[ Taba Ajum ]
Is the Rashtriya Swayam-sevak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing nationalist organization and ideological mentor of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dictating terms to the Arunachal Government in matters of governance?
This is the question, which comes to the mind of people when considering the two recent major decisions taken by the Government of Arunachal Pradesh. The decision to create the Department of Indigenous Faith and Cultural Affairs (DIFCA), along with adoption of Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy (TRP) has footprints of RSS in marking.
One wonders how the state BJP leaders, including Chief Minister Pema Khandu and party president Tapir Gao, are trying to make fools out of people by claiming that adoption of TRP will not affect future of indigenous tribal of the hilly state. The guideline under the TRP available on the internet clearly states that Tibetans will enjoy same benefits as tribal people once this policy is implemented. This guideline has made a clear policy statement about the welfare of the Tibetans in India. It says that Tibetans will be allowed to undertake any economic activity and to that extent, relevant papers/ trade license/ permit will be issued to them.
The TRP also states that Tibetan refugees will be permitted to pursue/ take jobs in any field for which they are professionally qualified. These could be fields like nursing, teaching, chartered accountancy, medicine, engineering etc. The state government will have to extend all subsidies and schemes at par with the original natives of Arunachal and devise special subsidies to give Tibetans the access to professional courses and fast track clearances for identity documents that serve as their passports. It is a well known fact that the RSS which considers Buddhism as part of Hindu society has soft corner for Buddhist refugees that include Tibetans and Chakma-Hajongs.
State government seems to have taken the decision to adopt the TRP in order to please the RSS, thereby ignoring the fact that Arunachal is a protected state under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873. The government should not overlook the fact that Tibetans, though refugees, are much advanced and if they get same benefits like APST citizens, they will overtake indigenous tribal people in every sphere of life. Also in places like West Kameng and Tawang, where Tibetans are large in numbers, they have managed to marginalise the indigenous populace. No wonder the Tawang district students were first to raise banner against decision to adopt TRP.
Most of the Tibetan organizations based in India, including in Arunachal are funded by countries like the US, Canada and several other European countries. Also, majority of the Tibetans have relatives living in these countries who earn in dollars and euros. How will poor indigenous tribal compete with such advanced group of people?
Also, the RSS seems to have influenced the decision to create the Department of Indigenous Faith and Cultural Affairs. For years they have been trying to develop connection between Hinduism and indigenous faith. The RSS has been playing behind the scene role to propagate indigenous faith and have often alleged Christian missionaries of converting tribals, which in reality is a myth. It considers Arunachal as a crucial state to make inroads into tribal society in North Eastern region.
Considering the fact that already there is a Department of Art and Culture along with the Department of Research, which are working towards preserving rich culture and tradition of tribal, the question does arise what is the need of creating another new department.
State government should have strengthened these two existing departments by hiring extra employees and providing more funds if they are really concerned about the tribal culture and tradition. Creation of department, like DIFCA and Department of Karmik and Adhyatmik Affairs (DoKAA) to cater to the needs of few section of society is against secular nature of India. Arunachal is a sensitive border state and people here expect that politicians will not allow outside forces to cause mayhem to tribal society because for us ‘tribal identity’ comes first and then religion.