They say the earth belongs to all and all belong to the earth, but did this hold true for three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, whose body washed ashore a Turkish beach in 2015?
A panel discussion on migration held as part of the HDFC Home Loans literature section of the HT Kala Ghoda Arts Festival sought to explore this question. The panel featured filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee, visual artist Sharmishta Ray and development studies professor Ashwini Kumar.
It was moderated by Bina Sarkar Ellias, director and founder of International Gallerie Magazine.
“When you are forced to migrate, you are stripped of things familiar to you - your home, your family and belongings,” said Ray, as she narrated her story of forced migration from Kuwait to Kolkata. “You lose the idea of possession or what it means. It becomes immaterial because nothing is yours.”
Kumar discussed how being able to move from one place to another is a human right.
“All migrants seek is hospitality and that often ends up attracting hostility,” Kumar added.
Speaking about his move from Delhi to Mumbai, Banerjee said that we often forget that moving cities is also a migration of sorts.
“Why do I not feel like a migrant then?” he asked. “Because I moved from an educated, English speaking, so-called elite class of one city to a similar one in another city. I may have changed cities but not domains,” he said, answering his own question.
“It’s all about acceptance,” said 43-year-old James Gomes, a professor from Andheri who attended the session. “Forget borders, let’s be humans first.”