Who benefits?

~Wati Longchar (Serampore)

Seeing the news report of “State govt. seeks to construct `Naga Patient House’ in Tamil Nadu” (15/2/2022), a motion was put forward in the “Rethinking Socially” WhatsApp group for discussion. “We thank you for your support and for raising the need to build Naga Patient Houses in Chennai and Vellore, Tamil Nadu,” the motion states. Nagaland Houses, specifically for Naga patients and students. This will benefit everyone, and it has been the Nagas’ dream for a long time…. Can Naga leaders consider beyond the creation of NL Houses for students and patients in cities in “Wider Sense?” Why don’t we spend our money in Nagaland on world-class educational institutions and hospitals? Are Nagaland Houses in Cities important achievements of the government? ”. This clearly demonstrates the government’s ineptitude and the Naga leaders’ short-sightedness. We demonstrate to the rest of the world that Nagas are reliant on others and cannot thrive without them. In Nagaland, is there a Tamil Nadu State House or a Patient House? No! They do not require Nagaland’s assistance. They are not dependent on us, but we are dependent on them for our health care.

Dr. Imkongmeren Longchar, a Naga public intellectual, writes, a Naga public intellectual, writes, Although the Government has an obligated mandate to play a pivotal role in the overall development strategy of the State and for its native community, it cannot deviate from its primary responsibility to provide at least one State-owned medical college in Nagaland.  Although India has 542 medical colleges, Nagaland is the only state without one. Karnataka has 60, Maharashtra 56, Uttar Pradesh 55, Tamil Nadu 50, Assam 11 and even the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, and Sikkim each have one. The government’s deficiency in planning and framing policies related to academics for strengthening and improving quality Technical & Higher Education and establishing medical college cannot be compensated by other lopsided development initiatives, including the construction of Nagaland Guest houses in other states.There has been alleged mismanagement of resources in maintaining and running the existing Nagaland Guest houses, most notably the construction of the Nagaland Guest House RK Puram, New Delhi, which took seven long years to complete but was a long-awaited dream for the people of the State for the government. It is pertinent for the State of Nagaland to initiate strategic policy for its migrant/diaspora community. Such policy is crucial in assisting our people in distress situations and passage to Nagaland wherever returnees are stranded due to pandemics. While the State can tap resources from the diaspora/migrants community for socio-economic and cultural development, utilize their potentials and channels to promote cultural and religious interests outside Nagaland. Many migrants are skilled in different professions and businesses; many more will leave their hometowns and migrate to cities/towns searching for jobs for education and livelihood.  They can become agents of change in many aspects, they contribute remittances and promote our cultural identity.  They are our intellectual power beyond State which should be considered ‘brain gain’ but not a brain drain.” Another Naga scholar, Dr. Pahrü Pou opines that “Constructing of Naga Patient’s House or Nagaland House in metro cities will be very expensive. The price of land is skyrocketing in cities. Instead of spending crores of rupees in buying land in Chennai, Vellore or Delhi, or other metro cities, the state government could invest in establishing a good medical college in Nagaland. People may be willing to donate land free of cost for such a noble purpose. Manipur State is heavily investing in establishing sports, education, and medical infrastructure. It has produced many renowned national and international sportspersons. The state also has 3 medical colleges producing hundreds of doctors and nurses every year. They are working both in India and abroad, especially in Southeast Asian countries. Nagaland government should invest in infrastructural development within the state so that Naga youths will be trained to become international sportspersons, educationists, medical professionals, etc. This will turn our youth from draining wealth to earning wealth.”

For cultural interchange and promotion, business enterprises, entrepreneurship, and human resource development and exchanges, Nagaland Houses are needed in all major cities, including Bangkok, New York, London, and other important cities. On the other hand, we have failed in every one of those areas. Due to bad administration and corruption, they have turned into a liability for the government rather than a source of revenue. Who are the beneficiaries of Nagaland Houses in major cities? It is rich and a few privileged middle class. It is out of reach for the majority of the population. We won’t need Naga Patient’s Houses in other states if we build world-class medical colleges in Nagaland. The creation of Nagaland Houses or Patient Houses in cities should not satisfy Naga leaders or substitute the pressing necessity. We know families, sick people, and those who care for them face a lot of hardship, pain, anxiety and spend all their savings. But the question is what Nagaland Govt. has been doing? Nagaland is now 59 years after attaining statehood. Nagaland is the worst-performing state in terms of infrastructure and health, according to Niti Aayog. The Naga people deserve more than one medical college. Due to the lack of medical facilities and educational institutions, Ms. Seno Tsuhah, a social activist, says that “the poor people mortgage land to get health care and education. Very soon, we will have landless Naga families.”  Government should give top priority to health care. Why Govt. is not concerned about the health of common people? Instead of investing in Naga Patient House in other cities, why don’t we invest in the newly inaugurated Medical College at Mon? “All policies of the government, all social structures must be first judged by their effects on the poor, the powerless, and minorities. Medical College in Nagaland will be more beneficial for the poor, and so government should prioritize Medical College in Nagaland,” says Dr. Sentiwate Aier. We must judge the usefulness of Naga Patient House in cities from the perspective of the common people who cannot afford even to go to Naga Hospital in Kohima.

Members also expressed the following crucial questions in relation to this issue: For the past 59 years, what have our successive Medical Ministers been up to? Nagaland is the only state in the country with no industry. We used to have a few enterprises like sugar mills, paper mills, cement factories, and so forth, but they all closed down! Who is to blame for this? What tangible accomplishments have succeeding governments made? Is the Hornbill Festival enough? Who benefits, once again, is the question. The wealthy individuals who own hotels and resorts in Dimapur and Kohima. We need leaders who think beyond hornbill festivals, Nagaland Houses, or Patient’s Houses in metro cities. We don’t need leaders who try to rig the educational system’s nomination process. They are the destroyers of young Naga careers in the future. “It is long past time for us to produce exceptional scientists, IT experts, specialized medical doctors, engineers, academics, journalists, experienced trainers, architects, and other professionals from our land and from our established educational institutions. Is this too much to hope for? What if we set a goal of connecting with the rest of the world, and by bringing in international projects, we create an environment conducive to international exchange? Instead of sending young people to work outside, create job possibilities by establishing more factories, attracting more businesses, and generating revenues for the government,” says Dr. Rensenmenla Longchar. Indeed, Nagas need to rise and hold on to the truth. We need honest and visionary leaders, thinking beyond their town, tribe, wealth, power, and fame.