chapter  4
21 Pages

The Punjabi diaspora in the United Kingdom

An overview of characteristics and contributions to India
WithRupa Chanda

The recognition of diaspora contributions towards their home country through remittances, investments and networks has facilitated a shift in attitude and thinking regarding migration, from brain drain to ‘brain bank’, ‘brain gain’, ‘brain trust’ and ‘brain circulation’. This chapter examines the historical and socio-economic characteristics of one important Indian diaspora community, the Punjabis in the UK, and discusses the latter’s contributions to India and to its home state of Punjab. The evidence reveals that the NRI Punjabi diaspora in the UK is quite old, dating back to the colonial period. It is a heterogeneous community, divided by castes and sub-castes which influence the institutions through which its subgroups engage with the homeland. The secondary and primary evidence indicate a wide variety of contributions: economic, social, philanthropic, cultural and political. Some of the main sectors of contribution are health, education and rural infrastructure. However, the evidence also reveals that there is much greater potential for diaspora engagement and that large-scale investments by the diaspora are deterred by corruption, an inefficient bureaucracy, lack of streamlined procedures and lack of supportive diaspora policies at the state and central levels.