Power & Inequality

Inequality is not just a problem in our Naga society but it is seen worldwide as one of the biggest social, economic and political challenges. And therefore it would be misleading to say that everyone is equal or that there is prosperity all around with equal benefits. While there are many ways in which we can address this issue, in our own context we can revisit the role of the State and its agencies in terms of the mandate it has been assigned to work for the common good. If we go back to the premise, ours is a welfare State, at least in theory. The State claims to work for the people, to promote justice, equality of opportunity and to bring about all round development, progress and prosperity. However in reality we are still far from the ideals of a welfare State. We keep coming to the same point: more than fifty years since Nagaland attained Statehood and where do we stand in terms of our all round development. Is it commensurate with the generosity of funds that we have received from Delhi? Obviously there is a large discrepancy between the funds received from the government of India for our development needs and what actually reaches the ground. And the reason is that those in power deliberately divert huge amount of public money at the expense of our development and in the name of helping the poor. The affluent lifestyle of the rich and powerful, i.e. those have gained ill earned money ought to realize with shame that their affluence and material gains has been paid and sponsored out of the suffering of fellow brethrens—the majority who continue to live in despondency.   

Nagaland is a poor State in terms of resource mobilization. We have become entirely dependent on the Government of India to fund all our needs. While we have been receiving all this aid for the past so many years, the reality of Nagaland as a welfare state is far removed from the high ideals of equality and justice. The gap between the rich and the poor is increasing. Public money is feeding the corrupt and not development. This is a continuing cause for concern. Recently a very bold statement was made by the Additional Chief Secretary & Development Commissioner who happens to be a very senior bureaucrat in the Nagaland government. According to him, though we claim to be a welfare state, yet in reality it is a form of “government of the department, by the department and for the department”. Development is not people centric but Department centric and this is seen in the huge expenditure incurred to basically run the government and keep it satisfied and happy. Coming back to the misuse of public funds, this is retarding development. 

Against this backdrop, we should welcome the decision of the government of India to start direct cash transfer of subsidy amount to beneficiaries in 51 districts from the beginning of the next year. The government intends to give cash subsidies on fertilizer, cooking gas, kerosene and the items supplied through public distribution system (PDS) in a bid to curb leakages in the government spending on subsidies. The government plans to transfer the subsidy on the basis of unique identification number, called Aadhaar number. This is a very novel way to start addressing the problem of corruption within the State. According to the Transparency International, simply put, corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. This phenomenon is clearly visible in our small Christian State of Nagaland. Let us work towards bringing the fruits of development to our society. And when development funds are utilized properly it will benefit all section of the people and the State as a whole will progress and prosper.