Books: Exodus: Immigration and Multiculturalism in the 21st Century

The title and the topic are the two things that attracted me to this book. Exodus is both a story in the Bible and also a novel by Leon Uris. Both refers to the birth of Israel. I have read the novel and also the movie based on it. The book left a far significant impression on me. Coming to the second point, the topic of this book by Paul Collier relates to migration in both forms namely emigration and immigration. I am a migrant work myself. So you may imagine my interest in the topic. The theme of migration is a polarising topic. It is relevant to the times we live. You will see immigration discussed over and over again in discussions, debates and policies.

Paul Collier is a professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Oxford. So this is a non-fiction book about migration from an economist’s point of view. The author’s perspective is bound to pique our interest. After Freakonomics became a best seller, there has been scores of economists publishing book which been providing education in an entertaining fashion. This book is anywhere near as entertaining as other books by economists. But this book is an eye opener for everyone who falls on any side of the divisive topic of migration.

According to Paul Collier, there are many arguments for and against immigration. The other side of the coin, emigration, is never discussed or understood until there is a substantial flow of people out of one country commonly called brain drain. The government takes decisions on immigration without actually understanding the causes and effects thoroughly primarily to please the voters. So Paul Collier wants to lay out the facts on the table and also propose the right policies. If you look at the credentials, he is the right person to do so. But are they correct? This inference is up to each one of us who reads this book.

The language used by Paul Collier is easy to understand. Immigration is a serious topic and hence it is important to decide on a simple style of narration. Paul Collier succeeds here and hence we are still interested in the proceedings when he whips up charts to explain his theory about diaspora. In this book, Paul Collier categories the actors in immigration into three groups and provides the viewpoints of each group in detail. The groups are the immigrants, the indigenous population who are affected by the immigrants and the people left behind by the immigrants in the host country.

The author despite his credentials gives a well researched and a humbling explanation of the various aspects by dividing the actors in this drama into three different categories. He forces us to examine all aspects of immigration thereby questioning our beliefs and prejudices. The icing on the cake is final repartee. He proposes the right policy for immigration after he explains the issues related to migration without checks. Is it palatable to everyone? The jury is still out.

The irony of the present world is we are no island although we are living in one. Hence, our lives are touched in one way or the another by this topic. So I would recommend you to get a copy of this book and read.