The paradox of Naga politics: Who will save Nagaland?

Wapanginla Ao

“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” - John Adams

Long before the dramatic evolution of a ludicrous political system in Nagaland, academics and political commentaries alike around the world wrote and debated showing deep concern on the steady and gradual decline of political trust in many established democracies. The biggest democracy in the world, India is no exception, poignantly with one of its smallest states in the far north east, Nagaland spiralling into the abyss. Just as there can be no democracy without free electorate, there is no democracy without opposition. What saddens me the most is the striking concept of democracy that I learnt during my younger days, has shown its practicability in a limited scope; forget about its achievability in the decades that I have existed. It only means one thing that the theory of democracy is a sham now. What do we teach our younger generation?

Subsequently, what is next for Nagaland? Will the new patch of cloth in one part hold the entire old garment for long? After 60 years of attaining statehood which is a really long time, it should be considered appropriate as a responsible legislator to bring upon novel progression and tackle the catastrophe in Nagaland. The dramatic election is finally done and dusted. The nonchalant new government is formed for the first time in the attendance of the Indian prime minister and his influencing political companions, portraying clearly the strong presence of BJP in the state. Don’t get me wrong as I am not being prejudiced to any political parties. As in popular opinion, it is not about the political parties anymore, but it is the individual legislator who wants to bring change that people are vying for. Is it? 

In continuance, to be vehemently honest after being quite skeptical in the beginning about Narendra Modi and his governance, my opinion has changed tremendously. One of the few reasons to cite is the Indian economy becoming the fastest growing according to World Bank (as per January 2023 report). Furthermore, the current Indian government’s ‘wise’ policy of taking the huge population as its strength, to develop it by focusing in boosting entrepreneurship and skill development is commendable. In the current time and in economic endeavour, human resources are considered as an asset and the real human capital. To tap that by focusing on developing it is the precious need of the hour for the country and for our State in every aspect. Thus, it is a strong requirement that this enlightened wave of movement should touch Nagaland too with virtuous relationship and upright implementation of the progressive policy. Accordingly, managing courteously the Centre-State relations to the next level should be one of the core elements, to succeed. 

Equally important issue to consider should be the task to overcome the numerous disadvantages that Nagaland faces due to its geographical location and other peculiar reasons. If there is someone who can exemplify the matter of visually putting Nagaland in mainland India, it should be the charismatic Temjen Imna Along, current Minister of Higher Education and Tourism. Despite the critic’s account, that he does not keep his promises. In my opinion, he is the future of Naga politics. Many of my contemporaries respect and admire the zeal that he portrays. He is the only Naga politician that is worth mentioning, to be extremely biased. Yet, can this great expectation be realised?

Regardless, there is more optimism with the remarkable fate of the two women elected members into the highest decision making table at the recent Nagaland election. On the contrary, with the exhilaration comes the accountability of whether they would fall into the same path as their male predecessors or is this what the people have been waiting for a lifetime. As Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru famously mentioned “To awaken the people, it is the women who must be awakened. Once she is on the move, the family moves, the village moves, the nation moves.” Therefore, the induction of Salhoutounuo Kruse and Hekhani Jakhalu as Members of the state Legislative Assembly can be considered as the beginning of a gradual fruition of transformation for a healthier Nagaland. 

Hence, in the midst of acute concern in Nagaland, the politicians must work together to restore the trust in the people. After all, democracy can be awoken from the slumber because the glimmer of hope is not yet lost. The balance of profundity can be reached with the support of the public and the lawmakers by ennobling each other. As the Nobel Peace Laureate Maria Ressa said, “Democracy has become a woman-to-woman, man-to-man defense of our values. We’re at a sliding door moment, where we can continue down the path we’re on and descend further into fascism or we can choose to fight for a better world.”

This is a guest editorial by Wapanginla Ao. 

The writer is Dean of Management Studies, & IQAC Coordinator at C-Edge College, Dimapur and also a research scholar on entrepreneurship. She can be reached at [email protected]