Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and not of ScoopWhoop.
Now that our selective outrage has finally got us talking about Nagaland, let's really talk about Nagaland! Here are five things that you could also put your activism behind.
1. Since Independence, there has been long history of violent oppression of people.
The Nagas declared themselves independent on the 14th of August 1947 and quite obviously, India didn't accept this. This divergence in interpreting rights and history led to an arm insurgency that has entered its 7th decade and the prolonged use of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
Generations have grown up amongst violence, torture, oppression, sexual assault and fear without their right to self determination.
2. In the late 1960s, drug trafficking emerged as a major issue in Nagaland, adversely affecting a generation of Nagas.
Where there's conflict, there are drugs.
Some time in the late 1960s and 1970s, the drug route from the golden triangle shifted westward and found its way to Nagaland. As opium travelled through the region, making its way to the international market, thousands of young Nagas got addicted, and a generation already combating armed conflict, took to the needle.
Today Nagaland and its surrounding areas are a source, conduit and destination for a variety of drugs and everyone from the police, armed forces, political entities and revolutionaries are making money off of it. Also, addiction and HIV numbers in both Manipur and Nagaland are disproportionately high.
3. As in most parts of the country, corruption is a major issue, with over 311 projects incomplete despite ₹1740 crore being spent.
According to Nagaland's YouthNet, an organisation that works for skill development amongst the youth, in the 2018 assembly elections, the 196 contestants collectively spent ₹1061 crore on the elections with voters getting anywhere between ₹5,000 to ₹10,000 per vote.
If you spend money, you've gotta make money and as a result, development in the state is a joke. According to a CAG report for the 2013-18 term there are 311 incomplete projects despite close to ₹1740 crore being spent and 29 known cases of misappropriation.
4. In 2017-18, Nagaland's unemployment rate was 21.5%, while the state also has one of the lowest enrollment and retention rates in the education sector in the country.
According to the Periodic Labour Force Survey 2017-18, Nagaland's unemployment rate stands at 21.5%. This is pre-pandemic when the national figure was still below 7%.
Currently 90,584 people have registered for the State's employment, skill development and entrepreneurship establishment program.
Of the new batch of 25,000 educated youth who registered for job assistance, only 10 got jobs.
When it comes to education, Nagaland has one of the lowest enrollment, retention and quality rates in the country. At an elementary level, 61.6% of the teachers didn't have the professional qualifications required, the number is 42.7% at a secondary level.
5. With multiple movements each controlling their own territories, with all of them imposing their own forms of taxation, a parallel economy is being run in the state.
'We are a Government and as a Government we collect taxes' said a former member of NSCN K to me in 2010. The group was at the time one of the main revolutionary groups in Nagaland.
He left the group a few years later to start a new group. What started with one revolutionary group is now a splintered movement of many, each a government in its own right, each collecting tax in its given territory, with everything taxed from land, to trucks, to bakeries to the salaries of government employees and all government schemes.
Together the revolutionary groups collect something like 1200 crore a year in taxes. That's roughly equivalent to 50% of the State Government's annual budget.
Lastly, dog facts and selective outrage.
Not all Nagas eat dog meat, it isn't available in a majority of dhabas, restaurants and homes. I have never seen a separate dog meat market in the major cities of Nagaland.
I have however had milk all across the country (baring most of the north eastern states), I've eaten chicken, mutton, pork, fish and other weird and unusual animals as I've travelled across the country. FYI, you also get beef.
Granted I'm currently in the process of reforming my eating habits, given what's happening to the planet, but this ban on dog meat, the selective outrage because one cultural behaviour offends another is problematic at best, discriminatory at worst.
There is an urgent need to start a conversation about what we eat and drink (coffee has a much larger carbon footprint than pork), but let's get people to buy in to the conversation and not target the already oppressed and marginalised (yes I know about the village order and no I don't support it).
But more importantly, now that you are talking about Nagaland, read up, there's a lot more you can talk about.