The Free Morpheme

Because 140 characters ain't enough to talk about this world!

The Referendum Conundrum

It is a very happening time to be in the UK. Two months ago we all witnessed a nail biting election that created history, giving London its first Muslim mayor. We now gear up for another episode of nail biting, this time probably till our cuticles bleed. For we now have a dangerous sword hanging over our heads, threatening to either uproot the lives of many people in this country as well as their counterparts across the pond or restore balance and order to the current state of chaos. I believe that that unequivocally puts across what I think of the whole matter out there in the open. What the rest of this post is going to be about, therefore is a justification of why the UK must vote remain tomorrow and how it will benefit, in my view, the Indian students currently in the UK.

This post is the result of a heated discussion that I had with a friend some days ago, also Indian, who vehemently stood by the vote leave propaganda. Flabbergasted, here I am, seeking refuge in the comforting bosom of my blog. Another reason I felt compelled to contribute my share to the pie was because whatever I have been reading online, whether for or against the vote leave stance talks either about the political and economic benefits to the UK by remaining in the EU or talks about immigrants where such immigrants are limited to EU citizens working in the UK. Nobody seems to care about the thousands of people coming from non EU countries who have slogged their butts off in this country, contributing most certainly to the growth of the English economy while England contributes to the growth of their lives. See what a beautifully enriching process this is? It unfortunately HAS to be mutual.

As a law student who will shortly graduate with a Masters degree from Southampton, I believe I need to take a moment and think about the whole thing from a very selfish point of view. All of us Indian students in the UK, irrespective of what we are studying, would ideally like to get some minimal amount of work experience over here before we go back home. For what is the value of knowledge obtained through books, if one hasn’t a clue how to apply it in practice? Speaking for my field, I study English maritime law here, which, fortunately for me, is applicable as it is (well, most of it) back home. If the legal world shakes here, the legal world back home shakes as well. However, I would obviously want to dabble a little in the practice of law over here and have my knowledge of English law fully baked before I step onto Indian soil and claim to be a ‘Master’ in anything at all! One may study at the best of universities but one does not LEARN the law until one actually puts it to use. So how does the Referendum affect someone like me?

Going back to the said heated discussion with my friend, I was privy to an argument that we (I mean Non EU foreigners) were being treated unfairly under the current state of affairs because the EU guys who might apply for the same job as us have an unfair advantage of being EU guys and were therefore going to take away what we ‘could have’ got. It sounded preposterous to me because all I saw this argument achieving is being a sort of conversational bonding ground between a vociferous pro-leave Englishman and a Non EU foreigner. But all English people, irrespective of their political inclinations are so affable and hearty that the sole purpose seems redundant! But I digress.

Here is why I don’t agree with this argument. When we are talking about a situation like the one above, we are automatically assuming that all and I mean ALL other factors that entitle the two people for the said job are identically present on the CVs of both candidates. This is logically impossible. Two people coming from opposite ends of the world can never be exactly the same in all respects. If things were that easy the world would have never had to suffer through WWI and WWII. Any competition for a job between an Indian guy and an EU guy will be on equal footing at all levels up until the nasty immigration dilemma. Here is the clincher- if, by this time, one of the two people hasn’t already won the prize and if the entire issue were to be determined by who was going to cost less to the organisation to be employed, the entire interview was meaningless! It’s a big, bad world out there and all businesses want to be the best- if you are good enough, they will not mind sponsoring you.

Over the past year away from home, I have observed a very important fact- we Indians shy away from acknowledging our strengths and spend more time berating ourselves over our weaknesses. As a lawyer from India, my biggest strength is that I come from a common law country. I know how the legal system functions. Precedents and the dormant law making power of the judiciary are not concepts I find scandalous. I therefore do not feel like a fish out of water around the English legal system and already am very well acquainted with the housekeeping matters. Here is another strength- coming from a country where one finds a new language/ culture and way of life almost every 500 kilometers, we are naturals at adapting ourselves to any environment, any situation and not just survive, but THRIVE in the said new environment. We also have the ability to learn languages quickly since most of us are at least bilingual, per force. It is therefore not impossible to overcome the so called disparity in status.

Consider the repercussions of a successful leave propaganda, though. The argument propounded was that BREXIT would label all the people who are not English as foreigners and thus everyone would now be on a level playing field again. But to what end? Again, the BREXIT philosophy is not anti EU Immigrants, it is ANTI IMMIGRANTS, pure and simple. True, everyone will be on a level playing field but there would be nothing to play for. The doors will be slammed on all our faces, European or not and the key will be thrown into a bottomless well. Should one argue that businesses will either move out of the UK or will realise that they cannot do without the hands they had on board, such a realisation is not something that is going to manifest itself in a couple of days after the Referendum. It will take a better part of 2 years at least before the consequences of BREXIT are realised and the whole thing resumes stability. My chance, unfortunately will not survive that long.

For both purely selfish reasons as well as from the perspective of world politics and general equilibrium, the prospect of BREXIT seems absolutely mental to me. I’m definitely voting to REMAIN, tomorrow.

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