Monthly Archives

August 2019

Indigenous no-state people

‘Naga national flag’ hoisted across Naga-inhabited areas on ‘Independence Day

The influential Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) on Wednesday hoisted the ‘Naga national flag’ to celebrate the 73rd ‘Naga Independence Day’ across the Naga-inhabited areas, including Myanmar.

On August 14, 1947, leaders belonging to various Naga tribes came together to unfurl their ‘national flag’ in Kohima, now the capital of Nagaland which attained statehood in December 1963. This was to ‘assert their right to independence’ after the transfer of power from the British to ‘Indians’.

The ‘Naga Independence Day’ has been an annual event, but the celebration this year attained significance in the wake of the withdrawal of special status to Jammu and Kashmir making the former State’s red flag with three vertical stripes and a plough redundant.

NSF president Ninoto Awomi, however, said there was no political message in the unfurling of the ‘Naga national flag’ at the Naga Solidarity Park in Kohima and all other Naga-inhabited areas simultaneously at 11 am.

“The NSF has been observing the day not to show that the Nagas are against India but to celebrate our identity, culture, history, and rights. More than a 1,000 people turned up for celebrating the day in Kohima,” he told The Hindu on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the State government instructed the deputy commissioners of all the 11 districts to make the NSF units “aware of the legality of their action [hosting the flag]” that could “create unwanted situation and may lead to grievous law and order problem”.

‘Common Naga flag’

Mr. Awomi said the flag unfurled on Wednesday was the “common Naga flag’. The flag – blue with a whitish star and a rainbow running almost diagonally – is similar to that used by the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, which has been seeking a separate flag as part of the peace deal.

But the Naga National Council (NNC), the first extremist group of the Naga Hills, said the original ‘Naga national flag’ should ideally be hoisted to mark the show of rebellion in 1947. There is clarity on the colour and design of the flag unfurled that year.

The first Naga flag is considered to be the one that the NNC, formed by the legendary Angami Zapu Phizo in 1946, hoisted on March 22, 1956.

The Hindu

Indigenous no-state people

Kashmir Valley’s shadow on the Naga Hills

Nagaland is governed by Article 371(A) of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees certain protection to Nagas. Governor Ravi has already promised 371(A) won’t be touched.

From Srinagar to Kohima may be a long and distant 3,000 km, but the recent developments in troubled Kashmir may have a heavy bearing on the impending fortunes of the evolving Naga issue. And vice versa.

On the two key demands—a separate constitution and a distinct flag for Nagas—the Naga underground leaders often alluded to Kashmir which till last week had both.

Three years ago, VS Atem, emissary to the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) collective leadership and a key figure in the ongoing talks, had told this journalist: “If Kashmir can have a separate flag, why not Nagas?”

Now with no example to point to after the watering down of Article 370 and abrogating of 35A on August 5, it will be interesting to see how the talks between New Delhi and the NSCN-IM pans out.

Particularly as the constitution and flag issue continue to be unresolved ones.

It is well understood that the talks between New Delhi and the NSCN-IM has reached a certain level of mutual comfort and understanding. Initiated about 22 years ago, the progress in the talks was recorded in the Framework Agreement signed in 2015. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi and present home minister Amit Shah in attendance, the document was inked by NSCN-IM’s general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and RN Ravi, the interlocutor who is currently the governor of Nagaland.

The ongoing talks followed the incremental model. It meant all points of agreement were sealed and locked up while the negotiations continued on the difficult and prickly issues. And the impossible ones kept out.

So issues like complete sovereignty or total independence for Nagas, separate currency were ruled out.

Agreements on transferring federal powers were reached and sealed. While deliberations continued on the difficult ones. Like a separate constitution, a separate flag or the carving out of a ‘Greater Nagalim’ by incorporating Naga-dominated areas of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.

Admitted that there can be no comparison between the Kashmir and the Naga issues as they are as different as can be, but it will be interesting to see New Delhi’s response to imminent questions like how it abolished certain privileges in Kashmir but granted them or retains them in Nagaland post the expected agreement.

Nagaland is governed by Article 371(A) of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees certain protection to Nagas. Governor Ravi has already promised 371(A) won’t be touched.It will also be interesting to see if the Centre gives special treatment to the backward districts of the state in a way not much different from the granting of Union Territory status to Ladakh. Incidentally, a delegation of the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) representing the backward tribes of eastern Nagaland was in the national capital on Tuesday (August 13) at the Centre’s request for a parley. Seemingly, New Delhi is brewing quite a potion.

by Sanjib Kr Baruah


First Indian cargo ship from Bhutan arrives in Bangladesh via India

 For the first time, an Indian cargo ship carrying 1,000 tonnes of
stone aggregates from Bhutan has arrived in Bangladesh through India via
the Brahmaputra river, significantly reducing travel time and transportation cost.
An inaugural ceremony held at Narayanganj city near here on Thursday,
Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das, Ambassador
of Bhutan to Bangladesh Sonam T Rabgye and vice-chairman of
Bashundhara Group Safwan Sobhan received the first-ever consignment
through the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route, the Indian high commission
here said in a statement.
The ship, MV AAI of the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), was digitally flagged off by Indian Minister of State for
8/13/2019 First Indian cargo ship from Bhutan arrives in Bangladesh via India .
The ship then sailed from Dhubri in Assam and travelled to Narayanganj in Bangladesh, over the river Brahmaputra, the
statement said.
Dhubri was declared a port of call in October 2018. This is the first time an Indian waterway is being used as a channel for
transport of cargo between the two countries, using India for transit, it said.
The stone aggregates were transported by trucks from Phuentsholing in Bhutan which is 160 kilometres from IWAI’s Dhubri
jetty in Assam.
Bhutan was exporting significant quantities of stone aggregates to Bangladesh through the land route.
Mandaviya said the development is a historic one and takes forward Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to promote cargo
transportation through inland waterways.
He said the move will benefit India, Bhutan and Bangladesh and will strengthen relations between the neighbouring countries.
Transport of cargo through this route will cut short travel time by 8 to 10 days, and reduce transportation cost by 30 per cent,
bringing down logistics costs, Mandaviya said, adding that it will also be a more environment friendly mode of transport.
Mandaviya also said it will also open up an alternative route to India’s North Eastern states, making it easier and cheaper for
goods to reach these places from other parts of the country

Sc. & Tech.

China, Russia, France share satellite data on Assam floods

Flood in Assam could be minimised with the help and application of early warning system, says Chandan Kumar Duarah,  a science journalist and conservation activist in Assam. Satellite data has been playing a crucial role  which was ignored during Assam flood.  Several countries including China, Russia and France collaborated with India on sharing satellite images of the scale of inundation. As signatories to the The International Charter Space and Major Disasters, any of the 32 member countries can send a ‘request’ to activate the Charter. This would immediately trigger a request by the coordinators to space agencies of other countries whose satellites have the best eyes on the site of the disaster.

Based on an activation request by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on July 17, France’s National Centre for Space Studies, China National Space Administration and ROSCOSMOS of Russia shared satellite images of the flood situation in the districts of Dhubri, Marigaon, Barpeta, Dhemaji, Lakhimpur in Assam with ISRO’s National Remote Sensing Centre. ISRO’s CARTOSAT satellites too got the Indian space agency its own images.

‘Standard practice’

Ravish Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said in response to a query from The Hindu that combining earth observation assets from different space agencies allows resources and expertise to be coordinated for rapid response. This was a “standard practice” and in the past ISRO too had provided information to other space agencies in response to similar requests. In August 2014, for instance, ISRO’s CARTOSAT shared images after an activation request from China after an earthquake struck Yunan province and killed 398.

Since 2000, when the Charter came into operation there have been about 600 activations and data from 61 satellites have helped with disaster operations in 125 countries.