October 18, 2017

North East India and the Art of Conflict Resolution!

Conflict resolution is a sublime skill. It cannot be achieved by mere discussions, compromises and dialogue. Of course, they are integral to such measures, but the art of resolving conflicts lies in the very sanctity of the intentions of the mediator. It needs heart to heart communication, expression of sincerity for peace and love for all the stakeholders of the problem.

North East India presents a problem because of a lack of all this. Through decades, due to faulty outlooks and policies of our mainstream leadership and exaggerated by the geographical isolation of the region, slowly and steady it has drifted in mind and heart from the heartland of India. And this void has been exploited by people of vested interest, from insurgents, terrorists to illegal immigrants. Now we have reached a point, where our neighbors are using this isolation, to create internal and external conflicts and logjams. Even the Doklam issue, if studied in its entirety and complexity, stems from this.

At this crucial juncture, something historic happened in the North East India recently. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar hosted a daylong conference of all stakeholders of the region. The conference titled “Strength In Diversity: A Journey Towards Collective Peace In The North East” on 7th sept, 2017 aimed to build a platform of dialogue, reconciliation and ultimately peace between them. ULFA’s general secretary Anup Chetia was the coordinator in this forum.

Leaders from 67 insurgent organizations were present in the meet. The Conference concluded with the historic signing of the Guwahati Declaration where all the groups present pledged to work together to achieve peace and prosperity in the region.

In case we are thinking these are feel-good, well intended measures without far reaching consequences, we can think again. And that is primarily because this time, this initiative came from none other than one of the most astute and successful conflict resolution gurus globally, Sri Sri.

Just a year back, he had brokered the historic peace deal between the insurgent FARC group and the Colombian Govt, considered a landmark resolution in terms of the difficulty and complications of the issue. In line with Sri Sri’s message to rebels to drop the bullet and go to the ballot, FARC has now completely given up arms and has become a political party.

In the North East, The Art of Living, through numerous mediators and faculties, have transformed more than 1200 hardcore militants in the region over the years, the latest being the surrender of 68 insurgents on 14th august, this year in Manipur. Sri Sri has had a  colossal role in dialogue and mediation in the LTTE, Kashmir, Bosnia and the Middle East conflicts and is considered unparalleled in his ability to make people see reason and love, where hatred and violence is the order of the day.

It’s time we stand up, take note and join in the peace efforts. The media, just as it has a responsibility to highlight wrongs of people and society, it has a role in constructive nation building as well.

For long we have been voices of dissent and conflict. Let’s all become voices for peace.

In a first of its kind in the history of North East India, ‘Strength in Diversity – North East Indigenous People’s Conference’ – a unique program was held on 7th September, 2017 in Guwahati. Organised by the opinion-makers and thought-leaders of the region, the conference sought to create a common platform for all of the North East to set a collective agenda for peace, development, prosperity and co-existence in the region.
Delivering the keynote address at the peace conference, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said, “This is a new beginning for the North East. For the very first time, there is a reconnect of the people of this region, which is so diverse.”  Expressing happiness that diverse groups have come together on a common platform to discuss the issues facing the region, and that everyone has one common goal of bringing peace to the area, Gurudev said, “Today, we have moved from guns and granites to garlands, from bombs to bouquets.
The conference saw the participation of leaders from all walks of life, including leaders who have formerly taken up arms. Several former underground leaders led by General Secretary of United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) Anup Chetia were among the conveners of the event. Remarking that while destruction can happen overnight, constructive work takes some time, Gurudev exhorted all leaders to move ahead with peace, understanding, patience and perseverance towards a more developed North East where there is harmony, 100 % education and zero poverty.

Author – Dr Devarshi Nandi is a keen observer of political affairs nationally and globally. He is an independent columnist, and regularly chairs sessions and youth forums on current socio political affairs as well.


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