The spread of Indian diaspora

The spread of Indian diaspora


Indians from all states are to be found in almost every country in the world. The most visible are Sindhis, Sikhs, Gujaratis and Keralites. All the four try to maintain links with their motherland for at least a generation or two, and if they are doing well, send a part of their savings to improve living conditions of their kinsmen back home. Some examples come readily to mind: the Hindujas (Sindhis) have built a huge hospital in Mumbai; Sir Ghulam Noon (Gujarati) has built a modern fully-equipped hospital in Rajasthan. There is hardly a village in Punjab which has not got a gurudwara, hospital, school or college not donated by one of its sons living abroad.

A recent published book ‘Sikh Diaspora Philanthropy in Punjab: Philanthropy Giving for Local Good’, edited by Vene A Dusenbery and Darshan S Tatla makes a detailed historical survey of diaspora Sikhs the world over with larger concentrations in England, Canada and the United States of their contributions and what motivated them to give away part of their earnings.

It goes into prolix and often boring detail that scholars are prone to indulge to give a full picture of the phenomenon. They have also noted that all communities living abroad have funded fundamentalist Hindu organisations in India. For almost a decade Sikh separatist organisations and Khalistani terrorists received handsome contributions from their fellow Sikhs settled abroad.

Fortunately, they realised their folly in time, funds dried up and the demand for Khalistan came to an end. Today only a very embittered Simranjeet Singh Mann remains. Periodically he makes some outrageous statements to attract media attention. No one needs him anymore.

The tradition of giving one-tenth of one’s earnings (dasvandh) is as old as Sikhism. Guru Nanak exhorted his followers:

Aklee Sahib Seviee, Aklee
paiye maan
Aklee parh kay bujhaia,
Aklee keejey daan
Use your brains to serve God, and earn respect
Use your brains to read,
Understand and give in harity.
And again:
Ghall khai kiehh hutthan deh
Nanak raah pachhaaney seh
Earn by efforts and with your hands give some of it away
Nanak, such people have found the true way.
Guru after Guru lauded the need to give a part of one’s earnings to the needy till it becomes a motto:
Kirat Karo, Naam japo, Vand chhako

Work, take the name of God, and share your earnings with others.
The way these remittances are spent have fallen into pattern. Building new gurudwaras is the first priority; schools and hospitals are second and third. The order need be reversed except that a village gurudwara is not only a place of worship; it is also a community centre and a place for re-affirming bonds of faith.

Shoe-thrower’s story

Remember Jarnail Singh? He is the man who hurled a shoe at home minister P C Chidambaram. He chose the wrong victim as Chidambaram had done him no harm nor had he anything to do with what had riled Jarnail. However, he hit the target. It were the leaders of the Congress who had chosen Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Singh to be its candidates for two seats for the Lok Sabha elections. There was such an uproar of applause for his unpardonable professional misconduct that both names had to be withdrawn from the contest.

Jarnail is going to be in the news again. Penguin has signed a contract with him to tell his story and why he did what he did. His English is not good enough; so he has written it in Hindi. Its English translation ‘I accuse’ is to be published in the very near future.
‘I accuse’ is a scathing indictment of all those who failed to discharge their duties when Hindu mobs went on the rampage following the assassination of Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984, by two of her Sikh bodyguards.

He spares no one. President Zail Singh comes in for special mention for his cowardly inability to use his powers, and reluctance to leave the security of Rashtrapati Bhavan. The Delhi administration, primarily its police is accused of conniving with the mobs. Rajiv Gandhi, for indirectly condoning the crime by saying: “When a big tree falls, the earth beneath is bound to shake” and including men like H K L Bhagat and Jagdish Tytler known to have incited violence in the cabinet.

Jarnail Singh’s family was a victim of the pogrom. They were refugees from Pakistan who found shelter in Lajpat Nagar. His father was a carpenter who earned enough to educate his children. The boys including Jarnail played cricket with Hindu boys. All of a sudden on Oct 31 hell broke loose and their neighbours turned against them. The boys hid themselves in a loft, many friends and relations were butchered or burnt alive. It is a chilling tale told by a man who saw it happen before his eyes. It is authentic as it comes from a stricken heart.

Plastic nose

Santa went to a plastic surgeon to have his nose re-shaped. He asked the doctor what the operation would cost?

“Around five lakh rupees,” replied the doctor.
“How much will it cost if I bring my own plastic?

(Courtesy: Amarinder Bajaj, Delhi)