YFFP was proud to host the head of the royal family of Tripura, chairman and editor-in-chief of The Northeast Today, Pradyot Deb Burman for an intellectually stimulating conversation on wide ranging topics including foreign policy and its impact on the North-East, the doctrine of hot pursuit and the topic of his expertise AFSPA and Indo-Bangladesh ties.
An informal question-answer session and conversation followed beginning with the Doctrine of hot pursuit and India’s latest excursion across the Indo-Myanmar border.
Believed by him to be a gross mistake on India’s part and mishandled by the central authorities, it led to the propagation of a ‘big brother‘ image of India vis a vis the neighbors.
Analyzed by Maharaja Pradyot, he expressed the move being detrimental to India in the portfolio of foreign policy. In his words- “India failed to capitalize on the estrangement between China and Myanmar and further shot itself in the foot by violating its territorial sovereignty “.
He elucidated “India should have technically handled the operation of infiltration covertly and in tandem with Myanmar so as not to look overly interventionist.” He felt relationships with Myanmar had been set back at least three years.
He cited various examples of such covert operations wherein the Indian army was involved behind the scenes in neighboring countries like operation All Clear in Bhutan in 2003 (touted as a success).
Also in terms of India’s approach to foreign policy he commented that while India offering lesser aid and investment monetarily didn’t attach as many strings as China does, making India easier to align with.
However, he added prudently “Economic ties bind two countries together out of obligation and does not breed loyalty. Therefore, to improve ties with neighboring countries one must endeavor to create lasting ties and be more responsive to the needs of other countries.”
While on the subject of foreign policy and border regions it was further discussed that the current policy was too centralized not taking into account the intricacies and diverse nature of problems that occurred in the margins of the country and therefore a strong need for decentralization was suggested by the speaker.
Furthermore on the subject of border regions a digression of sorts appeared when the demographic consistency of the northeastern states was brought up. According to Pradyot Deb Burman “Tripura was essentially overrun with People of Bangladeshi origin“ and thus even the chief ministers and office bearers often seemed to have their roots on the other side of the border. Similarly, as a result of the new land agreement with Bangladesh, Assam is now queued up to meet the same fate.
Finally speaking upon the topic of his expertise AFSPA and the enormous victory of its repeal in Tripura he stated “the involvement of the armed forces within the country’s parameters was uncalled for and it was not an unchecked army but rather an organized and equipped police force that would be a better bet to deal with militancy within the North-East”.
When asked about the repeal of AFSPA in J&K he felt that it was highly unlikely due to conspiring political agendas as compared to the North-East.
Bringing the conversation to a close Pradyot Deb Burman spoke of his commitment to the people of Tripura and his agenda for women empowerment and its implementation. Gearing up for the elections in 2018 and ready to make a difference he proposed projects that would promote education among women as well as provide them with a means to work. “Educating a man does not guarantee that he will educate the family but educating a women will mean that she would educate her children as well”.
With this one of the most scintillating conversations drew to a close.