By Madhu Chandra
Migration from North East India is at peak now. Number has increased 12 times in last five years. The year 2005 had 34,000 migrates and increased 414,850 in 2010. With the current trend, 5,000,000 expected to migrate in next five years. The challenges of racial discrimination and sexual violence faced by North East communities in mega cities will increase.
Union Cabinet ministers clearing 51% FBI in multi-brand stores and 100% in single-brand will open way for 4-6 million jobs in India. This will attract North Easterners to mega cities of India.
The North East Indian migration to other mega cities of India is new trend, begun from early 2000s. Before that, few in number, migrates for specific higher and professional studies and central government jobs.
What are the factors that push people out from North East region? One might immediately assume with socio-political unrest in the region for last sixty plus years as main push factor. It has led to multifaceted backdrops of socio-economic, development, educational, law and order situation, but it has never pushed people out from the region. Study conducted by North East Support Centre & Helpline in March 2011, clearly reveals that the lack of higher educational infrastructure is the main push factor for people to migrate to other mega cities of India.
The 10+2 passing out students are the exit point. North East Council’s 2020 vision reveals that only 6% of 10+2 passing out students enrols in Government colleges in the region and 90% of them in Arts stream. The rest migrates to other cities of India for further studies and employment in private companies, while drop out, who cannot afford. The lack of employment opportunities, economic backwardness, and socio-political unrest are additional push factors.
What astonish the most is about returning to the region after completing their studies? The study conducted by North East Support Centre & Helpline reveals that only 5% returns back after their studies. When they return and invest what they learned in their home states, then the region will benefit and grow accordingly. This is going to miss terribly, when there are no employment opportunities available for them in the region.
The globalisation has affected every nook of India but not North East, specifically in the areas of economic boom and employment opportunities, except pulling youngsters to mega cities for job in unorganised private sectors.
The 66.35% of North East migrants migrate for higher studies, out of which, 78.15% for graduate studies, 11.48% for Engineering/managerial, 6.80% for Research/Ph. D. and 3.57% for medical studies while 35% of migrants migrate for employment opportunities in other cities of India with 15% for Government jobs and 85% for un-organized private sectors.
Currently, over, 275,000 students from North East India migrated to other cities of India. Their study cost is one fifth of Union Government Rs 8000 cores budget for 2011-12 supported by poor parents at home, if calculated at the rate of Rs 5,000 per student annually.
The state Government like Manipur has failed to create employment opportunities and started seeking employment opportunities outside state by sending out. It seems the state government machineries have not learned the danger of sending out to placement agencies outside the state. There have been challenges faced by the region with fraud placement agencies targeting youngsters and children for human trafficking.
The challenges faced by North Easterners in mega cities, particularly in Delhi and National Capital Region includes racial discrimination and sexual violence in work places, market areas, colleges, schools, universities and the colonies where they lives in small and large numbers. This is going to increase in coming years, specifically with 5,000,000 populations expected to migrate in next five years.
India is caste-based society. Caste runs and controls every segment of Indian society. Racial discrimination and easy target of sexual violence faced by North East communities is the reflection of caste society. Racial discrimination is rampant in every sections of Indian society. It matters what you look like, what community you belong to, and how you speak.
Patriarchal and caste-based Indian societies consider the North Eastern boys and girls are polluting people socially, culturally and religiously. They never consider the North Easterners as fellow citizens, part of society because of their appearance, dress code, cultural differences. Such mindset is the root cause of all discrimination faced by North East communities in Delhi and National Capital Region. Such mindset violates the most acclaimed inspirational “Beauty of Unity in Diversity of Indian Culture.”
Every Indian citizen has rights to migrate and lives anywhere within the Indian Territory. The rights to life and rights to live are denied to North East Indian communities in Mega cities in many forms. Many do not get justice from the law enforcing agencies.
Youngsters working in unorganised private sectors and business establishment as sales assistants, faces sexual harassment from employers and senior managers. Some time, they work extra hours without pay, salaried delayed, denied, and suspended from job without any given reasons.
Whenever sexual violence and racial attack happens, their carrier and studies affected immediately. Monika and her sister had to close their cyber cafe after assaulted sexually by a group of people in North Delhi in 2008. The both the victim of Duala Kuan gang rape cases of 2005 and 2010, returned to Mizoram. Linda had to stop her beauty parlour training halfway after assaulted repeated by house owner in 2007. Their economic and future carriers are shattered.
The increasing number of migration and challenges faced in mega cities need to address collectively and constructively. The increasing number of challenges could be confronted by addressing the lack of higher educational infrastructure in the region. The Union Government’s Rs 8000 cores budget for 2011-12 for North East India, does not include any specific investment to develop higher educational infrastructure and so The Ministry of Development for North East Region and North East Council as well. Until the higher educational infrastructure is invested and developed, the challenges of migration will continue.
The North East political leaders and state governments need to address the issues of racial discrimination and sexual violence meted upon the people from North East India with the counter part of Union and concerned stated governments. The challenge is huge with ever-increasing crimes against North Easterners.
Lastly, not the least, the region will get hit soon with biggest challenges of human trafficking, specifically with India’s Look East Policy to open gateway to South Asian countries. The placement agencies have targeted North East girls for sex trade, bride trafficking, spa massage service, and boys for bonded labours. It should be included in addressing the challenges faced by the people from North East India.
Madhu Chandra is a social activist and research scholar based in New Delhi. He works as Regional Secretary of All India Christian Council (www.indianchristians.in) and Spokesperson of North East Support Centre & Helpline (www.nehelpline.net).