Intellectuals Sans Intelligentsia - Eastern Mirror
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Intellectuals Sans Intelligentsia

By The Editorial Team Updated: May 05, 2017 12:33 am

It is a welcome step that a group of Naga intellectuals from across different areas of expertise and profession recently met outside the state and hammered out a list of objectives to work towards peace and reconciliation with a renewed effort, to use their words, for the sake of a’ shared Naga future’. Although the banner of FNR was absent in the present discussion, the presence of its prominent members was quite conspicuous and that deserves appreciation from all for their unrelenting efforts for Naga reconciliation all these years in spite of many detractors.

The intellectual tag given to the persons that met recently is beyond contest and likewise the number of followers that the persons have or in the popular lingo their fan following is quite substantial especially propelled by Social Media for some of them. However the question remains whether they are all part of an active and a robust Naga intelligentsia. Is there such a group that can be termed as the Naga Intelligentsia where all the intellectuals that took part in the recent conclave and more are part of it? The probing questions can still go a bit deeper by asking if at any point of time in the Naga history was there a period when such a distinct group well qualified to be termed as the Naga Intelligentsia ever existed.

Whether it’s the members of the Naga club that gave the written representation to the Simon Commission, or the handful of educated Nagas that formed the Naga Hills District Tribal Council later renamed as the Naga National Council, or the group of educated Nagas and few Naga civil servants along with range/area and tribal leaders that were part of and led the Naga People’s Convention. Can all be termed as the Naga intelligentsia then? If viewed from the Western perspective it may seem quite farfetched and fantastic to compare these lot with the counterparts in the West but in the Naga parlance it was the best the society then could offer as intellectuals since they were the only thinking heads who had seen and experienced the outside world.

Even after statehood, except for a few merchants and government contractors almost all the educated Nagas were government servants that were looked up by the rural folks. These lot became the de-facto Naga Intelligentsia for a long time if not the real one. However, at the same time it is evident that there were no noticeable feeling of patriotism at least for the state of Nagaland whereas the tribal feelings did ran quite high, at times filled with blind emotions. Even if there were a few who had it, it was all lost as the bigger wave of patriotism, the Naga nationalism, whether forced, imbibed or inborn took over. So the only form of intelligentsia in the state since statehood were a group of government servants, some politicians, a few government contractors later joined by some occasional tribe leaders. Therefore, it may be safely deduced that the current state of excess employment in the state government and the rush for government contracts by all and sundry were driven by this so called Naga intelligentsia all these years since they had nothing better to offer.

It might sound like extreme generalisations, but it is not without evidence and the present state of affairs are the proof. On the other hand this scenario so described should actually act as a double edged sword for all if only the intellectuals of the present Naga generation are ready to accept it. It should lay bare what the Nagas as a people were just a century ago and how we have fared over the years. How farsighted we may have been but at the same time how ineptitude was the order of the day due to the lack of literacy and population in the initial days. The intentions for some past decisions though good or the best possible one for that time were taken but the implementation and the results may not always have been favourable. So if the Nagas have to catch the bus of 21st century then it should remind one and all to step down from the moral high grounds that each group have taken. Simply put, the pride of being a Naga can be kept intact but the ego has to go. The coming together of intellectuals should silence those jingoistic (in tribal/regional context) tribal leaders and small time political lackeys with half baked truths fomenting communal tensions among the tribes in their pursuit to secure political careers. It should be able to stop those tribal preachers in the churches who paints pictures of perceived threats from others against their tribes. It should stop those student leaders who rely more on brawns than brains and actively follow either the jingoistic tribal leader and the jingoistic tribal preacher. If these can be stopped then only can a road map for the Naga intellectuals in the formation of a robust, active and actual Naga Intelligentsia in the real sense can be finally achieved that will work towards the objective of a common goal for the whole of Nagas.

By The Editorial Team Updated: May 05, 2017 12:33:56 am