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

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Is Democracy and Decentralisation the Answer for Lakshadweep?

Tensions are simmering in the union territory of Lakshadweep over a series of anti-people regulations issued by the present administrator. While everyone in the island and their supporters in mainland have been protesting against the draconian proposals, no one is discussing about the role of the deficit in democracy and decentralisation in the islands that led to the present crisis. It is crystal clear that the controversial regulations brought by present administrator of Lakshadweep are not in the best interest of a democratic society.

 

The idyllic Lakshadweep, an archipelago of 36 islands and the smallest union territory of India, is in the midst of a turmoil due to a slew of anti-democratic proposals and decisions by the present administration. Islanders in Lakshadweep who are generally peace loving people are now forced to carry out protests as the proposals put forward by the Lakshadweep administration threaten their livelihoods, landownership, culture, identity and even the fragile ecology of the islands. The controversial proposals include taking over the land belonging to the locals for the “purpose of development” without safeguarding the interests of landowners, imposing preventive detention on persons without reason for one year under Goonda Act, that too in a union territory that has lowest crime rates in the country,1 usurping the administrative powers of the panchayats, disqualifying people with more than two children from contesting elections to panchayats and interfering in the food habits of the islanders.

It all began with the arrival of Praful Khoda Patel2 as the administrator of Lakshadweep. Patel, a political leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was given the charge of Lakshadweep in December 2020. He is also the administrator of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. The political appointment of Patel did raise a few eyebrows within the island and mainland. Though earlier senior civil servants were appointed as administrators of union territories, since 2014, it has been alleged that the union government has been handpicking politicians and confidantes of the ruling regime for top posts like that of the administrator. The islanders had apprehension that Patel would use his political clout as a way to oppress them to satisfy the interests of corporates and to model Lakshadweep on the lines of Maldives. It appears that their fears were not completely baseless as Patel has proposed a slew of measures that can be dubbed as “anti-people, anti-democratic” regulations and proposals in the first five months of his tenure.

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Updated On : 25th Jul, 2021
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