Dimapur, Dec. 3: The huge number of Naga people migrating to other cities and abroad from Nagaland for better job opportunities is always a topic for discussion in any educational or social event.
The issue of migration is often punctuated by questions of fewer opportunities in the state and of course, in foreign places, racial discrimination.
On Saturday December 3, a panel discussion on the topic ‘Migration in the time of conflict: experiences from Nagaland’ took place at Hotel Acacia in Dimapur. The discussion was led by anthropologist Prof. Bengt G Karlsson of Stockholm University, and Dr Dolly Kikon of the University of Melbourne
Prof Karlsson and Dr Kikon introduced their research project about young migrants from the northeast India to various parts of India. They highlighted the unique experience of young north east peoples and why it was different from other migratory processes.
‘The notion of indigenous migration as a way finding’, which they have conceptualise for young migrants, is not static, they said.
Dr. Kikon pointed out that young migrants from Nagaland or the northeast have heath issues and unable to cope with the hectic work culture outside. She opined that as a community, citizens must take responsibility about notions of migration and ponder over ‘how to treat our neighbours’ when it comes to migration.
During the event, Dr. Aküm Longchari, the editor of Morung Express also took note of migration as a phenomenon that creates opportunity and cross-cultural dialogue with other societies.
Nagaland’s greed for government jobs has led to 40,000 excess of government employees. This has seen a huge urban population migrating from the rural areas and accumulating 9000 to 10000 individuals annually in government sectors, asserted Y Vikheho Swu, minister for Roads and Bridges. There are one lakh 20 thousand government employees in the state when it actually needs only about 80,000 for a population of 19 lakh, the legislator said.
Further, he said, the situation in the rural areas is ‘even more disappointing’: reduction in cultivation and less activity. With inadequate support from the state government in terms of policy, there is absence of development in the rural areas, Swu said. 60 thousand Naga youths are registered with the employment exchange while 20, 000 uneducated Naga youths have no option for livelihood elsewhere, it was implied.
“The reason for such a grim situation is because Nagas lack in visionary planning and management therefore policy makers, educationist, activist and entrepreneurs have to put head together to plan,” opined Swu.
Also, Vijaya Eastwood, of Harley Ventures, remarked that immigration and migration was basically about a daily affair individuals go though in search of better opportunities and learning. Addressing the gathering over the first topic of the day “Why migration matters”, Eastwood asserted that individuals from the northeast seeking better opportunities elsewhere need to ‘stop putting ourselves down and underprivileged and victim of racial discrimination.’ There are lots of opportunities in the northeast but it depends on the individual to see where to grab prospects that has not been touched.
The same emotion was conveyed by the administrator of Tetso College Dimapur Kvulo Lorin who said that individuals who grew up in one city and another in search of education and opportunity, realised that there were opportunities in Nagaland. However, this is not understood by the youths, he said.
Also, the managing director of The People Channel, Rozelle Mero, maintained that ‘migration is here to stay when we seek for opportunities.’ The thought of jobs and opportunities leads us to migrate, she said.
Another session, on “Migration in the time of conflict: Experiences from Nagaland,” and a ‘photoethnography’ exhibition on indigenous migration was jointly organized by The People Channel, Stockholm University, and The Morung Express. It will conclude on December 4 at Hotel Acacia.