JN Lai (Asst. Prof, International College, the University of Suwon, S Korea)
The deal is difficult, the stake is high. And fixed ideas and preoccupied propositions of the stakeholders especially the Meeteis and Nagas don’t help either. Why do they fail to find a new alternative mutually?
Is New Delhi happy to make it catch-22 situation - pulling others in a bargaining trap? If something is given to NSCN-IM there will be fire to burn Manipur. If IM gains nothing - what on earth is an ever lengthy peace talk for?
The majority of the Meeteis and Nagas cannot see the Win-Win experience. In fact, they care for a cousin’s Win only, never concern over the other cousin’s Lose.
Owing to the complex challenges attaching to the Nagas’ neighbors in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, it is much suspicious that the crying Naga conflict may not be resolved with the existing approaches and manners. The engagement of the other Political Armed Oppositions (PAOs) and concerns of the communities of the North East (NE), are the prerequisite for just peacebuilding.
If Government of India (GoI) is affirmative towards the accomplishment of Naga peace deal, and if all Naga political armed organizations and communities involve themselves in the endeavor, there may be a redrawing of the territory or may be a layout of a new economic-cultural administrative landscape out of current North East. In fact, very likely it will come along with an escalation of violence from the communities of the neighbors.
If NSCN-IM resolves or compromises the Naga issue with GoI somehow without participation of other Naga PAOs and communities, it may prolong the feud in Nagaland and around.
If there is accommodation for NSCN officers, other Naga PAOs in the Indian electoral activities and in the likewise engagement, it may contribute limited harm and tension to the existing NE conflict.
It is important to be keen on process-driven orientation focusing on dialogue rather than advocacy. There is a critical importance of the dialogue among the peoples at various levels. So far, most of the communication have been of the advocacy in the local media, and unfortunately this communication is predominant with pre-determined solutions, articulated demands, rigid stances and limited awareness of real needs.
If look forward to a favorable future, be little way to avoid the conflict or to compromise it either. Either the Meeteis or the others will lose or win or all will lose if the conflict mode continues in contesting one another with their interests or positions but some other third parties from far and near will gain in terms of extractive industries, controlling water, other natural resources and utilization of political economic conditions.
Have to realize that it will enjoy the Win-Win experience out of this conflict if stakeholders are able to adopt the Collaborative Approaches.
Therefore intensify the endeavor of sitting together, continue dialogue, not debate about the needs and values, awareness and appreciation of complexity-complex needs, challenges, emotions; and openness to negotiation and flexibility are prerequisite.
Looking at a meaningful resolution or transformation, together it can re-identify the Needs, Interests or Positions and Causes if this is a case of conflict involving the peoples of the soil.
Has New Delhi, being the bigger stake holder of the conflict, shown meaningful and sincere response to the political armed organizations in the region? Does the situation demand a conducive atmosphere and Confidence Building Measures in initiating productive dialogue? Why there fails collaborative approach to enjoy the win-win experiences?
The following can be a rough architecture for transforming the structural violence and resolving the multifaceted conflicts.
1. A unification of the (principal) Political Armed Oppositions of North East India by investing all their resources, drives and sincerity towards giving birth to a new (Nation) State sharing negotiable configuration with the Republic of India.
2. The other NE states which have low intensity of armed conflict or absence of PAOs will also be invited to. Those have not joined at the inception may be considered in the aftermath. Thus, it will capacitate a desired inclusiveness of the communities of NE and even beyond. [Necessarily all the present seven/eight states may not be part of.]
3. The name of the new State may be called the United Peoples Land of Indo-Myanmar-UPLIM or New Sub-Himalayan Land-NESHLAND or Western Southeast Asia-WESEA.
4. In order to legislate for and govern the UPLIM/NESHLAND/WESEA, and to practice a good socialism, and to deliver fundamental rights of life, liberty, equality and dignity to the peoples of the new State, there will be a Parliament that may be called Peoples House-PH. [The structure and modus operandi of the PH may be considered and derived from the other parliamentary practices of the world.]
5. Currency may be retained with the Republic of India with validating the Euro and US dollar in the region; Communication, Defense, External Affairs, Natural Resources may be negotiated for a concurrent list; and the rest could be better in the realm of the PH affairs.
6. The key members or leaders of the PAOs, and from the other states where PAOs do not exist, political/social leaders will be member-representatives in the Parliament/PH [whom may be called People Representative-PR]
7. The modality of how and what number of PRs may be determined by considering various bases and will be settled democratically among PAOs in consultation with the NE communities/peoples by considering the optimum economic-political space of ethnic/indigenous minority. [Will Bodo, Karbi, Naga, Kuki, Meetei, etc., have one PR for each of them or will drop down to ancestral tribal communities and clans or will it based on the population ratio?]
8. The first five year tenure of the PRs may be reserved and compensated for the PAOs, afterwards PRs will be elected through universal franchise by their respective peoples/communities or otherwise.
9. The existing State Assemblies will remain, so do the participation of the MLAs in the UPLIM provincial governing activities in two houses setting. However it will be with the reformation of power division and functional sharing and in conjugation with PH structure. [It may minimize the outward dismay and eventual turbulent of the existing political personalities and parties.]
10. A wider candidature in the existing constituent assemblies election will be validated to accommodate the members and leaders of PAOs by migrating their organizations into electoral political parties or joining existing parties or floating new ones. Thus it may extend a meaningful participation to the governing activities for the new (Nation) State.