Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Backlash in India Over President Biden’s Remarks on ‘Xenophobia’

US President Joe Biden’s recent comments labeling India and Japan as “xenophobic” countries that do not welcome immigrants have stirred controversy and backlash. Speaking to a predominantly Asian-American audience during a campaign event, President Biden linked economic challenges in these countries to their alleged reluctance to accept immigrants, a statement that has not been well-received by experts and commentators familiar with the nuanced immigration contexts of these nations.

Experts criticize President Biden for seemingly conflating different types of immigration policies and contexts across countries. In India, for instance, the issue of xenophobia is often connected not to a general aversion to immigrants but to specific religious and regional conflicts, particularly concerning illegal immigration from neighboring countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Madhavan Narayanan, an economist and journalist, argued that President Biden’s remarks oversimplify complex immigration issues. “Xenophobia in India has a different meaning altogether. It is not about race; it is about origin or religion, linked to immigrants or illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and, increasingly, the Rohingya from Myanmar. It’s more about a combination of bigotry and the demographic threat,” Narayanan explained.

Despite the criticism, it’s important to note that India remains a significant destination for both high-skilled and low-wage immigrants. The country hosts over 24,000 foreigners on employment visas, and its diaspora is the largest in the world, with 18 million Indians living abroad according to a 2022 UN report.

The backlash following Biden’s comments underscores the complexities of global migration and the varied challenges different countries face in managing their borders and immigration policies.

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