Neo-nomads on the wander across continents (The Financial Express (Bangladesh))

It was but only the tip of the iceberg when boatloads of people were sighted adrift in the Bay of Bengal. Now the entire body of the mammoth mass of ice has surfaced to pose a cosmic crisis-migration crisis, to be more specific.

From the Bay to the Mediterranean–hordes of people are on the move, defiant of national borders. The motive is single, and overriding: a better life. That’s honest. But what fuelled that penchant is not. People smuggling is the evil instinct that perverted the honest desire of people deprived of jobs and amenities in native countries. This oxymoron created one of the worst crises of the time. All the major continents–Asia, Europe, America and Australia–are faced with the migration crisis.

A moot question arises here: what are the relevant UN agency doing? The International Organization for Migration (IOM) goes on counting corpses of those who perish every passing day.

A latest IOM report on August 25, 2015 said deaths of all migrants and refugees attempting to reach Europe by sea in 2015 now totalled 2,373. Over the last 365 days, IOM has recorded 3,573 migrants who died attempting to reach Italy, Greece and Spain by sea – an average of nearly ten deaths a day.

Close to home, we were all appalled at the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis unfolded with the grim discoveries of people on boats floating at sea and mass graves in Thai jungles. Such ballads appeared as more of a fiction than fact. The stark facts even pose to overshadow the nightmarish atonement portrayed poignantly in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, a pioneering piece of romantic poetry by English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

The Bay episode in particular zoomed into a universal plot of tragedy of an epic proportion like a Greek tragedy when hundreds of boat people landed on an island of Greece. As time passed by, stories of such unauthorised migrants keep hitting headlines one after another. Fortune-seekers are on the voyage on all sea routes–the Bay, the Red Sea, the Pacific, the Mediterranean and so on. What started off with a problem involving Bangladesh, Myanmar, Malaysia and Thailand eventually figured high as a world worry. The whole of Europe is engrossed in dealing with this migration crisis.

What psychoanalysis of these voyagers could reveal here? This crisis in modern-day mobility out of free will, albeit impelled by syndicates of manpower traders, is rooted in the primitive stages of human history. In the prehistoric times, until what is known as ‘Neolithic revolution’ in the later part of the Stone Age, people of various tribes used to wander along rivers and seas in search of livelihood, through hunting and fishing. In course of time, they settled in formal life in villages and towns. Thus, with the emergence of human civilisation, they were confined within the state system. What happened now? Do the frontiers of sovereign states, at this stage of human, socio-economic development, fail to hold them? Is it an assertion of man’s free will in a given situation?

The prehistoric nomads didn’t have their homes. They didn’t have society or state. Production system was not evolved. And, hence, they were on a perpetual wander for sheer subsistence. How now, what made the modern humans take to a sort of atavism?

Man has, perhaps, gone the whole hog in his quest for development within respective state crafts under the existing systems. Resources in the west are exploited to the fullest. Theirs are optimally developed economies, life and society with an abundance of amenities, pleasures and pomp. By a sharp contrast, though, countries in most parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America remained pegged into a miasma of underdevelopment. How so happened, again, has a sordid historical background. Enslavement by mighty victors, serfdom and colonialism in the process of social evolution in a disparate course mark the long trek of human race. Digital divide, technological monopoly in the modern times only widened the historically fostered disparity in human destiny.

Not that these countries in the South, wherefrom fortune-seekers are outpouring on a risky exodus, actually lack basic resources needed for changing destiny of their peoples. Many parts of Asia and Africa boast treasure troves untapped. Especially Asia owns the biggest resource of working-age people but the lowest opportunities to engage them in productive work, jobs.

On the other hand, there lies a lure of better life, job opportunities in the developed countries. Everyone everywhere knows about it these days when the world is likened to a global village. In addition, there is the temptation that the roads are all paved with gold over there if the national frontier is crossed somehow. Seduced this way, the less-fortunate ones desert their sweet homes for any risky rides overseas. And the doom and gloom the world now witnesses form their unfortunate destiny.

Apart from them, there is exodus of refugees from different troubled pockets of the world. Uprooted from their dear motherlands-by ethnic cleansing, civil war or the western alliance NATO’s ‘war on terror’-myriad people set out on uncertain journeys for any safer places, be it in the West or the East.

They massed out of war-torn Afghanistan, the strife-stricken Middle-eastern countries and Myanmar’s Rakhine State where the Rohingya Muslims have been rendered stateless pariahs. As over two million Rohingyas had taken refuge in Bangladesh, and many more continued to try to enter the country, many of them discovered floating on boats towards Thailand en route to Malaysia were mistaken for Bangladeshis. Of course there were good many deceived fortune-seekers from Bangladesh among them.

Where does lie a solution? No shortcut. A global summit on the migration crisis is an imperative of the day. What are the ways out? It’s economy that lies at the core of the corundum while politics also plays a decisive part. So, the world community should seek out remedies from socio-economic determinants.

The probable topics of talk on the table:

*Relative redistribution of world population as per sizes of territories along with job-providing industries and economic and commercial activities;

*Removal of the digital divide through transfer of technology, especially the sophisticated innovations, for setting up industries of high-end products in the densely populated countries, regions to stem the tide of self-sanctioned immigration;

*Relaxation of visa regimes for workers to allow them easy entry into countries where there are job opportunities, and tapping latent prospects for job generation;

*Faster building of regional, sub-regional and continental connectivity of all modes: air, road, rail and waterway links.

*Realignment of the generations-old seven continents of the world with proportional distribution of territories, population and resources; and

*Revamping the United Nations bodies and agencies on social, human, labour, trade development the way they can serve needs of humanity in the new millennium.