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Ethnography of Migration

Tanu M. Goyal

By Ravindra K . Jain
Routledge, New Delhi, 2010, pp.160, Rs. 495.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 8-9 August-September 2011

India has completed nearly two 'successful' decades of economic liberalization aimed at unrestricted movement of goods, services and investments across economies. The country is fast globalizing, which is slowly filling the gap between the rich and poor nations. A large number of economic opportunities are emerging within India. Despite this, there is an outbound movement of Indians to work and settle abroad. The trend is not new and it dates back to the third century AD. However, the Indian labour movement, also referred to as the modern Indian diaspora, started in the early nineteenth century. The book under review gives a background and evolution of modern Indian diaspora. It compares the different Indian ethnographic groups settled in different locations across the globe over a long period of time and tries to bind the diasporic issues with the policies in India as also studies the cultural spill overs in the country. The author refers to diaspora as the situation of people living outside their traditional homeland. Over the years, there has been a change in the pattern of the diasporic movement from developing regions like the Latin American islands to more developed regions in the Pacific region. While the purpose of the out movement has largely been wealth related, there has however been a gradual change in the composition of diasporics. To cover the variations, the book spans major geographical zones including Africa and Mauritius, West and Southeast Asia, the Pacific, the Caribbean, North America and Europe using both primary and secondary research inputs. The major ethnic groups include Telugus, Malayalis, Sikhs, Biharis, Bengalis and Oriyas, among others, from the early nineteenth century till date. The author has adopted a comparative approach throughout the book both of cultures as well as inter-societal comparison. The study gives an interesting contrast of the old and the new diaspora. While the old diaspora comprised 19th century labour migration primarily for some job, the new diaspora consists of movement of educated professionals for better opportunities. Consequently, the author has compared the ethnic groups over the different periods of time on different parameters. The issues that were of prime importance in the earlier periods were status of women in the host countries which subsequently matured to the status of Indian communities and how the religiously rich communities preserved their culture and values in a foreign land. For instance, a study has been done for the Sikh ...

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