Nagaland Chief Minister Urges Unity And Transformation In Naga Society - Eastern Mirror
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Nagaland Chief Minister urges unity and transformation in Naga society

By Henlly Phom Odyuo Updated: Nov 30, 2023 1:03 am
Neiphiu Rio and Dr. Numal Momin with the DNSU officials at the 21st general conference of the DNSU at NEZCC amphitheatre on Wednesday. (EM Images)

DIMAPUR — Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio commended the Dimapur Naga Students’ Union (DNSU) for its role as a steward for the diverse student community in the cosmopolitan city of Dimapur.

Speaking at the 21st general conference of the DNSU at the NEZCC amphitheatre on Wednesday, Rio urged students to uphold unity, sovereignty, customary practices, and cultural traditions as Nagas.

Amid the increase in the number of people migrating from villages to urban areas, he reminded that the founders of DNSU envisioned fostering unity among different communities while promoting, protecting, and preserving the rich customary culture and tradition.

The long-serving chief minister also said that he along with his predecessors and seniors, have come to realise the myriad issues afflicting the Naga society, compounded by the unresolved Naga political issue.

In this connection, he stressed the need for a societal transformation to uphold the Naga identity, including rectifying discrepancies in the state census.

Rio said that his government “rejected 2001 census because the growth rate was about 80% whereas the country growth rate was 17-20% only,” in 2003 He said, the state had pleaded for a new census but the government of India did not allow it.

‘When we conducted in 2011 with the help of civil society, churches, and student organisations, the population decreased by 11980’, he maintained.

The CM also linked census manipulation to challenges in the education sector, stating that the “the education department made a big blunder” because of wrong census.

‘There are so many schools with no single enrolment while some have more teacher than the students, and that is why the school education department is finding difficult to merge and redeploy the teachers and students’, he explained.

He also underscored the importance of a clean election, noting the interplay between accurate census data and fair electoral processes. While lauding the church for campaigning for Clean Election, he said there can never be clean election with the manipulated census and electoral.

Rio lamented the state’s  nearly non-existent revenue due to various issues despite the potential, adding that ‘we spend unnecessarily for wrongs.’

On Naga Students’ Federation’s request to enhance electricity supply and ensure uninterrupted power during examination period, he said the state’s power demand is 180 megawatts, while the current availability is only 130 megawatts.

Rio pointed out that currently, 90% of the state’s power is purchased, with only 10% generated from Doyang and Likhimro Hydro projects. Despite an annual expenditure of about INR 554 crore, the revenue collection stands at only INR 286 crore, resulting in a loss of INR 267 crore from power purchase. The responsibility for addressing this issue lies not only with the government but also with the entire community, he said, while lamenting that discussions among Nagas often focus on politics and not on economic matters.

He also said that in the ‘backward districts,’ there is still a demand for the government to deviate from the prescribed qualifications for another five years. Consequently, quality education will be compromised, he said.

The CM stressed that state government jobs are saturated, and despite the scarcity of such positions, there is a prevalent tendency to seek government contracts or supplies.

Maintaining that the current Nagaland economy is heavily dependent on government salaries, he stressed the need for collective responsibility to transform the state, eradicate the existing issues, and adopt new practices.

On the upcoming Hornbill Festival, the CM expressed concern citing limited accommodation and  lack of products for tourists to purchase, saying that despite the state’s vast potential, there is minimal production, leaving visitors with little to buy.

He also lamented that efforts like road shows and assistance to tribal hohos to support tribal festivals have been made, but there are very few marketable products made in Nagaland.

Addressing the media on the sidelines of the conference, the CM said Nagaland government has sanctioned additional funds to eastern Nagaland troupes for the Hornbill Festival.

Regarding oil exploration in the border region of Assam and Nagaland, he said that the government is ready to take the issue very seriously if the people are willing.

On the Naga political issue, he clarified that as the state is not part of the negotiation party, details of discussions are unknown, and speculating would be unwise. “Talk is going on but kind of deadlock which we can see”, he noted.   

Guest of honour for the event, Assam Legislative Assembly’s Deputy Speaker, Dr. Numal Momin lamented that in Assam, anything undesirable is often attributed to Nagas, a sentiment he referred to as an ‘unhealthy culture’ that needs to be done away with.

While maintaining that cultural assimilation and convergence is essential for mutual understanding, he acknowledged that promoting diverse culture is positive, but it should not come at the expense of forgetting one’s own culture.

In his address, he expressed gratitude to the people of Dimapur for their assistance in maintaining peace in his area. Highlighting some of his initiatives along the Assam and Dimapur border, he announced the sanctioning of a 10-km road from Sunday Market Bazaar to Lahorijan, passing through Tea Estate to Karagaon, and extending to Dimapur border, assuring that this road would be completed within six months.

Emphasising local identity, he encouraged Nagas in Karbi Anglong to recognise themselves as Karbi Nagas and assured them of necessary facilities without relying on Nagaland. He also expressed commitment for further collaboration with DNSU, seeking peace and stronger bonds between neighbouring states.

By Henlly Phom Odyuo Updated: Nov 30, 2023 1:03:47 am
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