farm protests
Illustration by Soham Sen | ThePrint
Text Size:

Punjab is in the headlines, on prime time and on top of our minds now, with its farmers’ protests. The issues, frustrations and anger in Punjab are deep set. You can easily sense them if you have your ear to the ground and eyes on Writings on the Wall. Which, incidentally, is also the name of an occasional series I write travelling across the country.

This is one of the two pieces in a series of Writings on The Wall I wrote from Punjab during the 2014 general elections. Do check it out to see what I got right or wrong. I will share the other parts over the next couple of days.

Mind your language

It can break your heart to tell the story of the terminal decline of a state you so love, where you grew up and then cut your teeth as a reporter.

But you also can’t overlook the dire writings on the wall as Punjab approaches the polling date for its 13 Lok Sabha seats. Particularly if you can read the two languages, Punjabi and English, as written here. Punjabi, because what should be India’s most globalised state is actually trapped in the politics of localitis. If you’re blindfolded and left on a street here, you might find it impossible to say where you were, unless you were able to read Punjabi. The Punjabification of the state’s walls, signboards, milestones, is now total. But you might still have a chance if you spotted something written in English, even if it is the name of a restaurant, bar or banquet hall.

You will take a minute figuring out what the “burgars” and “nudles” painted on so many fast-food shops mean, or why Lily is always spelt “Lilly”, whether it be the name of a restaurant in Phagwara or a beauty parlour in Bathinda. Or what a prominent, old and serious bookshop in Bathinda, such a famed centre of “learning”, means when its signboard lists “fictions” and children’s books along with military history as its most important offerings.

If you haven’t figured out already that this, indeed, is Singh’s English and you must be in Punjab (disclosure: I passed my class VI from Bathinda’s Mahavir Sanatan Dharam Public School in 1966 and, to that extent, my formal education too was “via Bathinda”, literally, if not metaphorically), look for other pointers. Which other state would offer you a highway restaurant called Burger Girl? That in a state which snaps viciously at its neighbour Haryana’s heels for the worst female/male ratio (Punjab’s was 895 to Haryana’s 879 in the 2011 Census).

 

Illustration by Soham Sen | ThePrint

Figures don’t lie

There are three ways to understand the gradient and pace of Punjab’s slide. One, just the plain figures and statistics. You ask any Indian to name the richest state in the country. Chances are that the answer will be Punjab. Which was true for decades. But now it is the fifth, after Haryana, Maharashtra and, of course, mini-states like Goa and Delhi.

Its school dropout rate is among the highest in the country. For two decades now, its economic growth rate has trailed the national average (1994-2002, 4.32 per cent compared to the national 6.16, 6.61 versus 7.95 in 2002-11). A Washington-based Cato Institute study by Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar finds even a decline in the state’s economic freedom index. Between 2005 and 2011, it slipped from sixth in the national rankings to 12th.

A Pratham study showed that in 2007, nearly half of all class III children in Punjab could not read class I texts, and half of all class V students could not solve a three digit by one division problem. According to the state government’s own economic survey, medical services are actually declining in terms of hospital beds per thousand population. That also explains the rage of anti-incumbency against the Akali-BJP government.

Punjab’s traditional industries, textiles, foundries, are all dying.

In the course of a 35-minute helicopter ride from Ludhiana to Bathinda, Sukhbir Singh Badal pointed out how you cannot find even a foot of land that is either not cultivated (at the moment, actually, gleaming like bronzed, 14-karat gold with ripe wheat), or inhabited. There is no land left in Punjab to employ more people, but through the entire wide landscape, in what is traditionally India’s most fertile and prosperous region, the Doaba (between rivers Sutlej and Beas), you do not spot any industry either. And agriculture can’t grow much more unless the farmer is persuaded to toss out his entrepreneurial laziness and move out of the self-destructive wheat/paddy cycle.

Even there, it is a matter of a harvest or two before Madhya Pradesh starts procuring more wheat than Punjab, having already left Haryana behind. This is just when Punjab should have been reaping a well-deserved peace dividend after a bloody decade stolen by terror.


Also read: Why Trudeau’s support to farmer protest is part of a political strategy and is hypocritical


A self-destructive chill

It is not my case that there has been no peace dividend for Punjab. Having lived through that decade of mayhem, the Blue Star and Black Thunder weeks in Amritsar, the humiliation of proving your identity to “sentries” at militant “checkposts” on Tarn Taran roads at night, and once, being the only passenger in the so-called Flying Mail to Delhi, which ran at 15 km an hour because of the fear of bombs, I can see a turnaround as dramatic as only something purely Punjabi can be. But a closer look, particularly if you can read writings on the wall between the lines, in Gurmukhi and Singh’s English, and you’d know that Punjab isn’t a state in a virtuous boom. It has lapsed, instead, into a self-destructive chill.

So what’s wrong with being chilled? The challenge lies in translating the meaning of chill into Punjabi, or rather the Punjabi state of mind. It is not a state of cool, but some kind of frenzy. Yet, it is lazy, even somnolent and sterile, rather than the usual hyper-energetic and virile Punjabi stereotype. It is a tired, once-wealthy state, living off its past riches, reputation and residual hormones. Today, it boasts among the largest percentage of drug addicts in the country. You know his political motives but the Congress party’s Ludhiana candidate, Ravneet Singh Bittu (anybody who matters in Punjab has a nickname now, Satinder Singh Satta, Balbir Singh Bittu, Bunty Romana, Satnam Singh Shunty and so on) has a point when he tells you that only two businesses open early in the morning in Punjab — liquor and drugs. Scrawny, hollow-eyed customers are already lined up.

But there is a sense of chill alright. If liberal sociologists around the world fret over the threat of a rising, Westernised monoculture, in India it could be a Punjabified one. Weddings, rituals, celebrations, music, food and dressing around the country are acquiring a baroque Punjabi flavour. And Punjabis are celebrating because they think they have arrived. After a long gap, there is a revival of the Punjabi film industry. And here are some recent hits: Jatt & JulietCarry On Jatta and, right at this moment, competing with election graffiti, Jatt James Bond.

Each one is a celebration of Punjabi male invincibility, usually featuring a pind (village) bumpkin with a heart of gold and an NRI beauty who ends up inevitably and gratefully in her rightful place — the Jatt hero’s lap. How do I describe this chill? My favourite hoarding is found on an Amritsar crossroad, offering an all-you-can-eat kitty party lunch for Rs 750 per head. It shows six beautifully turned out Punjabi women, shades on their blow-dried heads at a kitty, of course, but each talking on her mobile phone.

While the rest of the country has moved on, Punjab has become a prisoner of its boisterous old stereotype but has, meanwhile, forgotten its entrepreneurial energy, its competitive spirit. Its young are dropping out of school and hitting drugs or liquor or making a desperate dash for the West, not for tech, banking, management or medical pursuits, as their countrymen elsewhere do, but mostly for suboptimal jobs like driving trucks and taxis or chopping onions in the backrooms of desi restaurants. Bhagwant Mann, Punjab’s comedy star and the AAP candidate from Sangrur (who went on to become a two-time MP; more about him in a bit), says, in his own devastating deadpan style: “In Amreeka and Kanada, sir, they are grateful to us Punjabis. It is because of us that they have the best qualified taxi drivers in the world, MBBS, MA, PhD.”

He turns the knife. “So the ‘goras’ say, balle-balle. Why did you send us back if all of you wanted to come here? And why did that silly Bhagat Singh have to die at just 23?” Punjab today has declined so badly, he says, that “we cannot even look our martyrs’ statues in the eye”. Punjab lost its national stature in sports long ago. Much smaller Haryana, which used to be the most backward part of old Punjab, now wins more than half of all Indian medals in global competitions. Punjab almost never registers its presence. It once dominated the armed forces. Today, most recruitment rallies go back with vacancies, the young either disinclined or sadly, physically inadequate. Would you believe that?

One of India’s and the world’s great living sporting idols (at the time, in 2014) is Balbir Singh, a triple Olympic gold medallist in hockey, coach and manager of the last Indian team to win the World Cup (Kuala Lumpur, 1975), and listed by the IOC among the 16 greatest Olympic icons ever, alongside the likes of Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis. At 89, his passion for sport, for the flag and for winning, is the way it should always be for a Punjabi, particularly an ageless Jat. But ask him about Punjab’s fall in sports and his eyes misted over: “Sab khatam kar diya ji drugs ney. Ab yeh woh Punjab ka youth nahin hai. Woh toh khokhla (hollow) ho gaya.”

That is why it is tough to find a contemporary synonym for chill in Punjabi. Because it is a new, very un-Punjabi state of complacent, lazy, decadent trance of perpetual balle-balle. Now you can try translating it back into English.

Illustration by Soham Sen | ThePrint

Also read: What Modi govt can do to placate angry farmers and end their protests


There’s an aeroplane on my roof

To understand this better, drive on the GT Road generally southeast from Amritsar, past the richest districts of Punjab, Phagwara, Jalandhar and Ludhiana, and keep your eyes on the walls.

The factories are dying, mostly empty shells now, a bit like what you see as you drive out of Kolkata along the Hooghly. As you approach Ludhiana, you also see to your right something you are unlikely to see in a boom state; not even, in fact, in Raipur or Ranchi: Emptied, bankrupted shopping malls and many others abandoned half-built. But you also see many gleaming new constructions, some looking like fortresses, Indian or Moroccan, some like European mansions, all with fancy names and a common purpose: Partying, mostly at weddings.

This is a cut above your usual banquet hall. In Punjab, these are called, simply, palaces: ‘My wedding is in the seventh palace to the right on the highway, the one that looks like a Swiss chalet’, is a likely set of directions. Of course, you may also find one called Jurasik (sic) Park, which promises a wonderful wedding in one of its Jurasik rooms. Just why anybody would wish to get married inside one of those, you do not ask a Punjabi in the chilled 2014.

You also see growing new Punjabi aesthetics on display along with their remitted or inherited riches, what you’d aptly call water-tank art. In Punjab, particularly in its NRI zones, you are nobody if the water tank on top of your house is not shaped like something impressive: a football, a giant hawk, an airplane, sometimes an airplane with a propeller in front and one on top, so I presume it can fly like a chopper too, why take chances. It also gets more creative than that. At Khanauri Mandi in Sangrur constituency, you’d find a replica of our national Parliament. And if that pronounces the Punjabis’ commitment to democracy, come to Phagwara to see a tank shaped like, what else, but a tank, a battle tank. This for the Punjabi love of the military.


Also read: Shambles over farmers’ protest shows Modi-Shah BJP needs a Punjab tutorial


A university called Lovely

But you also see a familiar logo: Lovely Professional University, very widely advertised and sometimes derided, unfairly as we’d soon discover, as a “teaching shop run by halwais”, since the founder family, the Mittals, made their fame and brand name running their enormously successful Lovely Sweets.

I would suggest a proper walk around its 600-acre campus, probably one of the finest built in the country. It is India’s largest, with approximately 28,000 on-campus students in all disciplines. “Everything else but medicine,” as Chancellor Ashok Mittal says. It has probably the largest hostel population for a university in Asia, with about 16,000 boys and girls. It has students from over 26 countries, including from Britain, Thailand, Malaysia, all of Africa and even 16 Chinese. Afghanistan has sent 165 of its brightest, president’s scholarship holders.

No surprise that the campus has a street named after Hamid Karzai, who graced its convocation with Pranab Mukherjee last year. There are enormous playgrounds, an underpass and a small flyover, an ‘en suite’ shopping mall where outsiders are not allowed, 40-plus ATMs from eight banks, a post office, and offers ACs in its hostels on extra payment. The campus is fully WiFi. This was still a work in progress when I visited BITS, Pilani, to speak there a few months back.

I cannot vouch for its academic quality after a short visit, but the vice-chancellor, Professor Rameshwar Kanwar, is a re-import from Iowa State University, where he was a renowned professor of hydrology. What I can vouch for, instead, are two things: One, that it gives you the feel of a wonderfully modern, well-endowed, world-class campus and two, you can see students from every state of India — 4,000 from Andhra/Telangana — and so many countries worldwide. But how come you do not see as many Punjabis as you would expect?

Mittal says their percentage is just around 30, because that is about the number that passes LPU’s tough entrance tests. Of course, he adds, they also weigh in for diversity. But the fact, the cruel fact, is that the education system in Punjab today does not produce too many kids good enough to dominate even its own LPU (as the university now prefers to be known). Other national institutions, the IIT in Ropar, the ISB in Mohali, hardly have any local students. It is a painful truth, but you have to state it. The young Punjabi today is not competitive.


Also read: Modi govt must sweat in Parliament to avoid bleeding on street. Farmers’ protest shows why


A flight to Kanada

But why confine yourself to boring academia and scholarship? Or sports? Today’s young Punjabi, whether half-educated or well qualified, is brilliantly competitive at one thing: Escaping overseas. Disappearing to someplace in the West seems so much the dream of the young Punjabi now that even gods have been dragged into the consular business.

Look left, and about 5 km short of LPU, you can’t miss the entrance gate to a village called Talhan. It has a concrete “British Airways” jet sitting atop it. With six engines, just in case.

A fitting sign that the village is famous for its ‘Hawai Jahaz Waala’ gurdwara. This, in fact, is the ancient Gurdwara Talhan Sahib, but somehow, a legend has grown around it. That if you present a toy airplane model here, your wish for a foreign visa will be granted. Every day, the gurdwara collects scores of these. Shops around it sell these models in every known airline’s livery. Of the two found in the gurdwara last week, one had Malaysian Airlines colours.

Hoardings at the entrance and along the route sell dreams of visas and migration to America, the UK, Australia, Canada (often spelt Kanada), New Zealand. While many offer to help you pass the IELTS, as the examination for basic English language knowledge is called, my favourite is the one that promises to take you overseas without passing the IELTS: “Doesn’t matter even if you were educated in Punjabi medium.”

I don’t know if any of these agents has a deal with god, but you’d wonder why the UK, US, Canadian, Australian and other embassies haven’t set up their extension visa counters here. Young Punjabis today do not want to study, do not want to compete or ride the wave of reform and growth in India. They want to escape and run low-level services overseas or fill up European jails as illegals. This brawn drain of sorts is modern Punjab’s answer to brain drain. The most flourishing business in Punjab, besides narcotics, is illegal immigration or what is called, for some reason, kabootarbaazi, as if all young Punjabis now are pigeons wanting to fly the coop. This is a dig for a people who adore the hawk and follow Guru Gobind Singh’s credo of being like a hawk fighting the sparrows — one better than sawa-lakh (1,25,000) of those.

Along with drugs, liquor, corruption and high-handedness, this phenomenon is also playing in this election campaign and fuelling an anti-incumbency that, combined with Sonia Gandhi’s inspired action in forcing her topmost leaders into the fight, has made Punjab one of the most closely contested states in India. And nobody is making better use of this new space than the AAP which, in turn, has chosen some candidates brilliantly, either from popular culture or widely respected doctors and activists. How many seats they will win, you ask the psephologists: Yogendra Yadav, Dorab Sopariwala, Prannoy Roy. But I can tell you they will poll a lot more votes than most opinion polls give them so far.

Illustration by Soham Sen | ThePrint

Comedian turns the knife

The most entertaining and politically astute candidate in this campaign is comedian Bhagwant Mann in Sangrur, and many now say he is the frontrunner in what once used to be a Communist fortress. He is not a mere clown. Just like Lalu Prasad, he has the ability to load the funniest of his lines with pure politics. “The mightiest fall,” he says. “Lalu used to say, jab tak samose mein aaloo, tab tak Bihar mein Lalu… samose mein toh abhi bhi aaloo hai, lekin Bihar mein Lalu kahan?”

In this election, he says, you have a choice of one of three pens to write your fortune with: one, of the Akalis and BJP, is filled with the ink of smack and liquor; the second, of the Congress, with corruption and the blood of 1984 victims; and the third, made in Arvind Kejriwal’s factory, with pure, clean honesty, so check it out.

He devastates the Akalis and their populism: “Don’t say the Akalis have done nothing. They have laid so many foundation stones. Again, don’t say these are useless. Ask ‘awara jhottas (wandering male buffaloes)’. If the foundation stones were not there, what would they scratch their butts with? So, your government has even launched a yojana for ‘jhottas’, and soon these buffaloes will come with Badal’s photo painted on their backsides, like everything else that they give you free.”

This is the boldest and most inspirational attack on freebie culture I have heard in a long time. “Now, I believe they are promising you free utensils. Be careful, ladies, now your ‘patilas (pans)’ will come painted with Badal saab’s picture. So, you will have to cook in the kitchen in your ghunghat. And the ‘dolu (bucket)’ will have Kaka Sukhbir, the ‘gadvi (lota)’ Nanhi Chhan (mocking Harsimrat Badal for her NGO for the girl child by that name), and on the chamchas (spoons)?” The crowd has taken the cue by now. The cry goes up: “(Bikram Singh) Majithia.” He is Sukhbir’s brother-in-law and, in Amritsar, Arun Jaitley’s fate rests in his hands.

Mann even attacks the current craze for emigration. And then, the final turn of the knife at village Kakra, incidentally the birthplace of Diwan Todar Mal, one of Akbar’s navratnas who gave India its land-revenue system: “Today, my friends, we Punjabis can’t even look our martyrs’ statues in the eye. We are so ashamed.”

As I hop off his truck and turn into the mandi town of Bhawanigarh, two different signboards catch my eye: a “Fun and Chill” beauty parlour, and a “Chill” shop where Katrina Kaif sells you her favourite beverages. And the penny drops. Today’s Punjab is best and most cruelly characterised in poet-actor-musician Piyush Mishra’s outrageously brilliant spoof on famous martyr and Bhagat Singh’s inspiration, Ram Prasad Bismil’s ‘Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna’, from Anurag Kashyap’s Gulaal: “O re Bismil kaash aate, aaj tum Hindostaan, dekhte key mulk saara kya tashan kya chill mein hai… aaj ka launda yeh kehta, hum toh Bismil thak gaye…” and so on.

Mann is only substituting Bismil with Bhagat Singh, and Hindostaan with today’s Punjab, declining in its own chill.

(A version of this article was first published in The Indian Express on 29 April 2014)


Also read: Kisan march pictures may not show you women farmers, but don’t forget to count their protest


 

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.

ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.

Support Our Journalism

VIEW COMMENTS

43 COMMENTS

  1. Mr. Gupta saw the farmers’ protest in 2014. How clairvoyant? Give this man his own 6 am aap ki rashi show.

  2. Amazing analysis of Punjab. All the time we knew there’s something very wrong with the overly-chill vibe of Punjab, and I could not think what exactly makes this happen. You’ve stated it very clearly – it’s exactly like the complacency in a rich dad’s spoilt son.. I found this article while searching for how exactly Punjabis can afford this overly-chill vibe despite lacking decent competitive skills. I have personally SEEN this competition vibe in kids from Haryana, Bihar and Delhi – and completely lacking in Punjabis. Thanks for the article @ShekharGupta, you put into words the thought that was like an unsolved problem for me.

  3. Well done for writing and excellent pieces to share with NRI Sikhs – your articles on sikhs are always perfect propaganda to create more khalistanis. People like you create more khalistanis than Sikh preachers.

    Seriously, it makes me laugh. You write such file about us and re post it during our protests, then winner what causes khalistanis.

  4. Sir, one thing that bother me is Punjabi’s (any religious) are not only taxi drivers. Punjabi are successful in foreign countries more that many other Indian communities. We are in politics, business, government jobs and big tech companies. I am working as Director in big tech company in states . So let’s do little more study about Punjabi. Also drug is not a problem in Punjab, it is more s hype created by Bollywood and movies. Indian government never tried to understand what we want and labeled us terrorist if we fight for our rights. It’s hypocrisy to see : when we fight on border, then everyone loves us. But the day we fight for our rights, we are anti national. Sat Shri Akal.

  5. Not agree, I do not who much money you get to de fame Punjab. Spend some time in Punjab before write any things. Shame on you

  6. Analysis is low level. No such thing as an purely agricultural state remaining on top when investment has not happened in developing industry. No other country has a purely free market in the world as agriculture is too volatile and countries protect their farmers through subsidies and quotas. India provides very little support to its farmer and the new bills will provide corporation with pricing power which will likely set off another cycle of bankruptcies and lead to destitute farmers. P Sainath who has written about farmers for a very long time can provide a more detailed description of the shortcomings of the farm bills which are nothing more than a giveaway to corporations. For a right wing free market thinker The market is God. Unfortunately COVID has proven that the market doesn’t work as more people in the West recognize that neoliberal economic policy will not work. China reduced the GIni coefficient due to state planning with guidance to the corporate sector – in India the GIni coefficient is increasing because the corporations run the country – a dictionary definition for fascism. Article was bunk reducing cultural and economic forces to personal stories explains nothing except to promote the writer’s narrative

  7. I strongly protest the condescending tone of SG’s article. He mocks ‘Singh’s English’. Are the Punjabis all Singhs ? And do all Singhs have one style of English. Dr. MMS is from Cambridge. The Sikhs have very fine intellectuals – Khushwant Singh, who could write about all the communities of India, better than any Hindu.

    And how do Modi, Yogi and Shah speak English ? Modi coined an acronym for India-China bonhomie, spelling it as STREANH for STRENGTH. Did he mock Gujju English ? Or Patel English ?

    It is also a cunning canard that Punjab degenerated due to drugs funneled by Pakistan as it is a border state. The drugs were funneled by the Indian govt. to Punjab and NE, because they had sizable non-Hindu populations with restive youth.

    The Sikhs have a fine character, much better than Hindus. One Sikh gentleman sold a flat to raise money for the Shaheen Baghees. Common Sikhs came from Punjab to Shaheen Bagh and set up food kitchens. After repeal of Article 370, when Hindu extremists said that now they can go and grab fair Kashmiri women, Sikh politicians came forward and said they will fight to defend the honour of Kashmiri women. Only the Sikh community came forward. That sounds like a valiant community, and not a drugged one. In the Delhi riots, one elderly Sikh gentleman ferried Muslims to safety. The Sanghis must be very annoyed that the Sikhs came out in support of Muslims., and you are taking out that frustration and started a defamation campaign against the Sikhs.

    Mr. SG, don’t worry about Punjab. Worry that the entire country has degenerated due to the BJP-RSS’s Hindu militants, cow vigilantes, fake new s merchants, rapists, rioters.

    It is not Punjab that has brought India down, it is the Hindu fascists. They have corrupted every institution. The BJP has made enemies of Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. China has shown it can give India a beating on its own, but it easier for them to give a beating to India through Nepal, BD, Sri Lanka and Pak. The Sikhs are not responsible for this debacle.

    It looks like greedy Hindus and corporates are creating the case to target Sikhs, to grab their land. The Sikhs understand that. They can fight.

  8. Punjab is not only about Sikhs
    – Shekhar Gupta
    When to highlight good things about a state

    Sikhs are declining as they are emigrating in large numbers it like a Brawn Drain
    When to highlight bad things

  9. “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.”
    Hope the cycle continues and Punjab becomes strong and prosperous as it used to be.

  10. Although I agree with most of the article, It is not the true picture to say Punjabis are just doing menial jobs abroad is not true. There are very successful Punjabis abroad even big farmers in Australia, Canada, etc The biggest Peanut farmer in the world is Punjabi Sikh in Argentina. Every community has poor and rich people. All Indians do not go abroad on big jobs, the fact is that the normal person from UP or Bihar can not afford to go abroad. they labour in Punjab, similarly, the regular Punjabis go abroad, hence the lack of interest in the army, etc. Punjabis have already been there where Haryana is heading now, Punjabis has seen all that and now their next phase started which is moving abroad being a citizen of countries with better human rights, quality of life, education, and health care etc. they are being successful there as well their children do get a good education there even if the parents have to do the menial jobs to start with. Punjabis are never failures just rest of India could not keep up with them and their ambition that’s why they are emigrating perhaps. Punjabis are people of Karm (work) they need bigger opportunities which are lacking in India. They can not sit idle thats why if you donot provide opportunities for the punjabi youth they revolt or become drug addicts etc.

    • Superb reply, I strongly agree. Have sensed some sort of biased irritation in this article against Punjabi’s.

  11. Although I agree with most of the article, It is not the true picture to say Punjabis are just doing menial jobs abroad is not true. There are very successful Punjabis abroad even big farmers in Australia, Canada, etc The biggest Peanut farmer in the world is Punjabi Sikh in Argentina. Every community has poor and rich people. All Indians do not go abroad on big jobs, the fact is that the normal person from UP or Bihar can not afford to go abroad. they labour in Punjab, similarly, the regular Punjabis go abroad, hence the lack of interest in army etc. Punjabis have already been there where Haryana is heading now, Punjabis has seen all that and now their next phase started which is moving abroad being a citizen of countries with better human rights, quality of life, education and health care etc. they are being successful there as well their children do get a good education there even if the parents have to do the menial jobs to start with. Punjabis are never failures just rest of India could not keep up with them and their ambition that’s why they are emigrating perhaps.

  12. Sir, i agree with u on what u have written.i used to read ur indian express articles as a school kid and admire u. BUT please also look at the other side of the story .punjabis are not just driving trucks,taxis and cutting vegetables overseas..so many people are going overseas on legal study and other visas. Punjabis in west are educating their peers back of the system they see in the west, This is the major source of the awakening of Punjabis u r seeing today. i would have really appreciated if u have also mentioned that punjabis have more members of parliament in western countries than in india. punjabis have the titles of lord in UK. there are punjabi mayors, attorneys in USA,UK and in EU countries. high ranking cabinet ministers in CANADA. Punjabi political figures in New zealand and AUSTRALIA. please also talk about so many business that they own. Thousands of acres of farm land owned by punjabis in california. I see Every other doctor, lawyer who has punjabi roots here in the west. So many big transportation businesses.Big hotel businesses.punjabi boys are playing in NBA. I can carry on with this for ever…….please do mention the other side of this story in your next part.thanks..

    • SG over looked the obvious. The Punjabis produced India’s greatest practical economist, Dr. MMS, the architect of India’s recent prosperity. But the Hindus do not want him, he is Sikh. They prefer a real Hindu chai wallah whose main achievement is a riot.

  13. While showing everything negative about Sikhs, you failed to mention that despite being only 2% of the population, 20% of the Indian army is comprised of Sikh soldiers.

  14. Excellent analysis of what went wrong with Punjab. It reminded me of a news report in the early 1960s in the popular “Blitz” weekly that was published from Mumbai for several decades. The news report explained in detail how Pakistan was actively promoting consumption of liquor and drugs in Punjab, particularly among its youth. The reason was Pakistan’s estimation that any war with India will be mainly fought in the plains of Punjab and people from Punjab are in the armed forces at all levels. The aim was to weaken India by promoting alcoholism and drug addiction in Punjab. Looks like Pakistan’s efforts have borne fruit.

  15. Agriculture can’t grow much more unless the farmer is persuaded to toss out his entrepreneurial laziness and move out of the self-destructive wheat/paddy cycle.
    THIS IS THE REASON FOR HAVING MSP IN THE LAW IN AND OUT OF MANDIs.
    IT IS LIKE THE POLICE WORK, INSTEAD OF DOING THE PROPER INVESTGATIVE WORK EASIEST WAY IS TO BEAT THE HELL OUT OF A MAN GET HIM TO WRITE WHAT YOU WANT ,IF THE COURTS THROW IT OUT , WHO BOTHERS.

  16. Young Punjabis would like nothing better than to emigrate. Often without proper travel documents. Sad, coming from what was once India’s highest per capita income state, which gave me a sense of vicarious pride, although I have never been there. Being a border state deprived it of opportunities for industrialisation. Improved relations between India and Pakistan would help the state’s economy.

  17. what an article guptaji! wow!
    extremely saddened to hear about school drop outs, drug habbits, failing industries and of course last but not the least the entrepreneurial laziness of farmers and their destructive rice/paddy cucle. this looks like a perfect breeding ground for sepeatism.
    it is very sad that akalis and badals in particular who ae responsible for this state of affairs are now behind the agitation.

  18. I wonder if SG is just maligning Punjabis unfairly because they are Sikh mostly, rather than Hindu, and they are protesting the farm laws. It seems like he wants to discredit them.

    The Sikhs have smelt a rat in the new farm laws. They see it could be a Hindu move to take over their land and give it to Adanis; just like Kashmiris will lose their land to corporates.

    The Hindus want the Sikhs to be mere servants, a lower sect of Hindus, who will produce under the control of Hindus. SG’s article could be a subtle effort to discredit Sikhs and Punjabis. Praising Hindu Haryana, a state run by the BJP lout, Khattar is also suspicious and appears motivated.

    All this could start a fight in Punjab, just like in Kashmir.

    I would like to hear the Punjabis, particularly Sikhs to comment.

    • insted of trying to make it a hindu vs sikh issue, talk with facts you buffoon, as per your logic guptaji must also be malligning northeastern states since they too are hindu minority states, clear the gobar out of your brain, everything will be clearly visible then

      • In fact, it is a Hindu-Sikh thing, it is going to become that, and SG sees where the wind is blowing, and he is preparing the way to make it acceptable for you.

        This theory that it is Pakistan that flooded Punjab with drugs as it is a front line state is a fabrication. Pakistan is not that strong or clever. The same thing has happened in the NE – it was flooded with drugs. This was policy of the Indian govt. to take out the youth in Punjab and NE from challenging their rule. There is no way it could have occurred without the machinations of the deep Indian state.

        The gobar is in your mind. Hindus venerate gobar, others don’t.

        • Have you ever been to any Sikh celebration? Gobar is venerated by Sikhs as much as Hindus as a part of Panchgavya. Sikh gurus and every Sikh including Khalistanis don’t eat cows and want to ban cow slaughter.

          You s tupid ji hadis think you can divide Hindus and Sikhs which is not possible.

  19. Sir,

    One factor has been that Punjab has got used to being pampered and having its way because of it being a border state.

    Punjab got bifurcated in 1966 because of Sikhs’ demand for ‘Punjabi Sooba’ . The bifurcation was done on linguistic basis and as per that Chandigarh’ with majority of its people spaeaking Hindi, was allotted to Haryana as per the Commission of Bifurcationa and Supreme Court. But Punjab refused to accept it.

    Similarly , Punjab has defiantly refused to agree to Eradi Water Tribunal of 1986 and Supreme Court rulings to release water from Ravi-Beas rivers through Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal to Haryana and Rajasthan. It stage manages protests against it. Even leading to killing of CPWD engineer cosntructing the Satlej-Yamuna Link Canal in July 1990.

    Punjab governments, whether under Congress or SAD, play the card of their being a sensitive border state too often to blackmail the Central Government denying the rightful shares of water to its neighbouring states .

    • ‘One factor has been that Punjab has got used to being pampered ….’

      Like Muslims were pampered before the Hindus put their foot down ?

      I can smell the Hindu bossiness towards the Sikhs. I can see the Hindus want to grab Sikh land.

      Be careful, as you will reignite the Khalistani movement. Hindus will be fighting with Muslims and Sikhs, like now Hindus want to fight with Pak and China.

      Why are you lot so divisive ?

    • Gupta ji. You need more of tutorial of Punjab rather than Amit s
      Gupta ji your name might sound different if Punjabis
      And Sikhs was not at border since old Mughal times
      Feel sic of your manipulative observations of Punjabis and Sikhs while sitting in khaki and in AC rooms of Delhi.
      There is no spine and shame in you. Punjabis will always dissent against injustice and freedom.
      Don’t worry much about Punjab there warriors and intellect was there and will be there forever.
      They will take care of themselves will .

  20. This article shows the reality of Punjab. Blaming only political parties is not right. I agree most of the points. One is that youth is not moving to ‘Kanada’ only due to lack of ability or competition but in most of cases especially boys, parents are forcing them because drugs are so easily (not cheaply though) available that they are afraid that their son will fall into this well set trap. I kindly disagree with your view point regarding laziness. I don’t think laziness is that big factor. It is the poor education system which is main reason. The level of education of Punjab School Education Board is very low. Students do not work very hard as they can easily get 80% + wih very less efforts.

  21. First time I read an article by Shekhar Guptha, which deserves a good praise , thank you sir , leave your Leftist& congress patronage and be your self , then you can do a great change to Indian Media .

  22. What is happening in Punjab is a microcosm of the happenings in the rest of the country. From valuing a liberal education and having a global outlook, we have turned narrow minded, parochial and always wanting to take the short cut route. Even politics is become all about blaming somebody else and searching for scapegoats. The writing is on the wall for those who can read! (Pun intended Shekhar ji)

  23. A Wonderful Article Sir. It is an honest picture you have splashed on Punjab Canvas. It is also not only a relevant article, but you just hold the Mirror to today’s Punjab, which has started deteriorated consistently over a decade & Thanks to Drug, Liquor & politicians nexus brought to the state standstill.

    The entire country was proud of Punjabis & their achievements in almost all the field. Of course, no more now.

    Please keep writing regularly at least once a week, at least. This will surely enhance the readership & subscription. Please do not shy away from projecting “SG” Brand. Even at the cost of limiting your cut the clutter videos.

    Thanks
    Best Regards
    Nagesh Rao
    Mumbai

    • The entire country has degenerated due to the BJP-RSS’s Hindu militants, cow vigilantes, fake news merchants, rapists, rioters so what are you trying to say ?

      It is not Punjab that has brought India down, it is the Hindu fascists. They have corrupted every institution.

      It looks like greedy Hindus are creating the case to target Sikhs, to grab their land.

  24. the senseless opposition to farming reforms(which isn’t even a reform in a strict sense) is so dis-heartening. and look at these ignorant celebrities who are mindlessly supporting the agitation, they should be asked whether they would allow a similar strict regulation of their business as is done with farmers. they hate capitalism in farming but love it when they enjoy freedom allowed by capitalism. every business in India & elsewhere works absolutely fine when left to market forces with some regulations, also ask the canadian hawks to agitate similarly in canada against the market forces if they think these forces are bad. these laws does nothing other than to increase freedom. punjabi farmer is doomed to be destroyed unless he carries out serious reforms. punjab, haryana, up agriculture is totally unsustanble and in coming decades everybody would witness the havoc that current practices would wreak with no ground water, poor soil, no technology.

  25. Draw a horizontal line on the map of India. The line starts at Gujarat, goes theough MP, West Bengal and ends at Tripura. All States in and above this line sucks. No exception, If not in economy, in culture, work ethics, religiosity………….., You wrote about UP. Now Punjab. Are you in to something with all these states??? Your writing about themwill all be unhelpful to these states to get better. I am sure of that and it is worth 2 cents,. India with ALL its states, is now going through its Destiny. Que Sera Sera.

  26. Many thanks Mr.SG. Few could have captured this subject as poignantly as you have done. Thumbs up to you!

    Until the film “Udta Punjab” was released, living in distant Bengaluru, I thought everything was hunky dory with Punjab, what with brothers owning Fortis hospitals making huge fortunes. Last few years, Punjab sends the feel of being a small State, not the prosperous State of 20th century 3rd quarter. Badals should take some responsibility for this decline of Punjab, caring more for perpetuation of their dynasty than for the State. Decline of Pubjab is a risk to India, especially in view of the fact that it is situated along a sensitive border. Though not a supporter of Congress, I have always felt that Captain Amarinder Singh is a cut above other politicians. But, lately he too is pandering to populism. See his opposition to Farms Reform laws.

Comments are closed.