Nagaland: For a cultural engagement to attain ‘Sustainable Development Goals’

Development Commissioner, Planning and Transformation Department, Government of Nagaland, R Ramakrishnan (IAS) and other guests and participants during the programme on Promoting Cultural Exchange in Kohima on September 19. (Morung Photo)

Development Commissioner, Planning and Transformation Department, Government of Nagaland, R Ramakrishnan (IAS) and other guests and participants during the programme on Promoting Cultural Exchange in Kohima on September 19. (Morung Photo)

Morung Express news 
Kohima | September 19 

Development Commissioner, Planning and Transformation Department, Nagaland, R Ramakrishnan (IAS) today said that celebrating the rich cultural diversity and heritage of Nagaland holds potential to shape a brighter, inclusive and more sustainable future for all, which ultimately contributes to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He was speaking during a programme on promoting cultural exchange under the theme, ‘Journey to the Roots of Culture’ in Kohima on September 19 organized by ARK Foundation, National Foundation of India and co-funded by the European Union. 

He opined that while the SDGs are global, their achievement will depend on how much people are able to translate them into reality in communities and societies. Speaking about the initiative taken by the state of Nagaland, he said that the government has been actively working towards achieving the SDGs through the SDG Coordination Centre (SDGCC) of the Planning & Transformation Department since 2019. 

"With support from NITI Aayog and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as well as implementing line departments, district administrations and communities within the state, Nagaland has taken various initiatives to localize the SDGs across the state, focusing on capacity building and aligning the SDGs to the priorities of the State," the Development Commissioner said. 

"It has also framed Nagaland SDG Vision 2030 and various SDG knowledge documents, training tool-kits and publicity materials including videos in nagamese are developed for localizing SDGs across the state. The SDGCC Nagaland website is also being developed, and Nagaland SDG Dashboard is also being developed for real-time data collection and monitoring of the SDGs," he added. 

Ramakrishnan said promoting cultural activities can foster wisdom and knowledge-sharing by enabling a broader perspective and profound understanding of different cultures, languages, and traditions, at the same time fostering tolerance, appreciation of diversity and intercultural competence. 

The same, he pointed out, empowers communities by preserving and promoting traditional crafts and sustainable use of natural resources which can generate a stable source of income while preserving cultural heritage, while addressing other important SDG issues like poverty and decent work, decent work and economic growth, peace, justice and strong institutions. 

Chairperson, Kohima Educational Society, Dr P Ngully, speaking on bridging the generation gap, touched on how Naga ancestors in the past derived cultural values from different animals and how they coexisted with nature. For instance, he said that the Hornbill bird denoted valour, beauty and adaptability; while the Mithun denoted strength, power and agility. Nagas derived our values from many other animals or environments, he said. 

Ngully said that today there is tremendous greed and desire for power which has created envy among people, and is tearing society apart. In contrast, in the past, feast of merit basically addressed this and served as an equalizer of the community, he stated.  

He noted that although the elders were not educated or modern as today, Naga ancestors had the machanism to run a society; and added that the present Nagas would not exist without the values of their ancestors which were passed down. He said that the steadfastness that was endowed with those values enabled the Nagas to defend their land with the concept that 'right is might.'

Vilanuo Angela Yhome, President, Naga Mothers' Organization while reminding the younger generation to abide by and revive their culture through practice and willingness to learn, challenged the young generation to know their culture and tradition.  She observed that while many love to adorn traditional attire or sing folk songs, there are also many who lack knowledge of their significance and lack intuition to learn about them. Yhome expressed sadness that many attires are put without knowing their meaning and significance. She added that language is also becoming a concerning topic while noting that it is one of the most important components of identity. 

Many do not know, or speak half of our mother tongue or dilute it with languages like English and Nagamese even at the quarters of our home, where much of the culture and identity can be adapted and learnt, she said.  

Earlier, Ketho Angami, President of Ark Foundation spoke about the objective of the programme. Field Coordinator, NFI delivered the welcome address. 

In the second session, Dr Tiasunep, Assistant Professor, Anthropology Department, Nagaland University presented on ‘genetic and linguistic insights to our origin’ and ‘exploring the rich jungles of Nagaland- richness and diversity practices of Nagas’ was presented by Youtuber, The Roving Naga.