Affiliation for Just Peace

Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio’s visit to New Delhi to take up the case of NBSE affiliation for private schools in the four hill district of Manipur will be eagerly awaited back home in Nagaland and across the Naga areas bordering the State. With the Opposition Congress in principle also backing affiliation as such, Rio should have a strong case to present to policy makers in Delhi. One of the concerns will be on whether the Nagaland Congress will cooperate on the issue all the way. And since, the Central Government is headed by the Congress, the Nagaland Unit of the party may also have a say in the matter and more so because senior Congress leaders from Nagaland will be constant touch with the Central High Command and those who will matter at the end, people like Sonia Gandhi, Pranab Mukherjee, Arjun Singh, Ambika Soni and Ahmed Patel. The opportunity therefore presents itself for the Nagaland Congress to also put in a good word or two to its leaders in Delhi and help make (and not break) the NBSE affiliation a political reality. 

Those who are able to decipher the affiliation issue from a broader perspective; the present demand of students for affiliation to the Nagaland Board is the obvious manifestation of the primary aspiration of the Nagas for unification of all contiguous Naga inhabited areas. If one links up the 16-point Agreement, on the basis of which Nagaland became the 16th State of the Indian Union, the legitimacy of the students demand is expressly related to a clause on integration of contiguous Naga areas, although sadly the three states that border Nagaland - Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur - have always opposed any mention of this clause and the greater tragedy has been the complete failure on the part of New Delhi to enforce this clause over the years adding to the complexity on the issue which the Government of India is now finding it difficult to unravel. 

As far as the Nagas are concerned their aspiration is for a viable geographical amalgamation which is considered a complementary force to the political rights and uniqueness of Naga history already acknowledged. It goes without saying that the political leadership in Delhi should have no reservation or fear to allow affiliation of schools in the Naga areas of Manipur to the NBSE in order to break the deadlock over the integration issue. This also lends credence to the step-by-step process that Prime Minister’s Political Emissary Oscar Fernandes has enunciated publicly. Knowing that the peace talks have entered a crucial stage and the NSCN (IM) has also gone to the extent of investing another one full year of ceasefire, as far as the decision on allowing the text-book affiliation goes, there is definitely a strong case for the Nagas and also given that the Government of India may not be able to immediately accede to the demand for geographical amalgamation. 

The Government of India should display the moral strength and look back at its own history of domination under British Imperialism and understand that people’s aspiration to be one cannot be denied. And even if at present (due to the complexity of the issue) the contiguous Naga inhabited areas cannot be geographically integrated, there is no reason why the amalgamation of culture, economy, education and social discourses should be allowed.