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Review - Stateless in South Asia

Review - Stateless in South Asia

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Published by Hana Shams Ahmed

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Published by: Hana Shams Ahmed on Nov 02, 2011
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This article was downloaded by: [Panjab University]On: 02 November 2011, At: 04:49Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Contemporary South Asia
Publication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ccsa20
Stateless in South Asia: the Chakmasbetween India and Bangladesh
Graham P. Chapman
University of Lancaster and the Open University, UKAvailable online: 19 Sep 2011
To cite this article:
Graham P. Chapman (2011): Stateless in South Asia: the Chakmas between IndiaandBangladesh,Contemporary South Asia, 19:3, 345-347
To link to this article:
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLEFull terms and conditions of use:http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionsThis article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representationthat the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of anyinstructions, formulae, and drug doses should be independently verified with primarysources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings,demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly orindirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
between realism and liberalism within Nehru’s thinking is highlighted and the factthat he very quickly came to regard himself as the undisputed expert on foreignpolicy issues. Some clues are provided of Raghavan’s analytical prism. For instance,when he writes that ‘a core task of political leaders is to demonstrate the linksbetween policies, interests, and values’ (p. 21). Unfortunately, the linkage betweenthese three components is not overtly explored.Subsequent chapters are highly detailed and intricate in their observations abouthow Nehru viewed and responded to critical crises. The cases of Junagadh,Hyderabad and Jammu and Kashmir are used to reveal the complications that arosefrom the issue of accession to the Indian Union in 1947–1948. The refugee influx andinstability within Pakistan provoked numerous occasions of tension and the need forurgent, firm and delicate diplomacy. Chapters seven and eight are devoted to yetanother scale of crisis: the boundary dispute with China and the run-up to the Sino-Indian war of October–November 1962. Here perhaps there could have been moreanalysis of the 1954 Panchasheel Agreement between India and China, the contentsand its implications.
War and peace in modern India
is a polished historical study, making extensiveand thorough use of archival material in India and the United Kingdom, drawingupon both private papers and open sources such as newspapers and periodicalsfrom the time. It is also an unusual work, in that the author claims as a main goalthe need to uncover patterns and options of strategic behaviour which emergedduring this crucial phase and which continue to be relevant for contemporaryIndia. This dimension of the book is particularly important given on-goingdiscussions about Nehru’s legacy and the controversies this generates. However,here is where the book suffers slightly, for one misses a clear hypothesis relating topolicy-making (the processes involved, the importance of individuals versusstructures and institutions) that could have provided an organizing framework tothe dense empirical chapters. Perhaps because of this the concluding chapter israther brief.Nevertheless, Raghavan’s coverage of early foreign policy crises will be of greatuse to teachers and students of Indian foreign policy, especially as not so much isavailable on the Junagadh and Hyderabad issues of accession and particularly notlinking the various responses to crises. The 1950s in India’s political developmentremains a wellspring of information and insight into the dynamics of institutionbuilding and the learning process that leaders were going through during phases of crisis-management.Jivanta Schottli
University of Heidelberg, GermanyEmail: schottli@yahoo.com
2011, Jivanta Schottli
Stateless in South Asia: the Chakmas between India and Bangladesh
, by Deepak K.Singh, New Delhi, Sage, 2010, xx
289 pp., ISBN 978-81-321-0236-6In 2000 India was officially home to some 290,000 international refugees, includingrefugees from Tibet, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal. Not
Contemporary South Asia
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included in this count were Chakmas, a tribal people from the Chittagong Hill Tracts(CHT) on the border between Bangladesh and India. However, 60,000 Chakmaswho were effectively expelled from East Pakistan’s CHT in the late 1960s (many as aresult of the Kaptai dam flooding their lands), were resettled in eastern ArunachalPradesh (then the Northeast Frontier Agency (NEFA)) with official Indian support.The citizenship of these people became a complex local, national and internationalissue, both legally and politically. It is a problem that is routinely side-stepped, butcannot be completely ignored as violence periodically flares between indigenoustribal groups in Arunachal and these newcomers. They have not given up the fightfor Indian citizenship, and in 2004 1497 Chakmas had their names included in theelectoral list. Village committees celebrated, and organized themselves to ensurethese lucky few could vote. But it was a Pyrrhic victory. Every candidate, of everyparty for which the enfranchised could vote, had a policy of expelling the Chakmasfrom Arunachal.Deepak Singh fills out the tortuous historical background to the problem,elaborating on the current status of the refugees, and examining India’s response tointernational resolutions on refugee and other basic human rights. The work has itsorigins in the author’s PhD thesis, which involved extensive field interviews withthe Chakmas, to create an oral history of their physical and emotional journey andtheir current self-image and aspirations. This material is included in chapters six andseven of the book. Chapters one to five, and eight and nine, are largely based ondocumentary and secondary sources, for example, critiquing the Nehru-Elwinanalyses and prescriptions for slow and protected change in NEFA.The complexity of developments in the Northeast has worsened the plight of theChakmas. Chapter three discusses the Khudiram Chakma court case filed against theUnion Territory of Arunachal Pradesh. The case was an attempt to establish thecitizenship of the Chakmas. Prior to independence, what was to become NEFA hadbeen designated the Backward Tracts of Assam, beyond the sphere of the AssameseAssembly and directly under the aegis of the Governor of Assam. Afterindependence, NEFA was specifically a responsibility of the President of India,but vested in the Governor of Assam. NEFA had, and Arunachal Pradesh (whichmoved from being a Union Territory to statehood in 1987) has, a constitutionalclause that continues a prohibition of any but indigenous tribes owning land in thestate. The Chakmas left a country, East Pakistan, which no longer exists. Bangladeshwill take no responsibility for Pakistan’s actions. The Chakmas were given land byan agency arguably operating beyond its competence, but under the authority of the Governor of Assam. The Indian Citizenship Act of 1985 confers citizenship onpersons who came to Assam before 1st January 1966, but defines Assam asconstituted in 1985 that is, after the separation of the Union Territory of Arunachal, and before statehood. Khudiram Chakma’s case was rejected becausethe Chakmas were in a bit of Assam that no longer was. Along with his hopes wentthose of thousands of others for yet more decades. This kind of quagmire is repeatedwhen it comes to the interpretation of human rights and refugee status of theChakmas.This book is written in elegant and engaging prose. I do not think that thestructure adequately separates the various issues, and in many sections there is amixture of broad historical material with more detailed data and observations. Theresult is a degree of repetition, with the same subject (and on one occasion the samequotation) appearing in different contexts. This is a minor complaint to make, given346
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