The Pilgrims & The Indians [updated]

And now, some interesting news from down under. The beautiful country of New Zealand is in the final process of rounding up 40 illegal immigrants (aliens? undocumented workers?) of Desi descent who entered the nation under the guise of a Catholic pilgrim group. The 40 had entered New Zealand in the run up to the Pope-sponsored World Youth Day in neighboring Australia –

About 220 Indians came to New Zealand as part of Days in the Diocese, a pre-World Youth Day event that gives pilgrims time with Catholic families and acclimatises them to the host country’s culture. For the first time, Days in the Diocese was extended beyond the host nation, with Sydney’s organisers asking New Zealand to be included.

During those days, though, 40 Indians went missing at different times in what appears to be an orchestrated attempt to stay in New Zealand.

…Parish priest Fr Peter Murphy said host families were “obviously upset” that the young people went missing, some leaving in the middle of the night ­- even jumping out windows.

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p>Interestingly, the local Sikh society played a key role in the drama & in rolling up the ring –

Scamsters in New Delhi had reportedly told them they had bought the right to live in New Zealand – at around $17,000 each…[Sikh Society spokesman Daljit] Singh, who has been in contact with some of the missing Indian pilgrims, says some are as young as 16 and thought they were coming here to study.

But he says it is very upsetting for all the pilgrims, as they are now realising they have not bought a new life and were cruelly swindled.

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p class=caption-text style=”font-size: 80%; margin: 3px 5px; line-height: 110%” >Anand Satyanand, the Governor-General of New Zealand – Probably worth a blogpost at some point ; FWIW, he happens to be Catholic.

While a few were indeed Catholic, coming from Punjab, clearly many weren’t and their reason for choosing New Zealand is even better -

The 39, masqueraded as Catholics while some are Muslims and Hindus, were billeted with Catholic families in Auckland on their way to the celebrations in Sydney.

New Zealand Federation of Ethnic Councils’ president Pancha Narayanan said that some Bollywood movies are portraying New Zealand as an easy destination to migrate, thus giving a wrong impression.

For me, having spent a good chunk of my life in 2 states grappling with illegal alien (errr.. “undocumented immigrant”?) problems, one of the most interesting aspects of this was the crucial role played by the local (documented?) immigrant communities. Although sometimes stereotyped as turning a blind eye if not actively encouraging illegal immigration, in NZ the legal immigrant community was instead instrumental in lawfully & humanely rounding up the 40 -

[3 men] made their way to Tauranga, where they had heard there was a large Indian community and good prospects of finding work, and paid a taxi driver $550 to take them.

[Sikh Society president] Manprit Singh said he had agreed to provide the men with shelter as long as they fronted up to Immigration New Zealand, and he encouraged the remaining 36 men to do the same.

Manprit Singh brought the three men to Auckland to meet officials yesterday. Daljit Singh was also at the meeting. He said the men were told they had to comply with their visas, which expires on August 5 or they will be “forcibly removed” from the country.

….A further 12 of the group that went awol have made contact with the Society in the past day and Daljit Singh said he was trying to arrange for them to meet immigration officials.

…The New Zealand Indian Central Association yesterday urged its members to help the authorities trace the remaining missing men, whom a Department of Labour spokesman said they were still trying to locate.

Some of the statements from the broader Indian community leadership are particularly fierce and it’s unlikely we’d ever see the equivalent from the leaders of LULAC

[NZ Indian Association general secretary Veer] Khar says they are trying to stay illegally in the country and the Immigration Service should be doing all it can to catch them. He hopes immigration comes down hard on them and sends them straight back to India, saying they are damaging the reputation of all Indians in New Zealand.

[Indian NewsLink Editor Venkat] Raman says it is extremely naive to think money can buy them residency in New Zealand. He says they should have known they would not be able go to a western country without proper documentation or secure employment.

I suspect for many, the reaction of the local legal immigrant community to the illegal newcomers is an interesting socio-political litmus test. At least in this case, when their loyalty to the Rule of Law in New Zealand was pitted against co-ethnic loyalty to fellow Desis…. Rule of Law won. Should, whether & to what degree this happens in other communities & countries is a crucial, if not well articulated, underlying factor in the (illegal) immigration debate world wide.

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[UPDATE] Since a bunch of the comments are interested in what I personally do (or should) believe about this case, lemme put a few simple points out there

  • I make a strong distinction between LEGAL and ILLEGAL immigration
    • LEGAL Immigration is GOOD–> there should be more, of all races, creeds, ethnicities, etc.
    • ILLEGAL Immigration is BAD –> there should be less, of all races, creeds, ethnicities, etc.
    • I think the “documented” vs. “undocumented” language is occasionally silly, often intentionally obfuscating, and at worst, tries to introduce a 3rd rail by casually making opponents sound racially opposed to all immigrants. The central distinction isn’t whether an immigrant carries “documents.”
  • Opposition to Illegal Aliens on a Rule of Law basis is radically doesn’t make you racist / classist / etc.
    • too many counter-arguments depend on blithely introducing racial / ethnic / class / “uncle tom” / etc. 3rd rails
    • I certainly have a tremendous sympathy with the plight of the individual illegal alien (not unlike the sympathy I have for stories of parents who steal to feed starving children)
  • If there were no positive rights with living in the US, I’d consider making ALL immigration legal
    • Given that positive rights are here to stay (and, in all likelihood, will increase), the distinction between LEGAL and ILLEGAL becomes even more material in the future
  • The socio-cultural pervasiveness of respect for Rule of Law is one of the primary things that makes some countries fantastic places to live and others crap…. so, I’m generally impressed with the NZ Desi community

169 thoughts on “The Pilgrims & The Indians [updated]

  1. 149 · persecution said

    Nicole, you forgot another important observation. DBDs smell of Chicken Tikka Masala, while ABDs smell of Chanel No. 5

    persecution, both DBDs and ABDs smell too much beedi smoke ? (sick joke)

  2. Interesting discussion:

    Which comes down to my belief that most of today’s libertarians just want to make excuses to build a system that will allow them to retain and enjoy the fruits of their social position and wealth, without actually contributing back.

    I broadly agree with this in an American context. I think whatever merit that libertarianism might have as a set of political ideals has been hijacked by American capitalism and political repression. Many of the people who have libertarian inclinations in the United States would likely be further along the line to either anarchism (in one direction) or populism (in another) or openly pro-capital policies (in another). But the lack of ideological diversity in the United States, the emphasis on the constitution as the textual basis of “right and wrong” and the domination of the market lead to conclusions among people who would ideally know better that a) the “free trade” system is free and can be juxtaposed against “protectionism” (clearly not true – there are many many specifics and they are weighted against labour); b) that the supporting the rule of law is somehow beneficial to ordinary people; c) that past precedent matters as much as principle; d) that somehow “citizenship” status and laws are not wholly offensive to basic principles of liberty; etc. etc. etc.

    It would be great if American libertarians would actually be libertarian, as many radical socialists around the world are. It’s not like they invented the concept of “state oppression” ;) I wish they would more frequently apply it in their thinking or just admit that they’re pro-rich or pro-market or really just haven’t thought things through. Interestingly, they have this in common with a lot of other Americans and their ideologies (e.g. many progressives who deny that imperialism exists and might, in other contexts, have turned towards stronger social democracy aims or communism or statism or more strongly pro-poor populism).

    (some gross generalizations here, but the overall assessment, I think, is at least a good critique-as-starting point).

  3. Gandhi, interestingly, was a revolutionary but still choose civil disobedience.

    Characterizing Gandhi as a “revolutionary” is extremely problematic when there were actually revolutionaries that existed at the time with a variety of perspectives.

    1) Gandhi was a mass mobilizer and ideological leader in an effort to build a cross class alliance in an anti-colonial political independence movement (see Francine Frankel’s political economy book or many many other works). He was by NO means a social revolutionary except to the extent that he ideologically opposed the vision of an industrialized India (and on that count, he mostly lost, except for the planning period’s poor agricultural/small-scale “industry”) policy; 2) He opposed (and in fact attempted to stop) labor activism (as well as greater dalit rights) as part of his policy of conciliation as opposed to the Congress left or other left parties in India that actually believed in social revolution 3) He was something of a tyrant within the Congress party – though in passive aggressive style – if they were alive, you could ask more radical politicians like Ambedkar (Poona Pact) or Subhash Chandra Bose (who was deposed from the Congress presidency because of Gandhi), etc. 4) He enjoyed good relationships and had funding from big industrialists, though the exact nature of the relationships is a contentious topic from what I understand granting that ideologically, Gandhi was opposed to industry and “modernism” per se; 5) His calls were not sectarian, but his style frequently depended on “Hindu” tropes; 6) He supported and in many ways led an organization led by high caste, upper class (what are misleadingly called “middle class”) Hindus — which helped lay the groundwork for the paternalism (as opposed to socialism, which it was not) of the Indian state.

    Whether you think this is good or bad is up to you in the context of your readings of other history, but this is closer to the reality.

  4. 153 · Dr AmNonymous said

    It would be great if American libertarians would actually be libertarian, as many radical socialists around the world are.

    what, like Lula?

  5. 153 · Dr AmNonymous said

    I think whatever merit that libertarianism might have as a set of political ideals has been hijacked by American capitalism

    you must, my dear, identify the goose before bringing down the world gander. (or, how does one pay the bills? In the pockets of those eeeeevil capitalist pigs?)

  6. 153 · Dr AmNonymous said

    Which comes down to my belief that most of today’s libertarians just want to make excuses to build a system that will allow them to retain and enjoy the fruits of their social position and wealth, without actually contributing back.

    I know you did not originally write this, but, it should be addressed. Y’see, the tricky thing about this discussion, is that the greatest anti-poverty force in the world right now is freer trade and this ‘system’ envisioned by wild-eyed detractors as enriching selfish wealth generators has been in place for as long as humans have had to deal with mundane realities like eating, sleeping without fear of animal attack, etc. There is no magical global kitty into which some must pay so that others may be preserved in poverty (and ripe for intrepid Anthros!) and this is a good thing.

  7. I thought libertarianism was a word that evolved out of necessity, as “liberlism” evolved to include more statist philosophies within the liberal paradigm, ie social-welfarism and even democratic socialism.

    But the original liberals where thankfully not purists, but rather men deeply concerned with their revolution succeeding. The US constitution is a great libertarian document, and you see this conflict in the text. Property rights are implied, but not specifically enumerated despite considerable debate to include the “right to property.” Property takings are allowed, within reason, and while religious establishment is banned, they stopped short of offering a wall of separation. And so it goes…

  8. My family’s connection to New Zealand goes back more than 70 years.

    I have many family members living there. Aussies and Kiwis generally suffer from insecurities when the come up against Americans, and this is heightened in the brown population.

    What I detest about Kiwi Indians is their bougie mentality. They person who responded with the multicultural history of NZ won’t tell you that Indians there strive VERY HARD to make sure the white population does not lump them in with other brownies like the Pacific Islanders (who have a very difficult time integrating into society).

    It’s the rising at the expense of another desi bullshyt which annoys me and makes me avoid my Kiwi cousins whenever they come to visit us in the US.

  9. 147 · Harbeer said

    ABD speaking here. I can’t stand most ABDs. To generalize, I find most of them to be vapid, materialistic, sheltered, and not very curious about the world. In other words, boring mama’s boys/daddy’s girls.

    Word.

    (There are, of course, exceptions, and I’ve got some great ABD friends.)

    I know I’m awesome Herb, but what’s it going to take to get you to give a Poonjabi a call?

  10. 157 · Nayagan said

    153 · Dr AmNonymous said
    Which comes down to my belief that most of today’s libertarians just want to make excuses to build a system that will allow them to retain and enjoy the fruits of their social position and wealth, without actually contributing back.
    I know you did not originally write this, but, it should be addressed. Y’see, the tricky thing about this discussion, is that the greatest anti-poverty force in the world right now is freer trade and this ‘system’ envisioned by wild-eyed detractors as enriching selfish wealth generators has been in place for as long as humans have had to deal with mundane realities like eating, sleeping without fear of animal attack, etc. There is no magical global kitty into which some must pay so that others may be preserved in poverty (and ripe for intrepid Anthros!) and this is a good thing.

    This, again, is a gross oversimplification. The global system that exists today has a certain type of trade, which is called “free.” Is migration freer than it was 2000 or even 200 years ago? Hard for me to believe. Is state control stronger through surveillance technologies? Indubitably. Moreover, the global system that exists today is relatively recent – as opposed to trade. Read some Wallerstein–capitalism has very little to do with fearing animal attack and most honest theorists of capitalism (like Adam Smith or Marx) will acknowledge the tremendous social and political violence that was and is inflicted for the establishment of a market. Where they go from there is a different question.

    The fundamental problem with the broad mass of American libertarianism, aside from its excessive economic conservatism and unwillingness to engage in escaping the blindness that comes with American politics, is that it doesn’t question social power – why is it better to be oppressed by social power than it is to be a state–and more relevantly, what do you do when the two work together, as in India, where big corporations and the state have worked hand in hand.

    Or were we under the illusion that Nehruvian planning benefited the poor more than Tata ;)

  11. 158 · Manju said

    The US constitution is a great libertarian document, and you see this conflict in the text.

    Yeah, as long as you weren’t a Black person. Or is that 3/5 of a Black person? ;) This is exactly what I’m talking about. It’s just a piece of paper whose interpretation has radically evolved, and there is no reason to turn back to it rather than look forward. Why not develop our own ideas with their own philosophical foundations instead of looking to the ideas of people from 200+ years ago who happened to have some power? It’s like relying on Stalin instead of Bakhunin for how to understand Marxism. What is the point of believing in a philosophy of indidiviualism if it doesn’t actually empower you to THINK as an individual to the extent possible (insert Spivak here)?

  12. Y’see, the tricky thing about this discussion, is that the greatest anti-poverty force in the world right now is freer trade and this ‘system’ envisioned by wild-eyed detractors as enriching selfish wealth generators has been in place for as long as humans have had to deal with mundane realities like eating, sleeping without fear of animal attack, etc. There is no magical global kitty into which some must pay so that others may be preserved in poverty (and ripe for intrepid Anthros!) and this is a good thing.

    Also, this is simply false. The most recent examples of successful economic development by individual countries involve state coordination of private sector activities (e.g. South Korea), high levels of corruption directed in particular ways that enhance productivity, and a number of other features that fly in the face of neoclassical assumptions and models. At the same time, there is relevance to the argument that the policy prescriptions need to be socially appropriate – what will work in South Korea did not work in Pakistan. Free trade policies have tended to be adopted by imperial powers AFTER they have developed and achieved hegemony, not before.

    As for the magic global kitty – well that’s what I call capitalism. Take a look at the portions of profit that each level of the supply chain in the apparel industry gets–you’ll find that Nike and Federated Stores are getting a hell of a lot more than a factory owner, let alone a worker, in Bangladesh or China ;) If you replicate those social relations a million billion times and throw in imperialist policymaking and warfare – well, there’s your magic global kitty ;) Also ripe for Anthro study ;)

  13. It’s the rising at the expense of another desi bullshyt which annoys me and makes me avoid my Kiwi cousins whenever they come to visit us in the US.

    How noble you are, avoiding your relatives when they come to visit you in a foreign country! How dare they want to succeed! You’re definitely standing for the rights of oppressed people everywhere by doing so! Seriously, do you even have solid proof of how your cousins are personally responsible for every other ‘brownie’ group’s problem in New Zealand?

    This is a perfect example of what I mean.

  14. 159 · Krish**** said

    My family’s connection to New Zealand goes back more than 70 years. I have many family members living there. Aussies and Kiwis generally suffer from insecurities when the come up against Americans, and this is heightened in the brown population. What I detest about Kiwi Indians is their bougie mentality. They person who responded with the multicultural history of NZ won’t tell you that Indians there strive VERY HARD to make sure the white population does not lump them in with other brownies like the Pacific Islanders (who have a very difficult time integrating into society). It’s the rising at the expense of another desi bullshyt which annoys me and makes me avoid my Kiwi cousins whenever they come to visit us in the US.

    As an Indian new Zealander, that accusation is true to some extent. But Pacific islanders on the whole, are generally far more accepted as “kiwi’ than say Indians are.They’re socially and economically worse off, certainly.

  15. 162 · Dr AmNonymous said

    The fundamental problem with the broad mass of American libertarianism, aside from its excessive economic conservatism and unwillingness to engage in escaping the blindness that comes with American politics

    I would like to engage with you, but if I began my argument by saying, “You are blinded by the shadows of heterodox economists who feel much put upon in the academy” there would be no room for engagement and I see that you do wish to take this approach. Look if the people at Spiked aren’t comfortable with their current standard of living, they are perfectly justified in disregarding the violence accompanying the formation of their state and taking full advantage of the state’s dole. If you can confuse oligarchy or regulatory regimes created for the largest players in particular market, with the best approximations of free markets that most american libs hope for, i’m afraid you know little of american libertarians (or have ever read an issue of Reason or know that the best civil liberties reporting these days is done by ‘blind’ american libertarians)

    I’ll close with Wainaina:

    “No one can empower you except us. And if you don’t listen to us, our bad people, those RepublicanToryChineseOilConcessioningIanSmithing racists will come to get you: your choice is our compassionate breast or their market forces.

    In our loving breast you will be a vegan. We will eliminate your carbon footprint, your testosterone, your addiction to religions. You will be kept away from bad bad people, like ALL MEN.

    We don’t live in harmony with nature and we are farting greenhouse gases all over the place. We will teach you how to live without farting greenhouse gases.

    We will shut all your industries and build our organic Jeffery Sachs-designed school inside your national parks, where you can commune with nature, grow ecologically friendly crops, trade fairly with eco-tourists and receive visitors from the United Nations every month who will clap when you dance.”

  16. 167 · Nayagan said

    162 · Dr AmNonymous said
    The fundamental problem with the broad mass of American libertarianism, aside from its excessive economic conservatism and unwillingness to engage in escaping the blindness that comes with American politics
    I would like to engage with you, but if I began my argument by saying, “You are blinded by the shadows of heterodox economists who feel much put upon in the academy” there would be no room for engagement and I see that you do wish to take this approach…I’ll close with Wainaina: “No one can empower you except us. And if you don’t listen to us, our bad people, those RepublicanToryChineseOilConcessioningIanSmithing racists will come to get you: your choice is our compassionate breast or their market forces. In our loving breast you will be a vegan. We will eliminate your carbon footprint, your testosterone, your addiction to religions. You will be kept away from bad bad people, like ALL MEN. We don’t live in harmony with nature and we are farting greenhouse gases all over the place. We will teach you how to live without farting greenhouse gases. We will shut all your industries and build our organic Jeffery Sachs-designed school inside your national parks, where you can commune with nature, grow ecologically friendly crops, trade fairly with eco-tourists and receive visitors from the United Nations every month who will clap when you dance.”

    Look, you’re perfectly free to insult me and construct straw-man arguments premised on global imperialism (of the left or right)- I don’t care. If a critique of “the broad mass of American libertarians” (which I assume a reader of the phrase can understand as my own understanding of said group based on my own exposure to) is cause for not engaging with me, that’s fine, though it might help if you quote the whole sentence ;) Let’s not pretend, though, that discourse in this forum is civil or that it’s my responsibility that it’s not, particularly when claims about what solves poverty are being made in a blase fashion. It seems fairer to say, rather than blaming it entirely on me and my writing style, that we have different perspectives which don’t make engagement possible here.

  17. 147, Harbeer: Interesting perspective from an ABD……that is the sort of picture that I had (DBD here)- “spoon fed, sheltered” (to describe ABDs) and “new life in a sometime inhospitable country” (to describe DBDs).

    However, after living in the US for about a decade now, my notions are changing. It all depends on what sort of inputs a person had and how they evolved. IMHO, if an ABD is raised without much knowledge of India (except for exposure to Bollywood), they are the ones who are condescending. But I have also met several ABDs who have more than a glimpse of the classical arts, philosophy, etc and show a deep interest in learning/pursuing those art forms. (www.mythiliprakash.com) is a good example. (though not a common one!). And there are several DBDs I have met, who are full of the money their parents send along with them, who are completely fascinated with the US, put on an American accent the moment their flight takes off from India(well, even back in India that is how they try to speak, I think) and adopt as much of an American lifestyle that they possibly can in the shortest time possible. They are far too snobbish to be seen around with other desis!

    From what I have seen, a person who has travelled around the world a bit, who has had to fend for himself/herself for some time at least, has faced some big challenge in life – these are the level headed ones, ABD or DBD or whatever. :) The rest of us are stuck with our notions, our superiority complexes and all the other crap that we find hard to let go. :D (Ok, enough philosophy for the day!).