Is India’s democratic system suitable to the Northeast people?

By Oken Jeet Sandham

Our Northeast politicians are seen struggling in the sea of Indian political arena. Their political wisdom is fast waning. The Northeast is sharply divided on ethnic and tribal lines by wrong policies and programs of Delhi. Even after 70 years of India’s Independence, Delhi can hardly solve any of the issues of the Northeastern India – be it social, economic, developmental or political. The hatred against the Northeastern people by the mainland people keeps increasing and this can be seen from the increasing crimes on them in many major Indian cities. The greatest fear of Delhi is the “UNITY” of the Northeast India as they presume that such “UNITY” will become a major threat to the “UNITY OF INDIA”. But is it logical to keep Northeast people divided for the sake of country’s Unity? The people of the Northeast steadily and gradually start realizing that Indian democratic system is not working for the growth and benefit of them except creating more haves and have nots, besides systematically destroying the social fabric of them. Now stark reality is the younger generations start hating their representatives thinking that the politics they are playing under the Indian democratic system are not suitable to them. This not a good sign.

Even known and veteran mainland politician like Pappu Yadav, MP, from Bihar could openly threaten to forcibly pull out Manipuri passengers from trains running through Bihar and send them back to Manipur in retaliation of violence against Bihari migrants there. In fact, the MP was misinformed as no Biharis had been targeted as they have been peacefully living and running their business activities at the heart of the Imphal City. But what about open attacks on Utter Pradesh and Bihari migrants in Maharashtra in early 2008 by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and also in the last part of 2003, there was anti-Bihari drive in Assam wherein nearly hundred were killed and hundreds rendered homeless. This anti-Bihari drive in Assam just happened as the locals felt that jobs in the Northeast Frontier Railway in Assam would be snatched away by outsiders particularly Biharis. The exams were to fill up 2,750 Grade D posts. Of the total 6.2 lakh applicants, 94,533 were from Bihar. Local people in Guwahati feared that Biharis would capture most of the posts and this led to violence against the Hindi speaking people.

But the fact is where the job securities are for the youth of the Northeast. Nothing at all! The Center has terribly failed to frame clear cut employment policies under various major Ministries. No one knows clearly what are the policies and programs being framed for the educated employed youth of the Northeast nor are our MPs aware of the loopholes. Nearly 30 lakh educated unemployed youth are there in the Northeast and the numbers keep increasing every year  and what will be the fate of them if the Government does not think seriously on this. Where will they go? The job security will become out of question after some years and there will be fights and chaos in the region if the immediate attention is not paid.

As we know there are no major factories and industries in the Northeast till now. The Center keeps sweetly preaching that the youth of the Northeast should not attempt for the Government jobs only but they would hardly give an alternative for them. They know there is a lack of industrial establishments in the Region, but never trying to have one for the Region. Some 4 to 5 major factories and industries are in the region and most them were also built by the British when India was under them. See the famous Digboi Refinery which was set up in 1901 at Digboi in Assam.  Even Commercial production of tea in India began after the conquest of large areas by the British East India Company, at which point large tracts of land were converted for mass tea production. The widespread popularity of tea as a recreational drink began in earnest in the 1920s, after a successful advertising campaign by the Tea Board and several mass promotion drives by the Government, using railway stations as a base. Even almost all the existing rail tracks, railway stations and services in the Northeast were established by the British and so also many roads in the Northeast.

Now a very simple question is what are the major industrial policies the Center had so far framed for the development of the Northeast India after attaining her Independence in 1947. The thinking that the citizens of this part of the country would get more development and dignified lives after India’s Independence has become otherwise. Because historically, the British was responsible for many unwanted issues that have been prevailing till today. Why haven’t the rulers of this country thought of this or whether the new leaderships of this country are planning any? We need an answer from our country’s leaders at Delhi. What a life the citizens of the Northeast are enjoying?

Yet, one of the most setbacks on our part is also that our elected representatives in their respective States in the Northeastern Region sometimes fail to understand their roles and limits. Our 34 Members of Parliament from the Northeastern Region have been terribly failing to come together even for the common cause of the Northeast people. When we study the allocation of the funds for the Northeast comparing to other States is like a joke. See the Central allocation of Rs 53,000 crore for the entire Northeast (2015-16) is just little more than a half of Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train Cost – Rs 90,000 crore. Yet, not a single MP from Northeast complained of this. Have our MPs ever thought of examining the budgetary allocations not only to their respective States but also the entire Region? Have our MPs and politicians ever sought of taking advices from the experts as to why the huge economic imbalances have been there between the Northeast and the rest of the country? Time has come for the people of the Northeast India to wake up to thoroughly study as to why they are still underdeveloped and far behind others in this funnily “CYBER AGE ERA” before it is too late. It is now or never.

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