Sunday 4 August 2002

Ending 'Bootleg' Immigration (UPI)

M.D. Nalapat

WASHINGTON, India, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- What is inevitable cannot be prevented. It can only be redirected in ways either less harmful or actually helpful.
In the 1920s, several moralistic U.S. politicians enacted The Volsted Act, making the production and sale of alcohol illegal everywhere in American. Predictably, that prohibition led to the rise of nationwide organized crime and the proliferation of bootleg alcohol.
Three decades later, several states in newly independent India attempted the same experiment, only to lose hundreds of citizens through the consumption of illicit brew, and to watch crime syndicates multiply to meet the demand.
Modern demographic trends mandate significant migration into the European Union. Thanks to laws and procedures as unrealistic as Prohibition, traffickers in human beings, as opposed to bootleg hooch, are not in large part supplying the demands for labor, operating mainly out of North Africa, East Europe and the China coast
None of these three regions has institutions and societal habits that compare favorably to those found in western democracy. While most countries in East Europe are now democracies, at least partly, habits of the past five decades continue to infect the elites and the rest of the population -- further effecting their re-adjustment to societies where free choice is taken for granted.
It is not accidental, for instance, that the largely Italian "Mafia" that rule the criminal underworld in the United States and Europe from the 1920's on has, by the late-1990s, been replaced in several key European cities by their "Romanian"," Russian" and "Albanian" counterparts.
Those three countries suffered from despotism extreme even by the standards of Eastern Europe. Sections their populations consequently find adjustment to the behavior patterns of less brutal conditions difficult.
Unfortunately, a significant part of those entering the EU from at least Romania and Albania are unregulated immigrants who are ferried across frontiers by criminal entities. A similar situation obtains with respect to those illegally landing in western countries from China, North Africa and parts of South Asia
Among the South Asian countries, surveys in both the U.S. and the U.K. show that immigrants from India have a far lower propensity to engage in violent and criminal acts than those from Pakistan, with Bangla Deshi migrants falling somewhere in between.
That India has been - substantially - a democracy since it got its freedom from Britain in 1947 while Pakistan has never shaken free of the grip of the Army and its feudal support base within the population may explain this difference.
Within the population of those coming from India, migrants from educationally more developed parts of the country, such as the west and south, generally fare better than those coming from the more backward northern states.
Generally, migrants coming from regions with a decades-long tradition of democracy and western-style judicial and educational institutions can be expected to blend more smoothly with local populations in western countries than those coming from political or religious despotisms. An interesting illustration is the negligible number of Indian Muslims on the international lists of Islamic extremists that are otherwise dominated by Pakistanis and Arabs from countries such as Saudi Arabia, where despotism is absolute. This is not a coincidence. The "socialization" generated by democracy and its processes and institutions cannot be ignored
Several politicians in Europe - and the Joerg Haidars and Jean-Marie Le Pens are only the more visible of this set - assume that migrants from other parts of Europe will be better able to better blend into local populations than those from Asia.
This is a fatally flawed assumption. Countries such as Romania, Russia, the Ukraine and Albania do not yet equip their inhabitants in the mental chemistry needed to ensure a smooth and productive fit into western society. Cities in India such as Bangalore and Chennai do.
In India, over two hundred million people speak some form of English, a factor that has played the key role not only in ensuring that the country rides the crest of the IT wave, but also helping keep it together. The international link language has become the sole medium of communication between all parts of that huge country.
Within Arab societies, those from relatively more liberal societies such as Kuwait will fit better than those from Saudi Arabia or Yemen.
Thus, together with much more effective controls over "bootleg" immigration, clear identification of different "seismic zones" for prospective immigration may prevent future social eruptions that result from the current flow of immigrants unregulated by the society of origin.
Indeed, the introduction of (overt or implicit) quota systems that give weight to flows from regions that better equip their inhabitants in western ways will help prevent the violence and culture clash that works to generate indigenous support for neo-Fascists in EU member-states
Those so-called liberals who condemn efforts to introduce reasonably uniform standards at schools and other societal nurseries in western countries for immigrants have got it wrong.
Europe is a patchwork quilt of very distinctive local cultures and traditions, and unless immigrants adjust at least midway to them, cleavages that affect stability will begin to enlarge and fester, leading in time to riots and turmoil.
Those who settle in western countries need to be able and willing to make the cultural and societal adjustment that this mandates, else they should remain where they came from, for their own good as well as that of the country in which they wish to settle.
As for the countries that comprise the European Union, unless they better legalize -- and render socially productive -- major immigration flows in the way alcohol was in the U.S., the swarm of bootlegged human traffic from locations with a recent history of conflict with western institutions and modes of life and work will soon begin to demonstrate its malefic effects. The need for a realistic, rational immigration policy for the EU has arrived
-- M.D. Nalapat is professor of Geopolitics at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education.

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