A point of view for NTC

Khekiye K. Sema IAS (Rtd), Forest Colony, Kohima.:    26 Oct. 2013 1:50 AM IST

Mr. G. Gwangphun has poured his heart out condemning the 16 Points Agreement and the formation of NTC. Indeed there may be many who would perhaps subscribe to his philosophy. As an Activist and a Researcher, I would presume that he has his facts in hand to qualify his statement. If so he also ought to appreciate and understand the circumstantial realities that had otherwise dictated the destiny of our people at that given point of time. 16 Points Agreement was born out of one such circumstance. It is easy, yes sooo easy, for us today to pass judgement painlessly from a safe distance discounting the excruciating pressure of the generation that had to take such momentous decisions against all odds and at the cost of their own lives. There is no denying that this agreement left out our fellow brothers beyond the present boundary of the State of Nagaland despite the statement of integration of all the Naga inhabited areas under one umbrella being an inclusive point in this agreement.

This emphasises the fact that other Naga brothers were not forgotten, but that practical non-inclusion was the price the Nagas of Nagaland had to pay just so as to survive the onslaught of the occupational forces. For that generation of elders, this was perhaps by far the most painful decision they had to take with very little option afforded to them. The harsh truth of the matter was that the Nagas of Nagaland were the only ones dying in their thousands and not the brother from beyond the border who maintained an indifferent distance from this ‘life and death’ struggle. Remember that the majority of all the present day brave heart Tribes from out-State joined the fray only after ensuring that the worst of the dangers had passed… after the cease fire agreement was finally enacted. Nevertheless the then leaders of the Nagas National Movement welcomed them all as brothers into their fold without any reservation. It is all the more incumbent upon our brothers from other States not to dishonour this good will shown by spitting on the hands that stretched out to them in brotherhood. The Nagas of Nagaland are who we are because of the 16 Points Agreement no matter how much one may want to demean it. This is our reality. We have both the negative and the positive aspects in good measure as is the case with all communities anywhere else around the globe. It is much too  late to be dissecting what might have been but together focus on what can be.  Anyway the 16 Points Agreement is not the issue of contention at this time  but NTC is, so let’s get a move on.

Mr. Gwangphun may not necessarily agree with me but this is a point of view I have maintained from the beginning. It is not a question of Nagas of Nagaland not caring or bothering about the other brothers in other states. It is simply a matter of the present realities that we all need to pragmatically adhere to. The Tribes in other States are entitled their democratic rights from the State they belong as much as we are in ours. Claiming  whatever is theirs from the area they belong and at the same time expect equal rights and privileges  within another territory does not sound like a fair  deal to me. Being open minded and helpful to our brothers elsewhere is an entirely different matter which the Nagas of Nagaland have in abundance. It does become a different issue altogether when equal rights and privileges are also claimed by others within our fold. It would be selfish to safely stow away your bowl of rice and put your hand in another’s plate.  Beyond this perspective however, the issue of Tribal integration  is one of the fundamental agenda of the present conflict with India under the overall claim for sovereignty. That is the common aspiration that ties us together, needing a common Pan Naga platform. The manner in which this was achieved however, is the area of my questioning.  Way before the present Naga Hoho transformed into its distorted Pan Naga posture, the Tribal Hohos had been formed with its apex body called the Naga Hoho, which represented the Nagas of Nagaland exclusively.

This was the starting point. The mistake lies in the dubious conversion of this body into a Pan Naga forum instead of creating an appropriate identity of its own to define this broader/wider representation of Naga Tribes from everywhere else. With the ENPO walkout the Nagas of Nagaland became an absolute minority in our own backyard thus losing a platform to address our own kitchen issues. For quite some time the need to have a forum to address the most pressing issues of the common man was felt by many, since the present Naga Hoho reduced itself to a spineless lapdog of the Govt. and the factions. They lost credibility in the eyes of the people to the extent of losing their tail, unable to even satisfy their natural urge to tuck it between their legs. NTC  therefore emerged as a by-product of this sentiment to fill up the vacuum.  Our ‘ brothers beyond ‘ must understand that every community has its own localised problems that needs to be taken care of and it is best solved through an apex forum of our own, which we do not have. Why should it provoke or hurt the sentiment of anyone when we try to help ourselves where no one else will? Most of all, The Nagas of Nagaland does not require the blessings or permission of the present obsolete Naga Hoho to set up any organization that we feel we need to deal with our internal problems. In fact it would be more of an insult to receive it. They won’t touch the crippling issues that a common man is burdened with and won’t allow anyone else to deal with it. The audacity of their outlook is truly disgusting. The other ‘brothers beyond’ must exercise their intellect to sensitively realize that the ripple effect of a strong Nagaland would be to their advantage when the chips are down. Throwing garbage into our backyard can only destroy our common environment and should be avoided.

The point of contention is this. It has been my considered opinion that the Naga Hoho in its present form is a misnomer. Since it encompasses all the Nagas living in different States it should rather have been christened as “Pan Naga Federation” or a “Pan Naga Hoho” or any other name but Naga Hoho should have been left alone as a pure apex institution of the Nagas of Nagaland as it originally was and ought to have been. It is perhaps too much to ask but the present Naga Hoho should deliberate on this and redeem their image. It is still not too late. The need for a  Pan Naga organization is in no way being understated. It should exist but by a different name that fits and describes the conglomerated union of Tribes from all over. Define the common objectives and purpose of such a forum to avoid fumbling into territory they do not belong. The present scenario is downright unacceptable and insulting to have a Pan Naga organization in the guise of Naga Hoho dictating terms to the Nagas of Nagaland in our internal affairs.  Based on this, it was also a sincere suggestion that instead of creating more platforms for confusion, confrontation and ego trips, which would become a natural outcome, the NTC should first explore the possibility as a “conscience platform” for reclaiming the Naga Hoho for the Nagas of Nagaland through brainstorming with all the Tribal Hohos inclusive of the ENPO.

Naga Hoho exists by virtue of all the Tribal Hoho’s affiliation without which its very existence will evaporate into thin air. This is the strength the Tribal Hohos have which NTC should have cultivated. I had attended the launching function of the NTC on the 12th Oct 2013 and I could see that my kind of opinion was much too late for them to consider it seriously. They had travelled much too far ahead with their preparation, for a possible slow-down. Yet, for a greater purpose I only wished they had paused for a moment of cool contemplation instead of being in such a tearing hurry. According to the information circulated in this meeting, a whole lot of consultation had taken place with ‘various organizations’ and ‘concerned citizens’ before arriving at this conclusion. It may be so, mostly on an individual or sectoral basis but  perhaps not on the scale of recognized forum representation like a joint Tribal Hoho/ other NGOs sitting together which would have accrued greater credibility and would have been more upright and meaningful. I had requested for a time to express some of my views along with a word of encouragement during this meeting but the organizers seemed to have felt uncomfortable about it. With the whole day and time ahead of them, it was difficult to fathom what their ‘hard pressed for time’ really meant other than to conclude the function early. They just did not have time for a constructive thought sharing and was therefore denied time. I sincerely hope I am wrong in deducing that NTC could turn out to be another constipated forum that may not necessarily welcome conflicting ideas. I left only after the President and the Executive members were sworn in and prayed over, as a way of endorsing my solidarity for NTC formation despite my serious reservations of unintentional conflicts that now will become a part of our lives. It saddened me somewhat.

A more matured effort could have altered the course of events to a positive end and solve problems rather than create more of the same. At best it is better of the two evils  to have our own home-grown platform to deal with our internal problems than have none at all. However, ominous signs of potential conflict zone seems to be in the making when the Organization says “membership should be from the tribe directly and not from the Tribal Hohos.” Clarity seem absent from this stated objective. Read it carefully…”and not from the Tribal Hohos.” Does this imply an outright rejection of the Tribal Hohos’ participation in the NTC? Technically speaking, all individual are a part and parcel of their respective Tribal Hoho. Therefore, how are we qualifying “from the tribe directly”? Whether individually or as a group the shadow of the Tribal Hoho will remain omnipresent. Yet one is accepted and the other is not. This is a rather confusing picture. Conversely this could provoke the Tribal Hohos to excommunicate any of its members who joins the NTC. It would be within their prerogative to contemplate such an action even if the individual may be prepared to ignore such a dictate. Thereafter, the conflict of identity will generate a conflict of purpose. What then? It would have perhaps been less contentious and more preferable to keep the door opened by encouraging the Tribal Hohos to actively participate in the NTC while also allowing  individual direct membership. But would this also imply that NTC will have one central platform without its District/grass root branches? The need of the hour is to have a strong  organization which has its tentacles way down to the village level for a realistic feedback on any given issue. I have often harped about a second plebiscite on key issues such as “one tax for one Naga National Government” etc. A vibrant organization could enact such a   referendum that could impact our future but I guess this is all in the realm of a dream.

NTC needs to honourably and maturely chart out its future course of responsibility and action. Above all it should keep all its doors and windows opened to allow fresh air to filter the thinking process. The first ripple of differences has begun to appear between the NTC and other NGOs from an unfiltered statement of NTC. Good or bad, every individual or an organization has a pride without exception and rather sensitive about it too. This should implicitly be given due consideration. Mr. Gwangphun is right. There will never be an organization on this planet which would be capable of addressing each and every problem of mankind and solving them. Neither can NTC.  It is more to do with selectively picking up critical issues that the masses suffer from and need attention. This too is subjected to an individual or an organization’s perception of criticality which others may not necessarily agree. Lofty proclamations will also have to be followed by lofty deeds. As an organization it should either temper it down or live up to it. The challenges ahead won’t be easy but that is what NTC has opted to face.

Take the case of our present Naga society: it is in the ICU afflicted by a malignant cancer of excessive corruption and taxation in both the major fronts: Govt. of Nagaland and the underground factions, needing an urgent surgery. The scenario is as dangerous as having to face an oncoming tsunami. ACAUT has initiated a small but significant step to generate this awareness about our terminal ailment braving the torment and threats thus far. Their efforts are limited to Dimapur and needs to spread their wings in all the other dormant Districts. However they need a parental body to shelter under  and be guided to ensure future activities have the desired impact. I harbour no doubts in my mind that with a sustained effort something positive will emerge from this. Does NTC have it in them to firstly  pick up this yoke and provide a parental directives and guidance to the ACAUT? Does it have the capability to set up its infrastructure in all the Districts and at the same time  adopt ACAUT to enable them to go forth with more courage and matured coverage? Without doubt this is ‘top of the shelve’  burning issue that  every breathing Naga is yearning for it to end. This would be the litmus test. Consider it or reject it. After all this is also just a point of view.  – NPN

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