Thursday, December 14, 2023

Talks with state government on Mising issues by TMPK, MMK, TMMK

A new update is being shared by the Chief Minister of Assam that the state government has set for talks with the national organisations or Mising tribes such as the TMPK, MMK and TMMK.
 It i is stated the government held parleys regarding host of issues related to Mising tribe. This development is seen amidst the ongoing debates on satte holiday of Ali-a:ye Lígang between TMPK and informal group such Sacheton Mising Samaj which are said to be linked to political parties like Congress and Raijor Dal. While state government has partially declared holiday in 10 upper Assam districts but few disgruntled Mising groups are still critical of the state government over the Lígang state holiday.
However, the latest talks looks importance as it has pointed out the nature of political communication on ethnic issues  such as constitutional autonomy of the Misings, introduction of the Mising language in "selected scholls" (mind the words used by the government), an university in Jonai (whereas Tezpur University campus is still pending), sports facility in Kareng Chapori near the Bogibeel bridge , socio-cultural project in Gogamukh etc. 
We have to see whether it is an exercise to pacify the growing movement for demand for sate holiday of Lígang or an electoral promise since Lok Sabha polls are approaching next year.It would be a great step if the points of talks are reflected in reality for the Mising society.
A significant observation is that the talks are still in state level. The issues of constitutional status of  Mising Autonomous Council (MAC) need thorough discussions including  in depth community level consultation. Since the matter of constitutional status rests with the central government of India, we have to see whether Mising organisations' democratic movement are responded positively or not. There is yet to be 'talks' or dialogue on ethnic autonomomy ever by central government in regard to unarmed and non-violent movement led by any tribe of North East India.

Image credits: X (Twitterr ) handles of Chief Minister of Assam andi Ranoj Pegu , Minister of Eucation r and Welfare for Plains Tribes, Assam. December 7, 2023.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Draft Delimitation, 2023 of Assam: Mising and other tribes may become politicaly insignificant in days to come

Draft delimitation and  the most likely implications for Misings:

1. No increase of Schedule Tribe (ST) assembly (MLA) seats in Lakhimpur, Dhemaji or Majuli despite the rise in Mising and other tribal population over the decades even if counted on 2001 census basis.

2. All current four ST seats occupied by Mising  ( all BJP legislators ) to remain intact. They are!.Jonai, Dhemaji, Dhakuakhana, Majuli.

3. A new unreserved constituency named Sisibargaon is created in Dhemaji district. 

4. There is no MP seats reserved for ST in upper Assam districts except Kokrajhar and Diphu Lok Sabha constituencies. 

5. No chances of Mising becoming MP through Lok Sabha unless elected from open constituencies like Lakhimpur or through nomination/ indirect election to Rajya Sabha if favoured by  big political partie. 

6. Majuli is left out from Lakhimpur parliamentary constituency leaving the Mising  that is likely to decrease the influence of Msing voters in Lakhimpur. Majuli is clubbed with Jorhat LS constituency. The bargaining power of Misings is likely to be decreased. 

7. Ramganadi will be a new assembly constituency in Lakhimpur while Nowboicha , currently occupied by a Mising, from the opposition Congress party,  will be reserved for Schedule Caste (SC).

8. Political importance of the Misings is likely to be decimated as number reserved constituencies for ST have increased in others parts of Assam but not in upper Assam. In tribal inhabited parts of the state such as Karbi hills(Amri), Rabha and Garo inhabited Goalpara and Kamrup districts ( West Goalpara and Boko), Bodoland autonomous region ( Dotma and Tamulpur by territorial  realignment but Bodoland got plus one from existing 6 ST constituencies). One Mising legislator  always become a minister in Assam but this may not happen all the time from now.

9. Mising, Deori, Soniwala  and Tiwa inhabited areas were left out reserved constituencies in the latest draft delimitation proposal. Although three ST (16 to 19) and one Schedule Caste (SC) constituencies  were increased, there are uneven distribution.

10. The Dergaon constituency that was reserved for ST in 1970s (that even had Mising MLA ) had not come   to the fold of ST reservation ( while many constituencies are realigned). Misings living in southern bank or Brahmaputra river continue to be deprived of political representation in the Assam assembly.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Mising language in primary schools: But when?

The chief minister of Assam has announced that government is trying to introduce Mising, Rabha and Tiwa languages as medium of teaching in pre-prmary and primary level on May 30, 2023 in the closing ceremony of Golden Jubilee celebration cum 24th Triennial Conference of the Mising Agom Kébang held in Gogamukh, the headquarters of the Misings Autonomous Council, Assam.
The education minister ,  Mising nationalist turned national political  party politician , Ranoj Pegu tweeted   several pictures of Mising textbooks meant for the students at the pre-primary and primary schools that were shared again by his followers among Mising social media groups, reflecting a jubilant mood among Mising language enthusiasts. Nonetheless, the efforts of the Mising Agom Kébang and the state govt run State Council of Educational Research and Training ( SCERT ) must be appreciated in its efforts to materialized the books  after years of prayers, persuasion and movement.
Mising language will get a face-lift if implemented,  from being only one textbook  in Class III and IV to all textbooks in the primary level thanks to the National Education Policy (NEP)  recommendations. However, public policy needs time to materialize as it would need a strong political will to implement practically on the ground.

The academic session in the schools are already underway. Government should have made it clear from which academic session the Mising medium is aimed to be introduced practically.  As it would be a radical  change in imparting primary education to the citizens of tomorrow , the herculean task of  human resource management and financial resources  are involved in it. 

If we turn the pages of history of introduction of Mising language, the regional party, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) was the first political party to recognised and introduced the Mising language in 1986-87 when it came to power after the Assam agitation that ended with the Assam Accord.  The regional party  accommodated the linguistic aspirations of the Misings albeit to a little extent. The AGP had considerable support base in Mising inhabited areas during those times. Currently, AGP is a coalition partner of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government. The BJP has four legislators from the Mising tribe out of the five Mising legislators. The BJP has drawn its leaders from the Mising nationalist organisations that has a stable and loyal support base across Mising areas. 
In this backdrop, the onus of implementation of Mising language in primary schools lies with national political party. The ethnic aspirations of having a Mising medium schools is a long-standing one. We have to see whether the BJP follow the foot steps of AGP despite having  the NEP in its hand or delay the dream.

Monday, May 9, 2022

What is ailing the Mising language?

It is argued in social media these days that MIsing language has not seen development as that of Bodo language. Although it was posted by someone who was not from a Msing community but it has provoked a debate among the Misings.

I am sharing here some of my thoughts.

The hegemonic policy of Assamese language and hurdles in executive levels are there if we see from state perspective. The Assamese language itself is facing challenges as it has dipped below 50 per cent mark in Assam. Instead of Assamese language, there is a rise of Bengali and Hindi speakers iver the years.
In this backdrop, Assamese language nataionlist and radical supporters will not allow space for open growth of ethnic minorities' languages. This would mean downsizing of potential speakers of Assamese language if tribal languages grow. Being an indigenous but minority group, Misings would always pick up the Assamese language for education and jobs to secure state benefits unless their mother tongue too give them such potential.

Comparatively, the progress of  Mising language cannot be compared with the progress of Bodo language. Bodos have not achieved the current status by sitting simply idle. They have waged a long struggle since 1960s even before our Mising Sahitya Sabha or Agon Kébang was formed. They have taken decisive and far reaching step by compromising their Roman script with Devnagari script to stick to the line of unwritten central govt policy. In fact, this has paved the way for constitutional inclusion of Bodo language.

Mising are democratic who believes in non-violent tactics in pursuing their political, socio+economic or cultural goals. The historicity and ethnic assertion is lesser among Misings since they cannot resonate with solid statecraft or being defeated or dethrone by some other monarch. The Bodos instead have glorious past in the sphere of statecraft.

Emerging middle class of Misings are receptive to Assamese or any other languages whichever benefit them. There is no radical nationalism in the name of language among educated Misings. Instead most Misings are comfortable in Assamese language than their mother tongue after they move to urban areas. In fact, the children are not encourage to learn their mother tongue among middle class. Assamese (or even Hindi, of late) becomes a language of symbolic aristocracy when they interact with fellowmen in village.
A poster in MIsing language by the apex body , MBK, of the tribe.

Polarization among the  political class and  middle class organization elites is another factor. Political class of the Misings doesn't have the same priority  for langauge and literature. Except the literary body and the apex body, even the banner, poster and statement are not circulated in their mother tongue text.
A poster in Assamese language by Mising organizations including the TMPK.
Of course, to some extent, the adoption of script and reading  method is also creating a rift among few people.

The middle class Mising does not dedicate even the least needful for the development of their literature. Writings in mother tongue among middle class is difficult to find. 

Of course, there is a good number of singers and actors among Misings. Youth are connected through folk songs like oi nitom, movies,  romantic and even rap  songs in mother tongue shared in cyberspace. The silver lining is seen in the cultural dimensions but not in literature. 
Dr. Nahendra Padun,  linguist and stalwart of Mising language has argued that younger generation should shoulder the responsibility to develop the language and enrich the literature.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Jonai dok tribal belt éla block mopen namdé kémo lo:pé ní:líknammé

Gíné September 30, 2021 do Assam sok Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dunggéboné migomé Dhemaji do cabinet meeting ila 400 crore aré ko dek project ém tosék Dhemaji odokké Assam sok légangé. Takaméi édé project kídar dokki bojéko tanié aiyé émna mé:líkla dung. Ki:nam kangko poko, ané ru:yi bédang la:len nam odolo:pé Mising réngamké mé:mopénam kamang.
Source: Govt. of Assam

Mising réngamké mé:mo pénamdé migom tarung ager dok bottan agomdé Murkongselek tribal belt and block (Jonai) dém mopen namdém. Réngamém luposuma:pé mé:nam mé:sala moték nam aiman lékor. Anupé tribal belt ko Sisi Tongani do mogetak émna sin ru:lento. Sutkanpnam agomdé sé anu tribal blet mogenam légangé ru:mi ru:tum dé lutad biné ope: kéra:do ludagai bulu non-tribal tani lok dolungém langamang émna buluk réngam kébangém léngkanka. Sékkésin objection kama émdakdo:pak bulu Sis Tongani tribal belt la:lentak. Sé agomsé migomlok democratic né agomé, bulu non-tribal tanié kinmo ge:la decision la:tak. Émpigel Mising tani abarungko dungko Jonai amo:dok tribal blet and block odokké Charikaria tribal belt dém mopen-moren nam dém Mising manggom angu tribal ope:ém tatsu ka:su ma:pé itak. Sémpé taniém kinmo ma:pé public policy tosék named aimané samténgko migom lokké. Ngoluk dungkodoi ngolum kinmo ma:pé decision la:namdém undemocratic dokké authoritarian séuom ladkansunamé.

Lédu mokutsula du:né ope:lokké sé migom a:péné adí do ngasodlo níbutlíkyé. Sixth Schedule ma:nam ager dok agom apir ko:sin supak lu:len tokuma. Ngoluk Sixth Schedule ara:lok district council ma:named édílo aropé iyen édém kémo lénggel ngoluk dungko dakko amongé angunon-tribal ésin réla-kola monamdé ngolum aíké amongí:do ajjimo:ye (minoritypé imoyé lédu-lamkupé. Dírbí, agom, political, rénam, murkongtarung takm kéreng Mising réngam lokké ngasod a:
Lutad pangkampé Jonai do supak 48 per cent ko Mising dung, sé moimnag 75 dítak po:pé Mising 100 per cent kai. A:péné 25 dítak lo ngolukké édé percentage dé nértok nam abayang chance ka:dung.Dhemaji dok cabinet kébadé Mising lokképé yakané longé pé ila du:yé.
Source:Govt. of Assam

Sapdanmílo Jonai-Murkongselek dém 1911 do Pasighat amonglo Poju Mimak lédupé British é la:té name. 1947 dítak do:pésin Mising among Jonai dé Assam so:k ara:so langa mangai. Murkongselek Transferred Area Act dok kokki 1950 lédupé Murkongselek dé Assam ara:so dungkangku. Sé le:ke do:ying sém saptékmílo Jonai dok history dém migomé respect bila mopen-morenpénam kamangai tribal belt éla block dém. Ngouk dungko amongémsin Article 370 dokkémpé me:yísula inam dé tribal réngam lokké yampok légang aima sé migom ager inamsé.

Monday, March 15, 2021

End of road or era of new beginning in Mising ethnic politics?

The Mising ethnic nationalism has been, of late, characterized by shift in political alignment instead of mobilization. There are concerns among the hardliners and some section of middle class that the Mising’s ethnic aspiration will be muzzled with advent of majoritarian politics. Such beliefs and doubts are natural at this juncture especially as the last bastions of nationalist constituents have moved to join national political parties. This assembly elections of Assam, 2021  is crucial in the political path of Mising ethnic nationalism. The politics of participation of  Mising ethnic nationalists reflects complex equation and puzzle as a linear direction is absent. While switching alliance and support with political parties was always there  in Mising ethnic politics especially among the nationalist organizations, this election is a departure from the conventional alley of parliamentary politics practiced by the nationalist organizations and political bases as the candidates are directly contesting from national political parties cutting across ideological lines. Ideally nationalist organizations backed Ganshakti was not a failed experiment but could not become a formidable force except in one assembly constituency. The mainstreaming of Mising nationalist leaders of the former student organization leaders into national political parties such as the Bharatiya Janata Party and Indian National Congress in the assembly constituencies of Dhemaji and Lakhimpur districts marks an end of the road of the Mising ethnic politics with their independent political identity for the first time in the  history of “parliamentary struggle” for realizing ethnic aspirations of the community.

The need of addressing the fundamental Mising aspirations

Majority of the Mising public are  in the dark  about the terms and conditions of the sudden shift. As the key issues of Mising aspirations are not yet addressed, there are concerns of loss of  cultural identity and potential threats to language, customs, tradition and resources in the absence of independent political assertion.

The talk of granting constitutional status to tribal autonomous councils including that of Mising Autonomous Council of Assam at the peak of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act movement  is nowhere to be seen in the political theatre now. The big dream of achieving Sixth Schedule under the Indian Constitution today is gradually dying down. Of course, it is claimed that the current phase of political alignment is part of the process of ethnic movement itself.

Flood and erosion are one of the prior concerns of the Misings. This perennial problem has triggered displacement and conflict in various parts of upper Assam districts. Natural disaster based internal displacement should get priority in resettlement and rehabilitation agenda. It is compounded by conservation based displacement and worries of eviction from their traditional habitat. In the name of wildlife conservation and expansion of protected areas especially the Kaziranga National Park, it is observed that Mising people of Gohpur and Bokakhat are one of the foremost sufferers. There is need of reviewing the current conservation approach followed by the government that constantly keep indigenous people and forest dwellers under threat of eviction and forceful relocation. There are also demands for Poba reserved forest of Jonai in Assam-Arunachal border should be declared as protected areas. However, from the evergrowing experiences encountered by the people, all these matters need to be carried forward to environment and conservation policymakers of the country . The grievances must find solution. People and conservation must co-exist, they should not be mutually excluded.

In the cultural front, the demand of state holiday on Ali-aye Lígang could not be realized even after years of movement. In the context of development of language, the issue of medium of instruction in mother tongue in Mising inhabited areas in primary schools are not yet addressed. The New Education Policy, 2020 has been welcomed by Mising organizations as it automatically stressed on providing education in mother tongue  in primary level. However, given the scenario of language politics prevailing in the state of Assam, the introduction of such language policies will face challenges. Key Mising inhabited area lacks a full-fledged university or a medical college. A proposed campus of Tezpur University which was to be set up in Jonai did not see the light of the day even after years of donation of land by local people. While rehabilitation and land crises are on the rise among the Misings, the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park residents are yet to be fully addressed. Vast majority of people does not own land entitlement certificates. Forest land inhabited by Misings should be dereserved and be accorded  as habitat tag.

In the southern bank of Brahmaputra river, the riverine belt from Kaziranga National Park to Bogibeel bridge communities  live in pathetic condition in terms of road and communication. Majority of the Mising inhabited river bank areas live a challenging life in monsoon season in districts like Jorhat, Sivasagar and Golaghat. There is a need of attention from policy makers to improve the infrastructure along the river bank to ameliorate the miserable conditions. Raised platforms for cattle are required more in the region. Embankment built in the river bank should be transformed into a highway for better communication in order to address the communication bottleneck beginning from Kaziranga area of Bokakhat to Bogibeel bridge after proper scientific study.

Will national parties be committed to Mising aspiration?

The fundamental aspects of Mising aspirations must be addressed at first while the quest for power and influence might continue like any other politicized ethnic groups. Otherwise, the remnant of ethnic mobilization will not decompose easily even after capturing power in the future. It will, of course, satisfy a section of clietilistic network of followers but collective benefits  in the form of public goods cannot be accrued for the community at large.  This assembly elections of 2021, for Misings, is nevertheless a new beginning in political participation of the Mising nationalist path. However, common Mising public will wait and watch whether the national parties honour with commitment to the fundamental aspirations of Mising tribe.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

What is the Constitutional status for Misings and other tribal councils of Assam?

It is reported that constitutional status would be granted to Misings and other tribal councils of Assam by the government.The information is confusing because the specific report is not saying about Sixth Schedule. It is said that the chief executive member of the councils would be an ex-officio member of sub-divisional land advisory committee.

There are reports or cabinet decisions for various packages ranging from education, autonomous councils , financial packages, wage increment in tear gardena to state holiday targeted at the six communities demanding schedule tribe status in Assam.

Therefore, regarding so called constitutional status reports in media  other than Sixth Schedule is short of the demand by the Mising national organizations.

What could be the constitutional status then?

 Else, the Constitution of India have to add certain parts that will mention about these tribal councils.

What is it specifically? 

Like Article 371 (A), where there is a protected clause for Nagaland's own control over resources , customary law and practices, there can be a constitutional clauses specifying the tribal councils' land , customs , traditions, social identity etc.

However, there is no clarity on the entire issues. The BJP led state government in Assam seems engaging in political manuevering to deal with the public dissent. These reports are emerging in Assam amidst rising protests against citizenship reforms in the state as well as across the country. 

More about Article 371(A):of the Indian Constitution:

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Conservation Discourse in Assam must Consider a Sustainable Rehabilitation Plan for the Mising Tribe

The Misings in Upper Assam continue to lose most of their arable territory to constant floods, forcing the affected people to look for alternate living spaces. Often, they find themselves occupying land in protected forest areas, leading to conflict and opposition; both from conservation groups and the local population of the region.
Read more :