Khekiye K. Sema
“God helps those who help themselves”, so the saying goes. The pertinent question that follows is: “Are the Nagas honestly trying hard enough to help themselves to allow God to chip in?” If this question is directed towards an individual helping himself/ herself honestly or dishonestly in monitory terms, the obvious response would be an emphatic “yes!” without a second thought. In fact the Nagas have achieved this awesome professional phenomena of ‘self-help’ to a crippling degree without God’s assistance…so much so that the focus on “helping ourselves for our common good” in context of our Naga National Movement (NNM) has been blurred out beyond recognition.
Of late the Chief Minister of Nagaland has been making an effort to raise a rational noise on the Naga political issue to affirm that the NNM is not an exclusive preserve of the Naga Political Groups (NPGs) but that all Nagas hold equal responsibility as shareholders towards defining the best possible settlement options and the final outcome of it…in response to the February 24.2016 joint statement of five NPGs. The right thinking people of Nagaland would have no hesitation in endorsing this view. While wholeheartedly saluting the supreme sacrifices made by all our NPGs in their own respective ways to finally achieve a breakthrough affording the GoI to acknowledge that our Naga history is a unique one deserving to be sorted out through political dialogue, a new stage has now been set to work out solution on an intellectual plane. It would have been most pragmatic that the best of brains from all the NPGs and if necessary including even the non-NPG sectors, should have been inducted to address our common problem needing a common effort to unwrap an honourable solution that will find a satisfactory acceptance amongst the Naga majority. Towards this end the civil societies too ought to have been roped in to provide all the necessary backup and moral support as a concerted united front for the final lap.The latest noise that the Chief Minister has made is his “clarion call for Naga unity and brotherhood “(Local media March4.2016) “appealing to the Naga people and various NPGs to maintain unity and brotherhood so as to resolve the protracted Naga political issue with the GoI”. All of these statements could make real sense if the Chief Minister were to put action where his mouth is, knowing full well that nothing substantial is about to happen if these statements are left to only paint a politically correct picture without any additional inputs in terms of action to achieve what is being said. The only unproductive endeavour thus far undertaken by the Government of Nagaland towards this end was to conduct a thoroughly meaningless “consultative meeting” with Apex Tribal Ho Hos and other civil societies/NGOs at Jothsoma, who were simply called in to endorse an equally meaningless pre-conceived resolution despite dissenting voices being raised during this so-called consultation. In this given instance neither the Apex Tribal Ho Hos nor the NGOs had been given any opportunity to consult their respective constituents before the meet. In another similar make-believe “consultation meeting” of no real consequence called by the NSCN (IM) at Niathu Resort, Dimapur, the Government of Nagaland irresponsibly represented by the 60 elected members of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) along with the rudderless Naga Ho Ho and hordes of other equally unquestioning citizens, participated by blindly endorsing the “Framework Agreement” enacted between NSCN (IM) and the GoI… despite knowing absolutely nothing about the contents of this “agreement”. Here too, no opportunity was given to the representatives to consult their respective constituents before their blind endorsement. No concrete acceptable result can ever be expected to emerge from such meaningless efforts where the true will of the people is nowhere involved. Instead of senselessly groping in the dark in this manner it is about time for the Government to do a thorough brainstorming to streamline an action plan that would help speed up the process based on the true will of the people.
The first primary task that the Government ought to undertake is to determinedly define its legitimate role towards conflict resolution. The philosophy of “Equi-closeness” and “Equi-distance” no longer seems to be a relevant proposition. Rather than considering itself as a helpless “Facilitator” without facilitating anything meaningful for the past several decades, the Government of Nagaland (GoN) should now seriously adopt a more proactive role of “Equi-involvement” as its chartered priority without fear or favour for the greater good. Once this decision is firmly adopted, the possible action plan can then be worked out to generate the true sentiment of the people as a sounding board both to the GoI and all the NPGs including the NSCN (IM). Within the 69 long years of struggle not a single platform has ever been elaborately organised to register the overall will of the people concerning our Naga National Movement. Perhaps it is time that the Nagas should revisit our past history and positively learn what 1951 Plebiscite accomplished for the Nagas…It gave the Nagas the moral strength to withstand the Indian tsunami at the worst possible times of trial. Over the years the Nagas have weakened this National foundry by pilfering this moral strength through factionalism. While it may not be practically feasible to regenerate an exercise equivalent to that of 1951Plebiscite, similar potentiality can nevertheless be reinvented, even if on a varied degree, by acknowledging and unleashing the strength of our customary roots…the institution of our Village Council of Elders inclusive of the GBs to make a political statement. Consider the possibility: Suppose we carefully and thoughtfully crafted out questionnaires relevant to our present political circumstance. Questions such as:
1. Should the Nagas blindly endorse the “Framework Agreement” signed between NSCN (IM) and the GoI without knowing the contents of this agreement?
2. Should the Nagas accept the existence of so many Factions with each Faction continuing to tax the people independently in the name of Naga National Movement?
4. Do the Nagas believe that there should be just one Naga National Government to bring about a permanent honourable settlement?
5. Should the Nagas stop paying “Tax” to all the NPGs until they unite?
These are just off the cuff questionnaires as an example. The Government is at liberty to frame their own questionnaires as they feel fit. The important perspective in this is that the people will get an opportunity to deliberate and ventilate their decision on the political issue that will define their future. Thereafter, have all Village Councils in Nagaland including the GBs carry out an open public discussion at their own respective villages first and resolve their perspective answers on each of the questionnaires given to them. Thereafter the GoN could create a mega platform for all VC/GBs along with their respective Tribal Ho Hos to participate. Even if the process takes a week every responsible sectors should be given ample time to express themselves. Then perhaps Nagas would have a definitive majority consensus on how we should pursue our future together. This would be a landmark process on which the people of Nagaland could stand firmly with the Government against any eventualities as never before. With the full active support of its people, the Government could then usher in the rule of law in a more confident manner beyond its present helpless posturing. The NPGs would be compelled to reassess their respective status and the GoI will also have a clearer picture of what the will of the people is all about.
This is just a simple daydreaming speculation of the possible action plan one may come up with if one really means business… rather than keep blowing in the wind.
The writer is, IAS (Rtd)
Upper Forest Colony, Kohima;
E-mail ID: firstname.lastname@example.org