The merits of encouraging economic migration has long been a contentious issue, as has the decision to allow the dependants of these migrants, namely wives, to accompany them. Within the modern British press, migration from south Asia is of particular concern. But not so very long ago it was migration to the sub-continent that worried British editorialists.
Take, for example, a letter from Calcutta, published New Year’s Day 1790. In it, the correspondent complains about the Governor General of India, and the effect of his actions on the prospects of
my unhappy country women, who are every season transported to this horrid clime;–for, excepting a few of the oldest residents, they have not a chance of a husband, my good Lord’s economy having rendered it difficult for the young ones to support themselves, without the expence of a wife; therefore the most successful must be content with an old dotard or return home much worse that they came.–My heart really bled to see such a number of beautiful young creatures thus sent a husband hunting, as were landed here last season!–what a pity it is that the Company do no check these unnatural parents, in this bartering the beauties of their children.
The hopes of these young women, namely to marry a young man on the rise, were being consistently dashed against the rocks of economic stagnation. Indeed
Trade is exceedingly dull, owing principally to the markets being so overstocked with European goods of all kinds; there is scarcely an article, which can be brought to this place by we can’t purchase cheaper than you can at home.
Thus, India was suffering from a glut of foreign women who had come, at the behest of their parents, to marry foreign men whom the Indian economy simply could not support, owing to an influx of cheap goods from rapidly industrialising nations.
Considering the cultural differences between the two locations, it is likely that these young women had little intention of assimilating and thus it was probably for the best that their attempts of spousal migration failed.