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Religion, economy and politics: The Sunday stand off
Published on 21 Mar. 2010 1:04 AM IST
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Whatever reasons have prompted the DC’s and the Municipal’s CEOs of both Dimapur and Kohima to bring down the shutters on Sundays defies all logical explanations.
The DC’s and the CEOs, drawing hefty salaries are alien to hunger, but there is a vast majority of poor who depends on their daily wages and profits from small business unit for their livelihood, Sundays being no exception.
The imprudent diktat is also driving Dimapurians beyond Nagaland gates, into a thriving Assam on Sunday for their weekly shopping. And in most cases they buy rations for the whole week. It implies that the demand for almost all commodities- the bazaars in Assam sales item ranging from food stuff to non food stuff-in Dimapur has fallen.
Now, how rational is that? Demand is the most crucial aspect of an economy. Demand calls forth supply, which the owners of factors of production (Raw materials, labour, capital, interest on capital, land, buildings, management, etc) produce. And an increase in productivity indicates a developing economy.
Seriously, it’s amazing how someone can come up with an order based on religion and people from left and right supporting it without analyzing the long term impact it will have on the society. It needs no mentioning that Nagaland is a capital strapped state, and to let whatever little money we have, leak out of the economy is nothing but sheer idiocy.
Notwithstanding the fact that the majority of the business communities are non-locals, they still consume a part of their earnings in Nagaland, which is more than I can say of their Assam counterpart.
The very act of consumption creates demand, leading to increase in investment, income, saving and supply, which again is a valuable source of revenue for the government via taxation.
In other words, it fuels the economy with the right ingredients for growth, development and sustainability. Moreover, it was a common sight to see a plethora of local people doing brisk business at New Market and other bazaars as well as pan shop and other small business establishments even on Sundays prior to the ban.
And yes, they are Christians, unfortunate enough to be born in poor families and certainly not privileged enough to buy their Sunday best and attend Church services while letting their children to starve.
The Nagas in general have failed to distinguish between a Christian majority state and a true Christian state. Nagaland is not governed by the Church but the Nagaland Legislative Assembly-A secular policy making institution.
We are a part of a secular nation whether we like it or not and as long as we are bound by the constitution we have no choice but to run along with the pack. We are as much responsible for the well being of non Christians in our state as they are for us in their states. Moreover, Christianity is all about forgiveness, tolerance and acceptance. Otherwise we are no better than Narayan Modi or the Taliban regime if we are to pursue a doctrine of religious fanaticism.
Still then, what has religion got to do with the economy or for that matter with politics? Religion gives us spiritual contentment, the economy provides us with the basic necessities of life while politics govern and protect us.
These three are completely separate entities and should not be interlaced in a progressive society. Any attempt to blend the three will only end up infecting us with the dreaded ‘catastrophic Afghanistan situation syndrome’. Amalgamation in moderation may be healthy, but advocating extremism is regressive for the society.
And being a man with a reasonable head on my shoulders, I simply does not see any reason why a non-Christian should not carry out his business or someone should go hungry on Sunday merely because the officers and the affluent class can afford to attend Church services while their domestic helps do all the chores for them.
Leave it to the people. I just hope the policy makers and our Church leaders see reasons from the eyes of a common man.
Temjenmeren Jamir, department of Economics, Unity College Dimapur.

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