India: Are My People Not My Nation?

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    Lush green mountains where different kinds of birds nestle their nest on branches of the trees is my habitat; breathtaking beautiful river valleys where villages are sited on every small openings is my place; plentiful natures gifted rich culture where the people believe only in truth and honesty is my natives; undulating topographic landscape where all the rivers flow into the Mighty Siang River is my home, the land of the Adis.     

    The Adis with an egalitarian social order is of its own kind, which is still a dream for most developed nations in the world. The land of the Adis is blessed with Aane Siang, the mother of all rivers (the only male river in Hindu mythology), the Mother Nature’s greatest gift, nurturing with its lullabies and the thunderous yodeling echoes the best democratic oratories, in the surrounding of enchanting beautiful environment, to believe in the beauty of the truth- the Donyi-Polo. Donyi-polo, the Supreme almighty, the creator, the life giver, the truth, is the sole philosophy behind the Kebang, which is a traditional quasi judicial council at the village level, block level and state level, practised since time immemorial, even before India was independent or even before India was a Republic. Kebang- the life-blood of the Adi peoples’ social system has always been the perfect guide, infallible; guiding a social order with the spirit of cooperation, proud and independent, and filled with a zest for life.
    Alas, gone are the days of glory to every definite description of the Adis and their culture. Ethnic chauvinism to the mythical glories seems to be the order of the day, today. Traditional practices have subjectively changed, need based. Past, the great and reliable sources of knowledge to human problems, seems to be crumbling from within the very foundation of the inner health and stability of mind with irrelevancy of the trials and searching of sons to the experiences of the fathers. On one hand, at certain brink of human civilization the modernity stands to be a foe formidable to human aspirations, and on the other hand, human aspirations happens to be the barrier to the human civilization towards modernity. These absolutely, but unfortunately, are the marks of end of an era of glorious past, culturally, through phases of transitional human civilization.
    End of an era of glorious past emphasis on seemingly eroding human values, especially those which stagnate believes in human progress and those which cling to dogmatic authorities. The elapsing years after the great earthquake of 1950 have been the period of great sojourn for the Adis, especially in pursuit of development of human value systems. The great sojourn does not mean total stagnation of human development pursuits, rather it laments on the lack of mankind’s commitment to sum total development of the society, its organization and its feeling of belongingness to the established organs of the society. That is, enormous progress have certainly been engendered in the last four to five decennial years, changing drastically the very livelihood pattern of the Adi people, however, homocentric views of liberal thoughts, humanitarian approaches that promote practicality to social, political and intellectual issues have either been undermined or completely been overlooked. Development of a civilization, in fact, points to ‘Human Life’ as reference, as man has always been in the centre of all thought processes in any civilizing mission.
    Homocentric thought processes of civilizing missions would have to identify its dreams and aspirations from the ecological peace, social peace and even spiritual peace. Solidarity of humanity lies in peace with nature, peace between human and peace within us. Lasting human values are linked up in a seamless web with the nature. Development takes into account human survival. Development cannot just be counted on the wealth accumulation. The various developments must not seek material wealth only, but wealth that enables people to live justly and sustainably within the capacity of supporting ecosystems. Just as economic prosperity depends upon people making use of natural resources, environmental preservation depends upon people having an economic stake in protecting those resources. Thus, development would be of great human service if taken in consideration are the nature and it natural gifts. This paradigm shift in our thinking processes towards the pursuit of human development through our traditional socio-cultural practices in consonant with the ecology is a desideratum.
    Dear friends, I being one of the happy-go-lucky citizens of Free India, today, would like to share my feeling and love to our democratic country, India. A free nation needs to remember with gratitude the sacrifices made to achieve the freedom, like we the Adis still revere our forefathers, those valiant sons of the Adi soil who fought the Britishers singly and bare hand in the Famous 1911 Anglo-Abor War, only and only to protect and pass on the land, rivers and forests to us, the generation next, with full authority. A nation that forgets its patriots and martyrs shall certainly lose its freedom. To preserve our freedom, we have to make our nation a great country. A great country emerges out of its own good people. Remember, greatness emerges out of goodness; goodness to your family, goodness to the society and then to the nation. That is, to be a good citizen one should have one’s own personal agendas totally aligned with the national agendas. A person living a life with a hidden agenda can never be a good citizen. To make our Mother India a great country in the world, I implore upon all to realize the statement made by one of the greatest Presidents of United States of America, John F Kennedy,
    “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”.
    I believe the quoted statement of John F Kennedy does not implicate voluntary services but it implies to the fact that ‘Freedom, is not free’. To put in simple words, each and every soul born in India has been guaranteed, constitutionally, numerous rights added with divergent human rights to live a just life. These rights to live a just life can truly be appreciated if we realize the duties, too. Right enjoyed without realizing the duties would certainly invite misery and destruction. The rights bestowed upon us by the constitution of India should be enjoyed with the realization of the inherent duties within every right. Thus, we have to always remember the truth that ‘Freedom is not free’.
    The need of the time calls for the realization of our duties, now or never. The clarion call of Mother India today is to decide whether we want to be part of the solution or part of the problem. And if we are not a part of the solution, then we are automatically a part of the problem. I believe no conscious person would like to be a part of the problem.
    This I believe was the main driving forces which led to the foundation of the Forum for Siang Dialogue (FSD), an organization of numerous youths of Adi Tribe of Arunachal Pradesh, with the sole motto to be part of the solution than to be a part of the problem. The forum has been evolved with a motto to lead the campaign of awareness regarding the Dam Projects undertaken in Siang Valley ( 2700 MW Lower Siang Dam, 3750 MW Upper Siang Stage II Dam, 6000 MW Upper Siang Stage I Dam). It seeks to create awareness, coordinate and lead a network of partner organizations and individuals in support of a people-specific approach to development in the Siang Valleys. This new approach also would include the adoption of an integrated over arching set of policies that address the unique development needs of the hill states of India.
    Interventions for Adopting a Forum for Siang Dialogue:
    1.    To set a regional development approach through people-specific planning. This integrates ecological and cultural diversity with social justice, local livelihoods and economic development, in the interest of the hill people as a whole in a sustainable manner.
    2.    To empower the Role of Local Self Governance Institutions, Kebangs, so as to develop and implement policies from a bottom-up approach. This approach can mobilize the masses to take on the responsibility of sustainable development and allow participatory processes to work on improvement of livelihoods and the ecology.
    3.    To approach and appeal Planning Commission and National Development Council, Government of India, to focus on planned sustainable development of hill areas of North-East- India with an endeavor to create a holistic overall policy to guide future policy and planning of the Hilly regions. It is an act of restructuring and modifying all developmental programs initiated in these regions.
    4.    To create an Environment Development Fund to compensate and support up-stream areas for ecological and economic services being rendered to the downstream.
    5.    To preserve, protect and pass on the land, rivers and forests, which we have not inherited from any nation, but, from our great and glorious ancestors.
    6.    To preserve the rich cultural heritage, the history, traditions, customs and the indigenous languages.
    So, to be a part of the development and to always be a part of all solutions hindering developments, FSD has strived hard to reach out to the Governments at both levels, i.e the Center and the State, connect with all like minded parties and people around the world, in our attempt to bring about developments in tandem with mother nature and for letting Aane Siang flow at her free-willy without any one’s hindrance, but only and only, as per the wish of the supreme almighty, who had created her to be the way she is.
    Friends, I thank the Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP), Chyangmai, Thailand to have given me this privilege to attend this International Conference on Human Rights and Peace in The Philippines (ICHRPP) so that we could get to pour out the thoughts and dreams of Forum for Siang Dialogue before this august house, to have let me introduce myself before you, learned persons and to have made us more stronger and more determined to move ahead in this fight for mother nature, mother Aane Siang, this civilization and in the larger interest of mankind.
    Because, we believe that our people are our Nation and we would love to go any extend to protect the life, liberty, prestige, heritage and the dignity of our people, the Adis in the general interest of nature loving mankind and thereby protect our Nation.
    I am an Adi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh, fighting for the cause of mankind and in doing so, I am also branded as an anti-National by our State Government, As I am fighting for the Survival and dignity of my people, I ask one and all – Are my People not My Nation???

    My Call
    To the neo-colonialism with its ugly hoods
    Inundating the paradise with human floods
    To cleanse the varied cultural philosophy
    Depleting the vast and rich ecology
    Wait not for the time opportune
    Create not your own fortune
    Unite, integrate, and stand up to erupt
    Against the anti-Adis (Indians), Terrorist and Corrupt.
                                                                                                       
    Thank You.
    Vijay Taram
    Spokesperson,
    Forum for Siang Dialogue (FSD)
    Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh.

    source: Vijay Taram