[is a graduate student at the SUNY, Binghamton]
A researcher of forced migration is continually plagued by concerns like tracing the roots of people, revisiting their origins through documents, narratives, interviews and lived experiences. We try to go back in history and situate people, persons in a particular cross section of time and space which we would coin as his/her home. Thus we try to initiate a homecoming of all those who have been ousted out, forced to move and move on. This continual struggle to transfix the moment called home often faces a crisis, where the researcher is single handedly constructing the past out of the remains, while forgetting that, it might be a ‘normalizing’ act, taking for granted that the past would be equally re-constructible for everyone. We forget that not everyone would like to visit their ‘roots’ on behalf of others.
From this again follows a second premise which shows that people have often ignored the margins drawn by regulatory forces and thereby taking it on history itself. The idea of nation has been challenged through maintaining porosity of borders on the levels of the community; therefore lending more weight to that level of existence which allows them the necessary freedom to subsist. Thus looking at the forced migration situation of India or Bangladesh can never be completed on an India OR Bangladesh OR Pakistan basis. One has to look at it on a holistic basis, keeping in mind the chain of events, the thread that connects all. This edition of our e journal is committed towards taking a look at forced migration situation of Bangladesh. But as will be evident from each of the articles, this is a forced migration situation of Bangladesh vis a vis India.
Priyanca Mathur Velath and Saba Hussain, in their article write about the informal Bangladeshi workers in and around the suburbs of Delhi. These are often undocumented people about whom there is a silence in the administrative structures of both the States as long as their independent histories go. Thus, people that provide the much needed links in the informal economy are termed as ‘illegal’, ‘poor’ and even ‘terrorists’. From there on, it goes deeper to talk about the problems in such situation of ‘silence’ and invisibility which generates a field work anxiety that a researcher faces in mining out the data base as well as the real people that contribute towards it.
Banjan’s article looks at the other side of the same coin, the influx of illegal immigrants especially from Bangladesh. The economic and environmental problems in their home country propel these migrants to explore the opportunities and resources in India and share the benefits of their labour with their families. Many of them receive patronage from political parties who want to accumulate them as vote banks. Despite the media hype and mass movement against immigration there are no figures available with the Government or any other agencies on the exact number of Bangladeshi migrants in India. This ambiguity in identifying the migrants weakens the government’s position in tackling the issue. She looks into the history that brought about the events like formation of separate nation states in the subcontinent and points out that the abnormality lies there itself. It was not nationalism that brought nation state here but quite the reverse.
Naser’s article talks about climate change and displacement, which we will read in the context of massive and sustained population outflows in the recent past out of Bangladesh due to environmental atrocities. He presents the picture rendered imperfect due to the lack of binding international protocols on controlling assaults on the environment and the debates that lead to inconclusive nature of national rules to govern the same.