Patriarchy & Development

In recent years, waves of ‘state-centric development’ policies and programs have been initiated in Nagaland. Most of these policies and programs have centered around two focal areas, infrastructure and human capacity building. Its objective of ‘progress’ is apparently derived on the assumption that such a ‘progress’ would be possible within existing norms and systems. This fundamental oversight draws a resemblance to the biblical parable of the man who builds his house upon the sand.

While there has been realization that existing systems have had a cause-effect relation with patriarchy, appropriate and deliberate steps are yet to be taken towards developing a more democratic system that is representative of egalitarian values. Thus the question, is it possible for genuine development to take roots in a patriarchal infested system? Development after all does not start with goods; it starts with people and their education, organization and discipline, and by initiating development within existing systems, it legitimizes patriarchy and refuses to hear the voices of dissent that is questioning it. In other words the movement of democratizing is made to disappear by simply negating its very existence. 

For instance, the policy of communitization without confronting patriarchy is to uphold the systems causing patriarchy itself. This paradigm of communitization functions on an understanding which views development as an act of creation, while confining and affirming existing traditional social roles in a now modern context. This form of communitization unfortunately deprives a genuine development process for the whole community. Hence, though the process of communitization wins the battle, it forgets that it would find itself on the loosing side. 

State-centric development is deeply wedded to economism and is unrelated to human needs and it represents a patriarchal paradigm that feeds on an illusion of unlimited power as domination, generation of profits and violence. Consequently if fails to even define the issues surrounding poverty, but seeks to focus on progress. This internal contradiction reveals the dimension of instability and the lack of durable and sustainable democracy. 

For genuine development to take root in Naga society, it must first interrogate the existing traditional practices that support the systems of patriarchy. The chains of patriarchy need to be broken and replaced with a system that does not differentiate on the basis of gender, power or production. Development therefore is closely dependent on the question of democracy and the pertinent need to democratize prevailing structures and systems.

Development for Nagas demands a movement that transcends individuals and involves a multiplicity of people, events and processes that reinforces change and views development as a process of evolution. It requires a noble process that is not afraid to discuss the spiritual conscience, the purpose of life and to evolve an economics that aims to educate people and not merely view them as commodities.