Immigration is not what it used to be. Or, to put it correctly, it is what it used to be, plus something else. Boatloads of people still turn up at the doors of rich countries; but, to snatch a share of global pie, countries also actively pursue immigrants. The political rhetoric around them has changed too: Once the usual, comfortable issues like colour of skin and religion became politically incorrect, politicians who lack courage but seek votes have made immigration their proxy issue. It is not a subject you can easily discuss in a pub, or a coffee shop or gym. If you do, everyone will look at you as if all issues around the subject have already been settled.
As if, immigration is BAD, everyone knows! One needs to only look at how crowded the buses are, no parking spaces, getting into school is a hassle and a lottery, no jobs, house prices are well beyond middle class salaries - the ill effects of immigration are just too obvious. Conveniently, all the things that could be blamed on the government of the day can be ascribed to rising immigration. It is also one of those propositions which can't be falsified: If an overwhelming number of nurses, bus drivers and teachers are immigrants and keeping the hospitals, buses and schools running, they are the ones stealing jobs and taking parking bays. The tabloid description of immigrants is absolutely on the money - they are the shop workers who take away jobs from the local people and the rioters too, who burn the same shops down, making themselves jobless; they steal jobs and they are lazy and get jobless benefits; they are ones who drive house prices and rents up by buying or renting all the houses and then also get all the council housing because they can't find one. In the end, this is about constructing an all-consuming monster which is surely putting British way of life at risk, and keeps the politicians safe.
I am an immigrant: I am indeed biased about it and I feel angry about how immigrants are generally portrayed. I have been living in England for eight years and do not even know how to claim jobseeker benefits, as I have never thought of hanging around without a job. But this small-island-drowning-with-the-weight-of-immigrants view, the one the Prime Minister and his equally out-of-touch cabinet seem to believe in, is laughable. As the British Ambassador in China recently put it, this is 'fortress Britain' mentality, which has now been successfully inculcated to the British public by the politicians of the day and their ideologues at the Murdoch media.
However, where the ridiculous turns absurd when the immigration minister talks about attracting 'only the brightest immigrants'. This is the business bit of the Tory bench trying to make sense of themselves. The Brightest Immigrants, and I hope he does mean brightest and not just the richest, the Qataris and the Russians who buy luxury apartments and help keep the house prices stable, have all the options in the world to choose from: They are unlikely to choose a country besieged by its own fears and hostile to anyone who looks slightly different from the native stock. They won't come to a country whose education system is in a disarray via the various ideological experiments unleashed on the establishment in a hurry and without thinking, and they would certainly not come to an economy which is sinking, partly because of complete lack of imagination in policy making and mistaken assumption that rhetoric can make up for bad governance.
Talking about governance, the UK Border Agency does nothing, absolutely nothing, if someone comes to Britain and just stays on. They have no clue who these people are, and no strategy how to find them and deport them. The only thing they can do, and are doing, is to make life more difficult for people who want to come to Britain and live legally, like the students who usually have to wait for months to get a visa extension granted. The Ministers want to tighten the UK borders and bring the net migration down to tens of thousands, but they can't even manage the immigration queues at Heathrow and get some illegal migrants out of the country.
The only way a country can manage its immigration is by creating incentives for compliance and disincentives for non-compliance, which roughly translates into an welcoming approach to legal migration and tighter enforcement and penalties for law breakers. But, this is hard work, needing competence; besides, this does not make headlines and does not sell newspapers. So, UK takes the opposite approach - drives all its resources to constraining legal migration, creating disincentives for compliance, while completely missing out on law enforcement, creating great opportunities of money-making for people smugglers and illegal immigrants, even the dangerous ones. The current approach makes Britain a weaker economy, an unloved country and a place even its own brightest people would like to leave. Indeed, it buys politicians a few more months, but at the current rate, they can only hope to achieve their net migration target by destroying British Higher Education and industry, quite a costly bargain.
So, can we at least talk about it?
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Nations are ideas. We try to fashion them as territories. But how can a river, a mountain ridge or sometimes an imaginary line in the middle of a field can explain the wide division in the lives, thoughts and futures of the people who live on different sides? Nations are not the people too. Indeed, people build nations and become its body. But the soul of the nation is an idea: People come together on an idea to build a nation. While that's what a modern nation is - an idea - and that way exceptionalism is not an American exception, very few nations are as completely defined by an idea as Pakistan. There was hardly any political, geographic or military rationale of Pakistan other than the idea of an Islamic homeland in South Asia. [In that way, the ideological brother of Pakistan in the family of nations is Israel] This, abated by the short term political calculations of some backroom colonialists, created a modern state which must be solely sustained on that singular idea. Reli
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
India's employment data is sobering ( see here ). The pandemic has wrecked havoc and the structural problems of the economy - service sector dependence, uneven regional development and health and education challenges - are more evident than ever. Something needs to happen, and fast. To its credit, the government acknowledges the education challenge. Belatedly - it took more than 30 years - India has come up with a new National Education Policy. It is a comprehensive policy, which covers the whole spectrum of education and perhaps overcompensates the previous neglect by advocating radical change. As I commented elsewhere on this blog, it shows a curious mixture of aspirations, cultural revival and global competitiveness put under the same hood. However, despite its radical aspirations, the policy document often betrays same-old thinking. One of these is India's approach to foreign universities. The NEP makes the case for allowing foreign universities to set up operations in Ind
The story of British influence on Indian Education, to which Macaulay's Minutes of 1835 belong, has been told in six distinct phases. Syed Nurullah and J P Naik's very popular and influential History of Indian Education calls these 'six acts' of the drama: From the beginning of Eighteenth Century to 1813 The British East India Company received its charter in 1600 but its activities did not include any Educational engagement till the Charter Act of 1698, which required the Company to maintain priests and schools, for its own staff and their children. And, so it was until the renewal of its charter in 1813, when the evangelical influence led to insistence of expansion of educational activities and allowing priests back into company territory. From 1813 to Wood's Education Despatch of 1854 The renewal of Charter in 1813 re-opened the debate, which seemed to have been settled in the early years of the company administration, between the Orientalis
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.