Nagaland Peace Accord & Narendra Modi


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In a remarkable move the officials of government of India signed a peace agreement with a  major Naga tribal group, waging a guerrilla war with the central government for over past six decades. The agreement besides restoring peace in the region also attempts to build institutions bestowing greater autonomy to Naga tribes. The peace pact reached between the government of India and the largest militant faction of the North East, National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), NSCN (IM) can significantly bring down the insurgent insurrection. While the finer details of the accord and the mechanisms of its execution are still under wraps the move is welcomed by all political parties. Modi recalling it as a major triumph under the flag of Act East Policy reiterated that restoring peace, economic and social progression of North East has been his utmost priority.

To appreciate the crux of the issue, it is worth recapitulating the genesis and epic-proportions of the Naga insurgency tale. The undivided Goalpara district or the Assam province which was under the control of the Ahom rulers of Burma became part of the Bengal Subah of the Mughal Empire after conflicts. Subsequently in 1765 it fell into the hands of East India Company along with Bengal and became part of the special administrative region of North-Eastern parts of Rangpur. After a series of Anglo- Burmese wars and enforcement of Doctrine of Lapse the entire region of Assam was annexed to British India by 1833 (1). British later on captured several Naga territories and consolidated them under the Naga Hills district in Assam. Actually each Naga village was sovereign and ruled by tribal heads and Naga tribes had no common identity. British guilefully permitted the penetration of Christian Missionaries into the region and inadvertently religion fostered unity between Naga tribes.

Nagas were recruited by British during World War I as labour corps and sent to France. But they were alienated from rest of the British Indian troops and this alienation promoted unity between them. Upon returning to their homeland Nagas with few British officials formed the Naga Club in 1918.  Under the government act of 1919 British declared Naga Hill district as backward tract and treated it as separate entity. In 1928 Naga club submitted a memorandum to Simon Commission requesting that Nagas be allowed to have right to self-determination after their departure from India. In 1930’s the Naga tribes under the leader of Haipou Jadonang and Rani Gaidinliu rebelled against British. As per Government Act of India 1935, the Naga Hill district was declared as an Excluded area administered by Governor of Assam.

In 1945 C. R. Pawsney formed a Naga Hills District Tribal Race which evolved into Nagaland National Council (NNC) under the leadership of Angami Zapi Phizo. Phizo considered as Father of Nagas led an armed secessionist revolution and campaigned for a sovereign Naga nation. On August 14th 1947, a day before India’s independence Phizo declared the independence of Nagaland. Anticipating a stiff opposition from the insurgent group of Nagas prior to declaration of independence in June, 1947 the governor of Assam Sir Akbar Hyderi initiated peace talks. He signed a 9-point agreement with moderate members of NNC. The Hyderi accord agreed to grant judicial, executive and legislative powers and autonomy in land related matters. But the constituent assembly failed to ratify the accord that envisioned Naga demand for a sovereign state with India as a Guardian power for 10 years.  Instead they were granted district autonomy within Indian constitution.

In 1948 an agreement was reached between NCN and Government of India recognising Naga people right to self-determination (3). But NNC under the leadership of Phizo intensified their demand to establish a sovereign Naga state. He conducted a referendum in 1951 wherein nearly 99% voted for an independent Nagaland. Phizo has called for boycott of general elections in 1952 and launched violent secessionist movement. He also met Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1951 and 1952 with a petition for sovereign status and separate electorate for Nagas but was refused. He was later in Burma arrested for illegal entry. Phizo then created an underground government, Naga Federal Government (NFG) and Naga Federal Army (NFA) on March 22nd 1956 (4). To quell the raising insurgency, government inducted Armed Forces and enforced Armed Forced (Special Powers) Act in 1958. Phizo escaped to East Pakistan in 1956 and lived in exile till death in London.

In the meanwhile government of India placed Naga Hills District under the tribal districts “Part A” category as per the sixth schedule of constitution, as an autonomous district governed by Governor of Assam with a limited representation in Assam state legislative assembly and Indian Parliament. This arrangement was refused by the Naga leaders. Hence along Tuensang division it was placed in “Part B” category as an area in the North East Frontier Agency under the administrative authority of Ministry of External Affairs in 1957. Following negotiations with secessionists the region was later converted into a full-fledged state of Nagaland in 1963, December 1st.

Government constituted a peace mission consisting of Jaya Prakash Narain, Assam chief minister Bimala Prasad Chaliha and Rev Michael Scott that signed an Agreement for Suspension of Operation (AGSOP) with insurgent groups in April, 1964. But relentless violations by NNC and NFG continued to rock the state in spite of the six rounds of peace negotiations. The peace mission was abandoned in 1967. In 1972 government launched a massive counter-insurgency operation and banned the NNC and NFG under the unlawful associations act. Situation was brought under control by 1975 and a section of the NNC and NFG on November 11th 1975 signed the famous Shillong Accord. Consequently the Naga rebels accepted the supremacy of Indian constitution, renounced arms and demand for secession of Nagaland from India (5).

But peace still eluded this region as nearly 150 rebels who were away in China and Burma for training during the signing of agreement refused to accept the final settlement with Indian government. Among them the trio of Isak Chisi Swu, Thuingaleng Muviah and S, Khaplang blatantly rejected the agreement and in the next five years parted from ways with NNC and created National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) in 1980. This group quickly emerged as a strong rebel contingent and NNC-NFG became less active. But by 1988 the rebellion within the group resulted in splintering of the unit into NSCN (IM) and NSCN (K) and the names of factions denote the rebel leaders heading them. In 1990 after death of Phizo, NNC split into NNC (A) led by Phizo’s daughter Adino and NNC (K) headed by Vice-president Khodao Yanthan. NNC (K) later merged with NSCN (IM) (6). Each of the splinter groups represents different tribes. Konyaks group is led by S. Khaplang of NSCN (K), a Hemie Naga from Myanmar. Tangkhuls led by Isak, a Sema from Nagaland and Muivah a Tangkhul from Ukhrul district of Manipur.

Irrespective of the tribes they represent, the ultimate aspiration of the Naga leaders has been to merge the contiguous areas of the Naga territories and create a greater Nagaland or Nagalim, four times the size of Nagaland. The putative Naga territory encompasses districts in Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar. Hence each of these states is wily of such a demand. This desire for Nagalim is so entrenched that even the elected representatives of the Nagaland assembly still continue to pass the resolution on the need for carving out Nagalim. India signed cease-fire agreements with NSCN (IM) in 1997 and with NSCN (K) in 2001. While NSCN (IM) has climbed down on their demand for a sovereign state for Nagas, they are particular about the creation of Nagalim. During the ceasefire period violent conflicts erupted between these two rival factions of NSCN.  Government of India held as many as 80 negotiations through interlocutors and monitored by the ceasefire commission with these factions. It emerged that NSCN (IM) has been sincere in its commitment.

NSCN (K) violated ceasefire agreement in March 2015, drawing support from ULFA, Bodos and Manipur militants it surfaced as United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia. It executed an attack on Indian Army which resulted in the death of 18 jawans in Manipur on June 4th 2015. The present accord is termed historic as government clinched an agreement with the largest Naga groups which in turn can pave way for bringing other minor Naga factions on board. Prime Minister Modi is believed to have effectively utilised the good will created by Atal Bihari Vajpayee who wooed Nagas with his immaculate gestures and open confessions. He was the only Prime Minister fondly remembered by people of Nagaland for appreciating and recognising their unique history and frankly admitting the failures of Indian government that left trails of blood in the state (7).

According the interlocutor RN Ravi, the ground work for the accord has been done under the UPA government but the indecisive leadership frittered away the opportunity for a major breakthrough in 2012. Perhaps, the recent ceasefire violations by NSCN (K) propelled central leadership into swift action and spurred them to clinch an agreement with its rival faction NSCN (IM). But for the collaborative action of Ajit Doval, interlocutor RN Ravi, Nagaland governor PB Acharya and the Naga People’s front leader TR Zeliang this mission couldn’t have been achieved.

While the details of the initial framework agreement are sketchy, it is believed that since government of India will not compromise on the sovereignty and integrity of the country, redrawing of state boundaries may be ruled out. But the accord might have entailed upon greater autonomy to the Naga dominated regions in the various states. While article 371 (A)   already accords special status to Nagaland, government might consider strengthening it further (8).

The accord signed by Modi is truly iconic as it comes after a long duration of unrelenting parley of peace negotiations with promise of restoring the peace in the region marred with violence. The pact epitomizes the exemplary statesmanship of Modi and his steadfast commitment to make North East region more inclusive. The true test for the government lies in carefully dealing with different state governments of the region, in decommissioning arms of rebels and their absorption into mainstream and chalking out a robust long-term development projects for the North East.

[ For this article I am indebted to Mr. Ramaharitha Pusarla . He published the article on August 06, 2015 under the title of “Historic Naga Accord” in the website MyIndMakers. I am posting verbatim that very article and I express my deep gratitude and indebtedness to Mr. Pusarla. ]

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25 Years of Statehood of Arunachal Pradesh


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           SEPTEMBER 29 , 2012           10.45 P.M.

During my childhood , I had known a part my country , which was called NEFA . It came to national prominence during the India – China War of 1962 . Nathu La Pass and NEFA [ North East Frontier Agency ] became household names and our concern for this far off and neglected part of India was so great that we felt that we all are resident of NEFA . This erstwhile NEFA is now known as Arunachal Pradesh .

English: A Locator map of North East Frontier ...

A Locator map of North East Frontier Agency in 1961. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before India – China war , I used to know only one province of North East India and it was Assam . Assam was a huge state of India in 1950 . Barring Manipur and Tripura , all the other provinces of present day North East India including NEFA were part of Assam . Map posted below bears testimony to this .

Political boundary of Assam in the 1950s.

Map of Assam in 1950

During British era this whole region was rules as a part of Bengal Presidency . Province of Assam came into being in 1874 . NEFA came into being in 1955 , though it was part of Assam .  It ceases to exist now . NEFA is now re-christened as Arunachal Pradesh and came into being on February 20 , 1987 as a state of India . Itanagar is the state capital .

Map of India showing location of Arunachal Pradesh

Location of Arunachal Pradesh in the Map of India

ITANAGAR ARUNACHAL PRADESH

Itanagar – Capital of Arunachal Pradesh

So in a nutshell from 1954 to 1972 NEFA was part of Assam . On January 20 , 1972 it was separated from Assam and became Union Territory . On February 20 , 1987  it became a state of India . So it completed 33 years as Union Territory and it now completes 25 years as a state .

Present day Arunachal Pradesh is divided into 17 districts for administrative purposes .

English: Tawang Town with monastery in backgro...

Tawang Town with The Monastery

Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh is the Buddhist religious place and is the birth place of HH 6th Dalai Lama .

The birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama (Urgellin...

The Birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama

Simla Agreement between British and Tibet in 1913 – 1914 established the boundary line between present day Arunachal Pradesh of India and Tibet . Sir Henry MacMohan drew up 890 km long MacMohan Line as the border between British India and Outer Tibet . Chinese representative had no problem at that time but now China refuses to accept MacMohan Line and claims all of Arunachal Pradesh as her own province .

 

English: Map of the British Indian Empire from...

Map of the British Indian Empire from Imperial Gazetteer of India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The Survey of India had published a map in 1937 showing MacMohan Line as the official boundary . Even if you try to forget all the mythological links of present day Arunachal Pradesh with Mahabharat and it being the abode of MahaRishi Parashuram and it being the mythical kingdom of Kundinpur , which belonged to Rukmini’s father and it being the place , where Krishna Bhagwan came and married Rukmini , still the fact remains that from 1937 to 2012 , Arunachal Pradesh has 75 years of existence with India . If you consider the signing of Simla Accord between British India and Tibet in 1913 – 1914 , then this existence extends to 99 years .

In February 2012 , Arunachal Pradesh completed 25 years as a province of India . Irrespective of what China says , Arunachal has its links with India since Mahabharat days . And God willing next year Arunachal Pradesh will complete 100 years of its existence with India .

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Kokrajhar Riots & The Tyranny of Distance


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           SEPTEMBER 06 , 2012           12.55 P.M.

Rajdeep Sardesai at IIM Kozhikode in March 2008

Rajdeep Sardesai at IIM Kozhikode in March 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kokrajhar in Assam is reeling under communal violence . Demography of Assam is getting changed or rather it is being changed . Assam is fast changing and changing for worst . Assam is in trouble but no one is paying attention . They say that Assam is very far off and inaccessible . So in the words of Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai ” tyranny of distance ” is the main cause of this criminal neglect . And if Assam is in trouble can other states of North East India be far behind ?

In the age of internet , when twitter , Facebook and blogs are the order of the day , is this theory ” tyranny of distance ” convincing enough ? Or is it a ploy to avoid some troublesome questions , some unpleasant truths ?

Why ” tyranny of distance ” , which is so convenient for Kokrajhar , did not apply to Gujarat ? Why even the minutest details of post Godhra riots were aired repeatedly and why gory scenes were played on the television over and over again ? If the reportage on Gujarat riots were prerogative of a journalist then Kokrajhar should also be reported . And if Assam in general and Kokrajhar in particular is too distant , then Gujarat is also not the immediate neighbour of New Delhi .

Apart from ” tyranny of distance ” theory , Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai came with another brilliant ( ? ) theory for not reporting Kokrajhar riots . He tweeted that since more that thousand people got killed in Gajarat riots and less than hundred got killed in Kokrajhar , so reporting about Kokrajhar is not that important . Can a riot be termed as important and unimportant ? Is a riot less important because less than thousand people got killed ? He did tender apology after public outcry , but his hypocrisy was there for all to see .

English: Image of Narendra Modi at the World E...

English: Image of Narendra Modi at the World Economic Forum in India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If Narendra Modi , the Chief Minister of Gujarat is responsible for Gujarat riots , then same yardstick should be applied to Tarun Gogoi , the Chief Minister of Assam also . And if Tarun Gogoi is not directly responsible for Kokrajhar riots , then how come Narendra Modi is guilty of Gujarat riots ?

@ Brahma Mandir, Kokrajhar

@ Brahma Mandir, Kokrajhar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Countryside in the Bodo area of Assam

Countryside in the Bodo area of Assam “Udalguri and Kokrajhar are considered the center of the Bodo area.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: see filename

Assam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bodos are tribal of Assam . Landscape of Bodoland is divine . The tribal culture of Bodos are in danger . So they are up in arms against the Bangladeshi immigrants . Because of vote bank politics provincial government is not paying attention or rather ignoring the menace . And even after riots , a cover up operation is going on . Now Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai is talking about the need of sensitivity for the Assam victims but he totally forgot to maintain that sensitivity for the victims of Gujarat riots .

I am not defending Gujarat riots . No sensible person can defend such acts . But there should be one yardstick for all the acts of crime . It should not be the case of good riots and bad riots . It should not be our riots or their riots . Riots are riots and they should be condemned in equal measures and with same force and vehemence .

That is the reason I fail to understand the logic of Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai and other secular like him . I condemn their hypocrisy . There cannot be and should not be two yardsticks for the same communal ( ? ) crime . If Gujarat is still remembered , so should be Kokrajhar . If BJP is communal , so is the Congress , Indian National Congress .

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Ode – 6 : To Ms. Tonthoi & Manipuri Films


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JUNE 05 , 2012           00.45 A.M.

Does the name Leishangthem Tonthoingambi Devi ring a familiar bell ?

Does even Tonthoi ring a familiar sound ?

Does this photograph even remotely remind you of anybody ?

Tonthoi

Tonthoi

I know the answer is , NO .

Now just go through this photo of 59th National Film Awards .

Tonthoi Receiving Best Supporting Actor's Award

Tonthoi Receiving Best Supporting Actress Award

Who is the girl receiving award from Vice President of India ?

I know , the answer will again be a firm , NO .

And this is unfortunate . This is shameful . This is disgusting , to say the least .

I would like to add that when I say this , I don’t exclude myself . My crime is greater . My sin is rather unpardonable . Because I belong to film fraternity . I train actors . And I am doing this job since 1990 . If I , in spite of being a part of the film industry for 22 long years , do not know or recognize  Tonthoi , the National Award winning actress from Manipur , what could I expect from common public ?

When the 59th National Film Awards were announced , I went through the list . I was happy for Vidya Balan . But I did not care to know or remember that the National Award for Best Supporting Actress went to a Manipuri actress , Ms. LeishangthemTonthoingambi Devi a.k.a. Tonthoi . Everyone knows that Vidya Balan won the award forDirty PictureBut ask even the connoisseurs about Tonthoi and her film . Even they will fail to name the Manipuri film for which Tonthoi won the award . I came to know about the film through a recent article of Times of India . Name of the Manipuri film is ; ” Phijigee Mani ” .

Leishangthem Tonthoingambi Devi

Leishangthem Tonthoingambi Devi

Leishangthem Tonthoingambi Devi

Leishangthem Tonthoingambi Devi

It is unfortunate . We are appalled when we hear some voices of cessation  in some North – Eastern state . We squirm when we hear that 7 states of North East India is different from India and should be allowed to secede . At that time we become nationalists . But a 24-year-old actress from Manipur wins National Award for her film and we fail to know the name of the actress and her film .

I don’t know about others but I am ashamed and I cannot pardon myself . Through this blog I offer an open apology to Tonthoi , Manipuri film industry and people of Manipur .

Tonthoi

Tonthoi

Of late Manipuri film industry is a robust industry . It produces 30 / 40 films per year . To not know about Manipuri film industry is shameful .

History of Manipuri Films

Manipuri movies were properly made from 1972. Earlier these were mostly documentary in nature. Feature films came into vogue much later.

The first Manipuri movie was ” Matamgi Manipur ” [ 1972 ] . It was directed by Debkumar Kumar Bose. It was one of the Manipuri movies that received the President`s Medal in 20th National Film Festival in 1972.

Some of the other notable Manipuri movies are as follows:

” Brojendragee Luhongba ” [ 1972 ] : Directed by S.N Chand the film won the Best screenplay Award in the 1st state Film Festival in 1984.

” Lamja Pasuram ” [ 1974 ] : This flick was directed by Aribam Shyam Sharma.

” Ngak-E-Ko Nangshe ” [ 1974 ] : It was a S.N. Chand film.

” Saphabee ” [ 1976 ] :  Directed by Aribam Shyam Sharma it bagged Rajat Kamal for Best Regional Film at the National award ceremony in 1976.

” Olangthagee Wangmadasu ” [ 1980 ] : 4 years later history repeated itself with this film when it bagged Rajat Kamal for Best Regional Film in 1980. This particular Manipuri movie was directed by Aribam Shyam Sharma.

” Imagi Ningthem ” [ 1981 ] : another film by Aribam Shyam Sharma , it grabbed the Rajat Kamal for Best Regional Film at the National Awards ceremony (1982), Best Feature Film Award in the 1st Manipur State Film festival, Grand Prix Award at Nantes International Film festival in France (1981) and National Award for Best Child Actor (Master Leikhendra). The film was also screened at several international film festivals.

Other Manipuri movies are : ” Khonjel ” [ 1981 ] , ” Wangma Wangma ” [ 1981 ] , ” Paokhum Ama ” [ 1983 ] , ” Sanakeithel ” [ 1983 ] , ” Thaba ” [ 1984 ] , ” Langlen Thadoi ” [ 1984 ] , ” Yairipok Thambalnu ” [ 1984 ] , ” Iche Sakhi ” [ 1986 ] , ” Kombirei ” [ 1989 ] , ” Ishanou ” [ 1990 ] , ” Ingallei ” [ 1990 ] , ” Paap ” [ 1991 ] , ” Khonthang ” [ 1992 ] , ” Sambal Wangma ” [ 1993 ] , ” Thambal ” [ 1993 ] , ” Madhabee ” [ 1993 ] , ” Mayophygee Macha ” [ 1994 ] , ” Sanamanbi Sanarei” [ 1995 ] , ” Sanabi ” [ 1995 ] , ” Khamba Khamnu ” [ 1995 ] , ” Kanaga Hinghouni ” [ 1996 ] , ” Khamba Thoibi ” [ 1997 ] , ” Chinglensana ” [ 1997 ] .

Amongst these ” Sanakeithel ” [ 1983 ] , ” Ishanou ” [ 1990 ] , ” Sambal wangma ” [ 1993 ] , ” Mayophygee Macha ” [ 1994 ] , ” Sanabi ” [ 1995 ] , won National Awards (Rajat Kamal) .

[ I have taken information about Manipuri films from various sources and sites available on internet . ]

I have very little connection with Manipur . I have just one student from the province . His name is Prasanjeet Sinha .

Prasanjeet Sinha

Prasanjeet Sinha

I hope to rectify this error soon . I would be visiting Manipur in near future . I promise to interact with the Manipuri film industry . This blog is a baby step in that direction .

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Manipur : Election 2012 & Indian Communists


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JANUARY 18 , 2012           02.15 A.M.

Elections have been declared in 5 states of India . Uttar Pradesh , Uttarakhand , Punjab , Goa and Manipur will go to polls on various dates this year . Manipur assembly election will take place on January 28 , 2012 . Punjab and Uttarakhand will go to polls on January 30 , 2012 . Polls will take place in Uttar Pradesh on February 08 , 11 , 15 , 19 , 23 , 28 and March 03 . Election will occur in Goa on March 03 , 2012 . Results will be out on March 06 , 2012 .

India-map

Latest Political Map of India

Let us take the case of assembly elections of Manipur first .

English:

Seal of Manipur

Manipur merged with Indian Union in 1949 . It became Union Territory of India in 1956 and became a province of India on January 21 , 1972 . It is part of 7 North – Eastern States of India , known as 7 sisters .

7 Sister States with Sikkim

At present Manipur has 9 administrative districts . They are ; Bishnupur , Churachandpur , Chandel , Imphal East , Imphal West , Senapati , Tamenglong , Thoubal and Ukhrul .

Political Map of Manipur

Assembly election of 2012 is the 10th assembly election of Manipur . First assembly elections were held on July 01 , 1963 .Mairembam Koireng Singh became the first Chief Minister of Manipur .

Okram Ibobi Singh is the 11th Chief Minister of Manipur . He is the first Chief Minister of Manipur to complete a full term as the Chief Minister . He is the first one to get mandate for the second consecutive term also . So he becomes the first Chief Minister of Manipur to last in the office for 10 long years .

This blog is not about the historic feat of Mr. Okram Ibobi Singh . It is about the opportunistic stand of two Communist parties of India . C. P. I. , C. P. M. , Forward Block and R. S. P. have formed a front . This is known as Left Front in Indian Politics . This Left Front ruled West Bengal for almost 5 decades . It has ruled Kerala also for several terms . It is still ruling Tripura . West Bengal , Tripura and Kerala are the known Communist bastions of India . Left Front exists in these three states .

In Manipur , surprisingly , Left Front does not exist . Communist Party of India [ C. P. I. ] is with the ruling Congress and is part of the ruling front . Communist Party of India – Marxist [ C. P. I. M. ] is with the main opposition party ; Manipur People’s Party and is part of the M. P. P. led opposition front .

May I demand to know about the cause of non – existent Left Front in Manipur . The Indian National Congress and The Communist Party of India [ C.P.I. ] fight with each other in West Bengal , Tripura and Kerala . How come they are friends in Manipur ? How come The Communist Party of India – Marxist [ C.P.I.-M. ] does not oppose this opportunistic stand of C. P. I. ? Or are they partners in this game of sin and crime ?

Once they tried to paint India red . They took part in democratic elections as per their convenience . They waged armed struggle with the central government as per their strength . To be in different fronts and alliances is also part of their strategy . The dream of painting India red lies in shambles . But the effort is still on .

A dream never fulfilled

Red India - A Failed Communist Dream

The Communist can go to any length to accomplish their dream . Though the fossilised leaders are the only hindrance .

CPI(M) leaders at the 18th party congress

C.P.I.M Leaders at 18th Party Congress

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Jarawa Tribe of Andaman & Pan – Indian Mentality


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JANUARY 17 , 2012           02.40 A.M.

Apart from Hindus , Muslims , Christians , Jews and Parsis India has a sizable chunk of animist tribal population also . Andaman & Nicobar Islands have a large tribal population , some of them are even pre – historic . Some of these aboriginal tribes have been declared endangered . It means they are on the verge of extinction .

English: Map of the Nicobar and Andaman Islands.

Map of Andaman & Nicobar Islands

Jarawa tribe is one of the most endangered tribes of Andaman & Nicobar Islands . There are just 240 Jarawas left . That is the reason Administration of Andaman & Nicobar Islands has declared them endangered tribes and have initiated several welfare schemes for the preservation of their identity and culture .

Map of Andaman and Nicobar Islands showing loc...

Map of India Showing Location of Andaman & Nicobar Islands

Last week  some tourists filmed a video , which showed that Jarawa women are dancing for food . When the news became public there was tremendous public outcry . Several mainstream channels carried the clippings and they were indignant that Jarawas were degraded by this dance – for – food act  and that  filming of the act was inhuman and insensitive . Demands for inquiry were raised and the administration of Andaman & Nicobar Islands promptly ordered  the inquiry .

Blurred Vision of Jarawa Dance Video Shown on Times Now

Blurred Vision of Jarawa Dance for Food

Andaman & Nicobar Islands are enchantingly beautiful . Azure sea , breath – taking greenery and primitive surroundings are beyond words .

Andaman Islands

Sunset and Sunrise also attract tourists . This pristine and virgin beauty has to be preserved from senseless urbanization . These eco – sensitive and fragile beauty can’t be open for unbridled modernization . Pre – historic jungles shouldn’t be allowed to become a concrete jungle .

Sunset in Andaman

A Seashore of Andaman & Nicobar Islands

We have a policy for tribals . It calls for their protection and for the preservation of their tradition and culture . This issue of preserving tribal culture is so vexed that initially I was swayed by the views of various anchors of news channels . In the Times of India of January 15 , 2012 , I read a column ” Swaminomics ”  , written by columnist Mr. Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar . Thanks to Mr. Aiyar’s column , my views on this issue is clear now .

We do need to preserve our tribal culture . We should and must try to protect our endangered tribal population . But keeping them in quarantined atmosphere is not preservation . I am posting few photos of the Jarawa tribals . Watch these Jarawa men and women and then decide :

A Jarawa

A Jarawa

Jarawas

According to me our tribal population should be allowed to mix with the mainstream . They should be encouraged to study , to live a decent life . They are entitled to proper medication and they have every right to have all the modern amenities . Just look at the photograph of Port Blair , the capital of Andaman & Nicobar Islands :

A Market of Port Blair

Main Road of Port Blair

Port Blair is not a metropolitan city .It is not like New Delhi , Mumbai or Bengaluru . But definitely it is a bustling town with all the modern amenities . Now compare this with the condition of the tribal population of Andaman & Nicobar Islands :

A Jarawa Family

A Jarawa Couple

Is it not inhuman to keep our tribals in the primitive condition of pre – historic days ? It is argued that exposing them to civil society will be injurious for their existence . Total land area of Andaman & Nicobar Islands is 6,496 km. Total population , as per recent census statistics of 2011 is 3,79,944 .There are only 5 tribes in Andaman Islands . They are ; Great Andamanese , Jarawa , Jangil , Onge and Sentinelese . Their total number is 7,000 . There are only 2 tribes in Nicobar Islands . They are ; Nicobarese and Shompens .Some of Nicobarese are educated and have been exposed to modern civilization ;

Tribal Population of Nicobar Islands

Out of all the 572 islands , only  38 are inhabited . Out of these 38 islands less than a dozen have some kind of tribal population . Can’t we keep watch on them and protect them from exploitation ? Tribals of North – East India are well – educated . They have been exposed to modern culture . They live in cities with all the modern trappings . They didn’t disappear and become extinct . In fact they are more rooted and still preserve their identity and thriving ethnic culture . Tribal People of Arunachal Pradesh , Nagaland , Manipur , Meghalaya , Mizoram and Tripura are modern , well – educated and city – centric . They don’t live in their pre – historic primitive conditions . Yet their tribal culture is intact , in fact it is more strong .

So the bogey of losing tribal culture is misplaced . If we insist that tribals of Andaman & Nicobar Islands should be kept in virgin and primitive preservation , we are treating then as animals of a zoo . I totally agree with Mr. Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar that this zoo mentality should not be allowed to continue . Our constitution gives us right to work , right to vote and right to education . By keeping these trbals in a ghetto and trying to keep them away from modern civilization is depriving them of their fundamental rights . Sure , making them dance for food and filming the act is inhuman . But can any one answer why these Jarawas could be tantalized for food ? A well – fed population can’t be lured for food . So it is clear these Jarawas are deprived . They are famished . And thus were lured by tourists .

A Jarawa Child

A Jarawa Girl Child

A Jarawa Man

The Jarawas

Tribals in A Natural Habitat

Above posted photos tells everything . These tribals lack basic amenities . They are poor and famished . They must be craving for two decent meals a day and they are not getting that . So they gave in when tempted by the tourists . Can any one lure a Naga , a Khasi , a Garo , a Jayantia or a Mizo from the North – East India for food  ?Everyone knows the answer . It’s a firm no .

So same treatment will be beneficial for the tribals of Andaman & Nicobar Island also . We need a modern , well – educated , well – fed tribal population , who are well – integrated with the mainstream . We do need to preserve distinct tribal identity and not a quarantined , secluded and ghettoized existence. Definitely tribals of Andaman & Nicobar Islands could be another Naga , Mizo , Khasi or Jayantia .

Tribals of Andamans

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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Irom Sharmila’s 11 Years v/s Anna Hazare’s 12 Days


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA             SEPTEMBER 06, 2011           08.30 P.M.

I am all for eradication of corruption. And if Anna Hazare is spear-heading a movement and went for a 12 days fast for the cause , it is a welcome sign and it should get wholehearted support of the nation and people. Government of the day and the parliament took cognizance of his endeavour and parliamentarians cutting across party line went into huddle and passed the resolution for the Lokpal bill , as was demanded by Team Anna . Vilas Rao Deshmukh , a central minister , was dispatched to the Ramlila ground with the letter of the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh , informing him that the resolution is passed by the parliament and that he should now break his fast. Very next day Ana Hazare ended his fast and the nation was relieved.

I fail to understand the mindset of our national and regional parties. If Anna’s fast can galvanize whole nation and everyone was concerned for his life, why this concern is not shown to Irom Sharmila Chanu , 38 , who is fasting since November 02 , 2000. She stopped eating when Assam Rifles troopers , while chasing militants , killed 10 villagers at Malom village . She was subsequently arrested and now being force – fed through a nasal tube in a hospital. It is now 11 year-long hunger strike and no one is concerned. The central government , political parties of all hue and colours , the electronic and print media , the intellectuals and conscience – keepers of our country and various NGOs , working in different sectors , all , either ignored her or didn’t show concern . National Human Rights Commission [ NHRC ] and National Commission for Women [ NCW ] are intriguingly silent too . Why ? Is it because she hails from North East India or more precisely from Manipur ? is her life not precious enough ? Is she a child of a lesser God ? Is she not even a speck in the scheme of the nation called India ?

Irom Sharmila Chanu

Irom Sharmila Chanu

India’s neglected North East Region and our so-called love for our motherland is a conundrum. Assam , Arunachal Pradesh , Meghalaya , Nagaland , Manipur ,Tripura and Mizoram are called 7 sisters and they are part of  North East India. Now Sikkim is also  part of the North East and should be included in the group . This makes total 8 provinces in the region.

Political boundary of Assam in the 1950s.

Political boundary of Assam in the 1950s.

Apart from Assam , two other provinces of North East ; Manipur and Tripura were in existence even at the time of independence . Later on Nagaland was created in 1963 and finally in 1972 during Indira Gandhi‘s tenure Arunachal Pradesh , Meghalaya and Mizoram came into existence and thus 7 sisters were born. Sikkim also became a part of India in 1975 during Indira Gandhi’s tenure.

Map of the Seven Sister States of North East India & Sikkim

Map of the Seven Sister States of North East India & Sikkim

NAGALAND :

================

Soon after independence , people in Nagaland and Mizoram started agitation for independence. Armed struggle is being carried on since then. The Nagas were the first one to demand a sovereign nation for Nagas. Their leader Angami Zapu Phizo formed Naga National Council and on August 14, 1947 started armed struggle for independent Nagalim. In 1963 central government gave statehood to Nagaland as the 16th state of Indian Union and started peace talks. In 1980 National Socialist Council of Nagalim was formed by T. Muivah , Isak Swu and S. Khaplang and they are still fighting in Nagaland , though now they are devided into two separate factions.; NSCN [ I – M ] and NSCN [ Khaplang ] . So far more than 25,000 lives have been lost in the bloody struggle of Nagaland.

MIZORAM :

============

Laldenga and his Mizo National Front waged war for independence in Mizoram. In 1986 after the Mizo Accord, though,  insurgency ended but Hmar People’s Convention – Democratic and The Bru National Liberation Front have kept the flame alive.

MEGHALAYA :

=================

Meghalaya , though , relatively peaceful have two organizations fomenting trouble . They are ; The Achik National Volunteer Council formed in 1995 for an Achik Land in Garo Hills and  The Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council formed in 1992 to free state from Garo and non – tribal Indian domination.

TRIPURA :

============

At the end of 1970 several insurgent groups emerged in Tripura and started fight for the safeguard of tribal rights and end of the dominance of Bengalis from mainland India. Main among them are : National Liberation Front of Tripura formed in 1989 and All Tripura Tigers Force formed in 1990 .

ASSAM :

===========

The biggest state of North East India is troubled because of porous borders with Bangladesh . Anti – foreign agitation of 1980 spawned many insurgent groups in Assam. Main among them are : United Liberation Front of Asom formed in 1979 to establish a sovereign , independent Assam , National Democratic Front of Bodoland formed in 1989 to establish autonomous region of Bodoland , Karbi Longri N.C. Hills Liberation Front  formed in 2004 to fight for the cause of Karbi tribes and United People’s Democratic Solidarity formed in 1999 to fight for self-rule of Karbi trbes of Karbi Anglong. At present Assam is the most disturbed state of North East.

MANIPUR :

===========

State of Meiteis , who are Vaishnavites by faith , is also troubled and it started when some Naga organizations gave call to include Naga inhabited areas of Manipur into Greater Nagaland. Most important insurgent group of Manipur is Peoples Liberation Army formed in 1978 with the sole aim of liberating Manipur from India . The second one ; United National Liberation Front was created in 1964 and it also demands independence . Third important group ; Peoples Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak is also an organization of some importance demanding independence from Indian rule.

Above mentioned facts are very basic and known history of the insurgency in the North Eastern Region. To counter these movements and armed struggles , Government of India promulgated AFSPA  , [ Armed Forces Special Powers Act ] of 1958 in the region. This act gives sweeping powers to armed forces. It gives them license to kill . Currently AFSPA is in force in Assam , Nagaland , Manipur [ barring some areas in and around Imphal , the capital of the state ] , 2 districts of Arunachal Pradesh [ Tirap and Changlang ] and some areas of Tripura .

People of North East resent the draconian AFSPA and they want its removal . Removal of AFSPA is demanded in Jammu & Kashmir also. I am intrigued that  removal of AFSPA is being considered sympathetically by the central government in Jammu & Kashmir but when it comes to Manipur or other areas of North East it is refused point blank. Recently Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram visited Manipur and said that since there is no consensus , so AFSPA cant be removed. Was there consensus about Anna Hazare’s demand in the beginning ? Everyone sat and consensus emerged. If consensus could be manufactured in Anna’s case , why can’t it be done in the case of Irom Sharmila Chanu ? Anna’s fast is hailed as the democratic right of citizen of this country and his subsequent victory is heralded as the sign of vibrant democracy but Irom Sharmila’s fast is viewed as sedition. Anna got all the sympathy and Irom Sharmila got indifference.

Is it sign of vibrant democracy that people of Manipur had to agitate for the creation of a new district ; Sadar Hills ? Mayawati , the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh , creates districts at her whims and fancies and central government acquiesces. But in Manipur a tribal organization resorted to economic blockade for creation of Sadar Hills and no one took cognizance. A sense of outrage engulfed me when I saw a photo of a group of women protesting naked for the removal of AFSPA. Still no cognizance was taken. Insensitive central government ignores all the above mentioned demands , though the method was pure Gandhian , but the same government is willing to talk to the militants of Jammu & Kashmir for the removal of AFSPA . Can anyone explain me the cause for this partiality? If central government has no qualms in talking to Syed Ali Shah Geelani , Yasin Malik or other leaders of separatist Hurriyat Conference , then what is the hitch in talking to Irom Sharmila Chanu , who is not a militant or not resorting to armed struggle ? Of late talks are going on with ULFA leaders of Assam and NSCN [ I – M ] of Nagaland , who are waging armed struggle against Indian Union, but the silent , non – violent and peaceful movement of Irom Sharmil and the other women of Manipur is completely ignored.

I am pained , aggrieved and outraged . I can’t do much because I am too insignificant. But I firmly believe that if central government can talk to separatists of Hurriyat Conference of Jammu & Kashmir , then it can talk to Irom Sharmila Chanu also. If government of India can work out modalities for the breaking of the fast of Anna Hazare , then it can work out something for Irom Sharmila also. If consensus was evolved for Anna’s cause , it could be evolved for Irom Sharmila’s cause also. 12 days of Anna’s fast is too much but 11 years of Irom Sharmila’s fast is a lifetime.

Something should be done and it should be done soon.

Irom Sharmila Chanu

Irom Sharmila Chanu

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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