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

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From 50 Years Ago: The Assam Debate- A Post Mortem.

Our Delhi Letter from Volume XII, No. 37, September 10, 1960.

Prime Minister Nehru proved once again that his flight into philosophy can be a cover for inaction or inappropriate action. The threat to India’s integrityposed by the holocaust in Assam demanded prompt action to bring the culprits to book and inspire the confidence of their victims. Continuing to default in this respect, the Prime Minister thought that a discourse on the ‘fundamentals’ of the con-flict would do just as well. No one contested his thesis that India’s social (as distinct from philosophic) traditions being narrow, group conflicts are erupting under democratic gov-ernment. Questions are, however, being asked: Are the minorities in the different States ad-vised to wait patiently till the social traditions change, in some unspecified future? Is that not the way to tear the Constitution to pieces and break up the unity of India?... The debate on Assam has brought out a number of interesting points. Pandit Nehru and his colleagues say: protection of minori-ties? – yes, it is a cardinal principle of the Con-stitution. But why did not the Centre advise the President to take over the Assam adminis-tration when it found that the minorities were being hounded out? Because all the political parties in Assam were opposed to it. It comes to this: the fate of minorities depends on the ‘consent’ of the political parties in the States. If all or the major parties engage in wiping out the minorities, there is no remedy... The Parliamentary debate on Assam has laid bare and stressed the need for some rethinking on the problem of making the fundamental unity of India a constitutional and political reality.

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