Of Unity & Good Governance 

Moa Jamir

As 2022 comes to an end, it is pertinent to look back and interrogate two issues discussed, deliberated and propounded ad nauseam both in societal and governmental spheres - unity and good governance. 

Accordingly, treatises on unity and good governance are on the verge of assuming truism, if not already, in the Naga society as well as state affairs. 

Retrospectively, the ‘physical’ political markers that have divided Nagas into different States as well as international boundaries appear to have widened further and affected the emotional bonding with the possibility of various competing imperatives imperilling common aspiration. 

The demand for a separate state by a section of the society is one such imperative, which put the claims of a ‘cohesive’ Naga family under huge scrutiny, with or without the protracted Naga political issue in the backdrop. Two uneasy developments witnessed in the later part of the year were related to ‘land conflicts,’ a perennial affair in the Naga ‘family’ but somewhat a detour from past experiences.  

The first was an alleged ‘Right To Information' application by a member of a certain tribe seeking certain details of state government employees of a particular tribe. The second development was the restriction on the movement of people from a particular tribe residing in another state by another tribe over land disputes. Fortunately, while things have not propelled into any serious issue so far, both the seemingly preposterous developments have the proclivity to set concerning precedents.

The instances cited above to a great extent can be attributed to the lack of good governance and management of affairs, among others. Implementations of good governance initiatives, transparency and promotion of the culture of meritocracy have been the stated objectives of the government of the day. But many a time, it was found wanting in the implementation of the lofty goals. While things progress little, often intervention by the High Court as well as Supreme Court put a big question mark on the claims of good governance argument of the State Government. The Supreme Court’s intervention in the election to urban local bodies and appointment of the State’s top cop as well as the High Court’s monitoring of the construction of the medical college, National Highway and the setting up of the Nagaland Staff Selection Board (NSSB) are illustrative.

The State Government’s commitment to good governance on both NSSB and Lokayukta is doubtful. Scrutinised closely, the processes besides raising eyebrows can be considered more as an action to avoid legal hassles rather than a genuine commitment to change. 

For instance, the State Government’s relationship with Lokayukta Nagaland has been chequered. Besides the unceremonious exit of the first incumbent, the State Government has placed a ‘diluted’ version of the original Lokayukta Act, extending the vacancy period and ‘downgrading’ the eligibility criteria, while giving itself a reprieve from the previous provision, via the legislative mechanism. Accordingly, the recent appointment of someone closely related to the ruling coalition government as the new Lokayukta, notwithstanding the concerned individual’s integrity, put the good governance credibility of the present government under further scrutiny. Again, it must be noted that the Upa-Lokayukta and a member of the NSSB contested the last State Assembly elections representing one of the major constituents of the present opposition-less government of Nagaland.

With such developments, platitudes on unity and cohesiveness are mere truisms in Nagaland.

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