India is largely a country ofold immigrants, which explains its tremendous diversity. It follows thattolerance and equal respect for all communities and sects are an absoluteimperative if we wish to keep India united. If it was believed at one time thatDravidians were the original inhabitants of India, that view has since beenconsiderably modified. Now the generally accepted belief is that thepre-Dravidian aborigines, that is, the ancestors of the present tribals orAdivasis (Scheduled Tribes), were the original inhabitants. This is the thesisput forward in a judgment delivered on January 5, 2011, by a Supreme Court of India Bench comprising JusticeMarkandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra in in Kailas & Others versusState of Maharashtra TR.
Taluka P.S.Probably about 92 percent of the peopleliving in India today are descendants ofimmigrants, who came mainly from the North-West, and to a lesser extent fromthe North-East.
1On December 31, at the strokeof midnight, the Assam government published the first draft of an updatedversion of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) with the names of 1.9 crorepeople. Assam is the only State in the country that prepared an NRC in 1951following the census of that year and has become the first State to get thefirst draft of its own updated NRC. TheBangladeshi Liberation Movement which sent agreat number of illegal Bangladeshiimmigrants to Assam and West Bengal. The Government at that time declared that anyone who entered the State after themidnight of March 24, 1971, will be considered as a foreigner.
Once the wholeNRC exercise is over, it is expected totell the authorities how many migrants might have illegally settled down in theState. It will also provide dignity to all those Bengali-speaking settlers whocontinue to live under the shadow of being called “illegal Bangladeshis.”2The long burning issue of theRohingyas in Myanmar has recently become a point of debate in India, with thegovernment insisting on their deportation for the sake of national security.Perceived threats to India’s national security is based on intelligence reportsthat connect radical Rohingya groups to Jihadist organisations.
While the historicity and identity of theRohingyas were at the heart of theconflict between them and the Burmese state, the cases of humanitarian assaulton the community by the Myanmar military has turned it into what is beingreferred to as an instance of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Over time theRohingya issue has transformed into that of a refugee crisis, with Myanmar,Bangladesh and India brooding over their origins and destination.3 TheSupreme Court has termed this crisis as an extraordinary situation and hasexpressed the need to strike a balance between national interests and humanrights. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs,there are approximately 40,000 Rohingyas living in India.However, India has beenopen to accepting some immigrantscommunities. Around a lakh, Sri LankanTamils currently live in India with most having arrived during or around thetime of the Sri Lankan civil war. The people escaped violence and killings inSri Lanka and sought refuge in the southern state of Tamil Nadu and also insome settlements in Kerala and Karnataka.Tibet refugees who are also around a lakhstarted arriving in India after the Dalai Lama escaped to India in 1959, theCentre did not jot set up camps but also took special care to retain theirseparate ethnic and cultural identity.
The government’s move to grantcitizenship to the Chakma and Hajong community has come as a welcome signal.The government announced that Chakma and Hajong refugees numbering nearly100,000 and staying in the upper reaches of Arunachal Pradesh for around half acentury now will get Indian citizenship. Currently, India hasat least 400 settlements of Pakistani Hindu refugees. Additionally, India onregular occasions has accepted pleas of refuge from persecuted religiousminorities from Pakistan. Most of the refugee settlements are located inGujarat and Rajasthan along the India-Pakistan border.
4India deals with refugees and asylum seekers and refugees on an ad hoc basis,consulting a basic refugee policy and administrative laws like The Passport(Entry of India) Act, 1920, The Passport Act 1967, The Registration ofForeigners Act, 1939, The Foreigners Act, 1946, and the Foreigners Order, 1948. 1India, largely a country of immigrants Available at http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/India-largely-a-country-of-immigrants/article15127444.ece 2 The lowdown on Assam’s NRC drive by Sandeep Phukan, Available at http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/the-lowdown-on-assams-nrc-drive/article22387841.ece 3 Who are the Rohingya? byAdrija Roychowdhury, Availableat http://indianexpress.com/article/research/who-are-the-rohingyas-4855585/ 4 Here is how various refugee communities have fared in India by Kanishka Singh, Available at http://indianexpress.com/article/india/rohingya-muslims-refugee-myanmar-india-bangladesh-4843379 /