Imagining 2019: An attempt to change the dynamics of policymaking
Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, Feb. 9: The need for a realistic assessment of government policies at the grassroots and redress of the communitisation policy in Nagaland were at the centre of the messages shared by Phutoli Chingmak, the co-founder of Eleutheros Christian Society, and advisor to IT, Science and Technology, Mmhonlumo Kikon at the 12th instalment of the Morung Lecture series on Saturday in Dimapur.
The series is an initiative of the Nagaland-based newspaper, The Morung Express. Chingmak and Kikon were speaking on the topic: Imagining 2019.
According to Kikon, communitisation was a brilliant concept designed to address the needs of the people but people’s participation was poor. It is time to review its successes and failures, he shared.
“There has been total mismanagement of grassroots infrastructure, and as a policymaker, I was confused as to the disparity in infrastructure against population ratio. We need a realistic assessment at the grassroots and we will not take a tribal-based decision when it comes to medical and education sector. Most of the development works are focused in Kohima and Dimapur. 70% of the population are rural area yet 30% receives the majority of the government policy,” Kikon pointed out.
On communitisation policy, Kikon asserted that the village education committee was one ‘classic solution’ for the grassroots and the government working together. He wondered why the government has failed to check the practice of keeping proxy teachers despite “having in place good policies.”
On this line, he asserted, “When you have no personal commitment to the job, what more can be done? When you fail to attend to your job, but draw salary and pay ten tithes, it is more of an ethical issue.”
“In any democratic country there is an institution, and certain policies are made by the institution to address common problems and I would want to make policies that would work,” said Kikon.
“If we start a revolution to change from the top, honestly, we will be kicked out by our won people; and addressing the challenges at hand is a collective issue”, Kikon asserted. Therefore, he impressed upon the need to ‘appreciate every right decision the government makes.’
To a question raised by a student of Tetso College, Dimapur concerning the demand for an independent administration in Eastern Nagaland, Kikon responded that the “eastern areas were not getting enough and development activities were not reaching the region as intended.’ However, he said, “tribalism imparting development-policy needs to be addressed.”
The co-founder of ECS, Chingmak questioned why we retrospectively decide and act only after the issue reaches its brink; and take up developmental works for the moment and not for the long-term. Community, she said, can impact policymaking.
However, she pointed out that the common men cannot challenge the authority although, at the village level, they have been given authority. “Money has been a major factor influencing development at the grassroots,” she opined.
As Nagas we are bound by customary laws and youngsters need to go back to the community to learn the customary laws, Chingmak advised.
She also said that although there are fundamental rights, Nagas are bound by customary laws and because of which there was discrimination in terms of gender as well as development. This, she asserted, was because we are groomed with bias and grow with it; and that political bias was strong in the state.
The publisher of Morung Express, Dr. Akum Longchari observed that it would be wise to have such discussion take place in pre-policy making than post-policy making as that would change the dynamics of policy, which will leave room for people to participate and allow people in policymaking.
“Competition of districts over limited resource is so intense and we are living in a conflict situation where there are states within the state,” he observed. Is the state reflecting on the values of the people or have we come to a stage where people reflect the values of the state? he queried.
Also, Longchari wondered of the people of Nagaland could be moving in circles. “As I imagine 2019, we want a breakthrough but will it be possible to find the breakthrough, and how do we put together all the different opinions and challenges to imagine 2019 by engaging in something concrete?”