India and The Rohingyas

700,000 Rohingyas have already taken refuge in poor Bangladesh. The ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority from what used to be their homeland has finally come to a halt. The crackdown gained momentum in the past year only as the Myanmar security forces pointed towards the violent acts by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) whom the Burmese suspect is aided by foreign Islamist groups.

Kiren Rijiju, Minister of state in India for home has asked the deportation of the 40,000 Rohingyas who have sought a refuge in India while PM Narendra Modi became the first statesman to praise the work of security forces of Myanmar. The statement needs a critical review from the standpoint of a state and not of an individual.

The argument in favour for the deportation tends to back the hard power politics and also tries to shift our focus on the looming poverty in India, which has been the central theme of the nation for years. India also needs to convince the Burmese Generals who prefer to do business with the Chinese. Being a significant provider of aid to Myanmar, surely Modi would not want to forsake the hard build partnership between the two nations if only that could be achieved at a small cost of displacement of nearly 1 million people.

While undeniably there are stark differences if we compare developed nations to a country like India. In the Indian case accepting even more population would be a challenging move, especially when India is finding it hard to establish a superpower status for itself in the face of a growing China.

The argument against the present stance labelled this as a golden opportunity for India to champion soft power politics. Though one should remember that soft power helps in stabilization of system and not in its reversal as Wallerstein had said.

The recent approach by the Indian state is guided by unsentimental pragmatic realism which seems to be opposed to the ideological trajectory, the dominant view held by India in the past. The reason for the latter being the geographical location of India because of which it has always been at the crossroads of culture and religion.

On the other hand, the 2016 Citizenship Amendment Bill(India) relaxed the rules for minority communities (Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Parsi) living in the countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh to seek the citizenship of India. The bill reduces the requirement of 11 years to acquire the “citizenship by naturalization” to only 6 years. The provision would affect over 200,000 Hindus from Pakistan and Bangladesh mainly. This communally motivated humanitarianism undermines the internal social stability of the country which is home to diverse socio-cultural communities.

From the perspective of the state, to look at the international system through the lens of morality would certainly not be an appropriate choice for the status quoists but in my opinion neither is religion.


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