Kohima: Gracing the sixth day of the Hornbill Festival as the special guest, Union minister of state for youth affairs and sports Kiren Rijiju won hearts as he expressed himself in Nagamese — the common dialect used by the people in Nagaland.
Prior to flaunting his Nagamese skills, Rijiju lauded the hospitable nature of the Nagas and said that Nagaland has a lot of potential. While it was not his first visit to the state, he expressed his gratification as it was his first stint at Hornbill Festival.
“Hornbill Festival has become the symbol of Naga people, symbol of Nagaland, and the symbol of Northeast India. It is not only a celebration of festival but it depicts the spirit, the rich cultural heritage of Naga people,” he said as he shared about how the festival has knitted people from all over the world.
Expressing delight and excitement about his visit to the ‘Festival of festivals’, he said that this platform which brings all Naga communities together covers all aspects, ranging from music, food, horticulture, traditional system, fashion, sports, youth activities, and is visited and enjoyed by people of every age. “Nagas are simple, straight forward and very courageous,” he added.
Speaking in perfect Nagamese, the minister said during a visit to Nagaland, one must stay back in the state for at least a day. He said that he wishes to dance and sing at the festival. Taking pride in being a tribal, he said drinking in public is a way of life for most people from the region.
He further joked saying that if he doesn’t drink, he will lose the Parliamentary election and therefore, drinking is mandatory for him to win the hearts of the locals.
Rijiju’s adventurous side
Rijiju, who has toured the state of Nagaland said, “Entire length and breadth of Nagaland is so attractive”. Revealing that he had visited the base of Mt Saramati, he expressed that in the next visit to the state, he wishes to make it to Mt Japfü and also trek to Dzükou valley.
“Nagaland has the potential to become one of the hub for adventure activities”, said Rijiju. He added that he wants to do something for the people through his ministry. “Besides sports, I want to promote the adventure activities. I want the youth of our state to engage in various activities”.
In the next visit, Rijiju said that he will conduct some adventurous activities in various forms, be it hiking, cycling, mountain terrain biking, and others according to the possibilities. “Naga people can do it”, he added.
He advised that besides sports, the youth must be engaged in “gainful employment by doing various activities which can promote the way they live their life as well as it can become a source for the source for a better life”.
Promoting sports culture in NE:
“Sports is our way of life”, he said referring to the numerous tribal indigenous games in the region. Highlighting that Nagas have “very unique Naga wrestling which is very unique to Naga people” he urged the need for promoting various indigenous sports. He also said that he will be consulting with the state authorities and identify some of the indigenous sports of Nagaland for which the ministry will be funding. “I want to promote Naga indigenous sports”, he added.
Northeast — A concern for Modi government
“We are honoured that the prime minister has given special emphasis for NE region and for the Naga people. That is why this Act East Policy propounded by the prime minister is taking shape. Our basic infrastructure— the foundations for better development are being laid. So in the next few years’ time, all those foundations laid for a prosperous future will bring the result. The result of five years’ time will be seen in the next five years. Better future is waiting for us,” he said.
Rijiju recounted how under his ministry, the gap between NE and mainland Indians have been breached and that the efforts of the Government have contributed towards a better environment encouraging more integration amongst the people of all part of the country.
“Right now the distance is now breached, and with the full emphasis given by the government, NE is becoming a priority for the GoI,” he said. He also said that as a minister from the region, he has “special responsibility to ensure that the interest, the voice of the people is always heard and protected”.