Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Non-negotiable life-line

All is not hunky-dory in the Indian economic front ~ not by a long stretch. But this is also not easy to affirm without qualifying because information on employment rates in the past few years, etc. have not been made available by the Central Government ~ and there are numerous conflicting reports of the country’s GDP, as well as the projections for the future by several national and international rating agencies and institutions. But while we may not have irrefutable figures to assert the upswing or the downswing of the Indian economy and we may erroneously believe that the larger Indian economy has little to do with Nagaland’s economy, we do know that even with Rs. 500, we cannot purchase what we could in the vegetable market for Rs. 100 just a few years ago ~ and we do recollect the time when a young person in the family was snapped by the job market within weeks of being awarded a Post-Graduate certificate and compare it to the present when Ph. Ds, engineers and graduates and post-graduates of several other professional courses are unemployed ~ or at best under-employed. And yes, whatever funds we receive from the Centre is very much linked to the country’s state of the economy ~ a prime example being the removal of the special status of Nagaland almost two decades ago. So, it is imperative that we focus on the economy ~ not merely as an election “manifesto” ~ but as a non-negotiable life-line for our survival. We need to know the state Government’s blue-print to embark on the state’s economic direction ~ seeing that even that bundle of the local green leaves no Naga family can do without has gotten smaller and the price larger. Seeing that today we are witnessing an alarmingly increasing migration of our educated and uneducated heading towards Indian metropolises looking for jobs ~ and being quite content being sales-persons and security guards, even risking arrest for jobs in illegal call centres and dubious beauty parlours. Yes, yes, our political parties and politicians, as well as bureaucrats and all self-styled experts would assert that our people are lazy and don’t want to work in our rice and vegetables fields and/or do any manual labour, that our youngsters are only interested in Government jobs and easy money, that they live beyond their means, etc. But none of these worthies analyze, much less admit, why things have come to such a pass and who created this culture of Government jobs, easy money and luxurious lifestyles without having to show anything by way of source of income. Because ours is a political state necessitating the Government of India to pour funds into Nagaland since statehood, our elite have been living an easy life on other people’s taxes and this “political economy” culture, so to speak, has been passed down to younger generations of Nagas till now. Clearly, the economy is the last thing in our minds but things are no longer what they were in the 1960s, 1970s and even till the late the 1980s globally and nationally. Besides, there are factors such as increasing population, climate change, increasing literacy rates and levels of education as also changed aspirations, especially with unlimited access to an ever-advancing technology, etc., that have impacted on our continuing subsistence economy. Moreover, the Naga political issue continues to be centre-stage in our political, social and economic psyche, which has sidelined the increasing aspirational generations and their needs ~ and this too has discouraged and de-motivated our youngsters, which in turn has adversely impacted on our economy, as ideating afresh and differently from the “mainstream” ideas and thoughts itself is considered inimical to the Naga cause. Clearly, the problem is our inability to face reality and veer ourselves from illusions and delusions ~ and one of them is our belief that the Centre will always spoon-feed us. And this becomes dangerous all the more for us when our political elite and our state Government believes this and actually perpetuates this belief. The previous and present election campaigns lends support to this contention as much as the fact that our state political destiny is believed to be intrinsically linked to that of whichever political party/parties forms the Government at the Centre.