Saturday, September 18, 2021

Change the game

In the Nagaland Page May 16, 2021 issue, we had this little report on Dimapur’s Duncan Urban Primary Health Centre (PHC) titled: Six words of measured judgment, Duncan PHC ~ Aru cleanliness toh kobole he nai, which accentuates our community strength. We don’t often talk about our community strength because it is such an integral part of our culture that we don’t even notice it. But the COVID-19 pandemic necessitates that we re-focus on this strength and embrace it all the more. There are two aspects of our aforesaid report: (1) community strength, and (2) the Duncan PHC Doctor’s leadership qualities. These two aspects encapsulate the lived experiences of our people since Statehood. When and where leadership leads, the community responds with strength ~ something only people who have lived through the early decades of our Statehood would understand. This assumes immense significance in today’s world and against the backdrop of the raging pandemic. As a State and a people, we have become hugely enabled and empowered in numerous ways but as a community, our strength has dwindled and depleted to abysmal levels. Avariciousness has eclipsed munificence ~ not surprising because we have embraced a form of capitalism that elevates cupidity to another level. In other words, individualism supersedes collectivism ~ in this our Government leads by example. A pity, since tribal societies have survived for centuries on the foundation of collective benevolence. But collectivism also leads to authoritarianism, despotism, suppression, oppression and tyranny but that’s for another Editorial. In the heart of almost every person is the need to give and effect change but it takes a special kind of leadership to transform that need into action ~ our report clearly states the Duncan PHC Doctor has inspired that transformative change without seeking any assistance. This is exactly the kind of change our State Government needs to effect to fight this pandemic. We know that our State Government is woefully ill-equipped to tackle this pandemic hence it requires the people’s cooperation and support. Last year, we saw tribal, religious, cultural, community and political collectives that pitched in to rescue our State Government and in the process the disadvantaged. But why, when the Centre has allotted enough funds for our healthcare system? What happened to all the funds and why was our State Government asleep when several red flags were sounded by experts on the pandemic. Very noticeably our state Government is running helter-skelter trying to acquire beds and other necessities to treat COVID positive patients but this shouldn’t have happened if it weren’t asleep despite the pandemic waning in the last couple of months of 2020 and early months of 2021. Nothing is more disgraceful than when IAS officers appeals to the Church to help out in this second wave through print and social media. This should have been done formally by the State Government, if at all, and not by individual Government employees ~ in individual capacities. This reflects the State Government being totally lost and without any control over its employees. The State Government may now claim that such employees were entrusted to garner the Church’s support but that will cut no ice because there are such things called procedures and proper channels. And, the Church knows better than to respond to publicity-seeking, self-aggrandizing individual Government employees. The Church has contributed enormously last year and is indubitably contributing now but not publicizing it. So, while societal cooperation and support is fundamental to fight the virus, it would be crass on our Government’s part to entrust non-governmental bodies to fully or even partially take responsibility to wage this war. Public health is the Government’s constitutional and moral obligation. It’s not only health but also education. A report in the May 7, 2021 issue of Morung Express underscores the societal contributions towards Mokokchung’s Fazl Ali College, Nagaland’s oldest Government College, for NAAC accreditation. The same is the situation of the Dimapur Government College and indubitably all Government Colleges, so what has happened to funds for education in Nagaland? Why does the community have to pitch in for all constitutional obligations of the Government? The community is always here to provide the support system but where is the Government to perform its constitutional obligations? Our Government needs to answer and not take advantage of community strength. The people also need to ask hard questions and demand honest answers. This pandemic is a game changer ~ for better or for worse. Let us change the game in Nagaland.