Friday, June 3, 2011

On Why We Are Going Abroad

Back after a long long lull, with a significant post very relevant to the current season.

Look around you. Its everywhere. And whether you smile or frown, appear proud before your neighbors or openly fret about your frustrations, it is an undeniable truth. We are all leaving. Some for good, others for a good long span of years. Its a cross-country egress - nobody is left out.

The trend has now become so obvious that this post runs the risk of being labelled cliche. Gone are the days when going abroad was the luxury of a chosen few. Today half the nation's youth is going abroad, and the remaining half is wishing they could follow as well. Some are going for work, others for education. Many will never return.

How do we react? We all know the drill. Over the phone, before the relatives and on the jogging track with neighbors we are proud parents. "Oh my son/daughter is going to USA you know, (s)he has got this really great offer.... and the pay, oh, its like 2 lakhs a month in Indian rupees ... blah blah." "Oh really? My cousin is going to UK to do his Masters ... great environment for education ... job opportunities after the degree are great too, even better than what they get from here, like your son/daughter." We openly gloat on it, most of us, and would not mind even to indulge in some competition amongst ourselves to prove ourselves the luckiest of the lot. A LOT.

Luckiest, did you say? In the quiet cover of our homes, our squeals of delight reduce to screams of agony. Yet another son gone to foreign shores. Yet another member of the family lost forever. Yet another step towards a lonely, helpless aged life. "I was born alone, I shall die alone" - the words never sounded more true. But what can we do, oh what can we do? They are our children, and their happiness matters. And they want this. They want it more than anything else right now. We cant hold them back, we cant ruin the 50 years of their lives for our remaining 10 or 20. We have to let go, yes. We shall hold back our tears. We shall bid them a happy good-bye, and write to them, and email them, and see their faces on Skype. Its a small world, is it so difficult?

But each time we garner courage in our hearts, the fear of loneliness, age and death eats into it like termites. We know they might not write back, mail in reply or come online on Skype. They might get just what we wanted to give them all this time - happiness. And we dread that out and out. That they can be happy without us. They can go ahead and find a life of their own, and never bother to look back. Things that were said and taught over and over again in school to be the final aim of an established person - it all seems terrible, too terrible to face with the thousands of miles of separation in between.

And then as the days pays, the pressure of frustration caves our hearts in. We crumble. We shout and fret and blame our children for forsaking us. We cry before those who are closest. We curse the government for doing "nothing about it". And while we are at it, another batch of youngsters is making their way to some other coveted land. And the cycle goes on.

The irony is that parents only think thus far. There is only sadness and frustration. If there is blame, it has to be directed at the children, or, at best,the government. Never do they, never do we think, what did we do about it?

And that is the most fundamental problem. We did nothing about it. If children today are migrating to foreign shores, it is because of us. Us as a whole. Had we done what we were supposed to do well enough, hard enough, then this day would not have dawned upon us. After all, why are all these people leaving? It is because they see no hope. No hope of good education. No hope of employment. No hope of well-deserved pay, respect in society, and a chance to live an honest and equal life. Trust me, all those youngsters going abroad, they are not after millions of dollars. They are not looking to become Hollywood stars or enterprising billionaires (although yes, some of course do end up that way). All they want, all we all want, is a simple life, a loving family, a respectful society and a satisfying and rewarding work. Such things don't change over a couple of generations. It is the means of attaining those goals that do.

And what have we done? Did we wake up at 7 AM each day and go for work? Did we love, live and preach what we do? Did we give it our best at our workplace, and work beyond the scheduled hour just for the kick of it? Did we come back home with a smile on our face and satisfaction in our heart?

Oh no we did not. We went to work late. We lazed away the day. To prevent ourselves from hearing harsh words and a possibility of being sacked, we formed unions whose sole purpose was "We wont work and you cant throw us out because of that". We bribed and asked for bribes to get work done (or undone). We actively engaged in politics. We filled our schools and colleges with people of political influence rather than merit and then sucked up to them for our own benefits. Education, learning and thinking were made our last priorities. When industries and factories closed down, we simply forsook everything that was indigenous, and bought foreign clothes, foreign Tvs and cars. We made going abroad a prestige issue to be boasted about. And at the end of all this, we were never happy. We did not come smiling back to home despite the easy life we had. We were unhappy, each moment of our lives. We wanted more. More money. More relaxation. More useless stuff to buy and fill our useless lives with. Wives, families and children were just for granted. We lived to eat, pretended to work only because it paid, and then boasted about our lives before our neighbors, and competed with them to show whose life was the most worthless.

Is it surprising, that our children, born and brought up in this atmosphere where the governing principle seems to be "I am living because my parents did not resort to abortion" will ever see any hope? Maybe other nations are no better, but at least they have not seen it first hand! They believe they can start a new life there, where people just don't survive, they live with their heads held high. They may be very wrong. But they believe in it, and they will work hard to make their belief come true. Here, we just don't believe in it any more. We believe we are doomed to survive as another voter in a country of over a billion people. We are a 'nobody', and there is no chance we can ever be anything different. We see no hope ourselves, is it unusual that our children don't?

And so they are going. And so they shall be gone. Generation after generation , age after age. Unless you wake up. Unless we start pointing that finger of blame at ourselves instead of at all other directions. Unless we start doing well what we were supposed to be doing all this time. Is it too late already? Maybe it is; but if you believe that it is not, if you believe it day in and day out, so hard and so strong, that there IS hope left, then hope might just reconsider coming back to us on its own.


  1. Thought Provoking: True. But the title of the article does not quite match with the subject matter seemingly. The title says that "We are going", but in the article, "we" mostly refers to parents.
    I have a few objections about the article:
    1. You mentioned that "Today half the nation's youth is going abroad,and the remaining half is wishing they could follow as well".Neither of these are true.People who are going abroad are either having a sound educational background to support them,or,they are from the lower class of the society going to get a job.That is not half the nation's youth.And I personally know a lot of people who actually have not lost all hope and they tend to make the country better.
    2.You wrote the article mostly as a proud but frustrated parent and shown some reasons why you are leaving.Throughout the article you have blamed the parents for their worthlessness tried to show it is their fault that you are leaving today.Do you mean to say each and every parent is equally worthless?They have at least brought you up this far.You do have certain responsibilities towards them.
    3.You have said that you are leaving as this country don't give you the deserved respect,as this country is not worth being YOUR country.May be tomorrow you will say that the Earth has got so polluted.It is not worth being your planet.So may be you'll decide to live in the outer space.Right?
    4.Say you are going somewhere and you suddenly see a man who has got a heart attack.What will you do?Take him to a hospital or leave by thinking "He must have been careless with his health,been lazy to do exercise and all"
    5.It seems to me that you are taking the easy way by escaping from the reality that you have not got the guts to really improve your country so that the future generations don't have to leave.You may ask "Why me?" Its because you have the ability to it.The country have provided you with the resources to make you able.And now you are leaving.I remember a word: "treachery".

    See, I don't have a personal problem with you leaving.May be our country is better off without someone having your screwed sense of responsibility.All I mean to say is do not hide behind some worthless reasons,do not blame your parents,nor the other countrymen,do not say that it is the duty of the rest of the country to make sure you are not leaving."You" are not that important.

    P.S.:Respect is not something you can buy in the American Supermarkets.Respect is something you need to earn.

  2. A good post and point of view I must say.. Nicely written.But I have a point to make.

    If you say that you are running away abroad bcoz of lack of opportunities, jobs, rewards, money, respect and a good life, then what are you doing abt it? Is there anything that u did to make these things change? Acc to you, its our parents and elder generations' fault that things in India are so messed up! and that they shud have or be doing something abt it. But you and the youth like you are the future of this country. You have got ripe brilliant minds and ideas that can help this country go a lot ahead. And if you think abt making some changes, then u can definitely it and help ur country.

    If u want to really do something,then you have to be an integral part of that system. Just blaming it onto the previous generations isnt going to work. Education is needed. Moral, Physical, Civic and not just academic. Attitudes of poeple have to be changed. The old pointless traditions have to be thrown off and new ideas put in.

    There are many youths these days who are engaging in such activities. They are joining politics if they want to clean it up from inside. They are becoming bereaucrats and starting their work from the basic unit of villages and making changes in people's lives. They are spreading awareness about education, health, civic sense, global warming , energy
    wastage and many such current issues which need notice. They are creating employment by starting up their own industry, small or big. If you and the bright young people of our country decide to do any of these things, then things might change.

    It will take a long long time and patience to do it. Frustrating days and irritating people to handle. But if someone loves the country truly and want things to change, then they will make these efforts and not keep blaming the past generations.

    But will you do it? Will you make a change? Will you come back for ur country's sake?

  3. Pardon my style of writing Tapajit - you did not get one point. I am not promoting escapism. I am not saying that the solution before the youth is to just leave India to its fate. I would like to see the youth come back and fight for the nation - so would I.

    What I have tried to point out here is one (of several) reason(s) why people feel the need to go beyond India. Why people say we dont have enough educational or employment infrastructure. No, not all "parents" are equally to blame. But there are quite a number who are - be practical and look around you. The blame is on us. "Us" mind you - we have also done nothing about it. I am pointing at ourselves, not others.

    As Rucha has pointed out correctly, the solution is not in blaming others, it is in starting to take action. I have pointed out something that we have been doing wrong. It is equally our task to get it right now. Yes, it is heartening to see what the youth have started to do - it highlights my last line, that there are people who believe not all is lost. But the truth also remains that there are people trying to earn money at little or no effort at Government offices.

    The post is not a criticism - it is a self-realization, and a wake up call.

    PS: So far as responsibility goes, Tapajit has probably seen me do it somewhere. I stood by those and worked hard with those who had no hopes, and it worked. Sure, it was nothing big - very small for that matter - but I did not take the easy way out when I very well could have. As for respect, I am sure I have earned mine.

    But keep it coming, I enjoy controversy! :D

  4. On a slightly below-the-belt, not-to-be-taken-personally note, will Mr Dey reveal the following information:

    1. Why did he collect information about "Foreign Internship" in his junior years if he is so committed to India
    2. Whether after 2 failed attempts this is not a case of "grapes are sour"
    3. Where he was when his hostel desperately needed more "committed" participants
    4. Whether he considers the answer to (3) as a proof of "trying to take the easy way out"
    5. What guarantee of him working for national issues with dedication is to be inferred therefore

    Keep it up! :D

  5. Yeah I realize may be my language has been stronger than necessary.Sorry for that.You certainly have earned my respect.That's why I was so much astonished to see you blame others.I shall be glad if you join forces in "working for national issues" as you have done for the hostel.

    now as for answers:
    1.I don't see any problem in collecting info about foreign internship and/or going there for it.Unless you know what are fields you can improve on, you certainly can't do anything about it.At least I can't.
    2.I don't bear any shame in admitting that I tried for foreign internship last year,but I haven't tried for it this year.and I believe my first point eliminates your proposed case of "grapes are sour".
    3.4.5.Let's see what the future has in reserve.I shall answer these precise questions after 20 years.too long?well,সবুরে মেওয়া ফলে.

    Keep it up! :D

  6. I like your blog, but I think this post is a little off.
    The pen is powerful. And making sweeping statements about a whole generation is using that power a bit too far!

    This is like saying "Some things are wrong today because the ones who came before us didn't solve them." Which is true, but probably not a great way to look at things.

    And, of course, there are countless examples of great contributors and visionaries from the generation you talk about, so I am not even going there.

    PS: If this is only "one" of the several reasons for going abroad, as you commented(and I hope it is!), your title was a little misleading.

    PPS: Were you trying to write Colbert-esque irony?

  7. This happens to be the first time I've read your blog. I stumbled upon it by a happy accident, and was refreshed by your fluent pen.

    As I have already gone through all of the comments, many of my points have been made, and some reanalyzed. Risking repetition, I am going to say that I get your sentiments and assertions, and agree with some,
    but at the end of the day, do you feel that the conscientious and responsible among us, who do leave, for whatever reason, do so only to make use of the opportunity to increase their exposure, so that they can return one day and utilize it to alter the picture back home?
    If that is so, then I'll be able to derive a hopeful essence from this post and its author. If not, then it is but much ado about nothing.

    On a different note, not in direct relation to your main argument, I would like to share an opinion.
    The created-over-the-past-decades notion of prestige you mention, is, unfortunately, quite correct. But keeping the not-so-glorious reasons aside, I feel that every deserving student should travel, beyond or within borders, to wherever she or he feels offers the most scope of broadening horizons.
    What she or he does with the broadened pastures (literally and otherwise) of wisdom is another story. There has been a tradition of exchange ever since scholarly illumination hit the ancient world, where some philosophers and adventure-seekers travelled. Much later, the most brilliant in society travelled, and now, many of us do, which is a good thing in itself, and shows a gradual but steady pattern of expansion over the years. If we really need to change perspectives, we must carry on with the inter-country and inter-culture scholarly exchange, but aim at equality in such exchange, which will render the prestige of travelling from home to abroad, and that of returning from abroad to home quite similar.

    I have written longer than I had initially planned to, which only goes on to ascertain the compelling effect your post has had on me, and prove how thought-provoking it was. I must compliment you, yet again, on your eloquence.
    Keep writing :)