Be it refugees from Bangladesh, Tibetan monks or Sri Lankan Tamils, for many years India seemed to be that perfect refuge for those fleeing from their countries. But not any more, it seems. Be it Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who said that India spurned his request for asylum, or the latest rejection of the Edward Snowden’s request for refuge, India seems to have moved on. But what does the net-savvy and reactive youth of the city have to say about India turning down the request of Snowden, who has nowhere to go?
The opinion seems to be largely divided with many who felt that India should give him asylum for bringing out the espionage by the US on its offices while other felt that asylum to Assange would have its own political losses and end up damaging India’s ties with the US.
“It was extremely brave of him. What is it that he has done to deserve this kind of harsh penalty? It needs a lot of guts to bring out what he brought out. Somebody has to take that step and expose it when there is something wrong with the system. More people should support him. India must give him asylum,” says Sneha Menon, who said that she will only be willing to participate in protest marches to secure asylum for the whistleblower.
Some also pointed out that India must keep her own independent stand instead of bending in to the dictums of the US government. “The US government and Barack Obama have no right to dictate to the rest of the world what they should do and what they should not. India must not bend down to the whimsicalities of the US government. It should take the right step especially when he has brought out the spying on the Indian officers,” said Aishwarya Pratap, a history student from a city college.
A number of people felt that the youth must mobilise support to make asylum to Snowden possible. “We can at least have online groups and petitions and spread the word. Not many young people today are interested in newspapers and media. I think it is the more older people who are more in tune with the news. But social media will be a great way forward to spread the message and get people together to support Snowden,” said Fathima S, a student from a women’s college in the city.
But not everyone agrees. “It is better that India remains silent here as it does all the time. We once took a bold step to provide asylum to Dalai Lama and we know what happened after that. Even if India gives asylum to Snowden now, it is like officially opposing US. Eventually US is going to crush us down and take the custody of Snowden. So instead of creating rivalry with the supreme power, if India remains silent, there is nothing surprising about it,” said a thried year Computer Science student of Anna University.
However, most students agreed that there was nothing surprising about India’s stand. One interesting thing that a few students pointed out was the mess that India got into after providing asylum to Dalai Lama. So the students felt that instead of messing up Snowden’s life more by providing asylum, it was better to leave the issue to the US and remain neutral.
A few also called for a peaceful dialogue at the international level to bring justice to Snowden.“It is important that there are people like him who can expose corruption and wrong doing. But opposing US bluntly will definitely hurt India’s economy. The best option would be to initiate a dialogue at the international level so that there is some justice,” said, Mansa R, a student of English literature.