Tackling the psychological insecurity today

Friday, 26 February 2021



Tackling the psychological insecurity today

Jayanta Madhav Barua | February 16, 2019 13:02 hrs

Assam is in a state of utter confusion today. We can see people agitating, shouting slogans with allegations and counter allegations against each other like never before.  It is high time we introspect and analyze whether we can afford to go through the similar painful process of Assam agitation once again. We will observe that the reasons behind this turmoil is the feeling of insecurity in the minds of indigenous people arising out of variety of reasons as listed below: 

•    Fear of being a minority in the place of their origin 

•    Fast changing demography of the society due to large scale immigration from the neighboring Bangladesh. As per the census reports of the state the percentage of majority community has reduced sharply from 72.01% in 1951 to 61% in 2011. In other words, there is a decline of 11.0 % in the population of the majority community in the state vis-à-vis a jump of 9.52% in the population growth of the minority community during this period. This is something which is abnormally high compared to any other region in the country. Among the major contributing factors for this unusual imbalance is the unabated illegal migration of foreigners from neighboring Bangladesh after its independence due to low rate of literacy and poor economic condition in the country.   

•    This has generated an identity crisis in the minds of the local people, which needs no further explanation. The pressure on land, culture and employment is huge. The recently published draft NRC also brings home these facts only, which has indicated an astronomically large figure of 40 lakhs as non-citizens.  
The otherwise highly tolerant Assamese society is restless today. The situation needs to be appreciated in its right perspectives and handled in a mature way by those in power keeping in mind the local sentiments before the whole atmosphere gets vitiated by anti-social elements and the corrupt politicians with ulterior motives. Keeping in mind the complex legislative mechanism and a strong judiciary system in the country, the time has come for the entire indigenous community to put our heads together and pave the way for a pragmatic solution.  Some of the short term and long term strategies suggested for approaching the whole issue are as follows:

1.    The constitutional safeguard to the indigenous local population is a must for survival of the local heritage and culture, without which we will be an extinct community in this fast changing world keeping in mind the demographic changes as evident from above.  Granting ST status to six indigenous communities in the region is a welcome step in this direction. 

2.    Most importantly Clause 6 of Assam Accord needs to be properly interpreted and implemented with right earnest to the best advantage of the indigenous people. This can be an effective tool for giving constitutional safeguards to the diminishing local population.

3.    The NRC, which is in the final stage of preparation under direct supervision of the Supreme Court should be the basis for determination and enumeration of infiltration from Bangladesh. There must not be any political interference while implementing NRC.  

4.    Voting rights must be restricted to Indian citizens only with genuine proof of address and identity as per the corrected voters’ list based on NRC.

5.    Land policy has to be firmed up in the state without any further delay to ensure that the illegal migrants do not have any rights over any immovable properties.

6.    All BPL level benefits to the illegal migrants should be stopped as these are exclusively meant for genuine citizens of the country alone. 

7.    Vigorous efforts should be made to free the government land and reserved forests areas, temples and sattras from unauthorized occupation by the infiltrators.

8.    Implementation of proper schemes for rehabilitation of the landless genuine citizens on the basis of final NRC.

9.    Sealing the Indo-Bangladesh border with round-the-clock electronic surveillance to prevent future migration.

10.    Putting diplomatic pressure on the international community and Bangladesh for deportation of all those who are proven to have migrated from that country as per the NRC; a tricky issue needing mature handling at all levels. 

11.    In the interim period the system of work permit for a limited time period may be introduced for those foreign workers willing to work temporarily like other countries in the world under a strict monitoring system.

Having addressed all the above complicated issues on priority with visible action plans and implementation the now lapsed Citizenship Amendment Bill can be taken up for an  amicable solution; if at all it is taken up in the future. This is possible through elaborate discussions and a consensus between the local Government and the disgruntled indigenous people of the state instead of making an effort to forcefully impose the same. Forceful measures with myopic visions will be counterproductive in the long run. The peace loving people of Assam are waiting with high hopes for a better tomorrow. 

(The author is a widely travelled free lance writer and a mechanical engineer)

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