The news of the killing of 39 precious Indians in Iraq is heart-rending. This was never a rescue operation, unlike the Djibouti episode where a batch of Indians was merely stranded and not held hostage by a terrorist outfit. Mosul was a search that ended in the traumatic discovery — by means of DNA matching — that the dead bodies found were those of Indians who, their relatives had reported, had gone missing. But even where Indian lives were saved in the two successful operations executed by this government earlier in its tenure, the question of the worth of risking one’s life for the sake of bread-and-butter in an inhospitable or unwelcome territory remains. This applies as much to those who fall to the violence of some sporadic freaks in the United States and Australia once in a while as it does to those who, in India, cry foul whenever some first world countries tighten their visa regimes. Unemployment in the country was a stark reality till the 1980s’ thoroughly socialist India where most of the limited number of jobs available were in the government sector where VIP recommendations ruled the roost. In the last 27 years of a largely liberalised and almost wholly globalised India, it is more of hype. This hype is generated by some political parties driven by time-warped ideologies and bought by the gullible crowd of the young who were not born before the 1990s to witness the change and make the most of it. For all the talk of “ease of doing business”, one must recall that this proposition was impossible in the country of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. The ease we talk about now is relative ease. Besides, the people who migrate to ‘greener pastures’ are mostly not on the lookout for entrepreneurship overseas; they seek better-paid jobs. If the Punjabi society associates working out of a land of White people with prestige, the society of Kerala presumes there is money only in West Asia, the inhuman labour conditions of workers notwithstanding. Dowries among Hindus and haq-e-mehr among Muslims are decided on the basis of the colour of the currency notes the prospective groom earns. This must change. If salivating at the sight of the White skin or getting awestruck by a certain accent of English is sickening, endangering one’s life in a society that professes a religion hostile to all other religions and ways of life is insane. Did they not know of the turmoil in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein, or were they poverty-stricken and Mosul was the only opportunity? If the extreme of ISIS is discounted, the answer to other Indian expatriates is a ‘no’.
All countries need foreign exchange for the purpose of international trade and commerce, but that is not an amount a country is supposed to earn by means of remittances, least from the killing fields of Mosul. Why this money cannot be generated in the country is a question the Union and State governments must be asked. An abject neglect of the requisite business infrastructure and a wrong societal attitude towards business are the answers. This apathy of the governments pushes eastern Indians to the western and northern parts of the country while those from the States that are better off ‘vote with their feet’ to set foot on an alien soil. When a few governments turn sincere towards this area of governance, the outdated bureaucracy makes the process tediously long. And then, for the past few years, there has been a trend of suspecting every investment to be a case of cronyism and corruption — the apprehension of which had, in the recent past, caused a policy paralysis. Indians must emerge from this mindset for their own good. They expect and demand of governments such economic impossibilities that serving them becomes difficult in the medium-to-long term. They demand a thing free, which necessitates a subsidy. A centralised yojana is shaped to provide for such freeloading and the civil services — essentially services of nay-saying — are required to process the scheme. While benefits have begun reaching the intended recipients faster of late due to DBT, the enormous bureaucracy is still an unnecessary annual overhead for jobs that do not take 365 days to accomplish. Worse, the inspectors have a proclivity to put brakes on businesses while the people have been brought up on the notion that rich is evil. If the news of a mound in Mosul with 39 buried bodies does not extricate the governments and citizens alike out of the vicious cycle, what will?
Until that happens, any starry-eyed Indian with a dream of setting sail for an El Dorado must read up or recall the stories of success in the industry under poorer conditions decades ago. Those already in various risk zones around the globe must contemplate executing their ideas back in this country. Of course, there can be no society or market where everybody is essentially a shopkeeper and none fundamentally a consumer. However, when so many ideas studied in the course of the diaspora’s work in advanced economies need to be implemented within the Indian territory, a chain of support services has to emerge, which, in turn, will also create the number of jobs our youth require.