What is the Framework Agreement?
2. The ongoing clandestine Framework Agreement (FA) negotiation between the Government of India and National Socialist Council of Nagalim (IM) is a matter of serious concern in India, particularly in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland. But the genesis of this FA is more than two decades old. It is worth reminding that the NSCN-IM was formed in 1988 to fight for the complete sovereignty of the Naga peoples. It worked in parallel with other militant groups such as Naga National Council and NSCN-(K). Very soon, within few years of its existence, since around 1995, it began to enter into peace-talk with the Government of India, which was finally materialised in the Ceasefire Agreement of 1997. Therefore, from around mid 1990s, NSCN-IM had stopped from pursuing a common revolutionary agenda for India-Burma regions. It naturally shivered strategic alliance with other militant organisations who would continue to wage war of liberation.
3. Along the trend of ‘peace’, on August 3, 2015, NSCN-IM formally signed for a FA with the Government of India. It articulates idea of ‘shared sovereignty’ of the Nagas with the Government of India. Practically, it had to be based on some adjustment within the structure of the three tiers power sharing system prescribed in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India. Seen positively, the FA had some positive aspects. NSCN-IM is no longer an enemy to the Government of India. It is now elevated to the position of an importantly ally in mechanising joint strategic control of territory, market and natural resources in the Indo-Myanmar border regions. Unfortunately, most of the Naga public are dark about the proceedings and contents of FA, though the negotiating parties make elaborate publicity about (or on) every occasion of ‘talks.’ Many suspected that, under FA, NSCN-IM, particularly the top leaders, enjoy special favour manifested in display of power and elegant and luxurious livelihood.
4. The suspicions add to pre-existing sectarianism and conflicts amongst Naga peoples in general and among contentious stakeholders in particular. The Government of India, being internationally exposed of its one sided collusion with one militant organisation, devised new tactics of inviting other Naga groups on the pretext of joint stakeholder consultation programmes. However, frustrations, dissentions and factional armed conflict are not coming to an abrupt halt. In the meanwhile, to subside all these, NSCN-IM intensifies the propaganda of Nagalim integration, with the objective to strengthen its strategic control in all the Naga inhabited areas in Northeast. Though this propaganda could not materialise Naga consolidation immediately, it invokes community sentiments and diverts attention of those who could be easily won over psychologically. On the other hand, this propaganda adds to the apprehension of territorial disintegration in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur. Fifth columnists, composed of sectarian and chauvinist forces take advantage of the situation to mislead the people into genocide. The Government of India studies the situation to act on opportunity to exert strategic control. It is doing the job quite well!
5. I have the following opinions in regards to the FA:
Short and long terms benefit for Government of India
6. Firstly, the FA enables the GoI to find a loyal ally with the NSCN-IM and other militant groups who had either followed or will follow this model, to effectively regulate the activity of other armed groups. This is the rule of tactics!
7. Secondly, after regulating the activity of armed groups, the GoI can without restraint build up several layers of funded loyal groups who will subsequently control the instruments of government. This is strategy!
8. Thirdly, the GoI can pursue without restraint its agenda of ‘capitalist growth’ model in Indo-Burma regions. The ‘capitalist growth model’ includes extension of railway networks, grafting in of alien population forces, construction of hydro electricity projects, mining and extraction of carbon reserves, minerals and other natural resources, expansion of market and tourism, and etcetera. This is governance!
9. In short, FA is a strategic success of making further inroads of finance capitalism. What do you expect more?
NSCN-IM has short term boom and benefit
10. Firstly, the ‘shared sovereignty’ enables NSCN-IM to outdo other Naga groups in the balance of power. It will also enjoy the favour of joint military tactical alliance vis-à-vis other non Naga armed organisations. Through its show of strength, propaganda and a vast network of middle class over-ground civil society organisations; it will enjoy virtual reign of power for some years in the Naga inhabited areas. This is welcomed!
11. Secondly, NSCN-IM organisation and its higher officials will get trapped in the violent whirlpool of capitalist constraints. It can’t protect the Nagas from the onslaught of finance imperialism. It can’t prevent from the relative break down of tribal unity due to ‘consumerist’ opportunism among contending parasitic forces that would fight for short cut accumulation of wealth. However, the organisation and its higher officials will benefit a lot from the ‘capitalist growth’ model through various channels of revenue extraction. Any Naga who is in good terms with the powerful functionaries of either the GoI or NSCN-IM will benefit a lot. There will also be trickle down benefit at different lower degrees depending upon the hierarchy of contact. Everyone has a share of the loot!
12. In short, the cosmetic delivery of FA will make majority of the Nagas completely oblivion of the long term destructive tendency of capitalist onslaught by the alien forces. The short term boom will bring few decades of temporary laurel, which will be blindly construed as golden period in the annals of Naga history. But this is going to be the ‘dark period’ that will be marked by perpetual subjugation, exploitation, oppression and marginalisation of common Naga population whose number will grow tremendously. In the competition for larger share of capitalist cake, NSCN-IM will become a divided house compounded with severe challenges from other competing forces. Its involvement in bourgeoisie electoral politics will further jeopardise internal conflict, disillusionment and dissention. Gradually revolutionary or progressive force will emerge; who will search for fraternal support beyond their fallen community. No sectarian and communal force can prevent them from uniting with other like minded groups. One had to wait for them to emerge!
FA and messages for Manipur patriots
13. Land and natural resources belong to the State/ government and that citizens merely enjoy some temporary proprietorship. The question of integrity or disintegration of territory is a State matter; and that people must remain loyal to the State who alone could defend their sentiment of territorial integrity. Be obedient and you will be awarded!
14. The armed groups from Manipur are being cornered now to the level of demobilisation. Other than few instances of sporadic armed ambushes, they are politically ineffective. Militarily, they can’t hit and run easily as the vast tract of hilly regions are now covered by various forms of FA, CA and SoO. They should become loyal like the NSCN-IM so that a new mechanism of power balance could be created to regulate the activity of those who would disturb the established territory of Manipur. Negotiate or get lost!
15. The progressive mass organisations are being exhausted from pursuing any consistent and successful resistance to the negative impacts of militarisation and destructive projects. They are being indirectly suggested not to challenge ‘capitalist projects’, so that their concern for territorial integrity is positively considered by the State/ government. Any threat to the ‘capitalist project’ would be subdued through various means of internecine conflict by raising sensitive issues. Support capitalism and you can rest for now!
The question of integrity of Manipur
16. Yes, there is a danger to integrity. Can you imagine?
17. Firstly, Manipur is no longer the property of the peoples of Manipur. The peoples are no longer the owner of this territory. The people and territory are the spoils of colonial war and capitalist loot. There is reign of alien capitalist regime that controls everything ranging from land, over ground and underground resources, knowledge system, human capital, market and culture. When the people lives in colonial bondages the territory itself is being alienated from them as they merely enjoy temporary proprietorship through payment of taxes in various forms. Where is your land?
18. Secondly, the material foundation upon which the political community of Manipur was established in 1947 was destroyed after 1949. The unity evident in the democratic election of 1848 was the material manifestation of the psychological unity which had developed over centuries of economic formation. Until and unless there are efforts to build up self-reliant material foundation of unity; the campaign for unity cannot be materialised among the lumpen population—that is largely composed of opportunist individuals who are blindly misled by the cosmetic services of capitalist looters. A revolutionary programme, independent of the support of the regime is essential to encourage people to live with dignity and cooperation. This had to be the viable common agenda. What do you wait for?
19. Thirdly, identify the main enemy, expose it clearly so that people would realise whom to hit hard against at any emotive outburst. It is currently untimely to target the puppets; whose injury will be misinterpreted and ignite communal tension to the advantage of the main enemy. Control the mouth of the integrity CSOs whose spectacular propaganda in the Valley merely contributes to communal media browbeating. Keep a check and control of communal and chauvinist forces who in the name of integrity spread the venom of sectarianism and communal mistrust. Do not focus on 2000 years old past history but convey the vision of “why unity of the oppressed peoples is essential in order to achieve brighter future.” Be a revolutionary!
Choose your goal
20. From divisions people can unite for common goal. Respect differences and initiate common progressive economic and political programme with longer vision. You do not need political dialogue with anyone to do this. You just act on progressive economic programme for the masses and political training of selected capable teams. You have to purge out counter revolutionary forces from your groups; demobilise them and overtake them in constructive mass work. Do it before you grow old!
21. Revolution neither comes nor waits anyone. It has to be created through the activity of men in action. Are you ready?
This Article was sent by Dr. Malem Ningthouja, who can be contacted at mningthouja(at)yahoo(dot)com.