Tactlessly incommunicado

Technology today has become an indispensable tool and a pervasive way of life. The advent of internet and subsequent proliferation of portable media devices, such as smartphones and interactive platform like social media, has become a game-changer on the way human beings communicate with each other.


Naturally, it is both considered a boon and blight; the access to real-time information enables endless possibilities, which might also go either ways.


This shift affects not only the way citizens view and interact with businesses but has also raised expectations in their interactions with government, asserted an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) adoption on ‘Open Government.’


Open Government, OECD opined, is a culture of governance that promotes the principles of transparency, integrity, accountability and stakeholder participation in support of democracy and inclusive growth.


In practice, it implies the opening up of government processes, proceedings, documents and data for public scrutiny and involvement “which is now considered as a fundamental element of a democratic society.”


“Both greater transparency and public participation cannot only lead to better policies and services, they can also promote public sector integrity, which is essential to regaining the trust of citizens in the neutrality and reliability of public administrations,” OECD argued.


In short, in the realms of public affairs and governance, the usual status quo has to change.
Of late, Nagaland government appears to have adopted the strategy of being cagey on that front.


Barring few instances, the official line of communication with the general public remains minimal, at best.


Is the current reticence a tactful strategy to avoid unnecessary speculation? One cannot say, but it is clear that it has only increased ambiguity and unnecessary speculation in the public arena.


Most of the office memorandum, cabinet memo and other circulars are widely shared in the social media, with the official governments conspicuously missing in action.


Taking the recent instance of declaration of Noklak as the 12th District of Nagaland; the circular was tacitly passed around like an internal memo among select circles.


This did not however seems to have stopped it from spreading further than intended. Even this paper carried the news only after confirming from a reliable authority late in the evening.


Is the government waiting for its official publication in the State Gazette, to make a formal announcement? This is tactless strategy given the fact that it is hapless to prevent any memo from reaching the public domain.


The reshuffling of civil-servants in the affected end of 2017 also followed the same strategy. The news, usually disseminated through the State’s Directorate of Information & Public Relations, were conspicuously “silent” or “late”.


However, this uncommunicativeness does not appear to be so when it concerns a postive news about a legislator. The Chief Minister boldly, but rightly joined the social media last year and the Chief Minister’s Office is active on many fronts. But nullifying speculation, barring few instances, is rare.


In the recent Kiphire incident, the timely intervention of the Home Department, gives an assurance that the government organ is actively monitoring the situation blowing away many speculative rumours.


Will other organs adopt such strategy, is for us to see.