Unchanged Hearts in a Changing World

Over the last few years we are all witnessing some degree of visible changes in Naga society. One can say that these changes are part of the natural process of social change and human progression; while also acknowledging that the occurrence of a number of events contributed in germinating conditions that have propelled these changes. A growing number of companies and brands have come to invest in the Naga economy, which have in turn has caused a ripple effect around issues of production and materialism. The presence of material progression cannot be denied, and yet one must critically assess and examine whether the pace and degree of material progression is equivalent to the progress of human development among the Nagas.  

There is no doubt a growing consciousness is taking place in the minds of the people, particularly amongst the youths, who are more aware of global realities and the changing times in which we now live. And all of a sudden, there seems to be present a Naga ambience of entrepreneurial openness with growing interaction with the world. However I am not sure that a similar notion of change and interaction has occurred around issues of human development and human growth. In other words, the ongoing change taking place is only at a superficial and mechanical level with materialistic implication, and one that has not quite translated to the areas of human development and hence human relations.

In essence the lack of human development has limited the spirit of accommodation and understanding has not gone beyond our extended self. And so what we have is a modern Naga in tune with the latest happenings in the world, equipped with modern gadgets, dressed in the latest fashion and humming to the most recent music; and yet in spite of all this moderness, when faced with crisis, the modern Naga turns to ones own primordial self for refuge, and in the process unmasking the superficiality of one’s modern sophistication. Consequently, we continue to experience and perpetuate a dogmatic viewpoint of our existential realities which is constantly reinforced by a hierarchical perception of human relations, derived from an abused form of tribalism, which is manifested as an extended form of feudalism.

The material progress is therefore creating a very misleading perception in understanding the overall progression of the Naga people. Material progress can in no way be a substitute for human development. And therefore, inspite of all the materialistic growth, the Naga heart has not strayed far from its primordial sense of security, which is strongly attached to a stereotype insular image of tribalism. The image of an insular Naga heart wrapped in the finest modern clothing best demonstrates the contradiction between Naga growth and Naga materialism. The need for an all round human development cannot be undermined in the longer process of social change and there should be no contradiction between material progression and human development.

If and only when Nagas pay more attention to the issue of human development, than perhaps the desire for better roads, quality education, responsible social services, participatory democracy and good governance will become a possibility. Materialism does not necessarily lead to a change of heart, but it is the change of heart that paves the way for transformation to occur in our daily lives, and more importantly, it enables us to improve the way in which we relate to fellow human beings. In the Naga context, the issues of human relations acquire profound meaning and significance because it is through the good relationship fostered between different tribes, that the political identity of being a Naga becomes meaningful and real.