Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Dissecting the factors behind the unsuccessful Naga National Movement

In practice, each political movement commences with an objective to realize a political ideal against another political force gauged on the perception of threat to its existence, liberty, historical rights or even unification of ethnically related peoples. However, sailing the movement safely through waves of unfavourable political spectrum becomes more arduous especially in the face of an entity which controls economy, media, and other state instrumentalities. In such circumstances, creative development of means to arrest the influence a political entity exercises over vital organs of the state assumes significance. Nowhere was this practically relevant than the Naga National Movement which is mired with successive flops in more than its seven decades journey.
Success of a movement, The Wire writes, is dependent on three elements including (a) narrative dominance, (b) understanding the opposing forces and mustering necessary resources to counter them, and (c) establishment of a support base beyond its core supporters. These fundamentals are found lacking in the Naga National Movement and therefore could well postulate to be the nemesis of our failure in realizing our rights, as are discussed accordingly.
Firstly, the narrative on the goal of the Naga Political Movement as propounded by the national workers is inconsistent. The movement is continuously dotted with changing intonation on its political objective. This has not only left the general public in perpetual perplexity but also affected the functionaries of myriad political groups as they themselves do not exactly comprehend the political objective for which the group is fighting.
The fundamental political objective of the movement at the initial stage was complete re-assertion of sovereignty. It means, irrespective of geographical locations and across the temporary administrative boundaries, a wholesale liberation of “Nagas” from foreign political sway, as extended and imposed on us without mutual consent. Our people were for this very reason subjected to extreme extra-judicial executions, moral debauchery against internationally upheld human and women rights, desecration of holy places, hedonistic torture and destruction of food grains to cause artificial hunger.
Notwithstanding the above revered political goal, there were certain groups of people who chose to be politically subjugated without mounting any significant resistance. They projected their political ideal as cohabitation, and therefore departed from the narration of complete independence.
In the present day, the movement narrative again shifted to shared-sovereignty, agreement between parties involved and political settlement exclusive for the Nagas of Nagaland. Interestingly, the movement now narrowed down from complete sovereignty and confined itself to a demand for flag, constitution, rehabilitative package, and posture regionalism as an alternative to nationalism.
Had the narrative been consistent and firmly stood on our ground, the trajectory of the Naga National Movement could have been somewhat different than it is. The national workers could not establish narrative dominance to get its message across. The messages are unclear, the goal posts frequently shift; when we ourselves do not know what to fight for, we cannot expect a resolutely accomplished result. Frequent changing narratives from complete sovereignty to shared-sovereignty and to political settlement within the Indian constitution, or worst of all – an agreement that is too ephemeral and carry no mandate at all – by none other than the respective political groups have only contributed to the fast faltering of the once active movement. In the process, we ourselves defeated the very purpose for which the movement got off.
Secondly, the Naga National Movement is fraught with strife and struggles for territorial dominance and financial hegemony amongst the various warring political groups. Fierce competition over these two pricy possessions has been central to the curse of fratricide and targeted killings. It has only rendered many children fatherless, many parents unnaturally “childless”, many mothers widowed and has created much antagonism between tribes, communities and villages. In doing so, we have oriented ourselves as the “sole” enemy of us. We somewhat can protect ourselves from others but when we are our own enemy we cannot save ourselves from us.
Funding and responsible management of resources is imperative to sustain a movement especially when an entity against which the movement is mounted is an established authority having vast resources and command over a large fleet of state machinery. Decentralization and delegation of powers and responsibility is indispensable for each movement to succeed. However, much to the chagrin of sympathizers, management of resources pooled for the cause of the movement by the national workers is dismal. There is complete absence of a dedicated department within the political groups for budgeting expenditure. The funds are mostly spent on personal expenses. There is no accountability. Therefore, there arises resource crunch as those who fund the movement start to detach further.
Expectedly, the movement suffers from organizational deformities as the battle for control over leadership, organizational resources and funds engineer successive splits within. The primary political objective of the movement is thus lost in the middle of this melee.
Thirdly and lastly, the Naga National Movement previously enjoyed sympathies and support from other nations. Members from the erstwhile unified political group received training and skills from such nations. It played a vital role in defending the cause of our movement.
The support beyond its core supporters is on the wane since the formerly unified political entity breaks into comparatively smaller several groups. Support from various private players in terms of financial grants is an emerging challenge as well as an opportunity in defending the cause of a nation, as may be seen in case of the ongoing Russo-Ukraine war. A noble cause and a cautious approach to realize the cause are precursors to win trust of the international community. Sadly, in case of the Naga National Movement, intermittent infightings over petty matters within have precluded such a viable alternative. Moreover, disoriented political objectives are a roadblock from gaining the confidence of the global players.
Even core support-base at home is degrading as the general public is vividly irked following rising incidence of extortion from public and other traditional institutions to sustain their respective factions, but not to propel the movement forward. Mushrooming of factions has been one area where the movement lost ground support and beyond. Movement of any sort devoid of support and sympathy regretfully cannot sustain itself.
For the Naga National Movement to recoup its momentum, critical introspection into the three elements is consequential. Therefore, (i) standing by the 1951 Plebiscite which re-affirms August 14, 1947, declaration, (ii) a departure from parasitically prevalent petty infightings amongst the protagonists of the movement towards singular national political entity, and (iii) adopting corrective measures to regain the trust and confidence of strong support-base at home and beyond are acutely imperative.
Nukhosa Chüzho, Kohima, (khozch@gmail.com)