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Kashmir And The North-East

Kashmir as history goes has always been the point of contention between India and Pakistan since the time of Partition. Both countries have gone to war a few times and nothing much did come out of it.

Yet this northernmost state of India seems to have hogged the limelight almost all the time with the North-East lingering in the backwaters of the Indian psyche. In the backdrop of the recent Kargil War, which was supposedly the handiwork of the present Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, it is indeed a welcome sign that talks are being held to bring about a solution to the Kashmir problem .

While this is going on, what exactly is the North-East upto? There is one thing that is ominously lacking and that is unity. The latest support of this theory is the crisis arising out of the Ceasefire agreement between the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India. The Indian Government, in all probability might be keen on solving the problems of the North-East starting with Insurgency first, but they project an image of not knowing what seems to be the right tonic for the solution as is evidenced by the Ceasefire Agreement which extended the coverage area to four other states in the North-East.

The Pakistan-India talk should make the people of the North-East realize that we need to be more assertive on all fronts and that can be done when we join hands politically and economically. The North-East has as much potential as Kashmir does and perhaps even more. There is abundance of natural resources and tourism could become really big. The hindrance is of course the political instability and we know what they are. The leaders of the region including those that are waging war with the Indian Government need to also realize this situation. After all, it is the people that are the losers and New Delhi gives a hoot what happens here.

In addition, the menace of the North-East is the demand for ‘homelands’ which has reached a point of ridicule. The simple fact is there are too many ethnic groups for these demands to be actually viable politically and economically. Having said this, we ought to ask ourselves where we are headed? Are we still going ahead with movements to assert ‘our right to Self-Determination’.

The Center for World Indigenous Studies has this to say, ‘Access to knowledge and peoples’ ideas reduces the possibility of conflict and increases the possibility of cooperation on the basis of mutual consent. By democratizing relations between peoples, between nations and states, the diversity of nations and their cultures will continue to enrich the world.” You can visit them at www.cwis.org.

We ought to think more on the lines of co-operation and co-existence and we know that there is alliances being formed whichever direction we look. The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a strong economic block, which is the one closest to home. Thailand, one of its members has suggested an India-ASEAN summit of sorts. We have the European Union going full steam. These alliances need not be on nation-to-nation basis only. It can very well work in our own very North-East.

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