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Op-Ed

What are Naga austerity measures?

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By EMN Updated: Nov 05, 2014 10:26 pm
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Z. Lohe

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he PM Narendra Modi has already initiated measures for austerity. Maximum governance with minimum government is well coined. Accordingly, and with small ministry, the PM is trying to economise the expenditure on governance. Although I am critical about the secular credentials of BJP, such measures are to reckon with though it is nothing new.
What about Nagaland Govt.? Our State is a beggar State. When the Union Govt., through austerity measures, is reducing 10% cut in Plan expenditure beside a number of others, what Nagaland is contemplating? I am questioning because nothing of such similar initiative of State Govt. is publicly heard so far. The other States like J&K sought for additional fund this year because of massive flood or for Andhra Pradesh due to destructive cyclone. Nagaland State has remained always safe from natural calamities by sheer mercies of God though we deserve the wrath of God, but is worst hit by man-made calamity for which we are begging Union Govt. to rescue us from Rs. 1234 crore over eaten.Yet, may be the kind of governance system in our land is not viable for austerity measure. PM Modi has confidence in himself relating to probity and so he has gut to insist on others to be transparent too. Such measures cannot be initiated by one who has the philosophy of ‘I’ll eat, but you do not eat like me.’
One thing I understand: The GOI grants fund annually for one Govt. Subsequently, with one budget provision, another 6 govts have to be nurtured. Nevertheless, if State Govt. feels lazy to adopt any austerity measure, why not other govts take such initiative?
The austerity measure must not be left to State Govt. alone. The Church has definite role to play. The Church is expected to introspect its activities and screen which are futile from spiritual and economic point of view so as to prevent wasteful expenditures which affects each individual Church member. With due permission from those Churches or Councils who had streamlined the system of wedding already, let me share what many people do murmur about. I talk not that I hate wedding but for the sake of poorer lot.
Naga Christian weddings have immense impact on the economy and spiritual aspect of our society. When winter comes we used to receive a bundle of wedding cards plus verbal invitation through announcement on the pulpit. The writer is incapable of doling out anything that worth gift to any couple, and yet I have to sacrifice other engagements how important it may be for the sake of showing face to the inviter lest I will be marked with red ink. If not both, husband or wife alone is not considered as qualified invitee. In a winter, when maximum weddings take place, that winter is wasted on wedding attendance alone.
The worst is the competition. A marriage celebration tries to outdo the other in pre ceremony celebration such as distribution of meat, incurring lakhs of rupees for decoration and the most expensive feast. The degree of good wedding is assessed mostly on the turn out of the VIP presence, on the size of the crowd, the traffic jump caused by convoy and the number of vehicles at the venue. Ok, for those who are rich and particularly those public servants whose wealth is disproportionate to known legal earning can afford to bear.
But the children of the simple, the humble and the God fearing public servants who remained poor not because of inefficiency but of honesty are sandwiched. These majority children of the poor are the contemporaries of the children of the rich and the powerful. Those poor children are in marriageable age too, and yet unable to have grand wedding feast as his/her classmates and CYE friend that deterred him/her to get married on time. Ultimately, in cases the compulsion is to elope followed by deletion of names from the active membership register of the Church/s. Such end result has impacted adversely on the spiritual life partly because of social pressure. Is not the Church responsible for the lost souls?
A true story: Out of casual chat, a Sumi friend told me that Sumis are supposed to discontinue the tradition of dowry, buying a wife in view of Christianity. Whereas, worst than traditional purchase of a wife is being practised today. The bride’s party used to out rightly demand huge amount of cash in advance from the groom. In certain cases, that advance payment received by the bride’s family will be used for renovation of their house to make it presentable at the time of wedding ceremony. Is this piece of disclosure a news to Church?
What about you? I feel pain to always observe that the Church is for the rich and the powerful people. Steal public money and give huge tithe and be generous to prayer groups and your house will be flooded by one group after another. If you are stingy, not because of selfishness but because of poverty, none bothers or knows whether you are alive or departed despite your desire for a prayer support. I praise the Lord God for preserving limited number of true Christians who never visited a VIP or think thrice to visit the house of the rich on invitation but whose prayers have kept Nagaland from disasters. I wish the Church overcomes materialism and gains gut to stand for the truth. I am impatiently waiting when the Church will call a spade spade.
It will be better not to give so much liberty to wedding parties to have celebrations according to their convenience, but the date for the weddings be fixed by a Church in the Calendar for anyone to follow. Not two dates but a single day on which mass weddings can be had in a year. Such step is definitely an austerity measure. This is indeed for the sake of the poor majority. Is there any Church in Nagaland for the poor?
It is equally the responsibility of the tribal Hohos or of other organisations to wake up from slumber. It is for the tribal Hohos to realize how our fragile economy is being drained. Is there anyone or any organisation who is/which is serious about our economic dependency and about global climatic change. Do we think that UN, at its New York Hq., warning the world about the fast climatic change is too far a distant to affect Nagaland? The king Pharaoh, an atheist, listened and obeyed the advice of a Christian Joseph who was the lone Christian in the whole of Egypt. Nagaland is filled with Josephs but no Pharaoh to obey. It is time to streamline the piles of associations and organisations. The Naga organisations are found to be mostly parasitical. The Sports associations must do away with those items with which no participant can earn bread, the hierarchical sports meets be reduced, the students’ unions must avoid high profile conferences involving lakhs of rupees, the annual/decadal/silver/golden anniversary celebrations of all hue must be reviewed, etc.,etc. Have associations without taxing others. Of all, let us divorce Chief Guest Culture which is nothing but shameless begging.
I do not claim that I am the lone person serious about our unsustainable Naga economy read with impending danger of climatic change. Yet, I call upon the Church, the NGOs, the Hohos, the Students bodies and conscientious leaders to sincerely respond to timely warning. A very risky trend is on as we observe the Nagas being crazy after festivities with the mentality of eat, drink and enjoy today for none knows what will come tomorrow.

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By EMN Updated: Nov 05, 2014 10:26:52 pm