Border Issues & Foothills Road

Dr Asangba Tzudir

The current tension in the Assam-Nagaland border coming under Mokokchung district has once again highlighted the state of ‘dependency syndrome’ of the State of Nagaland where any tension at the border is subsequently followed by bandhs and economic blockade called by different organisations in Assam. The nature of the border is such that the State’s leverage often finds lost to the dependency syndrome and the matter is ‘amicably’ settled temporarily.

To gain the leverage is the through the ongoing foothills road construction which is rechristened by the Govt. of Nagaland into a “Mega Trans Nagaland Expressway.” But sadly works are being stalled. As per estimates reported in the dailies 68.72% of the work has been completed. However the work has only got delayed for which reasons has been highlighted including the discontinuation of the SPA.

The importance of this road is deeply felt as a connecting lifeline in many ways, more so an economic lifeline and the delay is only brewing anxiety and anger which is also because of the various hardships faced from time to time. The two confronting issues here - the Assam-Nagaland border issue, and the Foothills Road, calls for a practical response from the Govt. of Nagaland. 

For the foothills road, the current blockade only becomes pressing for the Govt. to ‘arrange’ some form of funding in order to give life to the road construction works. Further, unless the funding do not account for the pending dues, works will not start. However, this seems to be an immediate step because further delays will only politicise the matter.  

As for the border issue, unlike the Foothills road, it needs to be dealt differently, and the Govt. needs to come out with a pragmatic solution and one that is also based on historical rights. If not, the escalating tension can easily get tied with emotions and once the matter gets into the hands of the public, it will blow out of proportion and things will even go beyond repair, and therefore the urgency is deeply felt.

Human impatience is greatly manifested especially when it comes to issues of change, expecting changes to happen overnight. A deeply longed change has been the need for an intellectual environment. And of late though slow, there has been a growing resurgence towards creating an intellectual environment. A testament to it is that discussions in social media platforms have become more directed on issues confronting everyday life and living, more so freedom and integrity.

Many a time the issues are understood only on the surface level and thus the issues are either ignored or dealt only at the surface level. When issues are understood at different levels, the responsibility rests on the ‘intellectual’ citizens to discuss, deliberate and pass it on to form a larger voice. This is one way of nurturing voices towards gathering the desired impetus. When issues are deliberated whilst giving the due warrant it merits, what was then seen as a problem will itself transform into a solution. 

This process will definitely strengthen the civil society organisations as a non-state actor in developing into a strong body of resistance and also generate a unified voice. Relationship between civil society and resistance is not something new. Civil society has often been seen precisely as an arena of resistance.  As forces of resistance, this is where civil society becomes a part of a strategy in creating a model that can bring a shift from being ‘governed’ and ‘controlled’ to a state of being ‘governed-less’ but ‘governed-better.’   

Having said this, again, there are constraints within which civil societies comes into play. That, its operation as a ‘body of resistance’ calls for a democratic space. In no way can it function freely in any space that is contrary to the ideals of democracy. Whatever the constraints, the articulation of a language of responsible dissent is paramount to the credibility which is integral to civil society as agents of resistance, as a facilitator and regulator in resisting forces that suppress the peoples voices, self-determination, aspirations, freedom and the will to power; to live free from oppression, dominion and control.

For now, the language of suffering is being expressed in many ways in different tunes. It requires nurturing to form a collective in providing the much needed impetus to liberate us from the pressing issues confronting Nagaland today.

(Dr Asangba Tzudir contributes a weekly guest editorial to the Morung Express. Comments can be emailed to