Given the limited economic opportunities in rural Nepal, the desire of young men of all income and education levels, castes and ethnicities to migrate has never been higher. Crossing the Border to India provides an ethnography of male labor migration from the western hills of Nepal to Indian cities. Jeevan Sharma shows how a migrant’s livelihood and gender, as well as structural violence impacts his perceptions, experiences, and aspirations.
Based on long-term fieldwork, Sharma captures the actual experiences of crossing the border. He shows that Nepali migration to India does not just allow young men from poorer backgrounds to “save there and eat here,” but also offers a strategy to escape the more regimented social order of the village. Additionally, migrants may benefit from the opportunities offered by the “open-border” between India and Nepal to attain independence and experience a distant world. However, Nepali migrants are subjected to high levels of ill treatment. Thus, while the idea of freedom remains extremely important in Nepali men’s migration decisions, their actual experience is often met with unfreedom and suffering.
About the Author
Jeevan R. Sharma is Lecturer in South Asia and International Development at the University of Edinburgh.
Table of Contents
Note on Nepali Words and Nepali and Indian Currency vii
1 Political Economy of Rural Livelihoods 29
2 History and Culture of Migration in Nepal 53
3 Leaving the Hills 81
4 Border Crossing 101
5 Marginal Migrant Workers in Indian Cities 119
6 Migrant Risk Behavior in Mumbai 139