‘Sons of the soil’ policy is deplorable and abhorrent detrimental to the national fabric of a nation. When a nation adopts such a policy, when that nation’s ire and anger are directed towards other countries we call it Xenophobia. Xenophobia occasionally rears its ugly head forcing those who lead a life earning their livelihood in a country causing no disturbance to anyone, but are caught unawares by the violent attacks of indigenous elements they are left with no other option except fleeing the country fearing for their life. And when xenophobia assumes alarming proportions at least a few of them fall preys to the apostles of this dastardly policy getting killed mercilessly.
‘Sons of the soil’ policy and xenophobia are in some way or other related to each other.
I am forced to touch upon this subject when I came across an important news item in today’s newspapers about people from the North-East who had caught trains from faraway places like Guwahati, Assam or for that matter any other State and earning their livelihood to look after their families who are waiting for the monthly money-orders from their family heads and upon getting the hard earned money utilize it for taking care of their children and other domestic needs.
Those who come from faraway States are always sincere in their works and the wages they get in return are often peanuts but they do not form any unions or desist from joining any unions formed by the locals workers for fear of losing their livelihoods and ending up jobless. Such people are forced to return to their native States empty-handed.
One most unfortunate truth is that, they erect tents and live in unhygienic conditions often contracting diseases like diahorrea, jaundice, typhoid, cholera, TB etc. The authorities concerned are often beset with many problems and most often them don’t get not enough time to provide suitable living conditions for these hapless migrant labourers. They never approach the authorities and unravel their grievances to the authorities knowing fully well that they are unlikely to get favourable answers to their problems and therefore they have learnt to live with what they have.
Still the so-called ‘Sons of the soil’ policy holders find these poor people a pain in their neck or a thorn in their flesh and take up cudgels against them and chase them away. In the process a few get murdered and news spread like wild-fire through mobile SMSs, social-media or their other friends or relatives resultantly they get panicky and to escape threat to their existence rush to railway-stations and catch the trains to their native States with whatever belongings. The employers who force them work like slaves for a pittance keep away from guaranteeing them any security out of fear of the militant ‘sons of the soil’ policy holders. Today’s newspapers carry reports of mass exodus of people of North-East from States like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra heading to railway stations in droves to catch the trains to their lands at the earliest.
The Prime Minister down Ministry of Home Affairs, other Ministers and bureaucrats working under them though hold out promises to the fleeing hapless ones with assuring security at any cost they are not confident and are still panicky. The disinformation campaigns are so strong and widespread through mobile phone SMSs and social media and by vested interests cause widespread panic, even their near and dear ones send messages to them to return apprehending calamities and even deaths,the labourers are constrained to leave their jobs to get back to their homes.
If not all of us, at least old generation who lived in Mumbai in the 60’s might be recalling the hardships many had to endure during that time, the victims were mostly from South Indian States like Kerala and Tamil Nadu at the hands of ‘Shiv Sena’ activists whose leader was the well-known cartoonist turned politicianunder whose leadership the Marathas turned violent and consequently many Keralites and Tamilians fled Bombay to Kerala and Tamil Nadu leaving their belongings - among them many Malayalees and Tamilians lost their lives, their shops burnt, vehicles set ablaze and properties destroyed. Shiv Sena was formed in 1966, exclusively for ‘Marathi Manoos’ whose motto was ‘sons of the soil’ policy. Later when the turbulent situation returned to normality the South Indians went back to Bombay and resumed jobs and opened shops, residences built and an atmosphere of harmony prevailed. They had to start from the scratch.
Hope, the govts, Central and States, will rise to the occasion and do whatever is needed to bring back those who fled and instill courage, peace and sense of security in them, create an atmosphere of harmony.