Interview with Mr. Niketu Iralu, charismatic leader of Nagaland, India, who seeks reconciliation and stability through dialogues
Northeast India including the State of Nagaland is home to some 400 ethnic groups, and Nagaland shares its borders with Myanmar, China, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh. It has fostered unique cultures and customs despite adverse turns of history. We interviewed Nagaland's prominent peace activist, Mr. Niketu Iralu, whose calm demeanor reflects his in-depth wisdom and resilient strength, developed through overcoming numerous hardships.
―Nagaland has various ethnic groups that differ from the rest of India in its cultures and its customs.
The Nagas are a collection of tribes. Our people live in the Northeast India and also across the Indian border into Myanmar. People in this region belong to the Tibeto-Burmese family of tribes and ethnic nationalities. The source of some of our words is Tibetan. Nagaland is an area where people look very much like us. We are different from the rest of India. We became part of the British Empire in the 19th century when Britain was consolidating their empire in South Asia. That is how we became part of modern India and modern Myanmar.
－The geopolitical influence from its neighboring countries is inevitably strong in Nagaland. What are the future prospects of Nagaland's relationship with its neighboring countries?
We live close to very sensitive areas between India and China because of Tibet. Some of our people also live in Myanmar. That is why we must create common stability that benefits everyone. Although defending our own identity is very important, we have to learn to grow with our neighbors. We must create wider stability, for which everyone is responsible.
－ There must have been many difficulties and hardships while actively appealing for peace and cooperation. What are your secrets to overcoming these hardships, and to believing in yourself?
You can blame others for what is wrong, but that is a very incomplete response to what is wrong. You have a share in the wrong, and therefore have to learn to face where you are also wrong. Then you find more clarity, and moral and spiritual authority, because that means you are truthful. When you start something big, you keep at it, begin to grow in it and learn to go to walk that "path." It's a path. That's what I have acquired over the years. I don't see any other way that is good for me.
―Did you find any inspirations from this visit regarding a future relationship with Japan?
I've been to quite a number of countries, but Japan is a nation where things had been solved carefully. Problems are examined carefully and solved by everybody. You get a sense that every Japanese feels responsible for what the heart of the island nation should be. I feel that is something the Japanese can share with the world. That may be a visitor's impression, but I have felt that.
― What do you expect the Sasakawa Peace Foundation's role to be?
I think people at the SPF are coming to understand our situation on the ground, talking to people who are agitated, understanding them and finding out how you could give us concepts, ways and practices for solving problems. For emerging communities like ours, there is a simple yet fundamental need about how we solve problems. That is where your contribution can be very significant. Through your support, we must make our problems our strength.
Play the video below for a full interview with Mr. Niketu Iralu.