NEW DELHI, Feb 6 � Asserting that there were three asymmetries at work concerning the region, noted author Ramchandra Guha on Friday advocated bigger representations of the North East in the Rajya Sabha.
Prof Guha was in conversation with Prof Udayon Mishra and Prof Sanjoy Hazarika at the concluding session of the international conference on �Reimaging India�s North East: Networks, Narratives and Negotiations� organised by the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research at Jamia Millia Islamia University here today.
The deliberation, titled �A Thousand Years in a Lifetime�, dwelt on long-drawn conflicts within the region, crisis of identity, the attitude of New Delhi towards resolving the conflicts and the failure to understand the North East.
�There are three asymmetries at work � political, cultural and resources,� opined Prof Guha. He held that because of smaller representations in Parliament not much weight is being given to the region.
�Smaller States should have larger representation in the Upper House of Parliament. Should we move towards a system, where smaller States have equal representation in the Upper House of the Parliament, which is the case in America, where smaller States are protected,� he said.
�One of the reasons of the political asymmetry is that in our election, our votes don�t count, where each of the State have one or two representatives. It is a political symmetry,� he observed.
There is cultural asymmetry, which is a patronising attitude towards the North East, as manifested most recently. It is not just one party, it is the case with most parties, as shown by the attacks on students of the North East. This is a major issue that needs to be tackled,� he said.
Then there is resource asymmetry, where the North East has been implicitly treated as resources catchment for the rest of the country.
�Forests of Assam, tea, oil, coal and most recently hydro power. Is North East being treated as resources catchment for rest of India, needs to be considered seriously. Is the Indian growth story partly dependent on resources of the North East,� he wondered.
Stating that there is a history of misunderstanding, mis-recognition between the North East and rest of India, based on political and cultural asymmetry, he flagged resources asymmetry, as most recent, which has the potential of escalating. He cited the example of Chhattisgarh, where Naxal movement intensified after coal mining started in the State.
But among the few Indian politicians to recognise this was Jairam Ramesh, who as the Environment and Forest Minister, after attending a conference in Guwahati on big dam and its ramification, made a statement and wrote to the Prime Minister, after which he came under attack of the media, even suggesting that he was consciously and unconsciously an agent of China, Prof Guha said.
In case of the North East, the political and cultural asymmetries, which have led to serious misunderstanding, have been intensified by resources asymmetry. Policy makers, media and intellectuals have not paid attention to this.
�Is power from Arunachal Pradesh, which will run factories in Bangalore, be made available to villages in the State,� he asked.