Monday, March 3, 2008

Nagaland - Dreamers under the Dark Tunnel

Nagaland - Dreamers under the Dark Tunnel

Syed Ali Mujtaba

Nagaland is back on national radar for the simple reason that elections are being held there. I was seeing a long news clip that brought out different facets of this state. One that makes me to comment on this issue is about the youth of Nagaland who to me seem look like belonging more to the globalize world than to any tiny geographical entity that’s sandwiched between India and Burma.

Thanks to the work done by American Christian missionary the head hunting people of Nagaland are socially and culturally much more civilized then their counterparts ie the tribal population in Indian mainland. I was amazed to find the high level of spoken English expertise that exists there and that makes me feel that these guys can be comfortable anywhere in the world. I also heard some of the compositions of their pop bands and can not hold myself relishing at their high quality. Their music videos were very impressive. I was wondering if they are marketed by the big labels they have all the trappings to become chart busters.

Among such youth I could feel the yearning to break the shackles of geographical boundaries and become part of the globalize world. However, their dream seems to be blossoming in vacuum, in isolation. The very fact that they continue to dream big that’s something that needs to be admired.

The other facet of the same issue is the open declaration by the leadership of the Nagaland that they do not recognize the constitution of India. They want the entire Naga inhabited area that falls deep into the adjoining states, including those that lye in Burma, to be merged together and a greater Nagaland be created. They want to have a separate constitution of their own. Its after that they want to have an honorable settlement with India. To realize their demand they have been waging an armed struggle since last 60 years or so. They have two armed groups NSC (IM) and NSC (K). The first one is based in India, the other in Burma. A sizable number of youth of Nagaland are sucked in as fighting force of these groups. There is another group that has come up recently and is called Unity group that too commands some following.

India has been negotiating with the Naga leadership since the independence of the country and has signed number of agreements with them. It has been able to sign a ceasefire agreement with the rebel groups and that’s being ratified every six months. India’s problem is it cannot accept Nagaland to be out of the preview of its constitution. It can not break the geographical boundaries of its other states in the northeast region for the creation of greater Nagaland. India also cannot reclaim the Naga inhabited areas that lies in Burma.

India has been able to maintain its sway over Nagaland through many channels. One ofcourse is very heavy deployment of the security forces. Second is creating factions that would neutralize the other groups. The Congress party in Nagaland is quite formidable and often comes to power through the periodic elections that’s held there despite boycott calls by many groups. India is also playing upon the tribal divisions that exist in Nagaland to maintain its supremacy. All this has been able to keep this restive state under check but then they are hardly permanent solution to the actual problem.

India’s interlocutor Mr Padmanabhia who has been negotiating with the Naga leadership since many years has been enjoying his post retirement benefits engaging in this exercise. The national security advisor MK Naryanan who was recently in Nagaland, reportedly said that India is willing to give Nagaland maximum autonomy within the Indian constitution. In his election speech Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too talked about having honorable settlement with Nagaland.

However, all these talks has not been able to dilute the actual demand.The two sides remain firm on their actual positions. It appears there hardly seems to be any light at the end of the tunnel. Imagination seems to blinker when one thinks when and how this problem is going to be resolved.

I do not want to bring John Lennon here but can’t help citing his ‘dream lines’ that seems to inspire the generation next of Nagaland. They seem to nurse the belief that all their issues would be resolved one day, when a global village is established without national boundaries. They are the dreamers but are not the only ones. #


Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

1 comment:


On Fri, Mar 7, 2008 at 10:01 PM, Sunil Jogdeo wrote:


The issue of nagaland is so much aptly put with real concerns. I hv been very much impressed the way you write your observations.

Sunil V Jogdeo-
President-Krishna Foundation
Director - Krishna Tutors and counselors