Can Development Recover & Restore a Community?

In recent times, consciences are being stirred, ethics are being taught, and intense discussions are being generated around the urgent need for infrastructural development in Nagaland state. “The powers that be” continue to be a silent and indifferent, while the continuing violence to the Naga way of life, and the natural environment is being challenged in ways beyond our imagination.


The primary needs are efforts to continue to demilitarize our communities, address root political causes of conflict, utilize resources to meet basic human needs, human development and take ownership and responsibility of our future. This untenable situation greatly distorts our reality causing an ongoing struggle between truth, trust and mistrust.


Martin Lings metaphorically describes this situation as: “If it can be said that man collectively shrinks back more and more from the Truth, it can also be said that on all sides the Truth is closing in more and more upon man. It might almost be said that, in order to receive a touch of It [Truth], which in the past required a lifetime of effort, all that is asked of him now is not to shrink back.”


The dilemmas around truth are further compounded by the structures that are meant to develop and govern. Paul Hawken provides a point of view by suggesting that logic of production is neither the logic of life nor that of society. It is a small and subservient part of the two. Therefore, unless the logic of production is addressed, the instability will continue. Thus, transformation and development cannot find a place in structures and procedures where decisions are allowed to wind their leisurely way up and down the hierarchy – this demands the end of bureaucracy. Rigid structures and hierarchies become self-defeating because it slows responsiveness and stability.


Naga people have been blocked from evolving their own indigenous ways and methods of doing things that are derived from their own values and are responsive to meeting their needs. Indigenous culture and ethos that are consistent with humanitarian law, democratic principles and natural justice are absolutely essential for ensuring sustainable development.


Development needs peoples’ participation where they learn by doing together and reflect on their actions. In this way people will identify their own problems, critically analyze the root causes, and develop strategies to effect positive changes. People will expand their capacity and ability to own and lead the process and realizing it.


A cohesive movement that combines resistance and constructive proactive steps against unjust structures and domination can address this situation. The movement will transition from the dominant and pervasive culture of force to a culture of nonviolent action, creative peace and renewal. Achieving sustainable community economic development revolves around meaningful local livelihoods connected to local and regional market demand management.


Sustainable employment involves turning waste into renewable resources, redefining efficiency, supporting community self-reliance and sustainable management of natural resources. Through these efforts a significant shift will take place that leads to reducing social dependence on economic growth.


Ultimately, the development process is at the core of people’s politics, and at the heart of this process is community empowerment and recovery.