Punjab Research Group

The Punjab: Moving Journeys

Posted in Events by Pippa on August 28, 2008

Please follow the link for details about the exhibition by the Royal Geographical Society on the Punjab. The exhibition is on from 9 September –  27 November 2008, open Monday – Friday, 10.00 -17.00. Free Entry


Bakshi Mulray (Governor of Gilgit) & Mehal Singh (Commanding Radur Regiment) in the Vale of Kashmir
Bakshi Mulray (Governor of Gilgit) & Mehal Singh (Commanding Radur Regiment) in the Vale of Kashmir, Artist / photographer: Anon, Date: 1865 – 1866, Image taken during the ‘Gilgit Mission’ of 1885-86 with Colonel W.S.A Lockhart and Colonel R.G. Woodthrope. © Royal Geographical Society


Photograph taken on the 'Gilgit Mission' of Colonel W.S. A. Lockhart and Colonel R.G. Woodthorpe. © Royal Geographical Society

Officers of the Gilgit Mission. Date: 1885 – 1886, Caption: Photograph taken on the 'Gilgit Mission' of Colonel W.S. A. Lockhart and Colonel R.G. Woodthorpe. © Royal Geographical Society

The Voice from the Rural Areas: Muslim-Sikh Relations in the British Punjab, 1940-47

Posted in Articles, Partition by Pippa on August 15, 2008

Akhtar Hussain Sandhu, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan.

Akhtar Sandhu PRG presentation ‘The Voice from the Rural Areas: Muslim-Sikh Relations in the British Punjab, 1940-47′

Akhtar is currently in the UK attached to the University of Southampton. He presented this paper at the June PRG meeting and would like others to read it and share any comments or provide feedback. Please either post your comments directly on the blog or email Akhtar directly on akhtar.sandhu@gmail.com.

The reader is requested to observe copyright conventions regarding this paper and seek the permission of the author when citing material.

PRG meeting 25 October 2008

Posted in Events by Pippa on August 15, 2008

Details of the next Punjab Research Group meeting

VENUE: Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR,

DATE: 25 October 2008

The speakers are:

Kiran Kalsi, London Metropolitan Business School, London Metropolitan University

‘Self determination – how Faith shapes and informs the business experience of an Asian woman entrepreneur’


Ruth Pearson and Anitha Sundari, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds and Linda McDowell, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford

‘The experience of Punjabi women in the West London labour market: The case of the Gate Gourmet workers’


Amandeep Singh Madra, UK Punjab Heritage Association

‘Preservation of Heritage in the Punjab


Ilyas Chattha, University of Southampton

‘Perpetrators and Victims of Partition Violence: Case of Gujranwala


Jasjit Singh, Theology & Religious Studies Dept, University of Leeds

‘Head First: Young British Sikhs, Hair and the Turban’.


Attached is the full programme, including abstracts of all the papers. prg-programme-oct-081

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Language, the Nation, and Symbolic Capital: The Case of Punjab

Posted in Articles by Pippa on August 6, 2008

Alyssa Ayres is an international consultant based in Washington, D.C., and a contributing editor of India Review. Please see an abstract of her latest article appearing in the latest edition of JAS, http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=JAS

Alyssa Ayres, ‘Language, the Nation, and Symbolic Capital: The Case of Punjab’ in the The Journal of Asian Studies (2008), 67:917-946 Cambridge University Press


A movement to “revive the spirit of Punjab and Punjabi” in South Asia has enabled a surprising thaw between the two Punjabs of Pakistan and India. That this revival movement has been catalyzed from within Pakistan rather than India raises intriguing questions about language, nationalism, and the cultural basis of the nation-state. Although the Punjabiyat movement bears the surface features of a classical nationalist formation-insistence upon recovering an unfairly oppressed history and literature, one unique on earth and uniquely imbued with the spirit of the local people and the local land-its structural features differ markedly. Pakistan’s Punjab has long functioned as an ethnic hegemon, the center against which other regions struggle in a search for power. Yet the Punjabiyat movement presents Punjab as an oppressed victim of Pakistan’s troubled search for national identity. This essay argues that a theory of symbolic capital best explains this otherwise peculiar inversion of perceived and actual power, and underscores culture’s critical role in the nation’s political imagination.

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Amrita Pritam – Ode to Waris Shah

Posted in Partition, Poetry and Literature by Pippa on August 6, 2008
Amrita Pritam in 1948. Photograph courtesy of Amarjit Chandan Collection

Amrita Pritam in 1948. Photograph courtesy of Amarjit Chandan Collection







Amrita Pritam (1919-2005) was one the most distinguished Punjabi poets and fiction writers. She was born in Gujranwala and was living in Lahore when in 1947 she, along with the millions others, was forced to migrate during the partition of the Punjab. This poem, addressed to Waris Shah, encapsulates the tragedy and horrors of partition.


Translation from the original in Punjabi by Khushwant Singh. Amrita Pritam: Selected Poems. Ed Khushwant Singh. (Bharatiya Jnanpith Publication, 1992)


 To Waris Shah I turn today!

Speak up from the graves midst which you lie!

In our book of love, turn the next leaf.

When one daughter of the Punjab did cry

You filled pages with songs of lamentation,

Today a hundred daughters cry

0 Waris to speak to you.


O friend of the sorrowing, rise and see your Punjab

Corpses are strewn on the pasture,

Blood runs in the Chenab.

Some hand hath mixed poison in our live rivers

The rivers in turn had irrigated the land.

From the rich land have sprouted venomous weeds

flow high the red has spread

How much the curse has bled!


The poisoned air blew into every wood

And turned the flute bamboo into snakes

They first stung the charmers who lost their antidotes

Then stung all that came their way

Their lips were bit, fangs everywhere.

The poison spread to all the lines

All of the Punjab turned blue.


Song was crushed in every throat;

Every spinning wheel’s thread was snapped;

Friends parted from one another;

The hum of spinning wheels fell silent.


All boats lost the moorings

And float rudderless on the stream

The swings on the peepuls’ branches

I lave crashed with the peepul tree.


Where the windpipe trilled songs of love

That flute has been lost

Ranjah and his brothers have lost their art.


Blood keeps falling upon the earth

Oozing out drop by drop from graves.

The queens of love

Weep in tombs.


It seems all people have become Qaidos,

Thieves of beauty and love

Where should I search out

Another Waris Shah.


Waris Shah

Open your grave;

Write a new page

In the book of love.


Waris Shah (1706 -1798) was a Punjabi poet, best-known for his seminal work Heer Ranjha, based on the traditional folk tale of Heer and her lover Ranjha. Heer is considered one of the quintessential works of classical Punjabi literature.

Qaido – A maternal uncle of Heer in Heer Ranjha is the villain who betrays the lovers.

The Punjab – the region of the five rivers east of Indus: Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej.     

Massive population exchanges occurred between the two newly-formed states in the months immediately following Partition. Once the lines were established, about 14.5 million people crossed the borders to what they hoped was the relative safety of religious majority. Based on 1951 Census of displaced persons, 7,226,000 Muslims went to Pakistan from India while 7,249,000 Hindus and Sikhs moved to India from Pakistan immediately after partition. About 11.2 million or 78% of the population transfer took place in the west, with Punjab accounting for most of it; 5.3 million Muslims moved from India to West Punjab in Pakistan, 3.4 million Hindus and Sikhs moved from Pakistan to East Punjab in India; elsewhere in the west 1.2 million moved in each direction to and from Sind.

The newly formed governments were completely unequipped to deal with migrations of such staggering magnitude, and massive violence and slaughter occurred on both sides of the border. Estimates of the number of deaths range around roughly 500,000, with low estimates at 200,000 and high estimates at 1,000,000.

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Photographs from East Punjab, 1978

Posted in Photography by Pippa on August 6, 2008
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