Thursday, February 9, 2017

Immigration – The Flock Theory of Migration


While watching TV news showing the twists and turns on the US Travel Ban – I remembered a story I had posted a few years ago.

Here is the article... 


Immigration is a contentious issue.

Immigration can be legal and illegal.

Yes  for a variety of reasons – people migrate to other countries – both legally and illegally. 

People migrate for multifarious reasons. 

In a nutshell – the various reasons for migration can be categorized into “Push Factors” and “Pull Factors”.

Push Factors = Survival Migration

“Push Factor Migration” is “Survival Migration” – where people are “forced” to migrate – due to danger to life/limb because of war/conflict – or – inability to survive due to lack of food and bare necessities of life.

Such migrants who seek asylum in other countries when their life is endangered – or persons who migrate to escape from extreme poverty and deprivation – are called “Refugees”.

The present European Migrant Crisis is an example of “Push Factor” migration where refugees are fleeing from war-torn countries and seeking asylum in peaceful countries.

History is replete with examples of such “push factor survival migration” due to war, religious/political persecution, genocide, ethnic cleansing, safety/security issues, natural disasters/calamities, famines, droughts, floods etc.

Pull Factors = “Better Life” Migration

“Pull Factor Migration” is “Choice Migration” – where people “choose” to migrate for a “better life”.  

These people migrate to more developed countries because they want to enjoy a Higher “Standard of Living” and live a Better “Quality of Life” –  to put it “metaphorically” – they migrate to realize their “American Dream”.

Is Migration good? 

Or – is Migration it bad? 

What are the consequences of immigration for the host country? 

Excessive immigration can cause demographic imbalance  which may disturb social equilibrium.

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

Immigration can be legal and illegal. 

I have observed that for many bright youngsters in India  their cardinal objective in life is to migrate to America  to study – then work – get a Green Card  followed by US Citizenship  and permanently live in the USA all their lives – and realize their American Dream. 

All over the world 
 people from less developed countries migrate to better developed countries, legally and illegally.

A few years ago  I had written an article on The Flock Theory of Migration

Since the topic of immigration” is back in the news  I thought it would be apt to post this article below  once again  for you to read. 

FLOCK THEORY OF MIGRATION – Food for Thought by Vikram Karve


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  yes, the original birds in the flock try to throw out the “foreigner” birds out of the flock.


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.

Yes, if you are an immigrant in another country, it is best to conduct yourself as a “guest” and adopt to the culture of your “hosts” rather than try to dominate and impose your culture on your “hosts”.

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 socio-economic 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, otherwise the demographic equilibrium gets disturbed.

Yes, in order to avoid social turbulence, migrants must not be allowed to 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 two things may happen:

1. The migrants will become a sizeable proportion of the population and alter the demographic balance (and become a votebank). 

In a democracy, this may give the migrants undue power in governance and this loss of power to “outsiders” will be resented by the original inhabitants.

2. The “cultural visibility” of the migrants will become starkly evident and the original local residents will feel threatened and become insecure in their own land. 

Owing to their dominance, the migrants may try to impose their own ethnic, religious and social customs and try to change the original culture of the land and this cultural invasion will be resented by the original inhabitants.

The flock theory phenomenon is akin to the manner in which the harmony of the “flock” is disturbed and the original birds feel jeopardized because they fear that their “flock” will be being taken over by “outsider” birds.

The flock theory of migration teaches us the lesson that if migration is not controlled within acceptable limits, due to clash of cultures and a sense of insecurity, a stage will come when the migrants will not be welcome anymore and this will create dissonance and discord in society. 

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

Remember: No “host” likes to be turned into a “guest” in his own home

Dear Reader:

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

Do you feel there should be threshold limits to immigration to avoid demographic equilibrium being disturbed...?

Please comment and let us know your views.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

No comments: