Viewing Constraints To Nagaland’s Economic Development Through The Lens Of Political Development - Eastern Mirror
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Viewing Constraints to Nagaland’s Economic Development Through the Lens of Political Development

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By EMN Updated: Dec 15, 2020 10:32 pm

Nagaland’s economy at present is marked by stagnancy reflected in poor infrastructure, high migration to other states for employment, high unemployment, and low investment in productive assets. The state administration while forming only around 11% of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) serve as the primary means of circulation of state’s GSDP. Salaries paid for govt employees serve as income to the private school and college teacher, shopkeeper, construction worker and so on. This dependence on the govt is unsustainable in the long run since the state govt is in turn disproportionately dependent on the central govt. Actual production of goods and services exchanged in the market need to take place for this dependence to stop. What is prevalent now is a large majority of people simply managing to make ends meet one way or the other. In the medium to long term, the state faces many institutional constraints which impede its economic development. The constraints have no easy solution.

Viewing the problem through political development A state, according to the German sociologist, Max Weber, is a polity that maintains a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. A modern state, irrespective of its level of economic development, is characterised by a well-developed bureaucracy based on specialised rational legal functions. The concern or unit of such a state is the individual. At least in theory, India, and by extension Nagaland, is such a state. “We see the couple as individuals, not Hindus or Muslims” said a recent High Court ruling.

There are many competing powers to the state’s authority in Nagaland – nationalist groups, tribal groups, villages, clans and even khels. “We will not be held responsible for the course of action” is a refrain one sees often in the local newspapers. Justice, even at present, is more akin to geopolitics, with no authority to independently enforce rules. A state bureaucrat is careful while carrying out the wrath of the state lest it offend clan, village, or tribal loyalties. Nationalist groups, while no doubt very powerful, functions within the constraints of tribal acceptance or rejection. The same can be said about other group identities by which a Naga is identified.

These competing interests in a certain sense provide a semblance of rule of law, in the sense that no one can assert absolute authority. From the vintage of a liberal democratic state, however it presents a weak state. It ought to be emphasised here that liberal democracy doesn’t mean a weak state, it, on the hand, implies a powerful state constrained by division of power, checks and balances and rule of law. As the current CNN host and political commentator, Fareed Zakaria, puts it, “to distribute power, you first need to have power”. Our state is so weak that it is easily held to ransom and cannot enforce its wrath.

Put it another way, the state has failed to secure the lives and property of the stakeholders. It is true that there is no anarchy of the type we see in present-day Afghanistan or Somalia but the lack of security is prohibitive enough to discourage investment in the state, especially outside investors who are critical for developing specialised skills among local professionals through observation and collaboration.

Societies, viewed through political development, developed from band level societies to settled agriculture, further to tribes and then to states. Each stage was more complex and more powerful than the previous one. A society had to evolve to the next stage simply to survive as it faced threats of violence.

Chothazo Nienu,
Hyderabad

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By EMN Updated: Dec 15, 2020 10:32:15 pm
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