Time to Revive, Restore and Reinvent the Naga Society

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Dr SC Jamir


As any other people on the globe Nagas too yearn for a better tomorrow. But it has to be fashioned by the Nagas themselves based on realities of the prevailing situation in the world. No useful purpose would be served by chanting and glorifying the bygone days. People should also realize that building castle in the air will not benefit them. Collective wisdom of the Nagas demand that time has come to embark on revival, restoration and reinventing the Naga society. To begin with let us have a panoramic view of the entire gamut of the problem.

 

Many in the present generation are not aware what sacrifices people have made to uphold the Naga pride. The odds were not only heavily stacked against the Naga people and their leaders, the bigger enemies looming large in the horizon were cultural prejudice, economic divide and social stigma attached with the Nagas – considered to be primitive.

 

The period in between 1947 and 1963 when the state of Nagaland came into existence was perhaps the most tumultuous years and luck as I was, the Almighty had ordained me to play my part in the beginning and then, the socio-political developments in India and other states, in Asia and other western nations almost propelled me into the turmoil.

 

Yes, turmoil it was, but as the saying goes the valiant warriors never quit and here I am after six decades of commitment and four assassination attempts on self by elements who are drenched in human blood, writing this to explain to one and all as to where the Nagas are heading, whether the journey they are undertaking will culminate in peace in society for all Nagas and economic abundance to the state and finally sector-wise progress in some key fields like education, health and industry etc!

 

All these propositions are to be discussed and evaluated to overcome dissent and chalk out plans and programmes on a minimum of 30-year road map. In the process we have to be united-all sections and factions of the Naga society and the state of Nagaland with all their views and counter views included. Let unity determine the future course of action. Let consensus be the key to reinventing our real and true spirit and let the divisive forces and saboteurs be part of the process and thereby become part of a chain of events which posterity would remember as perhaps the most progressive period, rather moment in modern Naga history and perhaps the most definitive and assured step in twenty — first century.

 

The stakeholder might be many, but this is no time, for dilly-dallying or speculation, for the rest of India and the whole of Asia, Africa and western world are moving at a fast pace, can Nagaland be allowed to stagnate and remain static ? It is said ‘Time and tide waits for none’ and can we – or for that matter, should we – allow time to slip in between our difference of opinion and parochial vision? History will never allow us a second opportunity and history of course, will never pardon us today’s dissenters.

 

High sounding jargon is all for consumption of the idle and day-dreamers. The reality is unless the Nagas join the race with the rest of the world, the Nagas themselves will be left behind! And for whom will the Nagas remain behind?

 

Many ask For whom the bell tolls!

 

It does not toll for others, it tolls for us!!

 

So, against this backdrop, I want to ask a few questions during the course of this small piece. However, before asking questions let me take all of you, especially the youth of Nagaland, on a brief yet enlightening journey of today’s reality of Nagaland vis a vis pan- Indian as well as prevailing global scenario.

 

Reality

 

The last two decades of the last and the first decade of the present century have already witnessed unprecedented progress, upheaval, turnaround, recovery etc in all key sectors-you only name it, the world had witnessed it. We – especially Nagas-need to analyse what we are, or what is driving force behind such unprecedented change and transformation. The one thing that strikes me most is that ‘knowledge ‘has been the only driving force that has caused unprecedented economic boom and knowledge has caused transformation!

 

And whichever country or even region has shed away from creation/generation of new knowledge has suffered. Hence the key is knowledge and who will be our drivers of change? Who will be at the forefront of this knowledge-centric and knowledge driven scenario? The answer, obviously, is the youth! Only the youth!

 

So the youth be hijacked by elements that propagate a culture that is devoid of reality? Colourful phrases like separate homeland, Naga homogeneity, Naga-culture etc are indeed great, but it would be almost like a criminal conspiracy if we try to misguide our youth and in the process push Nagaland into a sort of dark alleys of stagnation, violence, economic and cultural backwardness. The whole exercise would be a three dimensional approach. (a) complete prosperity and progress of Nagaland (b) preservation all that is unique to Naga culture, (c) assimilation of the very best from around the world into Naga society and taking the best of Naga culture to the outside world.

 

The bottom-line is to have a new progressive culture in every sphere. To be cocooned both in time and space will not serve any purpose. Our youth needs to be ambassadors of culture, literature, industry and perseverance, hard work and commitment. Having a modern mobile set or Internet connection does not indicate the state’s overall prosperity.

 

What is vital is how do we use modern IT inventions-to our advantage or disadvantage? Getting rid of the Naga costume and wearing most modern apparel does not necessarily indicate progress or prosperity. We all know that, “It is new idea and new knowledge that will henceforward determine where we stand and how we stand, and how we compare ourselves with the very best.”

 

So, as anybody can see a knowledge-centric and idea-driven Nagaland is the need of the hour: a Nagaland that is vibrant, progressive and a centre of activities that Naga culture flag flying high.

 

This brings us onto a step-by- step course of action. We may identify the issues as under:-

 

A. Clear understanding of the Naga society and the Naga perspective;
B. Key ways to progress and prosperity,
C. Identification of Goals and objectives.
D. Preparation of vision-document, strategy etc.

 

All these now lead us to shift our focus to identify some aspects which are to be appreciated. Concrete measures, both at the grass root level and at different other levels have to be initiated through a series of activities. Now let us keep in mind that when I use the word vision, I mean it to be an imaginative concept or “a dream of a society with regard to its nature, role and shape of things to come over a long period of time as a lasting phenomenon.”

 

It is only when you imagine things which implies you visualize things that you are able to take a plunge into a territory that is not yours, but then you become a pioneer and others soon follow and the new territory belongs entirely to you all. Then only today’s vision becomes tomorrow’s reality. Yes, I want vision document and strategy to be prepared for Nagaland and I would our youth to be the hope, strength and flag bearers of Nagaland.

 

We have to see the negative aspect of our society which is faction-ridden.

 

Factionalism has become our greatest enemy. Difference of opinion will always be there, for that is the cornerstone of democracy, but factionalism should not blur our vision, hinder our growth and cripple us in our quest and march for a brighter tomorrow. In plain speak; Nagas should never become the enemies either of Nagaland or Naga people.

 

Outlining my conviction of what we need to embrace and what we need to avoid, I would make a small list:-

 

We need to appreciate all that is good and positive, must condemn all that is negative. For the cause of Nagaland we need to trust one another, as individuals and as groups; there is absolutely no place for suspicion in our lives. Building is an area where our focus should be on; and this implies not only to build infrastructure but also to build relationships and bridge the gap-gaps in trust ! There is a trust deficit among the people which is terribly affecting the social cohesion. As Christians we should love one another and trust one another. Let us build Nagaland on the bed rock of truth and righteousness.

 

Should the Nagas decide to embark on reviving and reinventing their society, through collective efforts and wisdom, the most dreaded disease i.e. unresolved Naga political problem must come to a logical conclusion without which Nagaland cannot progress. Once this obstacle is removed, Nagas can shape their destiny in a peaceful manner unhindered by any negative element.

 

At the same time we need to heal past wounds; we need to put healing touch on the souls of those who have already suffered a lot-physically and psychologically. The era of fighting among the Nagas themselves be made things of the past and a new era of sanity be ushered in. At the same time, the Nagas should henceforth be in a position to differentiate between positive and negative. Let us start appreciating positive attributes that promote peace and harmony in society and condemn all negative elements that destroy society.

 

How to succeed in fulfilling this vision?


I. Getting the facts right: Genesis of the movement and fallout from the Naga political movement during the last more than five decades.

II. Getting a goal correctly and clearly: The Nagas should define and design their vision without ambiguity. Nagas have to be part of the twenty first century otherwise they will be left out. Narrowness and prejudice will make them dwarf in all respects.

III. The tribal ethos like truthfulness, honesty, simplicity, fellow-feeling and community life should be the bed rock upon which the future of Nagaland be reinvented.

 

The Naga people daily yearn for a better day to come but their dream is shattered by the unresolved Naga political problem. At the moment, the Naga people expect that the ongoing political talk between the Government of India and the Naga Political Groups (NPGs) would hammer out an honourable political resolution on the basis of the Framework Agreement of 3rd August 2015 without any further delay.

 

The parties involved should not fail the Naga people at this crucial and critical juncture. Whatever may be the result of the talk, the Naga people should wake up and firmly and solemnly resolved to go ahead by involving themselves actively to revive, reform, restore and reinvent the Naga society for a better and brighter tomorrow.

 

Dr SC Jamir is a former Chief Minister of Nagaland and recently retired as Governor of Odisha

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