Annus Horribilis: Nagaland’s Year of the Entrepreneur

On 1st of May 2010, when the state of Nagaland was celebrating the tribal festival of Moatsu, the government officially launched, in the midst of fanfare of the festival with a massive roadshow and pomp and glory and beating drums and dances and a thousand promises, with the respected chief minister himself cutting the proverbial ribbon, the much hyped and much awaited ‘Year of the Entrepreneur’(YOE). It was designed as a landmark initiative in the state bent with the highest ratio of government employees per citizen, a state long run out of government jobs to offer, a state with no economic alternatives and a growing population of the mostly young and increasingly alienated.

YOE promised a solution, by identifying 1000 capable entrepreneurs, promoting sectors and an environment where business and development was possible, training, capacity building, subsidised power, easy loans, land, recognition and awards, the state would help citizens set up private businesses, bringing in much needed livelihood, employment and capital. The program was lauded, potential entrepreneurs were brought into the fold of the program, there were trainings, a ponderous tome titled ‘Guide to Enterprise Promotion’ was released, and the people and the press began referring to it as a ‘ray of light’.

The Year of the Entrepreneur officially ended 31st March, 2012, a day before the festivities and drums of Moatsu began. The thousand potential entrepreneurs are still awaiting the implementation of the ideas. Their big year has ended badly, they know that they were betrayed.

But a ‘ray of light’ remains. In the voices, unity and the struggle of the people who have invested their lives and hopes and futures in reaching out to the elusive promises of the ‘YOE’

If only the government could see.

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