Mokokchung, 22 June (MTNews): In a recent statement, Kuzholuzo Azo Nienu, a prominent leader of the Naga People’s Front (NPF), expressed his concerns regarding the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), emphasizing its potential threat to the communitarian tribal ethos and values.
The leader of NPF Legislature Party in his statement highlighted two crucial issues associated with the UCC: the rights and equality of citizens, as well as national integration. While acknowledging the importance of these issues, Nienu argued that attempting to enforce a uniform code across diverse communities in the country would be futile and counterproductive.
“It is a direct threat, for instance, to the fabric of a communitarian tribal ethos and values. To impose it on us is to dismiss our culture as primitive, uncivilized and inhuman and question our ability to find a solution from within to address human problems including rights and equality and to contribute to nation building at large,” he added.
Nienu further asserted that imposing the UCC would contradict the basic norms and presuppositions that formed the basis of the Indian constitution, such as diversity, unity, federalism, and secularism. He argued that such an imposition ignores the rich and complex historical background against which the constitution was written.
Nienu highlighted constitutional provisions like Article 371(A) and the Sixth Schedule, which were designed to protect and promote the customs, values, and practices of minorities, particularly tribal communities, providing them with a sense of identity, worth, belongingness, and purpose.
“One must not dishonor the existing constitutional guarantees through which modern India was built. The spirit of Indian nationalism or national integration cannot be achieved by questioning and insulting the wisdom and heritage of the minorities,” he cautioned.
He further argued that “it is the issues and questions of personal matters” that constitute the heart and soul of modern democracy and liberty, for instance, religious freedom”.
Therefore, instead of trying to override matters that come under personal law, Nienu proposed that lawmakers provide a platform for diverse communities to showcase their cultural heritage and wisdom, fostering genuine interaction and cross-cultural learning. Such an initiative, according to him, would promote greater understanding, respect, peace, and unity, essential for building a strong Indian state.
Nienu also highlighted the significance of tribal wisdom in the country’s legislative framework, citing the origin of concepts like Local Area Development Fund (MLAs) and Local Area Development Scheme (MPs) in Naga tribal traditions.
“Even the concept of communitization of basic institutions like health and education that has merited national and international recognition comes from the communitarian ethos of the tribal Nagas – the care of one and all and not to leave anyone out in the pursuit of the good,” he added.
Till an appropriate time comes by, he said, he endorsed the suggestion made by the 21st Law Commission, which proposed preserving the diversity of personal laws while ensuring they do not contradict the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. Nienu called for the codification of personal laws related to family matters to the greatest extent possible, with necessary amendments to rectify any inequalities that may have arisen.
“India must trust the diverse communities to find wisdom to address issues of human rights from within instead of coercing them from above. It is high time we do away with elements of hegemony and imperialism that only sow seeds of division and distrust,” he added.
As a legislator representing a tribal community in Nagaland, he vehemently opposed any threat, whether modern Western individualistic values or Indian majoritarian values, which he deemed incompatible and a threat to tribal communitarian ethos and values.