ABDICATED MORAL SPACE

This article was published by the Imphal Free Press (http://ifp.co.in) on 23 Jan 2012 at ifp.co.in/imphal-free-press-full-story.php?newsid=4140&catid=5
 
The trouble with Manipur is, nothing sounds the alarm bell loud enough for it to remain awake long enough. Nothing, not even the worst crisis, it seems can shake it out of its complacency. And crisis is one thing the state has never ever been scarce of. It has been almost by rule a crisis a week recipe for the state, some not so severe while others were nothing less than nightmares. Regardless of the fact that these crises had either faded on their own with the passing time or stemmed by public resentment, one thing is clear, given the circumstance Manipur is caught in today, nobody can promise the last word has been said on the matter. Turmoil and upheavals, many of them extremely violent, seem to be an inalienable destiny of the state. The worrying thing is not so much these crises are extremely stressful, but that nobody ever seems to learn from them. Not even those who consider themselves as storm-troopers, both amongst those in the driver’s seat of the establishment as well as the vast human landscape outside it that is rather ambiguously referred to as civil society. The state and its people have come to learn superbly to live out crises and even to fight them, but no crisis, however awesome have been able to teach them the lesson that would make them think in terms of putting the roots of these crises safely to bed forever, incapable of accumulating harm potential again.

Crises explode like several kilotons of dynamite periodically, and during these crises semblance of masterstrokes of collective resolves emerge. However, once the dusts from these crises settle, the downward pulls of mediocrity once again neutralize and level out everything to square one. During economic blockades along its major mountain passes, especially National Highway-39, war cries to have the NH-53 developed, often work up to a mass frenzy. Once these storms pass by, nobody bothers what condition this uncared for highway is in. Similarly, the talk of cutting a third highway, so desperate and passionate once, has relegated to not much more than idle academic discussions. In many ways this is also a show of how resilient the Manipur society is. It does not lose its composure easily. But the line dividing resilience and complacent inaction although thin, can become glaring, as indeed it is in Manipur today, and we are sure at some point counterproductive too. The fact of the matter is, a resilient society must not only have the capacity to absorb adversities without detriment to the overall mental and physical composure of the society, but also the will and commitment to be proactive in looking for lasting resolutions to the vexing issues at hand so that the grave challenges they pose to the health of the society do not periodically repeat and threaten. Resilient as any society may be, if the challenges are incessant and incrementally severe as the case seems to be, there will have to come about when the thread that holds its sanity together snaps.

There are more sinister examples of these challenges than the ones discussed. Take the case of official corruption at high places. It is not a question of excusing corruption at the lower echelons of the officialdom, but its needs no elaboration to convince anybody that the whole enterprise of dismantling the corruption edifice has to begin from the top. After all, if the generals are corrupt, how can corruption be prevented from contaminating the foot soldiers. The generals can discipline the foot soldiers but the reverse can never be a reality. Would we then need any more proofs to convince anybody that organized robberies of public coffers still are rampant? It is everybody’s knowledge that huge percentages are still being siphoned off from development funds and shared between contractors and contract awarders? It is another story that many insurgent groups have joined this unholy league, but this can be no excuse for those mandated by the people to captain the state to be corrupt. Unless and until the establishment becomes a credible institution of governance upon which the people can repose faith in, there will always be the legitimacy of alternates, even if they are subversive, in some corner of the masses’ heart. Herein is the space upon which the foundation of any insurrection is laid. And this space cannot be destroyed physically, but won over spiritually. This is why the search for an answer to insurgency is not so much a physical war but by necessity have to be a moral one. At the cerebral level, everybody who can make the difference understands this very well. The trouble is, this cerebral understanding has never been allowed to be internalized to become a matter of the heart and soul. An often heard question amongst the masses is, what would have been the status of justice and equality if insurgency never happened? The implication is, regardless of the mutation it has undergone, the phenomenon has been and is still an anguished voice on the corrupt and unjust ways of the establishment. The Robin Hood image is not altogether unjustified, even if it is by the establishment abdicating a vital moral space. An honest and satisfactory answer to this question will, we are sure, provide a blueprint to victory in this moral war.

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