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The refugee policy, or lack thereof, in India is a matter of great concern. It is in this context that the recent amendments to the Citizenship Act in 2019 and the resultant controversies must be viewed. However, India is not a signatory to the Refugees Convention and Refugees Protocol. Consequently, hundreds of thousands of stateless persons currently residing within Indian territory find themselves in a policy vacuum. Notwithstanding, a series of judicial directions in connection with Sri Lankan refugees and Indian-origin Tamils who fled from Sri Lanka over the last four decades have given clarity to policy makers. Recent efforts taken by the Government of Tamil Nadu to explore durable solutions and pathways to citizenship have renewed hope to nearly 100,000 refugees living in ‘rehabilitation camps'. This talk will look at the legal architecture around the treatment of refugees and unearth pathways to citizenship within the Indian political structure.


Manuraj Shunmugasundaram 

Manuraj Shunmugasundaram, an alumnus of the Australian National University with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) and a Master of Philosophy in Physics and Astronomy, transitioned into public service upon his return to India. His career began in public policy at the Centre for Civil Society, followed by a role as a Parliamentary Advisor to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) Party. He later ascended to the position of National Media Spokesperson for the DMK. Pursuing further education, he acquired a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Delhi, subsequently co-establishing Ganesan and Manuraj Legal LLP. Notably, Manuraj served as Counsel for the Petitioners in the landmark case Sushma & Anr. vs. Commissioner of Police & Ors, significantly influencing the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community. In 2021, he was appointed as the Constitutional Expert on the Advisory Committee to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, focusing on the welfare of Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees. The Advisory Committee has recently submitted an Interim Report to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, outlining citizenship pathways and suggesting durable solutions to solve the issues surrounding statelessness among Sri Lankan Tamil refugees.


Vijayta Lalwani

Vijayta Lalwani is a journalist reporting on political violence and human rights in India. She has extensively covered mass demonstrations, like the farmers' agitation and the citizenship protests, sectarian conflict, and the impact of the pandemic on lives and livelihoods. Her investigations on public health have necessitated government action. In 2023, she was nominated for the Red Ink Awards, and was a recipient of a grant from the Pulitzer Centre in 2022 and an award from the UNFPA - Laadli Media Awards for Gender Sensitivity. Her work has appeared on several Indian and international publications. She is a graduate of King's College London. 

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South Wing S 2.01
Bush House
Strand campus, 30 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4BG