TODAY -

Excerpts from MS Prabhakara's speech in 6th Somorendra Memorial Lecture
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, June 10 2011: Special Correspondent The Hindu, MS Prabhakara, today gave a key speech in the 11th death anniversary function of Arambam Somorendro.

In his speech, Prabhakara extrapolated the historical understanding of the concept of nation state as it emerged in Europe and the corresponding comprehension of the concept in the Northeast and posited that there might be something to learn from the modern European experience particularly the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the subsequent disintegration of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Arguing further he said that the classicist formulation of nation state with its territoriality is an elastic concept and in the case of India it was the result of colonial occupation, conquest and expansionist ambitions and security concerns over a 'border, that the colonial rulers themselves did not clearly know and kept on pushing outwards, though there was an 'inherent territoriality' of Indian nationalist imagination derived from myths, literature and memories.

Prabhakara drew his example of the elasticity of the human construct like nation state from European experience and said that what are now the stable borders of sovereign states of Europe came to be recognized so only in 1871 and the consequences thereafter of Germany under Bismarck and other parts of Europe.

He said that separatist sentiments, real or opportunistically manipulated, are sometimes used as a bargaining tactic in areas where the objective reality provides no rationale for such separatism.

In such areas separatism dies away sooner or later.

Second, he said that the unraveling of a firmly entrenched nation state like Yugoslav state may be accorded to the unrestrained chauvinism of the majority population that led inescapably to the barely dormant chauvinisms of individual little nationalisms.

In other words, the unraveling and disintegration of the Federal Republic came from within Yugoslav, from the dominant Serbian nationalism that, like other great nationalism, degenerated to Serb chauvinism, he said.

He also said that intellectuals, writers and artists, NGOs, and journalists and media have collectively and partly been able to contain discontent taking an explicit political direction.

Prabhakara said that poverty, inequalities of income and opportunities, structural discrimination against the vulnerable and defenceless, gender and caste oppression, alienation of the religious minorities pose the greatest challenge to the country, having the potential to evoke a secessionist agenda.

Could it be, therefore, that a measure of economic development weakens sentiments of separatism that still persist in the region? he asked of the audience.

He said that there are arguments that separatism or insurgency is a bargaining counter, or that it is an instrumental agency cynically used, if not actually constructed, by those who have benefited from the Indian state and have developed a vested interest in the continuation of separatism and insurgency.

That according to him may be the reason for the persistence despite many grievous setbacks.

Finally, observed that "One admits the eternal durability of ideas, but one also wonders why ignoring the all too obvious reality that stares one in the face, separatism not so much as an idea but as self destructive insurgency persists" .


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