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Migrants try to better lives: Why get so riled?

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Why is India, a migration superpower, so riled about people crossing borders to better their lives? India is the top source of international migration, according to recent data released by the United Nations Economic and Social Council. This country is also the world’s top recipient of global remittances, with its diaspora sending $80 billion back home, a World Bank report said last year. India is followed by China ($67 billion), Mexico and the Philippines ($34 billion each) and Egypt ($26 billion).

All this suggests that Indians have done very well by crossing borders in search of a better life.

And we have been at it for a long time. Large numbers of Indian migrants — many of them of course involuntary ones — moved to Africa and the Caribbean over a century ago. In more recent years, Indians have been moving to the Gulf countries, North America and Europe.

Given that millions of Indians choose to move to places which offer them better opportunities, what explains the current obsessive stigmatisation of migrants and migration?

Even a cursory look at Indian newspapers would lead an outsider to think that India is being overrun by illegal migrants. The BJP, which calls the shots in most Indian states as well as at the Centre, misses no opportunity in sledge-hammering this point. In the nudge-nudge, wink-wink lingo that passes for political discourse today, “illegal migrants” are Muslims, and typically from Bangladesh.

They were likened to “termites” in the run-up to the general election earlier this year. The theme is back in the news. The implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in........

© Deccan Chronicle