New team, new approach

Witoubou Newmai


The United Naga Council (UNC) has just elected its new president. Minutes after his election on November 28 as the UNC president, S Kho John stated that while strengthening the ongoing Naga peace process is his team’s top priority, “bringing understanding with our neighbours is also one of our priorities.”


This comment of the UNC leader reflects the recognition of one significant implication of the changing atmosphere.


Now, for the new UNC team, discerning on what it takes to strengthen the Naga peace process or reaching out to the neighbours of the Nagas is all how it should begin. The responsibility of the new team is enormous.


As a people’s platform, the UNC needs to engage in the exercise of retrospection and introspection to check if it has been attracted to rhetoric all this while. Unless the perspective is correct so many undesirable crevices will develop.


The new team should also see if there is any disconnect between the Council and the grassroots. It needs to differentiate and ensure that every concerned is made a stakeholder and part of the Naga discourse. This is how, we together, invest efforts to rediscover the ‘purpose’ by, for a while, forgetting the binary of the ‘authority’ and the ‘grass-root’.


This writer had commented several months ago that what happens to a society when the culture of ‘trickling downward’ does not drip down well. Such a situation will only engender confusions and doubts among the grass-roots. This trend will also create divisions or broadening split among the people, thereby, giving rise for the spawning of the ‘leadership groups’ or the power centres. As the process of division accelerates, the focus will become divergent and faint, rather than cohesiveness.


We also need to realise that if the spirit of the ‘purpose’ of the ‘leadership groups’ is in sharp contrast, the grass-roots ought to rise to the occasion to prise the ‘purpose’ away from the vested interests. In doing so, not only the veneer of hypocrisy will be ripped, but sobering participations of all concerned would be ensured.


If these points are acknowledged and the approach is tuned accordingly, then the society is well-equipped to engage in any venture.


The UNC or any other Naga organisation also needs to remind oneself of the September 8, 2018 ‘Declaration of the Naga collective spirit’ that “…honouring the Naga historical and political rights is not at the expense of our neighbours’ rights… and similarly, upholding our neighbours’ rights cannot be at the expense of Naga rights.”


According to the aforesaid declaration, such approach “requires both Nagas and our neighbours to form relationships based on trust that breaks down the domestic walls and other boundaries that divide us.”


The take away of the whole argument is that every Naga organization needs to remind itself that unless the passion among the grass-roots is reignited, the focus on the ‘purpose’ will not prevail. The new team will do well to strategize a bottom-up approach.