Nagas today owe an unpayable debt to God and to the pioneers of the Naga movement for declaring the historical truth to the world in clear and unambiguous terms that ‘Nagas are a distinct Nation’. Unfortunately, due to the lack of school-educated Nagas in the formative years, the Naga story has not gained the recognition that it rightfully deserved in academic circles. The relative absence of accounts of Naga history by Nagas has also meant that the Nagas were unfairly labeled as backward. However, though Nagas may be found lacking in technological and academic advancement, no right-thinking Naga should ever concede that Nagas are backward.
The moral values and norms, social customs and practices, political organisation, and customary laws of the Nagas are on par, if not more highly developed, with the so-called civilized cultures. In fact, the acute observer will identify many similarities between the traditional Naga way of life and the moral codes of the Old Testament in the Bible. Perhaps, that was one of the major reasons why Christianity found fertile soil among the Nagas. Due gratitude must be accorded to the American Baptist Missionaries who brought the good news of Jesus Christ and also taught the Nagas how to read and write; the twin blessings which opened the world to the Nagas and introduced the Nagas to the world.
The political foundation of the Nagas’ claim to a separate and distinct nation rested on the uncompromising declaration that Nagas are not inferior to any people or culture. Nagas today have come to a juncture where it needs to be boldly and courageously stated that all Nagas are equal. The existence of the category of ‘backward’ within the Naga society is not a sign of progress and prosperity. Rather, it is the most evident sign that Nagas have failed to maintain the cherished equality within themselves. Nagas are not backward peoples and therefore there should be no backward tribes among the Nagas. Doubtless, disparities in economic development within Naga society need to be addressed and much wisdom and discernment are called for. But Nagas should never let this distinction between ‘backward’ and ‘advanced’ become a permanent blot in the egalitarian ethos that Nagas have so proudly claimed for generations.
Therefore, let no one tear into the fabric of this Naga equality through the claims of being ‘backward’ to secure momentary benefits from the government. Now, more than ever, Nagas must unite to uphold the historical truth that “Nagas are a distinct nation”. May God guide us.
Naga National Council