New govt in Nagaland approves road show theme mini-hornbill festivals. Is this what we voted for…change?
Naga Republic News & Analysis
After a heavy dose of government sponsored road shows and festivities in previous years, which had attracted more of flak then real appreciation from the public, the newly elected government of the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) led by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has approved the introduction of ‘mini-Hornbill Festivals’ in all the districts coinciding with the respective tribal festivals. The proposed mini-hornbill festivals is expected to be similar to the Statewide Road Show in the year 2009 held across the eleven districts in the state during Rio’s previous tenure.
Under the slogan ‘change is coming’ it was not expected that the Chief Minister would go for such a venture at this juncture. To refresh public memory, under the previous NPF dispensation, when Rio was heading the government, we had the state wide Road Shows covering the entire districts of the state, coinciding with the most important festivals of each district. These road shows became so unpopular among the masses that the government had to finally put an end to it. Hopefully some lessons can be learnt from the past.
Despite much work to be done on many fronts, if indeed the mini-hornbill is executed, Nagaland is in for more road shows and festivities. Is this what we voted for….change? Did we really elect this government for doing this—more festivals, indulgence and wasteful expenditure?
In the few weeks since the PDA government has been installed, a number of welcome decisions have been taken, especially the move to do away with the VIP culture, highly prevalent in Nagaland. The Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), which is heading the PDA government, had contested the recently held elections under the slogan ‘change is coming’.
While some of the decisions it has taken, notably on removing VIP culture is commendable, the latest approval to introduce ‘mini-Hornbill Festivals’ is not in tune with the ‘change’ that people expected of the new government. The government needs to review this decision. The Naga Republic lists out some of the points why the so called mini-hornbill festival is avoidable at this juncture.
The government ought to focus on the more immediate needs of the State—good roads and better connectivity. After all to get to these festivals (for tourists), proper roads must be there otherwise not many people may turn up! And remember some of these tribal festivals are in the middle of monsoon.
With limited resources, the plan instead should be to give priority towards improving infrastructure, including electricity and working on creating the planned tourist circuits, which if properly developed will boost the tourism industry even without the mini-hornbill festivals.
According to the initial report pertaining to the ‘mini-hornbill’, financial support to be provided for organizing the Festivals are Rs 15 lakh for three- day festival and Rs 10 lakh and Rs 5 lakh each for the two-day and one-day festival. Such wasteful spending goes against the spirit of good governance and austerity drives that the NDPP has stated in its manifesto. With the proposed money for such extravaganza, instead this can be used to improve roads and connectivity within respective district headquarters.
Also, the idea of organizing the mini-hornbill festival is not the best way to promote development and economic growth in the long term. Rather such short term measures will only encourage dependency and indolence among the people, besides promoting a culture of indulgence that Naga society must shun.
In fact the Chief Minister only recently stated the obvious that “Nagas did not have work culture” nor “concern for the state’s economy”. Rio was speaking at the Kohima District Planning and Development Board (DPDB) meeting cum felicitation programme for the newly elected members of Kohima district on April 16, 2018.
And therefore to produce and promote local entrepreneurship, like any vibrant economy, work culture must be inculcated. While in Nagaland, festivals of each tribe are celebrated throughout the year, it will be futile to immerse in mindless and wearisome festivities that could be detrimental to not just productive work but health and wellbeing of people.
Rather the present government, as it has rightly mentioned in its priority list, should focus, among other important things, on a new tourism policy. In a 2004 UNDP study, carried out to improve tourism in Nagaland, it was recommended that ‘tourism’ be recognized as an ‘infrastructure industry’ and to confer all special incentives to the activity.
The UNDP report further recommends ‘effective coordination’ with the departments involved with infrastructure development and to ensure priority in developing infrastructure in the areas identified for tourism development. This includes the priority for the development of roads connecting tourist centers besides improving the availability of water, electricity and sewerage facilities in these centers.
Instead of the proposed mini-hornbill festivals, which actually looks untenable and could be subject to controversy over sensitive law and order related to land disputes or unresolved community conflicts, focus can be given on the development of two circuits in Nagaland which have been identified as tribal circuit for development under Swadesh Darshan Scheme of India’s Ministry of Tourism.
The two circuits identified in Nagaland are Peren- Kohima-Wokha Tribal Circuit and Mokokchung-Tuensang-Mon Tribal Circuit. An amount of Rs. 197.3 crore – Rs. 97.36 crore and Rs. 99.67 crore respectively – have been sanctioned for the development of these circuits. This is a much more viable plan of action. Organizing the mini-hornbill festivals, tribe and district wise, is a very bad idea.
Nagaland is already declared as the land of festivals and as mentioned even without government initiative the various tribal bodies have been celebrating their respective festivals every year. And to culminate the year long festivities, we have the annual Hornbill Festival in December. The point is that we are already immersed in festivities and whether it is wise on the part of the government to spend more time and scarce resource in sponsoring another round of road show themed tribal festivals.
Rather the PDA government should revive the plan mooted by Rio himself, during his previous tenure, of having an iconic Foothill Road superhighway connecting all district headquarters to the State Capital. Roads are assets of national importance and a means to maximize both economic and social benefits.
Better connectivity through roads on the one hand can lead to developing cultural exchanges and people to people contact among the different Naga tribes while also bringing the world to us.