New Paradigm for NE

India’s new Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram has much responsibility on his shoulder after the dismal performance of his predecessor Shivraj Patil who finally resigned owing moral responsibility for the November 26 Mumbai attacks. Following Patil’s lackluster performance as the head of the country’s security establishment, Mr Chidambaram will be required to do a major overhaul of the Home Ministry besides taking a more proactive approach with regard to the problems and opportunities facing the Northeast region. Here too, Patil has remained clueless—whether it is the mishandling of the plethora of armed groups in Assam, the endless ceasefires with several groups including with the NSCNs and also the lack of initiative to stem the flow of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. While a separate desk has been created within the Home Ministry to look after the northeast, yet Mr Chidambaram will himself have to take charge. Leaving the problems to bureaucrats alone without a clear political direction is ill advised. With his stint as a successful Finance Minister and someone known for his immense intelligence and skills Mr Chidambaram will hopefully bring a paradigm shift to the running of the Home Ministry at all levels. This will hopefully include proper attention to the problems faced by the northeast region long ignored by the political dispensation in Delhi. The latter has more often than not left the vacuum for non-political agencies to sidestep on real issues. As a forward looking politician, Mr Chidambaram will hopefully look at ‘out of the box solutions’ to long pending problems faced by the people of the region. As the new Home Minister has assured during a debate in the current session of Parliament, he will have to carry out a proper review of problems facing the northeast and identify possible solutions. 

Coming to the issue of illegal immigration from Bangladesh, the concern shared by Mr Chidambaram will hopefully translate into meaningful intervention at the highest level. This is more so because if not handled with proper attention or on time, this particular issue can blow out into an explosive security dilemma not only for the region but for the country as a whole. As far as Nagaland is concerned, there is no doubt that the unabated illegal immigration of Bangladeshis is emerging as a major problem. M.Amarjeet Singh a Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management has in an article ‘Another Bangladeshi Destination’ noted that “better economic prospects and a shortage of local labour are compounded by a critical absence of mechanisms to prevent such an influx”.  He further goes on to add that despite their serious demographic, economic, security and political ramifications on a tiny state like Nagaland, these developments continue to remain substantially outside the realm of the security discourse in the country. And this is the crux of the matter—Delhi remains too distant to actually care or understand the issues and problems faced by the people in the northeast region. In fact as the article ‘Another Bangladeshi Destination” notes, successive central and state governments have proved ineffective in formulating workable measures to stop the flow of illegal migrants into the country in general and the Nagaland in particular, and this neglect is extracting an increasing price in social, economic and security terms as time goes by, and threatens to secure the dimensions of a major internal security crisis in the foreseeable future.