Of Park Chung-hee, Of Che Guevera, Of Elections and of the Campus

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By: Maisnam Chanu Liklainu

He isn’t the guy next door. He isn’t the guy with the latest hairdos. He isn’t the Korean with the cute antics. He isn’t the regular guy who is featured in the ISTV, Arirang or Reliance Big TV. He isn’t a threat to Jung Ji-hoon(Rain), Lee Min Ho, Yoon Sang-hyeon, etc. He isn’t a guitar strumming celebrity. He doesn’t belong to the pop culture of Korea. He belongs to an entirely different league or a different era. He was instrumental in making the Korea that we see today. Highly industrialised, highly developed, highly innovative and a very vibrant country that Korea is. He was the guy behind the developmental state of Korea. He was none other than the great Park Chung-hee. He was the guy who has changed Korea dramatically. He had many detractors. He was a highly controversial figure. But his contributions have overshadowed his so-called controversies. A leader par excellence. A leader who ruled with an iron fist. An effective leader and  a great decision maker.

Che Guevera was a big hit in the campus of JNU. Che Guevera posters, t-shirts, hankies, wrist-bands and bookmarks were widely used: Photo Credit

Another leader who caught the people’s imagination was Che Guevera. Che Guevera was a big hit in the campus of JNU. Che Guevera posters, t-shirts, hankies, wrist-bands and bookmarks were widely used. It was a fashion statement. The identification of being cool. The identification of one’s inclination with his thoughts. It was a sure shot to intellectualism. If u talked about about him you became an I–league. The intellectual league. Rare films were shown in the campus and so was the film on Che Guevera. KC ground was where many rare films were shown. Even the Kangleiyite courtyard drama Lidiceegi Gulab was shown in this ground. Gokul became an instant hit after this. I had no idea when the leela was staged he would one day emerge as the leading guy of Kangleiyite cinema. That leela was shown to packed audience. They walked away with so many accolades. The rare films of other countries were shown in KC and other grounds there in the campus. One such film was on women’s football in Iran. The movie was very touching. It left an indelible impression to the viewer’s mind.

JNU is a vibrant campus. It is multi-cultural. It is a mosaic of colours. The people and the places they hail from are just fascinating. The varieties are mind-boggling. So many political ideologies to choose from the parties—AISA,  SFI, NSUI, SFI, ABVP to name a few. Some are ultra left and highly controversial.

Everyone is talking about AFSPA these days. Sharmila, the iconic figure and her lone battle. We cannot forget the contribution of AISA (The All India Students’ Association) for highlighting AFPSA in a big way. Election was fought on this theme. It was included in the election agenda. This group had highlighted the grievances of the Maoist dominated areas, Jammu Kashmir, North East and other states of India. No other political groups had emphathised with the grievances of the people like AISA did. They openly supported the secessionist movement of JK and the North East. Many a leaflets had been circulated. Many a protests had been staged. Rape cases had been highlighted. Many a talk shows were hosted after dinner. I remember this group calling the speakers from our own region.

Election was a biggest affair in JNU campus. Hectic parleys, campaigning, propaganda war, bitching, character assassination—you name it—the ingredients of an election were all there. You became heady, heavy and excited at the same time. I joined the radical group AISA. This radical group did not have a parent party in the Government and the Opposition. They supported the Maoist, the secessionist movement and the grievances of the marginalised. The party SFI rooted for me too. They wanted me to contest the election. My roommate suggested me to go for SFI. Her reasoning was that the party was doing well in the national scenario. Brinda Karat and Prakash Karat were also doing well. They did not appeal to me and convincing. Kaya a diehard member of SFI came to me. I told her bluntly. I am not cut out for election. I am not diplomatic, unapproachable and brutally frank. Surely, not the qualities to win an election. Her persuasion didn’t stop. She gave me time to think over. I felt I was too raw to contest election in the first year.

I didn’t pay heed to SFI and the NSUI members. I didn’t listen to my roommate. I chose AISA over the others. My campaigning was pathetic. You have to cover all the hostel messes and speak about issues. My knees wobbled but that spurred me on too. Speeches were given. Those were the chaotic and the tensed moments in my life. My rivals were extra nice to people. I did not follow any of the tactics of wooing people. I was very completely wooden. I joined the campaining standing in front of messes introducing ourselves. We became a comrade overnight… Halleluyah… It was fun.

Yes, the State Assembly elections are round the corner. It’s amusing to see people who are contesting election. Some people have become overtly generous overnight. Some people have become over friendly overnight to woo the voters. Some people have become more thick-skinned too. If only the generosity, the sympathy, the empathy continue annually, five yearly or for all times to come. Manipur would have been a paradise. We will not see the blockades that we see today. There will be developments on all fronts. There will be dramatic changes. There will be fewer grievances. There will be fewer protests. There will be fewer complaints.  Imagine, Manipur minus blockades, bandhs, price rise and bombs. We live with the non-performing Government. We live with the non-assertive Opposition. We live with the people who have lost all their senses. As if the people have been drugged and hit by the psychedelic vortex. People have become very passive. We are in search of a leader who can lift our morale. The leader who can take on the world. A leader whom we can repose our trust and confidence. A leader who can build roads, industries, airports, hospitals, schools etc. A lea-der who is proactive. A leader who can think out-of- the box. A leader who can take effective decisions. Not the leader who amasses wealth. Not the leader who makes false promises. Not the leader who hoodwinks the people but a real leader… A leader who can make a difference. A leader who will bring change phenomenally. But one question is—Why does a good leader elude us?

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