Debate of No Confidence Motion –Much Ado About Nothing/Destructive Criticism

NewsBharati    09-Aug-2023 18:00:42 PM   
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The first-day debate on “No Confidence Motion” against the current NDA government is “Much Ado About Nothing”. The high decibel vituperative vitriolic, particularly over the ongoing Manipur violence, can be classified as “Destructive Criticism”. The I.N.D.I.A speakers failed to offer “CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICSIM” as highlighted by Pinaki Mishra, BJD, MP from Orissa.

All that was on grand display was loud shouting or yelling at each other. The focus of the opposition parties was on denigrating the “Brand Modi” image at all costs. Consequently, the opportunity to offer “Creative and Constructive Criticism” for sensible projection of initiatives – immediate, short, mid and long term – has been squandered.
No confidence motion

Research shows that loud shouting also reflects lack of confidence in being heard. Shouting during an argument does not accomplish anything and will not make the other person see things your way. Most importantly, MPs must remember the adage “Arguments reflect ignorance; Discussion reflects Intelligence.”

Opposition parties must remember that they must suggest innovative policies – ways and means – in political, social, economic, security forces and technology fields. By the above criteria, hardly any MP has offered “CREATIVE-CUM-CONSTRUCTIVE” options (political, social, economic, security forces and technology fields) – ways and means - to resolve the ongoing “Manipur Riddle” from 1965 when the first insurgency erupted.

Yet another significant issue to appreciate is the need for identifying “Holistic” options for the India’s States of the Eastern region. For episodic resolution of a crisis based on short term strategy like creating District Autonomous Councils, quite often, trigger and escalate other crisis situations temporarily resolved. Ipso facto, a number of organizations, both overt and covert, are demanding separate Statehood status in almost all States of the East.

Viewed in the above framework, the debate on the 1st day is more sound and fury than meaningful substance so vital for advancing cooperation, collaboration and conciliation to reach consensus – essential fundamentals of a vibrant democracy.

A brief review of India's East situation is vital to develop a “Holistic” approach. First, the political scenario of separatist and separate statehood demands engulfing the Eastern region. For example, West Bengal faces two agitations: Separate Gorkhaland and 'Greater Cooch Behar' state. The demand for a separate administrative unit in Darjeeling has existed since 1909, when the Hillmen's Association of Darjeeling submitted a memorandum to Minto-Morley Reforms demanding a separate administrative setup. From 1986, the Gorkhas have been demanding the creation of a state carved out of the hills of Darjeeling and areas of Dooars and Siliguri-Terai contiguous to Darjeeling.; the agitation re-erupted in 2007, 2013 and 2017. Recently, Mamata Banerjee – TMC Supremo) has said that she is ready to give her “blood" but she would not allow division of Bengal.

Add to it, the demand for separate “Greater Cooch Behar” since 2006 by the Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party. Also, there has been a demand for creation of Kamtapur comprising some districts of West Bengal, including Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri.

Two, in Assam, the Bodo agitation, spearheaded by the Plains Tribes Council of Assam since 1967-68 that demands Bodoland, comprising Bodo dominated areas in Western Assam, and a separate state of Karbi Anglong, comprising the Karbi tribals living areas under Karbi Anglong autonomous district in Assam. Followed in 1986, re-eruption by the armed group Bodo Security Force which subsequently renamed itself ‘National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB)’ and also All Bodo Students Union (ABSU). Although the 1993 Bodo Accord created Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC), and the second Bodo Accord in 2013 signed by the extremist group Bodo Liberation Tiger Force (BLTF) and the 2020 Accord - a tripartite agreement with the state government and different Bodo groups, including four factions of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), for a “permanent” solution to the Bodo issue, there is recent revival of the Bodoland Statehood Movement.

The Dimasa people of the Northeast have been demanding a separate state called Dimaraji or Dimaland comprising the Dimasa-inhabited areas of Assam and Nagaland.

In Nagaland, there are concurrently three agitations/insurgencies. One, the demand by the NSCN (Muivah) for NAGALIM – independent Greater Nagaland comprising all Naga areas within India - based on Mao Tse Tung’s model. Two, "NSCN (Khaplang)", which wants an independent "greater Nagaland" to also include territory now in Myanmar, based on ethnicity. Three, the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) wants Statehood demand – Frontier Nagaland – comprising six eastern districts of Nagaland are home to members of the Konyak, Khiamniungan, Chang, Sangtam, Tikhir, Phom and Yimkhiung tribes. All of them quote Mahatma Gandhi's statement on 19 July 1947, "Nagas have every right to be Independent. . .If you do not wish to join the Indian Union, Nobody will force you to do that". As per Luingam Luithui and Nandita Haksar, when Nagas refer to Nagaland, “they mean the entire area inhabited by Nagas which has been partitioned by the British between two sovereign nations, that is, India and Burma.

Let me briefly highlight the key milestones. In 1928, a British official formed the Naga Club. Robert Reid, a Briton, gave a proposal for a ‘New England’ consisting of all the Naga inhabited areas in India and Burma under British India. In 1929, the Naga representatives demanded from the Simon Commission to be “left alone to determine by themselves their future". The Naga Hills became a part of Assam from 1 April 1937. The Tuensang region was termed an “Unadministered area”. For the fidelity to the British Crown during World War II, the setting up of the Naga Hills District Tribal Council on 1 April 1945 rewarded the Nagas. In March 1946, the Naga Chiefs renamed it as the Naga National Council (NNC). In June 1946, the NNC submitted a four point Memorandum. Nehru had reassured the Nagas. Gandhi reportedly assured the Naga Delegation, consisting of nine members including Phizo that met him on 18/19 July 1947. Finally, the famous nine-point Hydari Agreement of June 1947 was signed.

The rest in Nagaland is history. The NNC under Phizo's leadership rejected the Nine-Point Agreement that fell short of dealing with the issue of Naga sovereignty. The NNC declared Naga independence on 14 August 1947 and with success propagated the idea of Naga sovereignty throughout the Naga tribes. A Naga plebiscite was organised on 16 May 1951. The Naga insurgency, climaxed in 1956, aimed for the secession of Naga territories from India.

The Act commonly known as AFSPA was enacted in the state in 1958 by the central government of India. In November 1975, under the guidance of Nagaland Peace Committee, the Shillong Accord was signed. But, the China trained gangs (under Isaac Swu, a Seema, and Muivah, a Tangkhul) rejected the Accord and aligned with Burmese Nagas under Khaplang to form NSCN (I & M). In Jan 1988, an internal crisis led to split of the NSCN with the Konyaks and the Burmese Hemis on Mon-Burma side forming NSCN-K and the Tangkhuls and Seemas as NSCN-I & M withdrawing into hinterland of Nagaland and Manipur, besides operating from bases opposite Ukhrul in Somra tract in Myanmar.

Similarly, the muddle of Manipur is quite vexatious. Concurrently, there are four ongoing demands, which are active: Naga insurgency from 1956 in conjunction with Nagaland; the outbreak of Meitei insurgency in 1965; the Naga-Kuki clashes in early 1990s and continuing; and the foreigner’s issue. Initially, ethnocentrism feelings governed their outbreaks. Later, they assumed power-sharing overtones in all fields. Foreigner’s issues and identity threats are later developments.

Next, the Mizoram story. The great majority of Mizoram's population consists of several ethnic tribes who are either culturally or linguistically linked. These ethnic groups are collectively known as Mizos (Mi means People, Zo meaning the name of a progenitor; Mizo thus is People of Zo origin. Mizo people are spread throughout the northeastern states of India, Burma, and Bangladesh. Sometime in the 16th century CE, the first batch of Mizo crossed Tiau River and settled in Mizoram and they were called as Kukis by Bengalis. The First batch were called Old Kukis, which are the Biate, Ranglong and the Hrangkhol, and the second batch that followed include Lushei (or Lusei), Paite, Lai, Mara, Ralte, Hmar, Thadou, Shendus, and several others. The Bru (Reang), Chakma, Tanchangya are some non-Kuki tribes of Mizoram, with some suggesting that some of these are Indo-Aryan in their origins. The Bnei Menashe tribe claim Jewish descent.

The timeline of Mizoram includes: 1961 - Laldenga established Mizo National Front (MNF) demanding Greater Mizoram, an independent nation carved out of Tripura, Manipur, and Mizo majority areas from the Lushai hills. Like several other northeastern states of India, Mizoram was previously part of Assam until 1972, when it was carved out as a Union Territory. In 1986 the Indian Parliament adopted the 53rd amendment of the Indian Constitution, which allowed for the creation of the State of Mizoram on 20 February 1987, as India's 23rd state.

With the Kuki-Meitei face-off in neighbouring Manipur, the emotional appeal for the unification of the Mizo-Zo community spread across the northeast has grown manifold. Although the issue has been dormant for decades, the ruling Mizo National Front has once again brought it to the fore. Recently,addressing a capacity audience at the weekly meeting of Mizo National Front (MNF) in Aizawl on July 28, Mizoram’s deputy chief minister Tawnluia spoke passionately in favour of Zo unification – the unification of people belonging to the Mizo-Zo community spread across the northeastern states. Among other things, Tawnluia told the audience that the issue had figured prominently during the signing of the peace accord between MNF and the Government of India in 1986. To back his party’s stand, he underlined what was mentioned in the peace accord: “The question of unification of Mizo inhabited areas of other states to form one administrative unit was raised by the MNF delegation. It was pointed out to them, on behalf of the Government of India, that Article 3 of the Constitution of India describes the procedure in this regard but that the Government cannot make any commitment in this respect.”

Even the situation in Tripura is crisis ridden. Historically, the Tripura's Manikya dynasty had always encouraged the immigration of and settlement of non-tribals, especially Bengalis, to Tripura. The Rajmala authenticates the fact that Ratna Manikya (1462-1487) was the first to ‘settle 4000 Bengalis in four places’ in Tripura. During Noakhali riots in 1946 many Bengali Hindu survivors, referred to as East Bengali Refugees, were sheltered in temporary relief camps in Comilla, Chandpur, Agartala the present capital of Tripura and other places. A large migration of Bengali Hindus and Muslims took place in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and other places during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.

The indigenous Tipra people demanded an autonomous district council, which they finally achieved on 23 March 1979 which is known as Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC). Tribal Welfare Department (Government of Tripura) strictly monitored the implementation of the Tripura Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Reservation Act, 1991 (As amended up to February, 2006). Now, the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) are demanding the formation of "Tipraland", a state within the Tripura Tribal Areas, under articles 2 and 3 of the Indian Constitution. as one of their political agenda. Another registered regional political party Tipraland State Party (TSP) also demanded the same of Tipraland.

The newest political party in Tripura, the Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA) Motha, floated in 2019 by Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarma, the son of Tripura’s last king, has created a flutter with its demand for a Greater Tipraland. With this core demand, the party has brought other indigenous political parties under its fold. Its first foray into electoral politics in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) elections in 2021 was marked by a sharp victory where it secured 18 of the 28 seats.

Finally, people from Garo regions of Meghalaya are demanding for a new state of Garoland. In 2017, the Garo Hills State Movement Committee (GHSMC) threatened to launch a “massive democratic agitation” to put pressure on the central and state governments to set up a Garoland, to be carved out of Garo areas in Assam and Meghalaya. The GHSMC — a conglomeration of several Garo organizations including the Garo tiol Council (GNC), a regional political party — said their demand was on the linguistic lines of the States Reorganization Act, 1956.

In sum, all the States of Eastern India are riddled with a number of agitations for separate statehood based on historic ethnic identities. Their resolution is not simple. The ongoing “DESTRUCTIVE OR CONFRONTATIONAL CRITICISM” in the Parliament cannot forge consensus. Rule out episodic resolution. Others will seize the opportunity to revive their separate statehood status or sovereign status.

So, What is the alternative way out of the present quandary? May be the “States Reorganization of Commission for India's East States’ headed by three Supreme Court judges be formed to consider the ethnic historic social-cultural claims, monetary, industrial and government administration like the States Reorganization for the Eastern region.

After all, 571 princely states were reorganised and combined to become 27 states shortly after gaining independence in 1951, divided into Parts A, B, C, and D. The States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) was constituted in August 1953 to make recommendations about the reorganisation of state borders. After two years of research, the Commission, which was made up of Justice Fazal Ali, K. M. Panikkar, and H. N. Kunzru published its findings in October 1955. With significant adjustments, the commission's recommendations were adopted and included in the States Reorganisation Act, which was passed in November 1956. The SRC-1956 advocated merging four types of States into two main categories: States and Union Territories. There were 14 states instead of 27 and 6 UTs.

Subsequently also, Assam was split into two states in 1969, one of which became known as Meghalaya. Manipur and Tripura were made into states, bringing the total number of Indian states to 21. Sikkim was first created as a state in May 1975. Mizoram was given the status of a full-fledged state in 1986. Arunachal Pradesh became the 24th state of the Indian Union in 1987. After being separated from Daman and Diu, the Union territory of Goa, the state of Goa was awarded the status of a distinct entity. In November 2000, the states of Jharkhand, Uttaranchal, and Chhattisgarh were created. On 31 October 2019, J & K and Ladakh were constituted as UTs. Thus, there are 28 States and 8 Union Territories today.

Since new States have been created in the past for various reasons, why not constitute SRC specifically for the East India region? It would provide an opportunity for all concerned parties to project their claims and reconcile their competing demands. Such a holistic view is critical from the political point of view. It must be accompanied by overall economic development and promoting social harmony among warring tribes.

Brig. G B Reddy (Retd)

G B Reddy, former Brigadier has seen frontline battles in India-China War in 1962, India-Pakistan War in 1965, and India-Pakistan War in 1971 (Liberation of Bangladesh). He has served in various insurgency areas to include Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, and West Bengal at the height of Naxal problem; Punjab, J & K and IPKF in Sri Lanka.

Author of seven books and numerous articles covering national security strategy, international, national and local political and social developments, he participated in international and national seminars whilst serving as Consultant/Senior Visiting Fellow at the National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad. He also served in Corporate Assignments of Vice-President, Kitply Industries and C.E.O, Hilton Tobacco Ltd.

He is a Graduate of National Defense College, New Delhi, Command and Staff College in Canada, Long and Senior Defense Management Programs at College of Defense Management in Hyderabad. He has served on the faculties of Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, College of Combat, and Infantry School, Mhow.

He was awarded Ati Vishist Seva Medal for Distinguished Service of an Exceptional Order in Nagaland 1986. Menitoned-in-Despatches for gallantry in 1971 war. Chief of Army Staff Commendation Medal in 1977 for exceptional contribution for faculty development.

Seven books published: 1) Rising Dragon – China’s Holistic Security Strategic Perspective; 2) Nation in Crisis – Dimensions of National Security and Terrorism; 3) In Search of National Values - Withering Democracy, Secularism and Socialism; 4) India’s Nuclear Dilemmas; 5) Fight Against Corruption and Leadership Decay; 6) Democracy in Peril; and, 7) Cost Effective Rural Housing Technologies.