The Years of Women, Youth and Farmers

Jack T. Chakhesang

Youth means not only young age; it means the prime, the bloom, the green years, the tender years of one’s life. Youth is a term that embraces us from the cradle to young manhood, and sometimes to young old manhood. And if we get to be quite old we become youthful again.

As such, by the time when one is about to graduate, each’ and everyone feels that he or she will one day fulfill the dreams. It is only when one comes into contact with the harsh realities (even brutality) of life over the years that a good many tend to fall by the wayside. However, for those who persevere ‘no matter what, then they begin to appreciate the beauty and gift of life and contribute their share based on their particular capabilities, for advancement of their society.

A society is judged by the character of its people. And, according to Field Marshal Sir William Slim who commanded the Allied Forces in the Burma campaign during the Second World War, “the character of a people largely depends on the type of land that they have inhabited for the past 300 to 400 years.” From this it follows that people living in flood-prone or drought-prone or quake-prone lands tend to become inured to such natural calamities and even develop a special kind of courage to tackle the situation. Accordingly, the Naga heritage has evolved from the mainly hilly and jungle terrain making the people hardy agriculturists and excellent warriors.

The food of a particular people also depends on what the land provides. So, it is imperative that the farmers devise means to ensure that there is enough production to feed an ever increasing population since the size of the land remains the same. Because the land has nurtured the people since time immemorial, just as any mother has nurtured and fed her children, almost all nations of the world refer to their country as “Motherland” like, for instance, Mother India, Mother Russia, Mother England and so on. Only one society, namely the Germans, has always referred to their nation as the “Fatherland” on the basis of which they started two World Wars but were defeated. (Nevertheless, Germany is still a great nation.)

The youth is an important component of any society. How to ensure that each succeeding generation of youth improves on its predecessor depends on how the parents and elders teach them. This involves exemplary fatherhood, loving motherhood and the relentless pursuit of excellent education and adherence to the norms of society. The ancient Greeks gave to the world philosophy and literature while their successors, the Romans provided us with law and roads and bridges and the English finalized the basis of democracy. The unchastity of women and general corruption among the people were among the primary causes for the downfall of both the Greek and Roman civilizations.

Today, the youth of Naga society are very conscious of what they want and are acutely aware of everyday happenings. For instance, the concerned students projected their grievances regarding the recent JEE affair and even succeeded in their objective. The Minister concerned had the grace to publicly apologize which is also an encouraging sign. At the same time, a large number of our youth are wasting their lives indulging in drugs and alcohol and other discouraging activities. They tend to forget what English poet William Cowper wrote: “Knowledge is proud it has learnt so much; Wisdom is humble it knows no more.” For, according to Confucius, “To know how much you know, and how much you do not know, is a sign of those who know.”

Since employment in Nagaland State service is saturated, the Government has come up with various schemes so that educated unemployed youth can go in for entrepreneurship and earn their livelihood. However, those qualified must also look beyond our borders and try for service in the Allied services and armed forces of India as well because such prospects are more promising.

Thus, it no wonder that the State Government came up with “Year of Women Empowerment” in 2004 followed by “Year of Youth Empowerment” in 2005 and this time around we are passing through the “Year of the Farmers”. All these are inter-related. However, observances of these years are basically symbolic only. For, every year the same thing has to continue.

In addition to the pursuit of education, the youth must also have some manifestation of a religious faith. Majority of Nagas are Christians and this aspect seems compatible with our traditions and heritage. Therefore, the Church is a powerful and .influential factor in our day to day lives. At the same time, it must be made clear that ours is a pluralistic society wherein we have to be tolerant of other communities and respect their customs as well.

So, here’s wishing all the very best to the women, youth and farmers every year for all time to come.