When you pay in cash at retail stores or from street vendors in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, the sellers return the change in exact denomination be it rupee five or one. There is no other option except in exceptional cases. But in Nagaland, shopkeepers casually give sweets for change less than rupees 10 without a second thought and consumers accept it without protest. You are asking for trouble if you request for the outstanding amount because almost everyone doesn’t. Or shop owners and onlookers could brand you a miser if you do so. The irony is that shop owners are unlikely to accept sweets from you if you fall short of the total amount by a few rupees for an item you purchased. This one-way forced purchase has become an accepted practice and system over time in Nagaland. It simply shows that the people don’t know the value of money. Such an approach softly kills the economy and drains the purchasing power of the people, especially the have-nots.
People of the state are also overzealous in pleasing visitors during festivals through freebies like free food, accommodation and gifts. We are known for our hospitality and helping nature, which we should continue to imbibe. But does it make sense showering the tourists, who have the resources to travel, with free gifts? Nagas often spend significant amounts of money in trying to impress dignitaries and visitors during festivals instead of helping those really in need. Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio rightly pointed during the Tokhu Emong celebration—the post-harvest festival of the Lotha tribe—that going out of our way to express gratitude to others could cost us dearly. He advised the people to desist from handing out free food and locally made products as gifts to visiting VIPs and tourists during festivals. Instead, the people also ought to take it as an opportunity to sell and advertise their work by opening stalls. It makes sense not only from the economic point of view but also because it will become impossible to please the ever-growing number of tourists with freebies in the future. All countries promote tourism so that its citizens can make money and thus boost its economy. We too should start looking at festivals and events as an opportunity to earn, but of course by providing quality service and ensuring safety to visitors.