Why do semi-literate migrants excel in business while locals struggle? We have seen non-locals thriving in business from small corner shops to big enterprises while the locals open shop only to close down after a few years. This is an observation in the context of Nagaland State.
Local people had all the advantage to start with, although that can’t be applied as the norm anymore, as the migrants take a hold on the business establishment. Primary advantage of capital, connection, and location determine the success of a business to a great extend. But that does not always explain the familiar success story of a business which started small, struggled against all odds, and grew to become an empire. Not an empire maybe but it is a common story that thriving businesses started small and encountered tough obstacles. It was Patience, yes. Perseverance, yes. But I would like to put forward another word for discussion: Focus.
Let me explain it by creating a scenario. If I were to migrate to another State or country (leaving my family back home who depends on me) and open a retail shop, this is what I would do. I would focus on my business. If I don’t, my family will have nothing. I won’t waste my time attending social events or meetings, joining various NGOs and clubs, doing charity work, hanging out with friends regularly and exploring the tourist destinations, or involving in the local politics of the place (I don’t agree that this is the wisest thing to do. I am just creating a scenario). I would do everything that I can and explore all possibilities to make my business work. Now, if that place were a place like Nagaland, I will have a better chance of beating the locals at business. Here’s why:
We are a people of multiple entanglements. We are like the Mr. Big song ‘I will be your daddy, your brother, your lover and your little boy’. We have so many roles and responsibilities that we cannot focus and excel in one thing. We all sing a little, play one sport, and are members in over ten organizations, and have a dozen social obligations to fulfill. If someone is doing well, we include him in fifty different committees so that we suck the daylights out of him. Being too social is killing excellence.
I don’t think all non-locals who thrive in business have a better understanding of business than us. I don’t think it is in their blood. The difference is that for them, it is either their business or nothing. They wake up early and it is the only thing they have in mind for the day. Day in and day out, they are at it. They don’t have a chore to do in the morning to delay opening of shop, song practice in evening to close down shop early, and days to down their shutters due to wedding, church fete day, men’s seminar, jubilee program, gospel tour, etc.
Are we a lazy people? Yes. By blood? No. I don’t think that the non-locals are a breed of people who have more diligence, patience, or determination. It is the situation which compels them to acquire these qualities. Many migrants move out of the comfort of their homes due to compulsion. The lack of opportunity at home makes them search for greener pastures. These movements are not simply for want of higher income or comfort but desperate measures for survival. Places where locals are relaxed in their own states are welcoming places for them. Certain Naga tribes in Manipur do better than the tribes of Nagaland in places like Delhi or in Central government services, driven by fewer opportunities at home. I think this is the case even for places like London, or the US where migrants do better than the locals.
What about those plain-lazy people without much social entanglements? Undoubtedly there are individuals who are more lazy than others in all societies. But as a collective unit, communities which suffer disadvantages seem to develop industriousness and focus as a coping character, while communities which have higher levels of comfort and strong social support seem to suffer from their deficiency.
Some people are focused by choice. Driven by an inner passion, they would pursue their target with a single mind, not swayed by distractions and obstacles. Sports stars, musicians, scholars, entrepreneurs, and anyone who excels at his/her profession requires the quality. Some people are focused by compulsion. It is a requisite for their survival, as in the case of non-local businessmen. Whichever is the drive, focus is extremely important for the success of one’s endeavor.
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