One government, one tax – a myth or reality?

Dr. K. Hoshi: 22 Jun. 2014 3:24 AM IST

Of late, there have been increasing civil uprisings against the so-called Naga Political Groups (NPG) for their excesses, especially in taxation. This is bad for Naga national politics because we will lose our face in the eyes of the world. Any political institution that has lost the confidence and support of the general public will ultimately come tumbling down sooner than later.

“One Government, one tax”; a resolution adopted by Against Corruption and Unabated Taxation (ACAUT) on October 31, 2013 emanated from protest against many years of suffering in the hands of some so-called national workers and apathy of the State towards the plight of the people. The Central government agencies in Nagaland will naturally turn a blind eye to the problem because it is serving their purpose.

In the past, Nagas had only one political institution; the Naga National Council (NNC) and and one national government; the Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN). NNC had levied its membership fee @ Re. 1.00 per head and household tax @ Rs. 10.00 per household. Later on, when FGN was formed in 1956, the Naga national government levied additional annual army maintenance tax @ Rs. 100.00 per household. All other contributions were in the form of free-will gift that varied from hard cash to kinds; anything that could sustain the national workers. The national workers gladly accepted any gift without complaint. This is the type of NPG Nagas long for, today. NPGs of present day will not accept a pumpkin for a contribution. They will not accept anything less than hard cash. That’s the difference between national workers of yesteryears and of today.
In theory; “one government, one tax” is a very beautiful slogan. But in practice; it is not without complications because unification seems the last thing in the minds of the NPGs. While ACAUT’s resolution for one government is quite legitimate, unity as a timeless pre-condition for tax contribution towards Naga national cause will have far-reaching ramifications. It will lead to self-destruction from actions and counter-actions. It is already happening.

Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) has been working for reconciliation and unity of the NPGs since 2008. There’s no denying the fact that they have achieved reconciliation to a great extent. Yet, the dream of one national government still remains elusive. Which group is responsible for delaying the Naga unity? Isn’t it high time that FNR come out clear on this? If FNR is for the people, it should also be answerable to the people. Let Naga people know the truth. What’s the point endlessly trying to crack the hard nut whose hearts God must have hardened. People’s patience has a limit. It’s time that Nagas are allowed to call spade, a spade.

The resolution of ACAUT had committed that the people are prepared to pay tax to one unified Naga national government in addition to the State Government. This plainly puts that people in general still cherish for Naga sovereignty. The NPGs need to realize that Nagas are not refusing to pay tax for a national cause. The people are only refusing to pay tax to multiple governments. The people are against paying tax to NPGs that are misusing tax payers’ money for personal gratification without transparency and accountability. Constructing palatial houses, driving latest MUV/SUVs, leading luxurious life-style, etc. have become mockery to tax payers. What people want is for the national governments to channelize tax payers’ money through a unified government and use it to promote Naga cause at home and across the world.

It is unbecoming of the NPGs and their governments to relegate themselves to Nagaland State’s internal affairs. Never had the feeling of Nagas of Nagaland State and Nagas of outside Nagaland State so pronounced as of today. This is partly the creation of the national governments. As far as Naga national politics for sovereignty is concerned, the Nagas had integrated themselves, both territorially and emotionally in Article 1 of Naga Yehzabo. Therefore, it is self-defeating to call ourselves Nagas of Nagaland State or Nagas of other Indian States.
Naga sovereignty is not something to be wished away; at least, not for the sake of the fallen true patriots. Therefore, if sovereignty is still our goal, it is imperative that we exercise caution and restraint in our talks and actions, lest our own folly is used against us by our ever watchful adversary to their advantage.

Any public action against the excesses should be subjective and not against the political institution, provided the NPGs do not shield the criminals. A criminal is a criminal, irrespective of whether one is in this group or that group. The actions of some NPGs and their ranks and file are doing dis-service to Naga national cause by deviating from national principle. They are no less anti-national than what they had branded the articulate common men. It’s time to segregate true nationalists from pseudo-nationalists. Any NPG that is against Naga unity must be pseudo-nationalist. We owe it to the true nationalists; past, present and future for their service because Naga National politics is fated to stay so long as sovereignty is the dream or till it is totally wiped out by our adversary through its divisive policy as of today.

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