'Foreign Dreams': Rural Punjab Way Ahead of Urban Population

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'Foreign Dreams': Rural Punjab Way Ahead of Urban Population

A recent survey shows that unlike states like Kerala where emigration is for limited period and remittances are high, trends in Punjab are the other way round.

Chandigarh:  81 per cent of people migrating from Punjab to foreign countries come from the state's villages, a new study has revealed. Contrary to popular perception, about 45 per cent of people are headed to Gulf countries, while Canada remains the second most favoured destination.

Immigration firms and English speaking training institutes are making inroads into rural Punjab as these areas are catching up with their urban counterparts to emigrate for a better life. A recent survey shows that unlike states like Kerala where emigration is for limited period and remittances are high, trends in Punjab are the other way round.

"Out migration from Punjab is different... we have some people behaving same way as in Kerala, but most of the people want to settle abroad and so they keep connections with family in Punjab but they don't send money in the same way and their general behaviour is different," said Jacques Veron of National Institute for Demographic Studies, Paris.

People in rural areas mostly leave while they are in their early twenties, the latest study says. Education or no education, their foreign dreams are propelled by the mushrooming immigration agencies. But not all are lucky. 26-year-old Sukhwant from Sangrur committed suicide outside an immigration firm office in Mohali on Wednesday. The firm had promised him a visa for New Zealand for Rs 2.5 lakhs about two years ago.

"After consuming poison he called up his colleague and told him that I have got visa now I am going to New Zealand... please don't tell anything to my parents," his friend Baljinder Singh said.

Immigration lawyer Neeraj Chaudhary says, "Most of them want to go abroad by hook or crook... so they are easy prey for these so called immigration consultants... in Punjab emigration has been taking place for decades but there is no government agency to guide people."

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