HELLO FOLKS! WHERE ARE WE HEADING?

A quick look into our State, and we will see that our State abound with scenic natural beauty, natural resources, enviable cultural heritage, rich culture, and a vibrant social capital. A further and deeper look will reveal that there are some glaring aspects that readily strike one’s mind, namely the decade’s old Naga movement. Perennial inter-factional clashes, habitual fratricidal killings, pitiable socio-economic conditions growing unemployment problem, corruption and an almost decadent lifestyle, While some or all of these may not be so uncommon in other States as well, what controversially stands out here is the very “paradoxical equation” that these glaring affairs, especially killings and corruption, assume under the convenient guise of professed Christian identity, more so in the backdrop of the overarching banner of “Nagaland for Christ”,

Given the fact that ours is a complicated problem in so far as the protracted Indo-Naga issue concerns, it calls for great insights and resoluteness on the participating parties in finding a lasting solution to the vexed issue. This long drawn history of struggle is, perhaps the single most important factor for the ramification of such related consequences as inter-factional conflicts, recrudescent fratricides, and other unstated woes. While each of the two NSCN factions is currently in ceasefire with the Centre, no such ceasefire agreement exists between the factions, resulting in internecine wars which invariably have a cascading effect on both the warring factions and the society at large. At best, there is no dearth of news. At worst we are destroying ourselves, Thus, there is a paramount need to address this protracted issue with a sense of urgency and utmost importance, It behooves us to ask searching questions as to what kind of future we envisage for our society. Should it be a society plagued by lawlessness, violence and mutually destructive conflicts? Should it be a society filled with hatred, bloodshed, pains and sufferings?

Our economy is a relatively poor economy, with hardly any infrastructural set up to generate self-sufficiency (Thankfully, we don’t have mendicants roaming the streets), The State depends largely on the Central government for its sustenance. Given such a scenario, it is highly improbable that we’ll become self-sufficient; forget about surplus economy, in another decade or so.

It is an inconvenient truth, but we seem to have this uncontrollable predilection for living a lifestyle that is absurdly disproportionate to our known sources of earnings. Our Chief Minister once remarked, “We live beyond our means”. Indeed, the statement needs no further elaboration or paraphrasing. We love to stuff our surroundings and ourselves with glittering and “classy” embellishments without stuffing much into our “deprived” heads. Often, we love to ape the West in practically anything that is glamorous and seemingly contextual. The result - is often a graduation from parody to travesty. These in turn inescapably mirror our society, our culture, and our ethos. However, on a positive note, there has been a battery of initiatives in various walks of life reflecting originality and novelty.

Having mentioned that the platform or opportunity to showcase one’s originality or innovative credentials is, however, not always easily available considering the acute shortage or job vacancies in the public or private sector. Granted, the State government is constrained in job generation and cannot provide gainful employment to each and every of the burgeoning population of educated unemployed And with the private sector just in the incipient stage of growth, it is hardly surprising that there continues a rapid efflux of job seekers to outside States and beyond. Added to that, the concept of Public-Private Partnership (PPP), which holds rich promises, is yet to take shape, However, the real problem arises when not all the appointments or selections are made on a fair basis and through open competition as originally earmarked, Further, when the practice of nepotism, favoritism and the like surfaces, it negates the very principle of fairness and equality. Such aforementioned practices preclude any fighting chance for the penurious and unlucky lot, who have but to rely on fair and transparent recruitment process. If such “Internal affairs” are any indication; there is every possibility that “open” recruitment system will soon be a thing of the past, taken over by “spoils system”, where only the rich and the powerful share the booty. Is this the foreseeable future that we envision?

Now, this drags up the unpalatable and the obvious - corruption. Yes, it is uncomfortable to freely and openly admit it. Yet corruption has proliferated to such a gigantic monster with impact of incalculable proportions permeating every conceivable stratum of the society, from the top echelons of the organization, to the lowest rung of the society, so much so that it is helplessly accepted as a way of life. More compounding is the naked truth in that it is tacitly encouraged, given the “vortex like” dynamics of our system.

Anti-corruption machineries such as the State Vigilance Commission have been tasked with the responsibility of checking graft in public offices. Moreover, to empower the citizens seeking governmental information as also to ensure greater transparency and accountability in the working of the public officials, the RTI (Right to Information) Act 2005, has also been duly implemented in the State in the recent past. With this added teeth, it is hoped that it will facilitate better delivery of goods and services to the people by the public officials as also bridging the gap between the administration and the people. Notwithstanding, it is debatable; as to how far success rate has been achieved in countering corruption

Unless there is a radical change from within, no machinery or tool, howsoever promising will be effective. And all these ostensible efforts of promoting transparency, accountability, and probity will be reduced to naught. Now the searching question is, should corruption be a barometer of our socio-economic conditions? Can we ever attain, even in the long run, a stage that is corruption free?

One of the fundamental pillars of a democratic polity is the socio-political system thereof. For any such system to thrive, a strong and dynamic people’s government coupled with the responsive and conscientious participation of the people in the government, with the latter forming a synergic relationship with the former is a pre-requisite. Over and above, the government exists for the people and not vice-versa. Therefore, all the multifarious developmental activities undertaken/being undertaken by the government should be for public good. Notwithstanding, it is again debatable as to how far all such rhetoric’s for development are matched by tangible actions.

The Government of India, has sometime back unveiled “Vision 2020” - a bold initiative to transform India into a developed country by 2020. It is a positive step in the right direction. Will our State also climb on the bandwagon and be a developed State by that year? When we look at the present state of affairs, the absence of any major industry, as also skilled manpower and technology know how, infrastructural bottlenecks like poor road conditions, deficient power generation, erratic power supply and so forth, the possibility of reaching that state appears so remote.

So where are we headed to? Does our State government have any bold visions? Even this write-up looks pessimistic. But unless we make a sobering analysis of the reality and rectify the flaws, our society is fated toward the road to perdition. We need selfless leaders with visions to lead us to new horizons. Those in “power” must shed “parochialism” in all its manifestations and work towards common ends and values. At the same time, the civil society - NGO’s, trade unions, mothers’ association, students’ organization, private institutional fraternities, intelligentsia, pressure groups, hoi polloi - has an important role to play in nation building. It is only when there is a shared understanding and conscious co-operation between and among these various entities, in striving towards shared goals, the dream of a peaceful, vibrant and prosperous society will become meaningful and workable.

Tsutsowe Kupa, Dimapur