Beyond dollars and dirhams

Date of publication: June 15, 2013


Naata – The Bond" ‘I don’t have a single American friend. I don’t understand them’ - Tamerlan Tsarnaev, suspect of the Boston Marathon Bombs on April 15, 2013. While these statements, along with his YouTube links splashed all across the newspapers evoked anger for majority, it really confused my 13-year-old neighbor. Her argument being America was the dream destination and epitome of freedom and friendship. How could a person feel alone there? Her naïve comments really got me thinking. Was he alone because all teens go through this phase or did he have the added pressure of being isolated as a minority? The Boston Marathon Bomb, like other tragic events, made me send an SOS to all my friends across the world on Facebook along with a small question - ‘why did you leave your native country’? A majority sent replies stating – money and opportunity. Their stories also resonated with success as they were pouring in money for personal, philanthropic and business ventures to their native country. This did reflect in the World Bank report that stated that migrant remittance in 2009 totaled USD 38 billion a year globally – nearly twice the amount of official development assistance provided by governments and international aid agencies. While this indicates that at the heart of migration lies ‘economic remittance’, the story of the migrant dream wasn’t all rosy! I also learnt from my conversations, several instances of family disputes, identity crisis - all indicating to the complex nature of remittance which wasn’t purely economic. There was something missing in the story of remittance - one that was invisible, taken for granted, difficult to measure but omnipresent in the everyday mundane life… But had grave implications on policy making, gender relations & labor market participation.

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