Book review| Sameer’s first fictional novel is philosophically written and succinctly tells the story of migrant workers

Sumit Sharma Sameer’s first work of fiction: Wake Up, Ali… Wake Up Now: A South Asian Diasporic Story. Image Courtesy:

The region called “South Asia” has seen many ups and downs over the years. These ups and downs have taken various forms and have deeply affected South Asian states in more ways than one. Among these many factors, one is migration – internal and external – ie people coming from outside and people coming from outside.

If we look at the history of these movements, we can certainly see that South Asia largely saw people coming from outside, which started around the time of Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese traveler who made his mark in the region – in search of the new world for their own economic pursuit. Not only Vasco da Gama, but many people from Western Europe also began to travel beyond their own region after the signing of the papal bull or decree in 1492 that allowed European countries to colonize other ones. for economic and other purposes.

Overall, for most of the second half of the second millennium, migration was from other parts of the world to Bharat Varsha – an ancient name for the region which collected large amounts of wealth through the extraction and revitalized their own economic conditions. Such a state of affairs transformed the process of capital formation which greatly contributed to the process of industrialization in North-Western Europe.

This change in the process of capital formation ultimately changed everything in the region and the once economically powerful, whose combined GDP was more than half of the world’s GDP until 1800 AD, according to British economist Angus Maddison, started to fall. This change in the process of capital formation has also resulted in significant trends and patterns in the migration process. That said, migration has now taken the opposite trend, that is, it is now the turn of people from the subcontinent to become migrant workers for their own subsistence.

The large number of colonies in the West Indies, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and many other countries is the consequence of this process. For good or bad reasons, however, things started to change again, especially after the end of the 20e century and the first decades of the 21st century. Over the period, the changes that have taken place have resulted in a paradigm shift in the political economy of migration itself.

Political instabilities and failing economic policies have forced many people in the region to leave their countries as migrant workers. Remittances from migrant workers have become the major sources of income for the majority of South Asian countries, which has also contributed significantly to poverty reduction. Yet the societal impacts of migration as a phenomenon are also enormous.

Paradoxical as it may seem, the classic example is that children and spouses back home only remember their loved ones when their ATMs run out of money. This is the classic example and it can be said that family relationships become more materialistic than emotional.

Not only that, but families are also breaking down in more than one way and society is going through many upheavals never before seen in South Asian history. Almost a generation now has seen either political instability or mass migration.

Young people in general feel that they have just been born as future migrant workers. And many students in the region only think of going abroad in one form or another. Part of the problem is neoliberal economic policies that have led to the growth of consumer culture without sufficient production at home. The consequences of migration (both positive and negative) are well reflected in popular culture: songs, novels, movies, dramas and many more. Today, a large number of fiction and non-fiction are also written around the stories of migrant workers.

Book Review: Wake Up Ali…Wake Up Now: A Story of the South Asian Diaspora

Book review Sameer's first fictional novel is philosophically written and succinctly tells the story of migrant workers

Wake-Up Ali…Wake Up Now: A South Asian Diasporic Story by Sumit Sharma Sameer (translated from Nepali to English by Sushrut Acharya); Publisher: Vitasta Publishing Pvt, Ltd. New Delhi; pages: 136; Price: 395

And one such fiction that recently came out on the market that examines various facets of migrant workers is that of a Nepali writer Sumit Sharma Sameer. Sameer’s novel “Wake UP Ali…Wake UP Now: A South Asian Diasporic Story” – originally published in Nepali – is the story of those migrants who left their country and are forced to work/live abroad.

Ali, a Pakistani who is the novel’s main protagonist, was forced to leave the country not only due to internal strife and lack of economic opportunities, but also pressure from his own wife who wanted him to earn more. of money and consumes all the facilities provided. approximately by the factors of modernity per se.

In fact, there are many more Alis, Riyas and others as “migration” has become the established trend in the region and often seen as part of prestige in society if family members work at the outside. However, only the “migrant” knows where the shoe pinches.

Ali, an engineer by training, eventually finds himself in casual work in Canada with the help of Nepali migrant workers. In the workplace, Ali faces many difficulties but he also finds his love there and makes new friends. But unfortunately, as is often the case, he forgets his own family at home. Not only has this family become something of a myth for people like Ali.

This is not only true for Ali but also for Riya from India who went to train to support her family back home. When migrant workers are away from their own families, it creates its own momentum in the home family and society, as well as in the lives of those working as migrant workers.

The novel tells the story of South Asians working abroad, mostly in the West. This is not only history, it is also the philosophical question of our time, because the writer explains what should be the parameters of life – the source of happiness – material, spiritual or being in the family.

Most of the time, the state of loneliness that hovers around migrant workers forces them to support and be for each other, perhaps, is also the most important factor that the novel offers.

A philosophically crafted and succinctly told story of migrant workers is truly engaging. and citizens in general so that everyone can live a decent life. For this, it is urgent to reverse the process of capital formation as said at the beginning.

The author is a policy professional, columnist and writer specializing in South Asia. The opinions expressed are personal.

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