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Through The Prism Of Foreign Policy

Following the Partition of the Indian Sub-continent into two Dominions in 1947, the Government of India, led by Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, showed understanding and supported relocation of those, who had lost their homes and families amid an increasing inter-religious tension. This marked the beginning of India’s Foreign Policy to welcome those fleeing ethnic, religious and political pressures in South Asia.

India has accepted a considerable number of Muslim Rohingya running from atrocities caused by Myanmar’s ethnic Bamar Army on their community. New Delhi also received Afghans, who left their country after the Soviet Invasion of 1979, and those who fled from the horrors caused by the Taliban Regime in Afghanistan years later. The Every Morning Asia online portal has reported that India welcomed thousands of Tamil refugees from the mid-1980s Civil War in Sri Lanka and reached the peak of its Open Doors Policy once it accommodated more than eight million Bengalis (most of them Bengali Muslims) in 1971 who sought shelter from the violence of the Pakistani Army in what was then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

South Asia

However, this policy shifted dramatically with the coming to power of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014. The Narendra Modi-led Government of India showed disinterest in Rohingya refugees in 2017 and even deported a few of them in 2018, igniting relations with neighbouring Bangladesh. India recently demanded e-visas for Afghans, making their entry more difficult.

Afghan Refugees in India

According to Foreign Policy experts, the reason for this shift is Economic, as well as Political. Immigration has become a Polarised Issue in India, and the Economic Situation, facing the Indian State amid the COVID-19 crisis, has put pressure on small and medium-sized companies, and the healthcare system, making the attitude towards welcoming refugees more hostile. Furthermore, given that refugees are predominantly Muslim, this policy shift would not have a negative impact on Prime Minister Modi’s BJP in the upcoming Assembly Elections in different Indian Provinces, as the party’s main electoral base comes from India’s Hindu Community, and not Muslim.

However, the inability of the BJP to come up with a viable economic recovery solution would be sanctioned by the entire Indian population. Experts are of the opinion that India’s Ruling Party should not change its Immigration Policy in the coming years, irrespective of the outcome of the upcoming polls. They have argued that it is not possible for any Developing Nation to take the pressure of refugees in the current Global Economic situation. Welcoming refugees would put the National Economy under severe pressure, which would be difficult for the Government to handle. Even some Developed Western Nations have started refusing to accept foreign refugees. In a sense, it is a recent Foreign Policy tendency that has been spread across the globe.

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