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The Naga heart continues to be confronted with crisis on multiple fronts, all of which have the potential to negatively impact the Naga future. In the south, it is faced with a government that continuously subjugates the people and fragments its traditional land, thereby, perpetuates suffering, and marginalizes and alienates everyone. In the east, its land and people are being torn apart by two States that is erecting a physical fence which will systematically divide a peoples, while structurally denying them rights to live in dignity on their traditional land, accessing resources, and livelihoods. Concurrently, there is a deepening polarization around 33% women reservation and its perceived infringement of Article 371(A).
Indeed, as the New Year unfolds the critical times continue with the present crisis testing the Naga spirit and character; its values and principles; its capacity to constructively engage and overcome challenges; and the foundational characteristics of the desired Naga future. Within this context it is crucial for the Naga heart to be reflective and gain a wider view of this pressing situation. A fresh perspective will make it possible to prioritize, discern and astutely chart a dynamic course through this complex maze of opportunities.
Although the challenges are of different natures, there is a commonality. The questions around arbitrarily drawn State imposed boundaries and rigidly defined ‘customary law’ find its roots in the British colonial project, which has been further developed and craftily implemented by the Indian, as well as the Myanmar State. This dislocation requires a comprehensive response. Hence, the Naga heart needs to begin at the roots and initiate a process of critical dialogue designed to develop an informed and encompassing decolonizing framework that will provide a sustained and effective process of addressing the problems constructively.
In the event that a decolonizing discourse is collectively pursued, the Naga heart will need to be prepared to reconcile with the idea that the colonial form of ‘customary law’ is inherently limiting and designed for Naga culture and worldview to be ‘frozen in time.’ Furthermore, that Article 371(A) is the statecraft to contain Naga political aspirations within the 16 Points of 1960.
In essence a decolonizing framework will enlighten the Naga heart to pursue a liberated ‘customary law’ shaped by a dynamic Naga jurisprudence premised on values of truth, equality, restorative justice, shared responsibilities and collective interdependence of today’s Naga. Similarly, a decolonizing framework will inform the Naga heart that the Naga political, social, cultural and economic aspirations require an impetus guided by the collective will and participation of a shared Naga future that transcends Article 371 (A).