Seminar on property in Naga context

Seminar on property in Naga context
Professor Kedilezo Kikhi
Staff Reporter DIMAPUR, SEP 20 (NPN) | Publish Date: 9/20/2019 12:28:10 PM IST

A two-day national seminar on ‘Concept of property in Naga customary tradition’ got underway at Immanuel College in Lengrijan , Dimapur on Friday. The seminar was organized by Research Community of Immanuel College in collaboration with Institute of Naga Studies (NIS), Dimapur and sponsored by Indian Council of Social Science Research- North Eastern Regional Centre (ICSSRC-NERC).

In his keynote address, professor, Kedilezo Kikhi, department of sociology, Tezpur University, Assam expounded on the topic vis-a-vis three crucial aspects surrounding the concept of property in tribal and ethnic communities of the Northeast, namely; land, identity and development. He opined customary law pertaining to property should be fluid and not rigid, accepted by the society, and taken in juxtaposition with other tribals of the Northeast. He also pointed out the complexity involved by citing example of variations in laws governing property between one tribe and another. 

Kikhi primarily dwelt on the rampant privatization of tribal areas of the Northeast by “political and economic elitists” which has resulted in ‘land alienation’.  

He lamented legal ambiguity is basic to many land disputes/conflicts between individuals and even the State. Citing Nagaland- Assam conflict as an example, he said there has been an imposition of modern system on tradition without an effort to integrate the two, and as such, there has been an impasse in the inter-state dispute with Assam standing by the constitutional boundary and Nagaland seeking solution on the basis of historical boundary. 

Kikhi said factors leading to ethnic conflicts were numerous but land and control of resources was basic to all of them. He stated that the tribal workforce on the primary sector is relatively much higher due to the high dependence on land and resources and suggested that it could be due to the neglect of secondary and tertiary sectors.

On the aspect of identity associated with property, he said land owned by individuals has since long been the main aspect that determines a person’s status in the society. This has resulted in lands owned by the community being usurped by the “political and economical elites.”  Kikhi also explained of how an author Nongkyrih argued that under the present system of development planning, the people do not plan or decide and are rather seen as receivers or beneficiaries of the process of development. He advocated for people themselves to present their views and select the type of development they need. 

Kikhi ended his discourse by throwing pertinent questions that can be deliberated in successive discourse by researchers, scholars in the seminar. 

The welcome address was earlier delivered by principal of Immanuel College, Sharatchandra Singh while the inaugural session was chaired by HoD, Dept of Botany, Lothunglo Ngullie.  The seminar was attended by researcher, scholars and expert in the subject of property and ownership in tribal societies in the Northeast.

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