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Mainstream, Vol XLV, No 33

Valuable Contribution to Literature on Conflict and Peace in the North-East

by Sanghamitra Choudhury

Wednesday 8 August 2007


Genesis of Conflict and Peace—Understanding North- East India: Views and Reviews (two volumes) edited by Anuradha Dutta and Ratna Bhuyan; Peace Studies, OKDISCD and Akansha Publishing House, New Delhi; 2007; pp. 657; Rs 2000 (hard bound).

The book under review, entitled Genesis of Conflict and Peace—Understanding North-East India: Views and Reviews, is a compilation of numerous scholarly articles by renowned academicians and scholars across North-East India. The book has been carefully edited by Professor Anuradha Dutta, who is currently Professor in Peace Studies, OKDISCD, Guwahati and Ms Ratna Bhuyan, a Research Scholar in the same Centre.

The book consists of two volumes. The first one focuses on the genealogy of conflict in the North- Eastern areas of Assam, Bodoland, Karbi Anglong, the NC hills, Manipur and the ensuing peace process. The relevance of Gandhian values and philosophy has given due important towards formation of peace in the very first volume. The second volume consists of extensive scholarly writings focusing on the insurgency problem and the development of the peace process in the North- Eastern States of Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, and in Karbi Anglong along with the NC hills of Assam.

The book under review opens up with a prelude by Dr Indira Goswami and her experience towards the journey for peace talks. It contains her visit to the ULFA’s transit camp in Assam, a description of the militants’ life as well as struggle and the feeling of common masses towards the whole issue of insurgency. The next introductory chapter is written by Professor Anuradha Dutta where she has analysed the genealogy of conflict and the relevance of the concepts like human security in the conflict ridden North-Eastern States. She has also talked about the peace process of Northern Ireland and given importance to multicultural education as a means to usher in peace. In the next subsequent chapters, Nani G. Mahanta has discussed state discourses vis-a-vis the problem of insurgency. D. P. Sharma’s article on “Ethnic Assertion among the Bodos” has clearly drawn attention to the question of identity. Articles like “Ceasefire and Designated Camp in the Context of Recent Ethnic Carnage in Kabi Anglong” has given an account of the ghastly ethnic rivalry between the two main ethnic groups—Karbi and Dimasa—and the developments that followed afterwards. Articles on the North Cachar hills with special focus on Hmar groups, role of women in ushering in peace in Manipur make interesting reading. Similarly, in the second volume, due stress is given to the peace process that has become quite successful in States like Mizoram. Authors like J.V. Hluna have described and analysed the role of the church in bringing peace into this tiny North-Eastern State. With special reference to Nagaland, scholars like Charles Chasie have examined the historical agreements between the NSCN and the Government of India as well as the current position of Nagaland. Articles focusing on Tripura are also equally interesting to read. Nagendra Jamatia in his article entitled, “Root Cause of Tribal Unrest in Tripura and the Search of Peace”, has described a how once peaceful State Tripura has become volatile due to the prevalent injustice in the form of discriminative developmental activities by the lawfully constituted government. Articles “Unemployment chanting Disillusionment”, “Wither Administration”, “Permanent Peace—An Illusion” are on issues like provisions related to Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, Memorandum on BTC, 2003, Reports of the Ministry of Home Affairs on the situation in Tripura along with attached photographs have imparted a complete character to the two-volume book.

To conclude, the book under review makes interesting reading. The reader never gets bored as the topics, contents and the treatment by the authors on various burning subjects have been striking throughout. For the present reviewer, this book is a valuable contribution to the literature on the subject. Research scholars, social scientists and academicians along with the administrators will find useful and valuable data for themselves in it.

The reviewer is a Research Scholar and UGC Fellow, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

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