India’s liberal heart: Citizenship for Hindu refugees quadruples under Modi Govt.

The Modi government is living up to its promise of speeding up visas and citizenship rights to Hindus and Sikhs fleeing jihadi persecution in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This promise was part of the BJP election manifesto, which was much criticised for suggesting that Hindus and Sikhs refugees will be prioritised for entry and acceptance.

It was seen as a promise with communal overtones – and that is understandable, for the truth is historically India has given refuge to all people fleeing persecution anywhere. Unfortunately, violence is being ratcheted up in our neighbouring countries. Given the reality that the most likely victims of persecution in the neighbourhood are likely to be Hindus (and Sikhs or Buddhists to a lesser extent), the criticism of the BJP manifesto promise was a bit over the top.

According to a report in The Economic Times today (21 May), the Modi government has given citizenship to four times as many Hindus fleeing Pakistan and Afghanistan in one year than what the UPA did in its last five years (4,230 versus 1,023). Not only that, others seeking refuge have been given long-term visas (extending upto five years), as against the UPA’s measly one year. ET says some 19,000 migrants have been given long-term visas and that the number of Hindus and Sikhs fleeing discrimination and terror from neighbouring countries may hit one million by December 2016 – and they all get permanent rights to stay here.


My heart swells with pride that we are finally able to help people fleeing religious terror and intimidation by the million at a time when so-called “liberal” countries in Europe are busy turning away boat people from Africa and racism is rearing its ugly head in Europe due to the influx of non-whites running away from violence or poverty. Or both.

Without denying our own in-built tendency for bigotry and xenophobia, the fact is India runs – by default, aided by state incapacity and apathy – the most liberal immigration policy in the world.

Consider all the evidence from the 20th century to now.

#1: Under the Indo-Nepal treaty, every Nepali citizen has an automatic right to live and work in India. No other Asian country has anything like this, and China and Japan allow almost no immigration at all.

#2: Every Hindu or Sikh fleeing Bangladesh and Pakistan, not to speak of Afghanistan, has come here. The Hindu population in Bangladesh has fallen from a post-partition 21 percent to under 8 percent now. No prizes for guessing where they moved. Most Pakistani Hindus made it here during partition, but the 2 percent still left are slowly seeing India as the only hope in the face of Islamic persecution.

#3: Persecuted Sri Lankan Tamils have been accommodated in India despite the rabid nature of some of these groups with murderous LTTE mindsets.

#4: India is home to the largest immigration of Muslims fleeing poverty in Bangladesh. Though these migrants have faced some degree of discrimination here, they have spread themselves in Assam, Bihar and West Bengal, and now further to the major metros. No one is being asked to leave as doing anything inhumane is impossible in democratic India even though the courts have asked the government to strictly enforce the Citizenship Act.

In future, we should not be surprised if the Bahais, Ahmaddiyas, and even some Shias of Pakistan seek to migrate to India. We should welcome them. India is for everyone, even though it is the ultimate place of refuge for Hindus anywhere.

The truth our liberals refuse to see is that no country in the world has accepted more refugees than India in the 20th century and so far in this century. But we still think it is communal to rehabilitate our own internal refugees – the 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits – near their former homes in the Valley.

Our secularists have distorted the real meaning of communalism so that the definition fits only Hindus. Our Lutyens “liberals” are the most illiberal, uncharitable and myopic individuals of our time. The are good at pulling us down, nothing else.

They will always use caste as a stick to beat Hinduism with, but will not look out of their windows to see the everyday liberal heart of Indians.

Source: First Post