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Book Review on 'Refugee Dilemma: Sri Lankan Refugees in Tamil Nadu'; By Prof. Lakshmi Balaji

CAS Article No. 13/2019

May 24 2019

Prof. V. Suryanarayan, Refugee Dilemma: Sri Lankan Refugees in Tamil Nadu (Om Publications, New Delhi, 2019), Price Rs. 250.

[ The author of the book, Prof. V. Suryanarayan is founding Director and former Senior Professor, Centre for South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Madras and President, Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S).]

Refugee Dilemma is a brief and racy sketch of an ethnic community that turned refugees. Acknowledging the antiquity and prevalence of the refugee phenomenon across the world, this book quickly traces the transition of Sri Lanka from an island of happy fortune to that of killing fields.

Beginning from the nineteen seventies that saw the subversion of peace and the formation of militant factions, wading through half a century of ethnic wars, the book highlights the unresolved ethnic crisis and the communal politics that still prevail in the island state, while millions of refugees churned out are still grappling for a stable and secure life.

It outlines the devastating impact on the civilians caught between a Tamil nationalist group that came to be branded and banned as a terrorist organization and an indifferent government, pointing out to the futility of seeking solutions through armed struggle. The book details the plight of the refugees even as the cause of the Sri Lankan Tamils is lodged in a limbo.

An academician’s meticulous study reveals the need for redrafting refugee laws in India for the country lacks a formal refugee determination process. The book is a pointer that ideologies and narratives of governments are slow to serve the common man’s interest.

(Prof. Lakshmi Balaji is Professor for English, MGR Janaki College, Chennai.)

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