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Thursday, December 14, 2017

A forgotten State

Friday, 01 December 2017 13:29
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Amidst the euphoria over the 10-day Hornbill Festival that begins today at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama, it is sad to observe that we appears to have forgotten that today is also our State Day. Today December 1 is our State Day, but these days December 1 has become the day when the annual 10-day Hornbill Festival, the so called mother of all festivals, begins. Even top State leadership, including the Chief Minister, seems to have forgotten the significance of December 1 to our people and State. One can recall what Chief Minister TR Zeliang said on November 15 last when he announced that President Ram Nath Kovind will attend the inaugural programme of the International Hornbill Festival in Nagaland on December 1. He made the announcement at a meeting to review preparation of the festival to be held at the Naga Heritage village at Kisama. Sadly, the Chief Minister forgot to mention that December 1 is our State Day. It is also unfortunate that for the vast majority of the younger generations here, today (December 1) is a big day because this day heralds the beginning of the 10-day Hornbill Festival. Just like the chief minister and top bureaucrats in the State, our youths are also unaware of the significance of the day. But perhaps this has to do with the state of affairs here in this part of the world. There is total breakdown of governance in the State for some years now, with each passing years aggravating the problems. What is there to celebrate, when the State has no roads, no bridges, no electricity, no proper healthcare system in place, etc. while the rulers are merry looting public money. But, then, why the need to celebrate Hornbill Festival? The festival today has become a huge drain on our scant resources, and the question on everyone's mind is - can we afford it? But as is our wont our pride and prestige are weighed heavier than realism, therefore the show goes on. We are all aware that the festival has not brought in the revenue that our State direly needs from tourism, a full-fledged and earning industry. Well, a festival is a festival and tourism is tourism and although we can host a great party for a few days, we have not been able to imbibe or instil the tourism culture, which is why the Hornbill Festival is much like most Nagas doing business with the objective of making profit overnight and it is quite unrelated to a sustainable and sustained tourism culture. Unfortunately today we not only not have a political leadership to bank on but are blighted by bureaucrats, who cannot think of anything novel and anything innovative but the Hornbill Festival, which unfortunately has taken greater dimensions than our State Day. The very fact that salaries of some categories of centrally sponsored schemes employees have not been paid, as much as the state's matching grant for several CSS projects etc, but the finances the Hornbill Festival requires have been sanctioned speaks volumes of the State's priorities and ego. Today it is evident that the State Government, whichever political party is in power, nurtures vote banks but not the people and there is a difference between the two, which is highly noticeable. In fact, it is this difference that has created schisms and classism in Naga society and State and has created inner turmoil in the minds of the people, who feel alienated and marginalized. This difference is evident in the numerous forms of corruption such as backdoor appointments, double drawal of funds for the same project and for non-existent projects, the PDS scam, fuel adulteration scam, etc. On paper we have a Government that is opposition-less or party-less, but it is not making any difference in the lives and realities of the people. Because the Government's top priority appears to be keeping all the MLAs or majority of them happy in order to cling to power than providing good governance. Indeed for far too long, we have allowed politicians to overwhelm all other aspects of our lives; and as we can see for ourselves today, this has not served the people's interests. It is time that now we focus on the interests, welfare and benefit of the people. Sustained and sustainable development comes to the mind first when we talk of people's interests, welfare and benefit, which would than translate and transcend into the State's advancement, development, prosperity and progress.

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