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Rohingya crisis: Play a diplomatic role

Rohingyas, originally from Bangladesh, migrated to Myanmar

Business Standard 

Play a diplomatic role

This is with reference to Nafees Ahmad’s article, “Rohingyas flee Myanmar: India must drop religious criteria in refugee law” (September 6). Rohingyas, originally from Bangladesh, migrated to Myanmar, but are now fleeing the country as they say they are being persecuted and allegedly due to their anti-social activities, according to a majority of Buddhists. It is essentially a matter between the Rohingyas, and Myanmar, in which other Muslim-majority countries in the region such as Indonesia, Malaysia could help by brokering peace.

India is already facing the problem of the influx of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, who could alter the demography of border states such as Assam. It is easy for professors, judges and liberals to speak of humanitarianism from their ivory towers. When it comes to accepting refugees, national interest takes precedence over utopian principles. It is not as if India is an underpopulated country with vacant lands overflowing with milk, honey and other natural resources that it should welcome refugees with open arms.

What happened in 1971 was different. At that time, the Pakistan Army committing genocide on its eastern wing, resulting in the influx of millions of Bangla-speaking refugees into India, followed by a war between the two countries. Despite winning the war decisively, India had to pay a heavy economic price; it is still facing the scourge of terrorism from across the border.

Refugees the world over find it difficult to integrate into the culture of the countries providing them asylum. Germany, France and Italy, which have liberal refugee laws, are facing the brunt of Islamic terrorism. India, with its own problems of poverty and overpopulation, should not get embroiled in the crisis, rather, play a diplomatic role, if its services are sought. As the saying goes, “charity begins at home”.

V Jayaraman, Chennai

Need to be patient

That the Banks Board Bureau (BBB) has not been able to make perceptible improvements in the functioning of public sector banks (PSB) has been correctly pointed out in the editorial, “A half-hearted attempt” (September 6). 

Despite the well documented failures of the BBB, the idea of having it was sound. It originated from the committee headed by no-nonsense banker P J Nayak and was to be the harbinger of a series of bank reforms culminating in the complete segregation of bank boards from the owners — the central government — through the mechanism of a holding company. In this sense, the BBB was a reform in itself as well as a pulpit for things to come in state-owned banks.

With the change of guard at the Department of Financial Services and the joining of a new banking secretary, the government will have an opportunity to take a fresh look at the obstacles facing the BBB and to kick-start the reform process at PSBs. As the BBB was an idea of the present government, it would be easy for it to rejuvenate the board and take it ahead. 

The reform process at PSBs remains in limbo and there are no ideas, except for the P J Nayak Committee report. The finance minister should now turn his gaze on the issue of banking reforms after completing the task of implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) and shedding the responsibility of the defence ministry. 

Patience with the BBB should not run out fast. The hope of banking reforms should be kept alive as these are sine quo non for the Indian economy to improve. Otherwise, the writing is on the wall — in this case, on the board — for everyone to see.

Y P Issar, Karnal

Impartial exam system 

With reference to the editorial, “The NEET problem” (September 5), it is sad that an aspiring Dalit student, Anitha, committed suicide because she could not secure a seat in a medical college. 

NEET is based on the CBSE syllabus, which is not the norm for a majority of students in a multilingual country like India. Many students are from poor backgrounds and rural or semi-rural areas; they can afford only state government-run schools, which follow the state syllabus. They can’t afford private coaching, too. Should such students be denied admission even if they score high marks, if not high ranks? A more impartial system of examination should be devised.

H N Ramakrishna, Bengaluru

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First Published: Wed, September 06 2017. 22:21 IST