Dimapur, July 12: Naga Scholars Association (NSA) organized its 3rd Webinar ‘Panel Discussion’ on the topic ‘Delimitation in Manipur and Nagaland’ on July 11. The panelists were Prof. Rosemary Dzuvichu, Jonas Yanthan, Elu Ndang and Worso Zimik.
In the opening note Dr Zuchamo Yanthan, President, Naga Scholars Association highlighted in brief the legal underpinning of delimitation which otherwise seemingly pictures a vexed political conundrum in the public space. He stated that while the Government of India notified that the previous ground for deferring the 2002 delimitation in Nagaland and Manipur ‘has ceased to exist’, he upended on the hypothetical polarity in our society and the impending challenges that the issue could cause. This challenge, he reasoned, calls for an inquiry into the merit of the socio-economic and political nuances reflecting voices from different corners concerning the electoral process.
Prof Rosemary gave the opening remark with a very sharp comment on the problem in Nagaland erupted right after the RP Desai Delimitation Commission announced the redacted electoral process on deferment of the earlier Delimitation Act in Nagaland (and Manipur). She also stated that the public space is consumed with the apparent dilemma of precedence, the Naga political solution or delimitation. However, she drew a meridian line between the two.
Delimitation, according to her prioritizes justice and development. It is a matter of legal rights of inclusivity that entails equitable development. In contrast, the peace process is outside the purview of such sanctions.
Prof Rosemary further stated that she recognizes the gross violation of rights in the politics of constituency representation in Nagaland which is 1973 census-based. But she evinced that neither does the present 2002 Delimitation Act present an acceptable rationale as the 2001 census is flawed according to facts.
The secoind speaker, Worso Zimik dwelt on the legal structure and its functionality in our society. He highlighted the asymmetry between the territorial settlements and the demographic spread in Manipur. The 90% of state’s land occupying the hilly terrain is inhabited by almost 40% STs to the total population, and the valley by the dominant Meteis constituting almost 60% of the population. Pinning down to the politics of representation, out of 60 legislative seats, 40 are reserved for the valley people, and 19 are reserved for the STs and one an unreserved seat.
The third speaker, Elu Ndang emphasized on the distinction of delimitation and the Naga peace process and his practical proposal for a solution at a personal level. He said while delimitation deals with proportionate representation and equitable development, the Naga peace process is distinguished by its demand for sovereignty and the amalgamation of the Naga tribes. He said the former works within the mandate of the Indian constitution, whereas the latter is ultra vires.
The fourth speaker, Jonas Yanthan, argued that there is an attitude problem by some sections on the issue of delimitation, and that these groups of people see the delimitation exercise only as “transfer of seats from one district to another, or from one tribe to another, loss and gain of seat etc”.
However, he said the main purpose of delimitation is not to deprive any district or tribe, rather, it is an exercise to bring proportionate representation of the people for equitable development. Therefore, to oppose delimitation would mean to perpetuate the prevailing disparity among the people in the state. He further stated that linking the issue of delimitation and Naga peace talk is demeaning to the very sacred issue of the Naga cause.
The panelists concluded with their respective brief remarks on the way forward with the delimitation.
According to a press release issued by NSA president, Dr Zuchamo Yanthan and general secretary, Dr Lungthuiyang Riamei, the panel discussion came up with some findings and observations that the main purpose of delimitation is not to deprive any district or tribe; rather, it is an exercise to bring proportionate representation of the people for equitable development.
It observed the facts and figures indicate that there is discrimination against some sections in the distribution of seats not only in Nagaland but also in Manipur.
It observed that exercising delimitation is not only necessary but also important for rectifying past mistakes for bringing social justice.
It also observed that delimitation exercise is a constitutional exercise, and it does not violate the special provision of the Article 371A
The discussion observed that Naga solution and Delimitation are two very different issue, hence, both issue cannot be linked together. By linking the issue of delimitation and Naga peace talk is like demeaning to the very sacred issue of the Naga cause.
It further observed that the use of 2001 census in Nagaland Municipal Act 2001 is an indication of its recognition and validity by Government of Nagaland.
The panelists called for an urgent call for justice, peace and understanding among the Nagas to uplift one another and not to look at each other as rivals.
The panel discussion was followed by questions and observations from many participants. The session concluded with vote of thanks to all the esteemed panelists, technical support team ‘Prahlad Jadav & Team, Russell Humtsoe for flyer design and to all the participants. The rapportuer of the panel discussion was Shimreisa Chahongnao.
(Page News Service)