Engaging the Powers

If governance is the art of managing differences, it can be said that a top-down governance system based on structures which create dependency and inculcate an economics of desperation, lies at the roots of injustices. While development has supposedly brought substantial improvements in health care, housing, education and general well being of life, it has more often than not, given legitimacy to the acquirement and control of indigenous peoples’ resources, inevitably increasing poverty, ironically under the guise of eliminating them. In such situations the political structures do not correspond to the people’s basic human needs. 

Globalization is more than just a trend, it has become the international system. It has led to intensification of wealth leading to expanding gaps between rich and poor, thereby globalizing these problems while dismantling at every level the indigenous institutions that once addressed them. It has facilitated a global system that favors a culture of convenience where dialogue is replaced by temporary slogans that manufacture images rather than engaging with issues and realities of experience. 

The state system has assimilated indigenous peoples into the electoral system of politics and leadership which has resulted in the collective loss of inability to confront the daily injustices. Indigenous scholar Taiaiake Alfred reminds us that “Leaders who promote non-indigenous goals and embody non-indigenous values are simply tools used by the State to maintain its control.” Hence, their ability for critical perspective is stripped away and is driven by self-interests to promote the interest and power of the system rather than strengthening the aspirations of their own people. 

The pursuit and struggle for power within themselves and the accumulation of wealth through control violates the ethos and spiritual values of indigenous tradition. Most of them know what is right. They have long known what has been wrong as well and what needs to be done, but they very often teach their people the narratives of the dominant forces while denying the history and knowledge of their own people. Inevitably, by mixing falsehood with truth it creates a more destructive lie which strengthens the conspiracy of silence perpetuating the historical and continuing injustice. 

Historical realities cannot be reconstituted by changing the language to suit the status quo and therefore the myth that the right of a people with a history over those allegedly without one needs to be questioned. The challenge Taiaiake says, ‘Is for each person to recognize and counteract the effects of colonization in his or her own life, and thus develop the ability to live in a way that contests colonization. We are all co-opted to one degree or another, so we can only pity those who are blind or who refuse to open their eyes to the colonial reality, and who continue to validate, legitimate, and accommodate the interests of that reality in opposition to the goals and values of their own.’

Like many other indigenous peoples, Nagas too cannot remove their difficulties by closing their eyes to the challenges, neither will they be removed by merely waiting to see what happens, nor will they be removed by a policy of appeasement. The longer Nagas delay in addressing them, the more difficult it will be and the greater their predicament will become. For their survival, Nagas in spite of their powerlessness to prevent injustice must however never fail to question it.