Monday Musings 253 - The new 'I'
The recent issue of The Economist says that most countries (read US and UK) are fast erecting stronger barriers to immigration in general and access to student visas in particular. The number of international students have actually fallen everywhere with notable exceptions in Australia and Canada. In yet another article in the same issue it also says that Europe is increasingly developing cold feet on the issue of accepting the waves of refugees that are washing up its shores as a result of the Syrian crises. It also says that many of the EU countries have openly stated aversion to accepting new immigrants. It strikes me as an unnerving coincidence.
Closer home we had the abuse of the Tanzanian student in Bangalore last week, much in the line of such abuse that black students have faced in universities across the country for the past many years. This is not restricted to foreigners and the crises assumes tragic hues when we remember what the North East students face day in and day out everywhere – an ugly reality that is much noted and documented for it to demand any further proof. It was not long ago when in many states there have been backlash against migrant labourers who have been portrayed as threat to local livelihood and been physically threatened. The events may have subsided but the animosity seems to be alive.
The trolls on the social media are becoming increasingly abusive in what they put up in favour of or against the ideologies that they defend or deny. In the last month or so my FB has had at least a dozen clips or messages shared by my circle which can safely be classified as vitriolic, distasteful, highly politicised and most dangerously extremely bigoted. I had always imagined my profile and hence most of those who are on my FB list quite educated, liberal and hence endowed with a sense of nuance and poise. I am no longer sure.
When I put all of this together and pick up the threads of what is happening right in my FB account to what is happening in the big scene, I see a pattern. It seems that the same winds are blowing all across. The need to erect walls is assuming scary proportions. Everyone is trying to erect walls and close windows. Winds from another place and waves from other shores are being branded a threat and a risk. I find this counter- intuitive or is it two contradictory forces are playing out with each other, each undermining the other. Digitally boundaries are breaking and attempts are being made to hasten the collapse of these barriers – to connect faster and deeper on one hand; and yet on the other hand the groundswell of support to erect the barriers is equally present and perhaps getting stronger. All said and done Donald Trump and his ilk in the EU and very much in India do not exist in vacuum – they are pandering to a segment that really exists and who truly believe that erecting these walls is necessary. I wonder which of these forces will eventually win and while a clear winner is yet to emerge how much toll will the struggle for dominance amidst these competing forces take. Who will bear the brunt?
I wonder if our threshold for indulging the proverbial other shrinking? In other words is there a risk we all run of becoming intolerant?
(Now that I have uttered the ‘I’ word, I am waiting someone to ban me and raise slogans against me. That is the only way I will become famous)