ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Assam Tea: The Bitter Brew

On May 30 irate workers of a tea estate in Assam's Sonitpur district hacked and burnt to death the estate's deputy manager and senior assistant manager. Trade union leaders from the tea industry have unequivocally condemned the incident. But they have also drawn attention to the fact that tea garden managements in Assam have been systematically ignoring the demands of the workers, especially for welfare measures. Successive governments in Assam have failed to force managements to implement the Plantations Labour Act of 1951. Managements now claim that the industry is passing through a recession, but during the tea boom of the 1990s the same managements did not share even a minuscule part of their prosperity with the workers.

Naga Peace Talks

It has taken over 50 years of wide-scale human suffering for old prejudices to end and the stage to be set for meaningful negotiations between the government of India and the Naga underground. On the one hand the government's perceptions about the Naga struggle have undergone a sea-change and it has shown a large degree of flexibility in trying to work out a political settlement; on the other hand those who have been fighting for an independent Nagalim have also become aware of the inherent complexities involved in their struggle and the impossibility of a military solution. The two principal issues that need to be resolved through negotiations are (a) the question of Naga sovereignty/self-determination and (b) the question of a unified Nagalim/Greater Nagalim. The NSCN(I-M) has given no indication of any rethinking on the question of a Greater Nagalim. On the other issue, however, though the official position of the NSCN(I-M) still is that it is committed to a sovereign, independent Nagalim, it is clear that greater autonomy and not sovereignty would be the issue that would have to be hammered out in the coming talks.

Assam: Roll-Call of the Dead

One of the most significant fallouts of state and militant violence in Assam in the past 20 years has been the growing marginalisation of the average citizen. However, the failure of the state as an institution and the rise of insurgency have created a situation where civil society must make use of what little democratic space is left and try to play a positive role. In this context it is useful to take note of the experience of civil society interventions in Nagaland and Andhra Pradesh and draw lessons from it for Assam where the roll-call of the dead has been unending.

Assam Elections: Setback for the Left

The 2001 Assam assembly election was largely a two-party contest between the Congress and the AGP. The left, once a viable force was wiped out, but its downfall has been the result of its own blunders - continued support to a government seen as corrupt, espousal of non-issues and turning a blind eye to ground level realities.

Sub-National Challenges to Indian State

Sub-National Challenges to Indian State An Assamese Perspective India against Itself: Assam and the Politics of Nationality by Sanjib Baruah; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1999; pp xxiii + 257,

Immigration and Identity Transformation in Assam

For centuries migrants have been accommodated in Assamese society. This article briefly reviews the shaping of Assamese society and culture over centuries and goes on to discuss pre- and post-independence changes in politics, attitudes and the demography of the state. It examines the language issue, the tribals versus Assamese middle class tensions and the position of Muslims in the state. The Assamese identity will likely be shaped by the criss-crossing ethnic, linguistic and religious divisions in Assamese society.

Army Killings in Assam

Dozens of youth have been killed by the army in fake encounters in Assam and the people have lost all faith in the eyewash enquiries conducted by the state administration into these killings.

ASSAM- No Tears for the Liberators

limits of building construction, an exercise that has been presented in some detail for Vasai-Virar, it is possible to ensure that demand will indeed exceed supply: we can expect a vigorous market in RTBs.

Twilight of Asom Gana Parishad

Udayon Misra Its growing rift with the All-Assam Students' Union and the rise of the militant United Liberation Front of Assam have propelled the ruling Asom Gana Parishad toward closer links with the National Front. But will this process end with the AGP shedding its regional identity altogether and merging with a national party?

Bodo Stir Complex Issues, Unattainable Demands

It was perhaps too much to expect that the AGP government in Assam would be able to shake off the legacy inherited from decades of Congress rule of neglect of the tribal people and of tribal areas. But it could have made a sincere effort towards reducing the more glaring inequities. Instead it was too enmeshed in its own narrow political calculations to pay heed to genuine tribal grievances.

Nagaland Elections

Nagaland Elections Udayon Misra In the elections to the Nagaland assembly it was the Congress(l) which strongly appealed to regional, even chauvinistic, sentiments. In line with Congress(I) tactics in other north-eastern states, the party not only showed its willingness to make-up with forces it has long been describing as anti-national, but also encouraged inter-state differences and tensions. Even the prime minister did not consider it unwise to add to the tension between Nagaland and Assam provided this brought immediate electoral gains for the party THE Nagas have always prided themselves as an honest and straightforward people and a statement attributed to A Z Phizo runs thus: "Truly, we are a peculiar people. We are all equals. Men and women have an equal status. We have no caste divisions. . . no high class or low class of people... We believe in that form of democratic government which permits the rule not of the majority but of the people as a whole. We have no land tax, no wine tax. no water tax. Forests, rivers and woodlands belong to the people for their exploitation without paying taxes. .. We have no beggars.. , And, wonder of wonder, we have no jails. We do not 'arrest' or "imprison' anybody... We fear nobody, individually or collectively. We are a healthy people and fear corrupts the health of man... We talk freely, live freely and often fight freely too. We have no inhibitions of any kind. Wild? Yes... But free. There is order in this chaos, law in this freedom. If I were to choose a country, it would be my Nagaland, my fair Nagaland

Stresses of Modernisation in North-East

The Problem of Change: A Study of North-East India by B P Singh, Oxford University Press, Bombay, pp 222 + xii, Rs 110. ASSAM and the north-east have been the subject of close scrutiny ever since political movements aimed at asserting the identities of the different ethnic nationalities of this region took shape. While scholars and journalists have come out with their own accounts of the developments in the northeast, yet some of the more readable and realistic accounts seem to have come from persons who have been directly involved in administering the area. The author of the book under review is a member of the IAS and he states in the Prologue that his study "attempts to share perceptions of the process of historical change particularly in the light of recent -history and the issues confronting the people in general and political and administrative institutions in particular after 1947", This, no doubt, is a tall claim. For, any attempt to tackle such a wide subject with its myriad complexities arising out of the process of change in the seven northeastern states in 200-odd pages is bound to be an incomplete one. Singh, however, succeeds in highlighting some of the major contradictions arising out of the problem of change in the north-east and his "traditional district officer's approach" often proves to be of advantage in probing the stresses and strains faced by the different ethnic societies when confronted by the modernising process in their socio-political life. But, such an approach is also bound to have its limitations and, while discussing several important issues relating to the state's confrontation with the people, the author seems to be handicapped by official blinkers.


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