In few hours from now, the State is going to witness the historic celebration of the 50th year of Nagaland Statehood with the President of India Pranab Mukherjee inaugurating it. The State of Nagaland was formally inaugurated by the 2nd President of India Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan as the 16th State of the Indian Union on the 1st of December, 1963 at the Kohima Local Ground.
While commemorating this “Historic Event” on 1st of December, 2013 in the State, one cannot help but fondly remembers those who made the Statehood happened 50 years ago. These Naga leaders who had formed the Naga People’s Convention (NPC) in late 50s had sacrificed, toiled and even risked their precious lives during that turbulent period and finally could succeed to convince the Union Government under the first Prime Minister Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru to create a separate State of Naga people on the basis of a “16-Point Memorandum” which finally became the “16-Point Agreement.” This “Agreement” was signed between the Government of India and the NPC in 1960 and that led finally to the formation of the State of Nagaland in 1963.
The State was born out of “Political Agreement” between the Government of India and the NPC and some of the salient features of this “Agreement” are the incorporation of certain points such as — 1. Religious and social practices of the Nagas, 2. Naga customary laws and procedures, 3. Administration of civil and criminal justice involving Naga customary laws and 4. Ownership and transfer of land and its resources— in the Article 371 (A) of the Constitution. This makes the State and its people “unique.”
Some of the signatories of the “16-Point Agreement” became Chief Ministers in the post-Statehood periods. They were late P Shilu Ao, late JB Jasokie and Dr SC Jamir. Vizol was one of the signatories in the 16-Point Memorandum but was not a signatory when the “16-Point Agreement” was inked between the Government of India and the NPC. It is so poignant at this junction to say that Dr SC Jamir is still alive and keeping well. He is presently Governor of Odisha. He will have a lot to tell the moving history of the pre and post-Statehood eras.
It is also equally emotional to note that seven who served as Members of the Interim Body of Nagaland are still alive. It is really a momentous for these grand Naga leaders and they should be well-honored.
50 years is a long journey in human history. The State has produced nine Chief Ministers since 1964 till date (this is not included in the Chief Ministers’ multiple tenures). They are late P Shillu Ao, late TN Angami, late Dr Hokishe Sema, late Vizol, late JB Jasokie, Dr SC Jamir, KL Chishi, late Vamuzo, and Neiphiu Rio. It may be mentioned that late Dr Hokishe Sema was the first Naga who became Governor of Himachal Pradesh from 1983 to 1986. They were all “unique” leaders in their times and also many of those who served in the Interim Body Period became successful politicians in later part of their lives. They all are now “history.”
This writer was privileged to have interviewed late Dr Hokishe Sema, late JB Jasokie, late Vizol and late Vamuzo while they were alive. These leaders had visions for the Nagas. They had done their parts in shaping the destiny of the Nagas.
While remembering these leaders, we can flash back a little bit of what the State was in 1963. The population of the newly created Nagaland State was 3.69 lakh. Literacy was at the nadir with little over sixty thousand Nagas were literate. Not a single college was there when the State was created, except two Government High Schools. Only 11 Government Middle Schools and 180 Government Primary Schools were there. There were only two civil hospitals and smaller hospitals and dispensaries in the whole of the newly created State of Nagaland in 1963. Road communication was horrible as blacked-topped roads totaling about 168 kilometers at that point of time. Basic necessities such as water supply, electricity, were nil.
Today, the State has about one lakh Government employees in a population of nearly two millions. It has now 28 Government Higher Secondary schools, 273 Government High Schools, 878 Government Middle Schools and 1794 Government Primary Schools. On top it, nearly 900 private schools are there. The State’s road stretch altogether is now 10176 kilometers. Today the State is proud of having 58 Colleges when it did not have even a single College in 1963. In Health Sectors too, the State has progressed immensely. There are many departments now. The State has progressed a lot in many areas in the last 50 years and successive Government under various Chief Ministers had contributed their shares in shaping the State. It is a process and it has to go on and there is no limit in the journey of development and progression.
While saying so, some very pertinent issues remain critical till today and these need paying immediate attention. That unlike other states, the State of Nagaland does not have any source on its own to generate income and it had to depend solely on the Center for the overall wellbeing of the State. Earlier the State had two Mills namely Sugar Mill and Paper Mill. Unfortunately, both of these Mills miserably failed in spite of several attempts to revive by the successive Governments in the State. Somehow, a ray of hope has come this time, when the Center has approved the revival of the sick Paper Mill at Tuli under Mokokchung district with the releasing of Rs 100 crore as first installment.
We can write many things of what had happen in Nagaland in the last 50 years but it is not possible to narrate stories of 50 years in just 1000 words or so. But the fact is many things are yet to be done. Today’s Naga youth are more informed, educated and well-versed. They cannot be easily fooled by some dramatic gestures of politicians. They know where they are headed to.
The State has the highest literacy in the country, but the “employable factors” used to come in from time to time. Our educational systems are not up to the mark. The saddest part is the State does not have even a single Engineering College or a single Medical College or a single Technical College ever after 50 years of its Statehood. And we are expecting our educated youth to compete with their counterparts who have been brought up and educated in an environment of modern educational facilities.
This writer has been persistently highlighting about the pathetic condition of the State particularly with regard to not having any single Medical College or Engineering College or Technical College even to the extent of discussing the matters with various union Ministers and high profile officials of the Center. They listened to and even sometimes made emotional apologies that the State of Nagaland underwent in such a way without such facilities till date. They also assured that they would look into the matters and see that things were happening on the ground. We should also admit at the same time that the State seemed lacking political will as well as bureaucratic bargaining skills. Nevertheless, the President while inaugurating the “Golden Jubilee Celebration” of the Nagaland Statehood should think for a moment whether it is right that the people of Nagaland deserve this kind of treatment even after 50 years of Statehood which they got through series of “political negotiations and bloodsheds.”