What the Deputy Commissioner of Mokokchung said about the Ao Nagas at a private schools function on Friday should not be taken at face value. It is true that the Ao Nagas were the first to embrace Christianity and formal education. Having received formal education first, the Ao Nagas were naturally placed at a more advantageous position, thus being looked up by other Nagas as ‘torchbearers’ or ‘pioneers’. Now, after more than 150 years since embracing Christianity and formal education, it is only natural to ponder if the Ao Nagas are still the torchbearers today as they were yesterday.


While it is alright to be wary of what others’ perception might be, it is more important to objectively analyze if the Ao Naga society has matured enough in the last 150+ years as it should. While the progress that the community has made over the last 150 years can be attributed to Christianity and formal education to a large extent, it can also be argued that other communities that did not embrace Christianity or who were introduced to formal education much later have progressed much farther ahead. The little progress that has been made could very well be because the world as a whole progressed, thereby taking the Nagas along with them forward, and not necessarily because Christianity or formal education came to the Naga Hills.


A simple observation of the socioeconomic metrics or indicators of the Ao Naga society today will tell if they can be rightly called torchbearers in the present times. Good roads, decent healthcare services, proper sanitation and cleanliness, balanced education development, and employment opportunities are some indicators of a mature and progressive society. A progressive society is one that continuously seeks to improve the quality of life for all its members. It promotes inclusivity, equality, and justice while valuing diversity and individual freedoms. Such a society emphasizes sustainable development, environmental conservation, and responsible governance. In a progressive society, citizens are encouraged to engage in civil discourse, participate in decision-making, and contribute to the common good. It strives for a future where every individual has equal access to opportunities and can lead a fulfilling life with dignity and respect. A community deserving the title of ‘torchbearers’ must meet those metrics.

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