Now that the inferno in Assam continues, it is time to take stock of a general analysis of the North East Region of India.
Out of the eight states, Sikkim being a fortuitous addition, Manipur, Meghalaya, Assam and to an extent Nagaland are still reeling under crises. There is an uneasy peace in Nagaland for the last thirteen to fourteen years or so, due to a 'cease fire' between the government and the NSCN (NSCN-IM) considered to be the major recalcitrant outfit, unswerving for its demand of a greater Nagalim, which initially consisted of an autonomous semi independent unit consisting of areas in Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh in addition to Nagaland of course. Now the demand is concentrated more in asking for areas in the hilly districts of Manipur in addition to Nagaland.
The umpteen talks with the Government of India has not yielded anything but infructous and the Naga leadership has kept the spirit of peace alive by not resorting to any attacks, except for infighting with another faction, which popular belief says was at least tacitly supported by a former Chief Minister.
The Naga demand is linked closely with issues in Manipur, which has been hotly resented by the government and the people in general. In 2001 when the government announced tentatively that the greater Nagalim demand would be acceded to, there was civil unrest in Manipur. But that does not mean, that this is necessarily ethnic tension or hatred between the valley and the hills, both in equal measure feel alienated from what I have always called the 'disputatious' mainland.
The dialectics of mainland and outland is outlandish. If you consider this part of India to be a part of it, then these coinages are unnecessary and uncalled for indicating a false 'one-upmanship' if not disdain and superciliousness. The country begins in Delhi and ends in Patna, at most goes unwillingly to Calcutta, otherwise obstreperous Bengalis with irateness will start narrating their contributions to the Nationalist cause, which of course is an incontrovertible historical truth, and can by no dint of imagination be reduced to fallacy.
M.J. Akbar in his book 'India the Siege Within' has shown how secessionist movements in India began in the South first, contrary to popular notion that the originating cauldron was North East. Even the separatism in South India has to be contended with today, when you think of LTTE activists taking refuge there and mingling with the local population. Why should that not be considered something fascist and hostility to a neighbouring country? North East Indian militants taking refuge in Bangladesh is another trenchant irony, considering that there has always been an animosity to the immigrant from the region. Historical chroniclers and social scientists could do well to record such hard hitting truths.
Any discourse on North East India will begin by mentioning its borders: Bangladesh, Myanmar, China and Bhutan. Geography is history, then we are made aware of the lurking dangers of sharing such borders, and in the same vein we talk of the Look East, with bated breath. We have to be clear what we want, trade or peace and prosperity in a beautiful region, unified because of the common fears it shares with one another, common misgivings about the 'mainland' yet beautifully heterogeneous in it own rights, customs, tribes, communities, hills and plains and, religion. That is unity in diversity for you!