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Info Change India - Migration & displacement


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The Mavlas of Mulshi: Displacement's earliest victims

By Anosh Malekar

In June 1919, the farmers of Mulshi near Pune, Maharashtra, were served notices for the acquisition of their lands to construct a dam. A satyagraha led by Senapati Bapat was launched. Close on a century later, the descendants of what is arguably the oldest development-displaced community in India are still hoping for compensation


Paying the price for someone else's displacement

By Walter Fernandes

Rough estimates point to 60 million displaced persons and project-affected persons in India. That's four times the estimated 15 million refugees exchanged between India and the two wings of Pakistan at the time of Partition. The majority of the development-displaced are tribals and landless dalits who live on or off common property resources. And scarcely 20% have been rehabilitated


In Gujarat's ghettos

By Deepa A

Around 250,000 people were estimated to have been displaced by the Gujarat riots of 2002. Six years later, 4,500 families are still living in 81 relief colonies. They know they cannot return to the villages where they had homes, farms or shops. They are struggling to survive in areas often lacking even basic amenities. There is at least a framework for those displaced by development projects. There is no policy and no framework of entitlements for those displaced by sectarian or communal violence


Return from exile

By Rashme Sehgal

Thirty-one Kashmiri Pandit families recently returned to the Kashmir valley after more than a decade in exile in Jammu’s camps. Forty thousand Pandit families still live in those camps. But even the lucky few who have been provided government accommodation feel they have returned to a new Kashmir, one that has lost its Kashmiriyat, where Muslim and Hindu view each other with suspicion. A special report from Jammu and Kashmir


The original migrants

By Anosh Malekar

The first migrations from Bihar date back to 1834. Every second family in the state today is sustained by migrant workers who form the backbone of the country's workforce. But in 2008, thousands of Biharis found themselves forced to return from Maharashtra following the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena's sons-of-the-soil campaign. After decades selling bhelpuri on Mumbai's Chowpatty or working as construction labour, Bihar's migrants were shocked to find themselves treated like outsiders in their own land


Migrate--or starve

By Aditya Malaviya and Sushmita Malaviya

Tikamgarh, in Madhya Pradesh, has been experiencing its third successive year of drought. Migration and contract labour is the only option. Some travel to Delhi or Jammu with only the phone number of a contractor looking for labour. Others don’t have even that, and simply camp outside urban railway stations until a contractor picks them up. Only the old and the very young are left in the deserted villages


The dark side of Brand Bangalore

By Sanjana

LR Nagar is only one of Bangalore's estimated 778 slums. But it is located just a few metres from Koramangala, the posh residential address of Bangalore's IT employees. The disparity in living conditions, of course, metaphorically separates the two localities by hundreds of kilometres. And it is this unequal access to Bangalore's infrastructure, space, government spending budgets etc that epitomises the problem of urban spaces

The whitewash of Delhi: Where have all the poor gone?

By Gautam Bhan

Around 35,000 families have lived in Yamuna Pushta in Delhi for decades. Now they are being evicted to make way for a riverside promenade. Some who can prove their residency are being "voluntarily resettled" in Bawana, 50 km away. But a study of nearly 3,000 households in Bawana finds that there has been a systemic and clear impoverishment of those who have been displaced from Pushta to Bawana. It's not a 'shock' impoverishment that the residents will be able to overcome; it's a 'permanent poverty' that a whole generation will be unable to overcome

Unequal burden

By Malavika Vartak

Children are amongst the worst sufferers when entire communities are evicted from their homes and lands. Surveys of 299 families living in New Harsud after displacement by the Narmada project, showed that 25% of children had dropped out of school after displacement


Life at Mumbai's nakas

By Svati P Shah

Thousands of migrants come to Mumbai every year. Most end up working in the city's informal sector, seeking daily wage labour at the many nakas, or street corners, that function as public labour markets every morning. Women at the Malad naka say that when they cannot find construction or other work they solicit paid sex. But can migration, human trafficking and prostitution be conflated in the bodies of poor female migrants?

Rehabilitation before displacement

By Priyanca Mathur Velath

Although the 2007 National Policy for Rehabilitation and Resettlement lays down the principle of 'minimising displacement' there have been no visible attempts to implement it. The policy fails to examine the process of displacement, which is taken for granted. The draft makes no attempt to question the need for displacement in the first place, or to seek out and actively promote non-displacing or least-displacing alternatives


Beyond the Sphere standards

By Bikram Jeet Batra

There are international guidelines for emergency relief measures, such as the Sphere standards. But there are no internationally-accepted guidelines for longer-term resettlement and rehabilitation. This often leads to what one disaster expert calls paternalistic programmes that end up serving the needs of the donors and agencies rather than the victims


Shadow diaspora

By Sharika Thiranagama

For many northern and eastern Sri Lankan Tamils, Colombo is a transient city, a place where Tamils wait to find a way out of the country. But some have been waiting for over 10 years. They are the unacknowledged part of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, the shadow diaspora who cannot leave Sri Lanka but whose dreams of migrating to a better life remain as potent as those of the people who do manage to leave


'For us, only the camp is home'

By Vineetha Mokkil

Sixty years after Partition, 40% of the refugees who fled Pakistan Occupied Kashmir continue to live in camps scattered across Jammu. Entire generations have grown up here on ad hoc relief packages, minus quality education and employment. Lacking the official status of refugees because PoK is not considered foreign soil, they have been deprived of compensation and all the benefits accorded to refugees under national and international law


Born in exile

By Rashme Sehgal

There are around 300,000 Tibetan refugees in India, some of whom came in the initial exodus of 1959, and many second- and third-generation Tibetans born in India. Refugee status allows Tibetans to live, be employed and travel across India and abroad. But they are still between countries, denied citizenship and the right to vote or own property in India, and dreaming of a homeland many have never seen


Lhotshampas: Evicted from Bhutan

By Jenelle Eli

Over 100,000 ethnic Nepalese, who had settled in Bhutan since the 19th century, were evicted from Bhutan in the 1990s, following a movement to protect the Bhutanese cultural identity. They now live in seven refugee camps in Nepal. Seventeen years of poverty and statelessness have given way to violence and hopelessness, and youth are increasingly joining violent political movements


The Muhajirs in the promised land

By Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed

The Muhajirs of Pakistan were the Muslims who migrated to Pakistan after Partition. They were going not as refugees but as citizens of a promised homeland - a country for Muslims where they would not face political or religious discrimination. How then did the Muhajirs of Pakistan, four decades later, find themselves moved from the core to the periphery, marginalised and divided by ethnic conflict?


Partitions of the mind

By Priyanka Nandy, Garga Chatterjee and Somnath Mukherji

More than 60 years after Partition, and close on a century after East Bengalis first began to migrate to West Bengal, the gulf between the displaced Bangals and the local Ghoti Bengalis in Kolkata has not been bridged. Bracketed together within the collective ethnic identity of 'Bengali', the 'provincial' Bangals and the 'urbane' Ghotis retain fiercely the markers of their identity -- in terms of language, culture and cuisine. These are three narratives of the deep and cryptic traumas that accompany displacement


UNHCR's role in refugee protection in India

By Ipshita Sengupta

Although India is not a party to the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees, asylum-seekers who are not offered direct protection by the Indian government can get refugee status from the UNHCR in a de facto system of refugee protection in India. But in the recent past, refugees under UNHCR protection have begun losing faith in a system plagued by insensitivity and inefficiency