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E-Pao! Top Stories - Political Movements and Nationality Question in Northeast India

Political Movements and Nationality Question in Northeast India
- A Report -
November 12, 2006 at Delhi, India

By:- Manipur Research Forum, Delhi (MRFD) *





Political movements in the Northeast India need to have dialogues among themselves to understand each others' political positions and possible sharing of spaces. This was strongly felt by the scholars and activists who were participating in a panel discussion on the theme "Political Movements and Nationality Question in Northeast India" organised by Manipur Research Forum, Delhi (MRFD).

The discussion was organised on Sunday, 12 November 2006 as part of India Social Forum Meet at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi.

The panellists include Kazu Ahmed, a journalist and activist from Assam, Joyson Mazamo of Naga Peoples' Movement for Human Rights, A. Noni Meetei, a scholar and activist based at Delhi, Joseph Kuba, Regional Director of IGNOU, Imphal, and A. Bimol Akoijam of CSDS, Delhi. The discussion was chaired by Professor Satya P. Gautam of Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The discussion was initiated by Bhagat Oinam of JNU. Problematising the issue, Oinam felt the need to understand how modernist categories such as nation, nationalism, ethnicity, democracy and such concepts have been quasi-internalised by the communities in the region leading to major shift in understanding the region as well as the ethnos themselves. The need to understand the issue of territoriality in any form of claim of the nation-state as an unavoidable contending issue was also highlighted. Oinam further emphasised on treating Northeast as a reality from an operational point of view.

Kazu Ahmed while emphasising on the inseparable nature of social and political movements, highlighted how Assamese nationalist struggle had alienated several smaller communities such as Bodos, Miris, Dimashas, and even Muslims. Joyson Mazamo emphasised on the manipulative tactics of the Indian State to de-legitimise the ethnic Naga movement. Extending his argument, he sees this as the deliberative tactics of the Government of India towards any dissenting political voices in the region.

Noni Meetei highlighted the importance of handling historical experience as part of understanding nationalist movements in the region. This was exemplified through the experience of Manipur as a political identity.

Joseph Kuba threadbare explained the national security concern of the Indian State in treating any form of political movement in the region as terrorist and anti-national.

Bimol Akoijam highlighted the need to relate different voices of the marginalsed aired at different layers of exploitation all throughout the country, but at the same time to understand the nuanced differences in the nature of each form of exploitation. He felt the need to treat the problems of the Northeast as different.

He further finds the root of ethnic crisis and violence in the ghost of colonial modernity. Professor Gautam, highlighting the experience of Punjab and relating with the Northeast, emphasised on the need to have an India that is more responsive to the concerns of different dissenting voices in the country particularly on this fast changing global order.

The discussion was followed by a cultural programme performed by the Manipuri students from Jamia Milia Islamia.

Earlier, on 11 November (Saturday), another discussion was organised by MRFD at the same venue on "Politics of Development in Northeast India." The programme was initiated by Ksh. Imokanta of JNU.

The panellists were Rohan Desouza of JNU, W. Ramanand, a social activist, Manju Menon of Kalpabriks, and Y. Jilangamba, a research scholar from JNU. The discussion emphasised on the need to redefine the concept of "development" and highlighted the hidden considerations of the State in undertaking development programmes of macro projects which might not benefit the underprivileged.

The discussants also highlighted the role of multi-national companies, corporate bodies like World Bank, Asian Development Bank, etc. which have bypassed even the Government of India in mapping development programme for the region under a wider regional configurations to soothe their economic interests.

Check the pictures in Education Gallery here.




G. Amarjit Sharma, Assistant Editor, Eastern Quarterly, Manipur Research Forum, Delhi (MRFD), Delhi supplied this Report. You can contact them at mrfd.quarterly@gmail.com . This article was webcasted on 13th November 2006.


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