ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Looking Back at the Khalistan Movement

Sikh Ethnonationalism and the Political Economy of Punjab by Shinder Purewal; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2000; pp ix+215, Rs 545.

Terrorism in Punjab: Understanding Grassroots Reality by H K Puri, P S Judge and J S Shekhon; Har-Anand Publications, New Delhi, 1999; pp 200, Rs 395.

Ethnic Conflict in India: A Case-Study of Punjab by Gurharpal Singh; Macmillan Press, London, 2000; pp xv+231, price not mentioned.

Punjabi Identity in a Global Context, (ed) Pritam Singh and Shinder Singh Thandi; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1999; pp xiv+416, Rs 495.

The rise of a powerful secessionist movement in Punjab during the decade of 1980s was an unprecedented development in post-independence India. Never before had the independent Indian state experienced such a serious crisis of political legitimacy as encountered while dealing with the Sikh militants. Though a border state, Punjab had been a quite well integrated part of the country. There had never been any doubts about the nationalist credentials of the Sikhs. Not only did they participate in the nationalist freedom movement with much enthusiasm, the people of Punjab, along with those of Bengal, were also the ones who suffered the most during partition at the time of independence in 1947. No other regions of India had to pay such a price for freedom from colonial rule!

Punjab had also done quite well economically during the post-independence period. Apart from the prosperity that the success of the green revolution during the 1960s and 1970s brought to the people of Punjab, it also played a very important role in solving the vexing problem of food scarcity in India. Though occupying merely 1.6 per cent of the total land area, Punjab began to produce nearly one-fourth of the total foodgrain production of India and contributed to approximately two-thirds of the entire central pool of foodgrains. In 1980-81, for example, the share of Punjab in the central pool of wheat was 73 per cent and that of rice was 45 per cent.1 As an offshoot of its success in the agricultural sector, Punjab also emerged as the most prosperous state of the country with the highest per capita income. The state has also had the distinction of having one of the lowest proportions of the population living below the poverty line.2 Punjab indeed was a success story, a model to be emulated by other states!

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