Mapu Jamir (I.A.S. Retd)
Nagaland grows at night when the government sleeps. This is a reality-suggesting that someone may be rising despite the state government. But would it not be wonderful if Nagaland also grows during the day? In other words public of Nagaland must be alert and must demand transparency and openness in all government dealings. This will lead towards cleaner elections in future.
Nagaland is a land of numerous petty mafias. They are sand, bricks, stone chips, rice, kerosene, petrol, diesel, alcohol, etc. mafias. These are the harmful parasites that paralyze the state economy. They are also tightening their grip over the state election processes. But no political group or organized public will check them. They breathe because of them. They are their oxygen. This is the reason why there are dilapidated roads, bridges being washed away or collapsing, dismal government hospitals, electricity failure, bursting of transformers, etc.etc. Nagaland has more water than many other states in India. But there is no treated water supply in the state. Since water pipes fixed earlier are not in use they are rusted, broken and even contaminated. The whole investment on drinking water supply got wasted in the drainage. The answer is not to fix the water pipes again but to fix the institution that fixed the pipe. Who will do it? No political leader will do it for fear of voters or losing votes. It is not easy to reform in a democracy like Nagaland. That is why the ancient Greeks were suspicious of democracy because ordinary public could be manipulated by political leaders and the vested interest group. On top of that there are numerous groups demanding subscriptions, donations, taxation and even extortion. Only a recognized sovereign nation has right to collect revenue or taxes from her subject and citizen for the development and integration of the sovereign nation. Money is the root of all evils. Materialism and nationalism cannot go together all the time. They are strange bedfellows. Such marriage will land up in disaster.
The worst affected are the small business men who do not have influence. They suffer from the same lack of business freedom which makes him or her vulnerable to the depredation of the demanding agents. This torturous bribe laden procedure for running a small business erodes the state economy. This mess had its roots due to many years of terrible governance. For an honest business man it is a nightmare to deal with over lapping authorities of the government and the NGOS. It is a perfect recipe for corrupt people. Ultimately many of them for survival are bound to join the system and together they manipulate the system by arbitrarily fixing the administered prices. Since legitimate ways of operations become costly many honest people are forced to exit. High prices and easy profit attract more unscrupulous operators by colluding with different higher up authorities.
Do not blame the MLAs and the Ministers for not developing your constituencies or the state. Rather blame yourself and the multiple party workers genuine as well as the fake ones. Former Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh introduced a scheme under the flagship of National Rural Development Guarantee Scheme for the rural poor. Dr. Singh being a Cambridge educated economist knew that such a scheme would be a failure in India. Nagaland too shared the scheme. Here instead of job creation we have created bogus job because no one is accountable for the result. We build many rural roads just to be washed away after the first rainfall. In this NREGA scheme there are many moral hazards in its execution especially in Nagaland which had a poor record of implementation. This diverted the public from productive to unproductive jobs. Meanwhile people too smelled an opportunity. They had perfected the art of creating fake muster rolls and thus siphon away funds into the wrong pocket. No one spoke out for fear. Even Dr. Singh was helpless because he cannot go against the voters. It was a premature welfarism that worsened corruption in Nagaland. Communist China too introduced a scheme similar to Indian NREGA but they created jobs in China by building roads. A road creates opportunities for productive permanent jobs as villagers learn to travel and trade between their village and the town.
Bad habits are hard to change. In Nagaland almost everyone has below poverty line card (BPL). They are entitled to highly subsidized government essential commodities and other benefits. Food grains from the government system are being leaked out by changing hands. Thus crores of rupees were ripped off annually and end in the pockets of the middle men. Think of the dismal story in the subsidy on energy. Kerosene is priced much lower than that of diesel and petrol. The blue coloured kerosene is sold by Agents for Rs. 25/- per litre and the same kerosene is priced between Rs.40/- and Rs.50/- in the open market. This kerosene is meant for poor people. But this kerosene is freely used to adulterate both diesel and petrol. Aadhaar card is supposed to be delivered by postal system free of cost but here in Nagaland you are directed to collect it from an agent for Rs.20/- per Aadhaar card. Does the Aadhaar card come with a price tag for the people of Nagaland? Who pockets the money?
From time to time scams and scandals are exposed by ACAUT of Nagaland that hit the headlines pointing nexus among many players. It is seen that none of the political parties, public organizations or the civil societies come forward to build public awareness and support to clean the system. It is to be presumed that public is mute spectators to such malpractices. Silence of the political parties and the civil societies speaks of their likely connivance or collusion to such rotten system that eats into the very lives of the general public.
Today people are talking about clean election. Church Ministers are exchanging pulpits and preaching powerful sermons on clean election. But you as believers and a voter still believe that MLAs and Ministers are your ATMs. Voters still demand supply and contract works, back door recruitments, quicker promotions, lucrative postings, donations for local functions, etc. They are indirectly forcing them to source out money legally or illegally to satisfy their greed. Public are not watch dogs for clean governance but watch dogs to earn dirty money. This vicious money making circle must first be eliminated. Once the Naga Tribe Council of Nagaland was successfully united against holding Urban Local Bodies election. But unfortunately they are silent on lack of development and corruption in Nagaland. If so how can we build a vibrant Nagaland?
There are two types of corruptions – harassment induced and the collusive. In collusive corruption the one who demands and the one who gives conspire to manipulate the system and in the harassment induced corruption the rightful due is either denied or delayed till certain commission or cut is paid up. The latter one is the most common form of practice today. The problem that faces Nagaland today is unhealthy political culture and the governance. The issues that come out in the open reflect the weakening of party leadership, short comings in party build up and insufficient effort to enforce party discipline. Party concepts are not binding because organization is lax and discipline is flabby. Too little and too untimely crack down on certain malpractices reaching up to the upper echelon of political leaders have shown that the problem is serious. The greatest weakness of a party ruling for a long time without effective supervision will result in various scams and scandals. The crackdown should have started long ago on issues of corruption and using of public money to fund lavish life styles and also against those whose political loyalty is found lacking. The people of Nagaland are not assertive. They are not exercising their rights. The right to voice out and to agitate against any malpractices is their fundamental rights to life and development. It is this infuriating democracy with poor governance that has not delivered progress to the people. Voters can change them. After all they are your tenants only.