Although somewhat high -sounding, the slogan of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance was ‘Change is coming’ during the elections. Post elections the NDPP led People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) continues to use the same slogan.
After a month since the formation of the government, the cabinet decision of April 16 somewhat matched its slogan. The decision to remove the ‘chief guest’ culture as part of its ongoing efforts against VIP culture in the state was big news. The decision is in reality is huge for a place like Nagaland because the state has cultivated the chief guest culture for the last few decades. A similar decision was earlier introduced by the Ao Senso Telongjem Dimapur, a tribe organisation, way back in 2016. A government announcing similar directives will surely bring change on a large scale; a welcome change and timely.
The cabinet has directed all government officials and employees of the state government not to attend functions as chief guests and that they are also not allowed to donate money and announce monetary grants at public functions. The cabinet also instructed the member of the present alliance not to receive gifts and presentations except flowers in public functions and events. The cabinet also stopped the presentation of wild life and wild life produce and preparation of wild life produce at events to preserve and protect the environment and wildlife.
As mentioned on many occasions in this same column the many rich traditions of the Nagas have been tweaked, misinterpreted and misused over the years. The many gennas (strict taboos and observances) attached to different occasions in the Naga village life has been discarded over the years. Practices like the feast of merit that is given by the rich in the village, the honour received in taking heads during raids and wars, oratory skills, and mastery in oral traditions etc., were some essence of the Naga traditional ethos. All these activities had its own respective strict observances, guidelines and taboos attached with it along with celebrations and merry making with some. The merry making and gaieties continue today with many distortions driven by money that it is more akin to decadence not unlike the Western one. Pride has instead taken the place of honour at present resulting in excessive hero-worship in the Naga society.
The government has come up with a decision that is timely and is a watershed moment for the Naga society provided it can be practiced and implemented as announced. The many public servants across the state should be the campaigners for this change to happen.