Nagaland—a pluralistic society
[dropcap]N[/dropcap]agaland is primarily a pluralistic society. We have the Nepali community who were brought here about two centuries ago by the British for their expertise in certain fields of endeavour. Much, much later came the business community, mostly referred to as Marwaris, because of their commercial acumen and the profits they could acquire in course of time—which they eventually did.When Nagaland was granted statehood, numerous persons migrated from Manipur in search of jobs in which they excelled. Be it driving vehicles, mechanics, tailoring, carpentry, and various aspects of Government service including the police department, they garnered the employment sector in the initial stages. Talented people but as time showed they had their shortcomings.
At this time, the Bengalis also landed up and captured the stage where political dimensions were concerned. They made excellent personal secretaries (PAs) and private secretaries (PS) to Ministers, MLAs and even the wide range of bureaucrats. Over time, however, Meiteis began leaving Nagaland, not all with a good account of themselves. Those remaining have fitted into the pluralistic drome. Most of the Bengalis have also retired drawing their pensions from Nagaland but have chosen to return to their own countryside.
The third wave brought on the South Indians, mostly from Kerala and it must be conceded that they have excelled in their operations. Most of the southerners began arriving when their more qualified brethren went West to the Gulf countries, brimming with petroleum. This lot sent so much of their income back to their “Land of Coconuts” that the price of land in Kerala shot up to the atmosphere.
The southerners in Nagaland understandably could not compete with Gulf oil money and so probably decided to stick here where they earned their bread and butter. Some of them have also inter-married with the Nagas, male and female.
In this connection, a large number of Keralites who have served in Nagaland in whatever capacity have decided to settle here. That is one of the reasons that they formed the Kerala Samajam (Kerala Society). They even have Kerala Christian Churches (Baptist or Catholic) in Kohima, Dimapur and also in some other towns in the State.
Apart from their pensions, the next best thing the Southerners have done is establish the Popular Bakery along with franchise in the major towns of Nagaland. The products ranging from the ubiquitous daily bread to several varieties of sweets and the businesses are running well. (Rumours abound that the original license is held by a Naga business tycoon but what matters is that the products are popular with the Naga customers).
Then too, we have the Kacharis who are the original inhabitants of parts of Dimapur area. They are bonafide citizens of Nagaland and bring with them their rich and varied culture and history.
A point to note is that when the body of late A.Z. Phizo was airlifted to Dimapur, the coffin was accompanied to Kohima by an entourage comprising delegations of all the Naga tribes of Nagaland followed by representatives of Nepalis, Kacharis, Karbis, Meiteis and the Marwaris in a convoy stretching over two kilometers. Indeed, there are other minority communities settled in Nagaland but they warrant a separate discussion.
This brings us to the question whether or not Nagaland is only for the Nagas? It would be a mistake on our part to try and propagate Adolf Hitler’s philosophy that only the Aryans are the genuine master race and the rest fit only to be enslaved or eliminated for ensuring lebensraum (elbow room) in neighbouring countries of the then Germany.
The present circumstances, the best option is to “Live and Let Live” provided that Naga culture and identity are not unduly adversely affected. Sure we aspire for integration of all contiguous Naga areas in Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh (and even Myanmar, if possible) but for now we have to make do with whatever cards that are dealt to us. One such card on the table is the reality of a pluralistic society, here to stay.