By Amar Yumnam
What is the twenty-first century model of development thinking and development intervention? The world has already learnt lessons from attempts in understanding any society and evolving policies based on that understanding based on the colonial legacy. The most important bitter lesson is that all along the world has been trying to attempt appreciating any society based on exogenous foundations of knowledge frameworks. It has been assumed for so long that knowledge flows are only unidirectional from only the dominating paradigm to the subjugated or less-dominant contexts. This has created non-convergence of interests and consequential conflicts between the exogenous and the endogenous. The tragedy is that India has yet to absorb lessons from this global experience.
Non-absorption of the global lesson could be because inter alia of the legacy of Colombo Plan of 1950. During the 1950s the world, other than the Soviet bloc, was so strongly aligned with the Anglophone powers – the United Kingdom and the United States of America – in both knowledge framework, learning process and policy evolution. During this period the Anglophone societies were considered as sole “producers and dispensers of knowledge, primarily in describing ‘other’ societies and engaging with ‘other’ societies…” This being so knowledge creation and understanding were naturally considered to be unidirectional and ‘other’ societies were nothing more than objects of knowledge. This model was the only framework for even the “geopolitics of knowledge”.
Exogenous Anglophone Model is still the framework of Indian approach to understanding the diversity in this country and addressing issues in the different parts of the country; the reality of societies with huge differentials across the country is so conveniently forgotten. The colonial legacy of two centuries or so naturally create a kind of vested interest to the new ruling class from central India for adopting the Anglophone model for control and dominance. It is this vested interest which prevents the solution of the problems in the Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East India. This is the reason why there are so many non-contextual experts on Jammu and Kashmir appreciating the realities of society there purely based on exogenous understanding. Unfortunately this exogenous understanding has been the basis of evolution of policies on this region so far.
It is the case with the North-East India. The speed at which experts on the North-East India and for that matter Manipur emerges outside the region would beat the rate at which knowledge grows in this country. One interesting part of this is that non-contextual persons become experts on the region rather too fast and become decision makers.
are happening in the twenty-first century and very surprisingly at that. Why surprisingly? First, the world after the end of the Cold War has led to the emergence of many centres of knowledge power. Second, all these new centres of knowledge power are robustly founded on contextualisation of understanding societies. This contextualisation is founded on the realisation that knowledge flows are founded on multidimensionality and multidirectional characteristics. The old Anglophone model is no longer relevant.
Needs to come out of the Colombo Plan understanding of 1950. There are already so many aspects of social, political and economic life of Islamic societies explored and being explored around the knowledge centres of the world and based on post-Anglophone understanding. The policies on Jammu and Kashmir need to be increasingly founded on this instead of plain security-founded principle of national interest; there definitely can be differences in interpretation and understanding of patriotism and national interest without compromising on integration. There can also be layers of national interest with all converging on an ultimate one instead of denial of multiplicity.
Current century is being thought of by the world as going to be the Asian Century. In this context, the different countries of importance around the world are endeavouring hard to be “Asia-Literate” and “Asia-Capable”. This implies the global appreciation of the new understanding of Geopolitics of Knowledge where every society and every place are considered to be characterised by knowledge framework specific to each. This being so, understanding and policy formulation on the Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East India, including Manipur need to be founded on similar exemplars. While, for instance, the knowledge framework of the central part of India could be based on the Aryan traditions, that of Manipur is rooted in the South East Asian norms. The border regions should no longer be treated as objects of knowledge and imposition of policies based on exogenous frameworks of knowledge. This is one sine qua non for India to be a successful player in the unfolding Asian Century at the end of the day. There cannot be an alternative model for shared development.
Source: Imphal Free Press