Global Immigrants or World Citizens

Why should a set of politicians decide the definitions as well as restrictions on immigrants?We all know that the present boundaries of the countries have evolved over the centuries and the immigrations have been the natural phenomena since the beginning of human race. It will continue to go on like that unless obstructed. Many factors and situations beyond the control of the politicians of today and those of tomorrow will decide the legal and illegal immigration.

But inthis era of free market and globalization, restricting the immigration is a contradictory policy. Days are gone when only the western countries were in business of setting up business in underdeveloped countries. Today the developed world is having so much trade and business interactions with the emerging economies that free movement of the people between the different countries will be natural phenomenon.

According to a study conducted by the India-US World Affairs Institute of Washington, the Robert H Smith School of Business of the University of Maryland, and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry, 90 Indian companies made 127 greenfield investments worth $5.5 billion between 2004 and 2009, and created 16,576 jobs in the US. During the same period, 239 Indian companies made 372 acquisitions in the US, creating more than 40,000 jobs. And these number will keep on increasing if the Indian economy keeps moving ahead. How should not there be a consensus in US on accepting the graduates of its first class universities coming from any country in the world if employed for five years with good records as citizens?

While there are about 25 million Indians spread across 189 countries, but interestingly, some 20 million foreigners are also living and working in India.

Sometimes, the political steps to bar the immigration from unfriendly country may not even work. Here is an example from India itself.

In 2009, India sent back 25,000 Chinese workers, because they were “semi-skilled” and was considered to be here fraudulently. Soon protests came in from New Delhi’s international airport developers. Those humongous glass panes that needed to be set up required special skills and Indians don’t have them. The Chinese do. The government had to backtrack. Some Indians may have to remain unemployed while overseas workers take the jobs.India will have to have enterprises and skilled manpower to match up with the tasks to be undertaken to take the economic growth to global level.

It is the same story in internal migration. Workers do come to Punjab for various menial jobs from Bihar. But when the enterprising farmers of Bihar bought harvesters from Punjab, a group of three Punjabi workers travel every season to Bihar to run the harvesters.

In West Bengal, it was difficult to find people to manual work and particularly for sanitation jobs, and the migrants even from as far as Rajasthan were engaged. However, things have changed today to a great extent. Perhaps that was the reason that UK allowed immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and even India for such work in the country.

As the countries such as US and UK have restrictions for workers from other part of the world through different acts, India does have also created some:

India doesn’t allow more than 1 per cent of a company’s workforce to be foreign, nor does it allow employment to people making less than $25,000 a year. It may appear silly to many but are politically sellable.

It will be interesting to hear a Colombian immigrant’s recent lament in London, when he was about to be deported. “The reason for me being here is not just because I want to become rich or because I want to come and take your jobs. Imdoing the job that most English people wouldn’t do. I think I have never seen an English person cleaning a toilet. I don’t want to harm anyone … it’s hard to be judged as a criminal when all you are doing is what you think is best for your family. WhatI’m doing, cleaning toilets – is that a crime?”

It reminded me of one incident at Heathrow airport in 1982. Yamuna saw many Asian women wearing heavy gold jewellery working as janitors. She asked, Why are they here, why cant white women do that? I didnt have any answer then. And perhaps there is no answer for the Colombian in London or a Mexican or Cuban in California.

And still a person such as Obama or someone else somewhere such as Cameroon will keep on instructing federal agents to go through rolls of companies and businesses to weed out the illegal immigrants. It will remain the political whipfor the poor immigrants.

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