In Manipur, a case for asymmetric federalism(GS-2, Federalism)

Context:- Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced in the Manipur assembly. People from hill areas of manipur is protesting against this bill because this bill dilute the power of distt council and ultimately it gives plain area people a more say in the affairs of hill areas.

What are the provision in the Bill:-

    • The new Bill seeks more autonomy to the Hills Areas Committee and the Autonomous District Councils with regard to administration and management of hill areas of Manipur.
    • Provisions to take into consideration the current ground realities in the Hill Areas of the State of Manipur including increasing the number of constituencies of the Autonomous District Council to 31 out of which 3 members to be nominated, Further, in the delimitation process of the 28 constituencies, 3/4th of the seats shall be allocated as per population representation of the areas covered under the Autonomous District and 1/4th of the seats shall be reserved for socio-economically backward areas and need based special geographical areas within the respective Autonomous District.
  • Creation of Hill Areas Secretariat for:-

    • Managing and coordinating the working of the all the Autonomous District Councils
    • Reviewing and monitoring all the projects and programs undertaken by each Autonomous District Council
    • Coordinate and manage the budgetary allocation as per department or area-wise requirement for the Hill Areas of Manipur
  • Providing first and second appeal with regard to the adjudication of election petition under the Bill.
  • Creation of an Executive Committee under the Autonomous District Councils which shall act as a cabinet of the Autonomous District Council. The Executive Committee shall have members not exceeding seven.
  • Bringing in Hill House Tax within the purview of the Autonomous District Council.
  • More effective and active involvement of Hill Areas Committee in development and economic planning including budget planning and allocations for the entire Hill Areas for the State of Manipur.

What is the issue:-

  • Dilution of federalism:-

    • The dissolution of Article 370 in 2019 which gave Jammu and Kashmir a special constitutional status.

    • Article 371 which, among others, gives expansive constitutional powers to Nagas over land and resources (Article 371A)

    • Manipur’s Hill Areas Committee (Article 371C). 

    • Issue is about dissolving the power of distt council.

What is the approach of government India for preserving tribal identity:-

  • An integrationist approach:-

      • The argument that asymmetric federalism fosters subversive institutions, political instability and breakup of States had also informed the minds of some of the founding fathers of the nation, when they participated in India’s Constituent Assembly debates.
      • The idea of ‘autonomous’ district councils proposed by the Gopinath Bordoloi Committee.
      • While members like Jaipal Singh and B.R. Ambedkar recognised tribal distinctiveness and underscored the need for separate institutional accommodation.
      • Chaliha reinforced his integrationist push by contending that tribal “self rule” would leverage “tribal stan” or “communistan” and would be inimical to India’s territorial integrity and security.
  • How Integrationist approach moved:-

    •  This integrationist approach resonates powerfully in two recent attempts by Manipur’s government to 
      • stall the introduction and passage of the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council (Amendment) Bill, 2021,
      • induct nine Assembly members from the valley areas into the Hill Areas Committee.

How Government of India has done after independence:-

  • Challenges faced by JLN in tribal integration:-

      • To inspire Tribals with confidence
      • To make Tribals feel at one with India
      • To realise that the Tribals are part of India and have an honoured place in it.
      • JLN was of the view that Indian nationalism is capable of accommodating the uniqueness of the tribal people into india.
  • How it has been done:-

    •  Article 46 of Indian Constitution states that the state should promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the tribal people and should protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation through special legislatures.
    •  Article 244(2) (Sixth Scheduled) provides a self-government to the tribal peoples by making provisions for the creation of autonomous district councils, creation of districts and regional councils. The objective of Sixth Scheduled was to enable tribal peoples to live according to their own ways.
    •  Article 275(1) provides special grant-in-aid for promoting the welfare of the Scheduled Tribes.
    •  Article 330, 332, 335 allocates a reservation of seats for the Scheduled Tribes in Lok Sabha and in state legislatures as well as in services.

Way forward:-

  • Tribal identity must be restored and must be preserved.
  • We must recognize the our society is heterogeneous.
  • One and homogeneousness approach can’t be a way forward.
  • More political solution and accommodating the different views. 

Plutus IAS Daily Current Affairs 14th September 2021

Swarn Singh

Plutus IAS Current Affair Team

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