CHOICES BEFORE THE NAGAS Peace or violence? Make your choice

SC Jamir
Former CM & Governor

Today, the people of Nagaland are standing on a shadowy border line. This is, perhaps, God’s given opportunity for the Nagas to decide between peace and violence. 

Nagas are no longer novices in politics or about the current events of the contemporary world. But the situation has been compounded by the fact that rapid and unpreceded changes have swept the social and political landscape in the country. And the world in over the last three decades when the older generation has been left gasping and the younger generation amazed and awestruck, it is an undeniable fact that the youth of today, including our young Naga brethren, are not swayed or impressed by promises of a chimerical Sovereignty without any attendant practical and economic benefits. Moreover, they were never witness to the passion and fervour of the original movement and as such, are not unduly influenced by its appeal. 

Even otherwise, the present political leadership is woefully bankrupt ideologically, morally, intellectually and ethically, and cannot inspire confidence or commitment in theyoung Nagas. The spirit of patriotism and dedications thatpropelled the Naga movement are no longer there. However, periodicparroting of sovereignty issue is undertaken, especially by theunderground groups, as a ritual to show their existence and at thesame time keep their cadres preoccupied with this mirage. But thetruth is that the Naga people of all hues measured the worth of allthese theoretical statements when compared with the two PoliticalAgreements, namely, Framework Agreement of 3rd August 2015 andAgreed Position of 17th November 2017, where sovereignty andIntegration did not figure.

Today, the people of Nagaland themselves are smothered between twoextremes, each one worse than the other in its implications andprognosis. On one hand, there are the votaries of Utopia and quixoticvision of promised land, and on the other hand, there is the crass andhopelessly confused class who has no compunction whatsoever, incavorting and pandering to any factions; and the same yardstickapplies to overground politics as well. Both political ideology andpolitical principle have been accorded a graceful and ceremoniousburial in Nagaland at the altar of venality and selfishness. What ismost agonizing is that common people of Nagaland have increasinglyfallen prey to the seductions of easy money and lure of pettymaterialistic gains that can eke out of the debased political systems.The electorate seems unconcerned about the manifestoes of thepolitical parties or the discourses of their leaders, and is merelyinterested in ‘auctioning’ their precious votesto the highest biddersin the electoral fray. The free and fair casting of votes which is thebasic essence of a true democracy, has been woefully reduced tomere ‘saleable commodities’!

Where is the genuine politicalconsciousness of the people? What then is the end product of thedysfunctional political system in Nagaland? In the presentcondition, the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland would be adornedby members, bankrupted by the travails of the costly elections,whose sole aim would be to make quick money to makegood the expenditure incurred in the elections. Where is the scopeof any welfare activities or missionary zeal for the well-being and goodof the people, since the same people had extorted and extractedmoney from the MLA during the elections? As of now there seemsto be a total dark eclipse on the morality and ethics of theelectorate and the practitioners of politics in the state and thisvicious circle of corruption, nepotism, degradation and inefficiencyshows no signs of abating. The electorates of Nagaland have becomeso shockingly self-centred and greedy that they do not even realizethat by compelling candidates to pay for their votes, they areactually digging their own graves and perpetuating their miseries, administrative apathy and inefficiency of the systems.

The need of the hour is to undertake an honest and thoroughintrospection and conscious analysis of our hearts and minds toexplore the roots of all these malicious vices and infirmities beforethe whole society is consumed by these dreaded worms of moral andethical destruction.For more than five decades the people of Nagaland passionately andsilently but with alacrity, are watching the political harangues of theunderground leaders in their political voyage. The people weremade to believe that the cherished goal of the Nagas would beushered in without delay. But as years rolled by, except thechanting of the old tune of sovereignty, nothing is visible in thepolitical landscape of Nagaland. On the contrary, the people ofNagaland are witnessing the Naga political movement as the replicaof the Tower of Babel! This shocking and despicable politicaldevelopment had completely destroyed the sanctity of the Nagapolitical movement.

Bereft of lofty ideals or exalted vision, the present politicalmovement continues to manifest a dangerous amateurish andcavalier streak. The entire policy in the state betrays lack ofcommitment, ideology or vision and is remarkable in its slapdashand slipshod actions! Like leeches, multiple authorities -- bothconstitutional and extra-constitutional -- are sucking the blood of thegeneral public by imposing different kinds of taxes on them. Addedto these elements, there are multiple groups/ societies and Hohos that are solely dependent on the public for their resources. Themonster of materialism and greed have swallowed of the entirebodies and souls of the Nagas. Nothing moves without briberiesalmost at all levels of governance. This despicable and shamefulphenomenon had completely destroyed Naga character. Our heartsare pierced with painful sting at the many follies and frailties thatpersist in plaguing this beautiful land of the Nagas.

Should we allow the present trend to continue the future of Nagalandshall be doomed. The people of Nagaland in general and youthcommunity in particular should wake up and have a seriousintrospection and retrospection on the entire gamut of the presentturmoil in Naga society.Let us honestly and consciously accept that the prevailing politicalscenario in Nagaland is akin to the history of the Tower of Babeland the Broken Walls of Jerusalem. The Nagas started their politicalvoyage with lofty and hollowed objective of a Separate Homelandunder the single political umbrella of the Naga National Council. Theentire movement was coordinated and ably led by A.Z Phizo and his peers who were totally committed and passionately dedicated for thecause of Naga sovereignty. The remarkable feature of the originalmovement was that all basic and fundamental attributes of anygenuine and effective political movement -- like unity of purpose,clarity of goals, inspiring unified leadership, mutual understandingand cohesion, and committed and dedicated cadres, general publicsupport, well defined principles and adherence to accepted norms ofsocial and public conduct -- were inherent and present in the originalNaga political movement.
However, the present political reality is woefully a sordid caricature ofthe illustrious past. Now there are more than 24 factions and thereis likelihood of increasing this number. Almost all leaders ofunderground desire to occupy only the number one position. All thefactions function at their own whims and fancies. There is nosemblance of patriotism and nationalism in such organizations. TheNaga public look at them with abhorrence and disgust. 

What thenshould we do to initiate remedial measures to restore the Nagasociety from the grips of this dreadful and malignant disease?

As true Nagas, let us be honest to own the responsibilities of thepresent mess. Nagas are unnerved and moaning under the grip ofFrankenstein’s Monster. We ourselves created this monster whichwe cannot control and ultimately became its victims. It is ourcreation and there is no point in apportioning blame on theunderground.

To wriggle out from this morass , signatories of the PoliticalAgreement namely Framework Agreement of 3rd August 2015 andthe Agreed Position of 17th November 2017 should be materialized withoutany delay. To fortify this, the Nagaland Legislative Assembly, which isthe only legitimate body under the Constitution, should unanimouslyresolve in support of the said Political Agreements and urge boththe GOI and the Underground Organizations to implement theagreements.

Decades of insurgency and mushrooming of underground factionsin the political landscape of Nagaland had severely affected theentire gamut all systems of governance in the state of Nagaland.There is no denying that fact that Nagaland is not only a land offestivals but a land of multiple authorities both constitutional andextra-constitutional exercising their powers and functions over thepeople of Nagaland. The entire people of Nagaland are groaningunder the weights of all these authorities. The most glaring featureof Nagaland today is dysfunctionality of almost all branches ofadministration. As a matter of fact the governance in Nagaland hasbeen derailed. Streamlining of administration even including thefunctioning of Cabinet would be urgently required. Overhauling ofthe entire system alone can resurrect the present governance tosanity.

We need to urgently reinvent and fashion Naga society in tune with thecontemporary world. Naga leaders of all hues are too obsessed withthe past events; they hardly discuss and deliberate on current issuesthat would be relevant for the present and future of Nagaland. Theirminds appear to be closed towards contemporary world. It appearsthat their mindset and vision continue to be clouded by the conceptsand ideals of the 20th century and therefore, they find it difficult tokeep abreast with a fast-changing world. We need to update ourmindsets to match the contemporary challenges confidently.

However, as the proverb says every cloud has a silver lining. Theyounger generation of the Nagas is more enlightened and moreprogressive in their outlook. Most of them have a broader vision ofthe contemporary world and they speak and work in that light. Theyare less enchanted by the political slogans of the older generation.They want to be equals with their counterparts in the rest of thecountry and the world. They find their own birth place so suffocatingand distressing that most of them want to work outside of Nagaland.

Leaders of today are called upon to seriously ponder over the strongfeelings of the youth towards Naga society.In the name of Naga sovereignty, we cannot afford to destroy andbury the Naga polity through internecine conflicts amongourselves. Will there be any faction among these 24 factions, thatwould come out openly and with solemn commitment to bring allNaga groups under the banner of the NNC and help preserve Nagaunity through the process of reconciliation? Whatever politicaldispensation had been provided in the agreements between theGOI and the underground organizations should be allowed to beimplemented for the future of Nagaland.

It is time for the Naga people to come out from the combat mood.We have seen enough of bloodsheds in our land. We should nowcultivate positive attitude so that we can face any kind ofconfrontation with a composure and patience that is absolutelynecessary to rein in whipped up passions. Only then can we generatesolutions to all complex problems in front of us.
Lastly but not the least, permanent peace should be ushered in ourland. “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.” This revelation could be a beacon of hope for any society bogged down in conflicts.We can achieve lasting peace only when we realize that peace is theway, in and of itself.