First of all, I am neither against nor for the demands for Mon and Patkai autonomous district councils. Moreover, in my understanding there is not much value in discussing the issue now. The ball is in the court of the Centre. What I would like to focus on is the way forward. However, there are certain simple and basic things we need to understand first.
1. We as social animals can be very funny creatures. Even though I may have a brand new Mercedes Benz, I would be in trouble if my neighbour were to have two Mercedes Benz in his garage, or at least if that is what I think to be so. It doesn’t matter what I have, but the more important thing is what my neighbour has. Academicians call it the feelings of ‘relative deprivation’ in sociology and criminology. Even a beggar can feel deprivation relative to his peer beggars.
2. However, in Arunachal, at least all of the major tribes belong to the same level of socioeconomic and educational development. According to the 2011 census, the literacy rate in Longding district is as high as it is in Tawang, Anjaw, Lower Dibang Valley, Kra Daadi, Upper Siang or Upper Subansiri. And all of the major tribes are proportionately represented politically in the state assembly and other public offices.
3. Yes, I do agree that the so-called minor tribes are underrepresented. In my view, their claim of being ‘deprived’ and underrepresented would be acknowledged by most Arunachalees without any reservation.
4. But as far as the major tribes are concerned, as APSTs we all stand roughly equal to each other. Why don’t we appreciate that? Every region, every community has their own share of hardships, problems and deprivations. Some of us highlight them and some of us accept it with grace. Do the people of Tawang or Longding have to face massive loss of property and lives due to ravaging floods every year as it happened in East Siang, Lower Dibang Valley or Namsai areas? Do people in regions like Anjaw, Tawang and Lower Subansiri even know what it feels like when their lands are always encroached on by Assam officials as it happens in districts like Lower Siang or Kamle? Do people from other parts of Arunachal enjoy special quota like the people from the easternmost parts of Arunachal? It can go on and on. The simple point is, we all stand in the same boat. But if we narrow down our vision so much, I guarantee, soon we would be seeing demands for ADCs within the ADCs within no time.
The way forward
At the same time, we also need to understand that development in Arunachal is highly unplanned and imbalanced. If we look at our country’s situation, whereas the political centre continues to be the Delhi NCR, other centres of growth are equally as big and important. For instance, Mumbai is the entertainment industry capital and the financial capital of the country, Bengaluru is the technological (IT) capital of our country, and so on and so forth.
We Arunachalees should also envisage a similar kind of development of our state as a whole. Balanced and decentralized development should be the guiding principle for our state’s development. For instance, I would like to suggest to the state government to locate the high court of our state in a location like, say, Daporijo, Basar or Tezu township areas. It would not only spur the economic development of the region but would also fuel the educational growth of the region. Moreover, it would also keep our state’s judiciary more independent from the legislative and executive wings of the government.
In Uttar Pradesh also we have the same developmental model – Lucknow is the state capital but the state’s high court is located in Allahabad. It also contributed in easing the demographic burden off the state capital. Similarly for other important institutions and development, as well. Let us keep our hearts wide, open, loving and envisage a balanced, healthy development of our state as a whole.