Longleng ‘road show’ shows the way forward

One of the major activities of the state government this year will be the statewide Road Shows, to be organized monthly in all eleven districts of Nagaland. The State Road Show, conceptualized by none other than the Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, is an attempt at taking a hands-on approach to go to the people in the districts with specific targets. Firstly, it would create a platform where the government can interact with the people at the grassroots regarding the activities of the state government. Secondly, it would promote the traditional and cultural aspects of the tribes in a particular district.

A top level meeting convened by the Chief Minister earlier in April has decided that the Road Show in a particular district will be organised, coinciding with the district tribal festivals.  The government has also made an ambitious plan to make the Road Show an annual feature of the government’s activities. To make it a joint venture between all government departments, it has been decided that major departments would jointly organise the Road Shows in turns. Other departments would also be involved by way of organising exhibitions, sales and generally present and showcase their activities to the public. 

While the logistical challenges of organizing the Road Shows are tremendous, particularly in the more remote districts, the immediate and long term results are expected to be mutually beneficial for the government as well as its public. On one hand, government departments would be evolving ways and means to ‘engage’ the public about their activities. On the other hand, public would actually gain awareness about the various departments, their activities and services available for the people. The added benefit of the entire event would be the coming together of all stakeholders onto a common platform - the elected representatives, tribal and civil bodies, government functionaries and the public - for the development of the state. 

The inaugural of the Road Show 2009 took place at Longleng District, home to the Phom Nagas on 6th June 2009, significantly coinciding with the 57th Phom Day celebrations. Significant, because as the Chief Minister, during his inaugural speech said, the day marks the renunciation of violence by the people to pursue the path of peace and loyalty. People of Longleng district rose to the occasion taking it as an honour of being the district, although the smallest in the state, to launch the Road Show. 

The whole town was abuzz with purpose and activity in the days leading up to the launch. Bharat Scouts and Guides manning the reception station at the entrance of the town cross-checked their lists to make sure that visitors were guided to their respective accommodation quarters. The hospitality of the townspeople was in full display as people opened their homes to host and feed the visitors. 

As the formal inaugural programme got underway, thousands of people thronged the public ground, filling up the hangar of the Agri department that has now become a familiar sight and the new twin sports galleries of the Youth Resources and Sport department flanking the rostrum that was inaugurated by the Chief Minister on his arrival at the venue. The public ground of the town was transformed into a veritable fairground, VIPs mingling freely with the people flocking around the sixty or so stalls set up by over 30 government departments and about ten self help groups (SHGs). The people of the town had another reason to be happy about - the inauguration, also by the Chief Minister, of the Longleng town road constructed under the Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) of the Rural Development. As the elected representative from the area and Parliamentary Secretary, Rural Development and Rural Employment & Poverty Alleviation, Pangyu Phom said, the construction of the road has fulfilled the long cherished desire of the people to walk on smooth roads. Indeed some people who had visited the town earlier vouched for that too.

The participating departments put up commendable exhibitions, each department showcasing their activities to the great interest of the citizens of the district. On the 6th evening people of the town got to witness the talents of young musicians in the District Level Music Competition for Solos and Bands with the Music Task Force (MTF), Nagaland offering professional back up. Project Director, MTF, Gugs Chishi explained that the music task force will conduct the competition in all the districts when the Road Shows are held. 

Another regular feature of the Road Shows will be the district level cuisine competition. In a bid to promote Naga cuisine as initiated by the Chief Minister, the Women Development Department organized district level cuisine competition during the two day event at Longleng. Neilavoü Keditsu, Additional Director, Women Development Department explained that the best items (dishes) will be selected from all the districts which will then be standardized into a common Naga cuisine. She also said that to popularize and promote Naga traditional attires, efforts are on to improve upon the traditional loin loom Naga textiles as the traditional weaves are rather bulky. The department showcased the traditional Phom attires during the Road Show in a bid to preserve and document the original designs.

The Longleng Road Show has broadened people’s perspectives of what government and public can achieve together, through partnership. As the Chief Minister stated at Longleng, the Road Shows are aimed at enhancing greater transparency in government policies and programmes, while the public are called upon to study and select which schemes and programmmes would best suit them. The Road Show at Longleng was co-ordinated by the Rural Development and Transport & Communication Departments. The next Road Show is headed for Tuensang district, coinciding with the Chang Naga festival ‘Naknyulam’, tentatively on 28th and 29th July 2009. The nodal departments for Tuensang Road Show are Soil & Water Conservation Department and the CAWD.

(A DIPR feature by Dzüvinuo Theünuo, Information Officer)