Helping The Government To Help Us – Hewasa Lorin, Director-Student Services

Nagaland has a new government and a lot of new faces too. Now it’s time for everyone to get to work, and fast! Our neighbouring states are advancing far ahead with four lane highways, quality educational institutes, power sufficiency and growing trade and commerce. If we are going to pull ourselves up, then the Government can’t do it alone. In our individual capacity we have to do as much, if not more.

Helping The Government To Help Us

You have to admire the way we have learned to be, for the most part in general I’d say, happy, given the political tensions and cultural transformations Nagas have undergone, not just in the recently conducted elections, but throughout the years. Here’s what I mean by happy. If anyone were to read about the history of the Nagas, it’s heartfelt. Colonial rule, followed by conversion to a new religion, education of a foreign language with new concepts and ideals, and now fighting for one’s own. There’s been so much of bloodshed, hurt and anger at the hands of outsiders and even amongst ourselves today.

To an outsider, who has never been to Nagaland, it reads horrific and frightening. But when you actually come to Nagaland, you realize it’s not all as it seemed. Nagaland has grown over the years and some amount of development has taken place, though it could be significantly better. We love to entertain, go out and have fun and we also have moments to be proud of- entrepreneurial achievements, talented musicians, sportsmen, artists, designers – and this is how we have come to define success for the Nagas. We have learned how to live happily, despite our troubled past and present, at least momentarily. 

But the admiration falls short when you look a little deeper. No doubt individual feats of greatness are praiseworthy, but that’s not enough for a developed and happier society. One reason why the United States has experienced centuries of greatness is because they worked with all their might. From pilgrims founding a colony to slaves and the Native American destiny, the United States was built on the backs of people who worked hard to fulfill their dreams. Now look at Nagaland. Today, we have both private and Government enterprises. A visit to both is enough to know the difference in management and efficiency. I don’t mean to say that private enterprise or ownership is the way to go. What I am referring to is our work culture. 
The recently concluded elections have resulted in the formation of a new Government. Attempting to overlook how botched and ugly a definition Nagaland gave to the conviction filled slogans of “Clean Election”, “One Man One Vote” and the whole notion of “democracy” altogether, we have a new government, and with it, mixed reactions willing to verge on hope. A hope that our leaders will feel how strongly the public wants a State with a prosperous future and development for all; not just a select few whose pockets can run bottomless and deep in earnest anticipation for the next elections. But in the losing battle against free and fair elections, this year’s election has shown us that the public are also equally to blame. Yet we cannot go on pointing fingers at each other anymore. We helped create the Government, so it is also ours to help make work. 
Many complain about mimicking the West and foreigners but if there is one thing that we can gladly afford to imitate, it is their work culture. We don’t even have to look too far beyond the oceans for this. The closest cities in India already have a pretty strong work culture in place.   
In Nagaland, I’ve come across Government offices shutting down by 1 o’clock, lunch breaks that go on for 3 hours or more, and some where employees do not turn up at all. Securing a Government job is synonymous with a hefty paycheck for a lighter workload. “Incentives” are usually expected, even demanded, to get the job done. It’s not unusual to see money being passed under the table, or to refer a big shot’s name or use well-connected sources for promotions or favours. With the exception of a few honest and diligent officials, the majority disappoint. It only reveals the value and respect we hold towards our jobs. Not to forget the damaging example we are setting for our kids and teenagers in schools and colleges.  
However, take the case of Nagas working outside of Nagaland. Visit the cities in India, and you’ll find a lot of hardworking and ambitious Nagas. In Hyderabad, I know many hardworking Naga working professionals. They work hard, sometimes even longer than the minimum required 8 or 9 hour work shift. They work hard and long for better promotions, better pay checks and better opportunities.  It’s not just Nagas, but everyone else too. True, there is probably a strong system that’s already in place, so there is not much room for complaint. But makes you wonder how that happened in the first place. The work ethic is so disciplined that it’d actually be a greater surprise if you saw someone stepping out of office by 1 pm. 
In fact, there are many who work even longer than 9 hours a day, because they are ambitious and some just love what they do. These people have a sense of accountability and responsibility for their jobs. Maybe this is why development takes place more rapidly, mindsets become broader, and there is room for productive engagement in offering opinions and dialogue. This is the kind of work culture Nagaland deserves and one which merits respect from others too. Not just working professionals but our students also need to develop this work ethic in class, during exams and even at home. With exams going on, it’s the right time to start.
‘Work’ is basically what we spend the other half of our life doing. How we do it, is a reflection of the kind of person we are and the society we shape. Most of us are already aware of our current laxity. We cry out for change and seek help from the Government for better jobs and more employment opportunities, but that’s going to be the least of our problems if we continue to find ourselves living for easy money and no productivity. If we want to see change in the Government, we also need to start working like our lives depended on it.
“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. Tetso College is a Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email: admin@tetsocollege

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