Saturday, March 6, 2021

Addiction and Ownership

We are almost exactly a month away for the Nagaland Parliamentary Constituency and the bye-election to the Nagaland Legislative Assembly from 26-Aonglenden (ST) Assembly Constituency. Surely much thought is focused on these elections ~ now that the Election Commission of India (ECI) has announced the dates of these elections. No doubt, since last year, the entire country has been directing a lot of attention to this point of the parliamentary and electoral history of India ~ not least because the last five years has seen major changes in all spheres of our national life, some positive and some negative. So, this parliamentary election is crucial because it would decide the trajectories India would take on numerous aspects in the future, which would immensely impact the country, every which way. This parliamentary election are also critical to decide India’s standing in the community of nations because global equations are rapidly changing uncomfortably, especially in the arenas of politics, economics and environment ~ all of which will further decide how our world will be, look and feel like, perhaps even in the next couple of years. So, the question necessarily is how does Nagaland perceive its own future and of the country’s ~ although we have just one seat in the Lok Sabha. Yes, just one but because parliamentary democracy has been reduced to the numbers game, one is a huge number ~ particularly because this election is a battle between two conflicting ideas of India. So, yes, Nagaland would need to decide our idea of India, as also of Nagaland. Against this background, it then becomes imperative for political parties here to make their stands unambiguous and avoid selling chimeras, as have been done in past elections to the Lok Sabha and the state Legislative Assembly. For one, none of the political parties have any “substantive” say in the process to resolve the Naga political issue, so it is futile for them to harp on it, as was done in previous elections. Secondly, no political party has “brought” development to Nagaland because our state is totally dependent on the Centre financially. Till the time, political parties forming state Governments can raise revenues and utilize them for infrastructure and other development, they ought to stop creating delusionary commotions, in an attempt to divert the attention of the people, who are trying desperately to find recourse to our truths. In any case, after the major share of funds from the Centre is paid for salaries of Government employees and the cut-backs and commissions are taken into account, the remaining for “development” is hardly anything any self-respecting political party ought to talk about. Thirdly, political parties here also ought to stop the public bad-mouthing and spats in the form of paper wars, etc., because the public is only too well aware of what is happening but mostly because such inane and immature conduct exposes the political parties’ incompetence to lead from the front ~ much less work on a road-map to rescue the people from the present abysmal conditions of increasing unemployment and poverty, as also salvage our alarmingly depleted and degraded environment, which is uprooting our agrarian society and thrusting us into an alien world of barren soil and emptied rivers. Increasingly, our local newspapers highlight unpaid salaries, backdoor appointments and other instances of rampant corruption ~ would our political parties talk about them and give us a feasible blue-print of how they would address and redress these issues and hence we should vote for them? Or would they brush these issues aside by playing the blame game? What about the increasing peripheralization of women from the centre-stage of societal interaction? Would our political parties continue to allow themselves to be held at ransom by intransigent obscurantist patriarchal forces and keep Naga women fettered by cultures, customs and traditions, which the rest of the world left behind when it stepped out of the cave? Would our young people have only the options of music, fashion and food to “contribute” to the state’s economy? The list, of course, is not exhausted but the gist, hopefully, is understood by our political parties for the need to change directions for the elections slated for April 11. Meanwhile, it is equally imperative for the people to decide whether we want to give up our addiction to old broken records or truly dare to change to be able to take ownership of change this time.