Community . India (Punjab) . After Independence

The Sword Arm of India

The history of the Punjab since Independence Is a saga of suffering and sacrifice, It was a tragic and traumatic experience for the Punjabis, The partition with its riots and massacres destroyed thousands of lives. The massive exodus from the newly formed state of Pakistan created problems of uncontrollable dimensions. Hindu and Sikh Punjabis settled in the western districts were uprooted and trekked eastward in blood and tatters; Muslim Punjabis settled in the eastern districts fled eastward in fear for their lives. India and Pakistan have seen five decades of hostility, occasionally erupting into war, and yet, when Punjabis meet, whether they are Muslims of West Punjab, or Hindus or Sikhs of East Punjab, they eagerly ask each other to recite the latest in Punjabi poetry, or to sing well-loved songs old or new. The consciousness of "one blood" has never dimmed.

In the years after partition, the traditional Punjabi tenacity and toughness were tested and they emerged authentic. The rapid achievements in agriculture and industry and in the field of education, services, social welfare and rural uplift have made the border state one of the most prosperous units of our country.

Punjab has attained an equally eminent place in the world of both performing and visual arts and in literature. The revival of folk art, song, dance: and drama, the rehabilitation of the ancient classics In the field of poetry, the rediscovery of the Kangra and the Sikh schools of painting have created a sense of pride and climate of involvement In the heritage of the Punjab. Nor is modern Punjab indifferent to the pressures of the contemporary thought, literary movements and avant-garde experiments. Achievements in poetry and short story in particular testify to the quality of literary sensibility and imagination at work. Punjabi poets have been conferred the highest literary honors, such as the Jnana Peeth and Saraswati and Kabir awards.

The people of the Punjab have grown amid cross-currents of various civilisations, which have served to broaden their outlook, enlarge their mental horizon and evolve new patterns of thought.

The Punjab has been called "the Sword Arm of India". In a way, it has also been the source of all the ingredients of Indian culture in that we value most. It is a culture which equality is a living value: the idea that one person is more pure of soul or more deserving of respect and reward is anathema to the Punjabi. S/he lives by the credo Dab ke wah te raj ke kha -- work hard and eat your fill.


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