Land and border disputes

By: Z. Katiry (Ex-MLA From Meluri:    26 Jul. 2015 1:02 AM IST
(From previous issue)
6. Political boundaries demarcated by the Britishers
Verrier Elwin had written in his treatise ‘’The Nagas in the 19th Century’’, Henry Harvesham Godwin to read what -Austen’s name is mentioned in it, not only as an explorer and geologist, but also an expert topographical drawing of who first went to Burma (now called Myanmar) where he explored the navigable waterways of the Irrawady delta. In the early part of 1856, he was attached to the Trigonometrical Survey of India to assist the first survey of Kashmir. He surveyed the great Karakoram glaciers together with the giant mountains that enclose them. In 1862, he mapped the northern border of the Pongong District on the Western edge of the Tibetan Plateau, and the following year he proceeded to Bhutan for mapping the areas between Sikkim and Punakha and the neighboring regions.
Godwin-Austen’s next assignment came when he had to survey Assam where he commanded the party and fully engaged in the survey of the Garo, Khasi and Jantia and some parts of the Brahmaputra.
In 1872, after 2 years leave, Godwin-Austen returned to India, much to the relief of his department. On his arrival, he was appointed as Deputy Superintendent of Survey with the assignment to survey and lay fixed political boundary between the erstwhile Naga Hills and Manipur and also to explore Patkoi range. A host of British officers, namely :- Captain Butler, Dr. Gordon, J. Johnstone who was Boundary Commissioner 1881-82, Lieutenant Ridgeway, Godwin-Austen’s two associates – Hinde and Ogle who were Assistant Surveyors and may others involved in the survey operation as the situation was slowly stabilizing. Dr. Brown became Political Agent in Manipur in 1868, and in 1873, he went with the Survey Party to settle the boundary between the erstwhile Naga Hills and Manipur.
The British officers seemed to have acquired an indefatigable spirit of hill-walking only when they landed in our country and began survey operations by walking through difficult terrains and hostile environment which was physically and mentally knackering. But years after, they were accustomed to such vagaries of nature that, on one occasion J. Johnstone had to say “hill-walking no longer tired me”. He went on to say, “Life is never monotonous as I take long walk everyday round the hills for important works”.
In the early part of February 1884, J. Johnstone, accompanied by Lieutenant Ridgeway, an interpreter and some men had visited Meluri, Akhegwo, Lephori (the writer’s village), and thence to Somrah (now in Myanmar),Wahong, Nganchan, Lasour of Tangkhul area, and on February 13,1884, he revisited the place where he encamped on the ground they occupied in 1881-82, when he was Boundary Commissioner. The next day he inspected the boundary pillars he had set up in 1881-82, and found intact which he said was a satisfactory proof that the settlement was not unacceptable to either Manipur or Burma.
7. Why boundaries are needed?
It is well known even to a man in the street that boundary demarcations are the imperative need, not only between nations and states but also between the tribes, villages and individuals in order to avoid any conflict that might arise in the absence of it. It was not a thought-out modern concept but it was there since time immemorial, if we care to read Deuteronomy 27: 17, 32:8 and Proverbs 22: 28. The Bible warns us the danger of removing the ancient boundary pillars set up by our forefathers as it would invite God’s wrath. It is also equally important to know that if boundary demarcations are not done by taking the consent of people into confidence, it may cause prolonged conflict and can eventually lead to intense conflict between the parties involved in the dispute where the bullets would be flying freely as we have often witnessed in the past, if misrepresentations in the map are not rectified or done away through mutual understanding or an official adjudication.
The tragedy was that, in the case of boundary demarcations between the erstwhile Naga Hills and Manipur, and with other neighboring states, the British officers had done all in a haste in an arbitrary manner without the consent of the people affected by such demarcations, nor on demographic line but on watershed principle of Jigsaw puzzle to suit their day to day administration, with their extremely vile policy of divide and rule, and also for the purpose of revenue collection within the British administered areas as it is evident from what is written in “The Nagas in the 19th century ’’ at page 178 which goes like this:“In November 1875, the Chief Commissioner reported that the number of Naga villages tendering revenue to our political officers was increasing”.
The Nagas who were totally ignorant due to illiteracy at that point of time, did not oppose such operations but allowed things to happen according to their whims and fancies even though they could see their territories and its people being traversing out into different administrative segments only to be assimilated later on to the socio-cultural and political identity of the dominant groups in their respective States. Whereas, in the other parts, such operations were opposed physically and politically as Dr. Gordon-Austen, in his own words stated that they were “physically and politically opposed to such operations”.
(To be concluded)

Land and border disputes

By: Z. Katiry (Ex-MLA From Meluri:    25 Jul. 2015 
1. Why is the Naga society beset with so many internal disorders and conflicts?
Many thoughtful persons agree that something manifestly is going wrong with the Naga society but nobody cares to assume responsibility to define the nature of its causes and formulate a solution for the same. Why are there too many internal disorders and conflicts? To this, I can say without hesitation that all our internal disorders and conflicts that beset Naga society is due to the many unsettled conditions which we now need to identify and discover the hidden assets for rebuilding the Naga society. The volatile situations that often emanated from border and land disputes which are spreading across the state and beyond like virus is slowly eating into the vital parts of our collective future.
Look, the situation that has been going on between Konyak and Chang who could not see eye to eye for the past so many years which has already cost loss of many valuable lives; the recent clash between Yimchunger and Chang over land dispute leading to extreme form of raw vandalism to properties of one tribe by another; the frequent border clashes that involve between several villages of Nagaland and Manipur states under Phek district in the most virulent form for the past many years; the intermittent border clashes between Assam and Nagaland states in the Karbi sector; the recent border conflict between SAYO and Mao community¬¬- all these and others, have destroyed a sense of oneness amongst the Nagas almost irreconcilably.
It is indeed tragic and painful that, at the time when Nagas are sorely in need of unity for achieving our common goal, there are irreconcilable conflicts everywhere over boundary issue which can potentially affect the collective destiny of the Nagas. The malaise had reached to such a level that a day is not far off when the unity of the Nagas may be torn asunder beyond any possibility of gluing back together the bits and pieces. A warning bell has already been sounded that the Nagas need to be very careful and cautious in tackling issue that affects the whole Naga people. Let the NGOs and Civil Societies in Nagaland seriously think about setting up module for peace advocacy, although few feel strongly about the need for it as peace-making is a very tedious process. We need to set our house in order immediately.
2. Why peace is needed?
Peace is pre-requisite to development. As such one of our deals must be peace, based on understanding and self-restraint. Tragically, our relations among our own people as well as with people of neighboring states are far from ideal at this present time. It will do us immense good if each one of us realizes that our future depends on peace. We need to give increasing talk to people around us including others about the need of peace.
It should be kept in mind that every issue can be moderated through enormous respect for reality, and the reality can emerge only when both the parties involved in the dispute can come together with open-mindedness and engage in serious discussion to involve ways and means for meaningful solution. All issues are not insoluble; they are all soluble if we are honest, sincere and determined. The party that lays false claim must admit to being wrong which is not a weakness but a process of healing the wound, for both cannot have right. The lost of a case in the court should not necessarily be construed as a humiliating defeat.
3. Why border and land disputes are rising increasingly ?
Land represents the single most important source of livelihood. People everywhere clamor for land. “The proletariats need land”, said Karl Marx in his Das Kapital. At one point of time in the distant past in our Naga society, lands were aplenty as the population was thinly scattered, and they were in no way pressed for land and its resources as there were vast areas of uninhabited virgin forests. They also did not appreciate the value of land unlike people of our time due to ignorance. They roamed and roamed about like gypsies without any emotional attachment to the land. Apart from this fact, the Nagas were migratory in nature. Their slush and burn agriculture practice accounted for this migratory nature. They kept shifting from place to place along with the shifting of cultivation in that they would abandon their old temporary make-shift huts and move on to a new place near the site where they would decide upon for the next slash and burn cycle.
With the passage of time, people ceased to be nomadic as population was growing exponentially and land and its resources were depleting correspondingly. In fact, we are already at a level where our small planet can no longer support the weight of our population. It is due to this population pressure on land and its resources that border and land disputes are bound to arise at an alarming rate, often creating volatile situations everywhere which are beyond control even by the government authorities. According to 1961 census, the population of Nagaland was recorded as 3, 69,210 only. In 2001 census, the population of Nagaland has shot up to 19, 90,636 with decadal growth of 64.05% as against the national decadal growth of 21.54% (which has almost tripled and abnormally very high). If the decadal growth of population of any given census exceeds 23%, it is said to abnormally high.
This being the trend of population growth, the policy makers and planners should give serious thought to it as the exponential growth of population can have serious impact on the society of the future. We also need to tell our people how they must utilize their land and its resources wisely in such a way that they are not swiftly exhausted in their greed to gain short-term easy money. A resource-starved State like ours where economy is extremely fragile, compounded with insurgency problem and acute unemployment problems, has assumed threatening dimension. Considering all these, we are indeed heading towards the worst of times if we fail to formulate appropriate policies and programs based on visionary and futuristic approach so as to salvage our collective future. In this kind of land you get back less than what you had invested.
4. Type of boundaries:-
There are two types of boundaries:-(1) Traditional boundaries which were in existence since time immemorial and(2) Political boundaries which were demarcated between states by the British government in India for the purpose of revenue collection within the British administered area. At some stretch of length, both descriptions coincide.
5. Traditional boundaries:-
Except for interstate boundaries, all other boundaries such as between tribes, villages and individuals in every village are all traditional which are upheld and protected/safeguarded by the customary law and practices which were considered as sacrosanct and inviolable. These traditional boundaries are more authentic, binding and lasting as they have been there since time immemorial much before the British came to our land. The jurisdiction of every Naga tribe or village is clearly delineated from the other mountain spurs, hill ridges, rivers or streams as boundaries to avoid any conflict between the tribes or villages, and these are upheld and protected by the customary practices. The boundaries between individuals are marked out by stone pillars, and any removal of these ancient pillars was considered taboo, and worthy of death. Even the Bible says so, in Deuteronomy 23:27 and Proverbs 22:28. There is three categories of land in almost every village with a few exceptions. They are:- (1) Individual land, (2) clan land and (3) Village community land. Whereas lands held by individuals are meant for agriculture farming, lands held by clan and village community are basically meant for cane and bamboo growing and include reserved forests.
(To be continued)

Knows Everything but Understand Nothing


By: Dr. Ngulani Leo*


Sometime I imagine myself to be jack of all trade, master of none. As a child, I used to be always obsessed with a dream that, if I am a man, I must do all kinds of things, I must taste and touch everything. I wanted to become an artist, so I started to draw things and earned some money by helping in painting tribal shawls in the state exhibitions. I wanted to become a journalist, so I learned stenography for 3 months, I was not good at typing and I feel lazy to learn so I quit. I wanted to become stage actor, so I used to perform in every Christmas gathering in my village when I come home. I used to watch every new film regularly.


I wanted to join insurgency; I was mentally prepared to work for the nation, inspired by people around me and in order to keep myself physically fit I used to practice running and jumping where I broke my left hand. I wanted to become a football player, I practice so hard, I can play but not that well, so I quit. I wanted to become a magician, so I read a lot of magic books, even performed in my village at my brother’s marriage, some of my villagers still believe that I know magic. I wanted to become an inventor, I operated my father’s radio and old watches, though I was not good at it, I made my own bed switch with ball pen and nail inside it. I wanted to become a rock star, so I learned how to play guitar, even performed once in our college auditorium, but I couldn’t sing nor could played well, so I quit and decided not to sing.


I wanted to become a trendsetter of our time with punk etc; I started to drink wine and dress with all sorts of clothes. Three of my friends expired because they couldn’t overcome drugs. I wanted to change the religious system of our people because of too much corruption and politics in the church; I study the Bible to question the authority. I wanted to become an anthropologist; I was interested in the relic of the past, so I took anthropology as my honours subject in DM College.


What do you think of me?

Many people tend to think and do things like me. You may think that’s interesting. But it’s a waste and I know myself that I am not good with any of them. A Turkish saying, “One who knows everything cannot do anything.” I regret today that if I happened to concentrate only in one or two things, I could have been mastered it by now A Vietnamese saying, “Being master in one job is better than being average in nine jobs”. Later on, I realized that what I’ve been doing is wrong. The education system and the environment that shape us are still primitive. There is no direction to what we are learning. There are hardly people who can guide us. Those who are lucky enough they got into some professional fields. The mass are still alike.


What is our village lifestyle?

If we happen to live a village life, men are required to know the art of all sorts of crafts in order to earn their livelihood. It is a must that man ought to know the art of every activity. Those who know many things are often respected. This is the thinking of most of our people. With those thoughts we go out of our hometown thinking that we can fit into anything with our simple graduation degree.  When we step out of the village, things are different. It’s like jumping over a

boundary drawn between the Primitive world and the nuclear world, for we don’t have Medieval and Modern period. What we do is that we try to mingle everything in our work and thinking of how, we were brought up. So, when we are expose to the outside world, we find them very complex thinking that they are very selfish and they appear to us as if they will devour us any time.



What are our general people thinking?

As an average person when we compare ourselves with our mainland counterparts, we are smarter. They usually compliment us because every Naga boys can play guitar, football, speak English, sing, etc. But when we really think about ourselves and ask question to ourselves, are you as good as those professionals? The answer is far from truth. A Finnish saying, “Usually a compliment sometimes implies irony: a tool designed for all purposes is not really good for any specific purposes.”


What do we lack?

First of all, we are often confused of what to do, what we are good at. Even if we are good at something, we never try to master it; rather we took it for granted. That is why we always become an average. Alec Bourne, once said, “It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated.” Likewise, we try to mix up our studies with everything like, social activities, extracurricular activities, parties etc. We Nagas are closely knitted society; we are jolly and easy going people and it is believed to be in our gene. We often have too many functions and meetings. If we count the number of social functions of our tribe like the activities of the churches, students meetings, wedding parties, birthday parties, village wise meetings, other tribes functions etc. etc. For a student, you just count all the invitation and compare with your academic days in a year. A Hungarian saying, “He who grasps much, retains but little” We the Naga people have more meetings and social functions than any other tribes or community in India. Is that really going to affect our target or not?


Why we need skill in today’s world?

In order to survive in this modern world or in the city, only thinking will take us nowhere. There is a Mexican saying, “You aim for everything, but you hit nothing”. You have to master in something or the other. We don’t have time to know about all things, that’s not possible for a human. To know about many things without mastering anything will be like “An ocean of knowledge of an inch deep” And it’s a waste of our lifetime.


What do we learn?

We all know that Sachin Tendulkar got a talent for cricket, we consider, he is born for it. Now imagine, if cricket was not introduced in India as a game, then what will be the fate of Sachin? Who invented this Cricket? Is it man or God? That cricket becomes a talent of someone? Now the question is, did someone like Sachin is born for it or did he shape his profession by dedication and determination? Is God doing partiality that he didn’t allow any Naga to be born as famous cricketer, gymnast, boxer, industrialist, scientist, etc, etc.? But why so many politician and philosopher who lecture without really doing what they profess. My microbiology teacher, used to say,” If you give time to think and dream on this little mosquito as much as you do to your girlfriend; you’ll become as famous as a renowned scientist.” We were amused, but there is a deep meaning behind it.


What we need to achieve

If we happen to give extra effort in what you are good at, you’ll always notice, the difference between you and your friend. You will be respected for it. You can bring changes to society. We need to push each other and walk together with join hand. Let us think beyond our own tribe and look at other tribes and forget those pity fights in our kitchen. Let us forget village barriers, tribalism or clans etc. We need to pray to God and focus what do we want to become with hard work, discipline, dedication and determination. We should mold our younger generation to the right direction. Let them do what they desire to do, encourage them to master it, only than we can shape our society.


By: Dr. Ngulani Leo

*Courtesy: Poutsii, September 2011, Poumai Naga Tsiidoumai Me, Delhi (PNTM news letter)