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Of Migration and Its Mixed Consequences

Ajay Kumar Sahoo

By Devesh Kapur
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 345, Rs. 795.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 8-9 August-September 2011

International migration is not a new phenomenon for the globetrotting Indians who today constitute more than twenty-five millions living either permanently or temporarily in different countries around the world. While several studies have been conducted concerning the consequences of Indian emigration on the culture and economy of the host society and the socioeconomic impacts on India, there is hardly any systematic study on how this international migration affects the political economy of India's development. Devesh Kapur's book Diaspora, Development, and Democracy fills this gap by presenting a nuanced understanding of the phenomenon of international migration and its impact on India. The international labour migration, 'the third and missing leg of globalization triad' (p. 2), has produced mixed consequences for the country of origin and the country of destination. This book shows in what ways these consequences can be studied from the perspective of the country of origin and how international migration has affected the political economy of India. Kapur has tried to answer, with substantial empirical evidences and historical analysis, several key questions such as: 'How do diasporas shape national identity? What are the effects of long-distance nationalism? Do diasporas amplify or attenuate cleavages in the country of origin? Do diasporic networks tend to support more hard-line political parties in the country of origin or do they instead create conditions that provide a countervailing force to nationalism?' (p. 14). After outlining the scope and objectives of the study and explaining the mechanisms through which international migration affects the country of origin, Kapur presents the analytical framework and research methodology. For him, there are four important channels by which migration affects the country of origin: 'prospect, absence, diaspora, and return' (p. 23). In order to analyse these mechanisms he has taken several variables to discuss the complex interaction among them. One of the important shortcomings of research on international migration (and more recently on transnationalism) is the lack of empirical data which poses a serious challenge to the researchers. However, Kapur shows us how one has to overcome these limitations. The strength of this book lies in its primary data generated through three large surveys (presented in the appendices) on international migration from India: a) Survey of Emigration from India (SEI), b) Survey of Asian Indians in the United States (SAIUS), and c) Survey of Indian Elites (SIE) (pp. 45-48). Although all these surveys are unique in their own ways, the SEI survey ...

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