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Friday, September 4, 2015

The EU Immigration Issues and the Indian Cauldron...

Across the globe there is talk of massive influx of human refugees into EU nations. Heart-rending images of the body of a 3-year-old kid washed ashore in Turkey have been flashed by the Media across the world.

People seeking asylum have besieged Budapest in Hungary. Many countries in the EU have been forced to take unprecedented measures to stop this massive influx. When we look at the larger picture and try and understand the reasons, we will realize that this was a human tragedy waiting to happen. Fawned by political unrest in the Middle East, decades of poverty in Africa, genocide like conditions being created by the Islamic State: all have contributed to this flashpoint.

At the core of the problem is the inequitable growth across the globe. The rich nations have grown richer while the not so prosperous nations and their citizens have grown poorer. It is not only the monetary indicators, which are defining the rich versus the poor debate. Other factors like freedom vs oppression, health, sanitation and education are dictating the discourse. Even the global economies where there is growth, it is not equal. All across the world, the inequalities are becoming stark.

Herein lies the Indian Cauldron or rather the parallel. There are hordes of immigrant labour, which throng the bigger cities in search of employment and better living. The government has tried through schemes like MNREGA to try and decrease this movement by promising some minimum employment. But rather than this minimum employment resulting in improvement of infrastructure and linkages to the mainland, the scheme has become more of a dole to satisfy the constituents of the politicians.

There are large rural parts where even today there is no electricity, leave alone any other form of development, and these are not even remote, often they abut towns and prosperous villages but it seems they have been forgotten.

Why rural India? Walk to any Tier II and Tier III city in India and there are just no jobs for the youth. If you study the demographics you will find that the elderly population in these cities is increasing since the youth tend to migrate towards the Tier I cities in search of jobs. This is creating immense pressure on the basic infrastructure of the already “bursting at the seams” Big cities. This internal immigration has to stop if we are not to face a catastrophe.

The political leaders of all parties must realize this immediately rather then engaging in one upmanship, before it is too late. The youth is growing impatient, the recent violent demonstration in Gujarat, which is considered to be one of the most peaceful and prosperous states, is just the tip of the iceberg. Everywhere one travels in India, one will find well educated youth either unemployed or doing jobs which have no correlation to their educational background and skills.

Recently a qualified diploma mechanical engineer applied for the job of a driver in our office, which not only shocked me but also forced me to hang my head in shame at the country we are building. When quizzed why he wanted a job of a driver, his reply was telling – he had not found a job for more than a year and did not want to be a burden on his parents. We did not employ him but found him employment as an engineer. And this is not an extreme or isolated incident; you will find thousands of such examples.

We all must realize that if this continues then we are heading for a flashpoint as has been seen in the EU immigration problem. Here I must also highlight the irresponsible role being played by a certain section of the Indian Media. One particular publication which is widely read, has almost 25% of the paper devoted to “ gets $100 million, valued at $1billion, 20 year old sets up a $10 million startup etc”. When one reads this publication one feels that he/she has wasted his/her life compared to these so-called millionaires and billionaires. Bombarding readers with these super success stories, day in and day out, hides the fact that for every one of these new age entrepreneurs who has made it, there are thousands who have failed.

They make it sound like Indian roads are paved with Dollars waiting to be picked up. The youth of today inspired or rather misled by these stories want to become millionaires and billionaires without any hard work or trying to learn on the job. This leads to unreasonable expectations and creates further unrest.

In our office we have had youngsters leaving the jobs because they did not find enough glamour, or because they did not like the coffee or they were asked to be properly dressed, etc. In our times we could not think of staying without a job after our educations. These youngsters all belong to the “haves” category, who have never seen any hardships and whose parents are willing to foot all their bills – including an expensive but largely “useless” education!

Today there is so much dichotomy – those who have jobs do not want to work and those who want to work have no jobs. And it has become a serious issue!!!

We must all, in our own way, try and address these issues. As parents we must tone down our kids expectations, as teachers we must teach our students the value of hard work and learning, as youth we must realize that for most there are no shortcuts to success, as leaders we must realize that we have a larger responsibility to the society as a whole, as the media we must make it a point to give a balanced view of life rather than highlighting just a few blips and raising sky high “wrong” expectations of the youth.

If we all collectively do not address the issue of inequitable social fabric in the country then we must all be prepared to face the consequences. What is happening in EU today can very well be the story of India tomorrow!

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