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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

New hope

Friday, 05 January 2018 12:09
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Four days ago we bade adieu to a year (2017) in which our state registered a steep fall, whatever the domain of human activity. Innumerable failures could be counted on the social, economic and the political front. The so-called party-less government has hardly fulfilled the promise of holding the state in an amicable manner; where the gulf between the haves and have-not has widened. Our society has been divided into the privileged few ruling class and the suffering masses. There is not even a semblance of an even playing field, as disparity continued to grow. Unemployment continues to be a major problem for the state. The state's inability to provide jobs in the public sector is understandable, however not much has been done to create avenues for self-employment. It is no surprise thus to see a rising unemployment graph in the state. At the same time, backdoor appointments continue unabated despite government orders against such appointments. Orders obviously are followed in their violation rather than implementation. The pressure in public sector employment has resulted in making the government a white elephant; it can ill afford to be. The traditional sectors of economy - art and craft - continue to show a decline. The agricultural economy, the mainstay has dipped to an extent where food security poses a problem. The state has turned into a massive importer of food grains. The expanding population with a limited landmass is impinging on agricultural spaces. Vertical housing conception has hardly taken on, as exclusive living quarters remain the norm. Allied agriculture sectors - the horticulture, livestock breeding and dairy products need grooming, much more than what is visible. With minimum access to raw-material for industrial growth, developing the agricultural and the allied agricultural sectors remains the best bet for the state, apart from sustainable tourism and investing in art. Business activity is dependent on investment, and investment entails a suitable tax regimen. Taxation has to suit the local economic environment. And, in order to evolve taxation that suits the local economic environment, fiscal autonomy is the essential ingredient, rather its soul. Indeed the year 2017 witnessed the loss of the very soul, as state employed Delhi devised GST in toto. The year also recorded curbing of political involvement of masses in the affairs of the state, due to continued restrictions placed on dissent. Using water canons and brute force to quell protesters were regular. The dissent continues to be viewed and treated as anti-government activity in a situation where the very status of the state is in dispute. On the state political front, crisis within the major partner of the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland, the Naga People's Front, created political instability in the State hampering governance. Changes in government three times in a year created a kind of record, perhaps even in the country. The crisis in the NPF continues to simmer, and anything is likely to happen before the state go to the husting in February this year. Two years after signing the framework agreement in 2015, solution to the Indo-Naga issue remains elusive. One good news that emerged last year was the involvement of five Naga groups under a Working Committee in the peace talks. There is renewed optimism that a solution will be reached next year. But there is the danger of state politicians using the expectation of the people for solution to gain political mileage. With election round the corner, today there seems to be an added emphasis on the belief widely held that political mileage is being drawn from the Indo-Naga issue. The high voltage rhetoric on the issue evokes sentiments to an extent where electoral dividends are drawn from it. Solution before election has today become a rallying point among politicians. The issue over the years has evolved to be a blank cheque, which could be cashed as and when it fits the bill. It remains a live account that pays. Year 2017 was no different from the phenomenon witnessed earlier. The phenomenon fits with the political belief, however weird it might be that the Naga issue must be trumpeted to streamline the masses. The hyped-up nationalistic feeling obscures failings on the governance turf. It pays in political terms, though it could at best be a short term gain. Long term objective however continue to be sacrificed at the altar of short term gains, as we welcome a new year with new hope.  


  The heart of matters A damning verdict