by Heigrujam Nabashyam
“India now seems to be a beautiful radiant bride. There are so many bridegrooms always around”. This was a lovely compliment from the Russian ambassador to the rising India which is visited by the leaders of the most powerful countries of the world – the American president, the French president, the Chinese premier, the Russian president – within weeks, and of course, the British prime minister had preceded them by a few months.
Twenty first century belongs to Asia, so said by so many around the world; and China and India are the two major Asian countries both in size and population. This however, does not mean that Japan, South Korea and the ASEAN nations – the focus of India’s Look East policy – are of any less importance.
One may remember that till about the end of the 1980s, one who does not have much knowledge of economics would have found very difficult to ever think that India could become a global economic player within a decade or so. However the last decade have shown that no power can stop the world from changing. The world has changed quite significantly and Asia has become the focal point of the change.
The biggest economy and the most powerful nation in the world, the United States of America and other major European nations with the exception of Germany and France to some extent, have experienced huge economic downturn. Their economies have suffered huge losses. Many have been thrown out of jobs and unemployment rates have soared up to double digits. The main reason, experts have pointed out, is the extremely irresponsible fiscal policies adopted by the leading financial institutions.
However as the Meitei adage says, “Shamu-na mayang kang-ngaga eroi-muk chaobra” – does an emaciated elephant be as big as a buffalo ? The truth is, there is no comparison between the shining India and the emaciated United States, till today.
But what can be compared is the human resources that India has today. This does not have to do with the billion plus population. But it has to do with the scientists, the engineers, the doctors, the industry people and the experts in various fields who are of world class, et al. that India has produced in the last few decades. But unfortunately, unlike sports, Manipur cannot claim its share – we revel in senseless noise, in flocks no sense of time, do not question, lie contented in mediocrity and afraid of change when change is ours only key – the character of a decaying tribe !
When Chinese premier Wen Jiabao came to India a few weeks ago, he said in a matter-of-fact way that the world is big enough for both China and India do develop, though the undercurrent of unfriendliness between the two countries were quite evident. It is a different matter if a great many people of India cannot enjoy the benefit of this great economic development; or a fringe area like Manipur which cannot connect itself to this phenomenal change due to reasons both inherent and ignorant vested interests.
Nevertheless since the last few decades, the centre has started focusing on the Northeast. The change in the mind of the centre is brought by the realization that the Northeast has long been neglected. The reason for the realization is obvious though.
This was acknowledged first by the United Front Prime Minister, Deve Gowda in the Indian parliament in 1996. And he also provided, probably the first ever special package, the Prime Minister’s economic package for development to Manipur during his short rule.
This was followed by the NDA government of AB Vajpayee which had created a special ministry of the Northeast – the present DONER ministry – subject to correction. The NDA government had given funds for the constructions of the three Khwairamband Ima Keithel and the B.T Road flyover in 2002-03, works of which were completed recently.
Thereafter the UPA government which came to power in 2004 has sanctioned a slew of development works – the Capitol project, Imphal Sewage project, Imphal Gentrification project, highway project, Loktak Phumdi project, Kangla Fort development project, etc.
One understands that it is only natural that a rich India, regardless of the government at the centre, would provide more funds to the states irrespective of the party in power. Although the SPF government makes tall claim to the credit for all the development works in contrast to the prime minister’s words – funds are given by the centre therefore “the State government cannot claim credit for the development works”.
Much has changed on the roads and in the urban landscapes, but the mindset of the SPF leadership remains the same. The public are put to face a number of problems by its ill policies and rampant corruption especially in high offices. There are plenty of cases to prove this contention.
In the recently concluded Congress plenary, the AICC president, Sonia Gandhi stressed on the issue of corruption. She said the leaders of Congress party must not allow any doubt about their probity and integrity. Dr. Manmohan Singh also expressed his strong belief on probity saying that like Ceasure’s wife, he himself should always be above suspicion and he is always ready to prove that. The AICC president emphatically made clear that government must confront corruption head on.
However much to the contrary of the solemn proclamation of AICC and also of Rahul Gandhi’s assertion that the corrupt must be punished, governance in Manipur is just the opposite and AICC might take note of it. One really wonders, how the SPF government of Ibobi Singh can ignore so confidently the AICC’s expressed intent to fight corruption head on and come out unscathing everytime. Take for example, the unmentionable multi-crore rupees scams of Electricity Department, the Loktak Phumdi contract project of K-Pro something firm whose office is a locked room in a Dwarika flat for which additional funds have also been asked surprisingly to the home minister and the Gurgaon land deal, to name one or two cases.
Perhaps such wrongdoing cannot be reached to the AICC by the local media. Maybe one may apprise the 10 – Janpath in the full glare of the Delhi media and we may come up from the dark pit. Time may tell !
Author is ex-candidate, Singjamei Assembly