The Great Migration of 1971 II Reception

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The Great Migration of 1971: II: Reception Author(s): Partha N. Mukherji Reviewed work(s): Source: Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 9, No. 10 (Mar. 9, 1974), pp. 399+401+403+405-408 Published by: Economic and Political Weekly Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4363472 . Accessed: 28/11/2011 03:43 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service
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  The Great Migration of 1971: II: ReceptionAuthor(s): Partha N. MukherjiReviewed work(s):Source: Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 9, No. 10 (Mar. 9, 1974), pp. 399+401+403+405-408Published by: Economic and Political Weekly Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4363472. Accessed: 28/11/2011 03:43 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jspJSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.  Economic and Political Weekly is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to  Economic and Political Weekly. http://www.jstor.org  SPECIALARTICLES The Great Migration of 1971 II-Reception Partha NMukherjiThis is an exploratory study oftheevacueeswholeftEastBengalafterthe imposition ofmartiallawonMarch25, 1971, and sought refugein India.Accordingtoofficialstatistics, bythesecondweekofDecember1971about 6.8 millionevacueeshadbeen housed incampsandanother3.1million werestayingwith friendsandrelatives.Asmanyas 827state campsand19 Centralcampsaccommodatedoneofthelargest migrantmovementsinhistory.This three-part study concentratesonthosewhoweretemporarily settTed attheChandpcaraandBokchora camps in the district of24-Parganas inWestBengal.PartIIexamines theorganisational set-upof the camps,therelationsbetweenhostsand guestsinand aroundthecampsandtheadaptive capacities of theevacuees in their new environment.Part I dealt with the socio-economicbackground of theevacuees,theevents leadingtotheiruprootmentandthetrektosanctuary.PartIIIwilllook at themigrationbacktoBangladesh and themannerinwhichitwasachieved. INa sensethesituationof the refugeesof1971wasunique.A refugeegene-rallvcarriestheconnotationof aper-manentimmigrantwhohasbeenforced toleavehiscountryofbirthoutoffear ofextreme persecutionandpossibledeath.The countrywhichreceivesrefugees,therefore,isawareof theimplicationsof acceptinga non-returneepopulation.Thequestionofrehabilitationandresettlementbecomeseitheranationalproblemfortherecipientaountry,asin India'andPakistanin the past,or aninternationalproblemfor theworld communityasin thecaseof post-warEuropeanre- fugees.2 In contrast, theBangladeshmigrantsof 1971 rightfromthebeginningwereclearlyand unambiguouslydefinedasa temporarygroupwhichwouldbeaccordedhospitalitybv the hostcoun-trvonlyuntilsuchtime astheywereableto go backto theircountryofpermanentresidencewithdignity.Hence, thequestionof theirrehabilita-tion, integrationandabsorptioninIndia didnot arise.Itwas madeabundantlyclearthattheywere tobetreatedasforeignnationals. This,therefore, presentedauniquesitLiationwheretheevacueeswouldreceivefood, clothing,shelter,medicalcare, etc,but wouldnot beexpectedto seekanyoccupationorengageinanv economic activity.In effect,theywetrereducedtoan economicallyidleand stagnantgroup,residinginclustersofvarioussizes(calledcamps)inidentifiableareas.Notonly weretheevacueeseconomicallyisolated,theywere alsocloisteredfrompoliti-tical influencesand activitiesto theextent thatthiswaspossible. Thusinthe administrationof relief as a matterof official policynopolitical partywaasallowed ,any role,nor wereforeignrelief agencies permittedto functionatthelevelof evacueecamps.4Theevacuees wereformally isolated asagroup distinct fromthe surrounding'external' environment.It is evident that the evacuees foundthemselves inasituation whichwasalready definedforthem. Adherenceto thesenormswastheconditionim-posed bythe'hosts' in exchangeforwhich the evacuees received 'hospi-tality'.Forthe evacuee,this was the'price' he had to payto 'earn' thehospitality of his hosts.Clearly, thesanctioninvolved wasthe withdrawalofhospitality shoulda violation ofnorms occur.The formal patternofrelationshipsbetweenthehost system andtheguestswasessentiallyasymmetrical. The acceptanceofthe imposednormswas clearlyafunctionofthe unequalrelationship between the hosts and theguests.Theguest'sstatuswas peculiarinthat he hardly had any rights. Buthe had a few clearlydefined obliga-tionswhichhe hadtoacceptwithgratitude and deference.Thereason whythehostsvstemimposed such restrictionsis easy todiscern.Ittriedto minimise thedele-teriousimpactofanimmigrant popula-tionofsuchmagnitudeonits ownsystem. Strugglingto manage its owninnerstrains, the host system attempt-edtoisolate the newproblem ratherthan allowit to combine with the al-ready existing complex of problems.Morespecifically,the evacuees wereallowedtorenmains anon-comirpetitivegroup intheeconomy,thuskeepingthebalanceofthelabourmarketun-disturbed.Intheirowncountry,theevacueeshadbeenfacedwithimminentcrisis.Tothemthechoiceclearlywasbet-ween afuture ofuncertaintyinaneighboturingcountryinwhichtheycouldatleastlookforwardtosecurityoflifeand afutureofcertainper-secutionandpossibledeath intheirowncountry.Appare-ntlythecharacteranddirectionofpoliticalevents inEastPakistanwvasinterpreted asacrisisofsuchmagnitudethattheinstinctofself-preservationdccicledforthemthechoicebetweenthe twoal-ternatives.Thiscrisis,therefore,wasthecausalgeneratingfactorwhichledtothemassiveexodusofnearly10millionimmigrantsintoIndia.Fbrcedintoeconomicsterilityandisolatedindenselyclusteredenclosurestheimmigrantswerelikelytogeneratenewproblems.Thequestionsthatnaturallyarosewere:In.anenviron-mentnotaltogetheralien,towhatextentdidtheformalisedstructureofnormsguidetheactualbehaviourpattern?Whatwasthenatureofthehostandtheguestsystems?Whatkindofrelationshipsemerged between thetwosystems?Toanswverthesequestions,Icon-centratedonexaminingtheorganisa-tionofreliefandthesocialconditionsinChandparaCampNumberTwoandBokehoraCamp.Theformercampwasnearatownofthesamenamewithsomelocalbusinessesand(Ioffices,includingtheDevelopmentBlockCentre,GramPanchayat(localself- 399  ECONOMICAND POLITICALWVEEKLYMarch9,1974government)office,andsoon.ThelattercampwasnearBokchora,aboutfourkilometresfromChandpara.Al-thoughcontaininga fewshops, acharitabledispensaryandhospitalbykindnessofthe locallandlord,Bok-chorais in facta wellspreadoutdis-persedvillage.Theyboth lieonthejessoreRoadlinkingCalcuttaandJessore - Chandparalyingabout10kms andBokchoraabout 14kms'fromnBongaon. AndbothareintheBon-gaon sub-division of thedistrictof24-Parganas.Chandpara CampNumberTw7owasasmallcamphousingapopulationof2,041 (755men,786women,500child-ren)in16largetentsand50 smallhuts.BokchoraCampincomparisonwasrelatively largewith apopulationof albout15,000(4,500men, 4,500women,6,000children),sheltered in50largetents and 500 smallhuts.Boththe camps hadtubewell, latrineandgarbage disposal facilities.Eachofthecampshad animprovisedclinicwhereadoctorwould comeperiodi-cally formedicalaid. THE ORGANISATION OFRELIEF Theconceptofthehostsystemisbound tovarydepending upon thediffe-rentframesofreferencewithin whichoneexaminesit.Onecouldconceptu- alisetheentireimmigrantpopula-tion as 'guests'and the total mobi-lisationof resourcesbyIndia fortheevacueesas the'hostsystem'.Ihave, howvever,chosen toconfinemy-self totheevacuees andtheir social networkextensionsinthetwocampsasrepresentingthe'guests',andalltherelevantorganisationsthat had a directorindirectbearingonthe main- tenance oftheguests asthe 'hostsystem'.Four majorconstituents ofthehostsys-temcantherefore beidentified, viz,thegovernment and itsnewly set uIp campadministration, thevoluntaryIndian-organisationis,thevoluntaryforeignorganisations andthesocialenvironmentsurrounding, theguestpopulation. TheBongaoncomplex ofcamps was takenover by theBranch Secretariat oftheMinistry ofLabourand Re- habilitation aroundSeptember1971. Afreshcadreof officialsand em-ployeesdrawnmostly fromex-Armyofficersandservicemen,exceptfor the volunteer-level recruitswNhoweredraw,nfrom thenativepopulation, formedanalmost paralleladministra-tion.The roleof thecamp admini-stration vis-a-vis theevacuees was toact asreception,attendto medicalprne-liminaries,provideadequateshelter,administersupplyofrations,provideformedicalcare,arrangeforeduca-tion ofchildren,projectthegovern-ment'sviewpointsandefforts forpro-viding relieftothem,andfinally,togivethemprotectionfromunwantedelements.While thegovernment dideithertakeup orintend totake uptheseroles,italsosoughttheco-operationofnon-sectarianandnon-politicalvoluntaryorganisationstorelieve it-selfwhereverpossible ofsome ofitsfunctions.During theinitialstages,whenthegovernmentwastryingdesperatelyto,cometogripswithreality,itwasthevoluntary efforts oftheseorganisationsandthe nativepopulationthatsustained theearlywaves ofimmi-grants.However,atthetime offieldwork(December1971)thecamp admini-strationwvasworkingmoreorlessontheformalpatternindicatedearlier,exceptthatsome ofitsfunctions wereapportionedtonon-sectarian,non-politi-calvoluntaryorganisations.Anumber ofvoluntaryorganisationsfigured inthetotalcomplexofreliefroles.TheAbhoyAshramhadtakenuppracticallyallthemajorreliefrolesinthetwocamps,barringthesupply ofrations,whichwasunder-takenbythecampadministration,andthechildren'seducationinBokchora,whichtheRamakrishnaMissionhadtaken up. The Gandhi PeaceFounda-tion,Oxfam,theInternationalRescueCommittee,Care,Caritas,contributedreliefmaterialsandlor services.Thestructure ofrelationships bet-weenthe hostsystem,comprisingaconstellationoforganisationsandthesocialenvironment,and theguests,canbe seenintheflowDiagram in-cluded.Theone-wayflowofgoodsandservicesfromvarious relieforganisations totheguests Nvasmatch-edbyareverse-waymovementofobligations.Itisimportanttonotehowthissys-temofrelationships wasmaintained.Itwouldappearthatthe'investment'madebythehostsystemwaswithoutexpectationsofany'returns'.Thisisnotentirelytrue.Theinvestmentwasmade inconsiderationofcertainvalueslikehumanitarianismandthereturncame intheformoftheintangiblenon-materialrewardofuniversalsocialap-probationfromtheworldcommunity.Furthermore, inthecontextofinter-nationalrelations,theformofaccept-anceofthehumanitarianrolealsoamountedtoarejection ofconditionsthrustuponIndiaby itspoliticalneigh-bour.Thiswvasmanifestedinrefusingtheimmigrantsthestatusofco-na- DIAGRAM:FLOWOFGOODS, SERVNICESANDOBLIGATIONS - G1PFA - ;OCIAd.SWV1'ONMEW1 -~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~t 0~~ EIuCArIo,~~j A~~Ato ShRAMt . ~~~~- SO 2 E9w;;> 0 0~~~~~~~~~~~~~ AREAOFINTERPGRSOtGL RLdToO-$ 1-- -------- T- - V-- ------- -- --I- - Key: GPF=GandhiPOeaceFtundation OX= OJfar,IRC=InternationalRescueCommittee;CH=Caritas;CA=Care;RKM =Ramakrishna Mis-.sionNote:Thedottedlinesindicatethearea ofinterpersonalrelationsorsocialenvironment.401  ECONOMICAND POLITICALWEEKLYMarch9,1974tionalsand consideringthempolitical-lvasaliens. Therefore,theuniversalsocialapprobationof the humanitarianrole playedby India, ineffect amount-ed to anl implicitrejectionof certainconditions imposedbyPakistanionIndia.Infact,the form ofthe,humanii-tarianrolehad built-insymbolsof re-jectionof theconditionsimposed byPakistan.Thisrejectionin turnhaddangerousimplicationsforrelationsbetweenIndia andPakistan.Presumablyitcan be workedoutthat theform of investmentin theim-migrantsinvolveda definiteentrepre-neurialrisk inexpectingfavourablepo-tical andeconomicoutcomes. T'hepos-siblealternativesbeforethe host'sys-temfromwhichachoicehadtobemadewereasfollows:(1)togivetheimmigrantsthestatusofco-nationalsandrehabilitatethemintotheIndiansocialsystem - anexperi-encenotalientothe subcontinent;()togranttheimmigrantsasylumbuttransfertheresponsibilityoftheirmaintenanceand ftutturerehabilitationto theinternationalcommunity;(3)totake uip theresponsibilityoftheirse-curityand.maintenancewith the co-operationof the internationalcommu-nitvbutdenythemco-nationalityinconsiderationofprevailingsocialandeconomic conditionsinthecountry.Inthepast,thesubcontinent hasalwaysfavouredthechoiceof thefirstalterna-tive for majorandminorinfluxes.Ithasnever shirked its responsibilitytotheinternationalcommuinity nor isitlikely thatthe international communitywouildhavebeen able to takeuptheprollemsof stuchalargepopulation.But,andthisisimportant,inthepastsuch movementsofpopulations large orsmall,were alwaysamatter of two-waytraffic.Theyhad the importantcharacteristicofcountervailingforcesbalancing each other. Thelast influxwas- not onlyone-way,but its magni-ticde 'vas way ouitof bounds ofper-missive limits.Thechoice ofthe firstalternativewould have severalclear implications.(1) This wouldbe more economicalasthe costof maintaininga 10 millionimmigrantpopulation vitha likely in-crease i.n its strengthwoouldbe prohi-bitive.The Governmentof India wasspending at therate of more thanRs18.5 million perday.5 (2) Itwouildhave meant acceptinga situation thrusttipon oine countryby another. (3)Itwouild leave thecouintryof asylumwithlesspowerfuilsymbols ofrejection oftheimposedconditions.The choice ofthe thirdalternative therefore,seeninthe perspectiveof thefirst, hadamorecompulsiveorientationtowardsanearlysolution, thoughatgreaterrisk.These alterniativesdonotexhaustallthelogicalpossibilitiesopentoIndia,thouighthey includeall themajorones.Indiacoiildhave refusedasylumtotheimmigrantsforcingthemto returnorniotallowingthemto cross thepoliticalboundary.T'hiswvould havebeenindirectcontraventionof theacceptedprincipleofnon-refoulemenitenshrinedintheDeclarationof TerritorialAsylumbasedontheDeclarationofHumanRights,whichstatesthatarefugeecannotbe retturned in anymannerwhatsoeverto the frontiersofterrito-rieswherehislifeo,r freedomwouldb)ethreatenedon accountof hisrace,religion,ormembershipofaparticulars(cialgrouiporpoliticalopinion .6Therefore,'it seems clearthattheproperenactmentof thehumanitarianhostroleniot onlyhadstructuralpropsin theimmediatehost-guestinteractions,l)bltalsoinvolved awholerangeofbi-lateralandmultilateralnatio.n-statein-teractionsdirected towardstheattain-ment ofanexplicitgoal- namely,thereturnoftherefugeestotheirhomeland.7 INNERTENSIONSINTHEHOSTSYSTEM Evena cursor-yperusalofthe flowDiagramwvillindicatethattheAbhoyAshramat thegrassrootslevelvolun-taryorganisationhadto playamore-complexrolethan theotherorganisa-tions vis-a-visthetwo campsexaminedhere. Goodsandservicesfromseveralvoluntaryorganisationswere fuinnelledthrouighthe Ashram.TherewN7eretwoprincipalsocialworkerswho ranthisinstitutioninBongaon.At theinstanceof theGan-dhiPeaceFoundatioan,theAblhoyAshramnvolu-teeredtoplay anactiverole inreliefoperations.Consequiently,itbecamea centreforco-ordinatingtheactivitiesofthe variousreliefagencies.Thegrouipthat constittutedthereliefteam at theAshramfocalpointpresent-ed aheterogeneouslotwith ill-definedandinconsistentroleobligations.Thusthe GandhiPeaceFoundationvolunii-teerclearlydefiedthe Ashramauthori-ties,claimedallegianceonlytohisprincipalsandinterpretedthehospita-lityextendedto him bytheAshramashis rightfor theserviceCshewNsren-deringto theevactuees.TheAshram,heclaimed,was*merelyareceivirngrpointforgoodstobedistributed.Ithadno clearclaimonhowthe goods were to be distribultedl. As farashewasconcerned,heconsideredhimselfindependenitandautonomous withres-pectto goodsreceivedspecificallyfor thecamphewaslookingafter.TrheAshram heldtheview that sincethere-liefgoodsweredespatchedin thenaineof theAshram,theAshram hadarighttotakeatotal stockofthesituationofallthethreecampsunderits reliefju-risdiction andallocatethese materialsandothersaccording totheintensityofnee(dsinthedifferentcamps.Thiscon-flictwasnotresolvedduringthedaysIwatchedthemastheirguestand infactitfrequentlyeruptedinunplea-santtensions.Thedoctorsand theirmedicalstaffhadmoreclearlydefinedroles,butonoccasionsthespecificityoftheirrolescreatedproblems.Forexample,ononeoccasionthe driverbelongingtoOxfamreported tohisprincipalsthattransporthadbeenmisused on one ortwooc-casions.This resultedinaunilateralwithdrawalof thetransportbyOxfamwitholutanyenquiiryinto thisallega-tionandwithouitanyexplanation,cauis-ingthemedicalandreliefservicestothetwocampstocome toanabruptstop. In such asituationthedoctorsfeltverycritical ofOxfambehaviourhut declinedtoreportanythinginwriting eithertotheirprincipalsortoAbhoy Ashrarrmor to Oxfam. Onthisoccasion,I feltcompelledto interveneandhelpedtheAshram,take tup thematterandprotesttoOxfam.Thetensions inthe Ashramresolvedthemnselveslargelybecauseofthe twokinds ofleadership.WhiletheAshram,asawhole, functioned asatask-orient-edgroup,theleadershiprolesamongthoseworkingatthetwocampswereclearlydifferentiated.Forinstance,theroleperformanceof thesocialworkerfromtheGandhiPeaceFoundationcouldbeidentified interms ofbehaviourandattitudesgenerallyassociatedwiththeinstrumentalleadershipof ataskleader(e g,ingivingsuiggestions,directives,opinions,takingimportantdecisionsand soon).Incomparison,theladywhowasformallyinchargeofthe-Ashramclearlvacquiredtheexpressiveleadershipofthe'sociometricstar'(characterisedby expression ofemo-tions,supportivebehaviourtoother.s,thedesiretopleaseandlbelikedandamoregeneralisedlikingforothermembers ).8Thisisnot tosaythat thelatterdlidnotperformanyinstrumentalrole,butonlythatshewasbetterequiippedasanexpressiveleaader.Ononeoccasionthe(GandhiPeaceFounda.tionvoluinteerwNentonfast asaprotestagainstheractioninnotsulpplying 403
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