one-fourth of children below the age of five are underweight, although Punjab "came off worse than countries like Gabon and Vietnam when measured on the index".

Punjab has the best infrastructure in all of Indiamarker The Indian National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) has ranked Punjab's infrastructure as the best in India. Its road, rail, air and transport system is rated best in the country with ranking of 210 points compared to the national average of 100 in NCAER’s infrastructure index. It has highest per capita generation of electricity in Indiamarker,which is 2.5 times the national average. Although it has a huge shortage of electricity due to high demand .All major cities in Punjab benefit from this and have some of the lowest tariff's in India. All of Punjab's villages have been electrified and connected to the state electrical power grid since 1974. The state run electricity board is in a perpetual state of crisis and lack of funds due to corruption, faulty subsidies and poor management and work ethic.

Punjab (Land of the five rivers) is one of the most fertile regions on earth. The region is ideal for wheat-growing. Rice, sugar cane, fruits and vegetables are also grown. Indian Punjab is called the "Granary of India" or "India's bread-basket". It produces 14% of India's cotton, 20% of India's wheat, and 9% of India's rice. In worldwide terms, Indian Punjab produces 2% of the world's cotton, 2% of its wheat and 1% of the world's rice. The largest grown crop is wheat. Other important crops are rice, cotton, sugarcane, pearl millet, maize, barley and fruit. In Punjab per hectare consumption of fertilizer is 177 kg as compared to 90 kg at national level. Also Punjab State has been awarded National Productivity Award for agriculture extension services for consecutively ten years from 1991-92 to 1998-99 and 2001 to 2003-04. In recent years a drop in productivity has been observed mainly due to falling fertility of the soil. This is believed to be due to excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides over the years. Also a big worry is the rapidly falling water table on which almost 90% of the agriculture depends, which has witnessed alarming drops in recent years. The challenge therefore is to adopt a new and more environmentally friendly agricultural model which would have to be radically different from the one followed now. Even small changes could make a big difference. If just 10% of the agricultural land were moved away from rice and wheat and to less water-intensive crops, such as flowers and vegetables, the groundwater depletion problem could be solved.

Excluding agriculture other major industries include the manufacture of scientific instruments, electrical goods, machine tools, textiles, tourism, sewing machines, sports goods, starch, fertilizers, bicycles, and the processing of pine oil and sugar.


Districts of Punjab along with their headquarters
Punjab state is divided into 4 subdivisions and 20 administrative districts (listed below):



Government and politics

Like other states in India, the head of state of Punjab is the Governor, appointed by the President of India on the advice of the Central government. His or her post is largely ceremonial. The Chief Minister is the head of government and is vested with most of the executive powers. Chandigarhmarker is the capital of Punjab, and houses the Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly) and the secretariat. Chandigarh also serves as the capital of Haryanamarker, and is a union territory of India. The Punjab & Haryana High Court, located in Chandigarhmarker, has jurisdiction over the whole state.


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.


A Punjabi woman participating in Gidha folk dance.

Music of Punjab is well-known. Bhangra is one of the many Punjabi musical art forms that is increasingly being listened to in the west and is becoming a mainstream favourite. Punjabi music is being used by western musicians, in many ways, such as mixing it with other compositions to produce award-winning music. In addition, Punjabi Classical music is increasingly becoming popular in the west due to the beauty of sounds of the Punjabi language and its composition.

Cinema of Punjab dates back to before partition. K.D. Mehra made the first Punjabi film Sheila (also known as Pind di Kudi). Baby Noor Jehan was introduced as an actress and singer in this film. Sheila was made in Calcutta and released in Lahore, the capital of Punjab; it ran very successfully and was a hit across the province. Due to the success of this first film many more producers started making Punjabi films. As of 2009, Punjabi cinema has produced between 900 and 1,000 movies. The average number of releases per year in the 1970s was nine; in the 1980s, eight; and in the 1990s, six. In 1995, the number of films released was 11; it plummeted to seven in 1996 and touched a low of five in 1997. Since 2000s the Punjabi cinema has seen a revival with more releases every year featuring bigger budgets, home grown stars as well as bollywood actors of Punjabi descent taking part.

Punjabi cuisine has an immense range of dishes and has become world-leader in the field so much so that many entrepreneurs that have invested in the sector have built large personal fortunes due to popularity of Punjabi Cuisine throughout the world.

Punjabi Poetry is renowned for its extremely deep meaning, beautiful, exciting and hopeful use of words. The poetry is one of the deepest insights into the Punjabi mindset. The large number of Punjabi poetry masterpieces are being translated throughout the world into many languages. Famous Punjabi poets.

A Punjabi qissa (story; pl. qisse) is a tradition of Punjabi language oral story-telling that came to South Asia with migrants from the Arabian peninsula and contemporary Iran and Afghanistan.

Punjabi dances, due to the long history of the Punjabi culture and of the Punjabi people there is a large number of dances. These dances are normally performed at times of celebration the most prominent being at Punjabi weddings, where the elation is usually particularly intense. The particular background of the dances can be non-religious and religious. The overall style can range from very high energy to more reserved, however the common elements make it particularly attractive to the viewers whether they be of Punjabi heritage or not, the allure is considered universal. Punjabi dances are designed for either men or women.

Punjabi wedding traditions and ceremonies are traditionally conducted in Punjabi and are a strong reflection of Punjabi culture. Marriage ceremonies are conducted in Punjabi by Granthi for Sikhs, in Sanskrit by Pandits for Hindus and Jains. There are occasional commonalities in ritual, song, dance, food, dress. The Punjabi wedding has many rituals and ceremonies that have evolved since traditional times.

Famous people

The Punjab Medals of Honour are a collection of awards that are given by the Government of Punjab for exceptional excellence and achievement in the service of Punjab, the Punjabi people and internationally. Some awards are given yearly and some are only given rarely and under exceptional circumstances, where the individual has shown remarkable sacrifice or personal service of Punjab. To win one of the rare awards would probably make the individual a household famous name in Punjab. Two of the most prestigious awards are Punjab Rattan Award and the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Award (a very prestigious award).

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 Punjabi's. 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 and also the current Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor is a Punjabi, so is famous Nobel laureate Professor Har Gobind Khorana. The first Indian in Outer space, Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, is a Punjabi. The highest ranking officer in the history of the Indian Air Force, Arjan Singh, Marshal of the Indian Air Force, (the highest rank ever given in the history of the Indian Air force), is a Punjabi. The first Indian-American Governor and new Governor Elect of Louisiana., USA Bobby Jindal (Rep) is also a Punjabi Hindu from his father's 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 a Punjabi. 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 U.S. Congress, Dr. Dalip Singh Saund, was a Punjabi. Kalpana Chawla, the famous US astronaut, was a Punjabi.

Twin Punjabi Associations

Twin Punjab
The Punjab historically, since ancient times, has been one cultural and political entity within which the Punjabi people have lived in. However, after the partition of India the Punjab was divided, cutting the Punjabi people in two across the international border between Pakistanmarker and Indiamarker. Relations after partition were unusually Luke-warm between the twin Punjabs. However, over the last 20 years both Punjab governments, in India and Pakistan, have made concerted effort to maintaining cultural and historical ties of the Punjabi people. This included the international Punjabi Games held in 2004, arranged by both Punjab Governments.Academic institutions have kept their strong contacts such as Universities that were spilt after partition, such as the twin Punjab Universities at Chandigarhmarker and Lahoremarker.

See also


  1. [ Chandigarh's per capita income highest in India]
  2. Welcome to Official Web site of Punjab, India
  3. Best overall performance award to Punjab- Hindustan Times
  7. See Amnesty Reports such as Punjab Trauma
  8. Advani’s Blue Star remark makes Akali Dal see red- Hindustan Times
  9. [1] BJP accuses Congress of Terrorism
  10. Extremists in India Kill 80 on 2 Trains As Voting Nears End, The New York Times (June 16, 1991)
  11. New York Times
  12. Simmering discontent: Sikhs in Punjab are fighting many wars. 8 Mar, 2008, 0000 hrs IST,Praveen S Thampi, Times of India.
  13. Casteist assault by ANNIE ZAIDI. Frontline Volume 23 - Issue 02, Jan. 28 - Feb. 10, 2006.
  17. Census of India, 2001
  18. Census of India, 2001: population of Punjab by religion
  19. Welcome to Official Web site of Punjab, India
  20. Welcome to Official Web site of Punjab, India

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