Thursday, December 09, 2010

North East Migration and Challenges in Mega Cities

By Madhu Chandra
Madhu Chandra is a social activist and research scholar based in New Delhi. Regional Secretary of All India Christian Council , Spokesperson of North East Support Centre & Helpline and National Secretary of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations. His  contact address and mobile number is  as under:             
Palam Vihar, Sector 6, Dwarka,
New Delhi-110075
Recent crimes against North East girls in Delhi has compelled me to write this article before the completion of a research study on the subject undertaken by North East Support Centre & Helpline sponsored by All India Christian Council. Once against the plights face by the people of North East India in Delhi and NCR has come to lime light after the gruesome crime of kidnap and gang rape case of a 30 years old Mizo girl at Dhaula Kuan in a moving vehicle on midnight of November 23, 2010. Segregation society likes ours in India, unless pressure mounted up on law enforcing agencies, justice many times unheard and denied to communities like North Easterners and oppressed Dalits.

Delhi has become a capital of rape and unsafe for women, particularly those working at night. Unfortunately, the law enforcing agencies kept on playing a reactive mode all these years and if continues in same mode, the Dhaula Kuan case which was not the first and will be the last either. A proactive preventive paradigm shift is what needed of the hour. Steps are taken to handle pre-crime preventive measures by installing night police patrolling in unsafe areas, CCTV cameras and ordering BPO industries to follow safety guideline. These steps should not be forgotten after a week or a month but should be monitored round the year as proactive preventing approach.
But, there has been unanswered questions why has the people from North East India, particularly girls and women become vulnerable for sexual abuse in national capital city. It will be worth to look at some realities on North East Indian migration and challenges face in mega cities.
Until early 2000, most of the people who used to come to cities like Delhi are those working in central government jobs and pursuing higher studies. The large number of migration began after 2000 and became more in last two or three years that came with purpose of higher studies and hunt of employment opportunities.
Duration of stay in mega cities differs from community to communities. Most of the student communities come for four to five years and return home at completion of studies while those who managed to get job, continue or migrate to other cities. Those who work in Government jobs and private sectors continues to stay until they get retired and return back to their native states but this phenomena is likely to changed in days ahead due to unrest of socio-political situation at back at home states. It will also be important to understand what pushes and pulls North Easterners to mega cities and challenges they face.
Push Factors for North East Migration
There are numbers of push factors for North East Indian migration to other mega cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata and many others. Identification of these push factors are important for whole nation as it will reveal how the life in the region has been for years. The push factors:
First, socio-political unrest in the region - this includes mushrooming of militants, bloodshed, constant ongoing public strikes, Arm Forces Special Power Act and corrupt nature of government machineries etc. These unrests have been there in the region for last over 50 years in some states and lesser in others. Life in the region is nightmares – 100 days public strikes in a year – market shuts, school closed and public transportation off the road. Hardly two hours of electricity available, water supply hardly once or twice in a week. Markets, shops closed at 4 evening and street pin drop silence after 8 pm, anyone can be harassed, picked, adducted and killed by night patrolling police and militants.
North Eastern people lived in their own villages, towns, cities in midst of all these unrest for years but people did not desire to go out of own states until globalisation reached mega cities of India. The moment the globalisation reaches mega cities of India, young generation of North East India got attracted and started migrating in pursue of employment, mostly in un-organised BPO companies like Call Centres, shopping malls and hospitality industries.
Second, lack of employment opportunities in entire North East states is a major push factor of migration to other mega cities. Government employment is small percentage of work forces, available to those who have political connection or have money power to bribe. Educated poor, who have no political connections, have no hope for government employment in the region.
Private sectors and non-governmental business establishment are also nil in whole of region, which mean the lack employment opportunities apart from limited governmental jobs. Having the impact of English medium education through private schools, not many at master but at high school and intermediate level are attracted by globalisation in mega cities like Delhi.
Third, educational system is badly affected and it should be top most worried for entire region. Almost all government run schools collapsed, a bit of education survived is from private schools. Worse effected state is Manipur, where 100 days without classes in a year, it is going on for last few years. The effect of education infected by socio-political crisis of the region may not be seen in short period but region particularly the state of Manipur will suffer its consequences in near future.
Parent, who is in any possible to manage, will send their children for better education outside state. This has also become a challenging as many innocent children are targeted for human trafficking. To seal the problem of child trafficking, Supreme Court of India has ordered to stop any children below 12 years of age from going out of Manipur state. This order has some connotation of violation of the freedom of parents desiring to send their children outside of the state for better education, although the order of court is appreciated when it comes to the concern of stoping child trafficking.
Going beyond the education system affected, push factor of migration is the lack of educational opportunities. The field of professional education to match the demand from the emergence of globalisation is totally lacking in the region. This lacking as push factor pushes students outside of region in pursue of their higher studies.
Fourth, the communal conflicts among the different heterogenous communities and insurgencies has destroyed hundreds of villages, lost thousands of lives and made many homeless and orphans. Many of them are internally displaced and when had opportunities to migrate to other mega cities with friends and relatives; they take the change and ended up in mega cities like Delhi. 
Pull Factors for North East Migration
The major pull factor for migration of people from North East India is impact of globalisation. Although four push factors mentioned above have been the issues in the region for last few decades. Yet the phenomena of migrating to mega cities, particularly in search of job opportunities did not take place until the emergence of globalisation. Globalisation has opened door opportunities for whole world and it has attracted the people of North East India to move to mega cities.
First, better environment of educational opportunities with multiple choices of study branch have attracted young generation from North East India region. This pull factor attracts all students in region but small percentage of population can afford.
Second, employment opportunities in central government jobs have attacked educated young generation from North East region, yet they have to compete through examination. Reserved jobs in central governmental department made easier for Scheduled Caste and Tribe communities both in higher and lower professions.
Third, globalisation has opened doors to employment opportunities, particularly semi-professional and semi-skilled crowds. Many of young boys and girls from North East India, who are at level of semi-skilled and semi-professional, get jobs in organised and non-organised private sectors like BPO, and hospitality industries, shopping malls etc. Appealing personalities, ability to communicate in English and hospitality/socially oriented culture, honesty, hard working culture of North East region are few more flavours attracted to private companies. Nevertheless, not without challenges when they migrate to mega cities particularly in Delhi and NCR.
Challenges Faced by North Easterners in Mega Cities!
Unprepared they came, unprepared they faced challenges and unprepared yet to address them. It is a multidimensional challenge that needs to address together so that some of heinous crimes committed against the people from North East India, particularly in Delhi and NCR.
First, social profiling all Mongoloid looking face is the greatest challenge faced by the people of North East India in Delhi and NCR. It is the main root causes of sexual abuse, social discrimination and racial attack. Social profiling has caused North East girls as vulnerable in the eyes of perpetrators.
The notion of social profiling – the opinion formed upon ones appearance, culture and levelling everyone equal with some opinions formed upon some experiences. Once a community is socially profiled, ones economic, social, educational and professional status does not matter and everyone is looked upon socially and racially with low image. Social profiling is the reflection of segregated society based on caste hierarchy and apartheids.
Next to social profiling is the mind-set of people on North East communities which has become a major cause of sexual abuse, social discrimination and economic exploitation. A mindset of social profiling is that the people from North East India are strangers, free culture, cheap and do anything one likes, you can get free. Social profiling is also seen in the attitudes of local police when they insult, deceive, ignore and deny the complaints and connived with perpetrators in many cases.
Second, the education, employment and livelihood earning are affected by social profiling, racial discrimination and gender-based violence. In most of the cases of sexual abuse, rape and racial attack, victims had to move to another secured localities. When they relocate, any business they have been running is immediately affected and some times they are not able to restart the same villages and at last had to return back to their native states. At some risky situation, boys and girls are so much traumatised from the incident they had gone through and affect their mental and some become mentally ill and their lives are destroyed. The very purpose for which the people from North East India migrated for are affected at different level.
Third, those working in private sectors, particularly those in non-organised sectors face huge challenges. Pay is less, hardly manageable for their living cost and to support family members at home. Their jobs are not secured, any time, they can be terminated and many terminated without pay. At entry point, certain amount agreed and paid just half at the end of the day.
Four, the last nevertheless least, young north east girls are targeted by human trafficking agents. It is equally real at mega cities and back at home. Insufficient of salaries and insured jobs in private companies has caused the desire to better and more secured jobs. In search better and secured jobs, many of innocent girls and boys ended at the end of human trafficking agencies. Thereafter, the life and challenges of social profiling and racial discrimination move to another paradigm shift, which is far greater danger than what has been faced so far.
Issue is big, need to seek remedies, preferably together, more of integration, socially acceptable among the societies with inputs law enforcing agencies, social scientists, civil societies and government machineries, keeping in mind that Diversity in Unity is the strength and beauty of India.

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