Consider ground realities as a progressive society
By HK Khulu
As a progressive society, we are to consider ground realities after looking around us and The Government of the day should take sound policy decisions in order that our society can have a better future. While most the world including our Northeast States are making real progress, we seem to be going backwards. We need to retrospect and also introspect and realistically plan for the future. Over the past few decades, the living conditions in our state have deteriorated on all fronts. Perhaps there is a need to look at various aspects-human resource, infrastructure, social harmony and especially the economy.
The first question that comes to mind is “what is being done for the younger generation” Beside problems of proxy and irregularities of teachers are we able to give a proper syllabus for the students. The condition of buildings is pathetic. Is this due to bad planning and lack of resources? Perhaps it is both.
Infrastructure: Its 56 years since statehood and if we look at the overall scenario of infrastructure particularly Government buildings. Roads or any other infrastructure or Industries, we have nothing to be proud of. Yes some buildings like the Secretariat, PHQ and some of the Directorate buildings have come up well but most of the Government buildings are in shambles. Road are not fit to be called good by any standard. In fact even within Northeast region we have the worst roads.
All state undertakings or joint venture are closed-name a few-Sugar mill, Fruit and vegetable processing units and many more with the result that today there is not even a single functioning Industry anywhere in the state. In line with the Act East Policy, There was a proposal of the State BJP during the visit of Shri Nitin Gadkari, union Minister MORTH, Government of India to Nagaland in November 2015, two important roads were approved in Principle and had appeared in the Local dailies 1. NH connecting Dimapur to Pangsha via Zunheboto 2. Trans Eastern highway Connecting all ITCs in the eastern Nagaland Longwa-Pangsha-Avangkhu. it has been 4 years since the approval- one wonders what has happened ? Can we call this progress?
Social Harmony: Tribalism has reared its ugly head in our society and is pushing the society towards an abyss. Coupled with this is proliferation of NG0s, Civil Societies having similar agendas but the constituents not seeing eye to eye and what about the unions and syndicates with vested interests not even sparing the churches. Factionalism amongst the national workers has become so rampant and the society is confused.
Our own people are confused then what about the others who view Nagas as one community from outside. In fact we seem to be even confused with History- The centenary celebration of 100 years Fortunately the CAB (Citizenship Amendment Bill) could not be passed by the Rajya Sabha and has not become a law-but even this had its share of controversy. Can we say that we are clear about our History or the vision for the future.
Economy and resources: The economy of the State is in absolute shambles. There is almost total dependence on Government funding as we produce almost nothing except Agriculture production that too in traditional way and which remains at subsistence level.
Over the decades the resource base has not widened and Co top it post 1989 the pattern of funding as implemented by Government of india in line with 16 point agreement in line with Rangarajan Committee report has adversely affected the devolution of funds to Nagaland in particular and an special category states in the country in general.
In other words the nonplan gap (Deficit) is no longer covered and thereafter the State Government has to cover the deficit year after year which results in affecting development works. It has been a vicious cycle leaving the state in a dizzy state of affairs. It is welcome to hear about the 100% funding for some of CSS (centrally sponsored schemes), this will however give relief to the projects undertaken under a scheme but does not really improve conditions as far as core financing.
What is the way forward? With all humility I may present a few suggestions:
1. Increase state’s own resources by taking certain bold decisions like lift prohibition which could bring in revenues to the extend 500 crores per annum and also generate substantial employment. It could be done in phase manner. First lift it for the state police force (which is even provided for in the police manual) and also for people with prescriptions from doctors. Declare beer as a beverage for the purpose of tourism. Allow bonds to operate within the state. Then gradually open up in district headquarters and other habitations as per the demand of the people. Quality of liquor sold must be stringently checked as spurious liquor has already taken too many precious lives – “Better late than never.”
2. Start exploration and production of petroleum and gas in all districts having reserves if required in a phased manner as some districts have case pending in the court. The amount of revenue cannot be quantified but will be much higher than even lifting of prohibition. It must be remembered that “Liquid seeks its own level” and Assam has been producing for so many years and as bordering states, the reserves could be the same and it cannot be preserved just because of the state boundary which is actually on paper. Link this fund to maintenance of infrastructure particularly roads, hospitals and schools. Let society understand who directly benefits from scientific usage of our own God given resource.
Perhaps the state government has to take hard decisions and initiate necessary action in order that we can keep pace with the rest of the country and the world and become more self reliant. This would of course require the full co-operation of the people which includes the land owners and other stakeholders. “Heaven helps those who help themselves” – can we not move towards prosperity with unity of purpose?
H. K. Khulu, IAS (Retd), is a former Addl Chief Secretary, Govt of Nagaland. The views expressed are purely personal and does not represent any organization.