Economic Returns

Thomas Paine once said: “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it”. The essence of this powerful message lends credence to widely accepted dictum that economic freedom or self-reliance is regarded as a necessary concomitant of political freedom. Without one, the other is incomplete and meaningless and people who rely on their own strength and know how to help themselves cannot be held in bondage for long. Conversely, a nation which, though free, depends on other nations for anything it needs, whether it is food, weapons or machinery, must always be subject to pressures, and so, stands perpetually in danger of losing its freedom. 

It may be difficult to swallow this fact but it is true that good laden heavy vehicles enter Nagaland carrying most of the essential commodities required for their daily consumption and spending crores of rupees procuring and buying from other States. Sadly, the State has nothing much to sell in return and most of the trucks go back empty. The local economy is today solely dependent on imports. This is not a positive sign but one of dependency. Even food grains, meat products and other agro products are being imported. In economic parlance Naga people are living beyond their means and this reflects poorly on the enterprising spirit as also the poor management of resources. 

That Nagas have a serious problem of attitude when it comes to work ethics cannot be overstated. The remark made by the Chief Minister himself—that Nagas yearn only to be masters, of hankering after easy money schemes and eating up the seed money under programmes such as PMRY and CM’s Corpus fund meant for self employment—speaks volumes about the problem we face. Judging by the extent to which people have allowed themselves to become dependent, there is still a long way before the State can reach the stage of self-reliance. But for this to happen, people would have to lift themselves up virtually by their boot-straps. 

In the final analysis, to even come close to attaining self-reliance, people would have to first rid themselves of the dangerous attitude of dependence. The Dignity of Labour awareness drive and several other youths and farmers’ empowerment programs being organised by the Government of Nagaland and other well meaning organizations should now be translated into real initiatives that produces the returns. The government as the largest service provider must continue to play the role of a guardian angel. Only if people are able to make this paradigm shift will they be able to throw off the yoke of dependency and evolve into self-realized society.