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Nagaland’s population markers adding to ILP confusion

By EMN Updated: Feb 25, 2020 11:03 pm

Dimapur, Feb. 25 (EMN): Twenty-five-year-old *Bharti’s grandfather migrated from Uttar Pradesh to Nagaland during the 1950s. He worked in the Public Works department in Dimapur as a helper, appointed prior to 1979.

Now, three generations of her family, she must prove to the district authorities that they are not illegally settled and working in Nagaland. Since the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime was announced for the erstwhile open economic unit Dimapur city earlier this year, they must prove their residency.

Bharti, who works with a printing press in the city, said there are no clear records of how many from UP are settled in the state, although there could be ‘many.’ She said assessing the non-Indigenous population in the state would be hard due to ‘lots of improper documentations’ that could cause problems for genuine citizens.

“Luckily my grandfather was appointed as a government servant before 1979. So, we have the proof of residing here. But we don’t have the proof of grandfather staying here since the 50s,” she said.

Bharti and her family must now apply for ILP exemption: Any non-Indigenous person who has settled or entered Nagaland prior to 21-11-1979 and has been staying continuously since then in Dimapur must apply for it. The district authorities now want them to prove and justify why they do not have the documents as listed in the form, which includes electoral roll, house rent receipts, electricity bill, and landline bills.

The administration began issuing ILP for Dimapur city, the trading capital of Nagaland. It was the only district that was not under the ILP regime unlike the rest of Nagaland, which became a state in 1963. It was an open economy before the Nagaland government announced in a notification dated December 9 2019 that the ILP would now be implemented in the district.

In the absence of reliable data, or at least recent projected estimates starting from the base census year 2011 for Nagaland, estimating the population of non-indigenous people, or people engaged in the state’s unorganised labour and services sector, or their demographics, or the number of illegal immigrants, is a challenge.

Casual calculations can vary due to inconsistent figures till the state’s Census 2011, and due to the unreliability of projected figures from the years from 2011 to the current year to reconcile them with an average projected rate.

According to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme implementation’s annual report for 2017-18 report, the labour force participation rate according to ‘usual status’ for the state of Nagaland is 33% of the total population. The population of the state in Census 2011 is 19,78,502. Due to the abnormal growth rate leading up to the census, assessing to an average current population may be unreliable.

However, calculating from Census 2011 as the base year, the labour force participation during 2017-2018 shows just a little more than six lakh—or more precisely, at 6,52,905—of the state’s total population.

The labour force participation in the rural areas is 33.7% and in the urban areas is 31.3 %, according to the ministry’s annual report 2017-2018, which is the closest data on the state’s workforce assessment currently available.

While the data does not explain the job profiles of the workforce, it offers several general categories: “Own account worker, employer” accounts for 58.6%, “helper in household enterprises” is at 3.6 %, “self-employed” at 62.2%, “regular wage, salaried” at 36.0%, and “casual labour” at 1.8%, the figures state.

The Schedule Caste (SC) and non-Naga labourers forming the biggest population in the state’s unorganised and causal labour sector is an established perception. But few figures seem available to support it. It is widely perceived that SC and ‘Others’ members form a considerable majority the state’s unorganised sector. On a visible level, the workers are generally from Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh, and “the south”—a general term to describe persons from Tamil Nadu to Kerala.

These economic units are a broad section comprising agriculture workers, novelty vendors, sanitation workers, porters, rag pickers, cart pullers, mechanics and hotel workers, daily wage earners, domestic workers, and construction workers among others.

The only figures that offer insights into their population come from the years 1961 to 2011. The government released the figures during the fifth session of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly on February 15 2020. In the year 1961, the population of SC / Others was a mere 126 among the state’s total population of 3,43,823. In 1981, the number grew to 1,24,045. The population reached 2,67,529 in 2011 among the state’s total population of 19,78,502 in Census 2011.

Of the population in 1991, there were approximately 38,280 Bengali-speaking persons, 32274 Nepali, and 13144 Assamese, 4493 Malayalam-speaking persons and 1965 Oriya, 1166 Tamil and 1466 Punjabi, among others such as Kannada, Kashmiri, Marathi, Konkani and even one person who spoke the classical language Sanskrit.

No comments so far
Estimates are generally only conversational and from community groups. For instance in Wokha town, of Wokha district, there reportedly are about 570 total registered shops owned by non-indigenous persons. The numbers are from 2019, said Jamese Tungoe, a community youth activist in the town.

Also, there has yet to be a reply from the administration and additional deputy commissioner’s establishment of Kohima, the capital town of Nagaland, to a request for figures and records concerning businesses, unorganised labour sector and associated demographics in Nagaland.

Poor digits
Bharti, who works in a printing house in Dimapur, might be one of those with or outside the bad figures. She must prove that her grandfather was in Nagaland before the 1970s. The document requirements to prove it include a passport prior to 1979.

‘People then were not educated about banks. So, my grandparents never cared about opening a bank account; no land deed,’ she said. ‘So, we will be stating these reasons only. We will submit it tomorrow,’ she said during an interaction on February 25.

The number game is a common hurdle in Nagaland whether it is for developmental purposes, administrative work or plain population assessment.

“That’s the problem (lack reliable, current data),” said a number cruncher and accountant, Abhijeet Chowdhury. His grandfather migrated to Nagaland circa 1971 from Mynagury near SIliguri in West Bengal. His grandfather was then posted at the Dimapur railway establishment, the accountant said. Since then, three generations of the Chowdhurys have been living in Nagaland.

He speculated that there might have been approximately ‘50,000’ people from West Bengal who migrated to Nagaland and have been living here since 1971.

As stated in previous reports of this series, a number of important government establishments such as Labour and Statistics and administrations of Kohima and Dimapur have admitted to not having updated data on the subject, or none, except for old statistics. Also, the Nagaland chief secretary’s office did not reply to a request for comment in this regard.

*Name changed on request
This article is written by Al Ngullie. It is one of a series of reports published in Eastern Mirror as part of the National Foundation of India fellowship, New Delhi.

By EMN Updated: Feb 25, 2020 11:03:00 pm