Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Musings on MIGRATION

This morning I saw some news on TV that there was a proposal to grant American Citizenship to Illegal Immigrants living in the USA. 

Some called this proposal IMMIGRATION REFORM

I probably heard a commentator say words the effect that this was because immigrants call the shots during elections in many states and these immigrants would like illegal immigrants from their erstwhile countries to be given US Citizenship.

(This seems similar to what we call vote-bank politics” in India)

When the number of immigrants becomes large, then in a democracy, the immigrants can influence the outcome of elections by becoming a vote bank”. 

I also heard someone say that this was going to benefit a large number of immigrants from India too, who are living in the USA, would now be able to get American Citizenship. 

Yes, I have observed that for many bright youngsters in India, their cardinal objective in life is to migrate to America, get a Green Card, followed by US Citizenship and permanently live there all their lives and realize their American Dream. 

In the place where I live in Pune almost all youngsters have migrated to America.

Is Migration good? Or is it bad? What are the consequences of migration for the host country? 

Well, here are links to some articles which discuss the pros and the cons of Immigration Reform.

All this discussion about immigration reform reminded me of an article I had written sometime ago on The Flock Theory of Migration

I am posting this article below for you to read. 

Food for Thought

Long back, me and my friend, a Bird-Watcher, a self-styled ornithologist, were observing birds 

(I am referring to the “winged” variety of birds)

We saw a huge a flock of migratory birds flying in the sky.

It was a fascinating sight to see the flock of birds flying in perfect formation.

I mentioned this to my friend who then told me about the “flock theory” of migration.

He told me that sometimes different kinds of birds that do not belong to the original flock also join the flock and fly along.

The birds in the flock allow these “outsider” birds to fly along with the flock as long as they do not disturb the pattern, movement, flight speed and direction (course) of the flock.

When the number of “immigrant” birds is small, these “outsider” birds quietly assimilate themselves into the flock, obey the rules of the flock and do not disturb the harmony of the flock.

Sometimes the number of these “immigrant” birds increases to a sizeable proportion and they may disturb the harmony of the flock, if these “outsider” birds try to assert themselves.

These “foreigner” birds may even try to control the flock by trying to dominate and alter the flight pattern.

This disturbance in harmony and attempt at domination is not tolerated by the main flock of birds, and violent clashes break out as the main flock of birds tries to remove the “immigrant” birds from the flock and throw them out.

I think a similar hypothesis applies to human migration too.

When you migrate to another country (or when you relocate within your country to another state or city) you must remember this flock theory of migration.

Try to assimilate yourself into your new “host” country or city and acclimatize yourself to the way of life of your new place of residence.

You must mix around and interact with the local inhabitants and imbibe the indigenous culture of your new abode.

You must not “ghettoize” yourself by forming tightly-knit inward-looking groups of your own community but you must embrace the culture of your new land (after all, it is you who have chosen to migrate there).

Always remember that you are the foreigner in their land – you are the “guest” and they are your “hosts” – and a guest must never attempt to dominate the host and try to make the host a guest in his own country.

A large number of my relatives, classmates and friends have migrated to America and have lived there for many years.

However, I find that they mostly mingle among the Indian community (even language and state wise), as is evident from the photos they show us.

When I ask them why they do not have any American friends, they have no credible answer except saying that they do have such friendships, but at the workplace only.

However their children, born and brought up in the USA, have friendships, relationships and even marriages with resident Americans – in fact, Americans now comprise so many types and varieties of ethnicity 

(since over the years, so many persons from all parts of the world have migrated to the USA for a better life and now America has become the melting pot of diverse cultures)

The flock theory applies to all types of migration.

Immigrants migrate due to a variety of reasons.

Some immigrants “choose” to migrate and willingly accept the majority culture of their host nation and are seamlessly assimilated and integrated into the existing society of their “hosts”.

Some immigrants are forced to migrate, due to a variety of reasons, including political and socioeconomic imperatives, for education, or for reasons of safety and security arising from instability or warlike conditions in their homeland. 

These forced migrants are like “refugees”.

These “forced migrants” are less amenable to assimilating themselves with the majority population.

It is these “forced immigrants” who ghettoize themselves into communities and try to maintain their own distinct identity by refusing the absorb the culture of their new land.

Sometimes the numbers of such “refugee” forced immigrants may increase to a point where the immigrants may alter the demographic balance and try to impose their will on their hosts.

It is then that the “flock theory” will apply and a conflict will start and there will be a struggle for dominance.

When migration takes place, both the “hosts” (natives) and the “guests” (migrants) must remember the Flock Theory and ensure that cultural harmony is maintained and the demographic balance is not upset.

My “bird-watcher” friend gave a ballpark figure of 30% when I asked him what was the flock theory threshold beyond which the harmony of the flock is disturbed.

Applying the same threshold to human migration, this tells us that the “hosts” must ensure that “guests” (immigrants) do not exceed 30% of the population.

If this is allowed to happen and the 30% barrier is broken, and the number of immigrants keeps on increasing in an unabated manner, not only will the migrants become a sizeable proportion of the population and alter the demographic balance, but the “cultural visibility” of the migrants will become starkly evident and the local residents will feel threatened 

(the harmony of the “flock” will be disturbed and the original birds will feel jeopardized and fear that their “flock” will be being taken over by “outsider” birds).

The flock theory teaches us the lesson that if migration is not controlled to within acceptable limits, a stage will come when the migrants will not be welcome anymore. 

This is because no one likes to be dominated by “outsiders” who try to impose their culture on the local inhabitants.

Remember: No “host” will like to be turned into a “guest” in his own house.

Dear Reader:

Do you agree with the “flock theory of migration”?

Please comment and let us know your views.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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