Apropos to the article, ‘Territorial integrity of NE states will not be compromised: Rijiju’ (AT, April 8, 2018); it is indeed important for India to clearly state time and gain that NE India represents an important integral part of the nation; and that no compromises could be made, allowed or accepted under any circumstances at any point of time in trying to arrange a peaceful resolution of impending socio-political, socio-economic, socio-legal and socio-ethnic issues of the region. There is no doubt to the fact that NE India was abandoned by the Central Government under PM Nehru since its integration into the Indian Union post independence. The only approach and political strategy adopted by the then unrivalled and unopposed Congress Government has been for several decades a degrading and humiliating appeasement policy of providing unlimited, unmonitored and unaccounted money and funds to influential party members and party bosses, local and regional leaders, heads of tribal organizations, units and clans to keep them under the fold of the government; falsely assuming that there will be no trouble in the future forever.
How dangerous, childish and immaturely foolish the policy has been as adopted and continued post Nehruvian era by successive Congress and other rainbow coalition central governments for decades; the history of the NE region post independence has clearly demonstrated. This appeasement policy has helped corrupted elites of the region, head of insurgent groups, tribal and religious groups, influential political leaders, party members and businessmen to lead a life of affluence with offshore bank accounts, enjoying high level security, multiple vehicles often paid by the tax payer’s money, their kids studying in foreign universities and holding prestigious government offices with even extended postings at profitable offices post retirement. While the vast majority of the region suffered from abject poverty, poor economic growth and infrastructural development, primitive agriculture and forestry management with low productivity, under developed tourism in spite of the fact the huge potential it has till date and monumental levels of unemployment for the vast majority of the people across all the states in the NE region.
The NE region has seen rapid influx of illegal immigrants from neighboring countries post independence; altering the population dynamics of the region, marginalizing the original inhabitants in several parts of NE India at an alarming proportion. The NE region has been a flashpoint of several armed rebellions, insurgent movements and activities, foreign interference across the dangerously insecure international border to destabilize India, deadly ethnic clashes, religious hatred and intolerance, language movement and most dangerously inter and intra tribal clashes deeply agonizing the life of the ordinary citizens of the region. A huge chunk of this comes from failed Nehruvian policies adopted perpetually for the NE region for decades giving rise to rampart corruption, separatism, insurgency and division among the rich and elites and the poorest of the poor of the region.
Unfortunately through; no critical and academic reinvestigation of failed Nehruvian NE policies are ever published. Irrespective of the fact what many sycophants and political beneficiaries of Indian Congress including so called Indian academics (?) who has benefitted greatly in the process; none in India or overseas is allowed to criticize Nehru, while insulting international icons like Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi and other Indian legendary figures is a free for all. This negative and destructive attitude of idolizing political figures and allowing them to survive in mythical limelight bigger than themselves has actually harmed Indian democracy seriously over decades. India needs to learn to come out of this Nehruvian romanticism and be bold to call a spade a spade. Most of India’s perpetual border and regional state based issues with the neighboring nations are a result of Nehru’s failed foreign policy and his la la land diplomacy which never had any substance, vision or critical analysis of ground realities. Treating a useless, non-existent and futile Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) as Nehru’s epitome of international success is misleading, far from fact and a historical lie that Congress party leadership, ideologues, academics (?) and sycophants have carefully fed to the media and ordinary public for decades. NAM was irrelevant in the past in a US-Soviet bipolar world; and is a virtually non-existent, useless organization today. It has succumbed to its natural death that should have been euthanized almost six decades back.
Successive central and NE state governments post Nehruvian era continued with the same mistakes and never took seriously to untwine the complex knot in which the region has been entangled since the days of independence. Several feuding tribal groups in the region need to realize that no modern nation will allow disintegration of part of its land mass by allowing the creation of country within a country, It is true that the British colonial rule has divided the region unrealistically without taking into consideration of the ethnic compositions across international borders. But this is not just the case of NE India but also runs central with the border dispute between Afghanistan-Pakistan following the faulty colonial legacy. However, to live in that dark age of what best could have been done and fighting for a failed ideology that has no substance in it is only harming the life of the local people.
While the whole world is moving towards economic development, primitive tribal feuds and fights with the government forces is only jeopardizing a bright future of the people for this region which is the gateway to SE Asia; and stands at the cross roads of future major economic development. Insurgent activities can run for another decade under the sponsorship of the enemies across the border, but I can promise nothing fruitful will be resolved other than the death and destruction at the cost of ordinary citizens. Unrealistic geopolitical demands made by some insurgent groups at the behest of their cross overseas masters manipulating them is only holding back the life and prosperity of their own people for whom they are fighting. While the leaders and their family members enjoy high quality of life by patronizing foreign government under the table aids; the misguided and unfortunate ground soldiers are dying out going through a wasteful life of pain and agony, poverty, endless bloodshed and fights, escaping from security forces, separation from beloved family members and lying dead one day in a pool of blood in cross firing.
Is this the life that the people of the region want and deserve? It is high time for the people of the entire NE region to overstep their so called tribal, religious, political and ethnic compulsions; and push for economic development, higher education, infrastructural development, progress and modernization of the region. Unless the people themselves come out to the streets demanding for better life, economic empowerment, better education, proper healthcare and better future for their children they will continue to get suppressed under the barrels of the gun of the insurgents and corrupt politicians who are holding back their life perpetually for no acceptable and reasonable objectives pushing them towards economic helplessness, social jeopardy, political destabilization, abject poverty and a dark future with no light showing at the end of the tunnel. NE is at crossroads! It is for the NE people to decide now what future they want to hold for their kids.
Saikat Kumar Basu