Social and Cultural Realities
A newspaper screamed that Centre asks the Assam Government 'to act tough'.
It begs the spurious question to many perhaps, act tough against whom? Against whom, are we to flex our muscles? Against the perpetrators of violence? Who are they? Can both the governments tell us their findings on such a sensitive issue.
We are again mistaking the tree for the woods. We are not looking at the causes of the malaise, but its symptoms. Land and its acquisition, the desire to lead a secure life are central questions here. The immediate cause could have been virulent instigation, by one group or the other, but tensions were simmering, they exacerbated when fuel was added to the fire.
This brings us to the basic question of the poor and the landless, in India. If it happens in the different parts of the country, it happens in Assam, and in different parts of North East India as well. It is very simple, the poor need not want to get richer, they want to feel more secure. Why are we impervious to this and look askance at the truth?
The stick will not help solve problems. Counter violence is counter production, which in its wake could lead to further alienation of communities. It is the feeling of neglect which is the fount of crises, in North East India- neglect of economy, neglect of feeling different, thinking different and looking different. And this is a cesspool, it takes various forms and manifestations, within the ambit of various, multifarious societies of North East India, tribal, non tribal, hill people and plains people.
The complexities of the different societies should be the given point, their interaction and relationship within larger units, the give and take, trade and commerce. And here land becomes a focal point, and the matrix of doubt, conflict and even relationships, in this context murderous. That is the tragic confrontation, and loss of rationality, the supremacy of herd feeling over reason. And this can happen, anywhere in the country and the world.
Where have we gone wrong?
Was the BTAD carved out of realities, to give the local people more breathing space, feeling of security in their 'land', in the process there maybe be the emergence of venality and class divisions. Once classes are formulated, then at least superficially there maybe the stability of an inner chaos. I think class divisions are very significant in understanding societies in transition, economic demands and a subsequent orderliness. It is a question of asking for your share and getting it.
Wealth in developing economies, is not always monetized. The economic history, tensions based on acquisition of wealth in the form of land has been the crux in different parts of India, but in North East India since the question of immigration is a real issue, the matter is both internally and externally complex, with also the interplay of politics and the dynamics of political change, which has happened in the Bodo inhabited areas of Assam. Peace and revival of sanity can only be achieved by community processes, where communities in the district and village levels meet consciously to ask for a logical restoration of sanity. This beautiful region of our country with its animated spirit of living life is what it deserves. And the rest of the country should also take a lead, not by remarks which hurt, but by reassuring the peoples of their rich historical legacy, and that they are really wanted, also by not presenting its supposed 'dark' interior.
It's not a question of acting tough, it's a question of understanding and empathy, it's a question of sanitizing the 'mainland' understanding of people who feel marginalized, unwanted and at times despised upon, under dark clouds a nebulous history or for that matter geography. The sooner we get rid of these cloudy myths, the better. It is the duty of the rest of the country to reach out, and understand the region's past, and its dynamic social and cultural realities.
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Ananya S Guha
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