E-Pao! Essay - The Mumbai dreams

The Mumbai Dreams

By: Jacob Shaiza *

'Everything that glitters in Mumbai is not gold', but the financial and the glamour capital of India is phenomenally pulling our girls in big numbers and the rush to Mumbai is a big happening that is gradually growing in number.

The Mumbai dreams is creating waves and visibly everything appears to be going well as hundreds of our girls are finding ready employment with hundreds lining up to be there at the earliest opportunity. The fairer sex of our backward society choosing Mumbai as their job hunting destination is curiously worth giving a glimpse with a new perspective with Tangkhul girls of Ukhrul district as a case story.

Girls of our society with no employment scope migrating to Mumbai and other metros is nothing usual. The only hitch is the danger of being carried away with wrong imitation and false show of lifestyle.

It is true that the never changing economic status and living standard of girls and the changing mindset as brought about by information explosion is driving the girls to assert in their own way and daring to stand equal to boys in the socio-economic standing in the usually male-favoured society.

Showing the way is the job boom in Mumbai and other big cities like Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad etc. Interestingly, the scenario is there to watch. The streets in Ukhrul town is almost empty of any eligible girls and the glamour has faded to a frustrating extent.

The boys are left high and dry and for them Sunday glamour is no longer worth waiting. But, not to be outdone, the boys are already in Mumbai in big number. But it is the girls who are taking the lead in a more responsible manner.

Ironically, our girls facing an alien culture of Mumbai is the most critical aspect that may throw life haywire. Being gutsy may serve good or bad in their own way. But nothing is to be taken for granted in Mumbai. Immoral imitations is the most vulnerable social lifestyle that one will care to venture at her own risk.

And the glamour of working in Mumbai may only be a deception with no realistic glory of comfort and security. Exploitation of any nature is no new thing in Mumbai and the less educated girls are more prone to fall into any unforeseen traps.

The somewhat educated girls though better equipped with superior asserting approach and outlook are easy prey in another way. The salary offered to them is almost half of the going rate. But given their helplessness with no bargaining assets other than their glamourous Mongoloid looks everything is weighted heavily against them.

But there is no going back home to the land of no opportunity. And the vice of economic exploitation was compelled to be tolerated but with a show of grimace.

In the given situation it might surprise the upright NGOs in Ukhrul about the unprecedented exodus of young Tangkhul girls to Mumbai.

Veronica P Zingkhai, president of Hunphun Shanao Long (Hunphun Women Council) have this to say. "In the face of globalisation of market economy people are swarming to greener pasture for employment. Given the opportunity none would prefer to stay away from home. But compelled by more avenues and earning opportunities, girls of this area are driven to seek their fortune in far away cities like Mumbai, Delhi etc. This is so because the realities and situation of our society at home could not accommodate the interest to channel their potential. Therefore, equipped with some education they venture out to far off places even to the extent of exposing themselves to vulnerable situations".

The parents too are facing dilemma but ultimately sided with the daughter because the parents in their own way are overzealous to break free the socio-economic shackle and therefore, are driven to led their daughters go in search of job. Money and status matters in today's society. Lately, Leishichon Shaiza said to her parents just before leaving for Mumbai.

"Where is the chance of getting job in Manipur. Besides, I wouldn't like myself to be source of financial burden in the pursuit of my studies. I will come back rich and make you happy”.

But for Leishichon, that dream was never to be seen in reality as she was done to death in the most inhuman manner by a man believed to be mentally unbalanced and to return home in a coffin.

Ngakuimi, a friend of Leishichon is employed in JW Marriette Hotel (5 star) in Mumbai, with a salary of Rs 8,000 (inclusive of tips), a pure case of exploitation. She is an undergraduate and is looking forward to travel round the world by joining cruising.

In the changed socio-economic scenario materialistic ambition has reached new height. Restlessness to catch up with the rest of the more privileged class is perhaps one important factor behind this new phenomenon. Closer study of our society indicates dynamics of the tribal society in transition with an accentuated and palpable 'rich-poor divide'.

To drive home the point in the context of our social condition our girls are facing disillusionment and disenchantment as a result of rich-poor divide. The rich are dubiously getting richer and by the theory of relativity the poor poorer. But the poor are seen to be no longer tolerating themselves to lead the life of drudgery.

Making the situation worst our political corruption in the Government and the total apathy of the administration towards any tangible development created no scope for the educated and the semi-educated girls. To uplift their socio-economic status through gainful employment they are compelled to look beyond the border despite having to face economic exploitation and other social vulnerabilities.

It is a crying shame in deed that none of the social busy-bees have any clue as to how many of our girls are at present employed outside in the metros and how they are employed. Though it is understood that most of our girls are employed in hospitality, retail, telecom, TV serial, shipping and cruising it is left for verification on the nature of other engagements.

One fact that indicates something interesting is that none of our girls who landed in Mumbai ever come back dishearten. But seeing is believing and nothing is left for conclusion on the type of job they professed to be working.

The abusive side of city life and the moral precaution need to be considered as a serious subject matter for any social organisation. Workshops and seminars needs to be conducted to bring awareness on harassments faced by our girls and the avoidable life style and employment in Mumbai and other cities. To survive with honour in Mumbai one must learn to live with honour first.

Migration of rural and underprivileged population to urban areas is a universal phenomenon. But since the focus is on the vulnerable fairer sex of our society migrating to big metros it is to be sharply pointed out that it has its own pitfalls.

In such hi-fy places one can be her best friend and her worst enemy.

Jacob Shaiza wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on October 13th, 2006.

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