We count the tears not the pain.

Do we want to do something about migration? — A call to fellow youths.

We put all blame on the government & system. It changes nothing, other than our attempt to sheath our conscience, ourselves from the guilt. We want to hide our fragility, our inability to take risks. But we can not shrug off that responsibility, the onus of those tearful eyes is on us too.

My dear friends,
I am a youth just like you. I used to have the ‘regular’ dreams of a package and recognition until a couple of years ago until I felt my heart aching for something more than me. Something, asking for the attention of youths like us.

Today I recall my experience and share my pain, as today I see a lot of you in a similar restlessness.

Migration is a bleeding pain of a large population of our country, a hidden population, which doesn’t catch our eye, otherwise. But we, the people at discomfort, do we know what migration costs? Today, when this pain has emerged a little under unprecedented circumstances, we are feeling so much pain, such discomfort, but no, we still do not know, not even a single strand. And we can never truly realize the consequences without working at ground zero. Today I am sharing my experiences of such a ground zero — Jhabua.

Jhabua is a tribal region at the border of Rajasthan, Gujrat, and Madhya Pradesh.
It used to have plenty of forest resources. As we know, how the greed of a few has changed the world, as it has Jhabua. The forests are no more. The water is gone.

Farmers have land and cattle but a single crop a year is not enough to pay even the interest on the debts, which every family in Jhabua suffers from. So there is a devastating migration. If we are to analyze further, it seems that since independence, what kind of image are we in, that we have caught a path of development, which has led to millions of villagers migrating to the cities, for mere livelihood.

Today’s reality is that a part of every family in tribal Jhabua goes to work in the cities as daily-wage labourers. It includes men, women and even children as young as ten.

The youth, who is the carrier of culture and traditions of the community, spend their lifetime in cities. The part of life, when they should be learning from elders about their traditions, culture and history, is lost melting bones in some mines or construction sites.

The age when they should be bonding within the community, understanding its weaknesses and strengths, is lost in ‘compulsion of migration’. The constant blows to their self-esteem in the cities germinate an inferiority complex towards their own culture, their village and their people. The youth get alienated from their roots, like a slow death. Hundreds of them die, buried under a stone slab, executed by an electric shock or poisoned by deadly chemicals. Families perish, as all the young are dead.

The sufferings of girls and women are unspeakable. From coercion to abduction or murder, they die a death every once in a while. Families would never see their daughter again as no one knows where they vanished.

Children, at the age when they should be playing in the dust of their village, getting familiar with their fields, open their eyes under a closed sky. In the age of receiving life values from elders, they hear abuses and cries.
Their eyes are clouded by cement and sand. The dreams, the hopes, the childhood aspirations all lose their existence, never to sparkle again.

Not only the mind but also the body bears the burns of migration. The health of the community and village gradually deteriorates. Migrants bring with them diseases which the people have never heard before. Spending a substandard life on roadsides and drains, a whole generation grows up malnourished.

The combined effect is that migration, gradually, eats away the communities, and their traditions, festivals, virtues, life values and entire knowledge system. People lose their identity in every way. Like a root-cut-tree, their green, prosperous culture starts drying up. Villages lose their identity in every way. Then what remains is neither a village nor a town, just something which has no soul, no pride, no identity. Migration is creating a future-less world, where people have lost aspirations and hope of life.

The migration not only kills people but also kills the community and its culture. It kills villages.

The ground reality is far more frightening. We are witnessing the death of migrants walking on the streets; we count their bodies. But do we count the many deaths that rural India is dying?

Today our heart is suffering, but are we still able to understand their pain? Can we feel even today the pain that they feel while leaving their soil, their village, their people, their animals and birds?

It is time for us to rise above our pain and try to understand theirs.

Try to understand why millions of villagers are forced to migrate. Why are they forced to live in a shadow of tattered plastic on some corner of a road, when they have their own land, their home.

My heart aches when I feel what difference youth like us can create, but how otherwise we choose to soothe our pain. We put all blame on the government & system.

It changes nothing, other than our attempt to sheath our conscience, ourselves from the guilt. We want to hide our fragility, our inability to take risks. But we can not shrug off that responsibility, the onus of those tearful eyes is on us too. Even those who feel these emotions choose a supposedly comfortable & secure life.

Why don’t we want to do anything about it? What is stopping us?
If rural India can not expect from its youth, then who?

The question that persists like a deep burning scar on our face is whether we want to do something about it or not.

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