Immigration – a touchy issue within India

Immigration has been one of my favourite topics since the early 1990s. In fact, I was the one who reserved ‘‘ domain name and insisted on my friend Rajiv S Khanna to use it!

The recent events in Mumbai were shameful. Attacking poor immigrants is a sign of desperateness. After an innocent HAL employee was killed. Raj Thackeray got away by a mere apology. Shiv Sena chief regretted the death of a “Maharashtrian”, instead, he should have condemned the death of an “innocent” man. How is a tax paying decent person responsible for the so-called injustice in Maharashtra?

With India’s population growing, such issues are bound to occur more often. Politicians are responsible for the unemployment in India. They insist on banning English medium schools and want only state language to be the medium of education. Their own children/grand-children would be studying in the poshest English medium schools. Our politicians firmly believe in “Do as I say, not as I do“.

You may find what happened in Karnataka interesting – Education Minister Basavaraj Horatti [in the erstwhile HD Kumaraswamy govt] introduced English in Government schools. There was huge opposition to this from politicians but TV reports showed the poor were “very grateful” to the minister. Each and every family said, “we want our child to be part of the mainstream”. None of them condemned the local language Kannada, all they said was – we want our children to learn both Kannada and English.

Bangalore too attracts people from all regions of India. Not just for IT but also in other areas. Few bad elements have tried to disturb the peace in Bangalore but luckily it hasn’t worked. Nobody really has the time to lend their ears for nonsense. So why does Bangalore have people from other parts of India? Simple – we too want the best quality but the best (uh, rather cheapest) cost. In Bangalore,

  • Most construction workers are from Tamil Nadu, at best from North Karnataka (Dharwad, Hubli). You rarely find construction workers from Bangalore, Mysore area. Why is that? I guess the best workers come from North Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. This shouldn’t be seen in an offensive way at all.
  • Carpenters – the best come from Rajasthan. I have seen the work of local carpenters and Rajasthani carpenters. I must admit Rajasthani carpenters win hands down.
  • Bihar/Biharis – they are surely a cleaner lot than Kannadigas, so says Lalu Prasad Yadav 😉 (I have few good friends from Bihar. I am an equal opportunity friend). Is Lalu aware we house one the oldest and most famous soaps called Mysore Sandal Soap? Dhoni for sure knows about this soap, or does he?
  • Local folks blend well with immigrants in Bangalore. Very rarely even politicians have been successful in breaking the friendship bond between immigrants and locals.

The US, as you know, is a land of immigrants. I believe the “common man” in the US respects other cultures. I have seen them participating in Diwali, Dandiya dance during Navaratri. Indians in the US also participate in Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yes, you do hear about the anti-immigration voices now and then but I don’t recall it getting violent.

When you do hear about anti-immigration news (reduction of H1 visa quota, reduction of Doctors quota in the UK) we in India are first to react by saying “It is unfair”. Our politicians want Indians to get the best from Western countries but don’t want to provide equal opportunity employment in their own country.

Luckily, the educated haven’t supported the actions of Raj Thackeray. If immigrants have been a nuisance I think sending them back is justified. But they support the economy in a very big way. They have been supporting the Mumbai’s day to day activities in a constructive way. There are good and bad elements in every society. Assuming everyone from UP and Bihar are bad a little difficult to justify.

What could be done to avoid such incidents?

  • Immigrants should respect the local culture (make a sincere attempt to learn the local language)
  • Participate in local festivals
  • Immigrants should involve local people to participate in their festivals

Did you say this is all about politics? Well, that is the reason they are called politicians.


  1. Srini Vallury says:

    This is one of the best articles you wrote.

    Great job.
    Thanks for posting this one.

  2. Bihar is great. Just require a little TLC (tender loving care).

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