Punjabi - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Punjab has long been one of the world's most important agricultural Regions. Pakistan's Punjab, which comprises 25.7 percent of its total land area, is its most important agricultural area by far. Its principal crops are cotton and wheat. Indian Punjab, although only about 1.7 percent of the total area of India, produces about 21 percent of India's wheat and 8.5 percent of its rice. The agriculture has several distinctive features, Beginning with heavy reliance on irrigation and exceptionally high cropping densities and levels of investment.

Punjab agriculturalists cannot be divided into subsistence and commercial sectors. Even farmers who sell most of what they grow still obtain most of what they consume from their own fields. The agricultural system involves intensive multicropping and most of the major commercial crops are also traditional food crops. The diet is simple, based on Winter and summer "typical" combinations of a bread made of grain from the last season with a pulse from the last season or a vegetable from the present season. Thus, for example, the typical meal in the cold months is a maize roti (a flat bread cooked on an iron skillet, without oil) with sarson ka sag (mustard greens with spices, onions, garlic, and clarified butter cooked into a thick soup). In the other months, the most common meal is wheat roti and a side dish such as curried lentils, chick-peas, potatoes, squash, or okra.

The main exceptions to the general rule that marketed crops are simply food crops produced in excess of the family needs are rice in Indian Punjab and cotton in Pakistani Punjab. Cotton is a historic cash crop grown for export; taking advantage of the dry climate and rich soils, it requires about the same amount of water as wheat and can be readily grown with canal irrigation. It has been largely abandoned in Indian Punjab because it carries about a 50 percent risk of loss. Rice was introduced as a response to widespread flooding in the Amritsar area in the mid-1960s, caused by new canals traversing the area. It has since spread to other areas as electrification has become available for private bore wells, but it has not been adopted into the diet.

From about 1965 to 1978, both parts of Punjab underwent a "green revolution." This is a blend of advanced University-based seed production, relatively small-scale machine and storage technologies, and a system of rural support institutions suited to family-owned peasant management. Since their consolidation in Punjab, these technologies and institutions have been steadily spreading outward. Punjabi migrants are prominent leaders of agricultural innovation in many surrounding regions. Punjab agriculture is also characterized by a large cattle population. Major animals are oxen ( Bos indica), camels, and buffalo.

Cattle population densities are higher in Punjab than surrounding regions, and the cattle are generally larger and more productive, except that Haryana, to the south, is known for producing even larger oxen as plow animals. With mechanization accompanying the green revolution technologies, the densities have increased and the proportions have changed. The number of camels, oxen, and Indica cows has been reduced, and that of milk animals, mainly buffalo, has greatly increased. Their size and quality have also been increased by artificial insemination programs. Many farmers have also obtained new Indica-Jersey or Indica-Holstein cows.

Industrial Arts and Trade. Associated with this agricultural base is an extensive economic infrastructure, including agroprocessing and agroservice industries, along with light and medium manufacturing. Ludhiana is widely known for very large scale bicycle manufacturing as well as the production of agricultural tools of many types. The infrastructure includes a vigorous truck transport industry, major agricultural universities in both Punjabs, and, in Indian Punjab, an extensive system of cooperatives engaged in obtaining input Materials and distributing them to farmers as well as large-scale buying and transport of commodities on behalf of the national food-grain pools. Other cooperatives are engaged in sugar manufacturing, dairying, transport, and various smallscale industries such as the production of cotton and woolen textiles and clothing. Heavier production, both publicly and privately owned, includes farm tractors, railroad cars, cement, tools, and bicycles.

In Pakistani Punjab the agricultural infrastructure is weaker but heavy manufacturing is stronger. Major products include textiles, machinery, electrical appliances, surgical equipment, floor coverings, bicycles and rickshaws, and foodstuffs.

Division of Labor. Urban areas in Punjab have the full range of occupations that exist in any comparable economic system: doctors, lawyers, teachers, government workers, engineers, mechanics, construction workers, shopkeepers, bankers, truck drivers, street sweepers, and so on. There is a high degree of industrial and craft specialization. Women as well as men participate in the labor force and in the professions. The proportion of women is lower in Pakistani Punjab.

In rural areas, the main occupational groups are: agriculturalists (landowner/farmer), about 50 percent; agricultural laborers, about 30 percent; and specialized artisans, about 20 percent—carpenters, masons, blacksmiths, mechanics, millers, operators of cotton gins. Large villages also have one or two shopkeepers, teachers, tailors, a mail carrier or postmaster, religious professionals, and perhaps a medical practitioner of some kind. Agriculturalists now commonly hire themselves out with their equipment for custom work such as plowing or harvesting with a combine.

The household division of labor is based on sex and seniority. In better-off households, men usually deal with the main property from which the family obtains its income: land, a shop, or the husband/father's individual vocation. The wife or mother of the senior man heads the women's side of the household. She takes direct charge of the internal household budget, oversees stores, takes care of young animals, directs the activities of other women and girls in the house, manages household servants, and oversees the daily preparation and distribution of food and the care of children. Sons are under the care of their mothers until about school age, when they begin to accompany their fathers at their work. In laboring households, both men and women work, although usually at different tasks. Men receive higher pay and do work that is physically more difficult. It is becoming common for women to take salaried work, but it would be considered very odd for a woman to set up an independent household.

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