14 June, 2021

Imagine There Is No Migrant

Anti-migrant biases aren’t limited to Gujarat. Such poor folk are targeted as ‘outsiders’ everywhere.

A stream of workers line up for their train back at Ahmedabad station
Photograph by Getty Images
Imagine There Is No Migrant

It was a swim against the perennial high tide. When Shrenuj & Co Ltd set up a diamond cutting and polishing unit in Patna, bringing back 150 skilled workers from Gujarat to their home state in 2013, it raised a glimmer of hope among the teeming Bihari migrants settled elsewhere in the country. Launching a first-of-its-kind plant, the global diam­ond firm had promised to invest Rs 600 crore and hire 1,500 workers to meet its target of processing 3 lakh diamond pie­ces a month. Hailing the commissioning of the unit as a historic occasion heralding a brave new age of investm­ent, chief minister Nitish Kumar exu­lted that Biharis could finally ret­urn home for work from places like Surat.

Five years on, dreams of creating emp­loyment opportunities good eno­ugh for migrants to stay back have come unstuck. Faced with mounting losses, the diamond firm has shut shop; its workers are left to fend for themselves.

A reverse migration of sorts, however, did begin earlier this month from Gujarat, but for grossly unsavoury reasons....

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