Representational image. Money control
Any economy of a state is composed of three broad sectors: primary, secondary and service sectors corresponding to the agricultural, industrial and service sectors. The state of Punjab is known as the pan-basket of our country, India. The Punjabis were at the forefront of protecting the country from any foreign invasions and also became the wheat bowl of India. Thanks to the Green-revolution, the state of Punjab has grown as a prosperous, rich and prosperous society.
Punjab is the richest in the country in terms of per capita income and has held this title for more than 20 years. Interestingly, this title is mainly due to Punjab’s agriculture sector which at one point of time contributed more than 50% of Punjab’s GDP.
Interestingly, over the years, a narrative has developed that Punjab is an agrarian economy where farmers, cultivators and people related to the agrarian sectors are exclusively added to development projects. -progress and growth of the state and economic development. There are various reasons for this account. For more than three-four decades, the economy of Punjab has been overshadowed and burdened by the agrarian sector. This narrative suited the political dispensation that enjoyed the support of wealthy peasants and zamidars (landlords).
However, if we go by the facts and figures, this narrative is far from the truth. Both the agrarian and industrial sectors contribute equally. The latest economic data of Punjab shows the contribution of 3 sectors of Punjab economy in FY 2020-21 as below:
In FY 2021-22, the state has allocated 12.5 percent of its total expenditure for agriculture and allied activities. Interestingly, in FY 2021-22, the State Goods and Services Tax (SGST) revenue is estimated to be the largest source of the state’s own tax revenue (43 percent). There is no denying the fact that farmers have played a leading role in the development of Punjab. But, this is the time to acknowledge, appreciate and recognize the role of entrepreneurs in Punjab.
As per latest statistics, Punjab economy is the 16th largest state economy in India with ₹5.29 lakh crores GDP value in FY 2020-21. Although the basket of tradable products is small compared to other states, the business community still marks its presence in the national and international arena. The major industries of Punjab are Textile, Sugar, Dairy; and Machinery and Equipment-industry. Punjab’s main exports are manufacturing of clothing and textiles (53.% share), machinery and equipment (15%), food products (13.1%) and vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers (6.5% share) in Punjab’s manufacturing exports.
The Role of the Punjabi Industrialist:
The business class of Punjab consists of small, medium and large businessmen, entrepreneurs, industrialists. Whatever progress has been made in the industry is mainly due to the self-efforts of these entrepreneurs. Punjabi industry built by hard working Punjabi businessmen in the background of partition of India and a border state with hostile neighbors where we had to fight three wars.
Why is the situation of Punjabi Industrialist different from other parts of India:
– There is no good source of natural resources or minerals which makes it difficult to establish mineral based industries. Therefore, they lack primary sources.
– The political regimes of the last 75 years have supported the agricultural sector more than the industrial sector and the business sector.
– Punjab is a border state with a hostile neighbor and has to bear all the wars with Pakistan. Punjab’s trade with and through Pakistan is almost non-existent.
– Punjab is a land-locked state and does not have any ports.
Although Punjab does not have any abundant natural resources like ores and minerals, Punjabi businessmen with their skills, business acumen and grit have created an industrial hub and industrial culture. The main area of employment in Punjab is taken care of by the Textile sector where direct and indirect employment in the textile industry in the state of Punjab is estimated at 20 lakhs workers. Badala and Mandi Govindgarh are busy towns of iron castings.
Batala used to be called the “Iron bird of Asia” because it produced the highest amount of CI casting, agricultural and mechanical machinery and is still one of the leading cities in Northern India to manufacture CI casting and mechanical machinery. Ludhiana known as the Manchester of India due to the efforts of its industrious businessmen. It marks its presence in terms of Textile exports worldwide.
Despite all these difficulties, Punjabi entrepreneurs not only survived but marked their presence in the development of Punjab and India. As per a recent Hindustan Times report, Punjab based businessmen are among the richest people in India. Among the top wealthy businessmen in India, the owner of Trident Group based in Punjab (Barnala, Ludhiana) which is in the textile and paper industry, is ranked 127th in the country. LD Mittal of Sonalika Group (Hoshiarpur) is the 71st richest Indian with a net worth of $2.92 billion and SP Oswal of Vardhman Textiles (Ludhiana) is second in Punjab (₹4,600 crore). Other notable family-owned businesses are Oswal Family (Ludhiana), RN Gupta & Co, (Ludhiana) (₹2,800 crore), Avon Cycles Group(Ludhiana) owned by Onkar Singh Pahwa (₹ 1,700 crore), Shiv Prasad Mittal and Family of Ang Aarti Steels (₹1,700 crore), Bector Foods (Ludhiana) owned by Anoop Bector (₹1,200 crore), Pankaj Munjal, of Hero Cycles, (₹9,000 crore) which one of the richest people in the country.
Ironically, the political dispensation in Punjab is not only pro-agricultural, but apathetic. indifferent to the industrial and business sector. There is almost no industrial policy in Punjab. It is time to acknowledge, recognize and appreciate the role played by Punjabi entrepreneurs in the development of Punjab. They should be given their due credit. Not only a strong industrial policy but an industrial culture needs to be developed.
The writer is an independent commentator. Views are personal.
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