Of aid and donations

‘The harvest is ripe not only in the far-flung fields but at our own periphery,’ goes the rough translation of a popular single ‘Ongpang Lu’ by the popular Ao Naga vernacular trio Samaro. A sharp commentary about Naga’s fascination for going outside rather than a bigger mission at home, the song from their first self-titled album released in 1992, still rings loud as the Nagaland Governor, PB Acharya made another round of appeal for contributions towards flood relief in Nagaland, apparently discouraged by the collection so far.


While the immediate need for restoration is estimated at around Rs. 800 crore by the state disaster management authority, so far the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund has received only Rs 2.25 crore. Minus the Rs 1.25 crore donated by actor Sushant Singh Rajput, the total collection from all other sources is a mere 1 crore. Incidentally, it was the amount contributed by Nagaland Government to another flood-ravaged state Kerala.


The State Chief Minister, jolted by the monsoon stupor, had also written to Prime Minister seeking immediate assistance on August 1. Ditto, the State Governor. However, a visit by the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs thereafter did not result in immediate relief in terms of financial assistance.


Despite deaths of 12 people, displacement of hundreds of families as well as huge damages to the property and farms, curiously, the national media also discovered the Nagaland’s disaster only after the Chief Minister made second round of appeal on August 29 – long after the worst was over, and for better or worse, created a hyperbolic narrative.


However, the centre is still not convinced and perhaps the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT)’s visit last week might bring some succor.


Despite the apparent negligence from the centre, the act of the state’s own populace are not exemplary.


Charity, they say, begins at home; however, when the state was reeling under pressure, there was even a big event for flood victims of another deserving state. Given the context, it was conspicuously ‘out of tune,’ perhaps undertaken to generate wider eyeballs rather than a bland state affair.


“This is an indication of where Nagaland stands today: the contribution of the whole State is less than the contribution of a single person from India,” noted a regular contributor to The Morung Express’ on Public Space today. The poor response for the donation might be due to lack of wide publicity or because the people are poor, he postulated with certain degree of accuracy.


The poor response, however, could also be indicative of the sense of trust and accountability that the citizen repose on the government.


Besides the general lack of empathy, is there a feeling among the citizens that the government would not use their contribution ‘judiciously’ and deliver on its promises? For instance, many individual initiatives are reportedly done without much fanfare or going through ‘proper channel.’


Two things needing immediate course corrections are reflected here. Firstly, is the apparent hesitation by the centre as well as the state’s citizens reflective of the general lack of faith in governance and accountability in Nagaland?


Most importantly, the Nagas, both at the societal and individual level, spearheaded by the most influential Churches, should revisit its engagement with contemporary real-world concerns.