Choices Before The Nagas - Eastern Mirror
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Op-Ed

Choices Before the Nagas

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By EMN Updated: May 30, 2024 12:32 am

Peace or violence? Make your choice.

S.C.Jamir,

Former CM & Governor

Today, the people of Nagaland are standing on a shadowy border line. This is, perhaps, God’s given opportunity for the Nagas to decide between peace and violence.

Nagas are no longer novices in politics or about the current events of the contemporary world. But the situation has been compounded by the fact that rapid and unpreceded changes have swept the social and political landscape in the country. And the world in over the last three decades when the older generation has been left gasping and the younger generation amazed and awestruck, it is an undeniable fact that the youth of today, including our young Naga brethren, are not swayed or impressed by promises of a chimerical Sovereignty without any attendant practical and economic benefits. Moreover, they were never witness to the passion and fervour of the original movement and as such, are not unduly influenced by its appeal.

Even otherwise, the present political leadership is woefully bankrupt ideologically, morally, intellectually and ethically, and cannot inspire confidence or commitment in the young Nagas. The spirit of patriotism and dedications that propelled the Naga movement are no longer there. However, periodic parroting of sovereignty issue is undertaken, especially by the underground groups, as a ritual to show their existence and at the same time keep their cadres preoccupied with this mirage. But the truth is that the Naga people of all hues measured the worth of all these theoretical statements when compared with the two Political Agreements, namely, Framework Agreement of 3rd August 2015 and Agreed Position of 17th November 2017, where sovereignty and Integration did not figure.

Today, the people of Nagaland themselves are smothered between two extremes, each one worse than the other in its implications and prognosis. On one hand, there are the votaries of Utopia and quixotic vision of promised land, and on the other hand, there is the crass and hopelessly confused class who has no compunction whatsoever, in cavorting and pandering to any faction; and the same yardstick applies to overground politics as well. Both political ideology and political principle have been accorded a graceful and ceremonious burial in Nagaland at the altar of venality and selfishness. What is most agonising is that common people of Nagaland have increasingly fallen prey to the seductions of easy money and lure of petty materialistic gains that can eke out of the debased political systems. The electorate seems unconcerned about the manifestoes of the political parties or the discourses of their leaders, and is merely interested in ‘auctioning’ their precious votes to the highest bidders in the electoral fray. The free and fair casting of votes which is the basic essence of a true democracy, has been woefully reduced to mere ‘saleable commodities’!

Where is the genuine political consciousness of the people? What then is the end product of the dysfunctional political system in Nagaland? In the present condition, the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland would be adorned by members, bankrupted by the travails of the costly elections, whose sole aim would be to make quick money to make good the expenditure incurred in the elections. Where is the scope of any welfare activities or missionary zeal for the well-being and good of the people, since the same people had extorted and extracted money from the MLA during the elections? As of now there seems to be a total dark eclipse on the morality and ethics of the electorate and the practitioners of politics in the state and this vicious circle of corruption, nepotism, degradation and inefficiency shows no signs of abating. The electorates of Nagaland have become so shockingly self-centred and greedy that they do not even realise that by compelling candidates to pay for their votes, they are actually digging their own graves and perpetuating their miseries, administrative apathy and inefficiency of the systems.

The need of the hour is to undertake an honest and thorough introspection and conscious analysis of our hearts and minds to explore the roots of all these malicious vices and infirmities before the whole society is consumed by these dreaded worms of moral and ethical destruction. For more than five decades the people of Nagaland passionately and silently but with alacrity, are watching the political harangues of the underground leaders in their political voyage. The people were made to believe that the cherished goal of the Nagas would be ushered in without delay. But as years rolled by, except the chanting of the old tune of sovereignty, nothing is visible in the political landscape of Nagaland. On the contrary, the people of Nagaland are witnessing the Naga political movement as the replica of the Tower of Babel! This shocking and despicable political development had completely destroyed the sanctity of the Naga political movement.

Bereft of lofty ideals or exalted vision, the present political movement continues to manifest a dangerous amateurish and cavalier streak. The entire policy in the state betrays lack of commitment, ideology or vision and is remarkable in its slapdash and slipshod actions! Like leeches, multiple authorities – both constitutional and extra-constitutional — are sucking the blood of the general public by imposing different kinds of taxes on them. Added to these elements, there are multiple groups/ societies and Hohos that are solely dependent on the public for their resources. The monster of materialism and greed have swallowed of the entire bodies and souls of the Nagas. Nothing moves without briberies almost at all levels of governance. This despicable and shameful phenomenon had completely destroyed Naga character. Our hearts are pierced with painful sting at the many follies and frailties that persist in plaguing this beautiful land of the Nagas.

Should we allow the present trend to continue the future of Nagaland shall be doomed. The people of Nagaland in general and youth community in particular should wake up and have a serious introspection and retrospection on the entire gamut of the present turmoil in Naga society. Let us honestly and consciously accept that the prevailing political scenario in Nagaland is akin to the history of the Tower of Babel and the Broken Walls of Jerusalem. The Nagas started their political voyage with lofty and hollowed objective of a Separate Homeland under the single political umbrella of the Naga National Council. The entire movement was coordinated and ably led by A. Z. Phizo and his peers who were totally committed and passionately dedicated for the cause of Naga sovereignty. The remarkable feature of the original movement was that all basic and fundamental attributes of any genuine and effective political movement — like unity of purpose, clarity of goals, inspiring unified leadership, mutual understanding and cohesion, and committed and dedicated cadres, general public support, well defined principles and adherence to accepted norms of social and public conduct — were inherent and present in the original Naga political movement.

However, the present political reality is woefully a sordid caricature of the illustrious past. Now there are more than 24 factions and there is likelihood of increasing this number. Almost all leaders of underground desire to occupy only the number one position. All the factions function at their own whims and fancies. There is no semblance of patriotism and nationalism in such organisations. The Naga public look at them with abhorrence and disgust.

What then should we do to initiate remedial measures to restore the Naga society from the grips of this dreadful and malignant disease?

As true Nagas, let us be honest to own the responsibilities of the present mess. Nagas are unnerved and moaning under the grip of Frankenstein’s Monster. We ourselves created this monster which we cannot control and ultimately became its victims. It is our creation and there is no point in apportioning blame on the underground.

To wriggle out from this morass , signatories of the Political Agreement namely Framework Agreement of 3rd August 2015 and the Agreed Position of 17th November 2017 should be materialised without any delay. To fortify this, the Nagaland Legislative Assembly, which is the only legitimate body under the Constitution, should unanimously resolve in support of the said Political Agreements and urge both the GOI and the Underground Organisations to implement the agreements.

Decades of insurgency and mushrooming of underground factions in the political landscape of Nagaland had severely affected the entire gamut all systems of governance in the state of Nagaland. There is no denying that fact that Nagaland is not only a land of festivals but a land of multiple authorities both constitutional and extra-constitutional exercising their powers and functions over the people of Nagaland. The entire people of Nagaland are groaning under the weights of all these authorities. The most glaring feature of Nagaland today is dysfunctionality of almost all branches of administration. As a matter of fact the governance in Nagaland has been derailed. Streamlining of administration even including the functioning of Cabinet would be urgently required. Overhauling of the entire system alone can resurrect the present governance to sanity.

We need to urgently reinvent and fashion Naga society in tune with the contemporary world. Naga leaders of all hues are too obsessed with the past events; they hardly discuss and deliberate on current issues that would be relevant for the present and future of Nagaland. Their minds appear to be closed towards contemporary world. It appears that their mindset and vision continue to be clouded by the concepts and ideals of the 20th century and therefore, they find it difficult to keep abreast with a fast-changing world. We need to update our mindsets to match the contemporary challenges confidently.

However, as the proverb says every cloud has a silver lining. The younger generation of the Nagas is more enlightened and more progressive in their outlook. Most of them have a broader vision of the contemporary world and they speak and work in that light. They are less enchanted by the political slogans of the older generation. They want to be equals with their counterparts in the rest of the country and the world. They find their own birth place so suffocating and distressing that most of them want to work outside of Nagaland.

Leaders of today are called upon to seriously ponder over the strong feelings of the youth towards Naga society. In the name of Naga sovereignty, we cannot afford to destroy and bury the Naga polity through internecine conflicts among ourselves. Will there be any faction among these 24 factions, that would come out openly and with solemn commitment to bring all Naga groups under the banner of the NNC and help preserve Naga unity through the process of reconciliation? Whatever political dispensation had been provided in the agreements between the GOI and the underground organisations should be allowed to be implemented for the future of Nagaland.

It is time for the Naga people to come out from the combat mood. We have seen enough of bloodshed in our land. We should now cultivate positive attitude so that we can face any kind of confrontation with a composure and patience that is absolutely necessary to rein in whipped up passions. Only then can we generate solutions to all complex problems in front of us.

Lastly but not the least, permanent peace should be ushered in our land. “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.” This revelation could be a beacon of hope for any society bogged down in conflicts. We can achieve lasting peace only when we realise that peace is the way, in and of itself.

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By EMN Updated: May 30, 2024 12:32:59 am
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