Post Mortem

The question of dignity and Naga independence

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 9/15/2020 1:11:02 PM IST

 The promise and the likelihood of Nagas being granted political Independence from India has occupied prominence in the media and many serious conversations since as long as the mind can recall. It is ironical, if not more awkward, that India, the largest democracy in the world has had the audacity to keep the Nagas and their rightful privilege on tenterhooks for seventy-four years – the longest known struggle for independence by any nation. It puts India’s dignity under question. This article, however, is more concerned about the dignity of the Naga people as a nation.

How do we Nagas fare as far as our dignity is concerned? How much of respect are we truly worth at this juncture? Virtues such as dignity, respect, and trust, as we know, are meant to be earned and not to be demanded. Just as love cannot be forcibly asked for, respect cannot be demanded. The higher ideals and qualities of life are earned, not claimed.

At this point where much mystery and uncertainty shroud the Naga political landscape, what are we, ordinary Nagas, supposed to be thinking? If we are to be hopeful, what are we to be hopeful about? Does our hope for an independent Naga nation include dignity where we are confident that our children will now be able to comprehend true patriotism? Can we sit rest assured that peace and security will find their rightful place in our lives and our children’s from now on? 

The numerous talks and hopes of freedom all these long years have made conversations captivating, no doubt. And yet, as much as freedom is our right, it is also of paramount importance to ask the questions: freedom from what and towards what? Are our values and principles ready and intact to hedge us in and serve as the base for us to finally grow and thrive as a nation? Is there sufficient trust and respect to finally live peaceably under the same roof as one family?  

I often think back on some incidents that I encountered and which perpetually unsettle my sensibilities. Once in Dimapur town, I needed to meet the Proprietor of a business establishment. While I was told he was in his office, the wait became unending. On inquiry, I was told by his assistant that some “national workers” were with him, demanding that he give them the full amount of money they wanted, which I was also told was a huge amount. He added that this was a routine thing. The assistant’s outburst made complete sense: “We work very hard. We sweat and we earn our keep. Who do they think they are to simply march in with some foreign made guns and pistols and threaten us to hand them our hard-earned money? Why should we give towards letting them build high fences for themselves and pack their kith and kin off to elite institutions and places while we toil in despair here? It is absolutely exasperating! But we have very little choice.”   

There are many similar accounts of industrious but tired citizens who just let things be, because they want to survive. Tolerance or submission is not equivalent to respect. In fact, it serves the opposite purpose of generating hatred and distrust. Such incidents make one think of what Edward Gibbon said about the Athenians: “In the end more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to exist.” Do we also see dark clouds gathering for our people as we throw caution to the wind? 

Dignity, respect, responsibility, and accountability belong to the same club. If one is there, the other three show up automatically; when there is none, there is really nothing to expect. There is much that requires careful reflection, repentance, and remedy in the case of Naga independence. If threatening, shoving, throwing one’s weight around, and silencing those who stand in the way or speak a different language, are the bricks and blocks that are going to go into Naga nation-building, one dreads to think if the Naga story will be of one jumping from the oil pan into the fire. God forbid!

Many sad and shameful stories have been spun in the course of the struggle for Independence by the Nagas. We have allowed ourselves to play right into the political games of some better seasoned, or perhaps shrewd, national leaders of India over this seemingly endless struggle. Ironical again, that we should be fighting for something that is our prerogative. And yet, when we seem to fall awfully short of commanding people’s respect, with no love lost among the multitudinous parties, factions, and organizations, we let our imprudence and vulnerabilities lie exposed. 

(To be concluded)

Buno Iralu, Sechü Zubza


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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