The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book : 'Konyak Nagas' by Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, (1969)

caption: Chapter Five. Present and Future
caption: reasons for resentment of Nagas
medium: books
person: Furer-Haimendorf/ C.
date: 1969
refnum: with permission from Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York105:1
text: The curtain of secrecy which screens events in Nagaland from the outside world prevents us from understanding why the leaders of the Naga rebellion have felt unable to accept the limited autonomy offered and are continuing to demand full independence and sovereignty. However unrealistic this demand may be, it is symptomatic of the desire of the tribal people to retain their cultural and national identity, even at the expense of material benefits which cooperation with the government of India promises to bring to the area. The demand is unrealistic because in many parts of the Naga hills, though perhaps not in the Konyak region, material and social change has already gone beyond the point of no return, and the continuation of existing services in the sphere of communications, education, and medicine depends on financial support from the central government. It is obvious, however, that the Naga rebels, and with them a section of the Naga population, are convinced that political integration within the Indian union is incompatible with the retention of their cultural characteristics and their own way of life. That they have come to this conclusion is not the fault of the government of India, which has gone a long way in attempting to reach a compromise, and has provided large sums for development projects, but it would seem to be the result of a certain sense of superiority found among orthodox high-caste Hindus, who look down upon the tribals as savages and impure beef-eaters, and do not see anything valuable or worth preserving in Naga culture. This attitude, often adopted by schoolteachers, medical personnel, and minor government officials, must have deeply offended the Nagas, who are a proud and independent warrior people, used to being treated as equals by such British officers as J. H. Hutton and J. P. Mills, who had a profound knowledge of Naga custom and traditions.