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Most Indians are sympathetic to refugees—but don’t want them in their own country

By Sangeeta Tanwar

Indians’ attitude towards refugees is a paradox.

While most people in the country (65%) are sympathetic to the idea of sheltering those displaced by war and conflict in other countries, a majority (64%) does not want India’s own borders to be opened as they feel refugees come for non-genuine reasons.

These contrasting sentiments were revealed in a report by Paris-based market research firm Ipsos to mark World Refugee Day today (June 20).

India tops the list of nations where people are averse to a mass influx of refugees into their own country, according to the survey, which included 18,027 adults from 27 countries.

Why refugees are unwelcome

“This dilemma stems from India having to grapple with uninhibited exodus into the eastern and southern border, which has been a strain on resources,” said Parijat Chakraborty, country service line leader, Ipsos India. “The (Indian) government provides subsidies to economically weaker sections of the society and refugees can easily avail those with fake identity cards,” said Chakraborty.

The sentiment that refugees come for such economic reasons, and not genuine ones, is strongest among Indians.

The opposition to refugees is amplified by the belief that they can successfully integrate into the society.

This, in turn, implies that refugees are bound to have an extended stay in the country and will end up sharing government-sponsored benefits with citizens—a proposition that Indians are not open to.