Shared Sovereignty between India and Nagalim


Why Nagas should not miss “Shared Sovereignty” opportunity as a process to sovereign nation? And how the shared sovereignty can end the conflict between India and Nagalim; and what will be the legal and administrative relation under shared sovereignty?


Mr. RN Ravi (interlocutor), said that “both sides have acknowledged the universal principle that in a democracy, sovereignty lies with the people. Government of India has acknowledged the uniqueness of Nagas. This uniqueness will be reflected in sharing of the power”

Mr. Isak Chishi Swu (Chairman), said that “the framework agreement is based on the uniqueness of Naga history; which means Nagas are a free people and they have never been a part of Union of India or Burma or any other power either by conquest or consent. Both the parties agreed that sovereignty, according to the universal principle of democracy lies with the people, not government or monarch. And that sovereignty of the Nagas lies with the Naga people and sovereignty of India lies with the Indian people. However, with a view to solving the Indo-Naga political problem both the parties agreed to share sovereign power for enduring and peaceful co-existence of the two entities. The agreement also says that land and its resources of both below and above the earth totally belong to the Nagas. The Nagas will have the right to exercise their sovereign power over their territories. Nagas are the master of their land.”


Background: The Naga people are a conglomeration of several tribes inhabiting the North Eastern part of India and north-western part of Burma. The Nagas have no caste system, class division and social hierarchy but follow patriarchy system. However every Nagas by blood is equal as Nagas and they were neither part of India nor Burma in their Naga history. However, after the British left India and Burma, in 1953 Nagas were divided into two parts by Mr. Jawaharar Nehru Indian Ex-PM and Mr. U NU Burmese Ex-PM at Kohima, half apart in India and other half in Burma.  The Naga tribes have similar cultures and traditions, and form the majority ethnic group in Indian state of Nagaland, with significant presence in ManipurArunachal Pradesh, some small population in Assam and Burma. The Naga speak various distinct Tibeto-Burman languages, including Ao, Angami,  Poumai (Poula), Sumi, Tangkhul, Lotha, Sangtam, Pochuri, Mao (Emela), Inpui, Rongmei (Ruangmei),  Thangal, Maram, and Zeme. The Nagas were living as free nation under Village sovereignty until the great Britian colonization take place. And the movement starts with the British and later on with India and Burma; I will call British colonial rule as blessing for Nagas but it’s illegal in modern political concept in my understanding. The British, who annexed Assam in 1826, constituted the Naga Hills district in 1866 and followed a policy of non-interference towards the hill tribes.

The Naga people form Naga Club in 1918 and submitted Memorandum to Simon Commission at 1928. As British paramount in India ended, A Z Phizo, president of the Naga National Council (NNC) declared independence on August 14, 1947. The Naga National political movement is in a sense as old as the Indian Union. In its attempt to maintain peace and security, the Government of India has been trying to dissuade the Nagas from demanding Nationhood by adopting various means both repressive and ideological; whereas NSCN and Naga civil society believe in “Greater Nagalim and sovereignty” as their birth right. The formation of Nagaland, India’s first tribal state supported by a landmark constitutional amendment, failed to resolve the insurgency problem. 

Every legend has the beginning: The first priority for every Naga people is to solve the Naga political problem; Naga political issues was as old as Indian before 1947, most of the past agreements between Government of India and Naga people has failed because the Naga movement demands a nation state and tested the limits of federalism. And recently on August 3rd 2015, the government of India and NSCN signed a “Historic Peace Accord” to settle the political problem under the basis of shared-sovereignty. It is said that in fact, a “framework agreement” which provide the board contours of an acceptable solution to be negotiated in the coming political journey between the two parties. However the question always remain that will this latest accord can solve the political problem as a product of about hundred round of negotiations since 1945, and end the oldest insurgencies and heal the wounds of the Naga people who has lost many life in the struggle for  Naga Nation? Or will it fail again like other (Nine Point Agreement in 1947; Sixteen Point Agreement in 1960 and Shillong Accord in 1975) agreement? Or how the atmosphere of distrust has imbued that the Naga political solution can’t solved in table negotiation but is it lies in the understanding among the people through Naga Historical foundation from the bottom line’s focusing towards the target by using ideas and capacity to find the way out with Naga political right to be driven out from Indian control in a political meant and skilful constitutional ways under shared sovereignty?

Every Nagas citizenry knows that all political parties’ main propagandas include “to solve Naga issues” in order to win the election. Naga People Front (NPF) Party practically carries out their propaganda to solve the Naga political problem with the best interest of the Naga people. NPF sincerely working hard to take initiative as an mediator to solve Naga Political problem; where they find that Share sovereignty between India and Nagalim is the best solution for both parties to end the conflict, because the best part for both side is to coexist together peacefully by settling the conflict. As a result, NSCN IM Collective leaderships are being guided by naga scholars, intellects and International experts. Some international experts include, Michael von valt Praag, a professor of international law at the Golden Gate University in San Francisco; Yash Ghai, an Indian-origin Kenyan academic of Constitutional Law; and Anthony Reagan, professor of law at the Australian National University and many other. Naga have been demanding for sovereignty and it is very hard to imagine from Indian perspective; thereby, the expert suggest on pruranationalism model or share sovereignty model will be the best solution for nagalim, in order to attain sovereign nation by accepting some rights such as separate parliament, Supreme Court, constitution, flag, dual citizen and other under it. Example: Under the devolution in UK constitution, the Scottish has separate parliament, Supreme Court and greater autonomy then why not Nagalim can’t have? And when the Hong Kong and Taiwan can have separate flag and constitution then why can’t Nagalim? If Kashmir can have a separate flag, then why can’t Nagas? China has separate flags for Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan then why not Nagas. But Indian constitution can override in some areas of the Naga constitution under shared sovereignty because Naga need Indian help in certain areas like international affair, foreign affair, currency, join military and border maintenance etc. Indo-Naga peace talk is on the process and it should be solve through a process from shared sovereignty to sovereign nation. I can quartette that demanding complete sovereignty without a process is a suicide mission for NPGs and it is not possible in modern Indo-Naga political scenario when analysis completely.

Shared sovereignty according to NSCN IM: NSCN (I-M) general secretary Th. Muivah said “both negotiating sides however agreed to share the competencies by respecting people’s wishes on “sharing sovereign power” as defined in the competencies where both sides agreed on a peaceful co-existence. Meanwhile, NSCN (I-M) leadership hold a meeting on Wednesday (August 26) 2015 with all the 60 legislators of Nagaland at Dimapur to discus about final settlement under shared sovereignty.”

Shared sovereignty according to Indian Government: Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) chief R.N Ravi is the chief negotiator from Indian side and he said that “sharing sovereign power will not be mere semantics or playing with words but that there will be a ‘genuine devolution’ where Nagas will become ‘almost sovereign ­like.’ He said this was what Government of India translated in terms of uniqueness of Naga history. On “what would be the shape” of the arrangement for Nagas outside Nagaland, he said it would depend on how it was negotiated by both the parties. Regarding the crucial issue of integration of Naga areas in the North East, Ravi admitted that it still remained in the agenda while adding that it would have to be achieved through a democratic process. Says relationship between India & Nagas on the basis of shared sovereignty Interlocutor for Naga peace talks, the Chairman of the Joint intelligence Committee Ravi said sovereignty lies with the people and no country was independent, but inter­dependent yet for Nagas, it would be independent and the relationship between India and Nagas would be on the basis of sharing of sovereign power.”


Shared sovereignty in my point of view: In my understanding, Share-Sovereignty is two or more nation’s theory which can coexist together as one nation-state by sharing sovereign power in certain areas of legal and administrative relationship between two or more nation under some arrangement in the constitution from both countries.

The characteristic of Shared Sovereignty

  1. Separate constitution 2. Separate flag 3. Separate parliament 4. Separate judiciary (Supreme Court) 5. Separate president and Prime minister 6. Separate national Anthem 7. Dual citizenship/separate passport right 8. Separate currency 9. Separate UN representation 10. SEPARATE EMBASSIES. 11. Separate service cadres and intelligence 12 join defense and military13. Join external affair and communication 14. Constitutional arrangement between two or more nations.

Pan Naga Hoho and Plurinationalism and Federal structure: According to Prof. Tierney, Plurinationalism is a set of system challenges in term of rethinking federal commitments to autonomy, representation, recognition, and methodological approach to internal sovereignty itself. I agree with his ideas of plurinationalism which is similar to Pan Naga Hoho, because it represent sub-state nationalist with constitutional claim short of full statehood but expansion of federal structure  in the state characterized by the constituting a form of government in which power is divided between one central and several regional authorities. On the other hand, in a federal system of government, sovereignty also refers to powers which a constituent state or republic possesses independently of the national government.

Lastly, the Shared sovereignty is the best solution to end the Indo Naga conflict because Naga has been constantly demanding for sovereignty but we cannot live as a nation even if Indian and Burma give our demand for many reasons in the present political scenario. The Naga people challenged the limit of Indian federalism and constantly demand for greater Nagalim equivalent to nation. On the other hand India will never grand sovereignty to any group for many reasons; one of the main reason is, (internal and external security problem) the state like Kashmir, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Panjub etc. will demand independence nation from India and external treat from neighboring state. However, in order to accommodate shared sovereignty model, Indian parliament will discusses the issues and the bill will be sent to Supreme Court for judicial review then only it will be possible to work out for final settlement, legally speaking. However, if successful then there will be some changes in India constitution especially in Arts 3, 11, Arts 371 A, and concurrent list and State list. I believe that Nagas have every right to be independence if they are willing to do so, based on their unique history of Naga people!

Recommendation: Nagas should not demand complete sovereignty in present political scenario; however, they should follow certain process under shared Sovereignty, which is the best solution and meeting point to solve the Naga political issues only if Indian government is willing to negotiate on it. Under shared sovereignty, Naga can have separate parliament, constitution, Supreme Court, flag etc but they might have join military, border maintenance, foreign affair and Indian constitution can override to Naga constitution in some areas under the agreement. Because Naga people will never give up their demand for sovereign state especially those insurgencies in Naga society and they claim that Naga have historical right to demand it. And I partially agree with the claim of some Naga people’s that Indian should not force to Naga people to join India Union because it will be like a colonialism type of policy; however, Naga can’t separated from India for political reason. Let the Indian respect the unique history of Naga people and Naga should respect to Union of Indian so that both party should co-exist together as one great nation.

On the other hand, Indian government and Burmese government should grant some sovereign power to Naga people. Both the government refuses to talk on sovereignty; however, they are willing to give greater autonomy which shared sovereignty is already offer by Union of India which the Burmese government should follow to solve Naga political problem. And lastly, the term Shared Sovereignty is two nation theories in my understanding but it is being used in different term on the Indo-Naga peace talk but I recommend every Naga residing in all part of Indian state and in Burma to honors Indo-Naga talk on shared sovereignty to settle Naga political problem and Naga should coexist with Indian and Burmese through mutual respect.


2 thoughts on “Shared Sovereignty between India and Nagalim

  1. Sir,
    The Naga Club submitted a memorandum to the Simon Commission on January 10,1929 on the report of Sir J.H.Hutton,when Sir John Simon Commission visited Kohima & not as you mentioned.
    Also, you have left out other Naga tribes such as,Konyak,Yimchunger,Rengma,Khiamnungan etc the use of ‘ETC’ could add more details to the line. It was only after the last battle of Khonoma,the British established their authority over the Naga Hills District in 1879. In the early,1850s(50-51) boundary lines were altered on several occasions by the British to satisfy their allies at the cost of the Nagas.
    Let’s reason together & keep update with the facts lest we distort our unique history.

    Jeh Wotsa


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