Post Mortem

How we contribute to society’s ethical and moral decline

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 6/29/2019 12:18:19 PM IST

 In my previous articles, I’ve stressed the essentiality of introspecting into ourselves since we are all major contributors to what our society has become. Without regurgitating what I’ve formerly pointed out, I would like to cite some real-life examples to substantiate all that I have been asserting. These examples, I hope, will help the readers to grasp the subtle and implicit ways in which most of us, myself included, contribute to the perpetuation of our society’s ethical erosion.

Let us look at the case of MKR Pillai, retired Nagaland Police (NP) personnel from Kerala, who built a Rs. 4000 crore business empire; just to be clear, Four Thousand Crore business empire. Pillai, a native of Kerala, started his career as a constable and retired as Additional Superintendent of Police. After his retirement, he was appointed as a Consultant to Nagaland Police managing its motor transport wing. The question is: where did he amass all that wealth? I-T raids and investigations in 2017 revealed that he had built such an empire from the mismanagement of funds with impunity thanks to his close connections with Nagaland politicians, senior officials, and previous Governors of Nagaland. During the 2017 I-T raid, the Sreevalsam Business group, Pillai’s family run business, declared over Rs. 100 crore of unaccounted money. A person, such as Pillai, was able to do this precisely because most of us care so very little about others and our society. As long as we get something (even few thousands of rupees) from such deceitful states of affair, we don’t care what damages they do. Try to wrap your head around the amount of money, meant for the modernization of Nagaland Police (who are supposed to serve and protect its citizens), been siphoned off and mismanaged. What an insult to the people of Nagaland that an officer of the law is able to do such a thing and still elude justice? The Irony, however, is that we cannot blame Pillai, nor the politicians, the police officials, or the bureaucrats. Blame ourselves, we are the enablers here. We enable such deeds to happen and do so with impunity. It is us who have created such a societal environment where it pays to be corrupt, deceitful, and crooked.

Our next examples are the cases of the removal of previous DGP of Nagaland, Rupin Sharma, in 2018; and the transfer of Nagaland Chief Secretary, RB Thong, earlier this year. The Government of Nagaland in 2018 cited that Rupin Sharma—a super cop who played a monumental role in the extradition of infamous gangster, Abu Salem, in 2005 from Portugal—the then DGP of Nagaland “does not possess the requisite experience” and that his appointment was a “stop-gap arrangement,” and so on. On the contrary, Rupin Sharma was a seasoned officer; more importantly, he was not a “Yes Man.” He did not say “yes” to the politicians who were well-versed in and enthusiastic about backdoor appointments (because of political obligations) into Nagaland police cadre along their tribal lines. And in Nagaland, politicians want “yes man” and even the majority of us do want to be a “yes man.” A quintessential aspect of being a “yes man” is that it requires you to sell your dignity and self-respect. And Sharma was not selling his self-respect and dignity. When Rupin was appointment as Nagaland’s DGP, there were significant positive changes, such as skill development programs for the inmates, where money earned by the prisoners were deposited into their accounts; and an increase in the salary of constables all thanks to his recommendations, and so on. Moreover, Rupin was not tribal; he had no affinities with any tribes. Hence, citizens began to think there will be equal and fair opportunities in the recruitment processes, which did not sit well with the politicians, high ranking officers and bureaucrats. To put it bluntly, this certainly hurt the egos of the tribal politicians and hence he was removed. There were public signature campaign to halt his removal, but that did not materialize either (I wonder why?).

With this drama ended, we see another one to a baffling climax. In January of this year, we see the Chief Secretary of Nagaland, RB Thong, being transferred. People in Nagaland are indeed living in strange times (maybe, we deserve all these strangeness). Even this high office became an item of mockery in a highly charged political game, thinly masking the tribal undertone. I wonder if similar transfers could be done when a member of larger and “advanced” tribes occupy this office (Just wondering)? What are we, the citizens, to think of such unfolding of events? How can tribalism and trust deficit not perpetuate? Such actions only reaffirm tribalism and trust deficit between tribes in Nagaland. On the one hand, politicians talk about unity; while on the other, they show favoritism that sustains divisions. Such divisive actions humiliate groups that do not possess such political might. This was an implicit way of saying: “I am doing this and what can you do about it?” Indeed, what can average citizens do about this? Silence is indeed deafening. This is similar to what BJP is doing to this country, by cajoling minority and tribal communities.

Lastly, our next example is the most recent one: the misuse of scholarship funds. The director of Higher and Technical and his lackeys have unashamedly misused the students’ scholarship funds. No doubt, even politicians, implicitly or explicitly, are involved in this, since how can directors and mid to high-level bureaucrats embezzle such a huge amount of funds without the knowledge of the concerned ministers. The students’ bodies held a protest; yet, looking at the history of student bodies agitations/protests, I am afraid the director of the concerned department along with those others involved will elude justice; at the most, these perpetrators will get a slap on the wrist. The state government, from the highest level, has given assurance that the concerned matter will be inquired into and that Lok Ayukta was investigating into this matter. However, even the members of the adjudicators are not only appointed based on political connections but are also themselves obligated to the politicians. As such, the investigation will be lost in the cumbersome court processes and other bureaucratic red tapes (i.e. the file will be lost somewhere in the dusty government offices, never to be found again).

The point of these above illustrations of examples is that we allow such states of affairs to continue. Indeed, the government, as well as its politicians and bureaucrats, will invariably give proper justifications for the above-mentioned episodes, since they are good at giving excuses. More importantly, these cases poignantly display the complacency of the people in Nagaland. For money, most of us are willing to defend what we despise and castigate what we hold dear. We keep our mouths shut either because no one cares or because we have some monetary or material gains to be made out of such conditions. We ought to remember that we neither can nor should we blame Pillai, the politicians, director of Higher and Technical, and other government officials precisely because we are all complicit in creating and sustaining an environment, where such unethical codes of conduct have become normal. We have normalized such behaviors. We are the contributors and enablers that have led to where our society is morally and ethically. There is or must be something shockingly wrong with us and the way we view things around us to habitually enable such states of affairs to occur. I do hope my estimations are erroneous. Yet, these examples are something for us to sincerely ponder about. Rather than finding faults in others, we should begin by examining into our own selves.

Dr. Salikyu, 

St. Joseph University

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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