Representative image. Control of money
Any state economy is made up of three broad sectors: primary, secondary and service sectors which correspond to the agriculture, industrial and service sectors respectively. The state of Punjab is known as the bread basket of our country, India. The Punjabis were at the forefront of defending the nation from any foreign invasion and were also the wheat bowl of India. Thanks to the Green revolution, the state of Punjab has grown as a prosperous, rich and prosperous society.
Punjab was the richest in the country in terms of per capita income and held this title for more than 20 years. Interestingly, this title was primarily due to Punjab’s agriculture sector which at one time contributed more than 50% in Punjab’s GDP.
Notably, over the years, a narrative has evolved that Punjab is an agrarian economy where farmers, farmers and people related to the agrarian sectors have exclusively added to the state’s development and growth projectiles and his economic prosperity. There are several reasons for this narrative. For more than three and four decades, the economy of Punjab was overshadowed and dominated by the agrarian sector. This tale was adapted to the political dispensation that enjoyed the support of the rich farmers and zamidars (owners).
But, if we go by the facts and figures, this story is far from the truth. Both the agricultural and industrial sectors contribute equally. The latest economic data of Punjab shows the contribution of the 3 sectors in the economy of Punjab 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 in hundred). There is no denying the fact that farmers have played a major role in the development of Punjab. But, this is the time to recognize, appreciate and acknowledge the role of the entrepreneurs of Punjab.
According to the latest statistics, the economy of Punjab is the 16th largest state economy in India with a GDP value of ₹ 5.29 lakh crores in FY 2020-21. Although the basket of marketable products is very small compared to other states, the business community still marks its presence in the national and international arena. The main industries of Punjab are Textiles, Sugar, Milk; and Machinery and Equipment-industry. Punjab’s main exports are the manufacture of clothing and textiles (53% share), machinery and equipment (15%), food products (13.1%) and motor vehicles, trailers and semis -trailers (6.5% share) of Punjab’s manufacturing exports.
The Role of a Punjabi Industrialist:
The business class of Punjab consists of small, medium and large businessmen, traders, industrialists. Any progress made by the industry is primarily due to the efforts themselves by these entrepreneurs. The Punjabi industry which was established by the Punjabi entrepreneurs who work hard against the background of the partition of India and which is a border state with hostile neighbors with whom we had to fight three wars.
Why the situation of Punjabi Industrialist is different from the rest of India:
– There is almost no good source of natural or mineral resources which makes it difficult to establish mineral based industries. Therefore, they do not have primary sources.
– The political regimes for the last 75 years have supported the agricultural sector much more than the industrial sector and the business sector.
– Punjab is a border state with a hostile neighbor and has to bear the brunt of all wars with Pakistan. Punjab’s trade with and through Pakistan is almost non-existent.
– Punjab is a landlocked state and has no port.
Although Punjab does not have any substantial chunk of natural resources such as minerals and ores, Punjabi entrepreneurs have with their skills, business acumen and grit created an industrial center and industrial culture . The major share of employment in Punjab is taken care of by the Textile sector where the direct and indirect employment of the textile industry in the state of Punjab is estimated at 20 lakhs workers. Batala and Mandi Govindgarh are bustling cities of cast iron.
Batala was once called the “iron bird of Asia” as it produced the highest amount of CI casting, agricultural and mechanical machinery and is still one of the main cities in the North. India in the manufacture of CI casting and mechanical machinery. Ludhiana it is known as Manchester of India because of the efforts of its industrious entrepreneurs. It marks its presence in terms of Textile exports all over the world.
Despite all these odds, Punjabi businessmen not only survived but marked his presence in the development of Punjab and India. According to a recent report in the Hindustan Times, Punjab-based entrepreneurs are among India’s wealthiest people. Among the top rich businessmen in India, the owner of Punjab based Trident Group (Barnala, Ludhiana) which is in the textile and paper industry, ranks 127th in the country. LD Mittal of Sonalika Group (Hoshiarpur) is the 71st richest Indian having a net worth of $2.92 billion and SP Oswal of Vardhman Textiles (Ludhiana) is second in Punjab (₹4,600 crore). The other prominent family business 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 Aarti Steels (₹1,700 crore), Bector Foods (Ludhiana) owned by Anoop Bector (₹1,200 crore), Pankaj Munjal, of Hero Cycles, (₹9,000 crore) who are among the richest persons of the country.
Ironically, the political dispensation in Punjab was not only pro-agricultural, but apathetic indifferent to the industrial and business sectors. In Punjab there is hardly a viable industrial policy. The time has come 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 resilient industrial policy but an industry culture must be developed.
The writer is an independent commentator. Opinions are personal.
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