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Editorial

Cautious Opitimism

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By EMN Updated: Apr 01, 2014 2:04 am
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[dropcap]E[/dropcap]fforts of the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) for reconciliation among the Naga Political Groups last Friday has been inviting laudable accolades from across the society. The cheers are drawn for the positive signs seen from the sidelines towards the Nagas’ desire for ‘one government, one tax’.
This followed 2 days of intensive meetings of High Level leaders of three Naga Political Groups culminating in signing of a ‘Lenten Agreement’. Rev.Dr. WatiAier, Convener of FNR, described the meetings as ‘very, very frank and honest’, more so since even for the FNR completing 6 years and now stepping into its 7th year the nature of the meetings (March 27-28) of high level leaders was different, in that it was held under different circumstances.Here it may be prudent to mention what some of these different circumstances are :
The NPG leaders will have sensed in the past couple of years a fatigue slowing settling in amongst the Naga public of the watering down of the Naga political issue with issues of fratricidal killings mostly linked with the NPG’s rather than the nature of the philosophy or the adherence of the NPG’s to uplift the morale of the Naga public in a swiftly changing geo political scenario engulfing the north eastern region and its border states. Remember the outcry of villagers taking out rallies that they will not tolerate the dumping of bodies under their jusridiction?
It is a common placed fact that the leadership in the NSCN (IM) heading the talks with the government of India under a ceasefire for 17 years is aging, and the younger generationof Nagas are keen to hear what the next generation of leaders have to offer for their future.
There has also been unprecedented public outcry against the unabated forms of taxation by various groups leading to the formation of the Action Against Unabated Taxation, now Against Corruption and Unabated Taxation, Nagaland. Again in some quarters there was uprising against the high handedness of our brothers in arms leading to the Mukalimi incident, in Zunheboto district.
The positive and the negative of such an outpouring of public angst is yet to be judged but it should suffice that it was in many ways it was a culmination of sentiments which cried out “Enough, and no further”.
Add to this the complex makeup of the Naga society with the varied tribes made worse by ‘tribalism’ and we emerge as a community cornering ourselves within a tinder-box. This sentiment is further polarized by systems of governance, which instead of upholding age old traditions of decision making in the village with the community prioritizing needs for the welfare of all, more often than not decisions are influenced by vote bank politics.
The result is an un-enviable form of ‘progress’ where the gap between the rich and the poor is a yawning divide and the number of ‘unemployable’ is ever growing.
These signs therefore will not be missed by the High Level leaders of the Naga Political Groups who will agree with what the late Bhupen Hazarika said when he sang “We’re all in the same boat, brother”.
The sentiments of the song probably echo in some minds.
As for equating the coming together of the top leaders and Kilonsers of the three groups to a pre cursor to a ‘Magna Carta’ in Naga history, hopefully expressed by Dr. Wati Aier , Convenor of FNR, one would politely beg to differ to see the comparatively brief Naga political history, to the churnings of Medieval England.
The argument being that the document which was signed in June 1215 was between the barons of Medieval England and King John, leading to the ‘Magna Carta’ (or Great Charter in Latin) .It was an attempt by the barons to stop a king – in this case John – abusing his power with the people of England suffering.
We are a democracy and hopefully the values, norms and ethics of a democracy will prevail at every step of the meeting of our collective leaders of all the factions. The people rather the public are not subjects they are a part and parcel of the common future in which the responsibility to charter a common and practical solution for all is vested on the leaders but the hope and aspirations of the public must be protected and included.
But at the same time if Dr.Wati is drawing comparisons on the issue of ‘over taxation’ which King John imposed on his barons leading them to rebel against him and capture London, one cannot deny the similarities of the lessons that history often hold for us.
The barons did not defeat King John entirely, but having angered the Roman Catholic Church the pope ex communicated him in 1209. This meant that John could never get to heaven until the Pope withdrew the ex communication. Faced with this, John climbed down and accepted the power of the Catholic Church, giving them many privileges in 1214.By the Spring of 1215, both sides were willing to discuss matters. The result was the Magna Carta.
It established the principle that no one, including the king or a lawmaker, is above the law.
The ‘Covenant of Naga Reconciliation’ was signed in June 2010, and the ‘Naga concordant’ in August 2011, by the highest leaders of the Naga political groups (underground groups).
What cannot be missed of the Magna Carta is that it was a document pledged before God.
It begins with the following ‘ Know that before God, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom,…” and carried the seal of the King.
So what transpires and is formulated behind closed doors with regard to the future of the Nagas must ensure that it is honourable . But honourable not only amongst the warring factions and respresentatives but above all before God.
We know our history all too well, and the legacy we have inherited these past sixty plus years.
The tears of widows and fatherless children will continue to rain in our land if we fail to see where we as people have gone wrong before we can blame anyone else.

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By EMN Updated: Apr 01, 2014 2:04:57 am