An all-American industry changes the all-American way

In February, for the first time, Overdrive magazine, the self-described “Voice of The American Trucker”, featured a Sikh...

SURJIT KHAN’S “Truck Union” is part of a new crop of trucker songs hitting America’s highways. Like the 1970s classics, Mr Khan’s ditty is all blue jeans, work boots and American-dream fulfilment. Unlike those classics, though, the music video features turbaned dancers in flashy kurtas belting out Punjabi lyrics while gyrating to bhangra beats, before a stage-set of lorries.

Mr Khan’s is one of a growing chorus of Indian trucking songs, the soundtrack to a shift in the freight industry. Gurinder Singh Khalsa, the chairman of Sikhs PAC, a Sikh political organisation, says there are approximately 150,000 Sikhs in trucking, 90% of whom are drivers. Those numbers are growing rapidly, with 18,000 Sikhs entering the industry in 2017 alone. The North American Punjabi Trucking Association (NAPTA) estimates that Sikhs control about 40% of trucking in California (Sikhism is closely associated with Punjab, a region that straddles India and Pakistan).

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