Says, Nagaland focal point of Act East Policy
Vice President of India Jagdeep Dhankhar Thursday formally sounded the inauguration gong to signal the opening of the 10-day Hornbill Festival 2022–“Festivals of Festivals” in presence of Nagaland governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi and chief minister Neiphiu Rio.
He congratulated the people of Nagaland on the 60th statehood day, adding that inauguration of Hornbill Festival was significant since the day coincided with India formally assuming presidency of G20.
Dhankhar, who visits Nagaland as vice president on his maiden tour, was felicitated with traditional Naga headgear and Naga shawl on the occasion.
Addressing the gathering, Dhankar said he was enthralled and captivated by the energy of Nagas, which on this day, was the greatest in his life.
Dhankar reminded that as hornbill bird was referred to as the king of birds, the coining of Hornbill as “festival of festivals” was befitting. He remarked that wearing the warrior headgear with hornbill feather was a moment of pride for him.
Admiring the natural beauty, culture and tradition of the State, he remarked that Nagaland had great potential for tourism, noting that Nagas were full of love and affection. He commented that it was a matter of time before the State became a favourable tourist destination.
Dhankhar claimed that rapid development had taken place in the country since 2014 when Narendra Modi took over as Prime Minister, adding that “Act East” policy was taken up where Nagaland was a focal point. He said the Centre was committed to develop the Northeast.
He expressed joy that fruits like kiwi and pineapple, besides coffee, were being exported from Nagaland and stressed that the State government must ensure proper market linkages. He also lauded the State for sending a woman as Member of Rajya Sabha, which he said spoke volumes of women empowerment.
He congratulated Nagaland for having the lowest crime rate against women which, according to him, reflected the status of women. He called for taking this respect for women to greater heights for rest of India to emulate. As India assumed the presidency of G20 from Thursday, Dhankhar asserted that the world would be able to experience Naga hospitality as a G20 meeting would be held in the State in April next year.
In his address, Governor Mukhi, who is chief host of the festival, expressed the hope that the cultural extravaganza would enthral the guests in the next 10 days and visitors would be witnessing rich culture of the State and the Northeast along with experiencing various adventurous sports and musical events.
He congratulated all participants and performers for together putting up a brilliant display of Naga dances and music, adding that Nagaland was truly enchanting.
He also deeply appreciated Government of India for recognising Hornbill Festival as one of the premier and major events for performing artistes in India.
Mukhi said as the Central government was fully committed to developing the Northeast both the Centre and the State government were working together to bring in lasting peace in the land.
“We as beneficiaries should make up our minds and create a conducive atmosphere for welcoming the new dawn for a peaceful and progressive Nagaland,” he stressed.
He urged Nagas to look back and introspect at what was achieved over the last 60 years and what ground remained to be covered.
He observed that the State had both made achievements and faced difficulties during the past six decades and commented that it was on the cusp of making history as, after decades of insurgency, there was finally some hope.
With support from all stakeholders, including the people, the governor said there was an opportunity now for lasting peace. He congratulated all Naga groups for having come so far and exuded confidence that a final agreement – “one that is fair to all and meets the expectations and aspirations of all” – would be reached soon.
In his welcome address, Rio, who is festival host, asserted that Hornbill Festival reflected the Naga way of life and celebrated the rich cultural heritage of Naga people along with rest of the North-eastern States, showcasing unity and oneness under a spirit of solidarity. He said it was aimed at protecting, preserving and promoting the culture and heritage of the people, while creating opportunities for economic growth and employment generation.
Rio mentioned that Hornbill Festival symbolised Brand Nagaland and the emerging Naga soft power. The cultural ambassadors representing tribes of Nagaland and from different North-eastern States and even the mainland were the heart and soul of Hornbill Festival, he added.
He claimed that the people of Nagaland aspired genuine peace and were hopeful that with the successful conclusion of the peace process, they would be able to play a contributory role in the interest of humanity on the global stage. He also welcomed all the tourists for visiting the State and hoped that they would be ambassadors of Nagaland.
Meanwhile, Ambassador of France to India Emmanuel Lenain thanked the State government for inviting him to the festival.
He said entering Kohima was important for him because of the history of 1944 which was an important milestone as it bound people, adding that he was truly impressed by the beauty of the landscape.
Australian high commissioner to India Barry O’ Farrell said he was happy to join the festival of festivals. He added that his visit also reflected the connection between Australia and India, revealing that 86% products from India included textiles from Nagaland.
In his greeting note, South Asia trade commissioner and British deputy high commissioner for western India Alan Gemmel said the festival was not only a tribute to hornbill, but also an exhibition of rich culture and way of life of Nagaland.
While informing that UK and India were working on to sign a free trade agreement that would benefit the people, he also mentioned that UK and Europe will start to tell the world about the world class products and craftsmanship of Nagaland.
On the occasion, the Vice President also released a postage stamp to commemorate the festival, besides visiting Art Gallery and morungs at Kisama.
Festival Host, Tourism and Art & Culture adviser H. Khehovi Yeputhomi pronounced the vote of thanks. The Tribal Guest of the occasion was Yeshüsü Tureng of Porba village, Phek district.