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The Sikh Global Village ArgentinaDownload Synopsis

Sikhs became substantially assimilated into local society and sometimes the third and second generations would not even call themselves Sikhs. Turbaned Sikhs are a rarity. Some of the first generation immigrants got married locally and almost all of them have done so in the second and third generation. New immigrants though are more ambivalent in this respect. However, an emotional bond with their heritage still exists, judging by the Gurdwara commissioned in the early nineties in Rosario de la Frontera.

The Country
Despite being the second largest country in South America and the eighth largest in the world, Argentina has always fallen short of being able to establish itself as the major power, which its size and range of industries suggest. Corrupt military Governments and bad economic management has been the problem. Another factor is probably the pattern of immigration in earlier years, as the land was owned by only a small section of the population in the form of huge estates, which encouraged vested interests. The economic crisis earlier in this century forced devaluation of the Argentinean currency to a third of its earlier parity with US Dollar. Argentina has almost exclusively European population (contrast with Bolivia and Brazil). The country has good farmland, grazing areas, high mountains to the North and West and the southern-most city of the world. Climate is moderate except on the mountains and in the deep South where winters can be severe. Along with other South American countries except for Brazil, Argentina is Spanish speaking. The Spaniards discovered it in 1516, but the local Indians killed the expedition leader. La Plata was really settled successfully only in 1580. Argentina declared independence from Spain in 1816. The country boasts of such charismatic leaders as San Martin, who ranks high as liberator of Spanish America. The country also had such romantic rulers as Peron and Eva Duarte later Eva Peron of “Don’t Cry for me Argentina” Broadway musical fame.

The First Immigrants
No definitive information is available but the national census of 1895 shows the presence of six Indo-English persons as per Lia Rodriguez De La Vega, a Buenos Aires Researcher. A house built in village Lagheri, dating back to 1911 by Gunwant Singh on his visit back home would indicate 19th century immigration. According to Baldev(Daniel) Singh of village Bopa Rai Khurd, who lived in Argentina for over two decades, the British who were setting up sugar mills were facing difficulties because of “Veerappan” type brigands and sought the help of Sikhs to provide security for their operations.....

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Article Published in The Sikh Review - December 2004 - No. 624
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