North East Studies Center organises first ever lecture
Manipal: Prof. Sanjoy Hazarika, Director, Centre for Northeast Studies and Policy Research, Jamia Millia Islamia University delivered a talk on the topic “Insiders and Outsiders : What is the ‘Northeast’?” at the Department of Geopolitics and International Relations at Old TAPMI building, Manipal here on April 8. It was the first ever talk organised by the newly-formed North East Studies Center.
Prof. Hazarika stressed that the North East region is not a singular entity and that it actually constitutes eight states and innumerable different ethnicities, each with its own dialect and culture. Any attempt at discussing the topic must start with the acknowledgement of the evident diversity and also stopping taking the region and its people to be a homogenous whole. Also, the retention of colonial laws like the Bengal Frontiers Regulations Act, 1873 that allows the Inner Line Permit System (ILPS) to be implemented in the North Eastern states was discussed as a fine example: the ILPS requires ‘non local’ citizen to be granted permits by the concerned authorities to enter and stay in the state, meanwhile across the Indo-Myanmar border kinship ties overrule external affairs concerns, with heavy deregulation of the international border, or as Prof. Hazarika put it, “It’s perfectly normal to have your breakfast in India, lunch in Burma and dinner in India again”.
Furthermore, the professor talked about the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958. “The bombing of Aizawl on 5 April, 1966 remains to date the only instance of the Indian Air Force being used against Indian civilians. Yet the government remains uptight, and recent commemorations of the incident saw protestors demanding at least an acknowledgement of the event, if not an apology. They believe apology to be beyond the state’s capacity”, said the visiting professor.
Prof. Monish Tourangbam, coordinator at the North East studies center, one of the organisers of the talk, elaborated on the need for discussions beyond AFSPA when the North East is talked about, saying, “I think looking at the region beyond the lens of it being one devastated by AFSPA is important. Yes, the AFSPA is the most pressing of issues, but other root problems are not getting enough attention, and to bring in such less discussed but crucial topics was the idea behind this talk”.
Edited by Prajwal Bhat