Daily Answer Writing
23 March 2021

Q) India is a country with diverse borders and diverse interactions with neighbouring countries. What challenges does it poses to India in framing a comprehensive asylum policy? What must be the suitable elements of such a policy? (250 Words)

Source: The IE Editorial: LISTEN TO MIZORAM  & https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/mizoram-cm-zoramthanga-myanmar-nationals-coup-political-asylum-7240463/

GS 1: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India; GS 2: India & Neighbourhood, GS 2: Government Policy

Approach Answer:


Introduction: India shares its land or maritime borders with eight countries. All these borders are countries share different nature of border and a unique positions in terms of cross-border movement. Recently, the events of Military Coup has increased the number of asylum seekers in India. Such situations poses a challenge in formulating a comprehensive asylum policy.


India's Diverse Border:

               1. Indo-Myanmar border has a free movement regime(FMR) and has cross-cultural ties,

               2. Indo-Nepal border shares visa free movement.

               3. Indo-Pak and Indo-Bangladesh Border has complete restriction on crossing the border.

               4. Fishermen conflict on Pakistan and Sri Lanka Maritime border.

               5. Indo-tibetan border has been used in the past by the Tibetans cross over to India.


Challenges that borders poses in framing a comprehensive asylum policy:

               1. Internal security Challenge: It has been seen that various terror groups try infiltration attempts to de-stabilize the country. Various routes apart from directly from Pakistan are taken such as through Nepal.

               2. Cross-border drug trafficking: India stands at middle of the Golden Triangle and the Golden Crescent of the Opium trade.

               3. Human trafficking: The Bangladesh Border, Nepal, Sri Lanka as well as Myanmar border has been used in the past for Human trafficking.

               4. Demographic change concerns: There have been concerns of demographic changes in the North eastern states of India in the past.

               5. Internal disturbance: These reasons of demographic concerns and human trafficking have been source of internal disturbance by the ethno-nationalist forces in India.

               6. Uneven treatment: India does not have its own asylum policy, and is uneven in its treatment of people seeking refuge. Over the years, Tamils, Tibetans and Afghans have been welcomed.

               7. Religious discrimination: With no tool-kit to distinguish political or humanitarian refugees from economic migrants, the local government and the public discriminates between refuge seekers along religious lines, like in the case of the Rohingya.


Thus it has been difficult for India to formulate an asylum policy till now. India is also not a signatory to the 1951 United  Nations Convention and 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, and it does not currently have a national law on refugees. Nevertheless India has been the strongest democracy in South Asia and has provided a safe haven for people fleeing persecution from as close as Sri Lanka and far as Iran.


Elements for a comprehensive Asylum Policy

               1. Objective and Non-discriminatory: Such a policy must not discriminate on the basis grounds mentioned in Article 14. Thus, must be in line with the constitutional ideals.

               2. Humanitarian in Ground: Such a policy must contain humanitarian grounds as valid criteria for seeking asylum.

               3. Distinguish between economic migrants and Humanitarian refugees: Economic migrants are legally job seeking individuals, where as refugees have no means to seek legal permission and generally arrive illegally.

               4. Transparent conditions for extradition: Extradition of Political refugees and asylum seekers has consequences in international relations. Thus, such conditions must be transparent and followed strictly.

               5. Transparent and approachable method to apply for asylum: There must be a legally approachable method for all asylum seekers so that no one has to ply illegally.


Conclusion: It is high time that India formulates a policy on Asylum, and refugees. Such a policy is necessary for a democratic country of such high stature. Only after India is ready to formulate such a policy, it should decide to join the 1951 United  Nations Convention and 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, which creates an obligation to provide shelter to refugees.

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