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PUNJABIS BEYOND THE SEVEN SEAS


PUNJABIS BEYOND THE SEVEN SEAS



Dr. S.P. Singh & Shiv Charan Singh Gill

The process of emigration and immigration is not something new. It has always been the,re. Thousands of years ago, Aryans moved from Eastern Europe to the middle east, then further emigrated to the Indian sub-continent. After a long struggle for existence, they eventually became musters of that region. Three quarters of the population of America, Australia and Canada are immigrants. There are some-societies for which emigration is a must. Without muss emigration, Ireland and Italy would have been over-crowded' only tenacious and persistent people emigrated in search of a better life. They do not accept poverty as their fate. To make their dreams come true they travel to unknown lands and are willing to endure all sorts of hardships. Whereas less industrious people crawl for crumbs and never try to look beyond a slice of bread, the Punjabis are strong sturdy and adventurous people and ( they have always tried to find new avenues in search of a good living and better creature comforts.

'Punjabis and potatoes are available all over the world' is a common saying which appreciates and applauds the enterprising spirit of the Punjabis. The noted journalist Khushwant Singh went a step ahead, while commenting upon this special trait of Punjabis that whenever a human being will step on the surface of the moon, he will find a Punjabi family already settled there. So, it is evident that the Punjabis by nature, are ever exploring new vistas, new horizons, new lands and accept the daunting challenges in order to achieve something new and novel in all fields.
Turning to this inbred and innate habit, the Punjabis in the early twentieth century explored new lands for many kinds of gains. They went to South-East Asia especially to Thailand, Singapore, Burma etc. But realizing the limited potential of these countries, they started migrating to U.K., U.S.A., Canada, Australia, New Zealand ete. The process of migration from early twentieth century is still going on. Unofficial sources claim that Punjabis are living in about 100 countries in sizable numbers in the U.K., the U.S.A., Canada, Thailand, Singapore, Kenya etc. ln these countries Punjabis are now participating in the social and political life of these countries. ln Canada, a dozen of Punjabis are involved in active politics and 'have earned a respectable place. Now Punjabis are occupying responsible positions as Central Ministers, State Minister Attorney General. ln the U.K., Swaraj paul is donninq a peerage as a member of the House of Lords. Many Punjabis are Mayors in countries like England' So is the situation in Singapore, Thailand, Kenya etc.
So the immigrant Punjabis are now enjoying a good reputation in different countries of the world. The immigrant Punjabis are economically well off and socially they are well placed. But by achieving all this they are not mentally satisfied because of the nostalgia and the fear of cultural absorption by the majority community of the lands in which they are settled. lmmigrant Punjabis are very much attached to lndia and Punjab. Every significant or insignificant incident compels them to react because of their deep affinity to the land to which they actually belong. primarily it was the reason why they raised their voice about the incidents relating to Punjab recently. Nostalgically they feel attracted to Punjab and most of the time psychologically. The immigrant Punjabis sometimes feel insecure and misplaced while living in foreign lands but at the same time they are now not in a position to leave the foreign lands and come back to their native country because of many family compulsions and the facilities, they are enjoying in foreign lands. Apart from nostalgia, the other significant concern of Punjabi immigrants is the cultural crisis. The future generations are attuning to the culture of the land in which they are settled. The present generation of Punjabi immigrants are concerned about the assimilation of their young generation in the cultural main stream, which means that they will lose their identity with their own nation and religion. This brutal reality haunts them constantly and they are so worried about this problem that lot of efforts have been initiated in this regard.
Realizing the grim situation of their breaking ties with Punjabi culture, now special attention is being paid to the teaching of Punjabi language to their children and wards. After a lapse of almost a centfry;the immigrants have now realized tfie importance of their mother ton(;ue. ln order to attract the young generation to the importance of Punjabi culture, now it has been realised that special attention should be paid to the working knowledge of their mother tongue. So now the efforts are being made in this regard. British Columbia is a State of Canada which has accorded second language status to Punjabi. Similar is the case in Singapore. Teaching facilities have been provided by the government in the U.K., Thailand and the U.S.A. Frequent visits of Punjabi immigrants to Punjab are also a part of the efforts being put by the immigrants to liqk the young generation to their native land. Religious places in foreign countries are also playing a significant role in 'the linking process of the immigrant people. So it is evident that immigrant Punjabis are putting up efforts to overcome the ugly situation which is being visualized by some of the sociologists and the anthropologists.
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