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Assimilation answer to migrants’ issue, not resentment: Shashi Tharoor

Tharoor said that greater awareness needed to be created among people for protection of the environment. “Of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, 19 are in India. It is a national problem,” he said.

Shashi Tharoor, Tharoor in Goa, Goa polls, Goa aap, Goa congress, Goa assembly elections, Goa news, Indian expressCongress MP Shashi Tharoor. (File)

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor Saturday said that the answer to the issue around migrant population was assimilation and not resenting their presence. Speaking at an interactive session on ‘Sustainable Smart City and the Potential of Mapusa’, Tharoor was answering a question on protection of the cultural ethos of Goa “without being racist or discriminatory”.

“Assimilation will be the answer to your question. I personally am against all this resentment, sons of the soil business. I was a small child in Bombay when there was a movement against South Indians and defacing of South India shops and signs. And I believe our Constitution of India grants every Indian citizen the right to work, live and practice their profession anywhere in the country. I would want to defend that principle,” Tharoor said.

His comments come ahead of the Assembly elections in Goa on February 14. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has promised to reserve 80 per cent private jobs in Goa for Goans and the indigenous Revolutionary Goans (RG) has sought reservations for Goans in Goa.

Tharoor said, “This has become a politically controversial issue. Here, the Revolutionary Goans (RG) party has also been making an issue of it. I have a slightly different take on this. In Kerala too, we have a lot of migrants. What’s particularly striking in Kerala is that we are principally known as an exporter of skill and labour. All over India, you find Keralites working and of course, in the Gulf, the largest single Indian population would be from Kerala. Why is it that we import labour? Because these fellows go and work abroad and there aren’t any people to do the nuts and bolts work in the state. Whether its construction labour, to put it bluntly, the toiling class, the working class professions. The handyman in the building I live in Trivandrum is from Bihar and so on. But the answer to that dilemma has not been to resent their presence. But rather the answer has laid in assimilation. These people come from Bihar, Bengal and Odisha and they find that they are in the midst of a culture, there is no hostility to them, that embraces and welcomes them but expects them to learn the local language, learn the local customs and the local taste and attire and they do so.”

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He said, “Haryana did what RG wants to do. They passed a law obliging every company to have 75 per cent of their staff from Haryana. Today’s newspaper will tell you that that law has been stayed by the High Court, as unconstitutional. We should respect the Constitution, encourage people to come to Goa but make sure that if they’re playing on your field, they play by your rules. That’s the assimilation answer. I gave you a personal view. Our party has not taken a view on the matter.”

At the event organised by the Mapusa Block Congress Committee, Tharoor answered questions on Smart Cities, education, environment and tourism among others.

Answering a question on smart cities, he said, “It’s a question of using technology for better governance in order to improve the lives of the people. It should not be limited to the 99 or 100 cities that the BJP has picked. Every Indian city and town should have a modicum of these facilities at a certain level, a certain standard that makes life better for the people. And unevenness of application is a genuine problem.”

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Tharoor said that greater awareness needed to be created among people for protection of the environment. “Of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, 19 are in India. It is a national problem,” he said.

“Just bringing up a child in Delhi is like sentencing that child to ten years less of life. Whatever normal life expectancy would have been had they grown up in Goa, it’ll be ten years less if they grow up in Delhi. That’s how bad the air pollution is. It’s going to affect their lungs and their long term life expectancy. This is utterly horrifying to realise. Kolkata is not much better,” said Tharoor.

First published on: 06-02-2022 at 09:31:47 am
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