Finding the Global Naga

Inaugurating the 4th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, an annual convention of the Indian Diaspora, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a slew of policy measures including the assurance of giving them voting rights. Over the years there is an added new sheen to India’s image abroad. Thanks to the Indian Diaspora, today the country is basking in the glory of its Non Resident Indians (NRIs). Without a doubt, Indians abroad are a feel good factor to the Indian State and they have made the west view the country differently. More than anything else, the NRIs have shown with their success that east and west can not only meet but meet on equal terms.

It is all the more fitting that the Nagaland State Government should likewise recognize the inherent strength that can be derived out of those innumerable Nagas presently residing or working outside the State.  The case of Meren Imchen, Nagaland’s own prodigy whose animated film was selected to be screened at the Annecy film festival at France is quite an achievement. Likewise, the well known social worker Dr. Joyce Angami finding a place in the reputed office of the United Nation bodes well for the Nagas. There are still many more Nagas out there achieving similar successes in their chosen fields. Whether the government will feel it worthwhile to step in and encourage such type of efforts remains to be seen. 

Today the Naga people require an image makeover. This can come through only if those running the affair in the State (government or NGOs) can start identifying its own Diaspora and then providing them a platform from where they can contribute to the social and economic well being of the State. Like the overseas Chinese and Indian entrepreneurs who have changed the face of their motherland, the phenomenon of brain drain (though often criticized) can work the other way round as well through—brain gain. The overseas Nagas can likewise make a difference however small it may be in the beginning. 

For this, their role and presence would have to be quickly recognized by the government and NGOs. They can play an important role in altering perceptions about the Nagas by exposing to the outside world the rich heritage, art forms, food, traditions of the Naga people. One to one contact of people with their western counterpart is already taking place. Many Nagas after their exposure are already supporting and involving in various educational and social service activities. But to harness this into something more meaningful, the State government will have to put a policy framework into place. 

One specific suggestion is to set up a panel on Naga Diaspora headed by a prominent figure in Nagaland having a global personality with wide outside contact. Such a panel would have to firstly identify through detailed exploration the addresses of those living outside the State. Once this exercise is complete the rest of the jig jaw can be put into place in a logical manner. For this, the State Government can likewise push for setting up of a global organization of people of Naga origin to bring together the Naga Diasporas under a single umbrella and thereby providing the platform for a deeper engagement across all levels of socio-economic activities. Subsequently, once the Naga Diaspora becomes visible, the State Government can take steps through a broad policy framework in order to help in forging a mutually beneficial relationship. It is worth a gamble to find the global Naga and tap their potential.