That applies as much to the Nobel Laureate academic at a hallowed institution as to a street-corner sweeper. Both are emigrants who have sought and found abroad the comforts the motherland denied them. Some try to camouflage this uncomfortable truth by ponderously pontificating on migration as being a civilisational phenomenon. Or they claim a justifying a mission — like Indian doctors saving Britain’s National Health Service. A few try to submerge themselves totally in a newly acquired identity.
Occasionally, someone like Amit Shah, the Bharatiya Janata Party
president, and some far right politicians in the West, seek comfort in applying double standards to different migrants. Presumably, Shah did not look on as “termites” the hundreds of thousands of Gujarati shopkeepers and small traders whom the natives of the old Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika resented so deeply? Rightly or wrongly, they were blamed for standing aloof from Africans whom they exploited, and for trying to identify with the British.
When indigenous regimes threw out Gujaratis who had gone to East Africa on the colonial bandwagon, they could have returned to the motherland where their capital, skills and undoubted capacity for hard work would have been invaluable assets in India’s development. Instead, they begged and pleaded with an extremely reluctant Britain to let them in. Instead of encouraging them to return to India, Indira Gandhi’s government stupidly backed their demand. It was determined to punish Britain, not realising that meant cutting India’s own nose to spite its face.
Those Gujaratis in the US or Singapore, those who prospered (as they do everywhere!) in Britain never hesitate to help the BJP. Would Shah still call them termites?
Some speakers don’t appreciate how delicately they themselves are placed. Queen Elizabeth, whose uncle, Edward VIII, boasted he didn’t have a drop of English blood in his veins, never mentions migration. But speaking in Sweden earlier this month, the Dalai Lama was less astute. He may even have provided Trump his cue by saying that refugees should “ultimately develop their own country” because “Europe belongs to Europeans”.
Where does that leave the 45th US president? He is the son and grandson of immigrants: German on his father’s side — not Swedish, as he likes to say — and Scottish on his mother’s. None of his grandparents, and only one of his parents, was born in the US or spoke English as their mother tongue. His mother’s parents came from the remote Gaelic-speaking Outer Hebrides. Of his three wives, one was born in Czechoslovakia and one in Slovenia.
Where would Trump have been if they, too, had “rejected the ideology of globalism and embraced the doctrine of patriotism”?