Thursday, November 26, 2020

A noteworthy change 

Nagaland Governor’s Message on the eve of Nagaland’s 57th Statehood Day, published in our local newspapers on December 1, 2019, is surprisingly a noteworthy change from the Messages delivered in the past hence refreshing. In the past, and for far too long, Governors’ messages on Statehood Days, Republic Days and Independence Days were basically repetitive bureaucratic exercises highlighting the “achievements” of the government of the day. Such messages of previous years and decades simply entrenched the people within and confines of the gallery and alienated us to the category of the “audience” or “spectators”. It was as if the only government of the day was present, living and breathing and the people mutely existed. With just one statement at the very outset, “Nagaland is a tribute to the indomitable spirit of our people” Governor RN Ravi has centre-staged the people unambiguously. While acknowledging the ultimate sacrifice of those who made the state of Nagaland a reality and paying tribute to them, Governor Ravi stated: “Nagaland is at the cusp of history” ~ this, of course, sounds profound because any state is always at the cusp of history but it is also profound considering the history of Nagaland in the past seven decades and more, particularly since the last few months when the Government of India finally dialogued with 7 NNPGs and the NSCN (IM) and arrived at broad agreements on October 31 last. But as is the propensity of history, these cusps are ever present ~ albeit in various manifestations ~ therefore, it is significant that our Head of state has centre-staged the people in the present cusp of history, who were hitherto mainly excluded from making history. And history is not only and always political. This he underscores by stating: “Now we have the sacred responsibility to build a New Nagaland. A Nagaland where every citizen is free from fear, fear of gun, fear of deprivation, fear of ignorance, fear of disease, fear of lack of opportunities and above all fear, of unable to dream big. Such a Nagaland has to be built by all the 2 million people of Nagaland.  It cannot be built by Government alone. It is possible only through a mass movement in which every citizen is an active partner in this holy enterprise. The new Nagaland has to be built on a foundation of Rule of Law, Transparency and Accountability; where the Majesty of Law does not discriminate the rich and poor, strong or weak, majority or minority; where governance, be it at the Village or State level is transparent and Accountable. We need to build a culture of Transparency, Accountability and respect for law. A Nagaland where those in the authority discharge their duty in spirit of service. Such a Nagaland will be free from corruption, where citizens will feel empowered and those in authority will be humble, steeped in the spirit of service.” Moreover, while underscoring the imperatives of people’s inclusion and participation in state-building in a message that also comes across as a deservedly scathing remark on Nagaland Government(s), Governor Ravi has also drawn a blue-print for a Nagaland that looks at sixty in a few years’ time. And, at sixty, we reach the status of senior citizenship in human terms but then any state is also a living, breathing and growing organism. His statement: “We have to build our precious human resource. They are like uncut diamond. They have to be cut and polished with care. They have to be physically healthy and intellectually at par with the best in the World”, further accentuates the indispensable role and responsibilities of the people in state-building in a self-respecting democracy. While urging our health workers, including Doctors and Paramedics and our Teachers, especially those in our far-flung rural areas to serve with utmost sense of responsibility despite working in hard living conditions, he remind them of the abysmal situations of our people ~ engaged in a tedious struggle. He urges the youth to nurture their health and be aspirational; he emphasizes the importance of useful knowledge and modern technology; reminds us of values that have created imbalances in our egalitarian values. Indeed, Governor Ravi’s message on our Statehood Day is a draft of the vision, the possibilities and the promises of a Nagaland that should have already been our reality long ago down the 57 years. Now we can work on this draft or ignore it ~ the choice is ours. So too would be the consequences.