It is frustrating to know this will be just another voice in the wilderness. The media is supposed to be the eye and ear of the society as well as those in power, unfortunately this is a truism which relates only to civilized societies. Manipur has long ceased to be this long ago. The days when unwritten codes of civilisation determined the ways of the society are today a very distant memory. The state and its people are indeed at a very precarious crossroads. They have given up the moorings provided by tradition but are still groping to find a footing in the modern. This twilight hour, there can be no argument, is dangerous for any given society and Manipur is in the thick of it currently. What are called for are also the vital beacons to be provided by leaders. Unfortunately, this latter breed, at least those formal leaders in the country’s adopted democratic model, are abjectly incapable of leading either from the front or by example. They have on the other hand, with little exception, surrendered their moral authority to lead by the very act of their institutionalising corruption in public life. It should be no consolation that Manipur is not an exception and that corruption in public life is an Indian malaise by and large. In any case, the other states are much more entrenched in the modern economy already which has resulted in the birth of many modern institutions capable of moderating quality of life, both material and spiritual.
It would certainly be difficult to decide where the clean up process should begin. The easiest thing to recommend at this juncture then is to begin from the beginning. Helpful in this regard would be to take the cue from the timeless understanding of physiognomy (or perhaps also psychology) that the face is the index of the mind. The simplest beginning is then to do a physical clean up of the tangible mess all around. As for instance, the authorities could decree for all the best heads in the government to come together and devise a way to dispose of the wastes of Imphal and other major habitation pockets of the state. In Imphal, they are littered everywhere. The sight is oppressive, the smell is sickening, thought of it is depressing… and yet, nobody in the government ever makes a serious enough move to resolve this matter. The ordinary men and women are expected to get used to these repulsive sights and smells and accept them as part of life. Quite alarmingly, such a desensitising process has been continually happening all around and indeed, the sight of garbage and filth is no longer a day spoiler as it used to be once. As for instance, amongst the Meiteis, the sight of faeces on the road as they embark on the day’s work was once thought to be a bad omen, and may even prompt the unfortunate soul to return home, wash, freshen up and re-emerge. Not any more – his inner world has been mediated successfully to accommodate what once would have been unthinkable. The loss of that sense of inner harmony is showing up everywhere and this microcosmic turmoil is reflected faithfully in the chaotic macrocosm Manipur is today known for.
There are many other simple matters where this beginning to a cleanup process can begin. The current monsoon has washed away many roads in the state, and even in the capital Imphal. If the face is the index of the mind, this face must be made to look good. Repair them at the soonest. Let it not be said anymore that these are hard times and everybody must learn to tolerate hardship. Such compromises are what have sold the state’s morale in all these years. Moreover, these are not unavoidable hardships, all of them being by products of corruption in the system which our leaders have allowed to stay and relished enthusiastically. It must not be presumed anymore that the ordinary people are beyond understanding of this truth. They know, this is why they are angry, maybe not overtly, but this anger shows up in the manner in which they too have begun disregarding the law in every conceivable way they can think of. Why is it that there is so much power theft by consumers? Why do ordinary people default taxes for tap municipal water? Why is there so little respect for public property in our society today? The truth is, our leaders themselves have cut huge highways through the law to have their ways and under the circumstance why would not the ordinary citizenry also begin thinking of taking the easy route of using these same highways instead of navigating the barriers of the law?