“Everything can look like failure in the Middle” –Kanters Law
I am no expert on the north-east economy, but I feel that while the non-tribal communities overwhelmingly dominate a lot of the business, it seems like many educated tribal entrepreneurs are trying their hand at the trade these days and Nagaland is no exception to this. Looking at the northeast as a whole, it feels great to know that elite institutes like IIM and IITs are being setup in the region. Tourist-centric festivals like the autumn fest and hornbill festival to bring both international and domestic tourists (I heard the hotels in Kohima are already fully booked for the hornbill festival) to the North-East also seem to be creating more awareness. We’re also seeing our own local band Alobo Naga representing MTV India competing against the whole world, Mary Kom becoming a household name in mainland India and our own football team competing in the I league.
With globalization, the world as a whole seems to be moving closer and this includes our very own north-east. It’s blatantly apparent that the Naga issue has not just affected Nagaland but a lot of areas in the north-east as well. I think if a solution could be found, acceptable to the many stakeholders, then it just might be a game changer for the entire north-eastern region and Nagaland in particular. It could be just my imagination, but even Ibobi’s comments regarding Manipur’s territorial integrity seem less aggressive than usual. The other states also seem to be maintaining controlled silence and secrecy to some extent so as not to jeopardize the talks which are going on.
That being said, just like when we have prohibition, illegal bootleggers benefit by selling illegal alcohol. Even war benefits certain sections of society. For example, war benefits weapon manufacturers who sell arms and ammunition. Similarly, we can’t say that insurgency is causing suffering to all. There are probably sections in the north-east or Nagaland who benefit if a solution is never found.
Is the Indian government finally willing to take hard decisions and use its political will to push for a solution? Considering they introduced FDI and finally stood up to the unreliable Mamata, raised the price of petrol and took many unpopular, but necessary, decisions sort of gives me hope that they might have the political will to do the unthinkable at this juncture. Politically, this might be the best time for a solution since Meghalaya, Mizoram, Assam, Manipur are all Congress ruled states at the moment. It’s a difficult task and the leaders and spokespersons seem to be a really abused and insulted lot.
We live in a society – a melting pot of values, cultures, ego and language barriers. The church wants us to behave in one way, our village in another, family etc. We also live in a democracy, but democracy is also a political system which does not consider the level of education of the voters. In some cases, we must expect someone who has not gone to school as capable of making the best and rational decision in choosing a leader. Does this mean society is always correct? Invariably, it also implies an individual cannot always be correct.
We also talk about freedom. A man does not want his wife to say anything, his children to order him around, his friends to be critical or boss to be bossy. Ultimately, he may acquire so much freedom that he will finally be alone – no boss, no wife, no friends. He is a victim of freedom.
Thanks to technology, the internet and social networking sites, our complex naga society is now part of an even larger and complex society. It may seem strange to our elders but sometimes our past experiences are the ones which are actually holding us back. Today, what happens in Greece also affects India, which affects Nagaland. What happens in Nagaland affects the whole northeast and vice versa. The world is tied together now economically and socially in more ways than one. We are a community and we need to learn to live like one with ourselves and with others. We are not alone in this world. According to Malcolm Gladwell, “What we do as a community, as a society, for each other, matters as much as what we do for ourselves.”
In the 2012 London Olympics, the city cheered for a Marathon Runner who came last, Caitriona Jennings. Exhausted and plagued by a foot injury, no one would have faulted her if she had quit like some of the other runners. But she didn’t. She went on and completed the race with a standing ovation from the crowd. I think we have all been faced with daunting challenges, projects, assignments and problems. It is usually when we are in the thick of things that unexpected problems crop up and questions arise. Do you plough along through the difficulties and make mid-course corrections, or do you abandon it? Pull out in the messy middle, and the effort is a failure.
I think we’re in the middle where our Naga talks are concerned. I also think we are in the middle in a lot of the tasks at hand like our fight against corruption, development, reservation, jobs, prohibition etc. The issue is deciding which direction to take. I believe we’re only too well aware that we are already encountering a multitude of situations, which could turn into our biggest mistake or our greatest solution.