India builds first detention center for ‘stateless citizens’

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An outer wall of an under-construction detention centre for illegal immigrants is pictured at a village in Goalpara district in the northeastern state of Assam, India, September 1, 2019. (REUTERS)
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Labourers work at a construction site of a detention centre for illegal immigrants at a village in Goalpara district in the northeastern state of Assam, India, September 1, 2019. (REUTERS)
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Labourers work at a school building inside the premises of an under-construction detention centre for illegal immigrants at a village in Goalpara district in the northeastern state of Assam, India, September 1, 2019. (REUTERS)
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The northeastern Indian state of Assam is building a detention center to house thousands of stateless citizens. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 08 September 2019

India builds first detention center for ‘stateless citizens’

  • The detention center is being built at a cost of more than $6 million
  • This is the first time any state government in India has built an exclusive detention center

ASSAM: The northeastern Indian state of Assam is building a detention center to house thousands of stateless citizens.
On Aug. 31 the state released its final list of the National Register of Citizenship (NRC), an exercise in establishing the genuine citizens of Assam. Out of 32 million people, about two million were not on the list.
Those who have been left off have four months to apply to foreign tribunals and higher courts.
The detention center is being built at a cost of more than $6 million at Dudhnoi village in the Goalpara district of Assam to house stateless citizens who could not find a place on the NRC.
“This detention center will keep 3,000 people and this is the first of its kind in Assam,” said Rabin Das, the engineer who is overseeing the construction of the center.
The Goalpara building is one of 11 such detention centers being planned in Assam’s districts across the state. Currently, the state has six detention centers that are run out of district jails. More than 1,000 people have been detained and are living in very poor conditions.
This is the first time any state government in India has built an exclusive detention center to hold illegal immigrants.
Sipali Hajjang, a local from the Hajjang tribe of Assam, has a job as a construction worker at the site of the new detention center at Dudhnoi. Her name is not on the NRC list and if her appeal is rejected at the foreign tribunal she may be arrested and put in the same detention center that she is helping to build.
“I am scared to work here because I know this is going to be a detention center,” Hajjang told Arab News.
“I am a poor person, I survive on daily wages. I am clueless how to appeal to the foreign tribunal and list my name on the NRC,” Hajjang said.
Her friend Sarojini Hajjang may also face the same fate.
Members of the Hajjang indigenous tribe came from East Pakistan in 1966 at the invitation of the Indian government. Most of them are poor and illiterate and could not fill in the NRC form. As a result, many of them have been left off the list despite assurances from the state government.
There are many such as Sipali Hajjang in Goalpara district, whose name is missing from the citizenship list and who face an uncertain future.
Imrana Begum, from the Darrang district in Assam, is the only one from her ten-member family whose name is missing from the NRC list. A daughter of a local legislator, Begum is upset that her name is not on the list.
“Is the government more keen to put people in the detention center than give justice to the people whose names have been erroneously removed from the NRC list,” Begum told Arab News.
She said that “the original idea of the government was to put Muslims in the detention centers but now the reality of the NRC is such that the number of Muslims left out is less than what the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has expected.”
Ranjit Das, the leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Assam, refused to comment on the detention centers.
“My only concern is the NRC right now and how to correct the anomaly in it,” Das said.
Suhas Chakma, of the Rights and Risks Analysis Group, a New Delhi-based human rights organization, questions the need to have a detention center in a civilized society.
“The government should wait for the NRC process to be completely over before going ahead with the detention center,” Chakma said.


If you’re happy and you know it, tidy up: Seoul guru explains the key to decluttering

Updated 15 August 2020

If you’re happy and you know it, tidy up: Seoul guru explains the key to decluttering

  • “My focus of tidying up is not throwing away but organizing for space,” said Jung
  • Jung enjoys a huge fan base on social media - one video on how to clean a dresser was watched 1.2 million times

SEOUL: Keep it if it makes you happy, South Korea’s tidying consultant Jung Hee-sook tells her clients as the first step for a less cluttered and more meaningful life.
“I feel most rewarded when my clients say they live happier lives after decluttering their houses,” Jung, 49, told Arab News.
It was not an easy journey to begin with she says, reminiscing about the start of her career in 2012.
“My job was often regarded as merely part of cleaning work. Tidying up is such a meaningful job that can help others in need and help people to live better,” she added.
Eight years on, she has decluttered 2,000 homes and counting, and says for that to happen it’s imperative to “read the client first.”
She cites the example of a woman who was determined to tidy up her home, not to give it a makeover but to “make life easier for her family.”
“When I visited her house, I noticed the lights dimming and curtains were still drawn. I got the sense that this family had some problems. During consulting, I learnt that the client was going blind. She wanted to tidy up her home before losing her sight to help her husband find items easily for their child,” Jung said, adding that it was one of her “most rewarding experiences.”
Often compared to Marie Kondo, the Japanese author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” who enjoys a massive following across the world, Jung says her approach to tidying is different from the one propagated by Kondo, who places a priority on getting rid of anything that does not “spark joy.”
“My focus of tidying up is not throwing away but organizing for space,” said Jung, who has written two books on the topic, “Smart Tidying Ways” and “The Best Interior is in Organizing.” “You can keep your items if you don’t want to throw them away, but the bottom line is you have to organize them for use instead of leaving them unattended or stacked up in the corner.”


South Korea seems to be listening.
Jung enjoys a huge fan base on social media — one video from November last year on how to clean a dresser was watched 1.2 million times on YouTube — while her high-profile clients include CEOs and celebrities such as K-POP girl group Mamamoo’s Hwasa.
Experts point to the country’s unique concept of “jeong” to explain Jung’s popularity.
“It’s like an old grandmother piling plate upon plate of food in front of their grandchild to the point where they feel they might burst,” said Kwak Keum-joo, professor of psychology at the Seoul National University, explaining the national “attachment to objects.”
He said that the majority of people lay great emphasis on materialistic stuff as a benchmark of social status.
Jung agrees. “Korean people possess things to show off their wealth or social reputation. Most distinctively, they feel an attachment to objects,” she said.
Changes in consumer behavior, Kwak said, are also a key factor for the rising trends of house decluttering as well.
“In the past, most Koreans were brought up to save money and conserve things, but now they’re spending money if they have it, and they can purchase things fast and conveniently online at any time,” she said.
Jung says the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown helped to accelerate the decluttering process as well.
“People were staying home longer than before and paying more attention to tidying up their spaces at homes,” she said.
Jung’s top tip for starting is to take everything out and prioritize items based on their usage or emotional attachment.
“The thing is to sort out items and put them in separate spaces. People think it looks clean when you don’t see objects, but real organizing means sorting out the hidden things,” she said.
Next, Jung wants to take her teachings to the rest of the world.
“I hope to establish the right culture of decluttering to make people’s lives happier, not just in South Korea but in foreign countries as well. I am confident that the life of my clients has changed for the better after decluttering their houses.”