[Answered] The power sharing under the sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution which was expected to be the panacea of the ethno-nationalist identity issues in Northeastern States, have failed to do so. Examine.

Demand of the question Introduction. Contextual introduction. Body. Discuss why ethno-nationalist identity issues persist in Northeastern State Despite sixth schedule in place. Conclusion. Way forward.

The Constitution under 6thschedule contains special provisions for the administration of tribal areas in the four north-eastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. The purpose of the sixth Schedule was to grant self-rule to the tribal communities in the hill areas of undivided Assam.

Reason for persistence of ethno-nationalist identity issues in Northeastern States:

  1. Conflict among ethnic groups: North east India is rich in diverse ethnic groups having peculiar historical and structural background passing from one generation to another. The region houses over 200 of the 635 tribal groups in the country, speaking a variety of Tibeto-Burman languages and dialects. Therefore for the preservation and the upliftment of their ethnic and cultural uniqueness the groups have been consistently involved in conflict like situation.
  2. Casteism: The 6th Schedule was aimed at granting some kind of autonomy to the tribes so that they could be guided by their customary laws and practices and not be pushed to conform to a modern system of governance. Despite the Sixth Schedule, many tribes who came under the larger Assam felt stifled by the authoritative nature of the dominant Assamese caste Hindu rulers.
  3. Dilution of district councils: Since these Scheduled Areas are supposed to enjoy autonomy protected by the Constitution, the laws passed by Parliament and the state legislatures do not automatically apply to them. But after Meghalaya was created, the Sixth Schedule was amended with the addition of Article 12 (A). The insertion of Article 12 (A) has in a sense diluted the powers of the district councils as laws passed by Parliament or by the state legislature has supremacy over those passed by the district councils.
  4. Economic Underdevelopment: It is alleged that despite contributing a large sum of national earning through exporting natural resources they are not getting enough for their development in return for it. Consequently the ethnic groups such as Karbi, Kuki, Bodo, Naga, Mizu are in continuous conflict and disappointment with the national mainstream sometimes leading to the demand of autonomous status.
  5. The attitude of the people: The attitude of the people of plain areas towards the people of hill tribes of east Assam has been perceived to be discriminatory and big brotherly in nature. Therefore a condition of conflict aroused between plains people and hills people on the basis of differences in language and culture.
  6. Illegal Immigration: The continuous inflow of foreigners to the North East India has led to the politics of identity movement by ethnic groups. The national as well as international migration in North East India since British colonial period to present time has increased the insecurity level of local inhabitants. The insecurity of various ethnic groups for losing their distinctive identity has resulted in ethnic violence and conflicts.
  7. Development induced displacement: The displacement of the tribal people due to developmental projects has evicted them from their own inhabited area. They face major loss in terms of their land, livelihood, and identity without receiving any compensation or any alternative for acquisition and requisition of their land.
  8. Ethnicity and politics: Political deprivation among various groups of north east tribes has resulted in a feeling of regionalism among ethnic groups instead of nationalist feeling.

It is not possible to remove ethnic assertion entirely from our society. Therefore there ought to be a need to protect the identity of all ethnic groups. Role of the government in providing equal status and recognition to all ethnic groups, role of civil society in the spreading of nationalism and peaceful negotiation with insurgents and secessionist groups will positively help in avoiding ethnic conflict in the northeastern region.

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