Healing leadership need of the hour

That nothing remains static is a matter of fact. Today, within the universal dynamism of history, the Naga aspirations require serious rethinking. The Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) makes this public statement, calling for a healing leadership and awakening of the Naga will.

A call for rethinking
The developing situation in the Indian subcontinent points to an elevated discourse on democracy and rights. Like most dominant powers, the temptation to act with impunity for its own interests will be India’s greatest test. For now, the government of India’s centralizing character and intent to manufacture uniformity amid diversity is clearly evident. By implication, this new reality represents the 21st century vision and future of India.
It has aroused speculations, assumptions and anxiety, in an already fragile context, in the Naga homeland. It brings to life questions of trust, sincerity and democratic justice. What does this mean for the Nagas, our lands and our historical and political rights? This calls for an honest examination of our situation – more importantly, the need for rethinking how Nagas can, through peaceful means, find their rightful place in the community of nations and peoples.

A policy of ‘define and rule’
The Nagas are currently facing a new phenomenon of ‘define and rule’. In the 1960s, the Nagas experienced policies of strategic and systematic ‘divide and rule’. It fractured the Naga peoplehood by dividing the Naga homeland with arbitrary boundaries and creating a new Naga polity with ‘special provisions’. While the ‘divide and rule’ policy had devastating consequences, people still had space to protest and resist the division.
The policy of ‘divide and rule’ has graduated to a more sophisticated form that employs the art to ‘define and rule’. Along with the state, this policy requires co-opted sections of the Naga population becoming active participants. The FNR is deeply concerned, since the Naga peoplehood is being defined very narrowly and it threatens to destroy the web of relationships. We need to prevent Nagas from being pitted against Nagas. This will have far-reaching consequences on future Naga generations.

The need for healing leadership
The Naga people are traumatized with deep wounds caused by generations of militarization and conflict. To survive and heal these wounds, we require sincere efforts towards reconciliation and dignity. When the Naga national groups (aka factions) signed the ‘covenant of reconciliation’, a semblance of forgiveness and reconciliation took place at the group level. This was further demonstrated as factional violence reduced and de-escalated. The resulting relative peace stimulated an upbeat market economy, more freedom of movement, and an overall sense of normalcy. Yet, despite these positive indicators, the Naga reconciliation process is incomplete. The personal animosity and inability to respect and accept the other continues. This has been a major deterrent to full reconciliation.
For the Nagas to overcome the present challenge, healing is needed across society – one that is inspired by a transformational and healing leadership. Statesmanship with political courage is needed to transcend the animosity, self-interest and factional politics. The situation needs a Naga leadership model that is shared and inclusive, one that instills trust and optimism. The people want leaders that listen, are credible, and earn their trust. A Naga leadership model needs to be available and accessible to the people – one that is responsive and represents the people’s true aspirations.

A dynamic India
Transformative change is true liberation. It is the conscious will to be independent yet interconnected, to choose realistic growth on a par with the rest of the world. An India that is vibrant, dynamic and democratic will respect the Nagas’ historical and political rights. We believe that democratic India and pragmatic Nagas can be liberated to go beyond boundaries of dogmatic thinking into creative and just political relationships of dignity. The vision of peaceful coexistence is indispensable to a relationship of mutual respect.

A new Naga spirit
The 21st century Naga needs to be farsighted. The practice of making decisions for convenience has not proven to have our best interests at heart. We need to make decisions that are consistent with and support the wellbeing of all generations, of our children and their children. This Naga spirit must grow beyond our boundaries. Only by embracing others will we liberate ourselves.
In the contemporary Naga homeland, we urgently need to have a public discourse on ‘political reconciliation’ while some semblance of peace still remains. Let us focus on our shared belonging with dignity, purpose and meaning. The Naga public’s voice must be heard. Let us as Nagas move on together in critical solidarity with our neighbors, large and small.

An appeal for restraint
The FNR is deeply saddened and concerned by the recent spurt of factional violence. The hard-earned ‘covenant of reconciliation’, which began the cessation of bloodshed among the Nagas, must be upheld. The FNR appeals to all NPGs for restraint.

Commitment to reconciliation
The FNR stands for Nagas without borders. And today we once again publicly affirm our commitment to Naga reconciliation without any bias or prejudice towards any faction. Towards this end, the FNR remains open and willing to facilitate a reconciliation meeting among the Naga political groups. (The Forum for Naga Reconciliation)