Weak Governments

The news reportage carried in The Morung Express revealing the gross imbalance over ownership of resources and decision-making in the proposed draft MoU by NEEPCO is an issue of grave concern. It brings to the forefront the nature in which governments in the northeast are consistently overwhelmed into signing agreements which jeopardizes the resources and future of the people. It clearly demonstrates the presence of weak governments in the region and their consistent inability to negotiate with corporations from a position of strength. 

There are several compelling reasons that have induced weak natured governments in the region. The issues of militarization, armed conflict, and patronizing economic dependency on the central government are some common features of experience in the region. All of these have created a weak state that often takes political refuge in the center, while functioning in a manner that is not consistent with democratic values and principles of accountability and transparency.

Instability and weakness in the function and structure of the governments has been problematic and has consequently created a cause-effect cycle of arbitrariness and indifference in which politicians in the region overbearingly depend on bureaucrats for political functioning. One core effect of this dependence has led to conditions in which the participatory elements of decision making is weakened and misrepresented. In this sense, the active participation of local communities in policy making is reduced, as a result of which, governments thereby feel less accountable to the people.

It has become fundamentally important and essential that the public assert their rights in an active and responsible manner. The attitude of complacency will only cause more suffering for the poor and in due process government machineries will ensure that people are no longer part of the decision-making equation. With the swelling number of corporations wanting to come to Nagaland has grown because of its rich resources and ceasefire status, the public must engage in decision making processes concerning their land, livelihood and future. If not, we will see many more agreements with corporations in which the government would have sold out the rights and future of the people.

The draft MoU with NEEPCO should be treated as a wake-up call, so that such blatant imbalances do not occur. By this it means that the public must demand that the concerned and affected people should be informed and must form part of the decision making processes on issues that affect the security and wellbeing of their existence. Local communities should be directly informed by the government on negotiating process concerning their land and resources, and their opinions and interests considered before any agreement is arrived at. Finally the government and corporations should be held accountable to the people, after all it is their land and resources that are at stake.