It is said that “Work is Pride”. But it is quite apparent that this phrase does not hold much sense and meaning for most Nagas today. Many Nagas today fail to find pride in their work. They don’t find pride, satisfaction, joy and contentment in their work. And most Nagas today suffer from a false sense of pride and they consider doing most manual works as humiliating, degrading, small, filthy and dirty. For most Nagas, the most coveted jobs are the white collared jobs within the government sector. And all other non-governmental jobs or works (especially the manual ones) are not even in the agenda of most Nagas because they consider these works as secondary and inferior. In fact it appears like most Nagas would not even stretch out their hands to do any sort of manual works even in their dreams. Rather than doing their own manual works which they themselves have the strength, skill and opportunity to learn, practice and do, they still prefer to seek the services of others for doing these vital works because most Nagas consider these works as humiliating, degrading and sub-standard.
It is this mentality of the Nagas that is inadvertently inviting scores of people from outside to come to our land and earn fortunes for themselves. These outsiders come to our land to earn and survive because there are enough work opportunities for them here. They come here willing to do any work which can sustain them. And these outsiders are really fast learners. They don’t take much time to understand the scenario prevalent here. Within a span of a few months they are able to fit themselves into any sort of jobs or works that they can take up and master. Thus even an outsider who comes to our land as a novice having no knowledge or experience in any field of manual works easily learns whatever comes his way and within no time, he is able to secure himself a foothold in our economic set-up. Thus our land is not only a land where there are plentiful work opportunities but also a fantastic training ground where outsiders can come and easily learn and take up any manual work and become a master of the profession within no time. Yes, it is obvious that many of the most sought-after masons, barbers, cobblers, drivers etc working here in our lands today never had any formal training or plan for these jobs before coming to our lands. But they came here and simply took up whatever the opportunity offered and became masters. Today everyday of our lives, we depend on the services rendered by these outsiders and our society would be definitely crippled if the services of these people are to be no longer available. Thus is it not an irony that we still say that many Nagas cannot find jobs?
Today we feel that we are in control or that we are still the masters because these outsiders do everything that we tell them to do. They build our houses, they cut our hairs, they mend our shoes, they drive our cars, they baby-sit our younger ones, they run our shops and we pay them for these services and so we think that we are the masters and they are the servants. We feel so happy, proud and contended when they call us as Sir, Madam, Sab, Meinsab, Dada, Didi etc and all these names make us believe that we are the masters and they are the servants. And we never bother to check the background and credentials of these outsiders because as long as our work is done, that is none of our business. And for us it is literally impossible to tell whether they are from Bihar, UP, West Bengal or Bangladesh because they all look the same. Likewise it is also extremely tricky to distinguish a skilled laborer from an unskilled one. And our apathy and lackadaisical attitude towards these matters make us very vulnerable and have the potential to do immense damage to our people, society and economy in the long run. Yes, today we think that we are the masters controlling them because we drive the latest cars and live in multi-storeyed RCC houses while they roam around in our streets wearing torn and rotten clothes and calling us Sirs, Madams, Sabs and Meinsabs. But even today the bank balance of some of these daily wage earners who do not own cars and RCC buildings may be much bigger than most Naga youths who live in RCC buildings and drive around in luxury cars. This is a big possibility because these unassuming outsiders know not only how to earn but also how to safe whereas we flamboyant Nagas spend more than what we earn. So this is the glaring difference between us and them.
Today we think that we are the masters in total control of this non-Naga workforce. But underneath the apparent scenario, something else may be brewing and simmering. It is understandable that the influx and inflow of outsiders into our land has been only increasing and not diminishing because whenever an outsider comes and finds work here, he opens channels for many others to do the same. And when the number or population of a particular group of people (the non-Naga workforce in this case) is ever on the rise, their confidence, their ego, their assertion and their rights will also proportionately increase. This is the dreaded reality that may come to stare the Nagas right in the face in the times ahead. At some stage in future, if this non-Naga workforce is to start demanding for rights of domicile and political representation, then what shall we do? As of now, this non-local workforce does not have any organization which takes up their issues and looks after their welfare, but in the future they may even set up their own groups to counter us and gain permanent foothold in our land and society.
Besides our false sense of pride which is giving ample working opportunities to outsiders, another matter which is fueling this influx is the fact that we Nagas ourselves prefer to employ outsiders for our works rather than employing Naga workforce even when they are available. And the reasons for this are obvious to one and all. We Nagas are hard to control as we do not like working under authority. Most of the times, we are also found lacking in discipline and punctuality. Besides, we Nagas are expensive to feed and employ because of our food habits. While most outside laborers can work the whole day on a single cup of tea, our Naga workers need a heavy meal besides tea and snacks to make it through the day. These are some of the matters that come up when we look into the issue of the simmering non-Naga workforce.
As long as the Nagas do not learn to stretch out our hands and do our own manual works and also bring about a drastic change in our attitude and lifestyles, this unabated influx of outsiders into our land for work will continue. But yes, there is urgent need to regulate, rationalize and streamline the influx and stay of this workforce in our land so that they do not become a threat for our land, people, society and economy.
Here let us also recall that long before the Nagas ever came into contact with the outside world, we lived our own independent lives here doing and earning our own livelihood without assistance from outsiders. The world did not know about us and we also did not know anything about the world outside but still then we were able to survive and thrive superbly. But around the middle of the 20th century when the British withdrew from their South Asian empire, it seemed like the Nagas and their lands had somehow been dangerously exposed for any Tom, Dick and Harry to come, exploit and manipulate our resources to their hearts’ content. Yes, because of our false sense of pride and our apathy and lackadaisical attitude towards these matters, we ourselves somehow are creating the environment for others to come to our beloved land and survive and thrive at the cost of our society, economy and future. So unless we wake up from our slumber and spread awareness, bring about revolutionary changes in our attitude, mindset and lifestyles and take some drastic steps, this workforce which today seems harmless and appears to be doing good may assume a totally different dimension tomorrow which we cannot even imagine today………