For The Times They Are A- Changin’
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]dditional Chief Secretary, Bano Z. Jamir, takes over from her predecessor and husband as the new Chief Secretary, after having served competently in various capacities and departments for over 35 years in the service of Nagaland.
What facilitated this transition was that her predecessor, Alemtemshi Jamir, had decided to voluntarily take pre-mature retirement and give other officers a good chance to step one rung up the ladder accordingly. Besides, they happened to be from the same IAS batch.What is also significant is that Bano Jamir will be the first IAS (not conferred) Officer to take over the reins of this most prestigious and powerful post of the bureaucracy. To regard this turn of events merely on grounds of gender sensitization may not be entirely appropriate since the lady is also much experienced in the ways of governance and having to advise the elected powers on their financial powers, discretions plus other perquisites and even limitations that come along with their allotted portfolios.
Each and every bureaucrat has an infinite number of affairs of the state as also matters concerning the general public to deal with in their every day official lives—apart from their personal role as parents, brother, sister, uncle or aunty. Being in such a responsible position, the bureaucrat has much power to exercise judiciously.
Even Napoleon realised that he was as strong as his weakest soldier. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel improved on the quote by reiterating that an army is as strong as the weakest soldier. From this it follows that even in the bureaucratic hierarchy, the duties run on the same principles. Having a particular designation attached to one’s name merely does not suffice. In whichever department the Officer serves he/she must ensure not only the junior or younger bureaucrats but each and every member of her/his staff right down to the peon and sweeper of the department continues to function in top form.
Hence, it goes without saying that the bureaucrat is responsible for the welfare of the staff. In addition, the bureaucrat has financial authority not only as discretion according to rank but that of also judicious utilization of funds for any public project vis-à-vis the department. Funds allocated by the State Government are usually substantial plus there are various ways and means through which centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) are also sought for and granted most of the time. One main condition is that proper utilization certificates be presented also to justify expenditures also—lest the funds lapse.
This responsibility sometimes tends to inspire some responsible people to bend the rules for self-aggrandizement. Therein the spectre of corruption looms large ahead ready to strike at the first available opportunity.
Therefore, corruption is one weakness that those in authority should avoid at all costs. It is in this context that Madame Jamir has a clean record like her outgoing predecessor. In fact, she has been known to be rather strict in granting any untoward favours even to her very own kith and kin. But then that is what she is and it is expected that her habit of a lifetime in this regard will not change at this late stage of her career.
For the last several decades we have seen the rapid changes engulfing the way we live in Nagaland. In fact the most pervasive element in our society has been change in every sphere of our development, from the head hunting days to embracing Christianity and the introduction of formal education.
A woman as Chief Secretary is another significant milestone in the fifty year history of the state of Nagaland, occupies office this morning. With this a glass ceiling would have broken for many young women aspirants in the administration and in the future.
The ramifications of this change may already be sensed immediately as it breaks forth and opens the floodgate of possibilities for Naga women bogged down by gender bias. Some limitations put on by the society and some by themselves. But the fact of a woman Chief Secretary will also change the perception of men in authority and heads of families as to how they regard women in their life.
In the case of Banuo Jamir, a fact which may help mothers fathers and teachers, sisters and brothers and friends out there …is she was never discriminated against for being a girl and that to for being the youngest in a family of four siblings. What her brother received she did. What he did’nt she did not. The treatment was so equal even as the youngest in the family says “she never felt singled out for being either” or “different” for being a girl. In other words she was brought up without limitations being put on her because of her gender. And fortunately in her life she has been surrounded by achievers. Her late father Zopianga also held the office of Chief Secretary so did her father in law late NI Jamir, her paternal great grandfather the late Dr. Haralu is the first Naga medical doctor and her nonegerian aunt Ms Neichiilie Haralu, is the first Naga ambassador who served in various capacities in several countries including the US and Sri Lanka and Panama.
The elevation of a woman to the highest seat of administration brings to mind the lyrics of “The times they are a changin’ “ by singer and composer Bob Dylan … capturing in a nutshell the changes within the male dominated Naga society
“Admit that the waters, around you have grown,
And accept it soon, You’ll be drenched to the bone,
If your time to you is worth savin’,
Then you better start swimmin’,
Or you’ll sink like a stone,
For the times they are a –changin’
Every Chief Secretary steps into the coveted shoes with some vision or the other. For instance, former Chief Secretary, AM Gokhale, experimented with the concept of Village Development Boards (VDBs) first at Ketsapo Village in Phek district. The idea gradually spread to all the other villages of the State and eventually after 18 years the entire state was blessed with the fruits of this concept in practice.
Another case is RS Pandey who succeeded Gokhale. He put forth that Nagaland has immense “social capital.” This implied that not being burdened with the evils of dowry and caste system, enterprising Nagas of all working ages could contribute their mite towards their community. Hence, gradual communitization of some sectors wherin the villagers participated. Both Gokhgale and Pandey’s contributions have been officially recognized.
Now it is up to Madame Bano Jamir to share her vision for the people of Nagaland. We wish her luck.