State

Ravi’s vision to transform Nagaland

Ravi’s vision to transform Nagaland
R.N. Ravi (NP)
DIMAPUR, AUG 22 (NPN) | Publish Date: 8/22/2019 11:40:03 AM IST

 SAYS TALK IS LIKE A SWITCHED ON CAR ENGINE IN NEUTRAL GEAR

Tinakali Sumi
 
Nagaland Governor and Government of India’s Representative and Interlocutor for Naga Peace Talks, R.N. Ravi, reiterated that his sudden appointment was due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s desire to conclude the ongoing talk within three months and that his mission was to help Nagaland become a “normal functional state.” 
In an exclusive and maiden interview after being sworn-in as Nagaland Governor on August 1, Rave expressed disappointment that Nagaland government was not functioning normally and stressed that mere political resolution of the Naga issue was not enoughunless benefits reach the people.
Ravi lamented about deficit of transparency, accountability and fair play in governance and instead political economy and concern over insurgency was deeply entrenched. Ravi said as the constitutional head of the state, he would try his best to improve the situation. Referring to the ongoing talk which remained static in the last one year, Ravi likened it to a “switched on car engine in a neutral gear”. 
He also dismissed NSCN (I-M)’s claim that the talk has been degraded to the level of a “mere governor”. Rather he said it has been elevated to a higher level. 
“As a Governor of Nagaland holding certain constitutional position, I would be in a position to iron out some of the wrinkles in the Peace Process more effectively than a mere Interlocutor.”
Excerpts of the interview 
NP: At this point of time when the Naga Talk is at final stage, your appointment as Governor of Nagaland came as a big surprise for many, especially for Nagas. What was the reason for the sudden appointment?
Ravi: Since the talk is almost at the concluding stage, Prime Minister wants me to devote my full time to its earliest possible conclusion. Hence, I should live in the midst of Naga people and work full time. Besides there are a number of issues, largely related to governance; it is a public knowledge that at the functional level Nagaland government does not appear normal. Mere political resolution of the Naga issue is not enough. Its benefits must reach the people.
NP: What are your priorities as the Governor of Nagaland? 
Ravi: To help Nagaland become a normal functional state. Currently it looks dystopian. Many Institutions of the state are not functioning the way they should. There is great deficit of transparency, accountability and fair play in governance. Political economy of or care of insurgency is deeply entrenched. Corruption is pathological. Within limitations of a Constitutional head of state I will try my best to improve the situation.
NP: What do you say when many people find a conflict between the role of a Governor of Nagaland and that of Government of India’s Interlocutor for Naga Peace Talks?. 
Ravi: There is no conflict or contradiction between the two roles. All of us play multiple roles in our lives, as Governor I have certain Constitutional role with respect to Nagaland state. As an Interlocutor, my mandate is to have the best possible deal for all the Nagas. An Interlocutor is a Representative of Government of India; it depends on the Prime Minister’s trust and confidence on him and her. Having conducted the Peace Process for last five years my coming over to Nagaland is to give desired positive impetus to the Peace Process and conclude it fast.
NP: But NSCN (I-M) has already expressed displeasure over what it called “betrayal” by Government of India in reducing the talk to the level of a “mere Governor”. What is your response?
Ravi: There is no betrayal or reduction to the level of talk. The talk has always been at and with the blessings of Prime Minister. In fact in many sense it is an elevation to a higher level. As an Interlocutor I am carrying forward the Peace Process with respect to all the Nagas, even those beyond the Nagaland state. 
It is a fact that the Naga Peace Process covers all the Nagas. As a Governor of Nagaland holding certain constitutional position, I would be in a position to iron out some of the wrinkles in the Peace Process more effectively than a mere Interlocutor. I will be a force for the good of the Naga people. I am surprised that some people see my appointment with a tunnel vision and preconceived notions.
NP: NSCN (I-M) holds on to its position on the demand for separate Naga Flag and Constitution whereas it appears these are not acceptable to Government of India. How will your resolve it? 
Ravi: Prime Minister Modi’s approach to the resolution of Naga political issue is based on the principle of equality and mutual respect with due regard to contemporary realities. On this very principle we have understood each other, signed the agreements of mutual understanding and reached consensus on the entire range of power sharing between the Nagas and Government of India. There is hardly any substantive issue which is not already resolved. The core issues of Integration and Sovereignty have also been resolved. We reached this stage almost one year ago. Since then we have remained stuck up on symbolic issues of Flag and Constitution although I have given options and tried to pursue the Naga Interlocutors to appreciate them with open mind. In the last one year, our Talk has been like a switched on car engine in a neutral gear. The status quo is unbearable for the Naga people due to the weight of the so called multiple government levying multiple taxation and the fear of gun. This is not acceptable to Government of India also.
NP: You have, recently, said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished to resolve the Naga political issue within three months. Do you think it is possible given the differences on the remaining issues?
Ravi: Under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, during the last five years there has been unprecedented progress in the Naga Peace Process so much so that we have already settled almost all the issues including political parameters of our relationship, entire range of power sharing as well as new structures of governance and political representations. Keeping the Naga Peace Process hostage for the last one year over some symbolic issues is denial of the contemporary realities. 
We must appreciate that no political settlement is possible without appreciating the contemporary realities. We should recall the first cease-fire agreement of 1964 and the gains made in the negotiation which is unthinkable today. Unfortunately for the Naga people that did not succeed due to irrational rigidity of some Naga Interlocutors who disregarded the political realities of that time. It was a historic lost opportunity for the Naga people. Disregarding the political contemporary realities of today will be a repeat of that historic blunder. 
Today, Naga people are far more mature and appreciative of the existing and emerging regional and global geo-political realities. While the Government of India has shown sufficient flexibilities on the remaining issues, the Naga Interlocutors have been irrationally rigid. Such rigidity is against the spirit of negotiation. 22 years of negotiation has taken a heavy toll on the patience and trust of Naga people in the Peace Process. Government of India fully empathises with their sentiments and is not in the position to allow the continuation of the status quo anymore. I don’t think we should wait for another three months for the final agreement.
NP: Is three months an ultimatum?
Ravi: Pushing a car with a switched on engine in a neutral gear should not be construed as an ultimatum. No one would like to sit in such a car for so long.
NP: Do you see a possibility of another Interlocutor if NSCN (I-M) refuses to engage with you?
Ravi: NSCN (I-M)’s leadership is mature. We have a very good mutual understanding. I can understand them having their certain differing political positions but we are carrying forward our engagement in a constructive manner. I remain engaged and have held meetings with them even after my appointment as Governor of Nagaland.
NP: An editorial of NSCN (I-M) newsletter/bulletin has accused you of being “capricious and bossy” in your last July 26 meeting with NSCN (I-M), after your appointment as Governor of Nagaland. What do you have to say on this?
Ravi: I know NSCN (I-M) leadership which is highly intelligent and mature. I do not believe they would subscribe to such an opinion.
NP: As Interlocutor you are yet to sit across the table with all the negotiating parties (NSCN and WC of NNPGs) together, when are you likely to hold an inclusive meeting with all of them?
Ravi: We have made significant progress towards this end. There is already an understanding between all of us that all will be the co-owner of the final agreement.
NP: What is your message for the Nagas?
Ravi: Naga political issue belongs to the Naga people. At this crucial juncture no Naga leadership, be it social, political or intellectual, can afford to be a mere witness. I would urge them to appreciate the sincere commitment of Prime Minister Modi unprecedented significant steps taken by him for a dignified resolution of the Naga political issue honourable to the Naga people. It is imperative that the Naga people should not let slip this historic opportunity. They should create conducive atmosphere for the resolution without any delay.

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