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The spectre of statelessness

  • Published at 10:03 pm November 8th, 2019
DLF 2019

Friday's session was moderated by Indian political commentator Garga Chatterjee

Statelessness has been a frequent subject of discourse recently, partly due to the sudden rise of the global stateless population - exacerbated by the Myanmar army's actions to forcefully displace its already unrecognized Rohingya ethnics, and because of the perennially unfortunate Kurds whose fate is now up in the air after recent developments in the Syrian War.

Moderated by Indian political commentator Garga Chatterjee, the session "War: How we Like to Live" featured journalist Samrat Choudhury, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jeffrey Gettleman from the New York Times, and migration researcher Prof Tasneem Siddiqui.

Prof Tasneem, referring to the Biharis in Dhaka, said she once met a little girl of Bihari ethnicity, who asked her: "Who am I? Am I a Muslim? Am I a Bangladeshi? Am I a Pakistani? Am I a Bangali? I have been born and raised in Bangladesh my whole life, all I know is in Bangladesh. I don't want to go to Pakistan."

She placed emphasis on the role and responsibilities of people to solve the issues that marginalize and disenfranchise other people.

Samrat Choudhury raised the topic of the Assamese NRC, which has stripped over a million of citizenship. He said the NRC has only opened a can of worms, noting that Indian citizenship is more available to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

The speakers discussed statehood as a nascent concept, and why it is important to be part of a state. 

Jeffrey Gettleman said he felt that the subcontinent felt strongly about identity politics, and the BJP plays up the religion card, and feared that things would get only tougher.