This article delineates why the United States is taking a much closer look at the Nagalim freedom struggle and its global security of the region. Nagalim (located in the northeastern portion of India) is strategically important as it is situated in the middle and shares borders with China, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. Economic development in this region promises many positive implications for U.S. relations with India, China, and Myanmar related to mutual security and economic interests. The Nagalim region is an area home to approximately 5 million people with 66 indigenous Naga tribes.
The Nagalim conflict dates back to the British colonial period in India when the Nagas were denied their right to self-determination. After India gained independence in 1947, the Nagas refused to merge with India and declared themselves an independent state one day before India was admitted to the UN. The main preposition of the people of Nagalim (often referred to as Nagaland) is they “never joined the Indian union by conquest or concession.”
This led to a series of armed conflicts with the Indian government, which continues to this day. For more than 75 years the Nagas have been fighting for their right to self-determination and autonomy, arguing that they are the original inhabitants of the land and should be able to govern themselves. This struggle for independence has been marked by violence and unrest, as the Indian government has repeatedly used antiquated oppressive laws that suppress the Nagas’ daily lives. The Indian government has been accused of many human rights violations.
One way to understand the Nagalim Freedom Movement is “through the lens” of the First Nations in North America, who have similarly fought for sovereignty and control over their ancestral lands. Like the First Nations, the Nagas argue that they have a unique cultural and spiritual connection to the land that cannot be fully understood or respected by others. This connection is central to their identity and way of life, and they believe that they are best suited to govern and protect it.
From an economic point of view, the Nagalim region is also strategically located at the intersection of China and India called the Chindia Economy, two of the world’s fastest-growing economies. This location makes it a vital area for trade and commerce, as well as a potential flashpoint for conflict between the two nations. As the United States seeks to maintain its global economic and strategic interests, it is important to pay attention to the dynamics of this region and ensure that it remains stable and secured to a humanitarian crisis, with thousands of people being displaced and living in refugee camps.
The Nagalim conflict has several implications for regional and global security, and therefore it is important for the United States to take a closer look at the issue. The Nagalim conflict has potential to impact international relations, particularly between India and its neighbors, China and Myanmar. Moreover, the conflict could affect India’s Look East policy, which aims to strengthen ties with Southeast Asian countries, including Myanmar.
Given the above implications of the Nagalim conflict, it is important for the U.S. to take a more active role in resolving the issue. The U.S. should encourage the Indian government and the NSCN (National Socialist Council of Nagaland) to engage in a dialogue to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. The U.S. could offer to facilitate talks between the two sides
Impact on International Relations and Global Security
The Nagalim Freedom Movement raises a number of complex issues, including questions of national sovereignty, self-determination, and human rights. The U.S. government, through the State Department, may consider supporting Nagalim as an independent nation for various reasons. One such reason could be to promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in the region, consistent with American values and interests. The Nagas share similar Christian ideology, as they were evangelized in 1835 by the American Baptist missionaries who taught them to speak English as their primary language and also supported their right to be independent. Another reason could be to advance U.S. economic, political, or strategic interests in the region, such as promoting stability, security, or access to Nagalim’s vast resources, such as oil, mineral deposits and scenic environment.
From the perspective of federal agencies including the State Department and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there are several reasons why supporting the Nagalim Freedom Movement could be beneficial. First, it is important to uphold the principles of self-determination and human rights, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter and other international agreements. The Nagas have a legitimate claim to autonomy and should be able to pursue it peacefully and without fear of retribution.
Second, supporting the Nagas could help to prevent conflict and instability in the region. As China and India continue to compete for resources and influence, there is a risk that the Nagalim region could become a proxy battleground for their rivalry. By working with the Nagas to promote stability and security, the United States can help to prevent this outcome and ensure that the region remains peaceful and prosperous. Also, it’s important to take note that they have fought side-by-side as our U.S. allies in WWI and WWII.
Also, supporting the Nagas could help to promote democracy and human rights in India, which has faced criticism for its treatment of ethnic and religious minorities. By standing with the Nagas, the United States could send a message that it values diversity and pluralism and supports those who seek to protect their rights and freedoms.
Of course, there are also potential risks and challenges associated with supporting the Nagalim Freedom Movement. The Indian government has long viewed the Nagas as a threat to national unity and has used force to suppress their movement. The United States must be careful not to be seen as interfering in India’s internal affairs. However, if the Naga-American Council is recognized by the government of India, it could be very beneficial to breaking the deadlock of the region and foster “win-win-win “solutions for India, Nagalim and the United States.
It should be noted that there are concerns about the viability of an independent Nagalim. The region is landlocked and lacks the resources and infrastructure to support a fully functioning state. It is possible that independence could lead to further conflict and instability if the Nagas are unable to govern effectively or attract the support of neighboring states. But again, this is where the U.S. and others can assist.
Despite these challenges, there are compelling reasons for the United States to support the Nagalim Freedom Movement. By doing so, the United States can help to promote democracy, human rights, and stability in the region, while also upholding its own values and interests.
Another potential benefit of supporting the Nagalim Freedom Movement is the opportunity to help the Nagas develop their natural resources. As previously mentioned, the Nagalim region is rich in minerals, including coal, limestone, and petroleum, as well as timber, rare earth minerals and other natural resources. However, these resources have largely gone untapped due to the conflict and instability in the region.
By supporting the Nagas in their pursuit of autonomy and independence, the United States could help to unlock the economic potential of the region. This could create new opportunities for American businesses and investors, while also benefiting the Nagas themselves.
For example, the development of natural resources could help to create jobs and stimulate economic growth in the region, reducing poverty and improving the quality of life for the Nagas. It could also provide a new source of revenue for the Nagalim government, which could be used to fund public services and infrastructure projects.
In addition, the development of natural resources could help reduce the region’s reliance on outside aid and assistance. Many of the Nagas are currently dependent on government subsidies and other forms of support, which can create a sense of dependency and undermine their autonomy. By developing their natural resources, the Nagas could become more self-sufficient and independent. One of us (TC) has written extensively in HSToday on innovative technologies to extract minerals in a safe and bountiful way.
Overall, the development of natural resources in Nagalim could bring significant benefits to both the Nagas and the United States. By supporting the Nagalim Freedom Movement and helping to promote stability and security in the region, the United States can help to unlock this potential and create a brighter future for all involved. However, any decision to support the Nagalim Freedom Movement would need to be made based on a thorough analysis of all the relevant factors, including international laws and human rights standards. It may also undermine regional stability and lead to conflicts with other nations, such as India and Myanmar, which considers the Nagas to be an integral part of its territory.
Of course, it is important to ensure that the development of natural resources is done in a responsible and sustainable manner, taking into account the needs and concerns of the local communities and protecting the environment. This requires careful planning, regulation, and oversight, as well as the involvement of local experts. Therefore, any decision to support the Nagalim Freedom Movement should be made in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including the Indian government, the Naga people, and human rights organizations. It should also be based on a thorough understanding of the historical, political, social, and cultural context of the region, as well as the potential consequences of such support for American interests and values.
In conclusion, the Nagalim Freedom Movement is a complex issue that raises questions of national sovereignty, self-determination, and human rights. The State Department and other agencies in the United States government should approach this issue with care and undertake a thorough analysis of all the relevant factors and stakeholders’ perspectives. Ultimately, any decision should prioritize the well-being and safety of American citizens and respect the sovereignty of other nations.
The views expressed here are the writers’ and are not necessarily endorsed by Homeland Security Today, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints in support of securing our homeland. To submit a piece for consideration, email [email protected].
Sources Used for this Article:
Smith, J. (2021, March 15). Nagalim conflict continues to threaten regional security. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/15/world/asia/nagalim-conflict-regional-security.html
Singh, R. K. (2018). The Nagaland insurgency: Ethnic identity, human rights, and state response. Journal of Conflict and Security Law, 23(2), 311-332. doi:10.1093/jcsl/krx010
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) – Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples: https://www.un.org/en/decolonization/pdf/declaration.pdf
- United Nations Charter: https://www.un.org/en/about-us/un-charter/preamble.shtml
- Human Rights Watch report on the Nagalim Freedom Movement: https://www.hrw.org/reports/2008/india1108/india1108web.pdf
- Al Jazeera article on the history and politics of the Nagalim Freedom Movement: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/8/12/explainer-nagalim-movement-why-nagas-want-independence-from-india
- Council on Foreign Relations article on India’s Northeast region and separatist movements: https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/indias-northeast-troubled-region
- The Diplomat article on the challenges of peacebuilding in Nagaland: https://thediplomat.com/2020/03/what-challenges-lie-ahead-for-peace-in-nagaland/
India Today article on the Naga peace talks and the prospects for a settlement: https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/naga-peace-talks-centre-interlocutor-satya-pal-singh-1962123-2022-03-12
- “The Naga Struggle for Sovereignty,” The Diplomat, https://thediplomat.com/2019/07/the-naga-struggle-for-sovereignty/
“The Nagalim Movement: Why Nagas Want Independence from India,” Al Jazeera, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/8/12/explainer-nagalim-movement-why-nagas-want
- “Nagaland: Exploring the Unexplored,” Invest India, https://www.investindia.gov.in/team-india-blogs/nagaland-exploring-unexplored
- “The Natural Resources of Nagaland,” Nagaland State Portal, https://nagaland.gov.in/portals/0/StatePortal/Documents/Natural%20Resources%20of%20Nagaland.pdf
- “The Role of Natural Resources in Peacebuilding,” United Nations Environment Programme, https://www.unep.org/resources/report/role-natural-resources-peacebuilding
About the Authors: Please visit link: nagalim.us/01/home.html and look under “Our Relationships” to learn abut the authors.