Policy dialogue : Critical issues of Framework Agreement

Dr L Krishnamangol Singh *

Framework Agreement' between the Government of India (GoI) and NSCN (I-M)
Framework Agreement' between the Government of India (GoI) and NSCN (I-M) :: Pix - TSE

It is well known that dialogue is an essential policy instrument for settling an issue. And, it is followed by both or all the parties involved in settling the issue. Thus, in the context of an issue, which is mainly concerned with the relation between the civil society organisations (CSOs) and the state (represented by the government), the Central government (i.e. the Government of India) prefers or tends to participate in the dialogue as the Centre needs to play a mediating role in settling the issue.

And, the Centre seems to consider that the primary interest of the state is to protect and preserve the state, and that the Civil Society organisations need not destabilise or disintegrate the state or the general interest of the people in the state. Thus, the Government of India seems to follow strategic policy for applying interventionist role in grappling with the various issues of the state or the states.

Coming to the question of underground organisations like NSCN (IM), the current issue that faces between the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India in terms of “Framework Agreement” is very complex and complicated when we consider the political backdrops of the formation of new districts, including the hill areas of the Manipur. The issue is again more complex if we consider the need for dialogue of peace talk between the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India in terms of the undisclosed framework agreement.

Thus, it is essential that the Government of India needs to take up urgent actions for settling or closing the framework agreement without affecting the state of Manipur and the neighbouring states in the Northeastern region of the country. In fact, the contents of the framework agreement, which is reinterpreted as the only framework of agreement between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) should not cover any part or some parts of Manipur and other neighbouring states in the Northeastern region of the country.

In the above context, it can be pointed out that in the history of post-American Independence (declared in 1776, and virtually ended the British rule in America in 1781, which marked the year of surrender although the treaty, known as the Treaty of Paris which recognised American Independence was signed in 1782 and ratified in 1783), there was civil war (1861 – 1865) between the peoples in the Northeastern region of USA and the southern region of America due to the differences in ideologies and socio-economic systems in the two regions of the country.

In fact, the American Civil War was essentially due to the conflict of interests of peoples in the Northeast and Southern states of America in respect of their social and economic policies. Likewise, the open conflict of interests on the proposed formation of Greater Nagalim, which affects Manipur and some other neighbouring states has caused a great resentment and bitter psychology among the peoples in Manipur and other neighbouring states in the Northeastern region of the country over such action that is likely to create civil war in Manipur and other neighbouring states in the Northeastern region of the country (India).

And, the concept of framework agreement still annoys the people of Manipur. It is therefore essential to avoid any unwarranted incident or civil war in Manipur and other states in the Northeastern region of India as happened in the United States of America shortly after her Independence.

Again, on the question of the policy design of framework agreement, it would not be wrong to point out that the UNC’s agenda of earlier economic blockade or ongoing agenda has been and is still and offshoot based on the framework agreement with deep-rooted policy of isolation from the territory and boundary of Manipur. In fact, nothing is know in writing from the framework agreement.

However, it is quickly known from the Centre’s clarifications that the framework agreement does not affect the territorial integrity and boundary of Manipur. And despite the confidentiality and secrecy of the framework agreement, it has been clarified that there is no mention of Manipur in the framework agreement, and that it will not affect the territorial integrity of the state (i.e. Manipur). It has also been emphasised or clarified that violence has no place in (a) democracy. It has also been emphasised on the mutual respect of the peoples in the neighbouring states of the Northeastern region.

The clarifications further drew our attention to the changes that took place since Independence of the country (India), and made a passing reference to the conceptual changes. In fact, it is generally known that there has been socio-economic changes in the country since Independence.

But, the ill-conceived design of conceptual changes that seek to integrate the population on community lines or social traits/caste traits need not be applied to Manipur or any part or parts in the Northeastern states as it will further disintegrate the Northeastern states and lead to the emergence of undesirable consequences in the Northeastern region of the country. Thus, the following policy design can be set out for grappling with the challenges or issues emanating from the “Framework Agreement”, signed between the NSCN (IM) and Government of India.

To begin with, it can be pointed out that it is not necessary to create a separate political space on community lines at the cost of inter-states or different states in the Northeastern region as the creation of a new state will contradict the concept of minimum government committed by the Centre. In fact, the rationale behind the minimum government and maximum governance suggests that there will be reduction in the role of the state or direct participation of the state or the government in economic activities and that this policy shift will lead to the expansion of economic activities in the private sector.

However, the government will play active role in the creation of major or key infrastructure of development. Thus, the design of minimum government need not encourage the creation of new states or new political space/ or political decentralisation in a new space. In fact, what is urgently required is the maximisation of expansion of governance and development through strengthening the institution of governance with the state (government) at the top of the new political economy of the state or states.

In fact, there need not be confrontation between people’s participation and development in the state or states as it (i.e. it confrontation) will drastically reduce the welfare of the peoples in the states.

Thus, the Centre needs to extend strong support to the states in the Northeastern region, including Manipur in order to strengthen and expand the various opportunities of people’s participation in development within the state or the states. This paradigm shift in development requires expansion and promotion of the new political economy of development of Manipur with leading role of the state in order to provide various development opportunities within the state of Manipur with strong support of the Centre and also with the state taking an active role in the formulation of a “rational development model” for Manipur.

This does not mean that the Centre and State government will follow a centralised model of development or percolation model that was followed prior to the economic reforms and liberalisation launched in the country in July 1991. The new “rational development model” suggests that the state on the government will play active role for growth and development of private sector economy with the expansion of the market forces or the market economy and the creation and development of major or key infrastructural facilities in the process of growth and development in the state.

The model also seeks to restructure the public sector economy for caring the development needs of the peoples in the country or in different states in the country. Thus, the new model of development seeks to move towards a new model of political economy of development in the country or in different states of the country without uprooting or minimising the power of the states.

Again, apart from the public-private partnership model, which is a highly organised model, the new model of development also seeks to cover all household and community members within the framework of “people’s sector” in order to provide development opportunities to peoples in the state and also enable the peoples including the poor to participate in the development process of the country or in different states in the country including Manipur.

Thus, the creation of a new state is irrelevant in the context of Manipur and other neighbouring states in Northeastern region of the country. In fact, it is likely that a state creation or creation of a similar political institution will lead the movement of state diversion particularly in the Northeastern region of India, including Manipur, and that the state diversion will again go against the interest of the country (i.e. India). As Paul Streeten has clearly pointed out, “When revolution comes, you will eat strawberries and cream and like it”.

In fact, there will be increasing misery of the people when revolution is used as an instrument of political change in a democratic country. Again, in certain cases, the creation of a new autonomous institution based community lines or communal lines without accountability of the political system to the state will seriously disturb the power structure or power balance and the whole polity of the state in areas where the law and order is already serious. Thus, there is the urgent need to withdraw the framework agreement by both the parties in the interest of the nation.

* Dr L Krishnamangol Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is an economist and author
This article was posted on June 09, 2017.

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