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Migration a reason for declining Sikh population: Toronto based Sikh leader

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Toronto: Sikh leaders in North America blame conversions, drugs and migration for the decline in the growth rate of Sikh population in India from 1.9 percent to 1.7 percent as per the 2011 census.

“While Punjab leaders are promoting their family businesses, the youth has sunk in drugs. So what do you expect from drug addicts?” asked Toronto-based Sikh leader Nachhattar Singh Chohan.

Chohan, who heads the Indian Trucking Association in Canada, said: “Yes, migration from Punjab to the West is one reason. But the bigger factor is that people are abandoning Sikhism and joining various ‘deras’ in Punjab. The SGPC has failed the Sikhs.”

Vancouver-based community activist Balwant Sanghera said: “First and foremost reason for declining Sikh population is the migration from Punjab to the West. Second, there is growing awareness to have smaller families.”

Shrinking land holdings in Punjab are also forcing people to have fewer children to avoid further division of land among siblings.

“Finally, drugs are taking their toll on the Punjab youth. The drugs are reported to be causing impotence amongst boys, resulting in fewer births,” Sanghera told a media outlet.

Los Angeles-based Bhai Satpal Singh Kohli, the Ambassador of Sikh Dharma in Western Hemisphere, said the Sikh population is declining because people are “not adhering to the Sikh code of conduct and leaving Sikhism to join various ‘deras’ due to poor leadership and discrimination against Dalits and poor Sikhs in Punjab.”

He too said Sikhs were migrating for better opportunities. “Moreover, the trend is that Sikhs are increasingly marrying out of their religion. So the majority of their children now end up not being Sikhs.”

Kohli welcomes the directive of the Akal Takht Jathedar to each Sikh family to have four children. “But more importantly, Sikhs need not select family planning for a male child and stop female foeticide.”

Yuba City-based Jasbir Kang blames the destruction of the economy of rural Punjab for the migration of Sikhs to foreign lands.

“Events and after-affects of 1984 had serious impact on the Sikh psyche… Sikhs never committed suicides until the last two decades. People have lost their pride and self-respect,” Kang told a media outlet.

Kang said Sikhs are converting to other religions as the clergy has failed to address the “issues of caste divisions, drug abuse and failure the issues of gender gap.

“If moms lose respect for faith, then children will not follow it either. We are at a crossroads.”

Washington-based Sikh leader Rajwant Singh, who heads the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, said: “The turbulence of the 80s impacted average Sikh family dependent on agrarian economy.

“Political mishandling of economic and social issues, and militancy in the 80s and its suppression by security forces added to the woes of Punjab. These have had a direct impact on the average Sikh family.”

Singh says the lack of opportunities have also pushed young Sikhs to try their luck elsewhere in the world, even if it means selling off valuable assets and facing migratory restrictions in many Western countries.

(IANS)

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World Population Expected to Reach 9.7 Billion in 2050, United Nations Reports

The new population projections indicate that nine countries will be responsible for more than half the projected population growth

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FILE - Faces in the crowd at the peace assembly in Kathmandu, May 7, 2010. VOA

The world’s population is getting older and growing at a slower pace but is still expected to increase from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050, the United Nations said Monday.

The U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division said in a new report that world population could reach its peak of nearly 11 billion around the end of the century.

But Population Division Director John Wilmoth cautioned that because 2100 is many decades away this outcome “is not certain, and in the end the peak could come earlier or later, at a lower or higher level of total population.”

The new projections indicate that nine countries will be responsible for more than half the projected growth between now and 2050. In descending order of the expected increase, they are: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States.

UN, World, Population
The world’s population is getting older and growing at a slower pace but is still expected to increase from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050. VOA

In sub-Saharan Africa, it is projected to nearly double by 2050, the report said.

Undersecretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Lu Zhenmin said in a statement: “Many of the fastest growing populations are in the poorest countries, where population growth brings additional challenges in the effort to eradicate poverty,” promote gender equality and improve health care and education.

The report confirmed that the world’s population is growing older due to increasing life expectancy and falling fertility levels.

The global fertility rate fell from 3.2 births per woman in 1990 to 2.5 births in 2019 and is projected to decline further to 2.2 births by 2050.

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A fertility rate of 2.1 births per woman is need to ensure population replacement and avoid declines, according to the report.

In 2019, the fertility rate in sub-Saharan Africa was the highest at 4.6 births per woman, with Pacific islands, northern Africa, and western, central and southern Asia above the replacement level, the report said.

But since 2010, it said 27 countries or areas have lost one percent or more of their population.

“Between 2019 and 2050 populations are projected to decrease by one percent or more in 55 countries or areas, of which 26 may see a reduction of at least 10 percent,” the U.N. said. “In China, for example, the population is projected to decrease by 31.4 million, or around 2.2 percent, between 2019 and 2050.”

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World population could reach its peak of nearly 11 billion around the end of the century. Pixabay

Wilmoth, the head of the Population Division, told a news conference launching the report that the population growth rate is slowing down as the fertility level gradually decreases. That decrease usually follows a reduction in the mortality level that initially instigated growth, he said.

Wilmoth stressed that multiple factors lead to lower fertility including increasing education and employment, especially for women, and more jobs in urban than rural areas, which motivate people away from costly large families to  smaller families.

But to achieve this, he said, people also need access to modern methods of contraception.

According to the “World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights” report, migration is also a major component of population growth or loss in some countries.

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Between 2010 and 2020, it said 14 countries or areas will see a net inflow of more than one million migrants while 10 countries will experience a similar loss.

For example, some of the largest outflows of people — including from Bangladesh, Mepal and the Philippines — are driven by the demand for migrant workers, the report said. But some migrants are driven from their home countries by violence, insecurity and conflict, including from Myanmar, Syria and Venezuela.

The U.N. said countries experiencing a net inflow of migrants over the decade include Belarus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine. (VOA)