Giving back to Gokhale

In a significant move, the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (MNES), New Delhi has sanctioned seven Bio-Mass Gasifier projects spread over different parts of the State. For a Power-Deficit State like Nagaland this initiative augurs well for its growth trajectory as far as energy availability is concerned. 

What has however caught the attention of the media here in Nagaland is the persona par excellence of an officer—A.M Gokhale, a former Chief Secretary of this State— who played an important role in the regeneration of the village economy and continues to do so even after taking up responsibility at the Centre. The plethora of community owned mini power projects sanctioned by the MNES in which he is the Secretary, is testimony of the fact that Gokhale continues to serve the people of Nagaland from afar. 

Set to retire in a few days time (January 31, 2006), Gokhale’s return to inaugurate one of the Biomass Gasifier Project at Pfutseromi under Phek district on Sunday last would not have been more appropriate for a man who worked closely with the people. As the brainchild of the revolutionary Village Development Board (VDB) Gokhale was able to give back to the people what was rightly theirs—to freely decide and govern themselves—and rightly so, the institution of VDBs has, indeed, proved to be a successful innovation to harness the social capital of people in rural areas.

There is no question that Gokhale has served Nagaland with great merit and distinction ever since he was inducted into the Indian Administrative Service in the year 1968 and later joined the Nagaland cadre. What is even more admirable is that Gokhale had no qualms about coming to a trouble torn place like Nagaland and it only goes to show that his was a true call for the service of the people, which unfortunately is not the case with most public servants today. 

The Nagaland Government if it has any sense of gratitude should without hesitation honor Gokhale by presenting an appropriate award commensurate with the ideals and aspiration that he brought to his office, which in turn by this very vision, had brought governance to the grass-root level for all-round social empowerment for rural Nagaland. It would indeed be an appropriate time for the Governor as head of State to Gokhale as he sets into the sunset of what has indeed been a remarkable service career. 

The greatness of Gokhale was not so much in unraveling what was already a known concept. The idea of self-governance and for that matter decentralization was nothing alien to the Naga people. But it was Gokhale who played a definite role in unleashing this inherent strength that he well knew was possessed by the Naga people. Coming back maybe for the last time in his official capacity, Gokhale once again send a potent message to the people that “the strength of Nagaland lies in the village”. 

The measure of Gokhale’s contribution more than anything else lies in the fact that he was able to make a difference for the welfare of the people whom he served. Hopefully this will serve as a benchmark for other officers in Nagaland. What is required is less government and more governance in which the high impervious wall between the administration and the people is broken down. The administration has to reestablish that vital link with the people and use the tremendous power that can be drawn out from this social capital. The State Government should also vigorously promote the dictum that social capital is the comparative advantage of the Naga economy.