This piece follows my Blog of the 12th of May 2020…
I have been hearing/ reading about this set of people called Migrants every day, actually almost every half hour. So, today, I decided to check what this word means as per established dictionaries – here is a link – https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/migrant#h1 – As per the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, A Migrant is one that migrates – a person who moves regularly in order to find work especially in harvesting crops.
So, are these hard working folk who have come to Bangalore and to many states in India Migrants? They are a set of people who offer services by means of toiling in all conditions to fill in the gaps that exist in the labour requirements in each state. Many of them have been living in the states where they go, for a very long time. So, are they really moving migrants or just people wanting to go home like all of us who have left the land of our birth and sought employment outside? Why are all those from various parts of India who work in different sectors in Bangalore ( as an example) not called Migrants? Don’t we travel to our home towns or on holidays for extensive periods every year? What do we, the so called ‘Elite Migrants’ do if we lose our jobs? We go home. What happens when there is a marriage in the family? Many of us go home? We feel home sick – we go home. No one calls us Migrants when we travel. So, why are these folks given a tag – Migrant? Are they travelling back home for free on public transport – No Sir. They are paying a heavy price to travel to their home towns. For those who cannot wait or do not have money – they do what they know best – they carry their luggage on their heads and walk. ( Just a simple example to explain how long some have walked – it is as good as walking between Whitefield Town and M.G Road in Bangalore 94 times – or walking to Hyderabad and back to Bangalore and walking half way to Hyderabad again and finally, walking 5 times to and fro from Bangalore to Chennai) Try it..
We have chosen to create a special class by calling them Migrants. So, soon, we will have the Migrant Community or the Migrant Class. They are not referred to as human beings, just migrants. They built the houses we live in, the roads we drive on, the offices we work in, the Malls we shop in, the theaters we see movies in and the pubs we get drunk in. They clean our cars, water our gardens, do everything we cannot do but they will never be one of us. In Kerala, where it is rumoured that they are treated well ( I know that they do not get the same wages as their Malayali co workers ) they are referred to as Bengalis. No self respecting Malayali in India liked our North Indian countrymen calling all of us living south of the Vindhyas as ‘Madrasis”. However, we call anyone from the East , the North or the West of India – ‘Bengali’. This is common in Bangalore and other Southern Cities too. In the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s South Asian folk were all called ‘Pakis’ by daft Brits in the UK. It didn’t go down very well with our countrymen – for various reasons. However, I’m not sure most of these aggrieved folks will have a problem referring to their brethren from the North, East or West as a ‘Bengali’ and in turn calling all those living down south a ‘Madrasi’.
This is my problem. The Real Estate sector is virtually paralyzed without these countrymen. That is the same in a lot of labour intensive sectors/ industries. So, aren’t they a part and parcel of our daily life? If so, how are they called migrants? This is the problem with India – the only time we are one and don’t care where anyone is from is when our cricket team is playing. Just think about it – if Mahendra Singh Dhoni wasn’t a cricketer he would have been referred as a ‘Bengali’ in the South . Today he is an Indian Icon. Isn’t it time we thought a bit more about how to integrate better?
( You will find that these lesser fortunate countrymen/women of ours are scared and just want a break. Let them go home. Treat them with respect when they go and they will feel like returning. Do not photograph or take videos of them without their permission. They are not inanimate objects. Show them some respect and when talking to them do ask them where they are travelling to…wish them a safe journey)