Views & Reviews
Covid-19 and Naga Society
It really is heart-wrenching to see where we have landed during the invasion of Covid-19. Civil Societies and individuals are shouting hoarse, accusing each other and the government for everything under the sun. Mistakes have happened, but must we dwell on them all too frequently? Whatever has happened has happened, never to be reversed, ever again, no matter what. We have to live with it.
We have gone one step further in our one-upmanship by bringing in the tribal factor, which is the bane of Naga society. Our society is just too small and badly fragmented for us to continue this way. We have the Nagas scattered and disunited all over Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, Arunachal and Myanmar, which is a broken home in the true sense, because we just do not have it in us to forgive each other. We are also just too selfish to see each other’s worries and fears. At least in the other states there is some semblance of unity amongst the Nagas, but here in Nagaland there are many more divisions, with tribalism the real killer. We are just too suspicious of each other, which borders on hatred. We profess to be Christians but acutely lack basic Christian principles.
A very sad situation that has emerged recently is the open attack on the Angamis and the Kohima villagers. Many unfortunate posts have demeaned them, though some have tried to humbly clarify the situation. Please remember, Kohima town and its environs is traditionally the home of the Angamis, but this township, by virtue of being the capital complex of Nagaland, is truly cosmopolitan in character. We thus have people from all the tribes of Nagaland and beyond, who have settled here permanently. In part, this is the generosity of this tribe that we have started abusing and using as a punching bag. It really is not fair to them or to everyone else from outside that have made Kohima their home.
The government and frontline workers, and those who so generously volunteered to look after the material comforts of the returnees were just overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of our people returning home. Besides, thousands more desperately longing to return, were to soon come, so continuous planning and arrangements were required. Whatever it is, the return of so many thousands of Nagas from outside was the perfect recipe for a disaster of unimaginable scale and unknown for many decades. The few people involved in the process were being overwhelmed on a scale never seen before. It was probably in this scenario that the Kohima Village Council requested the government to send home the returnees of the other districts. But please remember, they did not ask the Government to send back the people of other areas who are settled, temporarily or permanently, in Kohima.
Mistakes have been committed in sending positive cases to Tuensang, and now Peren. In the first case there probably was an acute communication gap, what with so many groups whose functions overlapped each other (?), or perhaps serious misunderstanding somewhere. Let’s take the second mistake from the human angle, of a group of overwhelmed workers who are physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. They have given their best for everyone, and in their weariness, have erred. But, is this the end of the world? If we all work together, leaving politics out, at least till we bash up Covid-19, we can save those infected. Let’s get over the blame game and do our bit for society and Naga unity.
This time we have seen another side of humanity. The returnees have been through hell but have still managed to smile through their pain and show their gratitude to all the caregivers through the numerous videos and audios, which were really heart-warming. Most could not get the minimum comforts, but they continued in quarantine, undaunted, but grateful. Of course, an extremely small section was very unhappy, perhaps expecting better. These are very trying times when manpower and resources have been stretched to the limit. It is worthwhile to remember that there are very few people working to keep the thousands of returnees as comfortable as possible. Somewhere down the line things have not gone as planned, but they are still trying their best, through their frustration, and their sweat and tears. The least we can do in return is be grateful to them.
Please, let’s forgive each other for the mistakes committed. Let’s unite and fight the common enemy, the deadly Covid-19, which has got humankind on its knees. We surely can adjust to all our frailties, at least this once, till the world has some breathing space after the virus.
Prof. G.T. Thong
Lower Agri Colony, Kohima