Saturday, March 19, 2005


Migration of individuals or communities for making a living or for fear of life has always taken place through out history. In the present age of globalisation and acute political turmoil, this phenomenon is unavoidable too. Migration is good in a way because it results in dialogue between nations, religions and cultures. And the cross products are usually better than the raw materials. But when migration takes place under manipulated conditions with ulterior motives, the bad blood that it generates can be disastrous and resultant mistrust can stay on for generations.

Throughout history, India (Bharat) has always been a favourite destination for the migrants and refugees. Only very recently a Jewish team came over to thank the Cochin Royal family for their treatment of Jewish migrants thousands of years ago. Then there is the well known case of Zorashtrians or Parsees who have now become part and parcel of our society. Our long western coast has welcomed thousands of migrants including Arab Muslims, Syrian Christians, Knanayas etc. Some of them came for making a living and some others for saving their lives. Except the Jews, all others have stayed back and have got mixed with our people. Though each group came for a different reason, they received the same warmth in treatment. It is a matter of pride for Indian culture that migrants have felt more at home in this great nation than in their own.

Migration Mania

Migration as a means of starting afresh is a distinct option in front of many from aged nations. The social order and hierarchy that has piled up over centuries are often difficult to shake off for those at the bottom. Migrating to alien lands where no one knows about one’s background provides tremendous opportunity for the historically disadvantaged to come up in life. This feeling has grown into a sort of mania in many countries. The apparent success of people who have done it, fuels the degree of maniacal passion in potential migrants. There are many aspects of the receiving society that influence the psyche of migrants. For example, lack of volunteers in advanced countries to become nurses (for fear of AIDS) & take up uncomfortable occupations are forcing the potential migrants to opt for such trades, irrespective of their likes and dislikes. Now there are many families in India that sends at least one of their girl children for nursing so that she can start the migratory ‘escape’ for the entire family.

Also, there are many who migrate just for the fun of it without any reason or purpose. Like all other aspects of life, it is boring for many to stay put in one place through out one’s lifetime. These are people who look for variety in all aspects of life and migrating to newer places becomes a natural option for them.

Migration Mafia

In many parts of the world, migration is no more a spontaneous one but a well arranged and calculated one. Life’s ambition of many youngsters from third world countries is to migrate to USA, Europe or Australia. Indian youngsters are no different in this. If becoming an engineer or a doctor was a common objective a couple of decades back, becoming a migrant is a popular objective among many Indian youth now. There are agents of the Multi National Religious Corporations (MNRC) doubling as agents for migration and the potential migrants fall easy prey for them. The price they pay for earning a migration ticket can be very costly and they realise it only much later in their lives. The last wish of many such migrants is to have remained as unprivileged in their own country rather than becoming second (or third) class citizens in an alien land.

Migration within a country or state is a different matter altogether. Within India it is lawful for any citizen to purchase land in any part of the country (except Jammu & Kashmir). There are thousands of individual families that utilise this option to settle down in metros and other states for building up a life. This has only helped in the process of national integration. But there are others who indulge in organised efforts to displace the existing weak sections of society from a place and replace it with ‘our own people’ by organised migration. Jewish settlements in Gaza are classic examples of such attempts on the world stage. Nearer home, we have the Malabar Migration Mafia (MMM) that has almost wiped out the Adivasi settlements from Malabar area, especially Wayanad District in North Kerala. MMM is a formidable force to reckon with in the social, economical and political arenas of Kerala. The poor Adivasis, who number only a few lakhs, are facing a similar situation as the Red Indians of Americas and Aborigins of Australia. Like MGM Cinerama’s epic “How the West Was Won”, it time for the MMM to make “How Malabar Was Won”. But for the Kerala society at large, this organised migration has become a migraine now.

Model Migrants

If there is a contest for the best migrant community world-wide, Parsees of India would win hands down. They have not only assimilated into India’s culture but also contributed so tremendously in the fields of industry and nation building. Migration is a welcome phenomenon for the receiver nation or society if the migrants indulge only in positive activities of the host society. Keeping away from power politics and controversies is a must for making any migrant community acceptable to the hosts. However high their numbers may be, the original inhabitants of any geographical area would never like the migrants to rule over them. The case of Fiji is an example of this. In the present world, the option to migrate is a must. But it will remain a welcome option only if the migrant community world-wide set good precedence in getting along with the natives. More and more of settlements in Gaza and Malabar will generate only bad blood. The concept of displacing helpless natives by the might of political power or deceit is abhorring and unacceptable to the civilised world. It has to be stopped at all costs if migration is to remain as a viable option for individuals. Generating migraine for the host society is the least expected of any migrants.

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