[Editorial Analysis] Winning the neighbourhood

Mains Paper: 2 | IR

Prelims level: NRC

Mains level: India and its neighbourhood relations.

Context

• When it comes to trade relations with its immediate neighbours, India is strikingly different from other regionally-dominant major countries.

• Despite being the region’s largest and fastest growing economy, India absorbs as little as 1.7 per cent of Bangladesh’s exports, and accounts for only 14 per cent of its imports.

• India should take the initiative to free the movement of goods and people between India and Bangladesh.

Analysing the situation

• India treats Bangladeshis as foreigners and has an “extremely costly infrastructure to prevent illegal immigration” Nepalis are treated as “permissible aliens”.

• Moreover, the district of Sylhet in Bangladesh was a part of the province of Assam; and for a brief period from 1905 to 1911, Eastern Bengal and Assam constituted a single province. But Nepal was not a part of British India.

• However, like the neighbouring Himalayan kingdoms of Bhutan and Sikkim, it was part of Britain’s informal empire.
• Ethnic Nepalis form the social basis of the Gorkhaland movement in Darjeeling.

• But what are the chances of India making policies vis-à-vis, Bangladeshis that are in India’s economic interest?

Way forward

• Whatever else one can say about the Citizenship Amendment Bill, it is hard to argue that it will promote greater economic integration between India and Bangladesh.

• Cuban immigrants according to the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 could not be treated as illegal in the US.

• They qualified for US residency within a year of being in the US and were eligible for citizenship five years later, no matter how they entered the country.

• Since they were admitted for humanitarian reasons — allegedly for fleeing communist oppression — Cubans quickly became a significant immigrant group in the US.

• Within a decade after the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the Cuban population in the US grew by six-fold.

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