Clear and present danger in Nagaland

Moa Jamir


Two forces are rapidly converging, posing ‘clear and present danger’ to the state of Nagaland – the issue of migration and the rise of populist narratives.


The two issues are closely interrelated and consequent of one factor – the ineptness, perceived or real, of those at the helm of affairs to growing challenges facing the state.


For ‘clear and present danger,’ Chester James Antieau opines, there must exist “reasonable ground to fear that serious evil will result.” A simpler lexicon definition goes, “Not just a potential danger but one that will likely cause a catastrophe if not immediately obstructed or neutralized.”


Some common factors have driven populist narratives across the world – immigration, economy, jobs, incomes, vulnerability, deprivation and distrust in political institutions and governance.


“Populism typically emerges out of critical circumstances that produce a breakdown of social order and the loss of confidence in the political system’s ability to restore it,” argued T Panizza (2005). For Robert Kuttner, right-wing populists ascend when three toxic forces converge – the economy needs to be really lousy for most citizens; the political system ceases to be able to solve problems and loses legitimacy with regular people; and some foreign menace causes people to seek shelter in a strongman.


Most of these toxic conditions are in Nagaland’s checklist. Nagas are an insecure lot. A Morung Express poll published today shows 78% of respondents agreeing with the notion that Nagas resort to ‘tribalism’ due to insecurity and self-interest.


This is evident as social media warriors have risen once again, moments after a Naga family was assaulted by so-perceived ‘outsiders’.


Inflammatory comments, assertion and affirmation have passed across all social media platforms. Once again, the scapegoat for Naga collective disillusionment was diagnosed. Saner voices were scant, and charges were copiously leveled at a particular community and religion. A video by a popular performing arts group has gone viral.


The anger is justified but our response is always immediate and vindictive—through generalizing, polarizing and bigotry. Why are people hiding behind the safe cloak of social media and anonymity, provoking hostility and stereotyping certain religion or community into one category?


Ironically, in doing so, Nagas are following the same pattern which they often hold right-wing mainstream nationalist groups guilty of.


Analyses, however, is easily possible. For instance, if one analyzes the concern of deprivation and job prospects for locals, a basic economics textbook will say that it is governed by demand and supply. Or simply, why are people complaining about jobs being ‘taken away’ when they are not willing to work in the first place? The Nagas’ concern over jobs will cease when they start considering all jobs above, and not below, their dignity. It will stop when they build their businesses, one rupee at a time, not instant riches – willing to humble oneself to every derision or situation.


Migration issue is a crucial socio-political issue that is confronting all nation-states across the world and needs to be met with right policy measures. There is a clear warning here to those at the helm of the affairs that they cannot ignore any incident – from both sides – as a one-off affair. It needs to be handled holistically before the issue transcends into widespread chaos detrimental to every party involved.


Taking laws into one’s hand and vigintalism has never served anyone. Unfortunately, such narrative is alarmingly becoming a standard procedure. Last time, the Nagas’ collective disillusionment exploded in a roaring crescendo in the form of March 5 (2015).


The right-minded citizens and concerned authority must act upon the unfolding ‘clear and present danger’ before the society undergoes another such catharsis.


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