In the last 70 years or so, a web of lies and deceit has come to engulf the whole of Nagaland. This lie and deceit was hatched by the Indian leaders who took over the reins of power when the British withdrew from their South Asian empire. This lie is “the Nagas are also Indians and Naga lands are also Indian Territory”. Yes, this is the mother of all lies in Nagaland. This lie gave birth to all the other lies prevalent in Nagaland today. And as a result a web of lies and deceit has come to engulf the whole Nagaland making the people confused and disoriented and placing them in a very vulnerable and fragile situation. And therefore unless the Nagas rise above this web and see the real situation beyond, the Nagas as a people may be doomed.
When an outsider comes and tells us a lie, no doubt it has the potential of doing huge damage if we are to start believing the lie. But when a lie takes root from within our own family and begins to circulate like gospel truth within the family, it would result in a catastrophic effect on the whole family. This is the situation in which the Nagas find themselves today. First it was outsiders who told us that we are also Indians and that our lands also are Indian territories. At first we as a people fought tooth and nail against this lie and even shed precious blood against the onslaught of this lie. But now with the passage of time, we have become quite liberal and lenient towards this lie. Now the situation is such that we don’t need outsiders to remind us this lie. Rather we ourselves, on many occasions, behave as if we are also Indians and our land is also Indian Territory when in fact there is nothing Indian about our race, history, culture, looks, lands etc.
Yes, as if the web of lies and deceit hatched and woven by outsiders in our lands is not enough, whenever elections come our state politicians would come up with their own set of lies to add to the intensity of this web. In doing so they don’t realize the gravity of the damage that is being done to the society and posterity. Yes, during elections, our politicians would go to any extent as far as lying is concerned in order to woo the voters and garner votes. They would say that once elected they would do their best to solve the Naga political issue. But what can our state politicians do about solving the Naga issue when they are not involved in any manner in the ongoing talks. In fact, they are not even consulted by either of the negotiating parties. The truth is that the Naga political issue preceded the Nagaland statehood and it is something much more gigantic than most Nagas think. Our state politicians are just mere by-products of the Nagaland statehood which was born out of wedlock because of the Naga freedom movement. So the question is how a child born out of wedlock could claim to reconcile issues between his parents who were not even married in the first place. This is the situation in which the Nagaland state government finds itself despite its often repeated assertion that it would bring solution to the Naga issue. Our state politicians also love to say that they would facilitate the ongoing Peace Talks between the GOI and the Naga political groups. But how can they facilitate the talks when they are not the mediators in the talks? Our state politicians also say that they would step down from their chairs once a solution is arrived at. But this is also just another cunning statement to eyewash and fool the people because once a solution to the Naga issue is found, the set-up run by our state politicians would have to automatically cease to make way for the new system. So the question of them stepping down on their own volition simply does not arise.
When elections come, our state leaders who had been at the helms of affairs for 10-15 years and could not bring about any worthwhile change would suddenly start proclaiming themselves as ambassadors of change. And by projecting themselves as agents of change and publishing their lies and deceitful rhetoric in colorful front pages of the dailies, they make a mockery of themselves every morning before the people.
We also talk about ‘solution and not election’ or ‘solution before election’ but the truth is that a good majority of Nagas want election and not solution. They say something with their lips but want something else in their hearts. This is so because now the India-imposed election in our land has become a way of life for us. We have been living with it for over 50 years now and many certainly do not want to do away with it. This is the reason why the call for “solution before election” died a natural death this time also because it had no fuel inside it. First of all, almost all Naga political parties want election because it is their way to power, money and glory. Most Nagas also want election because it is a time of merry-making, a time of adventure and a time to live life to the fullest. So rather than saying that we want solution and not election, if we start saying that we want election till a solution is made, I think we will be much more honest with ourselves.
Another issue which the political parties like to highlight is development. It is true that Delhi does release massive amounts for development works in Nagaland. But the so-called development in our land is always found to be lacking and wanting. Most of our roads do not last more than two years at the most, it takes years to start building projects after foundation stones had been erected, many impressive projects which should have been completed long time back are still lying in scrambles and shambles, our old roads and bridges which served us well for decades have now collapsed because they have not been renovated in time and many noble projects which were initiated to better the lives of the poor and downtrodden are yet to see the light of day. But during campaigning, our candidates do not highlight the reasons for these failures and delays because they are the ones responsible for it. Instead they try to divert the attention of the people by saying that once elected they would bargain for funds from the centre for developmental works. And the same old story would be re-written all over again.
During the campaign trail, we go from village to village and from door to door preaching that we are a Christian society and as such we should not even think about shaking hands with parties that are alleged to be communal in nature. But after the election, when our number falls short we ourselves extend our hands to these so-called communal parties and invite them to work shoulder to shoulder with us in managing the affairs of our people. After all it is a number game and we would say and do anything under the sky to reach the magic figure. In this way we lie not only to others but also to ourselves and we try to brainwash the people as if they can be taken for a ride anytime.
Yes, election time is a time when lies and deceit are hurled at us from all corners. But even if we have accepted the fact that elections are now a part of our lives, we need to be vigilant and learn to separate the good from the evil, the truth from the untruth, the permanent from the temporary and the reality from the propaganda. We need to rise above this web of lies and deceit and see for ourselves what is actually out there and stay hooked to the real scenario. Even if we want to enjoy ourselves during this time, let us not tread into territories from where we can never return. Let us not say or do things which are not going to benefit anyone in the long run.
If you want to be upbeat during the election times, you can go ahead and enjoy yourself. But learn to see through the web of lies and deceit that is hovering around and above you. Realize that election time does not last forever and once it ends the whole situation will be back to square one. So learn to separate the reality from the propaganda. Remember your loved ones waiting for you at home and make sure to return to them in one piece. Do not sacrifice your precious life for mere lies, deceits and propagandas. Eating, drinking and being merry during election times are now the norms here in our land. But be wary of the lies and deceits that are abound during this time.
So in such a situation of rampant lies and fornicating deceits, what does the common Naga need to do? I believe we need to raise our heads above this web and see the real picture not only for ourselves but also create awareness amongst others. Secondly, even though we will always have an Indian connection since history and geography have in a way joined us together, let us not lose our Naganess and Naga spirit but learn to confront all those influxes and habits that are a threat to our society, our lands, our people and our future… or else these lies and deceits may ultimately turn out to be the undoing of the Nagas.