Dr. Asangba Tzüdir
In need of the ‘will to truth’
Spearheading the cause for Naga reconciliation, led by the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR), the “declaration of the Naga Collective Spirit” was signed by several Naga Apex Bodies and legislators on September 8, 2018, expressing their “collective desire and resolve” to “be unified as one people demonstrating our defence of an inherited legacy which is vital for our future progress.” This ‘Naga Collective Spirit’ comes with the declaration that Naga Historical and Political Rights are the “manifestations of our common hopes and dreams” and has expressed determination to “engage each other in finding meaningful ways to respond to challenges and explore ways forward.”
The declaration states that, when Nagas made known their choice to take the path of Nationhood, “the Naga people did not violate any agreement for union made with any nation in our history” which thereby establishes the legitimacy and integrity of Naga rights and in such assertion “we do not oppose any of our neighbours. A moral authority is also established through the fact that the Naga struggle started before India’s independence. Yet, the turbulent years of violence and the ceasefire years in the pursuit of ‘Nationhood’ finds sandwiched between geopolitical realities and the emerging socio-cultural and ethical designs.
Looking at Naga political struggle today, it is in dire need of understanding and also embracing our historical truths which serves as the reference point for Nagas to come together. To this end, the “declaration of the Naga Collective Spirit” requires the ‘Naga Will to Truth.’ It is only in ‘determining and building’ the ‘Naga Will to Truth’ that the ‘Naga Collective Spirit’ can be located within the ‘right spirit’, in letter and in spirit.
The trajectory has been such that, from a shared history, Naga society finds fractured on various borders and in almost every aspect of human activity – political, social, cultural, ethical, etc, thereby creating trust deficit which is instrumental in creating the ‘Self’, ‘I’ the ‘Ego’ and the ‘Other’ causing further divisions. As much as reconciliation is needed it has become more challenging today. There is talk about reconciliation without really understanding the ‘truth’ and ‘spirit’ of reconciliation and therefore does not create room for forgiveness and healing. It is within this reality that the very praxis of the “declaration of the Naga Collective Spirit” becomes challenging.
This “declaration of the Naga Collective Spirit” can be seen as the embodiment of the ‘truth’ based of political and historical realities only when it is based on the ‘Will to Truth.’ It is time for Nagas to reclaim the ‘Truth’ by coming together as “one without borders”, be it mental or physical. Therein lies the credibility of the ‘Naga Collective Spirit’ so also to give impetus to the truth aspect – the ‘Will to Truth’ of the ‘Naga Collective Spirit.’
Only then can Nagas embrace the common humanity which Nagas share with the various neighbours who border Naga ancestral homeland and also to come to a certain understanding that “honouring the Naga Historical and Political Rights is not at the expense of our Neighbours’ rights. Similarly, upholding our neighbours’ rights cannot be at the expense of Naga Rights.” This requires the building of a relationship of trust and understanding between Nagas and her neighbours.
The recent declaration also draws inspiration from Confucius who said that, “when it is obvious that goals cannot be achieved, don’t adjust the goals, but adjust the steps.” Contextually, this creates a moral dilemma and places the Naga political path in a tricky position being confronted by the question of whether ‘adjusting the steps’ will help achieve the goals.
Nonetheless, this declaration holds much significance coming at a time when the ‘political destiny’ of the Nagas seem to lie with the technological hand of the Centre and ‘adjusting’ (or rather hijacking) the goals of the Nagas even as Nagas try to ‘adjust the steps.’
(Dr. Asangba Tzudir is a Freelance Research and Editing Consultant. He contributes a weekly guest editorial to The Morung Express. Comments can be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org)