Post Mortem

Sparing a thought for Naga Hoho search team

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 2/17/2019 12:03:53 PM IST

 Although one vaguely wonders which Organization took the initiative to mandate the Search Team, it is nevertheless a comforting relief, in a sense, to know that such a forum has been constituted to cobble up a new team for the Naga Hoho. One cares sufficiently to sincerely hope that this is a step in the right direction...an exercise long overdue...provided the wrong can effectively be righted. 

Having said that...one observes the ambiguity in the communiqué of the Search Team (as carried by the local dallies on 16-02-2019) with a fundamental question left unanswered: For instance, are they looking at a term of reference to set up the same kind of a Naga Hoho encompassing Nagas from all Naga inhabited territories as before or a new Naga Hoho that would only represent the voice of the Nagas of Nagaland or both? This is a question being asked without a divisive intent on tribal lines or regional bias. It is a pragmatic one based on the following rationality:

1. No matter where one resides, one does require an apex regional identity of its own to resolve its local issues. Our Southern Naga brothers therefore have their UNC and rightly so. The Nagas of Nagaland too had its very own Naga Hoho once upon a time. Over the years however our Naga Hoho gradually evolved into a Pan Naga Federation in its composition without the Nagas of Nagaland fully comprehending this subtle structural change that had taken shape. Let it however be made thoroughly clear that there is no dispute in the relevance of Pan Naga Federation (or Hoho) tackling important common issues such as ‘integration’ of all the Naga inhabited areas, politically, culturally, emotionally etc...but certainly inappropriate to address regional kitchen issues that specifically pertain to one region or the other. The irrelevance of Pan Naga Hoho masquerading as Naga Hoho was practically proven inconsequential in the local issue like that of the Mukalimi faceoff between the Sumis and the NSCN (IM) where the latter unnecessarily suffered a loss of face in the hands of the Sumi Tribe. Had the original Naga Hoho of Nagaland existed and interceded during this unfortunate fiasco, the Sumis would have probably shown its due curtsy to the Apex Hoho of Nagaland (to which it would have also been an affiliate) by avoiding direct aggressive confrontation with NSCN (IM) for the obvious reason: no single Tribe living within a common State boundary can survive in isolation. This incident brought out a sharp traditional perception that Nagas tend to respect and rely upon one’s own immediate family members to deal with one’s own kitchen issues...rather than have others beyond the family interfere in one’s affairs. To my mind the present confusion is simply a matter of the use of a nomenclature that is a misnomer by this organization which is Pan Naga in nature....and should have accordingly adopted ‘Pan Naga Federation’ or even ‘Pan Naga Hoho’ in keeping with the identity of its membership composition rather than usurping or wiping out the original identity of the Naga Hoho that once purely represented the voice of the Nagas of Nagaland. Marginalising the Nagas of Nagaland without its very own regional apex identity was therefore a critical mistake...detrimental not only to the Nagas of Nagaland but all other Nagas living elsewhere. It was akin to uprooting the main pillar of the house. It is therefore absolutely logical and necessary to rewind the hands of time and set right this unfortunate aberration in the use of the Organization’s nomenclature...and restore ‘Naga Hoho’ to the Nagas of Nagaland. 

2. While various other reasons may exist, the mushrooming of regional Tribal Hoho groupings within Nagaland can essentially be attributed to the vacuum created by the absence of the original Naga Hoho that was born in Nagaland. Once the present Naga Hoho is rechristened as ‘Pan Naga Federation’ or ‘Pan Naga Hoho’ and Naga Hoho is brought home to where it belongs, it would be a natural progression for all Tribal Hohos of Nagaland to reunite once more...inclusive of all the Tribal Hohos under ENPO. This may well be an all encompassing solution that should serve the purpose of all concerned.

3. Serious lessons ought to be learnt from events that have been taking place around us. For instance the BJP ran out of steam and could not muster enough courage to introduce the CAB in the Rajya Sabha because of the sustained aggressive agitation against the Bill by all the North Eastern States barring Nagaland. This is the only kind of language GoI understands. The same principle would be equally applicable even in the case of Indo-Naga negotiation. GoI has taken the Nagas for a ride for the past 73 years and will continue to do so for another eternity unless Nagas learn the finer democratic art of coercion...which is a far cry as of now with all the divisions and fragmentations of the Naga society both in the overground and underground situation. We have never been able to exert a sustained collective pressure on the GoI and the mainland for them to sit up and take notice. Even the Naga Civil Societies have been leaderless and rudderless in the absence of a recognizable Apex forum with a principled backbone that can honourably be relied upon. This is the dire state we have indifferently generated for ourselves over the years...and would serve the Nagas well to find a collective focus through an Apex body like the Naga Hoho. 

4. Finally, should the Pan Naga Federation be re-created...it would require serious overhaul in matters of membership in the House unlike the present setup. It should preferably be opened to regional Apex Hohos only...for example: UNC from Manipur, Naga Hoho from Nagaland and similar equivalent Apex Hoho from Arunachal and Assam to ensure equal representation of all the regions.

It is definitely a challenging task for the Search Team to really identify the right kind of upright characters to man this awesome responsibility. One would like to wish them all the very best.

Khekiye K. Sema IAS (Retd); 3rd Mile Thilixu Village; Dimapur

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