Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
The dilemma of Refugees in India is nothing dissimilar to that of the world, denied the basic rights, they still struggle for livelihood
According to International law, A refugee is a person forced to leave his/her country in order to escape war, persecution or a Natural Disaster.
Those who suffer harassment on account of race, nationality, religion are also called Asylum seekers
- The cornerstone reasons of ‘Refugee Crises’ are war, domestic conflict, natural disasters, environmental displacement, human trafficking and climate change
– by Naina Mishra
June 22, 2017:
As many as there are refugees in India, the status of the growing refugees is substantially poorer followed by a dearth of basic needs such as education, livelihood, sanitation, and health.
The partition era witnessed an exodus of people from one land to another owing to the formation of two different nations – India and Pakistan. The birth of the Independent India is also seen as one of the massive violent instances in the history of migration. UNHCR reported that 14 million people more have migrated at the time of partition as Hindus and Sikh moved to India and Muslims moved to Pakistan. The trauma can be ascribed synonymous to impact of First World War in Britain and Second World War for Japan.
The trauma was described synonymously to impact of First World War in Britain and Second World War for Japan by Historian Gyanendra as reported by Indian Express.
The refugees who left their property, houses, and families in the pursuit of better living in India have faced bigotry here as well.
According to 1951 census report, 7.249 million Hindus and Sikhs (and very small numbers of Muslims) were obligated to move to India from Pakistan directly after partition.
Existing Situation of Refugees
There are millions of refugees in India from different parts of the world. Nearly twenty-five thousand refugees from Afghanistan, Myanmar, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, and Palestine stay in miserable condition in Delhi. Deprived of the legal framework, these refugees in India have only the UNHCR card as their only identity in India.
In addition to this, India still remains non-signatory to 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol, which help define the legal obligation of states to protect refugees. The World Refugee Survey by US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants reports the number of refugees in India to be 456,000. However, the numbers of refugees who have registered with UNHCR are about 200,000.
The populace of India is broadly divided into Indian Nationals and foreigners. All the refugees are housed under foreigners, and hence there is no differentiation between Illegal migrant and Asylum speaker as defined by the section 2A of Indian Foreigners Act. In the absence of a specific refugee law, refugees are fundamentally protected under the Constitution of India only.
Submerging Cultural Identity of Tibetans
India has observed an exodus of more than 150,000 Tibetan refugees over the last 50 years following the 14th Dalai Lama footsteps. Nehru agreed to provide assistance to Tibetan refugees believing that they will soon make a return to their land. Now, the Tibetan Diaspora maintains a government in exile in Himachal Pradesh. Migration of people from Tibet in India is a serious concern as it poses threat to their identity and culture.
Lost Paradise of Kashmiri Pandits
Caught up in the armed resistance to Indian rule broke out in the Kashmir valley in 1989, the Hindus of Kashmir – Kashmiri Pandits who lived there for centuries were forced to leave their homeland.
On being asked by BBC to an old man the reason behind leaving Kashmir, he replied “Our people were killed. I saw a girl tortured with cigarette butts. Another man had his eyes pulled out and his body hung on a tree. The armed separatists used a chainsaw to cut our bodies into pieces. It wasn’t just the killing but the way they tortured and killed.”
Many refugees in Jammu are living in abject conditions in refugee camps.
Struggle of Bangladesh between East and West
At the time of Independence, Bengal was partitioned into India West Bengal and Pakistan East Bengal. Pakistan faced political disturbance right from its inception, which resulted in disintegration and emergence of Bangladesh liberation war of 1971. The brutal oppression of Pakistani Army upon the supporters of Independence of Bangladesh led to an exodus of refugees from East Pakistan to India.
The year 2001 saw many Bangladeshi Hindu families crossing the border into India to escape repression in Bangladesh.
Desire for Belongingness: Pakistan Hindu Refugees
There are about 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements in many Indian cities including Surat, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, and Bikaner. The year 2011 witnessed influx of the first few Hindu families from Pakistan, which settled Majnu ka Tila in Delhi and the league has continued since then. The police, here at the refugee camps have assaulted them and at times even seized their carts on repeated occasions.
In 2015, Government of India granted citizenship to 4300 Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Trepidation of War: Afghanistan
Afghan refugees in thousands of numbers have been coming to India since 1979 after the Soviet-Afghan war in the country. Approximately 60,000 Afghan refugees have fled to India since then. The government does not recognise Afghan refugees in India as refugees till now but has permitted UNHCR India for them.
Unprivileged Rohingya Refugees
Described as the least wanted and one of the world’s most persecuted minorities, Rohingya Muslims are deprived of the right to free movement and higher education.UNHCR estimates there are 5500 registered Rohingya refugees spread across India living in makeshift camps in precarious conditions without proper sanitation, food and education. The government of India has allowed UNHCR India to operate a program for them.
Why India Needs The Refugee Law?
Although India is an abode of a high number of Refugees, the country lacks legal framework and resources for their sustenance and there is no such term like “Refugee law India”. India has ignored the topic altogether hitherto. Countries like India that believes in peace, harmony and global brotherhood are a natural haven for refugees. Conversations about India’ asylum policy have risen with government highlighting human right abuses in Baluchistan. It remains the duty of the state especially one with a democratic setup to keep its doors open for people in distress.
The problems of Refugees in India is nothing dissimilar to that of the world. Women and girls face sexual violence. Despite being provided with the security by GOI, refugees still strive for livelihood in India as there are minimum laws to protect refugees in the country.
A Clear framework on entry, accommodation, rights and, responsibilities of refugees needs to be implemented. Clear roles for agencies, database and monitoring to refugee and asylum seekers should be monitored.
The government considered Tibetans and Sri Lankans in settlements and refugee and provided assistance to them, but since it regarded other groups as economic migrants, especially Bangladeshis, it did not provide them with aid.
Currently, it is religion specific and country specific. Since independence, India has kept a humanitarian stand on refugees, despite its own security concerns and economic challenges and population pressure. The need of an hour is to enact a uniform legislation and comprehensive guideline before they face crises like that of EU.
– by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter: Nainamishr94
As kids growing up in different states, Shoba Narayan and Michael Maliakel shared a love of one favorite film — "Aladdin." Both are of Indian descent, and in the animated movie, they saw people who looked like them.
That shared love has gone full-circle this month as Narayan and Maliakel lead the Broadway company of the musical "Aladdin" out of the pandemic, playing Princess Jasmine and the hero from the title, respectively.
"Growing up, there was such little South Asian and Middle Eastern representation in the American media, and Princess Jasmine was really all I had. She was a huge role model to me as someone who was intelligent and strong and independent and beautifully curious, and that's who I wanted to be," says Narayan, who grew up in Pennsylvania.
The pair arrived at "Aladdin" in very different ways. Maliakel is making his Broadway debut, but Narayan is a musical theater veteran, having made her Broadway debut in "Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812" and touring with "Hamilton" as Eliza Hamilton.
She was in "Wicked" as Nessarose when the pandemic shut down Broadway in March 2020. Her agent called in April with the prospect of auditioning for Jasmine. She sang "A Whole New World" over Zoom on gallery mode, pretending to be on a magic carpet. "It was a very unique experience," she says, laughing.
Disney producers flew her to New York to meet face-to-face and go through the material again. Narayan was asked to read with different Aladdin potential actors. She got the gig: "I went from a wicked witch to a Disney princess. Can't complain."
Maliakel, a native of New Jersey, came from the world of opera, a baritone who studied at Johns Hopkins University and the 2014 winner at the National Musical Theatre Competition. He trained his voice to be flexible, waiting for the right window to open.
"I didn't really see a lot of people doing what I wanted to do in the world," he says. "There just wasn't a whole lot of representation. So it's really hard to imagine yourself in those scenarios when you have no one to look up to as a role model or an example of how it could be done."
He played Porter and understudied Raoul in a national tour of "The Phantom of the Opera," which ended its run in Toronto just before the pandemic hit.
"I always dreamed that Broadway might happen someday," he says, laughing. "I'm just kind of dipping my toes into the waters in one of the biggest male roles in the business right now, and it's kind of surreal."
'Aladdin' featured as a Broadway Musical with a cast of Indian origin playing the main roles Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Broadway's "Aladdin" is a musical adaptation of the 1992 movie starring Robin Williams. The musical's story by Chad Beguelin hews close to the film: A street urchin finds a genie in a lamp and hopes to woo a princess while staying true to his values and away from palace intrigue.
Key Alan Menken songs from the film — including "Friend Like Me," ″Prince Ali" and "A Whole New World" — are used. The lyricists are the late Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Beguelin.
The show — and it's two new leads — had a few performances to celebrate Broadway's return from the pandemic this fall before it was forced to close for several days when breakthrough COVID-19 cases were detected. The actors say the safety of the cast, crew and audience are paramount and closing was the smart move.
"This is how we keep theater going in the pandemic," Maliakel says. "The other option is to just not do it at all. And that's not an option. A week's worth of lost performances, when we look back on things in a year or so, I think will just be a little blip on the radar."
They both look back with heart-thumping appreciation at the early performances when they welcomed back theater-starved audiences, who gave the company 3-minute standing ovations just for singing "A Whole New World."
"It is every brown girl's dream to be singing that song on an actual flying carpet," says Narayan. "And the fact that I got to do it on Broadway in the full costume with the lights and the 32-piece orchestra beneath me — oh, my gosh, I really had to hold it together. It was emotional overload for me."
Maliakel recalls that he and his brothers wore out their VHS cassette version of "Aladdin." He remembers having lunchboxes, pajamas and bed sheets with the film's theme. Aladdin was "every little brown kid's prince." Now he is that prince.
"Now, finally, to get to get paid to do it on the world's largest stage — it's not lost on me how crazy that is," he says. "The responsibility of my position right now feels really great. This moment sort of feels bigger than me in some ways, and I don't take that lightly. I think it's a really exciting time." (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Aladdin, Broadway, Musical, Indian Descendant cast,
Jack Daniel's is the world's most popular whiskey brand, but until recently, few people knew the liquor was created by Nathan "Nearest" Green, an enslaved Black man who mentored Daniel.
"We've always known," says Debbie Staples, a great-great-granddaughter of Green's who heard the story from her grandmother. … "He made the whiskey, and he taught Jack Daniel. And people didn't believe it … it's hurtful. I don't know if it was because he was a Black man."
But people believe it now — in large part because Brown-Forman Corporation, owner of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, has acknowledged the foundational role Green played in the brand's development.
"The truth of the matter is, Nearest Green was the first head distiller of Jack Daniels whiskey," says Matt Blevins, global brand director for Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey. "We're very proud of this story and are very committed to amplifying it and acknowledging that. In the past, we did not amplify it the way that we could have in earlier eras, but we're about the future and moving forward."
America's first-known Black master distiller
The story begins in Lynchburg, Tennessee, current home of the Jack Daniel Distillery. In the mid-1800s, Green's slaveholders hired him out to a local preacher named Dan Call. Green, who had a reputation as a skilled distiller, made whiskey for Call, using a sugar maple charcoal filtering process that is believed to have originated in West Africa. Daniel, a boy who worked for Call, became Green's apprentice and learned the special technique that gave the Tennessee whiskey its smooth taste.
After emancipation in 1863, when all enslaved people were freed, Daniel purchased Call's distillery and hired Green as Jack Daniel Distillery's first master distiller.
"The best knowledge that we have is that they had a mentor-and-mentee sort of a relationship, and I would say, a friendship," says Blevins. "The stories that have been passed down [talk] about the care that Jack Daniel took to always acknowledge … the Green family."
Historic photo of Jack Daniel (in white hat) seated next to George Green, the son of Nathan "Nearest" Green Image source: VOA
There are no known pictures of Green, but there is one of Daniel with Green's son, George, sitting next to Daniel, rather than being relegated to the back.
"That photograph shows the respect that they had for one another and for their families," says Stefanie Benjamin, an assistant professor of tourism management at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. "To be not only allowed in that photograph, but also positioned in the foreground and sitting right next to Jack Daniels himself."
Search for the truth
Green's role in the history of the brand was uncovered by a writer and entrepreneur named Fawn Weaver, who became fascinated by Green's unheralded contribution to the world's most popular whiskey. After extensive research, including interviews with Green's descendants, Weaver shared her documentation with the company.
"I was very pleasantly surprised when they embraced my research and updated their records to reflect that," Weaver told VOA via email. "I think it said a lot about the character of their company that they moved that quickly to course correct."
Jack Daniel's has incorporated Green's contributions into the official history of the brand, but Weaver has gone a step further. She invested $1 million of her own money to establish Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, which is now the fastest-growing independent American whiskey brand in U.S. history.
Fawn Weaver (center in red) with her leadership team at Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, including master distiller Victoria Eady Butler (far left), the great‐great‐granddaughter of Nearest Green. (Photo courtesy Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey) Image credit: VOA
The company's master distiller is Victoria Eady Butler, Green's great‐great‐granddaughter.
"Uncle Nearest is the most-awarded American whiskey or bourbon of 2019, 2020 and 2021, and the fact that it is the bloodline of Nearest Green blending and approving what goes into our bottles is something I marvel at regularly," Weaver says. "Victoria is an absolute natural when it comes to blending, and to watch her work is to see something pretty darn close to perfection."
Seven generations of Green's family have worked at the Jack Daniel Distillery, a tradition that continues today with Staples and two of her siblings. But the Green family did not benefit when the Daniel family sold the Jack Daniel distillery to Brown-Forman for $20 million in 1956.
"Although they [the Green family] were very well off in terms of finances [in the 1800s] in that time, they were not the owners or co-owners of the Jack Daniel distillery," Benjamin says. "And so, those millions of dollars have been passed down through generations of the Jack Daniel family, and not necessarily the Green family."
Maturing barrels of whiskey in a barrel house on the grounds of the Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. (Photo courtesy Jack Daniel's) Image credit: VOA
Weaver's Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey has joined forces with Jack Daniel's to launch a program that provides support, expertise and resources to African-American entrepreneurs entering the spirits industry.
Staples says her family is thrilled their great-great-grandfather is finally being recognized.
"It's kind of mind-boggling … and we are so proud," Staples says. "And to think that from here to Africa, that recipe goes all the way back. And to think that he played such an important role in establishing this company. It sometimes seems unreal. It really does."
Because of Weaver's tenacity, Green's story, although left untold for more than a century, will not be lost to history. But that's not the case with so many other stories of Black achievement and contributions to the nation.
"Part of telling his story and sharing his legacy is to give credit and to give attention to a person who, if it wasn't for him, we wouldn't have the Jack Daniel whiskey as we know it today," Benjamin says. "It showcases yet another example of how formerly enslaved people, Black people, African American people who have really built this country, are left out of the dominant narrative that we tell." (VOA/RN)
(This article is originally written by Dora Mekouar)
Keywords: Jack Daniel's, Whiskey, Nathan Green, Slavery, Black achievement
Cricket fans can now book the ultimate experience with the official accommodation booking partner for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup, Booking.com. The T20 Pavillion, a bespoke cricket-themed luxury stay that transforms the Presidential Suite at Grand Hyatt Mumbai Hotel and Residences into a classic cricket stadium.
The suite offers guests an all-inclusive once-in-a-lifetime experience during the India vs Pakistan ICC Men's T20 World Cup match on October 24, 2021, packed with quirks and luxuries that is sure to satisfy even the biggest cricket enthusiast. Additionally, as a part of the experience, guests will also have the exclusive opportunity to meet Bollywood actor Shraddha Kapoor at The T20 Pavilion.
The booking window that opens at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and will be booked on a 'first come, first serve' basis with check-in date on October 24, 2021 and check-out on October 25, 2021. | Photo by Alessandro Bogliari on Unsplash
For one night only, guests can soak in the energy of a roaring stadium to enjoy the epic match on a life-sized screen while seated on comfortable sofas -- just like the luxury box seats at the stadium. They can also head to the locker room (dining room) next to the field (living room) to have some energy drinks, just like a cricketer would do or head to the bedroom, transformed into a net practice area. It's got the field, the pitch, the locker room, pitching nets and cricket memorabilia infused in every element of the room.
The booking window opens at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and will be booked on a 'first come, first serve' basis with check-in date on October 24, 2021, and check-out on October 25, 2021. The T20 Pavilion is priced at Rs 6666 only in honour of all the great sixes smashed at the T20 World Cup. The T20 Pavilion can accommodate up to four guests. Cricket fans can visit the website or mobile app to book this cricket-inspired stay. (IANS/ MBI)