The essence of democracy is founded on the freedom of expression of the citizens. This is symbolized by the citizens’ right to vote. The democratic process and its legitimacy depends on impartial expression of the citizens’ views through their votes and for the candidates to respect their judgment of the voters. This requires elections to be free and fair, where electoral processes are respected. The first step to democracy is not clean but free and fair elections.
Stop the Blame Game!
When observing the prevailing scenario of the political situation in our state, my mind conjures the image of an overfed pig. The public is fed by the candidates with money to further advance their interest of accomplishing their quest of dominating the seat of power. Pigs enjoy the food that is provided to them, and they grow fatter with each passing day. They oink peacefully and remain completely oblivious of the impending doom, its eventual murder. In the same way, the public too is blind to the future, being too caught up in momentary pleasures and false promises. We are behaving like pigs when it comes to the democratic running of our state. In this way, our society faces a metaphorical death.
During the elections, like the pigs who get aroused by the smell of food, the whiff of cash makes people forget all morals. The notes are gathered in a hurry, like savages fighting for food, and later people throng to the church and pray ceremoniously to wash off the guilt. In searching for the cause of the inefficient governments, we are swift in lifting our hands and swinging it left and right, trying to pin the blame on someone. The fault lies in us. We are filled with the vice of self-righteousness and pride, and cannot look beyond the realm of our own self-interest.
The money that the politicians sway in front of our faces to lure us is much like the traps set by hunters for wild animals. This unscrupulous method works as people willingly approach the money in spite of being morally aware that it is a bribe. The society thus falls into the hole dug by the hunter, and we get trapped by the politician who has been “elected”. The metaphorical deep and dark hole, full of pain, is the situation we live in today.It seems like a never-ending process and is deeply embedded into the very thread of our society. In this “darkness”, corruption and malpractices prevail.
Now there are metaphorical holes, and then there are real ones, like the thousands of potholes in our roads. Any driver from our state could race in the Formula One sporting event! The potholes in our state’s roads heighten the senses and skills of the driver as he swerves and veers, trying to avoid the potholes. This is the only benefit I see from this utterly sad predicament. Nagaland has been a state for 53 years now, and yet the roads remind one of the lunar surfaces. How many years more before we get proper roads? This should be taken as an eye-opener to the deteriorating condition of our state.
Roads create the first impressions of a place. I wonder what’s the first impression that people have of us as they enter Nagaland. I bet the tourists feel like a new species as their internal organs get rearranged while traversing our roads, which almost look ravaged by some war. Most roads are temporarily fixed in December before the coming of tourists to our state. If they stay for a few months after the Hornbill Festival, the true colours shall be visible. These patchworks are like putting lipstick on a pig. Who are we trying to fool? A chain of corruption exists, and its end product is pitiable roads like ours.
In our elections, there are honest candidates. Sadly,they seldom win. The ones who have a reputation for being shrewd and corrupt are the ones who mostly win. They are well-to-do and thus provide “gifts” to the voters. The moral and good candidates refrain from such practices, and so it is an inevitable continuous cycle that keeps on repeating itself. It is no longer considered as something illegal but as the norm. Bribing voters has become so common that it is an open secret, which no one is abashed to admit of taking part in it.
And so in our collective waste, we roll around like swine, comfortable in the evil which has been now normalised. And in doing so, the society suffers as a whole.
The money that the corrupt candidates give the public is a slow poison that will kill eventually. Government employees not receiving their salaries, huge sums of money disappearing from airports, horrible roads, and lack of women in the government are perhaps side-effects of this poison. The problem may be credited to the corrupt political candidates as they are the ones who are bribing their way towards power. But this is not totally justifiable, as, without the voters, the candidates would remain without power. In reality, the power actually belongs to the public.
The problem of the electoral malpractices has more to do with the individual voter. We are the ones making the choices. If we want to see a change, we need to get rid of our short-sightedness and put on our new metaphorical glasses to be able to get a clearer view of the path ahead of us. We simply cannot be swayed by momentary persuasions, and be involved in practices which would be a spit on the faces of our past leaders of our nation who fought so hard for our future and the glory of the Naga hills. Only by doing so, one can hope to achieve a society devoid of tyranny and justice. Nagaland is a beautiful state, with good people. We can, and I really believe that we will create a better tomorrow.
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.