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Data from various international & national sources contradict the narrative that immigrants & refugees have flooded the country in recent years


Against the backdrop of National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC), which is expected to be conducted nationwide, there are media reports about detention centres being constructed in various parts of the country. Although media reports indicate the Government denying any connection between NRIC and National Population Register, a reply to unstarred question no 4380 (to be answered on 21st April 2015 in the Lok Sabha) by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs Shri Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary had made it clear that NPR will be completed and taken to its logical conclusion, which is the creation of NRIC, and National Identity Cards would be issued to citizens by verification of citizenship status of every usual resident in the NPR. The NPR would serve as the mother database for creating the NRIC by verifying the citizenship status of each and every resident, the minister added. Please click here to access the instruction manual for updation of NPR 2020 to be used by enumerators and supervisors.  

It is believed by many (including political leaders) that illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries (particularly countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan where Islam is the official religion) are flooding the country with adverse consequences. An analysis of data, extracted from the newly released United Nations' Dataset on International Migrant Stock 2019, by Inclusive Media for Change busts the myth about rising stock of immigrants in India during the last three decades.

Take, for example, the case of Bangladesh. Table-1 shows that the stock of migrants from Bangladesh in the country has steadily fallen over the years. The stock of migrants from Bangladesh in India was 43.75 lakh in 1990, 41.27 lakh in 1995, 38.79 lakh in 2000, 35.84 lakh in 2005, 32.89 lakh in 2010, 31.56 lakh in 2015 and 31.04 lakh in 2019.

Table 1: Total stock of migrants from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Myanmar and the World in India at mid-year (from 1990 to 2019)

Table 1 Total stock of migrants from Bangladesh Afghanistan Bhutan Nepal China Sri Lanka Pakistan Myanmar and World in India at mid-year from 1990 to 2019
Source: United Nations' Dataset on International Migrant Stock 2019, please click here to access

Note: China does not include China, Hong Kong SAR and China, Macao SAR
 
Kindly click here to see the data of table-1 clearly
 
Please access the data of table-1 from https://bit.ly/399OL0B
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On the contrary, the stock of Indian migrants in Bangladesh has steadily risen over the years, as can be noticed from table-2. The stock of migrants from India in Bangladesh was 13,339 in 1990, 18,075 in 1995, 22,811 in 2000, 27,687 in 2005, 32,301 in 2010, 34,431 in 2015 and 34,884 in 2019. On comparing table-1 against table-2, it could be found that the stock of Bangladeshi migrants in India exceeded the stock of Indian migrants in Bangladesh by a huge margin during various years.  

As compared to other neighbouring countries, the stock of migrants from Bangladesh in India has been the highest in various years. Please consult table-1.

Table 2: Total stock of migrants from India in Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, China, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Myanmar and the World at mid-year (from 1990 to 2019)


Table 2 Total stock of migrants from India in Bangladesh Afghanistan Bhutan Nepal China Sri Lanka Pakistan Myanmar and World at mid-year from 1990 to 2019
Source: Same as for table-1

Note: Same as for table-1

NA means 'data not provided'  
 
Kindly click here to see the data of table-2 clearly
 
Please access the data of table-2 from https://bit.ly/399OL0B
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Table-1 indicates that the stock of migrants from Pakistan in India has almost halved between 1990 and 2019 viz. from 19.21 lakh to 10.83 lakh. The stock of Indian migrants to Pakistan has reduced from 28.18 lakh to 15.88 lakh between 1990 and 2019. On comparing table-1 against table-2, it could be observed that the stock of the Indian migrants in Pakistan exceeded the stock of the Pakistani migrants in our country during various years.  

The stock of migrants from various parts of the world in India has declined from 75.95 lakh to 51.55 lakh between 1990 and 2019. As opposed to that, the stock of Indian migrants in other countries of the world has more than doubled between 1990 and 2019 viz. from 66.23 lakh to 1.75 crore. Concerning their place of birth, one-third of all international migrants originate from only ten countries, with India as the lead country of origin that accounts for about 18 million persons living abroad, mentions a news report of the United Nations

A document of the United Nations, which is associated with the Dataset on International Migrant Stock 2019, clarifies that most of the data used to estimate the international migrant stock by country or area were obtained from population censuses. Additionally, population registers and nationally representative surveys provided information on the number and composition of international migrants. While estimating the international migrant stock, international migrants have been equated with the foreign-born population whenever this information is available, which is the case in most countries or areas. In most countries lacking data on place of birth, information on the country of citizenship of those enumerated was available and was used as the basis for the identification of international migrants, thus effectively equating, in these cases, international migrants with foreign citizens.

The UN document entitled ‘International Migrant Stock 2019 documentation’ also explains that equating international migrants with foreign citizens when estimating the migrant stock has important shortcomings. In countries where citizenship is conferred on the basis of jus sanguinis, people who were born in the country of residence may be included in the number of international migrants even though they may have never lived abroad. Conversely, persons who were born abroad and who naturalized in their country of residence are excluded from the stock of international migrants when using citizenship as the criterion to define international migrants.

Using country of citizenship as the basis for the identification of international migrants has also an impact on the age distribution of international migrants, cautions the UN document. In countries where citizenship is conferred mainly on jus sanguinis, children born to international migrants tend to be considered foreign citizens and are thus included in the count of international migrants. Conversely, in countries where citizenship is conferred based on jus soli, children born to international migrants are granted citizenship upon birth and are thus excluded from the migrant stock.

Despite such drawbacks, information by country of citizenship was used in the UN Dataset on International Migrant Stock 2019 because ignoring that would have resulted in a lack of data for 45 countries or areas, equal to nearly 19 percent of all countries and areas of the world.

Census 2011 data

According to a news report published in Newsclick.in dated 21st August, 2019, there were 23 lakh persons in India during Census 2011 who reported that their last place of residence was Bangladesh. During Census 2001, this figure was close to 31 lakh.

Table 3: Migrants classified by place (country) of last residence and duration of residence in place of enumeration - 2011


Table 3 Migrants classified by country of last residence, sex and duration of residence in the place of enumeration in 2011
Source: Census 2011, please click here to access   

Note: Please access the data of table-3 from https://bit.ly/399OL0B
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Table-3 shows that there were 21,961 persons from Bangladesh (viz. their last residence) who were living in India for less than a year (viz. they came to the country during 2010-2011). Census 2011 had found that 62,403 persons from Bangladesh (viz. those who resided there earlier) were staying in India since the last 1-4 years (viz. they arrived during 2007-2010), whereas 87,454 persons were living in the country since the last 5-9 years (viz. they came to India from Bangladesh during 2002-2006). Almost 2.7 lakh persons of Bangladesh origin (viz. those who resided there earlier) were living in India since the last 10-19 years (viz. they came during 1992-2001), whereas 17.61 lakh persons of Bangladesh origin were residing on Indian soil since more than 20 years (viz. they arrived before 1991).

International refugees


As compared to other neighbouring countries, the population of refugees from China (Tibet) has been the highest in various years. Data accessed from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) indicates that there has been no asylum-seekers among Tibetans and none of them returned back. Please check table-4.

As opposed to Tibetans, many Sri Lankan refugees returned back. For example, the number of refugees (including refugee-like situations) from Sri Lanka in 2015 was 64,208. However, 849 Sri Lankan refugees went back in that year. So, the net population of Sri Lankan refugees in India during 2015 was 63,359.

There were 18,813 refugees (including refugee-like situations) from Myanmar in 2018, apart from 2,064 asylum-seekers. So, the net population of refugees from Myanmar in India was 20,877 in 2018.

Table 4: Net population of asylum-seekers/ refugees (including refugee-like situations)/ persons in refugee-like situation/ stateless persons from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, China (Tibet), Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Myanmar in India at mid-year (from 1990 to 2018)

Table 4
Source: UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency, please click here to access; please click here to access the data in PDF version 

Note: Refugees from China are actually Tibetans, according to the news report by Vignesh Radhakrishnan in The Hindu, dated 18th December, 2019, please click here to access

* Refugees (incl. refugee-like situations)

** Asylum-seekers

*** In the 2018 data, figures between 1 and 4 have been replaced with three asterisks (***). These represent situations where the figures are being kept confidential to protect the anonymity of individuals. Such figures are not included in any totals.

**** Refugees returned
 
Kindly click here to see the data of table-4 clearly
 
Please access the data of table-4 from https://bit.ly/399OL0B
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Please note that the Joint Committee on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (which presented its report to the Lok Sabha in January 2019) had asked about the number of persons belonging to minority communities who would benefit from the proposed amendment on the basis of religious persecution. In its response, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had then stated that there are 31,313 persons belonging to minority communities (Hindus - 25447, Sikhs - 5807, Christians - 55, Buddhists - 2 and Parsis - 2) who were given Long Term Visa on the basis of their claim of religious persecution in their respective countries and those persons want Indian Citizenship. The IB expected those persons to be immediately benefitted from the proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act.  

It may be noted that according to the UN document entitled ‘International Migrant Stock 2019 documentation’, the coverage of refugees in population censuses is uneven. In countries where refugees have been granted refugee status and allowed to integrate, they are normally covered by the population census as any other international migrant. In such cases, there is no reason to add the number of refugees to estimate the international migrant stock, because in these cases refugees would already be included in the census data. However, in many countries, refugees lack freedom of movement and are required to reside in camps or other designated areas. In these cases, population censuses may ignore refugees. Furthermore, when refugee flows occur rapidly in situations of conflict, it is uncommon for a population census to take place soon after and to reflect the newly arrived refugee population.

Consequently, for many countries hosting large refugee populations, the refugee statistics reported by international agencies are the only source of information on persons who are recognized as refugees or find themselves in refugee-like situations, say the UN document. In order to ensure that the estimates of the international migrant stock reflect properly the numbers of refugees, the figures on refugees reported by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA) were added to the estimates of the international migrant stock for countries in less developed regions deemed not to have included refugees in their reported statistics on the stock of international migrants. For countries in more developed regions, where refugees admitted for resettlement as well as recognized asylum-seekers are routinely included in population counts, be it by censuses or population registers, no such adjustment was made.

References

UN Dataset on International Migrant Stock 2019, By destination and origin, please click here to access  

UN Report on International Migrant Stock 2019, please click here to access 

The number of international migrants reaches 272 million, continuing an upward trend in all world regions, says UN, UN News, 17 September, 2019, please click here to access 

International Migrant Stock 2019 documentation, please click here to access

Cabinet approves conduct of Census of India 2021 and updation of National Population Register, Press Information Bureau, 24 December, 2019, please click here to access  

Reply to Unstarred Question no. 1724 to be answered on 2nd July, 2019 in Lok Sabha, please click here to access     

Reply to Unstarred Question no. 539 to be answered on 25th June, 2019 in Lok Sabha, please click here to access

Reply to Unstarred Question no 4380 to be answered on 21st April, 2015 in Lok Sabha, please click here to access

Q & A on NRC (National Register of Citizens), Press Information Bureau blog, December 2019, please click here to access 

Report of the Joint Committee on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, presented to the Lok Sabha in January 2019, please click here to access 
 
Census 2011: Migrants classified by place (country) of last residence and duration of residence in place of enumeration, please click here to access  
 
Instruction Manual for Updation of NPR 2020 to be used by enumerators and supervisors, please click here to access  
 
Amit Shah says no NPR-NRC link, his Govt linked it 9 times in House -Deeptiman Tiwary, The Indian Express, 25 December, 2019, please click here to access

Since 2009, states asked by MHA to set up detention centres -Vijaita Singh, The Hindu, 23 December, 2019, please click here to access 

Minorities within majority face persecution in Indian subcontinent -Vignesh Radhakrishnan, The Hindu, 18 December, 2019, please click here to access 

35 detention centres ready for illegal immigrants, state tells Karnataka HC, The New Indian Express, 22 November, 2019, please click here to access 

Telling Numbers: International migrant count slopes downward in India, The Indian Express, 20 September, 2019, please click here to access 

India is the top source of immigrants across the globe, The Hindu, 19 September, 2019, please click here to access 

Indian diaspora, at 17.5 million, is the largest in the world, says UN study -Elizabeth Roche, Livemint, 19 September, 2019, please click here to access 

Census data contradicts bogey of Bangladeshi immigrants’ ‘flood’ -Subodh Varma, Newsclick.in, 21 August, 2019, please click here to access 

 
Image Courtesy: Inclusive Media for Change/ Himanshu Joshi