Although the Naga Society is at the moment going through a period of uncertainty it should not be taken as a sign of worst times ahead but indeed for the better. For the last half a century Nagas in totality were never convinced in the permanence of the statehood, some openly and some in private but it was almost unanimous no doubt. The free independent tribal life enjoyed over the centuries was part of the Naga ethos that was not very easy to get rid of from the Naga though converted to Christianity and along with it received Western education. So it is expected in all quarters that finally it will culminate with the Government of India signing yet another settlement with the Nagas.
The peace talks between the government and the NSCN (IM) for the last 20 years was a subject of severe criticism due to the long years taken for the it to complete and it also became a subject to mock both the parties by a few. Now post August 2015, with an impending peace deal in the offing, the only voices remaining are those that have turned out to be more of speculations. Everyone has their right to expression but a topic as serious as something where the future of a people depends should not be a subject of speculations. Unless the masses are all considered to be well informed and truly understands the gravity of the situation, which is not so at present, speculations only paints a completely different picture creating anxiety and apprehensions in the minds of the people. Though not intended it becomes one of the first steps to engineer a mass movement which at some point of time becomes uncontrollable as any study on crowd psychology would show. The illusion of the common enemy always was successful throughout history to muster an army. The seriousness of the matter that pertains to our future actually is reason enough not to speculate on part of the people. On the other hand those representing the Nagas in the talks should also ensure that they do not lose the confidence of people. There lies the problem and the arguments of legitimacy and mandate are already being discussed in the public domain and it is only expected to worsen the more the final settlement is delayed.
However, giving the benefit of doubt to the government of India and the NSCN (IM), it is expected of both the parties to bring the final agreement for the people to agree/vote on. It is also expected that the final settlement will accommodate the other groups that are not in the talks at present. That time the actual power of the people among the Nagas will be truly tested and all the groups are also expected to honour the will of the people.
At such a juncture, if there are going to be changes in the system, it is but very relevant for all the Nagas to ask the five questions that former British MP Late Tony Benn use to ask wherever he spoke during his lifetime. The former MP who was an anti-colonialist, openly socialist and who campaigned against his inherited peerage to continue in the House of Commons had this to say;
“If one meets a powerful person…. ask them five questions”:
What power have you got?
Where did you get it from?
In whose interests do you exercise it?
To whom are you accountable?
And how can we get rid of you?
He then adds “If you cannot get rid of the people who govern you, you do not live in a democratic system”.