Showing posts with label Nagaland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nagaland. Show all posts
21 November 2014

Narendra Modi Wants Final Solution To Naga Imbroglio within 18 Months

By Manan Kumar

Thuingaleng Muivah and Isak Chishi Swu

New Delhi, Nov 21 : With his eyes set to have a peaceful Northeast to help expand trade with South Asia, prime minister Narendra Modi has instructed interlocutor R N Ravi to come out with a proposed settlement that could be a final solution to the simmering Naga issue.

Sources said, Ravi, former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee and ex-special director of Intelligence Bureau, has been asked to try and clinch a solution preferably within a year to 18 months.

Unlike former governments, the emphasis this time is not on a resolution but on a solution which, means the Centre is approaching the issue with a hardened stand of pushing for a settlement on its own terms and putting the onus to accept the proposal on National Socialist Council of Nagalim -- Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM).

Getting rid of the baggage of previous UPA government during which the last interlocutor R S Pandey and before him Ajit Lal had worked hard in shaping up a proposed settlement, new interlocutor Ravi is expected to start the negotiation afresh to find out and lay down a new solution.

In an apparent indication to sound out Centre's tough bargaining policy, Modi has chosen not to meet the NSCN-IM top leaders -- Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah who are camping in Lutyen's Delhi, just a couple of kilometres from Prime Minister's house, for past since mid-September.

This is the first time that the "proud" leaders have waited for so long to meet the PM. The earlier PMs used to give them time rather promptly.

This change also indicates if the Modi government is trying to tell the rebel outfit that the solution would not hinge on a political dialogue but within the given administrative framework which would suggest a drop down for the NSCN-IM, considered to be most formidable in the Northeast.

However, it will also sound out a clear message in general to all the other insurgent outfits in the region that the government's stand would remain tough, sources said.

Modi is expected to discuss the issue with chief ministers of both Nagaland and Manipur during this visit to the Northeast in the end of this month.

A key component of Modi's talk would be how to establish peace between warring Manipur and Naga groups who are demanding autonomy of the state's Naga-dominated hill districts and tackle NSCN-IM that wants integration of the Naga areas under a single administrative umbrella.

Observers within the government say that the tough posturing by the Centre could find answers for a lasting peace in the Northeast that is necessary to take trade with ASEAN group of countries like Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and PDR Laos etc.

A peaceful northeast can help India reach its aim of increasing the bilateral trade with ASEAN to $ 100 billion by 2015 and to $ 2000 by 2022.

To take the trade to this level and beyond, Manipur can serve as a major gateway from border point of Moreh to Myanmar and beyond right up to the doorsteps of ASEAN countries.

"We are looking forward to conclusion of negotiations for an ASEAN-India Transit Transport Agreement by 2015. The Tamu-Kalewa-Kalemyo sector of the India - Myanmar – Thailand trilateral highway project is expected to complete in 2016 and will create a new dynamics of synergy of trade and cultural relations with South Asian countries," said an official of the ministry of external affairs.
20 November 2014

Smokie To Perform in Kohima

By H. Chishi

Kohima, Nov 20
: Once again the stage is set for world famous English band Smokie and Amercian guitarist Vinnie Moore to rock Kohima.

Smokie — a household name and all-time favourite band — will perform on December 3 at Indira Gandhi Stadium hockey ground and Vinnie Moore of legendary US rock band UFO will perform during the Hornbill International Rock contest on December 4 coinciding with the 10-day festival from December 1.

Smokie will also rock Shillong on December 5. The Living next door to Alice band will also visit the Hornbill Festival at Naga Heritage village, Kisama, on December 4 before departing for Shillong.

The band is on a worldwide tour and will perform in more than 50 venues next year.

Several hundreds of fans of Smokie and UFO from the neighbouring states of Manipur and Assam are also expected visit Kohima.

Smokie guys will belt out their all time favourites, Living next door to Alice, Lay back in the arms of someone, Don’t play your rock and roll, Babe it’s upto you, among others.

Moore will also be one of the judges of the Hornbill International Rock contest where several bands from the country and abroad will perform.

Before leaving Moore will also conduct a guitar workshop in Dimapur for Naga music lovers. “True rock legends are characterised by the fact that they not only have added several classics to the rock history, but that their musically output, after many years, still takes place at a constantly high level and there is always something new and fresh coming up. UFO meet all this criteria,” Moore said.

“I will definitely watch the performance of Smokie,” said a fan K.P. Angami.

The organisers of the show are making all effort to stage a well-mannered concert adding that security would be tight during the performances by Smokie and Vinnie Moore.
23 September 2014

India’s Last Surviving Headhunters

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe

The largest tribe in Nagaland

The remote village of Longwa, with Myanmar’s dense forests on one side and India’s rich agricultural lands on the other, is home to the fierce Konyak Naga tribe. The largest of 16 tribes living in the remote northeastern Indian state of Nagaland, the Konyaks were warriors with brutal pasts, using inter-village fights to accede land and ascertain power. As such, Konyak villages are situated on ridge tops, so they can easily monitor and identify an enemy attack.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe

The last generation

From the tribe’s conception centuries ago, until the gruesome practice was banned in 1940s, the Konyaks were fierce headhunters. Killing and severing an enemy’s head was considered a rite of passage for young boys, and success was rewarded with a prestigious facial tattoo. With the last headhunting case in Nagaland reported in 1969, older tribesmen like Pangshong (pictured) belong to the last generation with these striking facial tattoos.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe
Skulls of battles past

Bones of buffaloes, deer, boars, hornbills and mithun (a bovine species found in northeast India) decorate the walls of every Konyak house – prizes from generations of hunting. During the tribe’s headhunting days, the skulls of captured enemies were also prominently displayed, but once headhunting was abolished, the skulls were removed from the village and buried.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe Spacious living quarters

Konyak huts are made primarily out of bamboo. They are spacious, with several partitions forming huge rooms for various purposes including cooking, dining, sleeping and storage. Vegetables, corn and meat are stored above the fireplace, in the centre of the house. Rice, the staple food of the Konyaks Nagas, is usually stored in huge bamboo containers at the back of the house. Pictured here, a Konyak woman named Wanlem breaks the rice by beating it with a wooden log, readying it for a traditional sticky rice dish.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe
One tribe, two countries

Longwa was established long before the borders were drawn between India and Myanmar in 1970. Not knowing how to divide the community between two countries, officials decided that the border would pass through the village and leave the tribe undisturbed. Today, Longwa straddles the international border, with one side of the border pillar containing messaging written in Burmese, and the other side written in Hindi.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe International housing

The border even cuts through the village chief’s house, prompting the joke that he dines in India and sleeps in Myanmar.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe Family gatherings

Konyaks are still ruled by hereditary chieftains, locally known as “Angh”, and one or several villages can come under each chieftain’s rule. The practice of polygamy is prevalent among the Anghs and the chief of Longwa has several children from many wives. Pictured here, several of the tribe’s children gather around the fire.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe Changing beliefs

Konyaks were animists, worshipping elements of nature, until Christian missionaries arrived in the late 19th Century. By the late 20th Century, more than 90% in the state had accepted Christianity as their religion. Today, most of the villages in Nagaland have at least one Christian church. The church in Longwa is located in a vast field atop the ridge, right below the village chief’s house.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe Weekly traditions

Women wearing traditional Naga skirts return from church on a Sunday morning.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe
A disappearing culture

A group of Konyak elders gather around the kitchen fire, chewing on betelnut, roasting corn and sharing a light moment. With the invasion of Christianity, many of the tribe’s traditional practices, such as training young boys as warriors and educating them about the tribe’s beliefs in dedicated community buildings called Morungs, have nearly disappeared.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe Decorative trophies

The practice of wearing colourful beaded jewellery is also declining. In the past, both men and women would wear elaborate necklaces and bracelets. Brass faces were used in some of the men’s necklaces to signify the number of enemy heads severed.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe Change creeps in

Sheltered from the reaches of modern civilization, Longwa is a picturesque collection of thatch-roofed wooden houses. But the occasional tin roofs and concrete constructions are tell-tale signs that change is creeping into this rustic corner. What remains of this inevitable marriage between past and present is yet to be seen.

22 September 2014

NSCN (IM) Leaders Arrive in Delhi For Resumption of Naga Peace Talks

By Samudra Gupta Kashyap

Guwahati, Sep 22 : More than ten months after the last round of talks, a high-level delegation of NSCN (IM) leaders have arrived in the national capital at the invitation of the government of India for resumption of the Naga peace talks.

The delegation led by its chairman Isak Chisi Swu and general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah will first meet different officials before attending the formal discussions slated sometime next week. The delegation arrived in New Delhi on Saturday.

It was in November last year that New Delhi had held the last round of discussions, while a meeting with then prime minister Manmohan Singh, slated for December 6, 2013 was cancelled at the last moment. A delegation of the NSCN (IM) had visited New Delhi in March this year after the Centre had called off another round of talks in view of the Lok Sabha elections.

There have been speculations in the media in Nagaland about NSCN (IM) leaders also meeting Prime Minister Modi, especially in view of then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee appreciating the “unique history of the Nagas” during his visit to Nagaland in July 2002.

The NSCN (IM) has been on a ceasefire with the government of India since August 1, 1997, following which it has held a series of discussions with New Delhi. While the group has dropped its demand for ‘sovereignty’, but  it has maintained that it would continue to press for integration of all Naga-inhabited areas.

The group had earlier this month taken exception to the appointment of former IB special director RN Ravi as New Delhi’s new interlocutor in view of certain remarks made by him in an newspaper column in December last year. This had prompted new Nagaland governor and veteran BJP leader PB Acharya to clarify that Ravi’s article was written much before the new government was elected.
18 September 2014

Nagaland Police Unearth illegal Tax Network run by NSCN(IM)

By Samudra Gupta Kashyap

Guwahati, Sep 18 : Three weeks after the newly appointed Governor of Nagaland constituted a high-powered committee to probe illegal taxation in the state, the police have unearthed an organised network, controlled by NSCN(IM) cadre, who were illegally taxing transport and commercial vehicles. The network also involved 17 transport and goods companies.

The police action comes a year after NGOs and tribal bodies launched a statewide movement to check illegal ‘taxes’ imposed by different groups.

Dimapur Police additional SP Wati Jamir said the network was run from the offices of different transport and goods carrier companies. The anti-extortion team of the police said the racket ran into crores of rupees. Several persons have been taken into custody and offices of all companies under scanner have been shut down.

“Based on specific inputs, the investigating team Monday raided and searched the office of one M/S Freight Carriers (India) Pvt Ltd in Dimapur, which led to the recovery and seizure of 43 illegal lorry challans for trucks plying on the Guwahati-Imphal route through Nagaland,” Jamir said.

The police found that the challans had the signature of one John, a NSCN(IM) cadre. The managers of the company, Rajbir Sharma and Vikash Sharma, were taken into custody.

During questioning, the two managers admitted that “taxes” were collected from all Manipur-bound transport trucks by issuing the challans on the direction of the NSCN(IM) cadres.
27 August 2014

Nagalim: Mass Rallies to Put Pressure on Indian Government

The United Naga Council is organizing mass rallies to push towards the solution of the Indo–Naga issue, as well as to protest against militarisation of Ukhrul area and the aggressive policies of the Government of Manipur in terms of the ancestral lands of Naga people. 

United Naga Council (UNC) has announced its decision of launching mass rallies in the four Naga dominated district headquarters of Tamenglong, Senapati, Ukhrul and Chandel on August 30 [2014] to exert pressure on the Government of India for expediting an acceptable and honourable settlement of the Indo-Naga issue.
The rallies will also be in protest against the alleged militarisation of Naga areas particularly Ukhrul district by Government of Manipur by deployment State forces in alleged utter disrespect of the Indo-Naga cease-fire as well as against Government of Manipur's alleged disrespect for the democratic process of tripartite talk on alternative arrangement which has been progressing towards a logical stage.
The UNC further said the August 30 [2014] rallies will also be in protest against the unabated aggressive policies of the Government of Manipur to encroach upon the ancestral lands of the Nagas and tribal through Laws, Acts & Notifications to subvert the protective provisions of the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (MLR & LR) Act, 1960 .
In statement issued by its publicity wing, UNC informed that after the rallies joint memorandum on all these points of demand and protests will be submitted by the Tribe Hohos and frontal organisations of the respective districts through the Government of India agencies to the Prime Minister of India and also dispatched through post.
UNC appealed to all churches, Christian leaders, frontal and regional organisations, village chiefs and village councils and village authorities, students and youth’s leaders to take up the moral responsibilities for ensuring the maximum participation of the people in the rally.
It also advised the Naga people to be vigilant against any attempt of the adversaries to discredit the peoples' movement for their political aspirations by sabotaging the democratic civil action.

Source: E–PAO
19 August 2014

Dimapur’s ‘Illicitly Open’ Liquor Industry

A group of people are seen drinking liquor in one of the many clandestine establishments which sell alcohol in Dimapur. Photo by Caisii Mao
By Imti Longchar
Dimapur, Aug 19 : Amidst zealous and earnest debates flooding newspapers, social networking sites and road side liquor joints on the fallacy that Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act (NLTP) 1989 is or not, a less perturbed illicit liquor industry continues to rise to humongous proportions in commercial hub Dimapur.  

Under the guise of mineral water wholesale shops and patently placing them under food restaurant industry on their registration licenses, the spurious liquor business is rising extraordinarily in all stretches of Dimapur.

Keen observers point out how the commercial hub might have the highest number of wholesale shops selling mineral water in the whole of North East, coupled with an abnormal number of Indian cuisine hotels - most of which does not offer even a plate of chapatti. More ironically, amongst all the businesses dotting Dimapur, these shops are diligently the first to open shutters in the morning (by 5 am), and the last to close at night (11 pm) for its ‘customers.’

People in the know (and who does not know?) counted nearly 500 illegal wine shops in Dimapur and along NH 29 and rising.  This figure does not include restaurants which have liquor on their menu, or home/residence based IMFL businesses inside the numerous colonies.

To cite instances, a year or two ago, there was only one wine store, a very renowned one, near Dhobi Nullah traffic point intersection. Of late, it has tripled, flanking each other on the left and right of the road.

Or along the neglected Signal road, where setting up business was deemed a bad idea (except for a Punjabi hotel prospering in mineral water business) because of the deplorable road condition or so, nearly half a dozen wine stores have cropped up and is doing brisk business.  

Likewise, be it City Tower, Nagarjan junction, Purana Bazaar, Burma Camp, 4th Mile and elsewhere, the sprouting liquor hotels with its trademark mineral water cartons and cold drinks decorated cupboards can hardly miss our sight.

Lure of quick and highly dividend earnings and unemployment can be attributed for people venturing into the illicit liquor business, despite the knowledge of prohibition. No regard for the law because everyone else is breaking the law of prohibition can be another issue.  

Owner of a paan shop cum liquor joint was candid enough to reveal how one can become a ‘lakhpati’ if one lasts a year into the business. “After that, its snapping fingers for you,” he quipped. His bold declaration holds water.

A personnel of the Intelligence Branch revealed how during one of the recent routine closure of liquor stores by authorities, a single wine shop could earn a whopping profit of Rs 16 lakh by selling liquor to alarmed imbibers from 4 pm till 9 pm.

The stretch of Shillong and Guahati night bus boarding station (Blue Hill station) decorated with high rise hotels, lodgings, and bus counters is infamous for its alleged distinction of being a ‘syndicate’s haven,’ – meaning a hotspot from where most networking of illicit liquor supplies allegedly originate.

A source, working in the police department explains how the illegal chain of the liquor industry is segregated into four components – syndicate, whole-seller, retailer and home business makers. Syndicates are the main suppliers to the whole-sellers, who, then sell to retailers and home business makers.

Illicit liquor is also supplied directly by kingpins at Lahorijan and Khat Khati under Assam which, according to this source, is more cumbersome and risky for the bootleggers.
One key factor on how syndicates manage to operate the illicit liquor business full swing may also be directly linked with the license awarded by the State government to individuals or groups for bonded ware house to supply liquor to Armed forces stationed in Nagaland and Manipur, says the source.

With these licences, purportedly bought with ludicrous amounts of bribes landing in the hands of syndicates, trucks after trucks of liquor enter Nagaland gate unrestrained. These consignments not only go to the Armed forces, but flows directly into the general market, the source claimed.

“But who can prove what when everyone- the excise, police, State government officials, politicians, church members, public- from the top rung to the bottom, are equally involved in the making of this industry?” he said, implicitly pinpointing the reason why the NLTP Act has not been a success or will never be.

The roaring illicit liquor industry in Dimapur has also witnessed the rise of a new breed of apprentice in the brewing business. There was a time when local beer made of rice were mostly brewed and sold by local women as means to survival and livelihood. And also with their contention that drinking rice beer was Naga traditional way of life.

A walk around Westyard (Rail bazaar) area or Dhobi Nullah would reveal otherwise. At the bustling stretches of rice beer joints, swift and business minded non locals sell local brew kept in large basins along with plates of dry fried fish, fried blood cakes, mutton heads and innards.

Many of these versatile non local businessmen have learnt the art of brewing rice beer as means to employment. They also buy the fermented rice from locals.

In a reverse scenario, local women mostly widows or those with unemployed husbands have turned to sale of IMFL instead of the local brew. “This is more lucrative and hassle free than selling rice beer,” a woman who was into rice beer business, but now sells rum, remarked. 

That’s prohibition in Dimapur.

Source: Morung Express
04 August 2014

Wildlife Trust of India team to search origin of star tortoises seized in Nagaland

By Pullock Dutta

Star tortoises at Nagaland Zoological Park.

Jorhat, Aug 4 : The Wildlife Trust of India has the daunting task of finding the home of 62 star tortoises that were seized at Dimapur railway station last month.

A team from the WTI will collect blood and tissue samples of the tortoises, now kept at the zoo in Dimapur to ascertain their place of origin.
“The blood and tissue samples are necessary to ascertain the location from where these tortoises originated. By ascertaining to which sub-species they belong, we can subsequently release these tortoises in the particular location or at least near it,” N.V.K. Ashraf, the chief of conservation of WTI, told The Telegraph today.
Ashraf said the Indian star tortoise (Geochelone elegans) is a species found in dry forest areas in the northwest and southeastern regions of the country and is quite popular in exotic pet trade across the world.
“Thanks to the distinctively-marked and highly-rounded shell, this species has become popular in the world’s pet trade,” he said.
Indian star tortoises are medium sized, with the average adult rarely growing to more than 30cm in length.
The trade in star tortoises has been banned under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild fauna and flora. The species is also protected under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, which bans its possession and trade.
The consignment of 62 tortoises was found concealed under fruits in two crates parcelled from New Delhi on July 12.
Sources said one of the tortoises managed to sneak out of the packet, which attracted the attention of railway officials. Subsequently, the wildlife crime control bureau seized the two packets.
The principal chief conservator of forests, Nagaland, M. Lokeswara Rao, said all the 62 tortoises were alive and being kept at a special enclosure at Nagaland zoological park.
He said WTI had sought permission from the forest department to collect blood and tissue samples of the tortoises to ascertain the location from where they originated.
“We have given them permission,” he said.
He said this was the first time that star tortoises, which are found in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, were seized in Nagaland.
Rao said a telephone number and an address were mentioned in the two packets but there was no reply on the particular telephone number.
“The address was also fake,” he added.
An official of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau told The Telegraph that the haul has established the fact that Dimapur is used as a transit route to smuggle star tortoises to Southeast Asian countries.
“The porous international border in Manipur is being used to smuggle these star tortoises. We are probing the incident,” he said.
The ministry of home affairs has said the porosity of the 1,643km India-Myanmar border facilitates cross-border movement of militants, illegal arms and drugs. “The border (Indo-Myanmar) permits free movement regime up to 16km across the border. This makes the International border extremely porous. The border runs along hilly and inhospitable terrain, which grossly lacks basic infrastructure and provides cover to the activities of various insurgent groups and smugglers,” a ministry of home affairs report had said recently.
29 July 2014

Edinburgh Tattoo to Drum up Viewers with TV Deals

Members of the Nagakand Folkloric Group, from north-east India, are among the international acts at this years show. Picture: Hemedia By BRIAN FERGUSON

Organisers of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo aim to increase the global TV audience of the event to more than a billion – with lucrative new agreements in China and India.

Brigadier David Allfrey, chief executive and producer of the event, has unveiled ambitious plans to secure long-running broadcast deals with the two countries. The move – expected to coincide with the appearance of more Indian and Chinese performers in the event – would see the number of viewers rise tenfold from its present level.

Plans to greatly expand the global reach of the event were announced as it emerged the Tattoo is set to sell out in advance for the first time in five years – despite its opening weekend clashing with the Commonwealth Games.

Organisers have revealed sales are running around 8,000 ahead of last year, with 97 per cent of seats already snapped up ahead of yesterday’s official launch, when details of the programme were announced.

Last year’s event did not sell out until around two weeks into the run at the Castle Esplanade.

The Tattoo opens on Thursday night, with its dress rehearsal, with another three performances due to be held before the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow draw to a close on Sunday.

The event – which is being held for the 65th year – has sold out for the last 15 years in a row, but is viewed by a further 100 million people in around 45 countries thanks to coverage filmed by the BBC.
Brigadier Allfrey said: “We are one of four really big offerings that BBC Music record every year, along with the Proms season, the Glastonbury Festival and Radio One’s Big Weekend, and our programme is already licensed out to a huge number of territories around the world.

“I have a real interest in the developing markets, particularly in India and China, where there is an enormous number of people who are tremendously interested in our offering.

“We think there is a real opportunity to reach a stronger audience by working with the two state broadcasters in each of these countries.

“The real interest is in the years to come, where Scotland’s relationship with these great economies is set to grow. I want to make sure the Tattoo is presented to both Indian and Chinese audiences in much the same way as it is in Australia, where the Tattoo is shown every year on New Year’s Day.

“We want to ensure that they take the programme every year, and in years to come we are talking about acts from India and China. We are setting the conditions for proper broadcast of those programmes, which we think will capture the public imagination in those countries.”

Acts from South Africa, the Caribbean, New Zealand, India and Singapore appear in this year’s Tattoo, which runs until 23 August.

Highlights are expected to include appearances from the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Steel Orchestra, the iNgobamakhosi Zulu Dance Troupe, from South Africa, the Nagaland Folkloric Group, from north-east India, and a group of Shetland Fiddlers.

Just 3,000 tickets remain on sale for this year’s event, but Brigadier Allfrey warned these were expected to be quickly snapped up, despite the huge 
interest in the Games.
11 July 2014

Found in Translation

By Suanshu Khurana
Still from Songs of the Blue Hills
Still from Songs of the Blue Hills


Film-maker Utpal Borpujari’s documentary, Songs of the Blue Hills, seeks out lost Naga folk songs and finds their revival among younger musicians
While setting chords to their famous hymn-like 1960 track, Let it be me, the rock ‘n’ roll legend The Everly Brothers, not even in their wildest dreams, thought that a tribal folk song in India’s Nagaland would have the same chord structure. As for the contours and trajectory, they never factored those in either. The song reached the seventh position on Billboard charts as the English duo transformed popular music of the ’50s and ’60s to create a musical legacy with those gorgeous riffs, unique harmonies and “foreverly” arrangements. Even as they were making their way to the Hall of Fame, far away in Nagaland, Hoya He, a song from the Chakhesang tribe, was getting erased from our musical consciousness. So when Nagaland’s classical pianist Nise Meruno plays and croons both the songs in quick succession, highlighting the similarity between the music from two different worlds — one from the American idiom of popular music, and the other which is not so popular in Indian consciousness, one is intrigued to find this folk song’s relevance in today’s time. Thus begins a journey, which is the subject of filmmaker Utpal Borpujari’s documentary, Songs of the Blue Hills.
Delhi-based Borpujari’s feature-length documentary takes one through the music of various Naga tribes. The film by the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training, which was shot and completed last year, is in the competition sections of international film festivals at Gothenburg and Washington this year and is being screened at Eyes & Lenses: Ethnographic Film Festival, Warsaw and Ladakh International Film Festival. “I have always been interested in tracing the roots of music. This endeavour was to understand and find more and see what it would throw at me,” says Borpujari.

The film seeks out folk songs of the Nagas that are lost or have trickled down to the next generation. The arrival of the British over a century ago was culturally helpful in some parts of the nation (they facilitated many musicians such as Gauhar Jaan find fame by allowing them to record), while they banned folk music of the Naga tribes calling it spirit worship. “I’m a Christian and we were told that we would rot in hell if we would sing our folk songs,” says Guru Sademmeren Longkumer, a veteran Naga folk musician, in the documentary. But he secretly documented some music over a period of time and created collections. However, reading them was not easy since the Ao tribe had their script written on leather strips. “Dogs ate them,” he says.

“The Nagas have faced many socio-political issues. Most tribes would remain within themselves and not have anything to do with other tribes or the rest of the world. Since the songs were orally passed down, many got lost in the process,” says Borpujari, 45, who has included almost 20 songs from the Naga folk culture in the documentary. He met bands such as Purple Fusion and Tetseo Sisters, who are reviving their legacy by combining folk with pop, blues and jazz. “Some veteran folk musicians have a problem with musicians wearing cowboy hats and ‘mixing’ their music, but younger musicians believe that this is one way that their legacy can be revived,” says Borpujari.

Collaborations and fusions aside, some banned folk songs are also finding their way into choral hymns, which were considered sacrosanct once upon a time. One finds various choirs including the one in Nagaland Music Conservatory using lyrics and tunes from their folk songs and singing them in hymn-like structures. “The young generation of musicians are allowing this oral legacy to flourish, even in choral singing, where it was once prohibited,” says Borpujari.
10 July 2014

Coming From Nagaland? Have Your Visa Ready! Mobile Phone Stores Staff Need to be Trained Well

By Alfie D'Souza

Mangalore: While I am writing this article, persons and business names are not revealed, only for the fact that I don't want any employees to get fired from their jobs because of their lack of knowledge and courteousness.

I really don't blame the store employees for their lack of customer service talents, but would blame the owners/management for not training their staff handling various departments about the company products, procedures and rules etc etc.

Sometimes when you apply for new mobile phone connection or any other matter, you will be surprised at all the documents the staff ask for, which actually is not needed and at same time its waste of your time and energy running to xerox shops to make bunch of copies.

By the way when did Nagaland became a foreign country ? Why do you need a visa to visit Mangalore? I thought Nagaland was still a Indian state, but according to a authorized mobile showroom staff it is not.

Other day I was at the mobile showroom to pay my bill, but since the automated paying kiosk was out of order, I stood in the queue inside the store to pay my bill. At that time there were two youth, I guess either from Tibet or Nagaland, trying to get phone service activated.

I could hear the conversation between the youth and the store employee - at one point I heard the staff asking them for their visa copies. The confused youth with much argument with the staff left the showroom in a grumpy mood.

Minutes later after done paying my bill, I approached the same staff and asked where the youth were from, and she replied they were from Nagaland.

Quickly I asked her again, then why were you insisting on their visa copies, since Nagaland is not a foreign land.

She was all puzzled and confused, and the manager who standing close by who heard us, directed the staff to run outside and look if she could find those two young youth from Nagaland, but all in vain. I bet they went to a better mobile showroom. What a blunder the staff did, just to lose two customers?

Another incident-- once again that too at a mobile showroom - my American friend who was on a visit here for couple of months wanted to see if he could get temporary SIM card. So I took him to the mobile shop, where the staff asked him for his copies of passport, visa and other travel documents etc - which he did.

After a while the store staff came and insisted copies of Voter's ID or a ration card. What a dumb question to ask a US citizen for a voter's ID and a ration card, when she knew he was a American on a vacation with a tourist visa. We didn't speak a word, instead left the shop, and later got him a SIM card under my friend's name at a different shop..

Sometimes getting a new mobile phone service is much more difficult than getting a passport or visa - too much hassles and too many documents to be produced for personal verification. Like few months ago, when I tried to get a new mobile service to be approved I went through hell - after all copies of needed documents were submitted, and after waiting for nearly 15-20 minutes, the mobile shop staff tells me that I look fair on my passport and OCI (Dual citizenship) card, and I look dark on my Karnataka State Drivers Licence. She wanted me to lighten the photostat copies of my DL - I had to go back again to the xerox shop, and after wasting nearly 10 copies, I finally got a perfect copy of my DL photo to match my PP photo. I still don't understand why the photo color mattered so much. I only wished the RTO office had a better camera device to take personal images ?

09 July 2014

‘Punishment posting’ may land Sheila Dikshit in Nagaland

‘Punishment posting’ may land Sheila Dikshit in Nagaland With Kerala governor Sheila Dikshit defiant despite being nudged by the home secretary to step down and make way for an NDA appointee, the government is considering transferring her to a smaller state. 

New Delhi, Jul 9 : With the NDA government having hinted at naming new governors mid-session, sources in the home ministry indicated that gubernatorial appointments for around seven to eight states may be announced shortly.

With Kerala governor Sheila Dikshit defiant despite being nudged by the home secretary to step down and make way for an NDA appointee, the government is considering transferring her to a smaller state. Her new address may well be Nagaland, as Mizoram governor Vakkom Purushothaman, who on Sunday was transferred to Nagaland, is reportedly unwilling to accept the new assignment and may resign.

As many as five Raj Bhavans fell vacant following the resignation of UPA-appointed governors, including B L Joshi (Uttar Pradesh), Shekhar Dutt (Chhattisgarh), M K Narayanan (West Bengal), Ashwani Kumar (Nagaland) and B V Wanchoo (Goa).

Apart from these states, there is a vacancy in Gujarat after the NDA government on Sunday transferred incumbent Kamla Beniwal to Mizoram. If Dikshit is moved to Nagaland, a vacancy would arise in Kerala as well.

Meanwhile, the terms of some governors, including H R Bharadwaj (Karnataka) and Jagannath Pahadiya (Haryana) are ending later this month.

The NDA government's signal to certain UPA appointees in Raj Bhavans to step down had evoked a mixed response. While some governors sent in their resignations without much delay, others like Narayanan and Wanchoo waited to be questioned by the CBI in the AgustaWestland scam before quitting. Others like Beniwal, Dikshit and K Sankaranarayanan (Maharashtra) refused to take the hint, with the latter two even asking for a formal communication in case the Centre wanted them to resign ahead of their terms.

The likely list of NDA appointees in Raj Bhavans includes BJP veterans such as former UP Speaker Kesarinath Tripathi, Punjab leader Balram Das Tandon, former MP Lalji Tandon, senior party leader from Kerala O Rajagopal, former Union minister Ram Naik, Delhi leader V K Malhotra and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha.

Kalyan Singh too is being considered for governorship, but the former UP CM is reportedly unwilling to quit active politics yet.
27 June 2014

Mountain Echoes


FROM AFAR A Naga folk group in a still from the film
Special Arrangement FROM AFAR A Naga folk group in a still from the film

“Songs of the Blue Hills” looks at the contest between tradition and modernity in the music of the Nagas.

“All songs, be it of harvest, love, war and festivals, were sung in the community dormitory for the youth,” says Guru Zachunu Keyho, who has collected nearly 600 Chakhesang folk songs. He is remembering the days before the coming of schools and churches in Nagaland, when cultural wisdom was transmitted to the youth through folk songs and dances, at the morung or dormitory. For Keyho, those days are over. “Today’s youth don’t have any interest in these things. Thus, with every generation, we are losing our songs and tradition.”
Tradition is a word that recurs frequently in “Songs of the Blue Hills”, a new documentary by film critic and filmmaker Utpal Borpujari, which journeys through the music of Nagaland. Through interviews with musicians, music teachers and ethnomusicologists, the film looks at what ‘tradition’ entails, who lays claim to it, and how endangered it is.
Although popularly perceived as a single tribe, the Nagas comprise more than 40-odd tribes and sub-tribes, spread across North East India and in Northwestern Mynamar. Like ethnic communities the world over, folk music and dances are at the heart of Naga culture. Also, Nagaland is perhaps the only State which has a Music Task Force, which functions under the aegis of the State Government to promote music in the State.
“What is very interesting is that since the Nagas do not have written history – or the written word – traditionally, it is their folk music that helps orally pass on their history from one generation to another,” says Borpujari, who has previously made the documentary “Mayong: Myth and Reality”. “The idea was to maybe make a 40-minute-odd-long film. But as my team and I started researching and contacting people, I realised that it was not going to be as easy as it sounded. Every day we found new groups, new singers, and more and more interesting music.”
While the culture Keyho describes passed with the coming of the missionaries, whose influence coloured the music of the Nagas, lately there has been a revival of folk music with several young groups taking to it. Some of them are the Tetseo sisters, who belong to the Chakhesang tribe and sing Li; Purple Fusion, whose members belong to the Ao, Lotha and Sangtam tribes, and who borrow from the repertoire of each other’s tribes; and Moa Subong and Arenla Subong, who blend their traditional Ao sounds with rock influences.
While their efforts have not been received enthusiastically by some folk practitioners, who worry that fusion could destroy the “real Naga tradition and culture”, they are convinced that fusion is also a way of keeping tradition alive. The older and younger generation may disagree about the means of preserving tradition, but they are both acutely aware of its importance, and the need to sustain it.
In fusion, according to musicologist Abraham Lotha, “Certain element of dilution is there but I would see it in a positive light in terms of the artistes trying to be creative in their musical talents, and in creating such kind of fusion music there is a market for it too. So it does help spread Naga music beyond the borders of the Naga areas.”
The film, which has been screened at film festivals in Warsaw, New York, Gothenburg and Kochi among others, had to be confined within the borders of Nagaland owing to budget constraints, but Borpujari hopes to take “this journey further into Naga singers in other parts of Northeastern India, someday in the future.”
17 June 2014

India's 1st Solar Water Project in Nagaland

India's 1st solar water project in Nagaland The system removes up to 99.99 % bacteria from water selectively without hampering other elements and taste.

Kohima, Jun 17 : Nagaland minister for public health engineering department Noke Wangnao inaugurated an innovative water technology project — solar-powered water treatment unit — at Tsiesema village near Kohima on Friday. Nagaland is the first state in the country to set up the unique technology.

Wangnao said three similar projects had been installed in three most villages most hit by water scarcity in Kohima district - Tsiesema, Meriema and Kijumetouma.

At a time when the state badly needed a solution to the water scarcity problem of the villages, a Mumbai-based company developed a suitable technology which could readily solve the water problem and produce good quality water, the minister added.

A brief technical project report by Er Kevisekho Kruse, Nagaland's chief PHED engineer, added that the Additya Solar-operated Advanced Membrane Filtration system was designed to produce pure drinking water.

The system removes up to 99.99 % bacteria from water selectively without hampering other elements and taste.

It is a fully automated, solar-operated water treatment unit with very low power consumption and operating costs. The capacity of the system is 6000l per day.
16 June 2014

Nagaland on a plate: Dzükou Tribal Kitchen has reopened in Delhi

By Amrita Madhukalya

Dzükou Tribal Kitchen, which serves Naga food, has reopened in Delhi. The decor is the same and, thankfully, so is the food, says Amrita Madhukalya
For those of you lamenting the demise of the charming little Naga eatery that shut its doors late last year at Delhi's Hauz Khas Village, Dzükou Tribal Kitchen is back. Housed in a back alley of the tony neighbourhood, Dzükou had, arguably, the best view. If you've ever relished their delectable Naga pork ribs, sighing at the glorious sight of the sun going down on the Hauz-I-Alai while birds hurried by to their nests, you'd agree.

Just so that you don't buy into a misreading: Dzükou is now no longer at Hauz Khas Village. It has moved a few doors away to the Hauz Khas Main market, which along with the neighbouring Safdarjung Development Area (SDA) community market, has been the biggest beneficiaries of the exodus of good eating joints from Hauz Khas Village.

Adding its bit to the ever-growing universe of exotic cuisine in the capital, Dzükou, in its new avatar, is spacious (it boasts of parking space). But, once inside, you realise nothing much has changed. There is the same mural of three Naga tea garden girls, and almost the same menu. (Thank god for their pork ribs!)

The decor has changed a bit: interior designer Mukul Sood was roped in to do up the place. The result is a very traditional Naga ambience, with contemporary, minimalist chic. There is a six-seater and five eight-seaters, with the provision for Naga shawl blinds to accommodate more guests. There is a small fountain, where water spews from burnished bamboo, and the ceiling is dhokuwa, sourced from Assam, a traditional bamboo weave used as fences in village homes. The façade of a Naga hut stands in one corner of the room to serve as a bar that is still to open – the liquor licence is due soon. And there's a space for buffets, which owner Karen Yopthomi informs me, will also start shortly.

The menu is currently the old Naga menu, and there are plans to incorporate five dishes each from cuisines of all northeastern states.

We started with the smoked buff salad (Rs279), and the best-selling Naga pork ribs (Rs349). As with most northeastern food, the meat has just the right amount of chewiness and is smoked to perfection. The buff salad is a wee bit hot, and comes with fresh greens like yam leaves, Naga spring onions and fresh bamboo shoot. We were delighted that the succulent and crispy pork ribs had not changed at all and was in top form.

To wash down the starters, we called for the famed fruit beer (Rs149) next. It tasted better and headier than the pale beers one finds in Dilli Haat or in the eateries in North Campus, but we must warn you that it was really sweet.

For the main course, we ordered smoked buff curry (Rs319), chicken with fresh bamboo shoot (Rs319, there are alternatives of chicken and of dry bamboo shoot), a side dish of rosep aon (dry, Rs169) and pork anishi, a paste made of smoked yam leaves (Rs319). The smoked buff curry is not for the faint-hearted, there are generous dollops of raja mircha, known as the hottest chilli in the world, and fresh greens. The chicken with fresh bamboo shoot was full of flavour, and again, a bit hot. The rosep yon is an assortment of greens like bitter gourd, fresh bamboo shoot, yam leaves, Naga spring onions, Naga beans, etc. Our favourite amongst these was pork anishi — the smoked yam and the smoked pork has a character of its own, and you will most possibly reach out to more than one serving.

The mains also consisted of steamed rice (Rs99) and an assortment of chutneys — a smoked chilli-tomato-onion paste, raja mircha chutney with dry fish and raja mircha chutney with shredded beef (Rs129 each). It will need a warrior to survive the chilli-tomato-onion paste, but the raja mircha chutneys came with their own flavours. We strongly recommend the one with that came peppered with slivers of crispy roast beef.

Dzükou will also host musicians from the northeast, who will come and perform at the tiny platform.

The Tatseo Sisters performed last week, and Alobo Naga might perform in the coming few weeks.

Karen, who takes special care of the food cooked in the kitchen, sources her ingredients all the way from Nagaland. The smoked meats, the yam leaves, the axhone, the dry mushrooms, the Naga spring onions and the raja mirchi — all come to the capital on a train. And, I guess, that's what makes Dzükou's food so authentic and straight out of the lush valley in Nagaland. And oh, did we tell you that Naga food does not use any oil to cook us this storm?

‘The Last Headhunter’


An ethnic Naga headhunter in the remote village of Cheme Khuk in Burma’s far north. (Photo: Andrzej Muszynski)
Kachin State/Sagaing Division, northern Burma — In the remote village of Cheme Khuk in Burma’s far north, I am talking to a man who must be one of the last ethnic Naga chief headhunters still alive today. Now in his 80s, he recalls an episode from the last great war, when he was a boy.
“I was in the jungle with my father and brothers,” the old chief says. “Suddenly, we saw a white man with short black hair. My father whispered, ‘It’s a beast, it’ll hurt us.’ We tied him up and he shouted. We carried him to the village.

“All we found in his bag was a single book. There was no gun. Then my father said, ‘He can’t do us any harm.’ We fed him. He got his strength back. We gave him some rice for the road and seven bells to pay for food along the way. He wanted to cook the rice in them. We explained that he shouldn’t do that.

“We escorted him to the border of our land and he vanished into the jungle, in the direction of India. We saved his life, and he was very grateful to us.”

Many more incidents of this kind occurred during World War II in the Patkai Hills on the border between Burma and India, inhabited to this day by the Naga people. One of the most extraordinary but little known campaigns of the war was conducted in the air over that territory. Burma was being fought over by the Allied powers and the Japanese, who had rapidly moved northward after taking Rangoon, pushing the British out to India.

Finally the counterattack went ahead, and the sky was cut across by British and American planes. The pilots performed incredible feats, landing on swampy ground in the middle of the jungle or daring to fly “the Hump,” one of the most dangerous flight paths over the Burmese Himalayas to China. Many of them crashed into the mountains. Wreckage is still lying in remote corners of the jungle, where Naga hunters sometimes find it. I heard they have  even come across pilots’ skeletons, still in the cockpit.

If the Japanese had crossed the Naga Hills and conquered India, and if the Germans hadn’t been defeated at Stalingrad, Asia would have been taken over by the Axis powers. But thanks to men like the pilot who was saved by the Naga boy and his father, Burma was liberated from Japanese invaders.

Who was the pilot? Did he survive? What book was he reading? I’m still looking for him.

Search Through Nagaland
I had never seen such a wild place, neither in Africa nor in the Amazon, before traveling to the Patkai Hills, which are hundreds of kilometers of dense, majestic jungle that climb skyward up steep slopes. Here and there in the forest shadow hide Naga villages, lost in time.

I was traveling from Myitkyina, the state capital of Kachin State, with a government guide and permits that included a precise plan of my route. In the Kachin town of Shinbwayang, we rented off-road motorbikes and set off on a crazy ride across the mountains, driving along the legendary Ledo Road in a quest to find one of the last of the living Naga chief headhunters.

This road tells a story of human madness. When the Japanese took Rangoon, the only source of supplies for the Allies in China was India, but there were two mountain ranges, the Burmese Himalayas and the Patkai Hills, standing in the way. People died like flies while building the road, as it spans an area that is highly malarial. By the time they finished, the war was over, and today the steel bridges still hang undisturbed over winding rivers.

The road is now so overgrown with plants that it is essentially a narrow mule path winding across the lofty mountains. Only a few drivers from Shinbwayang are prepared to take on this sort of challenge. People hire them to transport goods all the way to the Indian border at the Pangsau Pass, which is where I was heading.

Traveling with my guide, I was unsure what I would find. We asked people where we could find an old Naga shaman, since many old shamans used to be chief headhunters. I lost hope after someone in a village told me the last shaman from Pangsau died two years ago.

In every place we stopped, the villagers appeared to have given up their traditional costumes.

Nobody wore loinclothes with traditional bells. But their huts appeared to have hardly changed over the years, with one exception: These days, there are no longer small human skulls hanging on the outer walls.

Naga chief headhunters were legendary figures, inspiring terror among neighbouring tribes, travelers, missionaries and soldiers. My guide, a delegate of the tourism ministry, said the Naga stopped cutting off heads in the 1960s, when the military regime took control of their territory and made headhunting punishable by law. Christian missionaries had earlier campaigned against the practice.

However, I heard another version of the story as well. According to Shan people from nearby Hukawng Valley who venture into Naga territory in search of wild elephants, which they domesticate, headhunting is alive and well. “If you don’t warn them and you take away an elephant without their consent, they’ll cut off your head,” one Shan person warned.

From Naymung, in Sagaing Division, my guide and I set off westward along a new dirt road, which led to the town of Lahe. The government built the road two years ago, and it still isn’t ready to use: In many places, it’s like a mountain track. But thanks to its presence, new technology and western culture are rapidly infiltrating the hill tribes. Corporations and armed groups have their eyes on the valuable timber and natural resources here, and the government faces a major task of protecting this wildlife reserve and the dying local cultures.

Eventually, my guide and I reached another village, Cheme Khuk. My permits did not allow me to travel there officially, but I managed to convince some local authorities to let me visit. Nevertheless, they sent police officers on motorbikes to follow me.

The village, on a valley at the foot of a steep hill, looked utopian. Rows of huts were surrounded by waves of greenery. Suddenly, however, a disturbance broke the peace.

“Look over there, a naked man!” my guide yelled. “He saw us and ran into that hut.”

Separately, we saw a group of people coming toward us, walking single file in a line. They wore caps decorated with animal horns and they carried weapons. I was dumbstruck, as they stood there in front of us without saying a word or cracking a smile. They all had lips as black as coal from a root they chewed nonstop as a stimulant—quite distinct from the betel nut that is so popular elsewhere in Burma.

“Man, you’ve got incredible luck!” my guide told me. Much to my surprise, one of the men in line was an old Naga chief headhunter. He had traveled here with elders from a village deep inside the jungle, five days away on foot. The half-naked man who had run into the hut was the oldest Naga of them all.

“They came here to visit their sons and families. They’re spending a few weeks here and then going back again,” my guide said.

That evening we met for a communal supper at the home of the village’s Naga pastor. We sat around a bonfire, eating chicken and rice spiced with chilli while drinking green tea. The headhunter said he had not seen a foreigner since helping to rescue the pilot as a boy, though he had later visited a village where he saw foreigners on television.

Telling his story, he wore a tiger skin cap adorned with bird feathers and deer antlers. His nephew had given him the tiger skin. The world’s biggest so-called tiger conservation area, the Hukawng Valley Tiger Reserve, sits in Naga territory.

“Today there are fewer and fewer of them. The Lisu tribes hunt them for trade,” the headhunter told me, referring to another ethnic group.

“The Naga feel a spiritual tie with the tiger,” he added. ‘They believe tigers understand human speech. In each village there is someone with a tiger’s soul. Killing a tiger means his death, too.”
But if a particular tiger is attacking people or cattle, the Naga decide to hunt, often at night. After establishing its position, I was told, a large group of villagers and hunters encircle the animal, usually trapping it near a stream where they had earlier set a cage-like trap.

As they tighten the circle, getting closer and closer, the tiger may attempt to seek refuge in the cage, and when he does one of the most skilled hunters attacks. Spears were used in the old days, but guns are more common today. The man who kills the tiger is rewarded with half its jaw, while the other half goes to the owner of the cow that had been eaten by the tiger before its death.

The chief headhunter was also wearing bands of ivory drawn tight over his muscles. In the past, he said, the Naga also hunted elephants with heated spears. But only the elders ate the elephant and tiger meat. “The Naga never hunt for money, or for no reason,” he said.

When I finally built up the courage to ask about hunting human heads, his response made my cheeks flush.

“We fought most of our battles with the Kachin, who occupied our land,” he said. “To this day, there are heaps of boulders in the jungle where the biggest battle took place. We cut off as many heads as there are rocks.”

They set ambushes, he said. “We took knives and machetes into battle, and brought the cut-off heads back to the village. Then there was a big celebration.

“In one cauldron we boiled the human heads, and in another an ox for the feast. We hung the boiled, dried-out heads above the doors and on the walls of our houses. A captured head brought a Naga glory and respect.”

As we left the village at dawn, I asked one of the other Naga men what had become of all those heads from so many villages. Had they been buried?

“They started taking them away and throwing them into the jungle,” he said.

One day, perhaps somebody will come upon them.

Please contact the writer if you have information about the fate of the soldier in the headhunter’s story. This article was translated from Polish to English by Antonia Lloyd-Jones.
09 June 2014

A Day’s Journey To Explore The Unexplored

By Oken Jeet Sandham

It’s always adventurous to explore the new areas, locations, mountains, lakes, caves, trees and other historical objects. From time to time, scientists, enthusiastic and curious people used to venture out to areas unseen and unexplored. In Nagaland also, there are many areas which still remain unknown.

Local vendors selling local fruits and vegetables at Mao bazaar
Most of these areas are highly potential for making tourist destinations if they are properly developed with basic infrastructures. Rural tourism can really be developed and that will give economic and social benefits to the rural people. This is also one development that will discourage the exodus of rural people to the urban areas searching for their livelihood.

With this idea in mind, Speaker of Nagaland Legislative Assembly Chotisuh Sazo organized a whole day survey on May 31 with a team that included tour operators, officials and media persons to many sites which are highly potential for the development and promotion of tourism.

After briefing all of us by the Speaker, the team under his stewardship left Kohima at about 8:00 AM for a day’s trip to survey many sites highly prospective for the development of tourist circuits. The route is Kohima-Mao Gate-Makhel-Khezhakeno- Pfutsero- Phesachodou- Thepuzu- Chesezu-Chozuba-Kohima. It is like a one-day tour package.

We reached Mao Gate, Manipur at about 9:00 AM and had early lunch there. Generally, travelers stop and have food, besides buying local fresh fruits and vegetables here. Hundreds of passenger vehicles ply on this NH 39 daily and have stopover at this bazaar. Every tourist passing through this historic bazaar can visit the Mao Village which also preserves 2nd World War wreckages. Foreign goods are also sold here at relatively cheaper rates. Travelers can enjoy shopping here.

Then we left for the Makhel Village. It is about 10-minute drive from Mao Gate. The Village bears the testimony of the Nagas. The Makhel Village holds a central place in Naga tradition in connection with a belief that the Nagas at one point of time settled here and later dispersed to their present areas of habitation. The village of Makhel and the surrounding areas have several historical as well as mythological monuments and relics that are of interest to ethnographers, historians and cultural anthropologists. Monolith written about the significance of the Nagas is still preserved at this village.

Some village elders narrated us the importance the village.

After spending about 40 minutes at the Makhel Village, we proceeded to Chida Lake which lies at the periphery of Khazhakenoma Village under Phek district. The Lake can have boating facilities and variety of fishes which can give attraction to tourists. You can move around the scenic green hilltops which surround the Lake. Form the hilltops; you can see the beautiful Tungjoy Village of Manipur. In fact, the areas are pristine sceneries which will have vast tourist fascination.

We had light refreshment at the hilltop overlooking the Tungjoy Village before proceeding to Khezhakenoma Village.

On the way to Khezhakenoma Village, you will find a wayside Medicinal Plant Conservation Area where herbal nursery of locally available medical plants is maintained. The locally found Naga ginseng and other medicinal herbs are grown in the place. Many of us were thrilled seeing at the way medicinal plants were grown in this place, more so of the Naga ginseng plants. These unique herbal medicinal plants will give a charm blend to the tourists. The tourists can also get treated if they so desired.

While going to Khezhakenoma Village, you will come across Zuketsa junction. There is a monolith erected which had inscription written of a friendship treaty between the Phesachodouma and Khuzha Netho Ketshu. It said a stone got split into two. One erected at this Zuketsa Junction while the other at Phesachodou village with the same inscriptions of the friendship treaty written.

At Khezhakenoma Village, historical objects are still preserved. The Speaker was kind enough narrating the significance of the Village. C Kemvu Koza, Village Council Chairman, also shared of the Village’s history. Visitors will never return without knowing the story of this village.

After spending about an hour at Khezhakenoma Village, we set out for the next destination towards Pfutsero Town. Pfutsero Town is the commercial hub in the Phek district. We inspected the Mini Tourist Lodge maintained by the Pfuteromi Women Welfare Society. The double-bedded room is charged at Rs 700 while twin-bedded at Rs 500. They are bathroom-toilet attached and reasonably cleaner and cheaper. Sazo also personally checked all the rooms, dining and conference halls and the records of visitors.

Pfutsero headquarters has two Tourist Lodges and a few hotels. And accommodations for the tourists should not be the problem. The town also has a Baptist Theological College and also Government College. Churches of various denominations add to the beauty of the town. From the Mini Tourist Lodge you can not only see the complete town but also beautiful pristine peripheries of the magnificent town.

From here, we proceeded to Pfutsero’s Glory Peak. From this Glory Peak, you can see the birth’s eye view of Pfutsero Town. Picnics, workshops, meetings etc. can be organized in this place. This place can also be one of the tourist circuits as they can see the town, far off Chakhesang villages and even Kohima and Manipur.

Speaker was narrating every nook and corner of Pfutsero Town to us and the tour operators while having our 2nd light lunch here. Sometimes, we joked with him that “your head is the dictionary of Chakhesang areas.” Although he is Speaker of the Nagaland Assembly, he acted like a tour guide to all of us. In fact before setting out for the trip, he briefed all of us at his official residence saying that, “Today, I will be your tour guide and not as Speaker of Nagaland Assembly.” We spent about one-and-half hours here.

Then we again proceeded towards Phesachodou village. The Speaker is from this village. His village has cultural significance and that is widely known to outsiders. The villagers can present variety of traditional dances and songs to the visitors at the drop of a hat. It is a cultural hub itself. This could be one of the important tourist destinations.

On the way to Chesezu Village, one can see K-Basa Village below the highway. This village has been declared as “Green Village” with all village house roofs painted green under the initiative of Sazo in 2010 when he was Parliamentary Secretary for Social Welfare.

And before reaching Chesezu Village, we had one stopover at Thepuzu hilltop. It was leveled purposely to construct a new village church there.

From this hilltop, you can see a very steep mountain peak called Curhanyi from where it said the Naga army shot an Indian army chopper that was carrying a GOC. He was grievously injured. In retaliation, the Indian army started herding the village male folks but the GOC ordered not to harass them.

The last and the most important one come here. That is Chesezu Village where one of the historical significances took place during the infamous 2nd World War. The leader of the Indian National Army (INA), Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, came to this village and lived here. The villagers extended material helps to Netaji and his INA troops during their stay in the village. In memory of him, a Committee constituted started constructing a Memorial Center of him. A huge statue of Netaji carved out of stone in sitting position yet to be given a final touch is also here. Near the statue, there is a spring well from where Netaji used to fetch water for his personal use. All these important places including the spring well are still well preserved. Just one km away from the statue, a guest house with amphitheater in the name of Netaji Memorial Center is about to be completed. This will be one of the important tourist destinations once it is dedicated.

So the survey of the tour mapping is unique in the sense that “one-day complete tour package” can be organized - Kohima to Mao Gate to Makhel to Chida Lake to Medicinal Plant Conservation Area to Khezhakenoma Village to Pfutsero and visit Glory Peak at Pfutsero and from there have a birth’s eye view of the town (Pfutsero). Then proceed to Chesezu Village to have a final look at the INA Chief Netaji Shubas Chandra Bose Memorial Center. On the way to Chesezu, one can still enjoy looking at the green village of K-Basa Village and also visit Thepuzu maintain peak from where one can see a very steep and historic mountain peak called Curhanyi from where the Naga army shot an Indian army chopper that was carrying a GOC who suffered grievous injury.

In fact, ecotourism has become one of the fastest-growing sectors of the tourism industry, growing by 10-15% worldwide. One definition of ecotourism is “the practice of low-impact, educational, ecologically and culturally sensitive travel that benefits local communities and host countries.”

Rural tourism can thrive as we can showcase our rural life, art, culture and heritage at rural locations and in villages, which have core competence in art and craft, handloom, and textiles as also as asset base in the natural environment. The rural tourism will also give economic dividends to local communities so also socially. By developing rural tourism, there will be economic development in the villages and thereby preventing the exodus of rural people to the urban areas.

Source: Asian Tribune
06 June 2014

Nagaland is Rich in Gold, Says Geologist

"There's gold in them thar hills" was a promotional campaign that ran in Georgia in the US for almost a century from the 1830s and this could well apply to the Naga Hills straddling India and Myanmar, which are a promising place to prospect for the yellow metal, according to a geologist who has worked extensively there.

The discovery that can potentially put Nagaland on the gold map has been reported by Naresh Ghose, a retired geology professor of Patna University in the journal Current Science. His conclusion has emerged from an intensive study of rocks called "ophiolites" found in that region.

Ophiolites are slices of what were once the ocean floor but were thrust on to the continental crust more than 65 million years ago by the action of what geologists call plate tectonics, a mechanism that gave rise to the Himalayas.

The hill ranges of Nagaland and Manipur bordering Myanmar are one such place on earth where an ancient oceanic crust had emerged on the land as a result of collision of the Indian plate with the Eurasian plate.

The Naga Hills Ophiolite (NHO), as this region is called, consists of a variety of sedimentary rocks. Though the NHO was discovered in the 1970s its potential as a source of minerals was not realised till the 1980s when Ghose launched the study.

According to Ghose, the inaccessible nature of the terrain and lack of infrastructure are among the major constraints for undertaking a systematic study and exploitation of the NHO. Ghose says his preliminary study has brought to light the occurrence of gold in NHO in the native as well as in alloy form.

Ghose's study dealt with rocks exposed as ophiolite at the northern and eastern margin of India along the suture zone where India and Eurasia collided to form the Himalayan mountain range. About 1,200 thin sections of rocks collected from across the NHO by his students were analyzed using instruments at the Geological Survey of India (GSI) in Bangalore and were found to contain grains of both native gold and gold-silver alloy, the report said.

Gold mineralization in layered sections of Ophiolites "opens a new avenue for searching for primary gold in NHO," Ghose told IANS.

According to the report, gold in pure form and also as gold-silver alloy, is found to occur near Sutsu, a village in Phek district about 60 kilometres from Nagaland capital Kohima. Small, detached lenses or larger bodies of "gabbros" (igneous rocks) are encountered between Tizu River gorge and Lacham Lake in the central part of ophiolite belt. The largest body of ophiolite - three km in length, 2.5 km in width and 300 metres thick - is present east of Moki, the report said.

Ghose said that sediments in the northern and central parts of the ophiolite belt are favourable sites for exploration and prospecting of noble metals. Similarly, a search for placer deposits in the Tizu River and its tributaries flowing across the northern part of the ophiolite belt "is also favoured as an alternative prospect of secondary gold".

According to GSI, India now produces gold from Hutti, Uti and Hirabuddni mines in Karnataka and as by product from sulphide deposits of Khetri in Rajasthan and Mosabani, Singhbhum and Kundrekocha in Jharkhand. The Puga geothermal system is a "hot spring type" epithermal gold deposit in the making in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.

Ghose said that the ophiolitic rocks of mantle and oceanic crust parentage at the continental plate margin in northeast India "have vast potential for intensive research and economic growth".

However, the extent of gold reserves in Nagaland cannot be predicted on the basis of his preliminary study. "It calls for a more detailed geophysical and geochemical studies," Ghosh added.

IANS (K.S. Jayaraman can be contacted at
05 June 2014

Nagaland 'Green Village' Turns Tables On Hunters

Conservation efforts at a remote community in Nagaland state hailed as a model for protecting the environment.

Conservationists say the Khonoma model can be replicated in the rest of India [Amarjyoti Borah/Al Jazeera]

Khonoma, Nagaland - An idyllic "green village" in northeast India is being hailed as a model of conservation after an innovative project to protect wildlife began to lure tourists to the area.
India's government is now promoting Khonoma in the remote state of Nagaland as a successful example of what can be done by a small community to tackle hunting and logging and safeguard the environment.

The spirit of conservation has penetrated so deeply among villagers that local youths are signing up to be "wildlife wardens" in the community, 20km from Nagaland's capital, Kohima.

"The whole process has brought about a revolution here, and everyone has started to look at things through the eyes of a conservationist," said Kevichulie Meyase, a member of the Khonoma Tourism Development Board.

In 1998, villagers formed the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary (KNCTS) extending across a hilly terrain of 70sq km.

The whole process has brought about a revolution here, and everyone has started to look at things through the eyes of a conservationist.
- Kevichulie Meyase, Khonoma Tourism Development Board
The aim was to protect local wildlife including the endangered Blyth's Tragopan, a pheasant that inhabits wooded areas, and the village established strict rules banning hunting and logging.

"If anyone is found coming to hunt in the sanctuary he is fined 3,000 rupees ($50) as a punishment," said Mhiesizokho Zinyu, a conservationist associated with the KNCTS.

In an effort to ensure the bans were strictly enforced, the regulations stipulated that offenders' families would also face the prospect of collective fines.

"All this meant that the villagers complied with the council's strictures," said Pankaj Gogoi, a researcher associated with the non-profit organisation Destination North East, who has worked in the area.

The success of the initiative is striking given that awareness about conservation was almost completely absent in the village until the early 1990s.

The Gujarat-based non-profit Centre for Environment Education (CEE) played a pivotal role in raising local consciousness about the importance of conservation, and this was reinforced by the leading role played by Khonoma's village council.

Monkey feast
"I still remember when we had visited the village for the first time in 1994, the residents there threw a lavish feast for us - we were served monkeys and endangered deer meat," said Abdesh Gangwar of CEE.

Gangwar said he is wonderstruck when he sees the conservation efforts now embraced by Khonoma's residents.

An woman walks down a street in Khonoma village [Reuters]
Soon after establishing the new initiative, the villagers launched a tourism programme to generate income lost as a result of the prohibition on hunting and logging.

In 2003, they formed the Khonoma Tourism Development Board, which now gives local youths and women opportunities to work as tour guides, operators and interpreters.

"This was done so that the livelihood of all those people who were dependent on logging of trees and hunting will not be affected, and it worked out very well," said Meyase. "The sanctuary is ideal for trekking and research work, and it has a variety of ecosystems ranging from semi-evergreen forest to savannah grasslands."

Riding on the sanctuary's success, the government adopted Khonoma as a "green village" and awarded it 30 million rupees ($500,000) to develop infrastructure.

"The money was used to construct footpaths, toilets, roads within the village, solar lights, viewpoints, and for the purchase of trekking equipment," Meyase said.

In tune with their mission of conservation, the roofs of all homes were painted green so everyone knows it as the "green village".

The villagers' efforts have been lauded by Nagaland's state government, and former chief minister Neiphiu Rio has said Khonoma offers the world lessons about what people can achieve while protecting nature.

It has been a great success and can also become a role model for other states and communities as well.

- Firoz Ahmed, Aaranyak conservation group
Rich dividends
The villagers' efforts are paying rich dividends and the sanctuary has turned into a hotspot for tourists - yielding clear economic benefits.

Visitors who want to experience rural life can pay for "home-stays" - accommodation in a village household costing about $17 a night, enabling them to eat local food and enjoy the natural surroundings.

The tourism board said at least 1,000 tourists - both domestic and foreign - now visit the village annually.

"Payments are made to guides, to performers at cultural programmes, and to individual families who run the home-stays," said Meyase. "This has improved the economic conditions of several households."

Conservationists working in the region say the model established by Khonoma can now be replicated in other parts of India - and beyond.

"It has been a great success and can also become a role model for other states and communities as well," said Firoz Ahmed of Aaranyak, an environmental group.

Al Jazeera
28 May 2014

Mizo Like Truce Plan Mulled For Nagaland

By Sekhar Datta

Isak Chishi Swu

Agartala, May 28 : Nagaland is likely to go the Mizoram way, 17 years after peace talks began with the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) in 1997.
As part of the formula, NSCN (Isak-Muivah) chairman Isak Chishi Swu — and not general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah — will become the chief minister of Nagaland, taking along some of his close followers in the council of ministers, and will face fresh elections within six months.
A senior Intelligence Bureau (IB) official said the proposal by central interlocutors was being fine-tuned after which it would be submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh.
“All this is in an embryonic stage and the formula will have to be approved by the new political dispensation in which Neiphiu Rio will play an important role,” he added.
Rio, who resigned as the chief minister of Nagaland in the second year of his third term in office, has already been elected to the Lok Sabha. He is likely to be included in the Union council of ministers in the next reshuffle of the NDA government. It is believed that his chosen successor T.R. Zeliang will resign to pave the way for assumption of power by the NSCN (I-M) leaders.
The official said Rio, an influential Angami Naga leader, had all along been a votary of peaceful settlement to Nagaland’s insurgency problem. He had been upset with former chief minister S.C. Jamir’s attempts at scuttling the peace talks and had also resigned from the Congress in 2002. He floated the Naga People’s Front (NPF) and with other regional parties and the BJP, formed the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland, which won Assembly elections thrice in 2003, 2008 and 2013. Before the 2013 Assembly elections, Rio had said all 60 members of the Nagaland Assembly had offered to quit to pave the way for a settlement.
“He resigned as chief minister and contested the Lok Sabha polls only to help the process of peace,” the official said.
He said the tripartite Mizoram Peace Accord was signed by then Union home secretary R.D. Pradhan, late Mizo National Front (MNF) leader Laldenga and then Mizoram chief secretary Lalkhama on June 30, 1986. Following the accord and as per a tacit understanding, Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawla, who headed a Congress government, resigned, paving the way for assumption of power by Laldenga and his colleagues, who were required to face Assembly polls within six months. Laldenga won the Assembly polls held in February 1987. That had put an end to the two-decade-old insurgency in Mizoram and peace still prevails in the state.
“The Mizoram Peace Accord formula is now being thought of as the most effective solution, specially in view of NSCN bosses Swu and Muivah’s adamant stand on Nagalim, which will set a larger part of the Northeast, specially Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, on fire. They are being persuaded to scale down their demand for Nagalim (greater Nagaland) by incorporating the Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh,” the official said.
He pointed out that making Swu the chief minister would be easy because he belongs to Sema group, a mainstream Naga clan predominant in Zunheboto district of Nagaland. Besides, Swu had led more than 300 Naga nationalist guerrillas on a hardy trek to Chin as “political officer” in 1969 with commander Mou Angami.
“Muivah has a similar halo as he had led the first large group of Naga guerrillas as political officer along with commander Thino Selie to China in 1966. He was accorded the status of ambassador of a friendly country by the government of China,” the official said. But, he pointed out, Muivah hails from the peripheral Tangkhul Naga community of Manipur and his elevation to the post of chief minister in Nagaland might not be acceptable to all.
However, the main worry of the government interlocutors and the NSCN top brass is keeping the dissident NSCN factions, led by S.S. Khaplang and Khole-Kitovi, on board before making a final announcement and a serious effort is continuing in this direction.

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