Punjab Instability Leading To A Whole Host Of Problems Including Immigration To Canada                                            

By Dr. Sawraj Singh

Punjab seems to be passing through a period of unprecedented instability and turmoil. We are being constantly bombarded with advertisements to migrate to Canada or Australia. From the major highways to the small streets not only in the big cities but also in the small and remote villages, one finds advertisement for migration to Australia and Canada and for the IELTS. It becomes obvious that migration is the number one priority for Punjab. In such an atmosphere any sign of stability and continuity is a welcome relief.

I just had one such experience. I went to see a doctor in the old section of Patiala city. I have been going to this clinic for about 60 years. Over the years my relationship with this clinic has changed. When I was about 10 years old I did not know the doctor or his family personally. He was a very well known and popular personality in Patiala. The clinic provided basic medical services. There was a basic lab as well as basic X ray facilities. Medicines for the patients were also available. For the simple and straight forward medical ailments it was a complete setup. The patient was examined and if a basic lab or Xray was needed that was done and the patient got the medicine needed. For any complicated problem the patients were referred to the specialists.

Then my relationship with the clinic changed. I joined the Patiala medical college. The son of this doctor also joined the school and we became friends. I finished the school and went to America for higher studies. My friend took over his father’s practice. Whenever I used to visit India I always visited my friend’s clinic. Everything looked the same except instead of his father now he was sitting in his chair under the garlanded picture of his father.

After the clinic he will ask me to join them for dinner. He will tell me about his cousin who migrated to America and became a very successful business man in California. He was one of the earliest Indian migrants to build a huge mansion in California.  For building this mansion he took a whole ship load of marble from India. Every year my friend visited his cousin in California. My friend loved to travel. Besides being all over India, he will also go to the Asian and the European countries. He said that after travelling all over the world he came to the conclusion that Punjab is the best state to live and Patiala is the best city in Punjab to live. After the September 11 terrorist attack in the year 2001, he said that he would never go back to America because he was treated so rudely by the custom authorities

His both sons became doctors. His one son became a surgeon and built a new clinic in a Patiala posh suburb. The other son became a well known cardiologist in Ludhiana. However, the father continued to run the old family clinic. About two years ago he passed away. The son took over the old clinic. He hired doctors to run the new clinic. I was wondering why he not chose to run the new clinic and higher doctors to run the old clinic. The new clinic is in a very prestigious neighborhood and is right next to their home. I got my question answered when for a test he asked me to come in the old clinic. I went to the old clinic first time after his father’s death. He was sitting under the garlanded pictures of his father and grandfather seeing the patients exactly like his father and grandfather. While sitting in the clinic I went back 60 years when as a little child I first saw the clinic. Then years of memory flashed back before my eyes. For a moment I relived my life. I felt a sense of continuity. This sense of continuity gives us a feeling of stability.

Instead of stability Punjab is passing through a phase where nomadic mentality has become prevalent. Punjab has become like a railway platform where the passengers are waiting to board their trains, for Canada, Australia, USA, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, Dubai, Norway, France and so on. Those who are unable to board these long distance trains do not mind boarding shuttle trains to nearby countries such as Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore etc.   In such a period of turmoil and helter skelter it was so nice to see an island of stability and continuity.

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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