How Sustainable Is Nagaland? - Eastern Mirror
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How Sustainable is Nagaland?

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By EMN Updated: Feb 14, 2024 11:17 pm

Nagaland is working towards effective implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 SDGs were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The goals are comprehensively designed to address various social, economic and environmental challenges. It aimed to create a more sustainable and equitable world by 2030.

Some relevant goals for the State of Nagaland could be analysed contextually under the following heads.

Poverty Alleviation: SDG 1 is aimed at eradicating extreme poverty. Poverty is so subjective that it cannot be explained universally. However, poverty is visible both in rural and urban in one form or the other. As per the Nagaland Economic Survey 2018-19, an estimated 18.88% live below the poverty line in Nagaland. Under the initiative of the Central Government, State Governments and NGOs, much has been done to alleviate poverty.

Various projects like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY), Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yojana (PMGY) and Prime Minister Rozgar Yojana (PMRY), etc. have been introduced by the government to abolish poverty from the country. All the same, there can be contrasting stories of projection and implementation.

There will be no poor people if all the schemes and projects are utilised efficiently and effectively. In the pretext of alleviating poverty, there can be wild animals roaming freely to devour the poor and the marginalised. The poor become the target of the greedy. To end such tragedy, we need to set up social protection systems so that no individual is thrown out in the process of human development.

Health and Well-being: Good health and well-being of every person is an asset to society. When human resources are tapped well at the right time, there can be much progress. Thus, SDG 3 focuses on the reduction of the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births. It stresses the various preventive measures (communicable, and non-communicable diseases, substance abuse and malnutrition) to sustain lives. If Nagaland is serious about the lives of its people, then there should be provision for quality health and affordable essential medicines.

The setting up of the medical college at Kohima is a giant step in the medical field. All the same, this is not the end of the story. Health and well-being encompass the totality of the person. Both rural and urban citizens have the right to good health and well-being. Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Dr Mansukh Mandaviya while inaugurating Nagaland Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (NIMSR) said, “NIMSR is not just a medical college, it is also a research institute. It will not only fulfil the purpose of imparting medical education but will also address the health issues of the Naga people.” (PIB Delhi, 14th October 2023). Quality infrastructure, the latest and relevant medical equipment and a dedicated medical team make the circle complete. We cannot expect every patient to be referred to Kohima, Dimapur or outside the State. Every district hospital and PHC has an equal right to promote and save lives. However, infrastructure, updated medical equipment/facilities, and availability of doctors, nurses, and medicines are great challenges that lay before the State. Despite limitations, access to quality and affordable essential medical facilities, medicines and vaccines is possible in a small State like Nagaland.

Quality Education: SDG 4 ensures inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all. There has been a tremendous change in the field of education. The government and private sectors have invested resources to meet quality education. The literacy rate of Nagaland was 79.55% as per the 2011 census. Down the centuries, numerous policies have been framed to give quality education to students. Against these are malpractices, irregularities, etc. which demote the vision of education. Today, quality education needs to be assessed in terms of value-based practices. Quality education must focus on the Intelligent Quotient, Emotional Quotient, Social Quotient and Adversity Quotient (Garner, H. Frame of Mind, 1983) Is education promoting the holistic development of a person?

Promotion of relevant institutions for technical and vocational, employment and entrepreneurship can ignite quality education. Knowledge and skills are the substance of quality education. Quality education is the key factor to a progressive society. The more you educate people, the more progressive the society can be. The State will meet its downfall when there is no quality education. Education for the sake of knowledge is not applicable in this generation. Quality education needs quality teachers. And quality teachers come from a quality system.

The State Government must pursue quality education by filtering all processes objectively. Downsizing the number of teachers is not the solution for quality education. It is monetarily momentary fire. We don’t need to downsize the existing 60 Nagaland Legislative Assembly Seats to aim for quality government or to reduce government expenditure. The contrasting story of excess vs shortage of teachers in the State is not the fault of the teachers. It lies with the State Government. Objective assessment and evaluation are important to attain quality education.

Gender Equality: Nagaland is committed to promoting gender equality and empowering women. Efforts are made to address gender-based violence, promote women’s participation in decision-making processes, and ensure equal opportunities for men and women. SDG 5 speaks of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.

There are social and religious discriminations based on gender to some degree. However, the contextual tribal setting is different from the caste or class settings. The outburst of inequality in the far region need not be equally voiced out. There can be various strategies to keep track of gender equality more positively. It can begin from one’s home, society and state. Along with these strategies, there should be strict vigilance on the trafficking of girls and domestic violence. According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) report, the crime against women surged up to 38.46% in 2021. However, in 2023 there was a decline of over 9% in 2022. Nagaland is designated to be the safest state in India.The Hindu (22 August 2015) stated that women are safest in Nagaland.

ULB election should not be depicted in line with gender equality. No political party should take advantage of this issue to gain political favour. Nagaland adopted the 74th constitutional amendment provision for 33% women reservation in the Nagaland Municipal (first Amendment) Act Of 2006. In April 2016, the Supreme Court ordered the state government to hold municipal elections. In this regard, the constitution of India and Naga customary laws find it hard to hold their hands together. The controversy surrounding the purported attempts to extend 33% reservation to women in Nagaland ULBs has thrown up unsettled and complex issues of land, tax, and the question of women’s reservation (Hausing, K.K.S., “Equality as Tradition and Women’s Reservation in Nagaland”, 2017). Gender equality is to be seen from a positive perspective, not as the absence or denial of rights, privileges and opportunities.

Clean Water and Sanitation: SDG 6 focuses on the importance of water, sanitation, hygiene, forest, ecosystem, and water resources management. The goal is to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water. Realizing its implication and importance, the Government of Nagaland drafted the Nagaland Water Policy, in 2016. The policy explicitly recognises the fundamental right to water for drinking, sanitation and domestic use of all inhabitants of the state irrespective of their tribe, creed, gender and nationality in conformity with prevailing Naga traditions and customs (Nagaland Water Policy, 2016).

The first objective of the Nagaland Water Policy is to ensure conservation, protection, safeguarding, restoration and rejuvenation of water resources in the state of Nagaland to optimise their utilisation. The second objective aims to ensure the fulfilment of the basic right to water in the present and future.

The scarcity of water is to be addressed contextually. Most villages in Nagaland are situated on the hilltop. This makes the supply of water even harder. Kohima, the capital of Nagaland faces an acute shortage of drinking water. Likewise, some parts of Dimapur and Chümoukedima are beginning to face a shortage of water during the winter season. The increase in population vs availability of water is a threat to urbanization. All the more, unplanned urbanisation, and random construction of houses without proper drainage/sewage systems invite an unhygienic environment.

The implementation of the Jal Jeevan Mission in Nagaland is one way of addressing the issue of water in rural areas. Principal Secretary, PHED, Nagaland presented the Annual Action Plan for the State of Nagaland for the financial year 2020-21 during the meeting of the committee for finalization of the Annual Action Plan for the State of Nagaland on 18th May 2020 at New Delhi. He stated that Nagaland has planned for 100% Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTCs) coverage by FY 2023-24. Out of 3.69 lakh balanced FHTCs, 1.46 lakh FHTCs are planned to be provided during the financial year 2020-21 (Extracted from “Minutes of the meeting of Committee”)

Sustainable Cities and Communities: SDG 11 ensures that cities and human settlements are inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. It includes access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing, preservation of cultural and natural heritage, sustainable transport systems, roads and economic progress.

The State capital, Kohima was selected as one of the 100 smart cities in the year 2016 and was incorporated under the Companies Acts 2013 as Kohima Smart City Development Ltd and the Special Purpose Vehicle of the Company was established in March 2017. K. Theunuo, Chief Executive Officer of the Kohima Smart City Development Limited said that out of 32 projects, 20 have been completed to date (Eastern Mirror, 34 May 2023). Kohima bagged the Zonal Smart City Award (Northeast Zone) in the India Smart Cities Awards (ISCA) for 2022.

Communities must sustain their towns/cities and vice-versa. For this, responsible living is important. Destruction of public properties, littering and throwing waste on the highway/road and drainages are common practices that pull down the effort of the administration. Diversity has twofold stories as Nagaland is inhibited by heterogeneous communities from within and outside the State. Responsible citizens can sustain cities and communities. The beautification of towns by various organisations is highly appreciated.

The sustainability of any initiative, scheme or project is a great challenge for Nagaland. A mere photograph of the project’s completion does not meet the goal. As Nagaland develop and progress, there will be greater challenges. System and structure must be set up to meet challenges. Human resources must be pooled together for a collective venture towards progressive Nagaland. Good and stable governance plays a major role in the sustenance of SDGs.

Rev. Fr. G. L. Khing

NEISSR, Chümoukedima

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By EMN Updated: Feb 14, 2024 11:17:55 pm
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