International Migrant's Day: A Reminder on the need for a coherent migration policy in India?
| Updated: Dec 20, 2016 14:08 IST
By Shambhavi Ravishankar New Delhi [India], Dec.20 (ANI): December 18, is International Migrants Day, a day that has greater importance in India as well as internationally, given the spreading wave of nationalism. Some of the best examples of this are: Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, as well as the alarmingly popular pro-nationalism discourse of France's La Pen, Austria's Hoefer, and various other international figures. In a recent interview with The Guardian, the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, pointed out how "globalisation isn't working for ordinary people" stating that Canada's recognition of this fact had helped them plan to prevent marginalisation of their own people because the scale of migration to Canada. The conversation on economic migration has gone on for years. As recently as September 16, 2016 the UNGA discussed in 71st Session, the Resolution on the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (A/RES/71/1), setting goals to be achieved by 2018 on adopting "a global formula for safe, orderly, and regular migration" that was to be done, respecting the Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda UNGA Resolution A/Res/70/1). As the UNHCR states, migrants exercise the choice to move to better his standard of living. At the discussions, terrorism and destabilisation of governments was cited as the primary reasons for refugee problems, something that was echoed by M. J. Akbar (Minister of State for External Affairs). In his comments, he made no mention of migrants, and the view India has on ameliorating their position in India. This is in line with India's policy on both foreign migrants as well as refugees. Though India have not signed the 1951 Refugee Convention, India still has binding obligations under International Human Rights instruments like the UDHR, ICCPR, ICESCR, Child Rights Convention and has also been an active part in the discussions on refugee issues (being a member of the Executive Committee in the UNHCR) as well as issues of internal displacement. The only domestic law that India has is the Foreigners Act of 1946, which does not possess specific protections for migrants (or refugees for that matter). The MEA set up the India Centre for Migrants in July 2008 to research policies to facilitate migration of Indians to other countries, giving legal assistance to them. They have produced research papers on several issues, not relating to migration into India. Given that we have migrant workers, documented and undocumented, from Bangladesh, Somalia, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, India must have a policy in place to protect them from exploitation, human trafficking, abuse and continued living in a state of legal limbo. These migrants remain at the mercy of intermediaries who charge exorbitantly for the entire migration process. Governmental authorities repeatedly justify policy silences, by referring to India's huge populations and limited resources. A coherent policy is necessary to decide the process of legitimising foreign migrant workers' rights to work, property and legal relief. This International Migrants Day, should serve as a cue to the Indian Government to stand by our international commitments by respecting human life. (ANI)