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E-Pao! Opinion :: Reservation Blues

Reservation Blues


Oken Jeet Sandham *


Mon and Tuensang (now bifurcated to Mon, Tuensang, Longlen and Kiphire), which originally formed part of NEFA before becoming part of Nagaland, remains quite isolated and cut off.

The educational standards are also low and their representation in the State Government is extremely poor, quite disproportionate to their population. No one denies on this. But these districts account for almost 30% of population of the State of Nagaland.

Successive governments in the past took various initiatives to eliminate the backwardness and today many ministers and legislators from these areas say they are no more backward and capable of competing with the rest of their counterparts.

One of the significant programs held for the economic development of these four backward districts was during the previous Congress regime.

They had in collaboration with the Ministry of Home affairs conducted a Development seminar in Mon District on 12th April 2000 and at Tuensang District on 13th April 2000.

The historic Seminars were inaugurated by then Chief Minister SC Jamir and attended by representatives from 14 Central Ministries including Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Information and Technology, Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Telecommunications and Department of Posts.

The Seminar was widely attended by local Ministers, MLAs, Village Council Chiefs, Goan Burahs, NGOs, Church leaders and other prominent citizens of the Districts.

Representatives of the major Tribal Councils as well as office bearers of the Mon and Tuensang Public Organization also attended the Seminar. The representatives of the various Ministries in the Central Government explained various programs being implemented by the Government of India and the opportunities available for the people in the Districts to take advantage of the same.

Various speakers highlighted the development needs of the Districts. More significantly, at the end of the Seminar, recommendations for the socio-economic development of the district were announced at the public meeting itself.

This was for the first time that perhaps 14 Central Government Ministries and representatives of the State Government Departments had visited these less developed Districts, listened to the people and in response to the felt needs, announced a program for socio-economic development. The response of the people was extremely encouraging.

From this, one can simply imagine the past Governments' endeavors to uplift the people in these areas through socio-economic development and the physical participation by 14 key Central Ministries coming down to these remotest and most backward areas of the country to solve the protracted underdevelopment issue.

There are other schemes too initiated by the Government for the development of these backward areas. In spite of all these, the student communities of the Eastern Nagaland agitated for 25% job reservation in the State.

Present DAN Government has hurriedly conceded to their demands without judging antecedents of other backward tribes living in two districts---Phek and Peren.

Nobody would go against the Government decision but methodology of conceding to it demands debate as to whether it is a ploy before the State general elections as one-third members are from these districts.

Or is that their ignorance of other existing backward districts, Phek and Peren, where Chakhesang, Pochury, Zeliangrong and other tribes are living.

Comparing to Tuensang, Mon, Longlen and Kiphire districts, the conditions of Phek and Peren are extremely pitiable and pathetic. The conditions of roads in these far-flung areas of Mon are far better than those in Peren district.

In fact, villagers in some villages in Peren are yet to see roads. Expectedly, student bodies of Chakhesang, Pochury and Zeliangrong have jointly registered their strong protest against Governmentís shortsighted move, which they fear would divide the Nagas.

It is also a mockery of DAN chief ministerís own stand that he was one of the advocates of convincing the people of Tuensang and Mon that they should no more think themselves as backward.

And today, he has rather made them more backward by conceding to their demand of the 25% job reservation in the State, instead of educating them to come out of the cocoon and compete with the rest of their counterparts.

Nagas including those living in Tuensang and Mon are second to none and this can truly be materialized when they are free from backward and reservation syndrome.


* Oken Jeet Sandham contributes regularly to e-pao.net . The writer can be contacted at oken_jeet(at)yahoo(dot)com . This article was webcasted on 09th January 2008.


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