The state of Punjab is going through an unprecedented period of agony. The Punjab economy has also suffered as a result of COVID 19. A terrible pandemic has pushed the people of Punjab into a dark hole of pessimism; however, the consequences have resulted from years of negligence and carelessness in executing their policies. Punjab’s poor population has suffered dramatically due to policy inaction and blunders.
One distinctive element of Punjab’s development process is that once a new economic activity is started, it quickly gains pace and hits a plateau far too soon. One such example is the green revolution. It began in 1966; by 1985, it had achieved saturation and was looking for a new direction that would be more profitable than the wheat-rice rotation regime. On this front, there hasn’t been much success. Water scarcity in tube well-irrigated lands and waterlogging in canal-irrigated lands have become major issues.
Similarly, the educational and health infrastructure grew to exceed national standards, but when the issue of improving service quality arose, the response was sluggish. The essence of the question now is ensuring the long-term viability of the development process and establishing new routes for its flow. As a development viewpoint parameter, this cannot be overlooked.
A newly acquired economic well-being is quickly converted into a desire to live in a better environment. The green revolution has resulted in a significant transformation of village settlements, mainly through converting kutcha homes to pucca houses. A well-designed house in a modern neighborhood has become a goal in metropolitan regions. The desire to live in normal dwellings in clean, green environments has been sparked. As a result, quality habitat demands inclusion as a development imperative.
A remark on the state’s development viewpoint will be incomplete until we address the people’s globalized psyche. Punjab is a strange place for migration studies students. Despite its strong economic position, it has been a net out-migration state for the past century or longer. Despite not being a seaside state, it has experienced significant emigration. Punjab is an outgoing entity that interacts with people and places worldwide. This state’s global dimension must be included in any development strategy design.
Finally, Punjab is lauded for its people’s progressive viewpoint, remarkable dynamism, and exceptional enterprise, as it is accurately viewed. It also has a well-designed infrastructure. Almost every challenge it experiences and any condition that stifles its growth can be traced back to a management failure. People feel that if Punjab’s political and administrative trains are on the proper track, it can become a model state. As a result, ‘excellent governance’ is highlighted as the most crucial part of the country’s development. It is considered necessary for the realization of all other development goals.
Education is a critical area for attaining the goals of employment, human resource development, and bringing about much-needed social change, all of which led to overall advancement through resource efficiency. An adequate educational system fosters knowledge, skill, a positive attitude, awareness, and a sense of responsibility for one’s rights and responsibilities and inner strength in the face of oppression, humiliation, and inequality.
Literacy is defined as reading and writing in any language with comprehension. Literacy is the most accurate indicator of a state’s educational awakening, as it leads to a minimal ability for self-learning. The literacy rate in Punjab has been increasing. It was 58.51 percent in 1991 and 69.95 percent in 2001, representing an increase of 11.44 percent points over the previous ten years.
Punjab has made significant progress in closing the literacy gap between men and women. The male literacy rate rose from 65.66 percent in 1991 to 75.63 percent in 2001, while the female literacy rate rose from 50.4% to 63.55 percent. Female literacy has increased by 13.14 percent during the recent decade, while male literacy has improved by only 9.97 percent. Punjab also has a much higher female literacy rate than India, with 54.16 percent of females literate.
The literacy rate in rural areas is 65.16 percent, whereas it is 79.13 percent in urban areas, indicating that the divide is not that significant. The literacy gap between rural and urban areas has narrowed, from 19.31 percent in 1991 to 13.97 percent in 2001. Despite these encouraging developments, the state’s illiteracy rate remains 94.35 lakh (including the 0-6 population). It is also caused for concern because, despite improving its literacy rate, Punjab dropped from 12th place in 1971 to 16th place in 2001 compared to other Indian states and union territories.
Punjab has a female literacy rate of 63.5 percent. It is highest in Hoshiarpur (75.56%), lowest in Mansa (45.07%), and just above the midpoint in Muktsar (50.5%) and Ferozepur (50.5%). (52.33 percent ). Furthermore, nine districts in Punjab have female literacy rates lower than the state average.
The Scheduled Castes have a much lower literacy rate. When compared to Scheduled Castes, the literacy rate of non-Scheduled Castes is fairly high (65.10 percent) (41.09 percent ). The non-Scheduled Caste women’s literacy rate (57.6%) is about double that of the Scheduled Caste women (31.03 percent ). As a result, the Scheduled Caste community has had a negative impact on the state’s overall literacy rate.
As a result, the government should prioritize improving the literacy rate of Scheduled Castes, particularly females, in the identified pockets.
Problems of School Education in Punjab
Punjab is in the worst possible situation in terms of literacy and education. During this time, male literacy has improved by 9.97%, female literacy has improved by 13.1%, and rural literacy has improved by 12%. Despite the fact that the total number of illiterates has declined from 70.43 lakh in 1991 to 63.80 lakh in 2001 (excluding the 0-6 age group), the figure remains frighteningly high.
At the primary level, the state provides universal access. It has a very high proportion of primary portions. Almost every community has a government elementary school, except some rural areas/new habitations with small populations. On the other hand, sixty-one percent of communities lack a middle part. Even within the 3-kilometer norm, 16% of habitations lack an elementary school. Almost a quarter of the children are not enrolled in school or are enrolled in unregistered schools. Furthermore, around 2.97 lakh children aged 6 to 14 remain out of school.
The dropout rate among those enrolled in school is extremely high. Only 22 children in a class of 100 reach the senior secondary level. The state of the facilities and infrastructure in primary schools is appalling. More than 1,000 schools do not have their structures. In many schools, even essentials like drinking water and toilets are conspicuous by their lack. Students do not have adequate seating arrangements, and professors do not have enough blackboards and chairs to teach on.
The most evident flaws are lack of motivation, antiquated teaching approach, and inexperienced teachers, aside from physical inputs. Although Punjab has a decent teacher-to-student ratio of roughly 1:42 at the elementary level, one-way communication between instructors and pupils has remained the norm, with rote learning the only form of instruction. The current teaching-learning method is insufficient for first-generation students whose families do not support them.
Furthermore, education is not relevant to day-to-day life. There is no commitment to establish distinct and specified levels of learning and competency at various stages of education. At the state level, there is currently no reliable concurrent monitoring or evaluation system. Planning is hazy and speculative, with little guarantee that exact goals will be met. The emphasis has been solely on creating ideas, with little action research to determine what will succeed. Education is being hampered even more by a complete absence of accountability toward students and their performance. The moment has come for introspection and diagnosis consolidation of current resources and gap-filling planning.
Education Policy and Plans
The National Policy on Education of the Government of India, 1986 (as amended in 1992), is a straightforward statement on education as an empowering agent. While making some changes to NPE (1986) in 1992, the Central Government made a key decision to direct state governments to develop their state action plans for executing the policy’s thrust areas, taking into account local situations and the spirit of NPE.
Punjab aspires to realize the universalization of basic education in accordance with national policy. Separate Directorates of Primary and Secondary Education have been established for this purpose. We have been following the national policy up until now. However, this is the first time that Punjab has launched its policy with the primary goal of universalizing national policy implementation.
A review of Punjab’s Five Year Plans reveals that, while the First Five Year Plan identified quality as a key concern for educational reforms, the pressures for expansion meant that the majority of development funds were spent on building new schools and hiring more teachers, rather than making concentrated efforts to improve education quality. Furthermore, as a populist move, the opening of new schools and hiring additional teachers were more appealing.
Despite the fact that education spending is still the second biggest after the military, the resource gap for educational needs remains one of the primary issues. Compared to the national average of 3.62 percent, Punjab spends 2.88 percent of its GDP on education. However, this ratio is far lower, as the NPE of 1986 stated explicitly that education spending should account for 6% of national revenue. Not only is the education budget underfunded, but salaries account for 99 percent of primary school spending and 90 percent of secondary school spending, according to current figures.
Along with Delhi, Pondicherry, and Maharashtra, Punjab has one of India’s highest per capita incomes. It has a low-income poverty rate of only 6%. According to the Registrar General of India’s Sample Registration Scheme, the infant mortality rate (IMR) in Punjab in 2000 was 52, and the life expectancy at birth in 1996 was 67.4 years. Punjab is considerably behind Kerala in these key indicators, with an IMR of barely 14 per 1000 live births in 1999. When compared to worldwide standards, Punjab’s IMR and life expectancy rates are in the range of medium human development countries and significantly behind those of Sri Lanka or even Vietnam.
Punjabi children have a life expectancy of almost 67 years on average. Punjab’s life expectancy has increased by more than 40% since 1961; however, this growth has been far slower in the recent two decades. Life expectancy only gradually increased during the 1990s. While women live on average 2.2 years longer than men, this does not imply that women’s health is of higher quality, as biologically healthier and sturdier females outlive men on average by five years. The divide between Punjab’s urban and rural areas is substantially wider. The urban Punjabi has a life expectancy of 70.4 years, which is greater than the rural Punjabi’s life expectancy of 66.7 years.
Infant mortality refers to the death of children before they reach the age of one. Child mortality is defined as the death of a child before reaching the age of five. These are the most telling indices of healthcare services, health awareness, and healthy habits.
In 1998, Punjab’s IMR was 51. The number of people living in rural areas was 54, while the number of people living in urban areas was 38. Female infant mortality is substantially greater than male infant mortality in all rural areas of Punjab, although it is equal in urban areas. Biologically, the girl child is a considerably stronger youngster, with a much greater ability to survive the first year after birth than the male child. A female IMR lower than or equal to the male IMR indicates that the girl kid is discriminated against. Over the previous thirty years, the gap between rural and urban areas appears to be shrinking, as the graph shows the two lines indicating rural and urban IMRs advancing towards convergence. Intriguingly, the pace of fall in IMR in all three regions appears to have hit a plateau in the 1990s.
The majority of today’s causes of infant mortality can be readily avoided with simple immunization. Measles, diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, and pertussis are the most common baby killer diseases. Governments worldwide have concentrated their attention on the prevention of baby and child deaths from easily preventable causes since the 1980s, especially in the last decade. In India, the national and state governments have paid special attention.
Every child has the right to be adequately inoculated against such deadly diseases by policy and regulation. The lack of such coverage for children is a fundamental flaw in the healthcare system. Neonatal mortality refers to deaths occurring within the first 28 days of live birth, while postnatal mortality refers to deaths occurring after the 28th day of a live birth until the child reaches the age of one year.
In Punjab, 57 percent of all baby deaths occur within the first 28 days of birth, lower than the national 65 percent. In rural Punjab, neonatal mortality to overall infant deaths is substantially higher than in urban Punjab. Neonatal deaths, which occur within the first seven days after birth, account for a large share of infant mortality. The prevention of death within seven days of a child’s birth appears to be a pressing need. The reasons for early neonatal death are linked to prenatal care, birth type and quality, and postnatal care for both the mother and the new-born. The state has been separated into two zones to estimate IMR.
Children have a significant risk of dying until they reach the age of five. SRS estimates the child death rate in Punjab and its regions to be 15 in Punjab, 17 in rural Punjab, and 9 in urban Punjab. For 1996, child mortality rates were broken down by gender and location. While child mortality in Punjab is lower than the national average in all regions, female child mortality is much higher than male death. This is true throughout India; however, although the overall differential reveals female child death to be 15% higher than male child mortality, the differential is 41% greater in Punjab and 45 percent higher in rural Punjab.
The physiologically healthier female kid dies more often than her brothers is undeniably a sign of discrimination in nutrition, health care, and medication. Such a drastic disparity in mortality rates necessitates immediate legal, administrative, medical, and political action.
The death rate is the number of people per 1000 in the general population or a specific age group likely to die in a given year. The mortality rate is a significant indicator of the lack of signs of morbidity, afflicted with fatal diseases, and the influence of curative systems. SRS estimated the death rates in Punjab in 1996 to be 7.4, 7.8, and 6.1 for the entire province, rural Punjab, and urban Punjab, respectively. Punjab’s death rate is 1.5 deaths per thousand in a year, or 17 percentage points, lower than the rest of India’s.
Death rates in cities fluctuate significantly more, however despite these swings, the death rate has not decreased in the recent decade. Regional death rates appear to be trending in the same direction, yet they are diverging. The age-specific death rates (ASDR) allow us to estimate the age groups with the highest number of deaths. The death rate also reveals which age groups have the most deaths. Deaths in people above the age of 70 are influenced by aging and are thought to be of less consequence to the healthcare system. Under the age of five, one-third of all deaths in the age category 0-70, and nearly half of all deaths under the age of 50, occur in children under five.
Clearly, new-born and child mortality continues to be a major issue for Punjab’s health system. Female mortality rates in the reproductive age range of 15 to 49 years do not appear to be excessively high, and in fact, they appear to be comparable to male mortality rates. When we examine the proportion of female deaths to total fatalities during reproductive ages, we can see that it is significantly lower than the proportion of male deaths. Increased health coverage throughout pregnancy and delivery and better delivery procedures are responsible for the decrease in female mortality in reproductive ages.
The total fertility rates (TFR) show how many children an average woman is likely to have between the ages of 15 and 45. A TFR of 2.1 is supposed to be the Net Replacement Rate (NRR), meaning that once a population reaches this TFR, it will stop growing for a generation. Punjab will need another 10-15 years to obtain a TFR of 2.1 at its current rate of decline. They reveal a significant drop in fertility rates throughout this period. If the NFHS predictions are more accurate, Punjab will achieve the desired TFR in a few years. An accomplishment should be accelerated and maintained by a determined additional effort.
Diseases of Poverty
While Punjab is one of India’s wealthiest states, death rates are high, and many people, especially Scheduled Castes, landless people, and migrant workers, live in poverty and filth. Those diseases connected with poor sanitation, low levels of nutrition and resistance, communicable diseases found in filthy living situations, and water-borne diseases are all classified as diseases of poverty. Tuberculosis is a major disease in Punjab, as it is throughout the country. The Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Punjab, identifies TB as its primary public health problem in its annual administrative report for 1999-2000. According to the research, about 3 lakh people in Punjab are infected with tuberculosis, with 75,000 instances being “extremely infectious.”
The key obstacles, it emerges, are prevention and cure and rehabilitation and support services for TB patients, partially and wholly blind people, and physically challenged people. Survey data isn’t available to estimate the prevalence of other diseases. Injury and poisoning, pregnancy complications, childbirth complications, the puerperium, infectious and parasitic diseases, diseases of the genito-urinary system, respiratory system, digestive system, circulatory system, nervous system, and sense organs were the most common reasons for admission in indoor patients. Disorders of the circulatory system, injuries and poisoning, viral and parasitic diseases, and respiratory system diseases were among the leading causes of death.
Mental health has gotten very little attention in the medical community. This could be due to a combination of ignorance and the prevalence of considerably more potentially lethal diseases. There is a lack of data and helpful programmes in mental health. The investment rates are low, following the national pattern of allocating only 01 percent of the health budget to mental health care services. Furthermore, according to WHO estimates, the doctor-to-patient ratio in India is an alarming 1: 25,00,000. Punjab is not immune to this syndrome. Mental health diseases are on the rise in Punjab, as they are across India. However, there has been little progress in bringing mental disease into the realm of public health.
Prevalent attitudes are a stumbling block. Mental health is not regarded as a significant issue that necessitates medical attention. As in other regions of India, it is often thought that mental diseases are simply an extension of a bad physical condition, and once the latter is addressed, the former will disappear. Traditional practitioners, such as soothsayers, preachers, priests, and fortune-tellers, are heavily relied upon, which has a negative impact on attempts to evaluate the scope and magnitude of mental health issues accurately. Accessibility and affordability of mental health care services are critical. Because most government hospitals lack experienced psychiatrists on their boards, patients are referred to medical practitioners, who typically merely give symptomatic relief.
There aren’t many projects aimed at youngsters. Mental health experts do not deal with issues like hyperactivity or bedwetting. The majority of parents are completely unaware that their child may require professional assistance. In addition, when they decide to seek treatment, there are no services available. Punjab also lacks efforts from the voluntary sector. Things would be better if the government could find a non-profit partner to provide mental health care. There is sufficient data bolstered by interviews with Punjabi medical professionals, indicating the incidence of neurosis is on the rise, particularly among women. However, we don’t have enough national or Punjabi data to form a definite assessment.
Given the high expense of private doctors, establishing accessible mental health services inside primary health care systems is crucial. Detainees in state-run facilities usually lack access to sanitary facilities, adequate diet, and medical care. The staff is insensitive due to its lack of experience. As a result, mental institutions resemble homeless shelters rather than treatment centers for serious mental diseases.
Many women believe that anxiety-related diseases and depression do not necessitate professional medical treatment, and they do not have access to professional psychiatrists. Above all, doctors (especially those working in government-run PHCs) are uninformed of the issues and can only provide symptomatic relief.
Physically challenged people face considerable hurdles (both physical and visual). At the same time, there is significantly more awareness about physically challenged than mental health. Many state-run and volunteer-run facilities care for physically and visually impaired people. There is an urgent need to build support mechanisms within society to enable the disabled to live normal lives. Some progress has been made on granting equal rights to physically and visually challenged people, particularly employment and public facilities. However, they are still severely limited, and the state and the legal and labor administration must do significantly more to ensure that prejudices are eliminated. Attitude shifts are critical.
Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
Drug misuse and drunkenness have become more common in recent years, resulting in a slew of social and economic issues. The threat of drugs has extended far and wide, from the clandestine manufacture of narcotics and alcohol to drug trafficking and consumption. Because of the very covert nature of drug-related activities, systematic data on drug abuse is still lacking. There hasn’t been much work to compile the several minor studies in this field into a cohesive whole.
The Extent of Drug Abuse in Punjab
In Punjab, drug addiction is on the rise. Drugs have entrapped many young individuals, with devastating implications for their families. Other than cigarettes and alcohol, 8 percent of the male adult population was abusing drugs. Tobacco use was reported by 73% of male individuals. If the estimates above were projected for the province of Punjab, there would be at least one million cases of narcotic addiction and alcoholics needing treatment.
The situation is exacerbated by the fact that many tobacco users are unaware of the harmful effects on their health. According to the assessment, there are likely to be over a million instances in Punjab alone. This may be an exaggerated figure resulting from variances in the study’s areas of focus and the methodology and tools employed in the survey. However, drug use is on the rise, particularly in the case of heroin and narcotic injectables. This is owing to the readily available nature of these medications. In the lack of appropriate policing and implementation mechanisms, both the government and NGOs must employ aggressive anti-drug efforts.
Women’s empowerment entails equipping women with the tools they need to be economically self-sufficient, self-reliant, and have positive self-esteem, allowing them to tackle any challenge and engage in development initiatives. Women who are empowered can participate in the decision-making process.
The most important indication of women’s empowerment in any country is economic empowerment, which may be measured by the percentage of women who work relative to men. Women’s participation in any economic activity improves their managerial skills, such as decision-making, in any commercial activity. The literacy rate of women impacts their managerial skills since literate women are more likely to grasp and manage difficulties than uneducated women. Aside from that, indices such as the sex ratio and health metrics such as life expectancy, total fertility rate, infant mortality rate, and so on can be used to measure women’s strength.
Due to current social and cultural issues, the gender composition in Punjab is still fairly bad. Females account for almost 47% of the entire population, and the sex ratio (895 females per thousand males) is significantly lower than the national average (943 females per thousand males). In 2011, the state had a literacy rate of 75.80 percent, which was somewhat higher than the national average (74.04 percent). In Punjab and across the country, women have a lower literacy rate than men. Women hold only 24% of the total bank accounts in the state. Punjab has an extremely high unemployment rate when compared to the national average. According to reports, nearly 42 people in Punjab are unemployed.
In Punjab, over 42 people per 1000 people are reported to be unemployed, compared to 25 in India. Compared to the national average, Punjab’s female unemployment rate (105) is extremely high (33). When compared to the rest of the country, Punjab’s work participation percentage (35.67 percent) was comparatively low in 2011. (39.79 percent). When compared to the national statistic, Punjab’s female labor participation rate (13.91 percent) is significantly lower (25.51 percent). Punjab state ranked 28th among Indian states in terms of the gender gap in the work participation rate. This demonstrates that, compared to other Indian states, women’s participation in economic activities is significantly low in Punjab.
As a result, there is a need to increase women’s involvement rates through raising literacy and promoting entrepreneurship, among other things, to help women thrive economically, managerially, and socially in the state. Many studies have looked into the role of women’s engagement in the country’s economic development. According to the research, the inclusion of women in the workforce can also help inclusive growth. The availability of money, capacity-building, and skill development initiatives, mainly through SHGs, are significant ways to encourage women in Punjab to engage in income-generating activities and promote economic empowerment. As a result, this study aims to determine the influence of microcredit on economic empowerment in the state of Punjab.
On the economic front, Punjab is one of India’s wealthiest states, with the lowest poverty rate and highest per capita incomes. It ranked #1 in terms of per capita income for more than two decades among all of India’s major states. Despite this, the state’s maternal mortality rate is relatively high. The male-to-female ratio has been low and biased towards women. In 1991, 882 females per 1000 males, 876 in 2001, and 895 in 2011. Malnutrition and anemia continue to be major health issues among Punjabi women. Punjab’s urban areas have much greater levels of anemia than the province’s rural areas.
Other factors contributing to Punjabi women’s poor health include mortality from complications during pregnancy and childbirth, a lack of medical care, repeated pregnancy, nutritional deficiency, young marriage age, illiteracy, the practice of female infanticide, feticide, and economic deprivation.
The number of crimes against women registered climbed by 14.8 percent from 4620 in 2017 to 5302 in 2018 and continued to rise by 11% to 5886 in 2019. Since 2017, there has been a 27.40 percent increase in the number of cases of crimes against women. The number of rape cases has increased by 89 percent, from 530 cases in 2017 to 1002 cases in 2019. By 2019, the number of kidnapping cases has reached an all-time high. Kidnapping/abduction instances grew by 39.58 percent from 1099 in 2017 to 1534 in 2018.
Today’s most concerning aspect of the Punjab economy is the decline in its annual growth rate, which fell from 5.3 percent in 1980-81 to 4.7 percent in 1991-92 to 1997-98. In comparison, the national growth rate increased from 5.6 to 6.9% within the same time period. In a similar vein, the state’s annual increase rate in per capita income fell from 3.3 to 2.8 percent.
According to bank analysts, Punjab’s economy has underperformed for a decade, with the state’s gross domestic product growing at a 6% annual average pace, compared to the national average of 7%. The fiscal deficit reached a record high of 3.1 percent GDP (GSDP). It increased debt and reduced budgetary flexibility for infrastructure and public-sector expenditures, particularly in cities, which slowed the growth of the manufacturing and service sectors.
Punjab’s economic downturn may be traced back to 1984-85, when it went from being a “revenue surplus state” to a “revenue deficit state” (Government of Punjab, June 2002). This, according to the Punjab government, is due to “ever-increasing employee salaries and wage bills (especially since the implementation of the Fifth Pay Commission recommendations), mounting debt burden, heavily subsidized social sector (education and health) and economic services (irrigation and electricity), slow revenue growth, and loss-making public sector undertakings” (Government of Punjab, March 2002). Both the imposition and collection of taxes have been hampered by the challenging political circumstances of the 1980s. ‘Populist subsidies’ contributed to the worsening of the situation during the tenure of elected governments. Meanwhile, public sector fiscal deficits were growing, adding to the government’s financial woes. Instead of treating the problem, the solution was to borrow heavily from the public sector. Interest payments increased from 16.8 percent of income in 1990-91 to 29.4 percent in 2000-01. This was the highest percentage for any major Indian state; the overall rates were 13.1 and 17.6 percent. Developmental investments were severely harmed. As a percentage of overall spending, development spending fell sharply from 71.9 percent in 1980-81 to 54.5 percent in 1997-98, and then to 46.5 percent in 1998-99. The implications of all of this for the state’s economic growth rate are obvious.
The Punjab government’s fiscal plan calls for annual economic growth of 5.5 percent at constant prices under the Tenth Plan. With the present population growth rate of around 1.8 percent, annual increases in per capita income would be around 3.7 percent. According to the Planning Commission, Punjab is expected to grow at a higher annual pace of 6.4 percent (agriculture 4.1 percent, industry 8.1 percent, and services 8 percent ). This will necessitate a higher effort than the government has set aside for itself. The government intends to stimulate the economy by fixing the fiscal imbalance and making a more significant portion of the budget accessible for development. Reforms in sales tax; revision of user charges for transportation, irrigation, higher/professional education, secondary/tertiary health care, and drinking water supply; and gradual privatization of public sector companies are among the major initiatives being considered.
Punjab continues to have the highest drug-related crime rate and the biggest number of people addicted to opioids and sedatives. Punjab has the country’s highest crime rate for Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) cases in 2019, with 38.5 percent of cases registered under the NDPS Act 1985 per lakh population. Punjab’s youth continue to squander their youth by abusing drugs. According to a 2019 study funded by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, “0.27 million (2.5 percent of the source population) in Punjab were estimated to be opioid-dependent, of which nearly 78,000 (0.7 percent) were injecting opioid users, predominantly heroin and buprenorphine, 60 percent of whom exhibited high-risk behavior,” However, only 14% of the RAS sample had ever visited a de-addiction center, and just 2.8 percent of those who had been hospitalized had done so since 2018. It is also one of the top five states with the highest number of sedatives users (nonmedical and non-prescription use).
The Punjab Forfeiture of Illegally Acquired Property Act 2017 was passed hastily by the Congress-led government. It was a hastily enacted law, as well as a half-hearted and haphazard attempt to blindfold the masses. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985 and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act of 2002 conflicted with this legislation. Because of this, it has not obtained presidential approval.
According to the NSS, only 7% of outdoor patients visited a government institution. Government facilities are more popular for treatment that necessitates hospitalization. In all occurrences of hospitalization, 39% in rural areas and 28% in urban areas went to a government institution, while the remaining 61% in rural and 72% in urban selected private facilities. The privatization of medical treatment is becoming increasingly popular. This drop-in using government facilities for non-hospitalized treatment, as well as the egregiously low levels of usage, calls into question the efficiency and utility of vast government primary care facilities. Non-hospitalized treatment would be a major service for the many sub-health and primary health centers committed to primary care.
Government Health Services and Infrastructure
The government has established a complex and vast healthcare network. Rural health facilities are based on nationally approved norms based on the Bhore Committee Report’s recommendations, which are updated regularly. Sub-Health Centres (SHCs) provide basic health services at the bottom of a four-tier structure of health institutions. A Primary Health Centre (PHC) should be located every six SHCs and should serve a population of 20,000–40,000 people. The Community Health Centres, which normally serve a population of a lakh or more, take the place of the PHCs. The Civil Hospitals or District Hospitals are located at the district or city level. The major hospitals, medical colleges, and specialty hospitals are the crown jewels of this system.
The typical population served by a medical institution is 10,000–11,000 people, with a population served per bed of just under one per 1000 people. The average distance traveled by each institution is 2.68 kilometers. We get an average of 5,188 outside patients per medical institution per year, or 17 patients per day, and 18 patients per installed bed each year in government facilities, based on the number of outdoor and indoor patients who visit government institutions. Despite the fact that the average number of patients seen in a medical facility is 17 per day, district, city, or civic hospitals and large specialty hospitals must be seeing far more than 17 per day. On average, there is one doctor for every 1,500 people and one midwife for every 1,000 people. There are significant differences across the district.
There is a doctor for every 120 ailments in a year, with a doctor covering 1500 individuals on average. There is evidence of differences between districts. While one doctor serves roughly 38635 people in Nawanshahr, which has the lowest urbanization rate among the three districts, one doctor serves 946 people in Jalandhar and 1845 in Hoshiarpur. Without going into great detail for the other newly established districts, we can see that the population served per doctor is highest in the new districts for each group of districts from which new districts have been split. They also have the largest rural population percentage within their group of districts.
The simple partition of a district does not affect people’s ability to continue to use medical facilities in the former parent district. In a sector like health, where travel and time are both critical for care, an analysis of availability, reach, and spread of medical institutions and medical personnel based on averages across large geographical entities must be carried out with greater care, greater disaggregation of data, and the type of disease burden. Since practically all districts have the same average coverage figures in terms of area and population covered per medical institution, the availability of doctors in rural medical institutions must be considered. Indeed, the districts with the highest urbanization rate also have the highest number of persons depending on a medical institution, as shown in each group below. Clearly, urban regions have fewer medical institutions (mainly SHCs, PHCs, and CHCs) but large hospitals with more doctors than makeup.
Private Health Services and Infrastructure
Punjab’s primary healthcare provider is private medical care. Private health services dominate and direct curative health, accounting for over 90% of non-hospital care and two-thirds of hospitalized care. Because there is so little information on private medical services, it is impossible to make any definitive statements about the state’s private medical system.
Certain characteristics, on the other hand, maybe emphasized. In many cases, the private sector operates outside of restrictions, making it difficult to make health care accessible. Furthermore, patients’ rights are frequently not effectively protected in the private health sector. Anecdotal data on female foeticide, as well as conversations with doctors who own small nursing homes with such facilities, demonstrate that, despite restrictions, private doctors are not hesitant to perform sex determination tests on expecting women. If the fetus is determined to be female, these hospital administrations may be willing to terminate the pregnancy.
There are numerous arguments why private medical aid should be pricey because it would provide quality medical care and, two, it would relieve government facilities of the burden of affluent clients. Although these arguments have some merit, entirely unregulated medical treatment might result in a slew of issues. The increased demand for private medical services would be beneficial if they served sections of the population who can afford them. The increasing number of people seeking private health care, on the other hand, indicates that even the impoverished are resorting to private health care providers. The private sector cannot be held responsible. The fact that the impoverished must spend enormous sums of money for treatment (resulting in increased poverty) exposes the state of the public healthcare system.
The same study also suggests that out-of-pocket medical costs may only push 2.2 percent of the population below poverty. Accountability is an important issue here. This applies to the private sector and the entire spectrum of health service providers. The techno-centric nature of treatment traps patients in a web of technology-centered medical care and a confusing, intimidating, and expensive system. Whatever be the legislation in medical care, both in place and being contemplated, including issues such as consumer rights in health, there is an urgent need to change attitudes. Health providers, including doctors and specialists, have to become more accountable to their patients. In turn, patients and the public have to demand and play the guardians of their health care. Institutionally, this can only occur when health administration provides for public representatives and people’s groups to play an active role in managing health institutions.
According to the same report, out-of-pocket medical costs may be enough to force 2.2 percent of the population into poverty. The issue of accountability is crucial in this situation. This applies to the entire spectrum of health service providers, not just the private sector. Patients are trapped in a web of technology-centered medical care and a complicated, daunting, and expensive system due to the techno-centric nature of therapy. Whatever medical care law is in place or being considered, including problems such as health consumer rights, there is an urgent need to shift mindsets. Doctors and experts, for example, must hold themselves more accountable to their patients. Patients and the general public, on the other hand, must demand and assume the role of guardians of their own health care. This can only happen institutionally if the health administration allows public representatives and people’s groups to participate actively in the management of health institutions.
It is one of the most important inputs, as it drives the advancement and development engine. It can be drawn from both renewable and non-renewable sources. Nuclear energy is not considered an energy source since it has been ruled out strategically because Punjab is a border state. In terms of renewable energy, Punjab should focus on mini- and micro-hydel programmes, solar, and biogas due to its resource base. Coal is already a substantial source of energy from non-renewable sources. Punjab is reliant mainly on the Guru Gobind Singh TPP in Ropar and the Guru Nanak Dev TPP in Bathinda, while the Guru Har Gobind Singh TPP in Lehra Mohabbat is currently expanding. Thermal power continues to be the state’s primary energy source. Punjab also buys electricity from other states, including Baira Siul, Singrauli thermal, Salal hydel.
The state’s self-generated thermal power accounts for 50% of the total power availability, 25% of which comes from self-generated hydel sources, whereas 25% is acquired from outside. While electricity-generating is rising at a 7.5% annual rate, the thermal and nuclear industries are seeing the most increase. With nuclear power ruled out and the availability of large hydro- 246 project electricity in the near future questionable, Punjab has taken the proper steps to increase its thermal generation capacity.
Punjab has a dense road network, with 1.1 kilometers per square kilometer compared to 0.4 at the national level. By 2000-01, the length of the road had expanded from 6,000 kilometers in 1965-66 to 55,000 kilometers. Intrastate travel is mostly by road; the farthest town is only six hours away from the state capital bus. Punjab is connected to the rest of the country by high-speed trains. Because train intra-city mobility is limited, it is more important in Punjab to improve complementarity between rail and road transportation. However, the state does have an international airport in Amritsar and a domestic airport in Ludhiana.
Approximately 26,000 public call/straight trunk dialing offices connect Punjab locally, nationally, and internationally. The 13 lakh connections result in a telephone/population ratio of 5.5 per thousand people, compared to 3.6 throughout India. Almost every panchayat in the state has a telephone line.
All of this is credible. On the other hand, this quantitative scene is not supported by a quality culture. Energy outages are common; electricity is only available for seven hours a day in villages, and electricity losses in transmission and distribution are significant. While the number of motor vehicles doubled to about 30 lakh in the 1990s, the roads’ length only increased by 20%. Several highways need to be widened, repaired, or both right now. In comparison, while telephone service quality has dramatically improved over time, its quantitative coverage remains far from complete. The number of people on the phone waiting list is in the thousands.
The reliance on bulk food grains is beginning to wane. The agricultural sector will gradually transition to commercial cropping. Oilseeds, sugarcane, fruits, and vegetables will eventually take more space. While there will be a requirement for bulk food grain transportation, we will see increased activity in agro-product processing, resulting in a 243 increase in the demand for quick transport. Refrigerated transportation to Indian and international destinations will be required. By establishing ‘virtual mandis’ for regional, national, and international trading, the farmer will be aided by information technology. The telecom and IT backbone will need to be upgraded and extended to the villages to achieve this. For the cultivation of cash crops, agro-processing, storage, and the operation of computers and communication devices, the agricultural and rural sectors will require a reliable supply of high-quality electricity. Fertilizer supplies must be guaranteed for the agricultural industry. According to current trends, urea demand would decline while phosphatic fertilizer consumption would rise.
Punjab has few primary resources other than agriculture. There are no coal, minerals, or fossil fuels that can be accessed. We are currently seeing a decrease in the aggregate daily number of workers working in the state’s registered factories. There is currently no significant industry in Punjab that employs more than 5,000 people. All future aspirations appear to be pinned on Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. building an oil refinery in Bathinda. The reasons underlying these expectations are a little hazy. Due to the specialized nature of refinery construction, machinery, plant equipment, and other requirements are unlikely to be found inside Punjab.
The refinery establishment will have no substantial impact on the sale and distribution of petroleum products. At most, there might be modest possibilities in transportation, with roughly 500 people directly employed. The key industries are textiles, readymade clothes, motor components, cycle and cycle parts, and various food products. Their growth rates aren’t particularly promising. The state’s industry sector does not provide much optimism, given the state’s more than five lakh youth on the live register of Employment Exchanges and the hidden unemployment in the farm sector.
According to the most optimistic scenario and statistics from the Punjab Economic Survey, the industry could create 10,000 new employment each year, which is insufficient. According to the Punjab Economic Survey 2001-2002, the real growth potential in the future is expected to be in agro-processing. Given the state’s dominance in the primary sector, this appears realistic, and the government is likely to implement a policy in this regard. As a result, the infrastructure sector should also focus on this and be ready to respond to issues. These include the availability of modern farm and food-processing equipment and reliable transportation, power, and broadband telecom access.
The tertiary sector, which includes trade, transportation, banking, insurance, and IT services, has grown at above 7% per year. Infrastructure should also focus on this sector, given the potential for expansion in this area, to accelerate Punjab’s development. Broadband telecom networks, 244 stable power supply, and reliable transportation infrastructure, including a well-managed international airport, will be required. The tertiary industry is reliant on knowledge expansion. Medical, engineering, architectural institutes, and management schools are all located in the state. Punjab Technical University is also moving on to bring technical education, particularly IT skills, to the masses. It’s worth noting that the tertiary sector relies on good infrastructure.
As a result, tertiary sector development can reach a significantly steeper growth curve with the correct infrastructure and policies in place. One of the essential tertiary sector activities is health care. Respiratory and circulatory system disorders, particularly heart ailments, have been rising in recent years. Accidents, particularly traffic accidents, are another source of huge casualties. The care of the heart, lungs, and trauma are all areas that require rapid transport to medical facilities.
As a result, infrastructure will need to consider these critical challenges. It should help with the prevention, diagnosis, and emergency management of various health problems throughout the state. The state can put in place the various sectors engaged with this vision and the resulting infrastructure plan.
One of the key goals of the Tenth Plan is to provide gainful and high-quality jobs to the jobless and newcomers to the labor force. Despite Punjab being India’s most progressive and rich state, it is not immune to the twin scourges of unemployment and underemployment. Due to the rapid rise of population and the regular fall in the extent of landholdings, a significant portion of the agricultural population is becoming surplus. The rural service and artisan castes find their jobs to be insufficient and unsatisfying. The educated rural kids are often eager to find work in the city. Things aren’t much better in cities, where jobless migrants from rural areas are joining an increasing number of local jobless.
Punjab had a population of 2.43 crore people, according to the 2001 census. They live in rural settings 66 percent of the time and urban areas 34 percent. The 55th Round of the NSSO’s survey (1999-2000) found a work participation rate of 29.2 percent for rural areas and 32.5 percent for urban areas based on the Usual Principal Status criteria. In rural Punjab, the unemployment rate was 2.6 percent (2.3 percent for men and 6.2 percent for women), compared to 1.9 percent in rural India (2.1 percent for males and 1.5 percent for females).
The Planning Commission of India acknowledges the worrisome level of unemployment in Punjab in its predicted predictions. According to forecasts, the annual employment growth rate is predicted to be 0.73 percent per year, compared to 2.27 percent per year for the labor force between 1997 and 2002. (Planning Commission, 1999). As a result, the number of unemployed people is anticipated to rise dramatically. In reality, a poll performed by the Punjab government has confirmed these assumptions. According to the findings of this study, there were 14.72 lakh unemployed people (aged 18 to 35) looking for work in self-employment (Economic Advisor, 1998). Rural areas accounted for 10.41 lakh (70.72 percent), while urban areas accounted for 4.31 lakh (29.27 percent). Three-fifths (61.01 percent, or 8.98 lakh) of the 14.72 lakh unemployed had matriculation or higher education. 5.84 lakh educated unemployed in rural areas and 3.14 lakh in urban areas.
The existence of such a huge number of unemployed people places a significant financial strain on the state’s economy. They have become a social problem in Punjab because they are forced to rely on others for their survival. Instead of being the vanguard of growth and social change, they have become a social problem. Indeed, some mainstream academicians have linked the economy’s volatility, social unrest, and the prevalence of terrorism in Punjab to the problem of unemployment, particularly among the educated youth.
While Punjab has seen unprecedented growth in many fields over several decades, it has shown a lack thereof in many other development sectors. A lot of previous effort has been made to curb most of the issues, such as healthcare and education; however, the policies and data available to work on finding an outcome are outdated. Hence, the upcoming government must develop long-term sustainable solutions to all important issues as listed throughout this report and ensure that its implementation is effective.
📌Analysis of Bills and Acts
📌 Summary of Reports from Government Agencies
📌 Analysis of Election Manifestos