By: Khekiye K. Sema IAS (Rtd); Forest Colony, Kohima
It was extremely disappointing to read the official stand of NSCN (IM) on ACAUT and NTC as carried by the local dalies (29th Oct.2013), banning both creation of NTC as an organization and the present laudable efforts of ACAUT. It takes a great deal of courage to admitting to one’s own shortcomings. The honourable kinds would take note and make necessary amends. The less intelligent beings compound their problems by defending their mistakes with added irrationality. The latter description seems to fit the think tank of the NSCN (IM) to a large extent.
The issue of “taxation” is not an exclusive subject concerning NSCN(IM) alone. Every other Faction is thickly involved in it as they are and should not have taken it so personally. The issue here has nothing to do with anti -Nationalism. It is purely an issue of survival, the basics of all human instinct. Just as much as NSCN (IM) and all the Factions want to live, so too does the a common man. He may not be able to live in style and luxury like the factions are but he does want to live a simple life unfettered by extraneous financial pressures on his already difficult existence. This life is slowly being squeezed out of him because of the multiple taxation by all the so called National Workers. As Tax Collectors it certainly is easier for them to undermine the extent of the burden being carried by the common man. Each Faction may be thinking that they are raising just a reasonable one hundred rupees (as a conjecture) from an individual without considering the fact that that same individual is paying the same amount to each of the 8 factions which collectively lands up being Rs.800/-.
Their syndicate system has further caused serious abnormal price escalation in every conceivable commodity which the common man lands up paying for again. When the common man is not even able to earn one thousand rupees on a regular basis, their taxation becomes an act of slow murder. The desperate cry of an oppressed giver is then tagged as an act to “malign the National cause in the name of unspecified, unabated taxation” instead of honestly pondering over the cause of such a public outcry and consider measures to sensibly streamline their unscrupulous system which definitely exist. When did wanting to LIVE become anti-national? How more insanely stupid can the Factions get? The common man is crying out in pain, appealing to all the Factions that the situation has gone far beyond his ability to continue bearing this excruciating yoke and is saying enough is enough. This is a time for them to listen and think positively, not throw threats.
The factions only know the word “Take” but the word “GIVE” is not in their lexicon. Most of all they are not accountable to anyone after they “Take”. That’s how their ‘sovereignty’ palaces have sprung up. That’s how their brand new ‘sovereignty’ SUV gets parked in their porches. Every fool knows this. While the indifferent rich and the affluent may curse while paying their taxes, they are capable of taking such taxation in their stride but for the majority, the common man, who wonders where his dinner will come from while having his lunch, life cannot be more damning than this. Then questions such as these start overflowing : Who’s freedom are they fighting for anyway? Why the need for so many Factions, with each of them taxing us dry, fighting for the same identical cause? What purpose does it serve to attain sovereignty with no people left to enjoy its fruitation or too impoverished to their bones to care? What kind of a future would we have if the present norm becomes the legal norm of an Independent Nagaland? It gives one a horrible feeling to look beyond one’s nose for the answers to these questions.
With or without guns, a time will come when the masses would want to know how their tax has been used by the Factions over the years. Remember history. Remember the French Revolution of 1789 when the merciless inaptitude of King Louis XVI led him to the gallows. Remember the recent history of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya etc. These are not fairy tales. These are real time occurrences where the oppressed could tolerate tyranny no longer and erupted into the open streets with deathly consequences. The Factions must know that what has happened elsewhere around the world can and will happen here in Nagaland too, when pushed beyond the limits…if not today, certainly tomorrow. Mark my words. The present gathering is just a sounding board for those at the helms of affairs to please take stock of the truth and take necessary steps to right the wrong. Nobody is raising his voice against taxation per say. They are only questioning the uncontrolled excesses which their subordinates are definitely involved in. Is that too much to ask?
So why cause or wait for such a time to happen when the masses lose control? The pragmatic and sensible thing to do is coordinate with ACAUT and all other NGOs, realistically identify the loose ends and loopholes in their tax raising mechanism and plug the holes for everyone’s convenience instead of adopting the brute force to quieten the masses. It may work momentarily but be rest assured it will not work for ever. The Faction Leaders must honestly understand that their grassroots functionaries, their tax collectors are involved in numerous unscrupulous self-indulgent activities in the name of “the Nation” harassing the people day in day out without a break. It is not the masses but their own inner cadres who act anti-nationally, cheapening the mention of the words “working for the Nation”. This phrase is heard from the cadres when they raise tax for “the Nation” to indulge in their National Urge to have their regular quota of National liquor by patronising the underground National Bars prohibited but spread in every nook and corner of the city.
In broad daylight propagate the message of prohibition and after dusk patronise such national bar with absolute abandon. Everything they do is for the Nation reducing their questionable routine activities to that of a National joke. Such hypocrisy makes the Factions appear a National laughing stalk too. The Bosses may not like to hear this but so do we. Believe me when I say I have my due sincere respect for many of the faction leaders who have honest intent but they must wake up to the present reality and assess the situation with an equally honest open-mindedness: The voice that’s being heard tells of the ground reality picture that the masses see every waking hours of their lives and therefore are telling them that they have had enough and appealing to them to have it examined with total integrity. It would be a serious error to write this appeal off as Anti-National behaviour. Such activities of their subordinates as described will definitely not be brought to their attention and of which the masses are tired of. With half truth feedbacks, the Faction Bosses therefore may react in annoyance that the masses a rebelling against them and the National Movement and on the spurt of the moment expel such a reaction of the masses as anti-National. The truth is that no Faction is receiving the full 100% tax that has been collected from the people at their central office. In fact are they receiving even 40%? Check this out first.
This should tell them the true story and should make them think rather than lash out at the masses. Check your cadre first. Don’t antagonistically kill the goose that is laying their golden eggs in a spurt of anger without introspection and self examination. The positive thing to do is to gracefully withdraw the ban and instead open the doors and windows to reason with the mass based organization(s) including NTC to make thing happen in a more sensible amicable manner where all stand to gain.
The above reflection is neither borne out of malice nor intended to undermine the true National Workers or the aspiration of the Nagas. It is an expression of a sincere Naga citizen who believes that our National Workers can carry this responsibility with dignity and honour and be a source of pride for the masses. This is definitely not the picture at present…far from it.