The Times of India – The immigrant swansong: New Delhi must tactfully seek to expand freedom of movement for trade and commerce

Chidanand Rajghatta

Op/Ed, 19 June 2017. There’s an old joke about the scene that greeted Neil Armstrong and co when they stepped on the moon: They saw an auto garage shop manned by an Indian Sikh; they drank chai at a tea stall run by a Keralite Malayali; and finally they checked into a motel managed by a Gujarati Patel.

Advancing the script, the first person to travel to Mars in the near future, who may well be of Indian origin, would apocryphally meet a ‘sardar’ managing the Martian branch of Tesla, a ‘Mallu’ (or Goan) running Mars’s first Michelin-star restaurant, and a ‘Gujju’ managing a five-star hotel.

Ethnic stereotyping aside, the legend of the Indian diaspora is immense. There are more than 30 million people of Indian origin across the globe, a population almost the size of Canada’s. There is no country where they are not present, including remote island states such as Nauru in the Pacific and isolated outposts such as Barrow, Alaska.
Their expansive emigration has allowed India to build bridges with countries and communities across the globe, giving New Delhi economic openings, a stake in the political stability and prosperity of resident countries, and geopolitical heft.

Such is the allure of its diaspora for India, in no small measure because of the nearly $70 billion they remit annually, that New Delhi has now developed a template for community outreach whenever the prime minister travels abroad.

Over the years, such community events have become bigger, brighter and more boisterous, as the Indian immigrants have found their voice on the strength of sweat and toil, smarts and savvy, embracing success like few other ethnicities have managed.

Slogans and cries of Bharat Mata ki jai now rend the air in arenas across the globe, from New York’s Madison Square Garden to Sydney’s Super Dome to Dubai’s cricket stadium. (Even in as politically restrictive a country as Saudi Arabia, temporary home to an estimated three million Indian workers, the Indian prime minister recently reached out to the country’s toiling expats.)

Nowhere has the Indian diaspora grown and thrived as much as in America, home to nearly four million People of Indian Origin and Non-Resident Indians, now chronicled extensively as the wealthiest and best-educated community not just in the US, but arguably anywhere in the world.

From architects to astronauts, from yoga instructors to zoo keepers, from law and politics to acting and entertainment, there is not a sphere of activity they haven’t broken into.

With a median family household income of over $1,00,000 and 70% of its adult population holding at least a master’s degree (both way above the US average), this ‘model minority’ is the envy of other nations and, till recently at least, pride of the host country in showcasing its diversity and openness.

Indeed, no country on earth has taken in as many Indians as its citizens as the United States.

There is a growing sense, and a few small indicators, that the historical mandate for openness and acceptance in what is fundamentally an immigrant society is being altered, if not subverted.

Next week, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in the US capital, he will meet the Indian community at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner in neighbouring Virginia, in a modest ballroom of 14,000 square feet that can accommodate some 1,500 people.

This is a far cry from the 15,000 plus people who stampeded into New York City’s Madison Square Garden in 2014 and Silicon Valley’s SAP Center in 2015, two events that set the tempo and provided the template for similar prime ministerial outreach across the world.

Of course, it is possible that availability and security issues may have resulted in a distant venue, but scuttlebutt suggests there is more to this.

Mind you, the capital area’s Indian-origin population is large enough to have merited the Walter E Washington Convention Center (which offers the city’s largest ballroom at 52,000 square feet), or at least the Washington Marriott Wardman Park or Omni Shoreham, venues where Modi’s predecessors Manmohan Singh and AB Vajpayee respectively addressed the community.

But this is not the time, nor the dispensation, with which you share or showcase the strength of the diaspora.

In as much as previous administration officials and US lawmakers were awed by the Madison Square Garden spectacle (and said so publicly), and saw it as a celebration of the country’s diversity, this regime is more likely to see it as a threat.

Already, the signs are not propitious, not just in the US but in many immigrant destinations abroad, including the UK and Australia.

From proposing ideological tests for potential immigrants to shutting down guest worker visas (which have led to US citizenship for many Indians) on the pretext of misuse, nativist boffins have begun to curtail immigration, initiating steps that have also put a hex on Indian students who venture abroad to study, on tourists, and indeed on businesses.

Of course, no country can afford to have open borders and every country needs to regulate inflow of immigrants; New Delhi shouldn’t mind that.

But what India should aim for is to secure and expand the facility of its people to freely travel for education and entertainment, trade and commerce, India’s great strengths, while hoping both for its and America’s sake that the nativist mood against globalisation is a temporary aberration.

Immigration is not the issue; trade and commerce are.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author’s own.

Advertisements – SGPC to launch ‘Dharam Prachaar Lehar’ from Takht Sri Damdama Sahib on July 1

Sikh24 Editors

Talwandi Sabo-Panjab-India, 19 June 2017. The Apex Sikh body Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee is going to launch a ‘Dharam Prachaar Lehar’ from Takht Sri Damdama Sahib on July 1.

SGPC general secretary Amarjit Singh Chawla held a meeting with SGPC appointed Jathedar of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib Giani Harpreet Singh and other SGPC members in this concern. The meeting attendees deliberated upon the preparations for the ‘Dharam Prachaar Lehar’.

Interacting with media on this occasion, SGPC general Secretary Amarjit Singh Chawla informed that the SGPC president Professor Kirpal Singh Badungar and other renowned Sikh preachers will also take part in the ‘Dharam Prachaar Lehar’.

He further informed that an Akhand Path Sahib in this regard will be commenced at Takht Sri Damdama Sahib on June 29 and will be culminated on July 1.

“Our main goal is to start a grassroots movement to re-ignite Sikhi spirit throughout Punjab. We want to touch each and every Punjabi Sikh and bring them into Sikhi fold,” he told Sikh24.

Chawla asked upon Sikh organizations to provide assistance to the movement to make it successful. “We will be providing more details about the Lehar in the coming days,” he said.

Baba Buta Singh (Vice-President of SGPC), Bhai Mohan Singh Bangi (SGPC member), Bhai Amrik Singh Kot Shamir (SGPC member), Bhai Gurpreet Singh Jhabbar (SGPC member), Bhai Navtej Singh Kaoni (SGPC member), Bhai Paramjit Singh Khalsa (SGPC member), Bhai Jagjit Singh (Manager of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib), Bhai Jagtar Singh (Head Granthi, Takht Sri Damdama Sahib), Bhai Charanjit Singh, Bhai Kulwinder Singh, Bhai Surinder Singh Mander etc. prominent among the meeting attendees.

Gent: De Reep – Gent Gurdwara

De Reep
25 May 2017

Converting land to water ….

First a branch of the river Schelde

Then a car park

And now back to being a waterway

Gent Gurdwara
28 May 2017

Mata Sahib Kaur Gurdwara
Kortrijksepoortstraat 49
B-9000 Gent – Oost-Vlaanderen

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

New Indian Express – Featuring the sorrow of the bereaved

Thiruvananthapuram, 18h June 2017. Teenaa Kaur’s “1984, When the Sun didn’t rise” is about the experience of three women on the 1984 Sikh Massacre.

It depicts the pain and suffering that the women survivors had to undergo following the brutal murder and killing of their husbands by neighbours.

The women were newly married and had small children at the time of the event.

The entire documentary is centred around the experience of the women rehabilitated in a colony for the victims of the 1984 riots. But no amount of money or support from the Government has been able to compensate their loss of loved ones and the struggle they had to put up over the years as told by each one of them.

Some lives have not been able to recuperate after their children turned to drugs and lack of opportunity to study and get good jobs.

Archival footage of the political and social events in the 80’s and interviews with one of the prime accused in the massacre is used to portray in its entirety the events that marred the lives of thousands of Sikhs.

Dawn – Man allegedly kills niece in the name of ‘honour’

Hanif Samoon

Shahdadpur (Sindhi: شهدادپور )-Sindh-Pakistan, 19 June 2017. A man shot dead his 19-year-old niece and injured another man in the name of ‘honour’ in Sanghar’s Shahdadpur area on Monday.

Darya Khan Talpur Station House Officer Muhammad Younis Jatt said Samina Talpur’s uncle, Ghulam Hussain Talpur, confessed to shooting her and the man after allegedly seeing them together in a compromising position.

SHO Jutt said Samina died on the spot, whereas the man sustained multiple wounds and was admitted to Civil Hospital Hyderabad in critical condition.

The police officer said the main accused is the maternal uncle of the female victim.

Samina’s body was handed over to her father for burial following a post-mortem examination.

A First Information Report (FIR) has not been registered against the main accused as yet. The SHO said that an FIR would be registered on behalf of the state if the woman’s father failed to do so.