Janus’ Musings

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Border Crossings

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A NYT article discusses the effect of money being transferred by emigrants back to their home countries – this particular article talks about a World Bank official sending money back to his family in a village in Orissa, India and then goes back to see the impact that money has made.

The International Monetary Fund said the Philippines received $122 million. Mr. Ratha produced an estimate 51 times higher: $6.2 billion. His tallies, first published in 2003, showed that remittances, once dismissed as the equivalent of rounding error, were nearly three times greater than the world’s combined foreign aid…

...Back in Sindhekela for the first time in three years, Mr. Ratha went from being a migration expert to mere migrant again, with the attendant tensions. He was annoyed that the money he sent his father for medical treatment went to a relative’s wedding. His father was annoyed that Mr. Ratha refused to honor his caste by wearing a sacred thread.

Father and son had long wrangled over the house that Mr. Ratha had built as a gift. The son is proud of the big master bedroom. His father finds its size off-putting and sleeps on a living room cot.

Mr. Ratha gave the village high school a new classroom, which he intended as a science hall. The state never sent the equipment, and the room now houses some aging computers of uncertain utility.

Mr. Ratha, who named the building for his long-deceased mother, professes no donors’ remorse. “The building has served a great purpose,” he said.

He does worry that his generosity may have hurt his half-brother, Tarun, who spent the money on gadgets and a motorcycle and did not finish high school. At 23, he is unemployed and the family blames remittance dependency. “I think it has affected his drive in a negative way,” Mr. Ratha said.

At the same time, his sister Rina said that without his support she would not have earned her degrees or married an architect. “Whatever I am, I am because of him,” she said of Mr. Ratha.


Written by janusmusings

March 17, 2008 at 3:11 am

Posted in Asia, India

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