August 10, 2020
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Peach Of A Hero

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Peach Of A Hero
Didar Singh Bains, 60, is arguably the wealthiest fruit farmer of Indian origin in California-perhaps even in the country. Bains, who was born in Nangalkhurd village in Hoshiarpur district, Punjab, emigrated to the US in 1958 and was doing manual labour in 1965. "Now I am self-employed," he says.

Pushed, Bains admits that he employs about 1,000 people. He cultivates grapes, peaches, blueberries and walnuts for sale in the US, and almonds and cranberries for export. He once said he knows nothing about politics but can grow the biggest, juiciest peach in the world!

Although he donates to both Republicans and Democrats, lawmakers from his part of California are traditionally conservative Republicans, including Wally Herger, often allied with Khalistan leader Gurmit Singh Aulakh. Bains says tersely that he has no time for Aulakh's brand of separatist politics.

Bains last visited India in January, when he donated funds to the gurudwara in Anandpur Sahib. A resident of Yuba City in southern California, he has two sons and a daughter. "I hope the Sikh community in the US always remember their roots. Sometimes young people break with tradition but when they're older, they return. The Sikh religion is not just good for them but for everybody."

He confesses to contributing money for the tricentenary. "Everyone has given. Not just me. Just like in India, the community is open-handed."

When Sikhs fled India after the 1984 riots, Bains is reported to have stepped in. He found jobs in his orchards; his attorneys were stationed in the Bahamas to assist both militants and non-militants alike. He was "like a godfather", says one source. Without the downside.

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