In yesterday’s curtain raiser by Offstumped it was clear that the public debate in Nagaland over the upcoming election was pretty much stuck in the identity politics of last century that has been further complicated by the factional feuds.

Offstumped is of the firm opinion that the public debate in Nagaland needs a fresh start, some bold new thinking.

As we saw in yesterday’s post the principal protagonists – the Congress and the NPF are sparring over the issue of territorial integrity of Nagaland and the ever elusive reconciliation between the tribes.

Where the principal political formations see deadlock the third alternative which in this case is the BJP must see opportunity for a fresh new debate. At the heart of the Naga problem lies this rather anachronistic notion that empowerment for an ethnic group stems from political power and that power can only be attained when the territories are defined in a way to favor one ethnic group over the other. What if the BJP were to give the debate a completely different turn that would render the territorial issue irrelevant.

What if the BJP were to base its Nagaland Campaign on the twin planks of Creating incentives and opportunities to dramatically boost Economic Activity in Nagaland and couple that with Full Autonomy to Local Bodies to Tax and Spend ?

In yesterday’s post we saw pictures from Wokha. Dr. TM Lotha the BJP candidate there had some right thoughts when he focussed on how the Vajpayee lead NDA Government boosted economic activity.

He also disclosed that as soon as the DAN came to power in the State on March 6, 2003, Vajpayee had given Rs 365 crore to the State to wipe out the accumulated deficit of the previous Congress regime.

He also highlighted the major works completed and already taken up with the Vajpayee’s economic packages viz Agriculture, Village Industries, Horticulture, Floriculture, Medical Plants, Bamboo Products and Bamboo Mission, Tourism and Transport, development of infrastructure of Nagaland University at Lumami and Kohima Campus, Tourism Circuit to link areas in Northern Nagaland, particularly Mon district, Regional Information Technology, Second Phase completion of Indira Gandhi Stadium, completion of Sainik School, up-gradation of District Hospitals, Rural Employment Generation Program, development of eco-friendly municipal waste treatment plants at Dimapur, Kohima and other towns, etc. Many of these in fact remained as White Elephant and it was only after Vajpayee started paying special attention for the overall development of the State, things got moving in right direction, he added

Now thats good for starters. Offstumped has a couple more ideas that perhaps should be worth debating.

Make Nagaland a hub for the western Music Industry

In yesterday’s post we saw how english language music is playing a key role in the campaign in Nagaland. Here is a state where there is so much raw talent and potential to not just produce new content but to also quickly adapt global content to suit local tastes. Perhaps the BJP must consider coming up with a bold new idea on how to make Nagaland the hub for producing and re-packaging musical content based on contemporary western genre. It could create the right tax incentives for entertainment majors to invest in Nagaland as well as to benefit the availability of a large local talent pool.

Consider BPO Services for Organized Churches in the West

A 90% Christian population with wide knowledge of the English language must be considered a human resources treasure trove for knowledge services. Especially given the prominent role religion plays in Nagaland another area to consider is Outsourcing services for Churches. Today Churches in North America are multi-billion dollar corporations with fairly sophisticated information technology and business process needs. It could be a great opportunity for Nagaland to target this market with low cost economics and socio-religious values.

This perhaps is just the tip of the iceberg. The point is not the specific ideas in of themselves but the mindset that looks to change the contours of the public debate away from the dead-end identity politics of last century to a new theme based on creating economic opportunities that exploit the talents of the people of Nagaland.

Offstumped Bottomline: Neither Entitlements nor Identity Politics can be the path to Empowerment. It is time someone looked the Naga people in the eye and told them the plain truth that statehood in which ever way it is redefined will never be the panacea to their problems. It is only in an environment that empowers the local communities to exploit their talents while giving them the freedom to be masters of their economic destiny that Naga ambitions can be realized. It is time the Naga people rejected the identity politics of last century and demanded that bold new ideas be injected into the public debate.

Originally posted here

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