Pardes Hoya Pardes

A recent article carried by Asian News International claims that many Pardesi Punjabis are sending their children back to Punjab for education. Citing Christian evangelism in places such as Canada, a desire to imbibe Punjabi values and tradition, and learning the Punjabi language were all reasons why some parents have decided to send their children to school in Punjab.

stamp.jpgOne particular school in Gurusar Sudhar Village (Ludhiana), Jatindera Greenfield School, seems to be catering to the needs of these pardesi Punjabi students. Boasting of a Western style curriculum, students are said to engage with computers, crafts, and languages. A preliminary Google search of the school cited a tree plantation camp and a kindergarten clay-modeling contest.

In the past, I remember parents would often threaten to send their children to Punjab if they misbehaved. I can think of a number of children still in Punjab for this very reason. Still others pardesi Punjabis would send their children to Indias most prestigious school as America, Canada, UK, etc. provided them the means to gain access for their children. So my question, would you consider sending your kids to school in Punjab? Why or why not? Is this some misplaced romanticism or is this a real alternative? What would be the positives and what would be the drawbacks?


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27 Responses to “Pardes Hoya Pardes”

  1. P.Singh says:

    I had a recent conversations with family friends who were thinking of sending their daughter to India – to Akal Academy,Baru Sahib. They thought an atmosphere like that at Baru Sahib would provide an ideal mix of religious study (Sikh theology, history, gurbani, kirtan) and academic study. Furthermore, they thought it would help foster a more Sikhi oriented lifestyle. For instance, all the children get up at amrit-vela to do their prayers.

    I was pretty frank in my opinion, and told them there was no way I would send my children (if I had any) away from home at such a young age – their daughter is 9 or 10. Perhaps I am cynical, but religious instution or not, I would keep my children under my protection until I was confident they could take care of themselves physically and emotionally.

    If this shy 10 year old girl has problems at this Indian school, runs into abusive teachers and/or students, who could she really turn to? God forbid any incidence of sexual abuse – who would protect her? I would not trust my children with strangers – be they Sikhs or not.

    Moreover, I advised them sending their kid off to India was a cop-out. Given that they reside in British Columbia, I informed them there were terrific children's programs teaching gurbani, kirtan, santhiya, Sikh history, gatka – it was simply a matter of putting in the effort to take the kids to classes. Here in BC, their daughter could realistically have the best of both worlds.

    Our conversation ended with the parents deciding to keep their daughter at home. Was I being too cynical? Too mistrusting?

  2. P.Singh says:

    I had a recent conversations with family friends who were thinking of sending their daughter to India – to Akal Academy,Baru Sahib. They thought an atmosphere like that at Baru Sahib would provide an ideal mix of religious study (Sikh theology, history, gurbani, kirtan) and academic study. Furthermore, they thought it would help foster a more Sikhi oriented lifestyle. For instance, all the children get up at amrit-vela to do their prayers.

    I was pretty frank in my opinion, and told them there was no way I would send my children (if I had any) away from home at such a young age – their daughter is 9 or 10. Perhaps I am cynical, but religious instution or not, I would keep my children under my protection until I was confident they could take care of themselves physically and emotionally.

    If this shy 10 year old girl has problems at this Indian school, runs into abusive teachers and/or students, who could she really turn to? God forbid any incidence of sexual abuse – who would protect her? I would not trust my children with strangers – be they Sikhs or not.

    Moreover, I advised them sending their kid off to India was a cop-out. Given that they reside in British Columbia, I informed them there were terrific children’s programs teaching gurbani, kirtan, santhiya, Sikh history, gatka – it was simply a matter of putting in the effort to take the kids to classes. Here in BC, their daughter could realistically have the best of both worlds.

    Our conversation ended with the parents deciding to keep their daughter at home. Was I being too cynical? Too mistrusting?

  3. Mewa Singh says:

    P.Singh,

    I agree with your apprehensions. I believe it is a parent's responsibility to protect their children until they come of an age to protect themselves, for all the reasons you mentioned. In addition, I know that at certain Sikh institutions in India, the treatment meted out to the local students in terms of physical punishment is far greater than that given to foreign students. I am not sure if I want my child possibly feeling some sort of privilege and entitlement merely based on the wealth, location, and position of their parents, especially when it involves physical punishment.

  4. Mewa Singh says:

    P.Singh,

    I agree with your apprehensions. I believe it is a parent’s responsibility to protect their children until they come of an age to protect themselves, for all the reasons you mentioned. In addition, I know that at certain Sikh institutions in India, the treatment meted out to the local students in terms of physical punishment is far greater than that given to foreign students. I am not sure if I want my child possibly feeling some sort of privilege and entitlement merely based on the wealth, location, and position of their parents, especially when it involves physical punishment.

  5. Kaur says:

    P. Singh-

    Completely agree with you. I would have been as frank as you stated, and for most of the reasons as well. Taking into consideration that on one end we do feel this strong tie to the "Homeland" I think that on an overall basis it is more important for parents to truly learn the art and task of parenting. Whether in the US or UK we have similar problems that have major consequences within the development of the individual children, the homestead, and the diaspora.

    I actually had a close family friend's daughter come back from Baru Sahib a couple of years ago. However, not only did both parents go with the child (who was about 13/14) but they spent a minimal amount of time there (somewhere around 2-3 months). Not only was I very shocked at the initial announcement of the trip, but couldn't help but ask what the real purpose was. The response I got, and in hindsight I agree with this, was the ability for the child to actively see the Sikh lifestyle and fellow peers following this lifestyle. They spent the time there, and as I am very close to the youth that attended I was able to hear an honest response to the place.

    The child actually came back with a stronger sense of the sense of identity, if that makes sense. What I mean to say is that she was able to learn Gurmaki (which was amazing considering she left the US not even remotely knowing any) and learned valuable information in reading the SGGS and trying to use it as a guide. She came back really understanding the commitment that some feel to Sikhi and the lifestyle they preach there, but at the same time for a value of the opportunities and freedoms in her own life. By experiencing 'another world', as it was to her, she was able to gain valuable insight into her own developing personality and faith, or a certain input for a foundation of their version of Sikh Identity.

    I think that for many youth here it would be beneficial to spend some sort of outside time at places like these to gain a certain perspective. Do I think think that you should ship your child off, NO. However, maybe a compromise of time and parental participation can go a long way.

    Which brings me to asking, Do you guys think if we had something similar in the US or UK it would be more beneficial to the next generation?

  6. Kaur says:

    P. Singh-
    Completely agree with you. I would have been as frank as you stated, and for most of the reasons as well. Taking into consideration that on one end we do feel this strong tie to the “Homeland” I think that on an overall basis it is more important for parents to truly learn the art and task of parenting. Whether in the US or UK we have similar problems that have major consequences within the development of the individual children, the homestead, and the diaspora.

    I actually had a close family friend’s daughter come back from Baru Sahib a couple of years ago. However, not only did both parents go with the child (who was about 13/14) but they spent a minimal amount of time there (somewhere around 2-3 months). Not only was I very shocked at the initial announcement of the trip, but couldn’t help but ask what the real purpose was. The response I got, and in hindsight I agree with this, was the ability for the child to actively see the Sikh lifestyle and fellow peers following this lifestyle. They spent the time there, and as I am very close to the youth that attended I was able to hear an honest response to the place.

    The child actually came back with a stronger sense of the sense of identity, if that makes sense. What I mean to say is that she was able to learn Gurmaki (which was amazing considering she left the US not even remotely knowing any) and learned valuable information in reading the SGGS and trying to use it as a guide. She came back really understanding the commitment that some feel to Sikhi and the lifestyle they preach there, but at the same time for a value of the opportunities and freedoms in her own life. By experiencing ‘another world’, as it was to her, she was able to gain valuable insight into her own developing personality and faith, or a certain input for a foundation of their version of Sikh Identity.

    I think that for many youth here it would be beneficial to spend some sort of outside time at places like these to gain a certain perspective. Do I think think that you should ship your child off, NO. However, maybe a compromise of time and parental participation can go a long way.

    Which brings me to asking, Do you guys think if we had something similar in the US or UK it would be more beneficial to the next generation?

  7. baingandabhartha says:

    Agreed with P Singh. NO WAY I would send off my child to one these indoctrination schools. I am not being cynical-there is PLENTY of abuse at these places. The previous generation of Sikhs-where did they get their values-family-thats where. Agreed, the community also helps, but letting soemone else influence your child in their formative years is crazy, lazy, and frankly abusive.

    Now, as Kaur above states, iif parents accompany the child and live there themselves, let the child experience the wider culture outside of being indoctrinated at an academy, awesome! Let the child also see the poverty, the social injustice, oppression of women- everything else that comes with being Indian/Punjabi/Sikh but at an age where the child is able to somewhat comprehend it rather than just internalize without analyzing it at all.

  8. baingandabhartha says:

    Agreed with P Singh. NO WAY I would send off my child to one these indoctrination schools. I am not being cynical-there is PLENTY of abuse at these places. The previous generation of Sikhs-where did they get their values-family-thats where. Agreed, the community also helps, but letting soemone else influence your child in their formative years is crazy, lazy, and frankly abusive.
    Now, as Kaur above states, iif parents accompany the child and live there themselves, let the child experience the wider culture outside of being indoctrinated at an academy, awesome! Let the child also see the poverty, the social injustice, oppression of women- everything else that comes with being Indian/Punjabi/Sikh but at an age where the child is able to somewhat comprehend it rather than just internalize without analyzing it at all.

  9. Komal says:

    I think when parents cannot find some way to discipline their kids or even teach their kids the punjabi values they want them to have these parents have failed. It's a way to take the easy way out and put your responsibilty on someone else. I don't understand how any parent can think giving their child to some institution for however many years is good. I had some relatives who sent their son to India because he was doing bad in school here in the states. I think they were being lazy and not trying to be responsible parents. It's not always easy but you need to do whatever you can and keep your family together. My relative's son came back to the states a few years later and he is worse than he was before. I'm not saying your child can't come back more well behaved and studious but I believe if parents try hard enough they can be the ones who make a change in their kids lives. They can teach their children their culture outside of India and help them get better in school. In dian parents don't realize that mental health is a big thing here especially among kids and simple things like trying to work with them and get them help here can change their kids. Indian parents need to get the mentality of sending their kids away to this idea of India being better out of their heads. From what I've heard and seen, India isn't like it was back when our parents and grandparents live there. Kids can get involved in a lot of trouble there.

  10. Komal says:

    I think when parents cannot find some way to discipline their kids or even teach their kids the punjabi values they want them to have these parents have failed. It’s a way to take the easy way out and put your responsibilty on someone else. I don’t understand how any parent can think giving their child to some institution for however many years is good. I had some relatives who sent their son to India because he was doing bad in school here in the states. I think they were being lazy and not trying to be responsible parents. It’s not always easy but you need to do whatever you can and keep your family together. My relative’s son came back to the states a few years later and he is worse than he was before. I’m not saying your child can’t come back more well behaved and studious but I believe if parents try hard enough they can be the ones who make a change in their kids lives. They can teach their children their culture outside of India and help them get better in school. In dian parents don’t realize that mental health is a big thing here especially among kids and simple things like trying to work with them and get them help here can change their kids. Indian parents need to get the mentality of sending their kids away to this idea of India being better out of their heads. From what I’ve heard and seen, India isn’t like it was back when our parents and grandparents live there. Kids can get involved in a lot of trouble there.

  11. idiot says:

    No way! To imbibe Pujabi 'culture' and 'values' into any child?! Why would I want to indoctrinate them with such screwed up directionless crap?! There's a BIG difference between Sikhi and Punjaabiat.

  12. idiot says:

    No way! To imbibe Pujabi ‘culture’ and ‘values’ into any child?! Why would I want to indoctrinate them with such screwed up directionless crap?! There’s a BIG difference between Sikhi and Punjaabiat.

  13. idiot says:

    ps. those who jump at the opportunity to ship their kids across to the Punjab – do they KNOW what goes on there?!!

  14. idiot says:

    ps. those who jump at the opportunity to ship their kids across to the Punjab – do they KNOW what goes on there?!!

  15. idiot says:

    pps. Sorry neither do (wholly) but I have some clues and I think it's really sad that a region which was inhabited by some of the greatest living beings has now fallen into corruption and distreputable practices which completely contradict the teachings of those great individuals.

    So what am I gonna do about it? I dunno. I don't know where I'd begin. I think I'm going to start with ensuring that I can stick as closely to those original ideals as much as possible.

  16. idiot says:

    pps. Sorry neither do (wholly) but I have some clues and I think it’s really sad that a region which was inhabited by some of the greatest living beings has now fallen into corruption and distreputable practices which completely contradict the teachings of those great individuals.

    So what am I gonna do about it? I dunno. I don’t know where I’d begin. I think I’m going to start with ensuring that I can stick as closely to those original ideals as much as possible.

  17. Ish kaur says:

    Interesting! I have mixed feelings bout the issue.I sent my 10 year old son to Baru Sahib for the Sikhi atmosphere. Since he had always been the only sikh boy in the whole city. He studied there for 3 months. He learnt punjabi, enjoyed doing his paat and the spiritual experience including the cold morning showers. He adjusted to everything really well. That part was fine. There are some wonderful dedicated people working there. However my main concern was lack of proper communication with him. I could talk to him for barely 10 minutes a week, the telephone connection was bad most of the time. The other minus points that I felt were,the method of teaching was very rigid, no creativity involved, copy from the black board to the book, exactly the same in the test paper. The english teaching was not up to the mark. These are things that can be corrected and improved over a period of time. As the spiritual discipline is not easy to replicate at home. Anyway,not being able to communicate properly was very hard and also the rigidity of the education system, which is normally a standard way of teaching in India, bothered me enough to bring him back. If not for those main issues, I would have left him there for a year or two. Even though, I was miserable without him, he coped really well.

  18. Harinder says:

    Punjabis please remember where ever you are in this universe your home and heart I am sure shall alway be the beautiful and unparelled Great Punjab.

    It is like the Mecca/Vatican/Haridwar/Utopia what ever else you may decide to call it.

    It has been the land of your ancestors for nearly 5000 years and may has been ruled by different forces at different point of time.

    You may be in future be in Andromeas galaxy ,Parallel universes or in Dark matter universe or Antimatter universes.

    THEIR will be still always be one place in Universe you would like to call your home

    " THE BEAUTIFUL TIMELESS PUNJAB"

    With love

    From Jalandhar

  19. Harinder says:

    It is not good to curse your mother if she is SICK and unwell.

    GOOD sons nurse their mother to health and not throw her into DUSTBINS.

  20. Ish kaur says:

    Interesting! I have mixed feelings bout the issue.I sent my 10 year old son to Baru Sahib for the Sikhi atmosphere. Since he had always been the only sikh boy in the whole city. He studied there for 3 months. He learnt punjabi, enjoyed doing his paat and the spiritual experience including the cold morning showers. He adjusted to everything really well. That part was fine. There are some wonderful dedicated people working there. However my main concern was lack of proper communication with him. I could talk to him for barely 10 minutes a week, the telephone connection was bad most of the time. The other minus points that I felt were,the method of teaching was very rigid, no creativity involved, copy from the black board to the book, exactly the same in the test paper. The english teaching was not up to the mark. These are things that can be corrected and improved over a period of time. As the spiritual discipline is not easy to replicate at home. Anyway,not being able to communicate properly was very hard and also the rigidity of the education system, which is normally a standard way of teaching in India, bothered me enough to bring him back. If not for those main issues, I would have left him there for a year or two. Even though, I was miserable without him, he coped really well.

  21. Harinder says:

    Punjabis please remember where ever you are in this universe your home and heart I am sure shall alway be the beautiful and unparelled Great Punjab.
    It is like the Mecca/Vatican/Haridwar/Utopia what ever else you may decide to call it.
    It has been the land of your ancestors for nearly 5000 years and may has been ruled by different forces at different point of time.
    You may be in future be in Andromeas galaxy ,Parallel universes or in Dark matter universe or Antimatter universes.
    THEIR will be still always be one place in Universe you would like to call your home
    ” THE BEAUTIFUL TIMELESS PUNJAB”
    With love
    From Jalandhar

  22. Harinder says:

    It is not good to curse your mother if she is SICK and unwell.
    GOOD sons nurse their mother to health and not throw her into DUSTBINS.

  23. J.S.Gill says:

    I'm so Lucky to send my son to Baru Sahib in 1994.He was selected as a National High School Scholar and now he is in National Society of College Scholars.

    http://www.kalgidharsociety.org/news/tej-shining….
    I have some issue like other parents but I had faith in Baba Ji and School staff which proved right.

    You can keep your child with you for 12 years (school years) then you can loose them (they go away from home) or you send them to Baru Sahib for 12 years and have them with for the rest of your life. choice is yours.

  24. J.S.Gill says:

    I'm so Lucky to send my son to Baru Sahib in 1994.He was selected as a National High School Scholar and now he is in National Society of College Scholars.
    http://www.kalgidharsociety.org/news/tej-shining….
    I have some issue like other parents but I had faith in Baba Ji and School staff which proved right.

    You can keep your child with you for 12 years (school years) then you can loose them (they go away from home) or you send them to Baru Sahib for 12 years and have them with for the rest of your life. choice is yours.

  25. Hard Truth says:

    Dear P Singh Ji,

    You wrote :- If this shy 10 year old girl has problems at this Indian school, runs into abusive teachers and/or students, who could she really turn to? God forbid any incidence of sexual abuse – who would protect her? I would not trust my children with strangers – be they Sikhs or not.

    Sorry to ask you a direct question about sexuality you talked in your blog.

    Girls are more safer there in Baru Sahib but not with parents in foreign countries. It is Hard Truth that most of the Indian girls go with Gorae or Muslims and do not want to marry with Desi boy, you can see this in most of Gurdwaras. What these parents have done to save their daughters? Were they successful to teach their daughters to keep with them and give them a lesson of morality as per your thoughts.

    By stopping that girl to go to Baru sahib you have made a big mistake as the girls is 10 years old and I can assure you that with 4-5 years that girl may have a boy friend.

    I wish every girl a safe upbringing in the society but the atmosphere here is not right.

    You have given your free advise to the parents without knowing how the education system works in Baru sahib. If you go there and see how the education system works then you will be the person who will be telling all the parents to send their daughters to Baru Sahib.

    If you want to save your daughters then please send to them to Baru Sahib.

  26. Hard Truth says:

    Dear P Singh Ji,
    You wrote :- If this shy 10 year old girl has problems at this Indian school, runs into abusive teachers and/or students, who could she really turn to? God forbid any incidence of sexual abuse who would protect her? I would not trust my children with strangers be they Sikhs or not.

    Sorry to ask you a direct question about sexuality you talked in your blog.
    Girls are more safer there in Baru Sahib but not with parents in foreign countries. It is Hard Truth that most of the Indian girls go with Gorae or Muslims and do not want to marry with Desi boy, you can see this in most of Gurdwaras. What these parents have done to save their daughters? Were they successful to teach their daughters to keep with them and give them a lesson of morality as per your thoughts.
    By stopping that girl to go to Baru sahib you have made a big mistake as the girls is 10 years old and I can assure you that with 4-5 years that girl may have a boy friend.
    I wish every girl a safe upbringing in the society but the atmosphere here is not right.

    You have given your free advise to the parents without knowing how the education system works in Baru sahib. If you go there and see how the education system works then you will be the person who will be telling all the parents to send their daughters to Baru Sahib.
    If you want to save your daughters then please send to them to Baru Sahib.