Westoxification of Nagas

By: R S Mayori

Today’s fast paced world, hardly enables students and youths to sit together under one platform and discuss issues that holds weightage to their own lives and people are turning more and more into techno and cyber savvy. It comes in with many tag of “fast” like fast food, fast car, fast life and fast people.

We have witnessed that Nagas strive dauntlessly to generate awareness of the indigenous peoples’ right to cultural development and advan-cement based on the international human rights and humanitarian laws, through the institution they try to set up to provide a platform where Nagas can learn to be Nagas ourselves again.

The Nagas’ way of life has been transformed to a great extent through the walk of life in history from the coming of Christianity to the Indian military crackdown on the Nagas resulting in innumerable violation of human rights, huge loss of innocent lives and most of all the veiled attempt to de-establish the complete identity and integrity of the Nagas’ by sheer military might.

Our narratives have been interrupted by Colonialism till today and our ancestral and past linkages have been broken and lost. Our culture, our stories are getting lost and are fading away at a high rate.

The erosion of our identity, culture and values system is making most of the youth confused. The alienation of the traditional education system and breaking of oral culture is posing a great danger to the whole society of Nagas as a whole.

Myriad of confusion among the youths and some vested interested people are adding up again to the already confused society. The infiltration of western culture and its toxin starts off from the moment the white people appears into our life which is multiplied by Indian toxin.

The westoxification of Nagas is clearly visible even within the so-called learned and religious people of the Nagas. The corruption level has not spared the religious leader. One of the instances is the case which has been going on for more then five years.

The Reverend versus Reverend and Doctors in Indian court filed for robbing of innocent people’s money in a broad day light of Tangkhul areas. The United Team Leadership Ministry (UTLM) fund – Ukhrul Area Development Project’s Money (UADP) amounting to Rupees 40 lakh was robbed off and the signatory of the people who have drawn the money from behind the curtain on dt. 23/12/95 are two very prominent Church leaders.

If given a little more efforts by scholar and do research on all this cases 90 percent of the cases that is hanging on the thread have got to do with money and power. Nagas need to re-define themselves with the pair that need to go together a long way. The two terminologies which spin up the pair are Nagas and money. Another westoxification that is penetrating in our society is breaking down of our social traditional structures.

Jacob Shaiza wrote on 15/07/06 “Tussle for hegemony in Ukhrul” in the Nagaland Post. “Taking cue from Th. Muivah, they shared the emotional meeting they had with him who told them that the blood, tears, and sweat they had undergone for the all these years are all because of the unique custom of the Nagas that define the true meaning of the unique history of the Nagas. The present Indo-Naga talk is given importance based on this undeniable fact.”

We have to keep alive our culture and traditions and cannot impose alien culture claiming ourselves to be educated. We cannot go back to the past but we have to move forward so we have to reclaim our culture and history.

Educated and civilized doesn’t mean copycatting other’s value and system which is not applicable to the Nagas. We need to re-affirm ourselves as a Naga again and again when Nagas are in the midst of Chaos and turmoil created by the Government of India.

The Naga nation consists of around 47 tribes, each with its own language and culture and yet they are united by their shared history against foreign domination and the dream of living as one people, one nation. The Nagas are the original settlers on their homeland and their territory has been well demarcated from time immemorial.

The uniqueness of the Naga people lies in the fact that they have continued to live as a united people despite the fact that its lands have been illegally divided by the British by an international boundary between India and Myanmar. Nagalim was never a part of India by consent or conquest. The uniqueness lies in the fact that we still own our land as community and we follow our customary laws unlike other tribals of India.

The Nagas have continued to evolve modern political institutions and organisations in consonance with the democratic principles of Nagas’ society. Naga polity is based on equal representation for each tribe, large or small. It is the same principle on which the United Nations functions: one nation, one vote.

Thus the Naga Students’ Federation is an apex body of our students and it has two representatives of each of the Naga tribes. so does the Naga Hoho. Some tribes are very large with more than 300 villages; each has an equal representation from each tribe.

Within each tribe also the same democratic principle is followed. And the polity is based on consensus and not election which promotes conflicts and power struggles to the detriment of the people.

Almost all the Naga organisations functions on this democratic principle of equal representation of all our people without allowing the politically and economically powerful tribes to dominant decision making.

The set up of Nagas, from people to village level, from village to community, from community to the nation. Nagas never had a culture of Panchayat system which is introduce by the Indian so does the Chairman and secretary system is the twin of Panchayati Raj. The introduction and encouragement of this clone of Panchayati raj is the first step and a strong agent to the destruction of the Naganised value based system.

Thus even though the Nagas have been divided by artificial boundaries we continue to live together by evolving modern political institutions along the principles of our ancient way of life. This is the way we have not allowed our society to fossilise and we have developed, evolved and changed our customary laws and traditional practices.

Changing and improving doesn’t mean imposing of alien culture and practices that we have learned from Indian education system. This evolving and developing our system has allowed the Naga people as a whole to keep alive their dream of living together under one roof.

This gives the Nagas nation a unique history. The relationship of Nagas with their homeland is symbiotic with their lands, forest and hills. We are a people whose culture, society, polity and economy are defined by the relationship between the people and their land.

The people’s relationship within themselves in the social structure of the society has made us come all the way where GOI has re-coganised our uniqueness officially. Nagas should not put all this achievement in peril for a few vested interested people.

When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.” —Yevgeni Yertushenko


R S Mayori wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on 22nd August 2006.

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