We Deserve Illegal Immigrants Because We are Growing?

This is an excerpt from the article published on May 19 in a Bangladeshi newspaper, The Daily Star:

Of course, there are many Bangladeshi immigrants inside India. There will always be. The real question about Jaipur is — who are these people in the “Bangali Para” — what were they doing all this time? Working for middle class Indian families, of course. Everyone in India knows exactly why these people are there — to work. As household help, cleaners, sweepers, cooks, maids, taxi drivers, tailors, weavers, jewellery makers, construction workers. Keeping Shining Indian rolling along. Yesterday, they were your convenient and easy source of cheap labour. Why are they a problem today? As India develops as a hyper-growth Asian tiger, with Bangladesh next door, immigration is inevitable. Until we become a medium growth country, we will be as a “Mexico” to India’s “United States.” Bangladeshis, hungry for work, willing to work, with families to feed, will cross the borders. Only after we economically develop (a SAARC zone of “co-prosperity”?) will immigration flows reverse, like the Indians who are now returning from America and Europe, looking for opportunities in India.

Sometime in the last few years, it has become easier and acceptable to bring out the Bangladeshi “militant cell” bogey. That there is Islamist politics inside Bangladesh is not in question. But that they have the capacity or agenda to wage cross-border forays — this still needs to be proven. The proof always seems to come from shaky sources. The US has listed HuJI as a global-standard “terrorist organisation.” And they have been so right, so many times before?

Is it our responsibility to ensure that poor countries around us develop at the same speed?  Can we blame them when our own governor doubts the intention of our police when they round up illegal immigrants? Governor S K Singh appeared to suggest that “ideology” could be behind the arrests in Rajasthan after Jaipur serial blasts.  I heard another Congress leader suggesting that Bangladeshis have a right to live and earn their living in India. I have never agreed with the saffron politics when it comes to our own Muslim brothers but I don’t see how we are expected to provide employment and suffer illegal activities by outsiders. It is not about religion it is about our security. It is the duty of the Bangladesh Government to provide employment, food and self respect to their citizens. We have millions of Indians suffering abject poverty. How on earth can we be expected to take take of others even on humanitarian grounds till we solve our own problems? Even after that helping somebody and supporting illegal migrants and jeopardizing our security are two different things. Last year in London I heard a Bangladeshi leader on Channel 4. He was questioned about growing unemployment in Bangladesh. He had a shocking answer. He suggested that  with a booming economy next door they need not worry. If it was a joke I don’t think it was a good one, If he was serious people back home should make sure that he is never elected again.

It is high time political parties unite against the threat of terrorism. When a bomb explodes nobody is safe.

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27 Comments

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27 responses to “We Deserve Illegal Immigrants Because We are Growing?

  1. India should adopt a strict immigration policy. There is a lot of sneaking in across the Bangladesh border. And you have rightly said. There are enough people in India whom the govt. should take care first than the immigrants.

  2. is india is a same country that raises hue and cry when singapore/usa ill-treats its immigrants?

  3. Pingback: Atithi Devo Bhava? | DesiPundit

  4. Ankur: Well-put. That reflects the point that I would have made too.

    There are millions of illegal migrants from SE Asia, and from India particularly, in the USA and Europe too. As Prerna says it is not these countries’ responsibility to make sure other progress equally well but for years these nations absorbed illegal migrants. I do not think India wants these people back, in return for sending the Bangladeshis back, does she?

    A good test in general in life, I have learnt, is to ask ourselves how we would feel if the shoe were on the other foot. I think in policy terms, India is experiencing many such firsts but then again to quote Spiderman’s uncle – With great power comes great responsibility :-)

    Welcome to big daddy territory for India! Things are less pleasant in Successville than they advertised.

  5. Rajiv

    Although I think mass immigrations should be avoided, India has a population large enough not to fear a “huge wave” of immigrants from Bangladesh (apart from the border-areas). However, adopting strict immigration laws is still understandable for any country.

    (Comment :” It is not about religion it is about our security.” Political correctness? I would be hard to well explain”how so?”)

  6. “Is it our responsibility to ensure that poor countries around us develop at the same speed?”

    Well its not actually a responsibility but can be a problem solver. The people in question are economic migrants who wanders because of displacement due to natural calamities and poverty(lack of opportunities). If the economy of Bangladesh becomes better and can come close to India they will certainly prefer home as their first choice and hit back home.

    Look at South Africa’s xenophobic attitude today against the Zimbabweans. Had Zimbabwe been a perfectly governed state (and a stable economy) would this migration problem arise?

    The problem with the influx of Bangladeshis in India were mainly due to population growth and increasing opportunities in India. The porous borders were also an added advantage (after the fencing the situation is better). Indian politics have played a role here too. Some Indian politicians want them to enroll as voters and vote for them and cry for deporting them when the election is over. They are the keepers of these migrants in helping them getting papers – a fact which the Indians should bother.

    At the same time it is also ironic to hear from some Indians xenophobic arguments about illegal migrants when they forget that people from South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) are the largest migrants in affluent countries and many of them who settled there started as illegal immigrants.

    Migration is a natural phenomenon since long. The history of migration of people (http://www.let.leidenuniv.nl/history/migration/index.html) in the world shoes us that these migration happened due to the lookout for available land because of population growth, attraction to the wealth of affluent areas. USA is the perfect example of migrants setting up a new place for living. But in todays world this phenomenon is controlled by Visa system. If you look at this map you will feel that it is so unfair how the population is distributed in the world. Actually people from South Asia should migrate to other countries (legally) to create their living space.

    I know its its unfair for Indians to be bothered by the neighbors shortcomings. But India is the country who set a commendable precedence in 1971 of accepting 10 million refugees during the liberation war of Bangladesh and helped Bangladesh liberate. These refugees went back after the independence of Bangladesh. If Bangladesh was not liberated where would these refugees be?

  7. I don’t know why people hire illegal help. I think it’s about time the citizens of our country took responsibility for their own actions.

  8. lallopallo

    Prerna, I understand your honest concerns here. But, I dont buy the argument that ” we should solve our problems first before accommodating migrants ”
    Because if we go by this logic, then no place in this world will be a melting pot of talents & we will be living in a ghettoized , and hence more dangerous, world. I mean, for ex, US ( country with maximum immigrants) has it’s own problems too, including extreme poverty, and yet it’s these immigrants who helped US become so successful. All those countries (especially the developed ones) which are too close have suffered/will suffer in the long run, both economically and socially.
    Infact, India, with it’s rising economy and say in the world, will be better off in the long run if it becomes a hub encouraging migration & flow of talent from it’s neighboring countries. Ofcourse , as you mentioned, right now this migration is more like a scourge, but if properly nurtured and channelized, it will be a boon rather than a bane in the long run.
    Also, Shefaly and Rizwan raised some interesting points in their comments.

  9. @Nita
    That is the only way out.
    Every individual should have this feeling.

  10. There are certain points in support of the arguments ‘why illegal immigration is not good

    for India’ ?
    1> India’s huge population and large internal migration: India has a large population which

    is already more than what our natural resources can cater to. A large section of India is

    still living below poverty line. As a nation it’s our duty to look after their needs first.

    Secondly India experiences huge internal migration from state like Bihar ,UP and Orissa (

    and on smaller scale other states too) .A case in point is the recent controversy generated

    by MNS in Maharashtra against Maharashtra. Our plate is already full .Where is the need for

    migrants from outside!!!!
    2> Threat to India’s security: Bangladesh is no friend of ours. We have al

    ready had border skirmishes with BangladeshIn the long term Bangladesh immigrants can

    pose danger to India’s security. There are parts bordering Bangladesh in Assam where

    illegal Bangladeshis outnumber the locals .It’s not difficult to fathom where there

    loyalties lie. The Indian security agencies have repeatedly pointed fingers at these illegal immigrants for their role in terrorist strikes in India.
    3> Economic logic : Immigration makes sense when the country lacks manpower and talent. We

    have more than sufficient manpower. Anyways the illegal immigration that happens is of

    unskilled labour which doesn’t make much economic sense. In Maharashtra we have a situation

    where we have a conflict between locals and outsiders .one of the major reason for such

    conflicts is economics of employment. The locals think that outsiders are taking their jobs ,such conflicts arise. So if India can’t provide quality jobs to it’s own citizens can we afford immigration.
    4> Comparison with the west: The case of Indians immigration to west can’t be compared to

    the western countries because of the following reasons:-
    a) When the immigration started to the west ,the west was much ahead in development than in

    India.
    b) It required skilled and semi-skilled labour force.
    c) The immigration to west from India has been of two types. The legal way which mostly

    included the highly skilled immigrants(the term brain drain was used in India) and the

    illegal immigration which mostly included semi-skilled and unskilled labour. So west has

    largely benefitted from the immigration.
    d) These Indian immigrants have never been a security threat to the countries to which they

    immigrated. India also does’t share any border with these countries.
    Unfortunately many political parties consider the Bangaladeshi immigrants as vote banks.By not acting against this illegal immigration Indian government is silently encouraging the immigrants.

  11. @Rajat,

    Very good points. Law must be followed, illegal immigrants ko wapas fenk do. Governor be damned. We neither have the resources nor the strict control like the US.

  12. Revathi

    Bangladeshis in europe open “indian” restaurants and name them taj mahal or gandhi or even natrajor shiva. So I guess we should give them all a PIO card.

  13. nexrex

    interesting.

  14. @ Prerna: Not much in life is about ‘deserving’ but much is life is indeed about ‘negotiating’. More in a post. Probably.

    @ Revathi: Actually, Bangladeshis are allowed to apply for the PIO card. The privilege covers up to four prior generations.

  15. Mayuresh Gaikwad

    I think most of us are mistaking an issue here. Immigration is a fact of life and will happen. I am all for welcoming immigrants from Bangladesh to India. But, not all immigrants, only the legal immigrants (who have been issued a visa by the Indian embassy in Dhaka).

    Illegal immigrants – well, the sooner we get rid of them, the better. And yes, seal the borders with shoot at sight orders.

    Prerna rightly says that there are teeming millions of poor in India too. First, let us address their problems and then worry about outsiders. All our policies should be directed only towards the interests of Indian citizens.

    If India feels it wants cheap labor, let it set up 100 embassies all across Bangladesh, who will work full time to issue visas/other papers to Bangladeshi migrants who wish to work here.

    As for illegal Indian immigrants in foreign countries, they should be kicked out and deported to India.

    If your country cannot provide you with an opportunity to feed your family, revolt against it. Demand performance from your leaders, else do not give them a second chance of leading you. Don’t come to another country using illegal means.

    Also, we make a mistake when we compare refugees with illegal immigrants. Refugees is people we have accepted on humanitarian grounds because they are being persecuted in their own country. Indeed, refugees have contributed the maximum to India’s growth and are no less Indian than any one of us (The parsis came as refugees, today, if there is one group of people who has the first right over India, I would say, they are the Parsis). The Tibetans have been here, they Syrian Christians came to Kerala as refugees, etc.

    Today, the illegal immigrants are not persecuted in their country. They are looking for better job opportunities. If yes, come to the host country legally and contribute to the economy by all means. Else, stay in your own country.

    Another valid point, made by a commentator here is that the terrorists come under the guise of migrant workers and there is NO way to distinguish between the two. Hence, the only option to protect Indian lives is to stop illegal immigration. If even one Indian life can be saved by stopping illegal immigration and condemning million Bangladeshis to poverty, India should do it. Because our leaders have a responsibility to protect Indian lives. They better do their job at all costs.

  16. Rajiv

    @Mayu

    // If even one Indian life can be saved by stopping illegal immigration and condemning million Bangladeshis to poverty, India should do it.//

    The world doesn’t work like that (or we would stop driving cars)

  17. Pingback: Illegal immigration « Ronin of the Spirt

  18. sorry pr3rna, im too busy to complete ur tag
    this post it is very interesting and ur writeup good
    the writer is a bangladeshi, his writeup is naturally for free movement of public without ids etc, worse he doesnt talk about the govt incompetence and bangladeshi burgeoning population and lack of family planning
    so naturally he has his bias when he says The proof always seems to come from shaky sources..
    when there is sufficient documented proof of the dgfi aiding ulfa and other terror outfits

    first of all the bangladeshis are uninvited illegal migrants ankur, and most migrants to Singapore or Indonesia or US are legal, with work visas and permits. and it is reasonable if the consulate raises questions if they are treated as subhuman by contractors , and as mayuresh said kick the illegals out – they hinder the visa for the legal visa seekers

    on bangladeshi flow, what we need is not to allow them to migrate but give them migrant labor status – with intent of not allowing them to vote or take decisions, the situation otherwise will be like in Assam and north east where the bangladeshis squat illegally on public and private land and are sheltered by the congress because their illegal votes count, else sooner or later a situation like Johannesburg will be repeated in India

  19. rezwans comments on migration are very true but nations work in quid pro quo and bangladesh has not been best of friends with India, treated its liberal n Hindu population very harshly and making overtures to Pakistan and allowing the Isi a free run.
    worse when this happens
    http://www.tribuneindia.com/2001/20010422/main1.htm
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1289714.stm
    http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers20%5Cpaper1931.html

  20. Rajiv,//(Comment :” It is not about religion it is about our security.” Political correctness? I would be hard to well explain”how so?”// It is said that you have to be an Indian to understand India so it would be a little difficult for you understand the situation here. India is a very complex country when you talk about religion. There is so much talk about the animosity amongst Hindus and Muslims in India. You would be surprised to see the number of Hindus visiting Muslim dargahs. There are many many temples and mosques next to each other all over Delhi and they coexist without any controversy. If it was about religion I would talked about our own minorities, most of whom are as patriotic as the majority.
    My post is about illegal immigrants,not about legal immigrants. You need not be an outsider to commit a crime, anybody can commit a crime but the point is that illegal immigrants disappear after committing a crime because there is noway to trace them.
    Ankur, Prax has answered your question.
    Mayuresh Gaikwad welcome and thanks for putting across your point so well
    Welcome Vishal,@nexrex, Revathi, Rajat ,Nikhil Narayanan, KAMERUN SCOOP, Rezwan and Radhesh.
    Thanks Nita, Shefaly, Lallopallo and Rajiv.
    Thanks Prax.

  21. truthwalker

    Pr3rna, so sorry! I didn’t mean for post to be response to yours, that was bad editing on my part and I fixed it. You just reminded me of the situation over here and thats what I wrote about. I would not presume to know more about the situation in India that you. Our trouble here in the US is that the legitimate complaints about illegal immigration is lost in the political noise of illegitimate, xenophobic complaints. The tracking issue does concern me though. Once it is OK for the government make special arrangements to track legal immigrants, I fear this tracking will spill over into legal citizens.

  22. Rajiv

    @Pr3rna: As you said, I’m not the best informed person on this topic, but is the tracking of illegal criminals really the most important issue? a criminal will always be on the run won’t he?
    And if the problem is a mainly because of a legal status, India should legalize everyone right away ;)).
    Should it be religion or anything else, in my sense it’s the “differences” between peoples which make integration harder.
    I still think the “security=criminal tracking” issue just provides a conveniant excuse for an anti-immigration policy, which could be enforced for other (less P-C) reasons. But I’d be very happy to hear all your arguments on this subject :)

  23. You are always welcome @truthwalker.
    I agree with you//I fear this tracking will spill over into legal citizens.//
    Rajiv, about security=criminal tracking- when you have Two hundred thousand illegal migrants from a single country,speaking the same language and looking the same as you it is not just a convenient excuse.It is not just an excuse, when their own country is fighting terrorism and on many occasions their terror outfits have threatened you. It becomes a real threat when you share a long and porous border with a not so friendly country and your politicians use these illegal migrants as vote banks.

  24. Rajiv

    @Pr3rna: I understand the problem is real, but there must be several ways to present it..
    Anyway, you mean this illegal immigration problem comes down to :
    1. “Bangladesh has more terrorists than India, but that has nothing to do with the people, their religion or anything else inherent to that country or its people”?
    Or maybe just
    2. “the border is porous”? (in the sense it is used to escape police from both sides, but then)

    PS: what did 200,000 refer to?

  25. Rajiv,
    //200,000//there is one more zero-2,000,000.This is the estimated number of illegal Bangladeshis living in India.
    I am not sure how serious the police from the other side is but on our side sometimes corruption and sometimes politics plays its role.

  26. Rajiv

    @Pr3rna: some sources give much high figures. is 2M an official estimatation?

    On wiki (i know its not alwasy reliable, it adds another 0 for the high estimate)

    “In 2003, former Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes alleged that there are there are more than 20,000,000 of these aliens in India [1].

    The Government of Bangladesh claims that “there is not a single Bangladeshi migrant in India”[2][3].

    It is extremely hard to distinguish between illegal Bangaldeshis and local Bengali speakers”

    I think the real worry the Indian government probably has is to make sure this minority doesn’t grow to become a 50M or more-strong nationwide voting block, with foreign loyalties and an islamic background.

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