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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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Half The Global Population Uses The Internet: ITU Report

The ITU says countries that are hooked into the digital economy do better in their overall economic well-being and competitiveness.

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Nigeria, Population
Youths are seen browsing the internet inside the venue of the launch of Google free wifi project in Lagos, Nigeria. VOA

The International Telecommunication Union reports that for the first time in history, half of the global population is using the internet. A new report finds by the end of the year, 3.9 billion people worldwide will be online.

The report finds access to and use of information and communication technologies around the world is trending upwards. It notes most internet users are in developed countries, with more than 80 percent of their populations online. But it says internet use is steadily growing in developing countries, increasing from 7.7 percent in 2005 to 45.3 percent this year.

The International Telecommunication Union says Africa is the region with the strongest growth, where the percentage of people using the internet has increased from just over two percent in 2005 to nearly 25 percent in 2018.

Somalia, Population
A Somali man browses the internet on his mobile phone at a beach in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. VOA

The lowest growth rates, it says, are in Europe and the Americas, with the lowest usage found in the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition to data on internet usage, newly released statistics show mobile access to basic telecommunication services is becoming more predominant. ITU Senior Statistician, Esperanza Magpantay says access to higher speed mobile and fixed broadband also is growing.

“So, there is almost 96 percent of the population who are now covered by mobile population signal of which 90 percent are covered by 3G access. So, this is a high figure, and this helps explain why we have this 51 percent of the population now using the internet,” she said.

With the growth in mobile broadband, Magpantay says there has been an upsurge in the number of people using the internet through their mobile devices.

Nairobi, Population
Young men surf the internet at a cyber cafe on June 20, 2012 in Kibera slum in Nairobi.

The ITU says countries that are hooked into the digital economy do better in their overall economic well-being and competitiveness. Unfortunately, it says the cost of accessing telecommunication networks remains too high and unaffordable for many.

Also Read: Global Care Crisis Rises Along With Growing Population

It says prices must be brought down to make the digital economy a reality for the half the world’s people who do not, as yet, use the internet. (VOA)