/pun jahb", pun"jahb/, n.
1. a former province in NW British India: now divided between India and Pakistan.
2. a state in NW India. 15,230,000; 47,456 sq. mi. (122,911 sq. km). Cap.: Chandigarh.
3. a province in NE Pakistan. 37,374,000; 79,284 sq. mi. (205,330 sq. km). Cap.: Lahore.

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State (pop., 2001 prelim.: 24,289,296), northwestern India.

Bordered by Pakistan and the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Rajasthan, it occupies an area of 19,445 sq mi (50,362 sq km). The city of Chandigarh is the joint administrative capital of Punjab and Haryana. In the 18th century the Sikhs (see Sikhism) built a powerful kingdom in the Punjab, which came under British rule in 1849. In 1947 the area was split between the new nations of India and Pakistan, the smaller eastern portion going to India. It is the only Indian state with a majority of Sikhs. Hindus make up about one-third of the population, and there are smaller minorities of Christians, Jains, and Muslims. The economy is based on agriculture and small-and medium-scale industry.

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      province of eastern Pakistan. It is bordered by the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir to the northeast, the Indian states of Punjab and Rājasthān to the east, Sindh province to the south, Balochistān and North-West Frontier provinces to the west, and Islāmābād federal capital area and Azad Kashmir to the north. Punjab is Pakistan's second largest province, after Balochistān, and the most densely populated. The name Punjab means “five waters,” or “five rivers,” and signifies the land drained by the Jhelum, Chenāb, Rāvi, Beās, and Sutlej rivers, which are tributaries of the Indus River.

      Urban civilization existed in the Indus River valley from about 2500 to 1500 BC, when, it is believed, Aryan incursions brought it to an end. The area entered recorded history with the annexation of Punjab and Sindh to the Persian Empire by Darius I (c. 518 BC). The founder of the Maurya dynasty, Candra Gupta, incorporated the region into his Indian empire about 322 BC. The first Muslims to penetrate northern India were the Arabs, who in AD 712 conquered the lower Punjab. The rest of the Punjab was conquered (1007–27) by Maḥmūd of Ghazna. The area subsequently came under various other Muslim rulers until the victorious entry of the Mughals in 1526. Under the Mughals the province enjoyed peace and prosperity for more than 200 years. Their power declined after 1738, however, and in 1747 Lahore fell under weak Afghan rule marked by lawlessness and disorder. The religious sect called the Sikhs rose to power in the latter part of the 18th century. The Punjab came under British occupation in 1849, after the British victory over the Sikhs in the battles of Chiliānwāla and Gujrāt. When the Indian subcontinent received its independence in 1947, Punjab was split between Pakistan and India, with the larger western portion becoming part of Pakistan. The present provincial boundaries were established in 1970. The capital, Lahore, is located in the east-central region, near the border with India.

      Punjab's area consists of an alluvial plain formed by the southward-flowing Indus River and its four major tributaries in Pakistan, the Jhelum, Chenāb, Rāvi, and Sutlej rivers. The general slope of the land is from northeast to southwest, but it rises in the areas between rivers. The alluvial plain has a diversity of landforms: its active floodplains are flooded every rainy season and contain changing river channels, while meander floodplains lying adjacent to the active floodplain are marked by relict and abandoned channels. In the northern parts of the province are the Murree and Rāwalpindi and the Pabbi hills, part of the Sub-Himalayas, and in the far north is the Potwar Plateau.

      Punjab lies on the margin of the monsoon climate. The temperature is generally hot, with marked variations between summer and winter. In the plain the mean June temperature is 95 °F (35 °C), while the mean January temperature is 55 °F (12 °C). The average annual rainfall is low, except in the sub-Himalayan and northern areas, and decreases markedly from north to south or southwest, from 23 inches (580 mm) at Lahore in east-central Punjab to just 7 inches (180 mm) at Multān in the southwest.

      Punjab is the most populous province of Pakistan, containing more than half the nation's total population as well as several of its major cities: Lahore, Faisalābād, Rāwalpindi, Multān, and Gujrānwāla. There is considerable rural-to-urban migration in the province, especially to the larger cities. In religion, the province is almost entirely Muslim, with a small Christian minority. Punjābī is the mother tongue of the great majority of the population. The main written language is Urdū, followed by English. The major ethnic groups are the Jat, Rājpūt, Arain, Gūjar, and Awan. The caste system is gradually becoming blurred as a result of increasing social mobility, intercaste marriages, and changing public opinion.

      Agriculture is the chief source of income and employment in Punjab. Much of the province once consisted of desert wastes that were unfavourable for settlement, but its character changed after an extensive network of irrigation canals was built in the early 20th century using the waters of the Indus tributaries. The area of settlement, which had formerly been limited to the north and northeast, was enlarged to include the whole province, and now about three-quarters of the province's cultivable land is irrigated.

      Wheat and cotton are the principal crops. Other crops grown include rice, sugarcane, millet, corn (maize), oilseeds, pulses, fruits, and vegetables. Livestock and poultry are also raised in large numbers.

      The Punjab is one of the more industrialized provinces in Pakistan; its manufacturing industries produce textiles, machinery, electrical appliances, surgical instruments, metals, bicycles and rickshas, floor coverings, and processed foods. Pakistan's main north-south road and railway connect Lahore with Islāmābād, the capital of Pakistan, to the north and with the ocean port of Karāchi to the south. Punjab is connected by road or railway to India, China, and Afghanistan, and its major cities are linked by road. Lahore's airport provides domestic service.

      The University of the Punjab and the University of Engineering and Technology are located in Lahore, as well as other colleges, museums, libraries, and cultural centres. Area 79,284 square miles (205,345 square km). Pop. (2003 est.) 82,710,000.


      state of India. It is located in the northwestern part of the subcontinent. It is bounded on the north by the state of Jammu and Kashmir, on the east by the state of Himāchal Pradesh, on the south by the states of Haryāna and Rājasthān, and on the west by Pakistan.

      Punjab in its present form came into existence on Nov. 1, 1966, when most of the predominantly Hindī-speaking areas of the older unit were separated to form the new state of Haryāna. It covers an area of 19,445 square miles (50,362 square kilometres). The city of Chandīgarh (Chandigarh), within the Chandīgarh union territory, is the joint capital of Punjab and Haryāna.

      The word Punjab is a compound of two Persian words, panj (“five”) and āb (“water”), thus signifying the land of five waters, or rivers (the Beās, Chenāb, Jhelum, Rāvi, and Sutlej). The origin can perhaps be traced to pañca nada, Sanskrit for “five rivers” and the name of a region mentioned in the ancient epic the Mahābhārata. As applied to the present Indian state of Punjab, however, it is a misnomer, for, since the partition of India in 1947, only two of these rivers, the Sutlej and the Beās, lie within its territory.

Physical and human geography

The land
      Most of Punjab is a flat plain, sloping gently from about 900 feet (275 metres) in elevation in the northeast to about 550 feet in the southwest. Physiographically, it is divisible into three parts: (1) the Shiwālik Hills (Siwalik Range), in the northeast, rising from about 900 to 3,000 feet high (covering a small fraction of the state's area), (2) farther south, the narrow, undulating foothill zone dissected by closely spaced seasonal torrents, locally known as cos, several of which terminate in the plain below without joining any stream, and (3) the flat tract, with fertile alluvial soils. The low-lying floodplains (bet) along the rivers and the slightly elevated flat uplands between them are distinguishable within the plain. Sand dunes, now mostly stabilized, are found in the southwest and from 6 to 9 miles (10 to 15 kilometres) west of the Sutlej River.

      Punjab has an inland subtropical location, and its climate is continental, being semi-arid to subhumid. Summers are very hot; the mean temperature during June is 93° F (34° C), rising above 113° F (45° C) on exceptionally hot days. Winters are fairly cold, with the average January temperature at 55° F (13° C) and night temperatures occasionally touching the freezing point. Annual rainfall is highest in the Shiwālik Hills in the northeast, where it is about 49 inches (1,245 millimetres), and decreases gradually to about 14 inches in the southwest. More than 70 percent of the annual rainfall occurs from July to September, the months of the southwest monsoon. Winter rains from the western cyclones, occurring from December to March, account for nearly 15 percent of the total rainfall.

      With the growth of human settlement over the centuries, Punjab has been largely cleared of its forest cover. Over large parts of the Shiwālik Hills, bush vegetation has succeeded trees as a result of extensive deforestation. There have been attempts at reforestation on the hillsides, and eucalyptus trees have been planted along major roads.

      Natural habitat for wildlife is severely limited because of intense competition from agriculture. Even so, many species of birds, rodents, and snakes, as well as some monkeys, have adapted to the farming environment.

The people
      The people of Punjab are mainly descendants of the so-called Aryan tribes that entered India from the northwest during the 2nd millennium BC, as well as the pre-Aryan population, probably Dravidians, who had a highly developed civilization. Relics of this civilization have been unearthed at Rūpnagar ( Ropar). Successive waves of invaders—Greeks, Parthians, Kuṣāns, and Huṇās—added to the diversity of earlier social, or caste, groups (jātis). Later, invaders under the banner of Islām forced several vanquished groups (e.g., Jāts and Rājpūts) to convert to the Muslim faith, although many conversions were voluntary under the influence of Ṣūfī saints.

      Punjābī (Punjābī language), the principal spoken language of present-day Punjab, is also the official state language, written in the Gurmukhi script. The religion of more than 60 percent of the people is Sikhism, which originated from the teachings of Nānak, the first Sikh Gurū. Hindus make up most of the remainder, although there are significant minorities of Muslims, Christians, and the commercially prominent Jainas in some areas. Muslims are found mostly in and around Malerkotla, a former princely state ruled by a Muslim nawab. Scheduled Castes (former “untouchables”) of both the Hindu and Sikh religions constitute about one-fourth of Punjab's population.

      About 30 percent of Punjab's population lives in cities and towns. Its major cities are Amritsar, Ludhiāna, Jalandhar, and Patiāla. Though the cities are fast-growing centres of industry and manufacture, more than 70 percent of the state's population is still dependent on agriculture.

The economy
      The economy of Punjab is characterized by a productive, increasingly commercial agriculture, a diversity of small- and medium-scale industries, and the highest per capita income in the nation. With less than 2 percent of the total area of India, Punjab produces more than 10 percent of India's food grain. It contributes almost half of the rice stock held by the Central Pool (national repository system of surplus food grain) and more wheat than all other states combined.

      Punjab's phenomenal agricultural progress is largely the result of the Green Revolution, which brought modern agricultural technology to the state. With the introduction of high-yielding varieties of wheat and rice seed, there was a rapid increase in the production of these crops. Other cereals, however, have not had similar increases in yield, and productivity of wheat and rice, while still high, has leveled off. The production of pulses (legumes), a major source of protein, has declined, but there has been a rapid increase in the production of commercial fruit crops. Other important commercial crops include cotton, peanuts (groundnuts), and vegetables.

      The total area irrigated by canals and wells also greatly increased but reached a plateau in the mid-1980s. Wells are now the major source of irrigation. The Bhākra Dam project in Himāchal Pradesh, however, provides much irrigation water for the state. In general, farmers with larger landholdings have benefited more from the agricultural changes in Punjab, resulting in a greater income disparity within the state's rural areas.

      The industries with the largest number of workers include cotton, woolen and silk textiles, metal products and machinery, food and beverages, and transport equipment and parts. Other important industires are hosiery, bicycles, sewing machines, and sporting goods. Lacking fossil fuels, Punjab suffers from insufficient energy for its industries. Although new hydroelectric stations and thermal units have become operational, the demand far exceeds supply.

 Punjab has developed a network of about 30,000 miles of roads, of which about 75 percent are surfaced. A fairly dense and efficient network of the Northern Railway zone—a part of the national railway system—exists in Punjab. Regular air passenger service from Delhi to Chandīgarh and to the Punjābī cities of Amritsar, Ludhiāna, and Bathinda is available. Like the railways, the postal and telegraph services and radio and television broadcasting are under the central government's control.

Administration and social conditions
      As in other states of the Indian Union, the governor (the constitutional head of the administration) is appointed by the president of India. The governor is aided and advised by a Council of Ministers, which is led by a chief minister and responsible to the Legislative Assembly (Vidhān Sabhā). The legislature was bicameral until January 1970, when the upper chamber was abolished. The state is divided into 12 districts: Amritsar, Bathinda, Furīdkot, Fīrozpur, Gurdāspur, Hoshiārpur, Jalandhar, Kapūrthala, Ludhiāna, Patiāla, Rūpnagar (Ropar), and Sangrūr. At the head of the judiciary is the High Court, located in Chandīgarh, which Punjab shares with Haryāna. There are also district-level courts. Appeals from decisions of the High Court are directed to the Supreme Court of the Indian Union.

      Schools are maintained largely by the state. Education is compulsory and free for pupils aged 6 to 11. Secondary education is also free in state schools.There are four state universities—the Punjabi University at Patiāla, the Guru Nānak University at Amritsar, the Panjab University at Chandīgarh (in the Chandīgarh union territory), and the Punjab Agricultural University at Ludhiāna— and more than 200 colleges and technical institutions. Of great importance has been the dissemination of vocational and cultural education through broadcasting.

Health and welfare
      Punjab enjoys better health conditions than most states in India. Numerous social services are provided by government and voluntary organizations. These include the care of infirm or handicapped persons, neglected children, widows, and destitute persons. There are government pensions for the elderly who have no means of subsistence and a network of employment exchanges to assist the unemployed. The state also has schemes to aid the Scheduled Castes (untouchable)—more than one-fourth of Punjab's population—through scholarships, recruitment to public services, and help in finding employment.

Cultural life
      Folklore, ballads of love and war, fairs and festivals, dancing, music, and Punjābī literature are characteristic expressions of the state's cultural life. The origins of Punjābī literature are the mystical and religious verse of the 13th-century Muslim Ṣūfī (mystic) Shaikh Farīd and of the 15th–16th-century Gurū Nānak, founder of the Sikh faith, who were the first to use Punjābī extensively as a medium of poetic expression. Punjābī literature entered its modern phase at the beginning of the 20th century with the writings of the poet and author Bhai Vir Singh and the poets Puran Singh and Dhani Ram Chatrik.

      Punjab holds numerous religious and seasonal festivals, such as Dussehra, Dīwālī, and Baisākhi, as well as anniversary celebrations in honour of Gurūs and saints. The bhangra, jhumar, and sammi are the popular dance forms. The giddha, a native Punjābī form, is a humorous song-dance performed by women. In addition to Sikh religious music, semiclassical Mughal forms, such as the khayāl, ṭhumrī, ghazal, and qawwālī, continue to be popular.

      The state's outstanding architectural monument is the Golden Temple ( Harimandir) at Amritsar, which blends Indian and Saracenic styles. Its chief motifs, such as the dome and the geometric design, are repeated in most of the Sikh places of worship. The Golden Temple is rich in gold filigree work, panels with floral designs, and marble facings inlaid with coloured stones. Other important buildings include the Martyr's Memorial at Jallianwāllā Bāgh in Amritsar, the Hindu Temple of Durgiāna (also at Amritsar), a Moorish-style mosque at Kapūrthala, and old forts at Bathinda and Bahādurgarh.

      The foundations of the present Punjab (historical Pañjāb) were laid by Bandā Singh Bahādur (Banda Singh Bahadur), a hermit who became a military leader and, with his fighting band of Sikhs, temporarily liberated the eastern part of the province from Mughal rule in 1709–10. Bandā Singh's defeat and execution in 1716 were followed by a prolonged struggle between the Sikhs on one side and the Mughals and Afghans on the other. By 1764–65 the Sikhs established their dominance in the region. Ranjit Singh (1780–1839) built up the Punjab into a powerful kingdom and attached to it the adjacent provinces of Multān, Kashmir, and Peshāwar.

      In 1849 the Punjab fell to the troops of the British East India Company and subsequently became a province under British rule. By the late 19th century, however, the Indian nationalist movement took hold in this province. One of the movement's most significant events—the some 400 deaths and 1,200 injuries of the Jallianwālā Bāgh massacre (Amritsar, Massacre of), ordered by British general Reginald E.H. Dyer (Dyer, Reginald Edward Harry)—took place at Amritsar in 1919. When India gained its independence in 1947, the British province of Punjab was split between the new sovereign states of India and Pakistan, and the smaller, eastern portion became part of India.

      Since independence, the history of the Indian sector of the Punjab has been dominated by Sikh agitation for a Punjābī-speaking state, led first by Tara Singh and later by his political successor, Sant Fateh Singh (Fateh Singh, Sant). In November 1956 the Indian state of Punjab was enlarged by its incorporation of the Patiāla and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU), an amalgamation of the preindependence princely territories of Patiāla, Jīnd, Nābha, Farīdkot, Kapūrthala, Kalsia, Mālerkotla, and Nālagarh. Political and administrative leadership for the enlarged Punjab was provided by Sardar Partap Singh Kairon, Congress chief minister of the state from 1956 to 1964. Demands for a separate Indian state containing the predominantly Punjābī-speaking areas were eventually agreed to by the government of India. On Nov. 1, 1966, Punjab was divided on the basis of language into Haryāna (with most of the Hindī-speaking areas) and a new, smaller state of Punjab, and the northernmost districts were transferred to Himāchal Pradesh. Punjab's recently built capital, the city of Chandīgarh, along with the immediate surrounding region, became a separate union territory. Though not a part of either state, the city of Chandīgarh was retained as the joint administrative headquarters, or capital, of Haryāna and Punjab.

      Although Sikhs had won the use of Punjābī within the state, by the 1980s factions of the Shiromanī Akālī Dal (“Leading Akālī Party”) and the All India Sikh Students' Federation were demanding the establishment of an autonomous Sikh homeland, or Khālistān (“Land of the Pure,” a term introduced as early as 1946 by Tara Singh). In order to attain their goal, these militant groups began to use terrorism, including the indiscriminate killing of Punjābī Hindus and even those Sikhs who opposed the creation of Khālistān. In June 1984, in an effort to dislodge Sikh militants fortified in the Golden Temple (the Sikhs' holiest shrine), the Indian army carried out an attack. The Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and most of his armed followers were killed, as were at least 100 Indian soldiers. In retaliation, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (Gandhi, Indira) was assassinated at her Delhi home by two of her Sikh bodyguards, which in turn led to violence against Sikhs in Delhi and elsewhere. Despite numerous attempts at a negotiated settlement, a climate of violence and disorder has continued in Punjab, leaving considerable doubt about the political future of the state.

H.K. Manmohan Singh Surinder M. Bhardwaj

Additional Reading
Surya Kant, Administrative Geography of India (1988), focuses on Punjab. Paul Wallace and Surendra Chopra (eds.), Political Dynamics and Crisis in Punjab (1988), devotes individual chapters to a specific issue. A readable description of the political complexity of Punjab in the 1980s and early '90s is found in V.S. Naipaul, “The Shadow of the Guru,” in his India: A Million Mutinies Now (1991), pp. 420–489. The Punjab's social and cultural life are the themes of Prakash Tandon, Punjabi Century, 1857–1947 (1961), and two sequels, Beyond Punjab, 1937–1960 (1971), and Return to Punjab, 1961–1975 (1980); the three vol. are also issued in one vol. with the title Punjabi Saga (1857–1987) (1988). Kenneth W. Jones, Arya Dharm: Hindu Consciousness in 19th-Century Punjab (1976), examines the response of Hinduism in Punjab to religious, social, and political challenges during this period. Tom G. Kessinger, Vilyatpur, 1848–1968 (1974), is a study of the social and economic history of one Punjabi village.Surinder M. Bhardwaj

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Universalium. 2010.

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