Post Mortem

Un-natural Price Rise in Nagaland

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 4/1/2019 12:33:48 PM IST

 Nagaland is often depicted as victim of forces too wild to be controlled. This is Nagaland’s post statehood malaise and the unchecked corrupt machineries that paralyse the system and the people systematically for a long period of time. They harm the state economy. They also have grip over the political system. This is the reason why everything is not only costlier but also  sub-standard in the state. The Nagas, once a fiercely independent warrior race, is now under the mercy of monetary temptations.

Soaring prices of all commodities, especially food stuff have come to haunt the common man like a spectre. The few measures taken occasionally by the government are but shows for public consumption. This emboldens the anti-social elements that force business men of every colour and stripe to keep hiking prices in a manner both arbitrary and unjustified. A look at the big difference between whole sale and retail prices of staple commodities makes it evident that there is total lack of intervention by the government and the administration. Even the prices of locally produced commodities have registered an unprecedented rise in recent years. The state capital and the district headquarters are the worst affected by these sky rocketing prices. Locally produced commodities are supposed to be cheaper than that of imported commodities. Even during Hornbill festivals visitors often complain of exorbitant charges and unfair practices of weights and measures made by the local vendors. This is bad business.

The few measures occasionally taken by the concerned government departments are appreciated. Market is now relieved of carbide infested fruits and vegetables, and fish are protected from formalin infestation and presently bakeries are under scrutiny. These are some healthy signs from the health point of view but not from the unhealthy prices. Such crack down needs sustained exercise and monitoring of traders’ justification for price rise. Review meetings of the government and the public rallies against price rise will amount to wastage of time only unless supported by strong follow up intervention by the government.

Nagaland is a state of numerous unauthorised taxes imposed by numerous unions, groups, etc. against everything that generates little amount of profit. They even demand taxes on work permits, construction labourers, livestock, meat, bamboo, etc. We have reached such a low level of morality and are not ashamed of it. Imposing number of taxes multiple times over the same item will ultimately destroy both the small traders and the common people. All the taxes imposed by various groups are added into the price of the commodities and passed unto the poor public to pay. In reality it is the common people of Nagaland who pay all these add on taxes to various groups. However, the business continues to thrive in Nagaland as business communities quickly adjust to new circumstances and new opportunities by bringing the static Naga society/public as a backdrop to their exploitation. They act now as the medium of these exchanges. The majority of the people of the state are poor and they should not be pushed beyond a limit.

Another concern is the growth of monopolistic group called the Syndicate. They have control over several enterprises and even penetrated deeply into various construction and supply work under the government/public sector undertakings. This is responsible for lack of competitive market in the state. Hence quality suffers. What has befallen the state today is that even the transporters are not willing to enter Nagaland for fear of extortion. So also no investors will dare to invest in Nagaland. Hence, the state slides backwards while others progresses forward.

Further, leasing out of landed property to private non locals for agriculture, fishery, forestry, horticulture, live stock rearing, etc. by land owners for a period of time is eating into the economy of the local community and thus violates the spirit of the Article 371A of the Indian Constitution.

It is a fact that Nagaland has to import wide-ranging essential goods from outside through railways and heavy vehicles which together with rising cost of petrol/diesel do impact prices, yet prices in Nagaland continue to be far higher than can be explained away by these factors. There is little scope for escalation of price due to arbitrary transportation charges. It is the working of Syndicate which is a major factor effectively pushing prices higher after the goods are unloaded. This is not possible without powerful patronages. This is the lucrative networks that thrive within it. This structure can be dismantled part by part provided there is strong political will. How can a society long subjected to pervasive collection be rebuild? Since most of the Nagas are tied to the central policy of temptation-both coercive and remunerative to quell and quash Naga resistance against India, care for the common man is thoroughly forgotten.

The lack of economic expansions is reason enough for resorting to these undesirable activities. Today, Nagaland is blessed with robust and aspiring young generation wanting to grow towards self reliance. But that is being held hostage by the failure of governance. What mars Nagaland’s progress is the decline in governance, weakening rule of law and fragile institutions that have not delivered enough to the people and the rate of change is too slow. So long this menace exists there will be no price stabilisation and economic growth in the state. In the end, if politics take precedence over the economics, affordable prices and economic well being of the common man will still be a distant reality.

Mapu Jamir I.A.S. (Retd.)

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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