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The Punjabi Element (Sikhs R US Blog)


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
The Punjab Element - Immigration of Farmers, Soldiers and Entrepreneurs

I say to my fellow Punjabis, let us complete the whole alphabet - America-Australia (A), Brazil(B), Canada-Chile-China (C), Denmark (D), Ethopia (E), France (F), Italy & India (I), .....and so on. Make Punjab, Punjabiat, Punjabi, Sikhi, and India proud wherever you go!

by Jasbir Singh Kang MD

Punjabis were the first South Asians to migrate to North America. Their history of migration to America is full of adventure. It is a story of struggle against discrimination and a battle for survival. The first verifiable record of an East Indian in North America is a 1670 Colonial diary that mentions a visit to Salem, Massachusetts by an Indian from Madras who was accompanying a sea captain. Prior to the early 1900,s such visits by an Indian to American soil were sporadic and the first significant South Asian immigration to North America began in 1803. Between 1903 and 1908, about 6,000 Punjabis entered North America (Canada) and nearly 3,000 crossed into the United States. The first group of immigrants can be divided into two general groups. The majority was illiterate and semiliterate laborers from agricultural and/or military backgrounds. The second, very small group was the educated elite group of professionals and students. The laborers were mainly peasant Sikhs and some Muslims from Doaba and Malwa regions of Punjab province in Northwest India, while the later was composed of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims from throughout upper India. The working class South Asians left very few written records of their early experiences. In contrast, the educated group wrote prolifically on issues such as immigration and citizenship rights.

Between 1903-1908, Punjabis primarily worked on Western Pacific Railways in Northern California. Two thousand Punjabis worked on a 700-mile road between Oakland and Salt Lake City, which is probably modern interstate 80. Some worked in Lumber Mills. Between 1907-1909, Punjabi laborers were responsible for the construction of large number of bridges and tunnels. Some of the Punjabis took jobs in Lumber Mills and logging camps in Oregon, Washington and California. Several hundred Punjabi workers had moved across the border into Bellington because of rising Anti- Asian sentiment in Canada. Mill owners were interested in a steady labor supply and Punjabis could be depended upon to show up every morning. The night of September 5, 1907, a mob of 600 lumberjacks of European ancestry raided the living quarters of Punjabi mill workers in Bellington. Punjabi possessions were thrown away into the street and their valuables were stolen. A few Punjabis leaped out of windows in attempt to escape. Many others were dragged out of beds half-naked and whipped and forced into the streets. Some Punjabis fled across the border into Canada and about 400 were jailed. There were no fatalities. The police allowed mobs to expel Punjabis from certain areas; although they did protect individuals from beatings. The press and the general public were unsympathetic to the plight of the Punjabis. The employers welcomed the Punjabis and some used them to undercut the organizing efforts of Euro-American workers. The Punjabis became strikebreakers in some situations. They were paid lower rates than other workers. The American workers organized to drive the Punjabis away. The community was pushed out of Oregon, Washington and Northern California.

The Asiatic Exclusion League was formed in 1908. The Asiatic Exclusion League leaders were also leaders of the organized labor movement. By 1910, Asiatic Exclusion League was successful in lobbying for imposing immigration restrictions on Indians. The Punjabi immigration to the United States was a spill over from Canada when the Canadian Authorities firmly shut the door in 1908. By then a small community of Punjabi laborers had established in The Pacific coast states. There were over 6,000 Punjabis in California by the end of 1910. Punjabis, which were by and large Sikhs established the Khalsa Diwan Society in 1909 and by 1912 the first United States Gurdwara was built in Stockton. Indians were not allowed to purchase any land except one for building a place of worship, nor could an Indian run a business independently, yet these Punjabi immigrants continued to struggle against all odds. The growing network of railroad lines brought increased agricultural activity to large areas of Northern California. Punjabis started moving into farming jobs in the Fresno area. By 1910, the agricultural business expanded swiftly, and Punjabis started getting higher wages because of their traditional agricultural expertise. (Punjabis originated from Indus valley. History experts consider Indus valley civilization as a first civilization to invent agriculture). In Canada, the Punjabis remained in the lumber industry.

Professor Bruce La Brack, in his article entitled “Study of Sikhism and Punjabi migration” writes about Stockton Gurdwara as follows: “During these trying years, Gurdwara in Stockton was the religious and social center for East Indian people. Here Sikhs, Hindus, Mexicans, Catholics and even Muslims met, worshipped and socialized together. The Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society built it in 1912. This is a historic place. It was here that Ghadar Party was founded with the view to do-away with the British rule in India”. Punjabi settlements began in farming lands in the Sacramento valley, San Joaquin Valley and in the Imperial Valley in California. Most Sikhs worked for the next few years and established permanent homes. Some worked in the Vacaville Orchards. Five Hundred were living in Newcastle, picking and hoeing orchards. In 1909, four hundred worked in the best fields in Hamilton, Oxnard and Visalia. Most eventually settled in these places. In Fresno, ranchers considered the Punjabis reliable in financial dealings. By 1919, about 60% of the Imperial Valley was owned by non-residents. Nearly tenant farmers ran 88% of all ranches by 1924. They were able to provide regular profit from land without supervision. Punjabis were not content to remain laborers, and they started pooling money to lease land. Then they started seeking loans. By this time they had acquired some capital and their reputation as hard workers was already established. They were viewed as reliable borrowers. Many Punjabis decided to stay in the Imperial Valley. The current mayor of El Centro is a third generation Punjabi-Mexican, David Singh Dhillon.

In 1923, Asian immigration except from Japan was completely halted and the “Thind” case of 1923 declared Indians ineligible for citizenship on the basis that they were not white people. A great deal of race literature preceded and followed the “Thind” case. Ethnically and linguistically, the South Asians in the U.S. and in Canada were nearly all Caucasians, speaking languages related to other Indo-European stocks, which arose from Sanskrit. But from the American viewpoint, because they came from South Asia, they were all considered Oriental. Because of the restrictive immigration laws, the males could not bring their wives and family. Many Punjabis married Mexican women and lived close to the Mexican border. By 1946, there were 400 Punjabi families in California. Virtually 80% involved Mexican women and Punjabi men. Culturally it was tough. Mexican women insisted on raising the children in their own culture. They brought them up as Catholics and taught them Spanish and English. Although Punjabis were tolerant of their wives, they tried to reassert their traditional family control. The cultural conflicts saw at least 20% of the marriages end in divorce. The women received custody of the children. Most of these children married among Anglos or Hispanics. Punjabis achieved a surprising degree of economic success in California at great personal price. They evaded the alien land laws and used the American legal system and a network of American businessmen to obtain control of farmland.

Since a vast majority of immigrants were Sikhs, the earliest immigration organization centered on Gurdwaras. The difficulties faced by the Sikhs put them in the lap of revolutionaries. The traditional Sikh response against domination was to fight back. The Gurdwaras were the only public places where Punjabis or other Indians could meet. They became the strong centers of political activity. The Khlasa Diwan Society and other organizations began to publish tabloids in Gurmukhi, Urdu and English. A large number of immigrants were ex-soldiers. It was only after they failed to attain any redress that they began to lend an ear to radical counsel. In and around San Francisco, a small group of Indian intellectuals arose to become the nucleus of a revolutionary independence movement. The vehicle for this was Hindustan Gadar Party. Sohan Singh Bhakna, a lumber mill worker in Oregon, became elected president and well-known Indian revolutionary. Har Dyal was elected as secretary of the organization. Jwala Singh, a well known Sikh farmer remained behind the scenes but provided most of the funds, including scholarships to many students who were part of this party. In November 1913, Ghadar Party formally organized to promote national independence of India. The first issue of the Ghadar newspaper appeared in the same month and was mailed to every Indian in North America. Also, copies were sent to Europe, India and Far East. Some of the revolutionaries went back to India to participate in India’s freedom struggle. The Ghadar part continued to support Indian independence until 1947 when it was disbanded and it turned all its assets over to the new Indian government. Gadar memorial hall still exists in San Francisco. Jagjit Singh who arrived in the U.S. in 1926 became president of the newly formed India League of American kin 1938. He was an importer of Indian goods in New York and developed a wealthy clientele. He started acting as official lobbyist for India and Indians. He succeeded in obtaining TIME magazine’s support for Indian nationalists, and he cornered Congressman and diplomats. A number of Punjabis fought for restoration of citizenship, which they had lost in 1910, but congress balked at it. The outbreak of World War II combined with the struggle of Indian nationalists finally reversed discrimination. Jagjit Singh was instrumental in convincing some democrats in congress to restore rights and citizenship for Indians. But it was not until 1946 that Congress passed a bill granting naturalization and immigration quotas for Indians.

The Punjabis moved fast into the political mainstream of America. Farmer Dalip Singh Saund, became the first Indian American congressman. Born in an uneducated Sikh family in Punjab, he came to the United States in 1920 and eventually earned a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Berkeley. He worked as a foreman on a cotton farm and then became a farm owner in the Imperial Valley. He married an American woman, and together they got involved in civic activities. He organized the Indian National Congress Association of America. Saund was elected as a judge in 1953 and a congressman in 1956.
After 1965, immigrant laws were modified to admit more Indians. In 1968 a large number of Indians were allowed to migrate to the U.S. Actually, it was after 1965 when most of the Indians who migrated to America were from any other states in India, but the credit goes to the struggle by original pioneer Punjabis who were able to bring about changes in the American Immigration laws to help Indians and other South Asians to reap the benefits of American opportunities and freedom. Since 1965, approximately two million South Asians have immigrated to the U.S. and Canada.

References: Canadian Sikhs by Narinder Singh
Many lecture and articles by Prof. Bruce La Brack of University of Pacifica, Stockton, California
Becoming Canadian by Sarjeet Singh Jagpal
Echoes of Freedom, University of Berkeley California


State working on sending farmers to Brazil
Naveen S Garewal/TNS
Chandigarh, September 20

Latin America is opening up its shore for foreign investments and is welcoming farmers from all over the world to come and plough its barren lands. Punjab has asked the Centre through its Ambassador in Brazil and Argentina to work out modalities so that Punjabi farmers could be sent there.
Stating this, Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, who has just returned from a three-nation tour, said the state would soon work on helping those willing to immigrate there.

He said those nations had smaller population and huge tracts of uncultivated lands were available for sale at prices ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh per acre. “Punjabi farmers who are hardworking can make it big in those countries and every effort will be made to make this possible for them”, he added.

Specifically pointing out the case of Brazil, he said it was one of the fastest growing economies and had 26 per cent of the world’s fresh water resources. Since that country treated agriculture as an industry, Punjabis could gain tremendously by investing there, he added.


Canada reopens doors for Punjabi farmers
Tribune News Service
Mohali, November 25

Canadian government has re-opened Federal Immigrant Investor Programme from December 1 to grant permanent residency to the investors from across the world. With the re-opening of the programme, the doors for immigration to Canada have opened for the Punjabi farmers as well.

Col BS Sandhu, chairman and managing director, WorldWide Immigration Consultancy Services (WWICS), elaborated that as per new criteria, farmers need to have personal net worth of $1.6 million, which is up from $800,000 under the old criteria.

“Punjabis already have created waves in Canada establishing their own vibrant community. The Canadian government is seeking more hardworking Punjabi farmers to improve its immigrants’ quality as well,” he said.

Farmers would now be able to make an investment of $800,000, up from the previous requirement of $400,000. Despite the fact that Canada has doubled the investment requirement, still the investment levels in Canada under the Federal Immigrant Investor Programme have been the lowest in the world in comparison to other countries that have similar programmes.

Last year too, the programme had received an overwhelming response from farming community. WWICS helped more than 500 farmers and businesspersons to get permanent residency in a short span of 9-12 months under this category.


Ethiopia beckons Punjabi farmers
Amarjit Thind/TNS
Jalandhar, June 15

Acknowledging the expertise of Punjabi farmers in making the state the “food bowl of the country”, Ethiopia now wants them to replicate this success in their country. Only 43 per cent of the total land mass of the country was currently under cultivation and the African country has invited farmers to lease huge tracts of arable land in various parts of the country and turn them into green lush fields.

Ethiopian Ambassador Gennet Zewide and Minister for Capacity Building Tefera Walwa, said today that farmers could tap vast agricultural resources available in their country, ample rainfall, power surplus and good quality irrigation network to their advantage. Moreover, the fertility rate of land was over six times that in Punjab, Zewide said. They were in the city on the invitation of the Confederation of Potato Seed Farmers (POSCON), who had shown interest in going there.

Zewide said 1. 7 million hectares were already with the government for allotment in the diverse agro-ecological zones in their country which were ideal to grow almost all crops, including cotton, wheat, pulses, oilseeds and sugarcane. Raising livestock was also a good option with ready markets all around, she said.

Under its user-friendly policy, the country would not charge any lease from farmers for three years and all heavy machinery and inputs required for farming and allied operations could be imported from any country, including India, without duty. Similarly, there would be no duties if the entire produce were exported to India, she said.

In addition to this, there was an option of availing easy loans up to 70 per cent of the project cost and all necessary clearances took only between one to four hours. Labour was also cheap in the countryside, she added. POSCON patron and former Agriculture Minister Surinderpal Singh Thamanwal said farming was fast becoming an unviable proposition in th state.




Mongolia wants to grow with Punjabi farmers
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, October 24

Now, Mongolia wants the services of Punjab farmers for attaining self-sufficiency in food.

President Nambaryn Enkhbayar made a request in this regard to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the 7th ASEM Summit in Beijing today. It is perhaps for the first time in recent years that a Head of State has requested an Indian Prime Minister to make available the services of Punjab farmers. The response of Dr Manmohan Singh, sources said, was positive.

Mongolia has thus joined a select band of nations which want Punjab farmers for cultivating their fields and making their countries’ farmers either self-sufficient or even exporters of foodgrains. Australia, Argentina and certain other nations have already formulated their immigration policies to facilitate the state’s farmers.

Recently, some African nations through a World Bank initiative wanted Indian dairy farmers in general and those belonging to Gujarat in particular for replicating a white revolution there.

President Enkhbayar reportedly praised the great work done by the farmers of Punjab in making India self-sufficient in foodgrains. He reportedly requested Dr Manmohan Singh that Mongolia needed them to help and guide his country’s farmers in converting long stretches of cultivable land into food granaries. Enkhbayar, sources in the Prime Minister’s entourage told The Tribune, indicated that his government might even enact laws to facilitate overseas farmers in accelerating farm production in his country.

If large parts of the US and Canada are the world’s best fruit, vegetable and grain production centres, it is primarily because of Punjabi immigrants.

Australia has also proposed special clauses in its new immigration policies in which those ready to acquire large pieces of farmland in South Australia get preference over other applicants. Even some European nations, especially those belonging to the erstwhile East Bloc, are planning to seek the help of Punjab farmers in converting their unproductive lands into food granaries.

‘Pulses should replace paddy in state’
Chitleen K Sethi/TNS
Chandigarh, June 15

This might as well be the beginning of a ‘puls’ating revolution in the country.Following the announcement of a 15 to 30 per cent hike in the minimum support price (MSP) for pulses last week, the Union Government has also decided to give farmers an incentive of Rs 5 per kilogram for selling their crop to government agencies.

“This was done to give a benefit solely to farmers without reflecting the market price of the pulses,” said PK Basu, IAS, Secretary Agriculture, Government of India, adding that the incentive would be given to farmers through the procurement agencies.

He said these initiatives were taken at the behest of Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to ensure enhanced pulse production and bridge the historic demand-supply gap, in order to reign in the prices of these important food commodities.

On June 9, the government had announced a substantial increase in the MSP of pulses with an aim to give a boost to the production of pulses, as also to stem the spiralling prices. The MSP of Arhar was increased to Rs 3,000, Moong Rs 3,170 and Urad at Rs 2,900.

At present, India is unable to meet its soaring demand for pulses, and imports over 3.5 million tonnes every year.

“Our average production is 14.5 million tonnes, but we are aiming for production of at least 16.5 million tonnes this year. If we are able to achieve it, it would be a new record,” Basu said.

Basu said the procurement machinery too has been spruced to ensure that the government, through NAFED, was the major player in procurement of pulses, and not the private players as had been the scenario in the past years.

“The allocation set aside for pulses programme is about 900 crore this year,” Basu said. This represents an almost eight time increase from 105 crore in 2007-08.

Talking to The Tribune, Basu said the move was expected to boost pulse production in Punjab and he suggested farmers take up cultivation of pulses in a big way.

“The state had been trying to diversify out from paddy for several years, and the pulse mission is a good opportunity to do so. Once, Punjab used to be a major producer of pulses. I think the time has come to revive it,” Basu said.

“Cultivation of paddy is having a negative impact on the groundwater tables and as a national policy we are shifting paddy cultivation to the east which is climatically more suitable to the cultivation of water guzzlers like paddy and sugar cane,” he added.

Italian pasta from Punjabi wheat!
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 17

Italian pasta may soon be made out of Punjabi wheat. You may find it hard to digest the fact, but the palatable reality is that the Italian ambassador Antonio Armellini is here for coming out with a perfect recipe for enhanced business cooperation between Punjab and his country, particularly in the agriculture sector.

Among other things, the Italian ambassador is looking into the possibility of adding into pasta the ingredient of “Durum” wheat widely produced in Punjab.

“We have the technology and Punjab has the wheat required for preparing good quality pasta. So, we are looking into the feasibility of outsourcing the pasta production by joining hands with the state,” says Armellini just before addressing a seminar on “Doing business with Italy”.

As Armellini speaks, one thing becomes apparent: The Akali-BJP combine in the state is not averse to all that’s Italian. But will they be importing Durum wheat from Punjab for the purpose?

“No,” says Armellini. “We are interested in transfer of technology to produce pasta here in India for local consumption, and also for export. As such, we are open to the idea of entering into joint ventures”.

Durum, popularly known as Macaroni wheat, is the hardest of all varieties. Its high protein content and gluten strength makes Durum good for pasta and bread. The dough sticks together and holds its shape. Durum wheat sells at a premium to other varieties and accounts for roughly 5 per cent of the global wheat production.

Armellini says both the nations will reap benefit from the business ties in the agriculture field.

“The problem here is of safe-guarding the agriculture produce. The hard reality here is that 75 per cent of the produce never reaches the market.

Once the ties improve further, we can help the farmers here with better cold-chain, transportation, packaging and marketing facilities”.

The ambassador says even now the trade ties with India are well established. Quoting 2006 figures, Armellini says trade with the country has touched $7.5 billion mark after registering a whooping a growth of as much as 40 per cent.
As for Indians settled illegally in Italy, Armellini says both the Italian and the Punjab governments are interested in brining an end to the problem of illegal settlement.

“For the purpose of facilitating the entry of Indians into Italy, we are also opening visa resource centres,” he asserts.

At the seminar organised by the Embassy of Italy and the CII, in association with Malhotra & Malhotra Associates, city-based Ranjit Malhotra was also appointed honorary consular correspondent at Chandigarh.

Italian visa office likely in Chandigarh
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 11

Italy may shortly open its visa office in Chandigarh to cater to the growing demand of Punjabis migrating to that country for employment.

An indication to this effect was given by Antonio Armellini, Ambassador of Italy, during his hour-long meeting with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here today. Antonio was responding to a request made in this regard from Badal.

The office may initially have the level of an honorary consulate and may be opened as soon as the union government gave its clearance. Antonio was accompanied by Italian Consulatei Gabriele Annis in Delhi.

Talking to the Chief Minister, Antonio also said the doors of his country were open for skilled Punjabi manpower, especially in the field of agriculture, agro-processing, machine tools and horticulture. Badal also sought Italian cooperation from Antonio in the field of education, especially at the school llevel.

Antonio said many Italian universities and institutions had Indian affiliates but unfortunately there were none so far from Punjab. He said his country was willing to cooperate with the Government of India and the state government to facilitate tie-ups between educational institutions in Punjab and Italy. He said this would also open up avenues for Punjabi students in other parts of the Europe.

Badal informed that the state government was in the process of bringing a legislation to regulate the functioning of travel agents in Punjab.

The visiting ambassador said his country had a special bond with Punjab as more than 80 per cent of the Indians migrating to Italy came from this state. He said most of them were prospering and were well integrated in to the host society. Some of them were willing to contribute actively to promote economic, cultural and social inter relations between the Government of Italy and the government and people of Punjab.

The meeting was attended by media adviser to Chief Minister Harcharan Bains, chief secretary, R.I. Singh and principal secretary to Chief Minister D.S. Guru.

‘Need to educate Punjabis on legal immigration’
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 11

Echoing concern over the bizarre mindset of Punjabis, an array of distinguished speakers, at a seminar titled ‘Destination Italy - The Right Way’, today asserted that the only mantra of successful life abroad was legal immigration.

Italian Ambassador Antonio Armellini, in his welcome address, hit the nail on the head when he emphasised that Italy was open to those coming through legal channels but had nothing to offer to illegal immigrants.

“Illegal immigrants get no rights and are subjected to exploitation. There are no free health or education services for them. They can be incarcerated and the prison term may increase for repeated violation of immigration norms,” Ambassador made a stern point, cautioning prospective illegal immigrants.

On a positive note, he highlighted the fact that Italy was keen on strengthening business ties with India and it expected the trade volumes to reach $10 billion mark within a few years.

Since agro-business would be one of the thrust areas, Italian focus on Punjab would increase, the Ambassador said. He stressed the need for initiating an awareness campaign among Punjabis to migrate legally.

Sharing the Ambassador’s sense of urgency, the Governor of Punjab, Gen S.F. Rodrigues, said he was shocked at the magnitude and ramifications of the problem.

“An effective strategy should be evolved to bust the gangs of touts and travel agents fleecing the gullible people who are desperate to go abroad. Italy and India should fight the menace unitedly and not in isolation,” Rodrigues emphasised.

He also drove home the point that EU countries were witnessing low birth rates and there was a dire need of Asian immigrants to fill the vacuum.

Anil Malhotra, a lawyer who played an instrumental role in organising the seminar, brought forth some harsh facts. He revealed that illegal immigration was a multi-million dollar racket with a chain of thugs waiting to entrap gullible Punjabis.

MLA Jasbir Singh Khangura minced no words and asked the Italians to formulate a method for point-based objective assessment of visa application.
Other notable speaker was Vipin Pubby, resident editor of an English daily, who said Italy and Spain were the new countries on Punjabis’ radar. These countries being the Schengen countries offered way to other lucrative markets for Punjabi desperadoes. He advised governments to interact on a much wider level to check the menace.

DIG, Punjab Police, Gaurav Yadav, lamented that the weak penal provisions of the law restricted the police from going full steam against unscrupulous touts and travel agents.

Scotland wooes students from Punjab

relaxed immigration rules for students and their parents, now it is Scotland’s turn to relax visa rules for non-European Union international students. A team from Scotland is here to attract students from Punjab.

Students henceforth will be allowed to stay and work in Scotland for two years after they complete their graduation.

“Scotland has launched a fresh talent scheme, which will give greater opportunities to Indian students to live and find work in Scotland. It will be a major step forward from the present situation, which require students to return to their country soon after graduation, if they have not been able to find employment and obtain the necessary work permit” said Jane Oliver, international officer of Napier University, who was recently in the country.

Oliver, who is on a special mission to represent Napier University of Scotland, revealed that the university, situated in Scotland capital Edinburgh, offers a variety of courses including business management, accounting and finance, MBA, HRM, drug design and biomedical sciences, mechatronics, communication engineering, information systems/technology, software engineering, multimedia, marketing, nursing, journalism, tourism, materials technology, advance networking etc.

He revealed that along with other staff members of Napier University, he would visit India on a regular basis, to interview the students for on the spot admissions in the university.

While further explaining the new scheme, Oliver said that during the two years covered by the scheme, students did not need a work permit and therewas no restrictions on the kind of jobs taken.

The job didnot always directly relate to studies and students could also choose to be self-employed for the period of their stay, he added.

Nilesh Tandon, director-international affairs, British Counselling & Education Services (BCES), who was accompanying Oliver said, “Students graduating with a higher national diploma from a Scotish education college or a first degree, master’s degree or Ph.D from a Scottish higher education institution will be eligible to apply under the new scheme.”

He claimed the BCES is representing Napier University in India and has eight officers in the north of the country including Gurgaon (head office), Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Ambala, Chandigarh, Lucknow and Delhi.

The competition seems to have already begun to fetch more and more students from India especially from Punjab.

Earlier, followed by Canada’s liberalisation of its immigration rules for students and families, the University of Windsor had opened three free help desks in Punjab to attract aspiring students from the state.

The help desks at Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Chandigarh organised by the Windsor University, Canada, in collaboration with B N Overseas Education services, have received overwhelming response from the aspiring students from Punjab. As many as 25 students received admission in the foreign university through the Jalandhar help desk only.

Scotland wooes students from Punjab Anish Sharma / Jalandhar May 25, 2005

Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan
Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan offer land on lease to Punjabi farmers
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 24

There seems to be a surfeit of choices for Punjabi farmers wishing to till land abroad with the Central Asian countries of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan now extending an invitation to lease out land to farmers of the state.

African countries have wooed Punjabi farmers in the last four or five months with the ambassadors of several countries visiting Punjab to appeal to farmers as well as corporates to take up land in their countries. The Union Government is also facilitating land tie-ups in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.
Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal is accompanying Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on a visit to these countries from September 3 to 13.

The Punjab Government is also set to explore land leasing opportunities for its farmers in Central Asian countries. Punjab Agro will take a delegation of seven or eight progressive farmers to a visit these countries in October.

Giving details Punjab Agro Managing Director S K Sandhu told TNS that Uzbekistan and Kazakistan, which were offering land to Punjabi farmers, were only two or three hours away by plane. “This is a unique advantage for Punjabi farmers,” he said, adding it would open up trade in fruit and vegetables also, an aspect that would also be explored by the delegation, which will be led by Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal.

Sandhu said the delegation would visit Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. He said the team would explore the market for the export of fruit, vegetables, potato seed and basmati rice. He said it was felt that Punjabi farmers should try to bag a portion of the fruit and vegetable trade keeping in view the immense possibilities in the case of opening of the land route to these countries. Sandhu said in the meantime even airlifting could work out economically due to the short flight distance to these countries.

Confederation of Potato and Seed Farmers Association representative Jang Bahadur Singh Sangha, who is also on the list of farmers scheduled to visit Central Asia, said government-backed initiatives to settle Punjabi farmers had a big chance of success. He said there was scope for selling potato seed also and that a market for the same could be established in the Central Asian countries.

Sangha said his association members had already visited Ethiopia on the invitation of its government and evaluated the land on offer in the country. He said field research had also been conducted with the help of an agri- scientist and that now professional help was being taken to isolate the land to be taken up for cultivation. Sangha said Ethiopia was a good option for Punjabi farmers due to its good climate and corruption-free regime but that Latin American as well as Central Asian countries could also be good bets.



1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
I really worry about these encouraging reports, because the regions are politically and economically unstable. Nearly all are Muslim majority areas, with insurgent jihadist groups on the perimeters of urban areas. How can one take the risk of being yet one more "Pakistani" Sikh, in "so many words." Apologies -- but all who read these should consider how unstable various parts of the world are and if they invest part of their lives, - please make it short.



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