Post Mortem

Economy of Nagaland state

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 1/29/2020 11:20:44 AM IST

 (From previous issue)

The Economy of Nagaland as we see it by ourselves.

When the country’s economy is as such, Nagaland State’s economy cannot be expected to be better due to lack of proper regulated management system of resources or rather in the absence of any management system. But we cannot put the whole blame on Nagaland. Therefore, it will be necessary to look at the weak State’s economy from two different angles.

Firstly, for Nagaland, the fault lies with the Government of India to some extent. Nagaland is the only State in India which came into being through a political agreement. Point No 11 of the 16-Point Memorandum says, “To supplement the revenue of Nagaland, there will be need for the Government of India to pay out of the Consolidated Fund of India: (1) A lump sum each year for the development program in the Nagaland, and (II) A grant-in-aid towards meeting the cost of administration.”

In 1989, this clause was done away with by the Government of India arbitrarily by changing the funding pattern for Nagaland, although this was one point agreed upon by both sides of the parties in the agreement. Yes, as a State, we cannot expect spoon feeding for all time to come. But in that case, GoI should not put any restriction on the Nagaland State to explore its natural resources like Oil and Natural Gas etc. Article 371A (iv) says that Parliament cannot pass any Act regarding ‘ownership and transfer of land and its resources’. That means, the Central Government cannot impose its term on Nagaland regarding land and its resources, which include Oil and Natural Gas. If we go as per the provision of the Constitution without hurdles from the GoI, there is no point for Nagaland to go to Delhi every year with its begging bowl. We can be self sufficient. But because of the hurdles stated above, the Nagaland Government, whichever political party may be in power, liability cannot be avoided. We run the Government on credit. Our officers will have to tighten their belt to fight for our requirements with the concerned ministries in Delhi every year but in spite of our best effort in presenting our demands, we are getting 70-80% only of what we require. Because of this reason, liability keeps on mounting. This is the grim picture of a dependent State.

Secondly, even if there are hurdles as stated above, the situation should not have been that bad if the State resources are managed properly. Unfortunately, we do not have any regulated system of management till today. In the ministry, save few, each man goes his own way. Under such circumstances, some have been doing well but we find mismanagement more, some in small measurers whereas some are in unimaginable measures. I will point out few past examples of mismanagement in the Government. Examples of mismanagement in small measures as reflected from Assembly records are like (a) In a particular year, the department of Horticulture produced four and a half kgs of coffee from one major district after giving lot of subsidy to the farmers for past few successive years. (b) In a particular Bee-keeping centre, there were six staff looking after 10 bee colonies. These 10 bee colonies produced about 30 bottles of honey in a year. When asked about the amount of sales proceed, the Minister said that all these 30 bottles were presented to the officers and so there was no income. (c) In a piggery farm, there were 24 staff without a single pig for several yeas. There are so many instances of such type of mismanagement of resources when one goes thru the Assembly record. These are examples of mismanagement that happened in the past. There are also instances of mismanagement of much bigger dimension particularly in road sector, by allotting works to the contractors of their men Rs. 700/-, Rs. 800/- hundred above the schedule of rate. etc. I have pointed out few instances out of many just to show how resources were being mismanaged. In a way this may be termed as buying money with money as mentioned earlier. All these examples are about the past mismanagement of resources which are found in Nagaland Legislative Assembly record.

The next point is about resource mobilization. As stated above, Point 11 of the 16-Point Memorandum starts with ‘In order to supplement the revenue of Nagaland…….” Revenue mobilization is the first step to look into. In this sector. I was critical with many Nagaland Govt. official during our time who were responsible for failure in revenue mobilization. With due apology to few exceptionally good officers, many of our officers cannot escape the blame in this sector. The Assembly record in a particular year in the past had shown that the Transport Department with 100 new Buses operating in various routes incurred loss. When a person owns a new bus, he can earn sufficient to support him to have a well to do life if the operation of the bus is properly managed. It was unbelievable when the department incurred loss with 100 new buses in operation. I have taken this old record about Transport department as an example but we find that in the past, almost all revenue earning departments failed to achieve their target which added to the deficit figure of the financial position of the Govt. every year.

There is no point to blame or criticize one another for our failures; we are all responsible in one way or the other; the politicians, the officers and some unscrupulous contractors. But together, we must have a rethinking of how to bring about some improvements in the governance of the economy of the State. In the first place, we must put a halt to the diminishing trend of our economy with all seriousness. We have no mechanism to measure the level of State’s economy so far. As a result, we are in the dark about the level of our economic status. We have many deficiencies like lack of capital, lack of skilled labour, lack of production etc. But we can presume that when the Indian economy is in its lowest ebbs, ours will be still worse. Nagaland has become a consumer State. There is no productivity, little production we see are also the products of outside laborers and not our locals. In fact, there are ample chances to earn a living if one has the determination to do so. In one evaluation report few years back, outside labourers earned and took away about Rs. 400 crores in a year from RCC works alone. (Govt. + private constructions). This type of spending greatly weakens the circulation of money in the State. If this amount is earned by the local workers, the same will keep in circulation within the Sate, but once our money has gone out of the State it will never come back. If I have a rupee, I can buy an exercise book from Mr. B; and Mr. B can buy a pencil from Mr. C with the same coin and in this manner many demands can be met with the same coin passing from hand to hand. Groups which appears to be insignificant like barbers, minis etc. are also earning a lot and sent home their earnings which will never come back to Nagaland. This is how our circulation of money becomes weak. If it is so, it is a sign of our weak economy. When the State economy is weak, people become weak psychologically; people become insincere, people become powerless if the stomach is empty. This may be the reason why money speaks loud during election. Therefore, I repeat weak economy is bad politics.

While I am about to conclude this small note, I have come across a portion of Governor’s speech on the Republic Day which goes, “Guns and corruption, the two evils, have taken unacceptable toll on our people. When the rest of the country, even our neighbors in the North East are marching ahead to greater prosperity, we in Nagaland, are craving for basic needs like motorable roads, functioning basic health centres, schools with qualified teachers. Our development projects, infrastructure projects, health and education projects, livelihood projects have suffered enormously by the twin evils (Guns & corruption). This sentence has become almost the substance of what has been stated above.

I would also like to quote one more sentence on the report of the 10th National Voters’ Day under the theme ‘Electoral Literacy for Stronger Democracy’ which goes, “During election, there are religious leaders who succumb to money and there are young voters who succumb to alcohol and money.” Further, mention was made about instances where the total number of voters is more than the population itself in some village or the votes polled in a particular Polling Station was more than the number of votes in the electoral roll etc.

People say that Nagaland is pre-dominantly a Christian State but I will say that Nagaland is a Christian State. All the weaknesses stated above are committed by the people of Nagaland. If it is true, whether the Nagaland Churches have a role to play or in what way our churches can contribute to correct these ills. In the past people advocated complete separation of church and politics, because the church was the Government in those days. Many church leaders today are of the opinion that Christians should not touch politics because politics is dirty. In that case, let the Church remain independent but let the Church take a strong stand to defend its faith minus politics if they think it proper.

Some people may think that malpractices in the election and the timidity of our churches has got nothing to do with our economy. But all these factors and their corresponding effect on the society are contributing towards destroying the economy of the State as well. When economy fails, the talk of sovereignty has no meaning. I repeat, “Economic Independence is of no less important to political Independence.”

Nagas are proud people. We think that we are better and stronger than others etc. If one lives a worthy life, there is nothing wrong for any one to hold such pride. We need to face the many challenges with positive attitude that lay ahead of us, because every day is a day in history.

(Concluded)

Dr. Shürhozelie Liezietsu, Kohima

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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