Saturday, September 25, 2021

The dilemma of Nagaland: Politically, Economically, Socially and Culturally

Dr S. C. Jamir

After long years of gloomy nights in their political pilgrimage for the first time the people of Nagaland could see a new dawn in the Naga political firmament. This is perhaps the most appropriate  time to tell the bitter truth to the Nagas  about the status of their politicalvoyage. The people of Nagaland should know their political future  because without their knowledge and consent  no organization or organizations are mandated to decide. Keeping in view this political and constitutional  imperatives , let us approach the Naga problem  with pragmatism and realism.Without attributing any accountability towards none, an honest and impartial appraisal of the entire gamut of the governance  and  the present  political texture  is  called for. Hence, this exercise.

To wriggle out from the present quagmire , several alternatives are available such as:

  1. Nagas Left- To Themselves or Lifted- From Themselves ?
  2. Progress-Prone or Progress-Resistant ?
  3. To stay in the World train station or begin to pull out of the station ?

This is the time that the Nagas should know what is Nagaland today and the  kind of design for Nagaland’s future should be ?  Several alternatives or options have been stated above for the Nagas to choose and act upon. The most glaring spectacle scene of Nagaland today is  broken down of political, social and economic walls all around.  What needs to be done now ?  Along with Nehemiah let us also say in our own setting-“ You see the distress that we are in, how Nagaland lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire, come, let us build up the wall of  Nagaland, that we be no more a reproach.”


Nagas by and large are so obsessed with politics, they hardly consider other more important aspects of human activities and needs. Apart from politics, there are many branches of activities that are required to build up human society. Economic, social, cultural, religious and especially in the 21st century scientific and technological development  determines the strength and status of  a country or a nation. Whereas, the Nagas because of their extreme obsessions appear be turning a blind eyes toward the other more important aspects of human society. Let us have a glimpse of the Naga political pilgrimage from 1946 up to date. It was indeed a collective genii of the Naga leaders of yesterday years that a Naga political institution under the name and title-  ‘’ Naga National Council was formed in 1946’’ even before the departure of the   British from the soil of India.  It is incumbent on the present generation to acknowledge the political wisdom and foresight of the older generation for this mile stone in the history of the Naga struggle. One wonders whether the Naga struggle was against the imperial government or some other authority is not clear.  Or we may cogently state that the Nagas were proclaiming that they were as free as any other free people in the world. It was a tragedy that the Imperial government turned a blind eye towards the Naga urges and aspirations. The Nagas Left- To  Themselves. What happened then when we were left to ourselves to act and decide ?The normal characteristic of the people left to themselves especially in undeveloped and less advanced area, the progress in different fields will be either slow or even non-starter or they may spoil or tainted themselves in the mire of fanaticism or conservatism. Under different Presidents of the NNC, different methods were applied but it was A.Z.Phizo who had taken a concrete political step i.e. Unofficial Plebiscite in 1951 to ascertain the opinion of the people of Nagaland on the issue of independence, and according to record almost cent percent favoured a separate sovereign and independent state of Nagaland. The Naga movement assumed a different dimension after the plebiscite under the undisputed leadership of A.Z.Phizo, the President of the NNC. The simple and innocent Naga public, who were novice in practical politics were told that a separate Naga Homeland would be like a paradise. Only the idyllic picture of the free Nagaland was depicted and shown it to the common men  but nothing was told what it would mean to be an independent nation or a country. What kind of struggle would it be was not told to the people except to stand united to face the challenges. Initially, without any inhibition but with great zeal and enthusiasm the entire population plunged into the struggle with a hope that the dawn of freedom was near. The people were even told that independent will be declared on 14th August 1947 and all concerned authorities including UNO was informed but all these were only political exercises. In reality, the erstwhile Naga Hills continue to be a district of Assam. In the Naga political struggle instead of fighting against the enemy, they started killing their own people under one pretext or the other. Blood flowed between family and family, between clan or khels or between villages and between tribes. This animosity remains deep down in the hearts and minds of the aggrieved families on both sides. This was the result of the Nagas left to themselves. Even today the same trend if not worst enveloped the entire Naga society. Suspicions, fear, intimations, threats, kidnapping and extortions of the highest magnitude prevailed in Nagaland. Under the banner of the Naga National Council, Nagas were united as a people and they fought unitedly for a very clear objective i.e. sovereign Nagaland. But today, there a multiple factions in Nagaland who are claiming to be representatives of the Nagas and their cause. But the paradox is that they fight and kill among themselves and celebrate for such heinous crimes. Today the political wall of Nagaland is broken and shattered beyond repairs. Let us not shy away from the truth. The public of Nagaland should be told frankly and honestly what is within and what is beyond our reach in matters of Naga political goal. It was indeed a welcome pronouncement by the leaders of all underground leaders about the true picture of Naga political status. I quote:  On 29.2.2012,in a mammoth gathering of Naga public it was openly declared which reads:-“ Khole also lauded NSCN(IM) General Secretary Th.Muivah for his honesty and courage while addressing the three-day meet at Niathu Resort in 2011 in declaring that independence in the international context and integration of Naga areas in India and Myanmar are not possible.”This was done by no other than by themselves. This is the real picture of the 60 years of Naga political pilgrimage. Politically, the Nagas are in a terrible quagmire and so farthey continue to be in darkness. When all the political agendas have been nailed to the coffin what else can the Nagas expect from the current polemics.??As the proverb says “ A drowning man even catch at a straw.”  Under this precarious condition  at least like the straw we have in front of us “ the Framework Agreement of 3rd August 2015” to  bail us out  from the present political quagmire.” Time has come to remove the mask that covered the framework and let the people see the real contents of the accord  then only can the people  will be able to judge whether it is honourable or otherwise. The people are intelligent enough  to understand  the position of the Government of India vis vis Naga political demand. It shall be in the interest of both the Nagas and the Government of India to take pragmatic decision without any further delay. We are confident that leaders engaged in the political parleys will surely try to do what is  best for the people and the country.

Elected Government:

Since 1964, the state of Nagaland is run by  a government elected by the people through adult franchise. Nagaland Legislative Assembly is the only legitimate and mandated authority  to run the affairs of the state. This position needs to be known and recognized by the people of Nagaland. It is the responsibility of the elected members as well as the electorates to uphold the sanctity of this Assembly and the government. In a parliamentary democracy, in the state level, the Assembly is the visible heart and soul of the people. But in Nagaland we are exhibiting a dismal the picture of polity and its governance.

  1. Over the years election in Nagaland had totally negated the accepted democratic procedure and norms. Election is the opportunity provided to every citizen to exercise his or her vote to determine the kind of government one wants and therefore the precious vote should be casted honestly and with clear conscience. But in Nagaland the whole process has been commercialised. The fortune of a candidate depends upon money and muscles power plus support of the armed cadres of the underground outfits. The vote is sold to the highest bidder. To meet this demand all the candidates who are determined to win had to disposed off everything he or she has and even during election one is reduced to a mere pauper. When the result is out, most of the successful candidates found themselves totally bankrupt. This is the real plight of Nagaland legislators. When the new house meet it would be a congregation of bankrupt members. If this is the case, what can the members do for the state and the electorates who ruined their lives.It is obvious the same demand will be in the coming election alsoand if this is the case what will  the legislators do ? What will be their priority ?  They will surely try to repay to the scrupulous creditors without delay. Where is the space for the MLAs to think about themselves and their respective constituencies and the state ? This is the predicament in which most of the Naga MLAs are embroiled. Can the people expect anything good from the Nagaland Legislative Assembly ?  It is difficult for no fault of them. The present system of commercialization of election had totally ruined many upcoming Naga leaders who would have contributed tremendously for the good of the people. The Naga electorates should remember that they are indulging in political hari-kari.

Today corruptions , abuse of power, nepotism, favouritism and the like are the especial features of governance. The people can not complaint nor condemned such abominable acts because they are the main cause. On the other hand, there is no governance in the real sense of the term. Firstly, the inbuilt system of governance i.e. check and balance is either paralyzed or destroyed.Again there are too many authorities both overground and underground. The elected government is made to play only the second fiddle, whereas, the underground organization in the name of self-styled government had usurped the authority of the state. As a matter of fact, some of the factions assumed itself to be the legitimate authority and started running i the de facto government in Nagaland. Under such a situation and environment, rule of law had to bid adieu to the society. Extortions, intimidations, kidnapping, killings and threats are the special features of Nagaland today.

  1. Corruptions have been institutionalized at all levels in the administration as deduction of certain percentage on all development works have become an accepted norms and thereby allowing rampant and naked corruptions are openly committed from top  to the bottom in the government but the public had neither the moral courage nor strength to raise their voice against all these developments.On one side there is fear psychosis in the minds of a large majority of the people because of the  insurgent’s gun cultureand on the other hand, they were also blinded by materialism and in the bargain they resign to their faith to avoid confrontation with the government.
  2. Another strange sign of the present mood of the people in general and some of the underground leaders in particular feel exhilarated in simply eulogizing the Naga struggles for independence or parroting “uniqueness of Naga history ‘’ etc etc as if this is a tangible object to be shared among the people. One fails to understand why the people of Nagaland even the top leadership focused only on the past. Time focus has four categories: time past, the present, the immediate future and the distant future that merges into the afterlife.

Nagas –left themselves focused on time past. But this trend must be now reversed. Time focus for a progress-prone culture is present and future oriented. Time is an arrow: it is active, in flight, heading for a goal. Such a time focus encourages an active lifestyle where persons think of themselves as actively as creating the future. It is a future within reach. The present and the future are considered the only time dimension that can be acted on, planned for, and influenced.

Future orientation is the degree to which individuals in the organizations or societies engage in such behaviour as planning, investing in the future, and delaying individual or collective gratification. In countries high on this attribute, people do not visit spontaneously , but call before visiting.

Those of future orientation enjoy economic prosperity and they experience scientific advancement, democracy, gender equality, and social health.

The past is the time focus of progress-resistant cultures, the past being revered and exalted. This exactly what is happening in Nagaland. People quarrel for the past as if they were living in the past.

Development and progress:

A tiny district of Assam without any infrastructures and resources ,suddenly compelled to carry the load of a full-fledged state of the Indian Union. Creation of the state of Nagaland was purely on political compulsion and  consideration to meet the urges and aspirations of the tribal people-Nagas. The state of Nagaland had to start  from zero. But during the past 50 years the face of Nagaland is completely changed compared to the fifties. May not be up to the required standard but today we have at least  the minimum of the paraphernalia of a state and there had been a spurt especially in the human resource development attaining a favourable high literacy without quality. Successive governments have tried their best for the all round development of the state but due to resource constraints progress coupled with disturbed law and order created by the underground we could not mesasure up to the desired goal. For the first time the UPA government start pouring unlimited fund into the state under different centrally sponsored schemes in addition to the much enhanced  annual plan allocations. With so much of amount for the development of the state with the state government ,the entire process of development had been distorted at the whims of the authority.(Nagas- left to themselves) or any body left-to themselves  will land in the same state of affairs. The resources are either misused or, progress will be slow by takingslow and unprogressive plansor they may even spoiled or sullied themselves in the mire of greed. This is perhaps the main cause of tremendous wastage and misused of funds over the years.

A  New Nagaland:Indications from many reliable sources affirms and confirms that the Prime Minister of India is serious  about solving  the ongoing political talks between the Naga Political groups and the GOI without any further delay. The Naga people are equally anxious for early solution of the said problem. As a matter of fact the people of Nagaland are completely fed up and tired and even angry with the prevailing situation in the state. It is hope and pray that a new dawn of  politicaldispensation would be heralded  in the land of the Nagas. The greatest challenge before the Naga people and the government of India  shall be effective implementations of the agreement. We  may not dash impetuously to the task ahead of us but  an effective and efficient mechanism be designed to transform Nagaland  with all the attributes of a  peaceful and progressive state. First and foremost step should be a total overhauling of the entire systems and evolve a new and effective administrative apparatus to fine tune with the new challenges. The post agreement will have only one constitutional authority to run the affairs of the state and thus , any new initiative towards bringing  the administrative machineries on the rails will not be a stupendous task. An interim measure may be thought of  to effectively and efficiently  deal with all the seen and unseen problems. Since all the political parties  and their representatives in the Assembly have formally pledged  to  vacate their seats  to pave the way for new political arrangement. This political maturity shown by the elected members will surely help  designing  the New Nagaland fully equipped with the best and latest techniques for effective governance   which would be the most precious and enduring legacyfor the younger generation.