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Doing Time with Nehru - The Story of an Indian-Chinese Family

It's midnight and there are fists pounding on the door. Authoritative voices shouting, "We're coming in! Get on the floor!" A few terrorized minutes later a family member is dragged out by armed men, disappearing into the night. This scenario is the greatest fear of many twentieth-century families--and to the unlucky, it's a lived reality. For the ethnic Chinese who had been settled in Northern India for many years, 1962 was filled with moments of terror like these. After the Sino-Indian Border War broke out in 1962, on the authorization of Prime Minister Nehru more than two thousand Chinese-Indians were torn from their homes and placed in local jails before being transported more than one thousand miles to the Deoli internment camp in the Rajasthan desert. Born in Calcutta in 1949 and raised in Darjeeling, Yin Marsh was just thirteen years old when first her father was taken and then she, her grandmother, and eight year old brother were forcibly removed from their home and thrown first into Darjeeling Jail. Upon arrival in Deoli, Yin and her family were assigned to the same bungalow where Prime Minister Nehru himself had done time during India's war for independence. Eventually released, Yin emigrated to America with her mother. She attended college, married, and raised her own family, all without telling the story of her emotional trauma. It wasn't until her own college-age daughter began to ask questions and when a friend's wedding would require her to return to her homeland that Yin was finally able to face what had happened to her and her family. In the fascinating memoir Doing Time with Nehru, the little-known history of how the Chinese were treated in post-Independence India is brought to light and through Yin's story, readers can glimpse the hardship, cruelty, and harsh lessons required for survival.
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About the Author

Yin Marsh is a writer who lives in Berkeley, California. Payal Banerjee is assistant professor of sociology at Smith College.

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