The Naga hills are currently resplendent in cherry blossom. The pink blooms dot the central parts of the hills, turning churning rides into fluffy tales.
This ride is particularly enjoyable in Mokokchung district. While Mokokchung town leaves much to envy for those who inhabit any urbanscape, much of the other parts of the district have become ideal spots for modern habitation.
Villages lead the way in this development. Akhoya, a small village north east of Mokokchung town, is a case in point. Its roads are well laid out, neat, its households clean, memorials are revered and updated, old and young take care of each other, common spaces are well maintained. The community of the village respects history as much as it has its sight on the future. While complexities remain, the village goes a long way to show what wonders a small community can do for itself.
Mokokchung town, no doubt, draws energy from many such well sorted villages in its surroundings to become a vibrant urban set up. With repeated efforts made by local youth, the town enjoys basic infrastructure like electricity (at least for most of the day). It seeps in the best of the urban and rural.
A trip up and down its roads around parts of the district dotted with cherry blossoms makes you feel the pink of environment and habitation health we all aspire towards.
Far away, Haflong town in Assam’s Dima Hasao (NC Hills) district reflects another urbanscape. A cosmopolitan town of at least six known ethnic groups inhabiting the space, the little town has done what is required to maintain its charm. Roads are clean, its markets vibrant and viewpoints theatric. Despite being inhabited by mixed groups of people, the town has not been disowned for an unknown other to maintain. Though all land belongs to the district council and complex relationships unfurl, people take up the responsibility to keep their neighbourhoods clean.
Again, this is a different sort of example of what small communities, in collaborating with each other, can do to produce a healthy urban environment.
Given the endless possibilities, it is not clear why cities like Dimapur continue to remain a dump yard of careless litter. The government forgoes its role to maintain the city’s roads or keep up its electric supply—if a commercial nerve centre cannot elicit interest, what can? A mission program as large and well spread as the Swacchh Bharat campaign has had limited impact on the city’s overall cleanliness.
But there is hope. There are several pockets within the city that provide that window—the ones maintained by colonies on their own. Communities pluck their own weed, collect their own garbage and brush or burn small litter away. With social work a central part of Naga community life, its ethics can be brought to the overall wellbeing of larger cities to make them spaces worth inhabiting as well as loving. Much like Mokokchung and Haflong.
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