In India, Northern California is known mainly for Silicon Valley and the successes of the Indian diaspora in the technology industry. Their contribution, however, goes far beyond that. They have brought Indian culture – inclusive, tolerant, and diverse – into the mainstream.
Northern California is home to some of the oldest Indian diaspora communities in the United States.
Sikhs from Punjab first arrived here in the early 20th century to work on railroads and in agriculture, following migration patterns from Canada along the West Coast. Many settled in Central Valley, the geographical centre of California, first working as labourers and then buying and developing land.
A hundred years on, in Sacramento and surrounding areas, the Sikh community has transitioned into roles in business, politics and the arts. Similarly, the Bay Area – from San Francisco to San Jose – is home to the second largest Indian diaspora community in the US (after New York-New Jersey).
The region’s economy grew with Silicon Valley, attracting engineers and entrepreneurs from India as well as Indian-Americans. While the technology sector is central to the community, there is also a rich expression of culture that crosses boundaries, maintains strong ties with India, and is part of the fabric of Northern California.