The Phenomenon of Migration

Migration is a world-wide phenomenon. Animals and birds migrate in search of food, habitat and in accordance with season. Men migrate in search of food, shelter, work and better life. At times, men are forced to migrate against their will due to political compulsions, civil wars, ethnic conflicts and other unsavory reasons. Throughout mankind’s long history, migration in one form or the other manifested itself time and again. Every continent of the world has been a witness to this phenomenon umpteen numbers of times. In fact, it may not be wrong to say that this phenomenon is an ongoing process in one form or the other at one place or the other whether we recognize it or not.  

When people are forced to migrate due to political turmoil and imminent persecution in one’s country, the misery and plight that befall on them is indeed pitiful and pathetic. Even in good times, it is not easy to leave one’s home and everything that one has and migrate to a totally new environment where one has to make numerous new adjustments and face many unforeseen challenges. So when people are forced to move out of their homes due to political compulsions, ethnic conflicts or civil wars, the troubles and the hardships that befall on the people are indeed manifold and unimaginable. The most recent instance which we can think of in this regard is the mass migration of people from countries like Syria to Europe and even America due to the unrest in that country. The plight and the turmoil that these people had to undergo was indeed heart-wrenching as they were literally forced to move out of their beloved country with their family including children and even toddlers leaving everything they had behind and move to unseen and unknown territory where an uncertain future awaits them. These people were forced to take such an extreme step because the very land which they called as their home had become a battleground where their very lives and future were on the brink of extinction and annihilation due to the extreme and radical political beliefs, ideas and propagandas of some people. When migration of such magnitude takes place due to political compulsions and civil unrest, it becomes a big battle for survival not only for the migrating people but even for those people upon whose land these migrating people would set their feet. This is so because in such a scenario, the hosting people are also caught off-guarded and put in a very vulnerable situation where challenges like sharing of basic resources, being hospitable and putting up a good friendly image before the world naturally crop up.

The Nagas also experienced a sort of this migration in the 1950s and 1960s when the whole Naga populace was out on the run due to the reign of terror unleashed by the Indian army. However, the Nagas did not migrate to any neighboring or foreign area even during this difficult times. Rather they left their villages and everything they had and moved to their paddy-fields and nearby jungles where they thought they would find safety. Many perished in these wild environments due to want of food, clothing and shelter. And even in these wild habitations the Indian army came after them hunting them like wild animals. So we Nagas especially the preceding generation are all too familiar with the challenges and hardships that one has to encounter when one is forced to run away from one’s domestic environment. God forbid such a fate befall on our people again.  

Furthermore, it is alleged that the Nagas migrated through a long route from Central Asia over a long period of time spanning centuries and entered the present Naga lands through the Burmese corridor and settled here permanently where we took up agriculture to sustain ourselves. In the process the Nagas came to organize themselves into village systems where there was no caste, class or creed system and where everybody had a share and voice thereby displaying a pure democratic society. As of now, we may lack any concrete scientific evidence about this migration history of our forefathers but for an avid observer, the circumstantial evidences may be all too overwhelming.  

Apart from the migration due to political reasons, there is another migration which happens due to economic reasons which is all the more pervasive, common and constant whether one notices it or not. This can be called migration due to the “search for a better life”. Yes, people are forced to migrate to greener pastures when they cannot find enough work to sustain themselves in one place. Similarly people also migrate when they think that they can accomplish bigger things or realize their dreams elsewhere. While some people simply migrate chasing the ‘glamour of the city life’. These types of migration may be permanent or temporary depending on many varied factors.  

In present day Nagaland, it is the migration (or rather influx) of outsiders into our lands due to economic opportunities available here that has become a matter of concern. We Nagas suffer from a false sense of pride. We do not want to stretch out our hands and do the things that we consider small, dirty, humiliating and embarrassing. And because of this we are providing ample opportunities of earning to outsiders to come and earn decent incomes. This is the scenario which is inviting scores of people from all over India and even countries like Nepal and Bangladesh to come to our land and earn and sustain not only themselves here but also send a fortune back to their native homes. This is the reason why a good portion of our money does not circulate amongst ourselves but go out of our lands never to return again. I guess the economic status of many Nagas can be much better if we simply learn to do our own works and let our money circulate amongst ourselves rather than throwing it out of the window through this Non-Naga workforce. As of now, this Non-Naga workforce has become an unwanted but indispensable part of the Naga society. But unless we wake up and regulate, streamline and rationalize this workforce effectively, their numbers, confidence and ego will only increase with each passing day and one day it may reach a stage where they are in a position to manipulate, blackmail and drive our whole economy and society for their sole advantage.  

One of our leaders rightly said, “when a sea or river over-floods, it is the people living on the banks of the river or seashores that is put on the brink of extinction”. This is so because when a sea or river becomes full and over-floods, the first areas where the overflowing water will go are the banks of the rivers and the seashores. Here let us recall that the Nagas are a small nation surrounded by some of the most populous nations in the world like China, India and Bangladesh. As of now, China being a rather developed nation, we do not face any imminent threat from China for its people to come to our land in search of work and for survival. But as far as India and Bangladesh are concerned, the danger and threat loom large in our horizon. India and Bangladesh are populous nations where the population density is also extremely tight and dense. And what is more, the efforts of these countries to slow down the growth of its population have also not been very successful in the recent past. And so when the population sea of India and Bangladesh explodes and overflows and the people there cannot find work to sustain and survive, they will naturally move towards the banks and shores to find work and survive. And who are the people living on the seashore and banks of the India-Bangladesh Population Sea? It is we the Nagas numbering hardly two millions. Therefore, when the population sea of India and Bangladesh explodes and overflows, it can easily wipe out the people living in its banks and shores from the map and surface of South East Asia. Yes of course, this may not happen at least in our lifetime. But considering the rate at which populations in these countries are exploding where survival is becoming harder and harder, where there is no more enough resources and work for all and considering the Nagas’ false sense of pride and our apathy and lackadaisical attitude towards these issues which are slowly but constantly assuming epic proportions…… such an eventuality may happen sooner than we think……..