Political Science Answer Writing Practice 2018 - Week 10 - Question 6
90 Days Political Science Answer Writing Practice Question 2 for 18-Jan-2019
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18-Jan-2019 - Question 2
Evaluate India’s stand on recent Rohingya refugee issue. (2018) - 150 words
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The Issue that has come to be known as ‘the Rohingya crisis’ is a tragedy that was in the making for over several decades and concerns the plight of hundreds of thousands of people belonging to the Rohingya-Muslim minority community in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Myanmar does not recognise the community as its citizens and considers them “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh. Recent violence in Rakhine State has displaced several hundred thousand Rohingyas within Myanmar and driven out some 700,000 of them to neighbouring Bangladesh after the military launched a crackdown. The United Nations (UN) has described the violence against the Rohingya community as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing .The massive refugee outflow has created a serious humanitarian crisis that carries implications on regional stability and security
Broadly, two schools of thought have explained India’s Rohingya approach. Though differing on most issues, both agree that the lack of a national policy framework on refugees has complicated India’s handling of the Rohingya crisis. The first school argues that the current Rohingya approach has some elements of continuity, as it is “consistent with [India’s] traditional hesitation about automatically designating asylum seekers as refugees. According to this line of thinking, India has conventionally “created disincentives” for refugees to “stay on in India permanently”, citing the case of refugees from Bangladesh (East Pakistan then) during the 1971 war. India helped Bangladesh but did not regard those fleeing the country as refugees and that “ensured their return” to Bangladesh after the war. This school may not be completely wrong when it argues that India discourages permanent settlement of refugees and that the lack of a national refugee policy complicated Delhi’s approach towards the Rohingya crisis. However, there seems to be a big difference between the BJP-led government’s Rohingya approach and older ways of managing refugees. In the case of the Rohingyas, the government shut the doors to them, whereas India had always welcomed refugees in other cases. Moreover, no refugees in the past had been seen as posing a “terrorist threat”, whereas the security concern was the key argument of the government in the case of the Rohingyas.
The second explanation views the current approach as a departure from the past and analyses it from the perspective of potential implications on India. This school argues that the framing of the Rohingya crisis through the security argument is short-sighted as it could create more security challenges for India, including “greater radicalisation” of a repressed community that could have serious “spill over” effects on India. According to this line of reasoning, the government’s Rohingya approach has put at stake the lives of thousands of Indian diaspora communities in different countries including Myanmar. It asserts that the government’s silence has allowed “ceding space for other countries to take the lead” in the Rohingya crisis. Further, the approach has undermined India’s long traditional heritage as an “open” and “democratic” society that has always kept its doors open for refugees. There is also a notion that the Rohingya approach might have been driven by a “trend” under the BJP-led government towards Muslims, citing the proposed 2016 Citizenship Amendment Bill that recognises “non-Muslim refugees” in India as “citizens” of the country This impression gained cogency in late 2017, at a time when security was being beefed up along the Indian states bordering Myanmar to bar Rohingya refugees, the Indian government allowed hundreds of refugees, mostly Christians and Buddhists, fleeing violence in Myanmar to enter its northeastern state of Mizoram.
Three issues emerge from the above analysis of the two views on India’s Rohingya approach. First, the way India has handled the Rohingya crisis has raised questions on its democratic credentials. Second, India’s reservations in taking the lead may have already undermined its regional and global leadership aspirations. Third, the approach may have served short-term security goals, but concentration of thousands of desperate people in the neighbourhood could create a fertile breeding ground for radicalisation. Taking a hard position towards the Rohingya refugees makes India a potential target of radical groups
It may not be erroneous to say that the current debate has emphasised on the implications of India’s approach in handling the Rohingya crisis. These issues need serious consideration by policy-makers.
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