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Op-Ed

A need for rethinking in Nagaland Assembly

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By EMN Updated: Feb 24, 2014 9:44 pm
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Jonas Yanthan

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here is adequate fund for development of Nagaland and as much as necessary food for everyone’s human need though not enough for everyone’s greed. Technology improves by the minute to achieve this sufficiency and the Centre gives enough funds for developmental projects but the requisite to reach out to the targeted needy can be achieved only through good policies and accountable administration. This truth is known to everyone but in performance it seems to be an alien thought for the reason that in Nagaland there seems to be ‘no Ministers for Nagaland’ and correctly so the general public tend to ascribe to Ministers as Lotha minister, Sema minister, Chakhesang minister, Konyak minister etc and worse still ministers also tend to think and work as if they are ministers of their Districts, Constituencies or of their villages only. Developments of the State, as a whole, are not seen because there seems to be no Ministers ‘for Nagaland’ except ‘of Nagaland’.In addition to this is the lack of blue print State level road-map of development Departments which gives rise to implementation of all projects in piece-meal. The immediate effect of this is we find a Minister of one portfolio running to another Minister to request for a scheme or project and vice versa. As for the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the MLAs, with no portfolios, are seen running to all the Ministers to beg for various development projects and schemes for their constituencies. This should not be but is happening because of absence of common development policy for the State in the form of a comprehensive and inclusive time bound road-maps for various Departments.
In point of fact, there should be no question of requesting or begging from any Minister because in a welfare State it is the bounden constitutional job of all concern Ministers to see to it that he or she designs and works on commonly felt need for the whole State and failure to perform should be reprimanded or replaced, if need be, by the Leader of the House to create competitive attitude among the Ministers and elected members on development issues. This is authentic Democracy and without this in place development processes in Nagaland will always remain chaotic resulting in acute disparities among the Districts and the end result is demand for separate State as being voiced by ENPO. And at this rate, sooner or later, autonomous District demand will erupt from various quarters if left unchecked.
In equal measure of vain phenomenon, we find elected members vying for portfolios like Medical, PHE, RD, PWD and Education Department etc not because one has the commitment or vision to bring in innovative ideas to improve the functioning of the department in the best interest of the people but merely because these departments have money in them. Aren’t these cheap mentalities? Indeed they are and the glaring effect is the fifty years of Statehood with no tangible common development of the State except development of few interest areas or Districts. Who or which party is to be blamed for today’s underdevelopment of the State? No party is to be blamed but the leaders because yesterday’s congressmen are today’s NPF men and vice versa. Even otherwise, in Nagaland there is no real party politics except for very few because majorities are opportunists in mentality than hardcore. The actual root cause of imbalanced development in the State is due to petty tribalism, jealousy, suspicion, nepotism, dishonesty, greed for money and lack of quality leadership with a vision for common good.
Poor leadership is exhibited time and again through their hypocrisy. Leaders vehemently deliver speeches on equality, honesty, and concern for all the Tribes but in actual application we find completely opposite decisions and actions to what is proclaimed. The classical instance of duplicity can be exemplified in the oil issue. On one hand, leaders rightly stress that the right of ownership of land and resources in Nagaland, as per Article 371(A), rests with the people but on the other the Government had fixed the share of the owners without even caring to take into confidence the legitimate owners. This is a blatant negation to our Customary Land Ownership Rights that not only demands outright condemnation but also raises questions as to whether DAN ministry is truly for the people or working for their vested interests.
The rethinking, therefore, that is paramount today in governance of the State is honesty and to envision development of common interests and not exclusive or ‘commission’ interests based schemes and projects. SC Jamir ministry’s project of ‘Modern Traffic Signal System’ at Dimapur which was constructed despite pointing out that it is not only unsustainable but also the sacrifice of more pressing needs is now in total wreck and waste as was forewarned and the recent ideas like Railways and Airport in Kohima are unfortunately not immediate ‘common interest’ and will meet similar fate. What is urgently needed is to concentrate on good road connectivity of all the villages in the State along with permanent water supply and proper health care services at the grass-root areas.
The above off-track visioning of the government can best be summarized in what the Governor of Nagaland, Dr. Ashwani Kumar in his address to the KSU conference at Lakhuti village, pertinently described that “now I understand, what is being talked about and decided in Delhi and Kohima are irrelevant for the people living in the villages”. The observation is vividly a Gospel truth. Our elected members need to shift their attention from superstructure ideas and programmes churned out from their comfortable homes and office tables to that of projects that are village and grass-root based; a planning and infrastructure that are indispensable to base the people’s economic growth. And for this to happen in a revolutionary mode the State Assembly requires a Chief Minister who is tough in dealing with his MLAs and Ministers on development issues and one who is visionary, selfless, pragmatic, humble and one who is beyond his Tribe and District as well as critical of oneself. The day Nagaland has this Chief Minister it will be the day Heaven come down to earth. Hopefully, the next CM is of this caliber and definitely it will be a benchmark for later leaders to emulate.
The writer is the author of “A walk to Emmaus: a Journey of attitudinal change”

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By EMN Updated: Feb 24, 2014 9:44:48 pm