Orange is the New Blue: The Color of Dignity

The non secondary school educated Indian migrant male construction worker/female household maid has built cities across the Gulf and South East Asia over the last 50 years. He/She leaves his family, dignity and home to fend for a better future. States such as Punjab, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have reaped the benefits of these workers, whose billions of dollars, dirhams and ringgit have lifted families out of poverty. When the home nation has failed to provide these young men and women employment, their families have sold off the last of the family silver to pay off the employment agent often a relative or a friend to arrange for work overseas. This is a cocktail of despair and indebtedness, and often limbs and lives are lost. Dignity and Respect are unknown concepts.

In this environment of loss and hopelessness, the Indian Government, whose Foreign Minister is the so called patron saint of South Asians abroad, moves to strip the migrant off his dignity by issuing him a horrible orange coloured passport, easily earmarking him or herself for sneering, denigrating looks from airline staff, passport control officials and his fellow countrymen from the so called elite class. Embassy personnel does not respect migrants too much as well. The movie Airlift rarely happens in real life.

The Orange Color as the differential is symbolic violence as it labels the migrant as the other/inferior. It creates a tiered citizenship among Indians overseas. It is very troubling for a person who has lived 2/3rd of ones life as a migrant in Oman and Singapore and had been a researcher on migration as well.

This measure is really short sighted. I would appeal to the government to roll back this misstep. If not anything remember the remittances, the ATM which balances the forex equation for the Finance Minister, with the Indian Budget around the corner.


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