Saturday, November 5

Remembring Amrita Pritam

Dr Surjit Patar, the noted Punjabi poet and president of the Punjabi Sahit Akademi, remembers Amrita Pritam

Amrita Pritam is no more. It's as if the five rivers of Punjab are dead - Ravi is no more, nor is Chenab. Amrita Pritam was like the five rivers which make Punjab. She made Punjabi literature.
Her name, those two words - Amrita Pritam - will always be music to the ears of Punjabi literature lovers. When it comes to 20th century Punjabi poetry, we can debate who should be the sun but when it comes to the moon, there is no discord. Amrita Pritam, who passed away quietly in her home at Hauz Khas, New Delhi, is undoubtedly the moon of the 20th century Punjabi poetry, and this moon never needed to borrow someone else's light. She had so much light of her own that many like us glowed in it. Amrita Pritam represented both the Charhda (Indian) and the Lehnda (Pakistan) Punjab. Her poems gave voice to the pain of women who had hitherto woven their sufferings into folk songs sung softly behind voluminous veils. She was also the pathos of Partition. No poet could parallel her when it came to pouring ts agony into words . Her lines Aj akhan Waris Shah nuun, kitho kabran vichon bol... have been immortalised in both the Punjabs.
On a personal note, as a post-graduate student of Punjabi I remember going all the way to the national capital to see this great poetess who later became a very close friend. For my generation of poets, she was the guiding light who gave us, unknown voices, a shining place in her magazine Nagmani. Later I had the privilege of reciting my poems in many kavi darbars along with her. Her home which she shared along with her friend Imroz was like a Mecca for us, as each and every thing in this house - the lampshades, the clocks, every thing - pulsated with meaning. Every thing used to resonate with poesy.
It was for legends like Amrita Pritam that another great poet had said, "Kaun kehta hai ke maut ayee to mar jaoonga, mein to darya hoon samundar mein uttar jaaonga."
This is Amrita Pritam for us. After a long illness she has left her body, but her soul has come to mingle with us - her prodigies, her admirers, her friends.
For us, Amrita Pritam lives on in her lines.

Thursday, November 3

Punjab Slips in Per Capita Income

Punjab has slipped to the fifth position in the per capita income ranking of the country as per the new figures issued by the Central Statistical Organisation for 2003-04.

The state's per capita income at around Rs 29,000 lags far behind its neighbour Haryana and Maharashtra, besides small states like Goa and Delhi. Two years ago Punjab's per capita income was Rs 25,652 against its neighbour Haryana's Rs 24,575.
With the slowdown of growth in agriculture and failure of the successive governments to attract adequate investment in the manufacturing and service sector, Punjab is no more an attraction even for migrants from UP, Bihar.
The state has lagged much behind its neighbour Haryana and coastal state Maharashtra. Meanwhile, Chandigarh has emerged as the number one in the country with highest per capita income (Rs 57,621) followed by national capital Delhi (Rs 51, 644).
"The politicians, academicians and closed-mind bureaucracy may boast of attractive industrial policy, attracting liquor barons and real estate agents, but the fact is that Punjab has already lost the race," says a senior economist at NCAER.
He said large-scale corruption, loss-making public sector and populist policies of the state like free power were the main cause of the slowdown of state economy. Further, the state's economy is still dominated by small-scale sector and low-quality services in the rural areas, he added.
Interestingly, Haryana has done much better than Punjab. The per capita income of the state at current prices has reached Rs 29,963 per annum in 2003-04 as against Rs 26,974 in the previous year. The economist said the state has succeeded in attracting global investors in auto, pharma and IT sector leading to exports of over Rs 16,000 crore from the state leading to high income growth.
On the other hand, Punjab has failed badly on the economic front.
According to the latest state-wise data, Gujarat (Rs.26,979) is likely to soon overtake Punjab on the front of per capita income, as the state's per capita income has shown a growth of 11.1 per cent as against much lower rate registered by Punjab.
Some of the lowest per capita income was recorded in states like Bihar (Rs.6,213), Orissa (Rs.11,858) and Madhya Pradesh (Rs.14,011).
The country's per capita income rose by 10.7 per cent in 2004-05, touching Rs.23,241 ($534), despite the poor performance of the agricultural sector due to a less than average monsoon.
The national income is estimated at Rs 25,356 billion in 2004-05, as compared to Rs 22,520 billion in 2003-04, showing a rise of 12.6 per cent.