By: Dr. Aniruddha Babar
“In every country, the intellectual class is the most unique and influential. This is the class that can foresee, advises, and leads. In no country does the mass of people live life for intelligent thought and action. It is largely imitative and follows the intellectual class. There is no exaggeration in saying that the entire destination of the country depends upon its intellectual class. If the intellectual class is honest and independent, it can be trusted to take the initiative and give a proper lead when a crisis arises. The intellect by itself is indeed no virtue. It is only a means and the use of a means depends upon the ends that an intellectual person pursues. An intellectual man can be a good man but he may easily be a rogue. Similarly, an intellectual class may be a band of high-souled persons, ready to help, ready to emancipate erring humanity or it may easily be a gang of crooks or a body of advocates of narrow clique from which it draws its support,” ~ Dr. BR Ambedkar
When we were studying ‘Law’ we were taught that “knowledge and intelligence with wisdom” alone is the ‘true’ asset, wealth, weapon, and power that can make man abundantly potent and fiercely independent. As a student, it was a bit difficult to grasp the core of this philosophy, however, as I grew older, and saw the colours of life through my legal and academic professions, every word turned out to be true. ‘Intellectual’ people are dangerous people, construction and destruction rest in their hands. Mauryan Empire was created in 322 BCE by an ‘intellectual’ who was a Professor of Political Science and a Jurist from the University of Taxila-Acharya Vishnugupt ‘The Chanakya” – who single-handedly, also, sown the seeds of “Akhanda Bharat”. Intellectuals are those who have diverse wisdom and foresight, who apply their intellect and forward-looking visions for awakening society, they also actively engage in critical thinking, research, and reflection about the reality of society, and propose solutions for the normative problems of society.
Intellectuals are the moral conscience of their age; their moral and ethical responsibilities are to observe the socio-political moment and to freely speak to their society, by their consciences. They help to divert the masses from what is unwise and wrong toward what is righteous and good. There are three key factors in nurturing intellectuals: knowledge; ability and willingness to awaken society; and doing so for a noble cause or purpose. The lack of any one of these elements is inconsistent with the definition of an intellectual. The social class function of the intellectuals (the intelligentsia) is to be the source of progressive ideas for the transformation of society: providing advice and counsel to the political leaders, and interpreting the country’s politics to the mass of the population.
The Intellectuals-Men and Women of high or above average level of intelligence can be Lawyers, Engineers, Doctors, Academicians, Writers, Musicians, Artists, Philosophers, Social scientists, Clergymen, etc. whose expert knowledge and exceptional capacity of critical reflection substantiate their minority but heavily influential status in any given society. They are distinguished from the sphere of material production which is constituted by manual workers or even the ‘Business Class’ – that influences or own factors of production like Man, Money, Material, Land, and Entrepreneurship. This distinction is based on the fact that intellectuals behaved differently, and performed in altogether different roles compared to ‘others in society in times of political transformation and social transition. I recall the quote of the Late Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech Republic as once quoted by a noted Lawyer and our own, much-respected teacher Adv. (Prof.) KBN LAM at Government Law College, Mumbai; my alma mater in one of his discourses on Jurisprudence. President Havel said, “The intellectual should constantly disturb, should bear witness to the misery of the world, should be provocative by being independent, should rebel against all hidden and open pressures and manipulations, should be the chief doubter of systems … and for this reason, an intellectual cannot fit into any role that might be assigned to him … and essentially doesn’t belong anywhere: he stands out as an irritant wherever he is.”
It is a fact that intellectuals are agents of change, particularly in those parts of the world where unjust and aberrant behaviour is the norm. In their own ways, intellectuals everywhere around the world are making effective contributions to improving society in meaningful ways. As a part of Naga society, I travel a lot and spend a lot of time meeting and interacting with people of all ages belonging to different strata of our society. I am happy to observe that the Intellectual class is rising in Nagaland. More and more people from different walks of life started to lift themselves up from the prisons of their tribes and clan to use their ‘God-gifted’ intelligence to discuss and solve complex social and political problems. I have had the great opportunity to interact with young as well as Senior Naga intellectuals who have been carefully observing and studying the society.
I think many people In Nagaland and outside ignorantly believe that one has to be a politician or a politically inclined individual or a social worker to talk about society, however, the wind of change, brought by a handful of ‘Custodians of Wisdom’, started booming in our society which has boosted hopes of people like me who have been tirelessly working with different people and groups to contribute constructively to our people to help the society achieve its final destiny-through proper-just-fair governance and adherence to Rule of Law as a positively contributing agent to the success story of not only our Nagaland but the nation.
Societies and the people rise on the shoulder of intellectual giants. Giants rise through the fire of intelligence, thoughts, wisdom, and honesty. The latest developments in Nagaland are a result of the rising conscience of modern-day, intelligent Naga citizens who are not only well-educated but also very much aware of where they stand in India as free citizens and what their rights and duties are. The movement for “Frontier Nagaland” must be cited as the best example of rising modern-day Eastern Nagas who are no longer willing to be remained subjugated under the heels of ‘KOHIMA’.
I have witnessed a strange and surprisingly positive curve of transformation in Naga society in the past decade and a half. An anti-corruption movement initiated by “Against Corruption and Unabated Taxation (ACAUT)”, Movement for ‘Good Governance’ & ‘Rule of Law’ initiated by Rising People’s Party through their public action as well as construction initiatives and our Frontier Nagaland Movement spearheaded by awakened masses of Eastern Nagaland. They all have one common thing – they are all apolitical and mass-based movements having a strong intellectual base.
The destiny of any society or nation is in the hands of people who are capable to think and are courageous enough to act. They are the ones who guide the Political Class, Business Class, and Masses towards the last objective and the final goal of “Rashtra Nirman” or Nation Building and Universal Justice. Dr. Ambedkar was the first Indian statesman who understood the abundant capacity of this handful of individuals.
The objective of ‘intellectuals’ as public educators is to offer interpretations of the contemporary world that enhance the capacity of poorly informed individuals to participate in matters in an enlightened manner. Since the policies are to be made for the public, Intellectual provides valuable insight into the ways people’s lives will be changed by the actions being proposed. Such an advisor’s responsibility is also to draw the attention of leaders to the long-term consequences of the actions being considered and impart his suggestions through public platforms or through systematic channels. In the absence of Intellectuals, policy formation would continue to fall into the hands of bureaucracy. Therefore, intellectuals have to be seen as overseers and the sentinels of the welfare of the masses in a given society.
As an observer of contemporary Naga Politics, I can vouch that it is the rising young intellectuals in Naga society who will be taking the society to its final destiny IN THE NEAR FUTURE. They are hardly a handful of people with a higher degree of intellect, they could be from anywhere or nowhere, they may belong to any tribe or no tribe, but they are the ones who will stubbornly do what is required to be done in the best interest of the lowest of the people in Naga society who has no presence, no representation, no voice in this society where economics, politics, and law is concentrated in the hands of ‘corrupt powerful elites from Political and Business Class’. (The author is an academician in the Department of Political Science, Tetseo College, Nagaland)