Fourth Annual Winter Course on Forced Migration

Kolkata , 2006


This report is a product of notes and writings and prepared by the participants, faculty members and members of CRG desk for the winter course on forced migration.  Thanks are to the participants and all others who contributed to it.  Thanks are in particular to the UNHCR, the Brookings Institution and the Government of Finland whose generous help and advice made the programme possible.


  1. A Unique Programme
  2. Structure of the Course
  3. The Participants
  4. Members of Faculty and Speakers in Roundtables
  5. Partnerships: Supporting and Collaborating Institutions
  6. Schedule of the 15-day Programme
  7. Distance Education, the Modules and Assignments
  8. Creative Assignments
  9. Field Visit
  10. Public Lectures
  11. Interactive Sessions
  12. The Film-Tales of the Nightfairies
  13. Inaugural and Valedictory Session
  14. Evalution
  15. Follow-Up Activiries
  16. CRG team on Forced Migration
1. A Unique Programme

In the current political, social, and cultural climate of India, South Asia, and the world in general, the significance of a human rights and peace education programme on the inter-linked phenomena of massive forced migration, racism, and xenophobia cannot be overestimated. Attacks on civilians, atrocities on individuals and groups mostly belonging to minority communities, public espousal of national chauvinism, sexism, and masochism, intolerance, majoritarianism, and wars and war hysteria have increased. The scenario is marked by less tolerance, increase of hatred against foreigners, immigrants and refugees, a reduction of the civic-cultural space for discussion, debate, and dialogue in a context dominated by globalisation and a concomitant reduction of capacity of the states to listen to public voice for democracy, tolerance, and inter-cultural understanding. The situation is compounded by two trends: on one hand, education is becoming more nationalistic, majority-centric, consumerist, and is littered with hate-words and hate-speech, which impact on mass culture and reinforce the mass populist basis of war and militarism; on the other hand, there is a general decline of human rights standards, erasure of human rights protection mechanisms, and an increasing contempt and derision for appeals to heed to human rights laws and humanitarian laws in public life and follow the ethics of considerations for vulnerable sections of society.

Ranabir Samaddar, Director of Calcutta Research Group addresses course participants

Never before in this region was there such dire need to work for peace education that would be based on the ethos of culture of peace so as to foster respect for human rights.

Most conspicuous, because of conflicts, developmental policies, and environmental hazards, population displacement has taken alarming proportions and the victims of forced displacement are becoming targets of xenophobic frenzy, inter-state rivalry, suspicion, and hate speech and hate acts. The flows are of mixed and massive types called for grater atten5tion to human rights standards and humanitarian protection – across boundaries and within nation-states. In short, the situation calls for greater mobilisation of the civic-political space, of human rights, peace, and humanitarian institutions and activists, grater dialogue among all concerned on the related issues of rights, justice, and protection.

Developed through last few years as a programme on human rights and peace education, the annual winter course on forced migration organised each year by the Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group (CRG) has come to be recognised in the region of South Asia as one of the most well known educational programmes on issues of rights and justice relating to the victims of forced migration. In the from of a certificate course, certified by the UNHCR and supported by the Government of Finland and the Brookings Institution, the winter course is aimed at scholars and educationists working on issues of rights and justice, functionaries of humanitarian organisations, national human rights institutions, peace studies scholars and activists, and minority groups, refugee communities, and women’s rights activists. Participants come from all over South Asia, with some joining from Thailand and Burma, and from the Europe and the Americas. The course attracts a renowned international faculty, and is now recognised by the National Human Rights Commission in India, and several universities along with various grassroots organisations have collaborated over the years to make it a success.

There are several features of the course, which make it a unique programme. Readers of the report will find the details in subsequent pages; however it is important to summarise them and place them at the beginning:
(a) Emphasis on distance education, its innovation, and continuous improvement through interactive methods, including the use of web-based education;
(b) International standard, rigorous nature of the course, field work, and a comprehensive regional nature of the course;
(c) Emphasis on experiences of the victims of forced displacement in the conflict zones; such as the Northeast, Jammu Kashmir, and Jharkhand.
(d) Emphasis on gender justice
(e) Special attention on policy implications
(f) Follow up programmes such as spreading it to universities, innovating local modules, training participants to become trainers of the future programmes;
(g) And, finally building up the programme as a facilitator of a network of several universities, grassroots organisations, Mothers Fronts, research foundations, UN institutions etc.

2. Structure of the Course
The Fourth Annual CRG Winter Course on Forced Migration concluded on 15 December 2006. Although this course is called a course on forced migration it also discusses the root causes for migrations/displacements, and so issues such as racism, immigration and xenophobia in the context of displacements fall within its purview and are discussed in some details. The major thrust area of this course is South Asia although examples from other regions are also brought in for purposes of comparison and analysis. The course, as has already been mentioned earlier, is an outcome of the ongoing and past work by the CRG, and other collaborating groups, institutions, scholars, and human rights and humanitarian activists in the field of refugee studies and on displacement and human rights. The course structure is intended to take cognisance of the gendered nature of forced displacement in South Asia.  It pays special attention to victim’s voices and their responses to national and international policies on rehabilitation and care. The course builds on CRGs ongoing research on forced displacements in the region and hence it is constantly evolving.  It analyses mechanisms, both formal and informal, for empowerment of the displaced. It pays particular attention to different forms of vulnerabilities in displacement without creating hierarchies. It is built around six modules, four of which are compulsory and two others optional. From the two optional modules the participants are expected to select one for their study.

The compulsory modules:

1.       Nationalism, ethnicity, racism and xenophobia

2.       Gendered nature of forced migration, victim-hood, and gender-justice

3.       International, regional, and national regimes of protection

4.       Internal displacement – causes, linkages, and responses

The optional modules:

5.       Resource politics, environmental degradation, and forced migration

6.       Ethics of care and justice


This year the course activities besides the writing assignments, included workshop assignments, group discussions, field visit, creative sessions, review discussions, and face-to-face sessions with resource persons experienced in related areas and with refugee activists working with refugees living in camps. The course also included film and documentary sessions.

Duration and activities

The course was of three (3) months duration with two and half months duration of distance education, communication on related issues of displacement studies, course assignments by participants followed by fifteen days of direct course work in a winter workshop. Upon the participants being selected, course material was sent to them in a phased manner Short introductory note on each module was sent to the participants; along with these notes, lists, bibliographies, and other announcements were also sent. The reading material was also sent to the participants in a phased manner.  For review assignments and term papers lead-questions and discussion points were sent at regular intervals. Each module had a tutor and a number of faculty members. On the basis of the modules chosen by them the participants were encouraged to contact the faculty persons for necessary advice and inputs. Chat sessions were organised so that participants could discuss their assignments with module tutors.

Participants were required to prepare an assignment paper each and bring the papers with them for the workshop where the papers were discussed. These papers were first read and commented upon by the module tutors and then made available for wider circulation and discussion on the CRG website. The participants were also given assignments termed as creative assignment so that the period of three months could also be used for training in communication aspects of humanitarian and human rights work, and other practical aspects such as providing the participants with information and documentation skills, preparing local data base, campaign for fund-raising for human rights and humanitarian efforts, and report writing. Creative assignments were made mandatory this year and its results were varied and rich. Participation in the field visit was also compulsory.

The preparation of course material was of great significance. The course material included mandatory, optional and supplementary material. The mandatory material included a number of books, essays and web-based material. Supplementary materials including a short write-up on fieldwork was handed to them when they arrived in Kolkata. Three weeks before the participants arrived in Kolkata they were given workshop themes. They were required to participate in one of the workshops. Participants were graded on all these assignments and on the valedictory day these grades were handed to them. Since 2005 the course also includes two optional modules. The participants were asked to select any one of the modules of their choice. They were given one assignment from the optional module that they selected. They had to write a review essay analysing some of the reading material given in that module.


Twenty-four participants were selected for the course, of whom twenty-one could complete the course. These participants were selected through public notifications and were drawn from backgrounds of law, social and humanitarian work, human rights work, and academic and research work. Most of them came from South Asia but few were also from other regions such as Europe, Africa and Australia and brought forth with them wider experiences of refugee-hood and of rehabilitation and care.  Those who could not complete the course were to do so mainly due to visa problems.


The faculty was drawn from people with recognised backgrounds in refugee studies, studies on internal displacement, university teaching and research, humanitarian work in NGOs, legal studies, UN functionaries, particularly UNHCR and ICRC functionaries; public policy analysis, journalism, and concerned human rights activism and humanitarian work. Attention was paid to diversity of background and region. Importance was attached to the requirements of the syllabus; the faculty was also involved in developing on a permanent scale a syllabus, a set of reading material, evaluation, and follow-up activities. The resource persons also helped in harmonising the syllabus of this course with the requirements of the participants, and similar syllabi in various universities, workshops, and courses. They graded participants on their skills such as speaking and writing skills, analysis of themes chosen, execution of creative assignments etc.


The participants were evaluated by a number of resource persons. The core faculty evaluated each of their assignments. All the resource persons present evaluated their presentations, including the presentation of their term paper. They were given a grade for the distance education segment and another for the Kolkata workshop. At the end of the course they were given a cumulative grade. The course is equivalent to six credit hours of graduate level work.

The course has a built in evaluation system. Each participant is required to present a written evaluation and each resource person is also expected to do the same. Every year CRG invites independent scholars of renown, social activists and administrators to evaluate the course. This year Professor Tarja Väyrynen of Tampere University, Finland, Professor Barbara Ramusack of University of Cincinnati, USA, and Dr. Khalid Koser of the Brookings-Berne Project on Internal Displacement evaluated their course. Excerpts from their evaluation are presented in Section 14.


Considering the growing popularity of the course the advisory committee asked the CRG organisers to look into possibilities of organizing short courses in collaboration with willing centres and departments of Universities in India as follow-up activity.  On the basis of such advice the CRG is now in the process of designing a number of short courses for different Universities and research centres. This year two such short courses were held. The first was held in Guwahati and it was organised in collaboration with Panos, South Asia. The second course was held in Delhi in collaboration with Jamia Milia Islamia University (JMU).

Apart from this a number of workshops on forced migration were held in different parts of South Asia. The CRG also collaborated with a number of institutions and organised a number of public lectures. This year three fellowships were given to the participants of the Winter Course. Also CRG conducted a many research projects on the theme of forced migration. For a detailed report on follow-up activities please read Section 15.

The follow-up activities of the winter course have now assumed the character of an entire programme with other allied work. The CRG established the forced migration desk to look after the entire programme.

3.The Participants

Abdur Rashid is a Senior Programme Officer at the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Dilip Gogoi is a lecturer in Political Science at Cotton College, Guwahati, India.

Eeva Puumala is a doctoral student and research assistant at the Tampere Peace Research Institute (TAPRI), Finland.

Hina Shahid is a Program Officer with Action Aid, Pakistan.

Jason Miller is a researcher monitoring human rights in Burma.

Judith Macchi is pursuing her Master’s degree in Human Geography at the University of Berne and working on her Master’s thesis on the Sri Lankan immigrants to Switzerland.

Ksenia Glebova,Eeva Puumala, Uma Joshi & Judith Macchi

Khaleel Ahmed is an Assistant Registrar (Law) with the National Human Rights Commission of India.

Ksenia Glebova is a freelance journalist from Finland specialising in refugee and displacement issues.

Madhumita Sengupta is lecturer in History at Rani Birla College, Kolkata, India.

Malkit Singh
is a doctoral student in Political Science at the Punjab University working on issues of state, militancy and human rights in Punjab, India

Mostafa Mahmud Naser is a lecturer in Law in the Department of Law, University of Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Nanda Kishor is a doctoral student at the Department of political science, University of Hyderabad are working on the subject of urban displacement and sustainable urban development.

Nir Prasad Dahal is a researcher working for the Nepal Institute for Peace, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Oluwatoyin Oluwaniyi is a lecturer in Political Science at the Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria.

Om Prakash Vyas works for the Investigation Division of the National Human Rights Commission of India.

Course participants from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan

Priyanca Mathur Velath is a doctoral student at the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi studying rights of IDPs in India.

S.Y.Surendra Kumar is a doctoral student at the Jawarharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and a lecturer in Political Science in Bangalore University, India.

Saba Hussain is working for Greenpeace, India.

Shiva Kumar Dhungana is a Research Officer working for a Kathmandu-based NGO Friends For Peace, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Uma Joshi works for the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal.

Vanita Banjan is a senior lecturer in Political Science at the SIES College of Arts, Science and Commerce in Mumbai, India.

4. Members of Faculty and Speakers in Roundtable

Ajay Gandhi Human rights activist and researcher, McGill University

Flavia Agnes Women’s Rights Activist, Majlis, Mumbai

Hameeda Hossain Ain O Shalish Kendra, Dhaka

Hans-Joachim Heintze Professor, University of Ruhr, Bochum, International Regime of Refugee Protection

Jagat Acharya Bhutanese Refugee and Activist, Nepal Institute of Peace, Kathmandu

K. M. Parivelan Information Officer UNDP/TNTRC Chennai

Faculty members in discussion before the inaugural session

Keya Dasgupta Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata

Khalid Koser Deputy Director, Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement, Brookings Institution

Manabi Majumdar Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata

Manuela Bojadzijev Projekt Migration, Frankfurt and Berlin   (European Experiences of Racism and Immigration)

Mario Gomez Berghof Foundation, Colombo (Human Rights Commission and the Protection of the IDPs in Sri Lanka

Meghna Guhathakurta Professor, Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh

O.P. Mishra Centre for Refugee Studies, Jadavpur University

Oishik Sircar Pune ILC, The Politics of Asylum Jurisprudence and International Protection

Paula Banerjee Historian and women’s rights activist, member of the Calcutta Research Group, Faculty, Department of South and South-East Asian studies, University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India.

Pradip Phanjoubam Editor, Imphal Free Press

Ranabir Samaddar Political thinker and Director, Calcutta Research Group, Kolkata, India.

Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury Secretary of the Calcutta Research Group and Faculty, Department of Political Science, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, India.

Samir K. Das Political analyst on the North East and member of the Calcutta Research Group, and Faculty, Department of Political Science, University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India.

Sohini Ghosh Filmmaker, Jamia Milia Islamia University

Subhas Ranjan Chakraborty President of the Calcutta Research Group and Faculty Presidency College.

Sudeep Basu Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata

Sumbul Rizvi UNHCR, New Delhi

5.Partnerships: Supporting and Collaborating Institutions 

The Government of Finland, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, New Delhi, and the Brookings Institution, Washington DC are the sponsors of the programme. With their un-stinted support and goodwill, the programme has become one of the most well known events in the field of studies on forced migration studies, and an academic event in Kolkata.

Preparation for the Fourth Winter Course on Forced Migration commenced on 14 December 2005, a day before the Third Winter Course formally ended.  By that time CRG members and its collaborators had realised that the Winter Course has grown into a full-fledged programme with components of research, networking, particularly partnership between Indian and Finnish institutions, and training under innovative and different formats.  This was later accepted and endorsed by the advisors during the advisory committee meeting in June 2006.

The collaborative nature of the programme was underlined from the beginning by the participatory nature of the advisory meeting. The Advisory Committee Meeting of the Fourth CRG Winter Course on Forced Migration was held in Swabhumi Kolkata, on 13 June 2006. The participants included the following:

Abu Ahmed (OKD)
Ajay Darshan Behra (Jamia Milia Islamia University)
Anita Sengupta (MAKAIAS)
Anna-Kaisa Heikkinen (Government of Finland)
Jyrki Käkönen (University of Tampere)
Krishna Banerjee (Khoj Akhon, CRG)
Monirul Hussain (Guwahati University)
Oishik Sircar (Pune University)
Paula Banerjee (CRG)
Pradip Kumar Bose (CRG)
Pritima Sharma (CRG)
Ranabir Samaddar (CRG)
Ritu Menon (Women Unlimited)
Sabyasachi Basu Roy Chaudhury (CRG)
Samir Das (CRG)
Sharmistha Chakraborty (Calcutta University)
Shivaji Pratim Basu (Sri Chaitanya College)
Shoumitra Dastidar (Independent Filmmaker)
Shreyashi Chaudhuri (CRG)
Subhas Chakraborty (CRG)
Sudeep Basu (IDSK)
Sudhir Chowdhury (NHRC)
Sumbul Rizvi Khan (UNHCR)
Swati Ghosh (Rabindra Bharati University)
Uttara Chakraborty (Bethune College)

Several suggestions emerged as a result of the advisory meeting including greater engagement with the concept of ‘refugee’, more emphasis on Bhutanese and Nepalese refugees in the course, and introducing the Sub-Saharan as well as Latin American dimensions would make the course more interesting and far-reaching.

It was also acknowledged that collaboration with Finland is proving significant as more Finnish students are getting interested in joining the course. Sending selected Winter Course participants to Tampere University for a week-long exposure trip was one of the suggestions later put into practice.

Four areas of experiment were identified including structuring of module, distance education, participants profile and participants assignments. Suggestions were made for a short-term course with SDPI or LUMPS in Islamabad and ICES in Colombo, including growing violence against the displaced as an optional module, looking at the refugee problem as a cultural problem and making the field visit longer in duration. Also, the distance education segment can be reduced so that the time for direct orientation workshop in Kolkata can be increased. In the
assignment component CRG can also think of a collaborative research of participants of two or three countries together.

Sumbul Rizvi, UNHCR Protection Officer

In terms of furthering existing co-operation and creating new collaboration networks, Professor Jyrki Käkönen confirmed his intention to further CRG-Tampere University exchanges.  He stated that Dr. Paula Banerjee was to be invited to teach a course in Tampere for one week.  This course can be on forced migration. Professor Ranabir Samaddar has been invited by Turku University as part of the emerging cooperation. Professor Abu Ahmed stated that the OKD Centre was willing to sign a MOU with CRG for further exchanges.

Support for the winter course has also been expressed at individual level. Several faculty members came without full or any travel support and offered to contribute their knowledge and expertise for the benefit of the course. Many institutions such as the National Human Rights Commission have supported the course by sending participants. Finally, the cooperation from various quarters in circulating the announcement on the course was tremendous. In all these, the cooperation of the participants and the ex-participants was the most valuable asset. CRG remains indebted to all for making the course a success.

Due to the growing popularity of the course the advisory committee asked the organisers to look into possibilities of organizing short courses in collaboration with willing centres and departments of Universities in India as follow-up activities. As a result of a series of follow-up activities the CRG is building partnerships with many new institutions. A number of organisations and institutions have shown willingness to collaborate with CRG on this.  Included in these are NALSAR, Secunderabad, Jamia Milia Islamia University, New Delhi, Omeo Kumar Das Centre, Guwahati, Punjab University, Chandigarh. Women’s Studies Centre, Utkal University, Department of Law, Guwahati University, Department of Political Science, Rabindra Bharati University, Department of South and South East Asian Studies, Calcutta University and several Finnish institutions. Besides as reported earlier the CRG has collaborated with a number of institutions to organise public lectures and discussions as part of its follow-up activity. CRG remains grateful to all the organisations that have showed willingness to collaborate on programmes on forced migration.

Short Course in Jamia Milia Islamia
A five-day course on issues of forced migration was held in Jamia Milia Islamia (JMI) University with full cooperation of the Honorable Vice Chancellor, Professor Mushirul Hasan.  The course coordinators were Ajay Darshan Behera of JMI and Paula Banerjee of CRG. Lectures were delivered by Rashmi Doraiswamy (JMI), Navneeta Chaddha Behera   (Delhi University), Ritu Menon (Women Unlimited), Urvashi Bhutalia (Zubaan), and Walter Fernandez (NESRC) among others. Details of the above course are provided later.

Fellowship Program
This year three fellowships were given to the participants of the Winter Course.  Eeva Puumala came from Tampere University and spent a month in CRG in December 2006 working on the theme, Calcutta: A migrants’ City. Two Indian participants, Nanda Kishore and Priyanca Mathur Velath were sent to Tampere for a week and they worked on Finland’s policies of providing asylum in February 2007. Again details can be found on the following paper.

Khalid Koser of the Brookings Institution in an interactive session with the participants

Workshops Held
Prior to the Winter Course a number of workshops were held. One workshop was held in collaboration with the Punjab University, Chandigarh.  In that seminar CRG organized two panels on the issue of forced migration.  The speakers in these panels included Samir K. Das, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chowdhury, Paula Banerjee and Mika Aaltola.  In April 2006 CRG organized a workshop in Guwahati in collaboration with Panos, South Asia. The participants were from different parts of East and Northeast India. Other than CRG members the resource persons included scholars and activists from Northeast India such as Walter Fernandez, Sujata Dutta-Hazarika, Sanjay Borbora etc. In the summer of 2006 CRG members Ranabir samaddar, Sanjay Chaturvedi and Anita Sengupta participated in a seminar on the issue of borders in Europe and Asia.  In August another workshop was held in Kohima, Nagaland in collaboration with Naga People’s Movement on Human Rights.

Between January and March 2007 a number of workshops were held in different parts of South Asia on the occasion of the release of the report on “Voices of IDPs”. The report has been released in Katmandu in Nepal in collaboration with Nepal Institute of Peace in February 2007.  Around the same time the report was released in Guwahati.  Panos, South Asia facilitated the release in Guwahati.  This was followed by a daylong trip of the media people to camps in Kokrajhar, where part of the fieldwork was held. Detailed report on this is in the later part of this report.

Public Lectures
The CRG collaborated with a number of institutions to organize public lectures before and after the course.  With the Institute of International Law Jeevan Thiagrajajah’”s lecture was organized in New Delhi.  Ranabir Samaddar and Paula Banerjee delivered two public lectures in Dhaka University, Bangladesh in August 2006.  CRG members including Sabyasachi Basu Raychowdhury delivered public lectures in February 2007 in Katmandu in collaboration with Friends for Peace in Nepal.  In Kolkata Professor Sonia Dayan-Hezbrun of University of Paris VII, France addressed a public lecture in February 2007.

Research Programme
The CRG has designed and organized a number of researches on the theme of forced migration in collaboration with different institutes in South Asia.  The research on the “Voices of IDPs” was organized in collaboration with a number of human rights group.  In Sri Lanka the research was conducted in collaboration with National Peace Council in Colombo, in Nepal with the Nepal Institute of Peace, Katmandu and in Bangladesh with Research Initiative of Bangladesh, Dhaka. 

The CRG has been able to set-up a well-organized network of institution and individuals passionately committed to the cause of forced migrants in South Asia. In the field of studies and discourses on forced migration it has been able to establish itself as a premier institution.

6.Schedule of the 15-day Programme

Fourth Annual Winter Course on Forced Migration (1-15 December 2006, Kolkata) 
(Venue – Conference Room, Swabhumi, Kolkata, unless otherwise stated)
Course Modules 

A. Forced migration, racism, immigration and xenophobia
B. Gender dimensions of forced migration, vulnerabilities, and justice
C. International, regional, and the national legal regimes of protection, sovereignty and the principle of responsibility
D. Internal displacement with special reference to causes, linkages, and responses

E. Resource politics, environmental degradation, violence and displacement
F. Ethics of care and justice  
Plus Field Visit, Seminars, Course Assignments, Workshops, Public Lectures, etc

1 December (Friday)  
5.00 PM                          Inauguration, Sojourn Hotel (Salt Lake, Sector III, near Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata 700106) Introductory Remarks      Ranabir Samaddar, Director, CRG, Kolkata
Inaugural Lecture            Flavia Agnes, Women’s Rights Activist, Majlis, Mumbai

2 December (Saturday)
  9.30 – 11.00 AM            Explaining the Course and foundational concepts / Ranabir Samaddar
11.00 – 11.30 AM            Tea break
11.30 –   1.00 PM            Module B / Sumbul Rizvi, Protection Officer, UNHCR, India (Statelessness and Women)
  1.00 –   2.00 PM            Lunch break   
2.00 –   3.30 PM            Panel discussion on “Women’s Access to Citizenship in India-Twenty Years after Shah Bano"
(Flavia Agnes, Manabi Majumdar, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata; Ruchira Goswami, National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata,Priyanca Mathur,  (participant) Moderator: Paula Banerjee, CRG & Calcutta University, Kolkata)  
  3.30 –   4.00 PM            Tea break  
4.00 –   5.30 PM            Module A / Ranabir Samaddar
  6.00 –   8.00 PM            Library hours

3 December (Sunday)
  9.30 – 11.00 AM            Module A/ Manuela Bojadzijev, Projekt Migration, Frankfurt and Berlin (European Experiences of Racism and Immigration)
11.00 – 11.30 AM            Tea break

11.30 –   1.00 PM            Participants’ presentation under Module A (Moderator: Ranabir Samaddar)

  1.00 –   2.00 PM            Lunch break

  2.00 –   3.30 PM            Module A/Jagat Acharya, Bhutanese Refugee and Activist, Nepal Institute of Peace, Kathmandu ("Political, Social and Economic Discriminations in Bhutan and Bhutanese Refugee Question")

  3.30 –   5.00 PM            Panel discussion on "Do Partition Refugees have a Right to Return? ( Jagat Acharya, Ranabir Samaddar, Subhoranjan Das Gupta, Institute   of Development Studies, Kolkata, Samir Das, CRG & Calcutta University, Kolkata/ Vanita Banjan, Malkit Singh,(participants) Moderator: Keya Dasgupta, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences,  Kolkata)
  6.00 –    8.00 PM           Library hours

4 December (Monday)

  9.30 – 11.00 AM            Module B/ Paula Banerjee, (Gender dimensions of Forced Migration)
11.00 – 11.30 AM            Tea break

11.30 –   1.00 PM            Module B/ Manuela Bojadzijev, (EU and European States' Policies towards Refugee and illegal immigrant women)

  1.00 –   2.00 PM            Lunch break

  2.00 –   3.30 PM            Participants’ presentation under Module B (Moderator: Paula Banerjee)
  3.30 –   4.00 AM            Tea break

  4.00 –   5.30 PM            Lecture by OP Mishra, Centre for Refugee Studies, Jadavpur University
6.00 –   7.00 PM            Discussion on revision of term papers under Modules A and B with Ranabir Samaddar and Paula Banerjee and other concerned resource  persons (only with participants presenting papers under these two  modules)
  7.00 –   8.00 PM            Library hours

5 December (Tuesday)

  9.30 – 11.00 AM            Module C/ Oishik Sircar, Pune ILC (The Politics of Asylum Jurisprudence and International Protection)

11.00 – 11.30 AM            Tea break

11.30 –   1.00 PM            Module C/ Parivelan Information Officer TNTRC, Tamil Nadu (The Need for National Legislation and Regional Convention for Refugees and other Victims of Forced Migration)        

  1.00 –   2.00 PM            Lunch break

  2.00 –   3.30 PM           Participants’ presentation under Module C (Moderator: Khalid Koser, Deputy Director, Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement, Brookings Institution)

  3.30 –  4.00 PM            Tea break

  4.00 –  5.30 PM            Module C / Khalid Koser, (Human Rights Origins of the International Regimes of Protection of the Victims of Forced Migration)

  6.00 –   8.00 PM           Library hours

6 December (Wednesday)
  9.30 – 11.00 AM            Module D/ Khoti Kamanga, Lawyer, Coordinator of the Centre for the Study of Forced Migration-University of Dar es Salaam and Secretary of the International Association for the study of Forced Migration (IDP Situation in Africa)

11.00 – 11.30 AM            Tea break

11.30 –   1.00 PM            Module D/ Mario Gomez, Bergh of Foundation, Colombo (Human rights Commission and the Protection of the IDPs in Sri Lanka)

  1.00 –   2.00 PM            Lunch break

  2.00 –   3.30 PM           Participants’ presentation under Module D (Moderator: Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury CRG, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata)

  3.30 –  4.00 PM            Tea break

  4.00 –  5.30 PM            Roundtable on"How Effective are the NHRCs in Protecting the Victims of Forced Migration?" (Mario Gomez, O.P.Vyas, Khalil Ahmed, Uma Josi, (Participants) Moderator: Parivelan) in collaboration with the dept of South and Southeast Asian Studies, Calcutta University. 

  6.00 –  7.00 PM            Discussion on revision of term papers under Module C and D with Parivelan and Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury and concerned resource persons (only with participants presenting papers under these modules)

  7.00 –   8.00 PM           Library hours

7 December (Thursday)

  9.30 – 11.00 AM            Module C/ Khoti Kamanga (Laws and Displaced Women in Sub-Saharan Africa)

11.00 – 11.30 AM            Tea break

11.30 –   1.00 PM            Participant's workshop on "Resources Violence and Displacement" Muhammad Rafique, Judith Machhi, Mostafa Mahmud Naser, Saba Hussain, Nir Dahal, Nanda Kishor, Ksenia Glebova, (Participants) (Moderator: Sabysachi Basu Rao Chaudhury)        

   1.00 –   2.00 PM           Lunch break
2.00 –   3.30 PM           Participant's workshop contd.

    3.30 –  4.00 PM           Tea break

    4.00 –  5.30 PM           Camp life and Voices of Refugees, Ranabir Samaddar and Paula Banerjee

   6.00 –   8.00 PM           Library hours

8 December (Friday)

  9.00 –   9.30 AM            Briefing on field visit-Subhas Ranjan Chakraborty, President CRG and Sudeep Basu, Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata  

  9.30 – 11.00 AM            Module D/ Pradip Phanjoubam, Imphal Free Press (Hundred Years of Displacement in Manipur)

11.00 – 11.30 AM            Tea break

11.30 –   1.00 PM            Participant's workshop on "Forced Displacement in Northeast" Pradip Phanjoubam, Meghna Guhathaurta, Dhaka University and RIB, Dhaka,Madhumita Sengupta, Dilip Gogoi, Hina Shahid, Jason Miller, S.Y. Surendra Kumar, (Participants) (Moderator: Samir Kumar Das)        

   1.00 –   2.00 PM            Lunch break
2.00 –   3.30 PM           Panel Discussion contd.

    3.30 –  4.00 PM           Tea break

    4.00 –  5.30 PM           Interactive session with Sohini Ghosh, filmmaker,Jamia Milia Islamia

   6.00 –   8.00 PM           Library hours

9 December (Saturday)

   9.30 – 11.00 AM            Film Show and discussion 

 11.00 – 11.30 AM            Tea break

11.30 –    1.00 PM            Film Show and discussion contd. / Moderator: Sohini Ghosh

   1.00 –   2.00 PM            Lunch break
2.00 –   3.30 PM           Two parallel sessions on Modules E and F / Meghna Guhathakurta, and Samir K. Das respectively

    3.30 –  4.00 PM           Tea break

    4.00 –  5.30 PM           Two parallel sessions on Modules E and F (Meghna Guhathakurta and Ranabir Samaddar)

   6.00 –   8.00 PM           Library hours


10 December (Sunday)

   9.30 – 11.00 AM            Discussion on Creative assignments 

 11.00 – 11.30 AM            Tea break

11.30 –    1.00 PM            Module C/D Sabyasachi Basu Roy Chaudhury

   1.00 –   2.00 PM            Lunch break
            8.00 PM           Rail Journey (Field Visit)


11 December (Monday)

Field Visit and Public Lecture


12 December (Tuesday)

(Field Visit)
Return Journey by train back to Kolkata

13 December (Wednesday)

               12.00 Noon         Lunch

 12.30 –   2.30 PM            Module C / Hans-Joachim Hentze, University of Ruhr, Bochum (International Regime of Refugee Protection)

   2.30 –   3.00 PM            Tea break

   3.00 –   4.30 PM           Roundtable discussion on "Is Palestinian Experience a Unique Experience in Refugee Annals?"  Eeva Puumala, Neha Bhat (participants) Sonia Dayan, University of Paris VII, Ajay Gandhi, Human rights activist and researcher, McGill University and Hans-Joachim Heintze, Moderator:Subhas Chakraborty
5.00 –  6.30 PM           
Public lecture by Dr. Hans-Joachim Heintze in collaboration with the Dept of International Relations, Jadavpur University, Kolkata


14 December (Thursday / Hotel Sojourm)

   9.30 - 11.00 AM            Camp life: Palestinian Experiences / Ajay Gandhi

 11.00 – 11.30 AM            Tea break

 11.30 –   1.00 PM            Module F / Roundtable on "Humanitarian Institutions and their Task of Care" Shiva Dhungana, Oluwaniyi, (Participants) (Moderator: Ranabir Samaddar)

   1.00 –   2.00 PM            Lunch break
2.00 –   3.30 PM           Rountable Contd.

                6.00 PM           Cultural Evening


15 December (Friday / Hotel Sojourm)

   9.30 - 11.00 AM            Evaluation (Sojourn Hotel)

              5.00 PM             Valedictory Session, Sojourn Hotel (Salt Lake, Sector III, near Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata 700106) Closing Remarks              Ranabir Samaddar and Tarja Vayrynen
Presentation of
Valedictory Address          Hameeda Hossain, Ain O Kendra, Dhaka on " Forced Migration and Trafficking of Labour-Migrant Women Workers of Bangladesh"
Vote of Thanks                 Paula Banerjee

                                                                       Roundtable Discussion in Calcutta University


7. Distance Education, the Modules and Assignments

The course is structured around six modules that have already been mentioned before.  The participants are given reading materials on all six modules.  The readings are divided in two sections - essential and supplementary. The course material is sent to the participants in a phased manner. The essential readings are sent to them during the distance education period, and the supplementary readings are given when the participants arrive in Kolkata for the direct orientation programme. The essential or core material is in many forms: books, and electrically sent material in form of attachments, CD, and web-posted and web-linked material. The supplementary materials included essays and book sections meant strictly for classroom, journals, are relevant web based materials. Some of the reading material is provided free of cost and some has to be bought by the participants at heavily subsidised rates. 


The distance segment of the orientation course begins from 15 September. By 30 September most participants get the books and the module notes. An introductory note on each module is sent to the participants; along with these notes, lists, bibliographies, and other announcements are also sent. Introductory notes are considered extremely useful by the participants as they discussed the modules at some length. The abstracts of these Introductory notes to the modules are given below:


Module A (Forced Migration,racism,immigration,and xenophobia)
core faculty member: Ranabir Samaddar

The first module deals with linkages between the phenomenon of forced migration and those of racism, xenophobia, and immigration.

While international law on protection of refugees deals with the condition, status, and the rights of persons who have already escaped the persecution and crossed the border to seek asylum, this module deals with what may be called the “root causes” of the flight. It is in this respect that we have to discuss the phenomena of racism and xenophobia, and the relation of the state controls on immigration with the issue of protection of refugees.


Also it must be borne in mind that whatever be the cause, refugees have a right to care, protection, and settlement, though it is true that if the root causes are not considered seriously, then there is a probability that we shall consider the refugee situation as a banal one, and neglect thereby the question of the rights of the refugees or the duty of the States and the international community to protect the escapees of violence. One example is around the concept of “well-founded fear” which is a test for grant of refugee status.


The “well-founded fear” concept has evolved from a relatively simple inquiry within which the refugee's subjective feelings of "terror" were prominent, to a much more complex and wide-ranging inquiry within which concepts such as the "safe state" have become increasingly the sole determinants of the issue of the well-founded fear. Or take this case, on which a jurist had to comment, “Refugee determination procedure on individual basis and the unequal sharing of burden of care have now produced confused, traumatized, and nervous shelter-seekers who travel rarely with supportive documents, false or no papers, and land in alien systems which are frequently hostile or incredulous" hosts”. In this case involving a Sri Lanka Tamil who had fled persecution allegedly at the hands of the LTTE (R. SSHD ex parte Karunakaran 25 January 2000, unreported), the judge commented, “The civil standard of proof, which treats anything, which probably happened, is part of a pragmatic legal fiction. It has no logical bearing on the assessment of the likelihood of future events or (by parity of reasoning) the quality of past ones... The method of evaluation is itself not one of hard facts. But it requires knowledge not only of applicant's own tale, and what is accepted of it, but a whole range of other factual matters.”

In any case, the dual phenomena of racism and xenophobia have become almost universal phenomena. Xenophobia is a related phenomenon; aggressive attitude towards national differences produces neo-racist differences. It had been so earlier also. Partition of states produces the most concentrated violence, reshaping states reshape minds, and the formation of new states happens amidst mass murders, mass dislocations, and mass displacements. Partition refugees are a special category, for they lose the right to return even a right granted at least nominally to other groups of refugees.

The right to return is a significant issue in this context.  Although much debated internationally the right to return is most clearly enshrined in the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) under its provisions on the right to freedom of movement (Article 12.4) which says that No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.  But this right has often proved to be a chimera at least in South Asia.  A historian has shown that perhaps the first group of people, though not refugees, whose right to return was denied by a South Asian state were the Indian emigrants who travelled abroad in the nineteenth century to work as plantation labourers. All through the nationalist period the fate of these labourers in their country of domicile was a rallying point for Indian leaders to portray the dark side of foreign rule. There was constant reiteration that the state was responsible for all the people who were born in India. Yet during the legislative assembly debates in 1944 the leaders came to a consensus that these émigrés rightfully belonged to their country of domicile and not in India. Unlike nationalists during the colonial period, the leaders of the post-colonial State formation project no longer looked forward to the return of the emigrants who were slowly being considered as foreigners.  South Asian independence was accompanied by a blood bath. The partition of India and Pakistan resulted in two million deaths and about 15 million people were displaced. Most of the refugees were lucky enough to get domicile and often citizenship in their country of domicile. Yet problem arose over the issue of return. South Asian states passed legislations whereby property of the displaced were confiscated by the State and treated as enemy property.  So the home that they wanted to go back to remained only in their own imagination. One often hears the argument that because partition refugees got an alternate citizenship they lost the right to return. In South Asia there are however, other groups of refugees who remain as stateless people; yet they are denied the right to return. We have the instances of two such groups of refugees: the Chakmas (Jumma people) and the Bhutanese. The focus in any discussion on the right to return of citizens expelled has to be thus on the need to move away from the classical theories of sovereignty, democracy, State, and citizenship, and take the exile, the alien, the displaced (both internally and trans-border), and the half-citizen as the central figure of the politics in South Asia, the figure who is with us like the eternally accompanying shadow, so normalised that we forget its existence which we have taken for granted. In this physical milieu of expulsion, de-enfranchisement, and nationalisation, the right to return is at once the most crucial question and the most hallucinatory claim.


The last point that this module discusses is the relation between refugee flow immigration flow, and the way these flows mix to form massive and mixed flows of population groups in today's world.

Module A is the beginning. But the module should offer enough glimpses of the problems in the issue of refugee protection today, so that the following modules in this course can be appreciated better. And, one must not forget that in all instances and phenomena cited above gender stays as the most deeply inscribed category of discrimination and difference, if discrimination and difference are taken as the key opening words. A good beginning means an anticipation of the problems that will arise at the end.



Etienne Balibar,  in Etienne Balibar and Immanuel Wallerstein, Race, Nation, Class – Ambiguous Identities (Verso, 1991)

B.S. Chimni, International Refugee Law – A Reader (Sage Publications, 2003), section 5
Ranabir Samaddar (ed.), Peace Studies I (Sage Publications, 2004), chapters 7-8, 13-14
Ranabir Samaddar (ed.), Refugees and the State (Sage Publications, 2003), chapters 1-3, 6, 9
Ranabir Samaddar, The Marginal Nation (Sage Publications, 1999), chapters 1-4, 13
REFUGEE WATCH, “Scrutinising the Land Settlement Scheme in Bhutan”, No. 9, March 2000
REFUGEE WATCH, “Displacing the People the Nation Marches Ahead in Sri Lanka”, No. 15, September 2001 


RW.: Displacing the People the Nation Marches Ahead in Sri Lanka

RW.: Mohajirs : The Refugees By Choice





Forced Migration,racism,immigration,and xenophobia


Write a note on how the syllabus and the reading material of this course connect the four key words of this module - forced migration, racism, immigration, and xenophobia - and build on the basis of these linkages an orientation course on forced migration.




Prepare and present a fact sheet of newspaper reports (4 pages) on an event or topic related to any of the four themes mentioned in the title of the module and show thereby how a refugee situation or that of internal displacement is created.




Discuss with the help of case studies the various elements involved in the "right to return" and argue in the context of those elements if the right to return can be considered as a substantive one or otherwise.   




Write a note on the context of the phrase, "mixed and massive flows" of migration, and show how this situation affects the task of protecting the refugees.


Module B (Gender dimensions of forced migration, vulnerabilities, and justice)
core faculty member: Paula Banerjee

Over one percent of the total world population today consists of refugees.  More than eighty percent of that number is made up of women and their dependent children.  An overwhelming majority of these women come from the developing world. South Asia is the fourth largest refugee-producing region in the world.  Again, a majority of these refugees are made up of women. The sheer number of women among the refugee population portrays the gendered nature of the issue. The nation building projects in South Asia has led to the creation of a homogenised identity of citizenship.  State machineries seek to create a “unified” and “national” citizenry that accepts the central role of the existing elite. This is done through privileging majoritarian, male and monolithic cultural values that deny the space to difference.  Such a denial has often led to the segregation of minorities, on the basis of caste, religion and gender from the collective “we”. One way of marginalising women from body politic is done by targeting them and displacing them in times of state verses community conflicts. As a refugee a woman loses her individuality, subjectivity, citizenship and her ability to make political choices.  As political non-subjects refugee women emerge as the symbol of difference between citizens and its other: the refugees and the non-citizens. By taking some select examples from South Asia in this module we will address such theoretical assumptions. Here the category of refugee women will include women who have crossed international borders and those who are internally displaced and are potential refugees.

The partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 witnessed probably the largest refugee movement in modern history.  About 8 million Hindus and Sikhs left Pakistan to resettle in India while about 6-7 million Muslims went to Pakistan.  Such transfer of population was accompanied by horrific violence.  Some 50,000 Muslim women in India and 33,000 non-Muslim women in Pakistan were abducted, abandoned or separated from their families. Women's experiences of migration, abduction and destitution during partition and State's responses to it is a pointer to the relationship between women's position as marginal participants in state politics and gender subordination as perpetrated by the State.  In this context the experiences of abducted women and their often forcible repatriation by the State assumes enormous importance today when thousands of South Asian women are either refugees, migrants or stateless  within the subcontinent. Abducted women were not considered as legal entities with political and constitutional rights.  All choices were denied to them and while the state patronised them verbally by portraying their “need” for protection it also infantilised them by giving decision making power to their guardians who were defined by the male pronoun “he”. Even today the refugee women do not represent themselves.  Officials represent them.  For the abducted women it was their sexuality that threatened their security and the honour of the nation.

Refugee women from other parts of South Asia reflect trauma faced by women belonging to communities considered as disorderly by the state. During multiple displacements women who have never coped with such situations before are often at a loss for necessary papers.  When separated from male members of their family they are vulnerable to sexual abuse. The camps are not conducive for the personal safety of women, as they enjoy no privacy.  But what is more worrying is that without any institutional support women become particularly vulnerable to human traffickers. These people aided by network of criminals force women into prostitution.  Millions of rupees change hands in this trade and more lives get wrecked every day. Many displaced women who are unable to cross international border swell the ranks of the internally displaced. Even in IDP camps women are responsible for holding together fragmented families.  Today roughly one-third of all households in Sri Lanka are headed by women and the numbers increase many fold in the camps for internally displaced.  Although 89 percent women in Sri Lanka are literate, due to two decades of armed conflict women from North and East have lower levels of education with one in every four being illiterate.   A report based on a research carried out at Mannar district portray that among 190,000 IDPs women often find it impossible to generate enough income for buying food for the whole family.  In Illupakkadavai, all 36 heads of female-headed households stated that they rely on dry rations for approximately 90 percent for their nutritional needs and that the children of women headed households are most vulnerable to exploitation.  In Sri Lanka suicide rates for women have doubled in the last two decades.  

None of the South Asian states are signatories to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees or the 1967 Protocol.  As India is the largest South Asian state it should be interesting to see how women refugees are dealt with here.  In India Articles 14, 21 and 25 under Fundamental Rights guarantees the Right to Equality, Right to Life and Liberty and Freedom of Religion of citizens and aliens alike.  Like the other South Asian states India had ratified the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1993.  Although there is no incorporation of international treaty obligations in the Municipal laws still rights accruing to the refugees in India under Articles 14, 21 and 25 can be enforced in the Supreme Court under Article 32 and in the High Court under Article 226.  The other guiding principles for refugees are the executive orders that have been passed under the Foreigners Act of 1946 and the Passport Act of 1967.  The National Human Rights Commission has also taken up questions regarding the protection of refugees.  It approached the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution and stopped the Expulsion of Chakma refugees from Northeast India. Yet all these orders are ad hoc in nature and the legal position remains nebulous.  This is true not just of India but all of South Asia.

The overwhelming presence of women among displaced populations is not an accident of history. It is a way by which states have made women political non-subjects.  By making women permanent refugee, living a savage life in camps, it is easy to homogenise them, ignore their identity, individuality and subjectivity.  By reducing refugee women to the status of mere victims in our own narratives we accept the homogenisation of women and their depoliticisation.  We legitimise a space where states can make certain groups of people political non-subjects.  In this module we intend to discuss the causes of such depoliticisation that often results in displacements.  We will also discuss the situation of displaced women in South Asia and consider policy alternatives that might help in their rehabilitation and care.



Paula Banerjee, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury and Samir Das, Internal Displacement in South Asia, chapter 9.

B.S. Chimni, International Refugee Law – A Reader (Sage Publications, 2003), section 1

Ritu Menon and Kamla Bhasin, Borders and Boundaries, chapter 3.

Joshva Raja, Refugees and their Right to Communicate, chapter 8.

Ranabir Samaddar (ed.), Refugees and the State (Sage Publications, 2003), chapter 9.

Ranabir Samaddar, The Marginal Nation (Sage Publications, 1999), chapter 12.

Refugee Watch, Nos. 10-11


UNHCR Policy on Refugee Women

Select UNICEF Policy Recommendation on the Gender Dimensions of Internal Displacement


RW.: Dislocated Subjects : The Story of Refugee Women

RW.: War and Its Impact on Women in Sri Lanka

RW : Afghan Women In Iran

RW.: Refugee Women of Bhutan

RW.: Rohingya Women – Stateless and Oppressed in Burma

RW.: Dislocating the Women and Making the Nation




Gender dimensions of forced migration, vulnerabilities, and justice  


On the basis of a close reading of B.S. Chimni's Reader address the debate: is it desirable that women be treated as a separate legal category in international and national legal regimes of protection.




Compare the situation of Sri Lankan women IDPs and Afghan refugee women in Pakistan.




Why listening to women's experiences and chronicling them is particularly relevant for understanding refugee situations in South Asia.




In the context of women's displacement all over South Asia discuss women's lack of control over institutional structures of protection.




Is lack of control over resources a reason for women's displacement?  Argue your case with reference to one particular group of women refugees/IDPs.

Module C (International, regional, and national regimes of protection)
Core faculty member: Khalid Koser

Module C deals with the international and national legal regimes of protection of the victims of forced displacement and their right. 


Refugee Law is a relatively new branch of International Law. The first major step towards developing an international regime of protection was the 1951 Convention that was later modified by the 1967 Protocol. From then on the 1951 convention has formed the core of all Human Rights Law and Humanitarian Law for the protection of refugees. The 1951 Convention defines a refugee as a person who owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.


However since its inception there have been many objections to the provisions of the 1951 convention. It is said that the Convention mandates protection for those whose civil and political rights are violated, without protecting persons whose socio-economic rights are at risk. Also it has been criticised on the grounds of its Euro centrism, and insensitivity towards the internecine racial, ethnic and religious conflicts in third world, which has resulted in the creation of refugees in large numbers. The provisions of the convention have served well for the protection of refugees during the Cold War times but have failed to do so after that.  Today the first world often attempts at dealing with the refugee problems ‘at source’. This has led to the international interference in the internal matters of a sovereign nation creating further problems for states and for the displaced. This has been witnessed very recently in the Darfur region of Sudan and in past in former Yugoslavia, Somalia, and other African countries.

Another failure of the Convention has been the inability to recognise the special needs of women, children, and aged people within the sections of refugees, though this has been addressed to some extent in the provisions of CEDAW convention.  In 1985, the UNHCR Executive Committee adopted Conclusion No. 39 that recognised that refugee women and girls formed a majority among the world refugee population.  The Conclusion also recognised that states were free to consider women facing inhuman treatment as belonging to a particular social group within the 1951 convention. In October 1993 the UNHCR adopted Conclusion No. 73 that stated that all those who have suffered sexual violence should be treated with particular sensitivity. However, there is little in UNHCR guidelines that can make women victims of sexual violence as special claimants for refugee protection.


Today provisions of the 1951 Convention seems dated and in need for further revision due to increased complexities in the process of refugee generation, protection and also due to advances in the field of refugee studies. The increased focus on refugee studies has led to broadening of definitions of ‘refugee’, ‘protection’, ‘rights’, ‘justice’ etc. As a result of all these reasons the 1951 Convention has not been ratified by many nations of the world. Many regions have developed its own regimes for protection of people facing forced displacement. The OAU Convention expanded the definition of refugee contained in the 1951 Convention. The OAU Convention defines the term “refugee” to include persons fleeing their country of origin due to external aggression, occupation, foreign domination, or events seriously disturbing public order in either a part or the whole of the country of origin or nationality. This implies that “well-founded fear” is a subjective category and anyone facing civil and political disturbances and war need not prove their well-founded fear for life.  The Cartagena Declaration recommends a definition similar to that contained in the OAU Convention. In so far as Asia is concerned mention may be made of the Asian African Legal Consultative Committee (AALCC) in 1966. But this has not had the impact of either the OAU Convention or the Cartagena Declaration.  South Asia has not been able to develop a legal regime for refugees or IDPs.

None of the South Asian states are a signatory to the 1951 Convention or the 67 Protocol. India has also stayed away from these mechanisms, citing certain biases in the provisions of the convention. However, it has developed its own provisions to deal with the problems of refugees on a case-by-case basis in absence of a consistent national policy. This has its own problems, for example India has provided all possible help to Tibetan refugee due to its own political necessities but has not done so with the Bangladeshi and Bhutanese refugees. The provisions of Indian state has also not progressed with the evolution of feminist critic of the protection regimes which needs attention and creation of a consistent policy accommodating the faults in current practices.Not everyone who applies for refugee status can get protection.  In 1951 Convention there are a list of “exclusion clauses” containing categories of persons who do not deserve international protection.


In this module we have focusses on the various aspects of refugee protection at an international level in general and on South Asian level in particular (Module D discusses in details the legal principles of protection of IDPs). 



Paula Banerjee, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury and Samir Das, Internal Displacement in South Asia, Epilogue
B.S. Chimni, International Refugee Law – A Reader (Sage Publications, 2003)
Who is a Refugee?, Pgs. 1-81; Asylum, Pgs. 82-160; Rights and Duties of a Refugee, Pgs. 161-209
Ranabir Samaddar (ed.), Refugees and the State (Sage Publications, 2003), chapters 10-11.
Refugee Watch No.4 (December 1998) articles by Sarbani Sen and Brian Gorlick.


F-e-material 1 – International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law
Document printed from the website of the ICRC.
International Committee of the Red Cross

F-e-material 2 –“A Patchwork Protection Regime; Internal Displacement in International Law and Institutional Practice” / David Fisher

Convention Against Torture 





International, regional, and the national regimes of protection


Do you think that the category of "well-founded fear" reflects subjectivity in the definition of refugees as indicated in the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees? Comment in the light of the definition adopted by the OAU Convention.




Examine the principle of non-refoulement in relation to the policy of non-entrée.




Do you think that there is a need for a national law on refugees?  Argue your case with reference to experiences of any country.




Explain how the Conclusion No. 39 and 73 adopted by the UNHCR Executive Committee and the CEDAW have attempted to take into account the special needs of women refugees.




How the internally displaced persons can return to the places of their habitual residence and/or resettled?  Discuss with special reference to Principles 28 and 29 of the UN Guiding Principles


Module D (Internal displacement - causes, linkages, and responses)
Core faculty member: Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhuri

The eviction of indigenous people from their land is a recurrent theme in South Asia.  Be it Ranigaon, Golai, Motakeda, Somthana, Ahmedabad, Bandarban, or Trincomalee, thousands of families are being evicted from their homes either in the name of conflict or in the name of modernization. They are being forced to stay in the open, in pouring rain with a number of them suffering from malnutrition and starvation and they are fearful for their lives at most times. The last two decades have witnessed an enormous increase in the number of internally displaced people in South Asia.  Their situation is particularly vulnerable because unlike the refugees they are unable to move away from the site of conflict and have to remain within a state in which they were displaced in the first place. These unfortunate people who have been displaced once are often displaced multiple times by the hands of the powers that be.  Yet as displaced they do not have the capacity to cross international borders but seek rehabilitation from the powers that are responsible for their displacement in the first place.


The situation of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) seems particularly vulnerable when one considers that there are hardly any legal mechanisms that guide their rehabilitation and care in South Asia.  Since the early 1990s the need for a separate legal mechanism for IDPs in South Asia has increasingly been felt.  This is not only to compile new laws but also to bring together the existing laws within a single legal instrument and to plug the loopholes detected in them over the years. Only recently the international community has developed such a mechanism that is popularly known as the UN Guiding Principles on internal displacement. This has given us a framework within which rehabilitation and care of internally displaced people in South Asia can be organised. Keeping that in mind it becomes imperative for scholars working on issues of forced migration in South Asia to consider whether South Asian states have taken the Guiding Principles into account while organising programmes for rehabilitation and care for the internally displaced persons (IDPs).    


The Guiding Principles on Internally Displaced Persons set out the rights of internally displaced persons relevant to the needs they encounter in different stages of displacement. The Guiding Principles provide a handy schematic of how to design a national policy or law on internal displacement that is focused on the individuals concerned and responsive to the requirements of international law.  Similarly, governments (and particularly national human rights institutions where they exist), advocates, and displaced persons can use the Guiding Principles as a means to measure the compliance of existing laws and policies with international standards.  Finally, their simplicity allows the Guiding Principles to effectively inform the internally displaced themselves of their rights. The Guiding Principles are thus part of a growing number of “soft law” instruments that have come to characterize norm-making in the human rights field as well as other areas of international law, in particular environmental, labor and finance. 


The short notes to the questions presented below indicate the discussions that this module aims to discuss.

What Types of Displacement are Prohibited by the Guiding Principles?   

Principle 6 affirms that “[e]very human being shall have the right to be protected against being arbitrarily displaced from his or her home or place of habitual residence.”  Support for this proposition can be found in humanitarian law and also in the right to movement, guaranteed by a number of human rights instruments, which can be reasonably expected to have as its corollary the “right not to move.” Where displacement is to occur outside the context of armed conflict, Principle 7 provides a list of procedural protections that must be guaranteed, including decision- making and enforcement by appropriate authorities, involvement of and consultation with those to be affected and the provision of an effective remedy for those wishing to challenge their displacement.  These provisions are, of course, of particular interest to those facing displacement for development projects.Moreover, in either context, “all measures” must be taken to minimize the effects and duration of the displacement and the responsible authorities are required to ensure “to the greatest practicable extent” that the basic needs of those displaced (e.g., shelter, safety, nutrition, health, and hygiene) are met. It should also be noted that Principal 9 articulates a “special obligation” to protection against displacement of a number of groups whose special attachment to territory has been recognized in international law, including indigenous persons, minorities, peasants, and pastoralists.


What Rights do Persons have once Displaced?

Displaced persons enjoy the full range of rights enjoyed by civilians in humanitarian law and by every human being in human rights law.  These include the rights to life, integrity and dignity of the person (e.g., freedom from rape and torture), non-discrimination, recognition as a person before the law, freedom from arbitrary detention, liberty of movement, respect for family life, an adequate standard of living (including to access to basic humanitarian needs), medical care, access to legal remedies, possession of property, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, participation in public life, and education, as set out in Principles 10-23.In several instances, the Guiding Principles specify how generally expressed rights apply in situations of displacement.  These should be of particular interest to those designing and assessing domestic policies on internal displacement.  For example, Principle 12 provides that, to give effect to the right of liberty from arbitrary detention, internally displaced persons “shall not be interned in or confined in a camp” absent “exceptional circumstances” and that they shall not be subject to discriminatory arrest “as a result of their displacement.”  Likewise Principle 20 provides that the right to “recognition everywhere as a person before the law” should be given effect for displaced persons by authorities facilitating the issuance of “all documents necessary for the enjoyment and exercise of their legal rights, such as passports, personal identification documents, birth certificates and marriage certificates.” The Guiding Principles provide for special consideration of the needs of women and children (including “positive discrimination” or affirmative activities on behalf of governments to model assistance and protection to their particular needs, consultation and involvement in decisions regarding their displacement and return or resettlement, protection against recruitment of minors and free and compulsory education), as well as for other especially vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and disabled. 


What Help Should Displaced Persons Expect with Return, Reintegration and Resettlement?

The Guiding Principles provide that competent authorities have “the primary duty and responsibility” to assist displaced persons by providing the means as well as by establishing conditions for return to their places of origin, or for resettlement in another part of the country (Principle 28). Any return or resettlement must be voluntary and carried out in conditions of safety and dignity for those involved.  As a corollary to the right to free movement, therefore, displaced persons have the right to return to their homes.   Although the right to return or resettle is not expressly stated in any particular human rights instrument, this interpretation of the right of free movement is strongly supported by resolutions of the Security Council, decisions of treaty monitoring bodies, and other sources of authority. However, though the displaced have the right to return, Principle 28 carefully specifies that they must not be forced to do so, particularly (but not only) when their safety would be imperiled. The issue of the voluntariness of return or resettlement is recurrent in protracted displacement situations around the world.  In many places, governments and insurgent groups have ceded to the temptation to use the return or resettlement of displaced persons as a political tool. 


Are their any special provisions for women?

In the guiding principles a concerted attempt was made to prioritise gender issues.  For example, while discussing groups that needed special attention in Principle 4 it was stated that expectant mothers, mothers with young children and female heads of households, among others, are people who may need special attention. In Principle 7 it was stated that when displacement occurred due to reasons other than armed conflict authorities should involve women who are affected, in the planning and management of their relocation.  Principle 9 upheld that IDPs should be protected in particular against “Rape, mutilation, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and other outrages upon personal dignity, such as acts of gender-specific violence, forced prostitution and any other form of indecent assault.” Special protection was also sought against sexual exploitation.  Principle 19 stated that attention should be given to the health needs of women and Principle 20 stated that both men and women had equal rights to obtain government documents in their own names. Apart from the Guiding Principles there are other international mechanisms that displaced women can access.  They include the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (hereafter CEDAW) and the 1999 Optional Protocol sets out specific steps for states to become proactive in their efforts to eliminate discrimination against displaced women.  


Are the Guiding Principles legally binding?

Although the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement is not a legally binding treaty it is formed of principles that are based on established legal mechanisms for aiding the human rights of the displaced people. Many of these Principles may gradually attain the status of customary international law. But as Francis Deng reminds us, “for the time being they serve as a morally binding statement.” A statement of this nature that promises to be ‘morally binding’ on a wide spectrum of primarily national governments and secondarily, other relevant international and non-governmental agencies must cut across the well-known divisions of the prevailing ethical and moral systems and elaborate itself in a way that it does not remain captive to any particular modality of moral reasoning. Plurality of such systems and modalities is helpful in building the much-needed ‘moral consensus’ around these principles.


Paula Banerjee, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury and Samir Das, Internal Displacement in South Asia.
Addressing Internal Displacement: A Framework For National Responsibility
Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement


1.        E-material: Protection of Internally Displaced Persons: Inter-Agency Standing Committee Policy Paper

2.        E-e-material2: Sovereignty as Responsibility: The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement/ Roberta Cohen

3.        E-e-material3:An Overview of Revisions to the World Bank Resettlement Policy

Plus other book extracts, essays, articles, lectures & web-based material.




Internal displacement - causes, linkages, and responses  


Show how the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement base themselves on human rights and humanitarian legal regimes.




What are the special provisions for Women IDPs in international regimes of protection and care of IDPs.  How far have they helped the cause of women's rehabilitation and care?




On the basis of a close reading of Internal Displacement in South Asia write an essay on how development have often led to displacement in South Asia.




How relevant are the UN Guiding Principles for different countries in South Asia?




Compare the situation of conflict related IDPs and Tsunami related IDPs in Sri Lanka.




When does displacement end?


Module E (Resource politics, environmental degradation, and forced migration)
Core faculty member: Meghna Guhathakurta

Annually, the lives and livelihoods of millions of people across the globe are affected by forced displacement due to ethnic conflicts, infrastructure projects like dams, mines, industries, power plants, and roads and then due to natural disasters such as floods, river erosion etc. The forced migration is due to many reasons but question of control over natural resource has been at the centre of these reasons. Even in displacements induced by conflicts, it is the question of resources that lies at the heart of most of these conflicts. The situation in South Asia is no exception. This module is thus designed to give a comprehensive understanding of the following issues:

1.Resources lie at the heart of conflicts, which in turn lead to forcible displacement of groups of population.
2.The concept of environmental degradation and environmental displacement.
3.The effect of resource politics and environmental degradation on women.
4.Impact of globalisation on the resource politics, environmental destruction and forced migration.
5.Guidelines on how to prevent such displacement and how to shape adequate policies to ensure the adequate rehabilitation of the displaced.
6.South Asian dynamics of the resource politics and ensuing conflict between nations.

This module would thus deal with these questions through specific case studies from North East India and other parts of India and South Asia taking up issues of ethnic conflict, and developmental displacement - all due to resource conflicts and environmental degradation. The module will discuss the experiences of the Northeast in particular. The resource conflict and forced migration are closely inter-linked. In India, this operates at various levels and regions and is reflected in the developmental imbalances across sections of society regionally and nationally. The worst manifestation of this has been again in the North East. The land use pattern in North East India has also contributed towards the ensuing conflict between various communities and environmental destruction. Prior to independence if British encouraged plantation agriculture and brought many labourers from outside now it is the time of modern day developmental agencies who have been trying to change the agricultural patterns of the indigenous people and trying to encourage coffee plantation and other crops which are not viable in this region. The plantation labourers now termed, as 'outsiders' has now become target of local conflicts. The crisis in plantation economies has also rendered many people jobless and vast tracts of land unutilised and in control of private parties. A large chunk of land is also inhabited by the various security agencies in the region that further aggravates the situation. The region has also suffered considerable environmental destruction due to large scale deforestation leading to frequent land slide, increased siltation of rivers, floods, and river erosion displacing a large number of people.  The phenomenon of globalisation has further aggravated the resource crisis by creating new demands for the resources and introducing private corporations with large financial resources. This has brought them in direct conflict with the communities who were early enjoying these resources and are now being handed over to private corporations by state for a price. One can see it, among others, from the extent of land most states acquire for private companies. For example, Orissa had acquired 40,000 ha for industries during 1951-1995 but plans to acquire 100,000 ha in a decade. Andhra Pradesh has acquired in five years half as much land for industry as it did in 45 years. Similar quantities are being acquired in Jharkhand for mines that foreign companies are eyeing. Goa had acquired 3.5 per cent of the state's landmass in 1965-1995 and plans to acquire 7.2 per cent of it during this decade. Our experience suggests that governments have expressed their inability in rehabilitating IDPs citing paucity of land so, any land acquisition will happen only by confiscating common property resources (CPRs) being used by other communities causing tension between host communities and oustees, and culturable waste land which will need investment of an unusually higher order than the amount of compensation paid by the government. This needs to be understood that the CPRs are crucial to people's sustenance. There are also instances where the rivers are being privatised; water systems are being privatised and creating extraordinary demands on the existing resources leading to environmental destruction. The mindless exploitation of resources and unregulated discharge of harmful chemicals and waste materials are contributing to the environmental degradation. All these factors are together contributing towards resource and environmental crisis leading to forced migration of people



Resource politics, environmental degradation, and forced migration


On the basis of your reading of Meghna Guhathakurta's article "Globalization, Class and Gender Relations: The Shrimp Industry in South-western Bangladesh," Report on the Workshop on Engendering R & R (both available in CRG website) and the chapter entitled "Shefali" in Marginal Nations, analyse how lack of control over resources have led to large-scale displacement of women?




On reading "Development Induced Displacement in Pakistan," in Refugee Watch (available in CRG website) and "Pakistan: Development and Disaster" in Internal Displacement in South Asia, comment on how the developmental model that has been favoured by the Pakistani state have led to large-scale dispossession and displacement of people?




On reading Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury's "Uprooted Twice: Refugees From the Chittagong Hill Tracts," in Refugees and the State do you agree that conflict in CHT is in the last resort a conflict over land.   




Do you think that ethnicity is an adequate notion to use in the conext of the politics of land-use in India's North-east? Discuss in the light of your reading of Sanjoy Barbora's article  "Ethnic politics and Land-use: Genesis of conflicts in India's North-east"



On reading "Development Induced Displacement in Pakistan," in Refugee Watch (available in CRG website) and "Pakistan: Development and Disaster" in Internal Displacement in South Asia, comment and Scrutinizing the Land Resettlement Scheme in Bhutan explain how the development paradigms of the Pakistan and Bhutanese states have led to displacement of populations as well as assess their capacities to handle  resettlement schemes.


Module F (Ethics of care and justice )
Core faculty member: Samir Kumar Das

Why should we care for and protect the victims of forced displacement? The “we” here refers to those who have not had experienced displacement themselves, yet harbour some form of an ethical commitment to the victims of forced displacement. The ethical language therefore is expected to establish some form of a connection between us and them, between those who are not forcibly displaced and those who are. Ethical language therefore is a language of universality that cuts across the given boundaries of the victims' groups and communities. While ethical language has to be universal, the phenomenon of forced displacement is not. It is true that the incidence of forced displacement has alarmingly been on the rise.

What we see is the presence of a wide variety of argumentation and reasoning offered by us in justification of our advocacies for care and protection of the displaced persons. First of all, there is the rights-based argument. Care and protection according to this argument, will be construed as our 'duty' insofar as the 'well being' of the displaced persons becomes 'a sufficient reason for holding us to be under this duty'. The problem recognized by almost all the exponents of this argument is that the right against displacement is not an end in itself and cannot per se be regarded as the 'sufficient reason' for holding us under this duty. Sufficiency of reason does not reflect itself in the same way as in the two advocacies for the right against displacement and say, the right to life. If one's displacement becomes a necessary condition for another's enjoyment of the right to life often understood as decent life, we can say that the former is derogable and the latter is not. Thus, the right against eviction routinely carried out in the metropolitan cities of South Asia whether in Dhaka, Kolkata or Islamabad or elsewhere, has to contend with the argument for development and decent life defined everywhere as a 'collective goal of the community as a whole'. This takes us to the heart of our second argument. According to it, care and protection always follow the established lines of community and kinship. Organizing responses beyond these lines proves particularly difficult especially in South Asia where community and kinship ties are found to be exceptionally strong. The community-based argument evidently has its limits: in course of organizing the responses, it not only reinforces the traditional lines of rivalry, but reenacts the inequities and asymmetries otherwise internal to these bodies. Various reports emphasize how life in camps, allocation and utilization of aid and assistance for the displaced persons reinforce the kinship and community lineages and become the fertile ground for future tensions and ethnic strife. The limits of the community-based argument are sought to be overcome by what we call, the humanitarian argument. Today, the humanitarian ethics seldom turns on one's own self. It instead considers others as equal ethical agents in the sense that they are as much entitled to 'purity and perfection' as we are. Viewed in this light, our care and protection are a tribute to their ethical entitlements, of which they are otherwise deprived.

Humanitarian ethics thus has two presuppositions: first, displacement in South Asia cannot be fathomed without the metaphor of home for it is not simply where we live or to which all of us are morally entitled like many other objects of our social existence, but it is the fountainhead of all our moral and ethical entitlements. Almost all the South Asian societies make a distinction between the home we simply live in and the home that helps shape what we aspire to become and therefore invest us with our moral identities. Any involuntary displacement is a disjuncture between home and home, between what we are and what we want to become, between our senses of lack and fulfillment. Secondly, should a conflict arise between our and their moral entitlements, humanitarian ethics always settles for a minimalist course. Those of us who have the commitment to and power of taking care and protecting the displaced persons will be under any moral obligation if and only if by taking care and protecting them we 'do not sacrifice anything of comparable moral importance', that is to say, our own right to life and livelihood. 

The module discusses these ethical standpoints and goes deep into the relation between the human rights and humanitarian standpoints with regard to the needs of the displaced.

From the optional module the participants were expected to select one question for their review essay and from the compulsory modules they were required to write their term paper. To facilitate their work all tutors in charge of compulsory modules held chat sessions with participants who wanted to discuss their assignments with them.  Only Khalid Koser was unable to do so but he had long discussions with participants via email.  The written assignments were graded and the module tutors gave their comments that were posted on the web so that the participants could improve their writings if they so desired.  The participants were given a grade for distance education and another for their on sight training in Kolkata.  Grades were confidential and only the participants had access to their personal grades. Please find below the written assignments:



Ethics of care and justice 


Review relevant sections on ethics and justice in B.S. Chimni's International Refugee Law: A Reader and comment on the importance of these two issues in rehabilitation and care of refugees.




After reading Ranabir Samaddar's article on "Power, Fear, Ethics," in Refugee Watch critically discuss "fear" as a factor in the displacement of vulnerable groups.




Critically analyse Peter Penz's article on "Development, displacement and International Ethics," and comment how ethical it is to displace people for reasons of development?


List of Participants and Assignments

Sl No.

Name of the Participant


Email ID

Module chosen for Review Assignment

Module chosen for Term Paper


Mustafa Mahmud Naser (M)





Mohammed Abdur Rashid (M)





Malkit Singh (M)





Madhumita Sengupta(F)





Saba Hussain (F)





Dilip Gogoi (M)





Priyanka Mathur Velath (F)





Vanita Banjan (F)

India /




OP Vyas (M)





Khaleel Ahmed (M)





SY Surendra Kumar (M)

India / 




Nanda Kishor (M)

India / 




Nir Prasad Dahal (M)





Uma Joshi (F)

Nepal / 




Shiva Kumar Dhungana (M)

Nepal /




Hina Shahid (F)





Ksenia Glebova (F)

Finland /




Eeva Puumala (F)

Finland /




Oluwatoyin Oluwaniyi (F)





Judith Machhi (F)

Switzerland /




Jason Miller (M)

Thailand /



8. Creative Assignments

One of the significant features of the course was the segment of creative assignments, which were taken up and completed by the participants with great satisfaction. 

Suggestions for the creative assignment were sent to participants before they arrived in Kolkata and they were asked to bring completed assignments along with them to the course. The assignments dealt with refugees or IDPs and treated situations of displacement in creative ways.  Creative assignments were then exhibited, presented, in case of documentary films shown, and discussed by the faculty and all the participants in Kolkata. 

The following suggestions for creative assignments were made:

1. Suppose you are an editor of a magazine. Prepare a special issue of the magazine on issues of forced migration.

2. Prepare a 4-5 day course syllabus, which will include issues of Forced Migration, Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons.

3. Prepare an investigative report of any situation of forced displacement in your region (local or national).

4. Prepare short commentaries on the recent reforms towards relief & rehabilitation of IDPs in your countries; these can be posted on Refugee Watch Online.

5. Write a short story on the situation of any refugee/IDP group.

6. Prepare either a photo exhibit or a poster exhibit on situations of forced displacement.

7. Write few songs on the situation of the victims of forced displacement.

8. Collect some literary pieces (songs, poems, stories) on the theme of forced migration and prepare a compendium with them.

9. A ten minutes documentary on any situation of forced displacement.

10. A short play on a refugee situation that might be performed during the cultural evening.

Accordingly some of the participants set up a photo gallery during the course made up of photographs of refugee life and different displacement situations. One participant presented an exhibition of black-and-white photographs with detailed captions documenting the situation of internally displaced Burmese and Burmese residing in refugee camps in Thailand. Dilip Gogoi also presented a series of photos on the aftermath of the Karbi Anglong conflict and displacement. A few others presented their photo exhibitions in the form of power point presentations. Priyanca Mathur Velath prepared a presentation documenting the daily lives of Tibetan refugees living in Majnukatila in Delhi, while Hina Shahid did the same for refugee women in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan. Eeva Puumala prepared a photographic essay featuring her interviews with asylum seekers in a detention center in Tampere. Vanita Banjan and Surendra Kumar prepared separate course syllabi for an introductory course in forced migration. Nandu Kishor made a short documentary featuring the condition of those displaced as a result of urban development in Hyderabad. Participants from NHRC presented cartoons with short poems on the situation of displaced.  Shiva Dungana of Nepal wrote a short story.  The creative assignments emerged as one of the most attractive segments of the course.

List of the Creative Assignments



Creative Assignments



1.Nanda Kishor

Documentary presentation

2.Dilip Gogoi

Present a field report with some classic photographs on ethnic conflict induced  displacement, based on research in Karbi Anlong district in Assam

3.Malkit Singh

Revisiting 1984

4.SY Surendra Kumar


prepare a syllabus for a One year Post graduation diploma in forced migration, IDP and Refugees"

5.Vanita Banjan

4-5 day course syllabus, which will include issues of Forced Migration, Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons.

6.Saba Hussain

Journal on environmental refugees

7.Madhumita Sengupta

Photo exhibit on forced displacement, preferably in Northeast India

8.Priyanka Mathur Velath

photofeature on Tibetan Refugees in Delhi

9. OP Vyas

Cd showing the conditions of IDPs living in relief camps in Karbi Anglong District, Assam

10.Khaleel Ahmed

Investigative report of in Dantewade district of Chattisgarh.




1.Shiva Kumar Dhungana

A short story on the situation of any refugee/IDP group.

2.Uma Joshi

Photo exhibit on forced displacement.

3.Nir Prasad Dahal

4-5 day course syllabus, which will include issues of Forced Migration, Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons


1.Hina Shahid

Photo exibit on Afghan Refugees residing in the Karachi


1.Mostafa Mahmud Naser

4-5 day course syllabus, which will include issues of Forced Migration, Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons

2. Mohd Abdur Rashid


Investigative report on forced displacement in
bangladesh: the magurchara explosion case.



1.Eeva Puumala


Write a short story on the situation of a special group of asylum-seekers in Finland, on which I am doing my own research and whom I am interviewing currently.

2.Oluwatoyin Oluwaniyi

A course syllabus preparation.

3.Jason Miller  

A photo-essay on the displacement of Karen populations in Eastern Burma. 

4.Judith Machhi

Article on integration of Sri Lankan refugees in Switzerland, in particular how the second generations of those refugees develop 'transnational identities'.

5.Ksenia Glebova

A series of interviews with asylum seekers in detention in the EU

9.Field Visit

The field trip to Darjeeling was an exciting break after the lengthy sessions in Kolkata. It was also intended to give the course participants some practical experience and a better understanding of the daily life of refugees.

Prior to the visit a detailed briefing about the existing centers of Tibetan refugees in Darjeeling was given to the participants on 8 December 2006, by Subhash Chakraborty, President of CRG along with Sudeep Basu, an ex-participant who has researched on Tibetan refugees. Together, they provided first-hand information as to how to understand the whole scenario of the refugee center.

Course participants at Sealdah Railway Station on way to field visit

Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre

The more we care for the happiness of others,
The greater our own sense of well-being becomes,
Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the minds at ease.
This helps remove whatever fears or
Insecurities we may have and gives us
The strength to cope with any obstacles
We encounter.
It is the ultimate source of life.

The next day participants went to visit the Tibetan Refugees Self Help Centre. The Centre was born on October 2, 1959 with four people. The Tibetans deem this place momentous not only from a practical point of view but also from an emblematic point of view since the 13th Dalai Lama spent two years of his exile in this place. The Centre was registered as a charitable organisation under the Indian Law and the donations it receives are exempt from income tax.

Tibetan refugee at work in Darjeeling

The eye-catching feature of the centre that attracts the visitors is the handicraft goods beautifully designed and presented by the resident refugees. These goods are being exported to 36 countries around the world to represent Tibetan culture. Training programmes are also part of the centre as to promote traditional Tibetan handicrafts around the globe. A promising future for the Tibetans refugee youth is ahead as the day care centre along with nursery, established in 1960, is providing care and education to the kids.

The day care centre allows mothers to concentrate and produce the best out of their hard work. Another prominent feature is a medical wing of 20 beds with extended medical services such as X-ray, ultrasound and pathological laboratory etc. in town. The mobile medical clinic helps not only the residents of the center but also used in organising medical camps for poor people of the area. The center also has its printing press in town with modern techniques to print news bulletins and other publications related to refugees.

Tibetan refugee women at work in the Self Help-Centre

The group had a round of the different sections of the centre along with the manager. Here they had a chance to take a closure look at the manufacturing of the handicrafts such as carpet weaving, woolen clothing, wool spinning, tailoring, knitting and painting, carpentry etc.

The winter course participants were also told that there were around 650 residents in the center in the year 2001. But presently there are only 350 residents (150 families). Those who left the center went abroad in search of jobs, where some of them are well settled.

This was the second visit to the Centre by participants of the course, as in the Third Course also in 2005 the participants had visited Darjeeling, visited the Centre and had learnt a lot.

The Tibetans Self Help Center has not only provided the opportunity to this refugee group to settle down but also helped to build its sense of self worth, confidence and courage to face the challenges of the society and the state. They are in the hope to return to their roots. The center’s sale counter facilitated the participants to buy the handicrafts to make their visit memorable.

At the Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre

Another settlement in Sonara was supposed to be visited by the winter course group but due to short span of time it could not be done. It was briefed to the group that the settlement had a monastery and a hostel. The refugees residing in this place are associated with agriculture.

The field trip provided an opportunity to the group to see the realities of Tibetan refugee life in exile, where they have been living for decades. It was felt by the participants that this field trip would help to enrich their research and practical experiences.

10. Public Lectures

The fourth winter course included two public events – a public lecture by Ranabir Samaddar, the Director of CRG, and panel discussion on Settled states and Unsettled Populations: Evolving discourses on Social Justice in India in Loreto College, Darjeeling on 11 December and a public lecture by Hans-Joachim Heintze, University of Rurh, Bochum on Legal Regimes of Protection for the Victims of Forced Migration on 13 December at Jadavpur University, Kolkata.

Settled States and Unsettled Populations: Evolving Discourses on Social Justice in India
Panel: Subhas Ranjan Chakraborty, Ranabir Samaddar, A.S. Rai, Fr. George Thadathil

Professor Ranabir Samaddar opened his speech by drawing attention to the geographical location of Darjeeling on the border of West Bengal, where the upper caste southern Bengali culture ends and another culture begins. In the eyes of the Bengali people, this is a region of migrants but why do we so often think in terms of settled identities? In today’s world, one of the primary forms of demanding justice is based on political identity, as was the case, for example, in the Indian struggle for independence. Identity, in turn, is defined in terms of settled borders. Indeed, settled politics begins with settled borders. Historically this has not always been the case and there are many cases of trans-border existence.

Borders do not only exist on the periphery of states, borders are also lines that have a life of their own. Sometimes people obey rules of immigration and at times they neglect them. Borders also have a tendency to divide people as life centers around borders but at the same time life on the borders do not respect the border. One of the greatest injustices in the past two centuries has been the injustice done to people who did not respect borders and thought they could live a trans-border life. This injustice was done by means of boundary making, state demarcations and partitions. Defining borders began with the Roman Empire now marking 2000 years of leading our lives this way. Border is one of the fundamental conditions regulating the institution of state, whereby non-citizens do not enjoy the same rights. We still do not know what trans-border citizenship means. Citizenship began with the declaration and assumption of political rights and socio-economic rights for chosen some but is this enough? What about the aliens, the non-citizens? The border still regulates these principles, so what about substantive citizenship rights? We must rethink the institution of borders. Another question characteristic of globalisation is about the moving populations, the undocumented and uncountable mass of individuals, moving outside and within national borders.

Hans-Joachim Heintze speaking at 
Jadavpur University

How do we retain the sanctity of the border today? Land is once again one of the most important factors in politics. Land is a source of contentious politics. This brings us back to the classic question of politics – how do we deal with the question of land, on which large proportion of the population depends?

Father George Thadathil began his speech by placing himself within the Rawlsian distinction between justice and ethics and subtitling his talk as “ethics and ethnicity or unsettled populations within apparently settled states”.  He was speaking of the people of Darjeeling. Ethics is the need for fair treatment of others, premised on correct self-understanding. A philosophical starting point is the primacy of ethical over the ontological, which is exactly the opposite approach compared to Western philosophy. Reason cannot unveil everything about being. Are our perceptions born within the group or outside the group? Philosophy needs to be rooted in ethics. However, ethics worldwide has taken a backseat due to globalisation. For example, dalits are not yet in the mainstream of political life. We are living in a situation where we fought to attain a degree of justice.

Racial, ethnic, social, demographic and linguistic differences prevent assimilation process. There was perception of neglect in Darjeeling followed by the emergence of ethnic identity. Whereas imperialism gave space to dalits, sixty years of independence did not achieve what Indian constitution recommended to achieve within ten years. There also exists a local discourse on justice in Darjeeling. Local leaders call it counter violence – “if the state did not use violence, we would not have either”. Another dimension worth mentioning is the notion of the self i.e. defining oneself as anti other, “I am not you”. I am capable of defining myself not only against you but also along with you. I am also the other.

Social justice is an attribute we should possess in terms of treatment of groups and individuals. The stress should be put on benefits of social justice; however there hasto be the burden of responsibility needed. One’s involvement in social justice should be based on practices and principles – the two must be compatible i.e. just.

Legal regimes of protection for the victims of forced migration
Professor Hans-Joachim Heintze, University of Rurh, Bochum

Hans-Joachim Heintze’s lecture took place at Jadavpur University. He addressed the subject of legal regimes of protection for the victims of forced migration on the basis of examples taken from the former Yugoslavia. Heintze was speaking on the basis of personal experience as he had worked in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The question of whether return is a right or a duty in the case of Yugoslavian refugees was raised at the outset of the lecture, which then attempted to address the question from different perspectives.

Even though the state of Yugoslavia was first established after the First World War, the forging of a common Yugoslav identity failed to materialise alongside the process of state formation.  The multinational state of Yugoslavia ceased to exist in 1991, when deteriorating inter-ethnic relations led to a full-blown armed conflict and eventually ethnic cleansing. The ICRC and UNHCR were both involved in relief operations in the region. Bosnia-Herzegovina provides a good example of ethnic cleansing, whereby conscious attempts have been made by the governments to create homogenous citizenry. As a result, out of 4.4 million inhabitants of 

Panel discussion on women's access to citizenship in India

Bosnia-Herzegovina 1.5 million people became internally displaced and 700.000 were forced to move abroad. These people were invited by the German government to come to Germany and were granted the right to work. However, their legal status in Germany was unclear as they were first granted half-a-year residence permits, which were later renewed on short-term temporary basis. 

The Dayton Agreement of 1995 specified that these people residing in Germany would now be obliged to return to their former places of residence. The so-called peace courts were established to ensure the end of the ethnic cleansing, thus people were obliged to return. Thus international law was not applied in this case. Bosnia-Herzegovina became a federal entity; a union of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the general approach was in support of peaceful multicultural co-existence. Also, emphasis has been given on the regional dimension financed by the European Union. But the key problem remained – the people of ex-Yugoslavia did not want to live together and lead a multicultural co-existence. Rather, they wanted to leave the country and they did so in large numbers thus contributing to the brain drain.

The war in Yugoslavia is a terrible fact for the whole of Europe because it revealed a glaring failure on behalf of Europe to end the war. This was a failure not only of the European collective effort but also of the international community as a whole. The question Heintze raised at the end was: Is our aim only to provide effective humanitarian assistance to the victims of the conflict or should we make efforts to stop this sort of massive violence?

Mario Gomez and Parivelan in an interactive session

11. Interactive Sessions

The CRG winter course is special is because it has a number of interactive sessions in the form of round tables and panel discussions.  This year each compulsory module had at least one interactive session.  Some modules had more than one interactive session such as module B.  Participants for these sessions included administrators, members of institutions that deal with issues of  refugees and IDPs such as the UNHCR and the National Human Rights Commission, human rights activists, refugee activists, creative writers, legal analysts and refugees and IDPs who have had experiences of living in camps. 

Most of these sessions were public sessions. The themes of the sessions were:
1.       Women's Access to Citizenship in India-Twenty Years After Shah Bano (2 December )

2.       Is the Right to Return a Symbolic Right? (3 December)
3.       How Effective is the NHRC in Protecting the Victims of Forced Migration? (6 December )

4.       Resource, Gender, and Forced Migration (7 December)

5.       Forced Displacement in North East India (8 December

6.       Is the Palestinian Experience a Unique Experience in Refugee Annals? (13 December)

The interactive session on the Right to Return

7.       Humanitarian Institutions and their Task of Care (14 December )

Women’s Access to Citizenship in India – Twenty Years after Shah Bano

The discussion began with the panelists attempting to answer the central question, why is citizenship so important for women? Women are both the ‘other’ and the citizens of a nation. There are different rules for women. Shah Bano is a Muslim woman who fought for her alimony rights for over 14 years in the Supreme Court. Yet when she got that right the state stepped in and negated that.  Their allies were the patriarchal community leaders. In fact community leaders have more voice than women in women’s affairs. Social justice does not apply to the internal workings of the family unit. Female welfare was considered synonymous to family welfare. Multiculturalism creates new complexities and women become minorities within minorities. Why put women’s rights against community rights? Why can’t they go hand in hand?  There are also many cultural barriers that obstruct women’s access to citizenship rights? The Shah Bano case, the Bhanwari Devi case and the Alinagar killings all portray the patriarchal attitude that inhibits the discourse on women’s rights.

Course participants listening to alecture

The media representation of the question of women’s rights is also skewed.  The media always takes the more sensational path and often sacrifices justice in the process.  What right do the media have to put a rape victims’ face on the television when law prohibits it? Sometimes the media puts women demanding her rights on trial. Is it fair to have a trail by media? The panelists agreed that today the collective responsibility lies with the media, the courts, and all of us if we want women to access her rights of citizenship and make this a more just world.

Is Right to Return Merely Symbolic?

The Right to Return is central to any refugee movement.  The Refugee Convention of 1951 recognizes it. It does not mean taking the refugee back to the border and pushing them back rather it is a recognition of the right of a refugee to go back to her country with honour. In Bhutan, many people from the South were deprived of their citizenship and then thrown out. The notification came out in Junkha in the national newspaper of Bhutan. Today most of these people are in UNHCR run camps in Nepal. The essential question of return of Bhutanese refugees is a very difficult one as they have hardly any access to citizenship.

International law has clear provisions on origin and succession of states but no clear guideline on how states can be partitioned if they are. When a group of policy makers or decision makers decide to partition a state/population then who is to bear the consequence of the decision? Thus international law is much behind international development. When we partition territory do we ask what we are partitioning? How do we thus ensure that people who do not want their land to be partitioned get a chance to return or is such a dream mere hallucination.

A number of questions emerge tied to the existential condition of refugees and in reality the Right to Return was found to be flouted in most situations. The stateless Biharis of Bangladesh are still hanging in mid-air. This right is honoured in paper but much flouted in practice. Neither Nehru nor Liaqat Ali kept the promises that they made in the Nehru-Liaqat Ali Pact. Thus saying that refugees have a right to return becomes more a tongue in cheek reply. It may be considered as sacrosanct as any right included in our constitution but are often violated in practice.

The Right to Return can be seen from three angles: legal, political and emotional. It has its legal basis in UDHR, the International Covenant on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and ICCPR. The political angle to the Right to Return can be seen in the example of the Bangladeshi Muslims in Mumbai. The Shiv Sena in Mumbai welcomes Hindus but not Muslims as it says that they had already laid claim to their own religious state i.e. Pakistan. The emotional appeal of ‘Vibhajan Asweekar’ (Partition Not Accepted) lies at the base of the emotional desire to return to one’s place of birth wherein borders become hurdles. Perhaps all countries together should ensure visa relaxation rules.

For refugees, the most important right is the right to return. Has providing a legal framework for them solved any problem? Partitions have created histories and memories of killing, destruction and displacement. Then in the post-colonial era, the trappings of sovereignty have given rise to nation-states and visa regimes. We should focus on the rights aspect of this Right to Return than on the legal aspect.  Partition refuges have a right to return, provided states left long back are able to transcend and go beyond the logic of partition. It requires a radical reimagining of the body politic and the ethical collectives in which minorities do not fall prey to majoritarian democracies. There is no one way to such re-imagination that can make good the democratic deficit. Once this is done across states, the right to return is unlikely to be claimed and it becomes redundant. When every side of the border is appropriately re-imagined and is considered as 'right’ it does not matter whether one lives in India or in Pakistan or in Bangladesh and that is the way how borders lose their significance.

How Effective is the NHRC in Protecting the Victims of Forced Migration?

The panelists highlighted role of national human rights commission with illustrations from IDPs situation in India and Nepal. Various initiatives taken by NHRC of Nepal under Human Rights accord 2004 were mentioned; lists of causes of displacement in Nepal and its impact on Neplai society and economy were mentioned. Finally various challenges which include lack of national legislation difficulties in identifying the IDP’s human rights violation and lack of implementing mechanism, political instability with lack of political will and lack of humanitarian assistance were mentioned.

The representatives of NHRC India tried to identify the problem of refugee and IDPs. They gave three categories of forced migration- refugees, IDPs and the trafficked (especially women and children). They spoke about various aspects of human rights violation by stating few case studies. They spoke about the role of NHRC in protection and promotion of the rights of the above mentioned categories of people. Regarding the legal station of NHRC it was said that as NHRC is not a substitute of judiciary and it does not qualify as court. But it enjoys the power of civil court. The nature of the function of the NHRC is investigation and recommendations can be made. They presented a note on formation and composition of NHRC in India under the 1993 act. They mentioned that the success of the commission could be judged on the fact that the member of the complaints went up from initial 400 to 75,000 complaints in the recent past. All most in all the cases the state and the central governments have accepted the recommendation of the NHRC. They spoke about the various aspects of autonomous character of the commission and finally gave some successful cases handled by NHRC such as for slum dwellers in Delhi, displacement due to developmental project at Bastar district, Dalit resettlement in Haryana, Chakma in Tripura, ethnic conflict and displacement at Karbi Anglong etc.

Mario Gomez spoke about the situation 1987 since when there has been a growth in human rights institutions, which are gaining increasing credence with the international community. Human rights institutions have the potential to engage in various activities. He gave the example of the NHRC in south Philippines and said that they had a series of workshop on displacement whose objective was to arrive at a national policy. Interestingly the Philippines government does not use the word IDP but ‘evacuees’. The Sri Lankan NHRC has taken a study to look at the equity issue of Tsunami victims. All displaced people should have access to fair process at the minimum. The panelists agreed that NHRC should be pro people and not pro state.

Resource, Violence and Displacement

At the outset the chair of the discussion defined resources as the conditions that nature has given to us which can be used for one’s own survival including cultural survival, which are non-replenishable and hence perishable. Resource crisis occurs when there is loss of ownership or control over resources or change in resource use pattern. The questions posed to the panelists were 1) Do you think that new economic policies since 1990’s prepared the way for transfer of people’s resources to private and corporate sectors? 2) Does marginality of the people expose them to the resource crisis or does the resources crisis contribute to their marginalization? 3) How does denial of access to resources become potential source of conflict between indigenous and non-indigenous people? 4) Do you think that changes in resource use pattern also trigger off conflicts or violence?

In Nepal many have been displaced because of roads, airport construction, hydroelectric projects and creation of national parks. Development projects have created problems for victims. Even those who have got compensation have had to endure hardships, which has increased the problem of marginalized people. Problems arise because of inbuilt hierarchy and because political elite is acquisitive and unwilling to share. One should learn from the indigenous as they can best tell us how to use resources.

The 1980’s oil crisis led to liberalization of economies and new senders such as the World Bank today not only giva money but also dictate the direction of state economies. The New Economic Policies have taken resources away from people by diverting the resources the market where they become commodities to be bought and sold by those with purchasing power. The Singur problem in West Bengal is indicative of changes in resource use pattern. But how do we justify violence and displacement? The Sardar Sarovar Project shows that 50,000 adivasis have to pay so that others may get irrigation. It is because they are marginalized that they cannot access people’s rights? They do not get a fair share back.

In Bangladesh the Right to Information is important. When people are not consulted the scope for their displacement increases. Jhum cultivation has decreased the fertility of land and caused resource crisis. It is the marginality of the people that exposes them to the resource crisis. The panel farther deliberated whether we should then not question the very paradigm of development that is being followed?

Forced Displacement in North East India

In the context of the widespread displacement in Northeast India, the issue of access to justice by the indigenous people has assumed crucial importance. In Bangladesh the plight of the indigenous people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts has shown the significance of the criticality of the right of access to justice in the context of displacement. Development-induced displacement first began in the CHT with the Kaptai Dam, which had serious impact in NE India. In the Northeast the influx of migrants from neighbouring states has led to increase in population and competition among groups for resources and jobs. Besides the prolonged insurgency problem and the absence of any government policy with regard to the IDPs, there is no accurate data also on the IDPs. Displacement has been caused by natural disasters also, such as erosion by river Brahmaputra and its tributaries.


One should also take note of the ethnicity-induced displacement in places like Karbi Anglong in Assam. The ethnic conflict between Dimasa and Karbi communities has claimed more than 80 lives, burnt around 50 villages and rendered 60,000 innocents homeless and displaced. The worst affected are women and children and most of the displaced are taking shelter in local administration sponsored 57 relief camps in and around Diphu, Manja, Dhansiri and Nagaon district.  The multiplicity and the plurality that comprises the ‘Assamese’ identity has been challenged by such ethnic groups conflict.  There can be two methods - structural and operational - of dealing with such situations. In NE India, opposition to immigration is grounded in the numbers game. The politics of demography is ingrained in a democracy and it shouldn’t be seen as just xenophobia. Thus, the problem of in the NE is one of democratic deficit.

The Burmese Chin state bordering Mizoram has ethnic minorities that have been suppressed by the military regime.  In the resultant insurgency, CNF has been fighting the central regime. As militarization increases so does human rights violation like forced migration and forced labor. Villagers from 10 different villages cleared Six hundred acres of forest in one week. Religious festivals also got disrupted as a result of the draconian rule of the junta. The knee jerk reaction of the government to the problem of insurgency in Assam has also been criticised. Instead of deploying the armed forces, the state should have addressed the grievances of the people regarding the influx of population from neighboring Bangladesh. At the same time the people should remember that nationhood is not always a viable concept. In a country with a colonial history any attempt to build projects of “people-hood” on the basis of colonial categorization can have dubious results - agreed most of the panelists.

Is the Palestinian Experience a Unique Experience in Refugee Annals?

This session explored the uniqueness of the Palestinian refugee situation. The speakers accepted that the Palestinian refugee displacement was a massive and over helping experience- one for which no solution has been found. It should be considered seriously because it is a humanitarian issue, and international agencies should draw attention on it.

The question is an odd and a difficult one to answer simply because of the exalted status it holds. Just as the Jewish case is seen as a template, the Palestine case is also seen as a defacto case to look at when setting any terms of reference for refugee groups.

The status of Palestinian refugees is very special and from the international law point of view to appreciate its uniqueness one has to see into its history. In the future the Palestinian refugees are entitled to earn statehood but the question of right to return remains. It is a problem whose solution can be attained only after long negotiations. There were comments that though their return is a distant dream one should keep in mind that Jerusalem became significant because of its significance with Judaism. Besides do we have any other instances of an entire refugee community nurturing a political resistance movement for fifty years? Some may compare it to the Tibetan, but the Tibetan government in exile is nothing but a shadowy presence between India and China. Edward Said had said that the unique characteristic of the Palestinian refugees is that they have for long seem themselves as tragic victims and this has given different form to their distinct culture of the general mood of gloom. There is also an added sense of helplessness as there is nothing to enforce an international law. One should also not forget the role that imperialism has played in this whole area.

Humanitarian Institutions and their Task of Care

The panel was asked to address three questions. 1) What is their idea about humanitarian institutions and their task of care? 2) Are they really caring? 3) Question of Interrelation and interface of the rights approach and the humanitarian approach? The entire refugee movement is predicated on two approaches. The humanitarian approach sees refugees as people in humanitarian need of protection. Joya Chatterjees’ paper on Rights of Charity had argued that the government had treated refugees in a manner as though refugees were in need of charity when refugees instead wanted to claim it as a right. We need to go back to history and see how the Geneva Convention and the 1951 Convention were framed. Humanitarian institutions are established to give protection and care to war-affected people, as war victims are deemed innocent. Care means food, relief, temporary shelter and a sense of belonging. It was also felt that we would need to review the lives of these victims in post conflict situations.

In Sri Lanka the Tsunami victims got more importance than war-affected victims and latter group of victims is today dissatisfied because of this discrimination. Thus is reality there is gradation of vulnerabilities. Human Rights Institutions have to try to help the vulnerable people to exercise their right to live with dignity. The Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal are one of the best self-run in the world, which shows how effective human rights institutions can be in small countries with less resource.

The issue that needs to be addressed is that whether they are addressing the human rights of the people or the needs of the people? In other words, what do need – a rights-based approach or a need based approach? One should note also that the Guiding Principles on the IDPs are explicitly based on the needs-based approach and one should ask if that is an appropriate path. Who defines who needs what? International agencies and states have proven to be quite futile. When we call it charity we introduce the notion of power. Refugees do not need charity but the “right to have rights”. The problem lies in the structure on which modern nation state and UN system has been built. Is there any modular form of humanitarian action?

Often, the problem is that the Human Right Institution take a top down approach and force their will on the people. They need to adopt a bottom up approach. They are not caring! Financial resources are spent on the wrong priorities. It becomes a number game and politics of pity.

12.The Film-Tales of the Nightfairies

On 8 December, the participants had the opportunity to see and discuss “Tales of the Night Fairies” with the film director Sohini Ghosh.

The film viewing was preceded by a discussion on what is a documentary. There were several types of answers including: documentary is political, sensitising, insightful, a vision, a view, a critique, a form of art, a probe, an evaluation, a fiction, a message and a reflection. The director went on to explain the hardship involved in making such a documentary or any motion picture. Before the show the director declared that the movie has been made for ‘feminists’ by a ‘feminist’. The film concentrates and revolves around the struggles in the life of the sex workers in Kolkata.

Meghna Guhathakurata and the film director Sohini Ghosh

The director said at the outset that the reason behind her making the film lay in her own life. The middle class family background and the sense in which they used the term “decent people” had its own significance. The film begins with entering the lanes where sex workers live and work. Shikha Das, a sex worker, explains how an organisation called DMSC was formed in 1995. Deepti Pal, another sex worker emphasized that DMSC was a big boost to them allowing them to work with dignity. She felt that now she did not pander to masculine desires of entertainment.

According to the sex workers the biggest achievement in forming the organisation, DMSC, was the normalisation of their lives. The sex workers were hitherto forced to be in between the four walls, entertaining the men clients, but they could not express their real feelings of being with other people like anyone else. The dream of coming out in public and celebrating their existence became a reality when they organised a programme called ‘Sex workers millennium carnival’ in 2001. The festival had several problems before it was allowed to take place. There were men who felt that the moral values of the society would depreciate. But the best part of the whole event was the participation of the non-sex workers who wholeheartedly enjoyed the programme and even signed the signature campaign. Eventually the organisation was successful in getting the permission from the governmental authority to occupy the space that was once denied to them. The film also went on to discuss the issue of safe sex. One sex worker spoke about the empowerment of the women and the “dignity of labour” that they felt in themselves. She felt so empowered that now she was able to come out of the clutches of the fear and disclose her identity as a sex worker, or the daughter of a sex worker. She wanted her daughter also not to be scared.

Women had different stories to tell as to the circumstances behind their becoming sex workers. They cited the history where they even collected waste on the streets. Another lady shared her experience of being brutalized by a policeman; she went on to say how she took revenge on the policeman by using the situation, which came in her way when they had an organisation. All of them felt that they should be empowered and educated so that they could face and fight back any type of atrocity. They felt that they were no more scared of the society. They felt that work had to be seen as work. They even questioned, why should the society feel their work to be bad? If it is bad then why did men visit them?

When the government of West Bengal proposed rehabilitation for sex workers, sex workers, part of DMSC, wanted to accept it and asked the government to give rehabilitation to those who were in real need and not to the ones who had work. They wanted the government to give rehabilitation to the women who could not work. The film ended with a conversation with a sex worker who got a chance to go to Mexico to represent the sex workers of Kolkata. That portrayed the long way she had come.

The session ended with a question and answer session, where Sohini Ghosh was asked several questions pertaining to the making of the film and the implications of the film for the society. The director was asked whether she had shown the movie to the sex workers and whether selling of one’s body was a civilised thing to do in a civilized era. The director answered that every human being sells his or her self in one or the other way and the sex workers were selling theirs in their own ways.  She also accepted the fact that on the grounds of sexuality all the sex workers might not be divided but they too were divided on communal, caste and class lines.

13.Inaugural & Valedictory Sessions

Inaugural Session

The inaugural session was held on 1 December 2006 at Hotel Sojourn, marking the beginning of an intense 15-day familiarization of participants with the lives of the refugees, the displaced and the vulnerable people, making an attempt to understand the politics behind their displacement, the issue of their survival and conduct investigations into the multi dimensional and multi layered issues involved in the study of these groups.

The programme began with the inaugural session where the introductory remarks were given by the Director of CRG, Dr. Ranabir Samaddar who initiated the participants from diverse backgrounds to the realities of the victims of forced migration in South Asia. Warmly welcoming all to the fourth consecutive and abundantly successful Winter Course he set the ball rolling with a brief overview of the content of the course. 

Course participants together with faculty members

Then Sumbul Rizvi, a representative of the UNHCR New Delhi, which is also a collaborating partner for the winter course spole for a few minutes. She could only find words of praise for the smooth way in which the course has been conducted by CRG over last few years consecutively which has earned it the title of ‘A Centre of Excellence’.

The inaugural lecture was given by Flavia Agnes, the noted legal activist who is very well known both as a lawyer and a women’s rights activist. She grippingly recounted her experience of fighting a legal battle for the cause of the bar girls in Mumbai, many of whom were trafficked women from Bangladesh. She was full of remorse that her battle proved to have an adverse effect on the most marginalized victims rather than help them as these bar girls were caught in a vicious circle that had inadvertently linked them to the question of terrorism and illegal imagination. They were denied of their livelihood on the pretext of “National Interest”. She ended by posing certain hard questions about the marginalized section of the society.

Why the civil society approached?

(The full text of the lecture is available in the forthcoming issue of Refugee Watch - 29)

Valedictory Session

The Valedictory session was held on 15 December 2006 at Hotel Sojourn. The president of CRG, Professor Subhas Ranjan Chakraborty, delivered the Welcome address. He welcomed guests and participants of 4th winter course and gave the floor to Dr Paula Banerjee, who read out a message from the Embassy of Finland and the Brookings Institution.

Dr Ranabir Samaddar made certain remarks on the final occasion of the course. He spoke about the nature of today’s forced migration, which is marked by mixed and massive flows. The problems and experiences of South Asia today are not unique to South Asia only. It is thanks to migration and migrants that the concept of borders has been challenged, despite the attempts at securitization by the great powers. A concept of a new type of woman has emerged from this, that of a migrant citizen which is a new feature of humanity. It partly carries traces of citizenship and partly traces of alienhood (that of being uprooted and displaced). Participants’ were asked to speak on the course and stay in Kolkata. All those who spoke heartily thanked and congratulated CRG for such an enlightening and well-organized course.

Faculty members interact prior to the Valedictory Session

Tarja Väyrynen also spoke on this occasion as an independent evaluator. She talked about the direct airline connection between Helsinki-Delhi, which was established in 2006. Lots of Indians work for Nokia. Nokia is investing a lot in India. There is now a small Indian community in Finland and vice versa. However, it is the case of mostly business-dominated exchange although learning exchange may be more important. One example of such exchange – is between Tampere University and CRG, based on equal partnership, a true dialogue. So far this has Included exchange of lectures and will now include exchange of students. She said that they were also working very hard to establish a network of scholars interested in South Asian issues. According to her the Winter Course has many strengths, and she highlighted three in particular: the variety of professional and regional backgrounds of the participants, the strong emphasis on gender, and the non-eurocentric approach. She felt that there was future potential for great cooperation in forced migration studies.  In conclusion, Professor Väyrynen thanked the organisers and wished the participants good luck in their work.

Bishnu Mohapatra addresses the course participants

After her lecture certificates were awarded to the participants, who spoke briefly on how they felt highly of the course and their sense of belonging to the institution called the CRG and its work relating to forced migration.

The Valedictory lecture was given by Hameeda Hossain from Ain O Shalish Kendra, Dhaka who spoke on ‘Forced Migration and Trafficking of Labour – Migrant Women Workers of Bangladesh’. The excerpt of her lecture is as follows:

Recent debates in international agencies have sensationalized migration by linking it to trafficking in arms and drug smuggling and terrorism, and AIDS/HIV.  The migrant, whose labour has served to build the wealth of other countries, has been reduced to being a carrier of crimes and disease.

The use of the word “forced” is, of course, susceptible to many complex nuances of interpretation that serve different interests or reflect different perspectives. It is indeed a contentious issue between countries of origin and destination, and government responses have been both contradictory and hypocritical. While countries of origin welcome foreign remittances from workers, they do little to facilitate their terms and conditions of employment. In receiving countries, much of the infrastructure development in cities and much of the service sector owes to the labour of migrants. Dubai or Kuala Lumpur would not have been architectural show cases without the contribution of engineers, contractors and workers from South Asian countries.  The concerns of governments are more than regulatory, they seek to control borders, and to restrict movements across boundaries. Many governments have been prompted to seal borders, to reinforce border controls or other restrictions on people’s movements.   Across land borders, the push back techniques have kept people in a de-nationalised limbo. The more powerful countries such as the US have gone to the extent of using trade sanctions against the country of origin. At the same time the US has tempted migration through the sale of lotteries.

Flavia Agnes delivers the inaugural lecture

On the other hand, for ordinary citizens, freedom of movement is a choice for survival.  Migration can be forced by political and economic circumstances in the country of origin, but administrative controls in the country of destination also force migrants into exploitative relations.  People move unwillingly from their own habitats, and may often be compelled by conflicts and wars, by oppression and violence, by discrimination and poverty. While migration may be seen as a strategy for survival by families or an escape route for individuals, or even as presenting new opportunities, the human rights of migrants and their security fall at risk from state controls, exploitation of the market and social exclusion. Women, currently make up about one half of the world’s current migrant population.  It is only in recent years that a growing  number of women from Bangladesh have taken overseas jobs.  The demand has come mainly from the Middle East. But the conditions of work have not been particularly salutary and Bangladeshi embassies have had to cope with many complaints from women workers.  Rather than negotiate on behalf of the workers the government saw fit, in 1997, to ban the overseas employment of women for domestic work. This restriction was lifted subsequently, but women’s decisions to work overseas were subordinated to family approval, etc.

Hameeda Hossain delivers the valedictory lecture

Demand for seasonal labour provides an incentive for temporary movements. Case studies have documented how young women and children move across the river from Rajshahi to Maldah to harvest beetle nuts or wheat in the chars or marshlands of West Bengal.  Their daily movements are visible to the naked eye, and most of them are not hindered from working. Their labour is organised by informal agents. When some of them don’t return home, it is assumed that they were egged on by promises of work or marriage further west. But the rationale of the market is not evident to state forces and the policing of borders makes them into sources of extortion or oppression.

She raised the issue of how far does international law reach across to support women at the grassroots? The Adviser on Trafficking from the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights in Geneva underscored the need to acknowledge that trafficking is both a cause and consequence of the violations of human rights, and that guiding principles of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights place protection of human rights at the center of any measures taken to prevent trafficking. Special care has to be taken to ensure that anti-trafficking measures do not adversely affect the human rights and dignity of persons, and in particular the rights of those who have been trafficked or those who are vulnerable to trafficking. States thus have a responsibility to act with due diligence to prevent trafficking, investigate and prosecute trafficking and to assist and protect trafficked persons. It is clear that grass roots experiences of women have influenced international awareness of the need to move beyond legal sanctions and legal punishments towards addressing the root causes that perpetuate gender discrimination, economic disparities and imbalances in power.

(The full text of the lecture is available in the forthcoming issue of Refugee Watch - 29)

The programme came to a formal end with a vote of thanks delivered by the course coordinator, Paula Banerjee who thanked friends and compatriots, UNHCR, Government of Finland, Brookings Institution, for helping CRG to organise the course.  She thanked Hameeda Hossain, Flavia Agnes, all the resource persons, NHRC of India and Nepal, participants, and the government of India for providing visas to the participants who could make it to the course. She beckoned civil society activists to gear up, get together, participate and organise exchanges on rights and justice-based activities. She finally thanked the CRG team for making the course a success.


The Course had an inbuilt evaluation system. Participants and faculty members were asked to fill and submit evaluation forms relating to various aspects of the course. Some faculty members gave a detailed evaluation too. The final evaluation was held on 15 December and was chaired by Prof. Ranabir Samaddar. Dr. Paula Banerjee explained the perspectives of evaluation, namely providing a platform for study, training, capacity building, and pooling of resources in displacement studies etc. On the basis of evaluation notes of the participants and the members of the faculty the following aspects emerged.

Course Structure

The overall design and the guiding idea of the Course were highly appreciated by the participants. They found it exciting and inspiring, as did the faculty members. Both thought also the Course to be not only intensive and comprehensive, but also to possess something quite particular in its wide range of participants and resource persons and in its non-Euro-centrism.

Reading Material

Almost all the participants got the reading material in time. The list of readings sent, combined with the additional material on the website, was found to be extensive, and capable of addressing the issue of forced migration from many aspects. The participants felt strongly that the material would be of use in their future work or research, and many mentioned that their understanding and knowledge of the South Asian migration issues has increased considerably by going through the list of readings.


In terms of assignments, only one participant received the material after completing the first task. They felt that the material provided helped them in completing the assignments given to them. Also several suggestions were raised in terms of the assignments. It was proposed that more time would be devoted to creative assignments, both their preparation and their presentation, and that comments from the module tutors would be available also when still working on the first draft of the paper. Overall, the participants found the creative assignments very good and inspiring.

New types of tasks were proposed – some participants felt that it would be good to require a book review on one item of the reading material, or that the participants could do a country-specific case study where they would address the issue of forced migration in their respective countries.

Field Trip

The field trip was organized for the participants of the winter course to give them practical experience of meeting the refugees and interacting with them, which would give a better understanding of the situation and the life of refugees. The impressions among participants on the trip were, however, quite divided. All found the idea as such a very good one, but criticism was directed towards the exhaustiveness of the trip – although many mentioned that during the trip the cohesiveness of the group was greatly enhanced – and the short time that actually was spent in the refugee center. Also participants hoped for more detailed information with regard to the place they were about to visit, and hoped that at least one more day could have been spent in the field. This extra time, the participants felt, could have been used in meeting and interviewing the Tibetan refugees and preparing individual or group reports on the trip, and on the methodology of doing fieldwork. Some of the participants hoped that there would have been trips to the migrant communities of Kolkata, the city of migrants.

Participatory Sessions

The participants termed the participatory sessions as one of the most valuable components of the course. They found them interesting, intriguing, thought provoking and felt that the sessions added to their knowledge of the refugee issues. Special compliments were made on the idea to organize some of the sessions as roundtables, so that the moderators could give specific questions to all the participants. This mode of working inspired thinking and conversation. Each session was seen to add something new to the issue of forced migration, although some participants felt that the sessions were a bit too long. Also, a few of the participants hoped that the questions posed during the sessions could be given beforehand.

Film Session

The overall opinion was that the film was very interesting and enjoyable and provided a nice variation from listening. Especially it was appreciated that the film dealing with sex workers dealt with the issue in a very interesting manner, which also helped in understanding the complicatedness of the relation between trafficking and forced migration, and that they are not necessarily connected. However, some of the participants felt that the films shown were not relevant in terms of the course and more explicit linkages between the films and the course should be made.

Follow Up

The participants hoped that they would continue receiving information about the lectures, seminars and research projects organized by the CRG. They would also like to initiate a network of the participants, so that the contacts established during the course could be solidified and maintained in the future.

Core Strength Areas

1.Course design and planning
2.Diverse backgrounds of the participants
3.Strong emphasis on South Asia and Non Euro-centrism
4.Excellent resource persons
5.Comprehensive approach to the various aspects of forced migration
6.Good reading material


1.E-mail correspondence not always satisfactory
2.Shortness of the fieldtrip
3.More time needed in distance education
4.Easier access to printing and email facilities required
5.Further discussion on methodology needed

Excerpts From Evaluators’ Report

Khalid Koser pointed out the strengths and weaknesses of the course. The strength of the course were: A committed core staff supported by carefully-selected external faculty members, a good group of students from a range of backgrounds, a curriculum that focuses on cutting-edge issues, a well-designed course that integrates lectures with group work, presentations and a field trip; in 2006 a creative element has also been introduced which allows students to support their written work in other ways, for example through photography, poetry and dance. The course is well-integrated with other events for example public lectures on related issues. The weaknesses he felt were A significant gap in the curriculum was methodology. There could be a greater focus on ‘transferable skills’ – Some participants presentations were poorly prepared and presented. He also felt that more contact time should be made available between students and visiting faculty members in particular – an office hours system could easily be introduced.

Tarja Väyrynenmade certain suggestions to make the course even better. Few of her suggestions were: If the MCRG wanted to experiment with a new module structure, the new modules could include, for example, Media and representations of forced migration; Urban development and internally displaced people; ethnopolitical conflicts and forced migration; and Peace processes and the question of the right to return. Also the resource persons could be more fully utilised and there should be a clear structure to do this (e.g. individual consultation hours). The forthcoming courses as the present one should draw largely from regional knowledge and experience rather than have faculty from US or Europe. If a comparative element (e.g. South Asia/Africa) is brought in, that should be done in a structured manner. Lastly she felt that some participants should also engage in field research.

Barbara Ramusackfelt the schedule for the participants in the programme was rigorous but diverse in format and effectively paced.  Each day there were either informative presentations by resource persons that ranged from lectures to videos and documentary films.  Significantly the resource faculty initiated lively discussions of how we should assess sources of information such as documentary films both before and after viewing films and power point presentations. The lunches and dinners provided excellent opportunities for informal exchangers among the participants, resource persons, and faculty. The Winter Course was the best organized such event she had attended in India.  Living arrangements were excellent; events started on time except for a few instances when mechanical difficulties intervened; the organizers coped when a few faculty and resource people had to cancel at the last minute and when various bandhs or strikes were in effect during the Course.

Participants’ Evaluation




Participants’ Evaluation (charts)


Participants’ Evaluation (percentages)


15. Follow-Up Activiries

Considering the growing popularity of the course the advisory committee requested the CRG organisers to look into the possibilities of organizing short courses in collaboration with willing centres and departments of Universities in India as follow-up activity. On the basis of such advice the CRG is now in the process of designing a number of short courses for different Universities and research centres.  This year two such short courses were held.  The first was held in Guwahati and it was organised in collaboration with Panos, South Asia.  The second course was held in Delhi in collaboration with the Jamia Milia Islamia University (JMU).  Collaboration with JMU went a long way to facilitate the process of sensitising university graduates to the needs of victims of forced migration.

This short course was based on following five modules:

1.Human Rights in the context of Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Racism
2.Gendered Nature of Forced Migration, Victim-hood, and Gender-justice
3.Human Rights Laws and Instruments of Protection - International Regional, and National Regimes of Protection, and the Principle of Legal Responsibility
3.Internal Displacement – causes, linkages, responses, and durable solutions
4.Resource Politics and its Effects on Forced Migration.

The activities of the course besides one writing assignment included workshops, group discussions, sessions on films and documentaries. The course was for seven days. One salient feature of the course was its public dimension. The keynote lectures were open to the public. The course was extremely successful with participants hailing from different parts of South Asia and such other places as Taiwan and Germany.

The activities of the course besides one writing assignment included workshops, group discussions, sessions on films and documentaries. One salient feature of the course was its public dimension. The keynote lectures were open to the public. In the evenings resource persons spoke to the participants about their assignments. Participants got their written assignment and topics of workshops at least fifteen days ahead so that they could meaningfully engage themselves with the themes.  The participatory and dialogic nature of the training programme was considered by many to be methodologically exceptional as a training mode.

Fellowship Programme

This year three fellowships were given to the participants of the Winter Course.  Eva Puumala came from Tampere University and spent a month in CRG in December 2006 working on the theme, Calcutta: A Migrants City. Two Indian participants, Nanda Kishore and Priyanca Mathur Veluth were sent to Tampere for a week and they worked on Finland’s policies of providing asylum in February 2007.

Reports By Priyanka Mathur Velath and Nanda Kishor, the CRG Junior Research Fellows

Priyanka Mathur Velath and Nanda Kishore are PhD students in Jwaharlal Nehru University and Hyderabad Central University respectively. They won the Junior Research Fellowships designated for South Asian candidates and traveled to Tampere, where they were hosted in TAPRI for a week.

Our short term Junior Research Fellowship was part of the Indo-Finnish exchange segment in the Winter Course on Forced Migration 2006 and co-operation between the Department of Political Science and International Relations of the University of Tampere, Tampere Peace Research Institute (TAPRI) and the Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group.  We visited Tampere, Finland for a week to gain an insight into migration issues in Finland and would like to first thank all the members of TAPRI for their warm hospitality specially Prof Tarja Väyrynen. Our special thanks also to Prof. Jyrki Käkönen, at the Department of International Relations for not just facilitating our stay but also for spending his valuable time engaging in a discussion with us on globalisation and its impact on migration and refugee laws at large. We visited the Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers at Pohjolankatu in Tampere, which provides services to around 200 asylum seekers and is one of the 13 reception centres in Finland. Along with discussions with other staff members we also conducted a detailed interview of the senior counselor there, a man of Sri Lankan origin who himself had been an asylum seeker in Finland 13 years ago and had just been granted Finnish citizenship. The talks enriched our understanding of not just the state of asylum policies in Finland but also illuminated a whole range of issues like, from where the whole process of asylum seeking begins, who is directly responsible for it, different countries people seeking asylum, the official data, the mechanism in giving asylum and security issues involving refugees. A tour of the building also showed us first hand how some Somalian asylum-seeking families were living.

We both also presented papers on our ongoing doctoral researches on the rights of development-induced displaced persons in India and on displacement of Urban settlers by development projects respectively. We received valuable comments and suggestions by all the members of TAPRI and would particularly like to thank Helena Rytövuori-Apunen, Unto Vesa, Tuomo Melasuo for engaging in discussions with us and widening our perspectives and particularly Eeva Puumala, our local host. The experience of not just living in a European country but also witnessing and analyzing Refugee Laws and policies firsthand has been indispensable and most memorable for us.

Report by Eeva Puumala, CRG Junior Research Fellow from Finland

Eeva Puumala, Ph.D. Candidate, Tampere Peace Research Institute, University of Tampere, was one of the participants selected for the fellowship. She was a guest of CRG for fifteen more days after the course was over. Here is her month-long Internship Report (1 December 2006 -31.12.2006) 

First of all, I would like to thank the Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group (CRG) for accepting me as a short-term junior research fellow in the organization. My tasks involved helping the preparation of the report of the Fourth Winter Course on Forced Migration, but mainly concentrating on increasing my understanding of migration issues and movements, especially in the city of Kolkata. Meeting, working and discussing with academics who were activists also, was of great use to my own research on migration issues. I was guided by Prof. Ranabir Samaddar and Dr. Paula Banerjee during my internship. Prof. Samaddar's excellent knowledge of the city, not to mention philosophy, theory, and ethics, greatly enhanced my understanding and offered me a chance to gain valuable information and understanding. Also, Dr. Banerjee's interest in the gender dimensions of migration and her vast experience in empirical knowledge of the issues of forced migration, and in fieldwork will help me a long way in my own future research.

The opportunity to be part of the research group enabled me to establish valuable contacts with various researchers, and be familiar with relevant literature, which will be of great help to me in the future. I was particularly impressed with the CRG library, it combined with the references and articles that Prof. Samaddar kindly provided me with, and the bibliographic list I gained will contribute to my work for many years to come. Although the internship did not directly address my Ph.D. studies, it offered - especially when combined with the knowledge gained from participation in the Fourth Winter Course on Forced Migration - such insight into the theme that would have not been possible to achieve otherwise.

As mentioned above, my tasks were two-fold. The preparation of the report on the Fourth Winter Course involved writing a short chapter on participants' evaluations. Mostly, however, my internship was dedicated to exploring and thus trying to understand the "city of migrants". I was able, with the assistance of Prof. Samaddar, Dr. Ramaswamy and Prof. Siddiqui, to discuss the dimensions of migration in Kolkata, and go to the right places to meet migrant workers. The places that I thus visited included Dakshineswar, Alam Bazar, Kasipur Road, Narkeldanga Main Road, Tangra, Howrah, Garden Reach Road and Barabazar. During these "field days" I was able to see the dailyness of life in railway workshop areas, jute mill areas, "Chinatown", port and dock areas. The variety of these regions was great, and I am quite sure that I gained from visiting and meeting these workers and dwellers not only professionally, but also personally.

After my return to Finland, my Ph.D. research continues, but now it is guided with the experience with CRG, and the activists and academics that form the organization. CRG was a wonderful host to me during my visit, hospitable to the extent that I would have never expected. I truly hope that the contacts established would not end but continue, and that future collaboration and association with the Group would be possible.

Public Lectures

The CRG collaborated with a number of institutions to organize public lectures before and after the Winter Course in 2006. Jyrki Kakonen Professor, Tampere University, Finland, addressed gatherings in Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies and Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies, University of Calcutta, respectively on 13 and 14 June 2006.Sanjay Chaturvedi Coordinator, Centre for the Study of Geopolitics and Department of Political Science, Punjab University, Chandigarh, spoke on "Environmental Justice", 18 July 2006. With the Institute of International Law Jeevan Thiagrajajah’s lecture was organized in New Delhi. Ram Niwas Mirdha, President Indian Society of International Law, spoke on International Humanitarian Law on the occasion of the Hindi release of the UN Guiding Principles for the Internally Displaced Persons, 21 August 2006. Ranabir Samaddar and Paula Banerjee delivered two public lectures in Dhaka University, Bangladesh in August 2006.  A delegation of Burmese Women presented a workshop in collaboration with CRG on their experiences and issues relating to Forced Migration and Legal Protection on 11 September 2006. CRG members including Sabyasachi Basu Raychowdhury delivered public lectures in February 2007 in Katmandu in collaboration with Friends for Peace in Nepal.  On 26 February 2007 Professor Sonia Dayan-Hezbrun of University of Paris VII visited Kolkata and delivered a lecture at the CRG on the theme of Permanent Exile: Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon as a follow-up programme.  She presented various ideas on the “Right to Return” of the Palestinian Refugees.  Her presentation was followed by an animated debate.

Research Programme

The CRG has designed and organized a number of researches on the theme of forced migration.  There were two researches on hundred years of displacement in different parts of Northeast India.  Pradip Phanjoubam worked on displacements in Manipur and Monirul Hussain did his research on Assam.  Their reports have been published in form of a combined research paper Policies and Practices 12.

CRG conducted a research on the “Voices of IDPs” in four states of South Asia in 2005-2006. The research was done incollaboration with the Brookings Institution, USA. The research combined three methods – (a) sample survey and analysis on the basis of a focused questionnaire (b) focus group discussions with IDPs living in camps and (c) select case studies and presentations of voices from those selected areas or population groups. A total of 528 respondents from four different countries were interviewed.  Other than that a number of focus group discussions were held and over thirty selected cases were studied in depth.  There were country reports from Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh and case reports from Gujarat, Kashmir, Orissa and Bodoland in India. The research has been regarded as one of the first of its kind in South Asia.  The report has been released in different countries of South Asia.

As a result of these researches a significant section of the course material consisted of CRGs’ own findings. Then for instance, two issues of REFUGEE WATCH were issued as course material. Likewise “ Women and Forced Migration” a compilation by Paula Banerjee of various  entries in Refugee Watch on the said them was an important instructing material.

All these follow-up activities have ensured the transition of the course into a full-fledged programme.


16.CRG Team on Forced Migration

1.      Paula Banerjee

2.      Krishna Banerjee

3.      Pradip Bose

4.      Subhas Chakraborty

5.      Ratan Chakraborty

6.      M. Chatterjee

7.      Shreyashi Chaudhuri

8.      Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury

9.      Samir Kumar Das

10.    Ashok Kumar Giri

11.    Samaresh Guchhait

12.    Raj Kumar Mahato

13.    Sanam Roohi

14.    Ranabir Samaddar

CRG office team



                                 Shreyasi Chaudhuri & Sanam Roohi

                               Samaresh Guchhait & Ratan Chakraborty