Views & Reviews
Rejoinder to 21st November 2-23 Press Release of NTC
The article by Nagaland Tribes Council (NTC) that appeared in some local dailies on 25th Nov. 2023 took me by surprise. The stand of the NTC reflects detachment and apathy from the needs of the day. It was a classic exhibit of Jo Ohara’s window phenomenon. An opportunity to the window was not taken therefore, the write up reflects ignorance and assumptive attitude. NTC is supposed to be decade old, so, where has all the years gone by? It should have matured into a responsible organization. Moreover, in every article written by NTC, I see that it is always against the government of the day. Constructive criticism is one thing but, their write up indicates antithesis to a progressive society. I hate antagonism through papers but, I am compelled to write this. Let us remember the adage, that multiple fingers are still pointed at oneself when you point a finger at someone.
The initiative to form apex body is a solo venture from my side. It was misreported in Nagaland Post that the 21st Nov. 2023 meeting was facilitated by the government (the local daily has already clarified that matter) but it was not. I repeat, it was not a government initiative. Conscious of the felt need for an apex body of Nagas of Nagaland, I ventured to facilitate the formation. Yes, as one of the Advisors of Honourable Chief Minister Nagaland, I propped the issue to him one day. This is what he had to say, “We Nagas are diverse in nature and there is always absolute need for Unity, that is why we have chosen ‘Unity’ as our State motto. However, as a Govt. we cannot form civil societies, it is up to them. But we should continue to encourage them to come together in Unity”. It was this last sentence of HCM that encouraged me and pushed me into facilitating Unity move. However, I could not have done it alone. I alone could have been a lesser motivating factor. Every single legislator that I approached had the same feeling that, Nagas of Nagaland should have an apex body that has the support of all Naga tribes. All were willing to be motivational factors. That was how legislators graced the move not only for the 21st Nov. meeting but, also on two other occasions ,when I organized meeting with CNTC, TUN and ENPO.
The need for an apex body stems from the very fact that we Nagas are often confronted with issue common to Nagas of Nagaland. It is at such time we direly feel the lack of an apex body for consultative process for a common wisdom. Naga Hoho (NH) which was formed in 1995 at Wokha was meant to be an apex body of Nagas of Nagaland. However, with passage of time it ramified to include Nagas outside Nagaland. Nagas of Nagaland were then left with no apex body. Similarly, Tenyimi Peoples’ Organization also encompassed Tenyimis living outside Nagaland. The recent formation of Tenyimi Union Nagaland covering Tenyimis of Nagaland was a move appreciated by one and all.NTC also unfortunately does not have the support of all Nagas tribal organizations. If they think they do, it is like holding on to grass what has withered. If NTC claims to be a foundation for common goals fostering Unity, Brotherhood and fraternity among Naga people as mentioned in the article, then why it is irked by the move to unite various Nagas tribal organization under one banner. I met NTC officials two times during this move for unity and I found that they were very gentlemanly in the discourse of our discussion. All communications and letters that were given to the three regional bodies and their affiliated units were also given to NTC. That is why I mentioned I was surprised by their press release. Having said this, I hope NTC will have the good sense to rethink and come together with the other organizations to form an apex body for the benefit of posterity. Let us not beget our fragmentation to posterity.
Mention is made of ZeliangrongBaudi in the letter, which is again far-fetched assumption. The organization did not figure my move for unity. Nagaland Zeliang Peoples’ Organization (NZPO) was invited but due to some transitional problem they were facing, they did not attend the meeting. But, as correctly mentioned by NTC for once, TUN being the apex regional body for 5 tribes was present along with their affiliated units (APO, CPO, PH and RH) except the above. Mention is also made in the NTC press release about Nagaland Village& Tribal Council Act 1978 (as amended in 2022). To me it is a wise decision of the Government to have tribal councils incorporated into the Act. It provides legality to the tribal Councils. If one carefully reads the whole portion of the Act, one will understand that whereas, village councils are mandatory institution, tribal councils are not. All conceivable guidelines are given elaborately for Village councils but for tribal councils no such guidelines are mentioned, meaning they are at liberty to frame their own constitution and guidelines. It is only prudent for the Government to ask for organizations to assist in times of stress to maintain peace and law and order.
In conclusion, let me once again reiterate, as I have done in front delegates for the meetings, that I, as a politician and more so the honourable legislators running the affairs of the government, cannot involve in actual formation of Civil Society or NGO. Whatever position we hold, we are part and parcel of our respective tribal as well as regional organization. That is the essence of being tribals. We have every right to advise and raise concern, and the concern today is the need to form an apex body of Nagas of Nagaland. In Naga context, the government and CSOs are two important institutions; one cannot do without the other. It is unfortunate that the ENPO refused to join the bandwagon. If they had joined, the core idea was to forge a “Preamble of Understanding” for formation of an apex body. This must not be construed as actual formation of the body. The onus would then be upon the CSOs to collectively form the apex body that would be inclusive of even NTC provided they are willing to come to terms that they do not have the support of all tribes and need to relook into the matter with a positive and progressive mind. I urge all Nagas of Nagaland to come forward. GOD BLESS NAGALAND!
Dr. Chumben Murry
Advisor to Chief Minister