NURTURING RULING CLASS MENTALITY: LAYING THE CONFLICT TURF


This editorial was originally published by the Sangai Express on 27 Sep 2012

Physically, not a rap on the knuckle. But the intent of statement is unmistakable. Behave, this is what Governor Gurbachan Jagat meant when he called upon the politicians and the bureaucrats to see themselves as in ‘service’ and not as ‘ruling class’. And this is saying a lot, coming as it has from a person who is not more than the nominal head of the State. Not all may agree with the view that good governance is the key to conflict resolutions, if conflict is understood only within the prism of the armed movement, but take it to a larger canvass to encapsulate the daily existence of the people then the profundity of this observation will not be lost on anyone. The seeds of ‘conflict’ sown by the ‘ruling class’ mentality have impacted on all spheres of governance and seen in this context, Governor Gurbachan Jagat could not have made a more opportune statement than on the first day of the three day seminar on Good Governance in Manipur: Dialogue with Civil Society and Capacity Building and Management. ‘Cattle class’ as a term was not coined by the suited, booted class of Manipur, but in nurturing the ‘ruling class’ mentality, it automatically gives birth to the existence of the former class, which amounts to laying out the turf for a conflict of sort. It is this conflict that is at the root of the palpable disconnect between the people and the men responsible for evolving policy and programmes as well as implementing the schemes meant for the common people. Disconnect not physically but also emotionally and psychologically and the script for extremely poor governance is ready.


The signs of non-governance is there for all to see. From the dud of the promise to ensure 20 hours power supply daily, the manner in which people are constrained to buy potable water from private enterprises, the unfinished projects but which have been inaugurated amid much fanfare a long time back, multi-purpose project inaugurated without the power component-the Khuga Multipurpose Project being a prime example, the arrogance of the people in positions of power and authority, schools and colleges made to function without regular Headmasters and Principals to the institutionalisation of corruption, all point to how the understanding of governance has been clobbered and manipulated down the years. At the root of all these ills is the mentality of the ruler and the ruled with the unstated but widely practised belief that the ruler can do anything and everything they want. Anathema to democracy but a living reality here. It is this that any approach to understand governance should revolve around. The Governor has made a point in stating that there has been a gradual erosion in the values and traditions and a steep decline in the moral and performance level of the civil administration including the police. Points made at seminars and workshops are indicators of what is happening outside in the real world, but the interesting question is whether this will translate into something real and concrete. Given the mentality of the powers that be, this one too is more than likely to be forgotten like water running off the back of the proverbial duck.

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