Many ethnic groups of North-East India are institutional embodiments of plural societies in which different sections of community with their distinct religion, culture, and language live side by side physically. But mentally and emotionally they remain isolated. They mix but do not combine to identify themselves with the same social and cultural unity. As a result the allegiance of the diverse culture is eclipsed by allegiance to some of the component parts like caste, community or religious bodies. In the absence of common language, common values, common religious affinity result in disharmony. The frequent excitement results in violence and communal riots.
The study of cultural identity occupies a central position in the study of a nation for several reasons. It is important to distinguish a nation and a state. A nation is basically a psycho-cultural phenomenon whereas a state is judicial set up. Hence, state is not a nation, but it is only a political association in the nation meant for its welfare. As many imagine, they do not go together and especially in the developing nation, togetherness in unthinkable. Each nation has set goals for its self-determination and the question of which is superior or inferior cannot be easily solved.
Nagas are undoubtedly one nation, having their own culture, custom, tradition and language which is totally different from the rest of the Indian’s and, were remained independent from the time immemorial. In the primitive period of Naga society, there was no state and government, but the norms in the form of customs, usages, folkways and mores used to regulate the behaviour of the Naga’s people and maintain social order. It was only in 1960’s and 1970’s, the Indian Union Govt. by using “Divide & Rule Policy, dismembered the Nagas by placing them into different states such as Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur.
If we believe that the future lay in a progressive integration of these different communities of North -East India, theoretically it is possible, but practically impossible. The innate temperaments and the blood will not tolerate any suggestion of the kind. Many social analysts believe that social stability and harmony is not possible where there is multi-ethnic groups, multi-cultural groups and the likes.
A declaration made by the U.N. in 1992 requires the member states to safeguard and promote the identity of the national or ethnic, cultural, religious, and linquistic minorities living within its jurisdiction. Any form of discrimination based on the grounds of religion or belief is considered an affront to human dignity and a disavowal of the principles of the U.N. charter.
It is the Indian union govt. to promote the democratic values of liberty, equality and fraternity to all the different communities of North-East India, and that would be based upon on recognition of their historical rights, which is infact the basic principles of humanism.
Nevertheless, as Nagas are one nation, shall jealously guard against the anti-social elements that attempt to destroy the nationhood of the Nagas, and shall seek their historical rights for self-determination till the last man. The Non-Nagas community can’t force the Nagas to live with them nor the Nagas could force the other’s community to live together with the Nagas. Each community has the birth right to decide its own fate.
(The writer is a Former General Secretary of Naga Student’s Union Shillong)