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Kamal Nayan Chaubey

THE STATE OF BEING STATELESS: AN ACCOUNT OF SOUTH ASIA
Edited by Paula Banerjee , Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury and Atig Ghosh (With a Foreward by Ranabir Samaddar) 
Orient BlackSwan, Noida, 2016, pp. xvii 283, Rs. 675.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 3 March 2016

The book under review on statelessness in India, a part of the Calcutta Research Group’s work on forced migration, which included many earlier extensive studies on refugees in West Bengal, is to be seen in the perspective of a more than decade-long work on forced migration. Statelessness is seen here more as refraction of a positive reality known as citizenship. The volume aims to contribute to the dialogue on this issue and to add a postcolonial dimension to the debates related to it. The book covers many untouched dimensions of the issue of statelessness and presents several case studies from India and other countries of South Asia region. There have been wide and vivid debates regarding the features, status and correctives legal remedies for stateless persons, particularly after the Second World War. Defining statelessness has always been a really intricate problem for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), human rights activists, social scientists and jurists (p. 1). There has been deep perplexity regarding its relationship with two other categories i.e., refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDP). Is statelessness and the identity of refugees the same or do they express different kind of realities? Can we include IDP in the category of stateless people, who lost their home and habitat due to the imposed crisis by the ruling classes? However, only in 1954 the ‘Conventions Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons’ attempted to clearly define who the stateless were. ‘A person was to be regarded as stateless when no competent authority within a state could vouch for the fact that they were the citizen of that state’ (p. 5). So, it was clearly mentioned that only those persons who were not given citizenship rights by the competent authorities could be conferred the status of stateless. The Handbook on Protection of Stateless Persons (UNHCR 2014) says that competent authorities denote those that can confer or deny citizenship (p. 5). On the basis of this definition we may differentiate all three groups of forced migrants i.e., (a) the stateless or those without nationality; (b) the internally displaced people, who have been displaced but not have been able to cross an international border; and (c) refugees who have taken refuge in another country due to problems in their native country. The situation of stateless persons has been more pathetic because no state is ready to give them any rights related to citizenship, so ...


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