Chinmay Tumbe about his book “India Moving: A History of Migration”.

The Cārvāka Podcast is a series of long-form conversations hosted by Kushal Mehra. The podcast covers a wide range of subjects like sports, philosophy, public policy, current affairs, history, economics, etc.

Chinmay Tumbe about his book “India Moving: A History of Migration”.

TLDR: The key idea of the video is that migration has played a significant role in shaping India’s history and society, with various factors driving migration and the need for understanding and addressing the challenges faced by migrants.

00:00 📚 The video discusses the book “India Moving: A History of Migration” and the author’s personal journey, highlighting the surprise of discovering the author’s presence on Twitter, while also exploring the Aryan migration theory and the possibility of the out of India theory, emphasizing the history of migration as the story of humanity exploring and moving internally and externally.

1.1 The video discusses the book “India Moving: A History of Migration” and the author’s journey, highlighting the surprise of discovering the author’s presence on Twitter.

1.2 The speaker discusses their personal journey from aspiring cricketer to studying economics and migration, eventually becoming a faculty member at I am Ahmedabad.

1.3 The speaker discusses their background in economics and history, their love for sports, and their preference for cycling over owning a car due to the privilege of space and the inconvenience of parking.

1.4 The speaker discusses the Aryan migration theory and the possibility of the out of India theory, expressing interest in the ongoing debate and the emergence of new evidence.

1.5 The history of migration is the story of humanity exploring and moving internally and externally, with the possibility of completely changing our understanding of ancient human migration in the future.

1.6 Traveling a thousand years ago was difficult but adventurous, and even though there were border controls, the spirit of travel was much more prevalent than it is today.

slavery11:08 📚 Migration in India has a long history, with various reasons for leaving, including adventure and better opportunities, and while ended earlier than in the West, forms of trafficking still exist; the book explores voluntary and involuntary migration within India, which has not been extensively studied before, and has sparked curiosity worldwide about origins and the slave trade.

2.1 Migration has a long history in India, with people choosing to leave for various reasons, including the spirit of adventure and the desire for better opportunities.

2.2 Slavery was a cohesive system in India that ended earlier than in the West, but forms of trafficking, particularly of women as sex slaves, still occur in small numbers.

Indian subcontinent2.3 The book aims to explore the various forms of migration, both voluntary and involuntary, internal and international, within the , which has not been extensively studied before.

2.4 The speaker wrote a book on the history of migration in India, which took a long time to research and piece together, but has received emails from people around the world who were curious about their origins and the book’s contribution to understanding the slave trade.

2.5 There is a debate in India about whether the past atrocities were slavery or indentured labor, but regardless, both forms of labor were oppressive and the speaker believes that the story of slavery is significant.

2.6 Economic pressures and population density are the main factors driving migration in India, with marriage being the primary reason for movement, and despite Kerala being more developed than Bihar, both states have similar rates of migration.

16:29 🌍 High population density and agricultural limitations have historically driven migration in India, with examples including Italians moving to the US, Biharis moving for labor, and Keralites moving to the Gulf, while river deltas and decentralized religious landscape have also played a role in shaping migration patterns.

3.1 High population density in regions close to water sources leads to migration away from agriculture to other places, as seen in examples such as Italians moving to the US, Biharis moving for labor, and Keralites moving to the Gulf.

3.2 Agricultural limitations and population density have historically driven migration in India, particularly in the gangitic Hub, where high population density has led to task division and hierarchy.

3.3 River deltas in India led to high population density and migration, including the arrival of slaves from Arabia, but there was no wholesale trade of human beings; however, upward mobility was possible, as seen in examples of slaves becoming nobles and artisans, such as the Ethiopian slaves who created the logo of the speaker’s institution.

3.4 Students at Ima have a culture of upward mobility, as they start off poor but become rich after graduating from Miami, which is linked to the idea of gene-culture co-evolution where genetics and mimetics influence each other.

3.5 Migration is a two-way process with cultural and religious influences, and the speaker emphasizes the importance of upward mobility and acknowledges the existence of oppression in India.

3.6 In India, migration is influenced by the decentralized religious landscape, resulting in people being able to move from one place to another, and surnames can have different caste hierarchies in different states.

22:36 🌍 Migration in India has been shaped by climate change and historical networks, with mass migrations occurring due to natural disasters and the search for better opportunities, highlighting the importance of understanding the effects of climate and the need for further research.

4.1 Migration patterns in India have both gradual and punctuated periods, with climate change playing a role in some migrations but not always being the sole determining factor.

4.2 People in India have historically migrated through networks of people they know, and these migrations have shaped the country over thousands of years.

4.3 Coastal Odisha in India has a long history of mass migration, with many people leaving due to the impact of climate change and seeking better opportunities in places like Rangoon, Brahma, and Gujarat.

4.4 Migration is seen as a safer strategy for livelihoods in India due to the risks posed by climate and environmental factors.

4.5 India has a history of mass migrations triggered by natural disasters, with people from specific districts establishing connections and networks in new places.

4.6 Climate has historically played a significant role in migration, and further research is needed to understand the effects of shocks and the importance of multi-disciplinary approaches.

28:12 🌍 India has a long history of migration driven by various factors, with significant movements for marriage, education, and work, resulting in a diverse diaspora spread across the world, including a major indentured migration in the 1800s and a new wave of migration in the 20th century.

5.1 Migration in India is driven by various factors such as natural disasters, wars, persecutions, and development projects, with an estimated 40 million Indians having moved involuntarily since Independence, and currently close to 1 million internally displaced persons and refugees from various countries residing in India.

5.2 Marriage and household movement, along with educational purposes and work opportunities, have led to significant migration in India, with women dominating short distance rural to rural movements and India being the largest recipient of international migrant remittances.

5.3 The diaspora of Indians is diverse and widespread, with Indians residing in various parts of the world, including Latin America, Italy, and Egypt, and there are two significant phases of migration to consider.

5.4 Indian rulers did not show much interest in exploring the world beyond Asia, but Indian travelers and explorers, including sailors and women, had been venturing across the world since before the 1800s.

5.5 In 1834, Britishers recruited people from Jharkhand and initiated indentured migration, resulting in 30 million Indians migrating to various parts of the world, such as the Caribbean, Fiji, and Mauritius, where social dynamics, including the dissolution of caste, were observed.

5.6 Indians have adapted and dominated in new places through migration, with a new wave of migration in the 20th century to the US, UK, and UAE, particularly driven by recruitment from petroleum companies and changes in immigration laws.

34:36 🌍 Indian migration has had a significant impact on Italy, remittances from Indian migrants are crucial for India’s economy, the Indian diaspora is seen as a strategic resource, understanding the challenges faced by migrants is important, caste consciousness diminishes in later generations, and the Indian diaspora maintains their identity through rituals.

6.1 Migration from Punjab, India to Italy has been a significant wave in the past 40 years, with Punjabi farmers working in the Dairy Center and sending remittances back to their villages.

6.2 Remittances from Indian migrants abroad play a crucial role in propping up India’s balance of payments and sustaining the current account deficit, prompting the recognition of the importance of the Indian diaspora for investment and skills, particularly in industries such as IT and Pharma.

6.3 The diaspora has become a strategic resource for the Indian government to engage with and leverage for geopolitical purposes, leading to increased efforts to connect with and support overseas Indians.

6.4 The book “History of Indians in Ottawa” explores the struggles and achievements of the Indian community in Ottawa, highlighting the importance of understanding the challenges faced by migrants.

6.5 Caste consciousness has significantly diminished among second and third generation Indians living in North America, as they no longer identify strongly with their Indian heritage and are unaware of their caste unless informed.

6.6 People in the Indian diaspora are more ritualistic than those in India, as they cling to their rituals as a way to maintain their identity while living abroad.

41:00 🌍 The video explores the history of migration in India, emphasizing the importance of assimilation and integration between immigrants and non-immigrants to avoid backlash and promote cultural identity.

7.1 The video discusses the history of migration in India, including the different waves of migrants and the cultural assimilation theories of the salad bowl and melting pot.

7.2 The speaker discusses the issue of assimilation and maintaining one’s cultural identity while migrating, noting that later generations of migrants are more likely to be locked within their own community rather than integrating with the local population.

7.3 Assimilation is important to avoid backlash against immigrants, as seen in France, but the failure of assimilation strategies has led to a global backlash against immigration, highlighting the need for interaction and integration between immigrants and non-immigrants.

7.4 When millions of people migrate to a new place, they tend to gravitate towards others from their own culture, as seen in the example of Indians in Mumbai and New Jersey, and the speaker reflects on his own experience of cultural familiarity when arriving in Canada.

7.5 Migration from rural to urban areas in India has led to the formation of multicultural ghettos, but the second generation tends to assimilate into the larger society, causing an identity crisis.

7.6 The speaker acknowledges the conflict between second and first generation identities but believes that there should not be a disagreement as individuals can be proud of both their cultural heritage and the country they reside in.

50:40 🌍 Migration patterns in India have shifted over time, with business communities playing a significant role, and it is important to acknowledge the traumas faced by different communities and plan for urbanization rather than preventing it through rural development.

8.1 Migration patterns in India, particularly among the Khatri community, have shifted over time from East Asia to West Asia and North America, with business communities playing a significant role in global migration.

8.2 The transcript discusses the importance of acknowledging and discussing the traumas faced by different communities in India, particularly the Sindhi community, and highlights the contrasting views on migration held by figures such as Ambedkar, Gandhi, and Savarkar.

8.3 Migration is a natural part of economic development and India needs to recognize and plan for urbanization rather than trying to prevent it through rural development.

8.4 Migration from rural areas to urban centers in India is a natural choice for many people, and investing in villages should not be seen as a failure but rather as a way to educate and empower individuals.

8.5 The speaker discusses their experience reading a book on migration and their own global lifestyle, mentions their previous books on migration and pandemics, and mentions future projects on business and economic history and small-scale student projects.

8.6 The speaker expresses their enthusiasm for being on the podcast, cites the guest’s paper on urban policy, discusses their passion for reading and heterodoxy, and mentions their upcoming book on atheism.

Key Insights

Historical and Contemporary Aspects of Migration in India

📚 “India Moving: A History of Migration” is an interesting book that explores the migration history of India.

🤔 The origin of the proto-indo-european language is a fascinating and ongoing debate, with evidence pointing towards South Russia, Iran, Armenia, or India.

📚 The essence of the book on migration is that the inflow and outflow of people is the norm, not the aberration, and it is the story of humanity exploring and boldly going where no one has been before.

🚀 Migration has been a part of India’s history for thousands of years, showcasing the resilience and adaptability of its people.

🌱 Migration is often driven by a combination of push and pull factors, where individuals choose to leave their home country due to unfavorable conditions and seek better prospects elsewhere.

🌍 Slavery has been a cohesive system in many parts of the world, including India, and unfortunately, it continued even after it stopped in the West in the 19th century.

📚 The author’s objective is to piece together the historical and contemporary aspects of migration in India, bridging the gap between scholars who focus on international and internal migration.

🧐 The concept of “the narcissism of the small differences” suggests that focusing on minor distinctions between forms of labor exploitation (bonded labor, indentured labor, slavery) distracts from the shared suffering and injustice experienced by those affected.

💦 Water sources play a significant role in the density of regions, such as the dense population along the Ganges river in India, highlighting the impact of geographical factors on migration patterns.

🖼️ The logo of I Am Ahmedabad is derived from artwork created by Ethiopian slaves who were brought to India via Arabia, highlighting the connection between past slave trade, upward mobility, and the institution.

🌍 India is interconnected through numerous district-level migration circuits, where one person establishes a foothold in a new place and then the entire community follows.

🌐 Migration is highly networked and corridor-based, with one or two districts of Punjab being connected to one district in Italy, creating a perfect matching and leading to a chain of migration as individuals find opportunities and bring their families, resulting in remittances benefiting the villages in Punjab.

Impact of Migration on India and its People

🌍 India is the world’s largest recipient of international migrant remittances, with over 10 million Indians moving abroad primarily for work, emphasizing the significant economic impact of migration on the country.

💫 “Over the next hundred years, 30 million Indians migrated around the world, shaping the diaspora in places like the Caribbean, Fiji, and Mauritius.”

🤝 Assimilation should involve both embracing the new culture while still maintaining one’s own identity, fostering interaction with people who are different from oneself.

🏙️ Urbanization is awesome and we need better urban centers, recognizing that people’s choices are geared more towards cities than villages.

Factors Driving Migration in India

🌾 The fundamental reality behind migration in India is that agriculture cannot support the growing population, leading to out migration pressure.

🌍 Climate change can play a significant role in migration patterns, with periods of gradual movement interrupted by sudden and drastic changes.


Q1: What is the book “India Moving: A History of Migration” about and who is the author?

A1: “India Moving: A History of Migration” is a book discussed in the podcast. Authored by Chinmaya Sharma, the book explores the migration history of India. It delves into various aspects such as the reasons for migration, the impact of migration on Indian society, and the experiences of migrants. Through extensive research, the author sheds light on the historical, social, and economic factors that have shaped India’s migration patterns over the years.

Q2: How does migration in India relate to population density and climate change?

A2: Migration in India is influenced by population density and climate change. Regions with high population density, such as Bihar and Kerala, experience migration due to limited agricultural support. People often migrate from these densely populated areas in search of better livelihood opportunities. Additionally, climate change plays a significant role in migration patterns. For example, coastal areas in Odisha have a history of mass migration due to the frequent occurrence of Super Cyclones that destroy people’s livelihoods. Climate-related issues, such as natural disasters, force many individuals to migrate in order to secure a sustainable livelihood.

Q3: What is the significance of the Indian diaspora and its impact on India’s balance of payments?

A3: The Indian diaspora is spread across the globe and plays a crucial role in India’s balance of payments. Remittances from migrants contribute significantly to sustaining India’s current account deficit. These remittances are monetary transfers made by individuals who have migrated from India to other countries. They provide a substantial source of income for many households in India, supporting economic growth and development. Furthermore, the Indian diaspora is regarded as an important source of India’s soft power and is a focus of geopolitical attention. The government recognizes the diaspora as a strategic resource and actively works to engage and support this demographic.

Q4: How does assimilation and the breaking out of Indian ghettos affect second-generation Indian immigrants?

A4: Assimilation and breaking out of Indian ghettos are important considerations for second-generation Indian immigrants. Many individuals of Indian origin tend to get locked within Indian communities during the first generation. However, for the second generation, assimilation becomes crucial in order to navigate their identity in both the home culture and the larger society. Assimilation involves interacting with people from different cultures, adopting aspects of the new country’s culture while retaining some aspects of their own. This can help second-generation immigrants avoid backlash and contribute to promoting a diverse and inclusive society.

Note - This content is generated by AI, we believe it is accurate, but we don’t claim any liability of inaccuracies in the AI generated content.

Watch the entire conversation