When we say ‘Our Delhi’ we mean it is our city, the city belongs to us and not to all those ‘others’ who are coming to the city in search of jobs or higher education. Therefore we have some preconceived notions about who we consider as outsiders, migrants. The popular belief about migrants is that they are losers, dregs of society who could not adjust to their parents or neighbours. Or they are here to compete with us and taking away our jobs. And that determines our attitude toward migrants.
The difference between migration and exodus is why people leave their origin. Migration is a choice that they exercise. Exodus is persecution and plight. Interestingly even animals migrate from one habitat which is basically seasonal, and for better options and opportunities. Why can’t we grant the same grace to us humans?
The Human Development Report 2009 was recently released by UNDP with the theme as migration. The report highlights that contrary to popular belief, no such clear migration pattern emerges in mobility and development. On the other hand, the report indicates that people from developed countries tend to migrate to other developed countries, and people from developing countries tend to migrate to other developing countries. Elites from developing countries migrate to developed countries where they are ready even things that they would not do in their own country, work wise.
Mobility and development are related and mobility is a reality. Mobility allows us to better our social development indicators for us, our family, and our next generation. The impact of migration on migrants and on the host population are both positive and negative. Finally the report says that not the poorest of poor, but those relatively better off, those who can afford to be mobile, migrate. Interesting isn’t it? My own field work in East Delhi Slums substantiates this.
Starting from the 70s, our skilled Delhi/ Punjabi rich agrarian farmers migrated to Canada, while the south Indian skilled craftsmen migrated to the Middle East and our top of the top class doctors to USA. In the 80s and 90s, the IT boom attracted our skilled professionals.
You know of any such friends or relatives and their stories? How about sharing some of those with us?