Monday, October 3, 2022

NLTP Act 1989: Revisit to the past amidst lobbying

(From previous issue)
In any interpretation, however, the background on how the Act came into being must be the starting point of interpretation. Whenever there is any discussion about NLTP Act the church is always put on the other side as the enemy of the affluent and the civilized society. But who among our leaders in power can testify the positive aspect of liquor? The future of our society and the generations should 5 not become a private talk. Selfishness and selfish gain motive dominate as if liquor is the only revenue. Illegal and evil will always be illegal and evil have many faces even if we try to whitewash. Now we find ourselves forgetting the evil of alcohol and how it has devastated our homes and our society. We now have taken the issue to another level of trying to reconcile the condemned element by the people, as if bushing the evil is going to be possible. Alcohol has destroyed our society once, and it continues, and it will continue, unless we take our stand with a determinate political will. Those who have gone through the Act will find out that the Act is never properly studied for implementation. The mechanism inscribed and the content of the Act are not even interpreted. In such a situation, it is bound to fail. We have proven that to ourselves. It is a futile exercise as long as the Act remains as a document. Unless proper definitions and interpretations are given, the two words “total” and “prohibition” will be enlarged out of context as is the case today. Therefore, on matters relating to implementation, the Government must provide the interpretation of the Act and put forward for deliberation. The success and the failure must be systematically presented for discussion so that support system can evolve.
The following suggestions are pertinent:
• The challenges faced by the implementing agent. Only then, the church, Naga Mother Association, women force, youth force and civil society can step in to help. Together we can own the Act.
• The mechanism/approach adopted for operation by the implementing authority must be transparent. It should point out the loopholes because the “construct” lies with the government.
• It should also give a detail description of the entry points and how they sneak inside our State.
• The Modus operandi, the nexus and the manufacturing spots/locations within the State must be identified and make known because they are illegal.
• Any other relevant/pertinent point for discussion be put forward so that, the public can aid in the effort of the authority for support and sustenance.
• The NLTP Act 1989 is a legislation, it empowers the government to act upon. Therefore, the agency/agencies should come out with detail and compressive strategy. Time to time frisking and confiscating the illegal transportation of liquor is appreciated and we applaud the government, particularly, the Excise Department but that is only one aspect of the empowerment. Whatever is done must be objective, rational and not be antagonistic.
• It must honor God and put the welfare of the commoners in perspective.
• Who are the people who will gain and the section of people who will loss must be specified.
• Our children and the generations to come must be projected. We must seek the wisdom to see the unseen.
• If with the Act we are failing, we know very well what will happen if a pinhole passage is opened. It will only make matter worse.
• If with the Act there are loopholes, common sense will tell us what is waiting once we let go of the Act.
• We know what our children will inherit and the cycle will continue.
• At the end who will be blamed? Where does the church stand? Did we think that the Act will solve the problem over night? No, not at all! The church cannot clothe herself with an element which she knows is evil for the society. We will still stand on the ground on which our leaders stood half a century over ago which led to the movement. Liquor has destroyed us then and we still find ourselves in the same predicament. Unless we act with determination, it will continue to destroy us. The solution to our problem is not on partial lift nor regulated relaxation. The half hearted approach to the Act has taken us to where we are today. Besides, the methodology on which we have come to this conclusion is faulty and bias. Therefore, we stand firm on the Act and will advocate for full implementation. In a Christian majority society, it is a matter of shame to all of us. Today, we should be deliberating on how to strengthen the Act but unfortunately, we are beginning to test the waters on how to partially lift the Act through selective consultations and backdoor lobbying. We have often cited examples of other States and countries when we are faced with any pressing issues. Sometimes we talk about their success but now we are talking about their failure. We have come to an easy conclusion to say “they have failed and therefore, we can never succeed.” This is a wrong approach. Why can’t we look at our situation as a different entity? If we cannot copy their success, are we saying their failure suits us? We can be different and we have the possibility, if we have the will power. If our leaders will have the “will power” half the work is done. If therefore, they believe they are placed in leadership position among many who aspire to be, they must take the courage to govern and dispense their responsibility for the welfare of the people. With no malice, if you fail to act and do what is “right” and “just” for your people, deliverance will come from another direction. The Nagaland Baptist Church Council, comprising of 20 Associations and 4 Associate members with 1708 churches urge the government to implement the NLTP Act. We further urge the government to stop backdoor lobbying, leaving the major stakeholders in the dark.
(Concluded)
Rev. Dr. Zelhou Keyho, General Secretary, NBCC