Migration critics shortchange the opposition

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THERE ARE 3.5 million Brazilians living abroad, sending home remittances of $3 billion per year. And the Brazil Government does not refer to those Brazilians living in other countries as migrants, but as ‘Brazilians living abroad’.
Brazil’s governmental policies, programmes, and projects include Brazilians living abroad. And in order to lend credence to this policy measure, the Brazilian government now has in place an Under-Secretariat that attends to Brazilians living abroad. These were important points of information that emanated from the recently-concluded 5th Conferencia Nacional de Politica Externa e Politica Internacional in Rio de Janeiro.
And the Brazilian Government and its people see overseas Brazilians’ remittances as a positive; not competitive with the formal economy, and not part of some informal or parallel economy. In fact, the Brazilian Government and its people see remittances as part of their country’s formal economy.
China, India, Philippines, Jamaica, among some others, also are recipients of huge remittances from their people living abroad, and the governments of these countries, in like manner as Brazil, treat  remittances as part of their official economies. In many ways, remittance senders are investors making funds available to locals, who apply the funds for consumption, saving, or investment purposes.
And for nearly a decade now, India has been hosting the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), a yearly event to honour and celebrate the works of Indians living abroad, and to encourage development initiatives for India. India also has the Ministry of Overseas Indians, which attends to Indians living abroad, pretty similar to the Brazilian modus operandi on migration.

‘…the Brazilian Government and its people see overseas Brazilians’ remittances as a positive; not competitive with the formal economy, and not part of some informal or parallel economy. In fact, the Brazilian Government and its people see remittances as part of their country’s formal economy”
Quote: ‘…migration is a global phenomenon, largely because of the global village notion where we see the world as smaller than ever before; everyone looks around for something better, and this is a natural human tendency, at least for those who are pragmatists and engage in rational behaviour’

We would be naive not to accept as a fact today that skilled workers experience enormous temptation to leave their homelands, to traverse the world in pursuit of better incentives and compensation. And this would more so be the case where there is a deceleration in the global economy, as it is now; the greater the slow-down in the global economy vis-à-vis its impact on individual nations, the higher the migration. The 5th Conferencia Nacional de Politica Externa e Politica Internacional in Rio de Janeiro also noted that the U.S. and Europe, still reeling from the international financial meltdown and credit crunch, are not expected to emerge from the economic and financial crisis until 2013 and 2018, respectively. We will probably begin to see migration of a non-traditional sort picking up pace as the global economic turmoil persists.
In fact, the 20th Century was the century of migration, and seemingly, this migration phenomenon is seeping into the 21st Century. Only a few years back, Philippines lost 1,260,879 skilled personnel, India 1,012,613, and China 906,337. Indeed, the Caribbean, including Guyana, fits this mould, too.
Nonetheless, migration does not have to spell negativism. In 2009, India attracted US$34.6 billion in foreign direct investments (FDIs), while China received $78.2 billion, largely from expatriates. And these are in addition to remittances.
Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, François Bourguignon at the World Bank spoke glowingly of the function of remittances, thus: “With the number of migrants worldwide now reaching almost 200 million, their productivity and earnings are a powerful force for poverty reduction. Remittances, in particular, are an important way out of extreme poverty for a large number of people. The challenge facing policymakers is to fully achieve the potential economic benefits of migration, while managing the associated social and political implications.” 

The World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects in 2006 specified that about 200 million people reside outside of their homelands, with remittances amounting to US$225 billion in 2005.
As usual, the Guyana Government does come in for some nasty remarks on the continuing migration from the usual suspects; this kind of migration is a global phenomenon, largely because of the global village notion where we see the world as smaller than ever before; everyone looks around for something better, and this is a natural human tendency, at least for those who are pragmatists and engage in rational behavior.
Under these circumstances, any government has to devise measures to gain from the migration. Most of these critics are stuck in their archaic interpretation of the crude brain drain concept, a misguided concept. For years now, applying the brain drain thinking as a central concept in migration studies continues to stultify new thinking on migration. It is clear that development initiatives and remittances from overseas residents benefit sending countries, receiving countries, and overseas residents themselves. And many overseas residents function within overseas knowledge networks with enormous social capital.
And I should add that the brain drain perspective falls short in not considering this social capital. Social capital could flow from both the overseas residents’ networks as well as their relationship with other overseas people’s networks. China, India, and Brazil now institutionally utilize these knowledge networks for their growth; this is brain gain. These overseas knowledge networks can transform brain drain into brain gain.
Given the fact that migration is a global phenomenon linked to the global village concept and the notion of brain gain, it is clear that the governmental critics on migration are fast running out of materials to use against the Guyana Government. Given this scenario, too, their prospects at the next national election in a few months’ time seem bleak. And the critics on migration shortchange the very opposition forces that they ferociously want to aid because of their obsession with the sterile and static brain drain concept.
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