Drawing on original, ethnographic research in India and the UK, in this article we discuss the impact of transnational activity on the Doaba region of East Punjab, India. We argue that some recent studies have underplayed some of the less progressive consequences of Indian transnationalism. In particular, we contend that they have underestimated the extent of division between transnational migrants and Indian non-migrants and downplayed the relationship between transnationalism and caste inequality. This empirical study of transnationalism, when placed in the context of the dynamic caste relations of East Punjab, supports those who contend that access to international migration is becoming an increasingly significant component of contemporary global social stratification, with the ‘broad’ transnational processes of capitalist globalization driving the ‘narrow’ transnationalism studied here. In this article, we question any straightforwardly progressive relationship between transnationalism and ‘development’ within East Punjab, and suggest that the arguments presented have a resonance beyond northwest India.