Call me ignorant, benighted and unknowledgeable for my understanding and observation of the very proud movement of the Nagas. I am pretty confident that many Nagas, young and old, take pride in the movement. There have been occasions where I am baffled by the enthusiasm of the younger generation on the Naga Nationalist movement. Maybe because I underestimated them by perceiving that they are more into pop culture thingy and don’t really pay much attention to their history or they are brainwashed to be unreasonably patriotic.
It is with no doubt that the Naga Nationalist movement had come a long way with countless patriots giving up their lives for the cause. It gives you chills when you hear or read about the struggles our forefathers, or for some, their own fathers, brothers, and uncles had sacrificed their lives for our better tomorrow. After all these sacrifices, one is left with no choice but to continue the legacy of our dear and near ones and finish the unfinished goals. This is one of the many reasons, as to why this movement is held up till today and, of course, not forgetting that much has also changed in the nature of the sacrifices made by the older generation of patriots. To be brutally blunt, our predecessors who had made so many sacrifices in the struggle were truly for the cause of Naga Nation unlike most of the present pseudo-Nationalists who are parts to the innumerable factions solely for their individual benefits.
There were true stories of the Naga freedom fighter then who would hide in the jungle for years, hungry and worn-out to protect the village just so that we can have a peaceful sleep and undisturbed harvest, and the villagers in return provide food and safety. But the irony now is that nowadays the Nation workers live in skyscrapers (maybe by our Naga standard) and eat the best Indian food. While on the other hand, most of us go through sleepless nights because these so-called freedom fighters think we, the citizens, owe them a tithe of our hard earned income just because they are fighting for a cause (which is already discredited). Many would agree with me, in spirit, of what I have just mentioned but probably would never admit it for fear of not having a share in the benefits.
The idea of having one’s own country with complete sovereignty (politically, socially, and economically) is very fascinating and endearing. Who would not want to be politically, economically, and socially independent? However, one must not overlook what it entails to be truly independent, especially in the context of the Nagas Nationalist Movement. This is where I find that most of the Nagas (i.e. intellectuals, pseudo-Nationalists, and the mass) do not want to acknowledge or are consciously ignorant to admit that attaining sovereignty is a lost cause. We only like to bask in the idea of being independent because it is easier said than done, and why not, because in many ways some are independent economically, socially, and politically in a very narrow sense.
Whenever we talk about gaining independent or having one’s own country the first thing I visualize is having our own currency. And the question of whose picture would be in the Naga currency keeps me confused because I honestly have not come across one soul who replicates what Mahatma Gandhi had shown in India’s struggle for independence from the British rule. Maybe I am being too narrow in my understanding of what a true freedom fighter is. But I have always admired Mahatma Gandhi for his non- violent freedom movements like non-cooperation, civil disobedience, and the Dandi March, etc. And because I have seen and heard enough of bloodshed in the name of Naga Nation, I can’t help but romanticize about having/starting a non-violent movement like Mahatma Gandhi. Not necessarily because I want a separate Naga Nation per se, but enough of lives have been lost and families ruined for the cause that will probably never come to pass. It is even more upsetting because the fight is no longer only with the Indian Government, but it is also among the innumerable groups within the Naga Nationalist movements.
If Nagas truly want to be separated from India and does not want anything of India (which we reverently claim), why can’t we stop getting all the benefits from the Indian Government instead? Why is it taking so long for the pro-Naga Nationalists to start something like Mahatma Gandhi’s Civil Disobedience Movement? Gandhi’s Movements was a milestone in the history of the Indian Nationalism. So far we have not seen anything from the Naga Nationalist Movement besides splitting away from every split factions and then further splitting from the already split factions, which is really sad.
My understanding of Naga nation is complete “Naga-ness,” by which I mean everything, literally everything of the Naga Nation. No speck of anything Indian, produce or products should be associated with the Naga-ness. Don’t we take pride in calling ourselves head-hunters, who lived as an individual noble republic? Then why can’t we do away with anything Indians? Like literally anything. It is not going to be easy, I understand, but somewhere it has to start. I presume there are Naga Nationalist leaders and others who also draw the same kind of inspirations like I do and maybe hoping to start something like Mahatma Gandhi’s movement, but are holding back for fear of not having enough support from the Naga public because who wants to give up all the comfort and luxury that we are enjoying. I hope this is just my narrow presumptions. But to be blatantly truthful, I am very confident to say that I am correct in my estimation that most Nagas secretly would not want to give up the perks of being Indian citizens, and of course the benefits of being the schedule tribe of the country.
This is just one tip of the iceberg; one of the greater ironies of the Naga Nationalist Movement is that the so-called Naga Nationalists or Patriots are the ones encouraging their own children to get Indian Jobs-to be more specific: crack the civil service exams, get a state and central government jobs, get central and state government contracts, join the state police, etc. In fact, they are spending all their earnings (of course, in the name of Naga Nation) to send their children for all sorts of coaching available to enable them to become Indian Public servants. Isn’t that ironic? And we happily chant here, “we are Nagas,” “our history is unique,” and “we were never conquered by any intruders,” so on and so forth. While on the other hand, you are preparing your children to serve the Indian Government from whom you are demanding independent?
I am not blaming anyone here nor judging because I know for a fact that everyone has their own justification (We all have done our PhDs in doing that) as to why and what they are doing. But I truly hope that a day will come very soon when the Nagas will be enlightened from this pseudo-Nationalist movement.
Pakinzinliu Chawang Salikyu
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