Conspicuous consumption and philanthropy connections between Punjabi immigrants from the Doaba Region and their hometowns

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Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University Press
The Punjabi home village or town is often a place that is still “home” to first generation immigrants. The name and memory of the homeland place evokes feelings of attachment, love, familiarity and even sadness. For first generation immigrants, relationships with the homeland, although attenuated over time do not vanish. The strong ties to the land often draw these immigrants back on a temporary or permanent basis. Members are motivated to contribute by genuine altruism towards their kinsfolk, self-interest in creating a more comfortable environment for visits home or retirement, and by social or religious obligations. While the Punjabi diaspora is increasingly conducting its philanthropy through organizations such as NGOs, charitable trusts, foundations and associations, all of which are better suited to continuing the work for hometown development than individuals, this channel for development has not grown significantly. Immigrants from Punjab have transformed the infrastructure, medical facilities and educational institutions of their home state, particularly in rural areas which have lagged behind in development. While the efforts of the state government of Punjab in organizing the synergistic use of private and public funds is laudable and can have long lasting impacts particularly in poorly developed rural areas, there are concerns that that funds from overseas for local development eases pressure on the government to provide institutions and means for social and economic development. Moreover, individual diasporans and even associations and foundations may not always know the needs of the community and hence may impose projects that are likely to bring visibility to the donor (particularly if the project is egocentric), but may be inappropriate, unrealistic or difficult to sustain. Attracting 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants to work for the development of their parents’ and grandparents’ hometowns is also a challenge, but possibly one that can be overcome by encouraging them to return not just for tourism and cultural events, but to be actively involved in development projects by working in them.
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Punjab, emigration, immigration, diaspora, remittances
Economics and Business, №1, 2020, pp. 52-68