Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I hate being a Migrant Worker in Mumbai !

This is not a political statement. This is not a communal statement. However close it may sound. It is a cultural statement. It is an economic statement.

"Everyone in Kolkata has two names : Bhalo Naam Ar Ekta Daak Naam."

That is how it goes in the newly released movie - Kahaani. It is a great movie. Vidya Balan was simply superb. However, what I absolutely adored about the movie, was the way Sujoy Ghosh brought in the cultural nuances of Kolkata into the narrative of the movie. Making every Bengali proud.

You need a great sense of pride, belonging-ness and respect to one's own identity to be able to portray it so well into a movie. I love people who truly belong to their cultural ethnic identity. I love being Assamese. It is more than geographical and political identity. It is more about cultural identity that includes the history, mother tongue, customs, art and literature.

Sadly today, the importance of culture and ethnic roots is overwhelmed by the materialism of today. Career aspirations guide us towards mathematics, science, computers. We ignore our mother culture.

We urge and scold our kids to know multiplication tables, but may not do the same to know our mother tongue. We would not teach our kids about our great literary scholars like Laksminath Bezbaruah, Jyotiprasad Agarwala and Bishnuprasad Rabha. We would not teach them how to make the traditional snacks, food, pickles etc. We would not encourage them to wear the traditional dresses.

We want our kids to be global citizens, to be metropolitan citizens. The stress is more into learning English, more into imbibing the culture propagated by television and films (produced in the metros). We forget that we are actually the citizens of our ethnic identity, and of our geographical identity.

This attitude, or indifference to one's own identity has many negative fall-outs. The most critical among them, is the un-equal economic growth dividing the richer geographies from the poorer geographies. We are creating economic behemoths in the cities, especially the metros, leaving behind the rural India.

Every community or a region survives on the quality of the people, just like a school depends on the quality of the students. The good quality people are rushing to the bigger cities to become global citizens, resulting in brain drain and poorer rural areas. Brain drain is a direct consequence of taking one's own culture for granted. Brain drain is corollary to the aspiration to learn the global culture, expecting a better economic future and an acceptance in the global socio-economic materialism.

This expectation need not necessary be the truth. Even if it is true, it may not lead to happiness, a greater individual good and overall social progress. Opportunities for a better life exist everywhere. It may not be overtly visible to the common people. It is hidden because of the fact that better education facilities, social and economic infrastructure and knowledge economy are polarised in the bigger cities.

In reality, back home in our villages and smaller towns like Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Tezpur, we have lesser competition, better scope in almost all businesses, familiarity of language / culture and home / family support. More importantly, there is a grand feeling of doing something for the greater good of the society, by bringing in the knowledge capital from bigger cities.

The world is becoming smaller with easier transportation, improved Internet and mobile connectivity, leading to wider access to information. Today is the best time to think about going back to our roots and implement whatever we have learnt in the bigger cities. Although, it would not be easy, yet if we persevere, we can bring the much needed development and progress to the rural neglected regions of our country.

Parents and the elders have a big role to play to bring in this change. We need to instill a sense of pride for the community and encourage kids to come back after studying outside the state.

I have been outside Assam for the past 15 years. Surely, I have done well individually, but there is a nagging guilt that I am not using my knowledge and skill for the people of Assam. I could have scaled up my father's school uniform business. I could have contributed in many other ways.

I have started hating being a migrant worker. I always used to hate the Mumbai traffic, but now I know that I am causing it.

I have made plans to contribute to my Assamese community. I have made plans to return to Assam. It was never a better time to go back to our native towns and villages. Lets start a revolution. Lets stop being migrant workers!


  1. Arnab8:17 AM


  2. Deepankar11:13 PM

    Great...super like

    1. Thanks. I am planning a few things that requires shuttling between Assam and Mumbai or Delhi. Its a good business model. Looking for people interested.

  3. Pranjal Medhi11:24 PM

    Nice piece..!!

    1. Pranjal, thanks. Stay in Jorhat. Projects in Mumbai would be awesome. Its is possible. Lets discuss.

  4. nice to see the like minded people around..great article :)


  5. Real Beautiful thoughts...this indeed is a cultural/ economic statement...

    I wonder what I have been? Born in Chandigarh with hometown in Allahabad, educated in Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Ghaziabad and Pune. Worked in Pondicherry and Chennai. Sometimes, it becomes hard to answer the simple question, "where are you from?", I say, "I have an All India Permit".

    What do I represent?


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