Saturday, July 24, 2021

Unhealthy appropriation

Discourses and speculations continue as regards the agreement that was arrived at between the Government of India (GoI) and the NNPGs, as well as the NSCN (IM), on October 31 last. These discourses and speculation, not least rumours, fake news and plain propaganda by those with vested interests on both sides of the fence, will carry on till the time GoI and the Naga groups work out the nitty-gritty of the agreement and finally decide to inform the people of the detailed final solution or accord. The problem here is the appropriation of the GoI and the Naga groups of the right to decide the fate of a people without informing the people of their fate. Surely the world’s largest democracy owes it to the people to inform us the nuts and bolts of the discussions of issues between the GoI and the Naga groups? The same must be also informed to the Parliament for debates and discussions. Despite the agreement between the GoI and the Naga groups, apprehensions amongst the people are rife simply because everything is still at the level of much secrecy. This brings to question the very quality of democracy we have today in the country. The secrecy that the GoI and the Naga groups is maintaining appears to indicate that both believe that whatever they decide would be quietly acquiesced by the people ~ the question is, would we? This also brings to question whether the GoI and the Naga groups are ready to cope with the people’s disagreement(s) in the event there is any. Throughout history, any secrecy by governments and leaders of movements, public leaders, etc, have always backfired on them, so with the secrecy vis-à-vis the aforesaid agreement, we can only surmise that both the negotiating parties are ready with any form of fall-out ~ in the event there is one. However, it is cold comfort for the people to know that their fate, their future, is not in our hands. And, history has always proved that this has always been a perilous weakness of those who govern and those who lead ~ one way or the other. The people have the right to know if not the finer details, at least the broad parameters of the agreement. It has always been the people’s feedback and inputs that have made those who govern and those who lead successful. However unpalatable it may be for all concerned, if it has taken decades for the GoI to arrive at some agreement with Naga groups, it is mainly because it failed to take into confidence the people ~ which cannot always be assumed to be only the unionized groups of public leaders, tribal bodies, etc. In the same token, if today the Naga groups have had to concede to their demands of sovereignty, integration, constitution and flag, it is mainly due to their disconnect with the people pulse. The point, of course, is that no leader can go too far without taking the people along with him ~ as also the fact that any form of force can go this far and not more. While being totally aware of geo-political considerations and compulsions in the Great Game East ~ to borrow the title of Bertil Lintners’s book of the same phrase ~ as also economic compulsions, today the centre of the world has moved towards Asia, and it is well known that India and China vie for the top slot. Under the circumstances, it has become all the more imperative to make battle fields of small communities like ours in the peripheries of the country. This is not unknown or not understood by the common citizen, who is exposed to a cornucopia of information 24X7, thanks to technology. While the ordinary citizen may not be able to fully grasp the implications of such geo-political complexities, s/he is intelligent to instinctively sense the threats posed to her existence ~ as much as instinctively know right from wrong. This is another factor why the secrecy of the agreement between the GoI and the Naga groups disturbs the Naga people ~ as also everyone in our neighbouring states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal, and to go by media reports even some in Myanmar. This appropriation of the people’s right to know in a democracy is unhealthy and self-defeating, especially of the very spirit and letter of the Constitution of the world’s largest democracy.