By Amar Yumnam
Recent events, like the shortfalls in rainfall, school admission crises and the medical entrance fiasco, do convey to us many meanings of the political nature we cultivate, the nature of state we live with and the social direction we are moving. When agriculture is dependent on monsoon, remember despite the accumulated public expenditures we have incurred in the name of irrigation over the years, it is imperative that the state’s response to the shortfall of seasonal rains should be quick and confidence enhancing of the general public, particularly at least of the farmers. This has not happened despite the large governance structure in place as compared to the 1950s and 1960s. Instead the public were fed with a very interesting new phrase of “drought-like” as if we have a “government-like” and not government. The schools which have produced the generations of educated persons till recently were contributions of the early twentieth century entrepreneurs (in most cases, pure social workers and political entrepreneurs who were miles different from the “social workers” of today and qualitatively much more socially oriented than the politicians of today) who are no longer in our midst. These change agents were working in a social context where the government was largely absent from most areas of social activity and the people were still largely ignorant. But they did make their interventions effective in delivering the promised output in terms of educated individuals and social awakening for development. The unskilled and unaware problem was altered to an atmosphere of greater awareness for social good. The prevailing fall out of the selection test mess for state-sponsored medical admission is another manifestation of the quality of governance we have in place in our land. One of the chief crimes the state should not commit is the crime of killing the dreams of youths. Whatever the case, the first list had generated a sense of celebration and a dream for future for those who were in the list. If a mistake had been committed, the cost of the mistake should be borne by the state and never by the candidates in the list. If because of the mistake some candidates have been left out, the onus falls on the state (read the Government of Manipur) to somehow explore the means for admitting those few who have been left out in one medical college or the other in the country. We must realise that the people have just recently incurred a huge sum of expenses in ensuring the periodic completion of the democratic process of existence. The people afford the government in order to shoulder responsibilities with authority and address issues and crises without in any way compromising on the well-being of the citizens. But the way the government of the land has behaved, by any action after the fiasco, manifests a kind of a very dirty and uncivilised character. Efforts to correct mistakes should invariably display images of impartiality and non-partisanship with any group. But this has not been the image the public are getting.
It is exactly here I remember what Richard Wagner, a very interesting Economist at the George Mason University, wrote in 2002. He argues that ensuring good governance is a kind of “social agriculture”. While many plants can be grown on a plot of land, it is only the one suited to the particular soil that would be growing to fruition. This calls for valuation of the relative suitability of each plant. We cannot even be enough with this. Knowledge is also important. Awareness of the ideas of plant genetics and soil chemistry are very important for proper valuation of the relative suitability of each plant. Now looking at the unfolding events of the land, it increasingly looks like that something is terribly going wrong with our valuation and cognition applied to people; the social agriculture for sure is suffering from mismatch of plants and soil chemistry.
While the earlier entrepreneurs could provide us functioning schools and kindle us with hopes of social upliftment in an atmosphere where the government was not as big as of today and with whatever politics they had in their command, the entrepreneurs of today have failed to deliver in every conceivable area despite the heightened power of government under their control. Those days, politics and entrepreneurship were clear and mingled less with government. There was a demarcation between political economic plays and the entrepreneurial activities. The entrepreneurs were the clean variety of concentration of social leadership in free societies as Joseph Schumpeter enlightened the world with. But the increasing mingling of entrepreneurs of today with the widening scope of government presence in recent periods have transformed all for worse social outcome. The behaviour of the present generation of them has so much entangled with the scope for personal aggrandisement through government actions and interventions that the qualitative transformation has damaged the soil quality and jeopardised the life-span and productivity of the earlier plants of social agriculture.
While this decline with social agriculture sector is very unfortunate, costly and absolutely untimely in a least developed place like Manipur, this seems to be the scenario for India as a whole except in some pockets like Gujarat. “Policy lethargy” has become a marked feature of Indian polity today. Institutional decline is also a very visible scenario.
The non-stop news of rapes, women-trafficking and violence are all sure signs of non-emergence from the gutters of decay towards scenarios of social peace, harmony and advancement. Despite the overall dry spell across the country, Assam faced floods, the same floods which they faced in 1948; so 2012 is no different from 1948. Despite the Nellie experience, 2012 does not display a change in the qualitative capability of governance in handling ethnic tensions. When India rises, though it was a short period, Manipur did not take part. But when she now shows signs of decline, Manipur should not be allowed to run faster in this direction.