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Punjabi  Sikh Diaspora (Latin America)

Background – A Study of Sikh Global Village:
In his spare time, Swarn wanted to contribute to the field of Punjabi - Sikh Diaspora. He wanted to do something out of the routine which could be more original and contribute to the hitherto not-so-well known. A study of Sikhs in Northern America, UK, S.E.A., and Australasia was ruled out as a lot has been written about the Sikh presence in these areas. Furthermore, it was thought that focus on “success” stories alone would not be a true and total representation of Sikhs settled overseas. So in order to complete the MAP OF SIKH MIGRATION from Punjab and to fill in the gaps in Diaspora knowledge, the following geographical areas were prioritized:
1. Latin America
2. Pacific Islands
3. CWE (Continental Western Europe)

Getting Started:
It was decided to make a start with Latin America. This was to honour the “Farther the Better” spirit of early migrants and accordingly Argentina was the first country to be visited. The project was a hobby study for which both time and money resources had to be mustered. It turned out to be an expensive but very satisfying hobby! The most difficult part was to locate the first few contacts in each country. Besides desk survey of published literature, news items, articles and books, extensive use was made of internet to ferret out whatever information could be gleaned. Contact was also made with the Indian Embassies. Some help was forthcoming but the Embassies have their limitations. In these countries most of the Sikh migrants have got totally assimilated. Visits were also made to some of the villages in Punjab from where the migrants had originally left. This was a useful experience. One met some ‘returnees’ from these countries specially Argentina who are now settled back in Punjab to their comfort or otherwise.
Travel was not only expensive but had irritating elements such as getting visas as a tourist. Up to now the author had traveled on business where getting visas was comparatively simple and easy because of the business contacts. However, getting a ‘Tourist’ visa met with general suspicion and disbelief-Latin American countries not being a popular destination with the Indian tourists. Many Latin countries require references to their Home Ministries for tourist visa clearance which is time consuming. Embassies want to see confirmed hotel bookings and airline tickets. Ecuador has a special requirement of ‘Indian Police and Medical Clearance’. All Sikhs even citizens of other countries need visa, an act of discrimination no doubt. Travel to these far off countries is not on the routine radar of Travel Agents in India....

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