Anita Mishra hails from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. After completing her degree in journalism from Jamia Millia Islamia, she started working with the Greh Lakshmi magazine. One day she immediately returned to Kanpur upon receiving the news that her father had suffered a stroke.
Sadly, he did not recover and the responsibility of her mother and the family business of interior decoration fell on her. She is a journalist by heart, so, for a long time, she remained in a fix to choose between her aspirations and responsibilities. Finally, she decided to give priority to the latter. She continues to write, but only in her free time.
Besides the well-established family-run business, what were the factors that motivated her to stay in Kanpur from a metro? “In Delhi, I felt every one was in a rush. One has no time to watch the sun rise or relax in the moonlight. All the salary one gets is spent over paying bills. When I returned here at the time of father’s illness, I couldn’t make up my mind whether I wanted to stay or leave. It made me nervous but not any more. Now, I write alongside running my business,” she says.
Indore’s Ajay Sodani shares a different tale. He had arrived in Delhi in 1990 to study neurology. However, Sodani chose to return to his hometown in Madhya Pradesh turning down an offer to teach at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi. At that time, none of the colleges in the state offered a course in neurosciences. For almost one and a half decade , he toiled hard to make studying neurosciences possible there. Currently, he teaches at a private medical college in Indore.
These are not isolated cases. There are, in fact, thousands of others who are migrating back from metros to their native towns or villages. Data reveals that in 2003 around 60,000 IT professionals returned to Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad from abroad. Some of them are second or third generation Indians who were born and brought up abroad but have returned home in search of a cultural identity as well as economic stability.
Savita, an IT professional who returned to Bengaluru from the US says, “My father went to America in 1960 and settled there. I was born and brought up there. I even started working for a major IT firm drawing a hefty salary. But I was always asked one question, ‘Where do you belong?’ It disturbed me deeply as I wondered how many more generations would have to face that question.”
Commenting upon this trend of reverse migration, renowned sociologist Anand Kumar says, “In sociology, it is circumstances that motivate or force someone to migrate. For instance, many graduates or boys just out of school in Bihar used to migrate to Delhi to drive autos or work in factories. But when opportunities opened up in their native state, they chose to return. Owing to certain socio-political and cultural circumstances, people are ready to opt for inferior career options.”
THE SOIL THAT REAPS GOLD
Girindra Nath Jha – Farmer, Purnea, Bihar
One can easily find Girindra Nath’s deep connection with his native land through his Facebook profile. His posts and photos in some way or the other, refer to the soil. After working in Delhi and Kanpur as a journalist for several years, he returned to his home town and took up farming, even though his love for writing stays intact.
Girindra had come to Delhi for his studies a few years ago. Before he completed his graduation, he was selected for the CSDS-Sarai Fellowship program under which he took up research on the telephone booth culture of Delhi’s residential colonies. Later, he went into journalism. After a month of exhaustive labour, the meagre salary he got was all spent on paying bills and rent. He undertook translation projects for some extra cash. But he soon got tired of his hectic schedule and kept wondering where his life was going. The more he pondered the more he despaired. He remained in Delhi for nine years until he got married in 2009. It became even more difficult to raise a family on a meagre salary. He decided to shift to Kanpur and landed a job at Dainik Jagran. For a couple of years, it worked out well for him. But when he became a father, the expenditure doubled and his salary was not enough to support the family. In April 2012, he received information that his father was extremely ill and he immediately returned to Purnea along with his family. His father remained in a state of coma for nearly three years and passed away recently.
Girindra’s father always advised him to understand the rural surroundings before venturing into agriculture and now he has followed his advice. Girindra is trying to intellectually redefine farming in an underdeveloped region like Purnea by adopting new techniques. At a time when agriculture is largely shirked off as an inferior activity, he is reviving faith in farming in his area and has been successful in his effort so far. On his 16.5 bighas of land, he grows two crops, foodgrains and seasonal fruits. He regularly shares his farming experiences on his blog Anubhav, reading which people from abroad have started visiting his village.
After having spent a long time in a metro, it is never easy to settle in a small town. For Girindra too, it was a difficult decision to stay back. “In Purnea, the power situation has improved which makes it easy to read and write,” he says. “I manage to write for various newspapers and magazines about the different challenges of agriculture. I maintain a blog and post actively on Twitter and Facebook.” His book Ishq Mein Maati Sona is soon going to be released by Raj Kamal Publication.
SMALL TOWN, BIG DREAMS
Keshav Kundal – Sound Engineer, Dewas
With the Internet, use of modern technology, and his own talent, Keshav has brought Dewas, a small town in Madhya Pradesh on the map of Bollywood. A sound engineer by profession, he is doing sound mixing for many films and serials sitting in a studio miles away from Mumbai. When Keshav decided to stay back at Dewas instead of taking up job opportunities in Mumbai or Australia, his parents were perplexed. He was often advised to move to and settle in Australia but he did not give in. His mother proudly speaks of her son, “When he decided to stay back in Dewas, I was very happy but worried at the same time. He often used to rationalise with us. It’s not even been one year since he started his work here that we have people from Mumbai visiting us in expensive vehicles. I am happy that my son is close to me and flourishing.”
Keshav’s father is an engineer with the power department while his mother is a housewife. After receiving his degree in engineering he left for Australia for further studies. Keshav had great interest in music since his days at school. Sharing his journey with TEHELKA, he says, “While in Australia I met several prominent figures from the music industry. Two years ago I returned to Dewas after completing my studies from Australia. A movie project was then underway on Indo-Australian ties. Girish Makwana was part of the project. I had met him earlier in Australia during a show. He contacted me on Facebook saying he needed to get a song recorded by Sunidhi Chauhan and Sonu Nigam.” Keshav did not have a studio in Dewas at the time. However, he spent the money he had saved while working part time in Australia for setting up a studio on the upper storey of his duplex.
“I had to choose between Dewas and Mumbai and I took a risk. Life in Mumbai is really hectic. If one has connectivity and access to power and Internet, this work can be done from anywhere. It’s hardly been a year and on an average I am earning Rs 15 lakh per year,” he says. He charges five to ten times more for his services, but the quality of his work has ensured that he keeps getting more of it.
Currently, Keshav is working on music projects with Kailash Kher and Raja Hasan. He has recorded the song ‘Lalla Lalla Lori’ for the film Welcome 2 Karachi. Recording for another Australian movie has been completed. Besides that he is also working on JK Bhagnani’s film Abhineeti and another project of the Aam Aadmi Party. When asked whether he would consider shifting to Mumbai in future, brimming with confidence he replies, “I can go as far as Indore which is 35 km from here. If at all I had the desire to move, is Australia any distant?”