Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ethnic violence in India: assam, Bodos, Bangladesh Muslims and thge Indian State

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books Ethnic violence on a large scale has broken out in the North Eastern state of Assam, India. This state has witnessed frequent outbreaks of violence between indigenous tribal groups, the Bodos on the one hand and migrants from Bangla desh, Bengali Muslims on the other. The stast government which is controlled by the Congress Party which also is the dominant faction in the UPA, the coalition in power, has abetted in the illegal settlement of Bangla Deshis in the bordering districts, particularly Khokrajar District, as the Muslims tend to vote for the Congress Party. By playing on the fears of the illegal migrants and by pandering to identity politics of the worst kind the Congress has been able to remain in power. Tarun Gogoi, the presnt Chief Minister, was recently reelected to power. The indigenous tribal population is under increasing pressure and tribal lands are falling into the hands of the migrant population and Bodos feel threatened and vulnerable. The State Government is usually intervenes on the side of the migrant population. The border between India and Bangla Desh is extremely porous and large scale illegal immigration is taking place. The Central Government which signed an Accord with the All Assam Students Union which led an agitation against the illegal immigrants, some 20 years back, committed itself to the detection, deletion, and detention of illegal; immigrants from Bangla Desh. However, given the fact that India is a soft state, the Accord was not ever implemented and the situation has further escalated. The more militant among the Muslim migrants from Bangla Desh who receive arms and training from Pakistan have begun a campaign of terror against the Bodos. This is not to say that the Bodos are a peaceable lot. However, the Bodos are being symptomatically attacked and driven from their land and consequently more than 250,000 Bodos have been displaced from their villages and are living in refugee camps. Over the past 3 to 4 weeks a silent tragedy has been unfo9lding in Assam. Bodos are being evicted from their settlements and the Central Government is both unable and unwilling to do anything about it. The State Government as I said earlier is alo9s under the Congress and the Party relies on the votes of the illegal migrants and hence the state government is also quiet. Ethnic cleansing over large swathes of Bodo land has been taking place over the past 40 to 50 years and now the Bodos living in the very heartland of Bodoland, Khokrajar District, are being terrorized. Post Colonial states as V S Naipaul keeps reminding us ever so often are half made societies and are tethering on the brink of chaos. I think the people of Assam are paying dearly for their foolishness in voting the Congress Party to power ans Assam now is awash in blood and only the Congress is responsible for the violence and bloodshed.

Monday, July 16, 2012


A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books The Supreme Court has asked Indian Univesities to conduct elections for student unions in all universities by the 31st of August. The Lyndoh Commission Report has been takern as the foundational text for the conduct of the elections. This move on the part of the Suprme Court is a retrogate step and needs to be contested. Politics in India is not only criminalised but depends to a large extent on money power. Though a limit of Rs 5,000 has been set for the election expenses, I am sure that each candidaste will spend a few hundred times thast amount. Political parties will now claw their way into the portals of Indian universities and that will affect the academic culture of the institution. Political parties bring with them decripit ideologies. I can imagine SFI goons behaving as if they own the Campus intimidating everryone who disagrees with them. I think it will be ablack day for Indian universities when elections are conducted. The Lyndoh Commission has also spelled out the modalities of holding the election: direct election or indirect election. Obviously indirect elections are better because to a certain extent it circumscribes the legitimacy of the student leaderrship. In the University where I teach the Vice Chancellor, an extremely able and talented administrator and a noted geophysicist, decided to have 50% reservation for women. Our University is therefore more propressive than even the Indian Parliament which has not passd the Women's Reservation Bill. Of course women will be easier to handle than men and will not take to the streets at the drop of the proverbial hat. Indirect election also provides ways and means to check the reclacitrant elements among the student community. The deadline set by the Supreme Court expires on the 31st of August and the elections are to be held before that date. The more political among the Faculty are pressing for Propotional representation on the ground that the Schools with more students should have more representatives on the student Council. Perhaps these worthies are unaware that in the US Constitution each state has only 2 members and the rationale for that is to avoid the tyranny of the brute majority. And like in the Mandal castes, the propotional representation cvan be easily manipulated. In spite of my fervent appeal not to admit propotional representation, the Vice Chancellor thought that it was "democratic". Since the ration between the number of elected representative vis a vis the total population of the electorate will fluctuate on the basis of student intake, propotional representation is inhertently undemocratic and like in the Indian case open to misuse. The invasion of the political parties in a most unwholsesome step and the Supreme Court has taken a giant step backward without quite understanding the ground realities. This will increas campus violence and the learning atmosphere will be affected.