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Clean Election Campaign Vis-à-Vis its Objectives Will Achieve Only if…

By EMN Updated: Jul 16, 2017 11:11 pm

“Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely” —Lord Acton, british historian (1834–1902)

Corrupt elections result in poor governance, increased poverty, crime and social instability, which can lead to violence and wars. There is a direct correlation between the economic growth of a country or a nation with corruption and violence. It is generally accepted that corruption begins with unfair elections and the blame of this usually goes to the voters and politicians. However at the very outset it must be understood that Corrupt power is often maintained by exploiting divisions, stirring up fear and hatred of a minority or external agency. In this way problems can be conveniently blamed on this scapegoat while unscrupulous ‘elements’ or ‘parties’ portray themselves as the best protector against this ‘threat’. Under corrupt power, organized crime flourishes and can even take over the political process so that only those approved by the ‘crime bosses’ stand a chance of being elected.

Clean Election Campaign thus aim to safeguard and nurture democracy through educating voters about issues of corruption and inviting all to pledge to refuse to participate in bribery or violence.It is a call to all people of all backgrounds to commit themselves to consciously electing leaders of integrity without being manipulated through corruption or other unhealthy means.The first Clean election campaign on a large scale was launched in Taiwan in 1991 which was proved to be very effective. Initiatives of change- international (Iofc) organization is spearheading the Clean Election Campaign all over the world. In Nagaland the first such initiative was taken by the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) in the year 2012 ahead of the 2013 Assembly polls.The campaign was further taken up by other organisations including the All Sumi Students’ union (SKK) under mission “Achipiu mlahnni”. It must be understood that the campaign for clean election is apolitical in nature and must be appreciated and supported by all.

Clean Election Campaign programs include, awareness creation, voter education, public financing, campaign finance enforcement, clean election fund etc. So far the clean election campaign in Nagaland focus primarily in awareness creation and voter education only. The core issues and important factors for successful clean election therefore must be discussed and analyzed thoroughly if the campaign has to remain relevant. Taking into the consideration of the unique situation in Nagaland it is important to dig deeper into the roots to find the cause and consequences of “unfair elections” and thereupon for the success of clean election campaign objectives: to check the mothers of all ills in our society – CORRUPTION.

For the sake of understanding let’s imagine a scenario where all the voters decided to vote for ‘change and development’. Let’s assume that this situation has successfully established. In such ideal state , will the government able to perform optimally without corruption? Will there not be any interference or roadblock In the development activities of the government by outside factors including state and non-state actors? I am afraid they answer is not in affirmative and not very certain. This bring us to the discussion that CLEAN ELECTION CAMPAIGN VIS-à-VIS it’s objectives of checking the menace of corruption and thereby bringing the changes in the society; of prosperity , Economic growth and over all development in the state cannot be possible UNLESS If:

1) UNIONs and CIVIL SOCIETIES BECOMES APOLITICAL. In a Democracy Civil societies are Essential.Civil societies plays an important role such as:
i) Watchdog — against violation of human rights and governing deficiencies.
ii)Advocate — of the ‘weaker sections’ point of view.
iii) Agitator — on behalf of aggrieved citizens.
iv) Educator — of citizens on their rights, entitlements and responsibilities and the government about the pulse of the people.
v) Service provider — to areas and people not reached by official efforts or as government’s agent.
vi) Mobiliser — of public opinion for or against a programme or policy.

Unfortunately, the tale of Nagaland Civil societies are different. With the exception and respect, I repeat , WITH THE EXCEPTION AND RESPECT to very few organizations ,most of the Civil societies or Unions’ in Nagaland exist either to act as a ‘mouth piece’ to ‘political parties’ and ‘political bosses’ or as a tool to fulfill individual’s selfish aspirations.The mushrooming of various Unions’ and organizations can be very much attributed to the ‘turf war’ fight among the ‘wannabe leaders’ looking after the top position in the organization hierarchy or as a result of failure of the top leadership in the organization to fulfill their organizational objectives and rather directed more towards fulfilment of personal political aggrandizement or whatever reasons best known to them. It is known reality that Individuals aspiring to hold top position in any apex organization or union has to involve himself in dirty politics even to the extend of seeking financial help and intervention from the political bosses and other influential groups in winning the seat or chair. This often lead to dirty nexus between politicians and civil societies’ leaders post elections which ultimately leads to corruption. Civil societies often failed to raise their voice against the corrupt politicians and officials because they are often controlled by politicians or bear allegiance to their funding parties. Meanwhile, innocent members are often ask to pay for the ‘protection tax’ , free will donation, membership fees or whatever money as much collectable by these organizations. And the members by default of either their profession or job, areas , clans , tribes etc ended up paying all these collections. This is indirect extortion and must be questioned by the members of the respective organization for the accountability and transparency of such activities. It must be understood that Organizations or Unions exist only as a means to protect and serve the interest of the members in particular and society In general and not as a means to exploit it.

2) NAGA POLITICAL GROUPS start to own SOCIAL and ECONOMIC RESPONSIBILITIES besides the long cherished ‘POLITICAL GOALS’. As mentioned by the very respected leader of some political group quote unquote “ we have the legitimate authority to tax people just like any other government in the world”,this same yardsticks must be applied to social and economic responsibilities also. Just like any other government in the world ensures economic development and welfare of its peoples, the Naga Political Groups and national workers must acknowledge the needs for economic development and social progress in the state and therefore must stand for it in letter and spirit . Unfortunately, the writer himself has witnessed the ugly pictures of national workers involving in the obstructions of the developmental works and even involve themselves in booth capturing, rigging and use of brute force against the helpless villagers to vote for certain candidates of thier choice during the elections which is so unbecoming of the Revolutionaries. Under Such condition it is impossible for the voters to elect the most capable candidates possessing qualities of high integrity and thus promote corruptions and inefficiency.

Such actions are illegal in a democracy and is done only by the ‘Mafias , Goondas and low life criminals so it must be avoided by any such big organizations worthy of respect and names to be mentioned in the Naga history books. The Political groups and national workers should not be the reason for any obstruction to developmental activities whatsoever in the state but rather promote economic activities and conducive environment for the over all growth of the state. In Mathew 22:21 jesus replied and I quote, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” unquote. The common people very much understand and support for the political aspirations of the Nagas and is very much willing to give to Caesars what is Caesar’s but only needed from Caesars to be rational , benevolent and united.Infact to my knowledge, no sensible nagas had never and will ever oppose Naga political movement and aspirations even though there might exist the differences in Political Ideology and the means to achieve the objectives . It must be made it clear that people resent or voice out their opinion against the illegal activities, high handedness, ignorance, apathy, callous attitudes of some particular National workers and disunity among the Naga political groups and not against Naga Nationalism per se. So this actions cannot be branded as ‘anti-national’ activities. As much patriotic as Naga national workers are so is the rest of the naga population (so please do respect the opinions of others and learn to accept dissensions). Infact, it is to be noted that every organs in the human body regardless of their size performs its own important functions. Caesars must therefore use his/s God given wisdom to think over whether Nagas can continue to live by eating only ‘political aspirations/solutions’ or the food. This may sound too narrow but truth be told ‘political freedom is meaningless without economic freedom’.They both must go hand in hand. So,the sooner the realization of this truth the better.

3) VILLAGE CHIEFS/GBs Start to Uphold the dignity of not just the red blanket on their shoulder but the true DIGNITY, IDENTITY , ROLE and RESPONSIBILITIES of this revered institution . The Red blanket which the esteemed chiefs wear might be just symbolic of their position in the British administrative convenience book but not the Institution which was given by our ancestors. The respected KUKAMIS,Anghs,Tatars,kedi/peyu etc (Thanks to SUMI HOHO’s wise decision to use kukami/Akukau officially in place of G.B) must remembered that the very institution was defended fiercely by our ancestors for its preservation and protection from foreign authorities and outside Interferences. They must be reminded that the status of ‘Chiefs’ was given to them ( or inherited) not for the simple reason of being the ‘village old man’ ( Goan Bura) but of being a person with authority, administrator, dispenser of justice, guardian of law etc.However, over the recent years, this position and status has been reduced to a mere pawn in the game of petty politics.There has been so many instances where the ‘chiefs’ themselves becomes the law breaker and use their status to influence the politicians and government officials in his personal favor and often misuse the development funds meant for the village development and if this is not done in their favor obstruction to developmental work in the village ensues. Further, there has been so many instances where the ‘chiefs’ misuse thier authority and take decisions to bear allegiance to particular political parties or candidates of their choice on behalf of the whole voters in their village thereby violating the individual Rights and freedom to vote for the candidate of his choice. Such actions are regressive and is complete disregard of their own noble institution. Although the village chiefs posses certain authority to take decisions over certain matters his decision must not based upon his personal interest and must not go against the welfare of his public.

4) CHURCHES , INTELLECTUALS , BUREAUCRATS and TECHNOCRATS start to maintain integrity and raise their voice against Injustices. The celebrated quote of Edmund Burke has reminded us all that quote unquote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. There are good men out there among us who walk the talk and the younger generations salutes you. With exception to those people, there are experience which show us that sometimes we overplay our role and the other time we remain a mute spectators towards evil things happening around us. We intervene on the issues either too late or when it is not necessary.

The role of the modern church in the life of the 21st-century believer is critical because it fills a void only the church can.If a car needs fixing, it is brought to the mechanic shop. If the patient is sick it is brought to the Doctor . Likewise , if morality , ethics , integrity and spirituality fails whom shall it be brought to? The answer should be provided by the church. The church must questions themselves whether spirituality first or materialism first. Whether competing among themselves for spiritual and material superiority or “Serve one another,” as Paul wrote to the church in Galatia (Galatians 5:13).

The Bureaucrats ,Technocrats and Intellectuals play a crucial role in the governance and all-round development of the nation .Together they play the role of knowledge managers in the government and society. Being the pillars of governance, developmental activities and societal transformation,the basic qualities, needed by them are – efficiency,integrity, responsiveness,predictability,impersonality,rationality, sincerity and dedication. Most of the problems in the society exists either due to the absence of these qualities exhibited in them or they chose to ignore the situation due to fear of transfer, favouritism, or to hide up skeletons in their cupboard lest others opened up the Pandora box or other favour upon for himself from the political bosses( or silenced by the gun) . Corruption in the society is maximum when these influential groups of people are hand in gloves with the politicians and choose to remain silent thus creating win-win situation for both the parties. Ultimately it is the society for which they serve suffers. It must be remembered that ‘With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility ‘ and vice versa. The influential groups of people must therefore understand that since God has shown his mercy by allowing them to attained higher position in the society they must now fight to attain for Dignity, respect, love and more blessings from God and their fellow brethrens by stopping from becoming the “Chamchas/ king makers/manipulators or jola bag kupüwu ( a person who carries the bag of someone – in sumi dialect) of the politicians and other Bosses. Standing up to fight for justice; to say no when necessary to the political bosses or others, guide and direct the society towards the light from darkness will serve this purpose.

5) ECONOMIC SELF RELIANCE is achieve. ‘Vote for money’ or ‘purchased mandate’ is a direct result of economic dependency , inequality , lack of economic opportunities and poverty. There is a strong link between poverty and corruption.Corruption is pervasive and entrenched in our society as our society has failed to promote economic self reliance.The story of voters taking money from the politicians for his vote and politicians buying the votes is like a hen and egg story of which comes first between the two. The common people usually vote for money since they were compelled by their economic circumstances and have little faith with the politicians that they will do any good for them after elections. For him, election is once in five years opportunity to earn some money for his family expenses. For a hungry man election mean earning some cash for his next meal.On the other hand the politicians buys the vote because they knew they will not win the elections if they Don’t purchase it. So he must adopt both fair and unfair means to win the election.The Rich and influential groups of people take this opportunity to invest into ‘political business’ with the promise from the candidate to return the money into double either in cash or in kind. Pork barrelling projects, ballooning of the total outlay of the budget allotted to any projects, manipulation of the systems, favouritism, nepotism , bribery, faulty government policies and fiscal deficit is thus a direct result of this action. As a result Economic development is compromised and thereby corruption, economic inequality and poverty.

Inorder to escape from this vicious cycle it is essential for all the stakeholders mentioned above to play constructive role in the economic building initiatives by promoting conducive environment for the economic growth and development.Since Nagaland has being blessed with good fertile soil and favourable climate conditions for Agriculture and most of the Naga population depends on agriculture , Agriculture must be promoted especially Organic farming. Initiatives must be taken up for setting up of cold storage facilities ,cheap transportation,market outlet to sell off agriculture product etc. Bank and other financial institutions must come forward to provide either interest free loans or meager interest percentage to the farmers and entrepreneurs.The Naga political groups should also identify certain sectors friendly for Economic growth and development and exempt taxation of the same.Above all good roads conditions, availability of power and stable Government is must condition for the economic growth. Bottom-up approach of economic planning must be adopted. It should understand that if individuals are able to stand on their own feet he/she can make his own decisions correctly without any compulsion by his needs.Meanwhile, clean election campaign must be strengthened and enforced strictly by not only the churches and government but Various organizations and Unions, NGOs, Village chiefs and all right thinking citizens. The election commission must also find some ingenious solution like linking of Aadhar card with voters identity card to check the menace of Proxy voting etc. In conclusion , all the kings and kingmakers should be reminded by the wise words of kautilya that, “In the happiness of his subjects lies the King’s happiness;In their welfare his welfare”.

Kakugha Sumi Naga
Khetoi village, Aghunato.

By EMN Updated: Jul 16, 2017 11:11:00 pm