Prime Minister’s Lapse

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By Heigrujam NabashyamThere is a story for every story. Until about the early 1970s, Dibrugarh was synonymous with today’s AIIMS, Apollo, Escrot, etc. in the lexicon of treatment in Manipur. Those days most well-to-do families in Manipur would go to Dibrugarh for treatment for their loved ones. There were tales galore of how excellent the treatment, Dibrugarh gave to the patients; and how proud the family who could afford Dibrugarh treatment.However later it was told that the Meiteis were no more welcomed to Dibrugarh – not by the doctors or the hospital authority but by the locals, who felt that the doctors of Dibrugarh – were being corrupted by the Meitei by giving Dakshinaa – small bribe – to the doctors.The complain against the Meiteis was that earlier before the arrival of the Meitei the doctors in the hospital were serving the patients dutifully and with compassion. But after the Meitei arrived on the scene and started giving Dakshinaa to the doctors, the atmosphere had changed. The doctors became corrupt and they expected Dakshinaa from the other patients, too!One or a few years ago – not sure – something very inglorious was reported in the Imphal media about the Meiteis living in Mizoram; the Meiteis of Mizoram may correct me! The Meiteis were accused of corrupting Mizoram by indulging in very corrupt practices – giving Dakshinaa – that the Mizos in Mizoram found unacceptable. That reported incident was a blot on the reputation of the Meitei.Corruption we know, is as old as human civilization. Its presence is general. But it is much prominent and popular in places where there is less education, and little regard for knowledge and integrity. It is the worst where the rulers themselves are corrupt.Looking a little back to our past, the brief British period, happened to be a formative stage for our present-day Manipur. It was an important period when Manipur had its tryst with modern values, despite the rule of the Maharaja who was afraid of changes and development; perhaps because he felt that changes would teach his subjects to question his unrestrained corrupt rule.It was a time when modern education had just spread to this part of the world – thanks to the British policy to spread education in their colonies to make their subjects understand the rule of law – the British law – and make their stay happy and secure; because they rightly believed that barbarians are dangerous to control, hence their policy to civilize the natives!With the spread of education, values of justice and equality started questioning our own orthodox and limited minds. Whereas, around the same time the Indian province was agog with popular movement for justice – social, political and economic under the leadership of English educated Indians. However for Manipur it was just the beginning of the march towards the modern world where the unquestionable power of the rulers was questioned and challenged. Manipur too, had its share – Nupi-laan and the movement led by Irabot, the pioneer were the earliest manifestation of Manipur coming of age.After independence the legacy of the unrestrained corruption and favouratism of the Maharaja’s near absolute rule – except for education and hill affairs, the Maharaja was given maximum power – did not die with the departure of the British; rather it morphed into a national habit – the Dakshinaa habit of the Meiteis. That was exactly what had happened in Dibrugarh and Mizoram that had made a food of the Meitei by the Meitei themselves.The beginning of the millennium saw India arriving on the global stage as a major economic player. Its GDP had crossed the trillion dollar mark, which is unthinkable two decades ago. This eventually has led to the quantum jump in the funding for the states by the Centre. For Manipur, it has marked a watershed in the budgetary history. According to Rishang Keishing, the former chief minister, the budget “was around Rs. 200 crores (during his time, a decade ago) but today it is Rs. 3,200 crores” – an increase by 16 times. And he said despite the huge increase in the Central funding “we do not see any development as the funds meant for development works are being misused.”However, O. Ibobi Singh is bragging over his government’s achievements saying he believes in “work more talk less” and that he has shown by work. Now with the CM’s statement read this note : a radio-expert of the Akaaspani Imphal gave O. Ibobi Singh “8 – 9 out of 10” on the development scale for his “excellent performance” only recently.Now, one finds the two claims too confusing. The first claim says the development works of the Ibobi government are dismal and the latter says it is unprecedented, and excellent.The fact of the matter is, the unprecedented Central funding for Manipur is matchless. There is no comparision between Ibobi Singh’s period and that of his predecessor’s. For Ibobi’s government there has been construction galore spending huge money given by the Centre. Manipur like other special category states has been given much more money to help pacify the troubled minds of this troubled state – thanks to the insurgents !Now, the construction galore and the slew of welfare schemes funded by the Centre are claimed by Ibobi Singh as his achievements. But the unmistakable question of Rishang Keishing is where are the development works worth the multi-million rupees given by the Centre ? Or in other words how much of the development funds have been used for actual work and how much percent have been embezzeled ? Suprisingly there is a striking similarity between Suresh Kalmadi’s, lording over the Delhi Asian Games, and O. Ibobi’s over the development projects.The Asian Games was a success. It made Delhi a better city with better infrastructure; but hundreds of crores of rupees were allegedly looted by the honchos. And after the issue was raised by the opposition Suresh Kalmadi and his henchmen have landed in jail for trial.For Manipur too, the many multi-crore rupees projects – of which the CM is always gloating about – are changing the landscape of Imphal and other town areas, earning accolades from local pundits: But there are allegations of misappropriation of a large portion of the development funds that cannot be refuted by the Ibobi government, like the case of Loktak Phumdi Clearance Project with as estimated cost between Rs. 200 and 300 crores, the various construction projects, etc. And that is exactly what Rishang Keishing, the veteran Congress leader had pointed out so clearly.However unlike the Delhi Games, the Manipur Projects have no CBI to clear up the allegations which could go a long way to check the Dakshinaa culture which has been vigoriously promoted by the Ibobi Singh government’s lack of accountability, transparency, and by its arrogance of power. ‘Even Ceaser’s wife should be above suspicion”, Dr. Manmohan Singh, the prime minister use to say to remind himself and his ministers to check corruption – the Dakshinaa culture. But what is intriguing is Dr. Singh seems to forget to remind his chief minister – the Ceasar of Manipur – to refute the allegations that for Manipur Ceasar himself is the fountainhead of suspicion. This lapse on the part of the prime minister is not an honourable gesture ; yet it is hoped the Hon’ble Prime Minister would listen to the voice of the aam aadmi !Copy with high regards to : Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India.

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