June 20, 2004

Illegal migration from Bangladesh to India

Indian government is claiming the fact whereas Bangladesh government is denying. There are also claims of insurgents in the northeastern territory of Bangladesh to carry on their operations in India from the soil of Bangladesh. The foreign minister of Bangladesh accpeted the fact recently that there are reports of some camps existing.

Razib at Gene Expression has a deeper insight into this illegal migration crisis. He thinks that "The flight of the Hindus has resulted in more poverty for the people of Bangladesh", because traditionally the hindus had upperhand on the muslims in trade and education.

According to Razib, there are two primary causes for hindus to migrate:

1) External: Hindu family are fleeing to the more congenial lands of India, particularly West Bangal when given the chance.

2) Internal: Though Bangaldesh is not an Islamic fundamentalist nation, Bangladesh is a nation of Muslims, and it is clear that any non-Muslims have to deal with the reality that nods to Islam will soak their daily life.

The terrible economic situation in Bangladesh results in migration to India of Muslims. They go not for liberty, but for economic opportunity that is lacking in their homeland. So, the flight of the Hindus to India, which is a partial cause of the deprived economic situation in Bangladesh, results in Muslims fleeing to India!

This study by the South Asia Analysis Group also says:

The immigrants cross over to this country mainly on economic reasons and due to religious oppression of minorities (Hindus) from this Islamic country.

But we need to look at another aspect of the Problem:

The history of the world is of migration. All of us and our ancestors and fore-bearers had come from somewhere and are now placed somewhere else and people, like water, tend to find their own levels.

And there is another fact to consider:

18-20 million people every year are displaced internally by floods in Bangaldesh. There are floods and riverbank erosion. Now all of them are not coming to India, but it would be not implausible to believe that some of them would be. The inherent law of migration, is that people move not necessarily long distances, they move to areas close to themselves which are compatible, geographically and culturally. Over a period of time this outflow can cross international borders.

So to summarize:

* In Bangldesh Hindus have an apprehension/insecurity in living with the Muslims. I have seen some of the Bengali Hindus making savings or investments in West Bengal, India whereas most of their kins are here in Bangladesh. So They need to mitigate the insecurity with the help and assurance of their muslim neighbors and some governmnet protection. And those who want to really leave Bangladesh be given the option by India for migration.

* Temporary work permits to be given to the Bangladeshi migrants in India on humanitarian grounds. Push in or push back excercises by India & Bangladesh will only add to their misery and cross-border tension.

* Regional cooperation with Bangladesh and India is important to have a mutual economic growth, because without improving the infrastructure and creating job opportunities inside Bangladesh, this outflow will continue to occur. Both countries need to get out of the vicious circle of poverty, the fact is that only India making a breakthrough will not resolve the crisis.

* More and more flood control startegies should be implemented in Bangladesh so that a large portion of the population is not forced out of their land repeatedly even if temporarily.

* Fencing is a temporary solution to protect India from the illegal migrations and illegal trade, however this would not solve the real problem. But I think fencing would be profitable for Bangladesh as the illegal inflow of imported goods from India to Bangladesh is a couple of times more than the legal trade. So Bangladesh will earn more revenues from import and local industries would be protected. And Bangladesh government needs to plug the hole of migration and take more measures to prevent traficking of women and children.

* Some of these problems are irreversible and cannot be prevented outright. So patience is needed by both Bangladesh & India.


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