The massive exodus of Rohingya Muslims from the Rakhine region of Myanmar has resulted in one of the largest humanitarian crises of recent times. Historically regarded as stateless entities by the Government of Myanmar, the Rohingyas have been fleeing Rakhine in the wake of a military crackdown by the Myanmar army. Nearly a million Rohingyas have left Rakhine and entered the neighbouring Bangladesh as well as Indonesia and Malaysia as refugees. India too faces the challenge of addressing over 40,000 refugees who have entered the country.
The ongoing debate on the Rohingya crisis tends to be focused on the charges of ethnic cleansing and concerns about extremism and terrorism emanating from Rakhine. Yet the underlying causes and the potential consequences of the crisis are dimly understood.
These issues were unpacked in a conversation between Amb. Shyam Saran and Nimmi Kurian, moderated by Srinath Raghavan at CPR on 7 November at 11 a.m. They attempted to delve deeper into the historical narrative, the complexities of the issue, the challenges it poses, and the possible solutions going forward.
Amb Shyam Saran is a senior fellow at CPR, a former foreign secretary and has served as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Nuclear Affairs and Climate Change, as well as chairman of the National Security Advisory Board. In January 2011, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian honour, for his contributions to civil service. He writes and speaks regularly on foreign policy, climate change, energy security, and national and international security related issues.
Nimmi Kurian is Associate Professor at CPR and Faculty Advisor at the India China Institute, The New School, New York. Her research interests include Asian borderlands, comparative regionalism and subregionalism, Indian foreign policy, constituent diplomacy and transboundary water governance. She is one of the contributors to the India Country Report as part of the Bangladesh China India Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM EC) Joint Study Group, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. She is also part of the Asian Borderlands Research Initiative, a network of scholars interested in the reconfiguration of theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of borderlands.
Srinath Raghavan is a senior fellow at CPR. He is also a senior research fellow at the India Institute at King’s College, London. He works on contemporary and historical aspects of India’s foreign and security policies. His most recent book India’s War: The Making of Modern South Asia, 1939-45 featured among the top non-fiction bestsellers, was chosen as Book of the Year by the Financial Times, and received glowing reviews both nationally and internationally. He is a regular columnist and commentator on international and strategic affairs. Prior to his academic career, he spent six years as an infantry officer in the Indian Army.