Migration related social problems
By John S. Shilshi
A study conducted by a New Delhi based think tank – North-East support Centre & Helpline in 2011, estimated that roughly around 50 lakhs people from North east states migrate to Delhi NCR and other metropolitan cities of the country. The study also concluded that 66% of people who left their homes do so for studies, while the remaining 34% migrate to find jobs. Poor infrastructure for higher education, lack of employment opportunities, economic backwardness and socio-political unrest were given as the reasons for the exodus. It also predicted that cases of racial discrimination and sexual violence against people from the north east was likely to increase and pose daunting challenges to law enforcing agencies to tackle.
Sure enough, the years following this study witnessed several incidents of alleged assault, rape and racial discriminations against people from the region not only in the Delhi NCR, but also in cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata and other state capitals. The Flash point however came in the form of an ugly incident that resulted in the unfortunate dead of Nido Tania, a student from Arunachal Pradesh in a New Delhi market place. Under pressure from various quarters, the Government of India constituted the Bezbaruah Committee on February 5, 2014 to look into some of the mains concerns of people from the north east, and suggest steps to address them. Within five months the Committee submitted its report, recommending both short term and long term measures to tackle the problems.
To what extend the recommendations of the committee had been helpful in mitigating ordeals faced by north east people remains matter of debate since different organisations working for the interests of people from the region content that the recommendations have not been even examined in earnest by the concerned states, except for the Delhi Police which has initiated number of steps, including recruiting police personnel from the region. However, fact of the matter is, problem or no problem, the exodus from the region continues as usual, with students as well as job hunters refusing to be deterred by what they read or heard about incidents involving people from their region. And why not, after all stray incidents here and there shouldn’t be reason good enough to forgo facilities and opportunities available elsewhere.
Having said that, migration of people from the region is not altogether a positive human dynamic. It comes with certain long negative implications as well. For example, one of the findings of the study mentioned above says that of the large number of students who left their region for studies, only about 5% return to serve in their respective states. Main reason for this abysmally low ration of returnees is non-availability of jobs and the high price tags attached to every government job, wherein merit plays second fiddle to monetary considerations during recruitments. Therefore, for most young people who studied in some of India’s best institutes and acquired the necessary knowledge and skill at par with their counterparts from rest of India don’t find it motivating to get back home. In fact, the very thought of having to compromise merit and be beaten by mediocres, whose parents have the money power to influence the outcome of selection processes make them sick. This way the states are deprived of quality manpower, especially in the education sector.
Similarly, costly job market in the region also push away home grown educated, including those who are not so well qualified. A below-average graduate who could be recruited as a clerk or to a position equivalent to that of a clerk needs anything between rupees fifteen to twenty lakhs in some states to gain entry into government jobs of this level. No doubt selection through payments is a phenomenon difficult to prove with hard facts, but the practice is widely prevalent - an open secret discussed within every household. On the other hand, when the same below-average graduate goes out, he/she grabs hold of a job in the IPO, retail or hospitality sector without having to spend a single penny. More significantly, such jobs come with fatter pay packets in comparison to the remunerations of purchased jobs back home.
In the exodus of people from the north east region, one therefore finds fear, apprehension and home sickness squarely beaten by aspirations, with parents more than prepared to let their children explore greener pastures. We therefore see people from the north east region studying and working in almost all cities of India, including the extreme south and the far west, regions considered less preferred destinations for people of the region some years back. Unfortunately however, this daringness at times is exploited by unscrupulous individuals indulging in human trafficking. Young people, particularly girls are lured with false promises of good jobs, but made to find their ways to brothels and only the fortunate few get rescued. Instances of people from north east choosing wrong jobs are also another area of concern. Many girls thoughtlessly choose wrong places such as none descript SPAs wherein they are require to service male clients and ultimately end up being labeled as prostitutes.
Therefore, while migration of students to big cities for higher studies, so also people venturing out for jobs outside their respective states needs encouragement, there is need for individual and community sensitization on various aspects of surviving big town syndromes. Just like students need to be briefed and made aware about the existence of several bogus and fake educational institutions particularly in the technical sector, awareness campaigns to educate job seekers as to how one should go about choosing jobs and companies becomes an urgent necessity. Similarly, in order to avoid falling prey to the greedy and sinister designs of human traffickers, there is need for rigorous background check of placement agencies and their collaborating companies/firms. Taking things for granted and on face value of verbal assurance and promises would only provide the much needed opportunities for those in the sinful business of human trafficking. Parents of working boys and girls need to play a bigger role in ensuring that their sons and daughters don’t land up in wrong places. The lesser the complacency and the more they try to enlighten themselves on nature of work and work place of their sons and daughters, the better it would be in preventing some unwanted disastrous consequences.
(The writer is a retired IPS officer, now a strategic Analyst on internal security. Views expressed are personal)
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