“You don’t have to wait till your party’s in power to have an impact on life at home and around the world.”
BILL CLINTON, speech at Campus Progress National Student Conference, July 13, 2005
Waiting for Superman
We have had an overdose of politics for the past two weeks. Everywhere you turn, whether it’s social media, the newspapers or a normal get together of friends and family, conversation invariably veers towards what is happening in the government. We seem to be in an interesting predicament. Friends have turned foe and a party governing Nagaland for more than a decade has proven to be its own worst enemy blatantly exposing its inability to govern itself. Along with the Naga People’s Front, legislators are the supporters of the two rival camps who are now happily shaming each other vigorously and loudly as they each claim to be the real NPF.
The funny thing is, in the online world, the majority seem to prefer President’s rule more than anything else. It’s probably because the public have been promised the moon too many times only to see the promises disappear. Looking at the current situation though, it is not just the credibility of the NPF party that is at stake here but the credibility of our Naga politicians.
We could be at a tipping point. There are many people frustrated with the long drawn out Naga political situation, taxation, bad roads, prohibition, and now the blatant opportunistic pursuit of power by our politicians. Reading all the political news reminded me of a cousin of mine who has probably changed parties more often than some people change their bed sheets. Every election we would see him at his busiest, fluttering from one relatives home to the next and exhorting all to support his candidate. He would tell anyone who cared to listen, how well he understood the political environment and how his candidate would win. Unfortunately, in the last three state elections, not one of his candidates ever won. When he was with Party A, they lost twice and when he finally switched to the rival camp and joined party B… party B lost. I haven’t been in touch with him and am not sure which camp he is in now, but I sure hope he is in the right camp this time. So, whether we have President’s rule, NPF (Kaito) or NPF (TR), as one journalist aptly labelled it in the 18th January 2015 issue of The Morung Express, let’s see who wins this “Game of Thrones in Nagaland”.
Jokes aside, politics can be dirty. According to a YouthNet report, ₹ 937 crore was spent during the February 2013 Nagaland Assembly Elections which was almost double the amount spent during the 2008 elections. Though we think we have the right to vote and choose our leaders, the reality is very different. We profess to uphold and practice democracy, but booth capturing and villages or clans forcing all members to vote as a mass block reveal the lie. It’s ironic that in the national stage we see BJP commanding an overwhelming majority comprising of members from so many different tribes, religions, languages, castes and yet able to provide what looks like a stable government and proved it knows how to improve the economy. The year 2014 actually ended on a buoyant note, with the benchmark indices, Sensex and BSE showing a marked appreciation of at least 30% over the year even though other emerging economies like Brazil and Russia are floundering. Sadly, even though Nagaland has only a few tribes where the majority of its citizens follow the same religion, the overwhelming majority of the NPF in our state legislature is actually creating more instability in governance.
While our politicians play musical chairs with their portfolios, actual work towards solving the numerous problems impeding Nagaland’s growth is not happening. Governance is not easy. And to develop a culture of good governance is going to be a tall order for whoever occupies ‘the throne’. But if our state has any hope of climbing out of the current deficit on its own without help from the central government then it is going to need to take some bold and tough decisions. Decisions that make economic sense and not ‘ism’ sense. It’s going to have to enforce rules and punish crime and tackle the problems confronting society head on instead of maintaining a muted silence over controversial matters like prohibition, corruption, taxation and crime. Nagaland is just the right size and has just the right population to bring about quick and effective change if the WILL is there. But it needs our leaders to first swallow their egos and sit down together.
For too long when elections are fought, our politicians have adopted an “us” vs “them” argument. Each and every election we see one group telling us that “they”, the rival party are the problem, not “us.” But the funny thing in this case is that it’s not an us versus them issue. In fact, all the politicians were actually from the same party and some of them are still referring to each other as their best friends. So as they bicker among themselves like children wanting a toy only for themselves, I guess, if things don’t change, the rest of us will carry on with our lives and go on to blame our politicians for all our problems, while conveniently forgetting Joseph de Maistre’s statement that every nation gets the nation it deserves. But with all the problems around us, I think we need Superman more than a CM to rescue us now.
“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 recognised Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email: firstname.lastname@example.org”.