“Playing for Change” and Bluffing for Change: Civilised behaviour vis-a-vis Manipur behaviour


By Amar Yumnam
Thomas Hobbes said in his classic Leviathan thus: “All Laws need Interpretation”. We can think of paraphrasing him and assert thus: All individual behaviours need interpretation. We know that a society is much more than interaction and exchange between individuals. We also know that since a society has already been put in place, every individual’s behaviour has social and political implications inherent into it. Here it would be right to mention that Robert Bednarik, an Australian scholar, has powerfully challenged in his just published book, The Human Condition (Springer 2011), the African eve model of human evolution and its associated quantum leap theory of mental capacity and put in its place a multiregional and gradualist theory. It is now anticipated that the arguments in this book would constitute bones of contention for the next few years until a final authoritative interpretation emerges. But I must say that his arguments in this book are just powerful and difficult to refute.

Playing for Change: In this background, I cannot help wondering as to what has happened to the evolutionary process of individual behaviour of the Manipuris in a democracy. This introspection has been made even more pathetic by the reality of evolutionary social behaviour of the people now in places more advanced than ours. A Britisher friend sent me a link to the wonderful song, Stand By Me, of Roger Ridley a few months back. Now Roger had such a passion and soul in his voice that he could have been earning millions by following the path followed by singers like Michael Jackson. But he was fully satisfied by remaining a street singer for he was in the ‘joy business’ and he loved to be with the people. Roger sang this number, Stand By Me, for the cause and group called Playing for Change. A human would be attracted by the power of Roger’s voice and engagement of Grandpa Elliot. Further the Playing for Change is now a movement covering all the continents of the globe. This group is committed to the goal to “inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music”. It is looking for a united and peaceful world through music. In India, Tamil Nadu has shown its strong participation and presence in this movement. It is such a rewarding experience to watch any of the videos of the group online. One feels reassured, passionate, romantic, devotional, humane and all the conceivable positive feelings with every video of the group. I think it is because all the songs and music of the group reflect all the positive and civilised emotions and sentiments of human beings.

Bluffing for Change: But when we observe the most visible social behaviours of individuals today in Manipur, we are dismayed by the elements of pretensions, in sincerity and bluffs inherent in all these. This situation is getting aggravated as the election dates are drawing nearer. At best we are blessed with the condition of Albert Camus thus: “He who despairs of the human condition is a coward, but he who has hope for it is a fool.”

It is said that we do not need a revolution for a democracy but we need democracy for a revolution. The democratic process should necessarily bring forth the best foot, the best intentions and the sincerest display of behaviour of all the individuals in the society, particularly of those aspiring to represent the people in the exercise of powers of the state. But the intentions to represent the people in the exercise of state power are now being displayed increasingly by the aspirants in Manipur, witness the daily dose of photographs in the dailies depicting these people doing “something good”. But unfortunately for all of us and the democratic polity, none of the civilised behaviour and sincere display of emotions is visible in all these. Even more unfortunate is the trend towards this emerging as the accepted norm in the society we have and the polity we follow.

While the insincerity of the aspirants to represent a new or continue to represent the people in the exercise of state power is palpable in all these acts and photographs of doing “something good”, the covert behaviours are absolutely risky and dangerous for the society and polity if not for the aspirants themselves. The capacity to impose threats and to effect fear on others through threats and related impositions is evolving as the most important and non-substitutable ingredient for any aspirant to become a representative of the people. This is nothing short of killing democracy in its very name. My heart shivers imagining the social scenario one or two decades down the line if the trend continues.

We elect our representatives in order to facilitate our engagement with the larger realities of the world and thus take our collective society to a higher pedestal of social development without in anyway negatively and wrongfully hurting the interests of any individual. But just the opposite is becoming a reality in Manipur. It is a case of the non-truth getting precedent and emerging as the ultimate reality. While the individual aspirants are dubious, the political parties are no less at fault. Regional parties speak in exclusivist terms, the national parties lack contextual understanding. Shree Bhagwati Namah!!!.


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