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The migration of birds is quite natural. But the migration of people happens due to many factors that are quite pressing. The migration of people who migrate in search of jobs to appease their hunger and to save their lives is the worst misery of this century. Such migrations make people refugees. Globalization destroys agriculture and makes village people move to industrialized cities, leaving their native places.

Moreover, the civil wars and the fights for freedom also make people migrate. This happens throughout the world today. They offer innumerable avenues that never run out to migrate.

Migrant workers 690The last part of the last century had spread refugees all over the world. Due to the Sri Lankan National and ethnic problems, the Sri Lankan Tamils have spread throughout the world. The hunger for war among nations, dictatorial aggression, civil wars have made people migrate and have made them refugees. Globalization and the resulting running of industries have ground people and spat them out as refugees. When big industries come up, small local industries automatically have to close. The people working in them migrate, seeking greener pastures.

The prime reasons for such migrations are poverty and unemployment. The laborers who belong to the lowest strata in the society and to the layer just above it migrate. They are uneducated and belong to the unorganized sector of workers. Failure of agriculture due to insufficient rains is a common thing. When people having lands could not continue their agriculture anymore, they have to give in to the aggression of the rich. They sell their lands thinking that however small the amount they get, it is enough.

The rich, the big industries and the foreign investments forcibly occupy the lands. The farmers are also not interested in growing the usual crops; instead, they go in for cash crops. This type of agriculture requires only less number of workers. The others migrate to other places. The people, who did agriculture for generations, have to migrate losing their emotional roots. The insufficient rains, the failure of monsoon also drive the farmers from their lands.

It has become quite common to migrate towards industrialized towns. Due to the abundance of labourers, they are compelled to work for a pittance. The fundamental rights of the labourers, including the one to go on strike fighting for their rights, are slowly withdrawn, and they are made bonded labourers very cleverly.

The owners of the industries are not interested in reviving sick industries- instead, they make them sicker- to a state, beyond redemption. At the same time, they show interest in opening new industries in other parts that are still backward either in the same district or in other districts. The labourers who join such industries willingly accept very low wages. As they are not interested in their rights, it is highly beneficial for the owners to recruit new labourers. They employ all sorts of tricks to keep the employees temporary forever or till the short life span of those units end. The labourers who were in the old industries lose their jobs. Only a few people who have not yet lost their strong physique and agility join the new industries. It is very easy to recruit these freshers, especially women. The attempts to crush any thoughts of the rights and revolts are quite easy and are almost successful. It has become quite common

to lure woman and put them in halls that resemble cattle sheds. The brokers who indulge in such 'trades' console themselves: "There is nothing wrong in what we do as the labourers are given free shelter and food."

 Migration also happens to save one's life from the cruel clutches violent caste terrorism. Industries are affected by continuous violence, instigated by casteism. People who migrate to new places find there those people who had already come from their native places, from their caste and merge with them and live as separate groups. They give the names of their places or castes to the parts of the streets they live in. In a way, they form a new caste. This, they think, is a safety measure but their old identities make them separate entities. They are apart from others and always looked down as a separate group by the local people. Their dialects become their means of expression of anger. They also establish temples for their deities. The local culture gives them some pressure now and then.

The migrations that happen in new unplanned areas create many problems. The most important and acute is the water problem. They have to buy pots of water, even for ordinary purposes. The housing areas are congested and are not suitable for joint families. People who migrate as joint families have to divide themselves into nuclear families. They get only congested areas with a little space. Sometimes they join their relatives as a temporary arrangement. Sometimes they raise temporary huts in non-Patta lands - their stay in such places is only temporary.

However, they feel consoled because in the migrated places the streets are better and there are better electrical facilities.

They are not willing to pay for the education of their children. They ask themselves whether it is necessary to spend on children's education when they themselves are suffering so much. At last, they decide to send their children to work. They spend much less on their children's dress and education. They have to work for more than twelve hours every day. Their environment, both in the places where they reside and where they work are not safe, psychologically. They feel mentally insecure. Joining the political parties or the trade unions to demand their rights is very rare indeed. Only about ten percent do so. They think that it's better and safer to join their caste societies. They don't realize the danger inherent in not doing so.

Not too bad a salary and continuous employment make them set aside their misery and console themselves. Soon they realize that it is a mirage to migrate to new places seeking work. For many local problems that arise in the migrated towns, the culture of the migrated has been made a scapegoat. They are easily dubbed as 'the migrants'. To wipe that tendency out, right political organizations are necessary.

 It is said that globalization has wiped out the boundaries between nations. But it has created differently wired fences and has created refugees of a different sort of refugees-refugees in one's own country.

The local residents are scared over the ever-increasing numbers of new faces. They can not avoid the ever sprouting new faces. Everywhere new faces and new registration- it's become something that's quite unavoidable.

In all big cities, the people who have migrated seeking work- the bunches of these 'refugees'- make 20 percent of the total population.

According to the Indian constitution, any Indian can migrate to any part of India for purposes of employment and live there. Nobody can raise the question: "What right do you have to come and live here?"

Globalization has converted the whole world into a large market. For doing commerce, anybody can go anywhere. It has crippled agriculture, small industries and handicrafts and has made people move towards big towns and cities. Once young men and women from Kerala came like this. Now people from the Northern States like Bihar, Odisha Nepal and Bengal come and settle in the big cities of India. Once upon a time, factors like war, changes in climatic conditions, monsoon and becoming refugees made people migrate. But this is no more so. These workers area class apart, even Karl Marx would not have dreamt of. They are just corporate labourer- dolls.

Gone are the days when people used to say if you learn Hindi you can go to North India and get some handsome job. Now both educated and uneducated people from North India are swarming into TamilNadu. The economy of the Northern States is not good. Here in TamilNadu, there are plenty of jobs. Moreover, one could lose his caste identity easily here. For those who've experienced the pains and the pangs of caste fanaticism, here are freedom and food. They easily step into the jobs which the locals are hesitant to take, especially those that need physical labour. The wages are reduced easily. Nobody is bothered about the rights and the status of the workers. It's enough if they get sacks of wheat and potatoes. They relish the food from the street shops. To lie down, they only need an area of 10x2 feet. Within that, they enjoy love and lovemaking. They don't want the permanent employee status- it's enough if one gets the status of a temporary employee that or that of a worker on daily wages. The world's capitalist market easily produces slaves. Once slavery was wiped out from the world, and there came the liberty of the labourers. Now the world is moving backwards –regressing- how pathetic!

The town life doesn't allow them to dream about A.C. rooms, shirts from Walmart, Kentucky Chicken, Coca Cola etc. The laws and rules are only paper efficient. Sometimes, they are even refused Aadhaar cards and identity cards. The Government itself is creating slaves; it encourages slavery. Everyone including the teachers of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the labourers working in maintaining streets, the workers of Noon Meal Scheme and workers of the ration shops come under this umbrella. Can't such a big umbrella 'shelter' the migrated too? It will house even the next generation of the unorganized sector. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the Right to Education Act 2009 provide for the education of children. But the education of the children of the migrants is a big question mark still.

The children can also apply for Aadhaar. If they have a bit of cloth on their body, that is identification mark enough. To exist, It is necessary to have some 'card'.

In the total population of Tiruppur (ten lakhs), these people have swelled to four lakhs. People coming here from neighbouring States has become an old story. People come here

mainly from four states, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand. Most of them are Dalits, i.e., the oppressed class. People belonging to the higher castes are considerably less in number. Among the four lakhs, 70-80 percent are young people. The remaining 40 percent are families. 'Family' does not include old people. 'Family' means mostly the couple and their children. The adolescent girls are left in their villages- for purposes of safety- under the care of the elders. Even though the income is less, they come and stay here because there are virtually no caste-problems. They never reveal their caste. Generally, they say they are dalits. Most of them have Aadhaar cards. But no ration cards. They are aware that there will be no social security, but because of permanent income, they stay here. The banian companies suck them in!

Interested in the education of these children, SAVE, an NGO in Tirupur run fifteen schools. They and the National organization of Child Labour admit only children from the ages 9-14 in Bridge Schools. Others stay at home taking care of these children and do household chores. In a way, they are child labourers… a child looking after other children. The govt. also has abandoned the children of 5-8 years old. There are some problems in admitting these children in regular schools according to their ages after their schooling in Bridge Schools. They don't know Tamil. Hindi is not taught in Tamil Nadu schools. The teachers also face problems of indiscipline. So after sometime, most of these children abandon their schools and return to their homework.

The parents are not interested in their children's education. When somebody questions this attitude, they simply reply that they will stay just for four or five months and ask "What's the use of schooling then?" In fact, after a short stay, they return to their native places and then come to work again. Before going home, they pay a good amount as advance to their landlords so that they can occupy the same houses when they return. During their absence, some other people occupy their houses. These people, of course, are known to them.

The ladies leave their children under the care of their elder children and go for some work in the banian companies. The govt. is not at all interested in the education of these children. Facing language problems, most of these children grow into ruffians and develop into anti-social elements. They face isolation as a result. In the Bridge Schools and the schools where they study, these children are dubbed as ruffians. The teachers could not control them. They wash them off their hands. Sometimes, when the situation goes out of control, police help is sought. These children need counselling badly. Tamil cannot be a link language to these people; neither Hindi could be! This is because the children belong to different States.

In the nineties, there were one lakh child labourers, in Tiruppur That system of child labour was destroyed because of the govt. 's implementation of compulsory education, and the strict enforcement of laws against child labour in the companies exporting knitted wear. Now there is a new class of child labourers, given birth by the migrant workers. Their children may not go to schools- they may stay at home. Still, they too are children.

Children used to tear textbooks out of mischief. But these children have no textbooks to tear; instead, they themselves are torn. This pathetic situation is caused by migrant labourers. In a way, this is another face of the migrants.

The migrant labourers submit themselves by kneeling down before their employers begging, "Oh, Lord! Take my head!" The heads grew again and again.


Written by Subrabharathi Manian

Translated by P. Ramgopal

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