Special protection?

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Continuing with the debate we started in the last editorial, today we shall dwell upon the question of special protection. It was a British prescription continued by India. They were of the opinion that some societies or groups need special protection or safeguards. These were simple tribal societies who they thought would find it difficult to cope with modern socio-economic complexities or adapt to the pressures of ‘capitalism’. In order to maintain tribal culture and distinct identities special protection is necessary. So, members of complex societies should not be allowed to enter the areas inhabited by these simple societies because the members of complex societies would exploit them in all possible ways. And they introduced the policy of exclusion. As per the Government of India Act 1935, the area was made an “Excluded Area”, administered by the Governor of Assam. This policy resulted in the isolation of the tribal population. The result of these exclusionist policies was that the tribal tracts of India lagged behind the rest of the country. After independence, Indian policy makers continued with the same policy in the name of safeguarding the special interests of the tribal communities. Various provisions were incorporated in the constitution to take care of certain ‘interests’ of the tribal communities. Under the constitution of India certain tribes have been identified as the Scheduled Tribes. Only those tribes which have been included in the list of scheduled Tribes are extended the facility of reservations in legislatures and government jobs. The Inner Line Permit system was continued in Nagaland and a few other states, while the Protected Area Permit (PAP) and Restricted Area Permit (RAP) system was introduced in the region which kept foreigners off-limits to the region. The basic premise of these systems was more or less the same. It was meant to regulate the entry of foreigners and non-locals in the region. And the basic idea behind these constitutional safeguards was to ensure state support for less privileged sections of society. But have these safeguards yielded the intended results? Nagaland is a state where the Inner Line Permit system is still in operation. Have Nagaland successfully warded off the pressures of non-locals or migrants. Certainly not. In fact, illegal migration has become a matter of serious concern in the state. A recent study has revealed that despite the Inner Line Permit system there is a sizeable presence of migrants in the state. Nagaland recorded the highest rate of population growth in India, from 56.08 per cent in 1981-1991 to 64.41 per cent in 1991-2001. While the population growth has not been uniform throughout the state, Dimapur and Wokha districts bordering Assam recorded an exceptionally high rate of population growth. Wokha district recorded a growth of 95.01 per cent between 1991 and 2001, the highest figure for any district in the country. Evidently, the silent and unchecked influx of illegal immigrants in the state has played a crucial role in this abnormal growth.
According to the study, better economic prospects and aversion of Nagas towards manual labour are the key factors which attract immigrants to the state. Once they enter Nagaland by whatever means either legally or illegally, the immigrants could easily find jobs. Be it as domestic help rickshaw puller, manual labourer or in the agricultural sector jobs are plenty as the Nagas are normally averse to manual work. After a few months or a year, these non-locals will either marry a local girl or will bring their family members and relatives. Very soon, they will acquire fraudulent voter identity cards, driving licences and ration cards. In major towns of the state, immigrants have already established control over most businesses. Most important of all, the study also revealed the ineffectiveness of the ILP.

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