Framework Agreement: What is it ?

Dr. Salikyu Sangtam *

Govt of India-NSCN (IM) sign peace accord / Framework Agreement in August 2015
Govt of India-NSCN (IM) sign peace accord / Framework Agreement in August 2015 :: Pix - HL/PIB

Whenever a society is at a crossroad, numerous claims touted to be objective facts begin to emerge. Citizens begin to develop their own opinions about the issue, whatever it may be. The opinions may either be formed by assessing the relevant facts and information or they may be formed through blind obedience to the opinions of others, without enquiring into the prejudices of those opinions. Such scenarios are a recurrent theme in any society where a series of crisis leads people to ponder about that particular predicament. In any case, when any issue preoccupies the attention of a society, more often than not, there is bound to be confusions about the topic leading to a mass paranoia (occurrence of lynching cases across the country is one such example).

This is either due to the lack of relevant information available to the public at large or due to conscious manipulation of information and facts to suit the needs of the vested interests (as it is advantageous for those who want the public to remain in the dark about the realities of the issue). And in both instances, the public are manipulated: in the former, the lack of necessary information enables the public to be manipulated by those who have access to it, and in the latter, the vested interests, by supplying distorted information, manipulate the public en masse. This is what, in my humble opinion, is happening in Assam, Arunachal, Manipur, and Nagaland with regard to the issue of the 'Framework Agreement.'

I think people ought to have opinions about issues that concern them as well as the well-being of their society, it is good, it is healthy. However, such opinions ought not to be formed on the basis of one's pre-existing prejudices and predilections; nor should opinions and beliefs on important issues be formed by uncritically trusting the opinions and propagandas of others. I say this because it is glaringly evident by the manner in which a majority of the intelligentsia, leaders, politicians, and public at large (especially in Nagaland and Manipur) seem to view the 'framework agreement.'

The popular belief among the public, at least as has been portrayed by Naga politicians and those involved in the talks with the Union Government of India (GoI), is that the signing of the framework agreement is an indication that the solution which has been sought after for decades is at hand; that anytime, the solution will be brought; that the conflicts of interests between the equally countless groups/factions and the GoI is resolved; that the GoI is willing to meet the demands of these groups. All these statements are made based on this single term, 'framework.'

Anyone with rudimentary knowledge of politics and diplomacy is well aware that 'framework agreement' is just an empty shell to be filled later on with its contents, after long and protracted negotiations; and these are not easy tasks. 'Framework Agreement' provides the basis for setting up factors for a relationship between protagonists with regard to specific issue/matter of concern. The 'Framework Agreement' provides the conditions under which the contending sides agree to work together toward a specified goal or objective, with specific details, as regards to how to go about achieving that objective/goal, to be added later on.

In the context of a Naga solution, this means the framework agreement signed with the GoI only sets out that the contending sides have agreed in principle to cooperate and build a relationship, minus the contents, to bring about a mutually agreeable solution to decades-long political struggle. The framework agreement does not yet contain the solution, it is not the solution; rather it is just the opening phase to initiate dialogues between the protagonists to resolve the Naga issue. This is what Framework Agreement is, nothing more, nothing less. To think or hold the belief that the framework agreement contains the solution is not only a folly of the highest magnitude but, more seriously, is to risk ruins.

The framework agreement is only the frame. It is the supporting structure. It does not contain the essential ingredient, the nitty-gritty part of the deal. All these essential ingredients must first be negotiated and agreed upon by the contending sides before they are included in the final settlement. And to do this, it takes time, maybe even years, especially to negotiate sensitive topics—such as sovereignty, integration, currency, foreign affairs. This is particularly true when we consider the implications of such settlements: determining the fate of people (Nagas) spread across four national states and two international countries (India and Myanmar). Such sensitive topics are neither easy to be negotiated, nor can they be negotiated quickly and easily. And if such issues are negotiated easily and quickly, it would mean that the solution is not the final solution, but a temporary one. Thus further prolonging the political struggles and protracting the sufferings of the people.

Furthermore, talks also involve lots of compromises between the protagonists, without which no progress can be made. In other words, we cannot expect any solutions if parties are not willing to compromise. This is basic knowledge: diplomacy 101. Therefore, at this point in time, we can infer—based on our careful understanding of framework agreement—that the issues of sovereignty, integration, currency, flag, constitution, and so forth are off the table and not included in the present framework discussion.

Because if we judiciously examine the issues of India's internal integrity, as well as from the perspective of external affairs (especially with regard to China's long term interest in the Northeast region), GoI will not willfully jeopardize India's security and integrity for the sake of Naga solution and integration. And if, that's a big "IF," the GoI even agrees to such demands as sovereignty, integration, constitution, etc., that would only invite more fragmentation of states and further stir up secessionist movements across the country—from Assam to Punjab and from Tamil Naidu to Kashmir.

Hence, why would the GoI even entertain such demands in the first place? That is why, we can hypothesize with a high degree of probability that issues of sovereignty, integration, and separate constitution and passport, flag, etc. are not up for discussion. Indeed, we may deduce that one of the pre-conditions set by the GoI, before the "Framework Agreement" could commence, is for the Naga Nationalist Political Groups (NNPGs) including the NSCN-IM to drop these aforesaid demands. Without agreeing to such conditions by the NNPGs and NSCN-IM, the present framework agreement would not have come into existence.

What is certain, however, at this juncture is that the signing of the Framework has established the basic structure to initiate talks for resolving the Naga issue. That is it. Now, the obvious next step is the coming together of the contending parties to the negotiating table with their own sets of demands and grievances. And these grievances and demands will have to be arduously negotiated point by point. Compromises, no doubt, become a necessity. At this stage, the contending parties may reach an impasse, a stalemate. If this happens, the negotiation is stalled, further delaying the settlement. And the negotiations can be stalled for months, if not years. One can be sure that none of the contending parties, to the talks, will easily give up their claims. This makes it even more unrealistic to assume that a permanent solution is attainable in such a brief period (i.e. few months or a couple of years) of time.

Furthermore, the essentiality of having a unified front is necessary for any negotiations to work well. This is a matter of vital concern especially with regard to the present framework agreement. As it stands, the Nagas are represented by various groups (to which we never consented), who are at odds with one another and all claiming to be the legitimate representatives of the people. Moreover, there are two groups (NSCN-IM and Working Group led by NSCN-U) separately in talks with the GoI, while others (such as NSCN-K) are either excluded or are not willing to participate.

Any judicious person would doubt the nature and intensions of the talks when two groups, allegedly claiming to represent the Nagas, are separately having discussions with the GoI about the same issue. Under such scenario, how can one realistically expect any kind of long term or permanent solutions? Any 'solution' hammer-out in this case would only deteriorate and intensify the problem. It is, therefore, unrealistic for one to reasonably think that a permanent solution is possible when we have so many groups, with equally different interests. These groups are busy looking out for their own interests and self-preservation. Indeed, one must instead question their true intentions as to why they prefer to splinter away rather than work together for the common goal and well-being of the people they allegedly claim to represent. As such, how can one reasonably expect these groups to achieve anything concretely useful?

Another point of significance is the need for the stakeholders, i.e. the people, to be subsequently made aware of the substance of the framework, following the negotiations between the protagonists and prior to its implementation. Whatever is brought to the table by the contending parties and which points/demands have been mutually agreed or compromised must be made aware to the people, for ultimately they are the ones who will bear the brunt of the settlement. As one African proverb goes, "When Elephants fight; it is the grass that gets trampled." Hence, the ingredients or items of what is been negotiated should reflect the interest of the people. And the only way for those who allegedly represent and speak for the people, in the negotiating table with the GoI, to know what the people want is to let the citizens have their say in what is being negotiated and how it is to be negotiated.

There is a reason why after the signing of the Framework Agreement in August 2015, the protagonists have declined to disclose its contents. Indeed, it has been mentioned several times in press interviews and statements, given by those involved in the talks, that one of the conditions of the talks was not to disclose what's been discussed, so as not to hamper the negotiation process. It may be so to a lesser degree. But another crucial reason could be because: there is nothing about the solution in the framework agreement, yet; it is empty; the contents are yet to be negotiated. That is why the contending parties continue not to reveal the contents of the framework.

Rather, they distracted the public's attention with vague and nebulous proclamations about how the framework agreement contains the solution, how close we are to the final settlement, how sensitive matters which have been up for debate are resolved, and how in few months' time all will be brought to pass. Indeed, no party wants to come out saying that it contains nothing, for that would undermine their legitimacy and authority. And who in their right mind would want to do that?

All these issues must be soundly understood by all the concern parties, including the people in Assam, Arunachal, Manipur, and Nagaland, so as to avoid the potential pitfalls that invariably accompany such political agreements. I do hope the readers have acquired some relevant knowledge about the framework agreement, thus enabling them to utilize their rational faculty to make sound judgments (and not fall prey to divisive propagandas) about the Naga issues, which are of concern to us as citizens of our respective states.

As for my own observation, there will be a solution, no doubt, but a temporary one. We'll have to wait longer, if not eons, for the permanent solution. Regardless, don't let my pessimism defile the optimism of the framework agreement. Who knows, I may be wrong in my estimation. Lastly, we ought to have confidence in those who allegedly claim to be our representatives—whoever they are, for we've lost count—and hope that they will always have the people's interests at heart.

* Dr. Salikyu Sangtam wrote this article for
The writer is at Department of Political Science, St. Joseph University, Dimapur, Nagaland and can be reached at salikyu(DOT)sangtam(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on July 11 , 2018.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Ringui Village, Ukhrul :: Gallery: Gallery
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #4: Gallery
  • Chinglai, Chingmeiren :: eMing
  • Autonomy on a leash
  • Manipur: Past & Present (Vol.1) :: Book
  • Cry of a Dying River - 46 :: Poem
  • NSS Cell at Assam Don Bosco University
  • Shattering the dream of Irabot
  • Pandey, Pandey all the way : MU crisis
  • World Bamboo Day #1: Gallery
  • Financial aid to AMWJU member, K. Bipin
  • Meitei-Naga Relationship
  • The concept of Langban Tarpan
  • Today is Sunday :: Poem
  • Papaya and health
  • In tiger territory
  • NEUFC Fan Park at Sarusajai stadium
  • BSE, ANPSA donate to CMRF (Nagaland)
  • 45th AMWJU Foundation day : Gallery
  • Protest crackdown at MU: Gallery
  • Lai Lik Lei & their debut "Esei"
  • Diversity, Race & Gender-Based Violence
  • Cross Border Human Trafficking : Review
  • Imphal Municipal Council Bye Laws, 1998
  • Protest held against crackdown at MU
  • Stop Terrorising the MU Campus
  • Mob violence at Manipur University
  • Facts about Nagaland House at Kolkata
  • Midnight raid at MU
  • ..bridging cultures of Assam, Manipur
  • Tuilha Kol waterfall #2: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Rally against Mob Lynching #2: Gallery
  • Beyond the tragedy of Tharoijam
  • Jarnail's tryst with Manipur :: Review
  • Who killed the looter? (Short Story)
  • Heart OPD & Echo Screening Mission
  • Call for protest against MU crackdown
  • The farce continues at MU
  • Heikru Hidongba #1 : Gallery
  • Heigru Hidongba (Boat Race)
  • Get down to business
  • The Eternal Moment :: Poem
  • Why is oiling good for the hair
  • Jobs at SKY Hospital
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Creating Future Media Leaders in NE
  • Understanding Communist ideology
  • Suspended but drama not over yet
  • Arrested for molesting student in Mumbai
  • Manipuri Diaspora in Myanmar #1
  • Krishna Janma @Mahabali #2 : Gallery
  • Naga-Kuki Conflict: ..Kuki aggression
  • Tibeto-Burman Languages : Book
  • Indian Judiciary no more a caged bird
  • IGAR (S) calls on Governor of Manipur
  • Spirit of Irabot still runs in Journalists
  • Concern should be about mob mentality
  • Tribes, Art & Soul of India #1: Gallery
  • Rally against Mob Lynching #1: Gallery
  • 'Sahnit' an honour or a disgrace
  • Irabot : Socio-Political Challenges
  • Training employees for better governance
  • Blue Ocean :: Poem
  • Sextortion: Making money from shame
  • Condemn murder of Neiphretuo Metsie
  • Social lacunae
  • BJP on poll drive at Imphal, Kohima
  • Mary Kom lost 2 kg in 4 hours
  • Historical Evaluation of Puya Meithaba #2
  • Felicitation of Sportsperson: Gallery
  • ICJ: Investigation of Extrajudicial Killing
  • Legal profession as career option #2
  • Loktak Down Stream HE Project (2x33MW)
  • Protest against mob lynching at DU
  • Ripples of Music :: Poem
  • Memo submitted to CM over lynching
  • Poems of Peace, Resistance ...
  • Helicopter Schedule for Imphal-Jiri
  • Mirabai recommended for Khel Ratna
  • Martyrdom of Haipou Jadonang #3: Gallery
  • Manipur State is still winning..
  • Gazetteer of North-East India :: Book
  • Sunfeast Cup Football Tournament
  • Trip down memory lane
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Folk Song :: Poem
  • The Endureres at Dwarka Half Marathon
  • Main accused in cop slaying nabbed
  • Naga talks not confined to Nagaland..
  • Trekking to Dzukou Valley #1 : Gallery
  • Rest in Peace Humanity
  • Ph Banti's artwork 'Trafficking of children'
  • Cry of a Dying River - 45 :: Poem
  • Buddhism is not a religion
  • Jobs at R-Square Design
  • Candle Light at DU over lynching
  • Society as a reflection of govt
  • Mobocracy : Shame on Manipur
  • Kuki Black Day @CCpur : Gallery
  • miAoIbgi pNTuH :: Seireng
  • An opinion on Tharoijam killing
  • How Manipur lost internal autonomy, Kabaw
  • Admission for PhD at Tripura Univ
  • Meefam ST at Nambol, Khangabok
  • Importance of Forest & Environment
  • Deep social divide: Two different folks?
  • Kuki Black Day: Kukis Will never forget
  • R & V Art House's First Art Fest 2018
  • Celebrating International Literacy Day, 2018
  • Born a Kuki, die a Kuki :: Poem
  • History of North East India :: Book
  • Will SimpliciTB make TB treatment simpler
  • Meefam chathaduna ST gi issue..
  • Dipankar Talukdar- Mr Model of World Star
  • System error- who will fix Broken Window
  • Reshuffle Talks : Say No to Yes Me
  • India negotiating vehicle pact with Myanmar
  • Chalwa Village, Kangpokpi #2 : Gallery
  • Thien & its downfall in Zeliangrong #2
  • Is FA a self exposed daylight robbery?
  • Nation Needs Small Farmers
  • Who is programming you ?
  • Bandhs as dissent & survival of laziest
  • Looking for Raju :: Poem
  • The cry of the 2nd class citizen
  • Bharat Bandh in Imphal
  • Historical Evaluation of Puya Meithaba #1
  • Sit-In: Naga Peace Talk #2 : Gallery
  • Naga-Kuki conflict: Search for definitions
  • Mega Marathon Manipur : Download Form
  • Legal profession as career option
  • Guv felicitates 5 JAK RIF for flood relief
  • Stored Anger :: Book Review
  • On stepping into the 20th year of TSE
  • Sept - month which reinstated our courage
  • Krishna Janma @ISKCON #2 : Gallery
  • Empty :: Poem
  • Lets beat littering - plastics pollution
  • NEHU Seminar : Urbanization in India
  • Jobs at JCRE Skill Solutions
  • Declaration of Naga Collective Spirit [Sep 8]
  • Akanba Khongjangidamak Yathokpa Loire
  • Support for STDC from UMA, Assam
  • 'Deplorable power supply in Nagaland'
  • Tryst with destiny - Should we accept ?
  • Stand off at MU : Impact on LS Poll
  • Exploring the enthralling Tuilha Kol
  • Kamesh Salam : Outstanding Green Activist
  • The Valley Of Brahmaputra :: Book
  • Development of road database
  • The inner page story :: Poem
  • Kakching WW-II Memorial Run 2018
  • STDC public meeting at Langathel Keithel
  • Maibi Jagoi at Sangai Fest : Gallery
  • My poll without prejudice to anyone
  • MEETAC - Mission for streamlining TK
  • Conditions leading to Marxism
  • Heart Camp at Khelakhong, Thoubal
  • Cyber bully: Crime that follows you home
  • Bhupen Hazarika : Tribute at London
  • AEP & Importance of Myanmar & NE
  • Political pandemonium
  • Students central to MU issue
  • Landscape from Koubru #2 : Gallery
  • Leishangthem Robert for Mr. World 2018
  • Oinam Shilla Chanu at Mrs India Earth
  • North-east Frontier Of India :: Book
  • Thien & its downfall in Zeliangrong #1
  • Cry of a Dying River - 44 :: Poem
  • JRF Post at Mizoram University
  • Honours to Bamboo; a ubiquitous gift
  • Case of hunter now being huntedr
  • Chaklam Khongchat Numit #3 : Gallery
  • Women Empowerment & judicial Activism
  • Narin Chenggum - wild edible mushroom
  • Flying Star at your lips :: Poem
  • Out of the box thinking
  • Call centre fraud: Vicious vishing attack
  • Changing India & its impact on Manipur
  • MU stand off gets uglier
  • Tikendrajit : The Lion of Manipur #4
  • Krishna Janma @Mahabali #1 : Gallery
  • Eastern Frontier of India :: Book Review
  • Remembering Radhakrishnan ..
  • Moments to cherish :: Poem
  • Glimpse of the Buddha's teaching
  • NH7 Weekender Express Editions
  • Rejoinder to NDPP from NPF [05 Sep]
  • Mental equation
  • Are teachers teaching ? Apt, timely poser
  • Sirarakhong Hathei Phanit @Ukhrul : Gallery
  • Sit-In: Naga Peace Talk #1 : Gallery
  • Globalization, Act East Policy & Manipur
  • Review on anthology of Parthajit Borah
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Child Friendly Police Stations proposed
  • ADBU Goes Green with Solar Energy
  • Convocation of Assam Don Bosco
  • Fetal Echocardiography - Seminar held
  • Rejoinder to NPF from NDPP [04 Sep]
  • Divide, divert and rule will not work
  • FA, MU crisis : Issues before LS polls
  • Krishna Janma @ISKCON #1 : Gallery
  • Komrem Student Day @Bangalore : Gallery
  • September Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • The Coils of Pakhangba :: Book
  • Exhibition @ Art College #2: Gallery
  • AMWJU Sit-In-Protest : Gallery
  • Jangou Rah : eRang Classic
  • The Story of 40 Pineapple Suckers
  • Yumkhaibam Nanao Eramdam Yaourakhre
  • Ningol Chakkouba Celebration in Delhi
  • Martyrdom of Haipou Jadonang #2: Gallery
  • Chaklam Khongchat Numit #2 : Gallery
  • The World of Kuki People :: Book
  • Martyrdom of Haipou Jadonang #1: Gallery
  • Dolaithabi Dam , Senapati : Gallery
  • Eid-Ul-Adhaa Festival #2 : Gallery
  • Dr. Jodhachandra Sanasam : Sahitya
  • Shougrakpam Bijaya :: A Profile
  • Disputed Myanmar Border Pillar : Gallery
  • Dzuko valley #4 :: 360 Panorama View
  • Manglandasu Nang - OST :: e-pao Radio
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic