I read a story in Mahabhara. At the time region was going through severe drought, a brahmin earns a little food for his family of four – self, wife, son and daughter in law. The family was hungry for several days. When they were just about to sit down for their meal, Dharma appears at their door to test their piety. Dressed as a brahmin, Dharma said I have not eaten for a few days. Please give me some food. According to tradition, a guest is like a god. Guest cannot leave without being taken care of. But Brahmin was helpless. He himself had not eaten for days. This was to be their first meal in many days. So what should he do? Who should spare his / her morsel. Being head of the house, Brahmin offered his piece of bread to the guest. After eating the piece, guest was still hungry. So brahmin’s wife gave him her bread. Guest was still hungry. So first his son, and then his daughter in law gave their share of breads as well. Dharma went away happy. That night, the brahmin family passed away. They all went to heaven. They place where brahmin family prepared and ate their meal, a mongoose came and rolled himself on crumbs of dough. One side of his body became golden. Since then the mongoose is in search of another selfless family, for rolling into their crumbs. So that remaining portion of its body becomes golden.
I narrated this story to share my thoughts on deportation of Rohingya muslims from India. Rohingya muslims fled their home in western Myanmar fearing persecution. In India is believed there are around 40000 Rohingya muslims. Out of which around 16500 are legal, rest have moved in through porus borders. Indian government has decided to identify and deport illegal Rohingya population. But human rights groups have filed a petition against such deportation.
Indian dilemma is how to deal with Rohingya people. Tradition tells us to be generous, to be selfless. But, like the poor brahmin family of ancient time, todays India is beset with own problems. India that has 120 crore people of her own. Many of them poor without access to healthcare, education, food and sanitation. In India hardly 2% people pay tax. How can India afford to accept Rohingya people when she cannot take care of her own people? Add, to the resource problem, the terrorism angle. There is suggestion that there is Rohingya angle to Bodh Gaya blast of 2013.
In the Mahabharata, brahmin did not ask his wife or son or daughter in law to give up their bread. He gave his share first. His family could have declined to share their morsels. Because as head of the house, sin of insult to a guest would accrue to the head of the family. In the present day India, debate is between self interest and generosity. In the matter of spending public resource, should India act magnanimous, at the expense of depriving her own people? Or should India take care of interest of her own people, and use her clout to convince other nations to chip in and accept displaced Rohingya people. She may convince Myanmar to evolve policy such that Rohingya people do not feel persecuted. But if India decides to take in more people from different country, it should ask her own people.