Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

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In the indigenous world, land, people and identity are inseparabe

Manipur Govt Can Take a Cue From Himachal Pradesh Land Law to Enact a Legislation for Land Protection in Manipur

The value we assign to land in this day and age has become so invaluable that, in addition to their added monetary values, comes the question of survival of communities. In my grandfather’s generation it was told that people were not so bother to hand out stretch of land simply out of compassion for providing accommodation as the community bonding was strong and houses were scattered far and wide, with abundant wastelands in between so that people usually don’t ascribe too much value land as today. These days, people seem to have developed the tendency to even hoard the “Khas land” and accrue the space reserve for open channels and drains. The problem is exacerbated when land falls into the hands of non-native population at the expenses of small communities. The growth of population has obviously changed the perception and system of relation and value with respect to land.

Having said that, we should reason out the solution purely through fact-backed academic reasoning and not on some unfounded emotional fear-mongering to gain public support. Society cannot be guided and swayed by ideas inspired by impulses and emotions.  A demagogue is used to such strategies in order to arouse bas instincts of common people and whip up furies amongst the masses. And enhancement of the sense of victimisation for the group to stir up a sort of fear or hatred to gain public support. This is indeed pathological and a mark of decadence and anarchy.

Jordan Peterson in one of his lecture on the discourse that precedes genocides in the genocidal states, argued that political demagogue used rhetoric/idea such as “You have been oppressed in variety of ways and these are the people who did it and they are not going to stop doing it and this time we are going to get them before they get us”. Psychotic and failed charisma like Hitler used such technique to whip up the passions of crowds. And this is exactly what some of India’s fanatical political ideologue are doing right now by spreading notion such as “Hindu khatre me hai”/ “Hindus are in danger” etc in the name of protecting Hinduism. And if we think such acts of fear/hate mongering is wrong then we must first rectify ourselves before pointing fingers towards others.

German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies, talks about a transition of society from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft type of society. Preindustrial society has a relation based on Gemeinschaft, where people tend to value the relation itself and their prime concern is to maintain and perpetuate the relationship. Modern industrial society tends to have a Gesellschaft relationship where everybody is involved in a purposive relationship and through the relationship we want to achieve some purpose.

Let’s suppose there is a glass of water and there are two people and both are thirsty. If they are in a Gemeinschaft relationship then each would wait for the other to drink and as a result no one would drink and both of them could die of thirst. And the water would remain in the glass. So that’s the height of collective orientation. In contrast, in Gesellschaft relationship, the height of self-orientation is so strong that both will pounce on the glass and in the process water will spill it and no one would be able to drink. Such a process of change from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft relation is irreversible. But unlike other evolutionists Tönnies did not think such change is progress. In fact, he was extremely sad about the laws of close-knit community life.

In present day, when even the “ingroup” communities in state began losing faith and compassion in one another it would be extremely unwise to let free the inflow of migrants devoid of strict monitoring system and regulation. Migration is the significant dimension that influence the size and growth of population aside from fertility and mortality.  Most significantly, it influences the social, political and economic life of people. When regional fertility and mortality differentials decline, migration becomes the foremost component influencing the redistribution of population.

In India, at the national level migration is not a significant variable as neither do large number of people move out of India nor is there a massive migration of people inside India. Of course, instance of large scale refugee immigration at the time of Bangladesh war and recently to a much lesser extent there has been a case of Rohingya who had migrated in India. Otherwise at the national level, migration is not a significant variable that contributes to growth or loss of population. But obviously in the Northeast region it has been always a centre for political turmoil.

Ranging from the fundamental human needs for food, clothing and shelter to the valuable resources found below and above the soil are housed on the lap and beneath the womb of the land. We live on the land, identify with the land and die on the land and after death the material bodies perish in the land. Probably the entire existence of beings would not have been possible without the land. Food is grown in the plants and the plants grow in the land and whatever we produce and consume largely depend on the availability of land to sustain our existence.

The growth of population and influx of migrants puts a huge pressure on land and vulnerability in the hands of land mafia and wealthy migrants also increases. The over influx of migrants also leads to adverse social and environmental adversely impacting these small communities. It will obviously increase the volume of traffic, higher risks of accidents, increased demands on the ecosystem and natural resources, social conflict within and between communities which may be related to religious, cultural or ethnic differences, increased risk for the spread of communicable diseases and increased rates of illicit behaviour and crime, thereby increasing the perception of insecurity by local communities. Therefore the government needs a strict and vigilant monitoring system of the potential impacts from migrant influx.

Most construction related to the public sector appears to hire migrant labour forces and it is time to revisit such practice and culture. If the local workforces lack the skill required for the proposed construction works then depending on the requirement and the skill level of the project, the government can take an initiative to train local workforce within a reasonable time frame to meet the project requirement. And thereafter the skill can be transmitted. This will be easier for unskilled workforce while for specialised workforce that are typically small in number can be hired from elsewhere if we are to develop  human resources.

According to one research article,  unlike other  north-eastern states, the outflows are three times higher than inflows in the state of Manipur which some would likely term as a brain drain. Assam is losing its population due to internal migration to other Indian states but international migration makes up for that loss showing balanced inflow and outflow ratio in the 2011 census. Population growth in the rest of the Northeast states is mainly due to internal migration and Tripura gained more population from international than internal migration.

The census of 2011 records 14.9 million migrants in the northeast that constitute 33% of the total population in the region showing an increase of nearly 5.0 million migrants from the 2001 census.

Over one-fourth of the migrants in India come from the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.  East India and North India each have contributed about one-fifth of total migrants. The remaining one-third of migrants have originated from South India, West India, Northeast India and other countries combined. The contribution of Northeast is a minimal 1.7% in the total migration of the country.

In the northeast region, it is observed that 42% of migrants have come from abroad. Another 42% of migrants have originated from the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Sikkim and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The remaining regions have contributed 16% of migrants to Northeast India.

Closely 72% of migrants in Tripura have come from abroad and a minimal 16% from other Northeast states. In Assam, 23% of migrants have come from neighbouring states of the region while 43% have migrated from states of East India. Apart from Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Nagaland, in the rest of the Northeast states, international migrants have been higher than the national average. It is highest in Tripura followed by Mizoram, Assam and Manipur. The share of foreign migrants is higher than the share of migration from regions of India, but East India, in all the states of Northeast.

Migrants in the northeast usually moved with household and for work. Marriage is the third reason for migrating in the region. Nearly one-third of migrants from East, South and Central India have moved for work, and  9.0% of international migrants also stated work as reason for migration. Forty percent of international migrants have moved with family.

International migrants constituting nearly 59% in the northeast region have moved to the state of Tripura. Another 29% drifted to Assam and the remaining 12% spread out among the five states. Nearly three-fourth of immigrants in the Northeast come from Bangladesh, 6% from Nepal, 4% from Myanmar and the rest from other countries.

Bangladesh is the major contributor of international migration in the states of Tripura(96.8%), Assam(58.1%) and  Arunachal Pradesh (36.9%) followed by Meghalaya(30.4%), Manipur (15.0 %) etc.  Immigration in Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya is dominated by Nepali, while migrants from Myanmar contribute a major international flow in Mizoram.

Movement along with household (40%) emerges as a major factor for international migration to northeast India followed by other reasons (32%). Another 9% of immigrants cited work reasons and 18% moved for marital reasons. Migration for the purpose of “work” is observed highest in the states of Nagaland (37.8%), followed by Arunachal Pradesh (27.8%), Mizoram (27.4%), Meghalaya (17.2%),Assam (8.7%) , Manipur (8.7%)etc respectively. (Migration in Northeast India: Inflows, Outflows and Reverse Flows during Pandemic, R. Lusome, R. B. Bhagat)

Migration has always been at the centre of political turmoil in the north-eastern states. Hence, it comes as a fundamental necessity  to enact legislation that can protect  the security of native people and land in the state. And Himachal Pradesh is one such state we can take a cue to enact such legislation.

The state of Himachal Pradesh attained statehood on 25th January 1971. YS Parmar became the first chief minister of the state. Back in those days, the economy was said to be totally dependent on agriculture. Parmar was sensitive enough to realise the fact that the security of the land and people would become vulnerable if land mafia and wealthy non-native population began purchasing their land and claiming permanent ownership that would affect the state economy and particularly the native population whose livelihood largely depend on agriculture. It is also told that once YS Parmar met certain native Himachali who had sold out their land to non-native people and he came to realise that the same people who sell out their land were working as labourers for the family to whom they have sold out their land.

Sensing the peril, Parmar decided to bring out an arrangement in the so called the Himachal Pradesh tenancy and land reforms act, 1972 by introducing a legislation popularly known as section 118.  It comes under chapter XI of the act “control on transfer of land” in HP tenancy and land reforms act, 1972 that barred the transfer of land to non- agriculturist. It includes non-agriculturalist both within and without the state. In other words, the act prohibits even the Himachalis who were not involved in agriculture and horticulture occupation from buying the land and they have to follow the same procedure as outsider would do to buy the land. By this regulation, the land remains with the Bona fide Himachalis and that too with those involved in agriculture. Yet, the transfer of land is not denied in areas that fall under the municipal unit or cooperation. However on the condition that the seller from whom the land was purchased should not rendered landless or houseless after the property was sold out. And the land must be brought into use within 2 years (extendable for one year) or else the property will be vest by the government.

This act does not absolutely ban sailing and purchasing the land by non-native population but obviously a strict regulation and provision is imposed through which the buyer needs the approval of the government to purchase land and property. And the permission to purchase the land is granted only if the government is satisfied with the stated purpose for acquiring the land, and obviously the procedure itself is an arduous and time consuming process.

Hence section 118 became sacrosanct for Himachal Pradesh and it prevented non-native population to claim ownership of agricultural land and proprietorship. Therefore the Manipur government can take a cue from Himachal Pradesh land law to enact a legislation for preventing indiscriminate purchase and sale of land in the state.

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