Present situation of Nagaland
In the past, Naga people were praised for their egalitarian and friendly mentality. They were considered to be open-minded and fun loving people. Communitarian spirit was found in all religious, social, economic and political activity. However, nothing remains static. Everything changes. It is high time for us to check where we are today and what needs to be done for the future.
This article is an attempt to analyse the present situation of Nagaland by bringing into light some of the issues faced by Naga society today. It is hoped that this article will lead to further discussion in our search for better and safer Nagaland.
Naga society is proud of classless and casteless society. But today, class system is fast developing in Nagaland. Materialism has gripped many Nagas. The rich are becoming richer and the poor poorer. The status of those who accumulate more wealth is increasing whereas the principle and value of sharing wealth with others is neglected.
Our society had put up the issue of alcoholism to a high pedestal but the more crucial issue of NSDZ is undermined. The issue of the recognition of Rongmei tribe is taken seriously whereas the issue of immigration (from Bangladesh) and migration (from mainland India) is hardly an issue in Nagaland.
Rongmei community that seeks for tribe recognition total only 1313 persons but that is considered a threat to Naga people in Nagaland. How many Nagas know that Angami is a recognised tribe in Manipur? The Nagas treat outsiders lightly but look upon its own brothers and sisters with contempt. Hundreds, if not thousand immigrants and migrants come to Nagaland every year.
How many Nagas have adopted ‘miyas’ or ‘nepalese’ or ‘kacharis’ to work for them? How many of them have got Naga citizenship and have Naga name? Our neighbouring state Assam receives 6000 immigrants every day. Outsiders may become our leaders soon. If hearsay is true, then, some of them have already become prominent leaders in Naga society.
The formation of NTC almost created ‘social untouchability’ among the large Naga family. If one goes by the write up of its first President, instead of being accommodative and broad-based peoples’ organisation, its formation is based on a very narrow concept (to protect Nagas of Nagaland from other Nagas) that sends negative message to the Naga brothers and sisters settling outside Nagaland.
It is very wrong to equate the formation of NTC with UNC in Manipur which aimed at protecting the rights and life of the Nagas from dominant Meitei community. UNC’s move for Alternative Arrangement (AA) in Manipur is a way towards achieving Nagas’ aspiration to live as one nation. Nagaland state gained special status through the labour of all Nagas. Today, Nagas of Nagaland must rise above its traditional 16 tribes’ mentality, become mature and accommodative to all communities of the Nagas.
The belief and practice of patriarchy is very strong in Nagaland. Umpteen meetings have been held to restrict the implementation of 33 percent reservation of seats for women in all decision making bodies. Both traditional and biblical resources are employed to restrict women to come to public sphere. Many man-made Organisations and Hohos fear that this Act is a threat to Naga society and Church but they hardly raise their voice when it comes to corruption which is corroding the whole Naga society. Giving opportunity and freedom to women is the best way to arrest corruption and violence in our society.
Political Condition: Unfortunately, some of the Naga tribes who are well ahead than others in enjoying the fruit of India’s independence are backsliding from the Naga national cause. Many educated Nagas of Nagaland do not want to talk about Naga National Movement anymore. They do not want to join the Movement. They do not want to contribute anything to sustain the Movement. They do not want to sacrifice themselves, their family and their tribe for the greater cause of Naga nation. They seem to be quite satisfied with the ‘provision of India’ that meets their daily basic needs and whoever disturbs this ‘provision’ is condemned. From time to time, we hear ‘solitary voice’ of Naga intellectuals lamenting of the dying Naga nationalism, and truly, as a whole, the strength and spirit of Naga nationalism is at a low ebb.
Whether one likes it or not, Naga National Movement continue to survive through the active involvement of the Nagas outside of Nagaland. The condition of the Nagas outside of Nagaland state is pitiful. The Nagas in Assam, the Nagas in Manipur, the Nagas in Arunachal Pradesh and the Nagas in Myanmar continue to face all types of oppression and discrimination.
Many Nagas of Nagaland had strongly condemned the excesses committed by Naga Political Groups (NPGs) but keep silent on the excesses committed by Indian Armed forces. Unlike in the neighbouring state Manipur, there is no active movement or organisation in Nagaland that condemns the imposition of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). With AFSPA in force, civil government has no power to protect its citizens and hence ceasefire is just a mockery. The Naga public are not aware that AFSPA is a form of governance – a military rule with draconian law.
Many educated Nagas of Nagaland feel that Nagaland is safe because it is protected by Article 371 (A) of Indian Constitution. This is a short sighted vision. How long will this Provision continue if the Naga National Movement is abolished? Will the Centre government continue to pump in money forever? With the coming of BJP at the Centre, there is an attempt to abolish special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir. It is possible that one nation, one culture and one law (uniformity of law) will be made as the norm for all citizens of India in the near future. This may lead to the abolition of Article 371(A) too which will have huge impact on the unique status of the Nagas. Once this special provision is abolished, the unique status of Naga people will be also gone. Therefore, it is imperative that we all join hands and strive together for an ‘honourable solution’ for the whole Nagas and protect the rights of the Naga nation.
The self-reliant economy of the Nagas is fast disappearing with the Central government pumping crores of rupees into the State every year mainly to content insurgency movement. This has pampered many Nagas to live an easy life. We become spendthrift, living beyond one’s income. Our generation, hence, is not willing to work hard both physically (manual labour) and mentally (to compete with others in competitive exams).
The startling example is the recently concluded All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT 2014) – where no Naga students from Nagaland could qualify the exam to fill any of the allotted 56 seats, whereas 241 students from Manipur were selected in the merit list for 131 seats allotted to them. Majority of Naga educated youths do not want to go out for competitive exams but only depend on State government for job. This ‘dependency syndrome’ needs to be curbed as it will lead to the total collapse of the state’s economy.
In the name of economic development, the State is trying to introduce Nagaland Special Economic Development Zone (NSDZ). This will bring irreparable damage to Naga’s economy and create social tension. Only a handful of few rich people will get the benefit at the cost of majority population and nature. People will lose their livelihoods and hence unemployment will increase.
Destroying the livelihoods of 1000 persons to give employment to 10 persons cannot be considered as ‘development’. Cutting down the whole forest and getting millions of rupees is not genuine ‘growth’. Bottled water is a sign of privatisation of life. What we need today is to protect our land, water and forests from falling into the hands of the rich companies. As long as we own land, forests and water sources, we have the freedom to live.
The state policy makers must think twice before introducing any type of commercial crops or trees. Instead of helping the farmers, hasty introduction of cash crops can lead Naga farmers to debt and food insecurity. The welfare of the villagers/peasants should be in the top priority of the state policy. Incentive should be given to those villagers who produce food crops. As long as we produce our own food, we are free people. As soon as we lose food sovereignty to outsiders or companies, we become their slaves like the sons of Jacob in Egypt. Those who control food, controls people.
Our Naga churches have failed to produce Christians with prophetic spirit. We have failed to produce Prophet Nathan who challenged mighty King David. We have failed to produce Prophet Amos and Hosea, who had challenged the systematic dehumanisation of the poorer section in the society by the rich and elite class. We have failed to produce responsible Christians who take up their cross daily and follow Christ. We have failed to embed the radical character of Jesus that was demonstrated in cleansing the Temple.
We love worshipping God through singing, praying and preaching, but not by putting our faith into action, we become religious hypocrites. We have produced many ‘begging Christians’ who always ask God to give them again and again. They do not give thanks to God and are not sharing God’s blessings with their neighbours too.
We have many paralyzed Christians that believe in “God will do the best.” This faith has made many Naga Christians lazy and actionless. They always wait God’s intervention in all circumstances at all times. This is the reason why all types of evils work in our society. If God uses only miracle to accomplish anything, then God need not send Jonah to Nineveh. God needs human beings to transform society and human beings need God’s power.
We must realize that God has done the best for us through the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Do Naga Christians want to see Jesus bleeding on the Cross of rape, violence, corruption, nepotism and tribalism? It is our duty now to do the best for God. It is time for Naga Christians to stand up and boldly say, “Come what may, I will do the best for God”. Now is the time for us to suffer, sacrifice and transform the world. To that end, God will be with us.
The above article can be summed up in the following points: Firstly, many Nagas (especially elderly ones) are not aware that ‘yesterday’ is not ‘today’. They want to run our society with traditional knowledge and practices (both in Church and society) without any modification. This group of people oppose any change to take place. In order to make yesterday’s knowledge system relevant and meaningful, we need to interpret and re-interpret in the light of today’s context.
Secondly, many Naga leaders are not serious enough to think for younger generation. They are short-sighted. What will happen after 10 or 20 years? Sadly, even Naga nationalism is on the verge of collapse.
Thirdly, many Nagas are blinded by materialism. They worship ‘wealth’ as their god and believe that economic development (growth) is the solution to all problems. Success in counted in terms of high salaried job. Involvement in corruption and destruction of nature is their hobby.
Fourthly, there is the problem of ‘privatising’ God among Naga Christians which result to the failure of translating their faith in Jesus Christ into social action. They fail to play the role of ‘salt’ and ‘light’ – allowing all destructive forces of the world to keep attacking our society.
(This article appeared in morungexpress.com)