Political exigency over citizen’s welfare

The United Nations’ Human Development Indicators (HDI) has health, education and standard of living as the dimensions for human development. Other complex dimensions such as inequalities, poverty, human security, empowerment, disparity etc are measured through other indices.


In the 1960s, elections in India were mostly fought with slogan like “roti, kapada, makaan” (food, clothing, shelter) which later metamorphosed to “bijli, sadak, pani” (power, roads, water) in the 1970s. The development trajectories in India has taken a giant leap forward since the last two decades of the 20th century prompting many to call these concerns a passé now.


But a planned growth for human development needs attention to reduce if not eradicate the socio-economic problems, not merely construction of roads and government establishments. As such, meeting the basic needs for a decent quality of life appears a distant aspiration for many.


The citizens of Nagaland have been lacking of many such basic amenities for many years. For instance, the arterial roadways in the state are in total disarray and at best, sub-standard. The health sector, communitsation or otherwise, is ailing.


The education sector, minus the private sector, has been marred by non-payment of teacher salaries in the last few years while basic infrastructure at the lower levels remains a cause for concern. The Higher and Technical Education is also besieged with its own set of problems.


This calls for dedicated policy makers. Quite unfortunately, the allocation of portfolios to ministers under Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio on March 13 after much dilly-dallying, has come as a disappointment to many.


The discontent has nothing to do with certain legislators ruing over for overlooked ministerial berth, but the general public, who felt shortchanged again with the fact that some basic areas needing dedicated attention were simply ignored.


Out of four basic necessities for citizen’s well-being – Electricity, Education, Health and Roads, two were simply ignored in the portfolio allocation.


The school education, reeling under one problem after the other, was one of those. Ironically, it was during the first tenure of Rio when Nagaland started the much vaunted communitisation of school education. Prior to the allocation of portfolios, the All Nagaland School Teachers’ Association (ANSTA) had entreated the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers to assign an “able leader with the Education portfolio.” Unfortunately, it cut no ice. The Higher and Technical Education portfolio on the other hand has been given to a newcomer. While not questioning the ability of the concerned minister, the decision is certainly mootable.


The people of Nagaland have also experienced its fair share of ‘power crises’ over the years. Residents of Dimapur – the commercial capital remember all too well the hardship it went through last year after distribution transformers in Nagarjan went up in flames. Electrical utilities in Nagaland, in other words, are living on borrowed time, and need complete and undivided attention. The department, however, has not been allocated to anyone.


Political exigencies rather than the wellbeing of the citizens appear to be the primary deciding factors when Rio distributed the portfolios. This is of grave injustice to the citizens of Nagaland, who were promised ‘change’ and eagerly awaiting ‘change for a change.’


Will the Chief Minister – who holds charge of the portfolios not allocated – look into the concerns himself?