Wednesday, July 28, 2021

… where the shoe hurts ~ II

Clearly, by ignoring these issues, the Northeast cannot be transformed into the “development gateway” of “new India’ ~ never mind what any political party promises and what any Government at the Centre reiterates. In 2014, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to Nagaland for our State Day on December 1, he was very sanguine that he/his Government would resolve the decades’ old Naga issue within 18 months. Much water have flown under our rickety bridges, some of which have collapsed ~ and our rivers are drying ~ yet talks never cease and the goal posts of the “final agreement” keep getting farther and farther. Going by the media reports of Modi’s visit to Manipur on January 4, where he inaugurated eight projects, he appears not to have mentioned a word about the Naga issue, which plague both Manipur and Nagaland ~ and has adversely impacted the rest of this region over the decades. Certainly a climb-down from the sanguinity Prime Minister Modi displayed in December 2014 at Kohima. But this is understandable because Northeastern issues are unfailingly perceived from prisms that do not cover the entirety and the enormity of our issues here. Our first Prime Minister Nehru erroneously thought that the Indian Army’s fire-power would subdue the rebelling under-developed Nagas in a short time ~ the course of action he took is history now, as well as a model for other communities in the Northeast. But the bush fires rage on ~ unfortunately against our own people now. Analysts and all kinds of experts, Indians and foreigners, continue to vigourously opine naively ~ some even suggesting the “Cowboys and Indians” methods of quelling “dissent”. No, just by visiting Nagaland and chatting up with a few famous names a couple of times aren’t enough to make anyone an expert and go into a diatribe against pet peeves ~ especially media persons. Worse still, there are people, including foreigners, who now put the onus of resolving issues on the local media ~ as if, if we constantly write what they feel entitled to tell us to write against the numerous groups, particularly their leaders here, they will meekly abide by what we write. While Northeasterners, especially Nagas, are perceived as delusional, clearly those who think they have the answers to all our issues are equally, if not more, delusional. You see, sitting here in Nagaland it is easy for us to hold forth on how to end shootings in US schools but as the saying goes: only the wearer knows where the shoe hurts. When anyone talks of development, very noticeably nothing is said of “the psychological profiles of our peoples, which have shaped our histories, economies, politics, cultures, traditions, laws, lore and legends, keeping in mind that over the centuries, these very same factors have also shaped our psychological profiles”, the paradoxes of “archaic, undemocratic and unrepresentative Customary Laws and simultaneously by the well-defined Constitution of the world’s largest democracy”, the multiplicity of systems of governance and judicial systems ~ both constitutional and non-state, corruption ~ leading to an ever-widening gap between the wealthy and the impoverished, environmental degradation ~ leading to a massive rural-urban exodus, and Article 371 (A) of the Indian Constitution ~ which actually protects the most archaic laws against the other liberal laws enshrined in the rest of the Constitution, the near-total absence of governance, politicization of almost every other constitutional institution, ~ the list by no means is exhausted. In the aforesaid paper, inter alia, I had also written: “In-depth study of the societies, cultures, ethos, belief systems, traditions, etc. is primary as much as in-depth study of the characteristics, psychological profiles and aspirations of the people. Interventions to treat and heal physical, mental and psychological wounds must be worked out. Perhaps we can be guided by the UNDP’s Crisis Prevention and Recovery process particularly the first step, which is: Understanding of current situation, needs and gaps to assess what already exists, avoid duplication of efforts, and build on existing information and capacities. This is done through a systematic inventory and evaluation of existing risk assessment studies, available data and information, and current institutional framework and capabilities.” Development is the favourite word of Breton Woods institutions that have depleted, de-enfranchised and defeated indigenous societies the world over ~ to romanticize the word and to be enamoured by it while ignoring a comprehensive foundation for its natural progression to ensue would be blowing bubbles in the air.