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Asht Laxmi: A new nomenclature given by PM to North East- Is something big in foray?

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Founder Director Lokbandhu Rajnarayan Law College Varanasi 221302 web: Since 2004

Amidst all the furor post assembly elections something positive is in the air springing from the North East. Boundary or territorial disputes had ended up in taking lives of the human being be it in a colony, village, city, state or any country. Boundary and territorial disputes often stem from material or cultural claims; sometimes they may also emerge as a result of the fundamental changes in domestic and international environments. In certain circumstances, boundary and territorial disputes may even evolve into geopolitical games of big-power rivalry and competition. Regardless of existing boundary and territorial disputes, compromise may still be possible because a state’s claim over a disputed territory carries both benefits and costs. When these costs outweigh the value of the contested territory, compromise becomes more attractive than confrontation.

The net cost  that a state bears for pressing territorial disputes open a bargaining space in which concessions over contested territory can be exchanged for other goals that the state may seek. When the bilateral (or multilateral in a few cases) ties between the states concerned become more important, cooperation in or delaying the settlement of their territorial disputes will become more attractive than continuing to press claims. Recently, territorial dispute in six of twelve contested areas were mutually resolved between the chief ministers of two states Assam and Meghalaya. Even the areas under AFSPA  have been significantly reduced which implies improved security situations and speedy development in concerned areas. One of the bigger achievements of the government

Meghalaya was under the AFSPA for 27 years, until it was revoked by the Ministry from April 1, 2018. The law which first came into effect in 1958 to deal with the uprising in the Naga Hills, followed by the insurgency in Assam. It gives special power and immunity to the armed forces and the Central Armed Police Forces deployed in “disturbed areas” to act against anyone acting in contravention of law, arrest and search any premises without a warrant and protection from prosecution and legal suits without the Central government’s sanction.

Meghalaya was carved out of Assam under the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971, a law that it challenged, leading to disputes. A major point of contention between Assam and Meghalaya is the district of Langpih in West Garo Hills bordering the Kamrup district of Assam. Langpih was part of the Kamrup district during the British colonial period but post-Independence, it became part of the Garo Hills and Meghalaya. Assam considers it to be part of the Mikir Hills in Assam. Meghalaya questioned Blocks I and II of the Mikir Hills -now Karbi Anglong region – being part of Assam. Meghalaya says these were parts of erstwhile United Khasi and Jaintia Hills districts. Interstingly, Assam’s capital was Shillong, Meghalaya’s present capital, before it was shifted to Dispur in 1972.

Can Inner Line Permit Be commuted?

Simply put, an Inner Line Permit is a document that allows an Indian citizen to visit or stay in a state that is protected under the ILP system. The system is in force today in three Northeastern states — Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram — and no Indian citizen can visit any of these states unless he or she belongs to that state, nor can he or she overstay beyond the period specified in the ILP. The indigenous tribes living in the hill areas would regularly be in contact with the outsiders leading to the gradual diminishing of their kind and culture. The concept that north east is a cluster of different tribes and races that need to be kept in check inside their territories colonial Act Bengal eastern frontier regulation act 1873 now known as inner line permit needs to revised.

Transition of North East States from seven sisters to Ashtalaxami

Famous journalist and bureaucrat from Tripura – Jyoti Prasad Saikia, coined the term ‘7 sisters of India’ during a radio talk show in 1972. Fifty years, hence, a new nomenclature ashtlaxmi seems to be appropriate synonym to seven sisters. Ashtlaxmi bestows upon us maintenance and progress in our life. It is much more than just having money and prosperity. It means abundance in knowledge, skills and talents. It is the energy that manifests as the complete spiritual and material well-being of a person. Relatively, the thrust of the current economic reforms is on upgrading and modernising technology through globalisation of the Indian economy and thereby achieving rapid growth relying more on market forces.

In response to such policy reforms, private investment, both domestic and external, has risen at a faster rate in different sectors of the economy. The flow of private investment to different states of the country would largely depends on the level and quality of administrative, social and economic infrastructures that are obtained in different states. All the seven states are isolated from India and the only way to reach there is via Siliguri Corridor (also called Chicken’s Neck) in Assam. Tripura is like an enclave surrounded by Bangladesh and depends on Assam for transportation. All of the rivers that flood the plains in Assam originate in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. Mizoram and Manipur are connected to the rest of India through Barak Valley in Assam. And it is due to this interdependence, they were given the sobriquet.

Northeast states have considerably observed economic growth in recent years. Northeast not only holds an important position in India’s geo-strategy but also is the torchbearer for India’s ‘Look East’ Policy through trade and commerce with South East Asia. The eight north-eastern states of India (now Ashtlaxmi) namely Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura including Sikkim (earlier called as big brother of seven sisters) have a glorious history and diverse ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritage. Nearly six decades after Independence, the region was relegated to the sidelines. Citing disturbances and unrest, the governments under previous government displayed an utter lack of interest and failure to comprehend vital issues of the region.

An indifferent government in Delhi tried to put all north-east-related issues under the carpet, while the people suffered widespread corruption, unemployment, lack of peace, and a general state of backwardness. This led to generations of our youth becoming disappointed and discontented with the system. It has been instruction to all Union Ministers to visit at least one North-East state every fortnight to ensure that the north-east region is better integrated with our national policies and priorities. PM Modi has himself visited North-East states several times since coming in power. The frequent visits of the Union Ministers have helped in bridging the gap of understanding between policymakers and the problems faced by the people.

Today, North East states have much proximity with central government in terms of governance, policies, and provisioning of various government services. The people of the North East feel emotionally connected to the rest of India & vice versa and this can be seen in prototype shift of mainstream cinema which are now including many actors and singers of north east actors. The decisive governance of central government, citing the example of abolishing Article 370, which has resulted in a paradigm shift in how the government approaches issues confronting our nation. The Central Government has worked decisively with a sense of purpose and a rare clarity of vision to usher in peace, prosperity, and progress in the north-east region.

Rich in human capital, natural resources, biodiversity, and beautiful landscapes, each state has the potential to become hubs of international trade, tourism and are poised for sustainable development. It is heartening to note that the six smaller states in NE have tried to reduce the gap of progress with Assam. This silver lining needs to be seen in the light of the fact that the state government,  special reference to central government, still plays a very big role in the economy of these six states. There is a need for deliberate effort to bring these ashtlaxmies closer to each other barring the territorial disputes and eliminating insurgency, which can only be done  through focusing on higher economic growth endorsed by strong government will.

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Founder Director Lokbandhu Rajnarayan Law College Varanasi 221302 web: Since 2004
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