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Views & Reviews

The Degeneration

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By EMN Updated: Aug 28, 2021 10:42 pm
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Every sensible person must have noticed how fast the degenerations in every aspect have been adversely impacting life in Nagaland. Should anything go wrong, one tends to blame the other for the particle in his eye without realising the presence of the plank in the eye of the accuser. What is going on well with the people of Nagaland? Nothing. Everything is in haywire. Everything has been going wrong and particularly common men become the victim. Just a few tips: The terrible unabated price rise with none to bother about, the increasing number of governments without political solution and its consequential menace of taxation, the half-done and half-hearted development projects, the near drought which failed to draw the attention of the State Govt., the devastation of jhum crops by pestilence which failed to bother the concerned Departments, the highest ever increase in the rate of School dropouts, the casualness and nonsensical appointments of excess employees in all Govt. Departments and its inability to pay salary (staff of certain Department are yet to get salary for a single month this year), etc., etc. coupled with the uncertainty of the Naga political solution, the drama of the attempt to have NUG and the Damocles’ sword of the State’s grim financial status are the consequences of extraordinarily dishonest Assembly elections in Nagaland.

When election comes to Nagaland, one is reminded how the biblical Abraham pleaded with the two angels for Sodom and Gomorrah. Baring the God fearing few, all have become short of honesty as Christians including myself. Not only being dishonest, we have become extremes. The voters used to become madly crazy and bereft of human ethics. When a human being is bereft of the sense of fear, the sense of shame and the sense of taboo, he/she virtually turns into a beast. One can hardly find human, not to speak of Christians, during elections in Nagaland. Voters used to refuse to believe that there comes another day called tomorrow and one used to refuse to admit that he/she has soul or posterity.  The voters’ obsession for vote sale proceed is the exact idolatry against which the Christians are so warned in the Bible.

Sowing bramble seed can neither produce maize nor paddy nor can mango seed germinate into brier berry plant. What we, the voters, have sown and planted during the election, have grown and are producing the fruit of plutocracy, meaning a controlling class of the wealthy. Nagaland is the best example of this form of government of plutocracy or oligarchy. The present day elected members and the bureaucrats have stockpiled so much minted money and they are the ones having the purchase power. Suiting this creamy layer, the voters are anxiously waiting to prowl on the richer candidates during election like vultures attacking the carcass. The caliber, honesty or the dynamism of a candidate is never the talk but which candidate is lavish is the talk during election. Not necessarily a committed politician but bureaucrats or contractors or whosoever has money can get elected in any election since the Naga Christians in particular are cheaply purchasable.

The direct consequences of the horrid and dishonest election of purchasing the basic rights of the vote sellers by the candidates has a long term devastating effect on the State of Nagaland, be it political, moral or economy. Since the retail rates of votes during election are so expensive, each candidate is compelled to spend crores of rupees thereby the elected members are made to become no more obligated to the public service post election for 5 years term. The vicious cycle of corruption of the people of Nagaland is that a voter dares to extract and even extort as much amount of cash as one can from the candidates during campaign, and in return the elected members used to overridingly loot the State’s exchequer and every developmental funds with no sense of respect for the laws of the land as indicated by C&AG Report No.2 of 2020, Govt. of Nagaland as laid on the table of NLA on 5th August, 2021. Thus, the degeneration of both the electorate and the elected have collectively destroyed the beautiful Nagaland which has every potential to become the model State in the country. Such vile practices have become the accepted political and social culture of the people in Nagaland. The local papers published some of the extracts of C&AG Report and how serious anomalies in the financial managements have been there in almost all the Departments are exposed. Although those exposures are perhaps the tips of the icebergs, and yet those tips involving crores of rupees meant for the public are indeed serious in nature. Many Drawing & Disbursing Officers (DDOs) had fraudulent drawals against series of fictitious bills. False bills drawn by submitting fake Treasury challans to dupe the audit. Work Orders issued to contractors prior to settlement of land issues for such projects. A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed against the Govt. of Nagaland for abandoning the District Jail project at Longleng. The Multi-Disciplinary Sports Complex, Dimapur started in 2005 has been left abandon. The Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority (NSDMA) is sufficiently indicted by C&AG Report.  The Medical College Project at Kohima remains to be in oblivion as with most of the projects in Nagaland, etc.

In brief, the Kohima High Court construction started in 2007 with an estimated cost of INR 43 crores along with the States of Manipur, Tripura and Meghalaya. The other three States completed the infrastructures and the High Courts started since 2013. Whereas, the Kohima High Court project has become the most controversial one due to fraudulent money minting from it. The cost was enhanced from INR 43 crore to INR 52.62 crores in 2017 as per Schedule of Rate (SoR ) of 2010 then further enhanced to more than INR 161 crores as per 2010 SoR according to C&AG Report. The cost escalation will now go beyond INR 200 crores from the original estimated cost of INR 43 crores and the progress may be on halfway. The magnitude of the fund misappropriation against this project attracted the investigation of CBI. While the infrastructure has been in shambles, the State Govt. sponsored a team of the Nagaland Bar Association to Delhi to urge the Supreme Court to upgrade the Kohima High Court to a full-fledged High Court. The question is, has the building been ready? When upgraded so, where will it function? Will the court function in a half done building? The Justice and Law Department is spearheading in doing injustice and unlawful acts against the people of Nagaland.

Unstarred question in the last Session of NLA earned accolades from the people is specially rearing of 23 sheeps at Sheep Farm at Poilwa in Peren District. To look after this huge farm of 23 sheeps, there are 10 staff and for whom the monthly expenditure on salary comes to INR 3, 03,693.00 (Rupees three lakh, three thousand and six hundred ninety three) only. An extraordinary achievement! Congratulations to Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Department. I believe the Sheep Rearing does not have a separate Directorate as yet.

In the State of Nagaland, it appears that there has been powerful syndicate of a combination of politicians and bureaucrat in looting the State’s exchequer. Perhaps the God fearing few politicians, if any, and bureaucrats are too insignificant and overwhelmed to prove their presence in the governance. In the past, the bureaucrats used to act as the custodian of funds for the people in most cases in the sense that they used to protect the financial rules. Today, the disciplinary rules and the rules of the Executive Business have been kept under lock and key. For the unabated corruption and the destruction of the economy of the State, what disciplinary action has ever been taken against the corrupt by the State Govt. over the years?

In 2016, the Govt. of Nagaland stripped off the suo motu power of the erstwhile Vigilance Commission on murky ground. Someone in power determined to exact financial benefit from School text book printing business. The intervention of the Vigilance Commission was found to be a hamper to the transaction of the business, and thus convinced the Cabinet to remove the suo motu power of the Commission unprecedentedly. The NTC filed case against the Govt. in the High Court, Kohima and the Court rightly restored the suo motu power back to the Commission. Today, the then Vigilance Commission was merged into Nagaland Lokayukta which is expected to become the most effective watch dog against all corrupt activities in Nagaland. Meanwhile, instead of strengthening the Lokayukta, the Govt. of Nagaland has been trying its best to keep the Lokayukta as subservient as possible to the corrupt authorities by amendment of its laws at its whims. None may not necessarily be surprised if the vacancy/vacancies of post/posts is/are filled up by mere malleable ones.

For the sake of public knowledge, the Chakhesang Public Organisation (CPO) constituted a Committee to study and compile the Customary Laws and its Traditional Practices, and accordingly the Committee brought out its first Edition 2020. I too have a copy of the same, and in the book nothing is mentioned about its codification. I am not a lawyer and yet codification may have to pass through certain legal processes and no such compilation can automatically become codified by itself without the knowledge of the legitimate authority. It is therefore misleading that the Govt. of Nagaland has announced that the Chakhesang community has already codified their customary laws as appeared in local papers on 19.8.2021.

The proposed formation of the Naga Hoho as announced by the State Govt. is indeed the degeneration and is a matter of deep concern. Firstly, the nomenclature has to be Nagaland Hoho if at all the vocabulary ‘Hoho’ is considered indispensable as there cannot be two Naga Hohos. Secondly, as and when such public platform of the Nagas of Nagaland is to be formed in the manner of VDB and Village Council under the authority of the D.C. of a District, the very spirit and sanctity of the organisation is 100% diluted. Such an organisation has to be a totally neutral body without affiliation to any powers that be. If such Hoho is to be constituted as the direct agent/functionary of the State Govt. and without distinct sanctity it should never be formed. Thirdly, the proposed Hoho is supposed to be the exclusive platform for the Nagas of Nagaland. Any organisation which is contaminated meaning having direct association with forces from outside Nagaland must not be allowed to interfere in the formation.

The RIIN in itself entails a full-fledged story. Here, being conscious of space, just the tips of the iceberg are the serious legal flaws are being invited by the State Govt. in the formation of the opinions of the genuine stakeholders for its basic exercises. In this regard, how can Tenyimia Public Organisation (5 tribes from Nagaland+5 tribes from Manipur) be part of any authority at any level for the purpose of RIIN? The State Govt. is trying to dilute the entity and authenticity of the indigenous inhabitants of the State of Nagaland by consulting and inviting undeserved elements for the RIIN exercise. If at all the indigenous inhabitants are too submissive at this juncture under the given influence, the RIIN exercise will be rather be theleverage for dilution of even the existing protective laws. The question now is, will the indigenous tribes of Nagaland preserve and protect the existing protective laws of our land or allowed it to be decimated during your time of leadership?

The Nagaland United Govt. or the Nagaland Unpalatable Govt. or whatever is the nomenclature, it is the drama of the year. I leave it to the elected Members who have the liberty to waste their time on rhetorics.  In the midst of uncertainties of the NUG, what is obvious to me is the need of the hour is the holistic facilitation. With or without opposition-less Govt., what matters is the individual or collective leaders remain honest to the given promises to wholeheartedly support the expeditious solution. On the contrary, what matters is if any facilitator resorts to double talk in his/her facilitation by means of articulating delaying tactics or by means of speaking for here at home and speaking against it outside Nagaland through whisper campaign. It is sad to observe that our leaders have failed to discern the priority. The political solution is the priority. The existence of the NPF in opposition was never considered to be a roadblock to the processes of negotiations or to solution as to the negotiators. That was how the negotiations were bought to a close on 31.10.2019. The attempt for NUG is behind time and people rightly call it to be a political gimmick.

Z. Lohe
zhovehulohe@gmail.com

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By EMN Updated: Aug 28, 2021 10:42:43 pm