The recent statement issued by the office of the interlocutor for Naga peace talks RN Ravi seems to indicate that Government of India has taken cognizance of two vital points with specific reference to the ongoing protests and series of agitations that have besieged Manipur. The first one is related to the imperative of restoring traditional harmonious relation among the communities of the hills and the valley in Manipur. The second one is connected to the reality that the Naga issue cannot be resolved in isolation or reach its logical conclusion without taking all stakeholders, including the neighbours, into confidence.
As reported, Ravi briefed the United Naga Council (UNC), Manipur leaders about the current status of peace talks including the significant development of amicably setting all contentious issues between the negotiating parties. He also reminded that when the Naga issue is at the stage of settlement, it was the responsibility of the UNC leaders to ensure that Naga tribes of Manipur maintain cordial relationship with fellow communities of the State.
Ravi’s emphasis on restoration of harmonious relationship had been triggered by the all too palpable “deterioration” in the traditional ties between communities of the State. However, the cause of the phenomenon as he has pointed out seems to be bereft of a much needed critical gaze. Here, one is referring to the idea on “politics of vested interests.”
It is universally accepted that the politics of vested interests not only fractures polity but also causes fraternal discord. When one traverses the journey of peace-making through political negotiations, it is important to identify who are these people with vested interests without mincing words. Are the communities themselves engaged in the politics of vested interests or are there other forces that stand to gain out of the deterioration in ethnic relations cemented by age-old traditional values? One can begin by asking these simple questions to flesh out critical elements. However, some questions are best answered in silence under the veil of secrecy.
Whoever be these “vested interests”, Ravi is well positioned to exhort the UNC to take effective measures so that “the spirit of mutual love and understanding” endures for peaceful co-existence. While it has been assumed that the UNC members have taken Ravi’s advice seriously, it would be too early to predict a positive result out of momentary political prudence. One needs to remember it takes two to tango and perhaps an extra hand to clap in this case.