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The Sikh Global Village BrazilDownload Synopsis


In1807 when Napoleon was at Lisbon’s door step, the Portuguese Prince Regent decided to sail out with his entire court to Rio to rule from there. Cheap labor and underemployment abound in Brazil. No wonder the Sikhs walked through the difficult country and did not settle in Brazil.
Early Immigrants
As mentioned there are several written and interviewee evidence confirming several Sikhs transiting through Brazil on their way to Argentina. This was not convincing. Hardly any evidence was available till the author’s visit regarding permanent settlement of the Sikhs. In certain parts of Brazil farm lands and climate are as good as in Punjab. Brazil also needed immigrants to help develop areas particularly Amazon country and the Japanese migrated in large numbers. Perhaps in early 20th century Brazil was not as prosperous and as immigrant friendly on race considerations as Argentina where the British tended to employ the Sikhs preferentially in their sugar and railway enterprises. However there were British Railway Companies even in Brazil and it is difficult to imagine that some of the Sikhs did not seek employment with them.
Pursuing this line, the author was fortunate to unearth information on early Sikh Immigrants to Brazil at the British Library (India Office Collections), London. There is, indeed, evidence of Sikh migration in large numbers. While it is true that some of them chose to return or move onwards to Argentina as they did not find the working conditions suitable enough but several others did spread out to the country side to settle down. There seems to be no concentrated settlement of the Sikhs in Brazil which resulted in isolation. It would appear that most of them lost touch with people back home and with each other. Lack of new immigrants added to their isolation from homeland. These older Sikh immigrants and their descendents need to be located for further

British Library Papers – some earlier references

The earliest correspondence available indicates a letter of 6th August, 1920, from H. Abbott, the British Consul in Sao Paulo to the Foreign Office in wherein he writes, “while on the subject of emigration I may mention that sometime ago I received a letter from a number of Indians in the Punjab who were desirous of coming to Brazil to work as laborers but that before answering I considered it desirable to get into touch with the Secretary of State for Agriculture and Commerce and to hear his views on the subject.He has informed under date of 6th instant, that there are no regulations against British Indian subjects coming to Brazil, and that the Local Authorities have already received in the Emigrants Hospice of the Department of Labor, 56 persons who arrived from Genoa on May 12th and 14th, 1912 by SS Sienna and Bologna. As these Indians did not adapt themselves to agricultural labor in which they were engaged at different times between the years of 1912 and 1916, they finally disbanded; some coming to the capital and others going further into the interior from whom, however, the Secretary of Agriculture has no further news”.....

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Article Published in The Sikh Review - February 2005 - No. 626
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