Punjabis Canada-struck but moving to UAE, says study

  • Bhartesh Singh Thakur, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Dec 03, 2015 10:27 IST
The emigration to the UAE decreases as the educational level of emigrants improves, whereas emigration to Canada increases with the improvement in education. (Representative image)

Canada is their dream country to settle in, but maximum Punjabi emigration (more than 28%) is to United Arab Emirates (the UAE).

The Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), Chandigarh, and Institut National d’Études Démographiques, Paris, has come out with the biggest-ever sample survey on migration from Punjab with more than 10,000 households and 54,000 people covered. Almost 11% (more than 1 in 10) of the households in the state reported at least one current international out-migrant. More than 24% households desired to move to Canada followed by more than 15% to the UAE, and more than 13% to the US but in actual emigration, the UAE is the top destination, followed by Canada (12%) and Italy (11%).

The choice of adopted countries differs sharply between upper and lower sections of society. The UAE is popular with rural folk (30%), Majha region people, Hindus, the Scheduled Castes, those educated up to middle school, the landless, and those with the lowest standard of living. Canada is the preferred choice of Malwa region people, Sikhs, general castes, agricultural families owning at least 10 acres, and the super rich.

The emigration to the UAE decreases as the educational level of emigrants improves, whereas emigration to Canada increases with the improvement in education.

Doaba sending more abroad

In Punjab, Doaba households are most likely to send a member abroad, while the Malwa households are least likely. Sharp difference is observed in the percentage of Sikh and Hindu households with at least a current international out-migrant. An overwhelming share of the households (73%) in Punjab has only one emigrant, while 27% have more.

The rural areas are more likely to have more than one emigrant from a single household. A higher proportion of Malwa households (23%) sends multiple members abroad. Affluent families contribute more to the rush.

Women’s emigration

Women account for little more than 16% of the total current international out-migrants from Punjab, and their emigration rate (10 per 1,000) is much lower than men’s (46 per 1,000). “Women always have been emigrating as family dependants, but their increasing independent emigration is a modern phenomenon,” said CRRID professor Aswini Kumar Nanda, who supervised the survey.

Among women emigrants, the maximum are going to Canada, followed by the US and Australia. Almost 21% are going for work, 19% for education and the maximum 29% for family union or marriage. Close to 80% are from rural areas, more than 40% from Doaba, and more than 80% Sikh.

Craze for NRI groom

If they had a chance to accept an NRI (non-resident Indian) match for daughter, little less than a fifth of the households (17%) would grab it. The desire for an NRI groom is maximum among the prosperous households (defined by standard of living or the size of agricultural land).

The Sikh, Malwa, and woman-headed households prefer to marry off a daughter abroad, for 50% believe that it is the guarantee to her better future, 48% think she’ll have a comfortable life, 47% assume she’d be more prosperous, and 31% are lured by foreign social security provisions.

“There’s economic motivation in seeking cross-border marriage ties for girls in Punjab. It also improves the chances of other members to move abroad through new ties,” said CRRID’s professor Nanda.

“In the absence of financial resources to buy their way to overseas, the less affluent tend to use cross-border marriage,” added Nanda. Almost 14% of the households hunting for NRI groom said having relatives and members of the community abroad made matchmaking easy and reliable.

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