The Misings are the second largest tribe in Assam. The Misings have been demanding for territorial council under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian constitution. The TMPK (Takam Mising Porin Ke’bang) which literally translates into All Assam Mising Students Union has been spearheading the movement till yet. Of late, there has raising questions on the political character of TMPK and many has believed that it should not engage into political (electoral) questions. The TMPK also backs a political party Ganashakti party which tries to represent the interest of the community. The recent debate has raised a few very fundamental questions with regards to its character. Here, I try to analyse the characterstics of the organisation, historically trace the evolution and also critically analyse the language of the demands thereby establishing it as a ‘political organization’.
When I was growing up, I was always fed with information from parents, peers and relatives which related ‘Politics’ with something dirty-which the ‘so called’ good people do not pursue; which justifies the antagonistic attitude of the students in this forum against TMPK being a political character. And I had ingrained it too somewhere in my mind till I grew to understand politics in a broader context. Every organization whether it be a welfare organization, or an NGO is a political organization because everyone pursues for a political goal to be achieved. But here, I mean political and not ELECTORAL. And there is the difference between the two- we always tend to relate politics with elections and the bickering that come along with it. But it is not so always, there are many political organisations which do not contest elections but are political in nature. Thus, TMPK falls under that category of the latter kind of organisations.
As has been seen in the history of N.E. India, the student organizations take some important and leading part in the social and ultimately political movements of their concerned community, state or region etc. Let’s look into the Misings and the history of the formation of TMPK. A big need for a political identity and an organisation who could voice the demands of the Misings led to the formation of TMPK and it has not been a one day affair. Efforts were made before the independence of India. The Asom Miri Chatra Sanmilon was formed as early as 1933 AD. It was renamed as Northbank Mising Students Union (north bank implies the north bank of the river Brahmaputra in Assam) during post independent period. In the year 1951 the organization was again renamed as Murkongchelek Transferred Area Mising Student Union. The Southerbank Mising Student Union was formed in 1959. Collaborating with the NEFA (present day Arunachal) the Assam-NEFA Mising Student Union was formed in 1971. Clubbing all these organization the All Assam Mising Student Union was formed in 1978. And this organisation later got its present name of TMPK in 1985 in a conference held in Jengraimukh, Majuli on the 22, 23 and 24th of February.
Now let’s look at the demands articulated by TMPK historically till the modern times. It has spearheaded the movement for the Sixth Schedule- which is a political demand. One of the first demands that were articulated were the fixing of a definite date for Ali-aye-Li’gang and also asking for Mising textbooks and educations to be imparted in primary schools. Everyone would agree that it is a political demand and needs political will of the Assam government to agree to those demands. Student organisations have played strong role in shaping up the politics of the nation and making democracy more participatory. The fight against the Bangladeshis in Assam was spearheaded by AASU which later led to the formation of AGP. And, the demand for BTC by the Bodos was granted after collaborative efforts of All Assam Bodo Students Union and other groups like BLT. Recently, the Naga students union has come into big limelight when it had held a mass economic blockade for its demands. The Khasi students union had vehemently fought for the revival of their culture in the 90s.
There are varied ways of meeting demands- one by demanding for the rights and pledging protest marches and other by opening welfare organisations and holding health camps etc. By default the latter seems to gain precedence among the Mising students today which is unfortunate. The youth seem to be obsessed with the development of the Misings agenda and have a myopic view of the same. Development only does not mean improvement in the living standard and materialistic gains but also empowerment of the people. The ideal path could be the amalgamation of both the steps in gaining the larger good of the community. This myopic view is also observed among the so called leaders of TMPK. Many of them have made it their life’s goal to attain contracts, indulge in corruption and then eat up the money that had been sanctioned for the development of the community. And again the same leaders complain to the government about the development agenda being not fulfilled. For a realistic attainment of Sixth schedule, the language of demand needs to shift from ‘development agenda’ to more stricter lines of protection of culture, oppression by Assamese nationhood and insert them under Various UN and ILO frameworks and gaining larger visibility to the issues thereby strengthening the movement.
There lies an extreme need of inculcation of political understanding among the leaders, youth and the mising people so as to strengthen the concept of identity among them so that the demands gains momentum.