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A Typical Sikh Family Stor-Movement Abroad

Sardar Lachhman Singh (1900-1984) from Sialkot/Sargodha Districts of West Punjab was a typical Jat Sikh background who moved from Narowal to Sargodha in the newly set up canal colonies by the British. This was also Migration. Being the only son, the land inheritance was sufficient to dig roots. This got fortified through a degree in Agriculture and a Government job. His sisters got married to Jat Sikhs one with inherited farm land and the other to a graduate with a Government job. Lachhman’s wife was from a well-to-do farming family. There was no incentive to migrate abroad because of sufficient farm holdings and because of continuing up ward movement socially through Government jobs. The first exposure of Lachhman outside Punjab was the appointment for 3 years in Bharatpur state of Maharaja Era. Partition of Punjab in 1947 was an up setting event and the various members of the family had to readjust like several others. There was still no urge or incentive to migrate abroad. However exposure of family members settled in Doaba region was to have an impact but much later. The children by and large did better in financial or employment terms, as will be evident from details to follow, resulting in upwards social status. No migration overseas took place. The next generation moved outwards. Why? Read on and draw your own conclusions. My views appear at the end.

The first foray was by Lachhman Singh’s second son, Swarn, to USA for higher studies in 1958. It was an aberration in a way. The commitment was to get a higher degree, get some valuable job experience and return to follow the traditional route of settling down in India hoping for better prospects through overseas qualifications. A full scholarship helped as otherwise it was a “No Go” deal. On return in 1961, there were short term irritating hiccups in settling down, and getting a satisfying job. Being selected by a British multinational, Imperial Chemical Industries, the largest foreign enterprise in India at that time, settled the issue of India v/s USA. These Corporates called Companies provided a western working environ, with good salaries and more importantly excellent perquisites and life style with memberships of elite Clubs, social or golf. You were in India but part of an elite set up with western oriented job and social environ. Expatriate staff was still present in significant numbers. Calcutta was a city with excellent clubs, restaurants and cocktail party culture. This is several decades before this culture became popular with all and sundry (at that time we felt like that)...
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