Detribalization of Nagas: One Nation One People
Nations, like men, have their infancy-Henry Bolingbroke
Nagas have to create a new national identity. Every nation buildsone. Samuel P. Huntington, the Harvard professor describes America as “White Anglo-Saxon Christian who speaks English.” America -and the Western civilization- has been built on the values of freedom, individualism, liberal democracy, secularism, equality, and the spirit of enquiry or Science & technology. Almost all cultures expound the inherent components of their heritage as their identity guiding their economic and social development. RSS propagates Hindutva not as a religion but a way of life to be imbibed by all the inhabitants of this land or Hindu-Rashtra, whether, Hindus, Muslims or Christians to make India resurgent and take its rightful place as the premier civilization it once was. The Chinese proclaims the superiority of their Middle Kingdom or their Confucius culture of Collectivism (as opposed to Individualism), thrift, family, work, loyalty and discipline. Confucianism advocates submission to authority, the eminence of the society over the wants of the individual and soft authoritarianism. It strives for primacy in a new world order based on their core cultural unpinning. Since their defeat in WW2, the Japanese have been trying to forge a new national and cultural identity. This new cultural nationalism as found in theory of ‘Nihonjinron’ advocates the uniqueness of the Japanese race, language and even their climate. The Turks adopted Western values and Western institutions to modernize their country after the defeat and end of the Ottoman Empire.To discard the Old order of our existenceand enter an era of progress, prosperity and social development, a Naga identity is to be formulated. To protect our cultural heritage, identity and our faith, the ideaof One People and Nation,to be above all tongues and tribes (withitsdifferent manifestations of division, strife, and maleficence)needs to be inculcated into our Consciousness. AZ Phizo tried to form a comity of fiercely independent tribes into a nation-statebut ended in failure and it persists to this day. The monumental tragedy of the Naga national movementis not that continued failure toerect theedifice of anation-state but also ironically, its contribution to the emergence of narrow tribal assertiveness during the latter half of the 20th century.Ours is a crisis of being torn between loyalty to our tribe with its accumulated vested interest and the beckoning of collective Naga Consciousness.The downhill slide along the path of strife, tribalism, corruption and paganismis in danger of becoming our inheritance. Never-seen-before economic hardships, mind boggling corruption, the aloofness of the politicians, the illusion of democracy, the deviationof the NPGs from national principles, the insolence of the bureaucratic class, the haughtiness of the rich, the intellectual numbness of the tribal hoho and pan-Naga leaders, the dog-eats-dog race for leadership positions, the absence of rule of law&consensus, deep-seated tribalism, the spinelessness of the judiciary, unabated influx of IBIs, the never-ending Naga movement for sovereignty, and the replacement of our true faith with endless merry making and money – Bolero Culture, the Baals of our time has allbut collectively hindered Naga unity and creation ofcommon Naga identity. Lee Kuan Yew, “the best bloody Englishman east of the Suez” discarded his English bearings and is credited with ushering in five sets of Singaporean “Shared Values” to protect his citizens from external influences and indoctrinate them into building Singapore into what it is now, a world class city state. Most remarkably, these five sets of values were passed by the Singaporean parliament in 1991.
1. Nation before community and society above self.
2. Family as the basic unit of society.
3. Community support and respect for the individual.
4. Consensus, not conflict.
5. Racial and religious harmony.
A New Order of cultural assertiveness- nation, identity, faith- built on the edifice of our cultural and Christian values of integrity, co-operation, trust, hard work and discipline is to be integrated into our consciousness. Some of the “Naga Values” are:
1. NATION BEFORE TRIBE AND SELF: Nagas are a nation. As it stands, despite our national awakening after the 1st WW and the emergence of Naga nationalism, we still have no national sentiment, ambition, or aspiration, and certainly no national pride. Patriotism is only a by-product of underlying cultural values that defines a community or nation and it cannot be THE binding force of a nation except during national crisis such as War. The colonization and subjugation of formerly free Nagasdid that much to instill patriotism and consciousness of national identity. To build upon this consciousness and usher in social development, progress and prosperity and to preserve the cultural identity of this nation, values underpinning the cultural uniqueness of our society have to be identified and internalized by all the individual members of the society. It’s time we become detribalized, from the perspective of Self or individual tribe and the idea of One people and nation ingested into our consciousness. Every decision, every policy, every legislation, every action and utterances should reflect national interests and every individual sacrifice Self or individual tribe interests for 4 national goals, namely;
a) Abhor Corruption and treat it as a National Shame:It is necessary to treat corruption as a national shame. In eastern culture, shame is a very powerful tool to induce conformity in a society. Asian identities are forged early on in childhood by learning that shame is used to bring about social order and harmony. Nagas are no different. When NSCN –IM raided Dimapur stadium and released the names of those people apparently caught in objectionable acts or positions, most of the villages took out innumerable Ads in the media clarifying that such and such persons were not from their village. Naga Villages regularly ostracize, ex-communicate or expel its citizens for bringing shame and disrepute to the community. Can our society treat corruption and its practitioners with the due abhorrence it deserves? Or shall we continue to look upto people who have illegally hoarded wealth as “Para Manu Ase (He is a Go-getter)?”Internal Shame comes when a person has not lived up to the community’s rules and expectations and is a powerful conformity tool to control deviance. Mere legal conviction is not enough deterrent in this war against corruption.
b) Exert Economic Control: Still another test of Nagaism- that ability to surrender Self to Nation- would be to stop the prostitution of our names against the business interests of non-locals. Income tax evasion to the tune of hundreds of crores of rupees takes place every year since non-locals conduct businesses registered in Naga names. Our state loses massive revenue because we are willing to sell our names for pittance. Some of the biggest hardware dealers, firms dealing in supply of rice and wheat, wholesale importers of essential commodities, petrol pumps, gas agencies, transporters, timber export, hotels and restaurants, saw mills, brick fields, sand stockiest, etc., are all registered in Naga names. Hundreds of Zonal taxis in the state belonging to people of dubious nationality are registered in our names. Most retail shops and showrooms are also registered in our names. On paper, Nagas own the economy of the state but in reality we are only pawns and paupers.
c) Stop patronizing IBIs: Another standard to measure the worth of any of us would be to stop the practice of adopting, patronizing and marrying IBIs. Already there are talks of IBI foray into state politics, or atleast with their support and economic clout. The next general elections in 2018 for one of the seats in Dimapur will be a litmus test for Nagas’ resolve to tackle this issue.
d) Stop family planning, increase our population: Nagas cannot allow resource centric family planning measures to limit the Naga population to one or two children per family having disastrous consequences economically, politically and culturally in the light of the superior numbers of immigrants, both legal and illegal in our land. It’s not for nothing that Rightwing Hindus advocate atleast 4 children per Hindu family. Replacement Theory postulates that Standard replacement for population equilibrium requires that every couple produce two children and that each child does the same when they grow up. However this model is too simple and needs to consider that:
(1) One or both children may die before adulthood
(2) One or both children may not marry or live in a relationship, or
(3) They may have only one child or none at all.
Hence the fertility rate to sustain a culture has to be greater than 2.
(1) A culture can’t survive over generations if the fertility rate drops to below 2.11
(2) History tells us that even at a fertility rate of 1.9, no previous culture has survived
(3) At a rate of 1.3, it is impossible to recover.
The averaged fertility rate over some 31 countries of Europe is just 1.38, a figure which suggests that not only is the culture dying, it is NOT recoverable (Source: Internet).
The Muslim conquest of Europe will not be through jihad but it will be done through population replacement.Presently amongst Nagas, most couples are not ready to have more than 2 children due to various exigencies. However, the most plausible explanation for this trend is to be found in our economic reality. 90% of the income families in the state are government servants. Due to the fixed nature of incomes, severe financial limitations are imposed on the family to provide quality education, health care and basic necessities especially in families with large number of children (unless one gets additional income through dubious means or is a top-shot bureaucrat). This is a serious matter of concern to be left only to the families to decide. Unless, the median income level rises, our population level will continue to fall having dire consequences for our survival as a cultural and indigenous community. Our median income level can increase only when entrepreneurship is accorded due respect and hankerings for government jobs decreases.
2. FAMILY AS THE BASIC UNIT OF SOCIETY: A Family is the basic unit of a society. Family here means a father (male), a mother (female) and any number of children borne out of the institution of marriage. The institution of family is to be protected at all cost. The liberalism of the West has ensured that marriage and family has ceased to be sacred.Today, for young Nagas in Nagaland, it is fashionableto be gays and lesbians, something unthinkable even 5 years back. Nagas have been unable to decouple modernity from western culture and this meansan inability to imagine a community around core Naga values that could liberate and protect us.As the liberal tide sweeps over our land, we shall be seeing less of traditional marriages, more broken marriages, conscious coupling sans marriage, and same-sex marriages gaining prominence and acceptance insociety oreven by the church. The depravity of the West is in danger of becoming our reality. Pope Francis blamesthe corruptive Western culture for the increasing same-sex marriagesin non-western societies which he describesas the ‘ideological colonization of the family’.
3. INDIVIDUALISM OVER COLLECTIVISM:
“Collectivism … treats society as if it were a super-organism existing over and above its individual members, and which takes the collective in some form (e.g., tribe, race, or state) to be the primary unit of reality and standard of value.” — Prof. Fred D. Miller
Individualism, that quintessential and celebrated Western value-thought sometimes places the individual even greater than the state and religion. Other than this, Individualist cultures awards social status to personal accomplishments such as important discoveries, innovations, great sporting, artistic or humanitarian achievements and all actions that make an individual stand out. Collectivism, in contrast emphasizes embeddedness of individuals in a larger group. It encourages conformity and discourages individuals from dissenting and standing out. Naga society is Collectivist by nature.
Of late super-organisms such as the apex tribal Hohos, pan-Naga NGOs, and the village councils, etc., have become the new reality. Their writ runs large in every aspect of our lives, from curtailing individual rights during elections to even banning books. Any dissent from the ‘collective decision’ of the tribe or kindred tribes is frowned upon or even invites ex-communication. Tribal Hohos take decisions on behalf of the entire tribe on all matters. The Village Councils decides which candidates should win and be voted for. Dissenting voices are thrown out of the villages and exiled from the community. For MLAs and Ministers, tribal and kin loyalties take precedence during Government formation and distribution of portfolios. Various organisations representing tribal and kindred interests supervise even the development chart of the state government thereby giving rise to accusations of neglect and feelings of tribalism. Our Collectivism means that individuals though progressive and change-oriented cannot rise above the dictums of the social milieu where embeddedness to tribal interests takes precedence. This is one reason why our sincere politicians cannot effect popular decisions and why our state will neverproduce outstanding bureaucrats or police officers like Gautam Goswami, IAS, who stopped the then Deputy PM, LK Advani from speaking during an election rally in Bihar with the words “Mr. Advani, your time is up” after the stipulated time limit of 10 pm. To expose particular corrupt politicians or bureaucrats may mean upsetting their whole tribe or kindred tribes or regional conglomeration of tribeswith the core issue lost and replaced by accusations of tribalism which one is not prepared to wrestle with.
Though Individualism as a value has contributed much to nation and empire building for the West, militant feminism, gay and lesbian culture, and dysfunctional family are byproducts of this thought where individual rights and preferences are perceived as worthy enough to be fought over religious morality and social norms. Atheism is also a high expression of this thought.
4. CONSENSUS, NOT CONFLICT: Resolving issues through consensus stresses the importance of compromise and national unity. The selection of leaders representing thetribal Hohos, pan-Naga NGOs, mothers’ associations, student bodies, village council leaders, etc., should be on Consensus given the sensitivity of our tribal diversity. Again, the greater question before us is whether armed conflict as a means to settle the Naga political issue should be pursued readily as has been the case the past 60 years. The NPGs pursuing peace-talks or ceasefires with the GoI and managing to bring an honorable settlement would be most welcome. However, falling short of expectations, the Nagas should consider whether continued armed struggle is feasible or whether a moral movement appealing to the conscious of the world is worth striving for. It wouldbe triumph of the human spirit if the leaders of the armed revolutionary groups become transformational leaders andfollow this moral path.
5. WORK ETHIC: Pastors and Reverendsin Naga pulpits rarely if not wholly skip sermons on work ethic. “Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is a study of the relationship between the ethics of ascetic Protestantism and the emergence of the spirit of modern capitalism. Weber argues that the religious ideas of groups such as the Calvinists played a role in creating the capitalistic spirit. Weber first observes a correlation between being Protestant and being involved in business, and declares his intent to explore religion as a potential cause of the modern economic conditions. He argues that the modern spirit of capitalism sees profit as an end in itself, and pursuing profit as virtuous. Weber’s goal is to understand the source of this spirit. He turns to Protestantism for a potential explanation. Protestantism offers a concept of the worldly “calling,” and gives worldly activity a religious character. While important, this alone cannot explain the need to pursue profit. One branch of Protestantism, Calvinism, does provide this explanation. Calvinists believe in predestination–that God has already determined who is saved and damned. As Calvinism developed, a deep psychological need for clues about whether one was actually saved arose, and Calvinists looked to their success in worldly activity for those clues. Thus, they came to value profit and material success as signs of God’s favor. Other religious groups, such as the Pietists, Methodists, and the Baptist sects had similar attitudes to a lesser degree. Weber argues that this new attitude broke down the traditional economic system, paving the way for modern capitalism. However, once capitalism emerged, the Protestant values were no longer necessary, and their ethic took on a life of its own.”(source: internet)
Our work ethic will determine whether we can build ourselves intoa nation or disappear into the amalgamation of cultures converging upon us.
The world is a cultural landscape with civilizational groups pitted one against the other for survival and dominance. For Islamand Muslims the finality of their order is to bring the whole world under Dar-ul-Islam or Islamic realm where the Caliphate will be once again establishedunder Sharia law setting it on collision course with non-Islamic nations, entities, faiths and peoples.For the proponents of Hindutva, Christians and Muslims in the past were all Hindus or converted peoples. Formerly tribal animists like Nagas were all part of the great Hindu religious diversity since Hinduism does not subscribe to a single religiousdogma but is a pantheon of gods, worships, deities, writings, and religious experiences. The liberal scourge of the Westhas jaded away many aspects of our traditional values, thereby reducing us to mere appendages where we are now susceptible to all kinds of philosophical and New Age hocus pocus such as eastern spirituality, mysticism, yoga, materialism, same-sex marriage and atheism, etc.The political boundary of Nagaland is by no stretch of imagination a bulwark against ideas and influences inimical to the continuity of Nagas as a people. A Naga renaissance has to emerge.
PS: The cultural underpinning of Naga resurgence listed here is not exhaustive and open for debate. It is for the intellectuals, social entrepreneurs, and the church to formulate a set of “Naga Values.”