Indian Polity Federalism
TOPIC:General Studies 2:
- Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure.
Naga Peace Process: Stuck due to inflexibility of NSCN(I-M)
The government announced ‘Christmas Gift’ deadline for concluding talks with Naga groups has passed without any concrete results on the progress made since government Framework Agreement with NSCN(I-M) in 2015
Origin of the Issue and the timeline of the events
The assertion of Naga Nationalism began during Colonial period and continued in Independent India. Below is the pictorial representation of the timeline
What are the key demands of the Naga groups?
- Greater Nagalim (sovereign statehood) i.e redrawing of boundaries to bring all Naga-inhabited areas in the Northeast under one administrative umbrella.
- It includes various parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam and Myanmar as well.
- Naga Yezabo (Naga Constitution)
- Naga national flag.
What was the Ceasefire Agreement which was signed in 2015?
- The Government of India recognised the unique history, culture and position of the Nagas and their sentiments and aspirations. The NSCN(Isak-Muivah) also appreciated the Indian political system and governance.
- Significance: It shows the governments strong intent to resolve the long standing issue and adoption of diplomatic peaceful approach by Naga Society to fulfil their aspirations.
Reasons for not accepting Naga Demand of Separate Flag & Separate Constitution
- Regressive: Yezhabo is far less liberal than what Indian Constitution presently offers for Naga people. It is regressive and some of its provisions are against modern Constitutional values of liberty, equality & rule of law
- Challenges of Wider Acceptance: Yezhabo also proposes Naga leader Muivah as the over-arching figure of Naga politics, development and destiny which will not be acceptable to Naga Citizenry which are spread in adjoining states of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam
- Sets a Bad Precedent: Acceding to the demand of Separate Flag will set a dangerous precedent whereby other states also demand similar provisions
- Identity Politics: Acceding to these demands is akin to giving racial and ethnic identity an equal footing with National Identity which will act as catalyst to Identity Politics in rest of India.
- Weakens National Integrity: The overall National Consciousness and National integration process will be weakened.
- Failure of Article 370: Working of Article 370 which had provided for separate Flag and Constitution has shown that such type of measures has not yielded results but has instead widened the gap between regional society and Indian mainstream.
Why the agreement has not been finalised yet?
- It was signed only with NSCN (I-M) which in uneasy ceasefire since 1997. The agreement excluded half a dozen more groups, besides Naga citizenry. This has weakened the process
- Inflexibility by NSCN(I-M) over the contentious issue of Naga Flag and Naga constitution—Yezhabo. Muivah who is now 85 has decided he cannot die leaving a legacy of surrender
- Union government’s and the North-East’s political energy has been considerably spent on allaying the fears over CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) and the proposed NRC (National Register of Citizens) thus diluting the focus on Naga peace talks
Steps taken by government over last 2-3 years to fast track the process of finalising the agreement
- Talks with I-M has clearly spelt out disarmament, rehabilitation and assimilation of cadres and leaders through induction in paramilitary forces and political structures (expanded legislature in Nagaland)- thus ensuring smooth integration into Indian political system
- Legislative and administrative autonomy for Naga regions outside Nagaland has been a part of talks with the Naga leadership
- A breakaway faction of I-M’s arch enemies, NSCN’s Khaplang, joined the peace process with government in 2019
- Government-led outreach programs to bring on board non-Naga people in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and Assam, promising much development as a trade-off for offering Naga people in these states more legislative representation and administrative autonomy
- The State government that has decided to prepare the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) but later due to pressure from various fractions, the decision has now been put on hold.
- The government will whittle away at I-M’s political, administrative and military structure and strive to reduce I-M’s heft along with Muivah’s and also stoke other lines of leadership.
- Reaching a consensus with broader Naga Citizenry and also convincing the non-Naga people in adjoining states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur & Assam is necessary to ensure sustainable workable agreement.
Connecting the dots:
- What would be the consequence if Naga peace deal is not signed at the earliest in the backdrop of growing tensions over CAA-NRC in North east?
- Impact of acceding to demand of Nagalim on other States in North East.