02 November 2005

Nowhere people

The illegal immigrant problem continues between India and Bangladesh. According to a South Asia Forum for Human Rights’ (SAfHR) working paper, “the more they try to grapple with ‘security concerns’, the more it eludes them.” The working paper is authored by Ranabir Samaddar, who has also authored a book, ‘The Marginal Nation: Transborder Migration from Bangladesh to West Bengal’ on the subject of cross-border migration originating between the two countries.

No-where People from the Indo-Bangladesh Border, as this working paper is called, highlights the human rights aspect of the problem:

“The unfortunate reality is that both India and Bangladesh wish the problem to vanish, both wink at each other, both suffer the nightmare of millions of peasantry on the move, both adopt communal vision and denounce these people who are voting on the state-system in South Asia with their feet, and both desperately pray that these nowhere people somehow vanish, giving the political class of the two countries relief.”

“Solution, to the problem of ‘illegal immigration’ within the traditional ‘security perspective’ seems to be an impossible goal. However, if the ‘problem’ is not perceived essentially as a security problem – i.e. an invasion of a country by illegal immigrants from another – but rather, if the states could be persuaded to see this as a human problem – i.e. indigent people crossing international borders in search of a decent livelihood – then hopefully we could find a solution through a combination of measures.”

But Samaddar just doesn’t leave the discussion to human rights. He feels the implications of cross-border migration affects socio-economic and political issues as well. As he says,
“In this reappearance of partition politics, cartographic, communal, and political lines are being replicated within the borders, creating new visible and invisible frontiers. The unique feature of these nouvelle frontiers being produced internally is that these are not vertical lines separating two spaces, but concentric circles continuously dividing and reassembling these divided spaces into the universe of the nation, law, citizenship, rights, obligation, morality, and habitation.”

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