Getting out of Marsh, Italy Awakening: Anadi Mishra

Italy is exporting high-skilled work force, the immigration quotas are represented by low profile workers and unskilled labourers, and this mechanism is giving place to a social unbalance and to a lack of skills in Italy, says Anadi Mishra in an interview with Rakesh Ranjan of GRFDT


Welcome Mr. Anadi Mishra! It is very interesting to learn about your interest in variety of areas such as music, literature, diaspora identity, migration, public policy etc.

My pleasure; actually, as  I'm involved both in academic studies and in a personal inquiry on identity issues, I think that the crossing of different fields of knowledge is indeed an instrument for  better understanding  and defining the "Identities in Transition" concept.

Italian migration policies throw some interesting insight, as the State is one of those which have an almost equal proportion of emigration as well as immigration. How do you assess the state’s role in handling the human migration?

As a matter of fact, it's not like this: this estimate between emigration and immigration was quite balanced in the 70's, when the industrialization of the country  was developing rapidly. The historical process of the massive Italian diaspora had slackened considerably because of the Italian "economical boom"; meanwhile, and for the same reason,  the foreign immigration started  increasing, as the Italian economic texture was becoming one of the most important of Europe. Nowadays we are assisting at a new increase in Italian emigration because of the crisis, but the proportion is still far from that of the beginning of the 20th century; indeed, the massive emigration from Italy mainly to the Americas and Oceania knew its peak between the last decade of 19th century and the 30’s of the 20th century.

You are also working on a very important issue of ‘identity’ in the novels of Indian writers. How does Novel as a literary form deals with the identity issue? How can a social scientist learn from the novel?

Every form of art is an anticipation of the future, and a gathering of wills. In the case of the English-medium novel, the choice of the language chosen by the Indian writer has forcibly to deal  with identity issues, considering the audience it's being addressed to. If we take a look at the environmental issues in the English novel written by Indians, from the origins to our days, we realize that the aims of such literature have changed, following the mutations of the Indian "collective intelligence". In the early 19th century, novels shifted from the naive promise of unveiling secrets and mysteries about the East  to the visionary struggle against the British power imagined by Kylaas and Shoshee Chunder Dutt, following and anticipating history. In the novels of Anand, Rao and Narayan,  the struggle between tradition and modernity is evident, as is the first notion of a paramount  Indian identity, still unlinked with the concept of a Nation. Lastly, the postcolonial literature deals with the "centre" and "periphery" definitions, giving an important instrument of comprehension to the development of the multifarious independent identities of the country. Coming back to your question, a social scientist can read the trajectory of self-consciousness of the Indian upper class drawn through the years, analyzing its changes in facing the new challenges of the world.

Identity conflicts are one of the major issues in the globalized world today as people are continuously migrating from one nation state to another and continuously negotiate with the new environment...

The globalized world is just enhancing a specificity of mankind, already observed in several other historical periods: the Roman empire with its colonizations, the invasions in Italy in the Middle Ages; the Islamic conquest of India; the christianization of   South America; the nomadic movements in Central Asia. These are a few examples in which new identities arose from  the melting of different cultures. The globalized era is just a new chapter of this story, although with a peculiarity never seen before: this is a fully technocratic society, which imparts a breakneck speed to every movement (of people, information or money) or relationship; the second millennium societies have to deal now with the rush of turbocapitalism, and all its involvements.

Being a person who inherits two identities, how do you negotiate your identity. What do you feel more challenging?

An essay by B. Roy defines A. Ghosh as an "Intellectual Amphibian", because of his hovering position between cultures. Pandit Nehru used to consider himself "an Englishman in India, and an Indian in England". I might agree with both  definitions, according to a "literary" point of view. Regarding the interesting question about which identity should be more challenging, I couldn't say, but I believe in a sort of "permanent identity negotiation" status. Therefore, I'm an "Indo-Italian" from every point of view. Sometimes a short circuit could occur, i.e the Italian Marines case in Kochin: analizying  that case, I’ve been feeling as a privileged observer, as far my almost equal distance between the parts.

You have been often using a term “Toxic narration”. Could you please elaborate this?

The propaganda theory in the Information Technology era has raised the question of the building of a political narrative to convey political thoughts in a situation of information overflow. During the last two decades we have assisted to a manipulation  of  facts and political intents through the hammering television propaganda of the right wing in power. This mechanism poisoned the public debate (and the public opinion) about several matters - included the one about immigration - so that I've called this method of occupying the public space with a one-way, deviating disfigurement of the facts "Toxic Narration".

Policies related to skill migration are becoming one of the development agenda in many developed as well as developing countries. Can you please throw some light on Italian policies related to skilled migration?

In the heat of the most uncertain Italian elections ever, the immigration/emigration theme seems actually quite forgotten, in spite of the overwhelming increase of emigration of educated young Italians (a real brain drain) especially to Northern Europe and the States. This is the result of a staggering  unemployment figure, generated not only by the global crisis, but by the noxious cocktail of corruption and ineptitude of the ruling class. On the other hand, if Italy is exporting high-skilled work force, the immigration quotas are represented by low profile workers and unskilled labourers, and this mechanism is giving place to a social unbalance and to a lack of skills in Italy.

As I have  already affirmed in several occasions, the inability of the  Italian ruling class to perceive the change of now-a-days societies, derives directly from the distortion of the reality, the "cathodyzation" of politics built up by Silvio Berlusconi and his broadcasting corporations. Now the scenario is changing day by day, because of the need of speed and sharpness to face the problems in agenda. It’s impossible to ignore that the ministry of Integration held by a woman of african origin, Cécile Kyenge, is a something more than a sign of change.  It is a clear address of a new aproach, more focused on the reality of a postmodern, globalised world.

And how do you compare India and Italy?

It is indeed  very difficult to draw a comparison between the two countries. Apart from their dimensions, huge in one case and small in the other, and their linguistic, ethnic and cultural distance, the one characteristic they seem to share is the remoteness of their political classes  from  the real country, and the progressive disaffection of the people towards their rulers. But these sentiments are common to many other countries.

Thank you Mr. Anadi Mishra for giving us insights about many diverse issues. We would be happy to hear some advices from you regarding the GRFDT. How do you see this forum can contribute towards policy and academics in global stage?

In this multicultural planet in rapid evolution, the importance of creating several "nodes" across the world in order to attention the issues about migration from different points of view is momentous. As long as the concept of identity is considered the "permanent dealing work of humankind", it is absolutely fundamental to have several local points of observation, which could be compared with a more general one, in order to have a human geo-political map the most accurate and up-to-date possible; a good idea could be the institution of a board linked by the Net, and the organization of periodic seminars in different location across the world. It’s important – to say it with the Fernand Braudel’s words - to build up a “Grammar of Civilizations”

Interview Date:   Saturday, Oct 19, 2013
Person Name:   Anadi Mishra

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