A visit to his Punjab village has highlighted for Dr Ramindar Singh the many worrying changes that have affected the region in recent years.
Landing at Delhi airport now is just like disembarking at any modern European airport. Its floor space is mostly carpeted, international stores and eateries bask invitingly in the dazzling lights of arcades, and the staff handling visitor formalities such as security checks and immigration are a lot more professional and courteous. If you are taking a connecting flight to Amritsar, compared with only a few years back, you will also be impressed by the substantially improved service and welcoming environment. The changes are remarkable, symbolising modernity and progress.
Returning for a short break in the Punjab as a non-resident Indian (NRI), you reflect on the changes that have occurred, gratifying or disquieting, since the time of your previous visit. Emigration has been a long established tradition in my village from the British policy of recruiting indentured labour for its sugar colonies. A dozen or so males who initially went to Fiji later moved with their families to Australia and New Zealand. Now there is hardly a family in my village and other surrounding villages which hasn’t got at least a son, daughter, nephew or a niece abroad in the UK, USA or Canada, Italy or one of the Middle Eastern countries. The improvements they have made to the standard of living and lifestyles of their families left behind speak for themselves.
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