Editorial – IFP is Fifteen

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Imphal Free Press (IFP) staff enjoying a sumptuous meal during the 15th Foundation day celebration of the daily at the IFP office.
Imphal Free Press (IFP) staff enjoying a sumptuous meal during the 15th Foundation day celebration of the daily at the IFP office.
The Imphal Free Press turned 15 today, May 3. By happy serendipity, May 3 is also the World Press Freedom day. So in celebrating the IFP`s anniversary, we also aptly celebrated press freedom. This happy moment of the IFP hence is doubly blessed, and we at the IFP are even more comforted that this double blessing would be showered on us for all the years ahead. We like to believe this is a poetic acknowledgment IFP`s commitment to the journalistic profession. But before all else, we extend our best wishes to all our patrons who have been the spirit behind our enterprise. We have been through very difficult times in the past starting with virtually no capital backup but we persevered and through hard work and enterprise alone, weathered the difficulties that stood in our way. Problems do not end and probably cannot end, so we cannot with justice say the way ahead will be a walk in a rose bed lined garden path, but we know and have demonstrated our resilience in the 15 years journey we have completed so far. We have always given our best of our abilities to our profession and will continue to do so in all the years ahead of us. With the goodwill of our patrons, we have no doubt we will never abandon the ideals of our chosen profession.

But on this day, we are once again led to reflect on the state of affairs in Manipur. For it goes without saying that the situation in the state is at an extended nadir. Nothing about the social mechanism seems to be working at this moment. We are especially worried about the new disparity between the haves and have-nots. The contract culture have ensured that only money can make more money and those who do have money have no means or hope ever to be able to find a respectable place in society or make money. Some despair at this, others resort to shortcuts, and this is provided readily by the existing gun culture. Official corruption was once mostly about a few lakh rupees as bribes in job recruitments and other service related matters, which is in no way good, but the scale has transformed astronomically with this new culture of contractor-government nexus. In this nexus, a crore of rupees is small change. While this is happening on one side, there are also a growing number of people with no tangible income. This is not a good sign, not from any ethical point of view, but for harm it can and would ultimately do to the social mechanism. The old cycle of the have-nots being forced to resort means inimical to the law to keep abreast would become perpetrated.

This has also had other implications quite visible to everybody. Take the political scenario in the state for instance and the men who emerge as political leaders. Once upon a time, a bulk of the politicians on the leadership field constituted of school teachers and people from profession close to the people. This changed over time to include retired bureaucrats. In fact, there was once a time when politics in the state had looked like a retirement occupation for government officials. The change indicated not just which class was emerging as respected and influential but also who were the most resourceful. Bureaucrats, even retired ones, were emerging richer than teachers obviously. Then in the last 10 years or so, there has been a radical transformation prompted by the new government-contractor nexus, and today the political scenario is dominated by contractors. In the coming February elections, probably at least half of the candidates would be from contractor background. As it is, the current government is accused of being run by contractors, the next one probably would be even more so in this direction. This is happening because elections today have come to be determined by money alone. This is unfortunate for it will spell the doom for anybody who does not have the kind of money contractors have, and most people in the state`s intelligentsia do not have this, and would become excluded complete from the leadership field of the place. With a diminishing intellectual infusion in the politics of the state, it is only to be expected that the place would continue to spiral into the chaos and violence it is currently trapped in. The media needs to be vigilant of this unfolding social scenario and be watchdogs to try and have the society strike a balance. No mean job, considering that increasingly the media too gets lured into the same nexus.

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