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Migration – Order of the day!!
Murali S Kakolu
Friday, June 3, 2011
Last week, my children wanted me to take them for the Indian Premier League (IPL) match at Bangalore between Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). My friend Divya Srinivasan was kind enough to get us the tickets at a very short notice (less than 3 hours!!!).

Since we decided to show off our support to our local team (RCB), on the way to the stadium picked up the RCB jersey and caps. When we entered the Chinnaswamy Stadium, it was filled with enthusiastic 35000 to 40000 cricket fans. Even though it was a cloudy evening, the temperature started heating up as the match started. I was amazed to see youngsters in large numbers to cheer their “GODS”. When two teams are playing, normally we can see some group supporting one team and some supporting the opponent. For a change, everyone started cheering for Chris Gayle even though there were many great Indian national players in both teams who are currently representing the country in all versions of the cricket – be it Twenty20; One Day or Test Match.

I also started shouting Chris Gayle’s name with others (mob syndrome…). For a second my profession made me to think why everyone is shouting the name of a foreign player and not any other national player’s name.

As a lover of this game, I was curiously tracking IPL from its inception. The curiosity increased year after year, because of two reasons – many conservative cricket friends told me it will not succeed; secondly this version of the game had a healthy mix of overseas and Indian players, which is an experiment in this game.

As immigration professional first and an avid cricket follower later, am keenly watching how migration can significantly contribute to the success of the sports and earn recognition for the country. This is what really happened during the recently concluded cricket World Cup. More interestingly, nine of the fourteen countries which participated in the 2011 world cup cricket had foreign coaches, largely either from Australia or West Indies, the two countries that have own the world cup titles most often.

Many cricket lovers across the globe know the famous cricketer Duncan Fletcher, who became England’s first ever foreign coach in 1999. He trained a lackluster England cricket team into a winning combination. Under his stewardship, England won eight consecutive test wins against New Zealand and West Indies in the last decade & won Ashes beating Australia in 2005. This is a historical milestone for England since they won Ashes after 18 year. That year Fletcher also got what he had waited 15 years for a British Citizenship.

Many may not know that Fletcher never played Test Cricket. England’s first foreign coach was born in Zimbabwe. He was the first man to captain Zimbabwe in international cricket and led the team to beat Australia in 1983 World Cup and almost beat India in the famous match which skipper Kapil Dev came out to salvage India, when India was at 17 for five wickets.

For a second, imagine, if Fletcher was not allowed to work as a Coach in England, what would have happened to their cricket team? It is anyone’s guess!

Gary Kirsten, who was the Indian Cricket coach for the last 3 years, made the Indian team reach the pinnacle of Test rankings besides lifting its first World Cup title in 28 years. There are many such examples of immigrants contributing to the success of their profession, in all walks of life across the globe.

Today, people cross their nation's boundaries in search of an opportunity & for a better quality of life. Immigrants tend to move to areas where generally there is low unemployment and the economy is strong. Sometimes they come alone, other times with family. Many risk everything for a life in the United States, Europe or Australia, sometimes even dying in their attempt. Besides their contribution to the economy, immigrants contribute in many other non-economic ways. They add diversity to the nation and give them a better understanding of different cultures by living side by side with locals.

Also, migration is not a new thing in our society. Every country has experienced this in the past. In case of personal reasons such as shifting a person's family, in case of a marriage with someone staying abroad and in case of family needs to move to another nation, a person is forced to move out of the country. The immigration laws that facilitate the migration of people between the two countries are of great help in such integration cases. Immigration brings in new opportunities for the people of different countries. It exposes the people of a nation to the atmosphere of another country that may be very different from one's motherland. Immigration has resulted in gifting the knowledge of one nation to another, thus resulting in the creation of new fields of education and newer career options.

Immigration results in an open global market. It gives a global perspective to the social and economic growth of society, thus widening the horizons of the development. Supporters of immigration believe that immigration has the potential of bringing about a global prosperity, and I am one of this!

A common claim among critics is that immigrants take jobs away from locals and decrease wages in their country. They also believe that this has resulted in a higher unemployment rate.

If we watch immigrant families very closely, education is stressed as the way to a better life. Many immigrant children end up pursuing higher education and this adds to a greater number of students in college education. As a result of an increased population attaining advanced degrees, the country can be even more competitive in today’s global market. United States and Australia is a country founded by immigrants, and future immigration will undoubtedly continue to play a significant role in their history.

West Indies Cricket Board dropped the same Chris Gayle from the team selected for playing against Pakistan. I do not think it was a wise decision from the selection committee members. Here he has clearly demonstrated that West Indies loss is RCB Gain. Similarly, the policy makers across the globe should be cautious while making immigration related decisions. Else, developed country’s loss will be developing country’s gain!! This is what is happening in the science, technology and medical field across the globe now.

With ageing population increasing in the west and large talented youth available in most Asian countries, it is the reality and countries across the globe should accept, think beyond their boundaries and encourage migration for their own advantage and survival. Time is ripe now for the political leaders and policy makers to align themselves to improve the world economy by encouraging the skilled migration programs. This will nurture the talent and improve the quality of life across the globe.

The so called developed countries will be in a disadvantageous situation to attract talent from the third world countries soon because of the improved infrastructure, quality of life and other environmental support that may not make them to explore opportunities outside their home countries. Policy makers – wake up and make right decisions to attract the talent!

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