The Punjabi diaspora in the UK has been quite keen to invest in Punjab, but bureaucratic inefficiency, corruption and lack of political will are coming in the way, a study by IIM-Bangalore suggests.
The study — ‘Punjabi Diaspora in the UK: An Overview of Characteristics and Contributions to India’ — by Prof Rupa Chanda notes that “the absence of a business-friendly environment” is a deterrent for NRIs. The study, which involved discussions with members of the community in the UK, notes the absence of a streamlined system to assist NRI investors and cites a number of examples.
“There is corruption at all levels and as the NRIs are used to good and transparent systems, they decide not to invest. Hence, their engagements tend to take the form of small-scale investments in hotels, shops, banquet halls and properties and small tailoring and sports goods units apart from funding community-based projects and sending remittances to their households. Several respondents noted that although politicians and bureaucrats from Punjab seek NRI investment in agriculture, industry, education and healthcare, on the ground they offer little help,” the study says.
The 1984 Delhi riots remain a sore point with many Sikh NRIs, who feel alienated from India and would rather maintain just family relations in the country.
The study notes that while Punjab makes no special effort to attract NRI investment, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are working hard to attract investments from the diaspora communities in the UK.
While the study elaborates on the philanthropic work being done by the NRI Punjabis in their home state, it also points to possible negative effects. Respondents indicate that there is considerable NRI financing and influence in Punjab’s politics and the Congress and Akali Dal have NRI funding links in the UK. Post the 1984 riots, however, “the stance of the Punjabi community in the UK or Canada has been largely anti-Punjab government and in some ways anti-Indian”, the report says.
The socio-cultural impact of the diaspora also finds mention — remitted money is often squandered by young relatives for liqour and drugs. There are also instances of much married NRIs marrying young girls and then abandoning them.