The powerful image of India as a wounded civilisation sketched by Sir Vidia S Naipaul, comes to mind in reflecting on Manipur today – of course minus the Islam hatred evident in the Nobel laureate’s accounts. What is it that Manipur is unhappy about? The question needs a much deeper introspection than the usual and familiar escape into the familiar loss of sovereignty story. Would for instance things have been for the better had history took a different turn in 1949? Would the ethnic strife and mutual suspicions amongst communities been any different? Would many of the chronic problems, including that of the perennial fund crunch been any better? From the exchanges of letters and opinions between representatives of various ethnic groups even at the time of the drawing of the pre-merger Manipur constitution, the impression is Manipur’s problem is much more deeply embedded in its social structure than just the dissonance caused by a single major historical event. In other words, while the brash and coercive manner in which the Merger Agreement that made Manipur a part of the newly formed Indian Union was executed, may have opened up further a festering wound, the event in itself is not the sole cause of this wound. The present turmoil could have been as bad, or even worse. No doubt, for whatever its wisdom, the Indian state did do everything to add insult to injury by reducing the sovereign princely state of Manipur into a chief commissioner’s province after the merger by making it a Part-C state. Perhaps, the nascent Union, a major chunk of its territory having been formed by the merger of over 560 princely states, many of them rebellious and unwilling, wanted to ensure that they all felt very small and powerless. The scheming, wily, Chanakyan mindset at work, we suppose. This notwithstanding, it would be wrong for any serious problem solving, peacemaking campaign to ignore Manipur’s own inherent weaknesses which have ensured that it lost sync with the times. Another familiar expression, often heard in business and corporate performance analysis is apt in describing this situation: “Who moved my cheese?” Well the fact is paradigms, be it in business, politics or social relations, do move, and the only guard against it to know where it has moved. Better still the remedy would be to be able to anticipate where it might move next so that preparations to take the best advantage under the new dispensation can begin early. Political vision is precisely about this. Those who fail in this project have often ended up in ruins. Those who refuse to accept the reality of the digital age for instance would ultimately be destined at best to a corner in a museum or archival library. We are witnessing how this prophesy is unfolding even Manipur in its cinema world. Likewise there has been democratisation of education, new awareness of rights, international peer groups demanding similar rights etc, enlarging visions, inducing reassessment of social predicaments, giving new colours and insights to old issues. Even the equation between power and politics has transformed unimaginably and both today have come inextricably linked to the notion of justice. This has in turn empowered previously disempowered sections. The indigenous people’s movement for instance is now a force to reckon with even at the UN level. A brutalised section of the world’s population, once slaughtered, enslaved, inhumanly discriminated against, still do not have either the military or economic might to match their former tormentors, but they now have a new source or power – the universal understanding and acknowledgement of rights and justice. Coming to terms with this reality is where Manipur has failed, and the sad part of it is, there are little evidences that it is willing to change its vision. Hence the resonating lament continues to be about a lost glory of the past and consequently various attempts at rationalisation as to how this sorry predicament is solely the responsibility of forces external to itself. Old glory, “aeon” old relations, old values are all things of the past. The new mission must be to try and locate the new paradigms on which Manipur must base its new relations and politics. As we enter this brand new year 2011, we wish such a healing process begins in this wounded civilisation of ours. We all owe this to the future generation.