Nagas at the cross-road: only solution is to cultivate and nurture truth

Dr Kiyasetuo Vizo
Kohima Village

The Naga generation of today is at a very critical, confusing and directionless cross-road with countless leaders with few followers. Our leaders; whether elected, selected or self-style; are giving tall promises which are sweet to the ears but their actions on the ground are not matching at all and very disheartening and surprising to the eyes and hearts. 

During successive state elections, our candidates promised us this and that to the extent that once elected they will have the power to lead and take us even to heaven. But I suppose they don’t mean divine heaven but earthly heaven, which none of us know and I sense those who give such promises themselves do not know the kind of heaven they are talking about. 

During election times, different parties, both national, regional and even independents contested to win elections by hook or by crook. It may not be too strong a statement to say that elections are never free and fair but money makes all the talk and buy the votes. Just after election, our elected representatives irrespective of their political party affiliations clinch to their most likely Chief Minister promising their allegiance and unconditional support and in one voice they come out that an oppositionless government is required to bring about a Naga solution which is honourable and acceptable to all.

An oppositionless Government is said to be a disgrace to democracy but our apparently democratically elected representatives unequivocally declared to the Naga public that oppositionless government is indispensable to strike the Naga Solution to a logical conclusion. We have being hearing this since 2015 and may continue to hear for years to come. Initially the simple electorates have no question, but after about a decade they are having doubts. They are questioning themselves, “Are the elected representatives telling us the right motive behind the need for having an oppositionless Government? Are they having vested interests but lie to us? Some of them who critically assess the ground realities prevailing in the governance of the state cynically concluded that support for the oppositionless government is not for Naga Solution but to get their share of “Power and Money”.

There is a narrative propagated and on sale by the ruling dispensation that having an oppositionless government in the state is a manifestation of “Naga Unity”. But unfortunately the Naga public is yet to buy that narrative. On the contrary, there is division after divisions within over grounds and undergrounds and civil societies of various Naga tribes but all speaking in one voice for an early Naga solution which is honourable, inclusive and acceptable to all but acting in different, opposite and divisive directions. 

Divisions and issues within Nagas of India and Nagas of Burma are slowly surfacing. Now Nagas themselves are calling themselves Nagas of Nagaland, Nagas of Manipur, Nagas of Assam and Nagas of Arunachal Pradesh much to the delight of the country, India. Coming to Nagaland State, tribalism is at its peak. The electorates sheepishly vote for those candidates who give them the highest amount of money for their votes, but just ranges from Rs 5000 to Rs 10,000 per vote on an average at the last State Assembly election held in 2023. That is, the retail sale price of one voting right for five years period, when calculated ranges from Rs 3 to Rs 6 per day per vote. It seems Naga votes are very cheap. It must be at distress sale. 

Usually there are hundreds of middle men, I mean electoral vote whole sale dealers, said to have been lined up in the office of candidates offering themselves to buy the much needed votes to get elected. Their service charges or whole sale dealership price cannot be calculated as those are not fully transparent but assumed to be very expensive.

In addition, the rich and the wealthy are said to often get love letters usually with “Nagaland for Christ” letter heads to pay multiple taxes from multiple governments within such and such dates and times, at times with stern warning if fail to pay on time. I am perplexed on hearing this. More so, because Nagaland has about twenty National parties and as many governments with as many presidents and prime ministers, unprecedented globally ever in history.  They are all said to be fighting for the same Naga Solution. 

Yes, the Naga National parties have cease-fire with the Government of India, their one-time said to be arch enemy, but the fight within themselves goes on and on. The Government of India had declared loud and clear and in no uncertain terms that Naga Sovereignty and territorial integration is out of question. The Arm Forces Special Power Act has been in force and extended w.e.f 1st April 2024 for another six months saying that the law and order situation in the State remains dangerous. Is this because of the infighting within the Nagas? As the cease fire with GOI still continues.

Seemingly, “the Naga Solution” which Nagas of all walks of life has been talking about for more than two decades, may be a solution different from what is directly presented to and discussed in the public domain. The ground realities as discussed above pointed to a totally different Naga Solution, correct me if I am wrong, that is, “Money and Power” and domination over others in some cases. 

It seems Nagas really like money, not ordinary money but free money, money without doing any work or ill gotten wealth. That too, India money not Naga money. That is what one of our Naga freedom fighter told me long time back and many might have heard the same. It seems the Nagas are ready to compromise and sacrifice their everything and rights, freedom, prides, honour to the extent of their very life for money, which is not theirs but God’s. 

This is very unfortunate state of affairs in the Naga society. The Holy Bible can never be wrong in saying, “The love of money is the root cause of all evils.” Money is said to be a good servant but a bad master. Then can we safely conclude that money has become the master of the Nagas and Nagas are now the servants of money. Nagas have now become purchasable commodity because of their love for ill gotten money. 

Our love for ill gotten money may be the reason for all sorts of social, political and economic evils prevailing in our society and in our governance. For instance, Tribalism is at its peak, divisions and divisions within civil societies and freedom fighters are going on; corruptions in the form of money laundering, nepotism, favouritism etc etc knows no limit and are at their best. 

Are the Nagas lie to each other and now in the process of bearing their cost of lies? Because, according to a renowned missile scientist, highly acclaimed philosopher and former president of India, Dr Abdul Kalam, “Luxury and lies have huge maintenance costs but truth and simplicity are self maintained without any cost.” CR Pawsey, the then Deputy Commissioner of the Naga Hills who observed the Nagas before, during and after the Second World War said, “Honesty was the first casually of the war for the Nagas.” 

Even then Nagas were dishonest for decades but an insider assessment can be at best “the Nagas are now dishonestly dishonest.” They now say one lie and just do the opposite of another lie. May be because of all these consequences for the love of money, Gautama Buddha, the enlightened founder of Buddhism might have come to this conclusion, “Money is the worst discovery of human life but it is the most trusted material to test human nature.” With this test the Government of India knows through and through who are the present Nagas.  Today’s society is deafened by money, dumbed by money and blinded by money. Can we move forward with dignity in this way?

“No country can progress if it’s politics is more profitable than it’s industries. In a country where those in Government are richer than entrepreneurs, they manufacture poverty,” said Peter Obi. Jesus Christ, the son of God and our saviour told us Christians in St Luke 16:13 thus, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” 

So Nagas need to stop using “Nagaland for Christ” on their letter heads at least when demand notes are served. This is a blatant lie and amounts to blasphemy. How nice it would be if the State Government of the day stop fooling the people that the oppositionless government is required for Naga solution. The public knows too well where the intention is. “You need power, only when you want to do something harmful otherwise love is enough to get everything done.” Said Charlie Chaplin, renowned and much respected for his philosophical comedy. “Power corrupts; and absolute power corrupt absolutely.” 

Nagas let’s talk our own language, express our own thoughts and our own mind and make our life free and beautiful and not money language and make our life miserable. Cuckoo speaks its own language so it is free but parrot copy others language, therefore remains a slave in a cage. Stop being parasites to politicians and unnecessarily applauding them in their language. “To applaud a politician because he has built a school, hospital or road using public money”, according to Robert Mugabe, former President of Zimbabwe, “ the same as congratulating an ATM machine for giving back your money.” 

Our world, according to Nelson Mandela, a true patriot, hard core freedom fighter and former president of South Africa, “ not divided by race, colour, gender or religion. Our world is divided into wise people and fools. And fools divide themselves by race, colour, gender or religion.” Nagas, how long are we going to remain in the bottomless pit of divisions after divisions and let others and posterity called us fools. 

Here, I may mention for the Churches in Nagaland, a strong word from Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas on 30th August 2020, “If you don’t know how to get angry at the corruption, at the money that should be given to the poor but goes to the pocket of powerful people than something is wrong with your Christianity.” The evil will triumph when good man do nothing. “It’s not the needy who are a problem in this world, it’s the greedy,” said White Wolf. 

Martin Luther King Jr. warned the Church, thus “The Church must be reminded that it is not the master or servant of the State, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.” He went on to say. “We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity but in love with humanity.”

Are the Nagas deprived of such leaders?. The only Naga solution is to throw away the lies that we spread amongst ourselves and cultivate truth, nurture truth and propagate truth. Are the Nagas too weak and too poor to cultivate and nurture the truth that is badly needed during this very critical juncture.