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Editorial

Austerity measures for all

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By EMN Updated: Sep 02, 2013 11:38 pm
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[dropcap]A[/dropcap]n official office memorandum issued by Chief Secretary Alemtemshi Jamir dealt with curbing certain growing trends in Naga society—much to the loss of valuable time and of course avoidable expenses. It has become the norm, and even a matter of prestige indeed, to ensure that Ministers or Parliamentary Secretaries or MLAs and even Advisors are invited as the chief guest for any number of functions.The memorandum emphasized the necessity for certain measures to be taken so as to cut down on avoidable expenditure both by the Government and the various organizations. Some of the functions may not be commensurate with the status of such VIPs. Thus the memorandum suggested that the Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, MLAs and Advisors may use their discretion to attend such functions. For less important functions, officials may be invited or deputed—for which some VIPs are also in accord.
The memorandum also directed all Government departments to take certain steps accordingly. Foremost among these are that no presents or gifts may be accepted. Huge amounts are spent by the organizers on presentations to chief guests which needs to be discouraged. During such events food/refreshments are provided which is okay. However, serving of meat of wild animals or birds should be discouraged. From this it follows that special hunting expeditions for the occasion or to honour the visiting dignitary and his entourage should not be allowed.
As for fishing for such occasion including festivals, except for traditional trading method, the organizers should be discouraged from indulging in special fishing expedition using explosives and chemicals.
The Chief Secretary was on the right track when he issued his memorandum in March this year. Six months have passed since then and yet the change in the ongoing trends is not noticeable. For one thing, the habit has become so ingrained that it becomes difficult to break or reconsider.
As it is, there are two sides to the prevailing norm. One is that a VIP, and by extension, his entourage should be extended the warmest of warmest welcomes—perhaps in accordance with the traditional Naga way of hospitality because it is a matter of pride and prestige.
On the other hand, the VIP also feels obliged to present some funds that will more or less cover the cost of expenditure for the occasion whatever it may be. Herein lies the need for a balance between the two parties. Accordingly, a sense of stewardship as well as prudence needs to be inculcated among all sections of the people. The people also need to be educated regarding the need for conservation and protection of biodiversity as a means of sustainable development of Nagaland in the wake of the global warming and climatic change. Efforts in this direction must continue nevertheless.
There was an occasion when a certain NGO approached a certain Parliamentary Secretary for some financial assistance for some endeavour it was involved in. So the NGO office bearers presented the VIP with a gift costing a few thousand rupees. The VIP declined the present and instead admonished them but he, however, honoured their request to some extent.
The memorandum further stressed that official ex-officio tour on Government expense will be discouraged except in the rarest of cases.
And all this is as it should be.

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By EMN Updated: Sep 02, 2013 11:38:15 pm