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Rohingya refugees designated as security threat to Indian jobs

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Modi calls Rohingya as refugees security threat later and lose their jobs.
Modi calls Rohingya as refugees security threat later and lose their jobs. IANS
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Dec, 21. 2017: It is several days since 17-year-old Nurankis, mother of two has heard from her husband after he left for Agra to look for a job.

Nurul Salam lost his job in Delhi after the Indian government termed Rohingyas — one of the world’s most persecuted minorities — as a “security threat”.

“I have been cooking only rice and potato for the past couple of days. That too, only twice a day. I have about Rs 20 left. We have nothing else,” Nurankis told IANS while sitting in her dark, one-room shack of blue tarpaulin and cardboard at the Shram Vihar slum of south Delhi.

IANS found several cases of Rohingyas being fired from jobs in Delhi, Jammu and Punjab because of their identity, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government asked “state governments to identify and deport the Rohingyas”.

The government’s decision was later challenged in the Supreme Court and its judgement is awaited.

“One day, they (the employer) said ‘there is no work from today for people from Burma’,” Nurankis said about how Salam lost his job at Allana, a Ghazipur meat processing company in east Delhi.

Following this, Salam boarded a bus to Aligarh, about 150 km from Delhi, to look for a job, leaving behind his four-year-old son Ubaib and three-month-old daughter Rubina. “He called from Aligarh and said people were asking for Aadhaar Card for hiring him,” Nurankis said. “I do not know where he is now.”

People who lost their jobs after the government crackdown said it had become difficult to pay rent or even eat and in some cases were forced to relocate, leaving behind what little they owned.

Rohingyas, mostly Muslims, are an ethnic minority from Buddhist majority Myanmar, who have been denied citizenship and have been facing brutality from the Myanmar military.

More than 800,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar in the last five years as a result of violence, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and there are around 21,500 Rohingyas in India.

At a tea shop near Nurankis’ shack, 22-year-old Sayedul Amin remembered the day when Salam, he and around 30 other refugees lost their jobs.

“It was a normal day and we were working when the contractor came and told us that from that day there would be no jobs for people from Burma,” Amin said.

When the refugees asked for a reason, they were told that the government might deport them any time and the company would face problems for employing them.

“I do not know how I’m going to pay this month’s rent,” said Abdul Raheem, 30, one of the refugees fired from the company.

The company laid off between 25 and 40 Rohingya refugees, according to one of Allana’s security guards.

When reached for a comment, an Allana spokesperson said that Rohingyas were contract employees and they were laid off as a “pro-active measure” after the government’s move.

However, he said only seven or eight refugees were fired.

In Punjab, Mohammad Jubair and other Rohingya refugees were asked to leave from work.

Jubair sold his cycle, gas cylinder and parts of his shack and boarded a train to Hyderabad, where he is yet to find a job or build a shack.

In Jammu, Ashik Khurana, a 17-year-old Rohingya refugee, who used to work as a cleaner at the Jammu Tawi Railway Station with about 30 other refugees, said they were asked for Indian identity cards to continue.

After gathering all refugee workers, the in-charge said: “From today all workers from Burma who do not have an Aadhaar Card won’t be allowed to work here.”

Khurana said: “Where will I go for an Aadhaar Card? The UN had told us not to make any Indian ID card. “Most of us left (the job) after that.”

At a Rohingya settlement in Kanchan Kunj of Delhi, Mohammad Saleem, 35, leader of the camp, said: “It (settlement) was like a job market, but now hardly anyone comes here to call us for work.”

“When Modi is talking like this, people would obviously see us differently,” Dil Mohammad, 60, leader of Shram Vihar settlement, said, adding: “It’s better that the government rounds us up here and shoots us.” (IANS)

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Fall Of The Currency And Increase In Oil Prices: India ‘s Turmoil

The falling rupee has given a boost to some of India’s most lucrative exports, such as software services and pharmaceuticals, which add up to billions of dollars.

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India
Rajesh Kumar, left, shares a ride to work with another employee, Dilip Swain, right, as higher petrol prices in India begin to be felt in people's pocketbooks.VOA

The fall of the currency of India to record lows and rising global oil prices have raised worries that the world’s fastest growing economy faces headwinds that could hurt the fortunes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party in next year’s general elections.

From people filling fuel at gas stations to thousands of students heading out to study overseas, the impact of the slumping rupee is sparking discontent.

Having plunged by about 12 percent against the dollar this year, the rupee is one of Asia’s worst faring currencies, and as in other countries, the slide has accelerated since the crash of the Turkish lira.

“The reasons are global. We must bear in mind that in last few months, dollar has strengthened against almost every currency,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recently as he tried to send out reassuring signals that India’s economy is on track.

India
The rupee has plunged by about 12 percent this year raising fears of spiraling inflation. VOA

The rupee’s sharp depreciation comes at a time when the economy had recovered from a slowdown and surged to a two-year high in the quarter that ended in June. Forecasts put growth for this year at 7.5 percent.

Economy will slow

But economists warn this momentum will be difficult to sustain as the tumbling rupee, along with rising crude oil prices, takes a toll on growth. India, the world’s third largest oil importer, gets almost 80 percent of its fuel needs overseas.

“The government needs to mellow down on growth aspirations,” said N.R. Bhanumurthy, economist with the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy. “The growth needs to come down to a little less than 7 percent.”

Even as the government faces the prospect of a slowing economy, it is under pressure to lower taxes on gas and diesel to bring down the sharp rise in prices. Fuel is one of the most heavily taxed items in India, with rates as high as nearly 50 percent. Prices vary from state to state, but they have gone up by about 14 percent this year.

Hoping to cash in on the growing disaffection over the surge in fuel prices and the sliding rupee, opposition parties led nationwide protests that shutdown offices and schools in several cities this week.

India
Discontent with spiraling fuel prices poses a challenge to Prime Minister Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of general elections next year. VOA

The government dismissed the protests, saying that although people faced momentary difficulties, they understood they were because of factors beyond its control.

Political analysts are not so sure, pointing out that fuel prices are a politically sensitive issue in India and usually result in a spike in inflation.

“Anger is rising, there is resentment,” said Satish Misra at the Observer Research Foundation, warning the ruling party will face a backlash “Obviously that is going to have a negative impact on the electoral fortunes of the Bharatiya Janata Party, there is no doubt about that.”

Warnings from economists

Among those who are upset with the high fuel prices is Rajesh Kumar, who commutes 30 kilometers to the advertising agency where he works. Hit by the higher prices that eat into his income, he has started sharing the ride with another employee.

India
Narendra Modi. Wikimedia Commons

“I have given up the idea of buying another car,” he said despondently. “I will not be able to afford the cost of running it.”

Economists however have warned the government against giving in to populist pressures ahead of a series of state polls later this year and general elections around April next year. They say lowering taxes on fuel or taking measures to prop up the currency will strain the country’s finances and hurt the economy in the long run.

Also Read: Diverse Gathering To Be Addressed This World BioFuel Day: PM Narendra Modi

“One needs to be more careful and vigilant,” Bhanumurthy said. “It is easy for India to stay with low growth than experiencing the high deficit.”

But there is also some good news for the Indian economy. The falling rupee has given a boost to some of India’s most lucrative exports, such as software services and pharmaceuticals, which add up to billions of dollars. (VOA)