The Deoliwallahs and Questions of Citizenship


Starting in 1962, India imprisoned around 3,000 Chinese-Indians in a camp in Deoli, Rajasthan, some for up to five years. This happened purely because at a time of war with China, these people “looked Chinese”. This is a page of Indian history that comes wrapped in prejudice and fear, and is today totally forgotten. But nearly six decades later, some survivors of that experience are starting to speak.

Join our online book talk on The Deoliwallahs: The True Story of the 1962 Chinese-Indian Internment and learn more about the plight of Chinese-Indians.

About the speakers:

Joy Ma, co-author of The Deoliwallahs, was one of a handful of children born in the Deoli internment camp. She has studied at Lady Shri Ram College, India, and the New School for Social Research in the U.S. Joy lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two sons and her mother. She enjoys travelling, meeting people and writing.

Dilip D’Souza was educated in Pilani, Providence, Delhi, Rishi Valley, Bombay, Cambridge, Austin and places in between. Once a computer scientist, he now writes for his suppers: about political and social issues, travel, sports and mathematics. His writing has won him several awards, including the Statesman Rural Reporting award, the Outlook/Picador nonfiction prize and the Newsweek/Daily Beast South Asia Commentary Prize. He has published eight books, most recently The Deoliwallahs: The True Story of the 1962 Chinese-Indian Internment (Pan Macmillan). Dilip lives in Bombay with his wife Vibha, children Sahir and Surabhi, and cat Aziz.

Tsering Shakya is Associate Professor at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs and the Department of Asian Studies at UBC. He is the author of The Dragon in the Land of Snow, A History of Tibet Since 1947. His research interests focus on Himalayan regions and Sino-Indian Relations.

Kwai Li was born and grew up in the Chinatown of Calcutta (Kolkata), and immigrated to Toronto where she studied and obtained her CGA/CPA. While working in accounting, she returned to school, studied and graduated from the University of Toronto. For her MA thesis Deoli Camp: An Oral History of Chinese Indians from 1962 to 1966, Kwai Li interviewed Chinese Indians in the Toronto area. Kwai Li published The Palm Leaf Fan. This book was published by Penguin India as The Last Dragon Dance in Chinatown. She also published a number of short stories. Most of her publications are about Chinese in Calcutta: their longing for ‘home’ – villages in China they could barely remember, and their Indian-born children’s struggle to be a part of the multi-faceted Calcutta community while still maintaining their Chinese identity.