Overcoming Challenges, Can We? – Shitio Shitiri HoD, Department of Political Science

On 17th October 2015, a programme was organized on the “Leaders walk the talk” in Kohima initiated by ‘Leaders Arise Nagaland’ (LAN). Such a campaign is the need of the hour to awaken and challenge our leaders who have the responsibility to lead the people. Nagas have come a long way from being identified as hardworking and honest people to becoming a race of incongruity. We are at a juncture where people are slowly beginning to foresee the grim future if we continue on this path. People are now voicing out their concern for the much needed transformation in our state. This is a challenge not only for the leaders but for the entire right thinking citizen to commit ourselves in bringing the change and ‘walk the talk’ for the interest of the present and the future generation of the Nagas.
Overcoming Challenges, Can We?

After more than 50 years of Nagaland becoming a state, we continue to have more questions than answers. There is corruption all around, and social inequities continue as never before. They are now perhaps more embedded in the milieu of the society, thanks to the social engineering done by our petty politicians in the name of ‘resurrections’.  While other states, the ones that attained their statehood much after Nagaland, have gone on to make a name for themselves, our state is still struggling to create an identity of its own. To reflect on what we have not learnt since statehood would amount to writing an epic whereas writing on what we have learnt would be like writing a one-page note. In a state of  this state of ours, we have always put self before society.

India, being the largest democracy in the world, has adopted the universal adult franchise, and thus elections have become a demonstration of force in the state. Money and muscle power rule the roost.  Becoming an MP or MLA is probably more with the motive to control command than to help the society. Elections are fought on ‘isms’, and lives are no longer laid down for the state but for the glorification of the self. History sheeters win elections with big margins and in some cases while being behind bars. The bureaucrats, police, and politicians are hand in glove with one another. Nepotism and favouritism are the order of the day. The bullets rule the roost and ballots can be brought for pennies. We continue  to remain immature electorates, not realizing the power of voting. The state may degenerate into total anarchy and chaos if we remain apathetic to the political and electoral process of the country. We know about the failures, yet we don’t complain and suffer the injustice like slaves. The corrupt go scot-free because we have not learnt to teach them a lesson.  We never venture to take any action whatsoever because we have still not learnt how to protect our rights. We would not have ended up with so many unemployed youth in our state had we put a sound educational system in place with vocational guidance and technical education as the core.
Hygiene and civic sense seems to have eluded our state.  Whether it’s a state monument, an office, an institution or a street, it hardly matters. Dumping, littering, and spitting, has become a part of our daily life, and no amount of dustbins placed around the town seem to be doing any difference.. Punctuality is something that is not simply in our nature “coming late and going early seems to be in the mind of many  Nagas”. When will we learn the essence of time management? A move by one of the state government to check late comers by introducing the punching system (biometric attendance) was so severely opposed that it sent shivers down the spine of the ruling establishment. 

The roads present another story of government and public apathy. The horrible conditions of roads has made travel nearly impossible in many parts of the state. Transparency in public administration would empower the people, through information, to question the acts of the state. The Right to Information act is there, but how many of us actually make use of it? To what extent can we make use of this right?. The cases of arbitrary arrest, torture, and forced confessions by security forces remained common. Authorities used several laws, including part of the criminal procedure code and the AFSPA, to provide legal protection to members of the security forces who were accused of committing human rights abuses. The widespread impunity at all levels of government remained a serious problem. Investigations into individual cases and legal punishment for perpetrators occurred, but in many cases lack of accountability due to weak law enforcement, lack of trained police, and the overburdened and under-resourced court system create an atmosphere of impunity. No wonder the cross violation of human rights in the state lurk our hearts with fear, deep concern, anxiety and anguish.

The Nagas have no legal recourse in the face of such abuses. We want rights violations to be recognized and acknowledged, and violators to be held accountable.  To make these feasible, indicators must be developed that help to hold the state accountable for its policies, that help to guide and improve policy, and that are sensitive to local contexts without sacrificing the commitment to the universality of rights. Can it be done? It is a challenging dream, yet sooner the policy makers and stakeholders of society initiate a community wide dialogue, the better it will be to prevent violation, humiliation and injustice of our rights. Let’s realise the value of today and work sincerely to move towards a brighter tomorrow.

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