Life as I know it

Thoughts on life

Monday, March 27, 2006

Who is the immigrant in a global village?

I am an Indian who now lives in Scandinavia and have recently read a lot of anti-foreigner posts, both on the net but also in printed media. And then I find websites where the foreigners all complain about the locals, and the locals get mad at the foreigners and a vicious cycle goes on - actually reading these posts can be a disillusioning and depressing experience! I wonder about the world 10 years from now - will it exist or will there be ruined smoking metropoli of hate, will small fundamentalists (locals and foreigners!!!) run the world or will there be an increased tolerance and a slightly happier world than we have today? I care about this because I will probably still be alive ten years from now, and hope to be leading a happier life - or at least a life as happy!

I personally think that globalisation and multi-culturalism has spread to far across the world to be crushed now - and yet sometimes when I read posts that seem to imply that a small population in a small corner of the world totally hates the rest of the world when it invades their lives - I wonder what the end result will be? Will economies survive in isolation - especially when its not possible to isolate them any longer with the entrance of global brands and retail chains into every market? And if economies cannot survive in isolation, this will imply increased "foreign" competition - what will this do to local businesses and the attitude of local people?

How long can one play a dual game where one buys "foreign" because of price differentials or brand image, and yet wishes foreigners would go away? And what will this do to communal harmony? Coming from India, I can see how religion has been an abused tool of fundamentalist groups, turning communities and neighbours against each other and sowing fields of hate? It feels like violence needs to peak before it can be quenched - "Even the wisest man grows tense, with some sort of violence, before he can accomplish fate, know his work or choose his mate " - Yeats. And yet if we allow violence to peak, we permit destruction in a world that has enough natural tragedy in it without mankind's gratuitous contribution. I remember a little Sikh boy in tears of humiliation after the 1984 riots in India, confiding in me that he would have his revenge when he grew up. And how someone came to me in the tea planters' club in India 20 years ago, collecting money to drive the "foreigners" i.e. non-Assamese Indians - out of Assam - not seeming to notice that I was one of the foreigners.

I have seen firsthand what communal hatred can do to a person's self-esteem and zest for life, and the amount of death and destruction it can cause, and think that we need to act as a more civilised homo sapiens across the world if we are to truly believe we are a civilised society.