The British could not get the better of the Konyaks in warfare when the former ruled India. To add to their woes, they were a prized catch for the headhunting Konyaks. When force did not work, the British resorted to guile – and somehow managed to get these tribals addicted to opium. Weakened and distracted, the proud and fearsome tribals were easily overrun.
Society continued to pay a heavy price for this till the church and various students’ unions took matters into their own hands and banned the cultivation and consumption of opium in the 1990s. Their efforts have borne fruit; incidence of opium consumption has shown a marked dip. You are more likely to find opium in villages along the Myanmar border.
I was amongst Konyaks during their annual Aoling festival, and a good number of tribals seemed in a ‘happy’ mood. No, it was not really the effects on opium but other intoxicants – the occasion gave everyone the licence to behave a little ‘wasted’ for a week. It would be back to the work after that.