New Delhi: Almost two thirds of Indians would like victims of war to be given shelter in the country and other parts of the world, but almost as many say they are opposed to a mass influx of refugees into India.
A study by the Paris-based Ipsos research firm, conducted ahead of World Refugee Day on Thursday, found 65% Indians surveyed as part of a global online opinion poll of 18,027 people aged between 16 and 74 years, said they wanted war victims to be given sanctuary.
Paradoxically, however, almost the same number -- 64% -- indicated they would not like refugees streaming into India. The exact number of Indians surveyed was not mentioned by Ipsos.
Globally, 61% agreed that war victims should be given asylum, with countries like Argentina, Chile and Britain topping the list of countries with a majority of people – 74%, 73% and 72% respectively – responding positively to the question of refuge. Japan, Hungary and France were the bottom three in this list with 23%, 43% and 43%, respectively, agreeing that war victims should be given refuge.
The survey found that 64% Indians were of the view that India should close its borders to refugees entirely. Fifty nine percent Turks and 51% Swedes were also of this opinion making India, Turkey and Sweden the top three countries to express this view. Chile, Brazil and Japan were the bottom three countries in this list.
“This dilemma stems from India having to grapple with uninhibited exodus into the Eastern border, which has been a strain on the resources," Parijat Chakraborty, Country Service Line Leader, Public Affairs, Ipsos India was quoted as saying in the statement. “Earlier on, even faced it in the Southern borders. At the same time, Indians have firmly stood with those victimized and have displayed their philanthropic side, when there have been glaring problems."
According to the survey, 70% Indians feel that “the mass influx of refugees is mostly for economic reasons – they feel that most of the refugees are poverty stricken and want to avail the welfare schemes in India."
“This fear is further exacerbated by another view expressed by Indians – 68% Indians feel that most refugees that come to India, will successfully integrate in the society," the survey said.
“Government provides subsidy to economically weaker sections of society – so refugees can easily avail those with fake Identity-Cards," Chakraborty said. “Also, those who come from neighbouring countries – whether Bangladesh, Myanmar or Sri Lanka – since they seem to look like locals, they have managed to easily merge in the society."
India has hosted a large number of Afghan and Sri Lankan refugees, besides being home to tens of thousands of Tibetan refugees. During the 1971 Bangladesh conflict, India had hosted thousands of people fleeing the erstwhile East Pakistan.
A survey by the US-based Pew Research Centre had found last year that Indians showed little enthusiasm for expanding immigration into their country. “Roughly three-in-ten Indians (29%) say their government should allow fewer immigrants, with an additional 16% volunteering that there should be no immigration at all," said the survey that sought the opinions of 2,521 respondents in India from 23 May to 23 July 2018. “Just 13% think more immigration into India should be encouraged, and 11% think immigration levels should stay about the same as they are now," the Pew survey had found.
According to numbers released by the UN High Commission for Refugees, the number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million in 2018. Of these, 41.3 million were internally displaced and 3.5 million had formally sought asylum. More than two thirds (67%) of all refugees worldwide come from just five countries: Syria (6.7 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), South Sudan (2.3 million), Myanmar (1.1 million), Somalia (0.9 Million). The top refugee hosting countries include Turkey, Pakistan, Uganda, Sudan and Germany.