New Delhi, Feb 3 : The visit by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to Arunachal, has brought north-eastern India into focus.
Government policy makers and academic think tanks in the country are now trying to understand the complex issues related to the region. An attempt is also being made to see the region from the perspective of a new globalized era.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University recently orgainsed a conference, titled "Towards a New Understanding of North East India". Organized under the auspices of "North East India Studies Programme", a newly constituted centre in JNU, the conference deliberated on several issues, including questions of historiography, constitutional status, ethnic movements, and development strategies, implications of the Look East Policy on the marginalised sections and the status of women in the region.
All participants felt that there was need to have a serious look at the developmental strategies of the region. We still find that the Northeast suffers from immense deprivation. In terms of infrastructure, it is very poor. If we see the connectivity of the region with the rest of the nations or within the region itself, it's very poor," said a professor of JNU.
Some of the participants, who came from the North East, spoke about the problem of separatism in the North East.
Prasenjit Biswas, who has written a book "Ethnic life -worlds in North East India", linked the problems in Assam with the lack of development and also talked of how the ULFA is trying desperately to retain its ground. The ULFA leadership is able to sustain themselves, even if a section of Assamese middle class may have been weaned away", Biswas said. Sanjay Hazarika, who presented a paper on the conference and is also involved in a major social project in upper Assam, felt strongly about the need to develop the North East.
"ULFA has substantially lost popular support. It is not just me saying but lots of other people are also saying. That is the fact on the ground level. This doesn't mean that you don't have to engage with them. There can't be a military solution for the political problem. Even though they represent a small proportion of the percentage or a fraction of the percentage. But you have to keep your door open for the talks," said Hazarika.
The conference on the North East focused on the need to deal with problems of the region, keeping in mind the changing socio- economic and geo- political reality. By Sanjay and Gautam