Listen to the cries at the gates

S P Singh

Malta is thousands of miles away from Punjab, somewhere along the icy Ionian Sea off the Greek coast, but Punjab's youth will give their right arm to reach the Godforsaken place, bribing petty officials, border guards of many countries, vessel owners and who not. Now, news comes that respectable young women from Punjab, coming from a perfectly well settled family and with many blessings of the Almighty, are ready to pose as wives of completely stranger unscrupulous MPs and even pay whopping amounts of money to them to be smuggled out of Indian shores for any spot in the western hemisphere.

It is easy to go for a simplistic explanation of a deep rooted phenomenon. It is tempting to say that a better life awaits Indians or citizens of any other country in the western regions, or that the land of opportunity has always attracted people from a less endowed place.

But there are other issues involved. The clichéd description of our planet is that it is becoming a shrunken village. A global village. The liberalization and globalization has weaved the planet's forces of politics and economics in such a way that the sociological ramifications stand jolted and people are finding ways to mesh with each other in the new paradigm of collective survival. There are many instruments which provide course correction during this transition phase of the exercise. The dumping levies, the WTO, the quota-setting meetings, the Uruguay to Doha milestones are all examples of course correction mechanisms in an evolving new economy.

Many other institutions, like law making, the  domain of human rights, the debate on global warming, the fuel and energy hot spots are all on the table, and from President George W Bush to could-have-been-president Al Gore, from Noam Chomsky to the Earth-Flattening Thomas Friedman, everyone is contributing his or her mite in the construction of this new superstructured village.

But when in a village, the village paradigm comes into play. In a global village, the goods and the manufacturing sector cannot be treated better than the labor or the service sector. But while goods are moving, money is moving, the people in some lands of the lesser gods cannot.

Fortress Americana and Fortress Europe are failing repeatedly to listen to the cries and shrieks of hundreds dying at their gates, banging with all their might, often suffering humiliation in their bid to prise open these gates only to get a foothold. A wave of antipathy against the very construct of immigrant is being detected by social scientists in many regions in the west, and even the immigrant-turned-native is doing his level best to keep the gates shut. 

This worked when we lived on a planet called Earth. In a place called global village, such hindrances will more and more seem akin to artificially-generated or crafted untouchability. Of course, the argument that a free-for-all will only lead to anarchy is pretty valid, but then what it proves is that the better endowed must address many questions about why many are managing so poorly. The era of grants and aids and Salvation Army style help is over. It is time to see if everyone is paying for the addition he is making to the Ozone hole, if every one is an equal partner in the world's energy resources, if everyone is getting the same opportunity of legal protection, if every one's human rights are guarded with similar zeal, and each new born child is not discriminated because of the geographical location of his birth.


(S P Singh can be contacted at More of his work is available at

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