Monday, April 22, 2024

Parting of the ways


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The dismissal of Nar Bahadur Bhandari’s Ministry in the tiny Himalayan State of Sikkim has not come too soon, nor too much unexpectedly either. Conditions of a political crisis, ending up in such a drastic move, were brewing for quite sometime, some inkling of which was available in the prolonged tussle between tho Chief Minister and the Governor. Sikkim had problems for itself and for New Delhi even from the days of its royal regime; if its formal absorption into Indian Statehood solved some, many of those born of its multi-racial demographic composition lingered. Some were even accentuated, with the Chief Minister’s suspected preference. for one of the major ethnic groups.

The evil day for him last week could have probably been deferred yet a while if Mr. Bhandari had not chosen to be as adamant on some at least of the issues over which the Governor, acting on his own and for New Delhi, could not any longer afford to be compromising. On the other hand, the parting of the ways would have come much earlier had it not been for the fact that it was not quite a pleasant job for the Congress(I) Government at the Centre to persuade itself to dismiss a state government run in the name of the same political party. In any case, the timing of the dismissal would appear to lead it the character of a gamble: Bhandari would surely mobilise all his resources to get his points okayed by the verdict of the general election hardly four months away. New Delhi, on its part, has probably ensured that the benefits of his high office are not among his other resources.

Land sale by poor tribals

A national seminar held recently at Gauhati recommended inter alia the formation of study teams, both at the State levels and the national, to go deep into the loopholes of the existing laws relating to tribal land and indebtedness, and suggest measures to protect tribal interests. The seminar expressed particular concern at the Increasing number of transfer of land belonging to the poor tribal people to the richer section of the tribal community. This is an aspect on which not much attention has been rivetted so far in dealing generally with what is regarded as the problem of alienation of tribal land.

So much emphasis in fact has been laid in recent times on preventing transfer of tribal land to non-tribals that in the whole process the case of deprivation of land of the poor among the tribals by the comparatively richer sections of the tribals themselves have largely been lost-sight of. In this connection, the seminar has made a novel suggestion that the State Gevernment or a cooperative society may purchase the land offered by a distressed tribal on condition that the land would be returned to the orginal owner on repayment of the value of the land. This option, however, can be allowed only for a reasonable period of time and not indefinitely.


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