2017 will be an important but difficult year for Naga. While the world is entering into the brand new year, Naga is expecting from the crucial and protracted peace negotiation which kick-started in 1997, which are expected to be a fierce intellectual battle. Modi can prove to be “make it or break it” moment in Naga’s relations with the India, which are presently in a watershed moment. The Naga saw her imprisonment (hunger of power, corruption and the focused now on material accumulation for their selfish attainment of artificial status in society) along with the lack of New Delhi political commitment to resolve the issues. This was compounded by a deterioration of democratic values of NSCM-(IM), which spearheading the political negotiation. Amid concern over the way the political process was being conducted, many Naga organisations and individual concern have been seriously voicing, that the dialectical approach of both NSCM-(IM) and New Delhi and could derail the peace process, which has spent the last 19 years negotiating.
At the first glance, what does Nagas think about Naga? Might seem a strange question. However, it is the one that many populations of Naga as well as the India are increasingly asking themselves and understandably so. After so many years of the negotiation, India seems to have lost interest in it. The primacy that Naga issue once assumed in Indian domestic issues and foreign policy has rapidly vanished. What do the Naga want? What does Indian think about Indo-Naga peace negotiation? Is there any vision left? From start, the ceasefire has rested on a gamble. When Naga leaders opted for a ceasefire in 1997, they wagered that Naga’s could converge toward one another; with all the different tribes demographically living in different states, would have become a little more like one, by accepting each other to form a consolidated “Nagalim” as a one common body. This did not occur. Today, Naga is political, socially, and economically in mess, the true implications of this gamble are becoming clear. The struggle continues with no sign of political pact almost after 20 years of negotiations, which led to vulnerability instead of freedom, indebtedness instead of autonomy, poverty instead of prosperity and a deep political, economic and spiritual crisis instead of hope, optimism, and fraternity. And yet desired for freedom lived on.
James A. Barker III former US secretary of State once said, “Almost every achievement contains within its success the seeds of a future problem.” This political and social mess provides a trenchant example of this phenomenon. When the long sought but uncertain implementation of a cease-fire finally began, as a part of a bundle of deals that produced Naga under one umbrella, it represents a significant accomplishment. The implementation of cease-fire provided the necessary catalyst for all the success of that achievement, however, is left behind fateful seeds, which is sprouting. The mess resulted not only from the Government of India insincerity, lack of political vision and divide and rule policy but also from flaws in our leaders approach and long-term decline in interest in true Naga issues cooperation. We are in muddling through the period.
The Naga leaders have done a remarkable job managing the short-term symptoms of the chaos, although the costs have been great and tragic. Yet the long-term challenge remains. For this to happen, Naga must align politically, socially and other areas, which will first require Naga to reject the common misdiagnoses of the current mess. It is the result of a fundamental disequilibrium within the single political zone, which the current leaders applies a single political and social policy to diverse tribal groups. Thus, presence leaders must trust in the essentially democratic nature of the Naga society, which will encourage them to distribute the cost of convergence more fairly within and among the tribes. The burden must be shifted from the top-down public policy to periphery political, social and economic activities of respective tribes who involves in the mainstream of the society. If this does not occur, then survival of the so-called Nagalim will be called into question and Naga will face a long-term social, economic and political catastrophic that could drain its political strength and social coherence for the rest of this decade and beyond.
If the Naga is to continue to function, some damage limitation is needed. Our leaders must show constructive leadership role which includes greater willingness to discuss people contribution in strengthening the nation formation as demanded, as well as the presentation of a vigorous case to the people, that saving the political aspiration and achievement the political aspiration lie at the heart of Naga national interest. Our current leaders have thus far reacted to this stunning loss of momentum by entering a holding pattern. The hope is to buy enough time for new leaders to emerge who will reclaim the Naga project. However, buying time may not be the best the leaders can do for now. The Naga needs a new generation of leaders who can breathe life into a project that is perilously close to expiring in this unthinking generation. For now, they are nowhere to be found. However, history is knocking on our door. So what will determine whether the Naga stalls in its Naga projects or moves forward? The current political negotiation with the government of India narrative is unsure, fragmented and does not provide the necessary political foundation for a wide-ranging institutional capacity building. The lack of consensus about the correct political formula for Naga seriously compromises any further progress. Today we are witnessing a rise of political intolerance, crony capitalism, and social detachment in Naga society. Now is the time for Naga to produce a constructive result from the crisis with strong political will and creativity to respond with decisive innovation. There has been a striking lack of coordinated political leadership across the Naga area in the face of political pressure. Dialoguing is the best way to unlock misunderstanding.
(To be concluded)