Dr Asangba Tzudir
Following the threat of ‘pen-down’ agitation by unpaid teachers, the State’s School Education Department has responded with a reminder of the statutory restrictions prescribed in Rule No. 25 of the Nagaland Government Servant Conduct Rules 1968 in regard to participation in demonstrations and strikes.
As per this provision of the Rules, no Government servant should make any communication to the Press concerning ones conditions of service; nor should they call a public meeting for discussing their conditions of service, or participate in any such meeting or public discussions. It also bars Government servants from engaging or participating in any demonstration or strikes. The Rule No. 25 reminder concluded with a warning to the erring government employees of appropriate disciplinary action.
Protests, demonstration and strikes are not a new thing in Nagaland so do with the rest of the world. Among the many grievances leading to protests is the one by the erstwhile SSA teachers who were water cannoned. This has become a permanent marker and which serves as a reminder of the way in which teachers are treated.
In a civilized society today, there should be no room for protests or demonstrations or strikes. There are civilized means where aggrieved parties can sit across with the concern authority and enter into a dialogue to sort out the grievances and come to a logical conclusion in the interest of everyone. So long as grievances continue to exist, it is bound of effect quality delivery at the workplace, and at the end it is the students that will suffer.
Now, what alternative means can aggrieved teachers adopt in the face of being warned of disciplinary action? Remain silent? Hypothetically, it seems like the problems and issues in the various government sector has stagnated to such a level that in matters especially of grievances and denial of due rights, protests and demonstrations seem to be the best way to reach out to the government to make their grievances heard. That, it needs to go beyond the normal; otherwise, grievances are not heard?
And why should teachers or any other government employee not protest when salary is denied for months? How can government expect it’s employees to remain mute when their salary is not paid for months, yet service is delivered because of the effects it will have on the institution.
Reasons for delay may be genuine. Yes, Nagaland being a non revenue earning state and being dependent of Central funds are being cited. Yet, how long will Nagaland live under the shadow of this economic dependency syndrome? Also, the critical gaps found in CAG reports of Nagaland are instances to show misappropriation, negligence, fraudulence, pilferage, incomplete projects, defalcation, fictitious transactions, delay, and overstatements’ in the annual reports of the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) of India concerning Nagaland. Such reports are a testament to the many issues and problems confronting Nagaland today.
When due rights are denied for whatever reasons, there is a limit beyond which human conscience is pricked and once it’s goes beyond the normal, one can only expect or adopt means that are not normal. Well, protests and strikes and demonstrations are beyond the scope of a civilized society, and it calls for dialogue rather, to settle grievances but then again there is a limit, and that the government is also bound by duty to deliver its duty.
(Dr Asangba Tzudir contributes a guest editorial to The Morung Express. Comments can be emailed to email@example.com).