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

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Democratic Representation

This is apropos to Bela Bhatia’s article, “Justice Denied to Tribals in the Hill Districts of Manipur” (EPW, 31 July). The article makes for interesting reading and depicts facts hitherto unknown to the “mainstream” peoples of India. Imposing district councils in the hill areas all of a sudden would certainly jeopardise the interests of the hill tribes. However, the introduction of Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to these areas, as suggested by the author, would also not have addressed their interests. As it is, while the Meiteis occupying 10% of the Manipur state’s area are represented by 42 members in the state assembly, the hill tribes are represented by only 19 members. The Meiteis, occupying the valley, are themselves in a quandary as a forced merger was thrust upon them by the Indian state and their natural borders on the east were artifi cially sealed off. In fact, the demographic discrepancy in electoral representation is an accurate picture for the entire north-east. While Uttar Pradesh alone has 80 seats in the Lok Sabha, eight states of north-east India together make for 25 seats. Population logic of constituency formation is a colonial legacy. In a just confederation of a nation state all constitutive states should have had equal representation in Parliament

J J Roy Burman

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