Nagaland is plagued by many issues today. Matters like corruption, erosion of moral values, greed, lack of dignity of labour, search for easy money, widening gap between the rich and the poor, lack of punctuality, sincerity and commitment in work ethics etc abound in our midst. These are all grave issues which need to be addressed by one and all if we are to see a better and more prolific Naga society. But the one issue that surpasses all these in terms of its potential destructive nature and effect and which at times gives me sleepless nights is the unabated influx of outsiders into our land which is happening at an alarming rate. And in a way this issue is connected one way or the other with many of the issues which plague Nagaland today.
Because of the lack of ‘dignity of labour’ amongst us and our unwillingness to do manual works, we are giving ample opportunities to outsiders to come to our land and earn a living for themselves. We Nagas see no opportunities or prospects for making money in manual works because of our false sense of pride and disdain for manual works. All we want and dream about are white-collared jobs wherein we sit at huge tables in fancy rooms and only sign papers and do nothing else thereby leaving all the basic manual works unattended. So for outsiders who are willing and searching for manual works, our land is a land flowing with milk and honey. For a person who is unable to earn even Rs.2 in a day in his native place, if he comes to know that there is a land where he can easily earn Rs.200 in a single day, nothing can stop him from going to that land. This is what motivates outsiders to come to our land. For these outsiders, our land is no less than paradise.
We Nagas have a tendency of making a big deal about the so-called illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. But when it comes to those outsiders from mainland India we maintain a rather liberal attitude. But for me an outsider is an outsider whether they are from within or outside India. We Nagas are from the Mongoloid race whereas these outsiders are from another race, another religion and another culture. And so there is no affinity whatsoever between us and them. And what frightens me is that with each passing day, the numbers of these outsiders in our land is increasing. There was a time when we were identified as hill people since we are a different race living in hills even though we live in close proximity with our neighbors from the plains. But a time may surely come when we may no longer be identified as hill people and they as plain people because the plain people are slowly conquering and penetrating into the hills. And this is something which sends cold current down my spine.
Recently The Morung Express carried reports of a survey conducted wherein people were asked whether outsiders would one day outnumber native Nagas in Nagaland. Many commented that such a day is not an impossibility since outsiders continue to pour in into our land at alarming rate and I also agree that it is just a matter of time before such a thing happens if the present trend of this influx continues. So it is more a matter of ‘when’ rather than a matter of ‘if’.
Recently someone also mentioned that Dimapur does not look like Nagaland in any manner anymore because of the presence of huge numbers of outsiders everywhere. What an irony and what a pain! But I could not disagree. For once, Dimapur is plain area and there may be multiple points of entry for these outsiders making it even more difficult to segregate outsiders from the natives. And for that matter, even in the other districts the numbers of outsiders are very much on the rise. So how do we check this?
In my father’s generation, it was normal for a couple to have 5-6 children in a family. In those times, some families even have 9-10 children. However, if we look at the present scenario, most Naga couples are opting to have lesser children. Some go for only two children, while some go for three. And most do not go beyond four at the most. And this is another grave concern. Because on the one hand outsiders continue to flow into our lands at an alarming rate while we ourselves go about limiting the number of our children for varied reasons. Well of course we cannot urge Naga couples to opt for large families just to maintain a majority status. But if some Naga couples would prefer to have lots of children, I guess such couples should be encouraged to do so and the government may also think about providing incentives to such people.
It is said that when a river or a lake overflows, the things that are on the banks of the river and the lake are the ones directly washed away. In other words, the people or the things that are flourishing on the banks of a river or lake are always on the threshold of extinction if that river or lake is to become full and overflow. This is the situation in which the Nagas find themselves today. We are a small people but we are surrounded by some of the most populous nations in the world. India and Bangladesh are two neighbors where population is already overflowing and the people in these countries are forced to migrate into greener pastures in search of work as work opportunities have become extinct in these countries. In such a scenario, Nagaland comes up as a very vibrant green pasture for people from these countries as there are plenty of manual works available here in our land. As of now, the population of Nagaland stands at around 20 Lakhs. But this number is no match when we recollect the fact that we are surrounded by nations and people whose number run into crores and crores. And therefore the chances of outsiders outnumbering native Nagas in their own lands in due course is not at all an impossibility.
So what are some of the things which we can do in order to prevent such an eventuality? Firstly, let us create awareness about it to as many people as possible. Secondly, the government should come up with stricter policies to check this menace. The concept and practice of the ILP (Inner Line Permit) should be once again rejuvenated so that it realizes its full and desired results. Or what about setting up a full-fledged and separate govt. department to tackle this menace? Thirdly, various tribal hohos and youth organizations may take a more pro-active role to check and regulate this menace in their respective jurisdictions. Fourthly, Nagas also need to learn to do our own things rather than depending on outsiders for basic manual works. We need to cultivate the values of dignity of labour, maintain values like punctuality, sincerity and commitment in work ethics, realize that there is pride and honour in earning one’s livelihood through hard labour and sweat etc.
Among all the issues that plague Nagaland today, I guess this unabated influx of outsiders into our lands seems to be the most threatening which is likely to undo the Nagas in our own land. Wars and epidemics break out and destroy people but once it is over the people slowly return back to their normal lives. Moreover wars and epidemics are instantly visible and everybody comes to know about it. Wars and epidemics also have a beginning and an ending. But there is nothing dramatic about the present scenario in Nagaland wherein outsiders are flowing unabated into our lands. It does not appear to be a war or calamity crisis which instantly alarms the people. And this is where the danger lies. This influx of outsiders into our lands has no beginning and no end. It is also not dramatic like a civil war or an epidemic which catches everybody’s attention. So, most Nagas are not even aware that such a danger is lurking unabated and unnoticed in their backyard. Like cancer cells slowly and silently spreading to every part of the body, outsiders are slowly and silently penetrating and spreading to all parts of our land. This is why the eventual consequence of this phenomenon can be so catastrophic and annihilating. As of now, it appears to be a silent and harmless process and therefore many do not consider it to be an issue at all. If a civil war or an epidemic is to break out in Naga society, it would put all Nagas on alert and we would fight tooth and nail against the issue. But here, something much more dangerous and threatening than civil wars or epidemics has already broken out against us in our own land. But we don’t recognize it because it appears to be silent and harmless and it has been an ongoing process which has no beginning and no end in sight. As of now it may be invisible and unnoticeable, it may even appear to be doing more good than harm, it may appear to be normal without any potential danger….. but unless we do something about it, it may just be a matter of time before we are swept way from our own land……and this is the worst nightmare I could ever have…