Friday, December 2, 2022

Achilles heel

Even since the 70s, perhaps a decade after Nagaland statehood, many thinkers even during those years used to speak of isms within the Naga family. Many Naga intellectuals or self-styled ones, used to parrot the same concern about isms dividing the Naga society. The Naga national movement began as a united Naga movement with tribes throwing their lot behind the call for sovereignty. The goal was driven by impassioned rhetoric that took the hills by storm and it was taken for granted that all should agree or in other words, be in unity. Of course, subsequent events across several decades, have shown that unity gradually caved in to identity politics or the isms of tribalism. Earlier during the fifties when illiteracy was very high, various tribes were conscious of the need to strengthen tribal bonds by showing due respect and honor to the other brethren. Since the seventies and against the backdrop of ever rising literacy and education, the poison of tribalism began rearing its ugly head. While accepting that there could always be those who see other through the narrow prism of tribalism; yet the inability of modern Naga society in dealing with the syndrome despite massive strides in education and progress, had allowed fissiparous tendencies to slowly and steadily creep into the Naga polity. It is indeed unfortunate that today, the ethos that were once relevant, today have been replaced by the all-too pervasive syndrome of tribalism. Be it politics or employment or any other matter, progress of contemporary Naga society appears to have been retarded in the quagmire of tribalism. The emphasis on Naga culture, tradition and uniqueness has been restricted to show casing and seminars or speeches like organizing programmes for prayers within the four walls. Culture and tradition needs to be relevant to the need of the day-imbibing the best of the past to meet the needs of the present. So also the preaching needs to be practiced. Many have always referred to ‘tribalism’ within Naga society and in doing so, were only repeating a concern through good sounding words. There are some who may not be inclined to believe that the two –one dealing in cultural and customary issues and the other on faith and religious issue-are themselves not immune to the ism virus; but it is evidently clear that the expressed concern by those who lament are merely speech value since identity has become the foundation for promoting personal and political ambition. However, a tiny state like Nagaland with a small population and where the education has had a marvellous growth; it is the bounden responsibility of all who are concerned to focus on the tiny cancer cell of tribalism threatening the fabric of Nag unity. This has even led to rise of tribe alliances which have sunk the ship of unity. Any incident involving one or few from a tribe with one or few from another tribe, should not escalate into a tribal conflict. In contemporary Naga society, tribe identity has inter-marriage has solidified inter-tribal understanding and fraternity and accommodation. There are however a minority who espouse tribalism. The hohos and church are provided with a challenging opportunity to focus on the issue of reflecting upon the negative aspects of tribalism and decide how they could each work on isolating it from the Naga body.

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