Nagaland celebrates 53 years of Statehood Day on 1st December. We are reminded of the words of the Nobel Prize winning playwright, George Bernard Shaw, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” These words ring true especially with regard to our society where any sort of political, cultural, and socio-economic progress are inhibited by the doors of closed-minds that resist change and development. As we celebrate 53 years of Statehood Day, and with a month left to welcome the New Year, let’s commit as citizens, to build a better and united society.
Nagaland: 53 Years & Miles More to Go
December 1, 2016 will mark Nagaland completing its 53rd Year of statehood. This is not a long time in the life of a state, but it has been long enough to accommodate dramatic changes in all areas. Nagaland received the status of a full-fledged state after a unique struggle, via the 13th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1962, although it was formally inaugurated on December 1, 1963. Perhaps over the years, there have been many things to be proud of, and as many things that have let us down.
We owe much gratitude to the selfless leaders who have contributed to the growth of Nagaland in spite of overwhelming obstacles. But have we attained all our goals? Definitely not, and corruption has plagued our land. The menace has grown because those at the helm of affairs have discovered that the arm of the law is never long enough to rope them in. If there is one gaping hole in our roster of achievements, it’s the ‘lack of constructive endeavor, and corruption at all levels’. There is no substitute for substantive development, and adherence to good governance creates an environment where corruption struggles to flourish.
Today, we witness mass revolts and strikes being organized because citizens have lost faith in the ability of the government. Government expenditures which are meant for security and welfare of the public, where are they ending up?
As per state budget 2016-17, the government allocated Rs 280.32 crores for the development of roads and bridges; and Rs 25.63 crores for the development of medical and public health infrastructure in the state. The allocated budget probably froze, considering the fact that the road conditions in our state remain absolutely deplorable. Health facilities in rural areas are still poor. In spite of the high literacy rate of 80.11 percent, as per the 2011 Census, there are 72,415 unemployed youth in the Live Register, comprising of graduates and diploma holders in various fields. Weirdly, our state government declared 2016-17 as the “Year of Construction Workers”, so as to provide relevant skill training, and encourage the youth to take up this profession. While the initiative may have a strong basis, it also begs the question of whether we have made beneficial use of the rich resources for our youths or is this a boost for mass migration of construction workers to mainland India.
Nagaland has considerable natural resources of about 600 million metric tonnes (MT), above 20 MT of hydrocarbon reserves, 315 MT of coal reserves, 1,038 MT of limestone reserves, and an estimated 1,574 megawatt (MW) of hydro power generation, all of which remain unexploited. The figures and data on paper indicate the presence of huge investment opportunities and growth, so why can’t we tap the resources and utilize the same for the growth of state economy? The role of leadership, and the ability and willingness to walk the extra mile plays a crucial catalyst in development. Assam moved from the 19th rank to the 7th in economic development because of improved infrastructure and macro economy.
We wake up every morning to war cries resounding from every corner- of students, of N-Naga DAO, of SSA & NRHM employees on non-payment of salaries or scholarship, of NGOs & Civil society on backdoor appointments and mismanagement of funds, of media feuds between coalition partners and political pundits, Hohos against the government, and of other such troubled people. We read tales of misdeeds and corruption by our politicians, but rarely read about the retribution. “I’m the saving grace- true messiah!” The spectators watch the endless hypocrisy. We have mastered the blame game and are skeptical to move beyond our comfort zone. Centuries ago, Athenian historian and General Thucydides said, “Some legislators only wish to vengeance against a particular enemy. Others only look out for themselves. They devote very little time on the consideration of any public issue. They think that no harm will come from their neglect. They act as if it is always the business of somebody else to look after this or that. When this selfish notion is entertained by all, the commonwealth slowly begins to decay.” Glimpsing the degrading state of affairs, herculean effort on the part of the government is needed to eradicate the loopholes. Is there room for improvement in government programmes, or is it too complacent due to the lack of a strong opposition party? Are our social and economic problems getting worse? What lessons have been learnt from the present political crisis? Where is the rule of law, transparency, accountability, and public service ethics? What response has been given regarding the exposed potential weakness of our governance? It takes a committed leadership to accomplish a propitious change in society. The government should operate with integrity and impartiality. Its leader should be honest, moral, and virtuous.
We are being challenged with the lack of constructive endeavour, professional accountability, reliability, predictability, participation, technical, managerial competence, and transparency. Our real happiness does not depend on the fortune and type of work we do, or the money we get in return. Rather, it depends on the dedication and devotion with which we do our smallest duty. The future is not rosy, but we are now knowledgeable enough to mitigate the threat and challenges that confront us today. It is dark inside, and Nagaland is still waiting for the dawn. Let’s hope the wait wouldn’t be too long.
Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognized Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr. Hewasa Lorin, Anjan Behera, Dr. Salikyu Sangtam, Nivibo Yiki, and Kvulo Lorin. For feedback or comments please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.