Refugees, illegal migrants, have proven to be assets to host countries throughout history since the 1990s
Refugees and illegal migrants have proven to be assets to host countries throughout history.
The fact is that there will always be illegal migration and refugee outflows around the world. They cannot be swept away by parliamentary words. Otherwise, the UNHCR office would have been closed long ago.
Any country in which they seek refuge can benefit from the presence of refugees. Local communities, both in the countries to which they migrate and in those they leave behind, can benefit from illegal immigration.
India is aware of this through its long historical experience. The same goes for the United States, where millions of illegal immigrants actively participate in local economies from coast to coast without hiding their presence or holding them in filthy detention centers. The Gulf countries agree with South Korea that they are only too aware of this.
As a result, the controversy that has taken place in Delhi over the past two weeks over the fate of a small group of Rohingya migrants is imaginary, unfounded and perhaps even delusional.
It is no longer remembered that the majority of illegal immigrants who flooded the Gulf States in the 1970s, risking their lives to cross the ocean in flimsy boats, were from India. It was after the first “oil shock” which completely transformed the Gulf countries into El Dorados. They were needed in these desert kingdoms, sultanates and emirates to transform these countries into the thriving contemporary society they are today.
Millions of families in India, who at the time were experiencing severe economic stagnation and high unemployment, were lifted out of poverty through their remittances. The generous rulers of the Gulf frequently granted amnesty to these illegal Indian immigrants in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Only a small number of people who entered the country illegally were returned to India; they were not placed in penal centers. They were mostly Hindus. In all discussions about the Rohingya in India, the historical memory of this experience was absolutely absent.
Today, if you travel to Ontario or British Columbia, you will find that large townships of Punjab have sprung up in and around Toronto and Vancouver. These people fled their country of origin during Operation Bluestar and came to Canada as refugees. Not only did these former exiles prosper as individuals and families, but they did so for many generations. The hard-working Sikhs among them, who said they were persecuted and fled India decades ago, have developed strong local businesses in these communities.
Their election to Parliament and their appointment as federal ministers in Ottawa and in many Canadian provinces testify to Canada’s well-known liberal culture. Recent discussions regarding Rohingya residents in Delhi also lacked this Indian perspective.
It is true that these refugee populations and migrant and illegal immigrant communities can be a good recruiting ground for state-sponsored terrorism-supporting nations and non-state organizations that pursue such policies through terrorist attacks. The fact that the Khalistanis discovered among the Punjabi immigrants to Canada willful perpetrators of horrific acts of terrorism, such as the bombings of passenger planes, is also part of the historical story of South Asia.
Extortion was a tactic used by Tamil Tiger organizations operating outside Sri Lanka during the civil war in the Greater Toronto Area, where they had strongholds of Sinhalese and Tamil businesses. These have been supported by formal evidentiary procedures in Canada.
Fortunately, it does not appear that the Rohingyas of Delhi, who were the subject of the latest scandal, have experienced this. These individuals, who are fleeing persecution in their own Rakhine State in Myanmar, made no mention of terrorist threats in reports from Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi and Kashmir. Only one sexual assault case against a member of the Rohingya community has been filed in Rajasthan. The Rohingyas are only concerned with their daily struggle for existence in Jammu and Kashmir, a haven for terrorist activities.
In reality, the global refugee exodus and illegal migration are here to stay. Speeches in legislatures or chambers of Congress, which often contain bravado, as well as tweets in today’s digital world, cannot make them go away. Otherwise, the global refugee organization, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which was established 72 years ago, would have been abolished long ago.
India’s concerns about UNHCR have a historical basis and are reinforced by New Delhi’s experience as a host city during the conflict that led to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. Illegal immigration to India will increase without no doubt if it achieves its goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy. Refugees might be expected to pose an increasing burden on the ministries of interior and external affairs in New Delhi as the political and economic climate deteriorates all over India’s neighborhood – Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar and the Maldives are good examples.
Security and intelligence organizations will be understaffed. Like the United States, India has long offered opportunities for refugees to succeed and integrate illegal immigrants, most of whom fare better after being given a second chance at life by settling there. . The latter is demonstrated by the changes in the population of the Northeast.
Just five years ago, Hindus, Jews and Christians gathered at the Consulate General of India in New York to commemorate a moving cinematic ode to the compassion of what is now Gujarat and Maharashtra in offering asylum to 1,000 young Jews and Christians fleeing Poland. Several Koreans were fluent in Hindi at the National Day reception held at the home of South Korea’s ambassador in New Delhi.
These included both children and adults of POWs during the Korean War of the 1950s. When the 1953 armistice negotiations bogged down, they decided to settle permanently in India. Their stories of how Jawaharlal Nehru showed a personal interest in their welfare for years after calling this nation their home, portraying an India that welcomed foreigners in need of help.
Edited by Prakriti Arora