The militant outfits of the Northeast, most of whom have graduated to terror fronts sans any ideology and devoted solely to the enterprise of criminality, would do well to realize that their ‘insurgency’ premises have undergone many a tectonic shift. The people for whom they are ostensibly waging wars against ‘colonial’ India are no longer charmed by the romanticism of the ‘freedom’ call; the people know they are already free, which is all the more true of the youth. The aspirational northeastern youth, informed by the idea of a resurgent India poised to play a crucial role in international politics, treats militancy or the so-called people’s revolution for different sovereign spaces for different sets of ethnic groups as a gory preoccupation of the ignorant living in a different era and refusing to reconcile with the reality of the day. The youth, educated and eager to contribute to the stride of Indian democracy, is no longer trapped in the maze of identity politics. He is no longer obsessed with his identity, which is what has happened to him naturally and with which he is comfortable. He rather wants to expand his identity, redefining it at an altogether different level — in terms of his profession and career road map. Today’s youth in the Northeast, as in any other part of the rest of the country, therefore, is a whole class apart from his predecessor with a debilitating complex who would regard armed rebellion as the best way to secure his socio-politico-economic space. For the present generation, it is the fusion of ideas and, more importantly, cultures and identities too, that forms the essence of security. And the threat perception of the new generation of northeastern youth is different: they want to compete with the rest at the best of their merit and are worried if only they do not succeed in showcasing their talents. How can then the insurgent-turned-terrorist demanding ‘sovereignty’ address the youth, except for the semiliterate, unemployed and the unemployable who would consider terrorism as a career option?
It is not that the militant outfits of this region are not aware of the different times they live in and the futile bid to prove their non-state validity, when the majority of the people, especially the youth who matters, have already rejected the notion of a separate political domain independent of India’s sovereignty and are rather more interested in contributing to that sovereignty, which belongs to each one of them, because they have discovered their stake in being part of the evolving Indian democratic nation-state. True, ethnicities and identities do matter to most of them, but when it comes to the youth who is well-educated and will shape the future of this region or the youth who will define its development course, what is of paramount importance is whether he is competing smartly with the one from the rest of the country and a contributor to the surge of New India. For him, the idea of secession from India is one of the most repugnant ones.
However, the bottom line is different: since the educated and employed northeastern youth is a proud Indian and is only too eager to avail of the benefits of economic reforms and market economy, it is high time the State governments of the region worked zealously towards infrastructure build-up and employment generation so as to absorb the recruitment target of militant groups — the unemployed — failing which terrorism will keep bleeding us all in varied forms. Let the governments in question also focus on skill development mechanisms so that the semi-educated youth does not remain unemployed. This is possible for a government in the business of governance. THE SENTINEL