Culture of Opportunism

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Nagaland is a land of opportunities, with great natural beauty and good climate throughout the year. The people are healthy, welcoming and friendly. Blessed with vast fertile flat land in the foothills and salubrious climate in the hills attracting people from different parts of India and abroad. The indigenous people were fiercely independent, known for taking brave individual and collective actions against the interference in their ways of life from foreign powers till the successful invasion and largely peaceful rule by the British Imperialists in the 19th century. Historically, Nagas lived in villages independent of one another, enjoying absolute sovereignty over their own territory and people defending it separately or collectively with the surrounding villages as allies against assailants. When India got her independence from the British Empire, the Nagas wanted to return to their earlier state of life and protested against being handed over to another power. Hence, the age-old conflict with the government of India under the influence of some outstanding popular leaders, turning the Nagas as the parent source which inspires all the other insurgent movements in the northeast India. That struggle created the state of Nagaland out of the Naga Hills district in Assam.

The spirit for fighting seems to have slowed down and given ways to easy and comfortable living but it continues under the garb of neo-nagaism largely deviating from the original ideas led by splintered groups. Some of them even joined the state politics with the same old ideologies and mindset and active within the constitution of India. It appears that these people cannot differentiate the boundary line between the over-ground and under-ground politics, creating confusion amongst the minds of ordinary citizens or acting deliberately; which is highly immoral, with an objective to enjoy the facilities from both sides. Their ambivalent stance and opportunistic approach to politics are the main causes for political and social turmoil in the present day Nagaland. Solely guided by personal or factional interests, they don’t seem to represent any ideologies or principles for the people of Nagaland in any manner. Politically, they are everywhere but nowhere, floating around freely like a feather. The main reason that motivates them to be in politics is the desire to enjoy the trammels – political power and position. Pliable and behaving like the classic behaviour of bat during the struggle for supremacy between animals and birds simply wanting to be on the winner’s side without any political principle or morality, continually playing this game over the fate of our people since the state was born. Actively working without reservation against the state by undermining its authority and power, if possible, even destroy it after enjoying all its benefits, seemingly, dominating the state politics today.

Regarding the present controversial issue concerning the voluntary declaration of names of relations working with the Naga political groups by the state government employees, the Chief Minister said that the “government’s directive to the state employees to declare relations, if any, with Naga political groups was done at the Raj Bhavan’s behest.” Why the government issued “a clarification for public consumption”? Did it consider that it was against the constitution of India? Did the Governor act within the constitution of India? If he did, then, the state government must obey it

without questioning or grumbling. If not, they can challenge it through the court, having got competent state lawyers to guide them. They should not play politics over the letter of the Governor because he holds the constitutional position, authority and power to see that the state is run according to the constitution of India and not by the whims and fancies of any individual or organisation, performing his role to uphold the constitution of India. The general degradation, depravity and collapse of political morality and audacity of the non-government organisations in Nagaland must be brought under control, squelching the incipient recalcitrant tendencies with strong corrective measures before it is too late. The state leadership must act boldly and legally without excuse or alibi and not wilt or buckle under pressure either from the Governor or the non-government organisations. They must compel by action that there is rule of law in the state and it is not being run arbitrarily by anybody or organisation protecting the interests of the state and its citizens promoting justice setting aside political shenanigans.

After decades of political struggle, many Nagas have become politically very clever but morally depraved and socially despicable. They learnt how to survive but lost their individuality, identity and principles. Losing the core gravity of social and political issues that dogged their ancestors ever since they emerged from their village republics trying to identify themselves with the current political philosophy of nagaism as propounded by charismatic leaders from various tribes, many present leaders are ambiguous about the political destinies of the Nagas. Their ancestors fought to defend and preserve the distinct racial identity and political freedom of the Nagas but the present generation doesn’t seem to have any of it or would like to work for it but conveniently taking it as an instrument for exploiting the Nagas and the government of India for self aggrandisement. Lacking political principle, conviction and commitment, goal is to fool around the people with sweet talks and grandiose claims before the people of Nagaland and the government of India. Keeping them both on tenterhooks effectively in the dark while successfully achieving their sinister designs by making themselves materially prosperous by milking the citizens through various unethical practices and heavy taxations; living luxuriously and opulently with the illegal money extorted from the citizens and indulging in talking about some vague ideas like neo-nagaism very differently from their past leaders upon whose sacrifice their movement rests. The present political impasse has produced a new culture of opportunism in Nagaland. Learning, how to dodge the constitution of India by being ambiguous on any contentious issue especially on the question of Naga national movement, unwilling to take any action against them when they erred or involved in illegal activities in the state harassing the citizens by calling their policy as “equidistant” seamlessly working together for mutual benefits at the expense of the general public throwing the state administration out of gears, fostered growth of rampant corruption at all levels. The boundary lines between the law abiding citizens and lawbreakers have become blurred and the state police emasculated and discouraged from taking any action against the anti-social elements. If arrested, the court will release them even before producing them – the genesis of the alleged breaking down of law and order. The citizens must express their experiences and opinions freely whether that is so. Neither is it party politics nor is it the Governor versus the Chief Minister. This is the question of law and order. What we talk in private must be shared with the wider audience.

The level of satisfaction about the law and order cannot be measured by orders or press statements. It can be gauged from the degree of feeling and sense of security experienced by the ordinary

citizens. What does the business community say about it? Do ordinary citizens experience extortion and threat to life? Do they have faith in police and court? Can the locals identify the law breakers and extortionists? Is it true that they are multiple illegal organisations involved in the extortion calling it ‘tax’ from public? Has the government taken any effective measures against them? Nagaland has developed a new culture of opportunism, ambiguity, ambivalence and dilettantism avoiding responsibility or action against the lawbreakers all these years. Perhaps it’s time for us now, to pull up the socks and establish the rule of law in our society promoting social justice for everyone against all anti-social elements.

Besesayo Kezo, IPS Retd DGP

* Disclaimer. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various authors and participants on this page do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Nagaland Page.