Young electorates and their vision for a better Nagaland

A young voter after casting his vote outside a polling station in Dimapur during the last State Assembly Election held on February 27, 2018. (Morung File Photo)
A young voter after casting his vote outside a polling station in Dimapur during the last State Assembly Election held on February 27, 2018. (Morung File Photo)

Atono Tsükrü Kense
Kohima | October 6

Come election, there is no dearth of ‘aspiring political leaders’ in the state of Nagaland, and with the by-election to the 14 Southern Angami-I and 60 Pungro Kiphire assembly constituencies round the corner, the onus is on the people is to elect the most ‘dynamic and competent’ leader to represent them.

In a State where the process of electing a representative is seldom based on the visions and policies of the intending candidate/s, the deciding factor is primarily based on party affiliation, connection and association with the candidate (s) besides ‘money power’.

Accordingly, many elections and political leaders have come and gone without much for the younger generation to look back on.

As Nagaland prepares to hold the by-polls on November 3, The Morung Express caught up with some youth from the two constituencies to understand their visions, aspirations, and hope for a better Nagaland.

'What a leader should be'
During the interactions, Sepila and Adilen from Pungro-Kiphire and Menuosielie Yhoshü and Avi from Southern Angami–I shared their desire to have a new breed of young political leaders with traits of ‘honesty, integrity and accountability’, which seemed to be severely missing from many both past and present.

“We have lost the idea of a real political leader/elected candidate. We have become used to leaders who are always after money for selfish gains and giving false promises to us” commented 29-year old Adilen.

Twenty-five year old Avi opined ‘while it is next to impossible to have a corrupt free leader, it would be a nice to have a leader who has ‘genuine care and concern for the wellbeing of his people.’ 

30-year old Sepila expressed her desire to have a leader “who doesn’t only lead, but understand the young generation better and can motivate others.”

“There should be accountability on the part of the political leaders but unfortunately such things are quite absent. As power comes with responsibility, there should be accountability on whoever comes to power,” commented an educationist, Yhoshü.

Involvement of youth in politics
While there has been little or no involvement of youth in politics in the past, Yhoshü maintained that “there should be more involvement of the youth in politics. They should have a good political knowledge that democracy is not just limited to election once in a while. Democracy goes way beyond.”

Stating that accountability is absent not only among the political leaders but even among the electorates, he observed that young people take election as time to gather around and have some fun.

“I really wish the youth would come up with some questions targeting the intending candidate (s) to do something worthwhile - public utility services, which would be beneficial for the general populace” stated Yhoshü.

Sepila and Adilen also expressed that the involvement of youth in politics is vital for a ‘new breed of leaders with new visions and perspectives’ who can change the course of the future of the younger generation.

Sharing her concern with the low participation of youth in the last general election, Sepila viewed that many are still not aware or choose to be ignorant of participating in the democratic process of election.

She urged all eligible voters to exercise their franchise adding that “one vote by someone on your behalf could be spell disaster for all.” 

Do away with election bribery
The decades-old system of ‘money power’ determining the winner of elections seems to be headed for a change with emerging sections of youth expressing aversion to this system.

Yhoshü insisted that the youth must come out of their cultural and local ties - clan, khel, village ad tribal lines and overcome ‘factionalism ties’ and exercise their franchise based on ‘agendas or policies’ and not for any other reasons. 

“Most of the voters are swept away with this, which is continued till today. I really wish that the youth can overcome and replace this with ‘agenda based’ election which can be profitable for the public in general” said Yhoshü.

Sepila who has been advocating to people in her village not to accept monetary bribes in the last general election said “it was futile” but without losing hope, maintained that she will continue her mission of ‘clean election’.

“Sometimes we really lost hope given the present scenario but we need new perspectives for a prospective future” said Sepila.

Avi and Adilen impressed on the role of the youth to desist from these kinds of things if they truly desire to bring change in the society pointing out that “election for us, Nagas with alcohol, party and money have become the norm.”

“We have to learn to say ‘NO’ to any kind of bribery” asserted Adilen while noting regrettably that due to lack of resources and means, people, particularly unemployed youth, are becoming easy prey to bribery during election.

Revitalise education, health care system
With different needs and requirements, when enquired which area (s) should be prioritised and developed, all of them concurred that besides numerous other areas, any elected leader should give priority to revitalise and strengthen education, health care system, and roads in the state. 

“Education and health care system should be prioritised while government schools and hospitals must be revitalised and strengthened” said Yhoshü pointing out that these are the two areas where people spend most of their income.

“If the government can really come up with a robust public enterprise, it can be one way of helping out people in the poorest of poorest and the richest of the richest” he added.

Noting the poor education system in their district, Sepila and Adilen reiterated that education must be strengthened at all cost.

“It pains me to see how our future generation are being taught at school by unqualified proxy teachers. Where is our future when our brothers and sisters are being taught by class VII-VIII passed teachers?” enquired Sepila.

Yhoshü also remarked that everybody seems to be taking the excuse and hiding behind the present unresolved political issue, however, he was of the view that “no matter how far the slogan of our nationalism is loud and wide, the present generation is not in the mood to stand behind that.”

Validating his views, he said “each and everyone wants to see some sort of development- basic amenities like health care, education and others which the youth can take advantage of and engage themselves in productive career and vocation.”