By Khelsoril Wanbe
There is no denying the fact that one’s land of birth has a magical power that makes it hard for those who have gone far away from her to forget her easily. In fact, thousands upon thousands of the natives of Manipur are studying and working in different cities of India. During my stay in Delhi I have, in different ways, interviewed some of the youth who are studying and working here. They all seem to want to go back to Manipur, but on second thought, they seem to harbor some kind of anger in their hearts. Corruption, for instance, is one big thing that is conjured up in their minds whenever they think of Manipur that dissuade them from venturing back to their land of birth. They are well aware of the alleged selling and buying of government jobs in Manipur. Despite a number of declarations made through the media by many influential and responsible personalities of the land that corruption will not be tolerated or allowed to persist, in the innermost part of their hearts, they still have doubts about those words getting translated into real actions. And corruption aside, many other bad situations in Manipur continue to discourage them from venturing back to their motherland.
In strange lands they work among strange people, yet ironically, they seem to feel more secure. A friend of mine suggested to me to bring my family and settle permanently in Delhi. I, without even thinking for a moment, answered him saying, “Yes that’s a good suggestion, but I feel that Delhi is not a safe place for women and children”, to which he answered, “Do you think Manipur is safer than Delhi?”. His question left me quite puzzled. After thinking for a few minutes, I told him, “Besides that matter, all my good friends and relatives are in Manipur, so I miss that place.”
Sometimes, I close my eyes and think of the many problems infesting our land of birth. Unemployment problem also happens to be one major problem why many youths and fleeing from the state. I know quite a number of people here in Delhi that are very unlikely to come back to Manipur until and unless they hear about miraculous changes taking place in Manipur, no exaggeration included. Many are working at multinational companies, banks, call centers, restaurants, schools, colleges, hospitals and many other private companies that pay them very well. They easily earn 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 thousands here in Delhi. I know the same is the case in other big cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Calcutta and many other states. So many thousands of sincere and hardworking Manipuris are studying and working in strange places among strange people all because they don’t have similar opportunities in their land of birth.
Talking about employment opportunities and good payment in Delhi, I know one thing personally about the difference of pay conditions prevailing in Manipur and in Delhi. In Manipur, 6th pay commission has just recently been implemented, in Delhi it has been there since the very introduction of the commission. A friend of mine in Delhi once smilingly told me, the 7th pay commission is likely to be introduced soon. In Manipur, I had once been a guest lecturer at a government college some years ago. I was told that I would be paid Rs. 8000 per month; I was very delighted, I left home during the weekdays and stayed near the college that was about 50kms away from home; the college paid me only 3-5 thousand rupees per month from the college fund. The government never sanctioned the full amount. There was indefinite delay and the fund either lapsed or got lost in the process. Only God knows what went wrong. Eventually, I discontinued going to that college because I knew that I could not survive with Rs.3000 per month. Another joke of the situation was that I started visiting chak hotels regularly at the bus parking and the bus fare very often reached Rs.100 because of the frequent bandhs that compelled the buses to make detours. So, consequently, I started incurring deficits that led me to the decision that I should give up being a government guest lecturer. The glaring contrast that I find here in Delhi is that the guest lecturers (I am not one) here are presently enjoying a monthly pay of Rs. 25000 (twenty five thousand).
I actually don’t have proper idea exactly how much the guest lecturers of Manipur University (a Central University) are being presently paid. My point is that the big difference of employment opportunities and pay seem to be important factors driving away so many hard working young people from our land to faraway cities. As for myself, at the moment, I presently don’t intend to remain permanently in Delhi although the prospect of getting a permanent well-paid job is very bright here. But I know many Manipuri friends in Delhi who are so happy with their jobs and pay and feel very much at home in the capital city. Apparently, they don’t intend to return to their native land at least in the near future.
Another factor that attracts so many youth from our state to the big cities, particularly, Delhi is the availability of so many facilities- coaching centers, excellent books, regular electricity etc that facilitates them so much in achieving their dreams and goals. A brilliant youth who last year got the coveted IAS post has been persuading me to work permanently in Delhi. He tells me, “If you stay here at least one year, you will know how much life is better here in Delhi; people who are acquainted with Delhi, never want to go away from it.” What he says is definitely true. Undeniably, there are so many opportunities in Delhi and other cities and states. Despite the so many hurdles and discriminations, Manipuri youth continue to flock to other states and cities of India- all because they want to live a financially independent and carefree life that is not available in Manipur.