Over 20 million people with Indian roots live in different countries, spread all over the world. That’s the official number—the real number could be substantially higher. It’s not easy for the mind to grasp such a large number. If you somehow convinced 20 million people stand in a line it would be long enough to picket all the Wal-Marts, McDonalds and KFCs in the world—and you’d still have plenty left to stage a non-violent demonstration to topple a dictator or two. Looking at it from another angle, Indian Diaspora is numerically almost as large as entire Australian population.
Indians have always seen America as the land of opportunity and many dream of settling there. Many Indians have made Philadelphia their home over more than a hundred years, and in the last three decades the Philadelphia Indian community has grown rapidly. These immigrants have brought with them a wealth of knowledge and professional skills; they have also brought their different customs, cuisine, clothes, and cultural traditions to the state.
During the late eighteenth century, a small number of Indian sailors first came to Philadelphia. They were the first Indians to come to the city. A few Indian families lived in the city throughout the nineteenth century. The 1890s saw the first sizeable migration of Indians to America; a large number of Indians, mostly Sikhs from Punjab, came and worked in the lumber mills and farms.
The Indian community in America grew for a time, but many left when the Immigration Act of 1917 banned new Indian immigrants and new laws framed in the next decade snatched away their rights to citizenship and property. A few Indian migrated to America after the Congress lifted ban on Indians becoming citizens in America in 1946. A large number of Indians migrated to India only after Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 allowed a substantial number of Indians to settle in America. Today over a million Indians live in America.
Most of the Indians who came to Philadelphia in the second half of twentieth century were highly skilled professionals with fire in their hearts. They worked in big corporations and government organizations, but with the lack of jobs after the Vietnam War, many members of the
needed to look for other sources of income. They made living driving taxi cabs, convenience stores, restaurants, and motel business to thrive.
A number of Indian computer programmers work in Philadelphia and Indians also have a substantial presence in the medical, nursing and teaching professions. The business instinct of the Indian community becomes manifest once you look at the number of Indian businesses in the real estate, food industry, travel agent and retail trade. Indian businesses benefit from their close-knit family structure and the members benefit from a business that offers them flexible working hours and allows a creative approach.
has matured over the years and there are a number of formal and informal clubs and groups that give strength to the feeling of community. With the new generation, a lot of online portal connecting Indians living in Philadelphia have also come up. Indians enjoy American way of life, and at the same time retain their Indian roots and keep alive Indian culture and values.