A three-day international conference on "Indian/Punjabi diaspora: narratives of migration in south-east Asia and far east Asia", being organised by the Centre for Diaspora Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala, started at senate hall of the university, here on Monday.
Dr Jaspal Singh, vice-chancellor, Punjabi University, presided over the inaugural session.
In his presidential address, Dr Jaspal Singh said that the establishment of Centre for Diaspora Studies will serve a great purpose for strengthening the bonds between the home land and the Punjabi diaspora. He said there was a great need to undertake critical studies focusing on representation and adjustments in Punjabi, Sikh diaspora in south-east Asia.
In his inaugural address, Shelley Walia, Punjab University, Chandigarh, lucidly sketched the events of historical importance in the study of Indian/Punjabi Diaspora.
He said deprivation of economic and political rights had often compelled the people to leave warmth of their homeland and to wander to alien lands. But they had to face ethnic and racial discriminations. He advocated for the liberation of the diaspora world over, regardless of their personal and national identities.
Prof Sudha Rai of University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, said that the journey of the diaspora was a passage into the darkness, full of challenges of survival, identity and cultural transference which demands thorough and deep research. The need is to evolve tolerant and vibrant identities among the diverse ethnic groups, she said.
Dr. A.S. Chawla, registrar, Punjabi University, Patiala said that Indian government's apathetic attitude had led to denial of rights and increase in violence against Indian diaspora in many countries, which needs to be tackled.
Earlier, Dr Tejinder Kaur, director of the centre, while welcoming the guests and delegates said that the aim of the conference was to tap and sharpen the intellectual, academic and research skills of young, upcoming teachers, researchers and students.
Dr Jaspal Singh, vice-chancellor, felicitated the visiting dignitaries with mementos. Dr Joga Singh presented a vote of thanks.