It is bizarre and ludicrous that a rainbow configuration of organizations is all set to blackmail the Assam Government, apparently inspired by Telangana. How they draw parallels between the Telangana movement and theirs should be left to them only to elucidate; we see in their demand for separate States a travesty of their aspirations. Or is it that the groups espousing separate Bodoland, Karbiland, Dimaraji and Kamatapur to be carved out of Assam themselves do not know what their aspirations are? These demands, as anyone can see, are pivoted on a notion of distinct subnationality believed to be threatened by the State’s largest subnationality — Assamese. This notion also shifts the focus to the economic dimension of separateness: since, for instance, the Bodos are a separate subnationalist group, the largest subnationalist entity, thanks to the power that flows from its majoritarian status, takes away the best of everything. But what this notion does not explain is how a separate State is a panacea to the problem. In any development scheme of things, what counts is governance sans the virus of corruption. What is the guarantee of such governance in separate States? Take the case of siphoning of funds by the top executives of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC). The council was created as an empowerment mechanism for the overall development of NC Hills district, where too the people are a unique subnationalist group separate from the Assamese. It was created as an autonomous council, giving freedom to the Dimasas to decide their development course within the framework of the State of Assam. However, NCHAC leaders would develop expertise in diverting development funds to the coffers of militant leaders! What track record does the NCHAC have to prove its contribution towards a meaningful NC Hills development saga? The notoriety of corruption has eclipsed everything.
Being a distinct ethnic group does not entitle it to a distinct governance regime too. Governance is a broader framework, and examples galore of different ethnicities jelling together for the making of a larger governance structure without anyone of them losing their unique ethno-racial hue. If it is otherwise, every community will have the mandate to demand and get a separate State! This is not how a democracy functions. The fundamental question is whether, say, a Bodo body is championing the separate State cause on the basis of the ethno-racial fact (separate subnationality) or economic consideration or both. If it is ethno-racial, the movement is patently retrogressive; across the world, identities are being redefined in the wake of the jelling process set to motion by globalization and migration of work forces — people are coming together and joining hands for a more durable order. If the consideration is economic, the separate State advocate must explain as to what sources of revenue generation he has in mind as not to often fall back on the Centre for aid and how a separate State as the proposed Bodoland would be an economic marvel. If the considerations are both ethno-racial and economic, it is only a fusion of what we have just argued. The problem is that excuses are being invented to espouse inexplicable causes. That Telangana is an inspiration is also an excuse — perhaps for anarchy! THE SENTINEL