Self Definition

The State system that feeds upon power, domination and violence has displaced humanity from its center and pushed aside other forms of political, social and economic organization. This has resulted in the breakdown of the complex web of interdependence, interconnection and interrelationships. Charles Tilly further reminds us that war made States and States in turn made war, revealing the link between warmaking and State building. Max Weber goes on to add that unless a State’s claim is monopolistic, territorially focused and underpinned by a force which is legitimate, it cannot function. 

In situations where the State structure has been imposed from above, inherent tensions between State and peoples have often resulted in protracted conflict thereby revealing the inherent contradictions between State sovereignty and Peoples’ sovereignty. The idea of standard universal packaging is itself a denial of human dignity that destroys indigenous organizations. It deals with abstraction and not human persons and fails to recognize the distinctive human elements. 

This underlying problem reveals an attempt to quantify and calculate human development in terms of possession and commodities, which negates what men and women do with their lives. The consumerist culture is oppressive to the human spirit and has let loose a force which constructs human societies on traditions that resist new ideas, thereby inculcating conformity to the hegemonizing and homogenizing forces of consumerism. 

Nagas are in a moment of time where State system with all its power, will, intellectual and moral drive is seeking to shape the entire system in accordance with its own values. Hence, Nagas cannot evaluate themselves by a set of cultural norms and values that are alien to their own cultures. Naga governance, leadership and peace are not yet realities; they are still ongoing struggles because Nagas must first deconstruct the myth of the imposing dominant system which creates barriers between peoples while generating accord amongst those who accept the same myth.

Naga existence cannot be realized without respecting all facets of human existence. The principles of leadership, governance and justpeace needs to be understood holistically because, one cannot exist without the other. The praxis of these principles is an ongoing process, which proceeds from gaining critical knowledge to imparting critical consciousness. It is perhaps important to appreciate them as a process of learning and understanding the human capacity to be self-determining. 

This process starts in the individual self with its inherent freedoms, powers and responsibilities; and it is only the compelling forces of conscience that they are co-coordinated into the collective self. It is no wonder that Nagas are composed of many nations and languages, because each one is considered as essential in the spectrum of humanity. Therefore, the Naga people right to its own self-definition is fundamental to its pursuit for self-realization. 

From this viewpoint the values of self-definition is essential for the Nagas, because without the ability to define itself, the existence of a peoples with a political aspiration is undermined. The ongoing crisis on the borders of the present state of Nagaland represents just that dilemma. Since its inception as a state, the government of Nagaland has had to face issues around borders, whether it be Assam, or Manipur and for that matter the international boundary that has divided Naga villages into two. And so on all fronts the issue of border becomes contentious.

It should however not be surprising because the existence of various communities that make up the Naga identity inhabits traditional land that goes beyond the present state of Nagaland, which was created in 1960. In spite of this arbitrary creation of boundaries, Naga communities continued to nurture and share an interdependent relationship, which further strengthened their common political aspirations. The paradox of state boundaries therefore emerged with the creation of the state. To begin addressing the issues of boundaries, one therefore has to look beyond state borders. The most viable option in addressing questions of borders and boundaries needs to begin on the ethics and the principles to self-definition.