What is a village but a sink of localism, a den of ignorance, narrow-mindedness, and communalism? wrote B. R. Ambedkar. These words of Ambedkar ring true in today’s Naga village context. I meant no disrespect to Naga villages, but it’s time the younger generation starts the democratic debate on the positions occupied by the village and the role played by the village in Naga political system by first finding materials. Some of the materials are H.K. Barpujari’s , “The Comprehensive History of Assam- Volume-IV & V”, Dr.PiketoSema, British Policy and Administration in Nagaland:1881-1947, “Democracy in Nagaland: Tribes, Tradition and Tensions”, edited by Jelle JP Wouters&ZhotoTunyi and “Nagas in the 21st Century”, edited by Jelle JP Wouters& Michael Heneise.
The purpose of this article is to remind the Naga Nationalism, multiple governments of armed factions, and the Nagaland State, that the Constitution of India is a living reality. It is also to show how village nationalists mentality have brought the Nagas to the opening stage of final partition and in such chaos, how do we come up with the best available solution as the fragmented Nagas move forward.
Again, observing the latest fiasco in civil society arena (Naga Hoho versus Naga Tribes of Nagaland), disgruntlement of the public with the negotiating parties, regionalism growing beyond its limits, younger Naga generation losing interest or no interest in Naga Nationalism, tribe consciousness growing more entrenched than ever, I have to conclude for now that these things happened because of village nationalists mentality. This may soon lead us to the beginning of our final days of self-destruction, which would, in near future forced each Naga tribesman to return to his village as it was, before the beginning of the movement.
Before highlighting some of the major damages done to the Naga populations, for the reason of Village Nationalists mentality, let us very briefly highlight what village nationalist mentality is and what are its characteristics.
Who is a village nationalist?
A village nationalist refers to a Naga individual considering oneself to be a Naga Nationalist but does not know the elements of nationalist nor have the political will to reform the position of village and tribe in traditional Naga political system i.e. village and tribe representation system.
Some essential characteristics of village nationalist (underground):
(i).Village nationalist (Underground) would glorify the theory of Naga village republic with little ingredients of federalism, therefore would staunchly oppose any political reformation in the political system of tribe representations to the Government and have no intellect capacity to evaluate the damage done to the Nagas by rigidly practicing the current political system of village and tribe representation.
(ii). Village nationalist being from a village, their loyalty goes to their villages and their tribes, and they will have more concern and respect for their fellow tribesmen that for all practical purposes defeat the idea of Naga nationalism.
(iii).A Village nationalist first-priority is for his tribe and not national cause for he has no moral and no political understanding of what is a national cause.
(iv).A Village nationalist would only favour his tribesmen to occupy top leadership posts and would give blind loyalty to his tribesmen occupying top leadership brass. Even at the expense of the common national cause, the same ideals continue to colour the views of the top-ranking village nationalists.
(v).A Village nationalist from major tribes would heavily engage in majority-minority tribe politics and would not acknowledge leaders from minor tribes and, due to his village nationalist mentality, he would heavily engage in territorial regional politics even though he is a member of the nationalist armed faction.
(vi). A Village nationalist is extremely biased by nature and, in any disputes involving his village or tribe with other village and tribe, would unreasonably support his village or tribe without caring to find out the truth and would have no care to uphold the truth, if the truth hurts his interests.
(vii). He would favour and respect only his mother-tongue with little or no respect for other tribes dialect, such an attitude adds more problems to the inter-tribes relations.
Over-ground nationalists share these common traits with their underground village nationalists’ counterparts, some essential characteristics of (over-ground) village nationalists are:
(i). Over-ground nationalists still harbour the idea of independent Naga nation but have no will to physically involved or fight for it. They will habitually disparage Government of India for all human rights violation etc.
(ii).Over-ground nationalists will blabber on Naga nationalism but would have no regard for other villages or tribes, forgetting that numerous tribes struggled equally in the movement.
(iii).Over-ground nationalists would support only a particular faction based on their family, relatives, or tribal ties.
(iv).Over-ground nationalists would routinely criticise underground nationalists for amassing ill-gotten wealth, but will quickly approach the underground personnel to get his work done or fight his case using muscle power.
The village nationalist mental attitudes automatically acquired by the Naga nationalists due to the unrefined traditional political system followed by various Naga Nationalist organizations have created innumerable internal disturbances among the tribes thus hampering ourselves as we journey toward our ill-fated Naga National Movement. And with our society filled with village nationalists, a sane person would not be so optimistic about what may happen next.
Samziuram Village, Peren, Nagaland