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

A+| A| A-

Industrial Growth in Two Border Cities of the Punjab

Did the Sikh militancy, beginning in the late 1970s and ending in the late 1990s, have a negative effect on the industrial sector of the Indian Punjab, especially in its northern districts? This note discusses and compares the industrial growth of Batala (in Gurdaspur District of the Indian Punjab) and Sialkot (a border city in the Pakistani Punjab), as both these cities had similar colonial origins of their industries, and these industries were shattered by partition. In the post-independence period, like in Sialkot, industry in Batala might have achieved an impressive growth if the Sikh militancy had not interceded. Batala and Sialkot had a similar industrial past, but they have a dissimilar industrial present. The comparison suggests that the argument for a special industrial package for Punjab is not without substance.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-led Government of Punjab has asked the union government for a special industrial package for Punjab to revive its industrial sector. The Government of Punjab argues that the sector had suffered because of the Sikh militancy, and therefore the state “should be compensated for its fight against militancy” (Times of India 2014). Other justifications, cited by both SAD and the state Congress Party of Punjab, for this demand of a special economic package, include the tax holiday in the neighbouring Himachal Pradesh which drove out industries from Punjab, the presence of the international border which allegedly repels private investors, and the discriminatory policies of the centre (Hindustan Times 2014).

Successive governments at the centre have, however, blamed the Government of Punjab of financial mismanagement and therefore undeserving of any special financial package. Most of these arguments, both for and against the special economic package for Punjab, can be questioned, as most of them are not supported by empirical research. For instance, it is very difficult to assess the negative impact of the international border on the development of industries in Punjab, but in the absence of empirical research, it cannot be denied as well.

Dear reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top