Migration in the time of Conflict: Experiences from Nagaland state

Morung Express News Dimapur | December 3   In a transformative effort to engage with the pressing issue of migration, the Stockholm University in collaboration with The People Channel, and The Morung Express from Nagaland organized a round table discussion on “Migration in the time of Conflict: Experiences from Nagaland.”   In her introduction, Anthropologist Dr Dolly Kikon pointed out that the discussion and the main issue was not on the question of whether migration was good or not. She also shared a brief synopsis on her research and personal experience with Indigenous migration and migrants.   Sharing his view on the theme, Anthropologist Professor Bengt G Karlsson from Stockholm University, stated that Migration has really accelerated in the past ten to fifteen years, and in a way, all of us understand why this is happening. What really generated migration in the North East India, he said, could be attributed to factors like employment and educational opportunities.   Also participating in the discussion was Vikheho Swu, Cabinet Minister of Road & Bridges, termed migration as a global issue and a ‘reality check on a phenomenon which is bound to happen to any developing society.’   Highlighting the ‘craze’ for government jobs in Nagaland, he stated that there is an excess of 40,000 government employees. He pointed out that from the total population of 19 lakhs in the state, there are about 1.20 lakh government employees when the actual need for about 80,000.   Furthermore, with not enough support from the State government in terms of policy, there is an absence of development function in rural areas, Swu added.   “The reason for such grim situation is because Nagas lack in vision, planning and management therefore policy makers, educationist, social activist and entrepreneurs have to put their heads together to plan. We must accept the fact that migration is here and here to stay,” Swu concluded.   Three panel sessions were held on topics of “Why migration matters”, “Challenges and experiences of migration”, and finally concluding with “Community reflections on migration”.   The first session moderated by Dr RK Debbarma from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences had on the panel Dr Rajdeep Singha, also from TISS, Rozelle Mero from The People Channel, Kvulo Lorin from Tetso College and Vijaya Eastwood of Harley ventures, Gurgaon.   Introducing the topic, Dr Debbarma urged, “Let’s talk about migrants without dehumanizing them,” insisting that terms such as “illegal immigrants” are dehumanizing in nature.   Highlighting the huge scale of migration within India, Dr Singha revealed that 72 million – almost equivalent to Germany’s entire population – of India’s populace cross migrate with female out-migrating men.   Also speaking on the panel, Lorin shared that his experience of working in the city has helped build a network, which in turn has helped students of Tetso College find job placements. Lorin was however of the opinion that youngsters in Naga society lack direction in finding opportunities.   The second session moderated by Rozelle Mero had Tiala Jamir, Lomi Shikhu, Metsino Chase and Jai Syied – all of them working professionals who have served across the country and abroad – as panelists.   All of them shared their experiences and challenges faced as migrants themselves. During the discussion that ensued, the challenge faced on re-entry back to the society in Nagaland was raised with the observation that Naga society looks upon those who have been abroad with a judgmental eye.   The post-lunch session on “Community reflections on Migration” was moderated by Dr Dolly Kikon and had in the panel MLA and former Parliamentary Secretary Mhonlumo Kikon, Jenny Esther from Don Bosco Tech, Dr Sedevi Angami from Christian Institute of Health Sciences & Research, and Jenpu Rongmei of CAN Youth.   Discussing the pros and cons of receiving migrants, Dr Sedevi opined that, “Migrants add variety and increase the talent pool in the society.”   Issues on high prevalence of dropouts and unemployed youth in Nagaland and the challenges on uneducated unemployed youth were discussed while the need for introducing migration policy and a policy mechanism for youths were also raised.   One of the reflections was that the community as well as the government has failed to understand conditions of uneducated unemployed youth as many policies such as skill development were towards improving the conditions of educated unemployed youth.   In her concluding remarks, Dr Dolly Kikon observed that often “conflict attached to migration” is not talked about. Migration to a large extent is also caused by “structural violence and militarization,” she noted.   She called for looking at time not in the linear past-present-future context, but by envisioning the future, relating it to the past, and then living the present as a way towards the envisioned future.

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