Bodo Peace Accord 2020
The central government announced that it has signed a “historic” accord for peace and development with four factions of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) – NDFB-Progressive (NDFB-P), NDFB-Ranjan Daimary (NDFB-RD), NDFB-Dhirendra Boro (NDFB-DB) and NDFB-Saoraigwra (NDFB-S, formerly NDFB-Songbijit).
• The accord includes a number of political and economic measures designed to strengthen the autonomy of the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD), now renamed as Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR), as well as mechanisms to rehabilitate the members of each armed group into everyday life.
• The accord was lauded for ushering in “a golden future for Assam and for the Bodo people.”
Bodos are the single largest community among the notified Scheduled Tribes in Assam. Part of the larger umbrella of Bodo-Kachari, the Bodos constitute about 5-6% of Assam’s population.
Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) is an autonomous body under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. There have been two Bodo Accords earlier, and the second one led to the formation of BTC.
The area under the jurisdiction of BTC, formed under the 2003 Accord, was called the Bodo Territorial Autonomous District (BTAD) which is renamed Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR).
BTAD comprises Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri districts, accounting for 11% of Assam’s area and 10% of its population.
The new Accord provides for “alteration of area of BTAD” and “provisions for Bodos outside BTAD”.
A commission appointed by the state government will examine and recommend if villages contiguous to BTAD and with a majority tribal population can be included into the BTR while those now in BTAD and with a majority non-tribal population can opt out of the BTR.
This will lead to an increase in the Bodo population in BTR and decrease in non-tribal population, leading to mitigation of inter-community clashes wherever it was happening.
The government will set up a Bodo-Kachari Welfare Council for focused development of Bodo villages outside BTAD — which opens up a way to potentially address the needs of Bodos outside BTAD.
It also provides for more legislative, executive, administrative and financial powers to BTC; and amendments to the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to “improve the financial resources and administrative powers of BTC.
Previous accords have created clear winners and losers that have sharpened inter and intra-ethnic cleavages. Hence, New Delhi will need to carefully monitor the situation as the fanfare surrounding the accord subsides.
It remains to be seen how the 2020 Bodo Accord addresses the structural factors that have driven ethnic violence against the non-Bodos and fuelled subsequent counter-mobilisations in the past.
Both the central and the state government would have to keep a close watch for the emergence of any potential recalcitrant groups made up of remaining militants from the NDFB-S, which, perceiving exclusion from the accord
Given the fractured history of the Bodo movement, the prospect of recalcitrant elements remaining in Myanmar is not an unrealistic one, underlining the importance of efforts both by New Delhi and the NDFB-S leadership to reach out to these remaining elements.
The most significant point is this Accord marks the end of the armed movement and the coming of all factions of the armed groups together to sign the Accord is a very big thing.
The Bodos, who are one of the oldest inhabitants of the region, have been pushed from one capital to another ever since the 12th century. As a result, they have lost their language and script
Estimated to have 1.5 million speakers (Census 2011)
Listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution (Through 92nd Amendment).
Spoken in Assam, where the Bodo tribe constitutes about 5-6% of the population, and in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, and West Bengal.
Bodo is officially written in the Devanagri script, but the language has a history of having been written in at least three different scripts — until in 1974, the Government recognised Devanagari as its official script.
It was only in 2003, under the then Bodo Accord, that the language was listed in the Eighth Schedule. “The 2003 Accord was very significant for language because it was the first tribal language to be included in the Eight Schedule
Now the 2020 Accord makes Bodo the associate official language throughout Assam.
The new Accord also promises to establish a separate directorate for Bodo medium schools, provincialise schools and colleges in the BTAD and establish a Cultural Complex-cum-Centre of Excellence.
PEPPER IT WITH
Schedule 5 and Schedule 6, Schedule 8, Tribes of northeast, PVTG