Manufactured consent?



Ever since August 3, Nagas have been longing and demanding to know the content of the framework agreement. One and a half months later, it is still kept under wraps. So, although people know that a certain agreement has been signed and tiny bits of it may be flying around, the people are still in the dark about it. But something remarkable has happened since August 3. It is the opposition of the apex organizations to ACAUT’s Common Platform. It is a really big cause of concern for the Nagas that the organizations who should be organizing such a public platform were opposing it. 

It can’t be simply ego problem that their (apex bodies’) role is being played by someone else. That would be too trivial an argument although in instances, one can choose not to participate because someone else is doing what one should. Was it arrogance? Could it be that the apex bodies think that they know it all and doesn’t feel the need to speak with the people? Leaders represent the people but being in leadership role does not diminish public responsibility, it only increases it. Leaders should consult and communicate with the people on matters of public importance. It is baffling that they should try to silence the people in support of an agreement which they also don’t claim to know. 

A question that one can ask in the face of such a stance is, ‘How free are our apex organizations?’ Are there external factors controlling their hands and vocal cords? Sometimes, it so happens that supposedly neutral bodies speak out as mouth piece of non-neutral power establishments. What the public wants to know at present is, ‘what is it which is being negotiated with the government of India for the future of all Nagas?’ So, the apex organizations in effect are expected to be debating and deliberating. But instead, they tried to stop people from thinking and speaking. This makes some people to question in social media if our various organizations are ‘bought’.   

Although there will be polarized views, it may be safe to say that the present stand of the majority is that there is neither consent nor rejection of the framework agreement simply because it is not made public. But if the negotiators take the agreement forward assuming that there is public consent, it will be a ‘manufactured consent’. In medical science, consent for a medical procedure is signed after the patient clearly appreciates and understands the facts, implications, and future consequences of the procedure. If the patient does not have the capacity to understand, a family member is made to sign the consent. Therefore it is also called ‘informed consent’. The Nagas have not been informed yet to make a decision on the agreement. The other factions have not been brought on board yet. This is an opportune time to open up and talk. There is an air of cautious optimism in the air. This is a rare opportunity because there is also the possibility to forgive each other and forge our future.   

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