The Dynamics of Democracy vis-à-vis Tribal society of Arunachal Pradesh

Our tribal societies have hitherto been simple and living together in solidarity with each other.

Arunachal: The story of a public relations officer in his own wordsThe Dynamics of Democracy vis-à-vis Tribal society of Arunachal Pradesh – By Nyatum Doke

As the Election year is approaching close, the plot for the ‘Game of throne’ is slowly being set in motion. The ritual of the number game is on. Every day one can see high drama of nudging each other to form alliance and counter alliance. The groups in social media are becoming a warzone filled with the cacophony of political chicanery.

Tribal Society to Modern Polity: The Transition:

Our tribal societies have hitherto been simple and living together in solidarity with each other. The emergence of the democratic process no doubt has positively changed the functioning of the society by providing everyone an opportunity to become part of the governance. Then, with the newly laid focus on inclusive governance the people are expected to be an active participant in the development process instead of being a passive recipient. In addition, with the digital revolution, gradually everyone is getting virtually connected and every voice is heard.

Arunachal: “NO JAL in NAL” – The Water Woes in Longding

This high intensity and high-pitched war of words becomes much louder with each passing day. Earlier, as our villages are small and the electorates are countable in the fingertip- personal campaigning was the easiest thing. Now, our houses are basically moved into the social media groups, with various groups representing virtual or digital versions of constituencies, villages, clans etc. Therefore, turning it into the platform of deliberation and debate leading to political education and socialization.

Tribal Society Vis a Vis  Digital world

However, there is a caveat, in our society every person is known to the other person leading to personal vilification. Even a genuine remark on some issue may be taken as personal attack or vendetta. Then, there is a chance that personal and private issues become a public issue. Amidst all the mudsling and cross firings, it is the fabric of the society that is affected. Also, any person in a digital world can write anything in the guise of anonymity- leading to creation of false narrative.

Owing to our closeness with each other living in a sparsely populated tribal society- which actually was a boon, is becoming a poisonous tool. Even for an official or public action, questions are being raised at the personal level. Per se this may not look bad initially, however this will set a wrong trend. There is a properly laid down mechanism in the system which needs to be followed so that transparency and accountability is ensured- we should follow proper channels.

Our society at the crossroad:

People should understand the difference between the “institution’ and the ‘individuals”- for example if a police officer is enforcing law or a magistrate is issuing an order- it is not the person but the institution that is at the work. I understand some will argue that ultimately cognitive biases of the person holding the post will come into play- but, isn’t such kind of thinking in itself reflects the biasness.

It is a fact that our society is at the crossroads- we have been availing the latest gadgets and technologies but the way we think and act still inexorably remains the traditional.  For example, for an argument with someone in modern platforms via Twitter or Facebook the Arunachalee tribal may still want a “Local-style” solution.

Instilling conviction- Need of a Civic culture: 

Then how much participation is adequate- that is also a thing to ponder, as Almond and Verba while studying political culture put forth ‘The civic Culture’- a balance between too much participation and complete apathy needs to be chalked out as ideal one. Too much participation and over activism are bad because important issues get hijacked by the individuals with subterfuge motives. if unthinking masses with a particular ideology participates as a ‘superfluous entity’ (Hannah Ardent) which will lead only to democracy turning into totalitarianism.

A Year in Longding District of Arunachal Pradesh

Consequently, it makes the members of the community lose interest on important issues- leading to individualistic culture (Daniel J Elazair) where politics becomes a market place between the individuals seeking to maximize their self-interest with minimal community involvement: this in itself would be a grave travesty of democracy.

We should be thoughtful and participate or deliberate in a responsible manner. The plurality of values and ideas should be respected, appreciated and tolerated. There is a need to rethink and understand the dynamics of democracy vis a vis tribal society like Arunachal Pradesh  . We must understand that the goal of the discourse, debate and deliberation under the democratic set up is to instill conviction and to encourage the capacity to form conviction in the fellow citizens and not the other way around.


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