The current Congress government in Punjab, first under the leadership of Captain Amarinder Singh and then Charanjit Singh Channi, made several promises in its election campaign including ensuring one job per family, loan waivers and ending drug trade.
The breadbasket of the country was one of the richest state until a couple of years ago, however, unsustainable agriculture practices and de-industrialisation has resulted the state falling behind its counterparts.
The Congress government took over the state when it was still going through a financial slump but did it leave it any better? How did the pandemic impact the state's progress?
We went through state and central government reports and surveys conducted by independent bodies to draw a comparison between the current government and the previous government under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
How Has the Economic Performance Been?
The economy of the state under the current Congress government grew at a pace slower than the previous government.
According to the government data, the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) at constant price of Punjab in financial year 2017-2018 (FY18) was Rs 37,540,561 lakh. In FY21, the GSDP is at Rs 38,616,980 lakh—including a drop due to COVID-19.
Keeping the fall due to the pandemic aside, the GSDP grew at 5.45 percent annually, as compare to a 5.76 percent annual growth under the BJP-SAD government.
The GSDP grew to Rs 41,357,818 lakh in FY20 before slumping due to the pandemic.
In the first three years of Congress' tenure, the per capita income of the state grew at an annual rate of 4 percent as compared to 4.3 percent growth between FY13-FY17.
This was lower than the national average of 4.6 percent during the same period.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate further declined to 1.06 percent from FY18 to FY21.
In absolute numbers, the per capita income increased from Rs 1,05,848 in FY17 to Rs 1,19,162 in FY20, before falling to Rs 1,09,848 in FY21.
Where Does Punjab Stand in Unemployment Data?
In the run up to the 2017 elections, the Congress promised one job to each household under the "Ghar Ghar Naukri" scheme, however, the state has employed less people in the last five years than it did before 2017.
According to the latest report by Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) published on 3 January, the number of unemployed people in the state was over eight lakhs in the last quarter of 2021. The number for the first quarter of 2017, was 4.19 lakhs. This means four lakh people lost their jobs in the last five years.
CMIE is an independent think tank which publishes monthly data bulletins on employment in India.
The number of unemployed youth was higher before the pandemic at over 10 lakhs in the last quarter of 2019.
The unemployment rate, according to the National Statistical Office (NSO) — a government agency under the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation — shows that in 2017-2018, the unemployment rate stood at 7.8 percent, which was also higher than the national average of 6.1 percent.
In the year 2018-2019, Punjab's unemployment rate dropped to 7.4 percent, while the national average was 5.8 percent.
In 2019-2020, while the national unemployment rate reduced to 4.8 percent, Punjab's unemployment rate remained the same at 7.4 percent.
This shows while the national unemployment rate decreased the unemployment rate in the state didn't become better in the last five years.
More importantly, the unemployment among the youth (15-29 years of age) remains a matter of concern.
What About Crime?
When it comes to crime in Punjab, drug-related offences and sacrilege tend to gather more headlines apart from other heinous crimes like murder, rape and kidnapping.
As per the data documented by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the number of cases reported under different crime heads (Indian Penal Code) in Punjab has increased under the current Congress government as compared to the previous government.
The number of cases reported in 2017 were 39,388, which increased to 49,870 in 2020. The state witnessed a rise in cases in 2020 while several other states saw a fall in reported crimes due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
The number of reported crimes against women had decreased in 2020 by close to 17 percent from 5,886 the previous year to 4,838 cases in 2020. The number of murders, however, saw a rise of close to 10 percent.
Ending drug trade in Punjab was one of the campaign promises made by the Congress in 2017, with former CM Captain Amarinder Singh vowing to end the drug menace in four weeks.
However, that didn't happen as Punjab reported more than twice the number of cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in 2017 as compared to 2016 — from 5,906 to 12,356.
The number of cases under the NDPS Act decreased in 2020 as compared to 2019 — from 11,536 the previous year to 6,909 in 2020. Authorities are attributing to fall in reported cases to the COVID-19 lockdown.
However, the amount of heroin recovered in the state witnessed a steep rise from 460 kg in 2019 to 759 kg in 2020. The conviction rate in the state has increased when it comes to drug-related cases.
Offences Related to Religion
Sacrilege, which was a part of the political debate in 2017, has taken centrestage again after the recent incidents in various parts of Punjab.
According to the NCRB data, the number of crimes reported in Punjab under Sections 295 to 297, that deal with sacrilege cases, have been in the top five in the country from 2018-2020 among all the states.
What About Infant Mortality, Life Expectancy?
The Infant mortality rate (IMR) shows the state of the a region's social, economic, and environmental conditions. It is defined as the number of deaths per thousand live births under the age of one.
As per the National Family Health Survey 5 (NFHS), the IMR for Punjab was 28 deaths per 1,000 live births, which is lower than the national average of 35.2. The change has been marginally better from the previous NFHS-4 survey conducted in 2015-2016 which was 29.2 deaths per 1,000 live births, while the national average was 40.7.
The life expectancy rate — the number of years a person can expect to live — in the state has remained constant at a little above 72 years from 2011 to 2018. A marginal rise in the LER was noted in 2014-2018 at 72.7 years from 72.5 years in 2012-2016.
The life expectancy rate of the state has been higher than the national average – 68.3 years (2011-15), 68.7 years (2012-16), 69 years (2013-17), and 69.4 years (2014-18). However, the growth in the LER has been slower than the national average.
Ease of Doing Business
When it comes to the Ease of Doing Business – an indicator of the investment-friendly business climate, Punjab's rank improved marginally from 20 in 2017 to 19 in 2019, as per the Ease of Doing Business Report, published by the RBI.
However, it is important to note that the EoDB had worsened in 2017 from rank 16 in 2015 and 12 in 2016.
India's standing in EoDB rankings has improved 14 spots since 2018, making it 63 among 190 countries, according to the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business ranking published in 2019. The World Bank has discontinued the Ease of Doing business report since 2021.
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