Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Andhra example may help NE

By A Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Dec 18 – The Indian state does not know how to connect civil society initiatives with governance. This was the observation made by noted political scientist Prof Haragopal of Hyderabad University. He was taking part in an interactive session with the students and teachers of the Gauhati University (GU) Political Science Department here today. Prof Haragopal was one of those intellectuals who brought the Naxalite parties and the Government of Andhra Pradesh to the negotiating table.

He also maintained that the Indian state was handling the NE region through the region’s neo-rich class, which is de-linked from the people. This has created a real problem for the region. Moreover, the traditionally cohesive tribal societies of the region are also ruptured, he said.

Prof Haragopal, who was speaking on the Naxalite movement of Andhra Pradesh and insurgency problems of NE region, held that lessons of the civil society initiatives in Andhra Pradesh to bring both the State Government and the Naxalite parties to the negotiating table had relevance for NE region.

It needs mention here that Prof Haragopal was involved with both the Civil Liberties Group and the Committee of Concerned Citizens. The Committee of Concerned Citizens was formed after the Civil Liberties Group split on ideological grounds following a peace initiative. Members of the Committee laboured for about seven years to bring the Naxalite parties and the Government to the negotiating table. However, the process failed due to the complicacies involved in it.

Prof Haragopal maintained that the Andhra Pradesh initiatives had taught three lessons. These include— even the most radical groups could be brought to dialogue; the role of weapon could be reduced significantly by bringing politics to the fore and the civil society can play a role in achieving all these goals, he said.

On the abhorrence of the NE people towards the rest of the country vis-à-vis the image of the region in other Indian regions, he said that people of the region consider the Indian Government as their adversary. For them, rest of India means CRPF and security forces. On the other hand, the region is regarded to be an insurgency and violence-dominated one in other parts of the country.

Most of the NE people do not know that a number of people sympathetic to them are there in the rest of India, while for many in the other parts, the warm-hearted people of the region still remained unknown, he said.

Commenting on the growing tendency in the movements to take to violence, he said that the political leaders should take up politics seriously. Politics is the science to analyse and solve the problems. When the society’s ability to solve the problems creatively is crippled, violence starts taking the drivers seat within the movements, observed Prof Haragopal.

On the ethnic conflicts of the region, he said that newer identities were seen asserting for their rights. Identities are getting multiplied in the region in a rapid manner. And while defining its identity, every group tries to find an adversary, who may be another ethnic group in its neighbourhood or the Government.

Those studying conflicts should find out the commonalities in the ethnic movements and view the conflicts arising out of such movements as tools to focus on creative relations among the peoples. While doing so, one should be careful enough to reduce the dominance of violence over such movements gradually. The main concern of the political scientists should be on ensuring progress with least number of deaths, said the political scientist.

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