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Chalo Dilli

Courtesy: The Assam Tribune (April 23, 2011) Horizon

RK Rishikesh Sinha writes about the migration of youths from the Northeast to the national capital for greener pastures.

New Delhi North Block - Central Secretariat

We have heard it many times from our well- wishers. This thought has now been supported by a study conducted by the North East Support Centre and Helpline. According to the study, Delhi has come out as the most preferred destination for youngsters from the Northeast. The continuous migration from this region has brought Delhi to such a state that today the capital city look ‘visually-overcrowded’ with Northeasterner than it is in Northeast!

There are perhaps no office, bazaar, school, college and corporate house in Delhi that don’t have the presence of Northeasterners. People from this area have sneaked into all possible spheres of profession — media, advertising, call centre, retail, IT, ITeS, etc. — in every nook and corner of the capital city like Rajendra Place, Indra Vihar, Gandhi Vihar, South Extension, Munirka, Noida, Gurgaon, Kingsway Camp, Dwarka to name a few.

The thought of how a city with a history of migration took the sudden influx of ‘foreign-looking’ young boys and girls in their neighbourhood is perplexing. Their attitude and lifestyle ignite the Delhiites. Why are the Northeasterners so stylish? Do they dress like this in their homes? Don’t they understand this is Dilli? Why these people are all with good qualification? These are some of the questions that come to the minds of Delhiites.

Perhaps, there are other observations made by people from all walks of life that girls from the Northeast are daring, confident, independent with a different mindset oblivious to the perceived Indian mentality that girls should be inside home, and they should run their life under man’s supervision.

With two lakh Northeasterners living in Delhi now, local entrepreneurs have found a new-found USP with ‘NE’ — ‘North East’. Especially in the areas where people from the Northeast are highly concentrated, one would find restaurants and caf├ęs galore being run with such USP. Even the local markets have started selling vegetables like squash, banana stem, banana flower and tamul paan — which are part of the Northeastern cuisine! One could hear local people inquisitively asking — how is it prepared?

The study brings forth some interesting facts about the migration pattern; 66.35 per cent of Northeasterners migrate for higher studies, out of them, 78.15 per cent for graduate studies, 11.48 per cent for engineering and managerial degrees, 6.80 per cent for research and PhD and 3.57 per cent for medical studies. These would possibly be the first-of-its-kind in the history of the Northeast that a big population is leaving the geographical boundary and ‘graduating’ in Delhi. Interestingly, it has been seen that many students do graduation in those disciplines which could be pursued in the Northeast itself!

Call it acclimatization of students in an altogether new environment or it is the mere ‘Delhi’ namesake, for which Delhi attracts parents to send their wards to the national capital. The bottomline is that crores of rupees is flowing out of the Northeast in the name of education. This migration is being considered as the prime reason for the soaring room rents in the Northeasterner-inhabited areas. And they are being taken as money-milch population.

Another startling revelation of the study is that only five per cent of the migrants return to the Northeast after completing their studies. For some people it is a disturbing trend and it should be curtailed since it amounts to ‘brain drain’. However, such sentiments do pop up many other questions. One is: Are not these people the ambassadors of the Northeast in Delhi? Today, if North India knows the Northeast, it is not due to the parade of tableaus of respective states on the Republic Day celebration, but it is only through these people — the students, the professionals, the entrepreneurs from the Northeast — that the Delhiites get a fair glimpse of the easternmost corner of the country.

People who have migrated will definitely come back. After all, everybody wants to be near to their people and place. But employment opportunities in the region will have to be improved to accommodate this huge pool of talent and human resource. What if this migration wouldn’t have happened and in which sectors they would have engaged themselves. A simple answer is the terrorism sector! However, what is happening now is for good. And these young boys and girls, who would have otherwise gone astray, are struggling to make a place in India Inc. and thus make the Northeast proud.


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