Post Mortem

Choosing a SuitableSelf-Governing System

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 9/24/2019 11:56:41 AM IST

 We may have all the natural resources and wealth within our homeland, but they mean nothing if we are not in-charge. We may gain all the knowledge in the world, but that won’t take us far if we are not in the driver-seat. For these obvious reasons, self-government is critically important for the success of our people. 

Both China and India are moving more towards the rule of majoritarianism and the imposition of uniformity, which will only increase inequality and structuralexploitation against ethnic minorities. This being the nature of the beast, the Naga people cannot expect to truly exercise self-government as long as they remain under some other dominant power.

What, then, should the Naga people do if or when they become an independent nation? They should find a tailor-made governing system, which would have some elements of federalism, tribal sovereignty, and the village republicsystem.To do so is being true to ourindigenous nature, ourtribality and traditional systems, while recognizing that we would also need to incorporatesomenew formsto keep up with changing times. With all this in mind, let us throw out some ideas on self-governance for consideration: 

Restoring the Village Republic System: Today’s politicians have undermined our traditional village autonomy anddestroyed our self-reliant, equalitarian culture.They have made every village become more dependent on the government. Because they have caused most opportunities to be concentrated in urban centers, this has drawnthe more privileged to migrate to urban areas, thereby leaving the lessprivileged behind in their villages. All these must be reversed. 

Even in the present context, our State Government must devolve itself so as to empower every village to become self-reliant and producers of goods. It must help to restore local self-government and even upgrade every village to function like a mini-legislative body, having maximum autonomy and executive power to provide all-round development of the community. In addition, the State Governmentshould use its resources to help build infrastructure, provide healthcare, grant educational assistance, and offerproduct subsidies.It should share portions of revenue collected from urban dwellers and businesses to support rural development. Those who start businesses and create jobs in rural areas shouldbe provided financial incentives.Getting all these started will certainly yield many long-term economic benefits, which can only strengthen the Naga nation from the bottom-up. 

Restoring Tribal Sovereignty: Since tribal identity is deeply ingrained in every Naga, this has often resulted in people thinking mainly for their own tribal interests, which, in turn, has caused many disparities amongst the Naga tribes. To fix this problem, the solution is usually in the form of backward quotas or reservations of some sort. But when these things don’t work, the aggrieved tribes justifiably want more autonomy of their own.Fortunately, this solutiondoesn’t have to be sought from an alien source because it can be found right where we are, that is, in the exercise of our own traditional tribal sovereignty. 

What this entails is that every tribe, or community, within a geographical area could function much like a state within a nation. For this to happen, the government should devolve political authority to every tribe, big and small,so that the latter can exercise its own legislative and executive powerswithin its own geo-political jurisdiction according to its liking.This also means that Central and/or State funds should be allotted to each regional government preferably in the form of block grants. That way each regional government could manage its capital budget and oversee its projects. Such an arrangement could lead to better provision of services and the development of local leaders. 

Adoptinga Federal System of Government:Since the Nagas’ governing system is rooted in the village republic and tribal sovereignty, that means any national government they may have in the future needs to be a federal system so that power is shared amongregional governments, but at the same time they are also bound together under a common federal authority, which would oversee functions such as revenue collections, defense, foreign affairs,immigration, energy, communications, national highways, aviation,and transport.

Applying Republicanism as opposed to Majoritarianism:The Nagas who once followed a system of “pure democracy” (non-autocratic leadership, consensus rule) have now come to embrace an alien concept called “majoritarianism” (popular vote system) in which the leaders who get the most votes rule, thereby enabling few individuals to be very powerful. To correct this situation, the Nagas must return to “pure democracy”(consensus rule) and “republicanism” (representativesystem)which sees the common people as sovereign and would recognize even a small tribe as having equal value and privileges as a big tribe.

Using a Two-Party System instead of a Multi-Party System: For simple-minded people like the Nagas, a multi-party system creates confusion and encourages defections. Being a homogenous society, the Nagas would do well with a two-party system, which could be in the form of, say, Christian Conservatives versus Progressive Liberals. 

Choosing the Presidential Systemoverthe Parliamentary System: With the parliamentary system, the Nagas cannot choose their Chief Executive (the Prime Minister). Also,smaller tribes orless populated rural areas will lose to bigger tribes and urban populations.But these problems can be avoided in the presidential system, which relies more on representative democracy in choosing the President via the Electoral College. Similarly, the presidential system would allow the selection of the members of the Upper House (Senate) to be in favor of tribe-based representations, irrespective of their population sizes, which is compatible with the Naga traditional system as well. In the presidential system, the members of the Lower House (Legislature) can focus on legislations, initiate bills for raising revenue, impeach federal officials, and serve as a check on the Executive Branch.  In turn, the President can appoint members of his Cabinet (not necessarily politicians, subject to Senate confirmation) to be official heads of the various Federal Agencies and carry out the business of the nation’sgovernment. 

Mazie Nakhro,

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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