Exodus of Punjabi Youth To Canada May Prove Disastrous For Punjab

By Dr. Sawraj Singh

Thanks to unscrupulous travel agents, pseudo and sold out intellectuals and bragging overseas Punjabis migration of Punjabi youth, particularly students, has reached such an alarming level that it can be called an exodus. All of these contributors to the problem have presented an unrealistic and one sided picture of Canada and life of The Punjabis in Canada that many young people in Punjab are convinced that if there is a heaven on the earth then that is in Canada. However, all is not well in Canada. Last year about 150,000 students from Punjab went to the different countries for higher studies. Canada was the destination for most of them because about 125,000 went to Canada. However, very few have a chance of getting a decent education in Canada. Most of them may end in doing low paying menial jobs or be recruited by the drug mafia and human traffickers or by the sex trade.

For the last few years I have repeatedly tried to warn the Punjabis in my writings that migration poses a very serious challenges and risks for Punjab and the Punjabis. However, I feel that people did not take me very seriously. Now, suddenly many people have started saying that the situation is very serious. Many people are concerned about the brain drain and its long term effects on Punjab. Many people are also concerned for the future of higher education in Punjab. Many colleges and universities are having difficulties in filling their seats. Some of these used to be very difficult to get in and there was a big competition to be admitted in these. Eventually, some of these institutions may have to be closed or some courses may have to be cancelled. This situation can adversely affect the quality of education in Punjab.

I feel that most of the students going to Canada are not actually going for the higher studies. This is just a front for immigration. Many of the colleges and universities are sham and are just collecting fees for helping students to get into Canada. Most of these students will never get any descent education and are destined to become the underclass and the lumpen elements. This kind of situation will hurt the Punjabis not only in Punjab but also in the other countries because without a descent education it is very difficult to achieve one’s full potential. For Punjab, long term effects of this situation can be extremely dangerous, the massive brain drain and falling quality of education will prove very harmful for Punjab. There are many studies to prove that descent education plays a very important role in the prosperity and quality of life of a community and a region.

The old notion about immigration is changing. People’s perception about immigrants used to be that they go to the other countries where they can earn more money and with the money they will improve their plight and of their families. They will buy more land and build better houses. However, this old notion is no longer true. The young people have to pay enormous fees to the foreign universities and colleges plus they have also to pay hefty amounts to the travel agents. Their families have to borrow money or sell their land to pay for these expanses. Moreover, these people will not be sending back money and are not coming back to settle in Punjab. Rather they are going to encourage their parents to sell their remaining assets and join them in the heavenly land of Canada where besides other facilities they will also be getting old age pension.

The loss to Punjab is not just the brain drain but also huge net out flow of capital. If we add other losses such as potential decline of educational standards, social and cultural instability and ethical crisis besides economic crisis then it becomes obvious that Punjab has to pay tremendous price to keep the myth alive that Canada is heaven on earth. It is a good thing that people are waking up to face the realities. However, the question is it too late?

The forces which are engaged in promoting Canada as a heaven on earth are also engaged in the propaganda that there are no opportunities for the young people in Punjab or India. Moreover, they also paint a picture of Punjab and India as a place which is no longer livable. Just like their portrayal of Canada as a heaven on earth, their projection of Punjab and India as hell is equally untrue. Both of these assessments are products of their greed and selfishness. I want to give a couple of examples to counter their malicious propaganda. Generally, it is said that there are no jobs available in Punjab. However, an executive of the Punjab and Sindh Bank in Ludhiana was telling a completely different story. He said that our customers are asking for Punjabi speaking employees but we have more than 90% non Punjabi speaking employees because we are not getting Punjabi applicants.

Just the other day father of twenty years old boy in Patiala told me that his son was studying in the Thapar University Patiala. An American company based in Bangalore came here and recruited him and offered him a salary of Rs. 80,000 a month. They have provided him with a descent place to live and provide him with very good meals all for Rs. 10,000 a month. Once a month, he flies from Bangalore to Chandigarh and takes a cab to come home. He said that the airline ticket actually costs him less than a first class train ticket. The father said that his son is actually spending more time with them as compared to when he was studying in Patiala. Just four months after he joined, the company was so impressed with his performance that they offered him to join their head office in America and said that they will take care of all formalities as far immigration is concerned. However, the father, much to their surprise said that he does not want his son to leave India.

A few months ago I was travelling in a luxury bus from Delhi to Chandigarh. A very smart looking girl who looked like someone in the early thirties was sitting next to me. She was a high executive of a company based in Hyderabad. She told me that her salary was about Rs. 200,000 a month. She had lot of other privileges. She has to go to inspect their branches allover India. She flies first class and an executive suite is reserved for her in a five star hotel. A luxury car with a chauffeur waits for her where ever she arrives. When I asked her that what she feels about migration to America, she replied that she would not even consider it. Not all people are happy with their lives in Canada. Similarly, all people are not unhappy in India. Heaven and hell are just states of our mind.

Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at sawrajsingh@hotmail.com.


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