Wednesday, 10 October 2007

India - phew!

After the adventures of the last couple of weeks, the title says it all really and here was Mark earlier today, about to approach the border crossing between Pakistan and India.....So, it's 'goodbye Pakistan' and 'hello India'. Mark now has 6000+ miles and 12 countries behind him and ?just 12,000 miles and 8 countries to go! Ahead of him in the next couple of weeks lie 1300 miles across the north of India from Amritsar in the Punjab , bypassing Delhi and down onto the vast Ganges plain before arriving in Calcutta and celebrating the end of the leg 2.

The Indian Punjab, where Mark is now, is geographically and economically very similar to the Pakistani Punjab which he has just left. Just as the Punjab is known as Pakistan's 'bread basket' so the Indian Punjab is referred to as 'the granary of India'. It produces 60% of India's wheat, and 40% of India's rice. In worldwide terms, this represents 2% of its wheat and 1% of the world's rice. Excluding agriculture, other major industries include the manufacture of scientific instruments, electrical goods, machine tools, textiles, tourism, sewing machines, sports goods, starch, fertilizers, bicycles, and the processing of pine oil and sugar. According to Wikipedia Punjab is considered to have the best infrastructure in India. This includes road, rail, air and river transport links that are extensive throughout the region. Punjab also has the lowest poverty rate in India at 6.16% .

Culturally, there are huge differences between the Pakistan and Indian Punjab. The Indian state of Punjab was created in 1947, when the Partition of India split the former Raj province of Punjab between India and Pakistan . The mostly Muslim western part of the province became Pakistan's Punjab Province; the mostly Sikh and Hindu eastern part became India's Punjab state.Sikhism the main religion of Indian Punjab and is practiced by about 60% of the population . Hinduism is the main minority religion. The holiest of Sikh shrines, the Golden Temple, is in the city of Amritsar which Mark cycled through this morning (more of which in next posting!)

No comments: