Bodo accord: A hope for peace and stability
Recently, the central government, the Assam government and the Bodo groups, including all factions of the militant National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), signed an agreement to redraw and rename the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) as the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR), in Assam which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had termed it as historic accord that paved a way for permanent peace in North East.
The accord was one of many peace agreements which the Centre signed end armed conflict and third accord to end Bodo conflict, dates back to the pre-independence era which gained momentum from 1987 when the ABSU launched an agitation for a separate state. Some prominent armed separatist groups were founded during the 1980s.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on attended a function to celebrate the signing of the Bodo agreement had termed Bodo Accord as a historic agreement that will bring peace to the region. He had said that insurgency in the region had been raging on for decades and had claimed thousands of lives, but past governments were reluctant in addressing the problems.
Another notable statement, Narendra Modi had made was that his government has changed the perception of the Centre towards the Northeast saying that earlier, the North-eastern states were considered to be recipient states, but today they are being seen as engines of growth. "We have to work together for peace and development of Northeast and we will not allow violence to return," he had declared said.
It was indeed an encouraging and welcoming statement, a top leader of India government made as it has people of the region have been yarning peace for decades.Unending low intensity conflict has been witnessing in the region since Independence in 1947. Most of the conflicts have been waged to assert for a different ethnicity, culture, identity, political empowerment, optimal utilisation of resources and to ensure protection of ethnic minority rights.
As the political goals of the armed conflicts differed, ranging from demands for greater political autonomy, more transparent political rights and institutional structures to outright secession from India, it has been headache for the Central government in its efforts to bring peace and stability in the region for promoting development.Peace and stability are of high importance in promoting economic development of states and country at large, and that political stability is the key to progress and development, as it affects all aspects of security, economic and social development in a state or country.
The impact of political instability on the security of communities is evident, as states, which are politically unstable, are experiencing unrest and security changes. This is because insecurity is an inevitable result of instability. Man, being political by nature, seeks to live in a humane society where security, stability and harmony away from conflicts and wars.
The blessing of security and stability is reflected on economic development, which is a lifeline for any society. Hence, security and stability have direct, long-term effects on the creation of a sound, competitive economic environment that have positive impacts on citizenry and society as a whole.
Therefore, there is the need for strengthening security and stability in north-eastern region of India to improve the living standards of their citizens on the one hand, and to push the country forward towards economic development in order to build up learned generations capable of steering the affairs of their home countries and catching up with the developed countries.
No country can develop and grow economically without peaceful coexistence among its population. It is true that India cannot be a developed country without developing northeast; the region comprises many tribes with diversecultures mingling into the mainstream of India's national life.
The presence of different ethnic groups, various tribes as well as non-tribes, their histories and cultures as seen in different languages, food habits, festivals, etc are one of the strongest reflections of the diversity of the region.
Peace-building in the northeast, home to different ethnic groups, various tribes as well as non-tribes, is the normal responsibility of Central government on the one hand and states on the other.
As ethnic groups have different problems, we should focus on the each group being the target and means of reforms. Reform programmes do need focus on each ethnic group to develop their abilities, assert themselves and utilize their own faculties properly in order to lead a dignified life.
Of course, this can never be attained without security and stability which are regarded as a precondition for the achievement of comprehensive development. Phasing out economic reforms is a prerequisite for the timely introduction of such reforms without bringing about radical changes into the existing conditions to which people were accustomed for a long time.
Economic reforms are considered as a ceaseless process, which has many positive effects, such as complacency, sense of belongingness on the part of citizens, reduction of crimes and social violence, which in turn enhances national security in such a way that promotes development and creates a favourable investment environment. This would induce local enterprises and attract foreign investments, the driving force of economic development.
Thus, economic reforms and political reforms should go hand in hand in order to attain their ultimate goals and to this end, there should be adopted a clear strategy and far-sighted vision acceptable to all social segments.
To come to the point, the Bodo peace accord and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement after the signing of the agreement has given a ray of hope to the people of the region who are yarning for prevalent of peace.
The signing of the Bodo accord has influenced Assam government that expressed keenness on initiating the peace talk. In the backdrop of the same accord, Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh had also government’s appeal to the armed groups in the state to come to the negotiating table.
While making the appealed chief minister Biren had added that ULFA is also on the verge of coming to the peace talks and time has come in Manipur too for insurgent groups to come forward and initiate peace talks with the Centre asserting that there was no other option other than political dialogue to resolve armed struggle while claiming that armed struggle across the globe were resolved through dialogue.
If the keenness of the Assam government and appeal of the Manipur government came up reality with the positive response from the armed groups, then it not only turn out to be great achievement of the government at the Centre towards bringing peace and stability in the region but also people will praise Prime Minister Narendra Modi as peace avatar as his commitment to settle the vexed Naga political issue in Nagaland is on the verge of settling with another peace accord sooner or later.
# Thingbaijam Dhamen is a senior journalist and based at Imphal in Manipur.