Nagas at crossroad - Need for critical thinking and concerted effort

H Khekuto Khulu, IAS

It is time for Nagas particularly those of Nagaland to wake up and critically analyse what is going on in the country in general and Northeast particularly with focus on Manipur. There are certain happenings in the country and in the Northeast which are indeed disturbing and there is absolute need for us to take note, rise above inter- tribal politics, have unity of purpose, not get emotional, look around seriously and move forward towards a better future with unity and determination. It is extremely crucial to look deeper and see the writings on the wall. Let us look at some of the recent happenings in the country:

1.    Downgrading and trifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir and doing away with the special  provision under Art 370 of the Constitution. If they can do it for Kashmir can we prevent it ? – Supreme court has given a direction for restoration of the state of Kashmir, which is perhaps a silver lining in the clouds for democracy.

2.    Move to introduce Uniform Civil code throughout the country on the premise of “ one nation, uniform civil law for all “ This would mean that all personal laws of Muslims, Christians, Parsis etc.. will be done away  pertaining to marriages, inheritance, property etc.. will be governed by a uniform civil code and it is quite obvious that majority will prevail.

3.    Move to divide Nagaland, the sixteenth state of India by creating another territory supposedly within the state but with almost complete autonomy. Incidentally, the move for Frontier Nagaland began in 2010 whereas the Naga political struggle which started more than seventy years ago has been relegated to a secondary position.

4.    The Forest conservation Act (amendment) 2023 will pose a great for the Northeast in general and for Nagaland in particular. The NLA must take a firm stand in this regard in order that the future of the coming generations is not jeopardized. It is certainly heartening to see the views expressed by the spokesman of the ruling coalition (NDPP) on 31st August that the act will be repealed by the NLA.

5.    The latest Addition is the “ one Nation, one Election” which would amount to having simultaneous elections for Parliament and the State assemblies. How feasible this would be practically is a matter to be seen but the special session of the parliament being called in September may include this agenda.

6.    The issue of RIIN and ULB elections must be addressed in the right spirit. It is the domain of the NLA as the representatives of the people and not for any faction of the so called national workers or the civil societies/NGOs or others to decide. There appears to be a shifting of responsibility by the elected Government for more the two decades. Any Government must govern and not hide behind keep seeking consensus on all issues. While we must have the stakeholders taken into confidence, we must also be conscious of the elections , which are very expensive, and the people’s mandate rightfully or otherwise. What is seen today is the elected members being left out in appointments as chairpersons of state corporations and people being elevated to cabinet minister status even without contesting in elections on the plea of opposition-less Government for solution to the Naga political problem.

7.    The recent unfortunate disturbance beginning 3rd May 2023 in Manipur is a matter of serious concern for all communities in the Northeast. The silence of the Prime Minister of India  is bewildering. The Chief minister of Manipur could not present his resignation letter as he was stopped by the women of his community and other supporters on 30.06.23. at Imphal. Meanwhile, Kukis have been forced to leave Imphal and foothill areas and this includes the Zos in Churachandpur. Certain sections of the Tangkhul community of Manipur have expressed solidarity with the Meiteis. In fact eight Naga MLAs have submitted their representation to protect the territorial integrity of Manipur. Where does that leave the tribals of Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal, Assam and the whole of Northeast  is going to be affected tremendously mostly because of  the political cross currents, the move to establish ethnic supremacy and the demographic changes because of illegal immigrants mostly from the west and perhaps some the east.

8.     The latest addition in the public domain is the clear official invitation to be extended by the head of the state- President of India as President of “ Bharat” for the Important delegates representing their countries in the G 20 summit to be held in Delhi. In the recorded history of the country since India became a free nation, it has always been President of India, Independence day/Republic day of India and so on so forth. The constitution of India is what has been in use and Bharat was never the accepted term in the rest of the world. All currency notes have India printed on them- will all these be changed ? Will the people of the country accept this change ? Is it at all necessary for the people and the country ? There appears to be an estimate of around Rs 14000 Crores to effect this change – is it worth this kind of expenditure and more importantly changing history and making the aam aadmi more confused ?  It is hoped that better sense will prevail in the country particularly during the ensuing parliament session.

There are other issues in the country which we need to critically analyse and apply our minds collectively to survive as free citizens of the country with our heads held high.

1. In simple terms, the value of the Rupees has fallen so much in the international market  that  India stands behind countries like Bangladesh or many other developing countries, eg the exchange rate for us dollar is more ths Rs 87, Singapore dollar Rs, 61, Thai Bhatt is  more than double of the Rupee etc.. This would clearly indicate that the economy of the country is not doing well at all.

2. The state Government has not been able to take steps to widen its resource base , facilitate investments in the state, provide adequate and stable power supply, build up good roads within the state and most importantly ensuring that there is rule of law by dealing with illegal taxation and mushrooming of factions of the so called national workers and the unions within the society, who are all taxing the people.

3. NLTP Act must be reviewed and prohibition must be lifted, As has also been voiced by many NCD, Dimapur and NGOs/Civil societies, Commercial production of Petroleum and natural gas must commence. Nagaland should be able to derive benefits under ACT EAST Policy. We do not see any clear move of the state Government or the GOI(Bharat ?) about any project in Nagaland. Even after 60 years of statehood, the state has not been able to develop and move forward towards prosperity- surely we can do better ! Arise, awake, Nagas !

(The writer is a Retd Addl chief secretary & Akukau(GB) Naghuto(Old)