Two key developments in recent weeks have clearly demonstrated two recurrent maladies that continue to besiege the Naga society, particularly the leading social and civil society organisations – selective outrage and nepotism.
Take the case of the kidnapping of two persons on April 22 in Tuensang. Under ‘normal’ scenario, such incidents would have generated huge public outcry and vehement condemnations from most organisations or civil societies.
Nearly two weeks and an indefinite strike after, the leading frontal organisations in Nagaland, in general, are conspicuously silent on the issue. Condemnation, nay even an appeal, is not forthcoming barring one or two.
This lack of apparent empathy and indifference, however, is not surprising; rather it is the usual trend.
Regular readers of the print media in Nagaland would observe that the pages of the papers are filled with condemnation or appeal after the commission of such crime/s or act if the ‘victims’ are Nagas, or influential, for that matter. Ultimatums are often served to the concerned authority for quick redressal and ‘befitting and exemplary punishment’ to the perpetrator/s are demanded.
Is it because the unfortunate victims, as in the case of Tuensang, are ‘non-Nagas’ or considered less influential? Do reactions to any such incident depend significantly on the ‘identity’ and status of the victims as well as the perpetrator/s? Similar reactions were observed after the killing of a businesswoman and a youth in Dimapur within the span of two months in 2016 and in other incidents.
The wave of humanity and denouncement, therefore, is conclusively selective and chronically identical – be it a crime of sexual nature, robbery, or at times loss of lives.
The second issue is the case of nepotism, an intimate friend of corruption, understood as “The appointment of friends and associates to positions of authority, without proper regard to their qualifications.” As argued in this column earlier, appointing a close associate or loyalist in a position is not wrong. But if it is bestowed on a person despite not being the most suitable or deserving, the charge of cronyism arises.
In Nagaland, the dominant party leading the People’s Democratic Alliance – in its manifesto, had promised “meritocracy culture” and reward for hard work.
However, its definition seems to differ widely from simple lexicon description of meritocracy as “Government or the holding of power by people selected according to merit.” With no other option, one only has to assume that the parameters of ‘merit’ are dependent on respective parties.
The recent spate of political appointments – with Gazetted Cabinets and Minister Status – has shown that rather than merit, other exigencies were taken into account. Legality question of the appointment, it comprehensively demonstrates that collaborating with those at the helms of affairs, is lucrative and abstinence from such act is a personal risk. Frontal organizations, many already co-opted by the government over the years, nevertheless, will predictably maintain a deafening silence. Instead, many are busily felicitating the appointees, of any sort in the government. The principle of selectivism also applies here.
The progress of any society is dependent on the attitude and engagement of the citizens. The only way to prevent the reoccurrence of any forms of injustice is to ensure that such society is founded on shared humanity and solidarity. Neither selective nor constrained by a nepotistic attitude based on tribal, community or political affiliation will do the job.