QUEST FOR THE WEST – AN ESSAY ON MIGRATION DUE TO AMBITION
Author: Sanchaiyata Majumdar
Ms Sanchaiyata Majumdar is currently working as an Assistant Professor of English at Garden City University, Bangalore. She completed her graduation from one of the prestigious colleges in India, Bethune College, Kolkata in English Literature, and her post-graduation in English Literature from University of Calcutta ranking within top ten positions in her class. In 2017, she successfully completed her MPhil on “Re-reading Marquez’s Women: A Study of Selected Characters” from Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata. She has qualified UGC-NET with high percentage twice and is presently pursuing her PhD from Christ University, Bangalore. Apart from that she also has to her credit an additional post-graduate diploma degree in Print Journalism and has an experience of working as a trainee sub-editor in the Statesman, Kolkata. She is an Associate Editor of The Dawn Journal. Having more than six eventful years of teaching experience at college and university levels, her areas of interest are Latin American Literature, Literary Critical Theories, Post-modernism, Business Communication and so on. Added to all of these, she is presently a core committee of the Planning, Monitoring, Statistics and Evaluation Board at Garden City University. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of GCU World Magazine. She has been a university question paper setter for almost three years at MAKAUT, West Bengal for English and Business Communication. She has numerous national and international publications and keeps herself vibrantly pro-active in conducting events, lectures, seminars, mentoring sessions pertaining to academia and administration. She nurtures her skills through extensive reading, online courses, paper publications and presentations which is a passion for her.
This essay is an attempt to reflect on migrations due to ambition and in the process will deduce conclusions or take up arguments from conversations that were conducted by the TMYS Review, June 2021, called ‘Stories of the Indian Diaspora.’ The references for the arguments in this essay are: Dr. Neilesh Bose, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair, History, University of Victoria; Ms. Sahana Bajpaie, Bengali singer and song-writer; Dr Anustup Basu, Associate Professor in English, Media and Cinema Studies and Criticism, University of Illinois; Dr Rajeev Kamineni, Movie Entrepreneur, Course Coordinator, University of South Australia and Ms. Suneeta Peres de Costa, acclaimed award-winning Australian author. The essay will pick issues related to the never-ending dilemma about diaspora experiences and will focus on the study of how migration due to ambition is different or similar to migration due to circumstances.
Home, identity, struggle, nostalgia all these common words have developed in a number of questions by any researcher or even a first-time reader or audience who tried to examine questions of “origins and locations.” But, diasporic experiences have proved to be far more “complex and contradictory” and thus most of the published works on specifically South Asian Diaspora reflects on broader aspects of “geographical reach, across nations and continents.” (Sandhya Sukhla). Still, there has been very common usage of the term diaspora which led to a “generalization and universalization of culturally specific” (Ravindra K Jain) diasporic experiences. To a larger extent certain words related to diaspora have become cliched for their overuse. Nevertheless, that has never stopped any interviewer to base their questions on similar lines. However, diaspora due to ambition is something that is not quite spoken of. Diasporic experiences are generalized to a larger extent. This essay will challenge the traditional concepts that get associated too easily to a diasporic sentiment. Migration due to ambition though is not an uncommon situation but our traditional database of diaspora sometimes tends to overlook the factor or try to inject the traditional set sentiments forcefully into the scenario.
Key words: Home, Identity, Struggle, Nostalgia, Migration due to Ambition, Globalization, Exclusion, Internalization
It opens up multiple questions as I mentioned in the very first line of the essay. First of all, one must question the motive of migration. It is wrong to generalize that all migrations are forceful, specially with respect to travel terms that have significantly changed over time. With the current political scenario in picture, it is easy to conjecture that all migrations to the West have been a result of forceful displacement and would end in nostalgia. It is true that home/homeland (in this essay I will maintain the ‘/’ which would signify ‘or’ as I will not look into home as a concretized block against homeland as a nation. In all the references that would be quoted in the essay, all are refusals to assign home to a homeland) is a necessary and obvious question when one would enquire with someone who has migrated or may be called an immigrant. Since the reference resource person for this essay are all migrants of ambition, it is safe to say that they exercised their choice (again, usage of choice in the first place is quite polemic as it would leave us with further questions as to who would have the luxury of choice of migration and who would not).
Dr Anustup Basu frankly admits that his migration was “the need for a change…” the decision for which was taken, post a “practical” conversation with an acquaintance. Dr Anustup Basu’s admission for the need for change obviously conjures the lack of change and seemingly lack of proper opportunity and platform for the younger generation of the late 1990s. Considering that the late 1990s was a difficult time for India, a nation that was at the threshold of an eccentric and fast phase of transition, while all the way vacillating between a nostalgia for the past and an appetite for a modern technologically advanced, westernized future. It also raises concerns as most of the ambition-based migrations have been typified as to “decision” to “leave” quoting Ms Sahana Bajpaie or looking for better “business culture” in the words of Dr Rajeev Kamineni.
EXPLORING THE DIASPORIC CONSCIOUSNESS AND DIVERSE IDENTITIES IN THE INDIAN DIASPORA: A TRANSNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
Author: Rushati Dasgupta
Rushati Dasgupta is a research scholar in English Literature; she is pursuing her Ph.D from Jain Deemed-to-be University, Bengaluru. Her doctoral thesis focuses on the literary representations of select diasporic communities. She hails from Jalpaiguri, West Bengal. She has won numerous accolades for her academic excellence and extra-curricular activities. She has completed a Certificate Course on Creative Writing from British Council, Kolkata. Her publications range from research articles to poetry and short stories, both in print and electronic media. Formerly, she was a Copy Editor at Thomson Reuters and has been a facilitator of an online certificate course on Creative Writing, conducted by Abhaskar School of Acting, Kerala. Rushati is also a dancer who is trained in Bharatnatyam and an amateur artist who likes to doodle in her leisure time.
The term diaspora, which comes from the Greek word for scattering or dispersal, primarily refers to a group of people who no longer reside in their country of origin. Some of the possible reasons of their wide dispersal could be politics, natural disaster, economic advancement, education, globalization and transnationalism. As a consequence of displacement, the diaspora is often subjected to ruptured identity, trauma, nostalgia, acculturation and altercation with the hostland. Over the last few decades, the Indian diaspora across the globe has risen to a great extent. India is a distinctively multicultural nation, diverse in terms of languages, religions, castes, sects, food and sartorial style. Consequently, the Indian diaspora is heterogeneous; it is as diverse as India. This essay intends to explore the diverse identities and diasporic consciousness among the Indian diaspora, with reference to lived experiences of professors of Social Studies who identify themselves as transnational subjects. The four delegates chosen for this study are: Dr. Nyla Ali Khan, Dr. Shobna Nijhawan, Dr. Manu Bhagavan and Dr. Jagbir Jhutti-Johal.
Keywords: Indian Diaspora, Diasporic consciousness, Diversity, Identity, Transnationalism
Identity is fluid and contextual. Khan, Nijhawan, Bhagavan and Jhutti-Johal are all integral parts of the common spectrum of Indian diaspora, yet their identities as diasporic individuals vary to a large extent from one other. The diversity in their identities was evident in their interviews for TMYS Review June 2021 Project. Nyla Ali Khan identifies her as a South Asian diaspora, and at the same time she strongly sees herself as a Kashmiri Muslim Woman. Shobna Nijhawan, who is now settled in Canada, introduces herself as an Indo-German with regards to cultural values as she was born in Germany to Punjabi parents. She has a hyphenated identity and says that she is Indian in her appearance but German in her character. Manu Bhagavan mentions his Kannadiga roots and talks about how he spent his initial formative years in Tiptur and Bangalore in Karnataka (formerly known as Mysore State), with occasional stays in Chennai (formerly called Madras) and Mumbai (formerly called Bombay); within a few years he became an Indian diaspora living in Baltimore in the United States. Jagbir Jhutti-Johal affirms to be a British national but at the same time she also ascertains her Punjabi or Sikh identity. Thus, her identity is hyphenated as she calls herself a British-Indian Sikh or British-Punjabi Sikh. Therefore, one may observe that identities are diverse, hybridised and multifaceted when it comes to the Indian diaspora. There are numerous different elements involved with Indian communities when they migrate, and they are constantly in intercession with one another.
INDIAN DIASPORA: RECONFIGURING THE PRECEPTS OF ENGLISH LITERATURE
Author: Mita Bandyopadhyay
Mita Bandyopadhyay is a senior researcher in the department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Durgapur. Her area of interest is visual popular culture, with particular reference to Bollywood movies and the way the audience react to the movies, that is, cognitive film studies.
It has often been noticed that the diasporic population form a sort of connectivity with their countries of origin through their profession and artistic output. Set against the background of Indian diaspora, this essay demonstrates the multiple ways in which English literature of different countries has been enriched and moulded under the effect of the literary works of diasporic community, expanding it into newer horizons, beyond the precepts of traditional Euro-centric English literature. Through an analysis of the works of Professor Bashabi Fraser, Ankhi Mukherjee, Roanna Gonsalves, Chandrima Chakraborty and Jaswinder Bolina, the essay explores the reconfiguration of English literature in their respective nations of diasporic settlement, thereafter structuring the gamut of English studies into a broader dimension of democratic colloquium which is way ahead of the “antagonistic inheritors of colonial aftermath” (Gandhi x).
Key Words: Diaspora, Reconfiguration, English Literature
Immigration of Indians from their place of birth to new lands that initiated as a matter of forced displacement in the form of indentured labours under the colonial regime, soon reformed into a huge number of voluntary movement within the span of a century. Lucrative job offers, better living standards facilitated by the latest development in transport and communication turned forceful immigration into a wishful one. Migration and resettlement which was once the effect of exile, political refugee, expatriate, indenture labours has now been mostly taken over by the immigration of highly skilled and educated professionals. The escalation in immigration and resettlement of different sections of people across the globe has made the term “diaspora” into an umbrella term primarily denoting a segment of people residing outside their homeland (Connor). For several people residing outside their homelands, writing as well as their academic expertise has often been a pathway for reaching out to their country of origin, and it is in this context that the essay sets to demonstrate such achievements of the acclaimed professors. Through an analysis of the works of Professor Bashabi Fraser, Ankhi Mukherjee, Roanna Gonsalves, Chandrima Chakraborty and Jaswinder Bolina, the essay explores the reconfiguration of English literature in their respective nations of diasporic settlement, thereafter structuring the entire gamut of English studies into a broader dimension of democratic colloquium is way ahead of the “antagonistic inheritors of colonial aftermath” (Gandhi x).
THE UNMOVED MOVEMENT – INDIAN DIASPORA
Author: Megha Mazumdar
Megha is a student of English Literature, pursuing her post-graduation from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, India. She is also a silver medal holder for her academic performance at AMITY University, Kolkata. Megha has been scribbling poetry for a long time and her major turning point in life has been Keats’ trance romantic poetry. She extends her reach to learning and writing multilingual poetry, her current area of interest being Spanish Imagist poetry. Megha is published in several national and international journals, including The Criterion and IJELS. She has recently presented a paper at the ICSC Conference, on South-Asian Canadian Diaspora, among her other presentations.
The phenomenon of scattering is highly unplanned, chaotic and non-methodical, that results in a ruckus, based on differences in hierarchy and political foundations. When there occurs a dispersion, among mankind, when they are either uprooted or conditioned to displace from their original grounds, the movement does not stay limited to physicality alone. As formed firmly on the aftermath of colonisation and the pertinence of vague power and authority validations, the process of migration is massively controversial in a country like India. But with modern evolutions in migration, opinions are bound to alter and defer. The paper essentially validates the evolution in the psychological perception of dispersion and movement, where with improvement in the economic and educational spheres in the native countries, the prejudices associated with the host countries are re-interpreted and minimalised. The paper refers to Deleuze and Guattari’s Rhizome expression to show the desperate need in the migrants to move past the possible obstructions expected in such a movement. Thus, the entire process of movement becomes vague, irrespective of whether it is compelled or chosen.
Keywords: Scattering, Ruckus, Physicality, Authority, Psychological, Rhizome, Vague
The most loyal enclosure of the phenomenon of migration happens in the literary vehicle of it. These are created and read less for pleasure and more for verification. Literature in diaspora can be divided, based on the makers of it- where a half of it consists of migrant Indians who are not writers by profession, or writers who do not have a first-hand experience in diaspora, and the original Indian diasporic writers. The literary coverage of the process works as a record of the rawness implanted by the writers who are also the survivors - they have suffered and survived and have beheld, with clarity, the rational and irrational formulae of the dissection of human identity under the shock and impact of a movement, forced for some, chosen by the rest. While it is quite absurd to define and derive the pattern of transition of the impact of migration, from the range of novels, poems, letters or other literary records available to us, there can still be, a possibility of distinction between how post-colonial authors like Salman Rushdie observes migration and colonial hazard in a novel like Midnight’s Children (1981) where India is looked at as a mythically mystic master-country where once “anything was possible, a fable rivalled only by the two other mighty fantasies: money and God” (Rushdie 1981) and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things (1997) where the take is on a more holistic stratum, she questions the basis of recognition in a world that is not her own, with the migrational loopholes observed through a secondary character like Chacko - a clear reflection of Roy’s not facing migration first-handedly but only through observation, as she comments on the post-colonial havoc on a country like India, “There is a war that makes us adore our conquerors and despise ourselves.” (Roy 1997)
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