Arunachal Pradesh is currently rocked by a string of protests that have been sparked by the government’s decision to grant permanent residency certificates to six communities that are not included in the Arunachal Pradesh scheduled tribes list. Permanent residency certificates have also been granted to ex-servicemen who are from the Gurkha community.
While some view it as a move to gain some sort of political leverage, the fact remains that there isn’t any reason why any of them, especially if they have been domiciled in the state, should not be granted permanent residency certificates.
A scheduled tribe, as per Article 342 of the Constitution of India, is a tribe that is indigenous to a particular locality (the scheduled tribes list varies from state to state).
It is an important move, given the fact that it will affect the rights of the six tribes and the ex-servicemen to own land and unless they’ve been issued permanent residency certificates, they may not get titles or deeds to land even if they have purchased the land or have occupied the land for a period of more than ten years (it effectively negates or does away with squatters rights).
It may sound harsh, but it does protect the rights of those that belong to indigenous or rural communities. All too often we hear stories of tribes-people who are forced to sell their land because of a bad harvest or a series of bad harvests to some rich developer who has no roots in the state and have to relocate somewhere else as a result. From that perspective, the current laws with regards to ownership of land in the state are not at all bad.
Five of the tribes in question, the Deoris, Sonowals, Kacharis, Misings, and Morans are from Assam or are listed as Assamese tribes while the sixth tribe, the Adivasis, makeup 8.6% of India’s total population, so they are by no means a small community, and granting them permanent residency certificates is especially important because of their perceived links to the Marxist and Maoist movements in India.
To alienate them, or any other tribe for the matter, any further, might push them closer to the Marxists and the Maoists whose influences both the major parties are doing their best to curb.
Politically both the major parties, the BJP and the INC are active in the state, and the state’s only regional party, the People’s Party of Arunachal Pradesh which is based or founded on regionalism is content to shuffle between the two major parties with its members occasionally defecting from one party to another.
Loosely translated regionalism means putting the rights of those that come from a specific region or the region that the party represents ahead of others. Regional parties rely on the support of those who share the same ethic, cultural and linguistic traits and this trend is more apparent in the north-east where ethnic conflicts are very real than anywhere else in India and it makes policing these states all the more difficult.
Overall, while there have been concerted efforts at inculcating nationalism, there is a growing trend that points in exactly the opposite direction and regionalism appears to be thriving amidst the two bigger parties and maybe it’s because some of the more isolated communities feel that their concerns and grievances are not being addressed or are not being addressed in the correct and appropriate manner.
The era of a single party dominating the scene looks like it is coming to an end and we are possibly looking at an era of coalitions with some parties going the BJP’s way and others going the way of the INC, which to some extent removes the sting from the scorpion’s tail and now, while the two major parties can push their objectives, the others do not necessarily have to accept them.
Regional parties are quickly emerging as influential players in the Indian political sphere or arena, and though they operate in a limited area and pursue limited objectives or objectives that are only relevant to the region that they represent, as opposed to national objectives or wider, all-encompassing objectives, they are still a force to be reckoned with.
Copyright © 2019 by Kathiresan Ramachanderam