Reaching Out and Connectivity Compulsions But A Failing State Instead: Our tragedy

By Amar Yumnam
June 3 2011
Imphal Free Press

Conflicts have been with humankind since the beginning of life on this planet. The presence of conflict is not something which should necessarily cause loss of heart among the homo sapiens, but what should be of concern to us is the manner with which we are handling the situation and the potential outcomes of conflict at any point of time. In the case of Manipur, the latter seems to be exactly the case; the overall mannerisms, behavioural manifestations and assertions of power all point to a direction we do not individually as humans and collectively as society intend to move towards. But we are indeed retrogressing, regressing and degrading towards a non-enviable state. The society of Manipur has had a tradition of suppressing overt manifestation of poverty and lack of access to resources, but the daily encounters with people and events prove beyond doubt that we indeed are in a bad shape. Well, we certainly do not possess a red-light area, but this does not in any case indicate absence of the oldest profession. In every conceivable locality in Imphal city, the phenomenon of part-time workers in this profession is absolutely on the rise, and many are pushed into it by economic compulsions. We can also multiply the examples exemplifying the worsening economic life of a larger section of the population.

What matters at this juncture is how we as individuals, as a society and as functionaries of the government behave and respond to this retrogressing, regressing and degrading atmosphere. Before I try to articulate my response on the issue, I would like to relate my experiences the other day. The circle in front of the Raj Bhavan, the Kangla and the turn at the Gandhi Avenue are the most congested traffic areas in Imphal, and have been made more so by the various diggings. We have seen many complaints, including editorials in the dailies, expressing dismay and anger against the traffic behaviour of the Very Important Persons of the land in these highly congested areas. I myself have experienced these umpteen number of times.
But what I had experienced the other day has shocked me to the end. Judiciary is one we would take recourse to when nothing else functions well, but what happened in the section between the Kangla and the turn at the Gandhi Avenue the other day had really shaken my faith. The pilot vehicle leading the important flag-car carrying an important functionary of the highest seat of judiciary in the province kept sounding the siren all through the section where there is very little space if any for providing space for another vehicle to overtake. Well let us bear with this for once and calm ourselves by imagining it as the price to be paid for the pride of our judicial officers. What followed was even more shocking however. The vehicles completely broke all traffic rules by ignoring the signal of the traffic policeman posted at that point and overtaking all the vehicles from the left lane reserved for driving inside the MG Avenue and forcibly halting all the vehicles coming from the opposite direction. Now when some violations occur and we incur injuries because of that, we do approach the law courts for redressing. But what would we do if the experience just explained happens to be the empirical reality in the land, and what should we expect from the system in such circumstances?

In the afternoon of the same day, I listened to a lecture by an American friend on how to establish peace and generate positive atmosphere for life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. It was a lecture emphasising the significance and criticality of touching and reaching out to people as important tipping points for generating an atmosphere of hope.

Now the Connection: Now one may wonder why I am relating the two seemingly disconnect events. Well, the connection between the lecture and the morning experience on the same day lies in the social reality of Manipur during the last few decades and the behaviour of governance while engaging with the reality. The response of the people in charge of governance of the land has been one of shunting out and evicting the general population as if the latter were nothing more than insects. It makes no difference whether ours is a democracy or not. It makes no difference by the fact that elections are held and governments are formed once in five years. The state in Manipur has simply adopted the approach of shunting out and imposing obeisance through fear. In other words, the methodology of the state is the same as that of the non-state, i.e., cause widespread fear and impose order.

This contrasts with the need of the land where the government should be increasingly endeavouring to connect with the people in order to address the contemporary issues. Now what prevails in Manipur is a scenario where the government alienates the people, and the different communities shunt out each other – a grand recipe for social collapse.

State Failing: Now what we have explained above are sure signs of the state failing in the sense of decline rather than in the conventional sense of civil war, genocides and ethnic wipe–outs. We call it decline rather than failure for we now do see symptoms of the conventional failure to happen in the land sooner or later. Time is now for us to collectively appreciate the scenario and affect alterations in our behaviour so that we save ourselves from the catastrophe.

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