“If migration improves the socio economic conditions of the migrants, isn’t it a good thing?” asked a student to Dr Amitabh Kundu in the Science Po (Political Science) lecture today. The lecture was about migration in Indian cities and we were looking at migration in Indian cities along with its effects and causes. Though the question looks simple, there is no straightforward yes or no answer to this. Clearly, the professor did not have a direct answer either. And to answer this, he narrated a small story from the great epic Mahabharata. The story goes like this:
When the Pandavas were in exile, Kunti, the mother of the five Pandavas expressed the desire to drink water on a particular day. One of the sons went to a river to bring water for his mother. But he was made captive by Yaksha. Another son of Kunti went to free his brother and bring water but met the same fate. Similarly, two more sons of Kunti were made captive by Yaksha. At last Dharma, the eldest of the brothers and the wisest, went to Yaksha. Yaksha put forward a series of questions in front of Dharma. And one of the questions was, “Who is happy?” To this Dharma replied, “One who earns his bread and butter through mental or physical labor and is not a migrant is happy.”
What immediately came to my mind were two separate conversations, one with Nishit and other with Mayank. Both of them were going to the States to pursue Masters and both of them were worried about going away from their respective families, friends and their country. When they had told this to me, my reaction was full of surprise. I told them that they will make friends there and they will get adjusted there like one does in a new city.
But today when I am planning to go abroad for doing Masters, I feel shivers down my spine. For some reason, I feel nostalgic before applying for masters. The only thought of going away from India that troubles me. I have also been thinking about being a migrant in the national capital for the past few months. What is it which has held me to this city? There were aspirations which drew me to the city but probably now there is nothing. At times, I yearn for going back to my hometown and settling there. I agree that there are less opportunities and more struggle to make a living there. But what is there and will always be there is the familiar air, the familiar smell of earth and, most importantly, my family.
There are many things which this city has given me and I will miss them when I give I am not here. But I know that I will be happy if I am with my family. I know my family will be happy if I am with them. And happiness is something which we want in life. Ain’t it?
P.S. Professor Rudrangshu Mukherjee said in the class, “We must put any historical personality in context before commenting on his or her actions.” On the similar lines, one might argue what Dharma said to Yaksha might be true in that context. I have only one answer to this, “If you are a migrant, ask yourself if you are happy living in a foreign land.” :-)