Cynicism Abounds

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The blockade ended but let it be noted, it was not ended. There is a subtle difference in the two. The first implies the phenomenon ended on its own, and the second indicates the inaction of those who ought to have been active agents in bringing about the conclusion. Understandably the sigh of relief at the development is muted in the state. This is largely on two counts. For one, it is still uncertain if the one or the other of the two parties either demanding or opposing the formation of the Sadar Hills district would decide to resume the blockade, after all the issue that led to the blockade is still to be resolved. The government is clearly playing the delaying game, promising to grant the new district to those demanding it but not going ahead with the promise to ensure those opposing it are not displeased. It must however know what the limits of this tight rope walking are. Inaction is no great virtue. It can in fact lead to disaster. Prominent in the other reason behind the lack lustre response to the lifting of the blockade is a new and widespread cynicism. In the absence of the government as the moderator of public affairs, including disruptions caused to them, the people have resigned to the fact that whatever comes has to be taken at its own stride without either being carried away by emotions or expecting too much good to come out of them. This general state of mind is a gift of the present government to its subjects.

It is unimaginable that the blockade of the state for nearly four months ended because those behind the blockade changed their minds of their own accord and not because the government compelled them to do so. There would be those who argue that the government knew the strength of the common men and was using this knowledge to test those who would hold the state to ransom. We would argue this is a lame excuse for an inability or unwillingness to shoulder the responsibility to ensure public welfare. For any government worth its salt, it is equally important to know where this responsibility lies. What was overlooked in this dependence on the resilience of the common man is the sufferings and losses the latter have had to suffer, and thereby the whole state. One does not have to be an economist to gauge a rough estimate of the extent of this loss. Wage earners and small businesses with little deficit absorbing power would have felt this loss most excruciatingly, mobility of self employed people too would have been reduced considerably causing drastic drops in their productivity and the list can go on.

The fact also is, there is no deterrent ever offered by the government that would make habitual agitators think twice before resorting to disruptive and illegal agitations. Be it strike by government employees or else public nuisances caused by street politicians of all hues, the government has done nothing more than watch. A decade or so ago, even if these disruptive agitations were not altogether preventable, there were at least shows of disapproval and resistance by the government. As for instance, on days of strikes called by insurgents and other organisations which command fear and awe amongst the public, the government resorted to counter measures by making an effort to have all its employees attend work. On occasions, the government was known for organising vehicles to pick up  its employees from appointed spots and even arranged for the latter to stay overnight in their respective offices ahead of the strikes so that office attendance the next day was not thin. Today even such symbolic shows of disapproval have been abandoned. Under the circumstance, the fatalism which has come to dominate general psychology is only understandable. A strike called by anybody, even by little known organisations, and the streets in the capital city Imphal would wear a deserted look. Can the government now at least begin to make amends on this front and think of becoming a little more proactive? Can it come out and make it known that it means business when it says disruptive strikes and blockades will not be allowed ever again?

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