Nagas: From head-hunters into money-hunters?

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Puanthanh Gangmei (Courtesy : The Oriental Post)

Criticizing the Naga slogan “Nagalim for Christ” by Nagas themselves is not a new development. But when Naga makes critical reference to this slogan, they are not criticizing the slogan itself but on the present unchristian practices of the Naga people.

There are, however, many misconception surrounding this slogan and motto. Some pro Indian writers made the blunter lie that National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) is working for a Christian Communist state. And that Council of Naga Churches (CNC) has a hidden goal to unite all Naga churches under its banner. Having a common Church platform is not a new thing to Christians in the Christendom. As a matter of fact, Nagas has many denominations and it will be good to have a common platform for all denominations. But having said that Nagas are predominantly Baptist, and it will always be.

Th. Muivah, General Secretary, NSCN, on March 22, 2017, while decoding the Indo-Naga Framework Agreement said, “Nagalim for Christ means that Nagas trust in the God-ship of Jesus Christ.” “By socialistic economy, it means – mineral resources, rivers, lakes, forest and some major means of production are to be nationalized for common economic pool. Nevertheless, individuals are at liberty to own other means of production entitled by law. However, NSCN is not for communism,” said Muivah.

It will be totally wrong to assume that NSCN or the Nagas are like the ISIS or the Taliban. And “Nagalim for Christ” has also nothing to do with the ideology of “Bible Raj” that is prevailing mostly in mainland Indian churches influenced by Christian fanatics of the West. It is true that Christians pray for all to see and come to the gospel of Christ. But Naga Christian will not and does not practice force conversion. Nagas are culturally and traditionally a Democratic society. In the ancient time, each tribe and villages are autonomous and independent. Many Nagas today are freely practicing their forefathers’ belief and other religious and customary practices.

After festival like the Hornbill Festival opened door for international tourism, many foreign tourists visited Nagalim and they get acquainted with the Nagas and their ways of life. We have read few write-ups of foreign tourist with an empathetic critical view on the present society of Naga people. Reading through their write-ups, one common point they all hinted is “the love of money”. In relation to election, some of them made suggestion to donate and fund their own candidate as a step to fight corruption. This may be applicable in country like USA but Naga has a long a way to go with such profound idea. One Naga who does not want to be named said, “The Meiteis politicians are known for eating 10% whereas Naga politicians eat only 100%.” And in every election, many Christians sin either by thoughts or actions. Astonishingly it is reported that some Christian leaders including pastors, evangelists and reverends indulge themselves in political campaign even to the extent of buying votes with money.

Nagas are quick to blame Indians most popularly on racial discrimination and their step-motherly treatment to the Nagas. However, considering the selfish nature and the arrogances of many Nagas today, and if we then put Nagas in the position of the Indians and Indians in the position of the Nagas, things will be quite different. It will be a living hell for the Indians. It will not be totally wrong to assume that Indians who are mostly non-Christian are much better human beings or have Christian nature than most of the Naga Christians today.
Some of the Naga undergrounds who once used to beat Naga villagers unnecessarily ordering dogmeat untimely and psychologically tortoring them for bringing their lunch late seem to think that they have every right today to build mansions and bangalows, drive high price cars and live lavish lifestyle. And many Nagas still think there is nothing wrong to steal government money. Their idiotic argument is that it is Indian money.

Another practice in Nagalim is money lending business. According to Nagaland Money Lenders Act, 2005, states that, “No person shall, on or after the date on which the provisions of this Act come into force, carry on business of money lending at any place in the State, unless he has obtained a money lender’s licence under this Act.

Interest and charges allowed to money lender:
(I) No money lender shall charge interest on any loan advanced whether on a pledge or otherwise at a rate exceeding more than 3 (three) percent above the prevailing average Bank rates of interest on loans advanced by it; (2) The rate of interest shall be per annum simple interest on the principal amount of the loan; (3) The month or year used for the calculation of interest shall be a month or year of the Gregorian calendar; (4) A money lender may demand or take from the debtor such other charges as may be prescribed; (5) A money lender shall not demand or take from the debtor any interest in excess of that payable under sub-section (1) or any charge, in excess of that prescribed under sub-section (4) and (6) The rate of interest to be charged under sub-section (1) and (2) shall be notified by the State Government each year at the beginning of the year.

God’s Word says that many people wander from the faith and pierce themselves with many griefs when they allow money to have an improper hold on their hearts. That’s why the Bible contains hundreds of verses on how God wants us to treat money, and this includes the lending of it. Moses addressed this issue in the Old Testament. Essentially, the Israelites were not permitted to charge interest when they loaned money to an impoverished brother. They could, however, charge interest on loans made to other, more affluent Jews and to foreigners. This rule was part of the Mosaic Law: “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not be like a moneylender; charge him no interest” (Exodus 22:25; see also Psalm 15:5). This prohibition against charging interest actually included “food or anything else that may earn interest” (Deuteronomy 23:19). The purpose of the law was two-fold: an interest-bearing loan would only exacerbate the plight of the poor, and God promised a blessing on the gracious lender that would far surpass any interest he would make. Additionally, at the end of every seven years, creditors were to cancel all the debts they were owed by fellow Israelites (Deuteronomy 15:1).

Many Nagas are charging as high as 10% interest rate. Some lend money with an intention to grab other’s property and as a matter of fact, many have become homeless. I heard a recent story about a money lender who often charges high interest that he had just lost one of his legs in an incident. I am not saying he lose his leg because he practice money lending business. But what will we do with all the money if we lost our life? Many Christians are not even aware of the biblical teaching on Money Lending.

The clear teaching of the Bible is that God expects His children to act righteously when lending money. And it helps us to remember that our ability to produce wealth comes from God (Deuteronomy 8:18). Personally, I’ve met a lot of different people in my life, all with different goals and aspirations. Some have wanted to become doctors or entrepreneurs, while others I’ve met just wanted to get “rich.” Well, allow me to make it clear for you. Chances are, if you’re chasing money, you’ll probably end up with nothing at all. Money shouldn’t be the object of your goals; it should be the idea of success. Hard work in itself leads to success, and with success, comes wealth.

Nagaland Baptist Churches Council (NBCC) Clean Election Campaign is a good initiative and is welcomed by all. In 2008, the then NBCC Convenor of the campaign’s working committee told The Hindu, “The idea to have pastors praying at polling booths came to us after a pastor in Phek district offered prayers at a booth and then stayed at the booth all day in 2008,” “The presence of the pastor pricks the proxy voter’s conscience,” said the Convenor. Similarly, a similar campaign was launched in 2011 for the 12th Assembly election in 2013. Subsequently, the NBCC issued 13 guidelines to follow while voting devised “on the basis of Constitutional rights, the democratic spirit and Christian values” ranging from non-acceptance of bribe to honour individual right and freedom of choice; to vote for god-fearing, principled and capable candidates; to disallow multiple voting and proxy voting and so on.

Let me conclude by saying this. NBCC’s Clean Election Campaign is a revolution. Today, almost everyone, great or small, is talking about the evil practices of election and love of easy money that is detrimental to social development. Their tireless effort is a success because today I stand as a common person committed not to take any bribe or lend money for interest and I will remain an independent when it comes to politics. And I strongly believe there are thousands of Nagas who had already taken a stand like me. God bless the Naga people. Kuknalim!

Source: The Sangai Express

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