At 50, Haryana prepares to celebrate progress; Punjab marks occasion too
By Jaideep Sarin
As it turns 50, Haryana has many reasons to celebrate. Be it industrialisation, corporate investments, urbanisation or agriculture — the state has progressed rather well on most fronts.
And celebrate it will, for a whole year, starting November 1 — the . The Haryana government has planned year-long ‘Swarna Jayanti’ celebrations, starting November 1, to mark the golden jubilee of the creation of the state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will officially launch the celebrations from the Tau Devi Lal stadium in Gurgaon on November 1 with an expected attendance of over 100,000 people.
The BJP government in Haryana, headed by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, has earmarked a Rs 1,700-crore budget for the year-long celebrations and schemes to be announced during the event.
Created on November 1, 1966, after bifurcating Punjab, Haryana has moved way ahead of its progressive neighbour in many aspects of development.
Even though Punjab has announced that it will celebrate the half centenary of the creation of ‘Punjabi Suba’ on a massive scale, questions are being raised on whether it should actually be celebrating the occasion at all.
“What did we get from the agitation for the Punjabi Suba? What are they celebrating? Well-known author Khushwant Singh had quipped many years back. ‘Majj vech ke ghodi layee, dudh peeno gaye, lidd sitni payee’ (After selling the buffalo, we bought a horse; we had to forgo milk and ended up removing shit). The Akali governments never celebrated Punjab Day earlier,” former state information commissioner P.P.S. Gill, who observed and reported on Punjab over the years as a senior journalist earlier, told IANS.
In his well-researched book “Punjab: A Frozen Tear” (released last year), Gill minced no words to point out that “once a prosperous state, Punjab today is a problem state”.
“From a food bowl state, Punjab has become a basket case; once a frontline state, it is now a fault-line state. Punjab is now only presenting bouquets in New Delhi to seek one or the other package for everything (over the years) that has gone wrong,” Gill pointed out.
Punjab Education Minister Daljit Singh Cheema, however, seemed quite upbeat about the three-week celebrations. At least 80 events are being held across Punjab which will culminate in Amritsar with a grand celebration on Nov 1.
“Punjab was bifurcated in 1966. It lost its territory and Haryana was created. Later Himachal Pradesh was also carved out. So what is there to celebrate in the name of the Punjabi Suba? Punjab has actually shrunk and is just a small state now. In previous years, the Shiromani Akali Dal governments have never marked Nov 1 as Punjab Day. So why this move to celebrate 50 years? Does it have anything to do with the impending elections three months from now?” asked agriculturist Baldev Singh.
Punjab, the Green Revolution state that contributes 50 per cent of foodgrains to the national kitty despite having just 1.54 percent of the country’s geographical area, is facing a crisis on the agriculture front with farming not being viable and indebtness leading to suicides. The state’s once flourishing industry in Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Mandi Gobindgarh is passing through its worst times with most units shifting to neighbouring hill states to cash in on tax holiday benefits.
“Industry has moved from Punjab in the past decade. Agriculture is in a mess. Drugs are a major problem. Corruption is rampant. Only the ruling Badal family has done well while Punjab is under a huge debt. Out of the last two decades, the Akalis have ruled Punjab for 15 years. They cannot blame anyone else for the state’s present condition,” Congress leader Rajinder Deepa told IANS.
In comparison, Haryana has struck a goldmine with Gurgaon, adjoining the national capital New Delhi and development in the national capital region (NCR) areas. Nearly half of Haryana is now part of the NCR and reaping benefits.
The Gurgaon-Manesar-Bawal belt is home to multi-national companies, big industry, Information Technology (IT) and software giants and corporate offices.
Both states, however, continue to battle with contentious issues like sharing of river waters and claim over Chandigarh and some other areas. At times, like in recent months, the bitterness over these issues goes out of hand.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)